God is too Big to Fit Into One Religion

I was driving down the road a few days ago with my wife and I noticed a bright red bumper sticker on the back of a hybrid which said, “God is too big to fit into one religion!”  We ended up pulling into the same parking lot and to my dismay parked close together.  I really wanted to ask this person about their bumper sticker, and I wanted to kind of probe their thoughts on such an interesting statement.   I ended up not doing so for the sake of saying something I might regret later, as I’ve been known to speak my mind rather straightforwardly and frankly in these sorts of conversations, and rather truthfully, she kind of scared me.

This did get me thinking though.  What would she have said if I had asked her what her bumper sticker meant?  Well, I’m pretty sure I know what she would have said, as the meaning of the bumper sticker is quite clear, but if truth is relative could the meaning of a bumper sticker also be relative?

“Is there meaning in this bumper sticker?”

The statement, “God is too big to fit into one religion” is probably the main presupposition of our generation.  Why is this so?  Believing in ‘something’/’anything’ is quite the fad these days.  Atheism is so last generation.  Modernism is out the door and the search for “how do we know?” is in.  Everybody believes in ‘god’ these days, but when you throw in any form of exclusivity then the door gets shut and you are seen as judgmental and brainwashed.  Believe me, I’ve been described as all these things and more.  I was actually told the other day by a man twice my age that, “I’m a good kid, but I just need a little direction in my life.”  Not because I was smoking the cheeba or breaking down doors (B & E’s) but because I believed in absolute truth… truth found in the Bible alone!  Crazy!

Here’s the deal.  The statement “God is too big to fit into one religion” actually makes God rather small.  When you make this claim you are making God into what you want him (or her or it) to be.  God is not the big one.  You are the big one.  God has now become very small.  Smaller than each of us.  God has now become small enough that we fit him into our own desires and beliefs.  In reality, if 10 people make this claim then there are 10 different gods out there all smaller than the person who made this claim.  Each god is different and each god is made in our image, rather vice-versa.

When we make this claim, we are making the god we want to exist, well… exist, so that we are able to justify how we want to live our lives.  A murderer can form a god of murder and justify his actions.  A rapist can form a god of rape and immediate satisfaction and fulfillment to justify his actions.  It’s actually that simple.

Everybody wants to believe in ‘God,’ but nobody wants a God that demands anything from them.  Nobody wants to be held accountable for their actions.

The God of the Bible is seen in Scripture as Creator, Ruler, Judge, and Savior.  His name is Jesus.

He is the Creator of the entire world; He Rules over all of creation, all peoples, all cultures, and all religions; he will one day Judge everybody who has ever lived, NOT on if they have been good or bad (he is not Santa Clause) but whether they have repented of sin and have believed in him as Savior and King; and he is the Savior of the world – he is a God who saves.

Jesus is a big God.  He is not a little God that lives on a bumper sticker or a little God that is created in our image to justify our actions and the way we want to live.

He is a God that demands obedience from his people – his church.  He is God of gods and Lord of lords.  He is not small.

Only small gods live on bumper stickers.  It should have read:  God is Small and We are Big – That is Why ‘My’ God Exists.

 

 

Comments

  1. I’m going to play devil’s advocate again. Ask yourself a couple of questions and think about the answers. Is it possible that each of these religions (including Christianity) worship the same God? Could we all be trying to reach the same promised land, in death?

    That leads to another interesting question – Could God have chosen different “methods” of targeting specific groups of people for enlightenment?

    • great insight…. just as there are different words that all mean ‘Love’, there are different paths to God. God IS GOD, the biggest, the best, and to reach him requires love, devotion, service and discipline.

    • Great remark . Thats what i am thinking too i believe religions and diferent politics , countries , skin colours . All is like a puzzle made for us to figure it out else it will be boring . But maybe on the end we all seek the same thing and there is only one Creation source . We are all conected and i dont think that only humans . Plants animals even planets , the air we breath all its counsciousness purely . Hard to figure that out , personally i believe there is a higher power , i felt it . but i cant feel comfortable to name that force and put that force into a religion . I dont know if i would ever be able to do that . But again from the statement that if we dont believe in Jesus then we are doomed i believe again Fear is used in order to make us believe . Doesnt feel good when someone pushes some idea down ur throaght and pushes you to believe into some God just becouse the majority believes in it . Ones i fit my ideas that Divine essence into some religion i believe im done evolving i just follow some scripts that other wrote for me to follow in order to spare me the trubles to figure more things out and take responsability for my actions . Sure this is easy and i so wish i could do that , but my gut and intuition tells me its not right . I dont have nothing against any religion , i believe we create our gods im not prepared to create mine yet

    • I agree, Anca! The entire Universe is alive! How could the Creator of such a vast and magnificent Universe be so petty and uptight as to send poor souls to ‘hell’ just for believing a certain way?? I mean honestly, that is attributing some very immature, jealous, vengeful and ridiculously narrow characteristics to the Being who created the Universe! It’s just ludicrous! It’s so obvious to me that the old testament was written by some very primitive people. They meant well but they wrote what they THOUGHT was truth about God. But if one reads the old testament with a ‘beginner’s mind’ ie. a blank slate, it’s easy to see how juvenile their thinking was. I mean no offense towards those who follow the Bible, but I really think Christians would perceive the old testament differently if they read it without FIRST believing it was written by God. If it was truly written by God, then it would be able to withstand all scrutiny. But it clearly can’t.

      Now, to be clear, my views of the old testament have nothing to do with Jesus. I have no issues with Jesus – he was one of the greatest masters to have ever walked the Earth, and was clearly sent as an avatar to show us the ways of Love. One can be a follower of Jesus without buying into the whole ‘the bible is the infallible word of God’ thing.

      Believing that the bible is the infallible word of God is putting one’s faith into MEN…yes MEN…the authors of the various books of the bible…one is trusting that those MEN got it all 100% right.

      I would never do that with ANY ‘New Age’ channel – and Christians are quick to say that modern-day people claiming to be hearing from God are ‘satanic’ – so why should I do it with channels who lived 2000+ years ago?

      No thank you. I prefer to trust the LIVING GOD not some book written by primitive MEN thousands of years ago.

  2. Greg Gibson says:

    First of all, if God is the Creator of all things then he is also the Creator of truth. Every religion in the world makes exclusive truth claims that their religion is the ‘only way’ and the ‘only truth.’ True Christianity, grounded in the Bible, obviously also makes this claim. Only through repentance and believing in Jesus do we have access with the Father; only through Jesus’ death is God’s wrath satisfied for us. The question, “Is it possible that each of these religions (including Christianity) worship the same God? Could we all be trying to reach the same promised land, in death?” falls short because each ‘God’ within every religion is very different. To claim that they are all the same God would be absurd and deny each religion of its own ‘exclusive’ truth claim. No true Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. would make this claim.

    Secondly, we must ask, “Who did Jesus die for?” The answer to this question is everything when discussing the above topic. If Jesus died for only middle-class-white-republicans then Jesus’ death is void of all other religions and all other truth claims and all other cultures. If Jesus died ‘in some way’ for everybody who has ever lived past, present, or future then this truth claim trumps others. I realize that asking such a question has huge theological implications concerning the topics of predestination, limited atonement, and unconditional election, but the discussion on that matter can be held at another time.

    Third, we must also ask, “Did Jesus actually defeat death by raising from the dead?” If the answer to this question is no, then Christianity is a lie and only a popular form of moral-therapeutic-deism. If the answer to this question is yes, then the resurrection of Jesus is the central climax of all human history and the center piece of God’s story as he has determined the direction of history.

    Fourth, we must ask, “What actually is enlightenment?” If God created for a purpose then what is that purpose? Is it so that all people may experience some form of enlightenment? Christianity’s claim concerning God’s purpose in creation is that he created solely for his own glory… not for ours… and not for any form of enlightenment. He created so that Jesus would be glorified amongst all of creation. Although, if we want to use platonic nomenclature and throw ‘enlightenment’ into Christianity then I guess Christianity’s highest form of ‘enlightenment’ would be when Jesus returns and ushers in the New Heavens and New Earth and raises our then glorified bodies to be like his for eternity.

    For God to have ‘determined’ different methods of targeting specific groups of people for enlightenment would make God into a deceptive God who presents himself one way to some and another way to others. Think about it. Christianity claims God as sovereign, loving, just, and sacrificial. He dies for us on no account of our own. It is by grace we have been saved through faith, apart from works, so that no man may boast. Islam, for example, claims God as very different. For a Muslim, the purpose of life is to live in a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. It is believed that at puberty, an account of each person’s deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate. In comparing these 2 truth claims, both Gods are very different… not to mention the polytheistic religion of Hinduism or the ‘spiritual philosophy’ of Buddhism, which denies a creator God and the search for ‘enlightenment’ is only empirical.

    If Jesus’ claim that he is ‘the way, truth, and life and ‘only’ way to the Father’ is actually ‘true,’ then it must apply to everybody who has ever lived in all of history.

    My question for you is, “How does God reveal himself to the nations?” From my comments above it is obvious that my answer is exclusively proclaimed through the name of JESUS!

  3. Ben Ward says:

    Tom, I think you’re question makes sense if it was a philosophical discussion, but the main religions in our world (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) are all historical religions. When you deal with historical people making claims that “this is the way” to the promised land then you have a conflict of paths. In real life terms, if you trust Jesus then that means Muslims are wrong. If you trust Allah then you don’t have as high a regard for Jesus. On the day of death, how do multiple answers lead to the same conclusion?

    What do you think?

  4. Interesting response. Again, I’m just playing devil’s advocate, so here are a few other thoughts.

    “Christianity claims God as sovereign, loving, just, and sacrificial. He dies for us on no account of our own. It is by grace we have been saved through faith, apart from works, so that no man may boast.”

    Some would argue that certain Christian denominations, such as Catholicism, don’t fit in line with this way of thinking. The argument that I often hear has to do with the existence of the 10 Commandments, moral fiber, biblical parables, etc. If we are saved by faith alone, apart from works, why does the Bible spend so much time weighing right versus wrong? What is your take on this issue?

    I used the term enlightenment loosely, but enlightenment to me is simply being saved by God’s grace. If we are not “enlightened,” how can we possible live for Him?

    Thinking that every religion is “very different” is a common misnomer. The battle between good and evil, right versus wrong, etc are very similar in most world religions. Just look at how many religions stemmed from Abraham/Judaism. These 3 religions believe in divinely given written scriptures, one true God, common rituals and practices (such as regular prayer and charity), pilgrimage, many common holy places, promising that behavior will receive its proper rewards and punishments in the future (on earth and in an afterlife), and balancing/integrating strands of mysticism, legalism, and pious devotion. The key difference between Judaism/Islam/Christianity boils down to the actual Messiah, or lack thereof (obviously a BIG difference maker).

    I didn’t expect you to believe that each of these religions serves the same God, but I did ask if you thought it was even remotely possible, considering the parallels between these 3 major religions. My relationship with Christ is well-rooted, and it continues to get stronger every day. However, at some point, each of these 3 religions has had some feeling that it has come the closest to the essential truths of God and the world, and that the others have somehow failed to recognize this. I know in my heart what is right, and I trust in the Lord, but we should also understand just how difficult (if not impossible) it is to convince a devout Jew or Muslim that they didn’t get it right.

  5. Greg Gibson says:

    I would not consider “Catholicism” a Christian denomination. I would consider it a major religion in and of itself. When we use the ‘word’ denomination we must be careful only to distinguish between that under the Protestant umbrella. And, evangelical for that matter. Such denominations could include Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of Christ, Calvary Chapel, Evangelical Free, etc.

    My thoughts on Catholicism are too big to place here. Just know that I do not think Catholicism is orthodox Christianity and I would consider it heretical in many areas. For our statement(s) of faith you can click on the ‘about’ section above.

    We are saved by faith yes, but we must not negate the moral demands of the New Testament. With the coming of Christ, the Old Testament law has been abolished and the law of Christ and moral law remain. When we strive to be like Jesus we are being progressively sanctified to be like him… without sin.

    You are right when you say it is ‘difficult’ to convince a Jew or Muslim they didn’t get it right. As we understand Scripture, we understand that God is saving people all over the world… Jew and Gentile, Slave and Free, Atheist and Muslim. We must be careful to say it is not us that ‘convinces’ others to believe. Yes, we are instrument used by God in obedience to his commands to share with the nations, but we must be clear – it is only God who saves. It is not difficult for God to save a Jew or Muslim or Hindu. The power of the gospel is what saves people, not us ‘convincing’ them. There are Muslims all over the world right now being saved by Jesus, though not apart from the hearing of the gospel. There are many Jews being saved, as well as Hindus, Atheists, etc.

    We must be obedient and go tell the world about their Savior.

  6. Ben Ward says:

    I appreciate your comments guys, it allows us to explore more in depth when we don’t have the space to do it in a single post.

    Greg, I agree that the Catholic church is wrong about a lot of stuff, mainly imputation. I would never advise a growing Christian to join a Catholic church. Once heard a pastor say once, “people are not saved because of Catholic teaching but in spite of it” because they do have the basic sentences of Jesus died for your sins. One way I think of it is that the lower you go on participation in a church the lower someone’s level of knowledge on what the church believes. So when I talk to a Catholic congregant I normally give them the benefit of the doubt and try to think of the opportunity for better understanding of scripture. Any thoughts?

    Tom, I understand that you are playing devil’s advocate and hope that you don’t think I’m calling you a heretic or a loser haha. I’m just letting you know how I’ve thought through these issues. You talked about the issues of right and wrong and the three major religions focusing on this issue and how they aren’t that different in them. I think this is because of wisdom and general revelation. I give credit to people who think through right and wrong as using wisdom the Lord created them with to recognize how he ordered the world. The difference would come in the meaning of the morals. In Galatians 3:21-29, we see Paul’s explanation that the law was given to trap everything uder sin and we are to use it as a guardian to point us to a Messiah/Christ. Paul claims that everyone was saved by promise or faith (you can see that in Abraham and also in the Ten Commandaments when Moses declares first the Lord ransomed them then he gave the law cf. Deut. 5:6), and the law was a guardian or tudor until the Messiah came. That’s the difference from seeing the law as a means to goodness or an indication of the need for goodness.

    I think Galatians 3 is the best summary of how the laws and faith work together as they meet in Jesus. Any thoughts?

  7. Whitney Clayton says:

    Tom, I must take issue with your statement that Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are very similar. In order for that statement to be true you have to reduce the religions down so much that nearly any worldview could fit into the category of “similar religion.” Look at the doctrine of God alone and you will discover just how different these religions really are. You may be able to find some common similarities, but to sweepingly claim that they are similar is a whole different ball game. The teachings of each, as Ben pointed out, marginalizes the teachings of the others.

    As a Christian I think it vitally important to stear clear of the post modern impulse to identify ourselves with other religions, because Christianity is not one religion among many; it is the truth of God amidst deceptions meant to lead men away from God.

  8. Whitney Clayton says:

    Ben, I think your focus on the meaning of morality is one among a thousand substantive differences between the teachings of these three religions. It is easy to step back and broad-brush “religion,” but you have to get pretty vague in order to call these religions similar. Morality is decided by very different standards in each of these religions. Allah declares what is moral for the Muslim; the Torah explains what is moral for the Jew; the character of God, evidenced by Jesus is the standard of morality for the Christian. These are very different moral systems from very different religions.

    Tom, for more evidence in the differences between these religions just look at the doctrine of God for each of these religions. What should be the most basic doctrine of these religions cannot be brought into conformity without reducing one or all of the religions to vacuous pithy statements. Do not be fooled into thinking that all religions teach the same thing, point to the same God, or come from the same place. As Christians, we must stand strong and not fall prey to empty words which try to force commonality with false teachings.

  9. Greg Gibson says:

    Ben, I agree with you, though most times I have ever talked to a confessing Catholic I have found that many know little, if any, about the Bible.

  10. Thanks for writing this great article. I saw the same bumper sticker this morning!

  11. Griffin Gulledge says:

    I think when answering the question “Is it possible that these different religions are worshipping the same God?” you must ask yourself some very important questions primarily, “What is the character of the so called God?”.

    If you get on your knees and tell your blond haired, blue eyed wife how much you love her for her brunette locks and her brown eyes- that’s not going to work out for you. That is not your wife you are describing. Similarly, if the God I describe is a jealous God, fully wrath and yet fully grace- offering up himself for the sins of the world that is not the same God as the inclusivist, moralistic God of Islam.

    Belief in Christ is a belief in the life, works, teachings, and saving grace of Christ- not in his existence alone, or the idea of an existing divinity. As such, these others religions, in their belief, fall short.

  12. Hi Greg, I’m one of those people with that bumpersticker on my car, and in fact I found your article upon doing a search to find a new bumpersticker, since mine has gotten very faded. So I can answer your question directly, if you’re still interested in my pov.

    First of all, I agree partially with Tom, that all people do in fact worship the same God, ultimately. Since there is only ONE God, then it’s impossible to worship a different ‘god’! However people can and do turn other things into their ‘gods’ such as money, vanity, etc.

    Where I disagree with Tom is that I don’t believe God ‘revealed’ himself in different ways to different cultures. Rather, I believe each religion is a reflection of that particular culture’s attempt to seek God. Because people in different cultures think differently, they perceive the Creator in different ways; hence, the many different approaches to spirituality. Surely you have heard the story of the blind men and the elephant? This illustrates the concept beautifully.

    What religions have in common is an effort to define right and wrong and establish a path to God. A commonality is that all religions have basically the same values (love/compassion etc.) and ALL of them have their share of distortions, Christianity included. For example, just as a Muslim can find passages in the Koran to justify violence, so too can Christians find passages in the Bible to justify violence. An evangelical Christian pastor once told me that “God likes war” because God commanded his ‘chosen people’ to start wars! I find this reprehensible and a gross distortion of Jesus’ mission and message, and no different from the mentality of Muslim terrorists, except in degree.

    The fact remains that it is YOUR OPINION that the Bible was written by God. The FACT is that HUMANS wrote the books of the Bible, and you have just chosen to believe that those humans were ‘inspired by God.’ That is certainly your choice and I respect it. However, why is it so difficult for Christians to respect that other people have different opinions?

    Choice of religion is largely dependent upon cultural upbringing. If you had been raised a Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim, you would likely believe YOUR religion to be the ‘true’ religion, and indignant if a Christian expected you to convert.

    Question for you: How would you feel if a Hindu proselytized to you and told you that you were ‘wrong’ and that Hinduism was the ‘true’ religion? Would you convert just because he backed it up with HIS bible, the Bhagavad Gita?

    Why, then, do you expect those of other religions to convert to YOUR religion, when you would not convert to theirs?

    Bottom line is that it is a PRESUPPOSITION that the bible is the ‘word of God’ – one that you have chosen to believe. How is YOUR opinion any more valid than mine or anyone else’s? NO ONE can ‘prove’ that ANY religion is ‘true.’

    So the question then becomes: Is God really that petty that he would sentence some 90% of the population to be tortured forEVER just for not being lucky enough or smart enough to pick the ‘right’ religion? (Because, by the time you add in the Catholics (which I find amusing), MOST of the population isn’t Christian.)

    That sounds more like a lottery than anything reasonable. I couldn’t punish my own child forEVER for even something heinous, much less doing something s/he believed, in good faith, was right, like worshiping God in a way that seemed reasonable to him/her. Surely God has more mercy and compassion than I, a mere human!

    I was raised Catholic, then was a born-again Christian for several years. I am no longer a Christian, because I can no longer participate in the elitism inherent in a religion that claims any group of people is ‘chosen’ over another. That is bigotry, plain and simple. Another reason I left Christianity is because, my eyes were opened by reading the old testament. If a person read that book without knowing that it was supposedly from ‘God’ they would likely conclude that the being those primitive people THOUGHT was God was really a bloodthirsty, vengeful, wrathful, angry TYRANT. I really think the biggest deception is that Christians (and those of other religions as well) think a BOOK written by HUMANS is the infallible word of God. That is essentially putting a lot of faith into those humans!!!

    Yeah, I know the standard response to that: “God is powerful enough to make sure the book was written correctly.” Well that doesn’t work for me. The Creator of this vast and magnificent UniVerse recording all his secrets on paper, written by humans who have their own emotional baggage, limited intellects, and biases, and then creating a system by which MOST of the population is doomed? Why would I want to spend eternity with a God like that anyway??

    I know the next response too: Oh it’s a free gift, anyone can just accept it. Uh huh. Well the truth is that NOT everyone believes it. So the end result is still the same: If your religion is correct, then MOST of the world’s population is DOOMED to eternal torture. Because they were too stupid, too stubborn, or whatever, doesn’t change the end result. Remember, God knows his own creation. Why would God design a system without taking into consideration human shortcomings? Let’s face it: The Bible, as a piece of literature, is just as far-fetched as any other mythology. God gave us intelligence. I cannot believe God would punish us for using that intelligence.

    Anyway, it’s not a shortcoming to see thru the deception of limiting God to a tiny box that is religion. It’s reasonable. What I find unreasonable is the pettiness, bigotry and elitism in the fundamentalist view that a tiny group of people is ‘right’ and all others are wrong.

    Meanwhile, satan, if there is a ‘satan’ is laughing all the way, as he promotes bigotry, violence and judgement thru the guise of religion.

    Blessings to you

  13. Oh yeah, one more comment: I don’t buy into the ‘God offered himself up to save us” because, as horrible as it was for the human Jesus to suffer, for GOD that was nothing. He didn’t give up his life. His life is ETERNAL. He gave up a day of a physical existence, in a body that he knew was temporary. He KNEW he was a spiritual being, and a single Earth day is NOTHING to an eternal Being.

    The whole premise makes no sense.

    It makes a lot more sense to me, that Jesus was one of many avatars, who was aware of his own Divine nature, and came here on a mission, to teach humanity the power of LOVE and FORGIVENESS.

    But, unfortunately, his mission FAILED because Christians have, in my opinion, erroneously twisted it into something that is not loving at all – Christianity has become all about just getting your ticket. That is SELFISH, not loving.

    I acknowledge a lot of Christians do indeed have love and compassion towards those they think are ‘condemned’ and some have told me how much it bothers them. Yet they are still locked into this belief, that even though THEY could not bear to condemn others, somehow God would???

    That’s just nuts, sorry.

    • Whitney Clayton says:

      Monica, I think your understanding of things may make you feel more open-minded than the exclusivist Christian who you are speaking against, but I would like to point out three things.

      1. Your perception is ultimately more selfish and close-minded than a conservative Christian’s position. They, at least, believe that there are millions of other Christians who have found God, because finding God is dependent upon His revelation of himself (which you may say is a presupposition, but I will hit that in point 2). You, on the other hand have no objective standard by which you find truth, which makes every person but you wrong because nobody believes everything you do.

      2. I will grant you that believing the Bible to be the Word of God is a presupposition, but let us compare our presuppositions and see whose better conforms to the philosophical three tier test of truth: coherence, correspondence, and pragmatism. I assure you that your understanding fails the first category of internal coherence. It is impossible to rationally say that all religions are understandings of the same God, Buddhism reports over three hundred million of them! Make that work within Islam!

      3. I agree with you that Christianity has erroneously become consumed with “getting your ticket.” It saddens me to see people who claim that they are a Christian and live lives worse than kind-hearted atheists. That is why we, TVN, push people to understand faith as a lifestyle and worldview based upon the Bible and its testimony of Jesus Christ (who was so much more than a human!). Following Christ is about so much more than as a religion built upon who’s in and who’s out.

      Thank you for your thoughts! Please continue to dialogue with us, and happy hunting for your bumper sticker.

    • Hi Whitney!

      Thanks for your response.

      1. ??? I think you have misunderstood me so I will attempt to clarify. I’m NOT saying others are wrong for not believing as I do. In fact, that is one of my complaints about religions: they say everyone who believes differently is wrong. My point is that it’s not about beliefs at all: It’s about the love in your heart. God looks at the heart, not what you believe. I don’t think God is so petty as to blame someone, much less torture them forEVER, for what they believe. That is a human mechanism to control others, by demanding that they believe a certain way. I don’t see how the Christian view of thinking that MOST of the world’s population is condemned to eternal torture could possibly be considered compassionate. That’s just cruel, and I don’t see any way around the fact that it’s cruel. It doesn’t matter what I believe and I don’t expect you or anyone else to believe as I do. My opinion is that God is more merciful, loving and compassionate than we are, and God would never let ANY soul be lost forEVER. You have just admitted that Christians ‘at least’ believe that millions of other souls have ‘found God’ which implies you are admitting the rest of the souls are lost. HOW is that even remotely merciful, loving or compassionate? Sounds like a supreme failure to me. But I don’t believe God has failed, so it makes more sense to me that it is humans who have corrupted the teachings of great avatars like Jesus, into some elitist club where only a few chosen can gain admittance. That reeks of bigotry.

      2. It’s only impossible if you focus on the petty little details that don’t matter. Let God out of the box your religion has put him in. There is enough room in this vast and magnificent Creation for every soul’s interpretation. NO ONE has ALL the pieces to understanding God. We each have only a tiny piece. If you put together ALL the pieces from ALL the religions and spiritual paths, then you might be close to understanding God. See, part of understanding God is understanding that we were ALL made in the image of God, which means that EACH of us has a tiny sliver of that Truth and that Divinity.

      3. “worse than kind-hearted atheists”? What do you mean? What is so bad about kind-hearted atheists? I’m glad to hear that you are trying to get Christians to not just focus on getting their ticket. But, respectfully, the comments on this page still seem to be doing the same thing, as they are still judging everyone else as ‘lost’ if they don’t believe a certain way. I invite you to try looking at this from another angle. Why should one group of people get to decide what is true for others? Christians cannot answer this question, without saying “I didn’t judge…God judges…God said in the Bible” which doesn’t work because they are failing to take into consideration that others don’t accept the bible as being the ‘word of God’ anymore than you accept the Bhagavad Gita as the ‘Word of God.’ So what I am suggesting is that each person follow the path that they feel is right for them, and allow others to do the same.

      Thank you for the respectful discussion. I have seen discussion degenerate quickly before, and I don’t want to participate if that happens. As long as we can respectfully exchange ideas, I’m cool with that. Just to clarify: It is not my intention to change your beliefs. I found this website while searching for my bumper sticker, and thought you might be interested in the pov of a person who has that bumper sticker.

      peace

  14. Another comment on #2: It is possible if your view of God is big enough, and you replace the criteria of belief with the criteria of LOVE. If the only requirement for ‘finding God’ is LOVE, then that can be accomplished, regardless of belief. A Hindu, Muslim, Pagan, or Atheist can be just as LOVING as a Christian (maybe even moreso in some cases).

    Let’s apply your ‘truth test’ of coherence, correspondence, and pragmatism:

    1. Is it coherent?

    Religions: yes, but only if you believe exactly the same way. No room for disagreement. Look at how your friend even excludes Catholics from his private party!

    LOVE as the only basis: Wonderfully, simply and beautifully coherent. Furthermore, it is backed up by your own book, which clearly states GOD IS LOVE. It is also backed up by the words of your avatar, Jesus, who said the greatest of these is LOVE, and basically replaced all the other commandments with a simplified version: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. I am taking Jesus literally on that. He has summed it up very simply and beautifully. I am suggesting that ALL doctrinal religions are AGAINST the teachings of Jesus because they make it too complicated, and LOSE the LOVE in the process! I am suggesting that we get back to the LOVE and forget all the extraneous details which only serve to divide us and thus get in the way of what is most important: LOVE. So yes, this view is very, very coherent, and in fact erases the contention that divides people of various faiths, and is a way to find a common denominator, and thus hope for PEACE.

    2. Correspondence

    Religions: The correspondence criteria is true only for the religion it applies to. ie. the rules of Christianity don’t work with Islam, and vice versa.

    LOVE as the only criteria: This works for all people, in all cultures.

    3. Pragmatism

    Religions: Not pragmatic at all. We are expected God loves us all so very much, and would never give up looking for that lost sheep, and yet are also expected to believe that God ABANDONS us at the point of our last breath in this lifetime, which is but the blink of an eye when compared to the eternal soul. It’s not even remotely logical or pragmatic to believe in a doctrine that says all of eternity will be decided by this brief lifetime. Furthermore, it’s not even a level playing field! Christians are fond of saying that everyone has had or will have a chance to ‘accept Jesus’ but that’s not true. Those who are content in their chosen religion or the religion they are comfortable with, see no reason to change. And others who were abused as children and full of hate and bitterness aren’t given the same opportunities as those raised in loving homes. The hateful, tortured souls are in need of love and compassion, so they can heal! What kind of cruel ‘God’ would send them to ‘hell’ forEVER when they never really had much of a chance to start with? There’s just no way to apply pragmatism to such a narrow way of thinking.

    LOVE as the only criteria: This is exceedingly pragmatic, because the external petty BS is all wiped out, and what’s left is the very essence of what God IS: LOVE. There is nothing more pure than this! It’s easy to apply, without falling prey to judgment or bickering over dogma. Simply open your heart and let God flow.

    I think LOVE meets those criteria of truth better than any dogmatic religion.

    • Whitney Clayton says:

      Well, there is a lot to respond to here. So I will try to make two points in answer to your first response to me, and one based upon your second.

      1. Surely you realize that you just told me I am wrong in the same sentence in which you said you don’t think anyone is wrong. By asserting that LOVE is what needs to replace religion you are simply positing your own religion. To use the anlaogy of the blind men with an elephant; you are entering another person into that analogy by explaining what it is that all of the blind men are touching. Someone in that room knows it is an elephant. In our current situation, you are telling everyone who holds to an historic faith what it is that they are trying to express through worship. You are creating your own religion and telling us that ours is wrong. My question: by what authority do understand GOD to be a loving, merciful, and kind GOD other than your personal dream of him? Is he not also JUST? Does his love extend equally to Hitler and Mother Theresa, or is there a sense of justice that must also be accounted for?

      2. I find it quaint and uplifting to say that we all have a little slice of divinity in us, but what does that mean? If it means that we each follow whatever truth we come up with then we are inevitably led to nihilism, because in a world of a plurality of truth, there is not truth. I think of the kid’s movie The Incredibles. The little boy (I forgot his name) makes the statement that “saying everyone is special is the same saying no-one is”. He is right! And his statement applies in the realm of truth also. Saying that everyone’s truth is THE truth is the same as saying there is no truth. That is where Neitzsche started before he ended with nihilism.

      3. Your work on the truth tests have missed the mark. The tests of truth are MEANT to be analyzed only within the worldview under the microscope. Saying that a religion only works within its own framework is exactly what allows them to pass the tests of internal coherence, correspondence to reality, and the ability to lived out pragmatically. Saying live with LOVE does not count as an adequate answer to any of theose questions. The idea of love is too vague to fit. For example, if you try to live with LOVE, what does that look like? Sometimes love means giving someone a hug. Other times it means expressing itself through sex. Other times it means spanking your child. Other times it could mean killing someone in order to defend your family. You cannot supplant two thousand years of religious orthodoxy with the mantra “live with love” and expect the world to work out perfectly. The “live with love” thing was big in the sixties and seventies when everyone was high. It takes more than that for a worldview to have meaning.

      We try to be as kind as is possible on our site. I see no reason to lose civility when discussing faith.

    • Greg Gibson says:

      And Whitney… your responses to Monica are excellent by the way. Thank you for intelligently engaging this discussion with me.

  15. Whitney, I’d like to first clarify that I had no intention of getting into a debate or elongated discussion when I posted on this site. I realize that this is a Christian site, and I respect that. My original intention was to just offer the point of view of a person with that bumpersticker, since people like me were being discussed, and there was no one here to speak for us; hence, assumptions were being made that I sought to clarify. Having met my objective of simply offering a voice to those who had none (the people with that bumper sticker), I’m not sure it’s a good idea for us to go down this road of discussion, because it will likely be fruitless for both of us.

    I will respond to your post, since you took the time to respond to mine. But I probably won’t stick around much longer, because I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to get into a debate on a blog site, and because I’m sure your time is just as valuable as mine.

    1. Each person thinks their view is ‘right’ for them. The difference is that religions assert that ‘their’ view is ‘right’ for everyone else also. I am NOT saying you are wrong for having your view, as long as it’s in reference to your own life. I’m saying that religious people are wrong when they try to impose their religion on others. The reason is that NO ONE has the right to impose on others, since God gave us all free will (hopefully we can agree on that point!). What if the Muslims were the majority? I’m sure Christians wouldn’t like it if the Muslims tried to force all Christians to become Muslims. So what’s the point, then? Why fight over religion? Why not let those of other religions do whatever they want, AS LONG AS THEY DON’T HARM OR INFRINGE ON ANYONE ELSE. The bottom line is that just saying one is right doesn’t make that person right. WHO gets to decide who is right? NO ONE can prove that they are right. I can’t. You can’t. And NO ONE can speak for God. I’m not claiming to see the whole elephant.***The only entity who sees the whole elephant is God.*** You see only a part of the elephant, and I see another part. I am NOT saying the part you see is wrong. I am saying that those who claim to see the whole elephant are wrong in that assertion, because only God can see the whole elephant. It is a stalemate. There is no way all the religions will agree, as long as they continue to think they are right and everyone else is wrong. So what I am suggesting is a way to truly LOVE and respect one another, without judging them. Your book states that God is LOVE. If God is in our lives, then that Love will manifest. You ask ‘by what authority’ – my only authority FOR MYSELF is my own inner guidance – what Christians call the Holy Spirit. I am suggesting that the Holy Spirit is the ONLY authority. One person’s freedom ends where another’s begins. If each person is respected, instead of judged, we can leave the judgment to God, and get along, instead of killing one another. More wars have been fought over religion than for any other reason. As for why I believe God is LOVE, well, your own book says that, and so do nearly all the other religious texts as well, if you leave out all the extraneous details. Jesus was the ultimate expression of LOVE, and how to define Love? Simply follow his example. Forgiveness, peace, and compassion are all expressions of Love. Love need not be sexual, though it might express itself that way, provided it is based on mutual love and respect, and not just lust. But please don’t confuse sexual lust with heart-centered Love. Yes I believe God is also just, which is precisely why I do not accept that God would torture anyone forever. How could that be just? I don’t consider eternal punishment for worshiping God a different way, to be just, not even remotely! Yes, I believe God loves Hitler and Mother Theresa equally. ALL are God’s children. However Hitler will be dealt with differently than Mother Theresa. Hitler was a very disturbed, evil man. Souls like that need healing, and God has all of eternity to heal that soul. Question: If your own child was mentally disturbed and did something really, really bad, would you kill him? Would you you TORTURE him forever? Or would you try to heal him? Sure God can heal the souls he created, given enough time. I believe that all souls ultimately are healed, but it may be eons before that happens.

    2. I never said everyone’s truth is THE Truth. I said that no one has the right to determine the truth for another, provided that person isn’t imposing on anyone else.

    3. If the only way to pass your tests is to be limited to your own paradigm, then anyone can make up their own criteria and then claim that only their view passes the test and others don’t. I was trying to offer something that would work for everyone, regardless of belief, so that we, as a planet, might live together in Peace and Love. That can’t happen as long as each religion insists that only THEY are ‘right’ because they will never agree! It will be perpetual discord. Right now there are wars being fought over religion. Many Christians I know are ok with that, because, after all, ‘God’ ordered the Israelites to invade other tribes and slaughter the people, leaving no survivors, not even children. I find that reprehensible! That is why I do not believe the Old Testament to be ‘the word of God.’ You said, “You cannot supplant two thousand years of religious orthodoxy with the mantra “live with love” and expect the world to work out perfectly.” Well why not? JESUS SAID EXACTLY THAT. Jesus supplanted the orthodox religion of his time, with a new commandment: Love God, and Love your neighbor as yourself. If we cannot define LOVE, then how are we to follow Jesus’ commandment? It seems to me that this is very important, and I don’t understand why you seem to be downplaying LOVE in favor of orthodoxy, when Jesus challenged orthodoxy, in favor of LOVE.

    Living with Love would look like the life of Jesus; LOVE taken to its fullest expression. I cannot imagine Jesus slaughtering a child. I cannot imagine Jesus starting a war. The answer to your question is simple. We know what Love looks like. JESUS.

    Whitney, thank you for the discussion. I’m going to leave it now, to avoid going round and round in circles. There is no way to discuss this as long as there are presuppositions, since what I am suggesting is that the presupposition itself be questioned. You can have the last word if you like. Peace and blessings to you! =)

    • Greg Gibson says:

      Monica, thank you for your comments. You are right in saying a blog is no place for circular discussions. Nonetheless, we appreciate your insights and we hope you venture back often. If God is pure love and if the Bible is true, which we believe it is, then the greatest expression of love we can offer to others, as Christians, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your intelligent, non-argumentative, and comprehensive responses.

      Blessings to you.

    • Greg, I got a notice of a reply to my earlier posts. I want to respect your website so won’t be replying to it without your permission. Please see my previous post to Mike, awaiting moderation, in which I stated just that. If you’d rather I no longer participate, I totally understand! in which case I will ignore any future notices.

      thanks

    • Monica,

      First, let me say that your comments are very thought provoking and I hope that you find mine to be the same. Thanks for sharing your beliefs on here. Many people spend their entire lives just keeping up with the rat race and don’t even stop to think about these issues. I just discovered this blog recently and enjoyed reading all of the responses to this post. If I may, I would like to reply to some of your comments.

      You wrote: “Choice of religion is largely dependent upon cultural upbringing. If you had been raised a Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim, you would likely believe YOUR religion to be the ‘true’ religion, and indignant if a Christian expected you to convert. Question for you: How would you feel if a Hindu proselytized to you and told you that you were ‘wrong’ and that Hinduism was the ‘true’ religion? Would you convert just because he backed it up with HIS bible, the Bhagavad Gita?”

      I believe that this argument ignores the most fundamental element of Christianity, the deity of Jesus Christ. The basis of the Christianity is not ‘my book is better than your book’. Christianity is based upon the belief that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully Man, lived a sinless life, was crucified on our behalf, died, was buried, and rose from the dead 3 days later. Christianity is not simply about a book, it is about the risen Messiah. To miss this is to miss the entire point of the book. And the lynchpin of the faith is the Resurrection. Without the resurrection, Jesus is simply a crazy guy that walked around telling people he was God. In 1 Corinthians 15 the apostle Paul said, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep (i.e., died) in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If the resurrection of Christ did not actually take place, then Christianity is a futile faith filled with millions upon millions of naive and misguided believers. Well meaning folks, but nevertheless ignorant and gullible. However, if Christ rose from the dead, this changes everything. If a man who predicts his own death and resurrection actually dies and raises up out of the ground after three days, maybe it would be wise to listen to what he had to say. Something certainly happened about 2000 years ago. Whatever it may have been caused humankind to restart its system of keeping track of history using that event as the new measuring point. As Friedrich Schleiermacher put it, “We do not believe in Christ because we believe in the Bible; we believe in the Bible because we believe in Christ.”

      So, this ancient debate is not about whose book is better or whose religious or cultural traditions are better. This debate is about asking the question- Who is Jesus? All other world religions either ignore Him, deny His existence, or claim he was a great prophet/good guy/great teacher, etc. Only Christians believe that He is God. And they base that belief on the fact that He got out of a tomb, walked amongst his followers, and changed the world we live in forever. If it interests you, I would encourage you to look into the historical record and biblical record for the Resurrection of Jesus (I would recommend a book called More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell and The Case for Christ by Lee Strobell. Interestingly, McDowell’s book began as scholarly research project that intended to refute the validity of the Resurrection).

      So who did Jesus say He was? Well, in John 10:30 he says, “I and the Father are one.” A claim to be God as one third of the trinity (I understand that the a triune God that is three persons in one God is a little different. But when a dead guy starts walking, concepts such as this are accepted by faith. Reasonable faith, not blind faith, but faith nonetheless). Again in John 8:58, when Jewish opponents ask Jesus who He is, His response is, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” I AM being the same expression used when God appeared to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3. Jesus was clearly saying that He was the one speaking to Moses. Which his Jewish opponents knew was his claim to be God, which would explain why the next verse describes their attempt to stone Him for this blasphemy. Jesus claimed to be God. Therefore, He does not leave us or any other religion room to claim that he was just some good guy/prophet/teacher. Anyone who claims to be God is a crazy lunatic (insert name of any crazy lunatic during the past 50 years who has made claims to be God), unless of course their actions back up their claim, which is what Christians believe was accomplished through the Resurrection.

      So what does Jesus have to say about having a relationship with God or our eternal destination? I noticed in your comments that you gave great worth to Jesus’ commands to love God and love your neighbor. My question would be, are you willing to extend the same value to his other words. What about John 14:6 where he says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” What should we do with the passage regarding Final Judgment found in Matthew 25:41-46 where Jesus claims that the unrighteous will go away into eternal punishment (eternal fire v.41) and the righteous to eternal life? We either have to take all of Jesus’ words or none of them. His claims of deity did not leave us the option to pick and choose His words and fit them into our own religious philosophy.

      With his own words, Jesus claims that there is only one way to God. That is, through faith in Him. Therefore, Christians are not imposing their will on other religions by sharing this message, they are simply telling others about the life saving faith that they have found. Not out of coercion, but out of love. Whether a person accepts or rejects this message is up to them. But Christians are commanded to share the message. In Mark 16:15 Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” You said you believe it is wrong when religious people impose their will upon others. You have also said Christians need to respect the opinions of other faiths. Am I imposing my faith on someone if I share my faith with them, a faith that claims that Jesus is the only way? What if my faith (through Jesus) commands me to share my faith with those who do not believe? Should a person of another faith respect my opinion and respect my faith by allowing me to do what my faith calls me to do? Meaning is the respect mutual. Christians should respect other religions and other religions should respect Christians and their practices as well? The argument seems one sided to me. You are asking Christians to deny their faith by leaving other faiths alone in order to respect their beliefs, however, by doing so you are not respecting Christians because you are asking them to be silent about sharing their faith (which is a core doctrine Christian belief). I would have to agree with Whitney that you are essentially using your own religious convictions as a sword (though she did not state it in quite those terms) to tell Christians that they should not try to get other religions to convert and in the same breath say that we should all just love and respect one another’s religion.

      You also wrote: “I am no longer a Christian, because I can no longer participate in the elitism inherent in a religion that claims any group of people is ‘chosen’ over another. That is bigotry, plain and simple.” I would argue that Christianity is not some elitist club that excludes others. On the contrary, Christianity is the most inclusive faith the world has ever known. Matthew 18:14 reminds us of God’s abounding love: “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Furthermore, John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”Additionally, Revelation 5 reminds us that the kingdom of Heaven will include, “persons from every tribe and language and people and nation”. Christianity is not an exclusive club, it’s an offer of freedom to all who would surrender to Jesus the Savior. The offer is to the world, whether American, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, black, white, brown, rich or poor. Saving grace in Jesus Christ extends to all of humanity and every nation and tribe.
      You stated, “all people do in fact worship the same God, ultimately. Since there is only ONE God, then it’s impossible to worship a different ‘god’!”. Logically, this cannot be true. Mormonism teaches that there are many gods and that we can in fact become a god ourselves; Buddhism is polytheistic as Whitney pointed out; and all other world religions deny the deity of Christ except for Christianity. Can Jesus be God and not God at the same time? Some religions believe in hell, others do not, others believe in purgatory, while still others believe that we will inherit planets of our own or even 70 virgins. Objectively, they cannot all be true. Therefore, all religions cannot lead to the same God or the same eternal destination. Just because followers claim a religion to be the truth does not make it so, even if they are fiercely devoted to their religion. I agree that each culture attempts to understand who God is in their own way, but such contradictory claims to truth cannot be reconciled under the simplistic mantra “We all worship the same God”.

      I thought it was interesting that you said, “Why not let those of other religions do whatever they want, AS LONG AS THEY DON’T HARM OR INFRINGE ON ANYONE ELSE.” A few sentences down you said’ “no one has the right to determine the truth for another, provided that person isn’t imposing on anyone else.” Here is my question in response- what if I decided that I was going to begin a modern day religion that was based on the Incan religious tradition of child sacrifice to appease the “god’s” that I believed in. Do you think I should be left alone to practice my religion based upon my own personal convictions? Considering your statement in bold above I believe you would say no, due to the fact that my religion is causing harm to another. You essentially said that no one has the right to determine the truth for another, unless someone is being hurt. By what authority do you have to tell me that I cannot harm another in my religious practice?
      When Whitney asked a similar question you responded- “my only authority FOR MYSELF is my own inner guidance – what Christians call the Holy Spirit.” But what makes your inner guidance any more authoritative than mine? My inner guidance tells me that killing children is appropriate to appease my gods. Why should I listen to your inner guidance that tells you that killing children is wrong? If your only standard for moral behavior is what you feel inside, then what I feel inside may be very different. I am not trying to put words in your mouth but as I understand it, you would allow everyone to practice their religion unless it hurt someone else. So, you are using a subjective standard of truth to say “no one has the right to determine the truth for another”, but some sort of objective standard of truth to say that my religious practices of sacrificing children are wrong. So is truth objective, or is it subjective? I am not aware of a third alternative. Are there certain objective truths that should apply to all of us at all times regardless of our religion (for example rape and murder)? If so, who determines the standard for such behavior? Who sets these objective rules? My point is that you cannot champion the cause of subjective truth and expect it to stay in a neat little box. When taken to its logical conclusion, subjective truth results in Nihilism and often destruction of the helpless. Again, I am not answering the question for you, I am just trying to reconcile your position on truth based upon my example above. I would appreciate your comments if you think that my analysis was incorrect.

      I would agree with you that Christianity, in North America at least, has far too often become only about getting a ticket to heaven. The ticket to heaven mentality is self serving, while Christ calls us to serve others.

      You are correct that we all have our presuppositions. No one is a blank slate. We all view the world through our own lens and filter information through our own grid. Christians just view the world with the underlying assumption that Christ is Risen. I respect that your opinion is different than mine. However, I would encourage you to spend some time studying the Resurrection yourself. You may find that it helps you further support your current positions on matters of faith, or it may bring some interesting things to light. There is nothing more worthy of our time then studying that all important event in history and choosing whether to believe it did or did not occur.

      I will conclude with this. You stated that, “Living with Love would look like the life of Jesus; LOVE taken to its fullest expression.” This reminded me of John 15:9-13 where Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus laid down his life so that we could experience joy, meaning, and purpose in this life (which does not mean riches and an easy life as some modern day pastors believe), and eternal life in an unimaginable place called heaven. His brutal death on the cross is the “fullest expression” of love the world has ever known. And because of this great love, Christians are compelled in love, to follow Jesus’ commands in Mark 16:15 to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Not from a heart of coercion, but from a heart of compassion. It is this type of love, rooted in truth that has changed the world.

      Considering that you do not claim to be a Christian, I assume that you do not view the Resurrection as a true event. I will leave you with this question. What if you are wrong? What if Jesus actually rose from the dead? Would His words be any more powerful? If that actually happened should we give more weight to them say over the words of any another religious guru? If I am wrong I have lived moral life (though admittedly still battling my sinful nature until my death) and used my days to love others and perhaps annoyed a few people along the way that did not want me to talk about my faith to them. But if you are wrong, it’s a high price to pay. Is it worth it to you to dig a little deeper into this Resurrection issue on your own? Would it be worth the price of your soul to spend a few hours or a few weeks reading into this issue? My advice- question everything, but seek TRUTH. Don’t take my word or any other human’s word for it. If your soul is potentially at stake, in earnestness, seek these answers for yourself. I am convinced from stories in Christian history and from modern day stories as well, that those who seek to understand who Jesus is and seek to understand the miracle of his Resurrection from the dead end up coming face to face with the One who is the fullest expression of love.

      For the Kingdom,
      Mike Smith

    • Hi Mike! I had already bowed out of this discussion. In respect to the fact that this is a Christian website, I will refrain from any further discussion unless I get permission from Greg.

      blessings to you

    • Mike, with Greg’s approval, here is my response. Again, no disrespect intended. I am just honestly answering your points. Thank you for the respectful discussion. How refreshing! (Note to moderator: This is long so it might max out. It should end with the word ‘peace’ – if not then part of it got cut off.)

      [First, let me say that your comments are very thought provoking and I hope that you find mine to be the same.] Yes, thanks!
      [I believe that this argument ignores the most fundamental element of Christianity, the deity of Jesus Christ.] That too is a belief. All religions have their beliefs. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant to my point that it’s a belief. [The basis of the Christianity is not ‘my book is better than your book’. Christianity is based upon the belief that] See, it’s a belief, based on a story written in a book. The story may or may not be true. But we cannot expect others to accept it as true just because we accept it on faith as true. [To miss this is to miss the entire point of the book. And the lynchpin of the faith is the Resurrection.] Every religion has its own lynchpin. [Something certainly happened about 2000 years ago.] Agreed! I agree it was significant. I just disagree as to the nature of that significance. [Whatever it may have been caused humankind to restart its system of keeping track of history using that event as the new measuring point.] That by itself doesn’t necessarily mean anything, as that could have been a political decision.
      [All other world religions either ignore Him, deny His existence, or claim he was a great prophet/good guy/great teacher, etc. Only Christians believe that He is God.] Why wouldn’t they ignore him or deny him or downplay him? Christians do that with Allah, Buddha, Krishna, etc. [they base that belief on the fact that He got out of a tomb] Other religions/cultures have stories of heroes & spiritual avatars performing miracles and rising from the dead too. The story is not unique. Please note that I am NOT in any way demeaning Jesus’ life or actions. If anything, the fact that similar themes are found throughout many myths and legends just adds to the significance of those archetypal themes. They are rooted in our consciousness and surface again and again, for a reason.
      Even some Christians acknowledge that the story of Jesus’ resurrection isn’t unique:
      [QUOTE:
      The resurrection archetype has been operative for unnumbered ages in the psyche of the race. This archetype exerted a great influence over tribal myth makers and story tellers. This fact is central to any informed understanding of the origin of myths of death and revival. Sometimes such myths were constructed around the deeds of a local hero who brought great boons to the community after undergoing severe tests. That is, years after the death of a local hero, myth makers embellished his legend with stories of some kind of revival from the dead.
      This, according to the late Joseph Campbell, is the great monomyth, the myth that sums up the lesson of all myths. Later, the myths were redacted and retold regionally. Some of the myths of so-called dying and rising gods became accepted by entire peoples in larger geographical areas. --ENDQUOTE] from http://www.paganlibrary.com/reference/pagan_resurrection_myths.php based on the Christian book:

      Pagan Resurrection Myths and the Resurrection of Jesus: A Christian Perspective by Leon McKenzie.
      I don’t agree with the author’s conclusions, but the point is that even some Christians no longer dispute that the resurrection story is not unique to Jesus. Now your response might be, “But those are just myths and legends, whereas Jesus really existed.” which might be true…or it might not. Many true events end up becoming myths and legends, over time, as the stories are passed down.
      [Anyone who claims to be God is a crazy lunatic (insert name of any crazy lunatic during the past 50 years who has made claims to be God), unless of course their actions back up their claim, which is what Christians believe was accomplished through the Resurrection.] This presupposes that humans are not capable of miracles. Yet history abounds with plenty of stories of miracles. All religions and cultures have their versions of miracles. There have been plenty of people claiming to be God, with or without miracles, and plenty of people who performed miracles, with or without claiming to be God.
      [you gave great worth to Jesus’ commands to love God and love your neighbor.] Yes, because it is the distillation of the best, most virtuous ideals of all the many religions. It is also what Jesus emphasized the most, fwiw. [are you willing to extend the same value to his other words.] No, because Jesus didn’t write any of those words. ALL of them were written by others, and ascribed to him. Others with human faults, imperfect memories, and their own biases and interpretations. To take those words literally and authoritatively, is essentially putting your faith in those MEN.
      [where Jesus claims that the unrighteous will go away into eternal punishment (eternal fire v.41) and the righteous to eternal life?] That’s a good example of why I don’t believe those words are accurate. The whole premise is so cruel that I cannot believe Jesus would have anything to do with it. I mean, think about it: ETERNAL punishment??? Would you sentence your own child to ETERNAL punishment? For awhile, sure, to teach him, but not forEVER! Surely God has more love and mercy than you do, dontcha think? The entire premise is based on a concept I do not believe a just God would support. I believe God is absolutely just, and a system that tortures MOST souls, most of whom weren’t even horrible but just worshiped in a different way, is NOT just. Not even close! [We either have to take all of Jesus’ words or none of them.] No we don’t. We can use our God-given intellect and discernment. Part of that is realizing that humans wrote those words. I invite you to consider this: WHAT IF the Bible wasn’t intended to be taken literally, but was intended as a test of discernment? I realize that’s a radical idea…but what if?[His claims of deity did not leave us the option to pick and choose His words and fit them into our own religious philosophy.] Why can’t we form our own religious philosophy? With the Holy Spirit to guide us, why not? I trust the Holy Spirit more than words written by imperfect humans thousands of years ago. As long as we’re not harming anyone else, our own personal spiritual path is between us and God. It’s no one else’s business but our own. Ultimately, each of us will have to answer to God. We all choose our own personal philosophy anyway. Some just choose to accept what others have already formulated, but we all choose.
      [With his own words, Jesus claims that there is only one way to God.] Respectfully, Mike, a man claimed that Jesus said that, and you have chosen to believe it. It doesn’t make sense to me, so I am choosing to not believe it. Jesus never wrote any books, so we really don’t know what he said. [Christians are not imposing their will on other religions by sharing this message, they are simply telling others about the life saving faith that they have found. Not out of coercion, but out of love.] Sure, nothing wrong with that, as long as there isn’t coercion. But, unfortunately, there is a lot of coercion. And fear tactics. [Am I imposing my faith on someone if I share my faith with them, a faith that claims that Jesus is the only way?] No, not at all. It would only be wrong if you continued to proselytize after they tell you they aren’t interested. If they decline your ‘sharing’ it’s time to back off, in respect of their free will. [Should a person of another faith respect my opinion and respect my faith by allowing me to do what my faith calls me to do? Meaning is the respect mutual.] Sure, as long as you aren’t intruding on their own free will, and back off when they ask you to. Your free will shouldn’t override theirs. That is the yardstick. [You are asking Christians to deny their faith by leaving other faiths alone in order to respect their beliefs, however, by doing so you are not respecting Christians because you are asking them to be silent about sharing their faith (which is a core doctrine Christian belief).] No. I never said Christians should be silent about sharing their faith. I said they shouldn’t impose it on others who don’t want to hear about it. [you are essentially using your own religious convictions as a sword... to tell Christians that they should not try to get other religions to convert and in the same breath say that we should all just love and respect one another’s religion.] No, I’m saying go ahead and OFFER your faith to others. But if they decline, respect their choice without judging them. Leave the judgment to God.
      [I would argue that Christianity is not some elitist club that excludes others.] I’d say anything that excludes about 80% of the population is pretty elitist. [On the contrary, Christianity is the most inclusive faith the world has ever known.] It doesn’t include those of other faiths, unless they first convert to your faith! Therefore, it includes only your faith. Iow, sure, anyone can join your private club any time, yes, but if they choose to NOT join your private club, if they choose to remain Buddhist or whatever, then they aren’t admitted to ‘heaven.’ That’s exclusive.
      I just don’t see God telling that sincere, love-filled Buddhist, “Sorry, you will BURN forever, because you didn’t believe Jesus died for your sins, and chose to meditate instead of reading the Bible.” I mean, really, the idea of the Creator being that petty, is ludicrous to me, no disrespect intended, but I just don’t buy that.
      [your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.] And yet, if the Christian belief is true, most DO perish, simply for seeking God in a different way. Therefore God loses. Well, I don’t think God is a loser. I don’t believe all those souls are lost. And there’s no way to reconcile my perception of a just God, with the Christian view of a God who would abandon 80% of the population at the moment of their last Earthly breath.[the kingdom of Heaven will include, “persons from every tribe and language and people and nation”.] And every religion? Or just those who converted to Christianity?
      [Objectively, they cannot all be true. Therefore, all religions cannot lead to the same God or the same eternal destination.] That’s true if you look at only the superficial details. But if you eliminate all the fluff, all the extraneous judgments, rules, etc. and leave only GOD (ie. LOVE) then yes, they can all be true, because people do find Love in nearly all religions. You can find both hateful, violent people as well as loving, compassionate people in every religion. [Just because followers claim a religion to be the truth does not make it so, even if they are fiercely devoted to their religion.] Very true! Can you see how I might feel that this applies to Christianity as well? [I agree that each culture attempts to understand who God is in their own way, but such contradictory claims to truth cannot be reconciled under the simplistic mantra “We all worship the same God”.] They can be reconciled only if you reduce it down to its lowest common denominator: LOVE. Which I find a sensible approach, given that this is the only thing we can all agree on, not to mention that your own book says God=Love.
      [what if I decided that I was going to begin a modern day religion that was based on the Incan religious tradition of child sacrifice to appease the “god’s” that I believed in. Do you think I should be left alone to practice my religion based upon my own personal convictions?] Of course not, because you have crossed the line of harming others. (Incidentally, there is plenty of blood sacrifice in the Old Testament, and Abraham didn’t seem too surprised at “God’s” request that he kill his own son. So apparently, it was quite common at the time.) [Considering your statement in bold above I believe you would say no, due to the fact that my religion is causing harm to another.] Ah, you are getting to know me! =) [You essentially said that no one has the right to determine the truth for another, unless someone is being hurt. By what authority do you have to tell me that I cannot harm another in my religious practice?] I have no authority. That is my whole point. Since each person has their own beliefs, no one has the right to decide for another. There are no authorities. There is no way to decide that one belief win over another, except by brute force, which is against everything we know to be good. The only way for us to coexist is if we have a ground rule of no harm. That way, each person is free to believe as they wish, provided they don’t infringe on the rights of others.
      [But what makes your inner guidance any more authoritative than mine? My inner guidance tells me that killing children is appropriate to appease my gods. Why should I listen to your inner guidance that tells you that killing children is wrong?]
      You don’t need to listen to my inner guidance. You can go ahead and think that killing children is ok, all you want. You just can’t ACT on it.
      This is a straw man argument, routinely thrown out by Christians to attempt to discredit other beliefs. It falls apart quickly, because no one, regardless of culture or religion, is going to be ok with someone else killing their kids. This argument actually supports my assertion rather than refutes it. You clearly wouldn’t want me killing your kids, right? Well, obviously neither would I. The only way we can compromise at all is for neither of us to have the authority to kill the other’s kids. That is the common denominator. If one person had authority over another, that would mean that the victim had no freedom, see? And the whole idea is that each person does have freedom. So your illustration isn’t accurate. It doesn’t actually portray what I am suggesting, because, as I said several times, one person’s freedom ends where another’s begins. So if a pedophile wants to rape a child, too bad. He doesn’t get to, plain and simple. He has crossed a line. He can think it in his mind all he wants – no one can control that – but he won’t be allowed to actually do it.
      [some sort of objective standard of truth to say that my religious practices of sacrificing children are wrong. So is truth objective, or is it subjective?] I agree that we need some sort of objective rules for society, but not for personal, philosophical truth. The question is, who gets to decide what that is? Does majority rule? If Christians are the majority, then they get to impose their rules on people they think are evil, such as Pagans, gays, etc.? What if Muslims were the majority? Do you see the problem with that? That’s why I’m trying to draw a distinction between objective rules for society, vs objective rules for truth. I am proposing that we have objective rules for society, but allow people the freedom to believe as they wish. Which is pretty much what we have here in this country, in principle. My personal truth cannot be judged or decided by you. You can think whatever you want. You can think I am going to ‘hell’ whatever. It doesn’t matter because your opinion of me doesn’t affect me. However, if someone tries to sacrifice a child, he IS affecting another. Therefore he wouldn’t be allowed to do that. He has crossed a line. So yes there has to be an objective boundary, but it is based on actions, not beliefs. Each person can believe whatever they want. They can believe it’s ok to sacrifice children, but they cannot ACT on those beliefs. Do you see the difference?
      [I am not aware of a third alternative. Are there certain objective truths that should apply to all of us at all times regardless of our religion (for example rape and murder)?] Yes. [If so, who determines the standard for such behavior? Who sets these objective rules?] Very simple. We already have laws in place for all those things (with the exception of abortion, which I am in agreement with you on, and the routine torture and murder of animals, which I feel equally strongly about.) Enforcing those laws is a different matter, of course. But we already have laws against harming others. That’s pretty standard stuff in civilized societies. Many countries are still backwards of course. I am absolutely in favor of trying to work with those cultures, for humanitarian reasons.
      [My point is that you cannot champion the cause of subjective truth and expect it to stay in a neat little box.] Sure I can. I just did. =)
      [When taken to its logical conclusion, subjective truth results in Nihilism and often destruction of the helpless.] I am not proposing it be taken to the extreme. I am referring to personal beliefs, not actions against others. That is the difference. Never did I say anything about anyone having the freedom to harm another just because of their own subjective beliefs. In fact I have clearly said the opposite!
      [The ticket to heaven mentality is self serving, while Christ calls us to serve others.] I’m glad we agree on that! =) I think that mentality gets in the way of Christ’s message to Love others. A Christian friend once told me that she is pulling away from her husband, between he isn’t ‘saved’ and she knows she will be separated from him for all eternity, so she wants to start cutting herself off from him now. She also said that God will erase her memory of him. This, imo, contradicts Jesus’ admonition to Love others. I find this very sad, that her religious fixation on the selfish ‘getting saved’ has actually gotten in the way of her loving and serving others.
      [I would encourage you to spend some time studying the Resurrection yourself. ] I have done so, quite extensively. I was a Christian for many years. Thank you for your respectful suggestion rather than telling me I am destined for ‘hell’ as I’ve been told before! (although you might be thinking it, haha)
      [Jesus laid down his life so that we could experience joy, meaning, and purpose in this life (which does not mean riches and an easy life as some modern day pastors believe), and eternal life in an unimaginable place called heaven.] This is where I disagree. I believe (just my own belief, fwiw) that he laid down his life to teach us how to love and forgive, not to ‘save’ us. Only by our own Love, by opening our heart to Love, are we ‘saved.’ And saved from what? Not from eternal hell, in my belief, but from more time spent on the wheel of karma. In my view, karma is a just system, because we stay here until we learn to LOVE. Jesus said, “All these things I do, you shall do also” and commanded us to forgive 70 times 7, forgive our enemies, turn the other cheek, etc. And yet, right now Christians are supporting wars!!! How do they possibly justify that?
      I don’t believe Jesus laid down his life so we could experience joy, although we do experience more joy as we open our hearts to LOVE. I believe Jesus’ mission was to teach us how to follow his example, so that we can open our hearts to Love and to Joy.
      [His brutal death on the cross is the “fullest expression” of love the world has ever known.]
      Agreed!
      [And because of this great love, Christians are compelled in love, to follow Jesus’ commands in Mark 16:15 to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Not from a heart of coercion, but from a heart of compassion.] If they only did that, I would have no argument at all. But many of them do coerce and judge. A college student recently told me of a pastor who showed up at the campus, with signs saying “God hates f**s and “all f**s go to hell.” That’s not Love! That’s hate. A co-worker told me that all Iraqis should be killed, since they are going to ‘hell’ anyway. ??? A local Christian pastor told me he supported war because “God likes war. The Bible is full of wars.” That is a direct quote! I find the literal belief in the Bible just as dangerous as the literal belief in the Koran, since both have references to God-ordained violence, which are used to justify their hate.
      [It is this type of love, rooted in truth that has changed the world.] Changed the world in what way? Look around you. There is still an enormous amount of violence and evil in the world. Yes, Christianity has been responsible for a lot of good. But a lot of bad as well. Same with other religions and ideologies. The world is still pretty messed up. I’d say as a whole, humanity gets a D-. Look at how much hate and bigotry are being spewed out right now, even in this country, over politics.
      [I assume that you do not view the Resurrection as a true event.] Nope. I consider it true. (surprised?) So your next question becomes moot. I absolutely do believe in miracles, and I absolutely do believe Jesus performed miracles, to the point of overcoming death, for the purpose of demonstrating Love and forgiveness. Lots of humans have suffered horribly. Many have even been martyred. But how many faced their death with forgiveness? Jesus was the perfect example of that perfect love and forgiveness. His sacrifice was profound because of the lesson it offered us. Other spiritual avatars have offered different lessons, but Jesus’ mission was definitely special, in that respect, imho.
      [Would it be worth the price of your soul to spend a few hours or a few weeks reading into this issue?] I have been a serious spiritual seeker for 30 years. My faith continues to evolve. I no longer believe that anyone’s soul will be lost to hellfire. I believe that is just a fear tactic perpetuated by humans, to control the masses and keep them from asking the deep questions. So, since I don’t accept the premise of a soul being lost because of mere beliefs, I am not concerned for my soul. I DO, however, believe that the planet is at a crossroads right now, what the Christians call the ‘end times’ so I DO believe it is a critically important to wake up to Love and forgiveness. That is just my opinion, fwiw. I DO believe there will be consequences for those who have not learned to Love. I would be much more concerned about those whose hearts are closed, regardless of their beliefs. Ironically, while some Christians are thinking they have their ticket just because of their beliefs, and are concerned about people like me, I am actually concerned about them, if they are caught up in judgment rather than Love. =( Yes, that is ironic indeed!
      [My advice- question everything, but seek TRUTH. Don’t take my word or any other human’s word for it.] Agreed. That is good advice, and I invite you to follow it as well! =) [If your soul is potentially at stake, in earnestness, seek these answers for yourself.] I would be much more concerned about those who are refusing to love and forgive, rather than those who simply believe a different way. Mike, you have just engaged in a deep dialog with me. I am a real person. Can you tell I am an earnest seeker? Here’s a question for you: Could YOU sentence me to eternal hellfire? I invite you to think about that. Surely God has more love and mercy than you do.
      The bottom line, imho, is that Christians waste waaaaaaaay too much time trying to convert people like me, when, meanwhile, the true evil is running rampant. You and I should be working TOGETHER to shine LOVE into the world, instead of debating mere beliefs. We could do a lot more good if we joined our hearts in LOVE instead of bickering about beliefs. I’m not saying you are bickering. You have been most respectful and I appreciate that! I’m speaking in generalities here.
      peace

  16. Thanks Greg! Blessings!

    • Greg Gibson says:

      Monica, wow, thank you so much for your cordial approach to discussion and debate. Often times, when 2 presuppositions oppose each other this is not the case. We would all do well to follow your example in this. Please feel free to respond at your discretion.

      I actually finding much enjoyment in following this discussion myself.

      Blessings to you,

      Greg

    • Thanks Greg! I think public discussion forums are fair game, but forums and blogs that are clearly Christian, should not be invaded by those with an agenda. Just as Christians should not invade other private forums. That’s why I wanted to get permission from you before replying. I understand that you might not want my heretical beliefs corrupting your readers.

      Thanks for being so gracious! If at any time you would prefer that I no longer participate, just say the word and I will leave.

    • Just to clarify: I have no agenda, other than seeking communication and understanding. (In my last post I was referring to those who disrespectfully invade private forums with agendas.)

  17. Mike Smith says:

    Monica,

    Sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your post. I have been busy with work, family, life…sorry. I want to respond to your specific points and perhaps I will have time to do that in the next week or so. But I wanted to address what I believe is your main concern with Christianity-that the Bible is mythological book simply written by men. Below is an essay that I have been working on for quite some time. Your comments on this site helped motivate me to complete it and share it with my friends, family, etc. I hope that you find it encouraging this Christmas season.

    THE BIBLE IS A MYTH?
    – Michael Smith

    The Bible is the most unique book ever written. It has no equal. All other religious texts pale in comparison to the Bible’s historical accuracy and truth.

    The bible is composed of sixty six books written by over forty authors from kings to fisherman, from doctors to common folks, from shepherds to soldiers, from intellectuals to the uneducated, from rich to poor, men and women, in three languages on three continents over the course of about 1600 years. Amazingly, none of the writings contradict themselves and they form a complete unified message- that man’s sinfulness separates him (or her) from a Holy God and that the perfect sacrifice of Jesus is the only path to restoring man’s broken relationship with his Creator. Furthermore, it is the best-selling book of all time with over 6 Billion copies sold.
    Is the Bible just a mythological religious book written by men, or is it the inspired Word of the Living God written to reveal God’s redemptive story to his creation? I believe that the evidence speaks for itself.

    Scientific Evidence:

    The bible is not necessarily a science textbook. However, as with all other subjects mentioned in the Bible, whenever the Bible speaks on scientific topics it speaks with truth and astonishing accuracy. For example:

    1 Corinthians 15:41 (English Standard Version; the version I used throughout) says, “ There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.” The book of 1 Corinthians was written by the apostle Paul nearly 2000 years ago. Yet Paul is claiming that each star in the universe is unique, even though all stars would have looked virtually the same to the naked eye of people living in the first century. With the use of modern telescopes we are now able to see that each star is unique in color (due to its temperature), brightness, and size. This revelation is clearly inspired by an all knowing God who spoke the stars of the cosmos into existence.

    The book of Job, which many scholars believe is the oldest book in the Bible, describes the suspension of Earth in space. Something that man did not discover until several thousand years later. Job 26:7- “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.”

    Leviticus 17:11, written between the 15th and 13th century B.C. states that blood sustains life (“For the life of the flesh is in the blood”). As we now know, blood carries nourishment to our cells and it carries oxygen from the lungs throughout the body.William Harvey, an English physician, discovered in 1628 that the movement of blood through the body in a circuit was the key process which sustained human and animal life. His discovery confirmed God’s revelation in Leviticus 3,000 years earlier. Interestingly, referring to his studies, Harvey said “…I found the task so truly arduous… that I was almost tempted to think… that the movement of the heart was only to be comprehended by God.”

    When speaking to Moses, God gave a commandment for the people of Israel to circumcise every male child on the eight day after their birth. Leviticus 12:3 says, “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” Why the 8th day? Because the God who created life knew what we have now discovered with through modern medicine, that the two main blood clotting factors, Vitamin K and Prothrombim, reach their highest level in life, about 110% of normal, on the 8th day after birth. These blood clotting agents facilitate rapid healing and greatly reduce the chance of infection. Which is why God gave the command to perform this surgical procedure on day eight.

    The movement of water over the face of the earth and the water cycle are both described in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 1:7- “All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.” Job 36:27-29 – “For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly.”

    The book of Isaiah, written between 740 and 681 B.C., described the earth as a sphere. Isaiah 40:22- “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in.” In 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus based his entire expedition to the American continents upon this truth. The scientific minds of his day believed that the world was flat, and that any western exploration would lead to the ship and her crew falling off the face of the earth to their death. However, Columbus did not put his faith in the popular views of his day. In his personal journal, Columbus explains,

    “It was the Lord who put it into my mind, I could feel His hand upon me, the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me with rays of marvelous inspiration from the Holy Scriptures. I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous Presence. For the execution of the voyage to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied……No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will, even though He gives advice. Oh, what a gracious Lord, who desires that people should perform for Him those things for which He holds Himself responsible! Day and night, moment by moment, everyone should express their most devoted gratitude to Him.”

    In contrast to the Bible, other major religious texts contain various scientific fallacies. For example, the Book of Mormon claims that leprosy occurred in the Americas in A.D. 34 (3 Nephi 17:7), but leprosy was not present in the New World until European colonization. In fact, the first case of leprosy in the Americas did not occur until 1758 in the area that is now Florida. Additionally, 1 Nephi 2:6-9 speaks of an Arabian river named Laman that flows continually into the Red Sea. There are no rivers in Arabia (nor have there been in history) that flow into the Red Sea. Furthermore, and contrary to 1 Nephi 18:25, North America did not have cows, oxen, asses, horses or goats between 600 B.C. and the time European colonists brought them. The Book of Mormon also erroneously claims that baldness is caused by sin (2 Nephi 13:24). The Koran claims that semen comes from the back or the kidney area (The Women 4:23, Al-Nisa; The Heights 7:172, Al-Araf) while science confirms that semen comes from the testicles. Moreover, nursing passes on genetic traits (The Women 4:23, Al-Nisa), to which modern medicine disagrees. Also, the Koran claims that the sun sets in murky water – “Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water” (Quran 18:86).

    Interestingly, King David writes in Psalm 19:1-4, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

    Prophecy:

    Prophecy, or the predicting of the future, can be found throughout the Bible. There are about 2500 prophecies in the Bible and about 2000 of them have already been fulfilled with 100% accuracy (pretty good track record and no other religious text can make such a claim). The other 500 are predictions for future events. Additionally, there are over 300 Messianic Prophecies which were all fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. A comprehensive study of study of biblical prophecy is outside the scope of this paper, not to mention such study has been the life’s work of many scholars. However, I do want to mention two major prophecies in scripture, the prophecy regarding the nation of Israel and the Messianic Prophecies.

    Prophecy and the Nation of Israel:

    It is clear that God has sustained the Jewish people and their culture throughout history in extraordinary fashion. The Nation of Israel began with God’s promise to a nomad named Abraham. Then after 400 years of slavery in Egypt they conquered the surrounding nations in what is now modern day Israel, were exiled to Assyria (722 B.C.) and Babylon (586 B.C.), returned to the promised land under Persian, Greek, and Roman rule (respectively) and were eventually banned from their land in 70 A.D. after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. For the next 1900 years the Jewish people were scattered among the nations. Ezekiel 12:15 states, “And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries.” Mark Twain visited Israel in 1867 and described it as follows:

    “…A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

    Twains description is not surprising considering that the Bible prophesied that Israel would become a wasteland where nothing would grow (Deuteronomy 29:23).
    However, the Lord’s restoration of Israel was prophesied in Jeremiah 16:14-15-“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.” The beginning of this prophecy started in 1948 when Israel became a nation again after 1900 years of not being in existence. Israel is now home to over 6 million Jews. Also, Zechariah 8:12 declares “The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.” Today, Israel is a major exporter of fresh produce and a world leader in agricultural technologies despite the fact that their geography is not naturally conducive to agriculture (I wonder how that could be?) They also produce 95% of their own food requirements. It is undeniable that there is a supernatural evil (Satan) that has opposed the Jewish people (God’s chosen people) throughout their history and during modern times (i.e., Muslim opposition; the killing of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust). However, an even more powerful supernatural force of good (God) has sustained His people despite its often tragic history.

    Prophecy and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

    There are over 300 Messianic Prophecies in scripture which were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Below are a few examples. In parentheses are the Old Testament prophecy (hundreds of years prior to the fulfillment), followed by the reference to the fulfilled prophecy in the New Testament. Archeological finds such as the Dead Sea Scrolls (which are dated in the 2nd century B.C.) provide further evidence to the pre-Messianic nature of the prophecies.

    The Messiah would be a descendant of King David (2 Sam.7:12; Luke 1:32-33)

    The Messiah would be born to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23)

    The Messiah would be born in the small town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-5; Luke 2: 4-7, Matthew 2: 1-6)

    The Messiah will be visited by great kings (Psalm 72:10,11; Matthew 2-11)

    The Messiah would be silent before His accusers and would not retaliate (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27: 12-19)

    The Messiah would be crucified (Psalm 22; Matthew 27:34-50)

    The Messiah would be pierced in His side (Zechariah 2:10; John 19:34-37)

    The Messiah would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-15)

    The Messiah would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Mark 16:6)

    Statistically speaking, if one person in history were to have fulfilled only 8 of these prophecies during their lifetime, the odds would be 1 in 1017 (see Peter Stoner, Scientific Proof of the Accuracy of Prophecy in the Bible). For example, that would be like covering the state of Texas 2 feet deep with silver dollars, marking one of the silver dollars, stirring them all over the state, and then having a blindfolded person travel around the state, stopping only one time and selecting the marked silver dollar. When we increase the number of prophecies to 48, the odds increase to 1 in 10157. Remember, Jesus fulfilled over 300 such prophecies. Stoner concludes, “The fulfillment of these 8 prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of those prophecies to a definiteness which lacks only one chance in ten to the seventeenth power of being absolute.”

    Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus:

    William Lane Craig states, “Against the dark background of modern man’s despair, the Christian proclamation of the resurrection is a bright light of hope…If Jesus rose from the dead, then his claims are vindicated and our Christian hope is sure; if Jesus did not rise, our faith is futile and we fall back into despair”. Or as the Apostle Paul puts it, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep (i.e., died) in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). The bodily physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the lynchpin of Christianity. If it is not true, objectively that is, then Christianity is just a cruel hoax and its followers are simply naive fools.

    What are Jesus’ claims? He claimed to be God (John 10:30- “I and the Father are one”; John 8:58- “Before Abraham was, I AM”- which is a reference to God calling himself “I AM” when speaking to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3). And He claimed to be the only way to reconcile man’s broken relationship with God the Father (John 14:6- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”). The Resurrection of Jesus is the miraculous confirmation of Jesus’ radical claims to be God and the hope for all of humanity. Consider the following evidence to support the truthfulness of the Resurrection:

    The disciples walked with Jesus every day during his ministry, yet scattered when Jesus was betrayed and crucified. Peter, as we know, denied knowing Christ three times. Additionally, after Jesus’ death, the scriptures tell us that the disciples briefly went back to their old lives (ex: In John 21 seven of them went fishing). However, something radically changed them, and the preaching ministry of these men became the foundation for the Christian faith. In fact, they were willing to die to proclaim the risen Christ that they had witnessed themselves. Some people say that dying for religion has happened for centuries (i.e., terrorists willing to kill themselves by running airplanes into skyscrapers). True, many people throughout history have been willing to die for something that is not true under the banner of religious devotion. However, the disciples would have had firsthand knowledge that the Resurrection story was some type of clever hoax that they all devised together. Though they were in the best position of any persons in human history to expose and squelch a Resurrection myth, they lived the remainder of their lives in total devotion to sharing the Gospel or “Good News” of Jesus throughout the world. Undoubtedly, most if not all of them would have renounced their claims of seeing the Resurrected Christ when faced with the possibility of bodily harm or death. However, most of them died heinous deaths for their beliefs and not one of them renounced the Resurrection. For example: Simon Peter (who denied Christ) was crucified upside down, Andrew was crucified, James was beheaded, Phillip was crucified, and doubting Thomas was speared to death. Their lives and deaths bear witness to the living Jesus.

    Postmortem Appearances: 1 Corinthians 15: 3-9 explains that the risen Christ appeared to Peter, the 12 disciples, and over 500 followers at one time. Paul, the author, points out that of the 500, most are still alive. In other words, his letter written between 53-55 A.D. makes it clear that the eyewitnesses are there for questioning.

    Non Biblical historical records also serve to verify the truth of the Resurrection event. Josephus, a first century Jewish historian wrote, “At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was a doer of amazing deeds, a teacher of persons who receive truth with pleasure. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when Pilate condemned him to the cross, the leading men among us having accused him, those who loved him from the first did not cease to do so. For he appeared to them the third day alive again, the divine prophets having spoken these things and a myriad of other marvels concerning him. And to the present the tribe of Christians, named after this person, has not disappeared.”

    As Friedrich Schleiermacher aptly put it, “We do not believe in Christ because we believe in the Bible; we believe in the Bible because we believe in Christ.”

    [Extensive information regarding the Resurrection can be found in Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ and Josh McDowell’s book More Than a Carpenter]

    Evidence from Archeology:

    The scientific discipline of archeology has produced a growing body of evidence which helps to confirm the truthfulness of the Bible. An extensive study of archeology is beyond the scope of this text, however, the following are just a few examples of archeological finds which support the Biblical record:

    The Dead Sea Scrolls: were discovered in 11 caves along the northern shore of the Dead Sea (east of Jerusalem) from 1947-1956. 15,000 fragments from over 500 manuscripts were found. Manuscript fragments from every book of the Old Testament (except for the book of Esther) predating the birth of Christ were discovered, including 19 copies of the book of Isaiah and 30 copies of Psalm (2 of the books mentioned above which contain extensive prophesies regarding the coming Messiah). The Isaiah scroll was over 1000 years older than the oldest previously known copy of the book and was dated over 100 years before Christ.

    The Pilate Stone: is a limestone block dated from 26-37 A.D. which contains the inscription of the name Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor who ordered Jesus to be crucified. The block was a building dedication for the Caesarea Maritima, an ancient theatre built by Herod the Great. During the early 20th century, many scholars questioned the existence of Pilate. However, Dr. Antonio Frova’s discovery of the stone in 1961 provides further evidence for the reliability of the Gospels.

    The Pool of Bethesda: is mentioned in the Gospel of John, chapter 5, in verses 2-9. “Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades”(v. 2). John then proceeds to tell the story of Jesus healing a man beside the pool who had been an invalid for 38 years. Until the 19th century there was no evidence outside of John’s Gospel account which verified the existence of this pool. However, in 1964, archeologists found the remains of the pool exactly as John had described it.

    According to Dr. Nelson Glueck, a Jewish Rabbi and one of the world’s foremost archeologists of the 20th century, “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.”

    In contrast, there is no archeological evidence which supports the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon presents a story of the inhabitants of the Americas from about 600 B.C. to about 421 A.D. The book of Mormon describes ancient cities, large scale battles, and the use iron (2 Nephi 5:15), steel (1 Nephi 4:9) and vehicles with wheels (Alma 18:9-10). In 1997, the Smithsonian Institution issued a standard reply to requests for their opinion regarding the Book of Mormon as an archaeological or scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution replied, “Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteoric iron). Native copper was worked in various locations in pre-Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys, but not iron.” In conclusion, the Smithsonian Institution emphatically stated, “The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.” To my knowledge, the lack of evidence for the Book of Mormon is of little consequence to the LDS church because the historical authenticity of the book for its believers is a matter of faith (or a “burning in the bosom”), albeit blind faith.

    New Testament Manuscript Evidence:

    There are over 24,000 manuscript copies of the New Testament text, easily making the New Testament the most reliable book of antiquity in the world. The second most reliable book of antiquity is Homer’s Iliad with its 643 manuscript copies. The Iliad was written in 900 B.C. and the earliest copy in existence today dates from 400 B.C., or 500 years after it was written. By comparison, the New Testament was written between 40-100 A.D. and the earliest manuscript in existence dates to 125 A.D., or about 25-65 years after it was written. According to Dr. Norman Geisler, “There are earlier and more manuscripts of the New Testament than for any other book from the ancient world”. Amazingly, according to Princeton Theological Professor Dr. Bruce Metzger’s research, the 24,000 New Testament manuscripts agree in 99.5% of the text with most of the discrepancies involving spelling or word order and none of the discrepancies containing any doctrinal significance.

    Conclusion:

    Christianity takes faith, but it is not blind faith. It is a reasonable faith. In fact, I would argue that a Biblical Worldview requires less “blind” faith than any other worldview held by men.

    Furthermore, perhaps some of the most compelling evidence for the truthfulness of the Bible comes from the changed lives that are a result of genuine faith in Jesus Christ. The hopeless find hope, broken marriages find restoration, drug users find a new fix that continually satisfies, criminals begin to pursue righteousness, the selfish learn to serve others, lovers of wealth become generous, and sinners find forgiveness and freedom in this life and the next.

    2000 years ago the “King of Ages” invaded this sinful and broken world as an infant born in a manger. He grew up to be a man. Then he willfully hung on a cross like a common criminal to liberate us from the sin that separates us from a Holy God. 1 Timothy 2: 4-5 reminds us that God, “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.”

    That is the miracle of Christmas and the best gift humankind has ever been given.

    My pastor, who I consider a mentor and a friend, shared this video with our congregation over a year ago. The musician is Joshua Bell, one of the best violinists in the world. He has filled concert halls around the world and has played in front of thousands. At 7:51 am on January 12, 2007, Bell played his violin in the L’Enfant D.C. metro station. 1,097 people rushed by him. 7 stopped to listen. A few threw their spare change at his feet. But one woman recognized him and stood in awe.

    Just like the video, Jesus reveals himself to us over and over again, yet far too often we walk right past him or perhaps we give him our left over change. Amidst the chaos of the Christmas season, I pray that you (and I) are able to hear the Savior’s symphony.

    Test everything. Hold on to the good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

    For the Kingdom,
    Michael Smith

    Christmas 2010

    • “Whenever the Bible speaks on Scientific topics, it speaks with astonishing truth & accuracy”
      Why did the Pope imprison Galileo?

  18. Respectfully, Mike, your examples of prophecy don’t hold up, for the simple reason that the books of the New Testament were written decades after the death of Jesus, and because the accounts in those books are not conclusively backed up by other sources.

    I have no doubt that Jesus really lived. But whether he was ‘the Messiah’ and born to a virgin, etc. are all subject to interpretation. Anyone can write anything. That doesn’t necessarily make it true.

    Right now, I could write a book claiming that some person was ‘the 2nd coming of Jesus’ and that he appeared in the clouds, or whatever, and then 2000 years from now people could read my book and use it as ‘proof’ that the prediction about the 2nd coming of Jesus was fulfilled by my book, and therefore is true.

    It’s easy to write something and attach it to an earlier prediction.

    Your examples of scientific credibility in the Bible is counteracted by myriad examples of Biblical accounts that fly in the face of not only science but reason as well.

    There are also numerous contradictions in the Bible.

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html#good_to_all

    This is just one site that popped up. There are many others, that list many contradictions.

    The only way around those contradictions is to accept a presupposition that connects all the dots. The entire premise of the Bible makes no sense and we must jump thru hoops to make sense of it.

    For example, it makes no sense that an eternal Being would create billions of souls (assuming Earth is the only planet among billions upon billions of planets, that is), create a system in which all those souls are doomed, then take on a physical form, suffer horribly for a few hours while knowing that he wasn’t really dying because he is actually an eternal Being, then expect the souls to believe their only way out of the damnation is to blindly ‘accept’ one myth over many others as factual, and doom all the rest.

    It’s not even remotely logical or reasonable. The only way to make it so is by ‘proving’ miracles in an ancient book, but that doesn’t work either, because the ‘miraculous prophecies’ aren’t provable at all.

    Sorry, but that’s how I see it.

  19. Mike, you stated yourself that ” the New Testament was written between 40-100 A.D. ”

    How in the world can Christians expect non-Christians to accept an account about a person, when it was written 40-100 years after that person died? In an age without tape recorders?

    That sure is putting a LOT of trust in MEN!

    Humor me for a minute and just think about that. The apostles who wrote the gospels…they claim to remember EXACTLY what Jesus said, verbatim? 40-100 years AFTER he said those words? With no tape recorder.

    You are trusting those MEN to have remembered exactly what Jesus said DECADES after the fact, and you are trusting that they heard correctly, understood correctly, and recorded correctly.

    So much so, that you are willing to establish doctrine set in stone, and willing to alienate family and friends who don’t believe as you do, and decide who goes to ‘heaven’ and who doesn’t…all based on your trust in a few MEN.

    I know, you will now say that you are trusting God, not men. But MEN wrote those books. You are just choosing to believe that God was behind it. That’s fine. That is your choice. I am just trying to explain why others don’t make the same choice.

    I do agree with you that many have had their lives changed when they become Christians. But that too isn’t anything conclusive, because countless others have had spiritual experiences when they joined other religions, or even upon leaving organized religions in favor of less dogmatic spirituality. Their experiences are every bit as valid.

    Non-Christians, Pagans, New Agers, Buddhists, etc. all have wonderful stories of marriages being healed, illnesses being healed, addictions being kicked, happiness restored, etc. Christians don’t have a monopoly on healing or spirituality.

  20. Monica,

    I meant to respond to your most recent blogs a long time ago, but I have not had the opportunity to do so until now. Before I respond to them I want to go back and address a couple of issues in an earlier blog of yours.

    First, I think there is a tendency today to only look at God’s attributes of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Without God showing me the aforementioned character traits, I am certain that I would be a worthless man constantly pursuing my own selfish desires as opposed to looking out for the interests of others (though I often fail at that). We like that side of God, but God is also a God of justice and righteousness. Scripture and the natural law written on our hearts clearly reveals this about Him. If he were not just and holy, he would be a weak and tame “god” that would allow evil to triumph over good and turn a blind eye when the powerful trample the weak. He would simply be like a crooked county judge who sentences the murderer and rapists to community service regardless of the overwhelming evidence against them. However, a good judge and a righteous judge will punish evil accordingly. If he were not a God of righteousness, then the cowardly suicide bomber who takes his own life and the lives of every bystander on a city block, would escape justice- forever (and for that matter the murderer who is never caught, the rapist who is never found, and the child molester who goes unnoticed). But God is righteous and he is just (But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. – Psalm 9:7-8). Because he is also Holy, we cannot have a relationship with Him in our sinful state, which is why we need a Savior to take our punishment as a substitute. If, however, we spend our entire lives rejecting God’s love and mercy then upon death he (in his grace mind you) does not force us into His presence, but allows us to choose to be eternally separated from Him in the place the Bible calls Hell. One could argue that someone who cannot stand to be in the presence of God during this life would in fact be living in their own Hell if they were forced to live eternally with God in heaven. So, we choose to push Him away. And in love, he allows us to do so. He does not force us to love Him (nor did He create us without the capacity to choose, which would be coercion in itself). He gives us the free choice to make that decision on our own. You are simply mistaken that Christianity is an exclusive club where the outsiders who were not invited to the party are stuck looking in the window at all of the fun. In Ezekiel 18:32 God states, “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” It is our choice. And everyone has the choice. No one is excluded. But God does not force our hand. He simply invites us into His presence with grace through the sacrifice of his Son.

    …[continued below]

  21. Secondly, you have said that humans wrote the Bible and I have just chosen to believe the words of men (interestingly, by your own admission that Jesus is love you have chosen to believe some them as well, at least the words that describe Jesus as loving). I made the case that the Bible is not a book written by men upon their own inspiration, but upon the inspiration of God himself. Yes, that is my belief, and it is the only reasonable and rational explanation for the Bible’s fulfilled prophecy and accuracy (there are many websites which answer in detail the supposed biblical contradictions by Jim Merritt that you referenced in a link;

    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/merrit01.html; http://litteralchristianlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Answers+to+the+so-called+%22Bible+contradictions%22 ; http://www.usminc.org/images/136BC.pdf.

    I think it is curious that atheists such as Jim Merritt and Ferrell Till spend so much of their time trying to disprove the existence of God. If, according to Nietzsche “God is dead”, then why waste any time at all trying to prove that He is dead. If this life is all that there is, and there is no objective meaning and purpose to it, then these guys are incredibly stupid for spending one second trying to convince people of anything. If life has no objective purpose, then spending your meaningless life trying to convince other meaningless people that their meaningless beliefs are meaningless is itself a meaningless endeavor. However, the reason they spend their lives bashing Christianity is because they have a deep hatred for God (which is their choice as discussed in the point above). If they truly believed that God did not exist, they would madly and selfishly pursue power, pleasure, and possessions at all cost until their clock runs out.

    …[Continued below]

  22. Thirdly, the classic “straw man” argument that you referenced is a reality of the fallen world we live in. I personally have friends in Haiti who have rescued an infant girl from certain sacrifice at the hands of her father and uncles. The blood soaked baby girl was brought to them by her mother covered with lacerations from a Voodoo sacrifice ceremony. The mother begged for these people to place her baby girl in safe hands. Should we leave these men alone and let them practice their religion in peace? After all, they are just following their beliefs. Or do we unsuccessfully try to piece back together an objective moral argument against such heinous behavior from our postmodern coffee shop book club moral relativism?

    Additionally, the man who believes that “God hates fags” is a lunatic named Fred Phelps who calls himself a Christian pastor. And I agree with you that his message is purely based in hatred. I supposed he could call himself anything he wants, Christian or otherwise, but by his actions he seems to know nothing about the God I am talking about here.

    Ok, on to your recent posts. You claim that the evidence I presented on biblical prophecy does not hold up. You mentioned that the New Testament was written 40-100 years after the life of Jesus. Actually, if Jesus was crucified in A.D. 32-33 and the entire New Testament was written between 40-100 A.D., then the New Testament would have been written within Jesus’ generation. There is also ample evidence to believe that all 4 Gospels were written before the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. (considering that this unprecedented event is not mentioned historically in any of the gospels). Which would mean, that we have testimony of Jesus’ ministry, life, death, and resurrection by his contemporaries and eyewitnesses within a few years of his crucifixion. In fact, those same contemporaries and eyewitnesses were willing to die brutal deaths for the sake of their message even though they would have been in the best position of anyone in human history (and would have had plenty of motivation to escape prison, barbaric torture and death) to claim that the resurrection of Christ as a fraud. None of them denied it, because they had seen the risen Christ with their own eyes. Their testimony in life and in death helped grow the Christian faith from a few believers to the world’s largest religion (if you want to call it a religion; I believe God does not desire to be in religion with us but to be in a relationship with us) with over 2 billion followers. Furthermore, archeology (secular and Christian) has confirmed that the Old Testament prophecies predate the life of Christ by several hundred years. As I already mentioned, Christ fulfilled over 300 prophecies. The chances of one man fulfilling even 48 of the prophecies during his lifetime is 1 times 10 to the 157th power. Also, the New Testament manuscripts are the most well preserved and accurate documents of any historical documents of antiquity from this time period.

    The evidence for the validity of God’s redemptive story in biblical prophecy, in history, in the eyewitness accounts of the disciples, in our own human experience of the world around us, and in archeology is astounding. Yet we far too often reject his free gifts of forgiveness, grace, purpose in this life, and hope in the life to come. We incorrectly assume that God is somehow against us or that he wants to make our lives less fulfilling by making us follow a bunch of rules, when he is crazy about us and wants to have a personal relationship with us. Christianity is the only explanation for this life that comports with reality. People are free to hold any worldview of their choice. However, there is not another worldview (Mormon, atheistic, secular, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, New Age, etc) that requires less faith than Christianity. I have heard people say that God should have just written all of this in plain language for everyone to see so that it’s not so hard to know Him. He has.

    Psalm 19:1-4 (I would encourage you to read all of Psalm 19)
    “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

    Romans 1:19-20
    “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

    Romans 10:12-13
    “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    For the Kingdom,
    Mike

  23. Hi Mike!

    Yeah it has been awhile. But that’s ok. We’re all busy.

    “God is also a God of justice and righteousness.”

    I agree. Which is exactly why I cannot accept the biblical depiction of God. You gave the example of the murderers, rapists etc. Those are heinous acts indeed. But did you know that most violent criminals were abused as children? This doesn’t excuse their actions, but it does explain why a person might harden their hearts to others, or might make the mistake of a crime of passion in a moment of rage.

    These tortured souls need HEALING, not punishment.

    God is eternal and has all of eternity to rehabilitate those souls. Reincarnation offers a reasonable, just way of doing just that. Sentencing a violent criminal to be tortured for a while might be fair, so he can experience what it feels like, but sentencing him to be tortured forEVER isn’t fair at all! It’s obscene.

    What if the soul repents after, say, a few thousand years of torture? What then? Why wouldn’t God accept his repentance?

    But according to your view, God would turn his back on a soul who desires reconciliation, just because it happened in hell instead of on Earth.

    And this is just the violent souls. What about all the basically good people, such as the peaceful Buddhist who spends his life helping others and meditating for world peace? Who rejected Christianity because he was already content in his own spirituality? How could it be even remotely just to send him to the same place as the mass murderer?

    I mean, think about it. What kind of father would sentence his child to be tortured forEVER just because he made what he considered a good decision?

    That makes no sense at all.

    “I think it is curious that atheists such as Jim Merritt and Ferrell Till spend so much of their time trying to disprove the existence of God. If, according to Nietzsche “God is dead”, then why waste any time at all trying to prove that He is dead. If this life is all that there is, and there is no objective meaning and purpose to it, then these guys are incredibly stupid for spending one second trying to convince people of anything. If life has no objective purpose, then spending your meaningless life trying to convince other meaningless people that their meaningless beliefs are meaningless is itself a meaningless endeavor.”

    I totally agree with you here. I believe that, deep down, all atheists know that there is a God. They just don’t know it consciously. Or, in many cases, they are actually agnostic – open to the possibility that there is a God – but just reject organized religion because it doesn’t make sense to them. So what they are really fighting isn’t belief in God per se, but the belief in God as depicted by religions.

    One can believe in God and have a strong faith, without religion. I suspect many of these atheists wouldn’t have any issues at all with personal faith. It’s the dogma they rail against, and for good reason.

    “the reason they spend their lives bashing Christianity is because they have a deep hatred for God”

    Respectfully, I find this statement offensive. I’ve been accused of hating God myself, even though I’m not an atheist but just have different beliefs about God. I find it offensive to accuse someone of ‘hating’ God just because they seek God differently and have different conclusions about God.

    The Buddhists, Pagans, Mormons, Hindus, etc. and even atheists, are all just seeking God in a different way than you are. Even many atheists are finding a sense of wonder in Creation and eventually open their minds to the spirit realm. Who are we to judge their process of unfolding?

    “Scripture and the natural law written on our hearts clearly reveals this about Him.”

    Scripture doesn’t always agree with the ‘natural law written on our hearts.’ I trust that natural law, and the Holy Spirit, much more than words written by men thousands of years ago, especially words advocating tyranny, genocide, and other atrocities.

    “If he were not just and holy, he would be a weak and tame “god” that would allow evil to triumph over good and turn a blind eye when the powerful trample the weak. ”

    If we look at this physical world only, it sure does appear that God turns a blind eye and allows the strong to trample the weak. Even Christians don’t always get their prayers answered. It’s convenient to give the glory to God when someone is healed, but when they aren’t healed, or suffer some catastrophe, chalk it up to “Oh it must be God’s will” yet when the same thing happens to a non-Christian, it’s because they lacked faith. That is contradictory.

    The reality is that we ALL suffer, we ALL experience both pain and triumph. But justice doesn’t prevail on Earth. Too many criminals get away with their crimes.

    The only reasonable explanation for actual justice is if we continue to reap what we’ve sown, past our last breath. Aside from the fact that I remember glimpses of past lifetimes, reincarnation offers a mechanism by which God enforces true justice. The violent criminal continues to sow what he has reaped until he opens his heart to God, and then he exits the wheel of karma. This is just. Sentencing him to be tortured forEVER isn’t just.

    “Because he is also Holy, we cannot have a relationship with Him in our sinful state, which is why we need a Savior to take our punishment as a substitute.”

    Where is the logic in that? How does Jesus suffering physically for 1 day remove our responsibility for our own actions?

    That is something I cannot accept, because it makes no sense to me. Jesus KNEW he was eternal and would be with God shortly. His suffering was horrendous, but no worse than what MANY humans have endured throughout history. And those humans didn’t even have the benefit of knowing that they would continue to live after death, or that God would welcome them with open arms. Nor did they even know that their suffering would ever end. Many suffered just as horribly, for a much longer period of time.

    Please note that I am NOT demeaning Jesus’ suffering in any way! I am just making the point that, I don’t see how his suffering would ‘save’ anyone.

    It hasn’t. The world is still just as messed up as it ever was! People still have to learn their own lessons, thru experience. They still have to find their way to God.

    In my opinion, the significance of Jesus’ mission has been lost, due to focusing on this ‘sacrifice’ idea. His true mission, imo, was to demonstrate PERFECT LOVE AND FORGIVENESS because THAT is what we were supposed to learn!

    But Christians have missed the point, and instead focus on what THEY will get out of it (a ticket to heaven) instead of learning how they can emulate Jesus’ example and actually change the world.

    Christians aren’t following Jesus’ instructions any more than anyone else. They aren’t necessarily any more forgiving or charitable than anyone else. Very few of them are out there healing the sick like Jesus said to do, although there are alot who are feeding the hungry, to their credit. Sure they do a lot of good, but usually there is an ulterior motive: to convert others to their way of belief.

    “If, however, we spend our entire lives rejecting God’s love and mercy then upon death he (in his grace mind you) does not force us into His presence, but allows us to choose to be eternally separated from Him in the place the Bible calls Hell.”

    What makes you think that non-Christians are rejecting God’s love and mercy?

    Just because they don’t believe as you do, doesn’t mean they are rejecting God’s love and mercy!!! I invite you to step aside for just a moment from your presupposition, that belief in the Bible = faith in God.

    They aren’t synonymous.

  24. “He gives us the free choice to make that decision on our own.”

    Agreed. And sometimes people don’t make that decision until they’re hit over the head with a 2×4. But God is infinitely patient and infinitely merciful.

    “You are simply mistaken that Christianity is an exclusive club where the outsiders who were not invited to the party”

    According to mainstream fundamentalist Christianity, non-Christians aren’t allowed in ‘heaven.’ That sounds pretty exclusive to me!

    Let’s face it: By this criteria, the vast majority of the population won’t make it to the party. Some Christians even think the Catholics will be excluded because “they aren’t really Christian”!! Not to mention the Gnostic Christians, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. all of whom consider themselves Christian but don’t measure up to the fundamentalist dogma.

    And of course all those peaceful Buddhists and Pagans, who think they’re worshiping God, will be cast out into eternal hellfire.

    Yup. That sounds really exclusive to me!

    It doesn’t help to say, “well they were invited but declined the invitation.”

    Let’s say you were having a big party on Christmas Day and sent your beloved son, as well as your close friends, invitations. But, it turns out, your son also got invited to another party at his wife’s family’s home. And, you friends received invitations from their own families.

    Since they couldn’t be in 2 places at once, some of the people you invited chose to go elsewhere on Christmas.

    This is analogous to some people choosing to worship God in a different way, after being exposed to various religions. Each religion is analogous to a different invitation.

    Each invitation looks equally valid and good, just as each religion seems to have its merits, when viewed objectively.

    But wait! Some of the people you invited, were just friends to you, and they chose to attend the party at the home of their family, since family meant more to them than mere friendship.

    This is analogous to some people, who were brought up in a certain religion, let’s say Hinduism, will naturally be biased towards that religion, ie. that invitation. In other words, the Hindu invitation will be favored by them because that is like family to them, it is part of their culture, just as Christianity is favored by you.

    Now, when some of your friends decline your invitation because of a legitimate reason (such as attending a different party on the same day at their family’s home) would you now terminate your friendship with them, forEVER?

  25. ” I personally have friends in Haiti who have rescued an infant girl from certain sacrifice at the hands of her father and uncles. The blood soaked baby girl was brought to them by her mother covered with lacerations from a Voodoo sacrifice ceremony. The mother begged for these people to place her baby girl in safe hands. Should we leave these men alone and let them practice their religion in peace? ”

    Of course not. Key word being ‘in peace.’ They aren’t practicing their religion IN PEACE! They are harming others! Therefore they have crossed the line!

    You should absolutely do what you can to save that child! Just as you should do what you can to save any victim of violence!

    But people are violent, both within and outside of religion.

    What about the wars that our country is currently engaged in? The fundamentalist Christian community is overwhelmingly in favor of those wars. And there has been plenty of violence committed in the name of Christianity.

    A person committing atrocious acts of violence in the name of religion shouldn’t be left to practice his religion because he isn’t doing it ‘in peace.’

    That is not the same as someone who is peaceful. Those whose beliefs are different from yours, but who is not harming anyone, should be respected.

    The distinction is made when they impose their beliefs, or their violence, on others against their will. That is crossing a line and should never be tolerated.

    “Jesus was crucified in A.D. 32-33″

    A.D. means ‘after death’ so he was actually crucified in the year zero AD.

    40 AD would be 40 years after his death.

    I don’t even remember the exact words of conversations I had last week, much less a year ago, even less 40 years ago.

    Even if I’m mistaken about what AD means, that would still be at least 7-8 years in which they are expected to remember exact words.

    I have no doubt that they remembered the big events. But not the exact words. That I don’t believe. To think they did, would be putting a lot of trust in those MEN.

  26. Here is a summary of the reasons I do not accept the Bible as being the inerrant ‘word of God’ and consider it in the same category as other mythological texts from various cultures:

    1. The violence attributed to God. The idea that the Creator of this vast Universe would actually favor a ‘chosen people’ and then command them to commit acts of genocide, is preposterous to me. The acts of violence attributed to ‘God’ would be viewed as heinous by today’s standards of human decency. Any time a ruthless dictator invades other lands and slaughters the children there, we consider him the epitome of evil! But when ‘God’ did the same thing, even commanding his ‘elite, chosen’ people to slaughter even the children, it is someone ‘ok’ because GOD did it? Sorry, but that just doesn’t work for me.

    2. The concept of blood sacrifice. If someone read the old testament for the first time, without knowing it was supposedly from God, he would likely conclude that parts of it are beautiful and other parts of it are excerpts of a satanic black magick ritual. Blood sacrifice…violence… these reek of black magick. Mike, you gave the example of the voodoo in Haiti. And yet, child sacrifice was evidently practiced by the ancient people in the old testament…notice that Abraham didn’t seem to think it was unusual to kill his son. And even animal sacrifice is heinous enough…a hallmark of satanism. Yet I am expected to believe that God accepted and even required such bloody, violent, cruel acts? The ONLY way to make sense of it, is to meld it to your premise of Jesus being the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ but that is just using one far-fetched belief to justify another. I find the entire concept of sacrifice to be rooted in evil and I think Christians have been deceived into thinking this was the purpose of Jesus’ life and mission.

    3. A written book cannot be used to ‘prove’ the events in another written book. Anyone can write whatever they want, and claim it really happened. The authors of the new testament already were familiar with the books of the old testament.

    4. The concepts in the bible, as a whole, are found in many various myths in various cultures throughout the world. Each culture has their own version of Creation, etc. The Bible isn’t unique.

    5. The violence attributed to God conflicts with the message of Jesus to love your neighbor and forgive your enemies.

    6. The idea that all non-Christians go to hell would mean that hell is a LOT bigger than heaven…and that Jesus failed in his mission to ‘save’ humanity. I refuse to believe that God would create a system by which MOST souls are doomed to eternal torture. That is simply NOT just at all.

    7. I think that if Christians focused on the core of Jesus’ teachings – to LOVE and FORGIVE everyone including one’s enemies, to go out and heal the sick, and to follow his EXAMPLE instead of waiting for him to come down from heaven and rescue them, and to focus just on loving others instead of judging them and deciding who is ‘saved’ and who isn’t, then the world would be a better place.

    Overall, I think Christianity has been a dismal failure, because of Christians’ insistence on the Bible being accepted as inerrant, and their insistence that others convert to their way of believing, even to the point of using violence to force them to, and their insistence that others much believe Jesus saved them in order to be saved. I think if they scrapped the old testament, quit judging the beliefs of others, and just focused on following Jesus’ instructions, then they would be out there MOVING MOUNTAINS instead of debating ancient books with the likes of me. ;)

    Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinions. I was more than willing to leave this discussion long ago and am impressed that you keep responding to my comments, thus inviting further comments.

  27. Courtney says:

    I believe that you have twisted the intent of the bumper sticker’s message. There are many different religions. Many individual and collective followers believe their religion is the Truth. The fact is, NO ONE has proof and ALMOST ALL of us have belief. This world and the cosmos are so beautiful there must be something more. Among other things, this leads humans to religion. Even people who believe in and worship a different god than you do are beautiful.

    Christians make up about two out of seven billion people. The other almost five billion people either don’t believe or believe something else. They too are children of God. God is bigger than Christianity. God is everything. God is Love.

  28. Hi there, it had been really interesting reading your discussions.

    I am still on my own spiritual journey to finding a place of peace in my heart but I wanted to share my story and my thoughts. Thankyou for having this blog, it is very interesting!

    I was bought up a Jehovahs Witness, I was raped by my boss at 18 (he was 42) and my family and the Elders in the congregation knew but never did anything. I was disfellowshipped when I was 18 for having a worldy boyfriend (i.e non Jehovahs Witness). I was cut off from my family and all my friends that I had grown up with and was allowed to ‘repent for my sin’ that would entail going to church for at least 6 months three times a week and sit at the back where no one can talk to men(that is not loving or christian – Jesus did not teach us that – we are supposed to love our brother.

    Up until the age of 18 I went to church three times a week, having scripture after scripture read to me. My father had plenty of extra marital affairs my mother kept ‘forgiving him’ – I thought she was just weak. The Jehovahs Witness Church never gave us any guidance or help and I have been in therapy for 3 and a half years trying to cope after having a nervous breakdown. Religion to me is mans way of controlling man.

    I eventually did ‘repent’ three and a half years ago and went through that process, and by doing so enlightened me to how much Jehovahs Witness religion is so full of hypocrisy instead of always feeling like such a ‘sinner’. I no longer attend the church
    (or Kingdom Hall as they call it) I am the only one in my family that does not go to the church, it is such a controlling religion (even though they say it is not a religion)

    I am nearly 37 years old now and have a wonderful husband (a Catholic) a happy home and a dog, my family is still all Jehovah’s Witnesses but no one speaks freely about their spiritual thoughts. If they knew I had these following opinions they would not talk to me.

    I believe that God wants us to have a relationship with him.
    I love God=I believe in Jesus, the Heavenly Father (Yahweh) and The Holy Spirit. I also practice Yoga and believe in the Chakras and Karma. I believe God loves me the way I am, he sees I have been traumatised by a religion he knows I still love my family and will always be there for them, I believe God loves us all, he knows our heart he can read our minds, we are ‘more precious than sparrows’ and he can ‘number the hairs on our head’.
    Does this make me a bad person by mixing spiritual elements in my life? I don’t think so, I feel closer to my spiritual self than I ever have, I am now a vegetarian and pray more than I ever have, I believe God will judge evil-doers but I am not going to worry or try to wonder how he is going to do that – that is for him to do – that’s his job, its none of our business. God wants us to get on with our lives, make the most of our lives; learn, create, share, love and promote peace. ‘The meek will inherit the earth’. Whether that means this earth we know now, or another earth who knows? no-one, we dont need to know, we need to get on with living and lead honest and moral lives, helping others and showing love. We are not to judge others- God is the judge – he clearly defines his role in the Bible, I think we need to let go of what God is going to ‘do’ and just concentrate on ‘being’ – ie living.

    This is all my personal point of view of course, every one is free to make a choice – that is if they listen to their heart -ie their inner conscience – which I believe is Gods inner guidance system – that is within in us all ‘a slice of God within’. Unfortunately it is often ignored and not given a chance to be heard.

    As for the bible, like Monica also said earlier, I could never understand as a child when I was growing up learning about all the stories why animals had to keep being sacrificed to let God know that they loved him, why Abraham had to almost kill his son to get Gods favour – never made sense to me. Surely all they had to say was ‘we love you’ even back in those times, I am sure man had the ‘look at me’ syndrome to sacrifice the animal/look I’ll tie up my son to prove how much i love you…. strange!

    Jesus is the shepherd we are the lambs, he sacrificed his life to save mankind, but he did that just to show how to love and to remind us that he knows how hard it is to be human. God loves us, God is love and I love him, and even though I dont know you, I love you too.

    I know I’m not as eloquent in writing as some of you guys on here, but I hope you get the picture from my words. Peace be with any who read this, God loves you and wants you to get to know him through Jesus, through prayer and through meditation,its simple – he/she’ll be there ….and if that means he puts the thought into our heart to put a bumper sticker on a car, at least it got us talking about God – maybe thats his intention, that we get talking and get a deeper appreciation for our fellow human and get to show love through upbeat non confrontational and a loving exchange of words and thoughts, now thats love.

    With love and peace.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Natasha! Beautifully said!

      I suspect some Christians might reply to you, saying that JW is a ‘cult’ because that is how it’s viewed by mainstream Christianity. But, your experience with JW isn’t so different from what many people experience when they leave other Christian denominations as well. I know a young woman who was treated very similarly, though not quite as extreme, when she left her family’s evangelical church. She was basically ostracized just for choosing a different spiritual path! I agree – that’s NOT love!

      And we all know the stories of people who were cut off from their families because they were gay.

      I’m glad to hear that you have found happiness and a spiritual path that makes more sense to you. I too never understood the whole ‘sacrifice’ thing – how can inflicting violence on innocent creatures prove our love for God? It smacks of black magick – wherein the ‘god’ must be appeased through blood sacrifice. Sorry, but that’s just plain creepy!

      Animal sacrifice, and even human sacrifice, were common amongst many various tribes, at that time. So it’s not surprising that such abominations found their way into the writings of the old testament.

      But to justify such atrocities because ‘God’ commanded them to do it, is a perversion. If people read those early books of the old testament, in which the Israelites were commanded by some being to slaughter innocent animals, and invade other tribes and take their land from them and slaughter all their children…if people didn’t know that those stories were supposedly from ‘God’ and just read them and evaluated them on their own merit, they would be horrified and likely conclude the book was written by a satanist!

      I know this sounds radical, because we’ve been taught to never question the Bible, but seriously, those old testament books have some foul stuff in them!

      What if, just WHAT IF, the REAL test from God is for us to read the Bible and DISCERN which parts are good and which are bad??

      (Just an idea to consider!)

      I too am a vegetarian. Billions of innocent animals are tortured and brutally murdered every day, just to satisfy a lust for meat. This is an atrocity! I want no part of it.

      I follow the teachings of JESUS, who was the Prince of Peace, who taught LOVE, forgiveness, and compassion. It’s NOT compassion if we close our hearts to the suffering of animals who cry out in pain and agony. It’s simply not necessary to eat animals. Research shows that humans are healthier when they don’t eat meat. Check out The China Study.

      Anyway, I’m sorry to hear of your traumatic experiences, Natasha. I hope that you have found healing! I know it’s difficult when your family has alienated you. But you are doing the right thing to forgive them. They probably have a lot of fear. The religion is based on fear, and they are afraid that if they break their religion’s rules, they will jeopardize their own ‘salvation.’

      I have a friend who belongs to a different religion, but with the same rules. Her son got cast out. She agonizes for him and meets him secretly, so as to not risk the same fate. She suffers greatly.

      It may be that your own family still loves you deep down, but lack the courage of my friend. It may be that they wish they could see you, but are afraid to speak up.

      It might help in forgiving them, to realize that they are weak, rather than thinking they just don’t care about you. Just an idea to consider!

      I agree with your eclectic approach. Karma explains so much. It provides some missing pieces to these otherwise inexplicable relationship dynamics.

      Many blessings to you, Natasha!

  29. I am sorry, but I cannot accept the Bible as infallible. It was originally edited & published by an organization with an agenda of POWER. This same organization conducted the inquisitions & killed people simply for not accepting their teachings. It was this organization that decided what went into & what was kept out of the Bible. And until this day this organization speaks of “Harvesting souls in Asia”.
    There are many wonderful teachings in the Bible, such as Jesus’ Gospel of LOVE and his teaching “Do unto others as what you have others do unto you” & that is what Monica has been doing in her statements above. I hope Christians understand that teaching & do not damn “non-believers” to hell.
    My religion teaches me to respect all religions, but to speak up when disrespected.
    Also is GOD so great, but only has one son? Are we not all his creation? His children? Are we not all brothers & sisters with him as our Father? So much LOVE, & GREATNESS & MAGNANITMITY, but gave up one son to what as Monica asks?

  30. One book is not enough to teach us about Chemistry. One book is not enough to teach us about Biology. One book is not enough to teach us about Economics. So too one book is not enough to teach us about GOD. He is just TOO GREAT beyond anything our puny brains can fathom. Yet we think we know everything about him, and that we can save the world with our view.

  31. the more I read the comments, the more it turns away from the topic. I think…

    From my perspective, that sticker is nothing serious to do with religions. It was just an art, ‘modified’ from this song which is written on 2006.

    here’s the link

    Once again, from my perspective as a muslim (if you want to know my religion) and an art worker (which is I enjoy arts too), that quote on sticker and from that song I gave is meant to criticism the fanatics who said (or act like), “my god is the truth, and your god is a lie.”

    “God is too big to fit into one religion” (bumper sticker)
    “God is too big for just one religion” (song lyric)

    Yes, God is too big just one religion, because god big enough to handle all religion. NO, God is still too big to handle all religion. To tell you the truth, this quote makes my mind even wider to give tolerance to other religion.
    I’m a muslim, I also believe in Jesus (as Isa Al Masih). Why should I believe Jesus (Isa), because he is written in Al-Quran, because I study in Christian University and I find it identical with Islam, and both still mention “Allah” in Bible and Al-Quran. It IS different, but I treat Christian (not Catholic) as an older brother from Islam.

    I think that’s the point of that quote, “open your mind, give tolerance to every religion. Find a reason to tolerance, not to hate”

    I appreciate the article, as a contra opinion from this quote.
    Especially the way you think that this quote is making God looks smaller, I still can’t imagine. Except if you add word “my” in front of this quote, and I see no “my” in both quotes.

    regards :D

  32. Emka, I think that is so awesome that, as a Muslim, you are so open-minded and tolerant. You are right – the important thing is to LOVE and not hate!

    Many blessings to you!

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