What the Bible Clearly Says

It’s one of the most common phrases I think I’ve ever heard from Christians when it comes to any conversation where people want to use the Bible to justify their position: “The Bible clearly says…”

What follows is usually a quotation of a certain number of verses that support that person’s view, as if the conversation is now over. But, of course, the other person can also say, “No, you’re wrong because the Bible clearly says…” as they quote their own batch of scriptures that appear to support their particular viewpoint.

The truth is, these sorts of conversations are usually over long before they begin because neither side is really listening to the other side. Both people have already made up their mind what they believe “the Bible clearly says” and so they are not interested in being distracted from that conclusion by anyone else.

To some Christians, this presents a conundrum. They wonder who is right and who is wrong. They need to have it all spelled out so that everyone is under the proper Biblical Authority. To them what we need to do is to “take the Bible seriously” and “rightly divide the Word of Truth” because, in their minds, there is only one way to interpret the Scriptures: The Right Way.

Above all, their concern is that none of us should fall into the trap of applying our own personal slant to the Scriptures. What we need is for someone to tell us what the Bible says so we can avoid “reading into the text”.

But, here’s the deal: Having a hardcore stance on Biblical Authority does not eliminate the possibility that we might start following our own personal slant on the scriptures. It simply means that we are more likely to be blind to how our personal biases influence the way we interpret scripture.

In other words, what we mostly follow is our interpretation of the Scriptures, not the Scripture itself. If we fail to admit that, then we live in our blindspot and accuse everyone else of doing exactly what we ourselves are guilty of.

The honest truth is: There is almost nothing that the Bible “clearly says”. What it does is represent a variety of views and perspectives about who God is and what God is like. Our challenge – and everyone’s personal challenge – is to accurately determine what voices in the Bible we should agree with and which voices in the Bible to be more skeptical about.

This is why I advocate for a Christ-centric reading of the Bible. Because Jesus is the best picture we could ever have of who God is and what God is like. There are nearly a dozen scriptures that affirm this truth: Jesus came to reveal to us who the Father really is.

Why was this necessary? Because everyone before Jesus was unaware of who exactly the Father really was and what His character was actually like. Jesus settled the question once and for all: God is like Jesus.

Or, as Jesus put it: “If you’ve seen me, you have seen the Father” – Jesus (John 14:9)

So, if we have seen Jesus, then we have seen the clearest and most accurate vision of God anyone could possibly ever have.

The Gospel of John stresses this truth in the strongest terms possible when it says:

“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is God Himself, and is in the closest relationship to the Father, He has made Him known.” (John 1:18)

Our problem is compounded when we try to read the Bible as if it were one single book (it’s not), written by one single author (it’s not) and conclude that somehow all of these different voices must somehow be reconciled into one solitary voice where every part “agrees” with every other part.

This is called the “Flat Bible” approach and I think it’s the root of many unhealthy perspectives about God.

Instead of taking that approach (something I did for most of my life) I now suggest taking the Jesus-Centered approach where everything we read is filtered through the lens of Christ.

I believe this is exactly what the Apostle Paul himself did and also why he said:

“But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.” (2 Cor. 3:14)

See, if we try to understand the scriptures apart from Christ, then we will arrive at a different conclusion than if we read them through the revealed character of the Father’s heart as seen in Jesus.

So, when we read and study the Bible, I think it’s important to do a few things:

First, we need to admit to ourselves that we bring our own biases and ideas to the Scriptures when we read them.

Second, we need to accept the fact that we might be wrong about some of our assumptions about the Scriptures and what they’re saying to us.

Third, we need to admit that we might have something to learn from others who look at things from another perspective.

Fourth, we need to understand that the best way for us to look at the scriptures is through the lens of Jesus since He is the best picture we have of who God really is.

“No one knows the Father except for the Son and anyone to whom the Son reveals Him.” – Jesus (Matt. 11:27)

There’s a lot we can learn if we listen to one another. There’s even more we can learn if we start by assuming that we have something to learn. But everyone can learn more about who God is by looking at Jesus. He is the Word of God made flesh who now dwells among – and within – us all.

“The Law came through Moses. But Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

**

Join me at one of these upcoming events:

Organic Church Conference with Neil Cole, Ross Rohde, Dan Notti and Keith Giles on Saturday, May 12 in Long Beach, CA. Register here>

The Nonviolent Love of Christ: How Loving Our Enemies Saves The World, with Joshua Lawson and Keith Giles on Saturday, June 16 in Portsmouth Ohio.

Register here>

**

Keith Giles is the author of several books, including “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is also the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

 

 

 

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  • It is sad that for so many years I thought the same thing. I spent fifty some years in the institution and felt if the bible said it, then that was the way it was. After being outside the walls of religion for three years now, it seems so clear that the bible, although inspired by God, was written and interpreted by men. The bible cannot be totally clear on everything because there are so many views, doctrines and interpretations. We as christian people cannot even agree and get along on everything the bible says. One of the things the bible clearly does say is that Jesus is the Word of God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We need to focus on the way Jesus lived and treated people and pay less attention to the doctrines and interpretations of men. Good article Keith. @k@disqus_shWZrJV2TF:disqus #DonewithReligion

  • Chuck Johnson

    I see.
    We need to replace blind obedience to the Bible with blind obedience to the Biblical references to Jesus.
    Keith, this is still a VERY inadequate guide for our lives and it encourages us to believe in false ideas.

  • Tim

    There isn’t much of anything the “Bible clearly says”. Anytime someone begins with that phrase, I instantly know they don’t know what they’re talking about.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    ummm. How would your christ-centric or Jesus lens not be anti-Jewish or supersessionist in regard to the Hebrew Scriptures? I commend Dr. Lewis Black’s lecture (found on youtube) on the differences between NT and OT. In regard to the Hebrew Scriptures, Dr. Black bluntly reminds “you Christians” that it’s not your book…that his people’s book wasn’t good enough for you…you called their book “old” and your book “new”…yada, yada, yada.

    Your idea is not new. It was standard Lutheran teaching for a long time.

  • Tim

    Why would it be anti Jewish? ‘Jesus’ was a Jew. New Testament writers often quoted from the “Old” Testament, because that was what they had then.
    Supersessionism holds that the Christian Church has succeeded the Israelites as the definitive people of God or that the New Covenant has replaced or superseded the Mosaic covenant.

    I don’t think this viewpoint necessarily entails the first item here, although some (erroneously) view it that way. The New covenant has not technically replaced or superseded (abolished) the Mosaic covenant, it has simply fulfilled it (The law and the prophets) for everyone. All are one in Christ now, according to this view. “There is no longer any Jew or Greek, slave or free”.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Not that I am a fan of Paul, but Paul’s “neither Jew or Greek” pertains to Christian community, not mainstream Jewish community.

    The author’s language might work if one means looking at the OT as Jesus would….yes, he was a Jew. There the “lens of Jesus” would be Jesus’ own…that is, the lens that the historical Jesus would have had…as near as scholarship can argue for.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    I find your position here odd. Mr Giles’ entire piece seems to me to encourage difference of opinion and respect for others’ views – very far from blind obedience to anything.

  • dogmaticslumbers

    I generally concur with what you’ve written here, Keith.

    I call myself a “Red Letter Christian”. I believe you should start with what we have as direct quotes from Jesus. I read them all one night and was overcome with the change in perspective I gained on my faith.

    After what’s written in red, all else is commentary. Some argue that since Paul lived closer in time historically to Jesus, he is a better authority than we are.

    I disagree.

    “Seek and ye shall find.” We are as capable of receiving the fullness of God as Saul was when he fell off his donkey.

  • celticcoll

    Considering the gospels were written more than 70-200 years after Jesus’ death, that there are other gospels not included and most people don’t know how which gospels were chosen to get included in the NT in the 4th century, that the evangelical gospel writers’ names are pseudonyms and most people don’t know it, that we are recovering language and culture from an age historians don’t even entirely understands and depending on highly translated texts, to say you use a Christ-centered approach is no more than anyone else saying I have determined my personal approach is the best and most authoritative. That’s what each approach that propounds its “authority” is, nothing more than a personal preference. Try understanding the production of the text you extol, know its history, and not just the stories within it like you would with any other text written.

  • You’re apologizing for the Bible. Every problem I’d cite in the Bible, you’d probably agree with.

    Why not jump to the obvious conclusion: there’s no there there. It’s just a manmade book and nothing else.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    The Bible’s old testament has 613 commandments, not just 10.

    The Bible clearly says ( in Exodus 34:14-28) that these are the 10 commandments:

    01 Thou shalt worship no other god.
    02 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
    03 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
    04 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day rest.
    05 Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks.
    06 Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
    07 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
    08 Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning.
    09 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
    10 Thou shalt not seeth a kid in his mother’s milk.

    Exodus 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “I believe you should start with what we have as direct quotes from Jesus.”

    OK. Here are some ( according to the Bible) direct quotes from Jesus:

    Matthew 17:20 For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

    Matthew 21:21 I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

    Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

    John 14:12-14 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

    Matthew 18:19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

    dogmaticslumbers, please eliminate disease, hunger, & injustice from the world by prayer. If these things still exist a couple days from now, we can assume the reason is you didn’t have “faith as a grain of mustard seed” or that the Bible is wrong or that Jesus was wrong or that Jesus lied.

  • Paul Frazier

    The text doesn’t say that Saul fell off a donkey.

  • A J MacDonald Jr

    Jesus said a rich man died and afterwards found himself suffering torment in the flames of hell (Luke 16:19-31).

  • Cliff

    I would like to focus more on the historical Jesus and what he taught. I do not think we can find that in the Gospel of John which you use in your argument. John was written many decades after Jesus’ death. This anonymous John was not an eyewitness of Jesus life and teachings, nor one of the disciples. Where did this writer get all the I Am sayings of Jesus? No other NT book has such a list. I am not aware that such a list of sayings exists anywhere. I would put more stock in the Gospel of Thomas, and in the Didache community which was very early. John is beautiful poetry and contains wonderful metaphors, but it is not trustworthy as to the life and teachings of Jesus in my opinion.

  • Try me. You might be surprised.

  • Matthew is fairly early: “No one knows the Father except for the Son and anyone to whom the Son reveals Him.” – Jesus (Matt. 11:27)

  • Marshall

    God is far too adept as to leave “clear” access to writings He inspires via some methodology or formula.

    Today, Bible is taking a lot of hits beneath the failure-ridden outcome of “sola scriptura” and systematized hermeneutics, canonization and, well, centuries of weak (though popular) English versions. I find the purpose of God in all this fascinating with precision, as-to how He has successfully held so much written as-if in parable for the crowds of religious and skeptics alike.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “I find your position here odd. Mr Giles’ entire piece seems to me to
    encourage difference of opinion and respect for others’ views . . . ”

    The encouraging of difference of opinion is present and I appreciate that.
    Also, a narrow focus on (or obsession with) the Jesus part of the Bible is also present.

    I am an atheist.
    The value of the Jesus past of the Bible is just its philosophical messages.
    I do not believe in anything that is purported to be magical or miraculous.
    To me, the miraculous assertions of the Bible are a liability, not an asset.

  • Gregory Smith

    The question is one of truth. If you claim to know Jesus then you should believe what he said as truth. Not text, out of context. Not “proof texts” standing alone outside of an authoritative exegesis. Perspicuity of Scripture is demonstrably false. Hence 40,000 christian sects and growing every day. My interpretation vs your interpretation etc. etc. etc. Each and every one claiming to be the sole arbitrator of what is true? Newsflash, Jesus said the “pillar and bulwark of truth is the Church”. Not just any church, but the Church Christ himself established. As John Henry Newman put it, “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant”. Brothers and sisters come back to the fullness of truth. Come back to the Church who gave you the Bible, Incarnation, Mother of God, Trinity, creeds, etc etc. etc. Come home. God bless and have a blessed Easter.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    I see. While I agree with you on all the basic points you just made, being an Atheist myself, don’t you think it a bit rude to be shoving your philosophical position in to a piece primarily regarding Christian interpretation and understanding of the bible? Especially with such a mischaracterization of it as “blind obedience”?

  • David

    Thank you Keith. A good example would be this:
    Jesus said: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
    It isn’t enough to believe in God; you must also believe in the Son of God! Also see John 14:1.
    But Jesus also said:
    you must be born again – of water and the Spirit. John 3:3-5.
    you must keep all my commands. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 6:46; John 14:15; 15:14
    you must be a baptized believer. Mark 16:15-16.
    you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23

    You see, if you really believe in Jesus, you will believe and obey everything he commanded for salvation and life.

    To some Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said:
    “To be a true disciple of mine, you must abide in my word. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:30-32
    Read that whole chapter to the end and you’ll see some of those initial believers throwing stones at Jesus!

    Remember, Jesus also said: “He who endures to the end, it is he who will be saved.” Matthew 24:13.
    He said this after saying, “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

    Beware of the faith-only movement! There’s far more to being a faithful disciple of Jesus than just believing He is Lord and Saviour.

  • Marshall

    not Protestant and surely not siding in the Great Schism of East-West, nor any other. Not taking up the syncretism of “Easter”, “Mother of God, Trinity, creeds, etc etc. etc.”

  • Chuck Johnson

    “Especially with such a mischaracterization of it as “blind obedience”?”

    Blind obedience to authority is an essential characteristic of those religions which rely upon miracles and the supernatural.

    Miracles and the supernatural are human inventions (ideas) that were created specifically to generate blind obedience to authority.

    In ancient times, such blind obedience was beneficial, as it helped to build civilizations. Blind obedience reinforced the the power of the Pyramid of Authority.

    Here in the twenty-first century, such blind obedience is becoming less useful and more harmful to the human race.

  • I’m happy to follow your suggestion, but I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Try you how?

    You listed problems in your article, and I agree with them. What I’m saying is that you’re so reasonable (from my POV) that I could add more problems and you’d probably agree. I’m simply asking why you don’t follow this path to its obvious conclusion.

  • Charles Winter

    No one really knows what the authors of the New Testament wrote. See Bart Ehrman, “Misquoting Jesus.”

    Because of oppression, the texts were passed around and copied in secret, often by barely literate scribes and by people who wanted to advance their own agendas.

    Plus, the texts were written in Greek, in all capital letters, with no division between words. This gave rise to the controversy, noted in Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code,” over whether the text “SANGREAL” should be read as “SAN GREAL” (Holy Grail) or “SANG REAL” (blood royal, alluding to the story that Mary Magdalen went to what is now France, where she gave birth to the child of Jesus, who became the ancestor of the Merovingian Kings).

  • John Purssey

    Well, Jesus spoke Aramaic, so we have only Greek translations of what Jesus said.

    And then we have the translation problems of deciding which method of translation to pick, and being aware of the theology a translation board brings to its translation. The (RC) Jerusalem Bible will differ from the (Conservative Evangelical) NetBible.

    And then we find that the Gospel writers/redactors arranged and emphasised different parts of Jesus’ teaching, to the extent that they would change the emphasis or recontextualise to suit their own targeted audience.

    And we need to be cognisant of the work of the Jesus Seminar.

    And after all that we have to decide how to apply it over the vast cultural distance that has occurred in two millenia.

    But do not despair, if you believe that Jesus said that after he left this planet he would live the Holy Spirit with us (not the Bible, please note).

  • John Purssey

    That’s just a “once upon a time story”. It was not written to be taken literally any more than Star Wars is. Of course, Star Wars has its own theological message,

  • John Purssey

    We know there are three versions. They might be called expectations.
    Funny that 613 number. I understand that different branches of Judaism have slightly different sets, but that doesn’t bother them. The scriptures are to be thought stimuli. Westerners are far too literalistic.

  • John Purssey

    Just like everybody else, perhaps.

  • John Purssey

    Then the Gospel of Thomas you would find more appealing, I expect.

  • John Purssey

    Blind obedience is the tool of any authoritarian regime, religious, or atheist as in China

  • Marshall

    legend attempting to work its way? “SANGREAL” is not actually a Greek problem. The absence of spaces between koine Greek words is not a significant issue. What we regard as the function of spaces between English words is similar to the embedded enclitic & inflected construction of these ancient Greek scripts.

  • SG12

    Thank you for your words. I absolutely agree with what you are saying. If I were to be far more honest with the Christians in my life about the bible (and I am working towards that because I find it important ), I fear they would likely view how I handle it as heretical. I am to a point where I want to test those waters, because I desire a Christian community. But, I am finding more and more that I get on a lot better with my atheists brothers and sisters. We are often more respectful about the topic at least.

    Anyway, thank you for allowing me the space to ramble a bit.

  • BilboBaggins

    Excellent point, well taken. Which is why I wonder why we don’t focus more on the Hebraic thought behind all that Jesus said. Afterall, He was/is a devout, Torah-observant 1st Century Jew, as were His parents, His extended family, His disciples, as well as the majority of those He lived among and taught, if not all. He taught from their perspective because it was His perspective, as well. Why don’t our pastors study the rabbinic teachings, the PIrke Avot, etc., and mine it for its relevancy in trying to understand a Torah-observant Jew from a Gentile, West-centric contour of thought? Why one year of Hebrew and more of Greek in seminary? Even the Greek is packed with Hebraic thought patterns, Hebraic cultural substance, not Greek. How do we interpret what Jesus said if we have no knowledge of how a first century Torah-observant Jew thought, lived, and taught? How are we following the One who said, “Follow me” if we are following the non-Jewish tradtions and teaching of the Church Fathers… who were, often violently… antisemitic, instead? … and who all but “ethnically cleansed” most, if not all, of the Jewishness from the essential teachings of Christianity? Is there not a huge gap in knoweldge and awareness there? As a teacher in a Christian school and a small-group Bible study leader, I teach the Scirptures thorugh a thoroughly Hebraic lens as that is the lens Jesus taught through. In my home, for instance, we acknowledge, if not fully observe, the moed’im, that is, “the appointed times of the Lord,” often referred to, inaccurately, as the “Jewish” feasts. They are the Lord’s feasts, first and foremost. And there is huge metaphoric teaching running deeply through all… the Spring feasts representative of the first appearance of the long-awaited Jewish Messiah and the Fall Feasts of His second coming. I believe this is the best way to know HIm, understand HIm, and follow Him. Passover is coming up… a great place to start learning about the Jewishness of the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Or fictional as in Orwell’s works.

  • james warren

    Our Bible is a complex blend of remembered history, oral traditions, different theologies & traditions, parables, legends, myths and metaphors.

    Biblical truth has to that which highlights the conflicts between many different ideologies in the text.

    All reality is necessarily filtered through the lens of imperfect human beings whether they are inspired or not.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    Yes, blind obedience is harmful to the human condition – and I actually disagree that it was ever beneficial.
    But I maintain that you are mischaracterizing this post by saying it supports that.

  • There were several people in the Bible who knew Yahweh personally. Including Adam, Enoch, Moses. After His incarnation, the Disciples also knew the Father personally.

  • Agreed, and the message is simply not for everyone, which is why Jesus spake in parables. To whom it is to be revealed, it will be revealed.

  • That is a pretty heavy parable.

  • THE 10 are in Exodus 20. Everything after that is an re-iteration, a definition, or a sub-statute. None of them contradict the first 10.

  • You are mixing terms. The entirety of the Holy Bible, whether 66 or 72 books, is a [Israelite] Christian book. NONE of it is “Jewish”.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Perhaps an example would help me understand your viewpoint. What would be a Christ-centric reading of Isaiah 61? And, then what would be the Christ-centric reading of Jesus reading from Isaiah 61 and making his fulfillment declaration in Luke 4?

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    I race-mix too. And there ain’t nuthin you can do about it.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Selling philosophies which are supported by miraculous ideas is encouraging blind obedience to authority.

    This post encourages us to consider the leadership of Jesus to be a kind of miraculous leadership.

    I do not believe in things that are miraculous or magical.

  • Marshall

    have you ever considered traveling more internationally, Chuck?

  • Chuck Johnson

    Superstitions and miracles from around the world would offer no more appeal to me than the ones here in the USA.

    Superstitions and miracles from thousands of years ago wouldn’t appeal to me, either. – – – The truth is more appealing to me.

  • Marshall

    before any disbelief, such finds no appeal to you. But will the truth?

  • Chuck Johnson

    What is this that you are saying ?

  • Marshall

    more simply put, what you believe is found in what appeals to you. Consequently, should truth becomes unappealing, what then for you?

  • Chuck Johnson

    My perspective is scientific.
    The truth is what I seek. – – – That’s what appeals to me.

    The Doctor: You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit the views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.

  • Marshall

    there is what is known [aka: “facts”], and-also what is yet to be known [i.e., truth]. Where these two are presumed to be synonymous, something basic (whether to history, perspective, philosophy, wisdom) is being missed.

    yet even today, facts (obtained through scientific pursuit) speaking to how matter can/does exists in more than one place at a given moment of time; of materials which can pass through solids; of quantum tunneling, various behaviors and states which defy yesterday’s facts as we thought to know. Given the broad array of so-called mysteries and unknowns being examined even as we write… All to say, science and the mind of man being still quite young, if one is even yet inclined to ultimately depend upon these. Holding to facts alone effects to changing one’s own view as often. Give me today’s facts, and tomorrow’s in another day?

  • Your points notwithstanding, the bible is there for all of us. It does not require a filter to understand it correctly. It requires that God the Father call you and open your mind to the scriptures. Otherwise you cannot understand them because the “veil” blocks that understanding.
    When you say, ” the best way for us to look at the scriptures is through the lens of Jesus since He is the best picture we have of who God really is” that process will not remove the veil. And obviously the “veil” is still there. Just look at the religions of this world.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    I remain uneducated as to what “christ-centered” here means. In the past, Lutheran seminary students were taught to just find “Christ” everywhere in the Bible…that is, make any text/pericope preach the Gospel of Jesus in every sermon. In evangelical parlance, “christ-centered” has functioned as an antonym to “secular” or some other religion or just something evil/satanic. Here, christ-centered appears to denote an assumed personality profile of Jesus/God…using Johannine theology. The problem there is that is a macro theological assertion which begs the micro question of the personality/person of Jesus (which reveals God)….well, what is that?….what is the proper description of Jesus’ person? Jaroslav Pelikan wrote a book “Jesus Through The Centuries”…that is, there has been a wide variety of descriptions….as Indiana Jones and his company stood in the cave of the Grail facing multiple choices….the question of “Which One?” was answered by the old guardian monk, “Choose wisely.”

  • Marshall

    necessity of the Bride “plug-in”, where the choice(s) made be not merely hers. to contrast: biblicism would output decisions anchored in love letters already exchanged.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “there is what is known [aka: “facts”], and-also what is yet to be known
    [i.e., truth]. Where these two are presumed to be synonymous, something
    basic (whether to history, perspective, philosophy, wisdom) is being
    missed.”

    “Facts” and “truth” are pretty much similar concepts.

    Both for facts and truth, we should always consider them to be more than zero percent likely to be true and less than 100% likely to be true.
    Here is what Isaac Asimov has to say on this topic:

    http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

  • Chuck Johnson

    “Holding to facts alone effects to changing one’s own view as often. Give me today’s facts, and tomorrow’s in another day?”

    In science, facts and theories change and evolve as needed.
    That’s how science becomes more competent as time goes by.

    Christianity does the same thing as it becomes more progressive. The facts and the theories of Christianity change and evolve as time goes by.

    In the process of evolving, science has an advantage over religions. Religious evolution is hindered by adherence to the ancient superstitions and miracles.
    God is an example of a miraculous being.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Preach it.

  • Tim

    ? Er, Ok…

  • Tim

    I don’t think you can really just isolate one passage like that. A Christ centric reading is more about overarching narrative than specific passages.

    However, if you are referring to what I think you are, the Christ-centric reading there would likely focus on him intentionally leaving out the “and the day of Vengeance of our God” bit, showing that God is not vengeful.

    A Christ centric reading (for me) focuses on the idea that Jesus came to show us what the Father was really like, over and against some of the ideas that had been prevalent before.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Thanks.

    My question is: What does the word “christ” mean…does its etymology matter? Is it merely being used as an alternative personal name for Jesus? Or if it also denotes a function, is that function merely one of demonstration/revelation? As a Jew, I remain concerned about ubiquitous contrast between a “christian” god of grace vs. a “jewish” god of judgement. I don’t think that is true to historical or textual facts…and, I think that flies against Christian notions of Jesus fulfilling what previous texts/tradition looked forward to. Well, placing something over/against and in a position of fulfilling/completion seem to me to be oppositional. It seems to me that digging into just what the word “christ” means…should mean or could mean…may be helpful.

  • dogmaticslumbers

    C_Alan_Nault. With all due respect, you make the same mistake evangelicals and fundamentalists do by reading the Bible literally. Great teachers often speak symbolically to make a point.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. said he had been to the mountain top. No one then or since thought for a second he meant that he had stood on top of Mt. Everest.

    Having “faith the size of a mustard seed” is Jesus metaphorically saying to us that if you believe in something, have faith in yourself, you can accomplish what may, going into it, appear to be miraculous, like moving a mountain.

    It’s the kind of faith a mixed race Barack Obama, whose father abandoned him, with a racist society against him, relied on to become the first black president of the US.

    It’s the kind of faith that a Lebron James, born to a 16 year old mother and whose father abandoned him, relied on to become one of the greatest basketball players of all time without playing a minute of college basketball.

    It’s the kind of faith a man like Kurt Warner who, after not being drafted, went from a grocery bagger making $5.50 an hour, to an Arena football player to leading St. Louis to 2 Super Bowl championships, 2 MVP’s as well as the 2008 NFL Man of the Year.

    James 2: 26 Faith without works is dead.

  • Lark62

    Exodus 34 is the only place in the bible where a list of commands is called “the ten commandments.”

  • Lark62

    What did you do with the slightly inconvenient command in Exodus 34:19-20? It falls between your #3 and #4.

    The first thing to pop out of any womb must be killed, unless it is a donkey or a son. Those are the only exceptions.

    I’d like to see that planted on the courthouse lawn

  • Lark62

    The bible is a mirror. It has so many absurdities and contradictions, it can be used to support every possible belief. It “clearly says” exactly what the reader wants to hear, nothing more.

    Abortion is never mentioned, except once where priests were instructed on how to induce an abortion as a test of female fidelity. Sexual consent is never even hinted at. Gay sex and shrimp cocktail are both “abominations.”

    Neighbors are to be loved, unless you want their land, in which case kill everything that breaths.

    A millstone is to be tied around the neck of any one who harms a child, but go ahead and block access to health care and education, and permit religious exceptions to child neglect laws. That’s what god wants.

    Women must not cut their hair, let their hair be uncovered, wear gold jewelry and teach men, except when it’s okay.

    The bible clearly said owning people is fine, until it didn’t.

    You can tell a lot about a person based on what they think the bible says.

  • Marshall

    Lark, you do bring a strange mirror. {grin}

  • C_Alan_Nault

    ” With all due respect, you make the same mistake evangelicals and fundamentalists do by reading the Bible literally. ”

    I find it amusing that I only ever hear that complaint when it is passages of the Bible being quoted or pointed out that the complainer doesn’t want to acknowledge.

    And in every case I have encountered, it turns out that the believer knows which passages are to be taken literally and which are not to be taken literally… and in every case, the passages they agree with & like are meant to be taken literally & the bad passages they want to ignore are not meant to be taken literally.

    “Great teachers often speak symbolically to make a point.Great teachers often speak symbolically to make a point.”

    And since we have no acclaimed “great teacher” for the Bible ( hence there are thousands of denominations & sects of Christianity), we are forced to use what the bible itself actually says.

    The fact is, in the Bible Jesus claims he speaks in parables so that many people won’t understand him & so won’t convert & so he won’t have to heal them.

    Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
    11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
    12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
    13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
    14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
    15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

    He also says he speaks in parables to confuse people so they will go to hell.

    Mark 4: 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
    12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

    He also says he is here only for the Israelites.

    Matthew 15:24 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    “Having “faith the size of a mustard seed” is Jesus metaphorically saying to us that if you believe in something, have faith in yourself, you can accomplish what may, going into it, appear to be miraculous, like moving a mountain.”

    No, it does NOT say that what you pray for may be miraculous.

    He says if you have faith:

    – nothing will be impossible to you.
    – If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
    – whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
    – Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son
    – if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.
    -I anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

    It does not have him saying whatever you ask for in prayer may appear to be miraculous.

    “James 2: 26 Faith without works is dead.”

    And as is usually the case, the Bible says the exact opposite ( faith is what matters, not works) in these passages:

    Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    Romans 3:20-26

  • Robin Warchol

    Yes, is the Bible a how to book or a who is book? The problem is with a majority of “Bible only” types of Christians is that they have turned the Bible into a how to book instead of reading it as a “who is book”.

  • Tim

    You might have to unpack that idea for me a bit more for me to understand what you’re really getting at here. On the surface reading of what you wrote, my perspective is that there shouldn’t be a contrast between the christian God of grace vs. the Jewish one of judgement. They are the same God, just portrayed differently by their respective spokespeople, although we do see some overlap.
    I take it that Christ (the Christ) is a title, not a proper name.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Yes, I agree with you that there shouldn’t be that contrast. But, often the Jewish/Hebrew tradition is maligned with the accusation that it uniformly saw God as tyrannical, judgmental, and legalistic. That broad brush accusation is just not true. And, it’s chronic application is just plain racist.

    I think it is good that you don’t see “christ” as a proper name. That leaves the begged question of those who use the term of just what the word means. So, I am trying to leave here the work of articulation of what “christ” means to those who just use it…as if there is some nebulous universal definition that all are plugged into? Indeed, should they not be able to answer forthrightly what “christ” means if a complete non-christian or atheist should ask them what it means?

  • ravitchn

    The bible clearly states nothing! During the Middle Ages vernacular bibles were prohibited because people might get some strange and dangerous ideas from them. Edmund Burke, in writing against the Protestant dissenter who favored the French Revolution, was persuaded that uncontrolled bible reading could lead to radical folly. He was right. It led to the American Revolution which was a continuation of the Puritan Revolution in England a century earlier; it led to the judicial murder of Charles I, the genocide against Irish Catholics, and finally to the totally unjustified revolt of the Americans who simply wanted to pay few taxes, even though they paid fewer taxes than the people in Britain and most of their taxes were used to defend them from the French and Indian threat in North America. The utopian idea of American exceptionalism came also from reading the bible, from the crazy Puritans in New England. We still suffer from this delusion but Donald Trump is teaching us that America is exceptional only in being gullible and ignorant enough to elect him.

  • Tim

    Yes, I think we are definitely on the same page.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    I note that Giles did not respond. In general, I have favored your goals in knocking down fundamentalist claims about biblical authority. At the same time, I get a bit hesitant about what perhaps might be a tendency to totally dismiss biblical material from analysis of historical cultural whatever…that is, the business of trying to figure out what is really going on structurally in the text…what the real agendas are. We may take any scribbling that Donald Trump shits out as worthless…unless…we’re looking for evidence in the text for what is going on. One broad area where this applies with biblical texts is having some facility with Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic….for idiom, allusions, double entendre, etc often don’t translate well. And, place names and personal names get glossed over. I know you’re aware of this from your reading of Bart Erhman et al. Another way to say this is that when one spends some time with the textS….that is just what comes out more…it’s texts in the plural…the Bible as one book is rather a bullshit claim in itself. From my own experience and training, I choose to take on fundamentalists (and even self-proclaimed liberal commentators) in regard to texts on a text by text basis. It should matter , in my opinion, what the agenda of the specific actual writer was…if we can discern it by evidence in and without the text.

  • swbarnes2

    We all understand that “being on the mountaintop” is a metaphor for “I can imagine what a world without racism would be like”.

    So “whatever you pray for, you will get” is a metaphor for…”One in a million people will be lucky”? That is your argument? That that is a totally honest way to understand “Whatever you ask ask for, it will be yours?”

  • swbarnes2

    Because Jesus is the best picture we could ever have of who God is and what God is like.

    Okay, so draw that picture without relying on any scriptural voices about whom you should be skeptical.

  • ravitchn

    The damned Christians are always bringing in the Jews, whether for praise or blame. Just get this straight. The Jews were smart enough to know that the preaching about Jesus was an invention of Paul and that Jesus, whatever or whoever he was or thought he was, was not the son of God or some supernatural being. The Jewish intelligence was what made the Jews hated, as Christians today hate anyone with brains.

  • Bob. I think I misunderstood your previous comment. Thanks for clarifying.

  • ravitchn

    My son had a great idea: go to a closing of ToysRUS and shout: Charles Lazarus, Come out!

  • ravitchn

    Daniel G. Johnson shows all the signs of Alzheimers. I don’t know his age. Maybe he is a perfectly healthy fool.

  • ravitchn

    I get nervous when I realize there are not enough mental wards for all the Christians who should be there. Nor can we build enough of them. Nor are there enough concentration camps where Christians can receive re-education. Perhaps we can send them to North Korea and China; they know how to handle these fools. Russia as the USSR once knew also but under Putin they have gotten religion: the old Russian religion where the leader (tsar or president or whatever) is the representative of God. I still hope for the day when the last Christian clergy will be strangled in the entrails of the last foolish believer.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    I actually agree with a few things you’ve written. Putz.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Why is church so boring?
    If it weren’t increasingly viewed as irrelevant, it wouldn’t be shrinking so fast.

  • Kobus

    Why so glum chum?

  • LinCA

    When you say,

    So, when we read and study the Bible, I think it’s important to do a few things

    , and list four points, I agree with the first three, but you veer into your own interpretation with the last one.

    Your fourth point is actually an assertion without a basis in fact.

    A far better fourth point would be to critically consider the source of our information. Before any interpretations are made, it is critical to evaluate the value and trustworthyness of the document we are interpreting.

    Considering what we know about the bible, I would caustion anyone to put too much faith in anything in it. Considering that it was written over centuries, in pre-scientific times, by anonimous authors, compiled to sell an agenda, and edited and rewritten many times, the notion that it contains anything other than iron age folklore and mythology is preposterous. There is no reason to believe it contains the story of any actual gods.

    The only response needed to any argument that starts with “The Bible clearly says…”, should be “So what?”.

  • Marshall

    the expression “too much faith” remains to be dubious, whether for what human knowledge/science holds today, or to what arrives from the throne of God yesterday. Despite man’s contemporary skill for building his own toys, to summary via macro-historical perspective: humanity has (for thousands of years) been suffering devolution and decline such that today, few members of the species can even discern the difference between “fact” and “truth”. Herding facts (facts themselves known to be subject to revision), we readily critique as-if our own (modern?) perspective somehow has become the pinnacle of all civilization — while quite the opposite is true. The ancients understood much that we today do not, and while our “science” and our historians can detect the inverse advance of man… friends, we remain well-deep in denial of it.

  • LinCA

    You say that “The ancients understood much that we today do not“. Can you elaborate? What don’t we understand today that the ancients understood? And if we don’t understand it today, how can you possibly discern this?

    Are you suggesting we go back to believing that he earth is flat? Made in less than a week? That light arrived on earth before the sun was formed? That man was made from dirt? That bats are birds?

    Or should we just believe their nonsense and superstition?

  • BevSPgh

    People should read more. Afterall, there are hundreds of versions of Bibles, and of course the Vatican has snuffed out and hidden much in their library vaults, locked up forever I assume. This particular book on reincarnation is probably there locked up in the Vatican vault. Sad because it explains everything rather thoroughly—-read it. It was first published in 1859—

    The Spirits’ Book – ALLAN KARDEC

  • Marshall

    clues left behind (which tend to be suppressed from context) of knowledge lost in passage of times & cultures.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmWum2RKwW0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfC_75LJzro
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMjbtb4xLGQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5_29GTY-ls
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8u1RJ7obFk

    btw: a spherical concept of the earth long ago preceded “flat earth”. Later with time and examination, spherical earth models regained prominence.

    btw: bats are “flying creatures”. the human body consists of the elements of earth-soil. some things just get lost in the translation?

  • LinCA

    Just because we haven’t figured out exactly how they did certain things in ancient times, doesn’t mean that had advanced knowledge or technology. It just means that we haven’t figured out how they did it.

    If knowledge of a sperical earth existed, it was clearly only available in cultures that were more advanced than the ignorant tribes that cobbled the bible together. The primitives who invented the Abrahamic gods were quite obviously clueless about it.

    Just because animals, including humans, are made up from the same basic elements as everything around them, doesn’t mean man was made from dirt as the primitives believed.

    There is no reason to believe that those that wrote the primitive superstition of the bible meant it metaphorically. There is no reason to believe they were not exactly as ignorant as a plain reading of the bible suggests. Worse, there is little reason to believe that those who put any faith in the bible are any less ignorant.

  • Marshall

    to regard the ancients or the Bible as-if “plain reading”, then I would see all no further than do you… “we haven’t figured our”, “ignorant tribes”, “clueless about it”, “no reason”.

  • Richard Simpson

    Great to hear that you have (like me and so many and increasing numbers) shifted in your approach to the Scriptures to be viewed / comprehended through the lens of Jesus. It is something so critical and central and foundational. It’s very encouraging to hear of others who have had this revelation and are passing it on. We can only know God through Jesus and so that is really the only way we should approach the Bible.
    Even in our sharing of Christ with others its vital to realise that God himself is the necessary “precondition” and epistemological foundation to knowledge. So many people seem to think they can think their way up to knowing the God who is “beyond knowledge”. That God who can not be known except that he reveal himself. Thankfully that is what he has done from “within us” that is within the human race entering into it himself to bring humanity to God. Its good news. Blessings to you and thanks for your blog and thoughts.

  • Richard Simpson

    I think that you have misunderstood the point being made. God has revealed himself fully and definitively in the person of Jesus Christ. We can not know God except that we know him through Christ. He is the image of the invisible God. So by necessary extension when we read the Scriptures God reveals Jesus to us in them not some propositional truth or if it is a propositional truth it points to the person of Jesus Christ. This is the process of illumination of the Scriptures who lead us to know God through Jesus. To use your own analogy it is only when one turns to the Lord Jesus that the veil is taken away.

  • God has not revealed Himself “fully and definitively” in the person of Jesus. If He did there is no reason for the bible beyond the Gospels. Also, Jesus does not take the veil away. Only God the Father calls someone at His choosing. You misunderstand the whole process in that sense.

  • There’s the ultimate, central thing that people should be looked at both in terms of others and themselves… the vital question needs to be asked: “Why exactly would you claim this?”

    When somebody who inherited loads upon loads of wealth without having to do the slightest of any actual work *cough*Donald Trump*cough* turns around and claims something like “Well, obviously the Bible is for the rich. After all, people are said to get blessed for being just and punished for being sinful in this life. Thus, those with loads of cash are holy and good.”… is it not obvious that he or she took a position from pure self-interest first? And then came up with pseudo-arguments later on? This happens time and time again for many issues.

  • Excellent points!

  • Was there a point to your comment?

  • soter phile

    I liked most of this article – especially a Christocentric hermeneutic – but the below quote seems a contradiction…

    “Our problem is compounded when we try to read the Bible as if it were one single book (it’s not), written by one single author (it’s not) and conclude that somehow all of these different voices must somehow be reconciled into one solitary voice where every part “agrees” with every other part.”

    Jesus, while acknowledging varied human authors, repeatedly regards the OT (which he quotes throughout the Gospels) as God’s Word. He also repeatedly claims that same solitary voice (i.e., God’s) throughout the OT points to him (Jn.5:39-40; Lk.24:27,44; etc.) – passages which I imagine are the very basis for the author’s hermeneutic.

    While I expect the author could simply dodge this conundrum by calling this argument yet another “the Bible clearly says” claim – IF the author wants to begin with Christ-centered hermeneutic, Jesus’ view of Scripture seems a huge contradiction to overlook. Why wouldn’t Jesus’ (directly contrary) claims about Scripture take precedence over these claims from the author?

  • soter phile

    Even by your own logic, Paul was a Jew. Most of the earliest Christians were Jews.

    And if Paul invented this Jesus, why (in one of his earliest writings, 1 Cor.15:3-8) does he cite names and point to others (as living eyewitnesses) with whom his readers could corroborate those claims?

  • soter phile

    “All reality is necessarily filtered through the lens of imperfect human beings whether they are inspired or not.”

    This is question begging – especially in a debate of subjective vs. objective authority.
    It’s like saying “let’s begin a debate on inspiration by assuming nothing can be inspired.”

  • soter phile

    You might want actually to consider the “embarrassing wealth of resources” available to NT scholars. It rather directly contradicts what you take as given from Ehrman (as a self-admitted far-left fringe of biblical scholarship).

    Here’s a quick primer from Daniel Wallace – another NT scholar with whom Ehrman has debated in the past:
    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

  • soter phile

    Pool of Bethesda – destroyed in AD 70, yet accurately described in Jn.5.

    Until its rediscovery in the late 19th c, historical-critical scholars cited John’s description of this pool as evidence that he was fabricating details… but then they found it, just as John described it.

    At the very least, then, one must concede the author of John had access to first-hand accounts of Jerusalem prior to AD 70 (if not *his own* firsthand knowledge). That’s very problematic for claims of an overly Hellenized John, utterly divorced from the original context & eyewitnesses.

  • Richard Simpson

    I hope you are able to see that your reasoning is both invalid and unbiblical.
    There is a serious problem with your view.
    You have argued that because there are letters written and distributed to the churches after the gospels this means that God has not revealed himself fully in Jesus.
    This is simply nonsensical. Please understand i am not saying this to ridicule you. I am simply trying to get you to see that this argument has no logical basis. It is tantamount to saying that if i continue speaking i have stopped being myself. God the Father continues to reveal Jesus in the epistles so that we may know him. It does not mean that Jesus is somehow lacking in being fully God and being one with the Father. That just simply makes no sense and you should reassess your thinking.

    Taking your line of reasoning further to hopefully get at your mistake, if you/we accept the gospel accounts as historically reliable then you will have to accept that Jesus is the only begotten God who has revealed the Father (John 1:18). You will also have to accept that to see Jesus is to see the Father (John 6:46, John 14:17) – there is no God hiding behind the face of Jesus. So when you look into the face of Jesus you see God the Father himself. That is fundamental to Christianity and necessary to accept as i will hopefully show you by means of theo-logic below.

    But before i get to that, in the epistles we are told that in Jesus the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9 – in fact the whole book).
    So without going into a proof texting mode of argument with any more examples these alone must definitively disprove and refute your own misconstrual.

    If for some reason you don’t wish to accept the above then that is a different matter.
    We could argue this as a point of logic if that is better than quoting texts.
    Notwithstanding the logical fallacy in your own argument i offer the following as the converse :
    If we begin with accepting humanity being in a state that does not worship or know God in and of itself and we then accept secondly that we can not by logic or reason or by any human effort reach upward to God (that is to know an invisible and unknowable God in the human sense, or be ontologically like him) then we are forced to accept that this knowledge and union must come from outside us and be revealed to us. This is what God does – he steps into humanity in the person of Jesus in order to be seen and to heal us / redeem us from the outside in and the inside out.

    This is why Jesus must be fully God incarnate and the whole expression of God to us.
    If He is not (and somehow less that that) then humanity has not been taken up into the Godhead and we are unredeemed.
    We do not share in the triune life of God.

    This is the problem with the Jehovah’s witness misapprehension of Jesus.
    They insist that He is a little g – god (changing the reading of John 1:1) but not that he is the LORD in the flesh.
    That is why they are left unredeemed – because they trust in a Christ that is less than God and therefore does not bridge the gap in himself and therefore our humanity remains unredeemed.

    As for the matter regarding the veil that you make much of.
    Jesus is the mystery of God revealed. (eg Coll 1:26) That is the fundamental truth of the Bible. Israel’s history is awaiting the revealing of the Messiah. The NT describes the revealing.
    When one turns to the LORD Jesus the veil is taken away.
    When we with unveiled face behold the glory of God in the face of the LORD Jesus we are changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. (2Corinthians 3)
    It’s a basic truth of Christianity and the process of our sanctification. We behold Christ who is the image of God and we are thereby changed into his likeness as he is the likeness of the invisible God.
    How you can make such an erroneous assertion without substantiation is hopefully an indication of the weakness of your logic in making such assertions.

    I hope by the above logic / reasoning and by the simple enough examples in the Scripture that you can start to see the difficulty with your construal and then accept that you need to think through more carefully in your insisting that God the Father has not revealed himself perfectly in Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1)

  • Richard Simpson

    For some reason my response below was deleted as spam so i repost for your info:

    I hope you are able to see that your reasoning is both invalid and unbiblical. There is a serious problem with your view.

    You have argued that because there are letters written and distributed to the churches after the gospels this means that God has not revealed himself fully in Jesus.
    This is simply nonsensical. Please understand i am not saying this to ridicule you. I am simply trying to get you to see that this argument has no logical basis. It is tantamount to saying that if i continue speaking i have stopped being myself. God the Father continues to reveal Jesus in the epistles so that we may know him. It does not mean that Jesus is somehow lacking in being fully God and being one with the Father. That just simply makes no sense and you should reassess your thinking.

    Taking your line of reasoning further to hopefully get at your mistake, if you/we accept the gospel accounts as historically reliable then you will have to accept that Jesus is the only begotten God who has revealed the Father (John 1:18). You will also have to accept that to see Jesus is to see the Father (John 6:46, John 14:17) – there is no God hiding behind the face of Jesus. So when you look into the face of Jesus you see God the Father himself. That is fundamental to Christianity and necessary to accept as i will hopefully show you by means of theo-logic below.

    But before i get to that, in the epistles we are told that in Jesus the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9 – in fact the whole book).

    So without going into a proof texting mode of argument with any more examples these alone must definitively disprove and refute your own misconstrual.

    If for some reason you don’t wish to accept the above then that is a different matter.
    We could argue this as a point of logic if that is better than quoting texts.

    Notwithstanding the logical fallacy in your own argument i offer the following as the converse :

    If we begin with accepting humanity being in a state that does not worship or know God in and of itself and we then accept secondly that we can not by logic or reason or by any human effort reach upward to God (that is to know an invisible and unknowable God in the human sense, or be ontologically like him) then we are forced to accept that this knowledge and union must come from outside us and be revealed to us. This is what God does – he steps into humanity in the person of Jesus in order to be seen and to heal us / redeem us from the outside in and the inside out.

    This is why Jesus must be fully God incarnate and the whole expression of God to us.

    If He is not (and somehow less that that) then humanity has not been taken up into the Godhead and we are unredeemed.
    We do not share in the triune life of God.

    This is the problem with the Jehovah’s witness misapprehension of Jesus.

    They insist that He is a little g – god (changing the reading of John 1:1) but not that he is the LORD in the flesh.

    That is why they are left without hope of salvation – because they trust in a “christ” that is less than God and therefore does not bridge the gap in himself and therefore our humanity remains unredeemed.

    As for the matter regarding the veil that you make much of.
    Jesus is the mystery of God revealed. (eg Coll 1:26) That is the fundamental truth of the Bible. Israel’s history is awaiting the revealing of the Messiah. The NT describes the revealing.
    When one turns to the LORD Jesus the veil is taken away.
    When we with unveiled face behold the glory of God in the face of the LORD Jesus we are changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. (2Corinthians 3)

    It’s a basic truth of Christianity and the process of our sanctification. We behold Christ who is the image of God and we are thereby changed into his likeness as he is the likeness of the invisible God.
    How you can make such an erroneous assertion without substantiation is hopefully an indication of the weakness of your logic in making such assertions.

    I hope by the above theo-logic / reasoning and by the simple enough examples in the Scripture that you can start to see the difficulty with your construal and then accept that you need to think through more carefully in your insisting that God the Father has not revealed himself perfectly in Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1)

  • Richard Simpson

    Yeah as you rightly demonstrate when your method of knowing or understanding is post modern / subjective reader response then you can twist and imagine to your heart’s delight and make the text say whatever you like.
    If however you wish to surrender to a revealed and objective reality then its a completely different matter. The converse actually.
    If we don’t have this measure as a gift then we are necessarily left only with anyone’s opinion which are all relative and never arrive at t knowledge of the objective Truth.
    It’s a fundamental question of epistemology and without adjusting your epistemological system to the way the object reveals itself you are left outside of knowing the object that you purport to wish to know.
    Because you are a human in order to know something infallibly you must have that knowledge revealed by an infallible source able to overcome your fallibility. That source being God in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit – the giver of Truth in a person not a proposition..

  • Richard Simpson

    Must be something wrong with the posting / reply facility. I have tried twice to respond to this post but here again is an attempt …

    I hope you are able to see that your reasoning is both invalid and unbiblical.
    There is a serious problem with your view.
    You have argued that because there are letters written and distributed to the churches after the gospels this means that God has not revealed himself fully in Jesus.
    This is simply nonsensical. Please understand i am not saying this to ridicule you. I am simply trying to get you to see that this argument has no logical basis. It is tantamount to saying that if i continue speaking i have stopped being myself. God the Father continues to reveal Jesus in the epistles so that we may know him. It does not mean that Jesus is somehow lacking in being fully God and being one with the Father. That just simply makes no sense and you should reassess your thinking.

    Taking your line of reasoning further to hopefully get at your mistake, if you/we accept the gospel accounts as historically reliable then you will have to accept that Jesus is the only begotten God who has revealed the Father (John 1:18). You will also have to accept that to see Jesus is to see the Father (John 6:46, John 14:17) – there is no God hiding behind the face of Jesus. So when you look into the face of Jesus you see God the Father himself. That is fundamental to Christianity and necessary to accept as i will hopefully show you by means of theo-logic below.

    But before i get to that, in the epistles we are told that in Jesus the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9 – in fact the whole book).
    So without going into a proof texting mode of argument with any more examples these alone must definitively disprove and refute your own misconstrual.

    If for some reason you don’t wish to accept the above then that is a different matter.
    We could argue this as a point of logic if that is better than quoting texts.
    Notwithstanding the logical fallacy in your own argument i offer the following as the converse :
    If we begin with accepting humanity being in a state that does not worship or know God in and of itself and we then accept secondly that we can not by logic or reason or by any human effort reach upward to God (that is to know an invisible and unknowable God in the human sense, or be ontologically like him) then we are forced to accept that this knowledge and union must come from outside us and be revealed to us. This is what God does – he steps into humanity in the person of Jesus in order to be seen and to heal us / redeem us from the outside in and the inside out.

    This is why Jesus must be fully God incarnate and the whole expression of God to us.
    If He is not (and somehow less that that) then humanity has not been taken up into the Godhead and we are unredeemed.
    We do not share in the triune life of God.

    This is the problem with the Jehovah’s witness misapprehension of Jesus.
    They insist that He is a little g – god (changing the reading of John 1:1) but not that he is the LORD in the flesh.
    That is why they are left unredeemed – because they trust in a Christ that is less than God and therefore does not bridge the gap in himself and therefore our humanity remains unredeemed.

    As for the matter regarding the veil that you make much of.
    Jesus is the mystery of God revealed. (eg Coll 1:26) That is the fundamental truth of the Bible. Israel’s history is awaiting the revealing of the Messiah. The NT describes the revealing.
    When one turns to the LORD Jesus the veil is taken away.
    When we with unveiled face behold the glory of God in the face of the LORD Jesus we are changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. (2Corinthians 3)
    It’s a basic truth of Christianity and the process of our sanctification. We behold Christ who is the image of God and we are thereby changed into his likeness as he is the likeness of the invisible God.
    How you can make such an erroneous assertion without substantiation is hopefully an indication of the weakness of your logic in making such assertions.

    I hope by the above logic / reasoning and by the simple enough examples in the Scripture that you can start to see the difficulty with your construal and then accept that you need to think through more carefully in your insisting that God the Father has not revealed himself perfectly in Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1)

  • Richard Simpson

    Sorry if this is repeat post but to Bob Shiloh whom i cant seem to reply post to as per below:

    I hope you are able to see that your reasoning is both invalid and unbiblical.
    There is a serious problem with your view.
    You have argued that because there are letters written and distributed to the churches after the gospels this means that God has not revealed himself fully in Jesus.
    This is simply nonsensical. Please understand i am not saying this to ridicule you. I am simply trying to get you to see that this argument has no logical basis. It is tantamount to saying that if i continue speaking i have stopped being myself. God the Father continues to reveal Jesus in the epistles so that we may know him. It does not mean that Jesus is somehow lacking in being fully God and being one with the Father. That just simply makes no sense and you should reassess your thinking.

    Taking your line of reasoning further to hopefully get at your mistake, if you/we accept the gospel accounts as historically reliable then you will have to accept that Jesus is the only begotten God who has revealed the Father (John 1:18). You will also have to accept that to see Jesus is to see the Father (John 6:46, John 14:17) – there is no God hiding behind the face of Jesus. So when you look into the face of Jesus you see God the Father himself. That is fundamental to Christianity and necessary to accept as i will hopefully show you by means of theo-logic below.

    But before i get to that, in the epistles we are told that in Jesus the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9 – in fact the whole book).
    So without going into a proof texting mode of argument with any more examples these alone must definitively disprove and refute your own misconstrual.

    If for some reason you don’t wish to accept the above then that is a different matter.
    We could argue this as a point of logic if that is better than quoting texts.
    Notwithstanding the logical fallacy in your own argument i offer the following as the converse :
    If we begin with accepting humanity being in a state that does not worship or know God in and of itself and we then accept secondly that we can not by logic or reason or by any human effort reach upward to God (that is to know an invisible and unknowable God in the human sense, or be ontologically like him) then we are forced to accept that this knowledge and union must come from outside us and be revealed to us. This is what God does – he steps into humanity in the person of Jesus in order to be seen and to heal us / redeem us from the outside in and the inside out.

    This is why Jesus must be fully God incarnate and the whole expression of God to us.
    If He is not (and somehow less that that) then humanity has not been taken up into the Godhead and we are unredeemed.
    We do not share in the triune life of God.

    This is the problem with the Jehovah’s witness misapprehension of Jesus.
    They insist that He is a little g – god (changing the reading of John 1:1) but not that he is the LORD in the flesh.
    That is why they are left unredeemed – because they trust in a Christ that is less than God and therefore does not bridge the gap in himself and therefore our humanity remains unredeemed.

    As for the matter regarding the veil that you make much of.
    Jesus is the mystery of God revealed. (eg Coll 1:26) That is the fundamental truth of the Bible. Israel’s history is awaiting the revealing of the Messiah. The NT describes the revealing.
    When one turns to the LORD Jesus the veil is taken away.
    When we with unveiled face behold the glory of God in the face of the LORD Jesus we are changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. (2Corinthians 3)
    It’s a basic truth of Christianity and the process of our sanctification. We behold Christ who is the image of God and we are thereby changed into his likeness as he is the likeness of the invisible God.
    How you can make such an erroneous assertion without substantiation is hopefully an indication of the weakness of your logic in making such assertions.

    I hope by the above logic / reasoning and by the simple enough examples in the Scripture that you can start to see the difficulty with your construal and then accept that you need to think through more carefully in your insisting that God the Father has not revealed himself perfectly in Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1)

  • Lark62

    You need salad dressing for that word salad.

    “Inane deepity. Inane deepity. Therefore Jesus.”

    No thanks

  • Richard Simpson

    What a pathetic attempt at a rebuttal.
    You should be ashamed of yourself.
    Salad it may be but vegetables are good for you.
    Sounds to me like you would rather eat fairy floss.

  • Richard Simpson

    I’ve tried to post this a few times already but for some reason its not getting through.

    I hope you are able to see that your reasoning is both invalid and unbiblical.
    There is a serious problem with your view.
    You have argued that because there are letters written and distributed to the churches after the gospels this means that God has not revealed himself fully in Jesus.
    This is simply nonsensical. Please understand i am not saying this to ridicule you. I am simply trying to get you to see that this argument has no logical basis. It is tantamount to saying that if i continue speaking i have stopped being myself. God the Father continues to reveal Jesus in the epistles so that we may know him. It does not mean that Jesus is somehow lacking in being fully God and being one with the Father. That just simply makes no sense and you should reassess your thinking.

    Taking your line of reasoning further to hopefully get at your mistake, if you/we accept the gospel accounts as historically reliable then you will have to accept that Jesus is the only begotten God who has revealed the Father (John 1:18). You will also have to accept that to see Jesus is to see the Father (John 6:46, John 14:17) – there is no God hiding behind the face of Jesus. So when you look into the face of Jesus you see God the Father himself. That is fundamental to Christianity and necessary to accept as i will hopefully show you by means of theo-logic below.

    But before i get to that, in the epistles we are told that in Jesus the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9 – in fact the whole book).
    So without going into a proof texting mode of argument with any more examples these alone must definitively disprove and refute your own misconstrual.

    If for some reason you don’t wish to accept the above then that is a different matter.
    We could argue this as a point of logic if that is better than quoting texts.
    Notwithstanding the logical fallacy in your own argument i offer the following as the converse :
    If we begin with accepting humanity being in a state that does not worship or know God in and of itself and we then accept secondly that we can not by logic or reason or by any human effort reach upward to God (that is to know an invisible and unknowable God in the human sense, or be ontologically like him) then we are forced to accept that this knowledge and union must come from outside us and be revealed to us. This is what God does – he steps into humanity in the person of Jesus in order to be seen and to heal us / redeem us from the outside in and the inside out.

    This is why Jesus must be fully God incarnate and the whole expression of God to us.
    If He is not (and somehow less that that) then humanity has not been taken up into the Godhead and we are unredeemed.
    We do not share in the triune life of God.

    This is the problem with the Jehovah’s witness misapprehension of Jesus.
    They insist that He is a little g – god (changing the reading of John 1:1) but not that he is the LORD in the flesh.
    That is why they are left unredeemed – because they trust in a Christ that is less than God and therefore does not bridge the gap in himself and therefore our humanity remains unredeemed.

    As for the matter regarding the veil that you make much of.
    Jesus is the mystery of God revealed. (eg Coll 1:26) That is the fundamental truth of the Bible. Israel’s history is awaiting the revealing of the Messiah. The NT describes the revealing.
    When one turns to the LORD Jesus the veil is taken away.
    When we with unveiled face behold the glory of God in the face of the LORD Jesus we are changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. (2Corinthians 3)
    It’s a basic truth of Christianity and the process of our sanctification. We behold Christ who is the image of God and we are thereby changed into his likeness as he is the likeness of the invisible God.
    How you can make such an erroneous assertion without substantiation is hopefully an indication of the weakness of your logic in making such assertions.

    I hope by the above logic / reasoning and by the simple enough examples in the Scripture that you can start to see the difficulty with your construal and then accept that you need to think through more carefully in your insisting that God the Father has not revealed himself perfectly in Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1)

  • LinCA

    Would you like some dressing with that word salad?

  • Your posts are not showing up in this blog. I do have them in my emails.

  • John Gills

    I like this quote that goes back at least as far as 1876, “we see things not as they are, but as we are.”

  • “It’s very encouraging to hear of others who have had this revelation and are passing it on.” What is the source of that revelation please?

  • “Considering what we know about the bible, I would caustion anyone to put too much faith in anything in it. Considering that it was written over centuries, in pre-scientific times, by anonimous authors, compiled to sell an agenda, and edited and rewritten many times, the notion that it contains anything other than iron age folklore and mythology is preposterous. There is no reason to believe it contains the story of any actual gods.” Self-serving, non-scientific, outrageously opinionated without the slightest support other than personal belief….

  • The mental wards are reserved for the Progressives – thus the shortage…

  • ravitchn. You handle is as muddy as your mind…

  • Richard Simpson

    Not sure what you are getting at with this question. Have i misunderstood that you have written? It strikes me as an odd response as if you are checking something or perhaps proposing something?

    To answer the question regardless – The Spirit of God illuminates the Scriptures revealing that it is the triune God is the one revealing himself in Christ.
    If you are asking a question regarding the inner “mechanics” or assigning of the work of revelation to particular persons of the trinity then we could say that the Father reveals himself through the Son by the Holy Spirit.
    Why do you ask this question may i ask ?

  • No it is not. It is set of individuals books written over several thousand years by men who were inspired the Spirit to write what they did. Legends, myths and metaphors is an opinionated self serving comment that shows you do not know the bible even though you call it our bible. The only filter in the bible is from God. Though the words are plainly spoken they cannot be understood without the Spirit.

  • Richard Simpson

    It just occurs to me that you might be asking another question regarding the nature of the Bible.
    Jesus taught from the Old Testament and his teachings and those of the apostles who he gave authority to interpret his life also wrote.
    The scriptures are “theopnesustos” God breathed. They are clear. We are not clear – that’s the thing.
    That is a problem i think you may have framed it as the Bible is not clear.

    In terms of process, we go to the Scriptures depending on God to reveal Jesus to us in them.
    We don’t go to rocks and trees and other sources nor do we go to our humanistic hermeneutic and rely on it.
    We do encounter the historical Jesus, as we read in the recorded and inspired writings in the Bible, which then God uses to lead us upward as it were to the risen Christ.

    There is a problem with a construal of the hermeneutic you are advocating if it is subjectively based.
    (I’m not sure you do from what you have written i just see it as a possible problem)
    The problem is that one can attempt to criticise the presumptuous and subjective readings of Scripture by a subjective standard.
    That is, if you go this route you must get your knowledge of Christ from the very Scripture you say has a problem in representing that Christ due to human subjectivity.
    This is a huge problem because you are just left with a kind of metaphysical relativism and no external inspired standard.

    What i think you are actually saying however is that the whole of our interpretive task must be reliant on Christ and the Scriptures are there to reveal Him.
    Only the Spirit can illuminate Christ and there is no hermeneutic (whether grammatico historical or allegorical or whatever) that can unveil Christ to us.
    All humans are fallible and therefore we need the infallible to be revealed by necessary extension.

    Having said this it true that the Bible is in fact a book (or collection of writings bound into one book). It has many authors and many different kinds of literature and that the authors wrote down what they understood about Jesus (or the pre-incarnate God’s dealing with humanity in the case of the OT). Jesus however taught (as we have an authoritative record of his life and teaching validated by Jesus himself) that he viewed the Bible to be inspired of God. God has given the Scripture so that we can know him. He has given it in human language, words, genre, literature, history and theology. We cant ignore these things. This is something of the relationship between the human and the divine that we grapple with in Jesus himself. They are a human writing which God inspired.
    The Scripture is not God himself they are a sign that points to God but God must shine his light on the sign in order for us to see where it is pointing.
    The Scripture is not not Jesus. Jesus is not the bible. Jesus is the living Word that the Spirit reveals to us as we pray and read.

    I think this is what you are saying in perhaps a slightly different way?

  • Because the concept of the ”lens of Jesus” isn’t scriptural. You say you had a revelation. Where did it come from? How did you receive it?

    The triune God is another non-biblical but supposedly scriptural concept.

  • Richard Simpson

    Bob,
    this kind of argument might work with people out there in the bloggosphere but it is certainly not scholarly.
    Its just a typical excuse by ignorant people who wish to avoid the implications of the teachings within the text itself.
    Even scholars who don’t love Christ do not come to the same conclusions as yours so you are way out of your depth on these matters.
    As a very simple example which contradicts your popular tirade – the Lukan account of the life of Christ for example is clearly based on the notions of early historiography in the tradition of Thucydides. An examination in Greek of the prologue of both works bears this out in a striking way so as to ensure that the reader is compelled to understand that Luke intends to write an historical account of the life of Christ. This being a work of history, literature and theology all combined into a gospel.
    Just because the texts do not conform to your literary conventions or expectation does not mean that they are inaccurate or a-historical.
    It’s best not to try to assert things about which you know very little especially when it is contrary to virtually all modern scholarship in the area you choose to contradict.

  • Not scholarly? And the quote I responded to was? Please be serious.
    Scholars who don’t love Christ have an agenda and cannot be taken seriously.
    And to who knows little try looking in the mirror.

  • cipher

    It wasn’t meant as a rebuttal. It was meant as a dismissal, and rightly so.

  • Richard Simpson

    Please Bob

    Please don’t reply with a childish response like this last one again.
    It’s so far beaneath you that it’s embarrassing.

    I don’t write to simply to offend you but hopefully to expose a blind spot.

    It’s plain you do not really know what you are talking about and have accepted simplistic answers to objections to the Christian faith.

    If it were as simple as you try to assert then obviously Christianity would crumble and no rational or intelligent person would believe it. It’s just not that way in the real world. (Eg 65% of nobel scientists are Christians).

    It’s a pity people like you are satisfied with absurdities but I know there are reasons for this as I myself once was the same.

    You should admit to yourself that you are not a scholar, you don’t read Greek, you have accepted uncritically facile solutions to complex problems and that you don’t know God – ultimately. The excuses you make are very weak intellectually.
    As a simple test go and read Thucydides and compare to Luke and then you will understand something of first century historiography. It’s a good thing to be better informed. I have done so myself.

    At the end of the day you will have to face the fact that God in love has already irrefutably revealed himself in human history in the person of Jesus Christ and that he was crucified for you and rose victorious.

    What you really need to do is to turn away from your rejection of his love and receive what he has done for you.

    It’s probably best that we leave things here but if you have any sincere issues or questions I’d be happy to respond.

    I do pray God will reveal himself to you as he did to me in all my hatred and rejection of him.

  • Richard Simpson

    Yeah I know the post was supposed to be dismissive in its own infantile way- just like yours.
    Pity that.

  • Ok. I’ll do my best to answer you in a way you can understand.
    I also believe you don’t understand the bible based on your past comments.
    I don’t pretend to be a biblical scholar. I don’t read Greek either.
    Of Thucydides born 400 years before Christ, please let us see the comparison to Luke in respect of “first century historiography. I am sure everyone is interested.
    By suggesting that I don’t know God and Jesus it appears to me you have trouble reading.

  • Richard Simpson

    Look, what you believe about whether i understand the bible correctly or not is of no material significance.
    What matters is what the objective truth is. Whether you are right about your belief and how do you determine how you are right is what really matters.

    You freely admit you are not a biblical scholar and you can’t read Greek and yet you try to pass judgement on what the bible does or does not say?
    Can’t you see that this is an irony? t’s better in this instance that you remain silent and people won’t ridicule you for making unsubstantiated and ill informed assertions.

    My point regarding Luke (that you seem to have missed) was that he uses a Thucydidean model of historiography (established from antiquity yes 380 years before) to signal to / inform the reader that his account of the life of Jesus is meant also to be understood as history. The fact that this differs as a genre from modern historiographical method is important to understand. We should not conclude that it is not history because it is not written the way we now view the way history is written. That’s all. You attacked the historicity of the Bible – I was merely pointing out how you have misunderstood it with a single example.

    The point regarding your knowledge or lack of knowledge of God is based on the fact that none of us naturally know or love God. In our natural state we reject God’s action in Christ – we all do. By denying the Biblical accounts of Jesus life which you do (the only substantive historical record of our knowledge of his life) we place ourselves at enmity to God’s witness to himself. So the fact that you deny the biblical witness and to conclude that therefore you don’t know the God of the Bible was on my part a logical deduction precipitated by your comment ending in ” Self-serving, non-scientific, outrageously opinionated without the slightest support other than personal belief….” That’s just ill informed ignorance.
    So unless there is something desperately dysfunctional with your faith then I would have to conclude that you don’t know the Christ of the Scriptures – the eternal Son or the triune God whom you seem also to deny and Christ as a lens through which to know him. Isn’t that fair? If i have misconstrued your actual relation to God please forgive that and correct it.

    All that said, if you can at least admit your ignorance (which you seem at least to have begun to do) then you will then be one step closer to admitting your need for certainty on the matters of the historicity and authority of the Bible and the reality of the God who is described therein who actually loves you enough to enter humanity and give his life as a bridge to and in himself.

    Now if you want to substantiate why my approach to the bible is at fault then by all means we can examine that.
    My hope in all this dialogue is actually that God will help you see where you have made errors of judgement regarding him.
    I’d be also happy to refine or reform my own view in the process but you cant just offer vitriol and expect that to be taken as anything other than venting without due reason.

  • Richard Simpson

    Hey did you get my response to this as it is not showing up on the posts?

  • Richard Simpson

    Hye i replied to this one too but it does not show up
    did you say you had received it since i cant see that message that i think you sent saying you did get it in your email but not on screen?
    Be good to get your response to the last post since hopefully i clarified things

  • Richard Simpson

    Did u get my other post then with respect to the historicity of Luke??
    I want to be able to help you realise that there is more to the question of the inspiration and reliability of the Scriptures than you have all to easily accepted.
    It’s very frustrating spending a good while writing something out only to have it disappear.

  • cipher

    .

  • There must be a problem with your account. I receive an email showing your response but I cannot reply to it because it is not in the blog where it normally is. Notice your one sentence reply above somehow did get posted.

  • Richard Simpson

    Thanks for letting me know. Notwithstanding the benefit for others I’m glad at least you got the response. It’s a hassle to rewrite it.
    Can U send it back to me perhaps? And we can delete these two emails so others might read them in their entirety at some later stage.
    Anyway I hope it was helpful in some way.
    I’m happy to address your issues with the biblical text/s and how we can rely on them and hear God speak to us revealing Christ in them.
    The inspiration of Scripture is foundational to our knowledge of God because He has given them to us for this purpose.

    Trying to know GOd outside of Scripture is kind of an oxy moron.
    It is through the text that we read of the historical Christ and are thereby lead to encounter the risen Lord.
    Without this we are flying blind.

  • Another reply got through. Interesting.
    I cannot send you an email because I don’t have an address.
    Probably not wise to post it either in case it does go through.

  • LinCA

    Do tell, what scientific support is there for any of its fantastical claims? What evidence is that that even suggets that the gods depicted in it are anything other than figments of the imagination of primitives?

  • As you also have no proof of the non-existence of God you resort to using a pejorative like “primitives” to diminish those with whom you disagree. While some might agree with you many more disagree. You can put yourself on a platform and pretend to look down at those who believe in God but it’s just an illusion as it you who are on the bottom.

  • LinCA

    I also have no proof that the Easter Bunny is real. That doesn’t make believing it is, a rational belief. Since there is no evidence, and no argument that stands up to ration scrutiny, for the existence of your gods, they are not fundamentally more likely to be real than other fictional creatures. A belief in your gods is not any more reasonable than believing in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. Without a rational basis in evidence, a belief in your gods is infantile.

  • Those who believe in God vastly outnumber those who do not. Are you looking for comfort in numbers?
    The bible is the most published book in the world and that defies your logic as according to you there is no rationale reason why that should be so. But it is!
    Would the world be different if everyone believed as you say you do? Yes. The entire world would be like a Mel Gibson movie (Mad Max).

  • LinCA

    Those who believe in God vastly outnumber those who do not. Are you looking for comfort in numbers?

    I don’t need numbers. Facts are independent of the number of people who believe them to be true. When people stopped believing the earth to be flat, it didn’t change shape.

    The bible is the most published book in the world and that defies your logic as according to you there is no rationale reason why that should be so. But it is!

    People are gullible. People infect their children with the same nonsense they believe. And Christianity has spread through violence and procreation (there is a reason why religious organizations don’t like contraception). All these extra believers need to at least pretend to be familiar with their fairy tale.

    Would the world be different if everyone believed as you say you do? Yes. The entire world would be like a Mel Gibson movie (Mad Max).

    Nonsense. We’d be fixing problems with science instead of cutting off each other’s heads over whose imaginary friend is more peace loving.

  • I’ll concede that numbers alone do not prove anything.
    But without God and His commandments you would not know what behavior was moral.

  • LinCA

    Complete and utter nonsense. The “morals” of your god are atrocious, but that’s because they aren’t from any supernatural being. They are nothing but the primitive mores of the bronze age.

    That I wouldn’t dream of stoning my rebellious child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), or a rape victim for not screaming loud enough (Deuteronomy 22:23-24), makes me morally far superior to your god.

    And looking at the 10 commandments, you’d have to wonder where this creatures priorities are, if these are the most important rules to follow (Exodus 34):
    1. Thou shalt worship no other god (For the Lord is a jealous god).
    2. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
    3. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep in the month when the ear is on the corn.
    4. All the first-born are mine.
    5. Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh thou shalt rest.
    6. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, even of the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
    7. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread.
    8. The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning.
    9. The first of the first fruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
    10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.

    Do you follow these 10 most important rules of your god?

  • Kobus

    “We’d be fixing problems with science”

    Are we not doing this right now?

  • Marshall

    Reason may come to provide one’s source for understanding, direction and power. Reason as a god, definably a deity, with many adherents in the western world. Just as American masses of the 20th century came to be thought synonymous with “Christian”, so also there are many disciples of Reason, even to the assumption of Reason as the State religion.

    http://bigthink.com/articles/how-atheists-bow-down-to-the-god-of-reason

  • You use words like bronze age as if you are familiar with their mores but you are kidding yourself there.
    The 10 Commandments are for our personal conduct and if society would obey them everything would change for the best immediately. Your list is not the 10 commandments – you only got two.
    What exactly is wrong with not lying for instance? Nothing. But people don’t want to be told what to do because human nature is opposed to God as noted in your post.
    Point 3. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is being kept now around the world and has been for thousands of years.
    The question is your non-belief in God not mine. Your anger in these words shows you are not convinced yourself so you lash out. I’ll pray for you.

  • LinCA

    Not nearly enough, and the push-back against science is coming, almost exclusively, from the religious, for religious reasons.

  • LinCA

    Do you have a point, or are you just aping the nonsense some fellow ignorant believer spouts? Are you suggesting that ignoring reason is somehow a superior way to understand things? Can you only “know” if your imaginary friend exists by “listening to your heart”?

    Do actually agree with and believe that “It is the demands of Reason that emboldened the Nazis to experiment upon Jews for purposes of achieving expeditious medical epiphanies“? Do you actually believe the Nazis choose Jews as their targets because of a reasoned argument? Of course they didn’t. That choice came from the heart. It was because of hate. They got away with it for as long as they did because they played to the hatred of Christians (also from the heart) for Jews.

  • Kobus

    Which problems are you referring to, exactly?

  • LinCA

    You use words like bronze age as if you are familiar with their mores but you are kidding yourself there.

    Do you read? You should try it sometimes. You might learn a thing or two.

    The 10 Commandments are for our personal conduct and if society would obey them everything would change for the best immediately. Your list is not the 10 commandments – you only got two.

    Speaking of reading, you should read and try yo understand your own book of folklore.

    The list above are THE Ten Commandments.

    I know that Christians tend to refer exclusively to the ones from Exodus 20, but those can’t be the real Ten Commandments. That set was destroyed. And, given that the first set was destroyed and the second one was exactly like the first, we can surmise that whatever differences there are between the 2 sets must have been introduced by incorrect recollection of the first set.

    What exactly is wrong with not lying for instance?

    Your argument wasn’t whether the morals in your bible were good (they aren’t), but that they came from your imaginary friend. Societies have had rules as long as there have been societies. Rules against stealing, lying, killing, etc. are not unique to your fairy tale. They did not originate with your religion.

    But people don’t want to be told what to do because human nature is opposed to God as noted in your post.

    Nonsense. Humans are social animals. They have developed societies and with it rules. Some people just find it harder to follow them, in part because there is individual gain to be had by breaking them.

    Point 3. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is being kept now around the world and has been for thousands of years.

    Do you? Do all your fellow believers?

    The question is your non-belief in God not mine.

    It should also be yours, since you believe in a non-existing creature. You believe in the equivalent of the Easter Bunny. It’s pathetic.

    Your anger in these words shows you are not convinced yourself so you lash out.

    Get a grip. I’m not angry. I’m just astounded that so many can still believe in something so utterly ignorant.

    I’ll pray for you.

    Don’t bother. You mumbling to the voices in your head won’t do anything.

    If you want to really make a difference, critically and rationally evaluate the case for the existence of your gods. You won’t like the result, because it inevitably leads to atheism, but at least you won’t live in a fantasy anymore.

  • LinCA

    Climate change, gun control, health care, to name a few, but pretty much any field. Even the conflicts in the Middle East will stand a better chance of resolution if religion was out of the way.

  • What a tissy fit. Many know the 10 commandments; even catholic children can recite them. They could set you straight.
    Human have developed societies and rules based on the bible. They just changed most of them to suit their lawlessness.
    Show us the human developed laws and moral codes that resulted in today’s societies if you can?
    By the way the Easter Bunny is cute but not my cup of tea….

  • Marshall

    ahhh… the god of Reason can be a bit moody. To the rescue, Her devotees propose 20-20 hindsight?

    In a day to come, all will look back upon Her with loathing.

  • LinCA

    What a tissy fit. Many know the 10 commandments; even catholic children can recite them. They could set you straight.

    Typical. Another Christian who is completely clueless about his own fairy tale. Of course, anyone who actually reads the bible for comprehension comes away being an atheist. The only way to remain a believer is to remain willfully ignorant.

    Human have developed societies and rules based on the bible.

    Of course some have, but certainly not all. Nothing in the bible is unique to it. It’s all cobbled together from earlier sources and practices.

    They just changed most of them to suit their lawlessness.

    Yeah, Christians aren’t the most law abiding, are they?

    Show us the human developed laws and moral codes that resulted in today’s societies if you can?

    Technically, every law or moral code was developed by humans. Just because they attribute them to their imaginary friends doesn’t mean they had anything to do with them. But, may I refer you to the US Constitution? Freedom of speech and religion (which includes the freedom to not have one for the smarter ones among us) is but one of those laws.

    By the way the Easter Bunny is cute but not my cup of tea….

    I never said you believed in the Easter Bunny, just that your god is just as real.

  • Kobus

    So according to you, the religious way of dealing with these problems is to cut off each other’s heads? ALL people (religious, agnostic and atheist) use the science from all disciplines to solve these problems (and more). Science is just a tool and a knowledge base we use to try and solve issues and make our lives easier and better, it is not the be-all-end-all that will save humanity. This is an extremely materialistic view off the world and it’s very popular among New Atheism. There is however, whether you agree with it or not, a spiritual realm to this world. It is not possible to show physical evidence for this because it is not a physical entity.

  • LinCA

    There is however, whether you agree with it or not, a spiritual realm to this world. It is not possible to show physical evidence for this because it is not a physical entity.

    There is however, whether you agree with it or not, an Easter Bunny in this world. It is not possible to show physical evidence for this because it is not a physical entity.

    If there is no physical evidence for it, you can’t possibly know it exists, and you are just spouting unsubstantiated nonsense.

  • Kobus

    “There is however, whether you agree with it or not, an Easter Bunny in this world. It is not possible to show physical evidence for this because it is not a physical entity”

    Nope. The Easter bunny is fictional. Jesus Christ was a real person and when he left, he gave us the Holy Spirit. Even most atheists agree on this, they just choose not to believe it.

    “If there is no physical evidence for it, you can’t possibly know it exists, and you are just spouting unsubstantiated nonsense”

    Sorry mate, but it’s actually not that simple. Think of it in a way that you would think of love. For example, it is easy for me to see that my brother loves his wife very much, and there is no doubt about that. However, It’s going to be a difficult task to physically proof this love to someone else wouldn’t you say?

    God will reveal himself to you only when you soften your heart and let him in.

  • LinCA

    The Easter bunny is fictional.

    Duh. The Easter Bunny is just as fictional as your gods.

    Jesus Christ was a real person and when he left, he gave us the Holy Spirit.

    Whether Jesus was a real person is not an established fact. That he “gave us the Holy Spirit” is nothing but ignorant folklore and superstition.

    Even most atheists agree on this, they just choose not to believe it.

    Nonsense.

    Think of it in a way that you would think of love. For example, it is easy for me to see that my brother loves his wife very much, and there is no doubt about that. However, It’s going to be a difficult task to physically proof this love to someone else wouldn’t you say?

    You are contradicting yourself. There is evidence of love. It is fairly straightforward to establish with reasonable certainty whether there is love between people.

    There is not a single shred piece of physical evidence for the spiritual realm.

    God will reveal himself to you only when you soften your heart and let him in.

    Just more ignorant superstition. You could say the same thing about Santa Claus. He will reveal himself to you only when you soften your heart and let him in.

  • Kobus

    “Whether Jesus was a real person is not an established fact”

    Definitely not true. Jesus is not just mentioned in the gospels, which are by the way, the most popular and most published writings in all of history, but he is also mentioned by Jewish, Roman and Pagan historical writers of the time. To be honest, I don’t think there is anything that is more of a historical fact than that of the existence of Jesus Christ.

    “There is evidence of love. It is fairly straightforward to establish with reasonable certainty whether there is love between people”

    That is correct. You cannot physically prove it though. It’s sort of an “emotional proof” if you will.

    “There is not a single shred piece of physical evidence for the spiritual realm”

    Yes i know. I said this earlier already. Spirituality is not a physical entity.

  • Richard Simpson

    Bob,
    Given from the previous that you do accept that God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ and yet seem to question the historicity and therefore authority of the bible I would like to challenge and encourage you to pray a bit further through this. (God will surely guide you into the truth concerning himself if you look to the right Jesus).

    One of the big problems you have is that the only place you find the historical Jesus is in the pages of the New Testament (with his pre-incarnate history of dealing with Humanity in the pages of the Old).
    Jesus upheld the Scriptures as being authoritative and given by God and also gave the apostles authority to interpret his life. We don’t have our own interpretations we have those of the apostles. So, when you deny this witness, you are pitting yourself against Jesus own witness to himself.
    Now the bible is not God, as i said, it is however given in order to be used like a sign pointing to God.
    Many people may make the mistake of not distinguishing sign from that which is signified and you could rightly criticise it.
    Unfortunately in dismissing through overly simplistic conclusions and wrong handling and misinterpretation of the bible itself you have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
    There are compelling authentications regarding the historicity and reliability of the biblical canon (albeit a work of theology, literature and history at the same time).
    The Spirit himself bears witness and reasonable answers ensue as a result.

    My previous appeal (in response to your denunciation) was for you to consider more carefully your position. Not accept platitudes nor offer them in denial.
    It appeared from your “critique” that you had not really understood the way in which the bible itself communicates and therefore were bound to misunderstand it or force it to conform to a modern historiographical method which it does not need to nor does it pretend to be that. This is where Thucydides is helpful (as a single example and there are many) in indicating how we are to understand and interpret the gospels for example.
    Being respectful of genre for a start we then work our way through the “how” the bible communicates before we get to the “what” of its method.
    By divorcing yourself from the Bible you are denying it’s faithful / reliable witness to Christ and this is the only witness that the Holy Spirit illuminates in pointing us to Jesus himself.
    The point is, to be dismissive of the bible based on a series of unfortunate misconceptions and on the fallibility of human beings in their ability to interpret, is to relegate yourself to a kind of metaphysical relativism which leads nowhere and leaves you with no food on which to spiritually dine.
    I would urge you to make it a matter of prayer to the risen Jesus of the bible and He will lead you into the truth by his grace and Spirit (a promise that we have in the bible as it happens).
    The bible is really critical in trying to get a clear view of who God is but it is a worthless book without the Spirit’s illumination.
    I pray that you will have this revelation and wish you well.

  • Richard Simpson

    Church is irrelevant because either 1. Jesus is not manifestly present or 2. those listening to the message have no relationship to God and therefore are unable to encounter the relevance.
    You are probably talking about American Christianity then anyway. If you look past the horizon you would know that the church is not shrinking at all but that it is exploding globally.
    If Christ is present there is dynamic growth, true repentance, community and faith and of course truth and relevance.
    It’s not a matter of jazzing up church to make it relevant. It is a matter of the real manifest presence of the living Christ making a difference in people’s lives.

  • Richard Simpson

    I have been reading back over some of your posts and think I have had a crossed wire.
    Can you please point out to me where you think we differ and this might be a better starting point.
    Sorry about that !

  • Richard Simpson

    Hey sorry – I had not read the inverted commas. Yes the quote is preposterous and that is why i called it unscholarly and then you responded to that critique. Bit of a mess there.

  • Somehow you have completely misunderstood me and what I said let alone my beliefs:

    The Word was with God and the Word was the God who created everything at God’s direction. The Word was the God who interacted with man in the OT and the Word was the God who destroyed the age of the Angels by water and the first age of man with water saving only Noah and his family.

    The Word became flesh and died four sins so we could be reconciled to God the Father. The bible is the written Word of God for our instruction as to everything God. It cannot be understood without God opening our mind and lifting the veil. Many Helps are available to begin that understanding; apparently Thucydides is one of them. The Word, Jesus of the NT, has many names but the Lens is not one of them. That was my point.

  • LinCA

    Jesus is not just mentioned in the gospels, which are by the way, the most popular and most published writings in all of history, but he is also mentioned by Jewish, Roman and Pagan historical writers of the time.

    Nonsense.

    There isn’t a single letter written about him at any time near his alleged life. The earliest mention of him is by Paul, who never claims to have met him. The gospels were written, anonymously, decades later still, by people who clearly had no first or even secondhand knowledge of the era and area they wrote about.

    None of the extra-biblical mentions are contemporary either. Those that are not forgeries, merely mention what early Christians believed, not what actually happened.

    Also, popularity is not an indicator of veracity. If that were the case, we’d all have to believe that wizards were real.

    To be honest, I don’t think there is anything that is more of a historical fact than that of the existence of Jesus Christ.

    Delusion will do that to you.

    That is correct. You cannot physically prove it though. It’s sort of an “emotional proof” if you will.

    Actually, there are physical indicators that are quite easy to measure, such as brain activity, pupil response, skin reactions, etc. Also behavior such as holding hands or kissing are indicators.

    Yes i know. I said this earlier already. Spirituality is not a physical entity.

    Which means there is no way to know if it exists. Someone made it up, and suckers all over the world fell for it.

  • Richard Simpson

    I tracked back and realised you were quoting someone else rather than espousing your own view. Hopefully we are on same page now. Apologies.

    To clarify what I meant by Jezus is the lens (or agreeing with that notion or analogy ) is that it’s a helpful metaphor.

    It’s not a biblical metaphor in the sense that it’s not in the text directly but it’s a picture concept that is appropriate.

    You might say that we need to see God through the life and person of Jesus.
    Or – without Jesus it’s impossible to see God.
    In that sense he is the lens that brings God into focus in himself.
    No it’s not in the bible as a word but conceptually the idea is there nonetheless.
    Hope that is clear and sorry once again for the mix up.

  • Kobus

    Alright then.

    Good luck in your future endeavors.

  • LinCA

    Same to you. I sincerely hope you will critically evaluate your beliefs, and rationally follow what you find to its inevitable conclusion.

  • Kobus

    Thanks. And I sincerely hope you accept Jesus and repent your sins.

  • LinCA

    If you had critically examined your beliefs, and rationally followed your findings, you would know that your Jesus is as real as Santa Claus. If he ever existed as a real person, he’s long dead, never to return.

    The only thing to accept, is the reality of gods being fictional.

  • Kobus

    Nope. Atheist lies is all I see. There is a God mate, and he has a righteous wrath. Repent and be free.

  • LinCA

    You keep saying that, but all you have to show for are your own superstitions and ignorant iron age folklore. You are hanging your life’s decisions on your indoctrination into a silly, even infantile belief. You are wasting the only life you’ll ever have on your knees in worship of a figment of the imagination of primitive goat herders.

    Do you really think that your gods are special? Do you really think that yours are more real than the thousands that have already landed on the scrapheap of mythology? Do you really think that your “holy” book is any more holy than all the others? Are you really so dense as to believe that your beliefs are any less superstitious than those of billions of believers in other gods?

    Have you ever considered why it is that virtually every believer just happens to have a parent (or two) who has almost the same beliefs? Have you ever considered how you arrived at your beliefs? Have you ever considered that the reason you believe what you believe is because you were taught to believe it?

    For anyone with the capacity for rational thought, it requires willful ignorance to remain religious.

  • Marshall

    “For anyone with the capacity for rational thought, it requires willful ignorance to remain religious.”

    not exactly a rational statement. more akin to obsession.

  • LinCA

    not exactly a rational statement.

    Considering that there isn’t a single argument for the existence of gods can stand up to rational scrutiny, and that there isn’t a single shred of evidence that could reasonably lead to a belief they exist, and the fact that there are literally mountains of evidence that gods are invented by the thousands, NOT believing they exist is the only rational position to hold.

    The case for the existence of gods is not in any fundamental way different from the case for any other fictional creature or character. Once someone critically evaluates the case for the existence of gods, and rationally follow the evidence, atheism is inevitable.

    Once someone has been made aware of these facts, only willful denial, or inability to rationally evaluate them, could possibly cause him or her to remain a believer. It’s just that most believers are not capable, and most of those that are, are not willing.

    more akin to obsession.

    More an observation.