Biblical Annihilationism or Universalism? (w Atheist Ted Drange)

Biblical Annihilationism or Universalism? (w Atheist Ted Drange) July 21, 2018

The following list of alleged biblical “contradictions” was put together by Dr. Ted Drange, philosophy professor, an atheist on an atheist-dominated Internet list devoted to God’s existence. Another person on the list (Nick) originally presented them (with some discrepancies from Ted’s version) and challenged me to provide a counter-reply. I was informed by yet another prominent, active list member that these two men were the most biblically knowledgeable of the atheists on the list (which has some 70 or so members, I believe), and that they know as much about the Bible and its interpretation as I do (I am a professional, published Christian apologist who has studied the Bible intensely for 25 years).

I aim to show that the claims of contradiction are utterly wrongheaded, vapid, and erroneous, and, furthermore, highly illustrative of the woeful inability of many atheists and other biblical skeptics to engage in (or even understand) proper biblical exegesis. My opponents’ words will be in blue. Biblical verses written out in full will be from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.


1. Are unsaved sinners eternally tormented?

2. Will everyone get saved?

3. Are people at all responsible for their failure to get saved?

4. Is one who believes in God’s son, but who has never repented, saved?

5. Is one who believes in God’s son, but who has done no good deeds, saved?

6. Is one who has called upon the name of the Lord, but who has done no good deeds, saved?

7. Is one who is very moral and charitable, but who has never repented, saved?

8. Is one who is very moral and charitable, but who does not believe in God’s son, saved?

9. To be saved, is it necessary that one be born of water and of the Spirit, eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood, and receive the kingdom of God as a child?

10. To be saved, is it necessary that one never say evil things against the Holy Spirit?

1. Are unsaved sinners eternally tormented?


Isaiah 33:14; Matthew 13:40-42, 
25:41,46; Mark 9:43-48; 
Jude 6-7; Revelation 14:10-11 


Ezekiel 18:10-13; Matthew 10:28;
Luke 13:3,5; John 3:16;
Acts 3:23; 1Corinthians 15:18;
2 Thessalonians 2:10; Hebrews 10:39;
2 Peter 2:6, 3:7,9

I do not recall ever citing Ezek. 18:10-13 or 2 Peter 2:6, and I don’t know where Nick got those. However, I did cite Acts 3:23, which in the King James (and Revised Standard and some other translations) reads “….. shall be destroyed from among the people.” The Living Bible has “….. shall be utterly destroyed.” Also, I did cite Ezek. 18:4, which says the soul will die, and I did cite 2 Peter 3:7, which talks of the “destruction of ungodly men” and 2 Peter 3:9, which talks of people “perishing.” Such translations do indeed support annihilationism.

Let’s consider each of these in turn.

Isaiah 33:14 The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”

Matthew 13:40-42 As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:41, 46 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Mark 9:43-48 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where ” ‘their worm does not die,and the fire is not quenched.’

Jude 1:6-7 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

Revelation 14:10-11 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”

These passages indeed do teach eternal torment in hellfire: the orthodox Christian (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) position. The verses supposedly opposed to these are the ones which are wrongly exegeted and interpreted, as will be shown.

1) Ezekiel 18:10-13 “Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things 11 (though the father has done none of them):

“He eats at the mountain shrines.
He defiles his neighbor’s wife.
12 He oppresses the poor and needy.
He commits robbery.
He does not return what he took in pledge.
He looks to the idols.
He does detestable things.
13 He lends at usury and takes excessive interest.

Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head.

This is a perfect non sequitur and no contradiction at all (a theme which will be nauseatingly common as we proceed). Atheists and other biblical skeptics often state that they “see” a contradiction where there is none. This is classic, garden variety biblical “interpretation” by those who approach the Bible like a butcher approaches a pig or a chicken. The passage simply says nothing about eternal destiny of souls one way or the other. It is about capital punishment; no more, no less. The context is about “the soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). To not mention anything chronologically later is not the equivalent of asserting the contrary of what is asserted. One might say about the same person described above, today:

Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be arrested and his fate will rest in a jury’s hands.

Now, in stating this, is it implied that the man will be found guilty? No, not necessarily (though the statement assumes he is). Does it state that he will go to jail? No. Does it state that he won’t go to jail? No. That information is not covered. It’s the same thing with the passage above. It states that those who commit such sins will be punished with capital punishment. It says not a thing about the afterlife, so it does not contradict in the slightest, any of the passages examined above.

Those deal with divine punishment in the next life; this one with human punishment and civil justice in this life. How that is deemed “contradictory” is indeed a puzzling mystery to behold, but it happens all the time in this sort of hostile “exegesis.” In the rush to “prove” how ignorant and gullible and stupid Christians are, for believing in a Bible “full” of “contradictions,” this sort of basic logical error is committed again and again.

Dr. Ted Drange wrote:

But there are a few minor discrepancies between Nick’s list and one that I have here that I formulated. For example, I have Ezek. 18:4 for a “no” answer to question #1 (and not the other Ezekiel verses), presumably on the basis that that verse says that the soul will die. There are a few other such discrepancies, with some of my verses omitted from Nick’s list.

Let’s examine Ezekiel 18:4, too, then:

Ezekiel 18:4 For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son-both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

Compare Ezekiel 18:20:

The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

The interpretation of these passages as annihilation disregards the spiritual use of “death” in the Bible. For instance:

1 Timothy 5:6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

Ephesians 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,

Luke 15:24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

That Ezekiel 18:4, 20 refers to spiritual death (i.e., separation from God, not annihilation) is obvious from context, since 18:21 declares:

But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die.

Since all men die physically, this must be talking about the spiritual, or “second” death. The Bible elsewhere teaches that this second death is eternal hellfire.

2) Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

This is a very common proof text for those who deny eternal hellfire: whether atheists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Christadelphians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, universalists, or any others who disagree with the clear biblical teaching on this matter. The refutation is rather simple, and has to do with the meaning of the Greek word for “destroy,” which is apollumi. It means, according to W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words, “not extinction, but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being.”

The other verses in which it appears make this meaning clear (Mt 10:6, Lk 15:6, 9, 24, Jn 18:9). Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament or any other Greek lexicon would confirm this. Thayer was a Unitarian who probably didn’t believe in hell. But he was also an honest, objective scholar, so he gave the proper meaning of apollumi, in agreement with all other Greek scholars. The same argument applies to Mt 10:39, Jn 3:16 (same word). Let’s follow the Greek apollumi to other verses in which it appears, and apply the supposed definition of “annihilation,” in order to see how ridiculous this attributed meaning would be:

Matthew 10:6 Go rather to the annihilated (“lost”) sheep of Israel.

Luke 15:6, 9, 24 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my annihilated (“lost”) sheep.’ . . . 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my annihilated (“lost”) coin.’ . . . 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was annihilated (“lost”) and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

John 18:9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not annihilated (‘lost’) one of those you gave me.”

Matthew 10:39 Whoever finds his life will annihilate (“lose”) it, and whoever annihilates (“loses”) his life for my sake will find it. (cf. Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24-25, 17:33)

(see also Mt 10:42, 15:24, 16:25, Mk 9:41, Lk 15:4,32, 19:10, Jn 6:12,39, 12:25, 17:12)

3) Luke 13:3, 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. . . . 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

The word for “perish” in both verses is (again) apollumi, which does not mean annihilation, so this is no disproof of eternal hellfire whatsoever.

4) John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


5) Acts 3:23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’

The Greek word for “cut off” here is exolothreuo. In context, it simply means “exiled from one’s own people.” This appears to be a quotation from Leviticus 23:29. It has nothing to do with the afterlife. “Soul” (KJV, RSV – following more closely the OT quotation) means simply “a person” here (cf. Deut 18:15-19, from which this passage is also derived; see also Gen 1:24, 2:7,19, 1 Cor 15:45, Rev 16:3). We see this usage in English when someone says, “There was not a living soul there.”

6) 1 Corinthians 15:18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

This is another use of apollumi, which has been dealt with in #2,3,4. But the implication that this denies eternal hellfire and contradicts other biblical passages is doubly ridiculous due to the complete neglect of context. The context is a purely rhetorical use of reductio ad absurdum by the Apostle Paul, writing that which he does not himself believe, viz., what would follow “if there is no resurrection of the dead” (15:13), and “if Christ has not been raised” (15:14), in which case “preaching is useless and so is faith” (15:14), and “we are to be pitied more than all men” (15:19).

Obviously, Paul does not believe this, since he ends the rhetoric by once again proclaiming, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (15:20). Granted, these elementary considerations of context (which are applicable to the interpretation of all literature whatever, not just the Bible) are far too subtle for the skeptical Bible basher to understand, let alone apply fairly. But that does not make the interpretation itself any less stupid or not beneath intellectual contempt.

7) 2 Thessalonians 2:10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Another use of apollumi, which has been dealt with in #2, 3, 4, 6 . . .

8) Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

The Greek word for “destroyed” is apolia. Its meaning as “ruin” or “waste” is clearly seen in, e.g., Mt 26:8 and Mk 14:4 (a waste of ointment). In Rev 17:8, when it refers to the Beast, it states that the Beast is not wiped out of existence: “…They behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” So, again, this is no denial of eternal hellfire or assertion of annihilation.

9) 2 Peter 2:6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

This is another non sequitur in the same sense as described in #1 above. Wicked men will be punished by God, just as the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were. Context shows that the notion of eternal hellfire is not denied at all. For 2 Peter 2:4 reads:

2 Peter 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;

“Hell” in Greek is tartarus. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the NT writes about this word:

the name of a subterranean region, doleful and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer punishment for their evil deeds; it answers to the Gehenna of the Jews.

Consider also the following verse, in the immediate context:

2 Peter 2:12 But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

“Perish” (“utterly perish” in KJV) is from the Greek kataphthiro. In the only other place in the NT where this word appears (2 Tim 3:8), it is translated as “corrupt” in RSV and KJV, and “depraved” in the NIV. If the annihilationist interpretation were applied to that verse, it would absurdly read, “. . . men of nonexistent minds . . .”

10) 2 Peter 3:6-9 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

“Perish” is again the Greek apollumi, so annihilation, as always, is not taught, by virtue of the simple meaning of the Greek word. Furthermore, in v.6 (added for context’s sake), where it is said that the world was “destroyed” in the flood, it is obvious that it was not annihilated, but wasted, consistent with the other interpretations above.

Therefore, the cynical insinuation of the use of these passages above: viz., that one set teaches eternal hellfire, while the other supposedly denies eternal torment, is completely overthrown as groundless. The first set teaches this, and passages in the second set also teach it, or else do not deny it (several having nothing to do with that question). No contradiction occurs, as shown.

According to you (and some scholars), the Greek word apollumi, as used in the relevant verses, means “ruin” or “loss of well-being.” According to other scholars, it does not there mean that, but rather, “perish” or “be destroyed or annihilated.” It should be noted that “perish” is the most common translation, and “perish” means “to be destroyed or annihilated.” Perishable fruit, if not eaten soon enough, gets destroyed. To perish in flames is not just to die but to be utterly obliterated in them. Your quarrel is not with me. It is with those Greek scholars who translate “apollumi” as “perish.” You are telling us on this list that you have a difference of opinion with those Greek scholars, who are in the majority on the given issue. You are saying that if God were to write out John 3:16 in the stars in English, then he wouldn’t put: “….. whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life,” but would instead put “….. whosoever believes in him shall not be ruined but have everlasting life.” It’s not very convincing, to say the least. I deem your attempt to defend the Bible against the first contradiction on my list to be a failure.

First of all, you neglect to see that “perish” can be a synonym for physical death, but that Scripture (whatever you think of it) uses it also in the sense of spiritual death (as I already noted in my reply). Physical death (in Christian and biblical thought) is not annihilation but the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of a soul from God. Thus, if a synonym for “death” is used, but not in a literal sense of physical death, this easily explains the use of the word.

Secondly, you are wrong on the overall meaning of the English word “perish.” The largest dictionary I have (Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary, New York: World Publishing Co., 2nd ed., 1968, 2129 huge pages), backs up the contention I have made. “Perish” can indeed mean what orthodox Christians believe it means in these verses:


1. to die a violent or untimely death.
2. to be destroyed; to be ruined.


that may perish; subject to decay and destruction; liable to spoil or deteriorate, as some foods.


1. a falling down, as of a building, wall, etc. [it is still there]
2. [pl.] the remains of a fallen building, city, etc., or of something destroyed, devastated, decayed, etc. [it still exists]
3. (a) anything that has fallen to pieces, been destroyed, become decayed through age, etc.; as, the bombed city was a ‘ruin’; (b) a person regarded as being physically, mentally, or morally a wreck of what he was. [still in existence]
4. The state of having fallen to pieces or of being destroyed, devastated, decayed, etc. [still in existence] . . .
6. anything that causes downfall, destruction, decay, etc.; as gambling was his ‘ruin’. [he is still there, in a ruined state]

“destroy” (lit., to pull down. to tear to pieces) [“un-build” or “de-build”]

1. to demolish; to tear down; as to ‘destroy’ a house, to ‘destroy’ a city.
2. to ruin; to bring to naught; to spoil completely; as to ‘destroy’ a scheme, to ‘destroy’ a government, to ‘destroy’ one’s happiness.
3. to take away the utility of; to make useless.
4. to put an end to the existence of; to do away with.
5. to kill.
6. to neutralize the effect of.
7. to confute; to disprove.

[only #4 is consistent with your meaning of “utterly obliterated” or “annihilated.” Thus, the overwhelming number of definitions for both “ruin” and “destroy” – which were used as synonyms of “perish” — support my contention, not yours]


4. in theology, separation or alienation of the soul from God; a being under the dominion of sin, and destitute of grace or divine life; called ‘spiritual death’.


1. to pass gradually from a sound or prosperous state to one of less perfection; to fail; to be gradually impaired; to deteriorate.
2. to become rotten.

[the thing still exists]


to make worse; to lower the value of; to reduce in quality; to depreciate.
Syn. – degrade, depreciate, degenerate, impair, corrupt, debase.


1. to damage or injure in such a way as to make useless, valueless, etc.; to destroy.
2. to mar or impair the enjoyment, quality, or functioning of; as, the rain ‘spoiled’ our picnic.

[thus, the overwhelming meaning of all the synonyms given for “perishable” also support my contention. Annihilation is not even the primary meaning. It is only one possible secondary meaning, low down on the list]

A second dictionary of mine (The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary, New York: Lexicon Publications, 1988, 1149 large pages) defines “perish”:

to suffer utter ruin or destruction, or die a violent death, ‘the whole family perished in the fire’ || to suffer spiritual death . . . ‘perishable’ adj. liable to decay or deterioration.

Roget’s Thesaurus also concurs. The synonym for “perish” is “die”. Under “die” the first definition is “to cease living.” The second is:

2. Theol. To experience spiritual death: ‘Those who believe in God shall never die.’ Syn: perish.

Thirdly, if you wish to press this point about what word Greek scholars should have used in their Bible translations, then why didn’t they use “annihilate” or “obliterate” — words which are very clear as to meaning, and ones you used above in describing what you mistakenly thought the primary meaning of “perish” was? After all, this is what you contend happens to those who are judged after death: they cease to exist altogether. My largest dictionary defines them as follows:


1. to reduce to nothing; to destroy absolutely; to demolish . . .
2. to destroy the identity, form, or distinctive properties of, so that the specific thing no longer exists . . .


1. to efface; to erase or blot out, leaving no traces; to expunge.
2. to demolish; to wear out; to destroy all trace of.

Roget defines “annihilate” as “destroy all traces of” and gives no less than 19 synonyms, none of which is “perish”. It gives “annihilate” as the one synonym for “obliterate”. These were your primary synonyms for “perish,” but Roget and my big dictionary do not agree with you at all. Are you maintaining that I should accept your authority for the meaning rather than theirs?

Fourthly, your fruit example is an incorrect and illogical analogy. You wrote: “Perishable fruit, if not eaten soon enough, gets destroyed.” What you neglect to see is that “perishable” is what describes the fruit, and we have seen what that means, according to the dictionaries: decay, rotting, deterioration, etc. (not nonexistence). “Gets destroyed” in your sentence describes what a person does to the perishable fruit, not the fruit itself, or what “perishable” means. So the example as you give it, is irrelevant.

Fifthly, apollumi appears 92 times in the NT. In the King James Version it was translated into English as follows:

perish 33
lose 28
destroy 23
be destroyed 3
be lost 3
be marred 1
die 1

“Lose” hardly implies “annihilation”. We have seen what “perish” means, and even “destroyed” does not necessarily have to mean total annihilation. Thus, your linguistic analysis is a more or less total failure, is quite perishable, and in fact, in ruins. And that is even before we get to exegesis, which absolutely annihilates and obliterates your interpretation.

2. Will everyone get saved?


Romans 5:18-19, 11:32; 
1 Corinthians 15:22; Colossians 1:20; 
1 Timothy 2:4,6; 1 John 2:2


Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24

The correct answer here is “no,” of course. The verses in section 1 above under “Yes” themselves clearly show this, but there are dozens and dozens of such verses. These two are very clear:

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Luke 13:23-24 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” 24 He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

On the other hand, the six passages purported to claim otherwise are all misinterpretations, as I will now proceed to demonstrate:

11) Romans 5:18-19 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Verse 18 refers to both original sin and universal atonement: any man can be saved, as a result of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross on behalf of mankind. That 5:18 does not teach universalism is immediately made clear from the context of the very next verse. For it refers to “many were made sinners” and “many will be made righteous.” That is clearly not universalism. It is simply a matter of understanding the point being made, how language works, and context (including dozens of other passages along these lines).

Preceding context makes this even more clear: “. . . how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17). In other words. the free gift of God’s grace must be “received” by man. Not all men receive this gift which is available for all. Universalism is not taught here at all, but rather, universal atonement. Jesus died for all men.

12) Romans 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

This is a similar thought to Romans 5:18-19. Of course God loves all men and has mercy on all of them. That doesn’t mean they are all saved, at all. They simply reject this mercy and universal atonement that God offers, and continue on in their rebellion. In the same context, Paul writes about branches that have been broken off, in a metaphor about the Church or the company of the saved having experience of apostates who have fallen away from the faith:

Romans 11:17-23 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

This hardly reads like universalism; quite the contrary. Indeed, this typical Hebraic agricultural metaphor was already seen in a verse above:

Matthew 13:40-42 As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

13) 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

This expresses the same thought as #11 and #12. All men were subject to original sin; all men are also able to be saved; salvation is available for all. But not all men are saved. The latter does not follow from the former. Note also that the passage says that “in Christ all will be made alive.” Not all men are “in Christ.” Only regenerate persons are. And not all are regenerate. Dozens, probably hundreds of verses could easily be produced to show this. “In Christ” is a very familiar Pauline phrase. It does not refer to every person, but to Christians:

Romans 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, [whereas there is for those not in Christ Jesus]

Romans 16:3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:2, 4 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and ours . . . I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

2 Corinthians 1:21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Hebrews 3:14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. [note the conditional “if”]

Context supports this contention:

1 Corinthians 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

If universalism were true, the words “if” and “in vain” would not be in the above verse. “If” is a conditional, implying that a contrary might occur. “You are saved, if . . . ” means that some are not saved. “Believing in vain” means that not all belief is salvific, and not true grace-inspired faith.

14) Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Universal atonement is again expressed. It’s the same misunderstanding, for the fourth time. Let’s look at the context of the next three verses:

Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

In other words, Christians were once separated from God, in original sin. The implicit assumption is that there still are such people, not yet Christians. Paul is writing to a Christian church, here, remember, not to everyone.

Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation –

This doesn’t teach that God did so with all men, and that all are saved; only that those who are Christians are reconciled and “in Christ.”

Colossians 1:23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.

Since salvation can be lost (“if you continue . . . “), then, obviously, universalism isn’t true.

This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

It is available to everyone, but not all accept it, and salvation can be lost. Paul reiterates this shortly afterwards:

Colossians 2:6, 8 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, . . . 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:18-19 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

All of this shows how Paul’s entire argument and thought must be interpreted. It is the furthest thing from universalism.

15) 1 Timothy 2:4, 6 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.

Of course God wants all men to be saved, and Jesus died for all men so that anyone who accepted God’s free offer of grace could be saved (verse 6). It doesn’t follow that they all are. God also gives man a free will to choose to follow Him and be saved or to rebel and be damned. If universalism were true, and if Paul taught it, then it seems to me that this verse should read: “God causes all men to inevitably be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” And there would be no verses stating that many are not saved.

16) 1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Universal atonement is again taught, as in so many of these verses. This is a very basic misunderstanding: universal atonement is not universal salvation. Context (as always) shows that universalism is untrue. The saved person must “obey his word” (2:5), “walk as Jesus did” (2:6). Obviously, not everyone will do this:

1 John 2:15-24 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.

If this is universalism, it is a very strange universalism, and the word must mean something other than “everyone gets saved.” The conditional (therefore not universal) nature of salvation is also made very clear in the following passage in close context:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The alleged biblical case made above for universalism, then, collapses, just as the case against an eternal punishment in hell did. It is one thing to believe or disbelieve in these things; quite another to claim that the Bible teaches them. It does not. And only special pleading, eisegesis, and absurdly illogical hermeneutics can lead anyone to think otherwise.

3. Are people at all responsible for their failure to get saved?

Dr. Ted Drange wrote:

Also, I don’t have Nick’s question #3. My question #3 reads “Is salvation totally predestined by God?” (with a quite long list of verses supporting a “yes” answer).


Romans 2:5-10


Romans 8:28-30; 9:10-18;
Ephesians 1:4-5,11, 2:4-10;
1 Peter 1:2; Revelation 13:8; 17:8

Romans 2:5-10 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Man cannot save himself: that comes only from the grace of God as a free gift to be accepted. But he can “unsave” himself by rejecting the free gift (note v. 8: “reject the truth and follow evil”). That’s what this passage is about. It is not a denial of grace alone or an assertion of Pelagianism. It must be interpreted within the framework of the countless Pauline assertions of salvation by God’s grace alone. Paul presents both notions (God’s grace and our free will to accept or reject it) together in some passages:

And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard . . . (Colossians 1:21-23; RSV)

. . . stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery . . . You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:1,4; RSV)

2 Corinthians 9:8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work. (NASB)

that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; buit one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on . . . (Phil 3:11-13, 14a; RSV)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel . . . (Gal 1:6; RSV)

The misunderstanding of this dual teaching in Scripture is what has caused the confusion and error in Ted’s use of the seven passages to be examined below:

17) Romans 8:28-30 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Of course; all orthodox Christians believe that God does these things (including Catholics, though some Protestants are misinformed about that). It doesn’t follow that man does nothing whatever. Every good thing man does is by God’s grace alone, but man still plays some part. He cooperates with the grace. And that is the sense (and the only sense) in which man’s works are involved in the salvation process. Paul teaches this 12 verses prior to the above passage, when he gives a conditional (“. . . we are . . . co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings . . . “:

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

The human being has to do something here, to cooperate with God and be willing to suffer. It is not the case that they are not “at all responsible for their failure to get saved.” But they are saved by God’s grace. Again, many passages in Paul show both sides of the “salvation coin”: God’s enabling grace and man’s cooperation:

1 Corinthians 3:8-9 . . . each shall receive his wages according to his labour. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. (RSV)

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. (RSV)

Philippians 2:12-13 . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (RSV)

Also, the Apostle Peter teaches the same thing:

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election,: for if you do this you will never fall. (RSV)

18) Romans 9:10-18 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls – she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

God’s grace is the sole source of all salvation, as indicated in 9:16. Scripture often speaks of God “hardening” men’s hearts, as if it is His doing only and none of theirs. But this is the pungent Hebraic way of expressing God’s providence. There is a sense in which, indeed, God controls everything, but there is also a sense in which man is free. This is paradoxical and one of the most difficult theological concepts to grasp, yet it is what is taught in Scripture. God might also harden someone’s heart temporarily, so as to accomplish some purpose, but that doesn’t mean the person’s heart is permanently hardened unto damnation. One must also consider the many biblical teachings about man’s necessary repentance, in his free will:

Jeremiah 18:8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.

2 Chronicles 32:26 Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah.

Jeremiah 15:19 Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; . . .

Ezekiel 18:23-32 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD . Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? 24 “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. 25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? 26 If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. 27 But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. 28 Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust? 30 “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD . Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD . Repent and live!

19) Ephesians 1:4-5, 11 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. . . . 5 In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will . . . 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

Christians believe that there are elect persons chosen from the foundation of the world. Catholics accept this truth as fervently as any Calvinist (we disagree with them on the issue of the predestination of the damned). It does not follow from this that people therefore have no responsibility whatever for their behavior and what they do with their life. Catholics and Calvinists agree on this, too (over against antinomianism). John Calvin himself would teach that if good works do not follow “salvation” of a Christian (Calvinists and many Protestants consider salvation a one-time event in a person’s life), then no one has any grounds for believing that he was ever saved in the first place.

The Calvinist would say that these necessary good works are the fruit of justification and have nothing whatever to do with salvation; yet they would never assert that they shouldn’t be present. So there is a very real sense that what a person does is necessary to their salvation (or being regarded as saved; as the “proof” of their saving faith). The mere fact of predestination or election, therefore, does not rule out man’s cooperation and his having to do something. Thus, the use of this verse in Ted’s schema is a failure.

20) Ephesians 2:4-10 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

This is an excellent passage, which illustrates my point exactly. It teaches grace alone very clearly. We are not saved by works. Yet we must do good works (enabled by God), as the last verse teaches. Therefore, whoever doesn’t do such works will not be saved, and they bear responsibility for disobedience to God.

21) 1 Peter 1:2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Note my comments for #19 and also that “obedience” is mentioned. That is man’s part, so man is again doing something. Peter reiterates the necessity of continued obedience in 1:14 and 1:22. In 2:2 he urges his readers to “grow up in your salvation.”

22) Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

This refers to election, but not even this is irrevocable, in limited sense (from the human perspective). Note the following verse, which would seem to imply such a possibility, and makes salvation conditional on something man does (overcoming):

Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

23) Revelation 17:8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.

Election and predestination do not necessarily preclude human free will and responsibility, because God knows all things and is out of time. He knows who will accept Him and how they will live their lives before these lives are ever lived. In one school of Catholic theology, called Molinism (which is my own brand of soteriology), God takes into account how all persons will react to His grace before He elects whoever is to be in the elect. This would seem to follow from many verses expressing God’s desire that all be saved, or universal atonement (e.g., passages #12, 14-16 above). Human free will prevents this from happening, but that is not God’s fault.

In any event, it has not been proven from these passages that people are not “at all responsible for their failure to get saved.” Quite the contrary . . . And to reply to Ted’s phrasing of the “problem”: yes, God predestines those who are saved, but in a way which does not wipe out or eliminate their free will. We may not fully understand this, but it is the biblical teaching.

4. Is one who believes in God’s son, but who has never repented, saved?


John 3:15-16,36, 
6:40,47, 11:25; Acts 16:31;
Romans 10:9-10; 1 John 5:12


Luke 13:3,5

The correct answer is “no”:

Luke 13:3, 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. . . . 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

24) John 3:15-16, 36 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. . . . 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

The Greek word for believes is pistuo, and the Greek for rejects (RSV: does not obey) is apitheo. The interesting thing in this verse is the parallelism, whereby belief and obedience are essentially identical. When all is said and done, believing in Christ is obeying Him. This ought to be kept in mind by Protestant evangelists and pastors who urge penitents to “believe on Christ,” “accept Christ,” etc. To disobey Christ is to be subject to the wrath of God. Thus, again, we are faced with the inescapable necessity of good works. The Apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 2:7, uses the same parallelism, with the same two identical Greek words (believe / disobedient in KJV). St. Paul uses apitheo with regard to disobedience to parents in Romans 1:30 and 2 Timothy 3:2:

. . . they disobey their parents.

. . . disobedient to their parents, . . .

Paul also uses it in a more general sense (describing sinners) in Titus 1:16 and 3:3. Obviously, no one disbelieves in the existence of their parents. St. Paul is speaking of disobeying their commands. In the same sense, such disobedience (not mere lack of faith) is said to be the basis of the loss of eternal life in John 3:36. If it be granted that pistuo (“believe”) is roughly identical to “obeying,” as it indisputably is in John 3:36, by simple deduction, then its use elsewhere might be interpreted in the same fashion; for example, John 3:16, Jesus’ constant demand to believe in Him in John 5 through 10, and St. Paul’s oft-cited salvific exhortations in Romans 1:16, 4:24, 9:33, and 10:9. The theme of obeying the gospel, or the obedience of faith, is also common in St. Paul’s writings (for example, Romans 1:5, 6:17, 10:16, 15:18-19, 16:25-26, 2 Thessalonians 1:8; cf. Acts 6:7, Hebrews 11:8).

25) John 6:40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” . . . 47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.

As this is the same Greek word, pistuo, the same reasoning just given in #25 applies. The word incluses within its meaning, obedience, and continued following. It is not mere assent. It is impossible to find within its sense a notion of not having to repent.

26) John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.

Ditto. Jesus often emphasizes the supreme importance of good works, as opposed to verbal proclamation of His Lordship alone. For example:

Matthew 7:16-27 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So every sound tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” Every one then who hears these words of mine, and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine, and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it. (RSV)

27) Acts 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”

It’s the same word, pistuo, again here. So this is no disproof of the necessity of repentance. The two notions are connected in several places (all of the following also include the word pistuo):

Matthew 21:32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Acts 19:4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”

28) Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

The same reasoning as in #24-27 applies again. This is not antithetical to repentance, but rather, it includes it in its very concept. Paul clearly teaches repentance, too:

Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

2 Timothy 2:25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,

Jesus also teaches this, repeatedly:

Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luke 15:7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety­ nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 24:47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

29) 1 John 5:12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

And context reveals how this does not at all rule out the necessity of repentance and obedience:

1 John 5:2-3 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands . . .

1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

5. Is one who believes in God’s son, but who has done no good deeds, saved?


(See the verses for the 
“yes” answer above.) 


Matthew 25:41-46; John 5:28-29;
Romans 2:5-8; James 2:24

The verses in the preceding section under “yes” have already been explained. The verses above under “no” express the biblical teaching in this regard more directly. There is no contradiction here yet again. The biblical teaching is all of a piece, and self-consistent and coherent.

Matthew 25:41-46 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

John 5:28-29 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

Romans 2:5-8 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

James 2:24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

6. Is one who has called upon the name of the Lord, but who has done no good deeds, saved?


Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13 


(See the verses for the “no” answer above.)

“No” is again the correct answer, as shown in the preceding verses mentioned. The other two verses which are supposedly contradictory have been misinterpreted:

30) Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Peter was citing an Old Testament passage (Joel 2:28-32) in this sermon in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost. This does not rule out the necessity of any good works. Immediately after Peter finished, the people asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). And what did Peter say? That they should simply believe and do nothing? No:

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The same Peter writes in his own epistle:

1 Peter 1:13-17 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

31) Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Paul cites the same exact passage, from the prophet Joel. When passages are cited, it is useful to look at the original context of the citation, so as not to misinterpret either the citation or the original writing from which it comes. Did Joel (this is a short book of only three chapters) teach that one could be saved with “no good deeds”? Hardly:

Joel 1:13-14 Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. 14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD .

Fasting and penance (sackcloth) are good works; assembling for worship is a good work; crying out to the Lord is a good work . . .

Joel 2:12 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Furthermore, Jesus didn’t even nullify the law of Moses, to which all Jews were bound. He merely re-applied it to the Christian life:

Matthew 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 23:1-3 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

All of this certainly involves good works. As long as these works are understood as not salvific in and of themselves, but entirely caused by God’s grace (we merely cooperate), there is no problem. But one cannot be saved with “no good deeds.” That is simply not biblical teaching. And we see this clearly in passages such as the one where the rich young ruler meets Jesus and asks how he could be saved. Did Jesus say, “well, just believe in Me!” (as most Protestant fundamentalists would answer)? No; quite the contrary:

Matthew 19:16-30 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” the man inquired. 19 Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” 28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

7. Is one who is very moral and charitable, but who has never repented, saved?


Matthew 19:16-17; 25:34-40,46; 
Mark 10:17-21; Luke 10:25-37;
Romans 2:5-7,10; James 2:24


Luke 13:3,5

The correct, orthodox answer is “no”:

Luke 13:3, 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.  5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

The fallacy here, as in so many (if not all) of these examples of so-called “contradictions, lies in creating false dichotomies where this is neither logically nor exegetically necessary. The examples given – as always – are not contradictions, but merely different emphases. It is crucially important to take all the relevant Scriptures together, rather than cynically pitting different strains of thought against each other, as if they cannot be harmonized. They certainly can be, as the answers to the examples above have repeatedly shown. This set of alleged “contradictions” will be no different.

32) Matthew 19:16-17

This passage was dealt with in the preceding section. One must be saved by grace alone by Christ alone. Many passages teach this. One must also cooperate with this grace and do good works, which is what this passage is about. The two do not contradict, so this is a non-issue. One need not choose between them, or act as if only one course can be taken, to the exclusion of the other. This is not a zero-sum game, with faith/belief on one hand, and repentance/works on the other. To believe in Jesus means also to obey Him, and that is where the necessity of good works and love towards one’s neighbor comes in.

33) Matthew 25:34-40, 46 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ . . . 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

This passage stresses good works, but it does not logically exclude repentance or faith. Jesus clearly taught both things. They do not contradict! The silliness of so many of these sorts of lists of “biblical contradictions” is that they foolishly pretend to “expose” contradictions where there are none. Repentance is, of course, not an unknown concept in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 3:2 . . . “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Matthew 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The fallacy involved in most of these “contradictions” is an exceedingly silly and inexcusable one: it is apparently thought that if all the aspects involved in salvation are not listed together, every time salvation is dealt with in Scripture, then a contradiction exists. This is simply not true. Let me give an analogy to show the foolishness of such a notion:

P1 A man must repent to be saved.
P2 A man must do good works to be saved.
P3 A man must have faith in Jesus to be saved.
P4 A man must receive enabling grace from God to be saved.
P5 A man must do something in his free will to be saved.
P6 A man must cooperate with God’s sanctifying grace to be saved.
P7 A man must believe in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross to be saved.

These propositions are all true, and they are all taught in Scripture. They do not contradict each other. They do not have to all be mentioned, every time any one of them is mentioned, in order to all be true and scriptural concepts, and harmonious with all the others. There could possibly (but not necessarily, and probably not in actuality) be a verse which included all seven propositions. There could be (and are) verses which contain one or more of P1-P7 in various combinations that are possible. But all of these notions are taught repeatedly in Scripture. If one appears without another or without all the others, this is no more contradictory than the following seven propositions:

P1′ A man must be able to walk to play baseball.
P2′ A man must be able to stand up at home plate and bat to play baseball.
P3′ A man must be able to throw a baseball to play baseball.
P4′ A man must be able to catch a baseball to play baseball.
P5′ A man must be able to run the bases correctly to play baseball.
P6′ A man must be able to make contact between a bat and a ball to play baseball.
P7′ A man must be conscious to play baseball.

Now, say there was a Holy Scripture of Baseball, and the book of MickeyMantle 13:3, 5, read:

I tell you, no! But unless you hit the baseball, you too will all lose games. . . . 5 I tell you, no! But unless you get hits, you too will have a terrible losing record.”

So far so good. But alas, if another baseball Scripture asserts something else, it must needs be contradictory, according to professor of philosophy Dr. Ted Drange, who thinks so many things in Holy Scripture contradict so many, many other things, simply because every individual Scripture does not mention all these other things (and despite the fact that many, many other biblical passages do mention and teach them). But let’s try to think as illogically as he thinks for a moment, just to see (try to imagine) what it is like. It will be difficult, but life is tough; we must try our best. Let’s take a look at the book of HankAaron 25:34-40, 46, and see how it “contradicts” MickeyMantle 13:3, 5:

25:34-40, 46 “Then the Coach will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed with natural physical talents; take your inheritance, the pennant prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was winless and you gave me wins to savor. I needed players who could walk and run the bases and you gave me forty healthy legs. I needed players who could stand up at the plate with a bat in their hands, and you invited me to hire you to do that, 36 I needed arms that could throw and catch a baseball and you provided that. I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the good, righteous ball team will answer him, ‘Coach, when did we see you winless and save you from that horrible predicament, or in need of men who could walk and run the bases, and gave you 40 healthy legs? 38 When did we see you in need of men who could stand up at the plate with a bat in their hands, or in need of arms that could throw and catch a baseball? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these assistant coaches of mine, you did for me.’ . . . 46 “Then the losing teams will go away to eternal embarrassment and shame, but the winners to eternal competitions in the playoffs and glory.”

Does this contradict MickeyMantle 13:3,5? Yes, of course! For it obviously neglects to mention both P6′ and P7′: it says absolutely nothing about making contact between a bat and a ball, or getting hits, or even (perhaps most importantly of all) being conscious! Clearly, the two passages contradict each other, because how can a baseball team win (let alone win the pennant) with no hits and no players who are conscious????? And the glaring absence of the latter quite necessary characteristic also contradicts (come to think of it) BabeRuth 4:17:

From that time on the Babe began to preach in the dugout, “wake up from your drunken stupor and thirty-five hot dog binge, for the heavenly pennant is near.”

This is already more than adequate proof that the Holy Scripture of Baseball is hopelessly contradictory . . .

34) Mark 10:17-21

This passage is an alternate account of the rich young ruler, which has already been dealt with.

35) Luke 10:25-37 (The Parable of the Good Samaritan)

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself .'” 28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

First of all, we must notice a point so obvious it can be overlooked: the parable of the Good Samaritan is not about salvation, but about what it means to be a neighbor, and who is a true neighbor. The section preceding it was about salvation. The answer given by Jesus concerning how to inherit eternal life was to love God and love one’s neighbor. Does this exclude works? Of course not, because Jesus expressly stated that these notions were the heart of the Jewish Law, which was full of rules and good deeds to perform. And how does one show that he loves God and other people?:

1 John 5:2-3 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands . . .

Matthew 7:21 Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

So we see that one must love God (and Jesus is God), have faith, but also do good works and repent (for the Law requires repentance, and so does the Christian life: we must forgive others 70 x 7, and ask forgiveness when we stumble and sin, etc.). Yet we are told that the parable of the Good Samaritan is somehow counter to the need for repentance. Apart from the first section of it, just recounted, do we find the notion of repentance elsewhere in the book of Luke? Of course we do. Luke 13:3, 5 was again mentioned in this section. It is not the only passage on repentance in Luke:

Luke 3:3, 8 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins . . . Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

Luke 5:32, 15:7, and 24:47 also all refer to repentance, and were cited above, under #28.

36) Romans 2:5-7, 10

This passage was dealt with in section 3.

37) James 2:24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

This condemns a “faith” which is so “alone” that it excludes the works by which alone it can be known, or proved. What this has to do with some supposed contradiction of the need for repentance is beyond me, but the “logic” that thinks it sees a contradiction here has been examined above in my baseball analogy, and found wanting. James does not deny the absolute need for faith and grace (which produce repentance) anymore than anyone else does. The entire Bible teaches this. Here are some examples of grace, faith, and repentance in James:

James 1:17-18 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-mind ed. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed . . .

James 5:19-20 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

8. Is one who is very moral and charitable, but who does not believe in God’s son, saved?


(See the verses for the
“yes” answer above.)


Mark 16:16; John 3:18,36, 8:21-25,
14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 John 5:12

This is more of the same illogical nonsense. The verses under “yes” have, of course, been examined already. Now let’s look at the others in order to observe the same illogical and biblically illiterate thinking at work (it has been a most enlightening experience):

38) Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

“Believes” here is the Greek pistuo, examined at length under #24 above. It includes obedience to Jesus, which in turn includes being moral and charitable, so obviously it is no contradiction of the proposition above.

39) John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Ditto. John 3:36 was already dealt with under #24 also.

40) John 8:21-25 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” 22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” 23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” 25 “Who are you?” they asked.

Ditto again. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, probably the most respected linguistic work on the NT, states about pistuo (abridged one-volume ed., 854):

b. pisteuo as “to obey.” Heb. 11 stresses that to believe is to obey, as in the OT. Paul in Rom. 1:8; 1 Th. 1:8 (cf. Rom. 15:18; 16:19) shows, too, that believing means obeying. He speaks about the obedience of faith in Rom. 1:5; and cf. 10:3; 2 Cor. 9:13.

41) John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

How does this saying somehow “contradict” morality and charitability? It does not.

42) Acts 4:10-12 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. ’12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

43) 1 John 5:12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

The intended implication of these passages (i.e., Ted Drange’s interpretation), is that people who have not expressly accepted Jesus as Savior, or those who haven’t heard about Him at all, cannot be saved. This is not Christian teaching (at least not mainstream Christian teaching, and not at all Catholic doctrine; though some numerically small strains of Christianity falsely hold to this, or something akin to it). There is much in the Bible that indicates the contrary.

9. To be saved, is it necessary that one be born of water and of the Spirit, eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood, and receive the kingdom of God as a child?


John 3:5, 6:53;
Mark 10:15


(See the verses for the “yes” answers to 4-7, above. If the conditions mentioned there aresufficient for salvation, then no other conditions separate from them could be necessary.)

The verses under “no” have been dealt with. Note (in the way this set of passages is described above) yet another instance of the fallacious reasoning that I excoriated in my baseball analogy above: this is the creation of false dichotomies and exhibits a remarkable inability (or, more accurately, an unwillingness) to compare Scripture with Scripture (itself an elementary hermeneutical and systemetic theological principle), in order to examine biblical teaching as a whole, or even to look at the immediate context of passages. This is what happens when one approaches Scripture with extreme hostility, and attempts to “enlist” verses in complete isolation, for purely polemical purposes.

44) John 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

Baptism is indeed necessary for salvation, as many verses indicate:

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Acts 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

1 Peter 3:21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

But there are “loopholes” (discussed above) in situations where a person cannot possibly be baptized, whereas he may desire to before death (e.g., the thief on the cross next to Jesus). Thus, Catholics believe (and have always believed) in a “baptism of desire”:

Those who through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation. (Vatican II: Constitution on the Church, I, 16; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1257-1261)

The normative situation in Christianity is that baptism (if no insuperable hindrance is present) is necessary for salvation. In any event, the inclusion of baptism as one of the requirements of salvation does not negate any other requirement. So, for example, Acts 2:38 mentions both baptism and repentance, 1 Peter 3:21 baptism and the resurrection, Acts 22:16, baptism and calling on Jesus’ name, 1 Corinthians 6:11, justification and sanctification, and Titus 3:5, mercy and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. All of Scripture must be examined and taken into account, when one is attempting to expound upon the theology of Scripture.

45) John 6:53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

One mustn’t interpret Jesus’ words in an improper universal sense which allows of no exceptions. Jesus (especially) and other biblical writers often speak proverbially or hyperbolically.This is Hebrew idiom, which was utilized in order to express emphasis. Thus (NRSV):

. . . if you say ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. (Mt 5:22)

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. . . (Mt 5:30)

Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. (Lk 14:26)

. . . even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. (Mt 21:21-22)

Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God. (1 Jn 3:9)

Even John 3:16 and 3:36 or Romans 10:9, if taken hyper-literally, would exclude Old Testament saints and all those who have never heard of Jesus or the gospel, through no fault of their own, from salvation. Thus, this “difficulty” vanishes and no contradiction is seen. Part of biblical interpretation includes an understanding of the different styles of language, and a little education about Hebraic modes of expression.

46) Mark 10:15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

The person must humble himself and give up his pride in order to truly repent and follow God: absolutely. How this could be construed as contradicting anything else, or suddenly becoming the sole criterion for salvation, I cannot comprehend. It is simply one aspect among many, regarding salvation. Humility was also thought to be a key ingredient of philosophy, as well, according to Socrates:

. . . I am quite conscious of my ignorance . . . I do not think that I know what I do not know . . . these professional experts . . . claimed a perfect understanding of every other subject, however important; and I felt that this error more than outweighed their positive wisdom . . . But the truth of the matter, gentlemen, is pretty certainly this: that real wisdom is the property of God . . . he [the Oracle] would say to us ‘The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless.’  (Apology, from Plato: The Last Days of Socrates, translated by Hugh Tredennick, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1969, 50-52)

Substitute “sinfulness” for “ignorance” and “perfect righteousness” for “perfect understanding” and this perfectly expresses Christian humility, before God and other men.

10. To be saved, is it necessary that one never say evil things against the Holy Spirit?


Mark 3:29


(See the verses for the “yes” answers to 4-7, above

We near the end of our journey through imaginary and imaginative supposed biblical contradictions . . . . Like the men Socrates critiqued, Dr. Drange obviously thinks he knows quite a bit about that which he knows little about (the Bible and its interpretation). And, I suppose, like Socrates, I will be decidedly unpopular in pointing this out. But it’s my job, after all, so I am quite willing to take on that burden.

Besides, it is pleasurable and eminently faith-enhancing for Christians to observe the extreme weakness of these attempts to tear down the Bible and “prove” that it is a hopeless bundle of absurdities and contradictions. If logic and the laws of logic and non-contradiction were indeed what Dr. Drange seems to think they are, given the nature of his arguments above, he might have a point. But unfortunately for his case, logic cannot change at the whim of a person determined to distort and disregard it in order to “transform” the Bible into something it is not.

47) Mark 3:29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

According to most Bible scholars, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is refusal to follow God or acknowledge that He exists (when it is known by the same person that He does). It is the outright denial that He can save, and it is calling evil good and good evil: claiming that God is the source of evil. Obviously, one cannot be saved and also possess that belief, because it is disbelief in God and His goodness.

If one gets to this point (and only God knows when a person has reached it, because it is an interior disposition of the soul), then they have damned themselves. The verse, then, merely expresses the equivalent of the proposition: “this is the outlook of a person who is damned and completely separate from God; in utter rebellion against Him.” This does not contradict in the least any verse above, or anything else in Scripture. It is most fitting, then, that we take leave of our subject with such a non sequitur as this.


(originally from 9-30-06)

Photo credit: BigDogGraphics at English Wikipedia (6-20-07). Done in Photoshop 7.0, with special effects filters, this really gives it the illusion that the forest scene shown here, is on fire beyond the lake! [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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