A Few Facts Christians Should Know About The Bible’s “Canaanite Genocide”

A Few Facts Christians Should Know About The Bible’s “Canaanite Genocide” July 31, 2017

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In recent years the issue of violence in the Old Testament has become a hot topic of discussion in many Christian circles. While there’s plenty of violence in the Old Testament worthy of wrestling and discussion, one particular event seems to come up a lot: the Canaanite genocide.

There’s fewer stories in the Bible that create the problems the Canaanite genocide creates. How could “God’s nation” completely slaughter an entire people group? How is it loving to one’s neighbor to kill all of them? Why would God make them do such a thing?

All good questions. Atheists have pounced on them for years, while most evangelicals have had to engage in cognitive dissonance as the modern concept of inerrancy has forced them to now find a way to justify an event (that if true) isn’t morally different than the holocaust or other genocidal conquests we’ve seen through history.

This discussion has been re-sparked by recent news that scientists have discovered that the Canaanites were not wiped out. This study reports:

“DNA retrieved from roughly 3,700-year-old skeletons at an excavation site in Lebanon that was formerly a major Canaanite city-state shows that “present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age.”

In light of this study, here’s some important facts that Christians might want to know about the Bible’s Canaanite genocide:

Fact: The Bible itself ultimately makes it clear that the genocide did not happen.

 

Later in the Bible we find out that there are, gasp, still Canaanites. In fact, Jesus actually heals one of them in the Gospel of Matthew. So this idea there was a genocide where all of the Canaanites were destroyed? We know just from reading the Bible this isn’t true.

Fact: We already knew scientifically that the genocide didn’t happen.

 

As Dr. James McGrath pointed out today, many of us were surprised that people are acting like this is some sort of new discovery, when it’s not:

“First of all, the Bible is very clear (in places) that the Canaanites were never completely wiped out from Israel. But second and more importantly, historians have always been aware that the Phoenicians were a Canaanite people, and so the discovery that their descendants are to be found in the regions they historically inhabited should not be a surprise either…”

Furthermore, as Peter Enns has pointed out in his own work, we know from archeological evidence that the genocide did not happen– certainly not on the scale the Bible implies.

Fact: False reports of genocide are common in the bronze age.

 

Should the fact that the Bible implies genocide occurred, but that modern evidence disproves this, be shocking? No, of course not. In fact, this clear exaggeration of events actually makes the Bible more authentic instead of less– and this is because at the time these passages were written, it was actually commonplace to falsely claim one had wiped out all of their enemies. Instead of shocking, it is quite affirming because it is exactly how I would expect a bronze age written war conquest to read. Had Canaanite records survived to present day, I wouldn’t be surprised if they claimed to have wiped out all their enemies, too.

Case in point, here is a short 2 minute video blog I made in Amman, Jordan when I stumbled upon a Moabite artifact that does exactly this– and ironically, falsely claims there was a genocide that destroyed all of ancient Israel:

So, when we as Christians discuss the problematic Old Testament passages claiming genocide, we need to begin from a starting point that recognizes that both the Bible, and multiple angles of science, affirm the reality that there was not an extermination of the Canaanites. Furthermore, we must also recognize that these exaggerations do not call the authenticity of the Bible into question, but instead affirm it is a historical document of a specific time and place, and that it reads exactly the way one would expect it to read– including exaggerations of genocide.

Of course, this brings up other questions, perhaps the most important being: “If the Bible claims that God ordered genocide, does that mean God really did?”

That’s a question for a different day– but the important facts to remember, is that they didn’t do what we often think they did.

And that’s actually good news.


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com. 

Be sure to check out his new blog, right here, and follow on Facebook:


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  • Boiledfrog

    So that’s where Trump gets his hyperbolic gift. He is a bronze age throw back!
    Thanks this article helps out some of the old testament in perspective.

  • Matt Muldoon

    The fact that Yahweh ordered the mass extermination of men, women, children, and even animals is more disturbing to me than the question of how effective the Israelites were in actually pulling it off.

  • Mr. Corey, I appreciate apologetics as much as the next person, but I have to refute your statement that God’s commanding the Israelites to commit genocide on the Canaanites was “not morally different” from to the Holocaust, etc. Those massacres were conceived by men pursuing political power. God’s command was intended to push back horrific evil in the earth, and it did, to the extent the Israelites obeyed. Some of these groups had a practice of sacrificing infants by throwing them into burning rubbish pits. God’s command was intended to redeem the earth from their wickedness. Evil has a way of spreading when it is left to run amok. Besides all that, God, as the Creator, has the absolute right to do whatever he wants with his own creation. We must never apologize for the truth. No doubt many who read these passages of Scripture will put themselves in God’s place and call it evil. Truth is still truth.

  • Ron McPherson

    But if you believe God commanded mass slaughter of even women and children then, how can you assure others that he would not order that today? It’s not like he quit talking thousands of years ago when the last book of the Canon was completed. And on what basis (other than just saying take my word for it) can we claim that God ordered genocide in our ‘holy’ book (I’m a Christian by the way), but yet tell those of other faiths that he would not under any circumstances order genocide in theirs? Here’s what I’m getting at. Why do we do theological cartwheels, twist into all sorts of exegetical contortions, make the character of God look like something other than Jesus, and pretty much ignore historical facts just to keep the Bible from looking less than literal? It’s like we think, oh geez, I can’t let the Bible look less than 100% pure or otherwise it will somehow make God look less than trustworthy. Like we can’t distinguish the difference between God and the book. And to compound the problem even more, we don’t even have any record of God ever telling us to view the Bible that way to begin with. Man yes, but not God.

  • Katherine Heasley

    If God ordered the Israelites to massacre every woman and child in Canaan, how is that morally superior to the Canaanites sacrificing their own children?

  • He’s God and we’re not. If you don’t get that, you’re in for a huge surprise when you get to the other side.

  • Ron McPherson

    So if God himself had ordered the Canaanites to sacrifice their own children (rather than the Canaanites taking it upon themselves to do it) that would make it okay then?

  • I make no assurances. The Scriptures are very clear that God will indeed slay a great multitude of wicked people at Armageddon. Judgment is frightening, isn’t it? But it’s part of the Biblical message. What benefit do we stand to receive from remaining in denial about something the Bible makes crystal clear: We all have a day of reckoning to prepare for. We would be wise to heed God’s warning instead of complaining that he is unjust. I’m pretty sure he’s not going to cancel the judgment because of our protests.

  • It’s senseless to ask such questions. The fact is, he didn’t. What great wisdom, power and knowledge Do you possess that qualifies you to act as God’s judge? Who’s going to enforce your “rulings”? If God never judged humans, our wickedness would have engulfed this whole planet by now. And guess what? There would be a million skeptics like you shaking their fists at God for allowing evil to flourish.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Right. So God is entirely amoral, or possibly evil, by any normal meaning of the words “moral” or “good” as applied in any other circumstances, but that’s fine because he is God? And you obey God because you are frightened of him and want to save your own sorry hide from his sadism, regardless of who else he may order you to hurt? Doesn’t that make you a coward and selfish, and exactly the opposite of the moral character Jesus taught us to have? And by encouraging others to do the same, aren’t you completely undermining morality itself? I am unclear who you think you are worshipping, but it ain’t God. I am quite sure I will be surprised by the nature of God, but because his love is greater than I suppose, not because he is the moral monster that you seem to worship in his stead.

  • Marja Erwin

    And if the Canaanites and later Phoenicians thought Moloch was G’d and had ordered them to sacrifice their children…?

  • Ficino

    What you just wrote is an argument for taking the stories as purely human constructions and not truth from God.

  • Ron McPherson

    A couple of things. For one, it is not at all “senseless to ask such questions.” God gave us a brain. You’re basing all this upon faith that the OT account with 100% precision spells out exactly what God ordered. So because it is all of faith, it is absolutely appropriate to ask this question. In fact, why would we not?

    And why would you think I assume to “act as God’s judge?” See this is the problem here. To you, it’s not ok to even ask questions because questioning the reliability of a biblical text equates to judging God. Plus, I’m trying awfully hard not to resent you insinuating that I am “shaking (my) fist at God” merely because I am challenging your selective biblical literalism.

  • Ron McPherson

    Ok, well Revelation can be interpreted a number of ways, namely that it is largely symbolic and points to a time in the past rather than some future world-wide cataclysmic battle between God and the devil. There are very valid arguments to support any number of interpretations. So no, it is anything but “crystal clear.” Dang, even most hard core dispensationalists wouldn’t even go that far in making such a claim. But aside from all that, I find it troubling that you “make no assurances” that God would not order mass slaughter of people today because, well, that’s how terrorists justify their behavior. I just gotta say, I don’t think God is in that.

  • Herm

    Israel means “prevailed with God after God wrestled with a man”.

    I have been angry with God, eye to eye, nose to nose, using the most vile of words I had only too handy “shaking (my) fist at God”, and my finger, only to have God answer me in the most loving and constructive manner three months later. God is exponentially bigger, smarter, and loving than any of mankind. God is approachable by all of us. God can take all the questioning we can throw at Them and appropriately answer all our concerns. I’ve tested every statement I just made.

    Love you, Ron, and feel so much more supported in God because of you. Thank you!

  • Ron McPherson

    Love you brother! Thanks for this. I’m reminded of how my sister once said that she has simultaneously “prayed and cussed” at the same time. And God still loves her. Imagine that ha!

  • Herm

    The sword of Christ, portrayed in Revelation, is only and always from His mouth. One truth we should be able to glean, without the support of the Spirit of truth, from the four gospels, is that the Messiah does not ask us to do anything that He would not do before His disciples. Christians, before Constantine, did not live or die by a sword wielded from their hand, for over 200 years.

  • Robert Wise

    So, is that the “No matter how horrible and twisted something is it is moral as long as the Bible said God ordered it” argument?” Someone trying to make a case for Adam and Eve as historical beings once told me that incest between brothers and sisters was okay so God could populate the earth and then one day became immoral once God felt there were enough people.

  • Ron McPherson

    LOL!!

  • Herro

    And “genocide” doesn’t mean that all of the population was exterminated. E.g. the Holocaust was a genocide even though there are still jews!

  • Robert Wise

    The Bible did not fall out of the sky as God dropped it. In fact, there were debates and negotiations as to what would be included. Revelation almost didn’t make it. The Bible is the struggle of humans to understand God and to interpret events around them in the light of God, which is to say trying to answer the question: “Where is God in all this?” It was also saving what was useful and helpful to form blocks upon which the faithful could build without reinventing the wheel. I feel God gave us a brain, as Ron says, and that we are to join the struggle in light of what we know. Let’s face it, everything we believe we were told was absolute truth by someone who we regarded as a trusted source. Why should we think that the person who taught us contained the absolute truth? Jesus faced the same struggle 2000 years ago. He was frequently accused by the Pharisees of breaking Old Testament law (AKA The Law) as it was written. If that is the case, then Jesus certainly wasn’t accepting the Scripture at face value.

  • Well, Bronze-Iron. Iron chariots, after all, and Tubal-Cain.

  • “No matter how horrible and twisted something is…” You’re substituting your own judgment in place of God’s. That’s called pride, and one of the main things pride does to people is it distorts their thinking. You, who did not possess the power, knowledge and wisdom to build this colossal, magnificent universe — are questioning the decisions of the one who did. If you don’t have a source authoritative knowledge that is above you, you’re just going on self-styled whimsy. Tell me sometime how much wiser than God, how much more intelligent and just you are, and how you managed to sort this whole mess out better than God ever could. Get back to me sometime.

  • Unfortunate for the evangelical fundamentalist, but as archaeological findings and molecular genetic determinations appear to show their never was a thorough ‘genocide’ of the Canaanites, merely goes to prove the Bible was written solely by authoritative man for political gain and to maintain the masses.

    Lest we not also forget the god commanded genocide of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15: 2-3).

  • The Bible states that “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers,and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) From all hermeneutical standpoints, this Scripture is a prophetic foretelling of things to come. The “second death” echoes what Christ told the Apostles: “Do not fear those who can kill the body but after that can do nothing else. But be afraid, instead, of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Matt. 10:28). Both of these verses speak eschatologically of the coming judgment. There are many, many scriptural indicators pointing to the fact that Armageddon was a prophetic word that will come to pass materially and physically, and which will be the showdown between God and unrepentant, wicked humanity. This has been the consensus for 2,000 years up until a few decades ago. American Christianity has abandoned parts of Scripture through obfuscation and denial. Me personally? I’d rather acknowledge the truth and suffer rather than live high on the hog for 80 years and only find out what’s what when I’m standing in front of my Maker.

  • Kyllein MacKellerann “

    While the Canaanites were not wiped out, the invading forces did try to destroy as many of them as possible. There are references to this mentality in the scriptures, even going to the degree of God “ordering” some prophet or other to have his forces kill all the people in a given city along with the animals and children… This is probably mostly propaganda, a sort of “We’re tough and you don’t want to mess with us” message aimed at non invader people living in the area.
    I still have to wonder that anyone would deliberately follow such a faith, but obviously people did.
    And I have deliberately avoided naming any modern descendant groups in this comment, hence the term “Invader”.

  • Ever since Hobbes, rationalists have been arguing on the internal evidence of the old Testament, as well as, more recently, archaeological evidence that the Canaanites *were* the Israelites, and that the entire Exodus and conquest literature was written to justify political claims, especially the claim to supremacy of the southern Kingdom. And believers should welcome this; what kind of God would harden Pharaoh’s heart, murder all Egyptian firstborn when Pharaoh behaved accordingly, and order the extermination of the Canaanite tribes?

    But how are these recent genetic discoveries even relevant, since the Bible does not claim that the extermination extended to Lebanon?

  • Wouldn’t you shake your head if I asked you a question like: “Would Christians turn green if God started gorging himself on asparagus?” A ridiculous question, right? So was your question: “So if God had commanded the Canaanites to throw their infants into the fire, it would be okay?” Your question shows you don’t understand the nature and character of God, nor understand how to dissect the issues involved. For instance, the Canaanites were tossing their babies into the fire in order to buy themselves favor with Molech, a foreign deity who was one of Satan’s many personalities. How could God ever step in and order such an atrocity? Also clearly foreign to you is the concept that death and suffering can work good in this upside-down world. God uses both to accomplish his ends, as is his right.

  • You can’t understand this until you’ve been convicted. I hope your day comes soon.

  • They were deceived. Humans have been getting snookered by Satan for millennia. But we are always complicit in our own undoing. Our conscience will speak, if we listen. What often happens is that people assassinate their own consciences by ignoring them over and over. Such people can end up steering jumbo jets into skyscrapers and have themselves convinced they’re serving God.

  • Ron McPherson

    Yeah ok, whatever, but this really isn’t about how we are to exegete Revelation but rather does God today instruct people to kill others

  • If you don’t believe God is good, then on what are you basing your moral values? You’ve held out a moral argument here — God is unjust and has failed his own creation. Okay. We’ve all felt that from time to time, but that is a moral accusation against God. What is your basis for believing in any kind of moral hierarchy?

  • katz ro

    I believe the present day Jews are descended in part from Canaanites as are the Palestinians and not a far stretch the Lebanese. The Canaanites were Israelites in that they begat them not the other way around. Last I heard the closet dna sequence to Jewish Isrealites and across the board as far as basic markers are Palestinian. My theory was that what is now known as Jews were Canaanites [mixed with Hittites] that created a new religion which became known as Judaism. Many cultures have borrowed from older cultures to create their mythos and see no reason not to believe it was applied here too.

  • Absolutely not. Christ overturned the entire world order. God is apparently suspending his judgment, giving us all time to embrace Christ and surrender our hearts and lives to him.

  • Ron McPherson

    How can you glean an understanding of how I personally view the nature and character of God by my pushing back on your assertions? I literally once came from a position of where you are currently at now.

  • If the one true God ordered Israelites to kill Canaanite children—that is to say, if these aren’t just human claims about God but the very commands of the true God—then I am, indeed, morally superior to this God. Most people, today, are morally superior to this God. And if, as a result of our defiance of
    this God—and likely out of spite for our moral superiority to him(?)—this God causes us to suffer for an eternity in a place prepared for the wicked, then we will suffer for righteousness’ sake. But if these are the words of men, and not of God, then we stand not in defiance to God but in defense of God, because a being greater than which none can be imagined is not a being who would order the slaughter of children and infants. I can quite easily imagine much greater beings than that. You stand for death and an amoral universe. I defend life and the basic principle that the slaughtering of children is evil.

  • Let me put it this way: we only have one concrete source from which to draw our understanding of God’s nature and character, and that is the Bible. I have studied Scripture extensively, as well as hermeneutics (which is the science of interpreting Scripture). You’re right that I have no basis to “judge” your ideas about God — except for what you write. So I’ll just leave it at “that doesn’t sound like God to me.” :-)

  • If God is a failure, then what are you basing your moral judgments on? You’ve said you are “morally superior” to God. So what are you using to measure your goodness by? And save us both time by not writing that you “feel morally better” or some such crap. I only deal in reason and logic, so explain to me what authoritative source you have by which to judge God and find him wanting. I can’t wait to read your response.

  • Ron McPherson

    No. You’re basing it on YOUR interpretation of scripture, YOUR theological construct. God and your interpretation of God are not necessarily the same thing.

  • There it is. There’s the termination point. Ultimately, it comes down to that burning sensation in the heart. You can’t read properly until you’ve had divine acid reflux.

  • You certainly have the right to form your own ideas about God. Your question seems at odds with the picture of God I see in Scripture.

  • It’s not surprising that you are incapable of understanding what I wrote, but it is sad.

  • Mary

    There are still Jews. Does that mean the holocaust genocide didn’t happen?

  • Ron McPherson

    I understand. I think the larger question for me is if the ordering of mass slaughter is at odds with the character of God as manifested in Christ.

  • Mary

    “…the genocide did not happen– certainly not on the scale the Bible implies” .What exactly is the scale by which one measures a genocide?

  • The U.N. has a good working definition: http://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide.html

  • I believe it is. God permitted some things in OT times that are difficult to understand.

  • Meaning, “I don’t have an answer.”

  • So what was that you were saying about Revelation, then?

  • Well, I did write two books on the subject. But you can tell yourself that if you need to.

  • Just because you’ve never experienced it, you’ve concluded it’s nothing but bunk? Is that how you formulate your ideas about life?

  • Who says I’ve never experienced it?

  • If you have an answer, let’s have it.

  • Your question begs the question my original comment challenged. The whole point is that your question only works on the assumption that the commands to slaughter Canaanites actually came from God.

  • Whether this holocaust actually happened, it’s clear from the biblical record that the clerics of the time thought it should happen. After the ‘fact’, the Israelites are chastised for not completely eradicating the Canaanites. What I take from this is that the religious hierarchy is often wrong, or simply unenlightened, regardless of their authoritative pronouncements. Yesterday I listened to a moralistic rant by a priest against Republicans in general and Trump in particular. This is an Episcopal church, so I’m used to a clergy that assumes moral superiority without any examination of the premises on which it is supposedly based. http://godwrestling.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-progressive-ethos-of-episcopal.html

  • That has been the premise from the beginning. Most atheists believe every word of the Biblical account because it gives them a reason to be angry at God. I don’t understand the relevance of your point. The question of “why” can only be asked once we believe in the “what,” which is that God commanded the Israelites to commit genocide. It is the “why” that most people are concerned with, and in fact what I am attempting to answer in this thread.

  • Herm

    Do you believe that each Pope was obeying the command of God to send marauding armies to recapture the Holy Land, as they said they were? Are the documents of the Vatican the inerrant word of God? Has God quit documenting, through inspired dictation, Their sacred word since Revelation was written?

  • “Most atheists believe every word of the Biblical account because it gives them a reason to be angry at God.”

    This is a gem.

    “Most atheists aren’t atheists.”

  • Ed Senter

    You missed the first rule of God: WHATEVER God does is good/moral.

  • James B

    A lot of things in the Buybull didn’t happen. It’s all mythology !

  • If a lot of things in the Bible didn’t happen, and the Bible is all mythology, then some mythological things happened?

  • No, because the gene pool became contaminated. That’s the reason we shun incest.

  • The Hermit 9

    Wow, so you have to wipe out every last member of an ethnic group to have a ‘genocide’? Incredible! What amazing density. By that standard, no genocide has ever occurred including the one by the Nazis. What about all of the rivasl of the Levites priesthood that were wiped out? I guess they don’t count since they were Israelis (and deserved it?). The extreme intolerance and violence of the Old Testament IS NOT DEFENSIBLE from the perspective of the teachings of Jesus. ‘Christians’ should stop defending the action of the ancient people of the Levant and focus on the teachings of love that have been given to them: Love thy Neighbor.

  • James B

    The entire Buybull is bullshit ! All of it ! Including the CruciFiction

  • CSB

  • James B

    CSB? I’m not familiar with that acronym. Fill me in, please !

  • I meant “every word” of the Canaanite story.

  • Marja Erwin

    For some of us, conscience speaks against the alleged conquest of Canaan.

    For some others, they are sociopaths, and conscience may not speak at all, or are in-group empaths, and conscience may not speak of harm to their out-groups. How should they recognize the right actions?

  • No, many of the popes were way out in left field, particularly during the Middle Ages. As far as new revelation, I believe there are none since the ministries of the Apostles (and a handful of others) who carried the words of Christ and were what is called the “Apostolic Succession.” Many of the popes have gone far afield of Scripture and even directly violated commands, such as the one prohibiting idolatry (3 John and others).

  • masteradrian

    When what is written in the bible is to be regarded as exaggeration, and not being true to the facts as they happened, does that not mean that the bible is a book we need to regard as a sort of book with falshoods and exaggerations, and thus not being true at all? We see people (referring to themselves as christians!) taking the bible litteraly in the sense that what is written is the word of god and thus true, through that litterally taking condemning certain groups of people, actions and or institutions, for instance gay people, science, vaccinations to name a few. When what is written in the article is fact, and I do not question what is written as I regard it as something that is an opinion, then taking the bible litterally is wrong, and makes the ideas and opinions of those taking it litterally rubbish! God has not ordered that extermination of a whole people, the Cannaanites, it was a form of fantasy that was written down, the question arises was what written about the condemnation of the groups mentioned also a fantasy, and were not the words of god, but of humans?
    Just asking……………………………….

  • Your tone was mocking. It seems unlikely that you would make light of it if you’d ever experienced it. Conviction tends to produce humility rather than derision.

  • I have no problem with people asking questions. I ask questions all the time. Maybe I was a little defensive. Many times I end up debating people who ask questions they don’t really want answers to. :-)

  • I must concur, and El did not order genocide, that would require existence.

  • Ron McPherson

    I actually was looking for answers but no sweat. It’s all good

  • Herm

    Then why do you think that the religious authorities of God’s chosen people, sitting on Moses’ seat of covenant authority, weren’t far out in left field, also?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I do believe God is good. My point is, you don’t. You just redefine the word “good” to mean “whatever God does” regardless of whether it is actually “good” in any normal sense if the word. You may say “God is good”, but when you do it doesn’t mean anything or describe any actual quality or attribute of God.
    The Bible itself, and above all the teachings and example of Jesus, defines what ” good” is: justice, mercy, kindness and above all love. It also says quite clearly that God’s fundamental nature embodies those goods in exactly the way Jesus does.
    That’s why you misread the Bible when you happily declare it’s fine if God commits or orders genocide because he is God. No it isn’t, because God isn’t like that, and in reading such passages we have to bear this in mind and try and understand them accordingly.

  • Rusty

    You are conflating the thinking of historians with actual scientific lines of evidence (based on genetics) when you make the claim that this is “not a new discovery”. The “new discovery” was in the finding (through DNA sequencing) that modern Lebanese people are descended directly from the Canaanites.

  • Brandon Roberts

    so the bible says something only to recant it?……….that seems 100% legit

  • It’s much simpler than that. I believe in the authority of Scripture, which says God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and wisdom personified. The Bible tells us God uses everything — good and bad — to accomplish his ends (Rom. 8:28), which Scripture says are good and loving and redemptive (2 Peter 8-10). If all that is true, and I really believe it, then I already believe everything God does is good. Either that is true, or Scripture is flawed, and we might as well toss the whole thing in the garbage. It’s that simple.

  • Many of them were. I put no confidence in people, who are all flawed, but only Scripture, which contains the only concrete way of knowing who God is and what he expects of me. That being said, I believe in the Scriptural account of things, so I’m convinced God managed to raise up a handful of faithful people down through the ages — people who managed to get it right when it counted. These were Moses, Abraham, Noah and others. They heard from God and obeyed. Not much of that kind of faith around anymore, sadly.

  • Ivlia Blackburn

    You ;have to put yourself in the mind of the writers, and remember that they were writing IN THE BRONZE AGE. As an example, just read a journalistic article (or watch on TV) about an event, then read the factual police (or similar) report, or even compare different articles in different papers on the same event. See how it is written differently by different views. The Bible is the same, it WAS WRITTEN BY HUMAN BEINGS who, just like today, like to exaggerate and only write their viewpoints. The basis is fact, but it is fact from the point of view of the writer. The Gospels are an excellent example, they all tell the same story but the viewpoints are wildly disparate, and their views of the same people are also different. One sees Martha as happy and cheerful, yet another sees her as complaining and tired of doing all the work. Which is true, probably a bit of both. The problem is, unlike the Gospels there is only a single version of the Old Testament, and it is probably a version that a) combines various viewpoints and has been distorted over aeons due to differences in spoken recollections b) is obviously going to exaggerate the views of the winners in a conflict, that is human nature and can be seen throughout history, just look at the Egyptian stellae c) should always be seen as someones personal view of history which was highly unlikely to have been written as it happened and kept, it would have been passed aurally through generations and written down by different people, all of whom would have put their own twist on the facts. Which ones made it into the modern Old Testatment, who knows, but they will have been as factual as they could have been given the origins. The problems start when people forget these things and treat it as something written by God Himself that just mysteriously appeared and that should be followed; verbatim.

  • We should be uncomfortable about God’s command regarding the Canaanites. I would be suspicious of someone who wasn’t at some point. But I’m not going to make my feelings more valid than God’s perspective. I am fully convinced that Christ is alive, good, wise and just, so I have to discount my own impressions when they go against what the Bible clearly teaches. I’m a fallen human with a darkened intellect and a petulant spirit half the time as well. I don’t consider it reasonable to put more stock in my own ideas than in God’s. He’s the One, after all, who made all this out of nothing and sustains my very life. I trust His judgment more than my own. And yes, I believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. Some of it is difficult to understand, but it’s all truth, and it’s the only concrete foundation we have.

  • OneWhoCares57

    It is confusing since the term “genocide” is a modern term, a legal concept defined by Polish legislator Raphael Lemkin in 1941 and was adopted into UN Conventions in 1948, and no, it does not mean every last person has to be annihilated before it can be genocide, but refers rather to the destruction of a nation or ethnic group and is a crime under international law. Israel stands guilty of the genocide of the Palestinians. The US and its Euro colonial settlers stand guilty of the genocide of indigenous nations, and in many cases the Spanish did indeed commit the abomination of complete annihilation of nations of people, wiping out all to extinction.

    That said, the bible, if taken literally, does in fact describe a complete wiping out of the Caananites, including every animal. Perhaps the term annihilation is more appropriate. This is what Benjamin Corey’s article on the scientific research and discovery refutes–the biblical myths are total exaggerations and should not be read as factual historical evidence. These annihilations did not occur, but were written as military posturing by warring tribes and nations–propaganda if you will.

  • OneWhoCares57

    You are confusing “Jewish” with an ethnicity. To be sure there are Arab Jews descended from Canaanite DNA. However the Jews that “founded” modern day Israel are not genetically semites. They are Eurasian and “Jewish” only by religion and culture as developed in Eastern Europe. So you can’t conflate a religious identity with an ethnic one.

  • OneWhoCares57

    a god created in man’s image and made God

  • jerrycstanaway

    And you oppose this logic-for what reason?

  • jerrycstanaway

    God initially told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as well.

  • jerrycstanaway

    I assume you oppose dropping bombs on cities for any reason under any circumstances. If you don’t, how can you judge the slaughter of the Canaanites?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    What do you mean by “good”, then, if it includes genocide, torture and destruction?

  • Matthew

    “Furthermore, we must also recognize that these exaggerations do not call
    the authenticity of the Bible into question, but instead affirm it is a
    historical document of a specific time and place, and that it reads
    exactly the way one would expect it to read– including exaggerations of
    genocide.” – Dr. BLC

    I guess my only question(s) is, if the OT is not precise and contains exaggerations, how can we then be sure that the OT is 100% correct in what it claims about the Messiah? On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus showed them everything in the OT that pointed to him. Does it matter, then, if the OT is not a 100%, literally accurate collection of documents? Did it matter to Jesus?

  • Joe_Wazzzz

    So our choices are
    1. Take the story literally.
    2. Pick and choose what you want to believe.
    3. Don’t believe a word of it.

    So because it is potentially provable that some or many Canaanites survived, it wasn’t really a holocaust? And if it did happen, God didn’t really order it. Kind of like the Mid-east version of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Whether they did it or not, the account reflects the apparent eternal actions and attitudes of the tribes of Abraham that are promulgated to this very day.

    Goes to “state of mind” your Honor.

    I find it easier to believe that Jesus using his more diplomatic and subtle side, repudiated the followers of the god of the Old Testament in toto. He used the bible as a common reference point to communicate to the people.

  • StevenHaupt

    There has been a spate of articles lately implying or stating that the Bible is in error because not all of the Canaanites were not destroyed, as God commanded.

    It’s simple, God commanded that the Canaanites be destroyed, but Israel disobeyed. Therefore, there is no error.

  • Tim

    Yes and no. That IS the new discovery, yes, but apparently some have tried to spin it in other ways, and that is what he was speaking to. What is not new knowledge is that the Canaanites were not obliterated.

  • “In fact, this clear exaggeration of events actually makes the Bible more authentic instead of less…”

    Only in the convoluted world of the pacifist trying to deny the violence attributed to God in the bible does that line make any sense.

  • Herm

    What did Abraham and Noah write of scripture?

    This is what Moses possibly contributed to scripture, written in the third person:

    Then the LORD said to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him

    Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.

    “ ‘Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death. Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death. You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.’ ”

    Then Moses spoke to the Israelites, and they took the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him. The Israelites did as the LORD commanded Moses.

    Leviticus 24:13-23 (NIV2011)

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

    Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV2011)

    This is possibly was written by the Apostle Matthew regarding blasphemy of the LORD from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ. We only have the Greek translation (showing no tells of being a translation), not Matthew’s Aramaic or Hebrew original composition, to trace back to (so, too, was true in the year 325 at the Council of Nicaea).

    And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

    Matthew 12:31-32 (NIV2011)

    This possibly written by the Apostle Matthew in witness to what the Lord Jesus had to say about what was “said” in Leviticus regarding eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

    Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV2011)

    Which Lord God are you to believe?

    If you really want to know the truth there is a clue who to go to today of whom is spoken of in your New Testament scripture.

    This was possibly written by the Apostle John declaring first hand witness (the gospel remains as written anonymously by one claiming he is “the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.”)

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    John 14:15-21 (NIV2011)

    … and particularly this for those who can bear the truth today more so than could the Messiah’s disciples 1,983 years ago.

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)

    Me thinks you inflate to anoint yourself to preside over “the Scriptural account of things” without the sanction of the living God living with and in the Spirit of truth.

  • Matt Muldoon

    I oppose the intentional or indiscriminate targeting of non-combatants. As far as bombs on cities goes, assuming military action must occur, it should be targeted against military and related critical industrial assets. We should not target schools, hospitals, residential areas, water treatment plants, etc.

  • Herm

    Convicted of what, exactly?

  • Brian Westley

    You’re substituting your own judgment in place of God’s.

    No, he’s substituting his own judgement in place of your judgement (“your judgement” being you think you know what your god wants).

  • Herm

    … and your way to formulate your ideas is more certain?

    I know exactly what you think you are experiencing. I’ve been there. You aren’t, known by your fruit, experiencing the Spirit of truth. You follow to lead blindly no different than a Jihadist today or the devout Jewish crowd voting by yelling, “crucify the King of the Jews”, in Allah/God’s name.

  • Herm

    … and this is what humility looks like?

  • Herm

    If you are truly “fully convinced that Christ is alive, good, wise and just why aren’t you looking to Him? Is He out of your reach?

    The Bible is as sacred as a map pointing to where you need to be, quickly scribbled on parchment by those who made it that far. It is not the living word of God. In your divine map there is a pointer to the Way. Go to Him to be led into all truth as you can bear, not a document written no later than 1,917 years ago.

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

    John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)

    He came 1,984 years ago!

  • Ron McPherson

    I used to think that if we can’t trust the whole bible, then we can’t trust any of it. So I think you ask a good and fair question. But Adam Hamilton once wrote something to the effect that we don’t toss away our family or friends merely because they may not be 100% accurate. I mean, I trust my wife, but if she is wrong about one thing does that mean I can no longer trust anything else she says? No. We don’t function in life that way with anything else, so why would we view the Bible that way? I’ve heard countless sermons, teaching, etc. A lot of it resonates with me. But I’ve also heard a number of things over the years that didn’t quite square with the character of Jesus, namely, the Spirit within me seemed to push back on it. But that doesn’t mean that I toss out everything else that person may have ever said.

    To assume the Bible is perfect is to elevate it to the level of God. And it would also mean that the biblical authors had to temporarily become perfect in their understanding of God; well I suppose maybe just in those times they put pen to parchment…well just in those specific writings from Genesis to Revelation I guess. Like Paul was perfected with understanding for his first and third letters to the Corinthians, but was less than perfect in understanding in his second letter to them, because you know, that one didn’t make the biblical Canon so there.

    So did it matter to Jesus? I certainly don’t claim authority here to speak for God, but from time to time he did say things like, Moses said this, but I say that. I think the best way to read scripture is to filter its words through Jesus, the perfect manifestation of God. After all, we claim to be Christians, not biblicists, though a lot of folks seem to have trouble distinguishing the difference at times. I guess it boils down to whether we allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, or try to rigidly follow a written code (I’ve found the only thing I’ve accomplished from the latter is becoming a dead ringer for a Pharisee). So I gave that up – finally. God knows it took awhile though. It’s amazing how less biblically stressful things become when focusing on the things Jesus focused on, like love, mercy and compassion. Rob Bell once said something like, once you see, you cannot then un-see. Of course, he got ‘farewelled’ so what does he know right? Anyway, I would rather die than to go back to being a pretentious hypocrite. Trying to live by a rule-book will dang sure make you one, because no one can do it with any degree of efficacy AND you have to pick and choose which rules to follow. Normally, it takes a theological construct to figure that one out. Then it becomes tribal. Like my theology is right but yours is wrong. Or my set of rules counts with God, but your set doesn’t. So now I try to see the spirit of the words in their cultural context, not necessarily the letter of them.

  • Ian Palmer

    Many comment below on whether the Bible is myth or truth. The biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah took place about 3,700 years ago. The ruins of the city of Sodom have been dug up and the archeological story is remarkably consistent with many aspects of the Bible story. See the book by Steven Collins “Discovering the City of Sodom”, or a summary of the book in http://www.iandexterpalmer.com/sodom-discovery-city-bible/
    At the very least this discovery (way back in Genesis chapter 19) implies we have to be very careful before we consign old and very old Bible stories, to myth.

  • Scott Harrison

    “God” (whatever we take that multivalent word to mean) commanding (H)is people to commit genocide remains deeply, morally problematic surely, whether the Israelites obeyed or not, whether the accounts are historical or encrusted with myth, whether we regard the disparate texts known as “The Bible” to be inerrant or a kind of hodgepodge of ancient fables and partial truths. What is the Judeo-Christian deity like? This remains a troubling question in the light of these “holy” texts.

  • Realist1234

    Are you not guilty of making God in your own image, rather than how He has revealed Himself?

  • Realist1234

    Now Ron, hypotheticals dont help!

  • Realist1234

    True but He also stopped Him. It was a test of Abraham. Its telling that you purposefully didnt relate the whole story.

  • Realist1234

    If God is the author of life, can He not take it away?

  • Realist1234

    I found David Lamb’s book ‘God Behaving Badly’ made pertinent points.

  • Realist1234

    Thanks Eva. So so.

  • Herm

    If I give birth to a word, a thought, a feeling can I take it away? If you give birth to a child would Eva say you can take it away?

  • Herm

    hypothesis – noun – a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.

    We have to start somewhere, unless you choose never to question, only state with no evidence.

  • Herm

    But He didn’t stop His sacrifice of His Son. I don’t believe you have access to the full story.

  • Realist1234

    Rather than viewing the Bible as ‘perfect’, I tend to view it as ‘reliable’, taking into account the context in which it is written. We evangelicals tend to go beyond what Paul said to Timothy regarding Scripture ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ I wouldnt get hung up on ‘inerrancy’ etc. It only leads to headaches lol.

    But do I believe Yahweh commanded the Canaanites to be destroyed at a particular time in history? Yes. For specific reasons. Per my post above, Id recommend David Lamb’s short book on some ‘difficult’ aspects of the Old Testament. I would remind others of God’s words through the prophet Ezekiel ‘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?’ The problem with the Canaanites, they never did turn from their wickedness, despite the Lord giving them centuries to do so. Judgement is inevitable, either in this life or the next.

    I also think that those who reject God’s hard-to-understand actions in the OT fail to see Him as He is, and how His actions were appropriate at that time. They tend not to see His holiness (remember how seeing the face of God in the OT typically resulted in death), how His thoughts can be so far above ours (He is the Creator of the Universe after all), His plan for His Messiah etc. We tend to view history through our own rather narrow western 21st century pov (Im as guilty of that as anyone). But the more I study the OT, the more I feel I understand God and therefore Jesus – dont you find sometimes that Jesus in the NT comes across as hard-to-understand too?

  • Realist1234

    And you.

  • Realist1234

    PS where’s Phil?!

  • Ron McPherson

    Guess not ha!

  • Ron McPherson

    Ain’t it the truth. Geez, Realist and I walk lockstep compared to the ones I’ve been dealing with last several weeks

  • Ron McPherson

    Yeah, it’s like he’s been raptured…oh wait, I take that back. Let’s not go there. Topic for another day maybe : )

  • Realist1234

    Considering Im a ‘Prod’ from Northern Ireland, that’s rather ironic dont you think? lol

  • Realist1234

    You should try debating with atheists Phil. They’ve drained me…lol

  • Ron McPherson

    “I put no confidence in people, who are all flawed, but only Scripture…”

    But it was “people” (the ones you “put no confidence in”) that literally put pen to parchment in writing down scripture. The Bible didn’t fall out of the heavens written by the hand of God. I’m not trying to be argumentative (so I hope you don’t take it that way), but you are putting a GIGANTIC, ENORMOUS, STUPENDOUS, GARGANTUAN amount of confidence in people getting it right if you believe that Scripture “contains the only concrete way of knowing who God is and what he expects” of them. Just sayin.

  • Realist1234

    Hold on a minute, are you casting doubt on a literal rapture, when all the faithful will disappear? !

    Did you ever see the movie ‘Left Behind’ with Nick Cage? A triumph!

  • Ron McPherson

    You scared me for a minute. I thought you were talking about the other Phil : )

  • Realist1234

    Oops I meant Ron. I was still thinking about Phil! Apologies…

  • Ron McPherson

    Yeah he would destroy me too

  • Ron McPherson

    Yikes, sounds like you’ve been reading some of the threads too : )

  • OneWhoCares57

    It makes me wonder if war-faring tribes, hellbent on occupying a land through military might and the genocidal impulse so prevalent throughout human history, committed a genocide first, then invented a God who commanded it to cover for and justify their “might”. This would make their genocide “moral” and “righteous” because they were led by the divine.

    And isn’t that the very same excuse used by Americans, the Israelis and ISIS today, that they have some divine right, privilege or exceptionalism to commit atrocities because God/Allah/Jehovah?

    I’m more inclined to believe that the command, if in fact there was such a command, came after the crimes. Or if there was no actual slaughter, it was an invention of a nationalistic ideology to unite tribes around a national/religious cultus narrative.

    Once passed down as “divine literature” its heirs in the Catholic church used it as a cloak of legitimacy for colonial powers like Spain to commit genocide as a means of “conversion” or Germany as a means of “ethnoreligious purity”.

    We say in the church that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. But it is the human will to power and domination that never changes. The Bronze Age “God” is a convenience to legitimize human evil.

  • My point is, if there is no God, what are you using as a model for your moral judgments? If we don’t have anything higher than ourselves as a source, what basis do we have for judging anything to be good or bad? How you feel about it? Well, Mao Tse Tung felt it was okay to massacre 70 million of his own people to get China’s problems straightened out. Stalin, also an atheist, thought it was necessary to march platoons of his own troops through fields to clear out the mines. He also slayed millions of his own countrymen for having ideas opposing communism. Was he right? Based on what authority? Should we go by consensus? The consensus in America in 1850 was that slavery was legal and morally sound and that negroes were property. You see my point? Without a higher order, everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and we have anarchy. So I’m still waiting for an answer: on what are you basing your moral judgments?

  • You’re asking for an explanation that satisfies you, and those aren’t always available. You’re not God, after all. He didn’t promise everything would taste good, feel wonderful and make perfect sense to everybody. The best thing you can do is take responsibility for your own errors and move on. Do you really think you’re going to put God in deity jail or something? He’s the judge of all the universe. You’re just a man.

  • No. My understanding of Scripture is backed up by thousands of years of orthodoxy. It wasn’t until a few decades ago that people started approaching Scripture with the idea that they could make modifications as they were “moved by the Spirit.” Jim Jones was “moved by the Spirit.” 900+ lives would have been saved if Jones had taken his cues from Scripture instead of the voice in his head.

  • Sin.

  • Go back and read the discussion. The Scripture is clear that God ordered genocide. Some people here are saying basically, “I don’t like the idea that God would do that. I want a God who woul never judge anyone, so I’m going to interpret the Bible differently so I can have the kind of god I want.” It doesn’t work that way. We all have to make a choice to accept God’s Word or not. It accomplishes nothing to try and spruce up the Bible by removing the unpalatable parts.

  • So my understanding of Scripture (backed up by thousands of years of orthodoxy) is leading me astray, but the little voice in your head is completely trustworthy. First off, I can’t hear the little voice in your head, and second, anything I hear has to be supported by Scripture. Your way seems to be the reverse of that: modify Scripture as needed in deference to the voice you are hearing, which may or may not be the voice of God. Remember that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Co. 11:14). The only sure guide we have is Scripture, not a subjective experience.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    In other words, I am right: you have robbed the word “good” of all meaning when applied to God, and made God a monster. Quite apart from slandering God, such theology undermines all morality in those who adhere to it also.

  • I could say the same of your question. Are you arrogant? Or are you just saying how my comment strikes you? Oh, you prideful man — choking on hubris! Lol

  • You are deceived. Scripture says of itself: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Also, “For the word of God is LIVING (emphasis mine) and active…” (Hebrews 4:12). Either Scripture is all true, or we might as well throw it out. And if we throw it out, Jesus was just a homeless Middle-Eastern itinerant preacher and Christianity is as bunk as Amway. Take your pick, but without the Bible, you’re a religious man without a program.

  • You keep avoiding the question: whence are you deriving your ideas about morality vs. immorality? You can’t answer the question. Your whole philosophy is built on caprice.

  • You’re inquiring into a mystery. Mankind is fallen and people are unreliable, but God somehow raised up some who managed to get it right. I don’t know how, but I believe the Bible is inspired by God. Scripture says of itself: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16) If that statement isn’t true, the Bible isn’t reliable, and Christianity is meaningless. It comes down to a choice in the end, to trust God — or not.

  • Brian Westley

    The Scripture is clear that God ordered genocide.

    No, YOUR scripture says that.

  • Ron McPherson

    But why would we say on the one hand that we put no confidence in people, but all confidence in the Bible, when the Bible was compiled by people? I believe the Bible to be inspired as well. But that’s different than saying the Bible is the only concrete way of knowing God. First century Christ followers didn’t walk around with a Bible tucked under their arms, and yet they knew God thru the Spirit, which was exactly what Jesus said would happen. He said he would not leave his followers as orphans. He was talking about the Spirit, not a book.

    John 14:16-18 “Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you.”

    One last thing. When Paul wrote those words to Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed, etc., he wasn’t holding a leather bound scroll containing Genesis thru Revelation. Part of the NT had not even been compiled by that point. Really, we don’t know exactly what he may have had in mind, at least from the text. Unless both Paul and Timothy were capable of looking into the future and seeing that people (the ones we can’t trust) would kinda, sorta, come together over time (like a couple hundred years or so) and determine which of the documents were, or were not, fully reliable. But even now, Christians can’t unify on it. Catholics think Protestants cut out part of the Bible. Protestants think Catholics added to it. See what I mean?

    Anyway, thanks for the discussion. Again, I believe that Scripture is inspired, but based on the words of Jesus, I believe it is the Spirit of God that reveals God. And certainly that can be through the biblical text. But I definitely don’t want to box God in though.

  • Herm

    You didn’t read to compare a thing taken right out of the scriptures you have appointed yourself to protect.

    So, in your inerrant Bible, Jesus lied about the Spirit of truth?

    I am, by your word, supposed to be led into all truth by you, is that correct? What are your credentials to be so sanctimonious? What has your god been doing for the last 1,984 years?

  • Herm

    Thank you for that. What is sin?

  • Herm

    You won’t comment regarding the exceptions Christ made to traditions in law relative to God’s law. You won’t comment on just who the Holy Spirit is to you. You don’t have a clue to the history of writes and rewrites before canonization of your Bible today. Yes, your understanding of Scripture is leading you astray.

  • Herm

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    Luke 14:26-27 (NIV2011)

    “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.Matthew 23:8-12 (NIV2011)

  • Herm

    That is worth less than bullshit. That which you elevate to scripture to praise scripture wasn’t even scripture when written.

    Take your time and review all that Christ is quoted saying, “you heard it said” and look who said it. One Lord God refuting another Lord God.

    On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.

    When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’

    Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:23-31 (NIV2011)

    This was witnessed to before any New Testament scripture. This is exactly how the word of God, apropos to today, is communicated from God to all who hear. You are deaf and blind.

    I am trying my hardest to share with you that there is good news today, without the Bible, that God can still provide, protect and teach each and every one of those who accept to be children of God, born of the Spirit. Pray! Pray! Pray!

    … before you preach from dead parchment as your only guide and authority. You have no good news for any, today!

  • Ron McPherson

    Yeah I get that regarding oral tradition and such. But that just goes to show even more, to me at least, that humans compiled the Bible. Again not to say that the Bible isn’t inspired (I believe it is). I think we fail to hear the Spirit, or misunderstand, etc. is often due to our cluttered minds. Would probably do us all good to forget a lot of what we’ve been taught and just listen to God. Church would probably look a lot different

  • I didn’t say that people have no contributions to make — just that everything has to be measured against scripture. But scripture was written by men, you say. Of course, that is your conclusion to draw for yourself. I believe that the Bible is authoritative and directly inspired by God, even though it was written by men. This is an example of an unusually powerful overshadowing of events by God. My acknowledgement of this is not a refutation of my original point, which was that I put no confidence in people. I will amend that by saying I put less confidence in people than in the Bible.

  • Thank you!

  • Jesus is called “The Word” by the Apostle John. (John 1) If you were hearing the voice of the Spirit, He would surely speak of how crucial the Word of God is, being the second Person of the Trinity. You talk as though the Bible were something insignificant.

  • Show me your notes. Have you looked at the original Greek words? Have you read any commentary on the passage in question? You need to support your argument or you’re just running your mouth.

  • You will find a full definition of sin in the Bible, but I’m thinking you probably don’t read it very often.

  • Brian Westley

    What notes? I’m an atheist. But I can easily see that “Scripture” isn’t clear.

    You need to support your argument or you’re just running your mouth.

    Demonstrate that “Scripture” is from a god.

  • Ron McPherson

    That’s a great question. But I don’t know I can do the answer justice. As Christians, born of the Spirit, God lives perpetually within us. He guides, encourages, convicts, speaks truth. It’s not necessarily a thunderbolt from the Heavens but rather a still small voice (not audibly), but a prompting. Honestly, the best place to start is to go directly to God. And be patient, trusting in his care and guidance. Often the answer comes when I least expect it, kind of an oh yeah moment.

    But the world can infiltrate our hearts and minds, causing confusion, anxiety, getting us sidetracked. I’ve gotten it wrong before originally thinking something was from God when it wasn’t. Sometimes we confuse religion itself with God. It’s not the same thing. I guess what I’m saying is that we walk by faith, like a little child looking to their loving Father. We’ll always be learning. And he navigates the process along the way. Through it all we walk by faith, trusting he loves us through it all even during our screw ups.

    Finally, the Bible is our source for knowing the words of Christ after all. That’s undeniable. And I believe God has proven (at least to me) that Christ is/was the perfect representation of God’s character. So because of this conviction, my desire is to filter everything through him. And I believe the Spirit bears witness with our spirit when we do that.

    Edit: I’ll add one final thing to this. As Christ followers, indwelt, filled, born of the Spirit, we abide in God if you will. It’s a constant communion, not necessarily about waiting for some kind of sign. An awareness of his presence.

  • Herm

    You don’t know what sin is, do you? Share with me the full definition of sin found in the Bible, please.

    You really need to listen to yourself to hear how absolutely hollow your statements are. I have used far more scripture to refute you than you have to support you. In all cases you do not speak for God. God can speak perfectly well for Themselves. It is you who is deaf to God.

    Is this true to, for, in and with you?

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    John 14:15-21 (NIV2011)

    If it is, what more do you need to know God for real? If it is not then your god is dead. You fantasize through a study of God who cannot speak to you. God can if you only had the faith to open the conversation directly with Them.

    Tell all of us here, yes or no, is John 14:15-21 true!

  • Herm

    Read John 1, again. The Holy Spirit was the Word! The Holy Spirit is the light that shines in the darkness. You are in the darkness.

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

    John 1:1-5 (NIV2011)

    Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

    Matthew 3:13-17 (NIV2011)

    At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

    Mark 1:9-13 (NIV2011)

    When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    Luke 3:21-22 (NIV2011)

    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

    Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

    I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

    John 1:29-34 (NIV2011)

    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    John 3:5-8 (NIV2011)

    You are not born of the Spirit!

  • I don’t need to re-read John. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) You’re telling me the Holy Spirit was the one who became a man and died on the cross? You’re making s*** up. Or you’re seriously deceived.

  • Herm

    Is John 14:15-21 and 16:12-15 true or not? Am I making shit up or are you blind and deaf?

  • I just read the passages. I see nothing indicating that the Holy Spirit is the Word of God. I’ve chewed the fat with all manner of theologians and exegetes. None of them have suggested the Holy Spirit is the one called The Word. I’m still waiting for a Scripture that supports your outlandish statement.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    To quote myself, having already answered this question:
    “The Bible itself, and above all the teachings and example of Jesus, defines what ” good” is: justice, mercy, kindness and above all love.”

  • Herm

    You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

    John 5:39-40 (NIV2011)

    Theologians study the scriptures to define God. Exegetes expound on the scriptures to proclaim God. Neither speaks the word of God as did those witnessed in Acts 4:31.

    Children of God, siblings of our Lord Jesus with and in the same Father, relate with and in God to speak the word of God boldly.

    You say, “I see nothing indicating that the Holy Spirit is the Word of God.” That is exactly what we are trying so hard to explain to you, as in:

    the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

    John 14:17 (NIV2011)

    “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

    Luke 11:52 (NIV2011)

    Is John 14:15-21 and 16:12-15 true or false?

  • OneWhoCares57

    Recorded history is filled with people ‘doing what’s right in their own eyes’ regardless of whether they believe in a god or not. However those who believe they have a divine right to massacre and commit atrocities have the advantage. They can claim their god told them to do it. Look at your own Monroe Doctrine. And take the body count of genocidal massacres committed by Americans. Based on what authority indeed.

  • Matthew

    I too have some problems with the NT, but not nearly as many as I have with the OT. I find Jesus sometimes difficult to understand in his parables and I have problems reconciling talk of hell and judgement with Jesus´ overall person and character. I know some progressives have gone to great lengths to try to deal with the judgement passages in the Gospels, but I haven´t heard (yet) a really convincing argument that takes into account all the pertinent verses and references.

    I think where I stand now is that I also would agree the scripture is reliable and inspired, not inerrant or perfect. That said, even if all we read in the scripture is not 100% accurate historically speaking, it´s still able to credibly point us to Jesus — and that´s what´s most important in my view. Finally … I tend to think the Gospels are more accurate historically than the historical accounts we find in the OT. I think Greg Boyd has written about this topic as well.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Ron.

  • Matthew

    I asked the same question a few weeks ago. I miss interacting with him. He has been very helpful.

  • Ron McPherson

    Yeah I do get what you’re saying. I sincerely believe we can gauge the validity of something by how it lines up with Jesus’ greatest commandment of loving God and our neighbor (Matt 22:35-40).

  • Ron McPherson

    I see value in other parts too, just that I try and filter everything through Jesus’ words. Hope that makes sense

  • Ron McPherson

    “That which you elevate to scripture to praise scripture wasn’t even scripture when written”

    Nailed it!

  • I don’t think he’s trying to defend it or say it doesn’t remain disturbing – just to point out that hey, science and other parts of the Bible contradict the notion of complete annihilation.

  • gimpi1

    Yes, I do. Civilian populations should never be the target of weapons of mass destruction. I don’t view the bombings of Dresden or Hiroshima and Nagasaki as any different than the German Blitzkrieg or mass shootings of civilians. Both fit the modern definition of war crimes. However, as bad as these things were, they took place in a war for survival.

    I would judge the genocide supposedly ordered by God as arguably worse. The Canaanites didn’t have modern weapons of mass destruction. They didn’t appear to be a real threat if not attacked. It appears that they simply had land that the Hebrews wanted. It looks more like the wars of attempted genocide of the native people in the U.S. by the U.S. military and government. There was often also the same justification – propaganda is far from new.

    Now, it’s easy for me to assume that the Hebrew tribes simply “heard” divine orders to do what they had already decided to do to gain land. I don’t need to sully God by planting blame. It’s easy because I don’t have any need for an inerrant Bible. I can accept that folklore, mythology and, yes, propaganda got folded up in it.

    I know that it’s more difficult for people who need their Bible to be perfect. I’ve heard many even argue that it’s virtuous for a people to commit genocide if “God commands it.” This scares me. The German people mostly truly believed God was “on their side.” So did the American South in our civil war. So did the people who ran the Inquisition. Being willing to perform atrocities for God is dangerous. and it appears to me that it starts by assuming that God is capable and willing to order them.

  • gimpi1

    All the things you state appear to be simply propaganda, created to justify the actions of the Hebrew people. Propaganda is not new. For more modern examples. you can see the propaganda that the U.S. government used to justify land-grabs of native tribes. As Dr. Corey points out, propaganda, both in the form of defaming opponents and exaggerating victories is nothing new.

    To me, the justifications you offer are frightening. It seems that you are saying that people who blow up theaters or buses or clinics are virtuous, if the innocent people killed in them are killed in the name of the right God. Do you understand that? You really can’t use your “truth claim” to justify atrocity, and atrocity is still atrocity, it doesn’t matter in who’s name it’s done.

  • gimpi1

    OK, all I can say is that you’re really scary. I’ll leave this conversation, now. There’s no real debating with someone who believes that mass slaughter is justified by their beliefs and that they can’t be wrong. Farewell.

  • Ron McPherson

    Yeah, I can appreciate that. I’m a bit of the product of my own failings you might say. I couldn’t even begin to estimate the number of hours I’ve spent over the years, often in vain I might add, attempting to somehow synthesize the Bible into a coherent whole. Consulting shelves of commentaries (totally conservative of course, because I feared reading anything that didn’t comply with my already existing confirmation bias); always trying to fit all the texts together so that there were no inconsistencies, no incoherent parts, everything tied all together, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces were manufactured over thousands of years. It came from a background of being taught infallibility and inerrancy. Like how to make everything Moses taught align with Jesus, or everything James taught to align with Paul. Making Matthew, Mark, and Luke align perfectly even though there were differences in their accounts of certain events. Well, you get the picture, ha. At any rate, Ben Corey once wrote something that literally changed my life. He said that many of us had been reading the bible backwards, which was what I had been guilty of (i.e. how to somehow make Jesus’ words fit within all the other writings). Instead, see if all the other writings hold up to Jesus’ words. That’s when I started to get back some sanity, ha. After all, Jesus is the one I claim to follow so now that’s where it starts for me. Anyway, thanks much for the discussion and sharing your thought. Really appreciated.

  • gimpi1

    Exactly, Herm. Sanctified Muse is scary. Anyone who can casually condone atrocity because of their beliefs and condemn anyone who raises questions based on empathy or reason or just common decency has shut off their own conscious, replacing it with dogma. Such people can do horrible things without a bit of doubt. They’re dangerous.

  • gimpi1

    Thank you. The whole idea that literalism is the only way to look at any belief system is foolish in the extreme.

  • gimpi1

    I’ll answer. My morality is based on empathy. Golden-rule stuff. Do unto others as you would be done unto. That means no propaganda defaming others. No lies. No abuse. No land-grabs. No cruelty and, yes, totally, no freakin’ attempted genocide, ever.

    It’s also based on reason. Good old enlightened self-interest. A more just, peaceful, prosperous world is happier for everyone – including me. If any group can decide that any other group is “outside of God’s will” and can justify attacks on that, there is no justice and no group is truly safe. War, especially modern warfare, is hugely wasteful. There’s a reason peace and prosperity are often linked. I don’t support anything that makes war more likely, and believing God supports your martial aspirations appears to make war more likely.

    The thing about your ideas is that, if you’re wrong, you could commit horrific acts because you believe God commands it. I can’t make that mistake. Other mistakes, sure, but not that one. Many, many horrors have been committed by people sure they were right. Far fewer have been committed by people who understood they could be wrong.

  • Herm

    Ron, there have been several here who have supported me to speak boldly the word of God as I can bear it, stimulated by the needs of too many who try to make the Bible their god in full, inerrant, with no growth for almost a couple thousand years now.

    I am on new ground, I haven’t been left in any way orphaned and alone in some wilderness, where it is clear, seen in my active heart and mind, that my influence is pushing the boundaries of what is best for our antagonizers; possibly, pushing the limits of what is best for our supporters to grow in the Spirit.

    You have been the most vocal to acknowledge that the very real presence of the Spirit of truth is spirit, not a carnal voice instructing our next move. As I write this to you, it just reminded me of something I’ve heard, throughout my life, that was others telling me how to picture the spirit influence to others. The phrase goes something like this, “it has prayed upon my heart” and I have, also, heard something like, “this has prayed upon my mind, so I had to do something”. This, couple with the most apropos words for the moment to convey the sense in my heart and mine, is the best I can explain living with and in the Spirit of God, guiding me into all truth as I can bear.

    My concern, today, is tempering my joy of understanding something new so as not to destroy whatever tenuous foundation others might have, without acknowledging the Spirit, in a way that they drown too far from shore.

    Could you, and others who might read this, please, temper my offerings to others so that I am not responsible for leaving them nothing?

    This, I know, is a strange request but I feel it very necessary, in this moment, in this forum. It is praying upon my heart and mind. My cross on earth has grown to be inclusive for the love of all that they might live.

    Though I trust my Rock implicitly today, and always, if all people have to stand on is shifting sand, that is their only foundation available today that gives them the time and means to move toward bedrock. Lately, here more than ever in my life, I have seen those on sand flailing to hold their position while obvious to others they are sinking into their homemade abyss, desperately holding on to their dimming testimony of God.

    I am reaching out to others secure with, in and on their Rock to attract, no longer repel, the zealous traditionalists of mankind, represented in ever growing force here, to higher and more solid ground to learn from by the mounting Spirit praying on their heart and mind.

    Thank you for being here for all of us! I do love you brother!

  • gimpi1

    I won’t say it’s bunk. I will say that it’s not an argument that can be shared. Because you’re depending on an intangible feeling that can’t be communicated, can’t be explained or described in reason, you can’t expect anyone else to accept it. For instance, I can accept that you love your wife without falling in love with her myself.

    It’s just fine for you to base your life on this. It’s not OK for you to assume that you have some superior way of knowing and that everyone must cede to you. It’s not OK for you to attempt to enshrine your beliefs in law. It’s downright scary when you appear to say you would commit atrocities if you believe God is commanding it.

  • There is something to consider. During genocides some from the targeted people group do actually survive. The Armenian genocide is a good example. While Turks tried to wipe out all Western Armenians, some survived. I know because I am part Western Armenian.

  • Herm

    I have never heard it put better! Thank you!

    Do you have the haze blocking the sun or is it only along the shoreline of the strait? I am concerned that it might be smoke from the fires in BC.

  • gimpi1

    This is nothing but a rationalization. You have no evidence, archaeological, genetic or otherwise for this.

    The simplest explanation for the “Canaanite genocide” is ancient propaganda that got folded into folklore, then into your Bible. We’ve seen this with other Holy Books. You assume that it didn’t happen in yours. I don’t see why that’s likely.

    Occam’s Razor is a good guide on this, in my view.

  • gimpi1

    You’re mistaken. People have been arguing about Scripture every since the early Christian church attempted to consolidate a wide assortment of differing books, records and myths into a unified Scripture. They argued when they translated them. They argued about books kept or dropped. They argued about interpretations. They killed each other about these arguments. They tortured and killed heretics. They fought wars. They staged reformations, had schisms, and ran away to found new countries. They never stopped arguing. There’s no “thousands of years of orthodoxy.” You seemed to understand that, when you were discussing the middle ages. Do you?

  • gimpi1

    I sure do. This morning, I could hardly see Vashon. It’s smoke from the fires in B.C. We have an offshore-flow right now, giving us this heat wave, and it’s pulling air from the northeast. If you have asthma, be careful.

  • Ron McPherson

    Bless you Herm. Thank you so much for sharing. I often struggle in knowing how far to go. Defending the oppressed in the spirit of inclusion has become my passion because I see the damage of religious exclusivity.

    This passion came to be borne over time, over the last several years, without me ever asking for it. On the one hand, I push back, possibly even too zealously, against those who carelessly and indiscriminately use biblical texts to condemn others in the name of Christianity. I become profoundly frustrated when others are so entrenched within the dogma they’ve been taught that they can’t see the possible damage they’re doing to the cause of Christ. I think it stems from trying to stay true to their INTERPRETATION of the Bible (what they’ve been taught), rather than even the Bible itself. The problem is not the Bible, but their careless, yet dogmatic interpretation of it, an entrenched theological construct that contradicts the character of God found in Christ. And so when anybody pushes back against their interpretation of the scriptures, they see that as pushing back against the Bible itself, which to them equates to pushing back against almighty God!

    But yet on the other hand, I don’t want to be so forceful with others that I end up misrepresenting the Spirit. I don’t have it all together so I sure don’t want to be perceived as a hypocrite myself. And no doubt I’ve yielded to fleshly (or carnal) tactics more times than I would care to admit. Yet, Jesus passionately called out hypocrisy in the name of religion, so perhaps I wrongly justify my tenacity in doing it.

    A close friend of mine, full of the Spirit beyond a shadow of a doubt, once challenged me by saying, “The question for you is not how much you love the ‘sinners and outcasts,’ but rather whether you actually love the Pharisees.” I can tell you, that was a real, but necessary, sock in the spiritual gut. But I haven’t forgotten it.

    I remember coming to a crossroads in life. Would I be a Christ follower, or a biblicist? It literally took years to see that there was a difference. But as Rob Bell has written (this is twice I’ve used this in the last two days), once you see, you can’t unsee. And I distinctly remember getting on my knees before God and praying, Lord Jesus I want to follow you above all things, above even the Bible. I have to be honest here and tell you that that was a very difficult prayer for me because of how I so revered the Scriptures. But I had to come to grips with the fact that I would not allow the Bible to be the God in my life. I want God to be God!

    And so it is his Spirit that guides us. If he speaks to me through the Bible (which he has done countless times through the years), then I am grateful beyond words! There is not a shadow of a doubt that the Spirit has ministered to me and brought me up out of the pit through the words of Scripture more times than I can count, literally saving my emotional life, no kidding! I pray he will continue to do so. But, the SOURCE however of that leading, guiding, encouraging, rescuing was not from printed words on a page, but rather from none other than God himself!

    It’s easy to get confused. I remember a dear lady used to say that prayer healed her; that it was prayer that did this or that. I wanted to say, no it wasn’t. It was God that did it. Prayer was the avenue to get there for sure. But there was no magic or power with prayer itself as the object. The power is not in a prayer, per se, but rather in God who hears it. And so it is with the Bible in many ways as well. The Bible isn’t God, but certainly through the Spirit points us in that direction.

    I need Spirit-filled folks to keep me in check, keeping me humble. Your post here is very timely for me. Children of God need one another. Perhaps that’s the reason the Lord sent them out in two’s.

    I love you brother and so much appreciate the heart you have for God!

  • Ron McPherson

    “…that’s where we’ll always disagree.”

    Not necessarily. You never know. All of us are still learning. We may be at the exact same place 5 years from now, however that may look : )

  • Ron McPherson

    It can also be a fast track to religious hypocrisy

  • Ron McPherson

    Lol

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    The holocaust didn’t happen because there are still Jews around: this is a poor route of argumentation to make.

  • I thought you were being sardonic. If you really believe this, I agree 100 percent. “15 [a]He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Col. 1:15) Interestingly, He is also called “The Word” (John 1), so the centrality of Christ and the crucial importance of Scripture are one and the same.

  • You’re going to have to show hermeneutically how any of these verses indicate that the Holy Spirit is “the Word.” That means any interpretation of even the shortest verse has to agree with everything else in Scripture. You have not done this. Meanwhile, you have yet to explain how Scripture supports the idea that the Holy Spirit is the One who became flesh and was crucified, when the rest of the Scriptures point to the Son of God — Jesus — as the Savior: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14)

  • You’re still not answering my question. If there is no God, your objection to murder is nothing more than an opinion.

  • Unless you’re prepared to support the charge of dispensing propaganda, you haven’t said much.
    “It seems that you are saying that people who blow up theaters or buses or clinics are virtuous, if the innocent people killed in them are killed in the name of the right God.” Yep. That’s something we all have to make sense of for ourselves. Just like the little girl on the farm wailing because her father tells her he has to shoot the horse because its leg is broken. The girl cannot understand how killing the creature will spare it enormous suffering, can’t understand any of the other reasons. She feels like her father is mean and heartless. We need to stop insisting that God must operate in a way we approve of, or else he is some kind of celestial ogre. If you don’t believe in God, then none of this is relevant to you.

  • No, the Bible is scary (in places). Thousands of scholars have studied these things for years and come to the same conclusion. But we’re living in an age when people feel entitled to judge God and/or alter the Bible because He and it don’t line up with our postmodern ideas. So, in order to be a nicer guy, I should pretend God didn’t actually order a massacre? Or maybe I should start complaining that God is a colossal bully and a barbarian. I’ve felt that way before (still do on occasion), but at the end of the day, I have to come around to his way of thinking. After all, he made all this, and I’m an imperfect human being. I don’t consider my opinion more valid than God’s Word.

  • Rousseau (“The Social Contract”) and others tried to advance a binding social order based on reason, and it worked for a while, probably because Western Civilization had much more moral capital. Now we don’t, and the loss of a moral model has precipitated the collapse-in-progress we are witnessing today. Please don’t tell me that the world is no worse today, we’re just better informed because of the mass media. The world is falling apart. People are more traitorous than ever. Reason doesn’t hold society together.

    You seem to believe that, in this ugly, violent world (that still has very pleasant things for us to enjoy, thankfully), there is no need to contain evil. What would have happened if Europe and America had said in 1939, “It’s not right to bomb people. Hopefully, Hitler will just go away.”?

  • “It’s not OK for you to assume that you have some superior way of knowing and that everyone must cede to you.” I don’t remember writing that. And I’ve said often here that we each have to sort the wheat from the chaff in our own minds. But I’m not going to keep my mouth shut because the truth is unpopular. And yes, contrary to your assertions elsewhere, hermeneutics can help us to say with confidence what certain passages of Scriptures are saying. But most people are lazy and seek out information that supports their a priori stance.

    If God commanded me to kill, I’m not sure I could obey. The good thing is, he hasn’t commanded anyone to kill for a very long time. You keep insinuating that I’m the one who conceived the whole idea of God’s commanding a genocide, which makes me some kind of psycho. Entertain yourself all you want, but God is the one you have a beef with, not me.

  • Hey R. Glad to see you back. I didn’t feel great about how our last conversation ended. I’ll try to be less RRRAAAWWWGGGHH in the future. No promises, though.

    One of the issues with your statement is that, in the OT narrative, the Canaanites did not die of an “act of God” as we might call them. Those might present their own problems, but we might muse, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away,” although that might not be very satisfactory to Canaanites or anyone who has lost a loved one.

    But in this case, God commands Israel to kill them – men, women, and babies (which isn’t very pro-life). Assuming God can (and does in the OT) kill large numbers of people without anyone else doing the killing, here He apparently wants his own people to pick small babies up from their little baskets as they cry in fear and stab them with swords. He wants them to yank away wobbly three year olds just learning to walk as they reach and cry for their mothers and stick a sword through their chest.

    I’m bringing the pathos on purpose. I want to make the horrors of this scenario real, because we can’t get out of it with some abstract, “Well, you know, God has the right to take a life.” It is a severe, severe problem for anyone who wants to maintain that the account of the genocide is accurate -and- the God portrayed here is compatible with Jesus surrounding himself with little children and saying, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

    When the Canaanites are a vague, ancient, faceless people group on a page, we might be able to squirm out with abstract theodicies. But these are moms, dads, toddlers, infants, little brothers, little sisters, just like we have. If someone broke in to your friend’s house and murdered their little baby boy, would you tell them, “Well, God is the author of life. He can take it, too?”

  • You’re right that I have no evidence about the basis for rejecting incest. This is a good extrapolation, is all. Anyway, you talk as though humanity has evolved and can now prove that God and the Bible aren’t real. It is certainly your right to believe that, but your position is as faith-based as mine is; you can’t prove your position any more than I can. It always comes down to faith in the end. By the way, this blog is supposed to be a Christian blog that discusses issues relating to the faith. How exactly am I a cretin for exploring the Scriptural ramifications? Do me a favor and stop implying that my beliefs make me some kind of monster. That card has been played ad nauseum by the Left. You need to get some new material.

  • No, I’m not mistaken. Christians (and the Bible) have been coming under attack since the beginning. Many, many people and groups have tried to infiltrate the Church with unscriptural doctrines. So there had to be conflict, to defend Scripture and the Church from charlatans. It hasn’t been universally successful, to say the least. But there are many ideas that have never been accepted by Christendom at large until very recently, such as that Christ wasn’t God, there was no immaculate conception, etc. It’s really hard for an unbeliever to even understand what Christianity is these days, there are so many unscriptural ideas floating around. The fact that there have been many arguments about doctrine that the Bible and Christianity is irrelevant to the issue of the Bible’s validity. Is the Constitution real? Does it really mean anything for us? Is it trustworthy and good? Then why has there been so much disagreement about what it means? Why was America’s bloodiest war fought over what the Constitution had to say about slavery? If the Constitution were real, none of those Southerners would have tried to justify slavery by invoking it, right? Your reasoning is simplistic at best.

  • So although the Israelites may have tried, they did NOT succeed in wiping out the Canaanites. Well, that is a relief! BUT, as you point out, that still leaves the question of whether God ordered the genocide, as the Bible says, which IMO is itself quite problematic if we are to take the Bible as the literal word of God…

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    The christian answer to Deuteronomy is often: God is sometimes portrayed as an asshole. The jewish answer to Deuteronomy is often: sometimes God is an asshole.

  • OneWhoCares57

    No, not a matter of opinion but of long established law. Ethics are determined by the community, by societies for mutual benefit. Whether or not there is a god, murder still happens by both believers and unbelievers, so what difference does a god make? The Hammurabi Code of Babylon was the earliest known recorded code of laws, an ancient constitution and sophisticated for its day. Many scholars believe that Mosaic law borrowed from these preexisting laws. Was there some divine impulse in creating these laws for social order? Maybe. And maybe the existence of god is just a matter of opinion.

  • Erp

    This is about the Tall el-Hammam site which some say might be Sodom. Others argue for other sites (as in south instead of north of the Dead Sea). All are using the Bible.

    Most of the rest of us try evaluating the site on its own merits given that that part of the Bible dealing with the alleged destruction of Sodom is likely less accurate than the medieval stories of King Arthur and the round table. It is not as though cities destroyed by fire are hard to find in archaeology.

    BTW Tall el-Hammam was resettled by the end of the IA1 era and at least one building during the LB2a era. You would think that somewhere in Samuel/Kings or Chronicles would mention the resettlement of Sodom?

  • “Ethics are determined by the community, by societies for mutual benefit.” The problem with that is that the community sometimes gets it dead wrong. Think Nazi Germany; (I’m not sure how much mutual benefit the Germans got out of that deal); think hundreds of nations over most of human history enslaving people for economic benefit. There are scores of other examples in history.

  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17) Now, if you believe God inspired men to write the Scriptures, it makes the Bible inseparable from salvation. (How can you have faith if you don’t listen to (hear) the Word because you think it’s irrelevant?) If you don’t believe the Bible was inspired by God and carries the heavenly stamp of authority, then you might as well stay home and watch football on Sunday morning. Jesus is irrelevant and so is the Holy Spirit. Without the concrete signet-seal of the Bible behind Christianity, it’s all a big fairy tale.

  • You must not be aware that God is omniscient and outside the space-time continuum. That means he can sovereignly guide the writing of the Scriptures and say at any point that they are authoritative and have inspired by his hand. After all, he knows the beginning from the end. You’re trying to squeeze God into our temporal, three-dimensional world. But once again, it comes down to faith. It can’t be proven or disproven, which is true of most of the things people get bent out of shape about here.

  • It’s not my “atrocity” to condone, nor am I in any position to “condemn” anyone. It was situations like this that birthed the saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger!”

  • Iain Lovejoy

    The point being, if this is what “goodness” is, then this must also describe God. To be happy to ascribe behaviours and character to God which are not good (in this sense) because “He is God and we are not” is to deny that God is good and slander God.
    If we come across passages in the Bible which make God appear not to be good, therefore, we mustn’t, I would say, simply take them at face value, but instead must hold on to the fact that God is indeed good, look beneath the surface, and try and understand what the passage is really trying to tell us, and how it can be read in a way compatible with God being good. This is not “denying the Bible”, far from it: to read such passages in any other way is to misread the text.

  • Herm

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31 (NIV2011)

    The word of God is spoken, not written! The word of God is fresh, not a stale 1,917 years old.

    How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?

    As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

    But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”

    Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

    But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

    Romans 10:14-18 (NIV2011)

    I am preaching to you with equal authority that this is the word of God you hear from me. My inspiration is of today, not the traditions of those who came before me, immersed with and in the Spirit of truth. I bring you the good news, as directed by my Teacher, for you but you don’t accept it.

    muse – noun –

    1. (in Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.

    2. a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

    No one presides over the Holy Spirit but the Father.

    Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

    Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

    1 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV2011)

    You are not sanctified for by your own word you are not filled with the Spirit of truth, the Sanctified (Holy ) Spirit.

    You are pompous in your quest to usurp the authority of God, as were the Pharisees, the teachers of the law and the high priest of God’s chosen people, Caiaphas, who executed the Son of God in God’s name because they did not recognized the Spirit (dove) of God with and in Jesus, the prophesied Christ. They were the most studied of scripture of their time. You are not even close to the most studied of scripture in your time.

    The Christianity you speak of, organized around the differing studies of their scripture, is no more informed to see and accept the Spirit of truth, to guide them into all truth forever, than were the executioners of the Messiah.

    The arts and sciences you presume to fraudulently preside over in God’s name, is not a fairytale per se. Without the Advocate your scripture is a horror story that ends in execution.

    You are not amusing!

  • Herm

    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    John 1:14 (NIV2011)

    But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

    Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

    As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

    Matthew 3:14-17 (NIV2011)

    Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    Mark 1:10-11 (NIV2011)

    When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    Luke 3:21-22 (NIV2011)

    Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

    John 1:32-34 (NIV2011)

    The word baptize means to fill, to immerse, and to whelm as “with and in” the Sanctifying (Holy) Spirit, the Advocate, the Counselor, the Spirit of truth, the One appearing as a dove.

    Our Father did not recognize, before the world, Jesus the Christ as His son until filled with the Spirit of God. Jesus the Messiah never once renounced being the Son of Man.

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31 (NIV2011)

    When they were all filled with the Holy Spirit the Word became flesh as witnessed to in Acts 4:31.

  • Matthew

    What about the concrete signet seal of the Magisterium?

  • Matthew

    Thanks Eva, though it might be more accurate to say that the teachings of the church are based on the bible as the Magisterium understands and interprets that very same bible.

  • Ron McPherson

    No, I’m not squeezing God into anything, or limiting his omniscience. But I am acknowledging the limitations of people. Why would Paul write a letter to Timothy referring to a 66 book single volume that Timothy had no way of knowing about. That makes it look like Paul was writing the letter to us instead of Timothy. That is reading one’s own presuppositions onto the text rather than just taking the text on its own terms. Or to take it a step further, would the deuterocanonical texts be included or did Paul just mean the Protestant version? What about those writings referred to in certain biblical texts that our outside the canon? Did Paul mean those as well?

  • Herm

    You are not aware of God at all. True, the possibilities are seeming endless when you try to stuff God into your book of imagination covering, by hearsay only, at most 4,000 years (final writing almost 2,000 years ago by a populace less than 2% literate). The truth of God can only be found with and in God as one truth. God is spirit, physically intangible. The god you paint is stale. The God I know is eternally fresh moment by moment, without pause, without end.

  • Good morning, Ron. Two problems with your premise. First, if the Bible is only partly true, how do we figure out which parts are true and which are false? We can literally make it come out how ever we like, which is what many are doing these days. Second, if the Bible contains transcendental truths, it has to be from God. If it’s from God, he wouldn’t misrepresent his own word, would he? But he holds it out as authoritative: “All scripture is God – breathed…” (2 Tim. 3:16)

  • Exactly! Really inspires confidence, doesn’t it?

  • Ron McPherson

    “First, if the Bible it’s only partly true, how do we figure out which parts are true and which are false?”

    Yeah, I think that’s valid. It’s all of faith either way though. Whether it’s ‘some’ or even ‘all.’ For me, the Spirit bears witness to the words of Christ and so I try and filter the scriptures thru that context. And granted, even taking the words of Christ as valid requires faith. But my allegiance is to Jesus, who I affirm as the perfect representation of God, and his guidance through the Spirit. So I have to go with that and not risk being bound by a written code that none of us can claim perfect understanding of anway.

    “We can literally make it come out how ever we like, which is what many are doing these days.”

    Well, yeah. It’s pretty much how we’ve all done it over say, the last 1700 years so, since it was ‘canonized.’ Every single one of us must guard against bringing our own presuppositions onto the text. In many (if not most cases), people hold firm convictions about what they were taught from the views of others. That’s actually why I’m committed now to viewing the bible (or at least trying to) through the spirit of it and not the letter. And filtering it through Jesus does that for me. What was the original author trying to convey to his original audience within the cultural backdrop of that particular society in that particular era dealing with that particular subject?

    “…if the contains transcendental truths, it has to be from God. If it’s from God, he wouldn’t misrepresent his own word, would he? But he holds it out as authoritative: “All scripture is God – breathed…” (2 Tim. 3:16).

    A couple of things. Something can be from God but that doesn’t mean that mankind perfectly represents it. Otherwise, why would we even bother listening to teaching or hearing a sermon? I don’t think any of us would claim that the one delivering the message today can’t be speaking any truth from God because, well, that person didn’t nail it down with 100% accuracy in every single word he uttered. Like oops, he made a mistake there so I’m just going to toss out every single thing he ever said or will say. Of course God “wouldn’t misrepresent his own word,” but that’s not at all the same as meaning that man won’t misrepresent God in some way.

    Also, using Paul’s words to Timothy that “All scripture is God-breathed” is problematic when/if you’re already presupposing that it means the Protestant Canon. That didn’t exist when he wrote that. Yeah, there were some letters and documents probably floating around when Paul penned those words (and the Hebrew text certainly existed), but early Christians (including Timothy) did not have access to the 27 NT books. Heck, I doubt Paul would have even considered his own letters as somehow being the Bible as we know it.

    Secondly, the Greek for “God-breathed” implies inspiration for sure, but that’s not the same thing as asserting that God may just have well wrote the whole thing out with his own finger. The words do not imply some sort of heavenly word-for-word dictation.

  • Herm

    Eva, just with all the differing interpretations of the Bible present in the community of Christians on earth today is the proof, that without the Spirit of truth to guide you into all truth, the Bible is no more than myth and fairy tale. There are feasibly unlimited conjectures, theories, theological interpretations and dogmas derived from the study of the Bible. There is ultimately only one truth.

    Without the need for interpretation, except only to fit God into the box of mankind’s common sense, the promise and the reality of the Spirit of truth is clearly in your Bible.

    The word of God is only spoken fresh when filled – whelmed – immersed – baptized with and in the Sanctifying Spirit through whom are born all children of God today.

    Love you most especially for your sincere and honest queries!

  • gimpi1

    There are many examples of propaganda being used in ancient times. As we translated hieroglyphics, for example, we read both accounts of “great victories” cited on monuments and costs of losing the same battle cited in accounting records. The monuments were propaganda. Ancient people routinely accuse enemies of atrocity – again ancient writings are full of these tales. We see this in play today. as America is called the “great Satan” by some radical groups. We did it with our own native population –
    spreading tales of “massacres” that mostly never occurred – to justify our conquests and land grabs.

    You think I’m being arrogant, presuming to be able to judge actions supposedly commanded by God as evil. I think you’ve turned off your conscious in your need for an inerrant Bible. We’re destined to disagree, here. And that’s fine.

    I’m undecided about God. However, I am convinced the Bible can’t be read as history or science. I’m not well equipped to speak to the archaeological evidence, but I have some knowledge of the science – mostly by osmosis. I married a geologist. You pick up things. (Mostly rocks. Lots of rocks.) However, I can say that there’s absolutely no evidence in the historical record (10,000 years or so) of any world-wide flood. Huge regional floods, yes, mostly related to the end of the last ice age. World-wide flood? No. No evidence at all. The evidence for the age of the world, the movements of the earth’s plates in plate-tectonics, the evidence for the biological evolution of life, all of this is clearly preserved in the geologic record, and much of it contradicts Genesis.

    This (and some archaeological evidence contraindicating the Exodus) has convinced me that parts of the Bible are mythology and folklore. That opens the door for things like the Canaanite genocide to be folklore, and,I think that’s more likely than not. It also means that I don’t face the contradiction of a God who acts like Hitler.

  • gimpi1

    The Bible isn’t scary. You are. By refusing to acknowledge the atrocious, you at least appear to say you might embrace it, if you convinced yourself it was God’s will. That’s what’s scary.

  • gimpi1

    it’s worse than when chattel slavery was legal and practiced all over the world? Worse than when we burnt people alive for praying in another language? Worse than when we decimated regions over religious differences? Worse than the spreading Black Plague or Smallpox epidemics? Worse than when we in the U.S. fought a civil war?

    We’ve never lived longer, been more free or more prosperous, had more opportunity or more leisure. We do need to contain evil, but it’s too easy to demonize a group to justify our actions. Just look at the Middle East today to see that in play.

    There’s no justification for wiping out an entire people, period. There’s no “evil gene” that makes one group of humans inherently worse than any other. There’s no justification for killing innocent people just because they’re part of a group. That’s rightly called terrorism.

    In outright war, sometimes such atrocity can’t be avoided. It’s never acceptable in any circumstances other than desperate self-defense. Not because you think “they’re evil.” Not because “God says.” Not because you want their land. This really isn’t hard.

  • gimpi1

    Well, the way you write, you appear to dismiss anyone who has a different interpretation than you. You don’t acknowledge any ambiguity in understanding or viewpoint. You appear to be saying, “I’m right, everyone saying different is wrong, deal with it.” Have I misrepresented your viewpoint? Look at your closing statement, “… God is the one you have a beef with, not me.” In that statement alone, you’re saying that you, and you alone, understand God and anyone who disagrees with you “has a beef with God.” You’re not open any other ideas.

  • gimpi1

    Dr. Corey has always welcomed people from all viewpoints. I’m not a believer, but I’m an interested outsider. He has no trouble with this. Since it’s his blog, I have as much right here as anyone.

    As to my position being faith-based, I addressed that in an earlier response. Short-form, I marred a geologist. Though that connection, I have a (limited) understanding of some of the scientific principles that explain our earth. They work. They answer questions, follow the laws of physics and have predictive abilities.

    Where these facts contradict the Bible, I go with the facts. They truly aren’t faith-based. They prove up. We can see the movements of the earth’s plates from space. We can understand the chemistry of fossilization. We can look back in time by looking out into space. We can read the rocks, the ice cores, the land and the sea.

    You don’t have to accept that, but that doesn’t make it a matter of faith. Things that can be verified don’t need faith.

  • gimpi1

    OK, this is a waste of time. I’ll just sign off.

  • Herm

    Eva, I was as sincere as you, which I don’t detect in most of the other “conservative Christians”, before I stepped out to realize exactly where the rubber meets the road in my faith that God is there for me, even me.

    Do you have faith that God actually intervenes in your life out of love for you as Jesus says through your Bible?

    Do you believe that God has all authority in heaven and on earth today, and can execute that authority in your behalf?

    If you honestly, with yourself, can say yes to both of those questions the next step is simple enough for me to have taken the next step, which I did 23 years ago at the age of 50.

    Alone with God, in absolutely the most humility you can muster, acknowledge that without Them (Father and Son minimally) you are not capable of protecting yourself from the evil of mankind’s intimidation, manipulation, subjugation and the self serving exclusive confusion of propaganda.

    If you believe all that I just shared is true with you, then ask for God’s protection from evil, God’s clear teaching as you can bear, and God’s providing for all your needs of survival.

    God answered me with all that I asked for, and more as I have grown to bear more. I could not speak so boldly 23 years ago because I only knew the Bible, backward and forward, cover to cover, as I had previously learned and taught.

    The Spirit of truth whelms you, as you can bear, when you accept to be with and in Him as He will accept to be with and in you, spirit works that way where carnal cannot. Spirit is the image of God we have all, as mankind, been graced and through which we can grow to be born of the Spirit to be children of God today; divinely protected from evil, taught exactly as we can bear, and be provided for both on earth and in heaven as you would expect from any eternally loving family to do for their children. When baptized with the Sanctifying Spirit in you you can be guaranteed you will not be overwhelmed as some authoritarian carnal families abusively do to their children on earth. For God’s children there is no instant gratification demanded by any for we have an eternity to grow to get it all right. My family of God serves me as a near helpless child and demands only all the love I have to give in return.

    Doesn’t this sound like much greater news than the organized conservative Christian churches share today? All of them tell you what you must do to serve God, not what all that God will serve you inclusively with, like protection from evil and assuredly the exclusive destructive lessons taught by Man.

    The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV2011)

    Who would you believe, today, is the greatest among all the children of God? Can (s)he/they protect you from evil without the Bible?

  • Matthew

    Are you sure you’re Roman Catholic? :-):-)

  • Herm

    I can only testify,founded on my own experience, that learning directly from God, as a little child, is infinitely more rewarding, and certain, than any dependence upon the Bible.

    The Bible is no less sure than is my testimony, while my testimony is 1,900 years more timely to this moment.

    What do you have worthy in spirit of serving God that They can’t do infinitely better than you? God is spirit and can only be worshiped in spirit (that’s in your Bible, also).

  • Ian Palmer

    Erp, I listened to a presentation by Steven Collins about his discoveries, and examined artifacts that he had on display. As a physicist familiar with the Biblical story, I found many things were consistent with the archeological digs. It was a compelling presentation in my experience. Have you read the Collins book?

  • Erp

    I read some of the research reports from the dig itself; admittedly not in depth. I also read some of the critics, mostly Bible literalists since the rest of the world pretty much doesn’t consider that part of the Bible to be at all reliable as a history (any more than they consider Hesiod’s Theogony).

  • Your position seems to be that there is no God. That can’t be supported by geological studies. In order to say there is no God, we have to look at biology, cosmology and every different natural science. There is no credible scientific model to explain the origin of the universe. If you are an atheist, welcome to the faith-based club. Atheism was even declared a religion by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986. Look it up.

  • It’s just as easy to be misled by science as it is by religious snake-oil salesmen. It takes careful study to find the truth in either endeavor — academic or spiritual. It also takes buck-naked honesty. Most people seek out information that supports the conclusions they have already drawn and reject out of hand information that contradicts their conclusions. That’s called a priori reasoning. I’m not saying that’s what you do, but I happen to have looked at plenty of research that supports the Biblical account. At any rate, you seem to have convinced yourself that human wickedness should be permitted to run its course, because it’s wrong to commit violence, even if you’re God, and even if it’s to push back evil and defend life. That is a conclusion that doesn’t come within a country mile of being sane.

  • “If we come across passages in the Bible which make God appear not to be good, therefore, we mustn’t, I would say, simply take them at face value, but instead must hold on to the fact that God is indeed good, look beneath the surface, and try and understand what the passage is really trying to tell us, and how it can be read in a way compatible with God being good.”

    I always read the Bible this way. But I often don’t find an explanation that is intellectually and emotionally satisfying. And that is my whole point in this thread; I’m not a legalist. What I’m challenging is the hubris of people who reject portions of Scripture because it offends their humanistic sensibilities — or worse, they alter the meaning of Scripture and teach others to do so using the euphemism “alternative interpretations.” There are disputable passages of Scripture, but the relevant passage here isn’t one of them (God’s commanding the slaughter of the Canaanites). Unless you don’t believe in the authority of Scripture.

  • Irony of ironies: You’re actually quoting Scripture to support your argument that Scripture isn’t relevant.

    Tell me what you think this Scripture means:

    “Now many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 like the accounts passed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning. 3 So it seemed good to me as well, because I have followed all things carefully from the beginning, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know for certain the things you were taught.” (Acts 1:1-4)

    This was written by Luke, the physician and historian who was a close friend and traveling companion to the Apostle Paul. Why would he ascribe such crucial importance to written accounts “…[S]o that you may know for certain the things you were taught.”?

    “If you abide in my word (Jesus), then you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32-33)

    You can’t marginalize the Word of God. You do so at your peril.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    And again we are back to the same problem. You fetishise a literal historic reading of the Bible in the name of “inerrancy” and the result is you believe in a God who ceases to be good in any meaningful sense. You deny the authority of Scripture when it teaches God is good, because it suits you to assert the “authority of Scripture” to back your insistence on the stories it uses to teach being 100% literal historic accounts.
    You have to choose: does the Bible mean it plainly and literally when it teaches God is love and God is good, in which case you cannot take at face value an apparent instruction to genocide, or did God literally expressly instruct the murder of an entire people, men, women and children, and it is statements of God’s love and goodness which cannot be given their ordinary, plain and literal meaning?
    In either case you are “interpreting”, but at least in the former case the resulting God is compatible with his own moral strictures and revelation in the incarnation of Jesus.

  • “Our Father did not recognize, before the world, Jesus the Christ as His son until filled with the Spirit of God.”

    So you’re assuming that Jesus was somehow less than because the Scriptures only mention it occurring after Jesus was baptized. What if there were other acknowledgements that weren’t recorded in Scripture? Besides, there is no question Jesus was fully the Son of God from the womb:

    “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She exclaimed with a loud voice, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child in your womb! 43 And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come and visit me?”

    Jesus, as “The Word,” is absolutely central and indispensable.

  • This same verse says the Bible was inspired by God, so we’re hearing from both Paul and God. God knows the end of the train from the beginning. But the questions you are raising, if they are to be answered, would involve discussing the Nicene Council, the Apocrypha, and all kinds of other huge subjects. I’ve looked into it and have found convincing evidence supporting a God-authored Bible. I recommend you do the same. As we’ve already discussed, in the end these things almost always come down to faith. Not that there isn’t plenty of empirical support, but there’s a lot of junk science and junk philosophy going around too, which often proves enticing to people eager for reasons to dismiss Jesus. Read “Answers” or “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. They both show empirically that the Bible is a very special book, with far more textual validity than any other ancient text (meaning we can say with certainty that the original writings of the Bible’s authors was remarkably preserved through centuries of hand-copying and attempts to destroy it.

  • “What was the original author trying to convey to his original audience within the cultural backdrop of that particular society in that particular era dealing with that particular subject?” That’s hermeneutics, which can give us a very good idea what the Bible is saying to us, without our having to rely on an inner voice. Don’t get me wrong: it’s good to be listening to the Holy Spirit, but the third Person of the Trinity will never contradict the Word. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit (and himself as well) “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears.” (John 16:13). So even the Holy Spirit is following the order established by the Father. How could there be any discrepancy between different members of the Trinity? But again, if we don’t believe what the Bible says about itself, we’re in a quandary. As for me, I trust in Scripture more than in a voice, especially if that voice is telling me things that contradict what is laid out in the Bible. (Am I hearing from the Holy Spirit, my ego, my lust or the devil?). You see the danger in following a voice? That’s why we need the concrete testimony of the written Word.

  • Herm

    I quote scripture because you don’t know the Spirit of truth to be led into all truth as the word.

    The earliest manuscript we have of the gospel Luke is dated to 200 AD under the title “According to Luke”. Other than that neither the Book of Luke or Acts refer to an author’s name. We know this is a copy because forensically what is written is much earlier because there are no references to Paul’s teaching.

    In any case, there are hundreds more manuscripts written regarding Christ that were not accepted into the present canon. There are quite a few accepted today as authored by honest inspiration to share the news of the Messiah that are not in your compilation Bible.

    All inspired writings were penned because the author ascribed “such crucial importance to written accounts“, none in the Bible, or elsewhere, claimed to have been dictated by God.

    To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    John 8:31-32 (NIV2011)

    This is the correct definition for what your translations of John 8:32 refers to as “my word”.

    http://biblehub.com/greek/3056.htm

    You are flailing with no education in the building of your Bible. No references to scripture in the New Testament refer to the New Testament as scripture.

    You don’t know anything of the teachings of Christ, as some of us can bear, for over 1,984 years now. You ignore any clear passages in your Bible that tell you how you could be current to today. You ignore any passage that states emphatically that there is more to learn, even on this earth.

    The word of God is marginalized for you between the covers of your dated Bible. You aren’t able to boldly speak the word of God for today because you are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

  • You wrote about all kinds of things, but you haven’t defended your assertion that reason can be the basis of a binding social order. We’re living in an explosion of ignorance, chaos, violence, crime, drug abuse, racism, and all kinds of other evils. Hint: the “order” of the day is disorder.

  • Not true, but I’m not a sucker, either. Have you ever studied hermeneutics? Do you own a concordance or a Bible dictionary or any materials at all? Then you can’t say with any authority at all what the Bible is saying here. You speak as though my confidence in the meaning of the relevant text here is pure arrogance, but it’s not. I’ve studied hermeneutics. I’ve looked at the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic words in many passages. I know about genre (with different genres come different rules of interpretation), cultural, historical and geographical context, textual integrity and how to spot fallacies. I have good reasons to be confident, especially because I have studied under others who are in agreement with me. We just happen to be living in an age when it’s popular to customize the message of Scripture to get around the unpalatable parts. I don’t, and I’m called names. At least I value truth over my own ego.

  • Herm

    Jesus, as “The Word,” is absolutely central and indispensable.

    Only in your own mind is this so. You have no comprehension what spirit is, much less who the true Sanctifying Spirit is, and even much less have a learning relationship with Him.

    This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

    Matthew 1:18 (NIV2011)

    Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, was raised as the Son of Man, as He referred to himself. Until He was baptized with and in the Holy Spirit, as all children of God are today, He was not born of the Spirit, only the water.

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

    Acts 4:31 (NIV2011)

    The Holy Spirit is absolutely central and indispensable to the spoken word of God then, today and forever more.

  • “does the Bible mean it plainly and literally when it teaches God is love and God is good, in which case you cannot take at face value an apparent instruction to genocide”?

    This is a false dichotomy implying that if God is good, he couldn’t possibly order genocide, so we have to conclude out of hand that he really didn’t say that. That makes you, rather than God, the judge of what is good. A more honest way to put it would be, “I can’t understand how a good God could possibly command a genocide.” The fact is that killing is sometimes merciful, not just to the ones who get killed but to future victims as well.

    “or did God literally expressly instruct the murder of an entire people, men, women and children, and it is statements of God’s love and goodness which cannot be given their ordinary, plain and literal meaning?”

    Again, a false dichotomy. God cannot both be good and order a genocide. You’re making yourself the authority by which goodness is measured.

  • You can obfuscate all you want. All you’re doing is inventing your own religion. Good luck with that.

  • Herm

    The only one bewildered here is you. I accepted a “relationship” with and in God as Their child, not a “religion”. Such is written of in your Bible if you had an Advocate to lead you into all truth, as you can bear.

    There are literally thousands of religions mankind invents and you are in one. The church of the Messiah Jesus is not a religion and is administered and worshiped in only spirit.

    Greek Strong’s Number: 1577
    Greek Word: ἐκκλησία
    Transliteration: ekklēsia
    Phonetic Pronunciation:ek-klay-see’-ah
    Root: from a compound of and a derivative of
    Cross Reference: TDNT – 3:501,394
    Part of Speech: n f
    Vine’s Words: Assembly, Congregation

    Usage Notes:

    English Words used in KJV:
    church 115
    assembly 3
    [Total Count: 118]

    from a compound of (ek) and a derivative of (kaleo); a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both) :- assembly, church.
    Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.

    Jesus’ church is a calling out from the carnal religions like administered by Caiaphas, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law into the spirit, the temple raised in three days. Paul was never called to create another organized religion like he was trained in as a Roman citizen, Pharisee. Constantine really blew the church thing when the Christian religion picked up all the pomp and circumstance like Roman religions and the Jewish religion Jesus was born into. That was when Christians laid down their crosses to pick up their swords. That’s a history example of inventing religion. They, God, were before the beginning and will be after the end, united as one relationship in the Spirit bound by all love.

    And you have the ignorant audacity to wish me good luck. I’m the one here with the divine protection and teaching with all my needs provided for as a child of God. You have your religion. According to your Bible luck has nothing to do with whether you live or not:

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV2011)

    Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

    John 14:19-20 (NIV2011)

    Do you see Him to be in Him and He in you? If all you ever know of Christ is from your religion then, in the end, He never knew you. It is not luck that matters but it is who you hang with that determines whether you live, or not.

  • I’ll amend that: You’re inventing your own reality. Very postmodern. This kind of free-form thinking will earn you accolades at Princeton, but it won’t get you down the road in authentic repentance. And I’m not bewildered at all.

  • Matthew

    Honestly Eva, the way you talk about using and reading the Bible sounds almost evangelical Protestant to me. I thought Catholics seldom used the bible and when they do use it they do things like lectio divina rather than studying the verses to glean doctrine.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    “You’re making yourself the authority by which goodness is measured.”
    No I’m not. I’m making God’s own definition of “good” the authority by which goodness is measured.
    You want it both ways: you can’t both state that God is good and also say that standards of goodness can’t be applied to God.
    Either “good” means something when it applies to God or it doesn’t.

  • Matthew

    How do those in the CRM approach studying the Bible?

  • Ron McPherson

    You don’t have to convince me of how special the bible is. I already believe that

  • Realist1234

    Thanks, Phil. Those are fair points. My ‘one-liner’ wasnt meant to explain everything, far from it. It was a genuine question, if somewhat rhetorical. The emphasis from the texts seems to be ‘driving out’ the Canaanites from the Promised land. I suspect that most of the population would have fled once Israelite forces started to attack, but yes there would have been a remnant who refused to go. The fact there are clear survivors like Rahab show there was no annihilation.

    This episode reminds us of how severe God’s judgement can be, but in this case as in others, those concerned were given the chance to repent, over a long period of time. As a people, it seems the Canaanites were doing ‘detestable’ things, often in sacrifice to their ‘gods’, which no doubt would have involved the demonic. He didnt want His people to be ‘infected’ by such behaviour. If children were indeed involved, God also required the same during the Passover, where undoubtedly some children would have died. But that was as a direct result of the Egyptians’ continued sin against His people. Yes He may have used His own ‘agent of death’, but the outcome was the same.

    I get the impression from Jesus that He endorsed God’s judgements as presented in OT Scriptures. He reminded people, for example, of Noah’s flood and the fate of Sodom, when ‘they were all destroyed’ (incl children).

    This discussion has also reminded me that babies and children die every single day throughout the world, whether through disease, accident, crime or war. Yet God allows all of it. But sometimes I think he ‘intervenes’ and heals, yet most of the time He does not. This illustrates to me in the end I do not really know His ways, but I still want to trust Him when I dont understand.

  • Ron McPherson

    “As for me, I trust in Scripture more than in a voice, especially if that voice is telling me things that contradict what is laid out in the Bible.”

    Well that depends. Would you trust “a voice” over that part in the Bible that instructs the death of disobedient sons? This is just one of many examples we could use. I’m not trying to be argumentative, seriously. But Jesus said that that the Spirit would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Jesus said I will not leave you as orphans (John 14:18). Certainly the book can point us to God, and the Spirit can obviously speak to us through the words of Scripture. But Jesus said the Comforter will be with us forever (John 14:16). He never said, just check the book.

  • Ron McPherson

    “Most people seek out information that supports the conclusions they have already drawn and reject out of hand information that contradicts their conclusions.”

    Which is how we do the Bible. Our conclusion has already been formed by what we’ve been taught. Then we open the bible and proof-text to confirm our already pre-existing bias. I’m pointing the finger at myself here too. Just being honest in that we Christians often lose credibility with others because we reject objective scientific evidence that we feel might undermine our interpretation of the bible. And instead of saying, you know, maybe I’m not reading the bible in the best way here, we instead say, well the scientific evidence must be wrong.

  • Yes, and all the examples you brought up are problems for theodicy in various ways, although I would point out that God’s retribution against Egypt wasn’t because of their wickedness in general, but because they refused to release the Israelites from captivity. Still problematic, but it’s not like Canaan.

    As problematic as those instances are, in none of those cases does God command people to kill children, unlike the Canaanite episode. In fact, in the recounting of this event in 1 Sam. 15:2-3, children and infants are mentioned specifically in the list to kill.

    This is an interesting contrast to, say, Nineveh – also a historical enemy of Israel and, according to the text, so greatly wicked that God took notice. Yet, God sent them a prophet to call them to repentance before bringing judgement.

    I’m not sure why you think the Canaanites had “opportunity to repent.” Is there a story where God sent a prophet to them that I’m overlooking, or any kind of indication in any text that God had warned them before this happened? And isn’t it a little weird to punish someone for child sacrifice by killing them AND all their children?

    Now, as you say, obviously the Canaanites were not wiped out, as the Bible indicates and, as time goes on, we discover Canaanite ancestry in larger and larger groups of people. The Phoenicians, for instance. All of this seems to indicate there was no widespread slaughter of Canaanites.

    One explanation is there was a battle for territory with other Canaanites and, over time, the justification became their great wickedness and a command from God. What I think is probably more likely is that this episode is simply a story to explain Israel’s current situation when the story was written and establish a divine right to the land they occupied.

    Obviously, I could be wrong about all that, but my point is we can’t just hand wave these episodes away with vague notions of “God can do what He wants” and “Well, we all deserve Hell” or whatever. That works as an abstraction, but it’s monstrous to think about actual babies and toddlers being carved up by actual Israelites and saying, “Well, this is what God wanted.” It astounds me how fundamentalists can be so avid about unborn lives and be so cavalier about born ones. If a doctor removes a fetus from a woman in her first trimester, he’s a murderer and worthy of death. But if a pack of Israelites cut up a bunch of babies, well, “We can’t always understand God’s ways.”

  • Realist1234

    Firstly, Im not a fundamentalist. Secondly, I dont think Im being ‘cavalier’ about children. Thirdly, these past events happened relatively rarely, over a time period of centuries. Fourthly, Im not trying to downplay the terribleness of them, just trying to understand. Fifthly, I think you’re making God in your own image, what you think he ‘should’ be like, or what you find acceptable from Him. If you find an action or apparent attribute you dislike, you reject it as not reflecting reality. Inevitably that leads to all of us having our own little gods, rather than seeing the real One.

    ‘What I think is probably more likely is that this episode is simply a story to explain Israel’s current situation when the story was written and establish a divine right to the land they occupied.’

    – perhaps, but then the only reason you surmise that is because you reject God’s apparent actions with which you disagree.

    – it also begs the question – do you believe God ever spoke to the Hebrews, or were they all just ‘stories’ made up to explain their current situation? (genuine question) If the former, how do you know when He was speaking and when it was made up by a human?

    But I think it is obviously true that ‘we can’t always understand God’s way’ – if we did we’d be God.

    PS call me Peter

  • What would you say functionally distinguishes you from a fundamentalist, out of curiosity?

    Some of the reasons I think my theories are more likely than the actual God giving an actual verbal commandment to kill everything in Canaan – including children, infants, and animals:

    – There is a body of evidence that ancient peoples who were contemporaries of ancient Israel also recorded “genocides” that served polemical purposes, but didn’t really happen. For instance, I do not believe Chemosh verbally told the Moabites to wipe out Israel and that’s what they did. The Israelite accounts of their history seem unaware that they were wiped out by Moab.

    – There is no archaeological evidence that a mass pogrom by Israel was ever conducted against Canaan. In fact, the evidence we do have appears to indicate they cohabited and the Israelites were Canaanites.

    – There is evidence that Canaanites continued to grow and integrate into various ethnicities over time rather than being reduced to a satellite group, cf. the Edomites.

    – The Bible indicates the Canaanites were not wiped out.

    – God as revealed in Jesus Christ maintains that children have a special place in the kingdom of heaven, and anyone who causes trouble for them is deserving of eschatological calamity.

    – There is an enormous period of time between the “event’ of the Canaanite invasion and the recording of it, and that record does not consist of journal entries from eyewitnesses. It is a theological reflection back on this event much MUCH later.

    Here’s the only reason I can think of -for- the contention that God literally, verbally commanded Israel to do this:

    – The two Old Testament books that refer to this event, interpreted as literal, journalistic history, report it happening that way.

    Note that none of those reasons against are, “Because I don’t like it.” Although it is true that I don’t like it. I genuinely cannot understand how someone can contemplate a direct command from God to cut the throats of a nation’s worth of infants in their cribs and toddlers barely learning to talk and dismiss it with, “Well, His ways are not our ways.”

    There are plenty of things I think did happen that I have to account for in what I think is a cogent narrative of God. For example, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was terrible, and I know children died in it. Even though that was also to liberate a captive Israel, and even though God did not order the Roman army to kill all the babies in Jerusalem, I have to account for that horror in some way, and I don’t care for it.

    Do I think God ever verbally spoke to the ancient Hebrews, or any ancient Hebrews? I don’t know. I kind of doubt it. I know how God speaks to people, and it is not verbal speech that you hear aurally and everyone around you hears, so these would have to be truly singular events if they did happen. Furthermore, that seems to be a feature of ancient historico-myth narrative. Furthermore, the record of those stories are an immense amount of time later than the events they describe, so it is unlikely they are journalistic reporting the likes of which we’re used to.

    Also, I’m a skeptic by nature, so there’s that.

    How do I know which is which? Well, I don’t. I use the tools available to me to understand ancient literature, which have limits and weaknesses, and I evaluate the results in the ways that seem likely to me, and my evaluations also have limits and weaknesses. There are also categories of things that I have to relegate to “articles of faith” rather than “historical probability,” and to end up in that category, I use criteria that are really only meaningful to me, like:

    – Does this sound empirically crazy, but I find that I believe it, anyway?
    – Does this seem consistent with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ?

    Not satisfactory to anyone else, I know, but such is the nature of faith commitments.

  • Herm

    If you could only see yourself, you could see why you blindly insist on being devoted to your religion.

    You see, the crowd yelling, “crucify the King of the Jews” were devoted to their religion,also, as well as to their scripture as interpreted by the Pharisees, Sadducee, the teachers of the law (the scribes), the blind guides, the high priest Caiaphas and his council, the chief priests and the elders. Jesus called them out to repent from their blind obedience to religious tradition.

    Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

    Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

    They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

    Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

    “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

    “ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

    “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

    “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

    “The first,” they answered.

    Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 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.

    Matthew 21:23-32 (NIV2011)

    You just tried, in vain, to intimidate me when you don’t know by what authority I am doing these things. Remember that all of the religious authorities, Jesus was speaking to, still had the covenant of Moses’ seat of authority. That authority was torn from them when the curtain was torn top to bottom, the carnal temple destroyed. The temple of spirit raised in three days.

    You are being invited out of the carnal temple, no longer with any authority from God, to the temple administered by He who has all authority in heaven and on earth. To date you cannot be chosen only because you refuse to have any remorse for the suffering you cause by blindly protecting your religion. You refuse to come out of your religious authority’s idolized usurpation of Christ’s authority, that exercises intimidation, manipulation and subjugation over those you block from the Spirit of truth.

    For your sake and those you cause to stumble, please, read and heed from the scriptures you are unable to decipher without the Spirit of truth living with and in you:

    And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

    After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

    Mark 1:11-15 (NIV2011)

    Note that the newly residing Spirit sent Christ out into the wilderness.

    The kingdom of God is in your midst, right now, if you could only see by the Light.

    Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

    John 4:23-24 (NIV2011)

    By what authority are you threatening me to express sincere remorse for my wrongdoing of not worshiping your Bible or die?

    Is the Christian Bible spirit? … or is it only a carnal replica of the room in the temple where the Holy Spirit could be consulted by the high priest, behind the curtain?

    Truth: the only place the Spirit of truth can be contained today is living with and in each and every heart – soul – strength – mind of God bound eternally by all love.

    The kingdom of God came near, and stayed, 1,984 years ago to be available to all of mankind who repent from their idol worship. To all who can humbly embrace the greatest among them as their servant.

    I will not serve your idol. I cannot when I know the truth living with and in me now and forever more.

    Now, which is better news?

    Your news which says repent and serve the Lord or die?

    or

    My news which says repent from your destructive intimidating, manipulating and subjugating ways to allow the Lord to serve you in the Spirit of truth forever as is the will of our heavenly Father?

    Your choice and the choice for all who read this!

    Seek directly from God and you will find. Knock directly on the kingdom of God’s gate and it will be opened for you. Ask of God directly for all that is constructive and productive for all life and it will be given, without merit, to you.

    Humble yourself as a little child to feel penitence for causing so many others to painfully stumble in their journey to God’s kingdom or shortly you will no longer be aware or influential, and you will be forgotten. That is no threat but only a promise to all who live eternally that they will not be subjected to your expressed spirit of threatening that an everlasting hell is in store for those who do not serve God in the ways of your religion.

    You are no different than any promoter of any other religion, chronicled throughout the time of mankind, who uses the same techniques of propaganda. By your reasoning it is not a far off projection to see that you would sacrifice your virgin daughter to appease the wrath of your god, that you might live.

    Believe the good news, the living Gospel, and repent for the sake of those you love and love you.

  • gimpi1

    That’s not my position. My current position is that I don’t know. I’m open to evidence either way. I lean towards there being some sort of divine motive force, but that could be my own biases. Wanting something to be true is death on objectivity.

    I simply cited geology because, due to a 20 year marriage and 20-some years of relationship before that, I’ve picked things up from my husband. My knowledge of biology and physics is purely that of an interested amateur. However, what I said about the Bible being unreliable on history or science is valid, and the geologic record is in accord with both physics and biology as modern science understands them.

    It’s quite possible for someone to embrace the concept of a God, even the Christian God, and not regard the Bible as literally true.

    I’m neither a believer or a non-believer yet, and learning more about Christianity, religion in general, and belief or lack thereof is one reason I hang out on Patheos.

  • gimpi1

    Sigh.. I didn’t say that.

    I said that convincing yourself that God wants you to be wicked is wrong and dangerous. Anyone who believes they hear God telling them to blow up a building, shoot their neighbor or kill all Unitarians should be stopped and confined. Anyone. Anyone who believes that God has done that in the past is more open to that delusion.

    I’m fine with pretty much any beliefs – as beliefs. I worry about people who justify preemptive violence. I don’t trust people who want to enshrine their beliefs in law with no justification except that they believe. Other than that, I support anyone’s right to live their lives according to their own beliefs – including yours and mine.

    Again, to me, the simplest explanation for the Biblical Canaanite genocide is that it never happened. Was there a war? Likely. A land-grab? Likely. Did propaganda, exaggeration and self-justification get folded into the stories that eventually became Cannon? Again, I think that’s likely. More likely than not, from where I sit.

    And, yes, I would regard anyone that kills innocent people as part of a land-grab to be in the wrong. Anyone. That is what I’m saying is wrong, not “push(ing) back against evil and defend(ing) life.” And, as I said above, I think what most likely happened is a land-grab with propaganda defaming those who’s land was taken as a justification. That’s wrong.

  • Matthew

    Ron … is there a private message feature anywhere on disqus?

  • Ron McPherson

    I’m not aware of one but could be wrong. I’ve had a couple from here contact me by email or facebook though

  • You will need to read something other than progressive commentary to get that. Why don’t you start with “Answers” by Josh McDowell. It’s a short read and gives an empirical perspective on the origins of the Bible. It’s actually a special book.

  • The point is, you’re just as capable of exploring the Biblical concept of sin as I am. I’m not really into spoon-feeding.

  • Herm

    I didn’t ask what the biblical concept of sin is? I asked for the full definition of sin found in the Bible. You continually confuse simple truth with vague concept.

    For you the Spirit of truth is only a hypothetical concept as, apparently, is most of the Bible to you. For me, in direct relationship, the Spirit of truth is simple truth.

    I know exactly what sin is as taught by testimony in the Bible and directly in the Teacher.

    I am perfectly spoon fed, as I can bear, as a child of God. My cup runs over.

    You don’t have near the spiritual sustenance available to you to be able to feed anyone. Without being filled with the Spirit, your cup is empty.

  • Show me in scripture where God says that genocide is never good or right. Then you will have an argument. Otherwise, you’re taking it upon yourself to say that genocide can never be good, hence a good God could never order a genocide. You’re making yourself God.

  • Brian Westley

    Why don’t you start with “Answers” by Josh McDowell.

    Because I’m familiar with Josh McDowell’s fallacy-ridden writing.

  • Many parts of Scripture are not taken literally. Context and genre give us clues about interpretation. It’s not credible to complain about literalism when you haven’t taken the time to learn hermeneutics.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Now you are being ridiculous: genocide is good?

  • Herm

    Tell us, please, what are your intellectual credentials that qualify you to inspire us in interpretation of the Bible? What time have you spent to be our credible source for the parts of the Bible that can be taken literally?

  • Matthew

    Would you mind if I contacted you personally via email Ron? If not … no problem at all. I understand.

  • Matthew

    I´m wondering … if ancient near eastern literature about possible historical accounts is usually exaggerated (normally in the form of propaganda that paints the writers nation in a positive light from a position of strength), why would the Israelites choose a possible history of slavery and exploitation?

  • jekylldoc

    Life actually gets so much more interesting when you get past inerrancy claims. Not only for scholarly inquiry – for our spiritual journeys as well.

  • jekylldoc

    You make a good point, but it is kind of obliquely tangential to the point Ben was making. Sure, the violence, and God’s possible command of it, is still horrible. But, on the other hand, only the people who insist on biblical inerrancy are hemmed in to concluding that it must mean God is horrible. Ben’s point is that we already knew the original text was an exaggeration (that is to say, false).

  • Bones

    Because they started in their historical reality and worked backwards.

    It all became a theological account for why they had been exiled.

  • Ron McPherson

    Sure thing. Send to mayberryfour@comcast.net

  • Matthew

    Possibly. Thanks Bones.

    “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD–a lasting ordinance.”

    Why would God have commanded this (Passover) if the Exodus never happened historically?

  • Bones

    You make the assumption that God commanded it. He didn’t

    Passover evolved…..

    The Origins of the Biblical Pesach

    The Passover described in Parashat Bo does not reflect how we celebrate Passover today. This parashah describes two different holidays, the ritual of Pesach and the festival of Matzah, which were later combined. More significantly for this essay, if we look carefully at the description of Pesach within the parasha we find that the pesach ritual itself is derived from an original, probably pagan ritual. Although the biblical authors try to cloak this connection, scholars can still see the traces of the older ritual and its meaning.

    Decoding the Verses Describing an Apotropaic Ritual

    From a cultural anthropological perspective many of the elements in the pesach ritual are associated with pagan rites. When brought together, as they are here, they form an apotropaic ritual, one meant to ward off evil.

    Night
    Exodus 12:22 implies that this is a nighttime ritual, something which later edits of the text pick up on and emphasize (Exod 6:-10). Night was not a time people wanted to be outside. Bad things happened at night. For example, the Sodomites come to Lot’s house for unsavory purposes under the cover of night (Gen 19: 4-10). Consider too the apprehension about traveling after nightfall in (Judg 19:9) and spending the night sleeping outside (Judg 19:20). Night was understood as the liminal period when curtain between the divine and human realms was drawn back. It was when men received dreams (Gen 15:12-16); interacted with divine beings (Gen 28:10-16); and talked to the dead (1 Sam 28:8; Isa 8:19-20).

    Liminality and Blood
    Before the meat is roasted and eaten, the blood of the sacrifice is collected and painted on the doors, this time reflecting liminality of place rather than of time, since doorways define where one sphere ends and another begins. Blocking off the doorway with blood blocks the movement of demons through the liminal threshold. As the life-force, blood is dangerous and should be treated cautiously (Lev 12; 15:19-30, 17:6-11).

    Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Parallels
    The association of blood and sacrifice at nighttime with demons and rituals to get rid of them can also be found other places, like in the Mesopotamian ritual of maqlû, which reverses witchcraft. Within the Bible, a number of examples come to mind. The first is the “bridegroom of blood” episode in Exodus 4:24-26. The text is so obscure it is difficult to figure out who Zipporah circumcises, but the outcome is clear –the blood of the circumcision wards off YHWH (!) who was seeking to kill Moses. Another example occurs with the “witch of Endor” (1 Sam 28) as she is affectionately known, who also performs a bloody sacrifice in order to protect herself from what she perceives as evil.[5]

    The ritual of sending a goat out into the wilderness to Azazel (a demon?), carrying the sins of the Israelites on its back appears to function as a way of protecting the community (Lev 17). Similarly, when the elders of a town near which a person was murdered declare that their hands are clean of the victims blood and break the neck of a heifer on the spot, this also seem like a way of warding off any unsavory consequences for the spilled blood that occurred under their auspices (Deut 21).

    http://thetorah.com/origins-of-the-biblical-pesach/

  • Bones

    Yeah, nah, that ain’t happening.

    As Bonhoeffer said, the Bible is mainly mythology.

  • Bones

    Nice rant except your God doesn’t line up with any evidence at all.

    You’re no different to Muslims or any others who are pedantic about their holy book.

  • Bones

    “just that everything has to be measured against scripture.”

    You mean like slavery, misogyny, homophobia and genocide.

    According to the Bible they’re all ok.

    Or they were. Or is it according to your interpretation of scripture.

    And then we became enlightened.

    And we still are though people like you try to hold us back from accepting and loving gay people and transgendered people.

    It’s through the enlightenment, education and the understanding of human rights that I can say the Old Testament standards are immoral.

    I mean who thinks women are unclean on their period?

    There’s a reason why most people don’t have confidence in the Bible and a lot of it has to do with the Sunday School interpretation by people like yourself.

  • You don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s easy to be angry and blame God for the state of the world. It’s we who have screwed this up. At any rate, you go ahead and be the naysayer. I wish things were different for you.

  • It’s called hermeneutics.

  • No, I’m not being ridiculous. It actually happened (although the Israelites didn’t obey completely). So I have a choice to make. I can make my own emotions and sensibilities my god, or I can believe in the God who made all this, ordered a genocide — and sent his own kid to die for me. What you and many others here don’t seem to get is that we live in an evil world. Someone has to fight back. You’re alive, healthy, safe and well fed because men ran out into the field with RIFLES to defend your freedom. Maybe it was a mistake?

  • Does your Bible come with a glossary? Mine either. There is no boiled-down definition of sin, but offhand, it’s missing the mark; disobeying God, hurting others, putting self ahead of others and God.

  • jekylldoc

    Well, it can actually be a helpful aid to hermeneutics if you take the question seriously. Is there any sense in which a tribal war-leader god, who seeks the extermination of an enemy, can be considered “the same entity” as a universal, loving God of everyone, who reaches out to us with a message of forgiveness and reconciliation?

    In my view, there can. Our sense of right and wrong, which has strong biological components, seems to come from an urge for group solidarity against possible threats. Many ancient “god” concepts served as oath enforcers – anyone who violated their oath to, say, show up for the defense of the tribe in wartime, would thereby invoke a curse on themselves, with the god as the entity in the other world who would enforce the curse.

    Now interpret that “other world” as the deep psychosocial realm in which we face our ultimate questions, such as what we deserve and what we seek to become, and you can see that it makes a certain sense for the representative (in that realm) of the interests of our tribal group to become, in a more stable and reflective world, the representative of all other people, including the foreign children who might have been seen mainly as a threat back in the war of all against all. This is God “growing up” or, of course, human culture’s ability to conceptualize God growing up.

  • “convincing yourself that God wants you to be wicked is wrong and dangerous.”

    I haven’t done anything of the kind. You are appointing yourself the authority (instead of God) about what is wicked and wrong. I am surrendered to God, which means I trust his authority.

  • Herm

    If this wasn’t such a direct response I’d think you were being snide. I do have the credentials from a seminary education and 25 years there after exercising pastoral care.

    Again, and seemingly always, you skip around the direct questions. In the way in which my question was directed, to you, it should have been clear, without any interpretation necessary, what I was asking.

    It would behoove you greatly, to avoid trying to intimidate an intelligent and highly educated agnostic by implying that (s)he doesn’t have what it takes to understand what, in your estimation, only trained Christians would. You exclude when Christ includes.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Do you accept any of the ethical teachings of Jesus as literally true?

  • Scott Harrison

    Fascinating reply, thank you. It reminds me of something Nicolas Berdyaev wrote about the development of the conception of God from a petty and volatile tribal war-deity to a, well, less nasty sort of God. I realize I do tend to hold onto the idea of the war god of old as a kind of weapon against Calvinists, conservative evangelicals and inerrantists… mischievous of me. Thanks for your insights.

  • Herm

    My Bible comes with a Guide who leads me into all truth. Separation from God leads to all sin, which is the transgression against divine law.

    The mark you spoke of, off offhandedly, is to live reciprocally in and with (wholly immersed, whelmed, baptized) the Spirit of truth, as does Christ, the heavenly Father, the mother, and all children of God born of the Spirit

    The Messiah took away sin by asking the Father to send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Spirit of truth that we might live.

    Without the Spirit of truth in your Bible, referencing that historic word of God past is no more attractive than removing the middle “b”. That is how you have characterized God today before this audience.

  • Scott Harrison

    I always imagined what it must have been like to have been an Amalekite lad of say 9 years of age seeing the sword-wielding Israelites wiping out every living thing in my village under instructions from their god. Perhaps I’d manage to hide in a well, or under a broken table. I doubt I’d have much love for these attackers or their god. Here again I admit I am being obtuse in order to mock the fundamentalist view. No doubt the conception of God has undergone seismic change since the times of this genocidal deity. Or not?

  • We hope so, don’t we?

  • Scott Harrison

    :)

  • Scott Harrison

    “do I believe Yahweh commanded the Canaanites to be destroyed at a particular time in history? Yes.”
    And you’re quite okay with this kind of God? Of course – our mere mortal opinions are of no consequence! “His actions were appropriate at that time.” Really?
    Says who? No doubt an Amalekite mother (in that particular time in history) watching her child decapitated by God’s brave warriors is sure to have understood that argument. After all, it was “appropriate”. “seeing the face of God in the OT typically resulted in death”… lovely thought that. right… um…”We tend to view history through our own rather narrow western 21st century pov” – well genocide seems to me rather ugly no matter in which century it is commanded or committed. Was the POV of, say, the Indians murdered by the Conquistadors, just insufficiently enlightened?
    So this is the deity in charge of the universe? Nice. (But: ominously Yaldabaoth-like). Your theodicy is frightening, but I guess frightening deities give rise to frightening theodicies and who are we to challenge a god who commands mass slaughter? (Enter the agonistic misotheist who simply cannot rationalize such cruelty in God.) It tires one, this incessant vindication of vindictiveness and cruelty in God.

  • Scott Harrison

    “Some of these groups had a practice of sacrificing infants by throwing them into burning rubbish pits.” Who commanded the sacrifice of Isaac? Who required the sacrifice of Jesus?” Seems to me it was not only “these groups” that had the blood of innocents on their mind. Oh, hang on, “God, as the Creator, has the absolute right to do whatever he wants with his own creation.” Shame on us all: a cruel theodicy that disgusts.

  • Scott Harrison

    “No cause, no God, no abstract idea can justify the mass slaughter of innocents.”

    Edward Said

  • jekylldoc

    Nice to be heard. Often the “mischievous” tendency is too important to critical minds to hear any other understanding. I have never read Berdyaev, but I have had his work referenced to me before in response to my notions.

    Perhaps you want to think a bit about hermeneutics. The “filter” we Christians use to give a sense of how to hear scripture, which bits seem important, which seem to integrate well with the important bits, etc., works much better (IMO) keeping in mind this transition from tribal war-god to universal spiritual ultimate. Of course it is too far from the “authority” version (let alone the “inerrancy” version) for many Christians to relate to.

    And there is a surprising degree of human empathy in the OT, perhaps because much of it was written after the exile, and perhaps even because the thesis presented by Bloom in “The Book of J” may be true, that the author of many of the stories in the Pentateuch may have been a highly placed woman in the years of the kings, and perhaps even an abused woman, such as David’s daughter Tamar, who therefore fleshes out stories of the marginalized, the betrayed, and the dysfunctionality of patriarchal families.

  • I’m sorry haven’t had the chance to respond to all your comments. Also, I regret that I have unintentionally given the impression I’m some kind of legalist, which I’m not. What I will say is that being a Christian requires that we sometimes put our own intellectual understanding to the side and accept what God says is true: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5-6) To many, that sounds like putting your brain in your back pocket or simply throwing it away, but I haven’t found that to be the case at all. My intellectual life has blossomed since I became a believer. By the way, no matter how it may have sounded, I don’t charge anyone with anything I’m not already guilty of myself, like arrogance and self serving reasoning at times. Truly, what I’m trying to do here is defend the truth as I see it, nothing more. I appreciate your civility and your honesty. I hope we can connect again at some point. Blessings…

  • Bones

    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    You seem to think the Bible is some standard of objective morality when it clearly isn’t.

    I mean if you can’t think for yourself based on your own education and upbringing to know that women being declared unclean is immoral or that rape and slavery is immoral then there is something wrong with you.

    It shows how stupid you are.

  • Scott Harrison

    I haven’t heard of the “Book of J” but this is intriguing and I will certainly read more in this area. To keep challenging one’s preconceptions is key… I confess I can too easily withdraw to my familiar, misotheistic growlery. A philosophically-inclined friend coined a term “dirty hermeneutics” to describe a sort of rolling-up of the sleeves, getting into the dirt, being prepared to suspend our preconceptions and judgements for a while as we immerse ourselves in the text…so I accept your challenge here… I look forward to continuing the strange and wonderful adventure…

  • Such dramatic words. “Intimidate?” Your comments are more heavy – handed than mine! And I asked specifically about hermeneutics. If either you or gimpi1 have studied hermeneutics, let’s have it. Yes, it’s that crucial to be able to accurately interpret Scripture. You’ve been to seminary? Fabulous, depending on which one you attended. Most of them caved in to theological liberalism decades ago — which, among other things, means free – floating, often whimsical interpretations of all those prickly scriptures we don’t like to hear. In most American seminaries, hermeneutics isn’t a required course anymore, leaving a multitude of pastors (and their trusting congregations) free to obfuscate around every scripture they don’t like. So I’m more curious than ever: have you studied hermeneutics or not?

  • jekylldoc

    Love the phrase “dirty hermeneutics.”

  • jekylldoc

    Boiled –
    Except that you don’t have to throw back to the bronze age to get rabid tribalism and brazen manipulation of the truth. Before about 1920 it was hard to find anything else going on in human history.

  • Bones

    Yeah, we didn’t go to one of those seminaries where you are told what to believe like you.

    It’s called thinking critically and for your self. And educating yourself beyond your lecturers ideology and dogma.

    You might be able to do that one day.

  • jekylldoc

    I asked myself, one day, “Does it make sense to think of the Bible as a supernaturally delivered law book, text book or guide book?” And it didn’t take much reflection to realize that if that’s what God was trying to do, God is about as competent as the Donald.

    Much easier to make sense of the matter by inquiring into the psychology of “if the Bible is only partly true, how do we figure out which parts are true and which are false?” The desire for simplicity and for authority overwhelms . . . well, I don’t know how to say it except that it overwhelms faith. We can trust God to be doing right by us even with an elaborate scheme involving apparently fallible writings that really aren’t, but we can’t trust God to help us humbly discern the loving thing to do, with the help of ancient writings by people similarly helped? I just can’t see it, myself.

  • David Cromie

    Isn’t ‘God’ (or Yahweh) supposed to be ‘the same, yesterday, today, and for ever’?

  • Herm

    You are one slippery sanctimonious moose.

    I have openly shared my one present and eternal Hermeneutic with you and you do not accept Him as yours.

    I have participated in 4, or more, intense ecumenical seminars delving into at least a dozen methods or theories of interpreting the Bible. I taught prophesy as an elder. I now only teach of the Teacher.

    The direct question posed to you is what are your intellectual credentials that qualify you to inspire us in interpretation of the Bible?

    gimpi1 has made it very clear what her theory and/or method of interpreting the Bible is, openly, honestly, as an agnostic.

    You have not.

    You don’t know what you speak to or what you think you’ve been declared holy to preside over.

    “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

    Luke 11:52 (NIV2011)

    … and you don’t sit on Moses’ seat of authority.

    Don’t take my word, or any on this earth’s word, theory or method, ask God for Their word and you will know the truth as you can bear!!!

  • Scott Harrison

    Yeah I wonder about that… I guess either we’ve got it wrong, or the Bible got it wrong, or God got it wrong, or changed his mind, or men changed their minds, or or or ….
    Or maybe as jekylldoc advised me earlier, we should do some open-minded hermeneutics ;)

  • Herm

    In most American seminaries, hermeneutics isn’t a required course anymore, leaving a multitude of pastors (and their trusting congregations) free to obfuscate around every scripture we don’t like.

    Why don’t you like John 14:15-21, 26, 27 or 16:12-15? Why are not you applying your hermeneutic to share with us how said scripture are to be understood in truth according to the Bible?

  • Herm

    While being so correctly empathetic, consider a Muslim child playing outside the house only to watch an “American” drone strike annihilate the rest of her/his family. Think, just maybe, that indelible psychological imprint might have an affect on how all “Americans” would be considered throughout his/her influential adult life?

    If taught young that “Americans” are adversarial “Christians” to their family’s devotion to God as “Muslims” … ????

  • Scott Harrison

    Hi Herm, always interesting to read your comments. What a horrific thought, about the child witnessing the drone attack, and of course symbolic of similar tragedies played out every day across the world. A part of me (like my nine year old Amalekite boy, and like the child who witnessed that attack) wants to shake his fist at the heavens. Yep, that’s me. In this parable I have, like an agonistic misotheist, all but given up on the God who allows all this in His inscrutable wisdom – until I come upon the dismembered body of Jesus in the smouldering ruins. The theopaschite Christ holds me back from the rage that would set fire to the heavens…

  • Herm

    If true, wouldn’t that make us pets made to serve our all knowing, never changing, masters?

    Doesn’t reciprocal relationship bound in empathy, compassion, and forgiveness require each to change for the good of the relationship?

    Do parents only have children to propagate the species for their children to propagate the species?

    If I were a creative, omnipotent being I would seek to create life that I could relate with, to grow with, to adventure with to destinations yet unplanned. I did with my children and they are doing so with their children

    My Father does so with His children.

    Even in solely spirit life, no carnal restrictions, if we are not growing we are atrophying. Either is change.

  • Evil men sacrifice infants = bad, good guys slaughter babies = good. You know, I do believe that that has been the equation used by all civilizations since the dawn of time. If my enemy does it, its evil. If we do it, especially if our gods demand it, it’s good. You have a tribalistic view of God and are still stuck in the OT, as are most conservative evangelicals I’ve run into. And it’s not apologetics that is your problem, but hermeneutics.

  • Herm

    Thank you Scott! That is what convinced me intellectually that Christ was different than all teachers before Him. Who else taught, or teaches today, that love means dying on the off chance, given time, that your enemy might choose to live?

    Something I have considered, empathetically, from Acts 4:31, is that speaking boldly the word of God, differing from the words of the authorities, knowingly could mean they would die by the example of their Savior. … and yet the following increased to boldly speak the word of God(?).

    Whatever we do, in whatever name we place above our own, is accounted to the more authoritative name. To be willing to risk my life, as an “American”, that a “North Korean” might live projects out to be a more positive accounting to all that is “American” than the saber rattling threat of a genocide of all “North Koreans”, or, God forbid, the annihilation of “North Korea” by “America”. There will always be a “North Korean” that didn’t die.

    The Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s never managed to wipe out the whole of the other, and not by lack of effort. There is always one, in allegiance to any tribe, that survives to fight another day. The cross is inclusive and the sword is exclusive.

    Wow, I got carried away into a Sunday morning sermon of musing. I think I’ll let it go but ask that what I just wrote be food for thought, and feeling, and not by any means gospel.

    Again, thanks Scott, for caring enough to consider others to the full of what you can bear!!

  • “Who required the sacrifice of Jesus?” That’s how serious evil is. Think about that for a second: the God of all Creation send his own Son to save humanity (that includes YOU!) and the best thing you can come up with is accusing him of barbarism. Maybe you’re the barbarian.

  • “I have participated in 4, or more, intense ecumenical seminars delving into at least a dozen methods or theories of interpreting the Bible.”

    So the short answer is no, you haven’t studied hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is about using objective, empirical methods for determining the original intent and meaning of scripture. Your means of gaining knowledge of God’s will is listening to the Spirit (according to your own statement), which is a subjective, personal experience.

    I have already shared some of the breakdown of the relevant verses, but let’s look at some more in John 1:

    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. 2 The Word was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.

    6 A man came, sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that everyone might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children 13 —children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.

    14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. 15 John testified about him and shouted out, “This one was the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’” 16 For we have all received from his fullness one gracious gift after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.

    Notice the cohesiveness here. The first three paragraphs are clearly about Christ. They start and end with Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word…” (v. 1) and wrapping up with “But grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (v.17) John refers to Jesus seven times as “the light.” Jesus echoes the designation when he says, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) John’s whole purpose was to testify about the Christ, not the Holy Spirit, as we can see in the following passage:

    “23 John said, “I am the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” 24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 So they asked John, “Why then are you baptizing if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

    26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not recognize, 27 who is coming after me. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal!” 28 These things happened in Bethany across the Jordan River where John was baptizing.

    29 On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he could be revealed to Israel.” (John 1:23-31)

    The entire focus is still on Christ, with references to the “Lamb of God” (v. 29) who is also a man (As we know, Jesus became flesh and was crucified). John came “so that he could be revealed to Israel.” (v. 31) Again, John “came as a witness to testify about the light” (v. 7), not to testify about the Holy Spirit.

    9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created by him, but the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children.”

    Again, Jesus is called “The true light” (v. 9), of which John writes that “all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children.” The entire NT is centered on Christ as the One we must “receive” in order to be saved.

    Peter speaks of the centrality of Christ in Acts 4:

    11Jesus is

    “ ‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

    12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

    14 Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth…” (v. 14)

    Here again, “the Word” is clearly a designation for the Christ. John calls the Word “the one and only,” and he fleshes that out in the 3rd chapter of John: “God so loved the world that he gave his ONE AND ONLY son…” Again, the Word is described as being “full of grace and truth,” (v. 14) and the EXACT WORDS are used to describe Jesus a few verses later: “17 For the law was given through Moses, but GRACE AND TRUTH came about through Jesus Christ.”

    One of the main ways we interpret Scripture is by looking for themes and statements that occur throughout the breadth and depth of the Bible — internal cohesiveness. Like I wrote before, there is no reasonable basis for saying that “the Word” refers to the Holy Spirit. You have failed to prove your point, and you’ve also handily ignored all kinds of evidence backing that up. I’m guessing that’s not going to change.

  • Those passages are built on truths laid out in John 1. We can get back to this after we’ve dealt with that.

  • So let’s have some critical thinking about the passage in question. So far all you’ve done is spew insults. Is that what your instructors told you is critical thinking? That could be where a lot of your confusion is coming from.

  • Scott Harrison

    I cannot conceive of a God who kills, destroys, instructs his people to commit blood sacrifice and genocide, a deity that casts people into a place of eternal torment (far worse than the fiery pits into which innocent children were thrown by the ancients); If my outrage at this makes me a barbarian, so be it. “The human conscience finds unbearable the inhuman, the unspiritual and immoral traits, almost beastly traits, ascribed to God, the Creator of the world.” (Berdyaev). Is there not enough suffering and killing in the world without projecting it onto the supreme being? Is God about the same business as the ancient pagans – murdering and killing innocents? This surely is a yaldabaoth-deity you defend. My point is to expose the awfulness of this conception of God. I don’t believe in a destroying deity. The sacrifice of Jesus is seen in western Christianity in largely legalistic, juridical and forensic terms, where Eastern Orthodoxy has a more nuanced view. The self sacrifice of Jesus out of love is comprehensible, but the vengeful god demanding sacrifice is a problem for me (again, if this makes me a barbarian so be it).

  • Scott Harrison

    “God indeed did not kill Jesus; rather God dies with Jesus” (Tony Jones: Did God Kill Jesus? Searching for Love in History’s Most Famous Execution’s)… I was attempting an angry and admittedly perverse irony and I apologize for that, Sanctified Muse. It was poor taste and poor theology. But I do resist the notion of savagery in God.

  • Herm

    You dazzle with bullshit. Talk about obfuscating, your theory falls completely apart when you combine them with the following testimony:

    The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

    Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

    I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

    John 1:29-34 (NIV2011)

    At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

    Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

    Mark 1:9-13 (NIV2011)

    1. John’s introduction to his gospel testimony (our post numbered verses 1:1-18) is in fact a synopsis of the entire book.
    2. John the Baptist didn’t even know Jesus until Jesus came to him to be baptized (whelmed).
    3. In Mark, the earliest written of the gospels, the Spirit sends Jesus into the wilderness (who has the word of God, now?).
    4. The book of John, if written by John the son of Zebedee, was written most likely about 65 AD.
    5. The Holy Spirit was already in the world, came to His own (the Israelites), but was not received by His own (If He had been the high priest, having access to the Holy of Holies would have recognized Jesus as the Christ).

    The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

    John 1:9-13 (NIV2011)

    For those who did receive Him, the Holy Spirit, He gave the right to be children of God, and so it is today.

    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

    The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    John 3:5-8 (NIV2011)

    Not only are your hermeneutics flawed but your forensics seem to be non-existent. Yes, I did pass all the courses on hermeneutics. The school I graduated from did not offer biblical forensics. I have since studied and applied biblical forensics. We can tell pretty close today to when what was written and by whom, even if most likely anonymous. The majority of biblical scholars today, with much higher degrees, backed by greater empirical (observation – induction – deduction – testing – evaluation – observation – …) hands on methods of evaluation, than I have, do not believe the book of John was written by John the son of Zebedee.

    For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

    John 1:17-18 (NIV2011)

    Notice that grace and truth came through (actual meaning) Jesus Christ and not from Jesus Christ. That was John speaking in his first chapter but the following is Jesus witnessed speaking many chapters later:

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

    John 14:6-7 (NIV2011)

    Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

    John 14:9-10 (NIV2011)

    Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

    John 14:19-20 (NIV2011)

    But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

    John 16:13 (NIV2011)

    This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

    John 21:24-25 (NIV2011)

    Your hermeneutics are no more than reverse engineering put to shame. You only seek to defend and prove what your evolved church theology has told you is true, not to know and teach the truth. Jesus the Christ was crucified by no less valid theories and methods evolved over time to become the recognized authority of God’s scripture which could so easily kill God’s Son in God’s name at the hands of those who didn’t read Jewish scripture (the ones who clearly knew not what they were doing and had no Holy of Holies to verify that this was the Messiah given up by God.

    What is your training and tested experience in biblical hermeneutics and forensics?

  • It doesn’t matter what my credentials are (though I have already told you). You’ve had your mind made up since we started in here and seem to actually believe that hearing a voice in your ears is proof of anything. It is certainly not hermeneutics. The reason we need something external, visible and concrete (Scripture) is to guard against self-delusion. I wish you godspeed in finding your way out of the labyrinth you’ve constructed for yourself.

  • In case you haven’t noticed, we’re living in a world that is perverse, violent and choking on evil. I’ll never understand why people believe passivity in the face of evil is somehow virtuous. It’s cowardly. I don’t think this world would even be here if God were cowardly.

  • Herm

    Remind us, again, what are your credentials? Who do you know that anointed you to speak in the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ?

    Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ”

    Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”

    But Jesus remained silent.

    The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

    “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

    Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?

    “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

    Matthew 26:57-68 (NIV2011)

    Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

    1 Corinthians 12:3 (NIV2011)

    Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

    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. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

    “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

    “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

    “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

    “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

    Luke 13:22-30 (NIV2011)

    Without seeing and accepting the Advocate offered by my Father in heaven to you, in your midst, truly God does not know you or where you came from.

    My Brother shares His yoke with me and it is light!

  • Herm

    They are the words of Christ as witnessed by John. John 1 is the words of John encapsulating a forward to the entirety of his witness. It forensically was written around 65 AD.

  • “One of the main ways we interpret Scripture is by looking for themes and statements that occur throughout the breadth and depth of the Bible — internal cohesiveness.”

    Sounds a lot more like systematic theology than hermeneutics to me. The problem with the search for “internal cohesiveness” is that it usually ends up forcing an external framework onto the various authors of the 66 books of the Protestant bible. In the process the individuality and differing outlooks of the authors are subsumed into a broad foreign concept of God having “wrote” the Bible, therefore it must be internally consistent.

  • Scott Harrison

    Ahhhh, but I see a world full of the radiant beauty of God, Christ in the face of men and women, even those who do not yet know Him, even in those who oppose God, who remain creatures made in His image (and as you pointedly reminded me, for whom Christ died). Resurrection is everywhere, even if the tears and wars pull us into a vortex of despair and rage. Passivity in the face of evil? – I agree with you, a wretched response indeed, great courage is required to not return harm for harm, not to take up sword against our brother, to follow the example of the Lord of Gethsemane. I think we agree that “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

  • gimpi1

    Thank you for this reply. I appreciate it.

    I won’t lie; you seem to me to sometimes come off as, well, not just legalistic but dogmatic and condemning of those who have come to different conclusions. I hope you understand that it’s possible for someone to be totally sincere and have their experiences lead them to believe differently than you.

    I genuinely appreciate this response, which seems to me to acknowledge my humanity and address me as a person – with reason and understanding.

    Do you think it might be possible to defend the truth as you see it without attacking people who see the truth differently? I find using phrases like, “As I see this..,” or “In my view..,” or “In my experience..,” can help. I believe that one genuinely believe they’re right while still understanding that someone may have honestly come to a differing conclusion.

    Thank you for appreciating my attempts at civility. That’s something I do try for.

    I agree, this was mostly a good conversation, and that’s the point of sites like Patheos. We can learn from and about each other. Civility and openness help that, don’t you agree?

  • Realist1234

    Indeed, Matthew. A further reason why I believe the Exodus happened.

  • Realist1234

    I doubt that is the Jewish answer…

  • D.M.S.

    Our pastor gave books on and taught hermeneutics last year…..

  • Herm

    I am truly sorry but that is not hermeneutics. You must be able to combine all books, thoughts, feelings from every book according to every period of its writing to be able to justly interpret meaning. You fail because you get confused with more than one verse. Your pastor fails you by not bringing you to the Spirit of truth as your only guide to all truth forever. You treat the Holy Spirit like an occasional companion. Life of awareness and influence in spirit is nothing like you portray. At this moment you are lost even more than Caiaphas was lost. Neither you or your pastor have the authority of sitting on Moses’ seat, and you don’t understand what I just said.

  • D.M.S.

    It is still only your opinion on who fails or not.
    God/Jesus/HolySpirit knows our hearts and who really serve Him.
    I try to serve Him everyday.
    I’m a sinner, sometimes I fail and sometimes I don’t.
    But I keep trying to serve Him.
    Even those few illiterates a thousand plus years ago were still trying to serve their Lord God/Jesus.

  • Herm

    It is not my opinion that all, regardless of tribal religious grouping, who in everything have not done to others as they would have others do to them have failed the law of relationship with and in God and, also, with and in each of Man graced God’s image.

    What do you have to serve God with that They don’t already have? In serving our Father’s will, are we not actually serving ourselves for it is we who will be better for it, not God?

  • Scott Harrison

    Hmmmm. I know that feeling…. but alas it lacks both shock and awe as well (forgive me if I give offense here)- your insult lacks ‘originality’ : after all Jesus – if indeed he existed (and it appears he did) – was subject to far greater indignity that mere “spit”. This is the whole point of the suffering Messiah isn’t it? Spit on him, flail, torture, nail … the more you add to the atrocity or indignity, the more you paradoxically legitimise the theology of the cross. I’m not rejecting your insult per sé, simply drawing your attention to the inherent paradox…

  • Ron McPherson

    Ok, that was beautifully stated. Just sayin’

  • Scott Harrison

    It’s a good point indeed. It reminds me of the debate in “The Grand Inquisitor” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is why the theopaschite response is, for me, helpful (even if theopaschitism is a “broad church” so to speak.) What if all our conceptions of the divine are caught up in a sort of anthropomorphic shadow play…. what if Wussypillow’s pain and Wussypillow’s happiness are themselves expressions of the divine? I know, I know: now I stand accused of pantheism, and why bother with a god at all then etc, but I think it possible to explore this if we are prepared to for a moment abandon conventional kataphatic theology and at least allow the possibility of an apophatic knowing….

  • Scott Harrison

    Look I’m exhausting the parable here, but “the body in the rubble” IS a Canaanite…

  • Scott Harrison

    You are right of course and I am in full agreement that the killing is wrong. :)

    An apophatic approach might take us beyond a sort of rationalist point of view, break away from worn and defunct theodicies attempting to justify God in the face of past and present evil. Perhaps no justification is possible.

  • Scott Harrison

    Sure, I should qualify that statement: “this is how I see things…”

  • Scott Harrison

    Thus, it is a statement of my own beliefs, but if shared, will hopefully bring the death-toll of Canaanites and Israelites down…

  • Bones

    Great video, Ben. Very informative.

  • Scott Harrison

    Sorry for the disjointed replies. But I wanted to give you an example from my own experience rather than the “parable”: I was in the (apartheid-era) South African Defense Force in the mid 1980’s. At one point (which landed me in a good deal of trouble with the military authorities) the realization dawned on me that I could no more hate or kill the black revolutionary than I could my white Afrikaner “compatriots”. This realization was less a carefully thought out proposition than a kind of engine-stall from cognitive dissonance. Nevertheless something in me recognized that a conventional reading of “friend or foe” was, for me, no longer valid. However odd it seems, this “metanoia experience” –
    which I have no way to validate – had to do with seeing both the divinity and humanity in those on both sides of the conflict, at a time when all sides were increasingly demonizing eachother.

  • Realist1234

    in your opinion.

  • Matthew

    How would you respond, then, to the argument that Passover simply evolved?

  • Realist1234

    Evolved from what?

  • Matthew

    Ask Bones for clarification. I didn´t really understand his initial response.

  • Scott Harrison

    You wrote “Here’s the point: As the supposed part-and-parcel of deity of the Hebrews (the whole ‘fully divine and fully human’ thing), wouldn’t Christ be fully and personally responsible for the massacre of the Canaanites?” – is at face value a credible, rationalistic and logical approach (but logic is but one way of understanding “God”, or the matter of the alleged mass death of the Canaanites. Theodicy is the branch of argument which would (endlessly) try to counter your argument and defend God. An apophatic approach to the debate basically proposes that God’s essence is unknowable. This may sound hazy but is an authentic part of the Christian (mystical) tradition. One could say logic is one of several legitimate ways of knowing, including emotion, faith, holiness, intuition, imagination and even the suspension judgement. An apophatic approach really just acknowledges the limitations of logic.

  • Well, I’ve experienced it. And then came to realize that my emotional experiences were not adequate substitutes for properly applied principles of interpretation and reason.

  • Yeah, you didn’t get my point. Nice try though.

  • David Cromie

    Please explain to us on what logical argument, based on irrefutable, falsifiable facts, you base the claim that any supposed ‘god’ actually exists.

  • David Cromie

    “If you have an answer, let’s have it”; Please explain to us on what logical argument, based on irrefutable, falsifiable facts, you make the claim that any supposed ‘god’ actually exists.

  • Were you ever an inerrantist? What was it like for you? What changed so that you’re not so much of an inerrantist now. My reason for asking is I recently had some conversations with the Sanctified Muse who claims to be an inerrantist. He certainly is posting a lot of comments lately on the Progressive blog so I think something is beginning to wiggle inside him and does not quite fit like it used to. He has admitted that the Bible is a scary document that has things that are very condemning about God’s character. He says he’s struggled cognitively with the documentation of God’s atrocities. His is a struggle with cognitive dissonance in my humble opinion. It’s an interesting encounter because For the First Time I don’t feel like mocking or judging but like I should try to be more understanding and loving of such. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7b18c5fe1613691831a2f18a808adecd56061c0b734954aa871e3895f937fdec.jpg

  • jekylldoc

    Hi Charles, I sort of believed inerrancy for a while, as a kind of default notion of how the world works. But I was interested in science from a young age, and as soon as I realized inerrancy implied that evolution had not happened, I gave it up as a silly notion. I was probably 12 at the time. As an older youth I followed the only hermeneutical practice I knew, which was to justify rules and values based on scriptural references, but after a little exposure to other ways of seeing the matter I stopped that, too. I never had much cognitive dissonance over the matter, because as soon as a conflict appeared, I resolved it by ditching the authoritarian version. The Bible is a wonderful book (or collection of writings, if we are being technical) but trying to make it into an intentionally designed authority is futile.

  • Lennie

    Yep, once you jettison Bible inerrancy the logical conclusion ends with “intentionally designed authority is futile”. No trustworthy scripture no written divinely inspired infallible authority. That makes sense…unless… the Bible is true and God really does exist and has breathed forth His word and superintended it’s accurate transmission via imperfect men for our instruction, benefit and ultimate salvation. That could have happened.

  • jekylldoc

    Lennie – When I say “trying to make it into an intentionally designed authority is futile” I refer to the gap between the rhetoric referring to scripture as “trustworthy guidance” and the actual contents of the Bible. It only takes a moment to realize that if God were putting together a “trustworthy guide book” to living, it would be a lot better organized, clearer and less trapped in the cultural abominations of the time, such as polygamy, having children with the handmaid, forcing women to marry their rapist, genocide, slavery and all the rest. I prefer not to insult God by asserting that version.

    There is much treasure and truth in the Bible. I adore it, and I enjoy reading it. If I was an inerrantist, I would dread every session with it, because of all the stuff I was being told I could not get past.

  • Lennie

    Actually my friend, we who love and seek to obey the words of the one true and holy God find great and lasting peace and salvation therein. May you do likewise and confess with the psalmist:

    The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

    The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

    The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

    More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

    Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments.

    Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.

    The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.

    Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth.

    Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

    I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

    I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.

    Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.

    Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

    Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word.

    Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.

    My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.

    My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.

    Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.

    I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight.

    Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.

    I have gone astray like a lost sheep; yet I do not forget thy commandments.

  • Brandon Roberts

    so the bible contradicts itself?