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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Myriad ways to fail but One Way To Heaven - Faith in the 21st Century

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The Emergent Church!  Much is being written about the new emergent church.   People like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Joel Osteen and even Rick Warren are being associated with this "new movement" in the USA.   Leaders of the emergent church movement are producing material for youth groups and pastors, they are promoting mission trips and retreats, they are publishing books and forming mega-churches in urban and suburban areas.

The New Spirituality!   People are seeking inner peace via various Eastern and Pagan Religious practices and religions.  Buddhism.  Hinduism.  Krishna. Wicca.  Etc.

The New Atheism!  Now with Neo-Darwinism and as a component of Humanism,  it has become the undeclared State Religion of the US Government.

The New Evolution!  Theistic Evolution is being accepted by old-line Protestant leaders and Catholics and various Emergents.

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In American football, there is something called a field goal.   A kicker strikes a held ball with his foot and propels it up in the air towards the goalposts in the end zone.   The ball must go between the two goal posts and over the crossbar in flight in order to score three points.   For scoring purposes the theoretical goalpost goes infinitely beyond 30 feet.  But the ball must go between them.   Not to the right.   Not to the left.

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Recently I wrote a piece that was generally about Christian Rock music of the 20th Century and more specifically about one of the pioneers, Larry Norman.    You might have heard the hit song by Norman's group, The People, in 1968:  "I Love You."   If you have been around for a long time, that is.    Larry was the lead singer and the guy who called out, "...and I don't know what to say!"



As discussed before, Larry Norman abandoned secular music and devoted himself to Christian music and musicals and also to some extent was involved in Jesus People USA (JPUSA).   One of his more memorable songs as performed solo in a Cincinnati church some 20 years ago:



Larry Norman sang that there was only One Way to heaven.   Jesus Christ.   But what did he mean?  What does that mean?    We read in the Book of Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

We know what God is telling us by reading the Bible.   The Bible is God's Word to mankind.  II Timothy 3:16 & 17 - 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.

ALL SCRIPTURE.  From Genesis to Revelation, God has asserted His authority and placed His imprimateur on the Bible by describing it as "God-breathed."   As our Pastor, Ric Eddings, has said, this means that the Bible came from within God Himself.  God used men to write the words, but the words were inspired by the Creator God.

So God will provide the certain knowledge.  What did Jesus say?  John 14:6 - Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me..."
 
But what did He mean?  John 3:16-18 - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 

I John 1:8 & 9 - If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 10: 9 & 10 - If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 

Christianity is not just an intellectual assent to Jesus Christ, not even a complete agreement with His historic mission.   A Christian must open his heart to the Spirit of God as he humbles himself before his Creator and repents of sin.   A Christian must confess his inability to save himself and call upon Jesus Christ for salvation.   Repentance and a heart-felt commitment must accompany understanding or it is nothing more than opinion.

So what is wrong with all religions other than Christianity?   They point you away from the goal.   Atheism goes left away from the goal.   False religions take you to the right of the goal.   Secular Philosophy brings you short of the goal.   Sadly, many so-called churches also fall short of that goal, that one way that is a true trust and faith in Jesus Christ.  There are three ways to miss God.   Go left towards humanism, go right towards false gods or fall short of actual faith.   Only The Gospel will score the goal.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

The Resurrection of Christ
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...

This is why Darwinism is so important to atheists.   They realize that if they can convince Christians to accept evolution, then eventually they will get them to toss out the entire Bible and, as Paul said, preach another gospel.  

Galatians 1:8-9 (New International Version, ©2011)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

The Emergent Church seeks to be the Convergent Church, a group that brings various people of various beliefs together. 

However, The Emergent Church is actually the Divergent Church, a group of people who have diverged from the One Way that leads to heaven.   What are they missing?   I would say that the Three R's in this case are not reading, writing and 'rithmetic.   They are repentance, repugnance and reality.

1)  Repentance from sins.   Jesus Christ came to point out to mankind that we are all sinners.   He gives us a way to repent of our sins and give them to Him.   But if we do not repent and receive forgiveness for sins we have not been born again.  

2) Repugnance of the cross.  Christians benefit from the shame of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified and upon which he nailed the sins and the laws that bound us.   If we do not accept this gift by humbling ourselves and accepting and relying upon His Sacrifice we have not been born again.

3) Reality of the Bible.  The Bible proclaims that Christ not only paid for our sins and died for our sins but He also rose again to give us eternal life.  The Bible tells you that you are a sinner and you are going to hell unless you accept the Gift of salvation.   In order to receive the salvation you must repent and ask God to forgive you and bring you to new life in Christ.   Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

This same Bible authored by the same God claims that God created the Universe and the world and mankind and all life.   If you deny part of the Bible then how do you bet your life on the rest of it?

Old Testament?  Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  New Testament?  John 1:1-3 - 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.

Jesus came to fix the sin problem that was introduced into the world by Adam and Eve.   If Genesis chapters 1-3 are just stories, then Jesus is yet another story.   Adam and Eve are necessary for Jesus to be Christ.   A Creator God is necessary to be qualified to be a Righteous Judge.  
 
Genesis is an accurate historical account of the beginning of the world and of mankind.   Anyone who denies this is denying God.  Anyone who denies this is calling Jesus and Paul and James and Peter liars, for they all supported the Genesis account in some way.  Some people do not actually think carefully about this, which is why theistic evolution is still something some folks believe in.   But there is no way logically that Darwin and Christ can exist in the same belief system.


Albert Mohler wrote this about Rob Bell and the Emergent Church movement:


We Have Seen All This Before: Rob Bell and the (Re)Emergence of Liberal Theology

In this new book, Rob Bell takes his stand with those who have tried to rescue Christianity from itself. This is a massive tragedy by any measure.

The novelist Saul Bellow once remarked that being a prophet is nice work if you can get it. The only problem, he suggested, is that sooner or later a prophet has to speak of God, and at that point the prophet has to speak clearly. In other words, the prophet will have to speak with specificity about who God is, and at that point the options narrow.

For the last twenty years or so, a movement identified as emerging or emergent Christianity has done its determined best to avoid speaking with specificity. Leading figures in the movement have offered trenchant criticisms of mainstream evangelicalism. Most pointedly, they have accused evangelical Christianity, variously, as being excessively concerned with doctrine, culturally tone-deaf, overly propositional, unnecessarily offensive, aesthetically malnourished, and basically uncool.

Many of their criticisms hit home — especially those rooted in cultural concerns — but others betrayed what can only be described as an awkward relationship with orthodox Christian theology. From the very beginning of the movement, many of the emerging church’s leaders called for a major transformation in evangelical theology.
And yet, even as many of these leaders insisted that they remained within the evangelical circle, it was clear that many were moving into a post-evangelical posture. There were early hints that the direction of the movement was toward theological liberalism and radical revisionism, but the predominant mode of their argument was suggestion, rather than assertion.

Rather than make a clear theological or doctrinal assertion, emerging figures generally raise questions and offer suggestive comments. Influenced by postmodern narrative theories, most within the movement lean into story rather than formal argument. Nevertheless, the general direction seemed clear enough. The leading emerging church figures appeared to be pushing Protestant Liberalism –just about a century late.

Protestant Liberalism emerged in the 19th century as influential theologians argued for a doctrinal revolution. Their challenge to the church was simple and straightforward: The intellectual challenges of the modern age made belief in traditional Christian doctrines impossible. Friedrich Schleiermacher wrote his impassioned speeches to the “cultured despisers” of religion, arguing that something of spiritual value remained in Christianity even when its doctrines were no longer credible. Church historians, such as Adolf von Harnack, argued that a kernel of spiritual truth and power remained even when the shell of Christianity’s doctrinal claims was removed. In the United States, preachers such as Harry Emerson Fosdick preached that Christianity must come to terms with the modern age and surrender its supernatural claims.

The liberals did not set out to destroy Christianity. To the contrary, they were certain that they were rescuing Christianity from itself. Their rescue effort required the surrender of the doctrines that the modern age found most difficult to accept, and the doctrine of hell was front and center on their list of doctrines that must go.

As historian Gary Dorrien of Union Theological Seminary — the citadel of Protestant Liberalism — has observed, it was the doctrine of hell that marked the first major departures from theological orthodoxy in the United States. The early liberals just could not and would not accept a doctrine of hell that included conscious eternal punishment and the pouring out of God’s wrath upon sin.

Thus, they rejected it. They argued that the doctrine of hell, though clearly revealed in the Bible, slandered God’s character. They offered proposed evasions of the Bible’s teachings, revisions of the doctrine, and the rejection of what the church had affirmed throughout its long history. By the time the 20th century came to a close, liberal theology had largely emptied the mainline Protestant churches and denominations. As it turns out, theological liberalism is not only a rejection of biblical Christianity — it is a failed attempt to rescue the church from its doctrines. At the end of the day, a secular society feels no need to attend or support secularized churches with a secularized theology. The denial of hell did not win relevance for the liberal churches. It simply misled millions about their eternal destiny.

This brings us to the controversy over Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. As its cover announces, the book is “about heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived.” Reading the book is a heart-breaking experience. We have read this book before. Not the exact words, and never so artfully presented, but the same book, the same argument, the same attempt to rescue Christianity from the Bible.

As a communicator, Rob Bell is a genius. He is the master of the pungent question, the turn-the-picture-upside-down story, and the personal anecdote. Like Harry Emerson Fosdick, the paladin of pulpit liberalism, Rob Bell is a master communicator. Had he set out to defend the biblical doctrine of hell, he could have done so marvelously. He would have done the church a great service. But that is not what he set out to do.

Like Fosdick, Rob Bell cares deeply for people. It comes through in his writings. There is no reason to doubt that Bell wrote this book out of his own personal concern for people who are put off by the doctrine of hell. Had that concern been turned toward a presentation of how the biblical doctrine of hell fits within the larger context of God’s love and justice and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that would have been a help to untold thousands of Christians and others seeking to understand the Christian faith. But that is not what Bell does in this new book.

Instead, Rob Bell uses his incredible power of literary skill and communication to unravel the Bible’s message and to cast doubt on its teachings.

He states his concern clearly: A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.

That is a huge statement, and it is clear enough. Rob Bell believes that the doctrine of the eternal punishment of unrepentant sinners in hell is keeping people from coming to Jesus. That is an unsettling thought, but on closer look, it falls in upon itself. In the first place, Jesus spoke very clearly about hell, using language that can only be described as explicit. He warned of “him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:28]

In Love Wins, Bell does his best to argue that the church has allowed the story of Jesus’ love to be perverted by other stories. The story of an eternal hell is not, he believes, a good story. He suggests that a better story would involve the possibility of a sinner coming to faith in Christ after death, or hell being a cessation of being, or hell being eventually emptied of all its inhabitants. The problem, of course, is that the Bible provides no hint whatsoever of any possibility of a sinner’s salvation after death. Instead, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” [Hebrews 9:27]

He also argues for a form of universal salvation. Once again, his statements are more suggestive than declarative, but he clearly intends his reader to be persuaded that it is possible — even probable — that those who resist, reject, or never hear of Christ may be saved through Christ nonetheless. That means no conscious faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. He knows that he must deal with a text like Romans 10 in making this argument, “How are they to hear without someone preaching?” [Romans 10:14] Bell says that he wholeheartedly agrees with that argument from the Apostle Paul, but then he dumps the entire argument overboard and suggests that this cannot be God’s plan. He completely avoids Paul’s conclusion that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” [Romans 10:17] He rejects the idea that a person must come to a personal knowledge of Christ in this life in order to be saved. “What if the missionary gets a flat tire?” he asks.

But this is how Rob Bell deals with the Bible. He argues that the gates that never shut in the New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:25] mean that the opportunity for salvation is never closed, but he just avoids dealing with the preceding chapter, which includes this clear statement of God’s justice: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” [Revelation 20:15] The eternally open gates of the New Jerusalem come only after that judgment.

Like so many others, Bell wants to separate the message of Jesus from other voices even in the New Testament, particularly the voice of the Apostle Paul. Here we face the inescapable question of biblical authority. We will either affirm that every word of the Bible is true, trustworthy, and authoritative, or we will create our own Bible according to our own preferences. Put bluntly, if Jesus and Paul are not telling the same story, we have no idea what the true story is.

Bell clearly prefers inclusivism, the belief that Christ is saving humanity through means other than the Gospel, including other religions. But he mixes up his story along the way, appearing to argue for outright universalism on some pages, but backing off of a full affirmation. He rejects the belief that conscious faith in Christ is necessary for salvation, but he never clearly lands on a specific account of what he does believe.

Tellingly, Bell attempts to reduce all of the Bible and the entirety of the Gospel to story, and he believes it is his right and duty to determine which story is better than another — which version of Christianity is going to be compelling and attractive to unbelievers. He has, after all, set that as his aim — to replace the received story with something he sees as better.

The first problem with this is obvious. We have no right to determine which “story” of the Gospel we prefer or think is most compelling. We must deal with the Gospel that we received from Christ and the Apostles, the faith once for all delivered to the church. Suggesting that some other story is better or more attractive than that story is an audacity of breathtaking proportions. The church is bound to the story revealed in the Bible — and in all of the Bible … every word of it.

But there is a second problem, and it is one we might think would have been learned by now. Liberalism just does not work. Bell wants to argue that the love of God is so powerful that “God gets what God wants.” So, God desires the salvation of all, he argues, so all will eventually be saved — some even after death, even long after death. But he cannot maintain that account for long because of his absolute affirmation of human autonomy. Even God cannot or will not prevent someone from going to hell who is determined to go there. So, if Bell is taken on his own terms, even he does not believe that “God gets what God wants.”

Similarly, Bell’s argument is centered in his affirmation of God’s loving character, but he alienates love from justice and holiness. This is the traditional liberal line. Love is divorced from holiness and becomes mere sentimentality. Bell wants to rescue God from any teaching that his wrath is poured out upon sin and sinners, certainly in any eternally conscious sense. But Bell also wants God to vindicate the victims of murder, rape, child abuse, and similar evil. He seems not to recognize that he has undercut his own story, leaving God unable or unwilling to bring true justice.

In truth, any human effort to offer the world a story superior to the comprehensive story of the Bible fails on all fronts. It is an abdication of biblical authority, a denial of biblical truth, and a false Gospel. It misleads sinners and fails to save. It also fails in its central aim — to convince sinners to think better of God. The real Gospel is the Gospel that saves — the Gospel that must be heard and believed if sinners are to be saved.
But this is where Rob Bell’s book goes most off-course. He describes the Gospel in these words:

It begins in the sure and certain truth that we are loved. That in spite of whatever has gone horribly wrong deep in our hearts and has spread to every corner of the world, in spite of our sins, failures, rebellion, and hard hearts, in spite of what has been done to us or what we’ve done, God has made peace with us.

Missing from his Gospel is any clear reference to Christ, any adequate understanding of our sin, any affirmation of the holiness of God and his pledge to punish sin, any reference to the shed blood of Christ, his death on the cross, his substitutionary atonement, and his resurrection, and, so tellingly, any reference to faith as the sinners response to the Good News of the Gospel. There is no genuine Gospel here. This is just a reissue of the powerless message of theological liberalism.

H. Richard Niebuhr famously once distilled liberal theology into this sentence: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

Yes, we have read this book before. With Love Wins, Rob Bell moves solidly within the world of Protestant Liberalism. His message is a liberalism arriving late on the scene. Tragically, his message will confuse many believers as well as countless unbelievers.

We dare not retreat from all that the Bible says about hell. We must never confuse the Gospel, nor offer suggestions that there may be any way of salvation outside of conscious faith in Jesus Christ. We must never believe that we can do a public relations job on the Gospel or on the character of God. We must never be unclear and subversively suggestive about what the Bible teaches.

In the opening pages of Love Wins, Rob Bell assures his readers that “nothing in this book hasn’t been taught, suggested, or celebrated by many before me.” That is true enough. But the tragedy is that those who did teach, suggest, or celebrate such things were those with whom no friend of the Gospel should want company. In this new book, Rob Bell takes his stand with those who have tried to rescue Christianity from itself. This is a massive tragedy by any measure.

The problem begins even with the book’s title. The message of the Gospel is not merely that love wins — it is that Jesus saves.
Rob Bell, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (HarperOne, 2011).
Other works referenced: Gary Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900 (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2001).
See also:
R. Albert Mohler Jr., “Air Conditioning Hell: How Liberalism Happens,” January 26, 2010.
Denny Burk, “Revising Hell into the Heterodox Mainstream,” March 15, 2011.
Russell D. Moore, “The Blood-Drained Gospel of Rob Bell.” March 15, 2011.
Kevin DeYoung, “God is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday Schoool is Still True: A Review of Love Wins,” March 14, 2011.
Ligon Duncan, “Speaking Seriously and Sensitively about Hell to the Sons of this Age and the Next,” March 15, 2011.

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Being nice to people and smiling and trying to live by the Golden Rule might make you a good member of the Moose Lodge.  But it isn't enough to be nice to people.   Christianity is relationship with God via blood sacrifice and atonement and propitiation of Jesus and the repentance and acceptance of the free gift offered by God to the sinner.  Repentance and Realization that one is lost is necessary before one can be found and saved.  When the inerrancy of the Bible is subtracted from the church, Christianity will soon go with it...away. Jesus is the one way.  Anything else fails to score a ticket to heaven.   There is only one way...

60 comments:

radar said...

"When theologians insert millions of years into the six days of creation, they are … accepting the evolutionary interpretation of the fossil record (putting death before Adam). This undermines biblical authority, with the result that many people … now disbelieve many other parts of the Bible. If theologians can reinterpret the Bible’s history, why not reinterpret the Bible’s morality?"—David Catchpoole

Jon Woolf said...

If theologians can reinterpret the Bible’s history, why not reinterpret the Bible’s morality?

Because it's obvious that parts of the history presented in the Bible are flawed, and exactly which parts those are. It's much less obvious which parts of biblical morality are flawed.

radar said...

What are your qualifications to speak on the accuracy of the Bible?

Jon Woolf said...

Eyes and a brain.

DogMaBlog said...

Good answer Jon. I have eyes and a brain too, that makes me an expert on everything.

highboy said...

Yeah we've been over the reliability of the Bible before and no one came up with a compelling argument against its accuracy in terms of history. There isn't even close to a general consensus among any students of history or scholars in regards to much of the debatable "issues" found within the Bible's written history.

Anonymous said...

Are there compelling arguments against the accuracy of the Qur'an in terms of history?

highboy said...

"Are there compelling arguments against the accuracy of the Qur'an in terms of history?"

Haven't studied it. Love to know what point you think you're making though.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who HAS studied it?

Anonymous said...

"Yeah we've been over the reliability of the Bible before and no one came up with a compelling argument against its accuracy in terms of history."

Is Genesis history?

radar said...

Debbie and I have studied the Koran. I have posted on the results previously. The short version? A book that promotes pedophilia and suicide bombing of civilians and makes women second-class citizens and thinks paradise is a weekend in Vegas with a platinum credit card is hardly worth taking seriously.

There are "good" people who are Muslims and Buddhists and Atheists and Protestants and so on and so forth who never decide to deal with the sin problem and never connect with God. They make good neighbors usually. But every man and woman has their flipside of selfishness and jealousy and lusts and etc.

Jesus came to fix the broken world and the broken relationship with God. One way to heaven.

Anonymous said...

You missed the question completely, Radar.
I asked whether there are compelling arguments against the Qur'an in terms of history, NOT a moral judgment of the Qur'an.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah we've been over the reliability of the Bible before"

If memory serves, there was a list of hundreds of contradictions, and you couldn't even disprove the very first item on the list. I'm surprised you'd bring that up again.

"and no one came up with a compelling argument against its accuracy in terms of history."

I beg to differ. Some parts of the Bible are supported by other historical sources, and others are not. Some of those (e.g. Genesis) resemble mythological texts more than historical texts, and there are indeed compelling arguments against those parts being accurate in terms of history. I hope you don't wish to claim that no one came up with those - they're thrown on Radar's doorstep on a weekly basis.

"A book that promotes pedophilia and suicide bombing of civilians and makes women second-class citizens and thinks paradise is a weekend in Vegas with a platinum credit card is hardly worth taking seriously."

Perhaps you don't realize that it's possible to caricature the Bible in a similar way.

Anonymous said...

"There are "good" people who are Muslims and Buddhists and Atheists and Protestants and so on and so forth who never decide to deal with the sin problem and never connect with God. They make good neighbors usually. But every man and woman has their flipside of selfishness and jealousy and lusts and etc."

This may be one of the sanest things I've ever seen you write, Radar.

highboy said...

"I beg to differ."

I'm sure you do. The fact remains though that even among secular historians and scholars there is not even close to a consensus in terms of historical happenings in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

"The fact remains though that even among secular historians and scholars there is not even close to a consensus in terms of historical happenings in the Bible."

Could you point me to the secular historians and scholars who argue that Genesis is historically accurate?

I'd really like to see their arguments.

radar said...

The Koran is a recent book and we have a lot of knowledge about the author. We know he was a pedophile and we know that he was rather illiterate. The Koran is a very poorly cobbled together bunch of missives and some portions borrowed from the Bible. Islamic scribes spent many years simply correcting grammatical errors in the manuscript. So what we know of the author and the manuscript suggests an ignorant author who has needed to have his work edited and corrected. Nothing prophetic about that.

Other than it's usefulness in brainwashing young people into becoming suicide bombers it requires the reader to follow a very legalistic lifestyle and allows for vindictive misogynistic behavior. Paradise is described as an unending hedonistic experience as if God believed sex and food is heaven. It tells followers to convert people by the sword, control and enslave those who do not convert when you do not kill them and dominate women.

It is not as obviously derivative of the Bible as is the Book of Mormon. If you use the search feature of this blog you will see a more in depth look at the Koran that I did in the past.

radar said...

Mr. memory serves is wrong. The Bible is the most published and read book in history. Ignorant men who do not know it well find so-called contradictions that have been long debunked. Let me illustrate:

Proverbs 26: 4 and 5 - 4) Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.

5) Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.


Is God confused? No. He is not. He is telling people that judgment must be used in answering those who do not believe in Him.

Keep in mind the Bible includes quotes of people (who sometimes are quoted while mistaken or lying) and eyewitness accounts that vary but are still accurate. This is actually a confirmation rather than a problem. If every witness says EXACTLY the same thing, the police know that the witnesses have been coached.

This is not and will not become a landing page for atheists with old saws about the circumference of a bowl or the number of times a cock crowed. There are blogs that deal with that. Let's just say that I have bet my eternal life on the Bible being God's Word. What square are your chips on?

Anonymous said...

@Radar:

What are your qualifications to speak on the accuracy of the Qur'an?

Anonymous said...

"Ignorant men who do not know it well find so-called contradictions that have been long debunked."

And yet you failed to debunk even the first of a list of hundreds of these contradictions.

Why insist that there are no contradictions anyway? The Bible was written by fallible humans, whether inspired by God or not. They made mistakes. Even pious Christians can accept that without feeling that their faith is at risk.

Anonymous said...

"Keep in mind the Bible includes quotes of people (who sometimes are quoted while mistaken or lying) and eyewitness accounts that vary but are still accurate. This is actually a confirmation rather than a problem. If every witness says EXACTLY the same thing, the police know that the witnesses have been coached. "

Ah, so now you're on board with Bible contradictions. Finally.

Anonymous said...

"Mr. memory serves is wrong."

Not in this case. "If memory serves, there was a list of hundreds of contradictions, and you couldn't even disprove the very first item on the list."

It's true. There was a list of hundreds of contradictions, and Highboy couldn't disprove the first item.

Don't see what the number of Bibles printed has to do with addressing that.

Anonymous said...

"It tells followers to convert people by the sword, control and enslave those who do not convert when you do not kill them and dominate women. "

Compare Deuteronomy 20 and 21.

highboy said...

http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/bible.htm#INDEX

highboy said...

"Compare Deuteronomy 20 and 21."

Yeah I don't see where it says followers of Christ are suppose to murder those who don't convert to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

highboy said:

"If you're going to examine the possibility of the existence of an infinitely powerful, eternal, supernatural being than you have to concede in your examination that He would be far enough above you that there would be lots you don't understand about Him. That is pure simple logic."

Umm, no. That's a logical fallacy called 'begging the question'. You're already assuming the point you want to prove (the existence of a god) before examining the possibility of his existence.
Also, you can apply this logic each and every god out there: Allah, Vishnu, Quetzalcoatl, Zeus...they're all far enough above you for you not to understand lots about them. Are you willing to be consequent in your logic?

Let me remind you of an earlier statement you made:

"Until one of these other "gods" makes themselves known, they don't exist."

God hasn't made Himself known to me, so I can safely state He doesn't exist. Right?

Logic, it can lead you to many places. But not always the places you'd like...

highboy said...

"Umm, no. That's a logical fallacy called 'begging the question'. You're already assuming the point you want to prove (the existence of a god) before examining the possibility of his existence."

Um, no, its not a logical fallacy, because its an answer to the various aspects of God that "don't make sense" to an atheist. The point is concluding God doesn't exist because an aspect of His character or behavior doesn't make sense is fallacious.

"Allah, Vishnu, Quetzalcoatl, Zeus...they're all far enough above you for you not to understand lots about them. Are you willing to be consequent in your logic?"

Certainly, but I don't disbelieve in them because I find something about their being or behavior that doesn't fit into human logic or doesn't fall within a scientific framework.

"God hasn't made Himself known to me, so I can safely state He doesn't exist. Right?"

Safely? That's a judgement call only you can make.

"Logic, it can lead you to many places. But not always the places you'd like..."

Thankfully it lead me right where I belong....

Anonymous said...

"Um, no, its not a logical fallacy, because its an answer to the various aspects of God that "don't make sense" to an atheist. The point is concluding God doesn't exist because an aspect of His character or behavior doesn't make sense is fallacious."

I see what you're trying to say, but the way you stated your sentence does make it a logical fallacy. Because no matter what aspects of His character or behaviour are found, the outcome is always the same:

- God's behaviour and character make sense >>> God exists
- God's behaviour and character don't make sense >>> God exists, but is beyond understanding.

Hopes this makes it clear.

"Safely? That's a judgement call only you can make."

Actually, I make the same judgement you make in relation to all other Gods.
But you didn't answer my question: you stated that you know God exist because of personal revelation. You also stated that other gods don't exist until they haven't made themselves known to you.

No god has made himself known to me. If you're consequent in your logic and reasoning, wouldn't the most logical thing for me to do is to state that no god exists until one makes himself known to me?

If not, please explain why.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Blogger is having issues again. Let's split this up:

"Um, no, its not a logical fallacy, because its an answer to the various aspects of God that "don't make sense" to an atheist. The point is concluding God doesn't exist because an aspect of His character or behavior doesn't make sense is fallacious."

I see what you're trying to say, but the way you stated your sentence does make it a logical fallacy. Because no matter what aspects of His character or behaviour are found, the outcome is always the same:

- God's behaviour and character make sense >>> God exists
- God's behaviour and character don't make sense >>> God exists, but is beyond understanding.

Hopes this makes it clear.

Anonymous said...

"Safely? That's a judgement call only you can make."

Actually, I make the same judgement you make in relation to all other Gods.
But you didn't answer my question: you stated that you know God exist because of personal revelation. You also stated that other gods don't exist until they haven't made themselves known to you.

No god has made himself known to me. If you're consequent in your logic and reasoning, wouldn't the most logical thing for me to do is to state that no god exists until one makes himself known to me?

If not, please explain why.

Anonymous said...

"Safely? That's a judgement call only you can make."

Actually, I make the same judgement you make in relation to all other Gods.
But you didn't answer my question: you stated that you know God exist because of personal revelation. You also stated that other gods don't exist until they haven't made themselves known to you.

No god has made himself known to me. If you're consequent in your logic and reasoning, wouldn't the most logical thing for me to do is to state that no god exists until one makes himself known to me?

If not, please explain why.

highboy said...

"I see what you're trying to say, but the way you stated your sentence does make it a logical fallacy."

Fair enough. I'll try and rephrase: To me, concluding that God doesn't exist, because His character or behavior does not make sense according to my human logic or because He operates outside a natural framework is illogical. Whether or not I believe in God, logic stands that if He would exist in the way He's described, that there would an astronomical amount about Him that probably wouldn't make sense.

"No god has made himself known to me. If you're consequent in your logic and reasoning, wouldn't the most logical thing for me to do is to state that no god exists until one makes himself known to me?"

Well sure its perfectly logical. I suspect most conclude God doesn't exist until He's revealed Himself somehow. Of course one has to wonder, like in my case, if He were tapping me on the shoulder my entire life before I finally saw Him but I could probably ponder that till I make myself dizzy.

Anonymous said...

"Of course one has to wonder, like in my case, if He were tapping me on the shoulder my entire life before I finally saw Him but I could probably ponder that till I make myself dizzy."

To quote you once again:

"All I can do is go with what I know and what I experience."

I think this goes for both of us, although it results in different outcomes.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah I don't see where it says followers of Christ are suppose to murder those who don't convert to Christianity."

Yeah I don't know why you'd expect to see that, seeing as it's in the Old Testament.

Anonymous said...

highboy said...

http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/bible.htm#INDEX

Had a quick look. Doesn't address the first item on the previously mentioned list. Nor, apparently, does it address a few hundred others.

Why be so hung up about a few little inconsistencies?

Anonymous said...

"To me, concluding that God doesn't exist, because His character or behavior does not make sense according to my human logic or because He operates outside a natural framework is illogical."

True, that reasoning by itself would be insufficient. But it's really not necessary. It's enough to just note that there's no evidence for God's existence and to note that, given the abundance of religions on our planet, religion is part of human culture.

As you, a Christian, can easily observe, religions will exist (and flourish, with elaborate mythologies!) regardless of whether the deities they're based on actually exist.

God acting suspiciously in accordance with human development (moral and otherwise), thus making it perfectly plausible that the whole edifice is man-made, is just icing on the cake.

highboy said...

"It's enough to just note that there's no evidence for God's existence and to note that, given the abundance of religions on our planet, religion is part of human culture."

You're entitled to that opinion but that's all it is: opinion. Saying "there's no evidence" in terms of whether or not there is a creator isn't even a falsifiable statement. Its perfectly logical to look at creation and assume a Creator.

"Yeah I don't know why you'd expect to see that, seeing as it's in the Old Testament."

well you posted the reference in response to the direct command in the Koran for followers of Allah to murder those who don't follow Allah, so if I wasn't suppose to see a reference for Jesus ordering Christians to kill non-Christians than I'm wondering why your reference of Deuteronomy was relevant.

"God acting suspiciously in accordance with human development (moral and otherwise), thus making it perfectly plausible that the whole edifice is man-made, is just icing on the cake."

Not sure how you can conclude God ascts in accordance with human behavior while conceding at the same time His existence would require a transcendence that no human could fathom at the same time. Also not sure why a God who states He created man in His image and then has some similarities (few) in character is "suspicious".

"Had a quick look. Doesn't address the first item on the previously mentioned list. Nor, apparently, does it address a few hundred others."

False.

Anonymous said...

"You're entitled to that opinion but that's all it is: opinion."

We all got opinions and they all smell like roses. Doesn't take away from the fact that if there is no evidence for something, it's perfectly logical to conclude that it doesn't exist. No need to include God being sometimes very human in his behavior and sometimes mystifying as a reason not to believe in God - though it is worth noting that this is what we would expect to see with a man-made God. I'll go one step further and say that God in the Bible never steps outside of human knowledge and culture of the time. If God at any time revealed knowledge that humans at the time did not possess, that would be a powerful argument for God's existence.

"Saying "there's no evidence" in terms of whether or not there is a creator isn't even a falsifiable statement."

No, nor was it meant to be. It's an observation of fact, particularly once you narrow down the creator to the God described in the Bible.

"Its perfectly logical to look at creation and assume a Creator."

"Assume" being the operative word here. There's no evidence for God.

Anonymous said...

"well you posted the reference in response to the direct command in the Koran for followers of Allah to murder those who don't follow Allah"

No, it was in direct response to this: "It tells followers to convert people by the sword, control and enslave those who do not convert when you do not kill them and dominate women." Perfectly obvious since the reference "Compare Deuteronomy 20 and 21" follows that exact quote.

"so if I wasn't suppose to see a reference for Jesus ordering Christians to kill non-Christians than I'm wondering why your reference of Deuteronomy was relevant."

It's relevant because God, the protagonist in this particular religious text, orders his minions to conquer other tribes, enslave them, kill them if they resist, and dominate women. Compare.

Anonymous said...

"Not sure how you can conclude God ascts in accordance with human behavior"

Human development, specifically. You're twisting words (quite consistently in your response), which is why you then repeatedly don't understand the arguments being made. Early on in the Bible, we see God as a tribal warlord, saving his tribe, granting his tribe permission to mass murder, conquest and enslavement. (Were the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites somehow not God's children?)

Later on, he becomes a more mass-friendly entity, making promises of a paradise in the afterlife to all comers. This is an oversimplified description, but it's a plausible development if one assumes that this was a tribal deity whose adherents won out in the marketplace of religions over time, in part because they adapted to circumstances over time, e.g. to allow survival in the Roman Empire.

"while conceding at the same time His existence would require a transcendence that no human could fathom at the same time."

Um, I didn't concede this at the same time, so you're not presenting a coherent argument here.

Anonymous said...

"Also not sure why a God who states He created man in His image and then has some similarities (few) in character is "suspicious"."

The similarity in moral and cultural development and the fact that God never revealed any useful knowledge that man wouldn't have plausibly possessed at that time makes it plausible that God was man-made.

Anonymous said...

"Had a quick look. Doesn't address the first item on the previously mentioned list. Nor, apparently, does it address a few hundred others."

"False."

What is it with these lazy contradictions with no argument whatsoever? The statement is not false, as anyone can see. Do you see the first item on the longer list? It's not there. Fact. The list of refutations numbers 143, the list of contradictions 456. Even assuming that all those 143 address contradictions on the list of 456 contradictions (which we already know isn't true), that leaves a few hundred contradictions that are not addressed. Fact.

You're wrong. Demonstrably. Period.

highboy said...

"I'll go one step further and say that God in the Bible never steps outside of human knowledge and culture of the time"

The culture of the time period was based on a belief in God. The culture behaved the way it did as a result of God, not the other way around.

"It's relevant because God, the protagonist in this particular religious text, orders his minions to conquer other tribes, enslave them, kill them if they resist, and dominate women. Compare."

And once again, an order to one specific group of people a couple thousand years ago does not compare to the direct instructions from Allah to followers on how they are suppose to behave.

"Later on, he becomes a more mass-friendly entity, making promises of a paradise in the afterlife to all comers."

When one reads the Bible cover to cover this seeming change in "development" is obviously blown out of proportion.

"Do you see the first item on the longer list?"

Yup. Keep looking slick.

Anonymous said...

highboy said:

"Its perfectly logical to look at creation and assume a Creator."

Unbelievable. You did it again: claiming to be logical yet at the same time using a massive logical fallacy. And it's the same one to boot: begging the question. You assume something to be created in order to prove the existence of a creator.

Are you sure it's not logical fallacies instead of logic that have lead you where you belong?

highboy said...

"Are you sure it's not logical fallacies instead of logic that have lead you where you belong?"

Yup. Pretty sure. Why? Because I'm not assuming anything, I know creation exists because I live in it. There is about as much evidence that the world was formed from nothing by random chance as there is that it was created. So basically if I assume this is a creation in order to get a Creator its no more fallacious than assuming that its a meaningless formation to conclude there is no Creator. No matter how you want to twist it, that's simply the way it is.

Anonymous said...

"So basically if I assume this is a creation in order to get a Creator its no more fallacious than assuming that its a meaningless formation to conclude there is no Creator."

So you're actually admitting that your reasoning is fallacious? Because I'll happily agree with you that both of these statements are logically false.

The only logical conclusion one can make in this case is that there is not enough data available to either prove or disprove the existence of a creator.

highboy said...

"The only logical conclusion one can make in this case is that there is not enough data available to either prove or disprove the existence of a creator."

Scientifically speaking you're correct, though its all down to worldview. For someone like me who sees a design in the world around him I think its perfectly logical to assume a designer.

Anonymous said...

If it's just down to worldview you do not even need logic. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"There is about as much evidence that the world was formed from nothing by random chance as there is that it was created"

That's actually kind of an accurate statement, seeing as there is zero evidence for either. (And of course the former is a typical creationist strawman - nobody's actually claiming that "the world was formed from nothing by random chance".)

Anonymous said...

"And once again, an order to one specific group of people a couple thousand years ago does not compare to the direct instructions from Allah to followers on how they are suppose to behave."

Both are direct commands from the respective dominant deity of the faith to do X. I'm not saying they're identical, but they certainly are comparable. On what basis would you say they "don't compare"?

Anonymous said...

"Do you see the first item on the longer list?"

"Yup. Keep looking slick."

Why bother? Your claim was clearly wrong and now you refuse to defend it, "slick".

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, even that list of refutations does include several concessions of copyist errors. So can we lay to rest this weird meme of the Bible being a perfect text?

highboy said...

"Why bother? Your claim was clearly wrong and now you refuse to defend it, "slick"."

So in other words you're a liar. You didn't look at the list, at least not more than a quick glance, because the refutation you're looking for is right there in the list. As for copyist errors, that hardly makes God's Word less accurate, especially since we're able to decipher what was actually meant in the text.

Anonymous said...

"So in other words you're a liar."

Derision is not an argument, "slick". Why be such a boor, calling other people liars when you can't back up your own claim?

"You didn't look at the list, at least not more than a quick glance, because the refutation you're looking for is right there in the list."

Here is the first item on the previously mentioned list, the one you could previously not refute: "How many men did the chief of David's captains kill?" (In some sections it says 800, in others 300.)

This is not addressed anywhere in the 143 items in the other list. You can do a search for David, for 800, for 300, for Adino, for Eznite, for Jashobeam. You'll find some mentions of David, but in a different context, and that's it.

The claim is not addressed, Highboy. If you think it is, please point out where.

And it's not terribly surprising that it's not there, seeing as this list only addresses a fraction of the contradictions listed elsewhere. Hundreds are left unaddressed. Why shouldn't this be one of them?

Anonymous said...

"As for copyist errors, that hardly makes God's Word less accurate,"

So a work with errors in it is not less accurate than a work without errors in it?

An explanation of your reasoning here would surely be helpful.

"especially since we're able to decipher what was actually meant in the text."

How, when you have two conflicting accounts?

Anonymous said...

"So in other words you're a liar."

Derision is not an argument, "slick". Why be such a boor, calling other people liars when you can't back up your own claim?

Anonymous said...

"You didn't look at the list, at least not more than a quick glance, because the refutation you're looking for is right there in the list."

Here is the first item on the previously mentioned list, the one you could previously not refute: "How many men did the chief of David's captains kill?" (In some sections it says 800, in others 300.)

This is not addressed anywhere in the 143 items in the other list. You can do a search for David, for 800, for 300, for Adino, for Eznite, for Jashobeam. You'll find some mentions of David, but in a different context, and that's it.

The claim is not addressed, Highboy.

And it's not terribly surprising that it's not there, seeing as this list only addresses a fraction of the contradictions listed elsewhere.

radar said...

Jashobeam AGAIN after we thoroughly answered that?

Proverbs 9:7-12 -
7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom[b] your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

Anonymous said...

Radar, not only did the discussion re. Jashobeam not go in your favor in those previous discussions, but regarding the current conversation you obviously didn't read the comments you were trying to reply to.

In both cases, you simply didn't pay attention to arguments being made. Jon Woolf has rightly pointed out numerous times that you simply underestimate your counterparts.

radar said...

We explained Jashobeam. Those who can comprehend it do, those who do not are never to be satisfied.

God revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, who performed miracles, made accurate prophecies and fulfilled the requirements of Messiah and Lamb of God. Jesus is a known historical character and his doings were written down and passed around during the lifetime of those who had seen Him, knew Him or knew of Him. His death was recorded, His return from the dead witnesses by hundreds and acclaimed/proclaimed throughout the Western world within one generation of his passing.

It is easy to write about a character from the past and make up attributes. But to do it when the person is known and the deeds are known then truth must be contained within the story or it will be cast aside. There were many false christs who came and went with little or no fuss. This One changed the world and continues to change it.