If Christians disagree on the Bible, does that disprove Christianity?

A recent commenter noted the following:

I’m sure God was a pioneer in viral marketing, and overall, it’s worked quite well for him, but I think he could have found a better method.

Also, LCB, every time a concept in the Bible is questioned, you usually tell me I’m wrong about it, and that it’s a complicated process. Now I’m no Darwin (come on, that’s funny), but I know my way around literature. Why would God write a book that contains the most critical information possible, that can only be fully understood by a select few? Everyone I know who is a Christian thinks different things about the Bible. Certain passages mean completely different things to different people, and many of them are completely certain that they know the truth. Logic tells us that most of them are wrong. What makes you right?

It isn’t that we couldn’t be wrong.  I’m sure we’re wrong on some things. It is that some people are wrong because when you analyze the text more closely you can see that they are wrong. 

For example, some pro-abortion Christians use a translation of Exodus that they think supports their view, but when you look at the original languages you realize that it is a pro-life verse .  Oddly, these readers ignore so many other pro-life texts and in my experience are completely uncorrectable about the meaning of the original languages. 

For you, that is evidence that these Christians just can’t agree so the Bible must be wrong about its claims to be God’s word. 

For me, it is evidence that they like their (misinterpreted) pro-abortion passage more than they like the truth.

Just because the Bible can be misunderstood doesn’t mean it can’t be understood. 

There are plenty of things that I don’t understand in the Bible, but many others that are crystal clear.

You can’t read the Bible in any serious way and not see that God is against religious pluralism, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that Jesus is God, that the Bible claims to speak for God, that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, etc.

That isn’t what makes those things true, but any honest skeptic should concede that those teachings are clear.

135 thoughts on “If Christians disagree on the Bible, does that disprove Christianity?

    • The Mosaic Law is most certainly mentioned in texts that pre-date the prophet Ezra.

      Deut., Jeremiah, and 1st Kings all come to mind. Further, 1st temple Judaism was closely associated with a sovereign King in Jerusalem. I know of no scholar that would place any of those books after Ezra in any fashion.

      In the absence of a Temple (and later in the absence of a sovereign king), the focus shifted to the Mosaic law as the primary worship activity for the People of God.

      When we consider Ezra’s focus on the purity of the temple priesthood, it would also be wise to consider Ezekiel’s criticism of the temple priesthood and how it contributed to the downfall of Jerusalem. Ezra is carrying Ezekiel’s proposed reforms to their logical conclusion.

  1. If evolutionary biologists completely disagreed on the process by which we evolved, and fought against each other tooth and nail to prove their point, would you not mention that in your criticism of the theory? I would hope so. It would not be proof, but it would cause reason to doubt.

    If the truth of the Bible, or at least of some of the main passages can be obtained by further inquiry, why are sects moving further apart than together?

    • But scientists do disagree on many things. That doesn’t mean none are right.

      You snuck in the word “completely” in front of disagreed, which turned your point into straw. My point was that denominations don’t completely disagree on the essentials (other than the leadership of the Episcopals, which is why I consider that denomination apostate).

      Christianity has a long history of identifying essentials of the faith (e.g., the physical resurrection, the Trinity). People can deny those if they like, but we’d prefer that they not call themselves “Christian,” as it confuses things (Hello, Mormons).

      And atheists disagree on things. That doesn’t prove there is a God.

    • Saying “There are disagreements, therefore all positions are false” is an intellectually indefensible position.

      If that’s not what you’re asserting, perhaps you could clarify.

    • The point was it causes reason to doubt. I’m sure you agree with this, since you use the same arguments to say that global warming is a sham – that scientists do not even agree on the details.

      Sure Christians agree on most things, as long as you take out the mormons, some of the crazy baptist churches, and of course, the catholics, who, you must admit, go against a great deal of Jesus’ direct words. They have as a part of their sacraments, things that directly contradict the Bible. The first few I can give you (they are just nuts), but the last one is your largest contingent.

      • I’m sure you agree with this, since you use the same arguments to say that global warming is a sham – that scientists do not even agree on the details.

        Who made that claim? I don’t recall reading it.

      • Another thing to consider is this: Does the Bible predict that there will be false teachers? Does it tell how to identify them? Does it explain the root cause?

        Yes, yes and yes — http://www.4simpsons.com/doctrine_counts.htm

        I suppose skeptics will probably claim that Jesus and the writers of the Bible just got lucky in their predictions.

      • So this loving God placed people on his Earth for the specific purpose of disobeying him? If those people, having free will, all converted to a sect of Christianity that follows the rules correctly, his prophesy would turn out to be false?

        If he knew it was going to happen, why did he subject people in specific parts of the world to Catholicism more than others? He easily could have given them some sign that they are wrong.

      • Some people want to believe false teachings. Those who really seek the truth will find it.

        And yes, if what really happens is different than what is given via prophecy, then the prophecy is false. That’s one of the ways the Jews (and us) can test for false prophets.

      • I am sorry. I usually don’t react to this kind of statements, but Catholicism is a great deal against Christ’s preachings? So you are saying the majority of the people in the world are plain stupid and don’t know what they practice? A very interesting thought that!

      • I suspect Ryan is referencing history pre-1517 (that was a rough year for us…), as in, why do people in place X get the good news but not place Y?

        I’m not sure what else he wants God to do, besides send people with the Gospel and have those people preach the Gospel. He provides mankind with reason to recognize that there is One God, and some of the aspects of His nature, and He sends them individuals preaching the only faith that proclaims those same things known by reason as well as claiming Revelation that is also entirely reasonable.

        God chooses not to dominate the world, but allow His truth to spread through the natural course of human history, and He works in and through that selfsame history (which, since we’ve previously discussed Augustine, is a core theme in the City of God).

        What, precisely, do you want Him to do? What miracle would satisfy you? And even if you saw that miracle, would you not say that it can’t be from God because miracles are, a priori, impossible and God is, a priori, not real?

        And when a person points to miracles that defy all known science and seem to be supernatural events, the responses are standard “it was too far in the past” “the witnesses, though credible, aren’t credible enough” “poor people aren’t reliable witnesses” and so on. And even if some extra-ordinary event is conceded, it doesn’t happen frequently enough to count.

        In reality, the situation seems to be this: all evidence is automatically denied in knee-jerk fashion, with logical support being invented after the denial to try and support the denial.

        Our God is not a tyrant. People are free to disbelieve no matter the evidence.

      • And Ryan, though there are lots more better responses here, I still couldn’t refrain from putting my thoughts into words. As long as the pivotal point of any Christian denomination is Christ’s death and resurrection and that the only path to salvation is only through Him, I think all other discord really doesn’t matter much. We Christians will work out all our other differences someday. Since we are all seeking the truth in Christ, He’ll will show us the truth. I am quite sure of that. :)

        I know you’ve used this “Why would a loving God” question quite a lot of times. No He hasn’t put us on this planet for a specific purpose of disobeying Him. But He did not create robotic beings who cannot think and decide for themselves. He doesnt force His thoughts on us. C’mon now. What is your idea of God? What do you think all of us should be like? Like minded, never disagree on anything, absolutely uncreative? Your question has the answer in itself. Because He is loving, despite the fact He knew we would not obey Him at all times, He gave us a mind and a freedom to use it the way we want. Of course, He also gave the truth to believe in and enough sense to each human to work his/her way out. It’s upto us to work it out, because we actually have been given all the resources to work it out as well. Unlike Assimov’s law of robotics, were robots are supposed to self-destruct themselves if they disobey the first law, ie to obey a human, God’s far too kind and loving that He gives us so many chances before we finally find the truth. He didnt create slaves. He created people He loved and whom He wanted to love Him. And love does not keep a record of wrong things and it does not lose hope! :)

      • To all those that are defending Catholicism: I’m talking about praying to saints. As far as I can tell, that’s a no no.

      • So, because people disagree about a form of prayer, there is no God and scripture is false?

      • Nope, not at all, but if the Bible is true, then this group of over a billion people will be going to hell. I don’t think that a loving God would allow a billion people, who are just doing what they think God wants them to do, to go to hell, yet the Bible says they are.

      • Yep. Maybe you don’t fully understand God, or you don’t realize that he isn’t just a loving God, but a just God.

      • Ryan,

        Perhaps putting stock in a simplistic strawman version of scripture is creating these problems for you? Because you often seem to invoke “If the bible is true” followed by something that isn’t in scripture.

        is the problem Christianity, which has for 2000 years believed something different from what you think it believes, or your understanding of that belief, which Christians insist is an incorrect understanding?

        The problem can’t–possibly– be that you have an incorrect understanding, can it?

      • You’re equating disagree with “don’t understand”. It is possible to understand something and think it’s wrong.

        Serious question, if we can put down the sticks and stones for a moment. Say we have a person in a fictional sect of Christianity that believes some strange things like one needs to drink orange juice to be in favour with God. Let’s say they also do something regularly that is obviously a sin based on what the Bible says (pick anything – say they think it’s okay to lie or steal). If those people are truly trying to follow God, and believe that Jesus died for their sins, but have just misinterpreted the Bible, for whatever reason, are they okay? Will they go to heaven?

      • If they authentically trust in Jesus for their salvation, then they would go to Heaven. Perfect theology is not a requirement for salvation. Putting your trust in the right person is.

  2. I think a lot of the trouble is that people want the Bible to be more than it is.

    I belive that God is looking for more than book critics and Bible scholars. The Bible is intended to make us look for God and to recognize him when we find him. When we find God and accept the Holy Spirit, then with the help of the Spirit we begin to understand what God wants us to know.

    If the Bible had definitive proof and all the answers, we would not need to go looking for God. We would not develop that personal relationship with God that he wants us to have.

    So I suggest keeping in mind Pascal’s wager and going looking for God. What do you have to lose?

    • Pascal’s Wager? That’s still around? So you think I should pretend to believe in God? I tried it – it’s not the way to live. I choose to use reason, and if there ends up being a god and I do survive my own death, I can hold my head high, and if he is a just God, he will welcome me. But pretty sure I won’t need to worry about that.

      • Oh, you choose reason and we don’t. That clears things up.

        And I see you are busy inventing your own god, even in your hypotheticals.

      • if he is a just God, he will welcome me

        Wow, that’s pretty self-righteous of you. Maybe we should be worshiping you and your goodness.

      • Neil, do you think that Pascal’s wager is a good reason to believe in God? Do you think a person chooses to believe in something? With the requirements to get into heaven being that one must “believe” in the resurrection of Jesus, then one must be able to simply say to himself “I believe” and be done with it.

        That one should believe whatever gives the greatest mathematical odds of being taken care of in the afterlife seems a bit shallow.

      • Ryan, how about addressing previous questions before moving on to something else? You said, “I’m sure you agree with this, since you use the same arguments to say that global warming is a sham – that scientists do not even agree on the details.”

        Who made that claim? I don’t recall reading it. If you can substantiate your claim, please do so. Otherwise, let me point out how unproductive it is for you to throw such things out then scurry on to something else.

      • Sorry, I forgot about that thread. I thought I remembered someone commenting saying something like “Global warming, global cooling, climate change, they can’t even make up their mind”. I can’t remember if it was you.

        It’s a common thing that I hear all the time. Scientists don’t agree on climate change, when really it is the details that some disagree on. I’m astounded at the correlation between evangelical Christians and global warming deniers. I don’t get it at all. The two should have nothing to do with one another. Its almost as if there was someone pushing that position for their own gain.

      • That’s odd, I see a correlation between non-believers and AGW. Guess they must be wrong. Maybe Christians are the reasoned ones who see that even if AGW were true that it isn’t necessarily caused by man. Seen that yellow thingy in the sky lately?

        Re. “their own gain” — guess who gains with AGW laws? The ones pushing the AGW agenda. Shocking.

      • Maybe that’s because non-believers know that the Earth is all we have.

        guess who gains with AGW laws?

        I don’t know, people who don’t want to breath smoke? Climate change aside, why is it a bad thing to reduce emissions?

        This is a whole lot of baloney. Go and compare the corporate funding for both sides of the issue. The few scientists who deny that global warming are almost all funded by oil companies, some of them being directly on the payroll. The energy companies started this campaign in the early 90s to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”.

      • And the government benefits from research that it funds that conclude the government needs more authority and taxes.

        Does that invalidate the research?

        According to your logic it does.

        Surely such thinking should apply equally, or does it not apply to the research that you happen to like?

      • Do you not know what the tax revenue on gas is? So getting people to use less of it aids the government? How exactly is anyone in the government “helped” by this?

        If this is true, I imagine the anti global-warming ravings of president Bush (W) were out of the goodness of his heart.

        All the research is valid, as long as it is peer reviewed, and the data is correct. I am completely fine with the research continuing on this, since we certainly do not know everything, but when all these reports surface from scientists who are directly on EXXON Mobile’s payroll, even you need to wonder. Some of the loudest critics of global warming theories are the VERY SAME scientists who worked for the tobacco lobby in the 70s, and said that there is no evidence that tobacco is harmful in any way.

      • http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090714124956.htm

        Man, those guys at Science Daily and Nature Geoscience sure are hacks.

        If only there were some… natural mechanism by which to explain variations in global temperature. It would have to be massive, though. On the scale of our own Sun.

        Tax revenue on gas? How about legislation that gives the government complete control over all aspects of the economy in the name of controlling the weather and saving the planet?

      • Yeah you keep picking and choosing what science articles you take as truth, and eventually, you’ll find some that matches what you want to believe. I used to do that too, when I believed in creation myths. I would search through the library for articles that showed evolution was wrong. Later I realized that in all my searching, I ignored thousands of articles that supported it.

        I love when global warming or evolution deniers find a scientist that agrees with them, and they shout it from the mountain-tops, which only help the peer-review process along.

      • “I don’t know, people who don’t want to breath smoke? Climate change aside, why is it a bad thing to reduce emissions?”

        That looks like a non sequitor to me, and certainly nothing that justifies an unlimited political power grab — both in scope and duration — with no exit strategy. And that ignores the hubris that men can set the world’s temp in the way they do their home thermostat.

      • Neil,

        I generally regard those who claim the right political legislation will control the weather as a bit irrational.

        Believing in the weather control promises is much harder than believing in God, and takes a much greater act of faith.

      • I did not say Pascal’s wager was a good reason to belive in God, I said it was a good reason to go looking for him.

        Pretending to believe doesn’t work either.

        Finding God can be a long search, it may involve suffering or hard work. But in the end it is worth it.

        I would guess it is possbile to look for God and not find him if you are looking in the wrong places, but someone smarter will have to address that.

      • OK fair enough – I can actually agree with that.

        But in the process of looking (keep in mind, I would not be a believer at this point), how far would you go to look for something, and what else should I look for along the way? The same logic suggests that I should give all the other religions a try as well, does it not?

        Given the fact that I have looked, albeit for a finite amount of time, and have found a truth that I do believe in, is it not reasonable for me to sit back, and wait until I see something that tells me I’m wrong, and THEN re-evaluate?

      • Logic says you would evaluate the claims and the evidence of religions and explore the strongest one. Only one had a founder who actually claimed to be God.

        Given what is potentially at stake, I would suggest that you should look pretty hard.

  3. It’s a popular ploy. “Look at ‘em. They can’t agree on anything. Christianity must be false.” It isn’t, of course, quite accurate. First, not all who claim “Christianity” are Christians. (The Bible itself promised this. You know … tares among wheat, that sort of thing.) Second, there are is actually a large body of doctrine upon which all Christians (true Christians … remember Point 1 there) agree. The illusion that “they can’t agree on anything” is created by the bickering done around the edges, not on central elements. For instance, the “fight” that produced the rift between “Arminians” and “Calvinists” was a difference on FIVE POINTS. That’s it. Five. Everything else was agreed upon. It was just those five points.

    We make ourselves look bad by arguing over smaller items, to be sure, but I think there is much more agreement than disagreement. It’s just that skeptics aren’t looking for that. Maybe we should.

    • 5 points?

      Amateurs. We Catholics have had bigger conflicts over ONE LETTER in a word. :-D

      (The “iota” in homoousios vs homoiousios)

  4. You are correct Neil. Americans disagree constantly on what is the “American dream” doesn’t mean we are no longer American.

    We are talking about a centuries old text that has been interpreted, translated, and reinterpreted centuries before we got a hold of it. We have even made our own attempts to make it ‘easier to read’, whether it be for smooth study or to convince a non-believer.

    Some of us use the same ‘translation’ and still disagree. This is where we get into trouble too….”creating our own god” as Neil calls it. People seem to think because we have been given free will it means also free interpretation.

    Remember Jeremiah (31) says it is written on our hearts…our inward parts. This enables us to find each other even when we disagree. While Christians may differ in practice, the premise is always the same…

  5. I wonder how much of this is just a game by non-Christians to avoid bending the knee. Seriously.

    When I serve up the kalam argument, they claim that the universe popped into being uncaused out of nothing. When I make the case for fine-tuning, they talk about the unobservable multiverse that contains an infinite number of universes not fine-tuned.

    I don’t think these non-Christians are sincere. This is not a game.

  6. The answer is absolutely not! I could write a book on why the answer to this question is no. Let me give two quck reasons:

    1) Not all professed Christians are Christians but, as the Bible calls them, are “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. These are false teachers that purposely set out to lead other astray. Those outside the church would see this and claim “not all Christians agree therefore Christianity is false!” But that isn’t true, they are falling victim to the wolves themselves.

    2) The first century church also had trouble with people misapplying, misrepresenting, misinterpreting, and flat-out getting Christian teaching wrong. Read the letters of Paul to the churches. Read Christ’s words to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation. The fact is that humans sometimes read scripture and try to bend it to their own beliefs, instead of bending their own beliefs to scripture. That behavior in no way disprove Christianity.

  7. I thought about this when someone at the Michael Jackson memorial said he was in heaven. I cringed a little. I am a Michael Jackson fan, but I am not sure where he will spend eternity. I am sure to a lot of people he was a good person.

    God does forgive our sins which is not the same as Allah weighting them. I think weighting them maybe their version of grace. Thank you for continuing to educate people like me.

    • Hi Kevin,

      Yes, we do know what the originals said to 99.5% accuracy and to 100% on major doctrines. Bart Ehrman makes a nice living looking at the same facts that orthodox scholars do and merely coming to a different conclusion. The NPR types love him because he converted away from Christianity. Funny how they aren’t interested in those who converted to Christianity.

      He also holds a rather bizarre view that the copying process must be perfect or the originals could not have been inspired. So all it would take is one atheist to deliberately miscopy something and Bart loses his faith.

      Ironically, Bart will argue stenuously about what the originals said on certain passages. Gee, Bart, I thought we just couldn’t tell?

      Check out James White and others who have addressed Ehrman’s errors — http://aomin.org/ .

      It is interesting that we can take the two most divergent texts of the New Testament (out of the 5,700 Greek manuscripts and 25,000+ total) and you come up with the same thing: Orthodox Christianity.

      • Neil–

        Why no love for the NPR types? What has always troubled me about Ehrman and his ilk is their lack of acknowledgment that one of the reasons why there are divergences in the text (most of which were, as Ehrman even sorta admits, minor) is because there were an overabundance of texts floating around to be copied. In other words, there was a remarkable number of manuscripts the early Church could utilize when forming, copying, teaching, etc., what we know as the Bible. This means that ancient folks craved the gospels, and the copiers did their best to keep up with the demand. So of course there are going to be errors. And therefore disagreements, especially amongst scholars who study such things. And besides, differences keep things interesting. Wouldn’t the blogosphere be boring if we all agreed?

    • Kevin,

      That sounds like an interesting book.

      How about we make a deal, I read that book, and you read a book of my choosing? Then we can discuss them both.

  8. I think the main problem is many “intellectuals” just can’t accept that the Word of God is as simple as it is.

    It just can’t be that easy, right?

    Well, actually, yes. How else would simple people and children understand it?

    Too many people want salvation to be difficult, when it actuality it’s as simple as this. “Here’s a gift. Do you accept it? Salvation takes place when one chooses to accept the gift of Life from God.

    Salvation is not reserved just for the intellectuals. It is open to all (even us stupid people) who accept the gift. Period.

    • If there is a consequence for politely denying a gift, then it is not really a gift. It’s more of an ultimatum. I get offered the same types of free gifts by telemarketers. They usually include a timeshare.

      • If there is a consequence for politely denying a gift, then it is not really a gift. It’s more of an ultimatum. I get offered the same types of free gifts by telemarketers. They usually include a timeshare.

        You’d make a lot of progress if you spent as much time trying to properly understand Christianity as you do coming up with clever illustrations of your misunderstandings.

        First things first: Your consequence is already in place. You sinned first. The gift is a pardon for your sins. God didn’t have to offer it. Just as a just judge can send someone to prison and be completely righteous, so can God punish you for your sins and still be perfectly just.

        If He offers mercy and you not only reject it but mock it, you can’t blame him.

      • If God created me a sinner, then it is he that messed up isn’t it? Seriously – how can you justify it being my fault if I was born a sinner? How can that possibly make sense to you.?

      • Start at the beginning. Blame Adam.

        Or go the rest of your life without sinning and see if that helps.

      • Or possibly Eve. I shouldn’t reduce the concept of original sin and how it stained humanity down to a sound bite, but I don’t have time to go into it all and wonder if it will matter. Maybe Luke or someone else (is Bubba out there?) would be glad to engage you on that.

      • Yes. Blame Adam.

        Our entire nature is fallen and in need of redemption.

        This may be a difficult concept to understand if you deny that things like “natures” and “essences” and the like exist (not trying to be condescending, being very concrete and serious, it is a difficult concept to understand if you deny those things).

      • Also worth noting that this is why Paul will speak of Jesus as being the “new Adam” and “the firstborn of a New Creation

      • God created you a being without sin, but with the ability to make your own choices. You chose sin. If you are lost (and I believe you are) then it is because of YOU not God.

      • Please detail how I “chose” sin, and how old I was when I chose to be a sinner. If I chose it, then that stands to reason that I could have chosen to not be a sinner, right?

      • All offenses against the moral order are sins.

        In varying degrees they are freely chosen after the age of reason.

        Our fallen nature makes us vulnerable to such things, in thought, word, and deed.

      • From where I stand, that claim could be made at least as strongly of people on the other side of the debate. There are just very large differences between the two positions, that’s all.

      • The difference is that I haven’t gone to a pro-evolution, anti-God site and started espousing my position. I don’t know what Ryan is doing here. He seems completely unreceptive yet he comments here more than most. His motivations are a mystery.

      • You can learn a lot from people who think differently than you.

        Surrounding oneself with only like-minded people is not conducive to intellectual growth. I’ve learned a lot here, and honestly, I have changed my position on a couple of things. I’ve gained a better understanding of the Christian point of view, and I have a great deal of respect for the motivations of most of the people here.

        Yes, I’m passionate about my beliefs and sometimes I talk too much, but suck it up – you are too.

        If you want to read this site without my input, go to Yahoo Pipes, create a pipe from the comments RSS feed from this site, filter me out, and anybody else that disagrees with you, and you will be in internet bliss.

      • Ryan, I’m sincerely glad that you, Racing Boo, Seas and others with different worldviews feel free to post here and debate. That’s one of the reasons I started blogging. I like the intellectual challenge and always welcome the chance to share the Gospel. I agree that we shouldn’t just hang with like minded people.

        Side note: I didn’t realize you could read threads with certain people filtered out. Man, that may come in handy on a couple other blogs I frequent!

  9. Uh Neil…please tell me you meant because man continues the sins committed by Adam and Eve….or are you being facetious?

    I agree with Lonewolf via Ezekiel 18:20. You are a sinner, because you choose it.

    • There is both original sin and actual sin.

      Original sin, a stain upon our soul, is removed by Baptism. Unfortunately the affects continue even after the soul is washed clean (and as such our minds remain darkened, we remain having desires for things other than God, etc).

      Actual sin is, well, sin we actually commit after the age of reason.

      Through Baptism Jesus offers forgiveness for Original Sin. Through his sacrificial death and atonement he offers forgiveness for actual sins.

      I hope this helps.

      • To clarify in a way that might satisfy Neil, accepting of Baptism is necessary for salvation because it is through Baptism that we accept the unmerited gift of Christ atoning for our sins. Without the grace of Baptism we are incapable of accepting the gift.

        The forgiving and saving grace of Baptism is only made possible through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

      • That doesn’t help. Baptism = logical response of convert in obedience to Christ, but not required for salvation. The only passage in the Bible with infants and water = Moses. Infant baptism = not required, though I don’t object to people using it in a covenant fashion (though far, far too many do infant baptism in a superstitious way: “Hurry hurry hurry go baptize the baby” then never return to church).

      • I think Mark 16:16 disagrees with that, but I avoid the baptism debate on this site because I know most here will disagree with it. However, our disagreement on baptism in no way means that Christianity is in any way false.

      • Note, I do not advocate infant baptism. Baptism is done rom the heart, and children below the age of consent are incapable of obedience from the heart.

        Age of consent of course is different for everyone. For instance, people with mental deficiencies may never reach that point. We are way off topic now though! :)

      • I love the discussions which happen here, just the thing for a young person like me. :)

        Anyway, I have a little thing to say on the baptism thing. I am a Catholic, and like most Catholics, I was baptized as a baby as well. When I grew up a little, I attended the Catechism classes in school and I was taught about Original sin and mortal sin and other doctrines. But I’d say the actual catechism I got was definitely from my parents. They explained by baptism as a baby in simplistic terms to me. My mom told me because I was a baby and since I couldn’t take decisions for myself, they took the decision for me to be brought up as a Christian because I was born to Christian parents and that they wanted me to accept Jesus in my life, just like they did. There’s another sacrament in the Catholic church, the confirmation. It’s when I receive that sacrament that I make that decision for myself of whether I accept Christ as my savior or not. Or rather whether I choose to be a follower of Christ or not. I completely obey the Catholic doctrines but like you say Neil, it’s sad it becomes more of a ritual than a covenant, which it really should be, when people don’t realize that they are actually making the most important decision in their life!

      • Shalini, my only issue with all of that (baby baptism, catechism, confirmation) is that I don’t see where those things are found in the scripture. I am not trying to attack you, or your faith. I just wonder if I were Catholic and I started reading the Bible, what I would think. Everything I do in the church is either commanded, given authority for, or given as example in the Bible.

      • LWA,

        I’m glad to answer any questions you may have about Catholicism in a manner that won’t be an attempt at evangelization. Correct understanding of course being essential to fruitful dialog.

        The short answer for your implied question is: you are correct. Infant baptism is not found explicitly stated in scripture. We Catholics look to both Scripture and Sacred Tradition as sources of authority.

      • LCB, I always appreciate your knowledgeable input! :) I do know quite a bit about Catholicism as I have several friends that are current or former Catholics. I think you can gather that I look to scripture as the only source of authority related to the church, and that is where my perspective on not only Catholicism but all denominations comes from.

        Thanks again, LCB.

      • LWA,

        Yup. If your objections stem from the fact those things are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, we Catholics are guilty as charged. But the operative word here is ‘explicit’. :)
        Anyway, I guess LCB would be in better position to explain the Catholic stand ’cause for onething I think his answers are way coherent than mine and second, I am from a different time zone. By the time, I come back here and read any questions you might have, a day would have passed.

        And LCB, as a Catholic myself I have a few doubts on the baptism issue, would you be kind and explain them to me. Of course, provided Neil doesn’t mind me using his space.

      • Spoken like a true Catholic, not it doesn’t help. To say one is stain with original sin and one is born with the potential to sin are two different things. What is the original sin….creation? Pride? Babies are born prideful?

        LWA- Mark 16:16 only speaks of baptism not the method. I would really like someone to go through the NT and show me where Jesus baptized anyone by water. Thank you Neil for clarifying the practice of baptism it helps me make the point of it only being a ‘human’ ritual of rememberance or Jesus would have baptized John when he requested it.

        I DO NOT agree with baptizing babies, because they have no idea and it cheapens something people hold very near and dear. If we examine the true meaning of the word baptism, accepting Christ as your savior is the same thing.

        Acceptance of the Father must be freely given, and these tricks used by the church on innocent children and non-believers is just as bad as worshipping Satan!

      • Mizclark,

        “Spoken like a true Catholic…” Thank you. :-D

        I’d be glad to have a long discussion on Baptism if you’re interested, but we’d probably have to spend some time defining terms since I suspect we are using vocabulary related to it in very different ways.

        As for original sin (something I didn’t realize was controversial, btw), check out Romans 5 for a good starting point. Ephesians 2 is good, if my memory serves.

        I’d be glad to discuss Original Sin too, if you’d like. Which is probably a better starting point before Baptism anyways.

      • Yes Romans 5 was a very good one thank you. I agree we would have to go into a vocabulary discussion to give this topic any justice. I believe our disagreement would be doctrinal as evidenced in Romans 5:12 and the meaning of original sin.

        Sin and death entered the world via man and so it passed through all men. This is the key, and why a definition needs clarification. To me this says man was the first to sin and brought on death and this passes to his children because it is inevitable children learn from their parents.

        Sin is a learned behavior. We also have to consider the source, and I am unprepared to get on Neil’s nerves today with my unending rants on Paul and what I think of him.

        I have SERIOUS issues with 5:6 where he says, “Christ died for the ungodly.” I say Christ died BECAUSE of the ungodly, but that’s what I get for believing in a Loving God that wouldn’t send his son to be murdered. I choose to believe he sent his son with a message and theungodly would rather murder him than obey!

      • Mizclark, it isn’t that you get on my nerves with that. It is that comments like “unending rants on Paul” sound bizarre from someone professing to follow Christ. Jesus is God and man. He went willingly to the cross. I’m not sure why Romans 5:6 would offend you, and even if it did you should side with the Bible.

      • I work with a woman like MizClark. Bascially calls herself a “red-letter” Christian. It makes me think of the King in the old testament that cut out the parts of the law he didn’t like. Red letter Christians want to disregard the teachings found in the letters from Romans-Jude, so they usually focus on Paul in attempt to invalidate the teachings found there.

        This woman also rails on against King James in an attempt to besmirch one of the most accurate English translations that exists today.

      • That’s just it Neil I follow Christ, not Paul. Although I believe him to be a righteous indivdual who may have seen the err of his ways, I do not like his choice of words. I interpret in the churches Neil. How do I explain “It is not good for a man to touch a woman?” when it explicitly says “Be fruitful and multiply” Spanish speakers have a spanish bible etc there are no bibles in sign.

        I can tell them all day long that he means “its not good to be lustful” but that’s not what it says. PERIOD! Jesus is God man? Man is God ( Gen. 1:26 and Gen 5:3) He went willingly to the cross? Where was he gonna go? There was no place to hide and one of his own had sold him out. You say that like if the people believed he would have slit his wrists because God sent him here to die.

        I do side with the Bible whenever I have a question or someone tells me something I don’t quite understand. Its called reading and reproving (Prov 30 5-7). Roman 5:6 offends me because I do not believe Jesus was sent to be murdered.

      • Mizclark, all scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit. All of it, including what Paul wrote, whether you like him or not.

      • INISPIRED!!!!

        Son of Sam claimed his dog inspired him to kill all those people, doesn’t mean his dog wanted him to do it!

      • You are comparing the Son of Sam to 2 Timothy 3:16? I try to take your comments seriously but it is hard when you say things like that.

      • It seems obvious to me that he went willingly to the cross.

        If he had not been willing, who could have made him go?

      • I’m not comparing the Son of Sam to anything. David Koresch, and the KKK claim to be inspired by God. We don’t follow their principles. This is my only point.

        SST- The Romans would have and did [made him]. We speak about this from the perspective of how it happened not as it was meant to be. Adam was not put on this Earth to disobey that’s just what happened. Adam was put on Earth, because God desired to ‘copy himself” and charged Adam to do the same. (Gen. 2)

        Jesus was not put on this Earth as a victim of man’s pride it was a concequence. Jesus was sent to tell you, “You are the sons of the Living Father! There is no sustenance for failure in you! Love each other as you love yourselves and stop using His laws for the purposes of iniquity!”

        I love how people try to tell me this is my version of the Word, when it was written long before I got here. I have not taken pieces that I feel are good and chunked the rest. Thou shall not shed innocent blood!!!

        Jesus was innocent. Pilate spent time proving it and still killed him. It was not his fate! It was pride filled rage by a church he rejected! If the world would have believed it would have been an entirely different story. But they didn’t.

        I apologize if my perspective is disturbing, but that’s just it….my perspective. To say Jesus was meant to die is the same as saying there is no hope for a sin free life and that man is wholly evil.

      • As far as “a Loving God that wouldn’t send his son to be murdered”. You are thinking in the physical and not the spiritual. God sacrificed his own Son not because he was unloving, but because he loved us so much he was willing to allow it to happen so that we have the hope of salvation.

        That is what John 3:16 is all about.

      • Last I checked God sent his Son knowing what would happen, not doing it himself. Otherwise you could argue “murders” us all since he allows us to be born knowing we will die. (Hebrews 9:27).

        God kills but doesn’t commit murder. You are suggesting God is capable of sin.

        Do you really consider yourself a Christian?

      • If he’s not capable of sin, then nothing he does can really be considered good then, can it? Also, if God knew how all of this would turn out, how could it be considered a sacrifice to give up his son, knowing full well he’d be back at the end of the weekend? Since God lies outside time and space, did he really give up his son at all?

      • If you had an understanding of what Jesus took upon the cross I don’t think you’d make that statement.

      • 1) Goodness is not defined in relation to evil. Evil is a deprevation of, an absence of, goodness. Due to that evil is defined in relation to goodness.

        2) To know the good is to do the good. God, knowing the good perfectly, does the good perfectly.

        3) God’s knowledge of the future (which He has perfectly) does not mean the future is determined. We are free agents, free to act. To give an example, if you put a 2 year old in a room with a bunch of crayons and bright white walls, what’s going to happen? You KNOW the outcome, but it doesn’t mean the child wasn’t still free in his/her limited way in the decision to eat the crayons or create beautiful artwork on the walls.

        4) Jesus’ sacrifice is considered a sacrifice because he willingly gave Himself up. Further, Jesus (a person with 2 natures, human and divine) always had free will to choose otherwise. However, out of love for the Father he freely chose to follow the Father’s will so as to bring about the salvation of mankind.”

        5) Jesus, in his human nature, clearly experienced doubt and confusion. This is seen in the Garden before his death. In a time of darkness he placed His trust in God the Father, that God the Father would somehow vindicate Him. This concept of divine vindication is a major theme throughout the Old Testament, and finds its completion in Jesus. The Psalm “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” is a psalm about placing one’s trust in God even in times of doubt.

        6) For an interesting intellectual and theological exercise, take a look at the 6 covenants that appear in Scripture, and notice the role of a) sacrifice and b) divine vindication in all of them.

        I hope this helps clarify some matters for you Ryan.

      • Neil, I know that what Jesus supposedly went through on the cross would be awful, but when you’re God, that’s got to help you a bit.

        LCB, I really do appreciate you trying to explain this to me, but no, absolutely none of that makes sense to me. You would mop the floor with me philosophically if I tried to make your #3 statement. The future is set in stone, yet we have free will? How did Jesus “willingly” give himself up if his purpose on Earth was determined already? Could he have walked away and become a camel dung dealer? What could Jesus have possibly experienced doubt about, and if he had doubt about anything, how can what he said be considered “scripture” and God’s word?

      • Neil, I know that what Jesus supposedly went through on the cross would be awful, but when you’re God, that’s got to help you a bit.

        Don’t make light of the crucifixion here, ever. If you want to understand it better, that’s fine, but no silly quips.

      • Ryan,

        Check out the bottom of this thread. I have attempted to addres a fw of your questions. Will get to the rest tomorrow.

      • By definition, evil is the opposite of good. Therefore, if one is incapable of doing evil, the only thing one is capable of is doing good. All actions taken by that person would be, by definition, good.

      • 1 John 1: 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

        As humans we often try to frame Gd in our own parameters. Just because fantasy writers have always claimed you can’t have good without evil, that doesn’t amke it so. That is the whole point of heaven, in God’s presence there will be no evil. Evil is for this physical world, not the spirtual world of heaven.

      • Evil is not the opposite of good.

        Evil is the lack of good.

        Evil has no substance itself, it only has corrupted good.

      • Mizclark, if I may…

        1) Do you agree that all of humanity has a nature, which is shared? Not mere behaviors that are common to all humans, but a nature, an essence, that is common to all humans?

        2) Who is more likely to be correct about matters pertaining to Jesus Christ, St. Paul, or you? Is it possible that your beliefs are wrong, since you find yourself so at odds with St. Paul?

        3) If you believe one thing, and St. Paul clearly believes a different thing, would it not seem that you are of a different religion than St. Paul?

      • 1) Yes I firmly believe we are all connected through God. I believe EVERYTHING you do affects ALL of His children. I believe this was the heart of the message Christ gave. Love your brother as yourself.

        I also believe he said that for the selfish and unfeeling people of the time, thinking if they could love the common man as much as they loved themselves this world would be a better place. It is evident we don’t love ourselves very much, because we’re doing a terrible job of following His greatest commandment.

        2) I believe neither of us would be correct on matters of Christ when you come down to it. I wasn’t born yet and Paul was too busy persecuting and murdering Christians to listen personally. He had to learn just like the rest of us.

        3) That seems to be the question of this particular post. Can we disagree and still follow the same religion. My answer is yes. I don’t agree with Jeremiah Wright’s choice of words either, but it cant take the place of 30 years of work.

        These are just men and we would do well to remember that, but that’s just this ‘red-letter’ Christian remembering the commandment: Thou shall have no other gods before me.

        Forgive me if I believe that includes His son.

      • You have claimed Paul is wrong.

        That is a claim about a matter of fact.

        By what criteria do you determine that Paul is wrong and you are right when you make your claim?

      • I don’t claim he is wrong. I don’t like his choice of words there is a difference. I have met countless people that have been turned away from the church because of their claim of his ‘double talk’.

        Some people have real issues with a man who murdered as many Christians as he converted, but that is a lesson in forgiveness. I understand the message, and am willing to admit why others don’t.

      • If people were turned away by their claim of Paul’s “double talk” then I hope they came across knowledgeable Christians who could straighten them out on their misunderstandings.

        You are literally the only person I’ve ever come across that has trust issues with Paul because he originally persecuted Christians.

      • Yes which says to me it was an approved practice of rememberance, but not a requirement because he never performed one himself.

        Why would he initiate the Eucharist and not a “physical” baptism? That maybe more of the “red-lettering”, but he was very careful in what he talked about, what he did, and what he endorsed. This just stuck out like a sore thumb for me.

      • We aren’t told he did one, but I am not going to claim he never performed one.

        John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

      • Joh 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

      • Misclark, I am not going to explain stuff here, ’cause I can clearly see you are not interested. But then there are a few things I find a little amusing in your comment. Well, it is clear you don’t what Original Sin is, no problem. You don’t have to agree with infant baptism either. But calling baptizing children as cheap and conniving and equating it to Satan worship, is stretching things too far.

        Honestly, my parents have the right to say that they want their children to accept Christ. They nurtured me when I was a kid and they teaching me what they believe in IS NOT cheap. Of course, when I grew up I made my own decisions. But when we are young, parents make a lot of decisions which they think is for our good. And any good parent would only pass on only what he believes is good for his children. And, baptism is about washing my sin and believing in Christ Jesus, it’s not cheap. In fact, I am profoundly grateful I was born in a Christian family. And the church only baptizes children of believers, not even children of lapsed Catholics.

        As for Christ baptizing with water, yup He didn’t. It was John the Baptist who baptized with water. But LWA, says if Jesus had objections to it, He wouldn’t have gone and got baptized Himself. In fact, John the Baptist mentions Christ will baptize with Holy Spirit. In church, water and fire are 2 symbols of the Holy Spirit.

  10. Ryan,

    Thanks for your response.

    God’s forsight is just about (in my opinion) the hardest concept to grasp in philosophy and theology.

    You have a lot of great questions in your post, and we won’t be able to get to all of them tonight. So what I’m going to try to do tonight is lay out a conceptual framework so that you might start to understand the issue of God’s forsight.

    Firstly, your post, “LCB, I really do appreciate you trying to explain this to me, but no, absolutely none of that makes sense to me. You would mop the floor with me philosophically if I tried to make your #3 statement. The future is set in stone, yet we have free will? How did Jesus “willingly” give himself up if his purpose on Earth was determined already? Could he have walked away and become a camel dung dealer? What could Jesus have possibly experienced doubt about, and if he had doubt about anything, how can what he said be considered “scripture” and God’s word?”

    Okay, God’s forsight:

    1. Let’s consider our previous talks about materialism. Let’s say, for a second, that materialism is true. That means absolutely everything is strictly pre-determined because it’s part of a long chain of causation, even the neurons in our head. With an advanced enough computer, that could take into account every possibility and every cause and effect, a person could predict the future perfectly. If we remove humans from this scenario (yet somehow have one human with an advanced computer, I suppose) it makes it a lot easier to grasp.

    So, in a universe without humans, everything is strictly pre-determined. If there were a God who set it in motion, and had absolutely 100% perfect knowledge of his universe, he could be like the computer, knowing absolutely 100% everything that would ever happen in that universe. Just because those things hadn’t already happened doesn’t mean they won’t happen.

    Further, since he is outside that universe, his knowledge about Alpha Centuri going Supernova on date X doesn’t change what is going to happen.

    The above example is important because it illustrates that God’s knowledge of an event doesn’t change that event. Even if God somehow didn’t know all those things, the natural chain of causality would result on Alpha Centuri going boom n date X. It also helps us to start thinking about this complicated subject.

    2. Time. God is outside time. By definition God can not change. Part of being God is having perfect knowledge. If God did not know the future perfectly, but instead found out who wins the Super Bowl at the same time we do (minus 6 second TV delay), that means that at the start of the super bowl God didn’t know the winner, but at the end of the super bowl he did.

    But that would mean that God’s knowledge changed. And if something is perfect it can not change, for to change would be to move away from perfection. Logical contradiction, ut oh!

    But there is an alternative that satisfies logic.

    3. God has no succession of moments in his existence. All moments ARE to a God who IS. Let’s use examples again.

    I like movies. When i watch a movie, I see it frame by frame on the screen. The still pictures move so quickly that that film appears to be in motion to me. Yet in reality, it is X number of still pictures. If God were to sit down and watch a movie (remember this is an example), he would instantly know every single frame at the same time, and experience them as one.

    A different example. You are reading these words, which are a bunch of letters. Yet, your mind perceives the letters as whole words. The letters are processed instantly as words. Most folks even read several words at a time. Speed readers simply process sentences and paragraphs the way other folks process words. In a sense, we are doing with words what God does with time. Seeing them as “one” instead of individual moments.

    4. Let’s put the above 3 together.

    So we’ve demonstrated how God knowing what will happen with material objects doesn’t change the outcome. All time is perceived as one to God, and is present to Him. Past, present, and future.

    Yet, what about our free will? Does his knowing the outcome of our freely chosen actions somehow negate their freedom?

    No. In the materialism example we saw how God created the material universe and knew everything that would happen because he had perfect knowledge of his creation. The same applies to us. He created us in a loving fashion, and knows every facet of our creation. He knows the content of our souls perfectly.

    So, when we speak of our future actions, what is it precisely that God knows? Does God know what we will do and therefore we are bound to do it? NO. Rather, God knows what we will choose because his perfect forsight allows him to perceive the decision we are faced with, all the circumstances that will be associated with it, every factor related to it, exactly what’s happening in our brain at the time, and what is occurring in our soul & will, allowing him to know what we will freely decide. The decision is indeed ours to make freely.

    That above paragraph may have been very confusing. Let’s go back to examples, and recall what we have previously learned. We see time frame by frame, God sees it all at once. So when we speak of a future event with perfect knowledge (“The sun shall rise in 4 minutes precisely” “Bill will be dead in exactly 30 seconds, because he is on top of a volcano that scientists have determined shall explode in exactly 30 seconds”) it’s because we can see all the factors needed to make it so. But let’s take a different example– a pretty girl is smiling at me. I see her smile, perhaps I am talking with her. THIS IS KEY: My knowledge of her smiling at me in this very moment does not in any way change her freedom to smile at me in this exact moment.

    So when we discuss God’s perfect forsight, we must recall that God is seeing all moments in the same way we see the girl smiling, and not in the way we see poor Bill on the volcano, doomed in 30 seconds exactly.

    So, the decision I shall make 10 years from now to help an old lady cross the street, God does not see that as 10 years from now, because to God both right now and that event at “present.” My knowledge of the girl smiling doesn’t make her smile any less free. And to God, all moments in our life are those “smile” moments.

    I hope that helps a bit.

    • As promised, in this post I shall take up the rest of Ryan’s questions.

      The questions we shall seek to answer are:
      1) How did Jesus willingly give himself up if his purpose on Earth was determined already
      2) Could he have walked away and become a camel dung dealer?
      3) What could Jesus have possibly experienced doubt about…
      4) and if he had doubt about anything, how can what he said be considered “scripture” and God’s word.”

      Preface: We are not really dealing with some of the most dense theological concepts, and it is important to remember that these explanations do not exhaust or fully describe Christian belief. This is because mere explanations can not cover the aspect of “mystery” involved with the life of Jesus, and how his saving sacrifice functions, etc. Mystery doesn’t mean “that which we can’t explain”, rather it means “that which we encounter and experience that is deeper and more abiding even than explanations.” Example: You have discussed your child. I presume you love your child. A proud parent can even explain why they love their child. Yet the explanations do not exhaust the mystery, the experienced reality, of that love.

      1a) “How did Jesus willingly give himself up if his purpose on Earth was determined already?”

      By an act of His will. Jesus is 1 person who has 2 natures. A human nature and a divine nature, contained within 1 person. These natures are not mixed (for if they were mixed it would be neither human nor divine). They are distinct and separate.

      He knew God the Father’s will, and he willingly (out of love and obedience) submitted to that will. Even though he may not have understood it.

      2b) “Could he have walked away and become a camel dung dealer?”

      Yes. He could have. He had the potential to do so, the ability to do so. He was truly free.

      Would he have? No. To know the good is to do the good (we are free to do otherwise, but we would never choose otherwise). Jesus, knowing through his divine nature that submitting to God the Father’s will is the perfect good, would always choose the good. Even when it was really hard to do so (see the Garden of Gethsemane, for example). “My soul is sorrowful, even unto the point of death”

      3a) “What could Jesus have possibly experienced doubt about…”

      Doubt that his sacrifice was necessary, doubt that God would infact vindicate him, doubt that perhaps there was a different way and this wasn’t needed. God the Father is asking Jesus to allow himself to be killed (when with a word he could command legions of angels), on the promise that he’ll be raised again in 3 days. Remember, Jesus was fully human. “Hey Ryan, let these guys kill you. Don’t worry, you’ll rise again in 3 days.” Yet, he placed his trust in God the Father.

      4a) …and if he had doubt about anything, how can what he said be considered “scripture” and God’s word.”

      That doesn’t really logically follow. Perhaps you can clarify a bit? How does a human experiencing human emotions disqualify scripture? Scripture is infallible and unerring (in the original autographs) by the power of the Holy Spirit.

      Conclusion: I would highly advise reading this book:

      “The last superstition: A refutation of the new atheism”

      Not because I’m trying to change your views (though I am trying to change your views), but because it contains an AWESOME AWESOME primer on philosophical history and explanations of key concepts like “nature” and “causality” which are used in totally different ways today than they were 300 years ago.

      Also, it’s a very fun read. Feser is a bit of a firebrand in his writing (infact he made waves a few years back when he published a controversial paper claiming that philosophy in the public square should become more polemic because relativism had caused philosophy to become irrelevant), and so he manages not to get dull when discussing things that can sometimes be dull.

  11. Actually, that was incredibly helpful, and makes sense. Thank you. I’m not saying I believe it’s true, but if we were talking about a movie, you’ve now ironed out most of the continuity issues.

    I know you have more to say, but this brings up another point. Since God is outside of time, and has already experienced everything as a snapshot, then everybody who is going to heaven is already there – in his timeline, right?

    • Ryan,

      “Since God is outside of time, and has already experienced everything as a snapshot, then everybody who is going to heaven is already there – in his timeline, right?”

      That’s an awesome question.

      The answer is: no. Why? Because we are not in heaven yet.

      We really are in time, and really are subject to change. Tomorrow really is tomorrow to us, and has not yet happened. God experiences all moments as one, including our eternal location. However, for us it really is July 23rd. We are not in Heaven yet.

      The follow up question, on your part, will likely be “So, God knows where we shall go when we die? Then why does he create people who shall go to hell?” (Notice how I can know the future without changing your freedom, btw…)

      That’s also a fine question. Answer: those individuals really are free, and really could make the right choices. I like examples. Have you ever known a severe drug addict or alcoholic? Most folks have. You know what they will do tomorrow, and yet you also see them and their potential for something better. As an act of love you will them to improve, to break the addiction, and yet as free persons they often do not.

      That’s kinda how it is with God and Us.

      (As a final not, it is incorrect to say “God has experienced” rather we would say “God experiences”, since God IS, but I think that’s what you were attempting to say, so I just assumed so in my response)

    • Ryan,
      What doubts Jesus could have possibly had in the garden of Gethsemane? What, indeed! A lot, I would say.

      Jesus is both divine and human in nature. He knew not only that He was going to die, He also knew ‘How’. He knew He would be tortured and humiliated and laughed at. He knew the pain He was going to be in, both physical and emotional. But He knew more than that. If you ask any Christian who has a basic understanding of his or her faith, “Why did Jesus die?”, the immediate and simple response will be “For my sins.”. Death is the consequence of sin. So in order to die for my sin, He had to take up the responsibility for my sin. He died for the sins of the entire world. In consequence, He willingly took up the guilt of the entire world. In short, when He was given up to be dead, He was the world’s biggest sinner. In Psalms 51:11, David pleads God not to banish him from God’s presence, because he was sinful. Jesus knew that is exactly what would happen. If David, who had sinned, found it so awful to be banished from the presence of God, imagine Jesus’s plight. Jesus, who is spotless, who is innocent, who had always and will always do what is right in the eyes of His Father, who had always been in the presence of God, will have to be banished from presence of His own Father in order to fulfill His Father’s will. What agonies He must have suffered at the thought being abandoned from His only hope at His hour of suffering. What could have pained Him more than being separated from His Father?

      There’s more. Jesus did not just know what He would have to go through to fulfill His Father’s will, He also knew the consequence of His sacrifice. People who gratefully accept His gift of salvation will be saved. But there will also be people who will reject His gift and who will mock His sacrifice. What a very comforting thought, indeed! Despite all that He was willing to go through for the love His Father, He knew not everybody will be saved. Won’t that thought be depressing?

      And there’s the Satan factor. Now, who benefits the most if Jesus did not accomplish His Father’s will? Satan, of course! Do you think Satan would have let Jesus be at His most vulnerable moment. He would be an idiot to do that, which he is not. Sure, he would have tried swaying Jesus away from doing what His Father wills as a last ditch effort. Jesus had to overcome that as well.

      Agreed. All that I said here is from a believer’s perspective. More emotional than theological. But there is reason why I chose to address that question this way. Jesus, is not just my Saviour. He is not just the Son of the Living God. He is not just the source of my salvation. He’s someone I love. And you just hurt my sensibilities by mocking someone I love. I am sure you don’t like people mocking the person you love the most. I don’t either. You may not believe in God. But am sure you’ll have respect for human sensibilities. You were not mocking someone who is just worshipped, you were mocking someone who is deeply loved. So I hope you reconsider your attitude when addressing His sacrifice ever again.

      • Shalini, I’m truly sorry if I offended you, but the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection are the basis of Christianity, and if those things are not up for debate, then there is no point talking about any of this.

      • You mistake me, Ryan. Ofcourse, nobody’s against debate. You are free to debate on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, sure. I only found the mocking tone in your queries, offensive. I am not saying you should address His crucifixion with reverence. That would be pointless, since you are a non-believer. But you can do the same without mocking, can’t you?

      • Yes I can. I tend to use a humorous tone with many things, even things that I care about deeply. I will try to stay away from that when talking about Jesus.

      • And hey, I’ll have you know that I’ve been a proud Christian all my life. I’ve come across lots of people who openly mock Christ, but I’ve mostly ignored the lot of them ’cause they cared a naught for sensitivity. I made this request to you only because you’ve been quite reasonable in all your queries and debates so far. As you say, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is the crux of the Christian faith, all I ask is that you might want to engage in debates on that topic with a bit more sensitivity.

      • Not sure of the offending comment, but of course they can be debated. Just no mockery.

  12. Not because he was a persecutor of Christians, but because I was one of those who believed he used double talk.

    It wasn’t until I began to study the law that I was able to understand Paul. He is an enigma! I also love the irony of him being the largest critic and basically the author of the NT. It took me years to understand Paul, but I have an unshakeable faith.

    I’m concerned for those who are not as stubborn and hard-headed as me. Will they love God enough to give Paul the benefit of doubt? Sure glad I was.

      • We’ve done Wright’s studies of Paul and Romans at church. Our Associate Pastor really likes him. Wright isn’t the easiest to follow, but he is good. The studies are called, “Romans for everyone,” (or Acts, etc.) but we jokingly called them, “Romans for everyone with a PhD in theology.” They were actually quite accessible.

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