Disappointing: “God’s Not Dead” appears to have missed an opportunity

Spoiler alert: Skip this post if you don’t want to know too much about the God’s Not Dead movie

Note: I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t, but this review seemed pretty thorough and came from a site that would presumably be predisposed to like a production like this.  Go ahead and see it if you like, but either way I encourage you to use it as a springboard to candidly discuss the points of the movie, the gaps and how we could be more effective in sharing the Good News.  My goal with skeptics isn’t to fully address every item in their Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites, but to give thorough, meaningful answers to a couple key questions to remove some barriers and then encourage them to read the word of God, which will do the real work.  

And remember that apologetic reasoning isn’t just important for addressing legitimate questions of non-believers as we seek to point them to the truths in the Bible, but also to strengthen the faith of believers.  So it is important to always use good arguments and to consider the counter-arguments.

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When I first heard of God’s Not Dead I thought it might be a good opportunity to present some key apologetic arguments in a movie.  Sounds like the effort may end up being counterproductive.  Apparently they used arguments that weren’t fleshed out very well and that atheists could easily refute.  If Christians new to apologetics try to use the arguments presented by the movie, they will probably fail with the atheists and may end up with less confidence themselves.  Yes, we have been given the truth, but if you love people you won’t send them off with a false sense of confidence and pretend that they can be white-hot apologists in one easy lesson.

There are multiple subplots in the movie which are all introduced in its first few minutes, but not developed immediately, and it seems to take a while before the details emerge allowing the viewer a chance to catch up. However, the main story is that Josh, a college freshman, is taking an Introduction to Philosophy class from an infamously atheistic professor, Dr. Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo who is known for his role on the TV show Hercules, among other roles). The very first class, the professor stands up and gives a short discourse about the virtues and intellectual superiority of atheism. He then gives the class their first assignment. He passes out blank papers, and demands that each student write “God is dead” and sign their names in order to get a passing grade. Josh refuses, so the professor forces him to take an alternate assignment; Josh will be given time in the next three lectures to prove the existence of God. If the students in his class are convinced, he passes the assignment. If not, he fails the semester, and thus his chances at a prestigious law degree.

This “hostile atheist professor” is a pretty common scenario, though usually not in such a heavy-handed way.  I am a big believer in equipping kids to stay strong in their faith when they leave your house.  But you can’t give them superficial or partial arguments.

And you should never expect some sort of immediate and across the board conversion of a group of people even if you make sound arguments.  The Holy Spirit goes where He will. We can honor God by stating the truth about him regardless of whether He has made them spiritually alive and they accept the truth.

I don’t want to be too hard on the movie, because there is only so much you can cram into two hours.  But it sounds like they could have used better arguments and that they made the characters and scenarios a little too extreme.  I would have stuck with things like the cosmological, design and moral arguments.  These are very sound yet also accessible to the average person.  But I would not have missed the opportunity to work in the minimal facts* arguments.  Consider the benefits of that:

  • You would be talking directly about Jesus, not some generic god.
  • You would point to facts that the history professors on that very campus would agree with (e.g., Jesus really lived and died on a Roman cross, that Paul was a convert and wrote extensively about Jesus close to his death, etc.).
  • You would be bursting the myth that we have a blind faith.
  • You would be talking about the crucifixion and why it occurred, and the resurrection and what that meant.

And I definitely wouldn’t have missed an opportunity to highlight Romans 1, which would demonstrate that in the Christian worldview no amount of arguments will work on people who are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and that God will judge them based on Christ’s standards, not their’s.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

We know why atheists hold their worldview, but all they have to explain our worldview is their beloved Darwinian evolution (however they are defining that this week). And if the manifestation of their theory is the cause of our trust in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, why are they so angry about the outcome?

Whether you see it or not, be sure to be prepared to address the topic when it comes up.  Point them to resources like Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent DesignDarwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design or Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, or to my favorite apologetics blogger, the Wintery Knight.

You can remind people that Christianity is a faith based on real events in history.  We readily concede that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we are completely wrong about God (1 Corinthians 15).

But we have great reasons that He did rise from the dead, that He is fully God and fully man, that if we repent and believe in him we can be saved from our sins and have his righteousness imputed to us, that He is the only way to salvation, and more!  Point them to the word of God and trust him with the results.  And don’t be surprised if they dislike you even more after you share the truth in love.

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*Summary of the “minimal facts” approach: Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements:

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
  • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others. He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.

75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

None of the alternative theories can be true in light of these facts.  The physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.

Why is the primary lie of the gay lobby so effective?

Because they combine it with some truth.

First, the lie:

Agree with us and it will cost you nothing while helping others.

What’s not to like?  Well, lots, if you give it a little thought.

It will make you more popular with the world, because you’ll be perceived as loving and tolerant instead of hateful, but it denies the truth in many ways.  Their agenda has and will continue to cost people their personal liberties, religious freedom and parental rights — and those are design features, not bugs.

And it doesn’t even help those it claims to.  Gays have 40+ times higher rates of Syphilis and HIV, partly because 62% of men who know they are HIV-positive have unprotected sex with men. Violence is higher in LGBTQ relationships.  Even gay leaders wouldn’t want gays around their teenage sons, because they know how predatory that culture can be.  People can and do change sexual preferences.  They are not “born that way,” and even if they were it wouldn’t justify the behavior any more than being born lustful, greedy, angry, etc. justifies those sins.

And of course, that lie explicitly denies the word of the one true God.  To teach the opposite is hate, not love. Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people* (religious or not) can see these truths:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind.

Then why do so many people believe the lie?  Because it is packaged with some true messages.  Satan is evil, but he isn’t stupid.  Jesus rightly called him the father of lies, but that doesn’t mean Satan won’t gladly tell some of the truth to help sell the lies.  People have known for millennia that homosexual behavior was wrong.  God specifically says that you have to suppress the truth in unrighteousness to deny his existence, and one of the ways that rebellion manifests itself in in homosexual behavior.**

See how their truth and lies combination works:

Lie: Agree with us and it will cost you nothing while helping others.

Truth: Disagree with us and we will hurt you.  We will relentlessly mock you in government schools, the media and entertainment.  Like the blind men of Sodom, we will persist no matter what until everyone affirms us.  Not just tolerates, but actively affirms.  Silence will be interpreted as disapproval, and it will cost you your job, business, reputation or even your freedom.  We will not quit until all churches must “marry” same-sex couples and hire actively LGBTQ people.  It will be illegal to quote many parts of the Bible.  It will usher in legalized polygamy, polyamory, pedophilia and more [click any of those links to see how they are already being normalized].  We pretended that we were against those but we never really cared.  We favor anything that rebels against God.  But don’t feel too threatened.  We’ll help you convince others that the Bible doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is a sin, that it doesn’t harm people, etc.

Here’s just one recent example: LGBT Activist Declares: ‘We Need to Start Making Their Lives a Living Hell’

It’s time that the LGBT community forms a new organization that targets homophobes, bigots, religious zealots, religious fanatics, and all other assholes who are against equality, and human and civil rights for all people.
By targeting these bigots, and publishing every little detail of their sex lives, or personal lives, taking pictures through their windows, and getting the pics out on the internet, showing every little thing that they do, including how they wipe their asses when in the bathroom, or for that matter if they’re wiping their asses in the kitchen — we’ve got to catch it on camera.
The time to just sit back and take it, are over with for the LGBT community. We need to get rid of bigots like these homophobic religious assholes, and if it means exposing every little thing about them, then that’s what we need to do.
We need to start making their lives a living hell by constant observation and publishing pics and articles every time they fart, or spit, or even look cross-eyed. It’s obvious these bigots only understand one thing, and that is persecution, discrimination and bigotry.
Here come the LGBT bigots, gonna prey on the religious zealots, fanatics, and bigots who think their shit don’t stink, and think they can control everyone else’s life.
LET’S GET RID OF THESE BASTARDS ONCE AND FOR ALL!!!!

Can’t you just feel the love and tolerance?  That’s just one of the countless things the mainstream media will never tell you.  If they did, do you think it just might change the support for “same-sex marriage?”

That’s their combined message, and that is why so many people conveniently believe the lie.  Don’t give in.  Or if you have given in, come back to the truth and help others do the same.  If you really love God and your neighbor you’ll speak the truth.  In the next post I’ll explain an easy but provocative way to do it.

P.S. Their agenda is propped up by all sorts of other lies as well, such as Matthew Shepard’s murder, tipping hoaxes, birthday party snub hoaxes, etc.

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* The three general types of pro-gay theology people:

  1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God.” (Obviously non-Christians)
  2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling the theological Left.” (Only about 10 things wrong with that.)
  3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

** Romans 1:18–20, 26-28 (ESV) 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Responses to common atheist objections

I thought I’d share this thread from a recent commenter on the How many translations did your Bible go through? post.

Thanks for returning to comment. You seem unwilling to carefully study the arguments for and against your position, and you continually offer logical fallacies as arguments. The primary way you do this is by misstating your opponent’s views and then attacking that position. But that doesn’t prove anything.

You just said that the evil committed in the name of Christianity, was violating its basic tenets. Well, the same goes for atheism. Pol Pot, Hitler, and Stalin were just insane people, simple as that. They have nothing to do with atheism.

What grounding do you have to claim they were insane or that they did anything wrong? In a Darwinian worldview they were obviously the most fit for a time.

Also, there are a lot of atheists who haven’t killed anyone.

That’s not much of an accomplishment, but I’m glad to hear that.

The people you mention are violating atheists basic tenets as well. I’m an atheist, and I haven’t killed anyone. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are atheists, and they haven’t killed anyone. There are a lot of atheists in the world, and we’re just as moral as you are.

But atheism has no core tenets other than insisting that there is no God. We agree that murder is wrong, but your worldview can’t explain why.

This is a quote by Richard Dawkins.

“Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God’s approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That’s not morality, that’s just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base though (Richard Dawkins)”.

Dawkins commits fallacies similar to yours. First, the reward for being good is legitimate because it is innately tied to the act. There is a reason that students who study hard are rewarded with better grades, why employees who perform well are rewarded with promotions and raises, etc. There is nothing wrong with avoiding sin so as to avoid punishment. What could be more logical than that?

Dawkins’ argument, even if true, wouldn’t disprove God.

Christians love making the argument that you can’t be moral without God. Dawkins states that if you can only be moral because God’s watching you, that’s pretty sad.

Atheists love making the false argument that Christians love making the argument that you can’t be moral without God. There have been nearly 3,000 posts on this blog plus tens of thousands of comments. Please find where Christians have made that claim. You’ll be looking a long time. What you will find is that we say that without God you can’t logically ground morality. It isn’t that you can’t be moral if Darwinian evolution is true, it is that there would be no such thing.

Jesus did not rise from the dead. Your “evidence” aka, Bible is false and is full of contradictions.

We have much more evidence than the Bible, though of course that is part of the evidence. You have already demonstrated that you’ve never studied the Bible seriously. You are just repeating atheist sound bites. There are answers to all your alleged contradiction claims (though I doubt you could name 3 supposed contradictions without having to search for them).

Most scholars believe that the gospels are written between 70-100 A.D. That’s plenty of time to get facts wrong.

There are many good reasons to believe that the Gospels — at least the first three — were written before that. Please see http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/when-was-the-new-testament-written/ — that is, if you are truly interested in facts and logic.

And it is fallacious to say that just because things could be wrong that they must be wrong.

Also, how come there isn’t one contemporary eyewitness for Jesus Christ? Everyone claims that there are several eyewitness, yet all of the writings are after Jesus died. Isn’t that a little odd?

I don’t follow . . . if nearly 1/3 of the Gospel texts address the last week of his life and if the entire religion is based on him dying for our sins and rising again, and if the Bible records that his earthly ministry was the last three years of his life, and if the Bible records that his followers didn’t realize He’d die and rise from the dead, then exactly why would you expect the writings to occur before He died and rose again?

Atheism does have really good arguments, but you’re too blinded by your faith to see it.

I could say the same about you regarding Christianity, only I’d have the truth of the Bible to back me up: Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

But you have nothing in atheism to back up your statement. If your worldview is true, then random chemical reactions are solely responsible for my conversion from atheism to my belief in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Why be so mad at your own worldview if it is the “obvious” cause for Christianity?

It’s funny how you say that I’m the one who’s been conditioned to repeat soundbites. Christians are told from birth not to question the dogma of their religion. Even questioning their religion is considered a sin.

Once again you show that you haven’t read the book. Please note these two teachings then reconsider your statements:

Acts 17:11 (ESV) 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV) 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.

Christians are specifically told to use good discernment in testing truth claims.

No, I haven’t come up with excuses to avoid the Bible. I have looked at the evidence and drawn my conclusion that the Christian God is no different than any other myth. The truth is that we don’t know what created the universe. It may have been a “God”, or something else. The point is we don’t know.

We can use logic and facts to demonstrate that it came into being at a point in time, and it is obvious that whatever created it had to be more powerful and significant than what was created.

It’s pretty sad how Christians preach about love of their God. If their love doesn’t work then they preach about eternal damnation.

That is another one of your made-up claims. We preach the entire truth of God. We do love him, and for good reasons. He is a God of love, but will also punish sin as any just judge would. And we love our neighbors, so we tell them the truth about Jesus: He died on a cross for the sins of all who would repent and believe in him. If you want to pay for your own sins for eternity, that is your option.

That doesn’t sound like a loving God to me. Why aren’t you afraid of Zeus, Allah, or any other Gods that have been worshiped throughout history?

Because I have good reasons to believe that those are false.

It’s because you have been brought up from birth to believe in a certain God. If you haven’t been brought up, you’ve been indoctrinated in some form.

Then you are an atheist because of where you were born, right? You know nothing of the Bible. I’m a Christian because God made me spiritually alive and turned me to him through his Word. He does that all over the world every day. People convert from all sorts of belief systems to Christianity.

Just because you believe in Christianity, it doesn’t make it right.

I agree with you. That is another made-up argument on your part.

Christianity is based on geography, and nothing else.

No, it is based on trusting in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and in repenting of sins. Really, read the book. Eternity is a mighty long time to regret spouting atheist sound bites in rebellion against your creator.

The incoherence of the “Christian” Left

Even if you just refer to the Tiny Bible of the Theological Left as common ground, it is easy to show how the Christian Left doesn’t understand or believe the few parts of Bible they claim to like.

False teachers from the “Christian” Left typically deny that Jesus is the only way to salvation, even though there are well over 100 passages teaching the opposite.  Here is another example of their incoherence.  They try to dismiss Paul and the Old Testament (as if that is something a real Christian would ever do!) yet claim to hold to the Gospels.

But consider what Jesus taught about parents in Matthew:

  1. He is obviously in agreement to honor your parents.  Matthew 15:4 “For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’”
  2. But you must always put Jesus over any other person, including the parents you are commanded to honor.  Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
  3. Those who do his will are really his family. Matthew 12: 46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

There is no way to reconcile those passages from the Gospel of Matthew with the teaching that other religions can lead you to salvation.  The theological Left (read: wolves in sheep’s clothing) would have you believe that Jesus taught that you must love him more than anyone else, including the parents you are commanded to honor, and be willing to give up your life for him, yet you could still worship in another religion.  You must love him much more than your parents and other loved ones, but you could love Buddha, Allah, etc. more than Jesus.

That is ridiculous, as are most things they teach.  Run, don’t walk, from any “Christian” leader who denies that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  If they can’t get the simplest essential of the faith right, then they shouldn’t be trusted on anything.  Pick almost any passage that they claim to agree with and see what I mean.  There is almost always something there that they hate but can’t see — as if their eyes hadn’t been opened to it.

The Tiny Bible of the Theological Left: Read it all in 5 minutes!

I came across this from 2011 and wanted to re-post it.  It started off as a tongue-in-cheek exercise, but I just kept thinking of more and more examples until my fingers cramped from typing so much.  Seriously, the more you think carefully about what they teach and claim to believe about the Bible the more obvious it is that they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.  

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There used to be a video store near us that rented movies with objectionable parts removed so the whole family could watch them.  I remember thinking, “What a time saver – you can watch Pulp Fiction in 5 minutes!”

In the same way, you can read the Theological Liberal Bible in about that time, and that is barely an exaggeration (although in this case there are no objectionable parts — at least to believers!).  Thomas Jefferson famously made his own religion with his “Jefferson Bible.” Theological Liberals just go many steps further.  I’m pretty sure this post is longer than their Bible.  Seriously, think about all the things they have to leave out:

First, they must delete the many warnings against false teachers.  There are loads of those, even in the Sermon on the Mount that they think they like but don’t really understand.

Matthew 5:17–18 has to go from the Sermon on the Mount because it shows how Jesus fully supported all the Old Testament.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Then they need to delete various passages that warn not to add or remove anything from the word of God.

They must cut the 100+ passages passages explicitly or implicitly teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  You can’t have that while you’re busy teaching that all religions lead to the one true God.

They must delete the ~3,000 verses and surrounding texts that claim to directly speak for God.  In their hypocrisy many will claim that God is still speaking to them – such as with the UCC slogan “God is still speaking;” – but they don’t believe the original claims made in the Bible.  They treat it as a purely man-made book.  Why should we believe He is speaking to them in a reliable way?  Are we to believe that God has always been a 21st century far Left politician and was just waiting until the culture drifted his way before He was brave enough to speak?

All the claims that the Bible is the word of God have to be cut.  Psalm 119?  Gone.  2 Peter 3:16?  Gone.  And so on.

The beginning of Genesis must go, because they worship Darwin more than God and they “know” how we really came into being.

The countless passages in the Old Testament commanding us not to worship other gods.  For those of you who have actually read the Bible, you know how hard it is to go more than a couple pages without that warning or without reading about the horrible consequences of disobeying it.

The whole book of Joshua, because they think it would have been genocidal for God to clear out the promised land — even if the Canaanites had sacrificed babies and committed other atrocities for 400 years.

The messages about Adam & Eve, Sodom & Gomorrah, Noah and Jonah have to go, of course – as well as Jesus’ unapologetic commentary on them and his treatment of them as real events.

The whole Exodus passage, because they can’t believe that those miracles happened or that God would judge Pharaoh and the Egyptians.  And most of the wilderness experience and the Tabernacle creation must be removed, because they don’t think God really did miracles like providing manna or gave guidance to the Israelites.

The whole book of Judges, because they think God wouldn’t really punish Israel for cycle after cycle of turning from him and worshiping false gods.

Psalm 139 is out, because it teaches how we were knit together in our mother’s wombs by God.  And the same goes for all the other passages acknowledging the humanity of the unborn, such as when John the Baptist kicks in the womb of Elizabeth when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, comes to visit.

All the do not murder / do not shed innocent blood passages have to be cut to support unrestricted abortion rights.

The book of Daniel, plus all other prophetic works, because their stunning accuracy leads theological Liberals to say they must have been written after the fact.  They seem to think that the proper Christian worldview is that Bible writers were big liars, so how could you possibly include those books?  After all, their god could never know the future like the God of the Bible.

Most or all of Paul’s letters, because they think he was a homophobic misogynist who could not have spoken for God.  There goes nearly half the books of the New Testament plus a big chunk of Acts.

The story of Abraham almost sacrificing Isaac, because they think God wouldn’t do that.

All the animal sacrifices, because PETA opposes those and God wouldn’t really command blood to be shed as payment for sins.

All the passages about God having the Northern Kingdom and then the Southern Kingdom taken into captivity for disobeying him and worshiping other gods, because the god of liberal theologians would never do that!

The beginning of the book of Acts, because it has Jesus there after a physical resurrection.

All the passages about judgment and Hell (that’s a whole bunch of the red letters, btw).

All the Gospel presentations in Acts, because they never mention how much God loves us unconditionally but they continually mention that Jesus died and rose again for our sins and that we are commanded to repent and believe.

1 Corinthians 15, because it claims that Jesus was physically resurrected.

Most of the passages about the crucifixion being God’s idea, because that would be divine child abuse.

All the claims for Jesus’ divinity.

All the claims for the virgin birth.

All Jesus’ miracles, because they “know” those couldn’t have really happened.

All the Gospel accounts of Jesus rising from the dead.

All the passages saying Jesus died for our sins.

All the passages about sinners and how humans can’t be good on their own.

All the passages about Satan and demons (there are more than you might think).

Most of the passages about human sexuality, marriage and parenting, because they view that version of God as homophobic, misogynistic and hopelessly politically incorrect.

All passages about God’s wrath.

They even have to take out Leviticus 19:18 (” . . . love your neighbor as yourself”) because they dismiss the rest of Leviticus with their flawed “God hates shrimp”argument.

Pretty much all of Revelation, and especially chapters 2-3 where Jesus addresses the faults of many churches.

And so many more!  Truly, they are the original Dalmatian Theologians, claiming that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots, or Advanced Dalmatian Theologians, where God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.

Leave a comment with others I missed and I’ll update the post.

So what’s left? Roughly a dozen verses, which they take out of context or just plain misinterpret.  Examples:

  1. Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged. They don’t have time to read the next 4 verses that explain how He meant not to judge hypocritically – which, ironically, is exactly what they do when they use that verse in isolation to judge you.
  2. Matthew 5:39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. They use that to oppose capital punishment, among other things, even though it is hard to turn the other cheek if you are the victim of murder and to apply it would mean you’d oppose not only capital punishment for murderers but any punishment at all.
  3. Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ They love mentioning the least of these to justify asking Caesar to take from neighbor A to give to neighbor B, but of course that isn’t what Jesus meant.  And they ignore the other language of eternal judgment in the passage.  Oh, and they are pro-legalized abortion and pro-taxpayer-funded abortion, which means they are pro-abortion.  I can’t reconcile that with helping the “least of these” or with loving your neighbor.

Seriously, we have a precise, highly technical theological term for people who hold those views about the Bible: Non-Christians.  Run, don’t walk, from their “churches.”  Highlight their errors until your throats are raw and your fingertips are calloused.  It is the loving thing to do for scores of their church members headed towards Hell.  Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us to ignore those who claim his name then lie about him.  He didn’t call us to be politically correct.

Helping teens respond to questions about their faith — part 3

My friend Edgar asked for my opinion on some questions from some of his Sunday School students.  I see the same sorts of questions from adults as well.  My goal is to provide some brief, concrete answers.

First, I think it is important to have a game plan with questions like this.  Whether answering a skeptic or equipping a believer to answer the skeptic, my goal is always to give clear, thoughtful answers that address the question and then point to the word of God as quickly as possible.  When in doubt, I’d rather someone read the Bible than listen to me.  God’s word made many promises* about what it will accomplish but contains no such promises about anything I say.

I highly recommend reading Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions to learn how to navigate conversations like these (only $2.99 for the Kindle edition — you can’t afford not to buy it!).  The burden isn’t all on you, and the conversations don’t have to be hostile.  There are many ways to ask polite questions to get people thinking more carefully and to highlight their errors.

Here is the third question:

How do you deal with questions around homosexuality? This is a tricky subject because this is a high school audience and sexuality has to be taught respectfully and with sensitivities to the teens and young ladies in the classroom.

This is a huge and contentious issue, and one that Satan is using to keep people from the faith and to divide entire denominations.  Many people use the homosexual issue as an excuse not to even consider Christianity.  That may tempt some people to gloss over the topic or misstate what the Bible says.

Yes, we should be sensitive with it, but when you consider about how aggressively the world pressures us with its false views I think we should be more bold in equipping young people about the details.

Make no apologies about what the Bible really says, because it couldn’t be more clear.  Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people** (religious or not) can see these truths:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).planned
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind.

Then there is the question of love.  If you really love people you won’t affirm behavior that is spiritually, emotionally and physically destructive.

But do you have to convert people to your views on homosexuality before sharing the Gospel with them?  No.  Of course you shouldn’t water down the truth, but what you really want to do is share the Gospel and let God do his work on their hearts.  As I noted in this post, you don’t have to fix someone’s sins before telling them the truth about Jesus.  The point is to let Jesus do that!  We should approach all people with humility, because we all have temptations that we’ve given into.

It is easy to quickly affirm what the Bible says (“Yes, homosexual behavior is a sin”) but then shift to the Gospel (“But even if it wasn’t a sin you would still be a sinner in need of a Savior . . .”).

Don’t be shy about pointing out the lies of the LGBTQ movement.  People aren’t “born that way,” and even if they were that wouldn’t justify acting on the behavior.  Quoting the Bible doesn’t make LGBTQ people commit suicide any more than saying “don’t get drunk” makes alcoholics kill themselves.  “Same-sex marriage” is an oxymoron and those unions can never produce children or ever provide a mother and a father to a child, so the government has no good reasons to get involved in those relationships.

Make no mistake: The LGBTQ lobby wants to silence Christians.  Lots of us may end up in jail before this is over.  It may not be long until you won’t be employable if you don’t affirm the lie that the behavior isn’t sinful.

Here are some links that go into more detail.  This is a crucial issue so I encourage people to read them.  Feel free to use the PowerPoint slides if you like (I prepared them for a series of Sunday School lessons).

Problems with pro-gay theology  

Responding to Pro-Gay Theology  

Responding to same-sex marriage arguments

PowerPoint slides: Refuting pro-gay theology

Remember that if people are sincere in their questions and aren’t just using them as excuses to justify their rebellion against God then it is completely legitimate to let them do some of their own homework, such as reading a book like Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God.

If they don’t want to do more work or read the Bible, it may be pearls-before-swine time and you should obey Jesus’ command to move on.  Pray for them and perhaps God will make them spiritually alive in the future.  You will have done your work as an ambassador and an apologist (defender of the faith):

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

* Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

** The three general types of pro-gay theology people: 1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God” (obviously non-Christians) 2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling theological Liberals” (only about 10 things wrong with that) 3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

Helping teens respond to questions about their faith — part 2

My friend Edgar asked for my opinion on some questions from some of his Sunday School students.  I see the same sorts of questions from adults as well.  My goal is to provide some brief, concrete answers.

First, I think it is important to have a game plan with questions like this.  Whether answering a skeptic or equipping a believer to answer the skeptic, my goal is always to give clear, thoughtful answers that address the question and then point to the word of God as quickly as possible.  When in doubt, I’d rather someone read the Bible than listen to me.  God’s word made many promises* about what it will accomplish but contains no such promises about anything I say.

I highly recommend reading Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions to learn how to navigate conversations like these (only $2.99 for the Kindle edition — you can’t afford not to buy it!).  The burden isn’t all on you, and the conversations don’t have to be hostile.  There are many ways to ask polite questions to get people thinking more carefully and to highlight their errors.

Here is the second question:

If God is morally good, all loving and kind, why did he command the stoning of people, or the annihilation of entire peoples (man, women, children, babies, etc)? Why does God allow evil at all?

This is a great opportunity to ask clarifying questions.  Typically, it will highlight that the skeptics know very little about the issues they are questioning.  They are often just repeating sound bites they have heard from Richard Dawkins and the like.

I encourage you to never dodge this topic!  At a minimum you have an opportunity to share this truth: God used the most evil act in history to bring about the greatest good in history.  Jesus was the perfect man (far beyond our comprehension) but was betrayed, given an unjust trial, brutally beaten and then nailed to a cross like a piece of meat until He died.  That was the most evil act in human history.  Yet it brought about the greatest good: The salvation of countless sinners who could never be reconciled to God on their own.  So never underestimate God’s ability to appropriately punish and redeem evil. (Hat tip to John Piper)

Then you can ask questions like this:

  • Who was stoned, and why?  Do you understand the context of how the Jews were set apart as special people and were to be a witness to the world?
  • Who was annihilated?  (No “entire peoples” were annihilated, and there was no genocide, though the inhabitants of the Promised Land were supposed to have been completely eliminated in a one-time cleansing.)
  • Why did God command the land to be cleared out?  (The skeptic probably doesn’t know that God had given them 400 years to repent, yet they continued to offer child sacrifices and more.)
  • If God were to eliminate every bit of evil from the universe at midnight tonight, where would you be at 12:01?  Remember, you would be judged based on his standards.  You don’t get to compare your best traits to your neighbor’s worst traits.
  • Do you want God to completely remove your ability to disobey him?  That would make a great prayer!
  • Do you think you are in a position to sit in judgment of God?  If there is a God, would we be in a position to dictate the terms and conditions to him?
  • Would a loving and kind God let sins like child sacrifice go unpunished?  (Young children were literally placed on burning hot statues to be killed.)

Those kinds of questions can provide opportunities to point to what the Bible really says, and can put God’s actions in perspective.  One of our biggest problems is always looking at things from our viewpoint, and forgetting that ultimately it is all about God and his glory — and rightfully so!

Remember that if people are sincere in their questions and aren’t just using them as excuses to justify their rebellion against God then it is completely legitimate to let them do some of their own homework, such as reading a book like Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God.

If they don’t want to do more work or read the Bible, it may be pearls-before-swine time and you should obey Jesus’ command to move on.  Pray for them and perhaps God will make them spiritually alive in the future.  You will have done your work as an ambassador and an apologist (defender of the faith):

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

* Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Helping teens respond to questions about their faith — part 1

My friend Edgar asked for my opinion on some questions from some of his Sunday School students.  I get the same sorts of questions from adults as well.  My goal is to provide some brief, concrete answers.

First, I think it is important to have a game plan with questions like this.  Whether answering a skeptic or equipping a believer to answer the skeptic, my goal is always to give clear, thoughtful answers that address the question and then point to the word of God as quickly as possible.  When in doubt, I’d rather someone read the Bible than listen to me.  God’s word made many promises* about what it will accomplish but contains no such promises about anything I say.

I highly recommend reading Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions to learn how to navigate conversations like these (only $2.99 for the Kindle edition — you can’t afford not to buy it!).  The burden isn’t all on you, and the conversations don’t have to be hostile.  There are many ways to ask polite questions to get people thinking more carefully and to highlight their errors.

Here is the first question:

What do I say to an atheist friend when he says he can be good without God?

This is a classic question.  Remember that we know the truth about atheists: Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

So you can approach the conversation with the confidence that deep down they know the truth.  They can’t go three sentences without making moral claims that assume an objective morality  – that is, that some things are always wrong — e.g., torturing babies for fun.  Side note: Sometimes atheists will rationalize that some things are acceptable for perpetuating the species (rape, abortion, etc.), but you can eliminate those arguments by adding “for fun” to the deed in question. Everyone knows those are wrong — or if they don’t, you should probably leave the room for your own safety!

One of the techniques from the Tactics book is to ask questions such as, “What do you mean by that?”  So in this case you could ask the person what he means by “good.”  That puts the burden on him to define the terms, and he is likely to tip his hand by pointing to some universal moral truths.  After all, if there is no God, then the universe came from nothing, life came from non-life and it evolved to everything we see today.  Therefore, there is no ultimate meaning or accountability in life.  If you steal from or kill your neighbor that wouldn’t be immoral.  Why should you care if he thinks it is immoral?  He just evolved to think that way, but you obviously would have evolved differently.  Sound bites about “human flourishing” or the like just assume that human flourishing is a moral good.  But they have to prove that, and simply coming up with a new phrase assumes what they should be proving.

You could tell him that technically he could do some good thing without God, but he would have no grounding to say the act was truly good.  If Darwinian evolution was true, then real morality is a fiction invented by these random chemical reactions in our brains.  He may think something is “good” but there would be no logical grounding for it.

You can also point out that the existence of evil is proof of God’s existence, not the opposite.  Remind them that all sins against an eternal and holy God will be judged perfectly and that they can pay the penalty for their sins themselves for eternity or they can trust in Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf.

You can also remind them of how they won’t be judged based on how their best traits compare to their neighbor’s worst traits.  Every one of their thoughts, words and deeds will be judged on the standard of Jesus – Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Remember that if people are sincere in their questions and aren’t just using them as excuses to justify their rebellion against God then it is completely legitimate to let them do some of their own homework, such as reading a book like Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God.  If they don’t want to do more work or read the Bible, it may be pearls-before-swine time and you should obey Jesus’ command to move on.  Pray for them and perhaps God will make them spiritually alive in the future.  You will have done your work as an ambassador and an apologist (defender of the faith):

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Summary: Can people be good without God?  Technically,  they can do some good things but they can’t explain how they would qualify as truly good in a godless universe.  And in a more meaningful sense, they aren’t good at all.  They need Jesus.

Romans 3:9 For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

* Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Good news from the Middle East

We spent a few hours in the Dubai airport a couple years ago on our way to and from Kenya, but didn’t go out into the city.  It was a huge and wildly busy airport 24 hours a day.  Even from the airport windows the city looked beautiful.  I assumed it was as restrictive about Christianity as other Muslim nations, but apparently not.  Via Dubai: Amazing and Strategic City – Desiring God.

Proselytizing is against the law in the UAE. But what that means in essence is: You can’t pay someone to convert (as if that were possible) or unduly coerce them to change religions. But speaking the gospel of Jesus Christ abounds.

There are many Christian churches, and the ruler of the emirate is favorable to them for the sake of the expatriates. Only about 13% of Dubai’s local population is local Emirati people. The other 87% are expatriates, half of whom are of Indian descent. Thousands of these are Christians.

Therefore, the gospel sounds forth weekly in Dubai. And on the university campuses, there are organizations that aggressively seek to speak to students about what the Bible really teaches.

That is the best possible definition of proselytizing.  By definition, authentic Christian faith can’t be bought or coerced.  I hope and pray that this situation lasts and that the Gospel spreads from there to the rest of the region.

Jesus, the only way, in 2 Timothy 2

As I pointed out the other day in A simple way to out theologically Liberal Christians for the tares and wolves that they are, it is a plain and repeated teaching in the Bible that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  The world hates that message, as do theologically Liberal/Progressive people who call themselves Christians.  They rarely have any idea how repeated and clear that teaching is.

Stand to Reason offers a great booklet listing 100 passages teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  Just flip open the New Testament and start reading.  You’ll find that little makes sense outside that truth.  If you claim to be a Christian this a view you must hold.

But when I read the Bible I often come across more and more passages that affirm that truth that aren’t in the list of 100.  I was listening to 2 Timothy 2 the other day and noticed all these truths, none of which make sense if other religions are equally valid paths to God. Here are the verses (in italics) along with my reasoning.

2 Timothy 2 (ESV)

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – it isn’t in someone else.

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. – He is the leader.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel – Paul’s Gospel is all Jesus, all the time.

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. – Salvation is in Jesus.

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. – Multiple notations there – by implication, if we die without him we will live without him. You deny him, He denies you.

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. – This doesn’t apply to the theme of this, but I love that verse! It should be one of the first verses people learn.  We won’t be perfect, but we should do our best to read the Bible properly.  There are right and wrong ways to do it, and it is shameful to do it improperly.

19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” – Some are his, and some are not. Believers name the name of the Lord.

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. – You are his servant or you are not his servant. Those who don’t follow him are opponents.

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. – They are with him or they are in the snare of the devil, captured by him to do his will.

Keep in mind that none of that chapter was in the Stand to Reason booklet.  There are well over 100 passages teaching this vital truth.  Christians should never deny it.  The early Christians called themselves the Way for a reason.  It isn’t bad news that there is “only” one way, it is Good News that there is a way at all!  Do not sit in judgment of God and demand an additional way out of your problem of sin.  Just fall on your knees and accept his grace.

Paul vs. Jesus? Not exactly.

A favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

A thread over at the false gospel-preaching Sojourners Blog had multiple accusations against a commenter about whether Jesus and Paul taught the same Gospel, saying things like:

. . . the question of whether the Gospel according to Paul agrees with the Gospel according to Jesus seem largely ignored.

A commenter there referred to someone quoting Paul as a “Paulian” instead of a “Christian” and a commenter here literally said that “Jesus trumps Paul.”  Another one kept saying that “Paul didn’t know about committed same-sex relationships,” as if the Holy Spirit didn’t know either or wasn’t involved in the writings.  And there have been whole TV shows and analyses about the alleged differences between Jesus and Paul.  But is this really the case?

The “Jesus vs. Paul” debate is what is known as a false dichotomy, or a false dilemma.  It implies that you have to choose one side or the other, when there are actually other options.  Please consider this:

1. Jesus is God.  The Bible is the word of God.  Therefore, it is all the word of Jesus.  The original writings turned out just like He wanted them to, including Paul’s letters.

2. The “red letters” (direct quotes of Jesus sometimes printed in red ink) carry no more authority than any of the other verses, let alone the ~3,000 verses saying, “God said,” “The word of the Lord came to me,” etc.

3. Roughly 10% of the “red letters” quoted the “black letters.”  Jesus unapologetically and frequently quoted from the Old Testament, including the most controversial parts such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah and Sodom and Gomorrah.

4. Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture.

5. None of the people making this argument seem to question what Luke wrote in his Gospel, so why do they question what Luke documented about Paul in the book of Acts, including his encounters with Jesus and his acceptance by the other Apostles?

6. Unless you think Paul made up his whole story — which would raise a whole new set of issues — then his claims are just as authoritative as the Gospel writers.

For example, Luke was not a direct follower of Jesus but was a careful historian and under the tutelage of Paul.  Mark leveraged Peter for his Gospel.  But Paul heard directly from Jesus.

7. Think about how much you know about the concept of grace and where that came from.  Do you really want to toss that out?

8. Jesus and Paul don’t disagree.  The clear trumps the unclear, but a Gospel writer’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings doesn’t trump Paul’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings.

9.  Much of Paul’s writings pre-date the Gospels.

So I don’t think Paul disagrees with what others documented directly and indirectly about Jesus, and even if they did you wouldn’t necessarily go with the Gospels.

Quoting Paul doesn’t make one a “Paulian” instead of a Christian, it just means you are quoting the word of God.  Don’t let anyone dismiss your claims because you quote Paul.  And be wary of those arguing against Paul.

Just quote scripture, in context.  It’s all good.

A simple way to out theologically Liberal Christians for the tares and wolves that they are

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to “out” false teachers is to ask if they believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  They very rarely do.  They’ll defend their false view with some tidbit they’ve heard then try to change the subject.  Some, like false teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie, come up with entire sermons designed to rationalize away plain texts like John 14:6 (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.).

Theologically Progressive/Liberals who claim the name of Christ mock the cross and the blood of the martyrs.  They refer to a few Bible verses, though almost always out of context, but if you keep them talking long enough they deny nearly all the essentials of the faith.

What they don’t know is that there are more than 100 passages supporting the truth that Jesus is indeed the only way to salvation.  When you point that out they work overtime to ignore you or change the subject.  Don’t let them do that.  And keep in mind that many of them have Masters or Doctorates in theology yet they have read the Bible so little that they don’t even know that truth!  

Just ask them this: Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation, or do you rationalize away the 100+ passages affirming that truth? Follow-up question: If you deny those passages, then you are denying that the Holy Spirit inspired the original writings, so what is your evidence that the original writings were wrong but that the Holy Spirit is now accurately revealing truths to you?

Here’s what one theological Liberal said on the Sojourners’ blog:

I consider myself Christian although I do not believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation. I consider myself Christian because I seek to obey and to imitate Christ.

My response:

How do you know anything about Christ? Presumably it is from the Bible. But if you dismiss over 100 passages affirming the truth that He is the only way to salvation, why do you find the other passages to be trustworthy, such as the one you quoted (assuming you understood that in context)? If people just hold to the passages they like, then they aren’t following Christ, they are following themselves — that is, the god they have made in their own images by judging the real God and choosing which of his revelations are “real.”

I encourage you to scan the NT and reconsider your views. Jesus prayed in the garden and asked for another way. There wasn’t one. To teach otherwise mocks his work on the cross by implying that it was just one option of many, but not a requirement to save sinners. It also mocks the blood of the martyrs and those being persecuted today. For if Jesus isn’t the only way to salvation, why are these people suffering needlessly for their faith? If those on the theological Left really believed what they said and really loved these people they’d send Reverse Missionaries to de-convert those Christians and encourage them to adopt their local religions. After all, why suffer if Jesus isn’t the only way?

Here’s another typical theologically Liberal comment:

I don’t think it’s possible to bring ‘evidence’, in the sense of rational proof, of the revelations of the Holy Spirit, whether these come through Scripture or through direct experience.

My response:

We agree that the Holy Spirit has a large and unique role. Spiritually dead people will not understand the word. But I encourage you to scan the book of Acts and others to see the Gospel presentations there, and how the Christians referred to facts and logic (OK, and a few miracles) to present their case.

2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

BTW that isn’t even on my list of 100+ passages, but it implicitly shows that you are a follower of the true Christ or you are perishing. You are an unbeliever blinded by the god of this age or you see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, the image of God.

Just keep pointing the Progressives back to the Bible — all of it — and not just their misinterpretations of their favorite verses.  Plant a seed of truth so that whenever they claim to be Christians they’ll know that they are disagreeing with a truth taught more than 100 times in the Bible.

And when they tell you not to judge, point out that they are reading Matthew 7:1 out of context (just read the next 4 verses to see that Jesus is teaching not to judge hypocritically) and show them that they are judging the word of God, which means they are judging God.

Stand to Reason offers a booklet listing 100 passages teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation, though I have found many more.  Just flip open the New Testament and start reading.  You’ll find that little makes sense outside that truth.

Poor arguments to make with theists

circle-slash.jpgA favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

This is a companion piece to Poor arguments to make with atheists.  I deliberately used theists instead of Christians to keep things simple, though I did use some Christian examples below.  I accumulated these from various atheist web sites or comments made here.

I enjoy questions with people who are willing to have a charitable dialogue.  I don’t waste time with people who come by with poorly reasoned sound bites they picked up from their Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris trinity or the Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites.

Also see a list of 300 disproofs of God’s existence (a parody on the common lines of reasoning often used by atheists).

1.  There are lots of denominations within Christianity and lots of religions with differing truth claims.  There must be a solid majority with complete agreement for God to be real, so this is evidence that there is no God.

And where did they arrive at this piece of spiritual truth?   But if the truth is determined by a majority vote, then there must be a God.  There are far more religious people than atheists.  But the truth is the truth no matter how few agree, and a lie is a lie no matter how many agree. And if the majority rules with respect to truth claims then atheism is false, because most people believe there is a God.

Christianity claims to be the narrow road.  Jesus didn’t expect a majority to follow him.  And the Bible addresses many false teachings and warns of others to come.
Also, as one atheist noted when trying to rally people to do “raiding parties” on theist sites, “Atheists as we all know from bitter arguments on this site, embrace a pretty broad range of views.”  So by their logic they must have a false worldview, right?

2. Why is it that religious people resort to imaginary answers (faith) built on the circular reasoning that the bible provides those answers? Does god exist? Yes, because the bible says so. D’uh!.

That is an actual quote.  I got this a lot from the Dawkins’ blog “raiding party.”  I call this the fallacy-within-a-fallacy argument.  They make a straw man argument about us making a circular argument.

I never made that claim about the Bible other than noting that the Bible does claim 3,000 times to speak for God and that it is a sort of necessary condition to be considered the word of God.  We have lots of reasons to believe it is the word of God, but we don’t need circular reasoning for it.

He also uses a non-Biblical definition of faith.  We have faith in something, and it isn’t a “blind faith” or a faith in spite of the evidence.

3. Arguing from incredulity: You just have a made-up invisible friend in the sky, etc., etc.  Do you probably believe in santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

This charming ad hominem attack works both ways.  I submit that A is far more incredible to believe than B, and could have expanded on A for days.

A. The universe was created from nothing without a cause and organized itself into the spectacular level of complexity we see today, including life being created from non-life, and it evolved to create the “fictions” of morality and consciousness.

B. The universe was created by an eternally existent God.

We have lots of evidence for the existence of God: Cosmological (”first cause”), teleological (design), morality, logic, the physical resurrection of Jesus, etc.  If atheists don’t find that compelling, then so be it. I’m on the Great Commission, not the paid commission. But to insist that we have no evidence is uncharitable in the extreme and makes reasoned dialogue virtually impossible.

4. Arguments from ridicule (also see #3).  You can sprinkle in some ridicule to make an argument more entertaining, but using it as your primary argument is weak and fallacious.  Having visited quite a few atheist websites this seems to be their main line of reasoning.

5. As a Christian, you deny all gods but one. As an atheist, I deny all gods. We’re practically the same.

This is a cute but horribly illogical argument.  Saying there is no God isn’t a little different than saying there is one God, it is the opposite.  That’s like saying, “You deny all other women as your wives except one, so you’re practically the same as a single person.”

6. You don’t have empirical evidence for ____ (God, the resurrection, etc.).

To quote Bubba: “Can one prove that only empirical evidence is trustworthy? Better yet, can one prove this by using only empirical evidence?”

The answers, of course, are no and no.

The argument is a “heads we win, tails you lose” trick.  They say that you can only consider natural causes for the creation of the universe, and since they have nothing to test then there could not have been any supernatural cause, right?

And we do have lots of evidence for the resurrection.

7. Parents shouldn’t be allowed to indoctrinate / brainwash their children with religious beliefs.

The brainwashing must not be working, because so many people leave the church.  And why isn’t it brainwashing when the schools do it with evolution and their sickening strategies to take away the innocence of young children?

I find it interesting that with such low church attendance, general Biblical illiteracy and the monopoly that materialism has in public education that most people still don’t buy the macro-evolution lie.  No wonder evolutionists are so frustrated!

Some parents may go overboard with the fear of Hell thing.  But parents have rights, and more importantly, strong warnings are only inappropriate if the consequence in question is not true.

8. The Bible teaches _____ [fill in hopelessly (and deliberately?) wrong interpretation].

Please learn more about the Bible and the faith you are trying to criticize.  Straw-man arguments are unproductive.  This is perhaps the most common error I come across.  It seems like a week rarely goes by without someone using the “shrimp/shellfish argument,” which is full of holes but is appealing to many because so few bother to study the passages. I address five serious problems with it in flaws of the shellfish argument.

9. Christians disagree on what the Bible teaches (or Muslims disagree on the Koran, etc.) so there can’t be one right answer.

Just because a book is capable of being misunderstood doesn’t mean it is incapable of being understood.  Disagreements in science don’t mean everyone must be wrong.

If you have actually studied the Bible you’ll note that it addresses many false teachings and warns that there will always be false teachers.  So the concept that people disagree on what the Bible says isn’t exactly newsworthy.  It is Biblical, in fact.

10. Why do religious people keep quoting bits out of a book written long ago by stone aged (or bronze aged) and ignorant men?

The men who wrote the Bible were quite intelligent.  The Apostle Paul, for example, was well educated, articulate and a clear thinker.  Go read the book of Romans and see what I mean.

The age of the book is completely irrelevant, of course.  If God wrote it the message would be timeless.  And of course, if it were written last week they’d complain that it was too late.

The complaint that our responses are old is also invalid.  The objections are old as well.  The funny thing is that over the last 2,000 years brilliant theists have wrestled with the same questions the New Atheists have, except with more clarity and thoughtfulness.

11. Why do religious people not understand the scientific and philosophical arguments against the existence of god which clearly refute its existence?

This commenter didn’t share any of those arguments or refer to any sources, so it is difficult to answer even if the objection didn’t have a flawed premise (it is basically a “have you stopped beating your wife” type of question that anyone on any side of an issues could use).  Many of us know and understand the arguments and how to respond to them.

12. I can’t understand or conceive of why God would set things up this way, so He must not exist.

We call this “creating God in your own image.”  See the 2nd Commandment.  The atheists making claims like that paraphrase are actually making ironic theological statements, because they claim to know what God should “really” be like.

If you create your own universe with working DNA and such, you can make your own rules.  But whether you like it or not you play by God’s rules in this universe and you’ll have to give an account for your life.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  If you suppress the truth in unrighteousness you will experience God’s wrath for eternity.  You will be judged by God for all your sins, including your darkest, most shameful secret thoughts and deeds.  And the standard won’t be some other sinner like me, it will be the perfect righteousness of Jesus.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

13. Some people who call themselves Christians do and/or say stupid things, so Christianity is false.

That doesn’t disprove Christianity any more than atheists doing and saying stupid things proves that there is a God.

In fact, Christians saying and doing stupid things probably bothers us more than it does atheists.  Believe it or not, we have some common ground there.

14. Religion poisons everything!  What about the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc.?!

That is unproductive hyperbole.  Religion has done many great things – helping the poor, building hospitals and schools, great art, etc.

You don’t judge an ideology based on the actions of those who violate its tenets.  Click the link above for more.

The Salem Witch trials killed 18 people.  The Inquisition killed about 2,000.  That is 2,018 too many, to be sure, but keep in mind two things: The perpetrators did the opposite of what Jesus commanded and 2,018 murders was a slow afternoon for atheists like Stalin and Mao.

Here’s a quote from a guy trying to rally atheists to their cause by raiding theist blogs like this one – to rescue the world from this religious poison, I suppose.  Messiah complex, anyone?

In a very real (but perhaps overly dramatic sense) the fate of the planet is at stake.

Uh, yes, “perhaps.”  But if atheism is true then who cares if the planet dies?  You must use empirical evidence to prove why it would be a bad thing :-).

I have noted that these critics focus almost exclusively on Christianity.  When you point this out to them they squirm and say it is the one they are most familiar with.  But with the growth of radical Islam and the perversions of the caste system in India you’d think they’d spread their evangelical atheism out a bit.

15. Religion gets in the way of scientific progress.

That is simply untrue.  The Galileo story that people usually refer to has many mythical elements.  And how many people can cite an example besides Galileo?  And who knows, maybe Einstein’s presupposition of a static universe caused his error with the cosmological constant.  After all, an expanding universe certainly gives more support to a theist model than a static one.

Darwinistic philosophy caused errors like assuming that “Junk DNA” was really junk.

16. You don’t use reason and we do.

That is just patently false.  Atheists just don’t like the reasons.  Christianity in particular encourages and applauds the use of reason.  Countless great thinkers and scientists were Bible-believing Christians.  Darwinistic philosophy can’t even account for reason, because macro-evolution would select for survivability, no truth.

Closing thoughts: As frequent commenter Edgar has pointed out so well, even if every religion is completely false and atheism is true, then naturalism is to blame.  So it is irrational to get mad at religion or religious people.  We’re just doing what our genes tell us to.

And, of course, you would have absolutely nothing to be proud about.  You haven’t accomplished anything and haven’t generated any brilliant or meaningful ideas.  You are just a bag of chemicals that thinks you have.  Congratulations!  You have no reason for bitterness or grandstanding.

All fun aside, those who can stay away from time-wasting arguments and who want to engage in an actual dialogue are welcome.

I hope that atheists reconsider their views.  Eternity is a mighty long time.  The true God of the universe delights to show forgiveness and mercy, but you must come to him on his terms: Repenting and trusting in Jesus.

Religious pluralism is intellectually bankrupt

pluralism.jpg

There are two main kinds of religious pluralism.  One is good and one is intellectually bankrupt.

Good pluralism: Numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society.

Bad pluralism: All religions are true and equally valid paths to God.

Pluralism can be a good thing if it means we should tolerate the beliefs of others.  Jesus, who was God in flesh, didn’t force anyone to convert.  So why should we think that we can?

Christianity should flourish in a society with good pluralism, as the Gospel can be shared freely and there isn’t pressure to fake one’s beliefs.  Sadly, we often get complacent in such atmospheres and Christianity spreads just as well or better in times of persecution.  It tends to weed out false believers and teachers more effectively.

Of course, there are some truths in each religion, but there are irreconcilable differences in their essential truth claims regarding the nature of God, the path to salvation, their view of Jesus, etc.

Here are some examples:

One of the following is possible when we die, but under no circumstance could more than one be possible:

  1. Reincarnation (Hinduism, New Age)
  2. Complete nothingness (Atheism)
  3. One death then judgment by God (Christianity, Islam, others)

Jesus was either the Messiah (Christianity) or He was not the Messiah (Judaism and others), but He cannot be both the Messiah and not the Messiah.

God either doesn’t exist (Atheism), He exists and is personal (Christianity) or He exists and is impersonal (Hinduism).

Jesus either died on the cross (Christianity) or He didn’t (Islam).  The Koran repeatedly claims that Jesus did not die on the cross (Sura 4:157-158). What evidence does Islam offer? One guy with a vision over 500 years after the fact. That is not what we base history upon, especially when scholars of the first century — whether Christians or not — agree that a real person named Jesus died on a Roman cross.

God either revealed himself to us (many religions) or he didn’t (Atheism, Agnosticism).

Jesus is the eternally existent God (Christianity) or He isn’t (everything else, including the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness). In fact, in Islam it is an unforgivable sin to claim that Jesus is God, so there is no way to reconcile Christianity and Islam.

Some people hold the view that God will be whatever you conceive him to be in this life.  That is one of the most bizarre religious views I have heard.  I’m not sure how they came to the conclusion that every human gets a designer god and that at death it would be just as one wished.

Consider the view of Mahatma Gandhi and Hinduism in general:

After long study and experience, I have come to the conclusion that [1] all religions are true; [2] all religions have some error in them; [3] all religions are almost as dear to me as my own Hinduism, in as much as all human beings should be as dear to one as one’s own close relatives. My own veneration for other faiths is the same as that for my own faith; therefore no thought of conversion is possible. (Mahatma Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as told in his own words, Paris, UNESCO 1958, p 60.)

Yet the exclusive claims of Christianity prove Gandhi’s worldview (that of Hinduism) to be false.  Among other things, the Bible claims at least one hundred times that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  It also commands us not to worship idols and that we die once and then face judgment (it does not hold to reincarnation).  Those are key elements of the Hindu faith.  So if Hinduism is true then Christianity cannot be true.  But if Hinduism is correct in stating that all religions are true, then Christianity must be true.  But Christianity claims to be the one true path, so if it is true then Hinduism is not.

Also, Hinduism claims that Christianity is true, so if Christianity is false then so is Hinduism.  Either way, the logic of Gandhi and Hinduism collapses on itself.

When I share the Gospel with people I do so as respectfully as possible.  But I always try to work in examples like the above to highlight that under no circumstances can we both be right about the nature of God and salvation.

I used to hold the position of religious pluralism.  We studied world religions about 15 years ago in an Adult Sunday School class and, sadly, didn’t dig very deep (I was attending church but not really a believer . . . at best I was “saved and confused”).  Most of us walked away thinking the religions were “all pretty much the same” and with no incentive to go out and make a case for Christianity. 

So why did I – and so many people today, including Christians – embrace bad pluralism? I think it is typically out of a lack of clear thinking on the topic.  When you examine the essentials of these faiths it is not that hard to show how they are irreconcilable.

Political correctness and fear contribute as well.  It is easy to deny the exclusivity of Jesus (or the truth claims of whatever faith one follows) if one wants to avoid controversy.  But as unpopular as it is to make truth claims, it is really a rather logical thing to do.  The one claiming all religions are true needs to back up that claim with their evidence and logic.  Just rattle off a list of religions, sects and cults and ask why they are all true.  Just be careful saying things like, “Hinduism has a lot of sects.”  If you say it too quickly people will have surprised looks on their faces.

Sheer laziness is another factor.  Knowing enough about one’s faith to defend it in the marketplace of ideas is hard work.  Religious pluralism is a great excuse not to evangelize.

I expect many non-Christians to say that all paths lead to God, but it really bothers me when Christians do so.  They should meditate on this passage, among others:

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

 

Roundup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whom can you marry? An exhaustive list of Biblical rules.

wedding-rings2.jpgA favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

According to the Bible, a Christian should only marry a person who is:

  1. A Christian
  2. Able to be married (i.e., of legal age, not married already, etc.)
  3. Of the opposite sex

Item 3 used to be self-evident (and still is, for most of us), but we had to add it to the list a few years back.

That’s it. Despite the stereotype that the Bible is just a giant rule book, many things are very simple.

The key constraint is usually item 1: The future spouse must be a Christian.  Ignoring God’s clear direction on this is a bad idea.  Just because God might ultimately bless it doesn’t mean He is obligated to.  That’s why it is called grace.  (Full disclosure: It is possible that my wife violated guideline #1 in marrying me.  Fortunately, she lost the receipt so she can’t return me now.)

“Missionary dating” (that is, dating someone in hopes of converting them) is un-Biblical, as it is based on false pretenses.  God might bless your relationship and your spouse might become a Christian, but there are no guarantees of that in scripture.  You just don’t want to start your marriage in clear violation of one of God’s commands.

Marrying someone outside your faith is problematic.  You will have vastly different views on what should be the most important part of your life.  It will send a horrible message to your children, namely that you and your spouse thought it was important to agree on where to live, how many kids to have, where to vacation, what to eat, etc., but it wasn’t important for you to have even a general agreement on who God is and how that should impact your lives.

A good Christian friend realized the error of his ways and broke off a relationship with a non-Christian.  It was pretty painful, but certain things validated why he needed to make the break: She specifically tempted him to deny his God, “Just this once” - proof enough as to why such relationships are a bad idea.

Sadly, I know countless church-going parents who don’t teach their kids to only date Christians, and who think little or nothing of their kids marrying non-Christians.  And countless pastors officiate at these ceremonies without ever counseling people about what God says.

Of course, just because it is moral to marry someone doesn’t mean it it wise.  There is a lot of wisdom and advice about how and whether to marry in the book of Proverbs and in 1 Corinthians 7, among other places.  These passages were directed to Solomon’s son but they apply to both sexes.

Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

Proverbs 27:15 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day;

Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

“The Lord says . . .”

bible3.jpgIs the Bible the Word of God?

The Bible directly quotes God roughly 3,000 times and the New Testament writers quote the Old Testament as the word of God 320 times.  Keep in mind that some of those references covered passages of scripture and not just one verse.

Also, Jesus claimed to be God, so all the “red letters” would be Biblical claims to be the Word of God.  And roughly 10% of the red letters quote the black letters.  As noted in “What did Jesus think of the Old Testament,” the references Jesus made to the Old Testament were varied and often cited the most controversial parts – Satan, Noah, Jonah, Sodom, etc.  Jesus made zero corrections to the Old Testament, and He quoted from the Pentateuch (the first five books), Psalms, Jonah and others.  He even said:

Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

I did some searches in my Bible software on a few phrases to see how many times they occurred.  There were so many that I got tired after a while.  Watch for them when you read the Bible.  It is really quite amazing.

  • The Lord says 198
  • The Lord said 301
  • The word of the Lord 239
  •  . . . declares the Lord 266
  •  . . . oracle 47
  • I am the Lord 158
  • Lord instructed 3
  • Lord commanded 117
  • Lord had commanded 24
  • the Lord gave this command 1
  • Lord gave 42
  • Lord told 10
  • Lord has told 4
  • Says the Lord 103
  • The Lord almighty says 47
  • Says the Lord almighty 31
  • The Lord almighty, the God of Israel says 1
  • Lord spoke 25
  • Lord revealed 1
  • Lord then said 1
  • Lord answered 23
  • God said 54
  • Lord had said 31
  • Lord replied 11
  • Holy one of Israel says 2
  • Lord called 14

Then, of course, there is 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (Yes, I know some people think that doesn’t apply to the New Testament.  I’ll address that in another post.)  And Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture.

So the Bible makes an extraordinary amount of claims to be the Word of God and that it was transmitted to us accurately.

What’s the point?

Now before any skeptics or Liberal Theologians choke on their own rage yelling, “circular reference!,” let me point out that I’m not referring to these as my only proof that the Bible is God’s Word.  I understand that claiming that the Bible is God’s Word because it says it is God’s Word wouldn’t be an adequate argument.  We have other evidence for it being God’s Word.

Still, there are a couple important points one can draw from this huge amount of references.

If the Bible is God’s Word then wouldn’t you expect it to make that claim?  In fact, if it didn’t make that claim wouldn’t you view that as a reason for it not being God’s word?  And if it said it wasn’t God’s word then it obviously wouldn’t be God’s word.  So the claims to be God’s word are a sort of necessary occurrence.

The second and main point of this post is only for Christians who claim the Bible isn’t all inspired by God, or that it was just what the Jews and Christians thought God was saying, or that it is somehow incomplete.

If you really think the Bible has upwards of 3,000 errors / lies in it, why pick it up?

How do you discern which parts belong there and which do not?  You appear to believe in Leopard Theology, where the Bible is only inspired in spots and that you are inspired to spot the spots, or Advanced Leopard Theology, where God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.

Why should I trust your “inspiration” more than I trust the writings of the Apostles or their close companions, especially considering that every word they wrote has been scrutinized by believers and non-believers for 2,000 years?  Why should I trust your views when you deny many of the essentials of the faith and often claim that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection aren’t necessary for people to be reconciled to God or to go to Heaven?

The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament make multiple warnings about sound doctrine and Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their false doctrines.  And sound doctrine is found in the Word of God.  Otherwise, what doctrines were the writers referring to?

From beginning to end, the Bible claims to be the Word of God.  Is believing that a requirement for salvation?  No.  The criminal on the cross wasn’t a Bible scholar but he went to Heaven because he put his faith in Jesus.

But how even marginally educated Christians can hold a view other than the Bible being the Word of God is beyond me.  The educated theological liberals who deny God’s word tip their hands that their beliefs are really just politics disguised as religion.  I love Charles Spurgeon’s comment about these types and how he has “no more faith in their mercy than in their accuracy.”

Authentic believers are expected to trust that it is the word of God:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Read it and enjoy it, knowing that the original writings turned out just as God and the human writers desired and that they have been accurately transmitted to us.  It will accomplish all that God promised it would.

Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.