We Are Not to Judge Other Religions – a Window Into the One World Religion

“We are not to judge other religions; we just know that Jesus Christ died for us.  Besides, what about all those people who have never heard of Jesus?”

Response: Thank you for the stimulating conversation on our recent road trip.  I wanted to pursue the issue we discussed about Christians judging other religions. 

The Bible is clear that there were other religions in place at the time of the Old and New Testaments, and they were judged and condemned by prophets in the Old Testament and Christ and His apostles in the New Testament. 

  • Moses directly confronted the spiritual leaders of Egypt, who espoused another religion.  He could have said: “Perhaps you worship God in other ways, so who am I to judge?”  No, he rejected their religion and their gods, and each of the plagues brought upon the Egyptians demonstrated that their gods were impotent against the God of Israel. 
  • There are many other examples of Old Testament prophets rejecting pagan gods and their practices such as sacrificing their children by passing them through the fire.  (In similar fashion, since 1973, our nation has sacrificed over 50 million unborn babies to the gods of convenience, lifestyle, and reputation.)
  • The famous scene where Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to a contest to see whose god would prevail in burning the sacrifice of a bull is another example.
  • The New Testament is also full of examples of Christ and His disciples rejecting other religions.  Christ clearly taught that the (Talmudic) Judaism taught by the Pharisees and Sadducees was insufficient to go to heaven.  He told Nicodemus, a Pharisee, that he must be born again to go to heaven. 
  • When Paul spoke to the Greek philosophers in Athens, he noted that they had statues to many gods, then expounded on their “unknown god”, making the case that their unknown god was really the God of the Bible.

There is no reason to believe that this rejection of other religions does not apply to today as well.  Jesus stated:  “I am the way, the truth, and the light; no one goes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6  This claim to exclusivity is either true or false; there is no middle ground.  He was either who He said He was – the Son of the sovereign, living God and is the only way to heaven, or he was a false teacher and charlatan.  His statement speaks directly to  other religions today as well as then.

The Great Commission, the command of Christ to go therefore and make disciples of all nations is nonsensical if other religions are of equal value to Christianity.  Furthermore, there is compelling evidence that we are approaching the end times – a time of a one-world economy, one-world government, and one-world religion.  The notion that all religions are pathways to God provides a perfect rationale for the one-world religion, which is fundamentally anti-Christ. 

“Besides, what about all those people who have never heard of Jesus?”

Response: Regarding the eternal destination of those who have never heard the Gospel of Christ, I see two possible explanations:

  1. General revelation, the notion that God reveals Himself and His nature through the created world, is taught in both the Old Testament and the New Testament:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.”
Psalm 19:1-2

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  Romans 1:20   

This passage teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” (quote from Wikipedia)

  • The second response is that God is merciful, and ultimately we throw ourselves upon His mercy in this life and the next.  This is certainly true for babies (born and unborn), and may apply in other cases as well.

Finally, looking at these issues from an overall perspective, what difference does it make?  One’s eternal destiny is a very serious thing, because eternity is a long, long time and the consequences are beyond description.  I have learned that the Lord also takes it very seriously. His Word not only articulates a coherent world view and theology that is exclusive, it provides a strong admonition against those who teach other views: 

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”                                         Galatians 1:6-9

Life is short.  God is great, and He invites us to walk with Him every day.

Best regards,

Sophia, God of Wisdom

“I am at point in time where I question belief systems (be they spiritual or otherwise) to see how they fit into my experience…  I remain open to receiving “answers” that are always true no matter time/space/circumstance.  I must say though when I have received such information it has come from within….”

[Paraphrase]  I am drawn to Sophia, personified wisdom (and Goddess of Wisdom); here is a link to an article about Sophia’ Exile and Return” written by Kathleen Granville Damiani. She articulates here (much better than I can) a significant part of my questioning/thinking.

“Who is Sophia? Literally she is Wisdom, because the Greek word Sophia means “wisdom” in English. More than that, Sophia is the Wisdom of Deity. She has been revered as the Wise Bride of Solomon by Jews, as the Queen of Wisdom and War (Athena) by Greeks, and as the Holy Spirit of Wisdom by Christians… Sophia personifies wisdom, an ancient tradition concerned with integrity in the marketplace, politics, and royal court. Because the teachings were rooted in life instead of doctrine, Sophia became problematical and excluded from the religious formulations of monotheism.”      http://www.northernway.org/sophia.html

Response:

Great to hear from you.  Thanks for your thoughts, and sharing “Sophia: Exile and Return” with me.  I found it very interesting and revealing about Ms. Damiani’s personal journey.  I appreciate her openness and your sharing her story with me.  Each of us is on a personal journey, and although our journeys may intersect or be along the same path for a time, it is still personal and one that each of us must live out in our lives.

I also question belief systems to see how they fit into my experience.  And as I meet people, read books, and have other encounters, they inevitably become part of my experience.  Although I used to see religion as a matter of belief, a “blind leap of faith”, I now see a profound opportunity – that of a relationship with the sovereign, living God, the creator of the universe.  Furthermore, I see many manifestations of God’s supernatural intervention into the natural world and our lives.  A few examples:

  • A colleague of mine who is on the faculty at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences campus told me about an experience that transformed her life.  In the 1970s, she said it was the worst time of her life.  She was going through a divorce, and she had a 2 year old girl.  She felt strongly that she should stay home and take care of her daughter, but didn’t have enough money.  So she wrote down how much money she would need, and then said: “Lord, you know I want to stay home with my daughter and take care of her, but you know I don’t have the money.  So let me know what I should do.”  The total amount of the money she needed was $10,750.56 (this was back in the 70s).

The next day she received a letter from her mother, telling her that she knows she is going through a tough time in her life, and perhaps this will help.  Enclosed was a check for the exact amount of $10,750.56!  The letter from her mother was sent a day before she wrote down the amount.  I think this is how the Lord works – something happens in our life and we know it could not have happened by chance.

  • Three weeks ago, I heard a large man, whose name is Ed, tell his story – an incredible story, in some ways similar to the story of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.  Ed was drafted into the army and went to Vietnam, where he witnessed great brutality and became heavily involved in drugs.  When he returned, he became an enforcer with the mob in New Orleans.  He was arrested for a murder he did not commit, and was sentenced to die.  While on death row, he heard an audible voice tell him “I know who you are and what you have done”.  At first he thought it was a guard, but finally realized it was the Lord, and became a Christian.  He was still destined to be executed, when another person confessed to the murder.  As soon as he was free from prison, he was arrested for a murder he did commit.  He was let out on bail after several years, and now goes to visit prisoners to tell them how they can become spiritually free.
  • The New Testament is full of stories of the Holy Spirit guiding, nurturing, convicting, and supporting the apostles and early believers.

As I mentioned before, I find it helpful to make clear distinctions whenever possible, which gives us choices and perhaps provokes us to deeper thought.  Here are some distinctions (please forgive me if I don’t do justice to Sophia):

  • Where Sophia, personified wisdom, looks to personal experience, illuminated by myths, stories, and legends, Biblical Christianity looks to the sovereign, living God of the universe as the ultimate source of wisdom.
  • Sophia, personal wisdom, encourages us to listen to ourselves, and seek wisdom from our experience that emerges from our unconscious.  For a Christian, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord: a profound respect that God for who He is and recognizes our inadequacies and sin in the presence of the Holy God.

Ms. Damiani stated in her dissertation: “Wisdom used to be the highest virtue, but with the coming of Christianity, wisdom left the Western world.”  An astute observation, and I agree with her. 

The two realms – human wisdom and wisdom from God are distinct and ultimately compete for the attention of people.  It is interesting that the Bible addresses this very issue: 

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’

Where is the wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the disputer of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  …For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”                                                                     I Corinthians 1:18-25

Perhaps the ultimate question is this:  how can human wisdom guide us in eternal, supernatural, spiritual matters – an arena in which our human senses and reason fail us, but can only be understood as revealed by the sovereign, living God of the universe?

By the way, I just read a book entitled: “The Math of Christ”, by retired Army Colonel Steve Bauer.  Bauer calculates the odds that 40 of the Old Testament prophecies that have been fulfilled happened purely by chance.  He found the odds to be one chance in 10 to the 136th power.  To gain some perspective on this number, let’s say that the United States was covered by silver dollars, one of which is red.  If we asked a blind man to go out and pick up the red one, his chances of success are one chance in 6.8 chances x 10 to the 13th power.  Fulfilled prophecies are another indication of God’s intervention into our natural world.

I hope this note finds all is well with you.  On with the journey…

Best regards,

Jesus Was the Son of God But Not God

”We (Jehovah’s Witnesses) believe that Jesus was the son of God, but not God, and that He was the highest created being.”

Response: 

Bible Passages Relating to the Divinity of Christ

What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe? Close scrutiny of their doctrinal position on such subjects as the deity of Christ, salvation, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, and the atonement shows beyond a doubt that they do not hold to orthodox Christian positions on these subjects. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest created being. This contradicts many Scriptures which clearly declare Jesus to be God (John 1:1,14,8:58,10:30).

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is obtained by a combination of faith, good works, and obedience. This contradicts countless scriptures which declare salvation to be received by grace through faith (John 3:16;Ephesians 2:8-9;Titus 3:5). Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity, believing Jesus to be a created being and the Holy Spirit to essentially be the inanimate power of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the concept of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and instead hold to a ransom theory, that Jesus’ death was a ransom payment for Adam’s sin.

Read more:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jehovahs-Witnesses.html#ixzz3FaLTKHYn

The New Testament only refers to Jesus Christ as “the Son of God” in a few places.  However, it does testify to his divinity – that he is God in multiple passages:

Jesus as Son of God

Mark 1:11 – At Jesus baptism, a voice from heaven said: “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  Same for Matthew 3:17

Matthew 16:15-17 – Jesus asked His disciples “But who do you say that I am?”  And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 26:63-65 – After interaction with Jesus, the high priest tore his clothes, which is what the priests do when they hear blasphemy (someone claiming to be God):  “And the high priest answered Him and said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’  And Jesus said to him, “It is as you said.  Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’  Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy!  What further need do we have of witnesses?  Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!’

Jesus as God

Matthew 2:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14, referring to Jesus:  “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated ‘God with us’.”

Matthew 3:3 quotes a prophecy in Isaiah 40:3, referring to John the Baptist and Jesus:  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord.  Make His paths straight.”

Matthew 4:7:  Jesus is talking to Satan, who is trying to tempt Him:  “Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Matthew 8:22:  Jesus talks about people calling Him Lord, and He not denying it:  “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

John 10:30–33 – Jesus stated: “’I and My Father are one.’  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father.  For which of these works do you stone Me?  The Jews answered them, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, make Yourself God.” 

John 18:4-8 – Jesus talking to the soldiers who came for Him –  “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’  They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’  Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.  Then, when He said to them, ‘I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground.” 

NOTE:  The word “He” was added to later translations.  The statement “I Am” was known by the Jews to be a direct claim to divinity, as indicated in Exodus 3: 13-14.

Attack on Religion and Christianity

More humans have been killed in the name of God and brutalized by religious despots than all the wars fought over land, resources and money. This makes me question the belief systems of the world.”

Response:

The total number of people killed by genocide is 170 million, of which 110 million (over 2/3) were from communist (atheist) governments.  The Soviet Union was responsible for 61 million, of which Stalin alone was responsible for 43 million deaths.  Hitler was responsible for 12 million.  Numbers vary from one website to another, and these are estimates, but the numbers are very revealing.  This is not to minimize the number of deaths caused in the name of God, which has been substantial. 

If we look closely at religious wars and conflicts involving Christianity, such as the crusades and inquisition, we discover that most of them were sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church and the popes at that time. These periods of violence within Christianity (the crusades, inquisition, etc.) represent behavior conducted by a worldly, legalistic, and/or fleshly “church” in direct disobedience to the message from the New Testament, which is to love our enemy. 

Thus the distinction between the remnant – the true, Spirit-led living body of Christ and the large, political/religious systems that uses Christian terminology and claims authority from Christ for their own purposes is absolutely critical.  Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, yet the Roman Catholic Church considers itself a political as well as religious entity, and sends out ambassadors, owns hospitals, seminaries, universities, commercial property, and consorts with world leaders.

But perhaps a more intriguing point is that various tyrants that have absolutely no regard for human life have recognized the power of religion (man’s yearning for the transcendent) in human beings, and have used that power for their own ends.  That’s one of the reasons they have been so effective in perpetuating their evil schemes – they tap into deep human needs and desires, albeit for their own ends.  So I would totally agree with you that we should question the belief systems of the world, and that religions, religious leaders, and political leaders have often taken advantage of their believers / followers, and should be seriously questioned.

In contrast to religion (man trying to reach God, or create god in his own image), Christianity offers a relationship with the sovereign, living God of the universe.  God created us in His image, with the capacity and desire to know Him, and to enjoy a personal relationship with Him (not just a belief system or ideology) that bears spiritual fruit – peace, joy, and love.

“It just doesn’t make sense that if God is omnipotent and benevolent he would permit such things to happen to his children.”

Response:

You raise a great question, which leads to another question:  given a choice, in which of the following scenarios would you prefer to live:

  1. Our present environment, with all of its crime, suffering, brutalization, unspeakable horrors, wars, innocent people being slaughtered, starved, and tortured for a variety of reasons; but also an environment in which we see great acts of heroism, of love, of sacrifice, of courage, of passion, and virtue by people great and small, or
  2. An environment in which nothing ever bad happens; there is no choice between good or evil, so there is no virtue or heroism.  This would likely be a very pleasant society in which all needs are met, but its pleasantness is accompanied with a profound blandness, like a person who takes drugs that eliminates the peaks and valleys of his/her life.  The quote (not exact): “It is not the number of breaths that we take, but the number of times that take our breath away that makes life worthwhile” would not apply to this scenario, because there would be few, if any breaths that take our breath away.

Depending on one’s life experiences, I suspect most people would choose a).  A second perspective might be helpful here, and that is while most of us are most concerned with life on earth, God sees us in the context of eternity.  So the young child who is killed in an automobile accident is likely in heaven now, while Hitler is experiencing the fires of hell.  God sees the big picture, His justice transcends life on this earth, and it is tempered with profound mercy.

“When I got older, I listened to priests, clergy of all kinds and the stories in the bible just do not make rational sense.”

Response:  

I would agree that many stories in the Bible do not make sense from a rational sense if one’s world view is naturalistic.  We have some friends who are naturalists, who contend that the spirit world is mere superstition. 

In 79 AD, Pompeii, Italy was covered by the volcanic ash and lava from Mount Vesuvius, which erupted for the first time for 1,500 years.  One of the reasons that so many people died was that they had no experience with volcanoes.  They didn’t even have a word for volcano in their language, which was Latin.  The notion that a mountain could explode was foolishness to them.  In like fashion, miracles and fulfilled prophecies are foolishness to naturalists, who have no experience with the spirit world and therefore deny its existence. 

But the Bible goes beyond the natural, and documents interactions between the natural and supernatural.  Miracles, which are by definition an intervention by God, would make no sense from a naturalistic perspective.  It doesn’t mean they didn’t happen, only that the naturalist would a priori deny their existence. 

“A few years back I ran onto a Professor of Religious History at U of NC. He wrote “Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium”.  As a teenager he became a born again Christian and swore to get to know everything knowable about Jesus. He exhausted the literature with more than 30,000 documents on the subject, the most ever assembled up till now. He began to cross reference these documents and found between 300,000 – 400,000 discrepancies. He finally came to the conclusion that the Christian description of Jesus was totally fabricated and admitted that Christianity was a fraud. He no longer considers himself a Christian.”

 Response:  

Very interesting.  While I have not read his books, I do have a few comments that may be pertinent here.  There is a tremendous body of evidence that confirms the historical record of the Old Testament and New Testament, including fulfilled prophecies, of which there are dozens.  One of the most common criticisms of the Bible comes from the “higher critics” – those who were on the forefront of the Higher Criticism movement that started in the late 1800s in northern Germany. 

The higher critics claimed to be above the Bible (and therefore were called higher critics).  They analyzed the language of various bible books, and concluded that certain books were not written by the same person (such as Moses), or that different parts of a particular book were written by different authors. 

They overlooked the reality that an author’s writing style usually changes over time, and that authors of books of the Bible may have incorporated elements from other’s writings, as led by the Holy Spirit.  They also looked at prophecies that were fulfilled, and concluded that since we cannot know things in advance, obviously they were written later.  Their presuppositions led to their conclusions.

Another story may be relevant here.  Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard and the nation’s expert on rules of evidence.  When the U.S. Supreme Court became stuck on an issue relating to evidence, it was Greenleaf’s work that they turned to.  When he made a disparaging remark about Christianity, his students challenged him by asking him if he had ever examined the evidence concerning Christianity.  He admitted that he had not, but agreed to do so.  After examining every thread of evidence he could regarding the life of Jesus and His supposed resurrection, Greenleaf became a Christian, and wrote a book entitled:  “The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence”.  His conclusion was that if the evidence for Christ’s resurrection was presented to any unbiased jury in the world, they would have to conclude that Jesus rose from the dead.

So perhaps Dr. Ehrman is operating from a different set of rules of evidence, which may not hold up in a court of law.  I also think it is also common for our quest to be highly influenced by our personal life experiences.  I know of individuals whose loved ones – siblings or spouses – suffer from a debilitating illness, and fervent prayer does not yield the desired result, of complete healing.  They then conclude that God must not exist because if He existed, He would have healed the loved one.  But God is not a puppet on a string, and His existence does not require Him to cater to our wishes.

“Jesus spoke Aramaic which never was a written language and Jesus never could read and everything written about him was written 30 and 50 years after his death. I don’t know about you but my memory of 30 years ago is just a bit hazy. How could the people who wrote the bible have remembered in such detail what Jesus said, did and believed? Jesus had left the holy land as a teenager and returned roughly a year before he was placed on the cross. How could he have uttered such a vast amount of wisdom in a year?

The Christian bible was not assembled until Constantine, 300 AD, having problems between the Christians and pagans dictated that the Christians put together documents that spelled out their beliefs. The result is close to what you see today but with some considerable editing, there were as many books left out as there were published because the assemblers were also editors and chose what went in and what was left out.”

Response:  

Perhaps you should check your sources.  From Wikipedia: ”The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BCE. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels.  The Aramaic alphabet is historically significant, since virtually all modern Middle Eastern writing systems use a script that can be traced back to it, as well as numerous Altaic writing systems of Central and East Asia.

This is primarily due to the widespread usage of the Aramaic language as both a lingua franca and the official language of the Neo-Assyrian, and its successor, the Achaemenid Empire. Among the scripts in modern use, the Hebrew alphabet bears the closest relation to the Imperial Aramaic script of the 5th century BCE, with an identical letter inventory and, for the most part, nearly identical letter shapes.”

Jesus either read from the Hebrew scriptures or quoted them on numerous occasions; Matthew 4 is an example.  When He was 12 years old, he spent hours discussing theological issues with the religious leaders in Jerusalem.  “And all who heard Him were astonished at his understanding and answers,” Luke 2:47.  In Luke 4, “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up.  And as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read…”  Jesus was often called rabbi, which means teacher, and rabbis commonly visited synagogues, where they would read the Hebrew scriptures.  We see this in Luke 4:16-20.

What is the basis for the notion that Jesus left the Holy Land as a teenager?  How could he have uttered such a vast amount of wisdom in a year?  He didn’t.  His life was attested to by numerous prominent non-Christians, and His ministry took place over three years, not one year.  It is also relevant to remember that we are not talking about some ordinary guy here.  This is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was The Way, The Truth, and The Life. 

The orthodox (not Greek Orthodox) biblical perspective is that the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit, including the authors and those who selected what should be included in the Bible.  While other books or chapters may have historical value or even spiritual insight, they did not meet the high standard set by those who put together the Bible.  The authenticity of this perspective is evident from the fact that the Bible was written by over 40 authors (many of whom did not know each other) from 3 different continents over a period of 1,500 years.  And yet it has a common theme, an historical timeline and message, and fulfilled prophecies that confirm that there was in fact a single author – the Holy Spirit.  Even with unlimited resources, it would be impossible to pull off this feat by human means alone.

From http://www.comereason.org/cmp_rlgn/cmp006.asp, we read:
“The New Testament rests on prophetic authority – primarily delivered through the apostles. The apostles were the foundation of church teachings and were hand-picked by Jesus Himself. They were the surest link to Christ and they therefore were the main source of authentication of what should be considered Scripture.

The early church fathers understood the concept of prophetic authority very well. They recognized that the apostles were given authority from Christ and one of the key identifiers of a writing as Scripture was the fact that it either came from an apostle, such as the letters of Paul and the Gospel of John, or it had a close connection with the apostles, such as the works by Luke or Mark.

Basically, if a document couldn’t be identified as having a real connection with the apostles, that book could not be considered scriptural. Milton Fisher, in writing about principles used in determining canonicity by the early church notes that “apostolic authorship or approval became recognized as the only sure standard for identifying God’s revelation. Even within the Scripture record, first-century prophets were subordinate to apostolic authority.

Jesus’ view of the Old Testament was very high – but it was not an uncommon view at that time. So, when the apostle Peter states in his epistle that Paul’s writings are on the same level as the writings of the Old Testament prophets (2 Pet. 3:15-16), he’s making a very bold and serious claim. But Peter did hold Paul’s writings equally with the Old Testament, so sure was he that they were the words of God.

Finally, since the New Testament testifies to the life and ministry of Jesus, we can rely on it as Scripture. As scholar F.F. Bruce notes, “[Jesus] Himself was the Word of God incarnate. The written record of His words must therefore inevitably have authority at least equal to that accorded the Old Testament oracles.” (4) Dr. Bruce also notes that Jesus promised His disciples that they would, after His departure, receive the Holy Spirit and “‘He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you. … He shall guide you into all the truth…and He shall declare unto you the things that are to come’ (John 14:26;16:13). (5)

Because the Spirit is directly communicating truth through the apostles, the New Testament documents also possess the qualifications of inspiration and prophetic agency. The apostles themselves recognized this, as Paul encouraged the recipients of his letters to circulate them to other churches for learning. The churches would then make copies of these letters to refer to at a later date. Thus, the New Testament was assembled very early – within one hundred years of the documents’ writing.

In fact, all the books of the New Testament were referred to by the church fathers in their writings as authoritative by the mid second century. We have references to various New Testament texts by Polycarp (c AD 150), Justin Martyr (c. AD 140), Irenaeus (c.AD 170), and lists of documents that should be considered Scripture starting with the Muratorian Canon (AD 170).  At Nicea, the New Testament canon had been pretty well established for over a century.”

The Vatican has one of the most extensive libraries of the time of Jesus, probably more than all the rest of the historical writings of the world combined. But you cannot have access to any of it. There are a few who have been permitted access but with the following restrictions. You can take only one scribe, one tablet, no cameras, no recording devices, no phone …. And you are requested to state exactly what you are looking for and which book it comes from and you are accompanied by a Swiss guard who does not leave your side. If the Vatican possesses the “TRUTH” why are they so protective of it?  It would appear that they are protecting something they don’t want the world to know.

Response:  

I am in complete agreement with you.  Sounds fishy to me too.  See comment about Catholicism above.

“On the other hand science is the only “TRUTH”. I am not talking about the theories offered by science but the proven laws that can be tested by anyone with the skills and if necessary the equipment to do the experiment. This includes but not limited to these great scientists:  Euclid, Archimedes, Hipparchus, Claudius Ptolemy, Many Medieval Arab scientists that held it together during the middle ages, Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolas Copernicus, Andres Vesalius, Galileo Galilei, Christian Huygens, Anton van Leeuwenkoek, Robert Hooke, Sir Isaac Newton, Corolus Linnaeus, James Hutton, Antoine Lavoisier, and John Dalton.”

COMMENT:

Few would question the important contribution that science makes to our understanding of the world, how it works, and how we can live in it.  But the assumption that there is a conflict between science and Christianity is ill-founded.  Like emotion and reason, they are different, and each are ways of knowing things that are valuable.  In fact many prominent scientists were Christians, and merely viewed science as another way to understand the world which God created:

  1. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
    Copernicus was the Polish astronomer who put forward the first mathematically based system of planets going around the sun. He attended various European universities, and became a Canon in the Catholic church in 1497. His new system was actually first presented in the Vatican gardens in 1533 before Pope Clement VII who approved, and urged Copernicus to publish it around this time. Copernicus was never under any threat of religious persecution – and was urged to publish both by Catholic Bishop Guise, Cardinal Schonberg, and the Protestant Professor George Rheticus. Copernicus referred sometimes to God in his works, and did not see his system as in conflict with the Bible.
  2. Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627)
    Bacon was a philosopher who is known for establishing the scientific method of inquiry based on experimentation and inductive reasoning. In De Interpretatione Naturae Prooemium, Bacon established his goals as being the discovery of truth, service to his country, and service to the church. Although his work was based upon experimentation and reasoning, he rejected atheism as being the result of insufficient depth of philosophy, stating, “It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.” (Of Atheism)
  3. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
    Kepler was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer. He did early work on light, and established the laws of planetary motion about the sun. He also came close to reaching the Newtonian concept of universal gravity – well before Newton was born! His introduction of the idea of force in astronomy changed it radically in a modern direction. Kepler was an extremely sincere and pious Lutheran, whose works on astronomy contain writings about how space and the heavenly bodies represent the Trinity. Kepler suffered no persecution for his open avowal of the sun-centered system, and, indeed, was allowed as a Protestant to stay in Catholic Graz as a Professor (1595-1600) when other Protestants had been expelled!
  4. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
    Galileo is often remembered for his conflict with the Roman Catholic Church. His controversial work on the solar system was published in 1633. It had no proofs of a sun-centered system (Galileo’s telescope discoveries did not indicate a moving earth) and his one “proof” based upon the tides was invalid. It ignored the correct elliptical orbits of planets published twenty five years earlier by Kepler. Since his work finished by putting the Pope’s favorite argument in the mouth of the simpleton in the dialogue, the Pope (an old friend of Galileo’s) was very offended. After the “trial” and being forbidden to teach the sun-centered system, Galileo did his most useful theoretical work, which was on dynamics. Galileo expressly said that the Bible cannot err, and saw his system as an alternate interpretation of the biblical texts.
  5. Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
    Descartes was a French mathematician, scientist and philosopher who has been called the father of modern philosophy. His school studies made him dissatisfied with previous philosophy: He had a deep religious faith as a Roman Catholic, which he retained to his dying day, along with a resolute, passionate desire to discover the truth. At the age of 24 he had a dream, and felt the vocational call to seek to bring knowledge together in one system of thought. His system began by asking what could be known if all else were doubted – suggesting the famous “I think therefore I am”. Actually, it is often forgotten that the next step for Descartes was to establish the near certainty of the existence of God – for only if God both exists and would not want us to be deceived by our experiences – can we trust our senses and logical thought processes. God is, therefore, central to his whole philosophy. What he really wanted to see was that his philosophy be adopted as standard Roman Catholic teaching. Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) are generally regarded as the key figures in the development of scientific methodology. Both had systems in which God was important, and both seem more devout than the average for their era.
  6. Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
    In optics, mechanics, and mathematics, Newton was a figure of undisputed genius and innovation. In all his science (including chemistry) he saw mathematics and numbers as central. What is less well known is that he was devoutly religious and saw numbers as involved in understanding God’s plan for history from the Bible. He did a considerable work on biblical numerology, and, though aspects of his beliefs were not orthodox, he thought theology was very important. In his system of physics, God is essential to the nature and absoluteness of space. In Principia he stated, “The most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion on an intelligent and powerful Being.”
  7. Robert Boyle (1791-1867)
    One of the founders and key early members of the Royal Society, Boyle gave his name to “Boyle’s Law” for gases, and also wrote an important work on chemistry. Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: “By his will he endowed a series of Boyle lectures, or sermons, which still continue, ‘for proving the Christian religion against notorious infidels…’ As a devout Protestant, Boyle took a special interest in promoting the Christian religion abroad, giving money to translate and publish the New Testament into Irish and Turkish. In 1690 he developed his theological views in The Christian Virtuoso, which he wrote to show that the study of nature was a central religious duty.” Boyle wrote against atheists in his day (the notion that atheism is a modern invention is a myth), and was clearly much more devoutly Christian than the average in his era.
  8. Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
    Michael Faraday was the son of a blacksmith who became one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century. His work on electricity and magnetism not only revolutionized physics, but led to much of our lifestyles today, which depends on them (including computers and telephone lines and, so, web sites). Faraday was a devoutly Christian member of the Sandemanians, which significantly influenced him and strongly affected the way in which he approached and interpreted nature. Originating from Presbyterians, the Sandemanians rejected the idea of state churches, and tried to go back to a New Testament type of Christianity.
  9. Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
    Mendel was the first to lay the mathematical foundations of genetics, in what came to be called “Mendelianism”. He began his research in 1856 (three years before Darwin published his Origin of Species) in the garden of the Monastery in which he was a monk. Mendel was elected Abbot of his Monastery in 1868. His work remained comparatively unknown until the turn of the century, when a new generation of botanists began finding similar results and “rediscovered” him (though their ideas were not identical to his). An interesting point is that the 1860’s was notable for formation of the X-Club, which was dedicated to lessening religious influences and propagating an image of “conflict” between science and religion. One sympathizer was Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton, whose scientific interest was in genetics (a proponent of eugenics – selective breeding among humans to “improve” the stock). He was writing how the “priestly mind” was not conducive to science while, at around the same time, an Austrian monk was making the breakthrough in genetics. The rediscovery of the work of Mendel came too late to affect Galton’s contribution.
  10. William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907)
    Kelvin was foremost among the small group of British scientists who helped to lay the foundations of modern physics. His work covered many areas of physics, and he was said to have more letters after his name than anyone else in the Commonwealth, since he received numerous honorary degrees from European Universities, which recognized the value of his work. He was a very committed Christian, who was certainly more religious than the average for his era. Interestingly, his fellow physicists George Gabriel Stokes (1819-1903) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) were also men of deep Christian commitment, in an era when many were nominal, apathetic, or anti-Christian. The Encyclopedia Britannica says “Maxwell is regarded by most modern physicists as the scientist of the 19th century who had the greatest influence on 20th century physics; he is ranked with Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein for the fundamental nature of his contributions.” Lord Kelvin was an Old Earth creationist, who estimated the Earth’s age to be somewhere between 20 million and 100 million years, with an upper limit at 500 million years based on cooling rates (a low estimate due to his lack of knowledge about radiogenic heating).
  11. Max Planck (1858-1947)
    Planck made many contributions to physics, but is best known for quantum theory, which revolutionized our understanding of the atomic and sub-atomic worlds. In his 1937 lecture “Religion and Naturwissenschaft,” Planck expressed the view that God is everywhere present, and held that “the holiness of the unintelligible Godhead is conveyed by the holiness of symbols.” Atheists, he thought, attach too much importance to what are merely symbols. Planck was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God (though not necessarily a personal one). Both science and religion wage a “tireless battle against skepticism and dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition” with the goal “toward God!”
  12. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
    Einstein is probably the best known and most highly revered scientist of the twentieth century, and is associated with major revolutions in our thinking about time, gravity, and the conversion of matter to energy (E=mc2). Although never coming to belief in a personal God, he recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe. The Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: “Firmly denying atheism, Einstein expressed a belief in “Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists.” This actually motivated his interest in science, as he once remarked to a young physicist: “I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.” Einstein’s famous epithet on the “uncertainty principle” was “God does not play dice” – and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed. A famous saying of his was “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”                          Source:  www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencefaith.html

I don’t want to bore you with more but the truth is that the work of these men [the list mentioned earlier, starting with Euclid] is beyond question as to its validity and its “Truth” because the experiments our math is repeatable by anyone with the knowledge and skill to conduct it.  There is not a religion on earth that can claim such “Truth”.  Everywhere you turn you will find discrepancies and disputes of what is written in religious literature.

Religion is a divergent ideology that over time expands in its literature and creates more sects that fight with the older beliefs. On the other hand science is a convergent ideology. It begins with observing, concluding, theorizing, and then experiments are performed to validate or reject the theory. Other experiments are conducted and finally the theory is replaced by a LAW or thrown out. Once this PROOF is established it becomes another cornerstone on which we can guarantee it will work as consistently as the sun rise or the tides. And I would say that it will continue to be so long after the earth and tides no longer exist.

Truth is hard to find but science has found an approach that will and does provide us with the “TRUTH” that we all bet our lives, our fortunes and our future on almost every day.  I don’t think many would bet their lives on what they read in religious literature and put their lives on the line for what they believe in the way they take what science has found to be the truth and trust their lives to it.”

COMMENT:  Excellent description of the naturalistic, scientific perspective.  Let’s take this one concept at a time.

Concept #1:  Objective truth – truth/knowledge that exists regardless of our awareness of it.  Science is based on the premise that you can know things that are really true, even though a particular experiment will likely only yield a tidbit of that truth.  Christianity also is based on the same premise, and goes further to claim that Christ is “the way, the truth, and the light”.  Sounds like we both accept the notion that objective truth exists.  By the way, those who assert that objective truth does not exist are asserting (as objectively true) that it does not exist, thus refuting themselves.

Truth is hard to find but science has found an approach that will and does provide us with the “TRUTH” that we all bet our lives, our fortunes and our future  on almost every day.  

Concept #2:  Limitations of science:  Granted that science has been very beneficial to mankind, it also poses questions regarding its limitations:

  • Science can tell us how to build an atomic bomb, but does it tell us when it should be used?
  • Science can tell us how to clone people, or even introduce animal genes into humans to make us stronger or faster.  Does science tell us whether we should do this and under what circumstances?

As indicated by these questions, science can tell us what is and what is possible, but it is incapable of telling us what should be and what we should do.  That is the realm of wisdom, and of the moral/spiritual arena.

On the other hand, the predominant world view of scientists today is evolution, the notion that we evolved from inert matter by blind chance, starting with the Big Bang.  Evolutionists commonly portray man as merely smart animals, with the survival of the fittest as the determiner of who will survive in Darwinian evolution.  This raises some important questions:

  • If we are merely animals, then, by the rules of Darwinian evolution, there is nothing beyond the material universe, and survival is the ultimate in life.   But does that lead to a fulfilled life? 
  • Is that all there is? 
  • Is that all we can say at the end of our lives, that we survived? 
  • Is there really nothing worth dying for? 
  • Does survival – physical existence – provide meaning and significance? 
  • Are those mere whims that have validity only insofar as they help with survival?

Applying science to the naturalistic/materialistic world view is what Karl Marx did, and he called it “scientific materialism”.  Because there is nothing beyond the material world, and science really gives no guidance as to what man should do, Marxist tyrants fhave murdered everyone who stood in the way of their utopian dream, one in which everyone would become virtuous because their (material) needs would be taken care of.  The souls of millions of souls murdered by these regimes cry out as a testimony against the barbarism that follows a world view that is based on materialist assumptions of human nature.

In contrast to this materialist perspective, the Judeo-Christian world view posits that we were created in the image of the sovereign, living God, with the capacity and desire for a relationship with Him and our fellow human beings, and that mankind is distinct from the animal world.  Having tried several other world views, I can attest to the joy, peace, and meaning that comes with a walk with the Lord.

Concept #3:  Science as a convergent ideology.  While this notion is widely assumed to be true, there is compelling evidence to the contrary.  Thomas Kuhn, in this groundbreaking book “The Structure of Scientific Revolution”, builds a strong case that people, including scientists, do not see the world as it is, but as we are.  That is, each of us has a set of assumptions about life – a world view or paradigm – and that what we perceive is impacted by our paradigm.  Taking Hurricane Katrina for example, an environmentalist, an attorney, a politician, a black activist, and a business man would all report different things about Katrina because they have different paradigms, some of which directly conflict with each other.

This applies to science as well.  Kuhn contends that scientists also have predominant paradigms or world views that shape their assumptions, their experimental designs, and their conclusions.  In earlier years, everyone believed the earth was flat.  But as time went on, anomalies began to accumulate, until at some point in time, the paradigm shifted – a new paradigm emerged that better explained the data (that the earth was round).  Thus the notion of paradigm shifts is a very useful and powerful way to understand change.

However, sometimes the paradigm doesn’t shift, even though the bulk of evidence would support such a shift.  Politics and vested interests can all impede the shifting of a paradigm.  One such example would be global warming.  Although there are huge scientific fallacies with global warming, there are certain political and financial interests who have found to be in their interest to keep it going and push for radical legislation because it suits their interest.  Follow the money and the power…

Another example of differing paradigms within science (that portray science as a divergent ideology) is creation science vs. evolution.   As you know, dozens or hundreds of books have been written about this issue.  Here are a few key points:

  • Evolutionists claim that creation is religion, thus dismissing it out of hand.  They do not understand, or simply ignore, that there are over 10,000 scientists (M.S. and Ph.D. in hard science) in the U.S. who embrace creation science.
  • Both creation scientists and evolutionists embrace micro-evolution – the kind of small changes that Charles Darwin observed with finches in his studies.  What creation scientists see no proof for is macro-evolution – that a whale can become a bear for example (which Darwin did not see, but assumed).
  • Darwin acknowledged that the validity of his entire theory rested on the fossil record.  Since then, hundreds of thousands of fossils have been discovered, and the gaps between species are still missing.  This is exactly what creation science expects, and is an arrow through the heart of evolution, which would anticipate a full array of transitional forms.  Some evolutionists are so desperate to explain these gaps that they come up with fancy words to explain fast evolution, or leaps from one species to another.  “Punctuated equilibrium” is an example.
  • Intelligent Design is a new movement within science, made up mostly of evolutionary scientists who are compelled by the data to acknowledge that there is a designer of nature.  A fundamental tenet of evolutionary change is that every change must benefit the organism.  But scientists have found cells that operate like engines or mouse traps – a set of interrelated parts, all of which are necessary for it to operate.  So a piston does not benefit a horseless carriage; only an entire engine.   Many Intelligent Design proponents are not Christians or theists, but their basic honesty at looking at the data compels them to embrace intelligent design.  Just as people out hiking in the Black Hills of South Dakota who happen upon Mount Rushmore would all admit that Mount Rushmore was a sign of intelligence rather than a product of evolution (by chance).

Concept #4:  Religion as a divergent ideology.

I agree that religion – man’s search for god, or to create him in his own image – is divergent.  No disagreement there.  It is particularly interesting to see what various religions say about what happens when we die:

  • Christianity – to heaven or hell,
  • Roman Catholicism – heaven, hell, or purgatory,
  • Islam – to hell or paradise, where 73 virgins await you, to meet your every need
  • Mormons – if you are a devout Mormon man, you will get your own planet (really), and are able to stay there, procreating spirit babies who then become born on earth,
  • Hinduism – you are recycled through reincarnation over and over again, perhaps coming back as a rat or a king, depending on your works, and eventually becoming one with the all, like a drop of water that falls into the ocean,
  • Buddhism – you experience nothingness,
  • Secular humanism (declared by the U.S. Supreme Court to be a religion) – you cease to exist, and become like dust that is blown in the wind.

However, true Christianity, consisting of the remnant that the Bible speaks of who are true Christians, repentant of their sins and led by the Holy Spirit to live lives of peace, joy, and love, is convergent.  It is an amazing experience to encounter individuals of widely divergent cultures, races, age, and gender, and even of other centuries (through their writings) that walk with the Lord.  It is truly convergent, and awesome to behold. 

Often the Lord works through these individuals to impact those around them.  This life in the Spirit is a great adventure, as well as being a life of service and impact.  In Little Rock, a Jewish physician whose specialty was cancer observed that many of his patients died with great peace and even joy.  This was unusual for him and he became very curious.  He subsequently discovered that these individuals were Christians, who were experiencing “the peace that passes understanding” because their lives were given over to the Lord.

Maybe I was looking for God in my search for truth but could not find him.

Response:

The Word of God sheds light on this issue:

 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:20

“But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6

In my experience, anyone who truly seeks the Lord will be found by Him.  But we must seek Him in humility, for pride is a huge barrier to knowing the Lord.

Truth is hard to find but science has found an approach that will and does provide us with the “TRUTH” that we all bet our lives, our fortunes and our future on almost every day.  I don’t think many would bet their lives on what they read in religious literature and put their lives on the line for what they believe in the way they take what science has found to be the truth and trust their lives to it.

COMMENT:  Actually, just the opposite is true.  Millions of Christians have died because of their faith in the early church, through the Roman empire (before Constantine), the Spanish Inquisition by the Catholic Church, the Communist Russian revolution, Nazi Germany, and now by Moslems in several Moslem nations – Sudan, Philippines, and even Iraq.  Their martyrdom has led many others to become Christians, because it is almost impossible for a person to be willing to die for a lie – a falsehood.  These individuals do not die because of what they read in religious literature, but because they have encountered the sovereign, living God, and this experience has transformed their lives here on earth and into eternity.  They know the Lord, and they know that Jesus overcame the ultimate challenge – He overcame death, and He promises eternal life to His followers.

A few years back I read something about the God gene http://www.curledup.com/godgene.htm. The author did experiments with identical twins and concluded that nature trumps nurture. And that that God or the belief in one is hard wired in us.

COMMENT:  Very interesting.  I had not read of that research.  And yet, that is exactly what we would expect if the sovereign, living God created us in His image, with a capacity and desire to know Him and enjoy a relationship with Him forever. 

On the other hand, evolution would have a hard time explaining how, considering two apes, the one that developed or embraced a belief in a transcendent spiritual being is more likely to survive.  As you know, SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST is the modus operandi of evolution. 

So how would a belief in God better equip one ape to survive than the other?  Actually, we would anticipate that the ape/creature who believes that this earth is all there is would most likely to fight or work the hardest to survive, because once he/she dies, it is all over.  On the face of it, it doesn’t make sense – it lacks face validity.

By the way, Occam’s Razor, a widely accepted principle in scientific circles, states that, given two alternative explanations of some phenomenon, the one that most directly and simply explains the phenomenon is most likely true.  “Hard wired” seems to be a better fit with creation than evolution.

As a psychological defense they began to create gods that they had ceremonies to ask for help or avoid the calamities of their lives. Paleontologists have found in the graves of what they believe were the leaders in their culture that appear to be something they would need in the “after life”. From this evolved the gods and the afterlife. For thousands of generations in almost every culture even in the most primitive this is found. Their gods became more defined and took on characteristics quite different from each other but never the less gods. This I think became built into our genetic makeup we call the “God gene “that the author of the God Gene talks about. As he says God is in our genes.

Witch doctors were born evolved into priests and other positions in the growing communities.  Giant religious organizations dominated some of the cultures. Some of these deities became good loving, nurturing as the Christians present Jesus but others like the Incas, Mayas, Aztecs had gods that drove them to blood thirsty societies. Never the less the God gene persisted and we carry it today.

COMMENT:  You have provided a great example of how paradigms affect our thinking.  The story you told is from an evolutionary perspective, and is speculative, not really scientific (because it cannot be replicated).  An alternative story is that the sovereign, living God created us in His image, and made Himself known to us down through the ages.  The Bible contends that God reveals Himself and His nature through His handiwork (the design of nature), and through special revelation – prophets, Jesus coming, etc.  The Bible also describes evil beings – demons, Satan, etc., which manifest themselves in people and in some cultures.  This fits with the Mayas and Aztecs.

I understand that over 100 cultures have traditions and stories in their history about their ancestors surviving a great flood on some kind of boat.  How would an evolutionist explain this – that there is also a boat gene?  To what evolutionary advantage would a belief that one’s ancestors survived a great flood on a boat provide?  In keeping with Occam’s Razor, a more direct explanation would be that all of these people have a common ancestor (such as Noah), who really did survive a great flood on a boat.  Several explorers have found Noah’s Ark, by the way. 

As I said at 13 I had an epiphany. Something made want to become very religious but when I looked around there was so much that was not true about the organized religions that I could possibly believe that I have had a lifelong quest trying to understand and find TRUTH. I found it in science and the more science I studied the less I could believe about religion.

COMMENT:  Very interesting.  My best friend had a very similar experience at age 13.  She looked at what was going on in church (liberal denomination), and didn’t find anything meaningful.  So she became an atheist at age 13.  She has since studied history, philosophy, and religion, and has become a Christian.  This will sound harsh, but I think it is fair to say that many churches, churchgoers, and pastors are spiritually dead.  They have the form but none of the substance.  I think that is why after 9-11, many people came to church expecting to learn more about the sovereign, living God and His plan for their lives, only to find spiritual deadness.  So the numbers dropped off.

When I left for college, I abandoned my traditional Christian beliefs, and became a subjectivist, then a Marxist, then a classical humanist, and finally a Christian.  I ran across a book by Francis Schaefer called “The God Who is There”, where the author connected reason and faith.  He stated that is reasonable to believe that the God who created the universe created us with the capacity to use reason.  God even invites us to use reason:  “’Come let us reason together’, says the Lord”, Isaiah 1:18.

As discussed earlier, I think that science and Christianity enable us to know different things (different elements of objective truth).  Furthermore, the statement that science is the only way to know truth is a statement of belief or ideology, not truth.  It cannot be proven, and is a statement of philosophy. 

If a person tries to measure air temperature with a yardstick and fails, can they logically conclude that air temperature does not exist?  Because science is unable to identify or measure the spiritual world, can it claim that the latter does not exist?  No.  We cannot prove that something does not exist, because it could exist out there and we are simply unaware of it.  If I tried to prove that there are no Chinese people with square heads, I could go check out all of the Chinese people in China, and then would probably miss some Chinese guy in L.A. with a square head.

However, there are clues to the spiritual world.  In addition to fulfilled prophecy and changed lives, one of the most interesting is a cardiologist named Maurice Rawlings.  He received a lot of tough cases, many of whom died, and then he resuscitated them.  About half of them came back from death, and they did not want to come back.  They had a very pleasant experience – bright lights, love, etc., and did not want to come back.  On the other hand, the other half came back and they were screaming – utterly terrified with the experience that had just encountered, which they described as hell.  Dr. Rawlings discovered that after about three days, those experiencing hell had forgotten their horrific experience.  He concluded that their minds simply could not cope with such horrific experiences, so it suppressed them.

I believe the BIG Bang is the way the universe came into being. There is just too much evidence to support it that even though we cannot go back and produce an experiment to guarantee it’s truth.

COMMENT:

Although I have not studied this in depth, I do not understand how an explosion can ever lead to greater order and complexity, when empirical observations lead to the opposite conclusions.  Can you imagine blowing up anything, and it leads to greater order and complexity?  One article I read compares the claims of the big bang to a tornado blowing through a large junkyard and producing a Boeing 747.  This, and the notion that if you wait long enough, something inanimate will come alive (through evolution), is a good reason why people have embraced Christianity.  It is also why the following book gains credence:  “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, available through Amazon.com. 

If this is how it all came to be there could be a creator that started it but as some religions believe he created it and left to its own demise.

COMMENT:  What you have described is very common – the Deist (non-Christian) perspective that God started it all, then backed off, or those who create God in their own image. 

I guess this is the closest I can get to god. If this be the case then all the characteristics we give the gods must just man’s characteristic laid upon their deity.

COMMENT:

Creating God in our own image is also common:  “If I was God, here is how I would run things…”  The destruction of human life by those political/military/religious/cult leaders who have presumed to be gods is well documented. 

I agree with you that is the closest you can get to God (on this earth) as long as you hold to the non-scientific assumption that science is the only way to know truth and that God and the spiritual world does not exist because science cannot measure it.  Incidentally, what does science tell us about what happens when we die?  What LAWS does it provide to guide us on this earth to prepare us for what comes next?

In political discussions of the role of the Vice President, commentators commonly state that whoever is chosen as V.P. is important because they are just “one heartbeat away from the Presidency”.  In like manner, the Christian perspective is that you and I are just one heartbeat away from God – from coming face to face with our maker, and being accountable for our lives, and our belief systems.  We will meet Him; the only questions are how soon, and on what conditions – as a member of the body of Christ who is welcomed home to heaven, or as one who faces eternity separated from God in a nasty place called hell.  Are you willing to bet your life – your eternal life and destination on the non- scientific assumption that the spirit world does not exist because science cannot measure it?  Do you teach your children and loved ones the same thing, thus betting their eternal lives and destination on the same non-scientific claim?

Finally, a friend of mine described how long eternity is – the butterfly and Pluto story.  You know how a butterfly does not fly in a straight line – it just flits around, eventually getting to where it is going.  If a butterfly took a grain of sand and flew to Pluto and back, and they did that over and over until all of the grains of sand on earth were on Pluto, and then brought them all back, that is how long eternity is.  Sure impressed me.

I apologize for the length and heaviness of this response.  If you are interested, we can pursue this further, or perhaps meet for coffee or lunch.

Best regards,

The Divinity of Christ

The New Testament only refers to Jesus Christ as “the Son of God” in a few places.  However, it does testify to his divinity – that he is God in multiple passages:

Jesus as Son of God

Mark 1:11 – At Jesus baptism, a voice from heaven said: “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  Same for Matthew 3:17

Matthew 16:15-17 – Jesus asked His disciples “But who do you say that I am?”  And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 26:63-65 – After interaction with Jesus, the high priest tore his clothes, which is what the priests do when they hear blasphemy (someone claiming to be God):  “And the high priest answered Him and said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.’  And Jesus said to him, “It is as you said.  Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.’  Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy!  What further need do we have of witnesses?  Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!’

Jesus as God

Matthew 2:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14, referring to Jesus:  “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated ‘God with us’.”

Matthew 3:3 quotes a prophecy in Isaiah 40:3, referring to John the Baptist and Jesus:  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord.  Make His paths straight.”

Matthew 4:7:  Jesus is talking to Satan, who is trying to tempt Him:  “Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Matthew 8:22:  Jesus talks about people calling Him Lord, and He not denying it:  “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

John 10:30–33 – Jesus stated: “’I and My Father are one.’  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father.  For which of these works do you stone Me?  The Jews answered them, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, make Yourself God.” 

John 18:4-8 – Jesus talking to the soldiers who came for Him –  “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’  They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’  Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.  Then, when He said to them, ‘I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground.” 

NOTE:  The word “He” was added to later translations.  The statement “I Am” was known by the Jews to be a direct claim to divinity, as indicated in Exodus 3: 13-14.

Introduction to Life in the Spirit

Our nation is facing real threats – to our way of life, our economy, and our very existence.  The coronavirus, economic crash, rampant money printing, and serious tensions with China and Russia all communicate that our nation has changed forever.  Add in the real signs that we are in the end times foretold by the Bible, and the logical conclusion is that there has never been a more important time in our lives to seek the Lord, His peace, and His direction for our lives.

The Word of God in both the Old Testament and New Testament reveals that the Lord informs His people about upcoming events:

Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.                                    Amos 3:7

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you to all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will not speak on His own authority¸ but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  John 16:12-13

Furthermore, the Word reveals that God will direct our paths if we seek Him with our whole hearts:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.                                                     Proverbs 3:5-6

 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.                                      Psalm 32:8

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of  God.                                                                          Romans 8:14

I say then: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh… But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.                                                                                    Galatians 5:16,18

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.                                                                                                   John 10:28

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.                   John 14:26

Here are a few examples of the Holy Spirit giving specific directions to the apostles:

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.    Acts 13:4

Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.                                                                                   Acts 16:6

When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” Acts 21:11

But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak.  But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.                                                                 Mark 13:11

The Ten Commandments showed us that in our sinful nature, we all fall short of God’s perfect law.  Jesus Christ came and saved us from our sin, and the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost to show us life in the Spirit.

What would “life in the Spirit” be like – what would we experience in the Spirit?

  • We would learn things that non-believers would reject as foolish:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. I Corinthians 2:12,14

  • We would experience love, joy and peace that non-believers cannot understand or comprehend:

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.                                                            Galatians 5:16,22

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                                                                   Philippians 4:6-8

  • We would have no fear:

Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.  Matthew 10:26

But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.  Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.                    Luke 12:31-32

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.                                       I Timothy 1:7

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust…  Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.                                                                                                                         Psalm 91: 1-2, 9-11

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.                                                                  Isaiah 43:2-3

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.  Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked.  Because you have made the Lord, who  is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.                                      Psalm 91:7-11

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.                                                                  Isaiah 43:2-3

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh,
my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. Psalm 27:1-3

Here is a diagram that portrays life in the Spirit and life in the flesh (Galatians 5:19-23):

                                 GOD

Life                 Love        Longsuffering  Faithfulness

in the             Joy          Kindness         Gentleness

Spirit             Peace     Goodness       Self-Control

________________________________________

Life                Idolatry    Jealousies      Fornication

in the             Slander   Heresies         Outbursts of Wrath

Flesh             Hatred     Murders          Drunkenness

                    Envy         Adultery          Selfish Ambitions

Money Fame Fortune

Usually the Holy Spirit speaks to us in a still, small voice, a gentle prodding, an interaction with another Spirit-led Christian, or planting an idea in our mind.  How do we know it is really from the Lord?  Here are some clues:

  • It does not contradict scripture and the historical teaching of the church,
  • It is confirmed by other Spirit-led Christians, and
  • We honestly seek Him with no hidden agenda and no unconfessed sin in our hearts.

So if we seek the Lord and learn to recognize His still, small voice, we can develop a relationship with Him.  This moves us from belief – knowing about God, to relationship – knowing God. And interacting with other Spirit-led Christians and being involved in a Bible-believing church can confirm this and enhance this experience.

The Bible, God’s instruction manual, tells us about the Holy Spirit communicating with His people – the true church, during the church age.  Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Lord has raised up watchmen and women to warn us about the times we are in, about judgement upon America, and to encourage us to draw close to Him.  These are humble servants of God who quote scripture often and tell us how these scriptures are and will be fulfilled.  Most are not famous, do not seek fame, and do not ask for money.  As always, we are to test the spirits (and everything we hear or say) against the Word of God, which is our standard.

This Life in the Spirit blog will feature several of these people, with occasional articles that address physical and financial preparation.  In addition, this blog provides valuable tools that you can use to witness to others:

  • Important articles about COVID-19
  • Incredible stories and articles that you can share with others,
  • Christian cards you can print on nice paper and send out to reach people going through difficult times or special occasions,
  • Christian graphics that portray important issues in graphic form,
  • Compelling quotes that will light your fire,
  • Letters that witness to our Lord,
  • A listing of other Christian websites and blogs,
  • Articles and stories for those who need comfort or direction,
  • Bible passages and great quotes that you can print on nice paper and frame for gifts, and
  • Action steps you can take.

He who has ears, let him hear!        Matthew 11:15