There is No Such Thing as a “Bible-Believing” Christian

We need to be honest here, friends: There is no such thing as a “Bible-Believing” Christian.

There are Bible-reading Christians, Bible-studying Christians, Bible-preaching Christians, and even Bible-loving Christians—but no one believes it in the way they say they believe it when they say that they are “Bible-believing”.

Invariably when a Christian utters that phrase and makes that claim, he or she is attempting to dismiss your perspective, your worldview, or your interpretation of Scripture by claiming that your authority on the matter at hand is somehow less reliable than their own—because they believe all of the Bible and follow all of it. They do not.

They are claiming that the Bible has a simple, irrefutable silver bullet verse for the topic of the moment, one that silences all discussion and ends any debate. It does not. 

One of the go-to criticisms of these BB Christians is that the rest of us “cherry pick” Scripture; that we roam through it like a buffet, grabbing huge helpings of what looks good to us and passing by the things we find unpleasant or difficult. We do. Everyone does. 

That’s not to say that we’re consciously doing that or that we intentionally ignore or discard portions of the text, but even the most committed among us, even the most well-intentioned among us bring something inherently flawed and limited to the table of scholarship and inspiration: ourselves. We all carry our prejudices, fears, experiences, upbringing and influences along with us to the Bible, and this causes us (even at our very best) to be extremely selective in what we see as gospel, in what we give weight to, in what we practice and amplify and share.

For example, in conversations about sexuality, professed BB Christians will boldly and readily toss out Leviticus 20:13 in conversation, as some supposed sanctified mic drop against the gay community: 
If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Whenever they do, I’ll always ask them to kindly move their heads a half an inch higher, where the same author in the same chapter of the same book says: Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head. If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

I ask these BB Christians whether they also believe that disrespectful teenagers and those committing adultery should be stoned to death. Silence usually follows, or a quick switching of tactics to attacking my apparent ignorance of the difference between Ceremonial Law and Moral Law, or a hopping over to the New Testament and drop quoting Paul’s letters while ignoring Jesus’ silence on the matter.

Or, when discussing the Muslim Travel Ban, someone claiming to be a BB preacher will conveniently ignore the dozens of references to welcoming refugees and treating foreigners as ones own, while clinging to a single verse about the wolves coming to kill the sheep, in order to justify their position. Again, when presented with the actual words from the text they’re claiming to be their full authority, they begin to squirm and become angry and look for loopholes. And when further reminded that Jesus himself was a dark-skinned, homeless refugee—they usually depart the conversation and go back to preaching to the choir of BB Christians who agree with their selective exegesis.

I’m not having these conversations to create some sort of gotcha moments. I’m reminding people that to one degree or another, all Christians create a Bible in our own image. I’m showing them that we can’t simply believe or not believe the totality of Scripture.  It’s intellectually dishonest. We all have to sift through it and interpret it and try to apply it as best we can given what we learn and what we experience.

The Bible is not a book. It is a sprawling library of 66 separate books, written over thousands of years in multiple languages by dozens of authors, many of unknown origin. The writings range from the poetry of the Genesis Creation accounts, to the professed historic records of the Israelites in Deuteronomy, to the worship songs of the Psalms, to the alleged biographies of Jesus in the Gospels, to the pastoral letters of Paul to churches in Rome and elsewhere, to the apocalyptic visions of Revelation. To say that one believes every word of these disparate works, or that they somehow adhere to everything contained in them equally, is at best an impossibility and at worst a lie designed to make someone else feel morally inferior. 

I love the Bible. I’ve studied it for twenty years and shared it with thousands of people—and it’s because I love it and because I’ve studied it that I would never dare to say claim that I’m “Bible believing” because the phrase isn’t helpful or honest or complex enough for the subject matter.

There’s a legendary platitude that professed Bible-believing Christians offer in the face of any sustained disagreement, pushback, or challenge; whenever an impasse has been reached:

God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.

I think we can do better. I think we can be honest. I think we can say to people:

These words (translated from the ancient manuscripts and written thousands of years ago) appear to say this based on what I’ve studied. Sometimes I think God said it and other times I’m not so sure. Through study and prayer and reflection I’m trying to make some sense out of it, and I’m not certain how it aligns with something I read in another part of it, and that bothers me—and maybe we can talk about it.

I think that would be a redemptive path for each of us as we have conversations about this faith of ours with those both inside and outside of it.

The Bible isn’t a textbook. It isn’t a formula. It is a spacious, sometimes nebulous place that we are invited into as we seek to understand this life and the life beyond it. It requires faith and wonder and digging, and comfort with paradox and unknowns. 

We are Bible-reading.
We are Bible-studying.
We are Bible-excavating.
We are Bible-loving.

And at some times and with some verses and in some ways—we are Bible-believing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

254 thoughts on “There is No Such Thing as a “Bible-Believing” Christian

        • Why would you get in trouble? Are the internet police going to come beat down your door? You open with that phrase a lot. Are you angling for an argument with someone who finds it offensive to laugh at bad jokes?

        • I do not believe in the bible or any book on religion. I work very hard at being a good person and doing good things. I love and respect all people and races. I do not judge as I have not walked in any ones shoes except my own. If by chance there is a God and I get sent to hell for being a good person and a non believer then heaven isn’t the place I would want to be anyway. So I’ll be in Hell and Heaven will be full of fake Christians.

    • “…or a quick switching of tactics to attacking my apparent ignorance of the difference between Ceremonial Law and Moral Law, ”

      Well, Jesus DID come to fulfill the Law. I expect Jesus was a “Bible Believer” no? Even He did not stone anyone.

  1. How do you respond to academic biblical scholarship? What is your take, for example, on the documentary hypothesis, or the work of Bart Ehrman?

  2. I studied the Course In Miracles with a group, we read the whole book together and discussed it over the course of 4 years. That book – believe it or not – claims to be Jesus speaking and correcting how man has mis-interpreted the Bible. He would bring us back to His words, and focus on the fact that we are all one.

      • Gloriamarie: John Ps church teaches Course In Miracles . It’s one of their ‘meet-up’ groups.
        And they also teach Mantra meditation, and Gurdjieff’s Egyptian numerology Enneagrams course, to determine personality types. And Reiki healing (buddhist spirit-guide healing). And for good measure, for the non-spiritual types, they have ‘Brews-n-Kids’ on Saturday aftn, and Friday night Poker. John’s pastor, Doug Hammack, recommends to all his flock, the readings of Bishop John Spong, which will ‘radically re-orient your thinking to help you move forward into the New World.’

        To me, John P’s Church is planted firmly in the World. This isn’t an insult or a criticism, just an observation.

      • I also have a Masters, in Teligious Leadership. A Course in Miracles has brought people into A closer relationship with Jesus and/or God. There are places in it where I can hear the Voice calling us into relationship and wholeness and these are good and positive Words. Gentle words. Accepting is as we are and without need to hide or feel shame. God loves us. I don’t see heresy at all. At the same time, I would rather pray and listen for God’s response.

        • anonymous: Course In Miracles Lessons:

          #1: ‘Nothing here means anything.’
          #37: ‘My holiness blesses everything.’
          #77: ‘I am entitled to miracles.’
          #253: ‘My Self is the ruler of the Universe.’
          #183: ‘I call upon my own Name.’
          #186: ‘The Salvation of the world, depends on me.’
          #337: ‘My sinlessness protects me.’

          Do you believe those teachings of Helen Schucman?

      • Why would the fact that his studies led him to atheism detract from his scholarship? Is it simply because it doesn’t agree with whatever your narrative may be?

        Rather myopic of you, don’t you think?

  3. Here’s my broken record. Thank you for your insight, your honesty, and most of all your willingness to put it out there for those of us who need a safe place of community. I so agree with you. I expect that some heads will explode, but it wouldn’t matter what you wrote, they are prepared to disagree. I imagine it goes something like this,
    John wrote it, I don’t believe it , that settles it. Peace…………………………

    • Wow. Way to lobotomize anyone who disagrees with your beloved teacher, John. Do you not see that he’s merely “cherry-picking” arguments by focusing on silly phrases like Bible-believing Christians? If he had focused on the real argument—the inerrancy or fallibility of scripture—then he’d have engaged in genuine discussion. Instead, like John typically does, he sets up a straw man and then beats it to death with his own arrogant club.

  4. Love this article.

    What caught my eye immediately was this: “They are claiming that the Bible has a simple, irrefutable silver bullet verse for the topic of the moment; one that silences all discussion and ends any debate. It does not.”

    Indeed; I once was being told by a lady on the Patheos forums that the Bible held the answer to every question. In a somewhat mischievous mood, I had to ask her where in the Bible it told us under what circumstances we can infringe controlled airspace, without first filing a flight plan.

    Needless to say, there was no reply 😉

  5. Dear John P,

    I freaking love this post. No, there is not a single one of us who can claim to believe every single thing the Bible says because there are too many inherent contradictions.

    If we accept as a premise that God is God, then we also have to accept that there are radically different views of the nature of God in the Bible. Jesus tells us all the Law and all the Prophets can be summed up in two commandments: love God with every fiber of one’s being and love one’s neighbor as ourselves as God first loved us.

    A God who is Love is not a god who orders the Jews to slay every man, woman, child, oxen, goat, and lamb of the Amalkites, for example. I believe the author(s) of Judges believed God commanded it but just because they justify brutality this way does mean that God commanded it. Pretty sure God wept over it. If it happened.

    Of course those who believe that the Bible is a result of auto-writing are going to raise ugly voices, many people are going to try to prove you wrong, but even Martin Luther says that Christians tend to have canons within the canons.

    I hope you have dinned your fireproof undies.

  6. It’s hard to say you believe in Jesus AND every word in the bible since over 75% of Christ’s message is missing (He had 13 disciples including Mary Magdalene and only 4 are represented). With all the contradictions listed in that book it does hold one irrefutable message, “you must look inside yourself to see and hear what God has to say to YOU”.

    • Lori, that was one of the most concise, clear, and insightful things I’ve seen posted here. So far, in my journey over the past thirty-five years, I’ve found your words to be absolutely true, especially the last line.

      There is a good chance that had I been able to read John’s post much earlier in life, I might have started my journey much earlier than I did.

      Thank you, Lori

    • Not all the 12 disciples wrote gospels. Mark and Luke were not even a part of those disciples of Jesus. Peter was likely the primary source for Mark. Other gospels like “Q” and the Gospel of Thomas are not particularly reliable from what I can gather.

    • Lori, I suggest you read the definitive work on the development of the canon of Scripture, The Formation of the Christian Bible by Hans von Campenhausen because there are reasons the New Testament apocryphal stuff is not part of the canon of the NT. Mostly because they could not possibly have been written by the person whose name is on it because the person was long dead by the time it was written and/or because it is a Gnostic document.

      ““you must look inside yourself to see and hear what God has to say to YOU”” is a very modern thing to say. We learn what God says to us in community. What the church has always taught right from the beginning is that we know God in a personal way that is tested through the lens of the corporate experience.

      Many of the most pernicious heresies were created by people who depended upon ““you must look inside yourself to see and hear what God has to say to YOU”.

  7. You get better and better each day. It is so clear the Spirit is moving through you mightily. I have no words for how much you have inspired me. This post is excellent and you are on a roll lately (a holy roll LOL?). I pray for you to get the wider recognition these ideas deserve. You are the premier voice of progressive Christianity right now and instead of envying you I will simply watch and learn and continue to aspire to be more like you. May your ministry continue to be blessed as you have been a blessing to me and so many others!!!

  8. Thank you so much for articulating an issue I’ve encountered frequently with BBCs in my family circle. Although I would love to scream out their “cherry-picking” and twisting of verse, I remain silent. Their practice of “cheap grace” is astounding.

    Unfortunately, their current White House role model isn’t helping those of us who try to do the right thing in all areas of life.

  9. Thank you for your words. I don’t know if this is intentional or incidental to Roger Marshall and his “poor people don’t want healthcare, Jesus said that the ‘poor will be with you always’ and so we don’t have to provide healthcare as a basic human right”. Okay, that’s not *quite* what he said, but pretty darned close.
    It’s okay to deny even the possibility of healthcare to major portions of our fellow citizens because “Jesus said so”.
    Well, according to Matthew 26:11, he *did* say those words…but context, context, context, kiddies. Matt 26: 6-13 places a framework around that one phrase. (For those of you not familiar, it is the scene between Jesus and Judas after Mary Magdalene had anointed his feet and hands with (an expensive) perfume. Verse 11 in its complete form reads “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.” He is preparing his disciples for their continued teaching and sharing His word after he has died and left them.) I think the phrase, “For you always have the poor with you” means that there will always be those who are in need and the disciples had the responsibility and the task of caring for them–both physically and spiritually. And by physically I do not mean that the disciples were suddenly required to give out salaries and houses–but that they could offer to share their meals, they could…do the 6 tasks Jesus gave us, in Matt 25:31-46. More importantly, they were to do this regardless of whether Jesus was physically with them or not. He is setting policy for the disciples and the work they were entrusted with.
    So this particular day’s blog is very relevant–but then, it always is. The “Bible-believing” Christians only believe those parts (or those several words, taken completely out of context) that will support their own sinful (the word I use is harmful) desires and discrimination-s (plural; they almost always have more than just one). What is unfortunate is that those who need most to read this and hold it up against their own lives…won’t. BUT those of us who do read your blogs, and other similar writings, understand that there will always be those who, as the Bible says, “cry Lord, Lord” but fail to do the tasks Christians have been told to do. We can help those who aren’t sure and, in a non-aggressive but emphatic way, can refuse to listen to those who are picking and choosing Biblical references to excuse their own hate.
    John, you bring us the Good Word. Again, thank you!

    • It’s also important to note that when Jesus said what he said about the poor always being with us, he was referring to a verse from Deuteronomy that says, in its entirety:

      “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land'” (Deuteronomy 15:11, NRSV).

      • revsharkie, I point out the connection between Dt 15:11 and Matt 26: 6-13 til I feel blue in the face. My Bible cross-references the two and I am certain allBibles except the NIV offer cross-references. Why does it feel as is if so many fail to read the cross-reference?

        I am sick to death also of pointing out to people that the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures teach us that there is both a governmental and an individual commandment to provide for the hungry, sick, naked, needy, etc. We know this because those prophets not only castigated individuals for their failures to the poor, they also castigated the kings for the country’s failures to the poor.

        • So many fail to read it because they prefer to believe they have justification for ignoring the poor.

          I have pointed out the connection many times, too. We were talking about helping folks in need, and one person said, “Well, Jesus said we would always have the poor with us.” I mentioned Deuteronomy 15:11 and said, Jesus didn’t mean for us to take that as an excuse for not helping folks in need. He meant for us to hear it as an assignment–just as Deuteronomy intended. The person said, “I never thought of it that way.” Well, it’s time you did.

          • revsharkie, “Jesus didn’t mean for us to take that as an excuse for not helping folks in need.”

            Unfortunately, too many people do so interpret it that way and teach it that way. There are a number of commenters to this blog who take it that way.

            Or some of them want to boast that conservatives give more to charity than liberals, while overlooking the great many chartiable liberals have accomplished such as

            Abolishing child labor
            Lessening the 100 hr work week
            Preventing toxic river fires
            conservatives never consider a livable wage
            conservatives don’t prevent consumer scams
            conservatives don’t want to prevent the thousands of deaths on the job which occur every year

    • Some good biblical scholarship suggests that Jesus was being a bit sarcastic by saying “the poor you will always have with you” to imply, “you are and will always be selfish so you will never solve the problem of the poor because you will not share with them.” Basically, “they will hang around your neck because you are selfish.” That is a good biblical interpretation for the Republicans!!!!! Fits to a tee.

  10. John, thank you again for sharing your thoughts. This is so incredibly true – the Bible is so wide, so spread, and so fragmented, I seriously worry about people who claim it is “word-perfect.” And someday if you’d like to discuss modern-day revelation, send me an email. You are the BEST.

  11. Another sparkling and thoughtful John post.!! If the collection of writings called “the Bible” would be a coherent whole, designed to be a guide for human life for thousands of years, where all authors had somehow coordinated, even then, it would be very strange to designate it as “containing all the answers”. The human being is an evolving being that has the potential to grow in wisdom. This is somewhat true of human civilization as a whole. We have collectively learned things. A collection of writings was preserved from 2000 years ago and indicates how people were thinking then. That is how one should look at these writings.

  12. I’ve bookmarked this one. I have no doubt I’ll be doubling back to this blog post – no doubt at all.

    “I think we can do better.”

    Indeed.

    “I think we can be honest. ”

    We’d all like to think so.

    “I think we can say to people:”

    {And here we go}

    “These words (translated from the ancient manuscripts and written thousands of years ago) appear to say this based on what I’ve studied.”

    Check.

    “Sometimes I think God said it and other times I’m not so sure.”

    Check.

    “Through study and prayer and reflection I’m trying to make some sense out of it, and I’m not certain how it aligns with something I read in another part of it, and that bothers me—and maybe we can talk about it.”

    Check & check. Thinking and talking are great things indeed.

    “I think that would be a redemptive path for each of us as we have conversations about this faith of ours with those both inside and outside of it.”

    Key word: ‘our’

    “The Bible isn’t a textbook. It isn’t a formula”

    Damn Spanky!

    “It is a spacious, sometimes nebulous place that we are invited into as we seek to understand this life and the life beyond it.”

    Key words: nebulous and inviting.

    “It requires faith and wonder and digging, and comfort with paradox and unknowns.”

    Righty-O. Faith it is.

    “We are Bible-reading.
    We are Bible-studying.
    We are Bible-excavating.
    We are Bible-loving.
    And at some times and with some verses and in some ways—we are Bible-believing.”

    Yep. Exclude less. Invite in more. As a principle of Christian faith, these are great things to remember. I would like to add patience, tolerance, forgiveness and humility to the bunch, if I may?

  13. Thank you John. This resonates with me more than I can even say. By the time I was 12, I had read the Bible…twice. I wish that I had had an adult to talk to, 40 plus years ago, about the contradictions I had discovered. It was very confusing to me. The few adults I tried to talk to kept steering me away from the things I had found, and eventually led me to distrust adults as well as the church. Your words bring me such comfort, to know that you see the same things I, as a child, did. I thank you for being a Christian voice for overcoming the prejudice, hatefulness and lack of compassion that is so prevalent today.

  14. I don’t know how anyone can “believe” in a book that has been used for centuries to repress- oppress women- justify misogyny- justify slavery- create an us&them mentality- deny the deliciousness of shellfish- refuse to allow you to wear mixed-fibers- tell you how you have to wear your hair- suggest killing your first-born is acceptable behavior- drown everyone but a single family on a single boat (doesn’t god know what inbreeding does to future generations?)- turn your wife into a pillar of salt (salt- for god’s sake- why salt?) (and who stopped to taste it to find out if it actually was salt- and not sand?)- while exhibiting the worst of human behavior as totally okay. And how anyone could “believe” that some god would- in a universe the size of ours- decide to inform a group of humans occupying the smallest area of a substantially larger planet with the total truth- while ignoring all the other humans on the planet (Asia- for example).

    Sorry. These days an actual connection the the Oneness of the Universe is pretty easy to find. It does not reside in any book- and if you bother to study all spiritual systems you’ll find that at the base level their commonalities are remarkable similar and amazingly simple.

    LOVE ONE ANOTHER- BECAUSE ALL THERE IS- IS LOVE.

    • Love your remarks. Would like to be able to sit in a room over a glass of wine and discuss this further. You spoke my mind.

  15. These words (translated from the ancient manuscripts and written thousands of years ago) appear to say this based on what I’ve studied. Sometimes I think God said it and other times I’m not so sure. Through study and prayer and reflection I’m trying to make some sense out of it, and I’m not certain how it aligns with something I read in another part of it, and that bothers me—and maybe we can talk about it.

    Perfect!

    • The only way that I can understand the Bible is by seeing it as the writings of a number of people in a small geographical area over a long period of time about their understanding of God and what God wanted of them. It contradicts itself because the writers’ understanding changed with their times, circumstances, and aims. As can be seen by comparing manuscripts, parts have been added to, and parts omitted over time. I do not understand the people who insist that every word must be believed, or even can be believed, by us–people who read them, in translation from the several languages in which the originals were written, without knowledge of the context in which they were produced.

      • That Other Jean, rabbinic scholar it has been my privilege to meet have often expressed surprise that we Christians claim their Scriptures as part of our canon. “That stuff is laid on us,” they tell me. “Why on earth would you want to take it on?”

  16. Good post John!
    You could have gone much further in declaring the bible to be a map of our individual lives as written; that we all display some of what we read both positive and negative but that same bible is full, full of discrepancies and never intended to be interpreted or used in today’s world that is so different and the language interpretation near impossible to bridge. .

    When people describe the bible as ‘god’s’ word and think it is the only worthy guide for living the good life they cheat themselves and others out of so much. The bible is ‘god’s’ word no more than what John, or Neale Donald Walsch, or Depak Chopra, or thousands of writers and teachers across the world regardless of their belief system.

    The worst part of the “bible believing” folks is they cannot see the wisdom and value in all spiritual teachings. They are totally stuck in one narrow ideal (for them) dogma that can in no way ever apply across all people.

    I feel sad for those who have the belief that somewhere high above is an old, white man with a long beard who is separate from us and willing, ready and able to make stuff go the way we want if we just pray the right way or if we are bad this old god will whack us hard and makes us pay and pay and pay.

  17. “at worst a lie designed to make someone else feel morally inferior. ”

    The anti-gospel of moral hierarchy in the church probably needs it’s own post.

  18. I would say to John, “Nice Try!” But what you’ve written is simple nonsense! There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of “Bible – Believing” Christians the world over. They believe every word of the holy Scripture, and accept it as God’s authoritative Word to mankind.

    It doesn’t mean that any human being always live up to the holy and high standard that God has set forth in terms of His holiness and how we should follow the example of Christ. Also, the Bible must be read and understood in its historical, grammatical, and immediate contexts.

    So yes, we no longer stone homosexuals, adulterers, and liars to death, and we no longer do those things because we are in the Dispensation of Grace and we as Christians are obviously in the Church age under the New Covenant brought in by Christ. That doesn’t mean however, that we are free to indulge into those things that God has said is sin.

    God has promised to judge all unrepentant unbelievers, and He describes some of these persons as “ungodly, sexually immoral, (homosexuals, adulterers, pedophilia, fornicators, whoremongers, etc.) liars, idolaters, and other such designations. I am very much a complete Bible believing Christian….and have no problem admitting that due to my humanity, I often fall short of the divine standard.

    So I reject John’s weak presentation and his attempt to justify and excuse sin, especially the sins that he is notoriously known for protecting. It doesn’t surprise many on this blog to see lots of nonsense and liberal thought coming from John.

    • People this guy is a dispensational fundamentalist.

      Dispensationalism is a man-made organizational scheme that was imposed on the Bible from outside of it by John Nelson Darby, a British preacher in the middle 1800s. This guy pretty much invented the so-called “pretribulation rapture.” Both of these man-made inventions were further and later popularized by an American Bible salesman named Schofield.

      What most people do not know is that Christian fundamentalism was invented by Americans in the United States in the early 1900s in the American Northeast and in the Great Lakes Region. You might also recall that corn dogs and ice-cream on a stick were also invented about the same time. Christian fundamentalism IS NOT historic, 1st Century, Orthodox Christianity as it falsely claims. If you want real, historic, Orthodox Christianity, study the history of Christianity and what the early church was doing in the first three centuries A.D. in the Mediterranean world.

      The Theory of Substitutionary Atonement, the idea that God made a special plan to sacrifice his Son Jesus as a substitute to “pay the price” for the sins of mankind is also a new kid on the block. John Calvin invented it in Europe in the 1500s, not too long after Christopher Columbus sailed to America. From the time Jesus was born up until the day John Calvin invented it, no such thing existed as doctrine for 1,500 years of the Christian faith.

      The so-called doctrine of “Biblical Inerrancy” is also a recent, 1800s, man-made invention. No such doctrine existed in the early church. The chief problem with the fundie doctrine of “Biblical Inerrancy” is not just the fact that it is a new kid on the block. It is a plain, damned, out-in-out LIE. All you have to do to to plainly see this is to read the Bible. Most of you do not have time to do that, so watch the following video as one of the most well-educated Christian priests in the Christian faith explains why Biblical inerrancy is a LIE—and that is really the chief problem—Christian fundamentalism is populated by numerous LIARS and DECEIVERS who are prone to believe any piece of nonsense their pastors spout and run to lies and conspiracy theories like toddlers to candy—and you can take all that to the bank!!!

      Do you know who will not click the play triangle below? Wayne will not click. He is too afraid of burning in Hell to risk listening to it. God forbid that a fundie might quit the lies and get a little truth between his or her head every once in a while. Here is the video/talk:

      • Charles, I was taught about inerrancy in seminary. At the time, no one would have interpreted this doctrine to mean that anything except the original manuscripts were without error.

        Translations, copies of the original texts are not covered by inerrancy, only the original autographs.

        That is what I was taught at an evangelical college and seminary.

        It is irresponsible and making an idol out of the Bible to claim that any translation is without error. Not even the revered, sacred, and worshipped KJV.

        • Bible Idolatry—and it is a fair charge against the fundies too. I will never forget the day in my Sunday school class when the teacher raised her huge black book above the class and said:

          “See this book. This book IS God.”

          That was one of the primary reasons I left my Southern Baptist Convention Church in the 1980s.

          Then there are all the fundies who have told me:

          “There is a name that is above every name—even the name of Jesus—and that name is BIBLE.”

          So much for the Holy Spirit leading them all to consistent truth when they cannot even plumb the basics of the Christian faith without serious error.

          • Good grief and gravy, what heresy. I love the Bible,but is the work of finite, limited, sinful human beings who had extraordinary insight because they were finite, limited, and sinful.

            Something I have thought for many years is that the purpose of the Hebrew Scriptures is to teach us what NOT to do.

            • If we can’t use the word Christian, or bible believing Christian, could we describe people as Believers and non-Believers?

              I thought God cared a lot if people turned to Him, worshipped Him, believed Him, and obeyed Him. Am I wrong on that too?

        • One of my seminary professors–and I went to a pretty conservative school–called fundamentalism a doctrine that has “died the death of a thousand qualifications.” Totally without error? But we have manuscripts, and they don’t agree. Oh, well, we meant the original autographs. Well, let’s look at them. Oh, we don’t have any of them.

          • revsharkie, Oh yes, let’s use common sense, by all means. I think this idea that even translations are without error must be rooted in fear or trust issues. That the Bible has to be perfect instead of just good enough.

            After all the doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture teaches us that we can trust the Bible to contain what we need to be better people, to learn to know God.

            Why does the translation have to be considered perfect, in that case?

    • Wayne is right. But we cannot wholly understand the scriptures because of lack of historical understanding and cultural differences, translation misunderstanding, . God’s new covenant differs from the old Covenant , etc;, etc. That is why it is so important to study all scripture on a particular subject , and of course, being human, we do not always understand what is meant and therefore use our own minds to try to comprehend was i s written. But to say that God is all loving you need to read the 7th chapter of Genesis and the entire book of Revelation, where God will judge everyone and then we will understand everything, but it may be too late for many. That is why many people believe that we Christians are hateful because we obey Jesus by warning others of what we will face in the next life. He said, ” Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”. That is true love, and you are the real haters. Jesus warned his followers that the world hated him and that they would also hate us..

  19. Uh, oh, the gates have been thrown wide open.

    It has always seemed ironic to me that Bible-Believers have seemed to want to think of the creation of the Bible as very much like the creation of the Qu’oran: dictated to one person directly from God, all at once. Historical biblical scholarship teaches otherwise, and indeed what constitutes Christian orthodoxy was defined hundreds of years after Jesus’ death at the Nicean council by leadership very interested in preserving and promoting the evidence they had built up since he walked the earth.

    It has always been taught to me that the Bible is a commentary on the work of Jesus and a guide to transcendance; our paths are our own, as much as orthodoxy would have us conform. Clerics know this, but as much as faith calls us to reflect, examine, and apply in the full knowledge of the day, so many of us seem to simply want a set of rules that they can follow to get on with their lives. And they’ll only support a church that gives them that.

    Faith using all of the gifts that God has given us is difficult. Reality compels us to interpret the Scriptures today just as the writers of the Scriptures interpreted their faith in their day. No religion remains unchanged throughout time…it’s faith that does. When we confuse religion with faith, we no longer worship God, but a creation of Man.

    • Mosswings wrote “It has always seemed ironic to me that Bible-Believers have seemed to want to think of the creation of the Bible as very much like the creation of the Qu’oran: dictated to one person directly from God, all at once.”

      The Church of the Latter Day Saints also believe the angel Morini dictated the Book of Mormon directly to Joseph Smith and evangelicals around here have a rabid antipathy for the LDS.

      Truth is, people do not use their critical thinking skills when they read the Bible. They are uninformed about the various cultures and think they are all the same. They are certainly not only ignorant of Biblical languages as well as the various aids available for those who don’t know the original languages. They fail to understand how the grammar of the original language affects the meaning. They seem to think there is one static Jewish cuklture and society throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.

      But to my mind, the biggest mistake at all is the failure to understand the difference between translation and interpretation. Unless the biggest mistake is to fail to comprehend the difference between exegesis and isogesis.

        • In any case, it is interesting that many sects arising post-Nicean Congress (Islam included) take pains to claim that their defining scriptures were not created over a lengthy period and therefore vulnerable to charges of personal interpretation rather than direct reception. Awful tough to have a purely received religion when there were multiple reception channels.

      • It’s interesting to consider the perspectives on Law and its application.

        “That’s what the law says” is only the starting point for the actual application of that law. The proper application of the law to an individual case always considers the individual situation. To not do so is to eliminate the humanity from a lawful society.

        We all know what happened with “3 strikes and you’re out” laws…this absolutism flooded jails with inmates who should have never been there. It enriched jailing companies, impoverished taxpayers, and foreclosed on the idea of rehabilitation. The real solution to the problem would not be so easily forthcoming – to think that merely legislating it was folly, and only had the effect of further disenfranchising large sectors of the country, mostly black skinned.

        I’ve had the good fortune in my life to travel the world and see firsthand its many cultures and beliefs. Only 25% of Americans hold a passport. Fewer still have traveled to where visas are required. Perhaps if more of us did we would understand the truth behind “many paths to God” .

        • Mosswings, I have often thought it arrogant of some Christians to think their literalistic reding of the Hebrew Scriptures is superior to that of the Rabbinic scholars who study their Scriptures intensely and who, to boot, know the original languages.

          I opposed the three strikes when it was first proposed and was aghast that Clinton would so short-sightedly endorse it.

          • I bet his fundie Attorney General John Ashcroft had something to do with that. You will recall that Ashcroft wanted to cover up the private parts on assorted heroic statues in Washington, D.C.

            • Ashcroft was George W. Bush’s AG, not Clinton’s. But three-strikes-and-you’re-out was a bad idea, no matter who the AG was.

      • The LDS Church’s history story states that the Angel Moroni revealed the location of the burial spot of gold plates to Joseph Smith. The story asserts that as a mortal man, Moroni was the last author of the plates and was the one who buried them near Palmyra NY. The LDS Church does not teach that Moroni dictated the English translation, published as the Book of Mormon, of those plates to Joseph Smith.

        The LDS Church teaches that Joseph Smith use an Urim & Thummin to translate the plates from Reformed Egytian into English by the “gift & power of God.” That Church recently admitted that part of the time Joseph was using what has been called a seer stone in a hat, to do part of the translation. The Church has the seer stone. It does not claim to have the Urim & Thummin.

    • I have always thought of the rules Christians as a tad lazy, they never seem to want to branch out, study etc. It is easier to go along to get along.

  20. Easy there, Wayne. I’m not thinking John was trying to “excuse sin”. He was trying to point out the arrogance and um….PRIDE of those Christians that have no problem with USING the Bible as a weapon and hiding behind it rather than delving into it and being open to the Holy Spirit’s ability to provide revelation and insight. It’s so much more than printed words. The fact that you feel the need to hurl around words and phrases like “nonsense” and “liberal thought” instead of possibly being able to admit that you, yes, even you Wayne, just might not fully understand the entire Bible and might need a little more than a leather bound volume clenched in your tight fist to understand God’s mystery, is very telling. You don’t have it all figured out.None of us do. Sadly only some of us are at peace enough to admit that. The rest seem to be of the mindset that while they may go down, at least they’ll go down swinging….even if all they can swing is their Holy Bible. I pray that you will be open to some revelation of your own. Perhaps your passionate energy would be more productive if used in conjunction with a heart bred motivation.

    • Amber, I stand by what I’ve previously written. John has indeed attempted to excuse and justify various sins in many of his postings, and this is just the latest. To say that there are no “Bible-Believing” Christians because those Christians fall short of perfection is as asinine as they come!

      A person can very well be a true-blue Bible believing Christian, and have the proper understanding of what the Scriptures teach in their context, and many of us know what applies today and what does not. That doesn’t make us a non-Bible Believing Christian, and that’s my point.

    • Good try Amber. The problem is that people like Wayne have been taught from birth that if they deviate even a microbe’s diameter from from fundie doctrine, belief, and customs, they will fry forever in Hell. The most dangerous thing any fundie can do is to question the beliefs and practices in the fundie system. When push comes to shove, Wayne is a coward who does not really love God. He fears God—and he also hates him. I maintain that it is impossible to truly love an entity or person who has you scared to death 24/7/365—and Wayne and his fundie friends spend their lives scared to death and hating people because they believe their God is a violent, sadistic, vengeful ogre who hates most of mankind—so they must hate most of mankind too.

      • It truly is tragic, Charles that such is the case. There is no reason to think that word translated as “fear” means that we are to be terrified of God.

        The Hebrew word for “fear” can, in the right context mean fear of some danger but when it is used with God or wisdom, it is more correctly translated as “awe” or “reverence.”

        Honestly, when it comes to the Hebrew Scriptures I think we are way better off going to Rabbinic sources. Here is an excellent one discussing “fear.”

        http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Parashah/Summaries/Eikev/Yirah/yirah.html

        • Agreed. That is how I see it, and that is the way most educated theologians have always seen it. Go to the Homer Smoot Possum Lips College of the Bible—all bets are off on what they are teaching and learning over there.

          • I have often thought, and quite convincingly used this idea in a paper on the Fear of the Lord in college. My professor gave me an A+.

            In this paper I discussed the Hebrew concept of “fear” and as an example of this concept in action, I offered Chapter Seven in the Wind and Willows by Kenneth Grahame, the chapter in which Mole and Rat meet their god, Pan.

            The chapter can be read here, for any who are interested: http://www.cleavebooks.co.uk/grol/grahame/wind07.htm

    • Amber: at pastor John’s Church, they teach a set of beliefs: [‘What We Believe’ from their website]:

      –‘We don’t organize around creeds or doctrines.’
      –‘You belong here, no matter what you believe.’
      –‘Some of us are trying to figure out if we believe any thing at all.’
      –‘We don’t spend energy trying to keep ea other on the straight and narrow.’
      –We don’t believe sin is that big a deal. If that sounds scandalous, that is the effect we are going for.’
      –‘Listen to your inner Spirit, and Sin will take care of itself.’

  21. Thank you Wayne you expressed exactly what I believe. There will always be people who try to justify their sin. To “know” the Bible you must have the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you…you can read it a thousand times but that doesn’t make you a “Bible-believing” Christian….that is only possible by knowing and accepting Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.

    • Susan. How then do you explain the websites where fundie preachers viciously tear each other to pieces like fight dogs because they differ on scriptural meanings and applications. I visited one of those websites about 17 years ago, and it was a total madhouse. If these fundie preachers all had the Holy Spirit in them and guiding them, they should have been guided to one scriptural meaning and one application on which they agreed in all instances. They were not. They were all over the place and behaving like enraged toddlers.

      So this is what I have to say to what you just said—bullsh*t. You only believe what you believe because some fundie years ago said:

      “Here Susan—you must believe this and this alone or you will burn forever in Hell.”

      It scared you to death, prevented you from learning anything about the history of Christianity and the wide diversity of Christian variation and belief that existed for the 1,900 years of the Christian faith prior to the man-made invention of Christian fundamentalism in the early 20th century.

      Ignorance Susan. Ignorance. Christian fundamentalism today is a faith that rests on three grand pillars:

      Ignorance. Hatred. Lies.

      • Charles to your “Ignorance Susan. Ignorance. Christian fundamentalism today is a faith that rests on three grand pillars:

        Ignorance. Hatred. Lies.”

        I would add “fear of that which is different from me” which explains the bigotry, prejudice, racism, white supremacy, and xenophobia found all over the Christian Right.

        I think “fear of that which is different” also explains the gynophobia, misogyny, and patriarchy.

        • I agree. I think how sad, how many lovely things and people they miss because they are afraid of someone or something different. Some of the best memories are about and with difference.

            • Well, you know where I stand, but, gosh. I’m really trying to put myself out there in the shoes of “Eddie”, about 36 years ago. I was terrified. No hyperbole. My life was running right at the 24 hr countdown point and had been for some time. I’m talking about my physical life spark. I had no God. Not even any “artificially flavored, God in a box” to distract me. If I had, though, I would have held on with the grasp of the dying, because I was. dogma or not, I was an abrasive smart ass, spewing my fear on anyone close enough to receive it. Thank God, not everyone spewed back in retaliation. A few loved me, using good boundaries, so they didn’t allow themselves to get pissed off and have to turn me away. And that is how I came to know God. That was in1982.And, although I shouldn’t have, (seriously) I lived. And I have all of the Love in the Universe. Thank them and thank God.

              • {{{{{{{{Edward M}}}}}}}}}}

                There are a great many shallow people out there in the world who only look at the surface as if what we show to the world is the only thing about us that matters when what we show might be something we feel trapped in. It’s too much like work to have compassion on someone one deems as unlovable, even though that is exactly what Jesus tells us to do. They’d rather find excuses, blame etc as a way of justifying their lazy selfishness.

                There are very few people who will take the time to look beneath the surface and see the suffering and torment within us.

                I rejoice for you because you had such people in your life.

              • Edward M. thank you for sharing about your own experience. Our God is faithful. [It’s almost too good to be true.]

                ‘I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ‘ Romans 8.38.

  22. Your statement appears sweeping and somehow wise, but it’s merely a straw man set-up. You’re doing what you say your critics charge you with doing—you’re “cherry-picking” arguments by focusing on silly phrases like Bible-believing Christians. If you had focused on the real argument—the inerrancy or fallibility of scripture—then you’d have engaged in genuine discussion. Instead, like you typically do, you set up a straw man and then beat it to death with your own arrogant club. Well done, teacher.

    • And another thing … 😉 Your premise is buried in an avalanche of of superfluity. Just spell it out — Unless one believes AND practices every word in the Bible, he or she is not a “Bible-believing” Christian. Do this and then we can have a discussion. Discussion point A: Your premise does nothing for your real argument: The Bible is not inerrant.

      • It’s not.

        Personally, I’d rather we had fewer “Bible-believing” Christians and more “Christ-following” Christians.

        • revsharkie, good point. After all, Christians followed Christ long before there was a New Testament. And until the printing press was invented, very few people had their own private copy of the Bible and yet look at all the saints in the RCC and Orthodoxy who followed Christ without having a copy of the Bible.

  23. I think a very helpful word to never use after “the Bible” is “says”. Seriously. Put the Bible reverently down on your coffee table. Sit on your couch and listen . . . crickets. The Bible “says” nothing. The action happens when we open it and read it. We read and interpret, and we do it using the tools, skills, and experiences handed on to us by teachers, parents, pastors, mentors and life itself. As our knowledge and experience grow, a passage that very strongly meant something to you a year ago may now have attained another meaning, whether contrary or additional. Since no two people have had the same life experience, what we interpret the Bible to mean for us will not always exactly line up with the next person’s understanding. All we can do is our best. We read the Bible and apply its principles to our own lives.

    The problem invariably comes when someone reads the Bible from their own lens of experience and instead of just applying it to their own lives, they use it as a battering ram against anyone who reads a different meaning, or they attempt to get their personal interpretation written into law.

      • Yes, and insisting it’s the inerrant Word Of God For All Time has the effect of making it not a living thing but a dead one, something to be put in a glass box in a museum.

        I have a Bible study group at my church right now learning about the Midrash, which is a Jewish way to approach the Bible. The book we’re using is subtitled “Reading the Bible with Question Marks,” and the author says that inerrantist/fundamentalist Christians tend to read Scripture as though every word had an exclamation point after it. But Midrash teaches that every person finds the text speaking to them (God speaking through the text) in a unique way–and, something I think is common sense, a person can find something new in a text every time they look at it, even if it’s the hundredth time.

        There is a fourfold process to doing Midrash, and it starts with determining the “plain meaning” of a text–what happens in the text, what characters are there, etc. So many Christians stop there, but there is so much more to discover if we go deeper.

        I was expecting objections of the “But it says we must not add or subtract anything” variety, but so far everyone is just fascinated.

        • I love to participate ina Midrash Bible study. What a wonderful idea.

          I read a book a coupel of years ago… You don’t understand the Bible because you are not Jewish. There are all sorts of puns, jokes, etc within the Hebrew that sails right over our heads.

          • Then there’s The Misunderstood Jew, by Amy-Jill Levine, who is a Jewish professor of New Testament. She is also one of the main forces behind the Jewish Annotated New Testament, and has recently written a book on Jesus’ parables.

            I keep telling my folks that they need to know the Hebrew Bible in order for the New Testament to make sense. Rabbi Sandi Sasso, who wrote the book we’re using on Midrash, said some people argue the New Testament can be seen as Midrash on the Hebrew Scriptures.

            • I’ll have to put The Misunderstood Jew on my list and check out her other books. Thanks, revsharkie.

              Yes, if we want to really understand the NT we need to understand the Hebrew Scriptures and some of their apocryphal literature.

              One of my college professors believed the NT could be seen as Midrash.

  24. Hi, John

    Is this your premise for your post: There are no Bible-believing Christians because one would have to believe AND practice every word in the Bible to be one? Is practice a requirement of belief? If I don’t stone my disrespectful teenager to death, I don’t believe in that section of scripture even though that section of scripture does not address me and my family because we’re not Israelites and are not under that old covenant because no one is—not even modern Jews.

    Do you realize that the New Testament fulfills the old? Do you know that we Christians live and obey a New Testament of grace? C’mon, man.

    Please reconsider your faulty premise, and therefore, your absurd post.

    • You got it wrong Joe. It is more like:

      “If I refuse to stone my disobedient daughter, then I have rejected every other word in the Bible.”

      Fundies are known for engaging in a pattern of “all or nothing thinking.” I am surprised you do not know this stuff Joe. The Catholic Church and Catholic writers have laid out all the reasons why Christian fundamentalism is wrong—and some pretty doggone good arguments too. I suppose you should also know that Christian fundamentalists hate the Roman Catholic Church and believe it is run by Satan.

      • They sure do hate the Roman Catholics, they think it’s a cult. We had a teenager in one of our churches egged on by his parents to tell other children who had grandparents who belonged to the Catholic Church that they were not Christians and were going to hell. My husband insisted he stop and there was hell to pay. By the way, this happened to be a mainline church in Indiana. Peace…………..

          • Hi Leslie. So, what? Most fundie churches preach that only practicing fundies have Salvation. If I had a dime for every church and denomination that thinks its people—and its people alone—are the only people to get Salvation, I could afford a family night at the movies.

            Mail me your dimes folks!!!

          • So, it still does not make it right for people to make that judgement. I used to tell my children just because someone is mean to you, it does not excuse you for being mean to them or anyone else. So to condemn a whole group of people, not matter what they say is wrong. Both sides are wrong. And what does this say if you are teaching your children to be condemning. My husband tried to preach and teach that we love everyone regardless and blanket statements about any group of people is unchristian. Some people heard it, others didn’t.

            • I think people would love the fundies if they would stop their ridiculous doctrines of primary and secondary separation from nonbobble-bleevers and quit living their lives as mean-spirited A-holes. Of course, I guess the real trick is to love them even when they are that way.

              • Charles, you are spot on. I may get exasperated with them but I know that I should love them also. If I can love the homeless man on the corner I have to love those who are comfortable and yelling at me. Sometimes they are harder to love. I really don’t have a problem with what they want to believe, my problem has always been that that is not enough, I have to believe what they want too. I suppose the condescension that seems to go along with it, makes it all the more difficult.

                • Kathleen wrote “I really don’t have a problem with what they want to believe, my problem has always been that that is not enough, I have to believe what they want too. I suppose the condescension that seems to go along with it, makes it all the more difficult.”

                  When I encounter people, wherever they might be, who insist that there is only one way to believe and I must agree with them, and I see the condescension and hear the pride in their voices I am always reminded of the Pharisee and Publican.

                  Both the Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Pharisee and Publican challenge us. We Christians like to believe that we are the five wise virgins, sensible enough to have oil in our lamps, and we like to believe we are the humble publican.

                  But in fact both the parable and the observation Jesus makes about the Pharisee and the Publican prove to us that we are probably more like the five foolish virgins and the Pharisee then we would ever want to admit.

                  Denial can be such a comfortable place.

          • Uber Doofus…..do you really not understand the article, or are you just posting to engage in mental masturbation? Its tiresom, but if you alre really this lost and incapable of understanding, we’ll try to help. If youre just here to pick a fight, then bring it on, because you dont stand a chance here when you twist scrptire. There are enough advanced degrees in theology, divinity, etc here that you cant bully anyone here by twisting scripture.

      • Oh my gosh, Charles, not just fundies but many many evangelicals hate the RCC and believe it is run by Satan. I went to seminary and college with people who became downright apoplectic when the subject of the RCC came up.

        The Reformers really threw the baby out with the bathwater. I thank God for Anglicanism which combines the best of Orthodoxy, the best of Catholicism, and the best of Protestantism, to form a theology, a polity which is much more like the early church than anything we have today.

    • Dear Uber Doofus:

      Actually, the OT contains fulfillment, and the NT contains promise.
      The OT/NT as promise/fulfillment isn’t the best model.

      Blessings!

      • Honor your father and mother. So that life will go well for you. This is a truism that spans both covenants. The OT practice of stoning disrespectful teenagers was for a particular people group living in a particular time under a (OT) covenant of Law that has been fulfilled and completed by a (NT) covenant of Grace because of Christ’s sacrifice. He died for our disrespectful teenagers 😉 and for you and me.

        I know that a lot of John’s followers feel abused and ill used by churches and pastors. I’m not going to say anything to invalidate their experiences. I don’t know them. But we are all responsible for our lives and what we choose to believe. John, as a pastor and teacher, will be held to a higher standard of accountability. His words either help or hinder seekers and Christians who must weigh them against some objective standard of truth. Otherwise, John’s opinions about the bible and faith are just words as valid as anyone else’s. But deep down inside, he thinks he’s telling God’s truth. You and I can see how his “truth” doesn’t jibe with God’s characteristics, with who he is. Just because John’s followers “feel” his words are freeing or fresh, certainly doesn’t mean they are. I believe them to be the opposite—they bind and enslave because they misrepresent God’s character, thereby causing people to miss God in all his glorious attributes: holiness, purity, truth, perfection and redemptive love.

        • UD. I think Pastor John is pointing his followers toward un-belief. There are many that love that message, and John is listening to them, as he gathers material for his next salvo. Each more ‘scandalous’ than the previous one.

          [John’s pastor (Doug Hammack) says they aim to be ‘scandalous’ at their church, ‘for effect’. ]

          • You’re right, Leslie, and it makes me sad. Here’s a guy who seems like a good man and father who may be mistaking his popularity with disaffected followers as a mandate to set right all he thinks wrong with American Christianity. But in doing so, he’s weakening the faith of immature believers and strengthening the unbelief of others. John is playing a dangerous game with eternal consequences, for others and for himself.

            • Uber Doofus, thy name is A Catholic Perspective….
              Your arrogance here is at once off-putting and also dismaying. Why are you pontificating on this site? Your rhetoric is hollow and your understanding of scripture laughably superficial. Again i ask,”Why are you posting on this site?”

        • Dear Uber Doofus:

          The covenant of grace was in operation from the day of Abraham on. The law was a temporary measure to guide until Christ who is the substance of the covenant appeared. There has never been salvation apart from grace. Since OT saints will not be made perfect apart from NT believers, it is both easier and clearer to work with a one-covenant model.

          Blessings!

          • Okay, grace was in operation in Abraham’s day. My point is that the requirements of the Levitical Law calling for the stoning of disrespectful teenagers were done away with when Christ died for all and fulfilled the requirements of the law with his perfect sacrifice. The Law was fulfilled by Christ and the New Covenant was ushered in what is known as “The Age of Grace.” John 1:17, which contains the red letters of Jesus for which John P. says he lives by says this: For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. This is a truism that spans both covenants: Honor your father and mother. So that life will go well for you. The OT practice of stoning disrespectful teenagers was for a particular people group living in a particular time under a (OT) covenant of Law . A covenant that has been fulfilled and completed by a new covenant of Grace because of Christ’s sacrifice. He died for our disrespectful teenagers 😉 and for you and me. John P’s premise that there are no Bible-believing Christians is based on a straw-man component of his post that links belief with practice—in this case that to believe is to practice. A Christian believes the scriptures because he chooses to believe something greater than himself and because the indwelling Spirit fires his heart just as He did within two of the men who talked with Jesus after his resurrection. The scripture-believing Christian believes Paul’s words to Timothy: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. John’s not really attacking so-called Bible-believing Christians, he’s attacking Paul’s assertion and, without realizing it, God’s character.

            • I wonder if, or home many times, it actually happened that the Jews would stone their own children for disobedience?

              Islam continues that practice today.

            • Dear Uber Doofus:

              I don’t see 2Ti 3:16 as an issue.

              Moreover, I believe that the civil law passed out of existence with Ysra’el.

              I don’t use a two covenant view. I embrace a one-covenant view which unfolds under an older and then a newer administration.

              In older times, the covenant was administered by the types/sacrifices/rites of the Hebrews. That is what Christ fulfilled.

              In these last days, that covenant is administered by the sacrifice of Christ, the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist, by the preaching of the Gospel, by ecclesial discipline, etc.

              I see one church in Christ which runs from Abraham into the eschaton.

              Blessings!

              • There is more stuff that is God-breathed than the canon of Scripture. Lots of hymns are inspired. Bach was inspired. Mozart was inspired. Pavrotti was inspired. John Rutter is inspired. I saw an inspired painting of Perpetua and Felicitas.

                There is so much in this world that is God-breathed. The Holy Spirit is at work within us to make all of the best people possible, to make us come as close to God’s vision for each of us.

                To limit God’s breath to the authors of the canon is an attempt to put limits on God.

                • Dear Gloriamarie Amalfitano:

                  A tradition of General Revelation [history/nature, etc.] strongly supports your point.

                  ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God… [Ps 19:1ff].

                  Blessings!

                  • As does all of Church History except for the Johnny-Come-Lately Reformers. Fortunately, between the RCC, Orthodox, Anglicans (which includes Methodists, after all), and Lutherans who hold to theology for the most part unpolluted by the Reformers (with some glaring Anglican exceptions)

                    • Dear Gloriamarie Amalfitano:

                      And some reformers recognize ‘General Revelation [eg: the Belgic Confession], although they were woefully blind in the application of that ‘second book’ when it came to preserving great works of art/sculpture/etc.

                      Blessings!

            • Doofus, read the article again. It is always amuzing to hear an arrogant so called “Christian” informing others what the author meant, as opposed to what he actually said. Ie. spicer/Conway for Trump.

    • Uber Doofus…..do you really not understand the article, or are you just posting to engage in mental masturbation? Its tiresom, but if you alre really this lost and incapable of understanding, we’ll try to help. If youre just here to pick a fight, then bring it on, because you dont stand a chance here when you twist scrptire. There are enough advanced degrees in theology, divinity, etc here that you cant bully anyone here by twisting scripture.

  25. Invariably when a Christian utters that phrase and makes that claim, he or she is attempting to dismiss your perspective, your worldview, or your interpretation of Scripture by claiming that your authority on the matter at hand is somehow less reliable than their own

    It’s not the believer’s viewpoint that is authoritative here, it is God himself. Each person who makes a claim to authority that oversteps the bible is putting themselves above God. It is not ‘our’ perspective that matters, but God’s alone.

    • No Ed. That will only be true when a human brain is not standing between God and the Bible. Brains personally filter what they read and get different meanings out of scripture.

      Christian fundamentalism is dying out because it deals in prideful exclusivity, ignorance, fear, hatred and lies. All things God himself is against.

      Back to the drawing board as usual Ed.

      • That will only be true when a human brain is not standing between God and the Bible.

        Exactly. Romans 1 speaks to this very thing. We should be standing behind the Bible, not in front of it, casting our own shadow on its validity.

      • If God is who he says he is: perfect, holy and loving, would he not find a way to make himself, his attributes AND what he expects of us known? Did the brains of Paul, Peter and the other bible writers “stand” in God’s way in this? God made our brains and his Holy Spirit helps us use them to understand scripture for what it plainly means. If you have trouble discerning scripture’s meaning, it’s not because your brain is standing in God’s way—it’s because your heart is.

        • The instant I repented of following other gods, I wept buckets. Simultaneously, a veil was torn away, and I could read the bible for the first time with understanding –even through the tears it was made plain, or maybe because of the tears.

    • No one is making a claim to any authority Ed, people just don’t agree. That doesn’t mean they see themselves as “above God”.
      Those are your words, your inaccurate assessment. You can’t speak honestly on another’s truth. And why would anyone think their perspective of God is the “right” one? That’s what I want to know. Because of course, NO ONE has God’s perspective. Even the Bible doesn’t have it. Pointers maybe, words and stories yes, and some helpful guidance. But a map of NYC is not the same as actually being in Times Square or Central Park. We know this.

      Personally I think all these arguments are silly and a waste of time. But who cares what I think, and why should they? Everyone just says the same things over and over and no one budges, so set in the validity of their own thoughts. I don’t care who claims to be an “expert” or what religion anyone has studied. We’re all people. And all religions turn to dust in time.

      Can we please focus on something tangible, effective, more loving?

      • Dear Carmen Melton,

        Thank you for that. I like. no, I love what you said It was that very “over-intellectualization” using phrases and verses and interpretations “carved in stone” as clubs of authority that kept me from seeking God in the first place.

        I would see all of that antagonistic gibberish and intellectual “one-ups-manship” and think to myself “they can’t ALL be right”, and “this is what it’s like to have God in your life? No thanks”.

        When I was finally introduced to God by people who checked their Bibles and religious dialogue at the door, I began to be receptive. They met me in everyday life eye-to-eye and lived a life that was beautiful. They didn’t preach at me, THEY DEMONSTRATED A BEAUTIFUL LIFE. And I would think to myself, “wow, I wonder how they got that way”, “maybe I’ll ASK” TA DA!

        I think that many religious people don’t realize that a spiritual awakening is not an intellectual experience. And, for crying out loud, if I know nothing else about you, how you live or how you get along with others on a regular basis, what makes you think that shoving a book in my face while espousing a bunch of religious phraseology to (so you think) enhance your credibility, is an attractive sales pitch. The likely outcome is a visit to your proctologist to retrieve your book.

        Carmen, I like your battering ram analogy. I also like the map of NYC vs being there in Central Park. In my experience, the only way I have EVER seen the Word of God transmitted effectively is by taking someone’s hand and walking with them through Central Park, not shoving a map in their face and telling them if they don’t read it and listen to their directions, they will never find Central Park. The reason that I don’t listen to that nonsense is because it is so transparently obvious that they have actually never been to Central Park.

        Clearly, I’m no Bible scholar, but I know enough to realize that Jesus LED by example along the road of everyday life, and in watching him DEMONSTRATE THROUGH HIS ACTIONS, his words afterward, had credibility. He didn’t try to shout directions from behind, poking and prodding with rolled-up pages of spiritual notes and catch phrases.

        I care what you say, Carmen. It made me feel good and not alone in my similar thoughts. Thank you very much.

        Edward M

      • No one is making a claim to any authority Ed, people just don’t agree. That doesn’t mean they see themselves as “above God”.

        The statement John P makes in this blog is the very same argument/appeal that Satan made to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan put the subject of authority of God up for debate. Satan put a question mark on God’s authority as John P is doing in his writings.

      • But a map of NYC is not the same as actually being in Times Square or Central Park. We know this.

        A map is not meant to replace the experience of actually being in a place, it exists to help get you to that place. But you have to remember this, you can only trust a map drawn by the person who has been to the place you desire to go. Trusting the map of the person who has not been to Central Park if foolhardy at best.

        What John P is saying is don’t trust the Bible to get you to heaven, trust your own map. I’m saying, trust the map that was given by God to get you to heaven. It’s your choice from there.

        • So Ed. The purpose of scripture is to:

          1) Save you from Hell.

          2) Get you to Heaven.

          Wow!!! What are you going to do with all those other words in the New Testament—use them as toilet paper in your outhouse?

          Back to the drawing board Ed.

  26. I am one (a Bible-believing Christian) and I know many who are. The author of this article uses well-worn arguments that attack the authority and trustworthiness of the divinely-inspired Scriptures. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He parried the devil’s attacks with, “It stands written…” three times. I will follow Jesus’ lead on how trustworthy the Scriptures are and how they are to be applied regarding the moral or ceremonial aspects. I don’t need to correct the written Scriptures; they do, however, correct me and show where I fall short in thought, word, and deed. More importantly, they point me to my Savior.

  27. I am glad we are not under the Mosaic covenant any longer–all of those requirements have been fulfilled completely in Christ for us! Those laws still remind us theat the wages of sin is death–separation from our Creator. But the very thing that the author charges “Bible-believing Christian’s” with is what he himself is doing. Rather, we can show each other when and when we are misusing or misinterpreting the Scriptures, but we don’t accomplish this properly by challenging the accuracy and authority of God’s Word. That is never how Jesus handled the Scriptures. He never indicated the the Scriptures were wrong about anything–whether it was creation, morality, historicity of the events or persons mentioned. And He gives all of us a severe warning to not add to or take away from the Word of God.

  28. I’m a bible believing Christian. [I would never say I understand the whole bible. ] I was never force fed the scriptures at a ‘fundie’ church as a child. I came upon them on my own, in middle age. I personally , have never come across any contradictions. And I find a lot of it easy to read. I just read Exodus, I took about a week to do it, and I used a lot of cross references in Scripture. I do not use outside commentaries. Basically, understood every word of it. (I believe God parted the Sea for Moses and his people. And I believe that God personally spent time with Moses.)

    I believe what God says, I believe what He does, and I believe Who He Is. I’m looking forward to what He is going to do next.

  29. I love the Bible– it’s beauty, it’s messiness, it’s wisdom, the sagas and stories, and conundrums . I believe in God and that the Bible is what is recorded of his inspiration and prescence in this world though people who walked with God, prayed to God and sought to know God. I don’t think the Bible begins or ends with Moses or any of the prophets. Their stories are a part of the great tapestry of all those who came in contact with God. I am sure there are many stories yet to be told.

  30. My son plays on a local high school intramural basketball team. All we have seen from the coach so far is an interest in basketball and eating Mexican food. However, unexpectedly and out of the clear blue, we received the following end-of-the-season message by e-mail tonight from our son’s coach:

    “Coach Keever would like to take everyone to see a special showing of the documentary movie, “Is Genesis History”, Tuesday, 3/7, at Tinseltown. The showing is at 7:00 p.m. — meet out front at 6:45; Coach Keever will buy the tickets – bring your money for popcorn.

    This will be the only event this week – movie Tuesday instead of dinner Thursday. Perhaps there will be time for a dinner get together after spring break.”

    Here is my reply to that message:

    “Thanks for the invitation. My son will be unable to attend because he has Ultimate Frisbee practice on Tuesday nights in the Spring. I am unfamiliar with this movie entitled “Is Genesis History”? Is this a creation science, intelligent design, “teach the controversy” movie along the lines of the content preached By Ken Ham at his new Noah’s Ark venue in Kentucky? If it is, just to kindly and gently let you know, we are members of The United Methodist Church. We do not believe in “Biblical Inerrancy” and a simple, literal reading of the “Holy Bible” as Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do. In addition, I work as a professional scientist, and I know—not have faith in—but know for absolute certain—that Genesis is not real history. Yeah, we know. We are going to burn forever in Hell with indescribable pain and sorrow. Heard it a million times. That’s why we plan to take plenty of hot dogs and hamburger patties with us on our trip to Hell. Genesis 1 and 2 and the story of Noah’s Ark are parables—just like the one’s Jesus told his followers in the New Testament to illustrate spiritual points He wanted to get across to his audiences. What local church is behind this movie, and are you members of this church? Love you—and have a great evening.

    P.S. Glad I did not vote for Trump. I think he is in serious need of emergency mental health services.

    My Son’s Dad”

    • P.S. I just watched the trailer for this movie on-line JUST NOW. Right at the beginning of the trailer is an out-in-out LIE. Look at what this fundie guy says about the Colorado River and geologists. This is just plain not true. The vast majority of geologists at major American universities have not changed their minds one iota about something so basic as the Colorado River cutting the Grand Canyon over time. It’s a LIE!!! Here you can see this liar saying the LIE:

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzjPwFPxtpZTJ1dq7cAkb3g

      WHY ARE THE FUNDIES TELLING SO MANY LIES TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?

      WOULD YOU SEND YOUR CHILD TO A MOVIE PRESIDED OVER BY LIARS?

      • OH MY GOD
        OH MY GOD
        That coach isn’t trying to spread his beliefs during school hours, is he?

        Man, that is SO wrong. I am not a geologist, but I am a scientist, and those guys were not scientists. Period. End of story. I think that I recognize what one of those guys was alluding to when he said, “Most scientists now agree that it didn’t actually take millions and millions of years to create the Grand Canyon”. He embellished the “you know what” out of the newest theory, though.

        A young geologist here in AZ put forth a new theory about five years ago when he discovered evidence for an ancient lake in northeastern Arizona. It was comprised of meltwater from an ice age that occurred around 6 million years ago. From clay and sediment topological surveys, he calculated the lake volume to be between 1200 and 1500 cubic miles. A catastrophic ice dam failure on the western edge of the lake basin released the entire lake volume over a period of weeks, which they believe cut the main channel of the Grand Canyon. But it was nothing like it is today. The same thing occurred in Scablands, Washington, at the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago.

        My background is in applied physics, and I would LOVE to show those characters the science behind the current methods of dating fossils. Like the 2 billion year old marine stromatolite fossils at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, which sits 6,000 feet above sea level.

        Geez.

        • I love science, Edward M. I will only ever have a layperson’s appreciation of it, but that’s ok, others in the Body of Christ are gifted to explain it to me in terms I can understand. That’s ok, because I have my own different gifts I can offer to the scientists.

          One thing I really love about what you wrote about the Grand Canyon is that it tells me creation isn’t finished yet. God is still creating.

          I know there are probably those on this blog who believe in a twenty-four hour/ six days of creation, seventh day of rest as if it were actually true. As if it is a scientific explanation for how the universe came to be.

          I wonder how many of those people have read in the Talmud? It is really clear that the Rabbinic scholars who contributed to that document understood the creation story as a metaphor. In fact, that is why there are two very different creation stories because each metaphor teaches us something different.

          My very favorite metaphor is the creation of Eve from a rib. One Rabbinic scholar expressed this: “God didn’t take a bone from man’s foot because he didn’t want her to be man’s servant, or from his head because God didn’t want her to be man’s master, but from his side so she would be his companion.”

          This quote gets attributed to Matthew Henry, but it really is rabbinic in origin.

          The metaphor tells us that women are the equals of men in every way and God’s intention was an egalitarian relationship between the genders.

          • Amen, Amen and Amen. Since my boys are all into the sciences, environmental, bio-chem and psychology we believe truth is truth. I think they really limit God not to see all the possibilities that he created. I would rather believe he set all this in motion and let us get on with it, knowing that has our world changes so must we. I have always liked that metaphor for Eve and the rib. Makes perfect sense to me.

        • He is a really nice guy. I don’t know if he works in the school system. I read about that new theory last night you described last night. It was my understanding that the Colorado River still played its historical cutting role for the upstream portion of the Grand Canyon and the aspect you mentioned was more important in the downstream portion of the Grand Canyon, although the two also systemically interacted. Bottom line though in any case: It was all natural processes that occurred millions of years before the Noah flood in the Bible—and the vast number of geologists have not changed their minds at all about that. To say or even imply that is just an out-in-out LIE. Thanks for your input Ed M.

        • You mean that God’s ways are different from our ways, and He is beyond our full understanding in almost everything? I have never understood why so many people find that frightening? It doesn’t bother me in the least. I like God in that role. If He is that cool, that capable, that everywhere, and he is like Jesus, why would any person be scared of such all-encompassing power and ability. It just baffles me. For me, it is all just something so wonderful to let go of my climbing rope and just fall into it and become part of it.

        • Hi Les. I didn’t ask him because he will not normally sacrifice his Ultimate Frisbee practice for anything. I will mention it to him when I pick him up at school this afternoon and get back to you later. I hope you are having a nice day. Here is a big : (((SMOOCH))).

          • I asked him about it after school and told him he could go if he wanted to do so—said I would take him. He wanted to wait and see how many other team members were going.

            It is raining hard here today. His Ultimate Frisbee practice was cancelled, and he apparently decided against the movie. He would have asked me to run him over to the theater if he had wanted to go. It is now long past the starting time for the movie, so I suspect that few other kids were going.

            The town I live in is crawling with professional scientists—so young Earth creationism does not sell well here out in public in general or in the public schools. Our public schools actually teach evolution in science class rather than quietly skipping Chapter 10 in the textbooks to avoid controversy with fundie parents.

            When the fundie parents complain—nothing changes. Most would not complain anyway. The whole town is pretty much run by a huge government agency dedicated to science. However, freedom is not really free here because of that. “They” will come after you if you get out of line. I was once working on a billion dollar science project, and one of the local scientists wrote an anonymous letter critical of the project to the local newspaper. The next day federal officials were desperately trying to find out the true identity of the letter writer so they could “have a little talk with him.”

  31. The importance of the role of human “authorities” in directing the beliefs and behavior of “Bible believing Christians” cannot be overstated. No human should ever be elevated to such a level. Each of us must engage in our own struggle to discover what is true.

    • This is why IFB churches have been accused—and in many cases rightly so—of being cults. They are often led by fat-bellied, power-hungry pastors who become more powerful in the minds and hearts of the congregants that the three members of the Holy Trinity. In effect. they become like God to their people. If you were to be a member of such a church, I suspect you would find out first hand what poor gods human beings are.

      • Charles, what do you mean by “IFB churches,” please?

        I personally don’t trust any non-denomination church without some sort of accountability structure. Of course, some denominational churches leave a lot to be desired, even when the accountability structure is there. For instance, the Southern Baptists and the Campbellites.

        • It’s the official initialism for the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches. They have no denomination. Each church is an individual, separated entity, which allows each pastor—if he so desires and thinks that way—to have his own little petty kingdom.

          My friend Bruce was a pastor at IFB churches for 25 years, but he repented of it in sack cloth and ashes and became an atheist. He writes on his blog each day as an act of penitence to a God he no longer believes in because of what fundie life did to screw him up and because of all the pain he caused in screwing up other peoples’ lives. Here is the link to it if you would like to visit with Bruce. He is a very nice, kind, and loving person—except when fundies preach to him. Here is the safe link to his blog homepage:

          https://brucegerencser.net/

          Hey. All you fundies out there who come to John P.’s blog. If you would like to test out HOW BIG YOUR SPIRITUAL BALLS AND OVARIES ARE AND HOW STRONG THE HOLY SPIRIT IS IN YOU, Bruce is one of the two or three biggest IFB ball drops in American history. He is doing enormous nationwide damage to the fundie cause because he is a fundie pastor who defied the “fundie system,” went rogue, became an atheist, and is spilling all the nasty insider beans you fundies would like to keep quiet from the American people. Bruce is like on the IFB Top 5 priorities to WIN BACK into the fundie system. If you and your personal witnessing were to win back Bruce to the fundie system and Jesus, you would be nationally famous in the world of Fundiedom. Every fundie preacher in America would beat a path to your front door. They would make you head of their evangelistic organizations. You would be on a par with Bob Jones I in fundie legend and lore. Any takers?

          • Charles. you wrote “Here is the link to it if you would like to visit with Bruce. He is a very nice, kind, and loving person—except when fundies preach to him. Here is the safe link to his blog homepage:

            https://brucegerencser.net/

            I see your friend doesn’t allow comments on his blog. As a result I cannot offer refutation ot the Bart Ehrman meme which claims that in the entire first century no Greek or Roman mentions Jesus. Bart is quite wrong about that, which suprises me.

            The Roman historian and senator Tacitus referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate, and the existence of early Christians in Rome in one page of his final work, Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44.[1]

            • Bruce does allow comments. I left a few myself this afternoon. Go try it again. The comment button is at the tops of his posts. Just give it a click.

              Yes. I agree about Tacitus, and it is also my understanding that Josephus, the Roman-era historian of Judea, made some references to Jesus as well. I am not sure how modern historians think about the accuracy of Josephus. I read an article once that cited Josephus and his comments about Jesus. The author said that one of the interesting comments Josephus made is that Jesus was known for never letting a smile cross his face—leaving the impression that the historical Jesus was a very serious, cold, and unfriendly person with zero sense of humor. That very much fits the typical fundie envisioning of what God is like. I later read some Josephus passages and found no such reference to an unsmiling Jesus in them—so I do not know where the author who cited him got that information—but I suspect it was false information from someone who wanted Jesus to look bad.

              • Thank you. Found the comments.

                Josephus, how could I have forgotten? I never read that Josephus said Jesus never smiled. Here’s what he says:

                About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.
                – Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63
                (Based on the translation of Louis H. Feldman, The Loeb Classical Library.)

  32. YOU can believe anything you want , and so can I , but just as in the old testiment nations were judged for ignoring God , so shall we be judged.
    As a nation
    I am a Bible Believing Christian because I believe in the total inheirancy of the bible. Isreal as Gods Chosen People , and The islamic people as rebels following a man who is anti God, Anti Freedom, Anti USA. They are Facist and believe in taking, stealin, raping, and other forms of death for not following thier way of life. ( The koran, The Quaran are 2 ea. distant books which have different thoughts of interpretation.
    If You do not Take heed and VET, ID , Find out what is really going on , They will put you to death, put you into slavery , and put your offspring into false errors.
    Wake up and take a good look at what you are doing in the name of immigration.
    Having them in as a guest is one thing. Having them take over your country with false religeon is another. They Do not allow Freedom,
    Beware that this is not the judgement on false believers who say one thing, and really dont believe the Bible at all. Just another church.
    Jesus Christ is the only Way to heaven for the sin of the world , God cannot dwell with a unholy man, woman, child of this world, Read the Bible and see what it really says.
    Faith , Belief, Trust, No other Way.

    • CF: I don’t understand why Progressives continue to romanticize Islam, ‘the religion of peace’. Stoning adulterers & homosexuals, taking child brides, marriage rape, rape, torture, sex slaves, suicide murders, and beheading are all approved of in their wonderful Mohammad-loving culture. Not only approved of, but elevated as good.

      • Les. No one romanticizes that stuff. There is just a recognition under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that Islam is a religion and followers of that religion have a right to believe in it and practice it on American soil—as long as they do so in a way that does not break American law. If you deny them that right, then you open the door for someone to tell you that you can no longer practice your brand of Christian fundamentalism. Now you would not want that to happen—would you?

        • Charles, not to mention the only characteristics she identifies as Muslim practice are those of the extreme right wing which Muslim scholars have said is not a part of Muslim.

          It’s the same thing as calling the KKK a Christian group.

        • Some people conveniently forget that we had people in this country hung and put in jail because the powers that be at the time did not like their brand of Christianity. That is why we have separation of church and state. Freedom of religion does not mean that you can impose your religion on anyone else only that you can practice your religion within the laws of our country. The laws that everyone, no matter their religion have to abide by. I wonder why that is so difficult to understand. My grandfathers family was persecuted because of the way they practiced Christianity, and no, they were not Mormons, so this is very dear to my heart. Peace…………

        • Thank you Charles. I’ll never understand why people fabricate generic, blanketed falsehoods, apply them to everyone under a specific heading and spread it like gospel. So damaging.

          Maybe this is why knowledge was considered evil in the garden of eden. Everyone has a false sense of it, doesn’t realize it, and spreads it like a rotting disease. It isn’t information or wisdom that’s wrong, it’s passing off your incomplete perspective as truth. Hmmm…

  33. Thank you John for this wonderful blog.. There are too many people these days that are worshiping the Bible instead of Jesus. They use it as we all know as a weapon to destroy.
    Well, I believe that the Bible is meant for each individual to read, search, learn and apply those passages that Holy Spirit illuminates to them individually. And, yes we all take passages that seem to help us get through the day without ever looking at the history or exegesis of what the content or context really means and how it should apply to each of us in these days.

  34. I can’t quite agree with this one. I am a BB, not because I claim to understand (intellectually) everything, or even most things about the Bible; I can’t–never will. That is an impossibility. But, by faith I can grasp concepts of the Word of God that I would never “understand” outside of the realm of faith.
    One thing I learned about approaching the Bible is that my motives matter–if I am searching the Scripture to prove my beliefs, I can make it say whatever I want it to say. However, when I pray (honestly) and approach study without preconceived notions, I often find out how sorely wrong I have been on issues that I believed so strongly. My conscience takes a beating ofttimes, and I find myself on the opposite side of what is most popular.
    I find that to be a good way to measure accuracy of His Word, and its ability to penetrate my heart “dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; (judging) the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. Is it easy and comfortable–the “broad path”? Or, am I challenged and convicted–“the narrow path”; and finally, does it line up with the rest of the Bible, or is it isolated as a verse (or maybe two) standing alone? Context makes a HUGE difference. And, I’ve found that all of those separate books, written by different authors, over many years, followed by so many interpretations has still managed to remain true and to maintain its power, proving that the Bible is a real, living, and God-inspired “text”.

      • Not at all. John P subtly challenges the authority and inerrancy of the Bible, where Lisa C upholds it. This is a foundational and fundamental difference in what both Lisa and John are asserting.

            • Huh, I wrote a post about inerrancy that has disappeared.

              No, I too didn’t really expect an answer. It’s a shame that people are not correctly taught that the doctrine of inerrancy, a basic tenet of Christian orthodoxy, states that it is the original autographs which were without error. And does not apply to copies of the original manuscripts or translations.

    • Very well said Lisa. I get the sense that despite Mr Pavlovitz’s self-confessed love for the Bible, he likely doesn’t actually believe in its authority, inerrancy or divine inspiration. This is made quite obvious with his comments: “the *poetry* of the Genesis Creation accounts”, “*professed* historic records of the Israelites” and “*alleged* biographies of Jesus”. So this is where the article loses some credibility.

      • Not actually. The two Genesis creation stories are neither history nor science. They are Holy parables—meaning made up fictional stories designed by Jesus to get across several important spiritual points. From the science of the past 150 years—whole libraries full of it, we no for certain that they are neither history nor science.

        As for the professed historic records of the Israelites, you know that the Hebrews have always been a distinctive and separate people with their own unique ways of doing things. This means that their material culture “stuff” should be different from ancient Egyptian material culture “stuff.” I am a professional archaeologist. You might be interested to know that not a single unique Hebrew artifact has ever been found in archaeological deposits dated to the period of Ramses II when the Jews were supposedly held as slaves in Egypt. Archaeologists have dug the living daylights out of Egypt—no Jewish artifacts from that period. Ancient Egyptian writings, to the best of my knowledge, do not mention any Hebrew slaves, how Joseph saved the empire, etc.

        I am not sure what John means by Alleged biographies of Jesus. He might be referring to the portions of the gospel accounts like Luke and Matthew where the writers have put together a story of the birth and life of Jesus prior to when they first met him. There are some problems there. For example, there were supposedly two different Bethlehems in Judea at the time Jesus was born. No one is sure which of those he was born in. There was a story on that in Archaeology Magazine, published by Boston University, about 2005. It was really interesting.

        • Charles, you wrote “The two Genesis creation stories are neither history nor science. They are Holy parables—meaning made up fictional stories designed by Jesus to get across several important spiritual points.”

          Ok, I am a tad confused… surely you aren’t saying that Jesus made up the two Creation stories?

          About the archaeological evidence of the Hebrews (who were not yet called Jews) in Egypt, in his Introduction to the Old Testament, R.K. Harrison offers a considerable amount of archaeological evidence.

          • Not by Jesus, but through God’s presence with the people as they lived and tried to figure out their relationship with God.

            I’m pretty sure Genesis 1 was finalized during or just after the Exile, when the people’s life felt chaotic and uncertain; Genesis 1 is all about a God who brings order out of chaos. I’d think that would have been something helpful to hang onto for a people whose every certainty had come undone.

              • Why not indeed?

                One of the things that is mentioned in the book on midrash we’re reading is that the rabbis were able to disagree with one another, to hold very different interpetations of a Scripture text, and consider what each said as “word of God.”

                • Exactly. We see this in the Psalms all the time. Two seemingly contradictory things held in tension.

                  The rabbis are and were able to live with paradox.

                  This business of only one truth, either/or lind of thinking is not what we see in the Bible. We see both/and.

  35. Even if we knew what the Bible said (we don’t, not really) there’s still the question of what the Bible means. There are those who are taught a set of ideas against which every biblical interpretation must be measured; even if the text says the opposite, it must be brought into compliance with the learned set of ideas. Sometimes I think people would prefer a Bible that spells everything out in black and white, and so they imagine the Bible they have is just such a Bible.

    • Please tell me you are not Harry Emerson. But hey. The thing they miss—and I do mean really miss—is that ancient literature was written in a very different way than modern literature. The emphases and ways of using language to tell stories or convey information was way different—more metaphorical—more poetic—more allegorical—more coded sometimes. It is just different. The straightforward, Joe Friday, just give me the facts, plain language approach to writing literature that we have today would be almost completely foreign to ancient writers and readers, if they were to pick up one of our modern day books, magazines, etc. To really understand ancient literature when you read it requires a knowledge about how people wrote in their time and what the purpose of writing was. For example, if you had a major idea and you wanted to gather a following for it, the factual accuracy of the writing was not important. The important thing was to write it in a way that would make a following materialize. In other words, as we would say today, the end is so important that any means is justified to get to that end—and if the end gathers a following—it does not matter that what your wrote in the details was one third lies, one third truth, and one third speculation written as truth. And reflexively, if a following actually gathers, then maybe the materialization of the following renders everything that was said into “actual factual truth.” Because surely, anything so good as to start a following, must by its very nature be true.

      Think Monty Python Philosophy.

      • Charles wrote “Please tell me you are not Harry Emerson. ” LOL I thought of Fearless Fosdick myself, but I suppose that dates me. LOL

        Here’s the thing so many people don’t take into account, especially people who have not studied history.

        Before the Age of Enlightenment, human beings thought differently. The AofE created a paradigm shift in the way people think.

        To dramatically oversimplify, before the AofE the question in people’s mind was “why.” From the AofE on the question becomes “how.”

        This is why we can not believe in a twenty-four hour/six day creation story because the creation story is not answering the question “how did the universe in general and the earth, in particular, come to be.” It is answering the question “Why are we here?”

        We simply have got to stop reading anything written before the Age of Enlightment from the perspective of “how” and must read it from the perspective of “why.”

        • Ditto. I think someone should make a rule than no one can become a Christian until they have at least one college degree in history—with extensive study of the history, growth, and development of the Christian faith from the birth of Jesus to the birth of John Calvin, a man for whom I have almost zero respect because of his negative impacts on the Christian faith. That’s just my personal opinion, and I need to get that degree myself.

          • Can’t stand John Calvin. Among the many reasons is the fact that he thinks all women are interchangeable as he revealed in this letter:

            In a letter addressed to Farel in May, 1539, (he was then thirty years old), Calvin sketches his ideal of a wife. “Remember,” he says to his friend, “what I especially desire to meet with in a wife. I am not, you know, of the number of those inconsiderate lovers who adore even the faults of the woman who charms them. I could only be pleased with a lady who is sweet, chaste, modest, economical, patient, and careful of her husband’s health. Has she of whom you have spoken to me these qualities? Come with her …, if not let us say no more.”

  36. I get the sense that despite Mr Pavlovitz’s self-confessed love for the Bible, he likely doesn’t actually believe in its authority, inerrancy or divine inspiration, a pretty basic tenant of fundamental Christian orthodoxy. This is made quite obvious in his comments “the *poetry* of the Genesis Creation accounts”, “*professed* historic records of the Israelites” and “*alleged* biographies of Jesus”. A bit hard to discuss good biblical hermeneutics without at least stating a position on biblical inerrancy at some point.

    • I would like to know, Michael how you define ” inerrancy or divine inspiration, a pretty basic tenant of fundamental Christian orthodoxy.”

      I say that because when I was in seminary, and studying Church History, I learned that while inerrancy and inspiration are “pretty basic tenants of fundamental Christian orthodoxy” what is being taught as inerrancy and inspiration are not the “pretty basic tenants of fundamental Christian orthodoxy” that the Church has always taught.

      Historically, as fundamental Christian orthodoxy, inerrancy of Scripture only applied to the original autographs, never to the copies of the original manuscripts and never to the translations.

      Historically, the inspiration of Scripture, as fundamental Christian orthodoxy, means that the authors of the manuscripts were inspired by God. This does not mean that the words were dictated to the authors who then wrote them down. That would be a form of automatic writing which many fundies and evangelicals consider a tool of the devil.

      To say something is inspired is to say it is God-breathed, and Scripture is not the only stuff that the Holy Spirit has inspired. She has inspired hymns, art, music, the way some people live, etc. That is a fundamental of orthodoxy.

      Anything that contradicts this is not what the church has historically taught, which is the definition of orthodoxy, not these modern twists chopping and changing historic Christianity and orthodoxy.

    • Michael. Listen closely. “Biblical Inerrancy” IS NOT “a pretty basic tenant of fundamental Christian orthodoxy.” It was not part of the early Christianity of the 1st – 3rd centuries A.D. and arrived on the scene very late, like just a 150 or so years ago and was not formally defined as such until Christian fundamentalism was first invented about 100 years ago.

      To use your language, it would be more accurate to say that Biblical Inerrancy is a pretty basic tenant of the recently created Christian fundamentalist faith, and it was invented by my great grandfather Homer “Possum Lips” Jackson. There is no such thing as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Possum Lips Jackson. If you can let this sink into your noggin, you’ll be thousands of miles ahead of your fellow congregants down at the Anal Rim IFB Church.

  37. Pingback: There is No Such Thing as a “Bible-Believing” Christian – FairAndUNbalanced.com

  38. Good morning fellow John P followers. I was just pondering with a degree of amusement, over how much weight we put on “what we think we know”, like anyone could ever really comprehend the whole of anything, especially God – what he thinks and desires – through a set of stories in a book that you can hold in your small earthly hand.

    Yet somehow, we’re all an “expert” in this area of thought. We ALL think that what we know is the “correct” version, end of story. That our own perspective, experience and knowledge are somehow superior to another’s on the same subject. That because we have studied the same words our entire life, they hold the answer to everything. When actually, whatever we think or believe, in the grander scheme, or even in the history of human kind, is NOTHING. No matter how much we *think* it is something. Beliefs are not facts so they cannot, by definition, be argued as such.

    That’s why it cracks me up ever so slightly to hear so much arguing, bantering, piety, “expertise” on an invented subject that NO ONE can agree on. Does anyone else see the absurdity in this futile exercise?

    I guess that’s why I keep coming back to this blog. First, I am very much inspired by John P’s words, because without even knowing me he speaks a language that reaches the depths of my heart, and this connection is very nourishing to my being. Secondly, the comments give me so much perspective in a way that is darn entertaining.

    More and more I am realizing that direct experience is the closest thing that I’m going to get to what’s real and true, to what it means to be fully alive. All the stories we’re told, anything written or relayed by another is second hand “knowledge” and falls pray to the distortion of our minds, the inadequacy of language, and the evolving/decaying effects of time. If we are constantly living in our heads – nostalgic or regretful of the past, worried for the future, upset by a potential problem, or concerned over an interpretation of anything at all – we are not actually living life but a mental construct of it. It is not to say we don’t do practical things like planning, problem solving, or have moments of introspection & contemplation. But to dwell on something that there is no way of proving or disproving, is kind of insane. Unless perhaps it’s fun! So maybe that’s it. We’re all just amusing ourselves in the endless discourse, wrapped up tightly in the drama of a divine play. (Just realize that’s all it is:)

    I wonder what would happen if – for just a moment – we completely forget what we think we know about what could or might or should be. Would we discover the incredible gift of Life that can only be found right here and now? I’m curious.

      • Carmen, I found a little bit ago that every time I comment I have to make sure my name appears in the name place. It doesn’t always auto-fill.

        It’s interesting that you think we think we are experts. I know I am not an expert, but there are things I have studied extensively and have academic degrees in. When I post, I am sharing from that, not my own sense of expertise.

        • Hi Gloriamarie, I wasn’t specifically referring to you, though I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say that we all, myself included, have an ego and probably feel that our knowledge can be validated in one way or another. I’m not criticizing, just pointing it out. Some people have bigger egos than others:) But I wonder if we could all take a bigger step back from time to time and realize how silly it all seems, what great joys and beauty we are missing in the quest for validation. Especially seeing how empty “being correct” really is.

      • I would be the first to acknowledge that I know very little, am learning more all the time, try to be open with my ears and eyes. I find it interesting to read other peoples take on some subject, if they get a little too preachy they lose me, but if they are putting forth an idea, I welcome it. I think most of what I believe is the sum of being open and of who I am. Not sure if that makes a lot of sense, but hey I am 75, and am still taking baby steps. Peace…………………….

        • Yes! And the sum of who you are is always changing! I think when we realize just how little we know, we are open to new ideas and that’s when growth happens. But as you know, many are closed to new ideas, afraid of change, or any-thing/one that looks different. But we are designed to grow, evidence is all around. Life is in constant flux! I guess that’s why I’m so baffled by the rigidity and stagnation, and the clinging that people do to certain traditions and ways of being, as if life and the universe can be “stopped”. No, growth must be good, change must be good, because God designed us this way! If anything is a sin, I think it is to go against this very nature.

          Thank you for remaining open and seeking new ideas.

          • I agree, my take, for what it is worth is, what a shame to put God and spirituality in a box, not allow it to grow, see new things, God is much bigger, much better, much everything beyond what we humans can possibly comprehend. I figure why not listen, I might miss something otherwise. Some of the happiest moments in my life have come by being open and vulnerable. I would have hated to miss that by being closed and rigid. Peace…………

    • Carmen, I had to chuckle in dismay. You wrote “Secondly, the comments give me so much perspective in a way that is darn entertaining”. I do believe that’s why the Romans went to the colosseum in droves. This discourse is nearer to a bloodbath. It takes otherwise, I’m sure, delightful people and turns them into excluding, ungracious, self-aggrandizing gladiators… Left and Right. Scripture was never meant to be understood by the mind. And all the knowledge of scripture avails nothing unless it results in heart-rendered, Spirit-induced, personal application.

      • Yep. At this point, I don’t really know what scripture was meant to do. I kind of think it was just like everything else in the world: Began as an novel idea, evolved and took on new life through many hands over time, and has become this enormously confusing, controversial entity that each person applies their own significance and meaning to, using it as both inspiration and justification to glorify their own individual motives.

        Many people base the validity of their understanding of scripture on historical facts, but back then, those facts were just opinions that a select few people agreed upon in that moment. Schools were formed which taught this way of thinking, and now we have graduates of theology. But what is its purpose? The answer is, whatever one assigns to it. It has no useful application. Kind of like art school. It just makes life interesting and colorfully diverse. We enjoy the significance we give to things. But that doesn’t make those things a universal objective truth, which is why I take issue with those who claim otherwise.

        • I like you Carmen, you are “colorfully diverse”. Glad you came back; this place needed you and this Christ-follower likes your kind of cool.

        • I think one can make a case that the Bible, particularly the Hebrew Scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament), came into existence as sort of a portable Temple, where people could go to encounter God even though the actual Temple had been destroyed and they may well have been too far away from it to have gone there anyway. (I didn’t think of that on my own, btw.) The Torah as we have it today was mostly put together by Jews in Babylon during and after the Exile; the first Temple had been destroyed and they had been carried far from their homeland, and had to figure out how to be God’s people in a foreign land.

    • Because if it isn’t first hand information then it’s reasonable to use the word “alleged”. Facts are only those things everyone can agree on, and I’m pretty sure you realize not everyone agrees on scripture. Also fairly certain you weren’t around to witness these accounts firsthand.

      • I’m unclear why you’re answering and why your tone seems so rude (“Also fairly certain you weren’t around to witness these accounts firsthand.”) but I’m aware of the meaning of facts and first hand information. John used the word “alleged” only in reference to Jesus’s biography in the gospels, not to letters written by Paul, etc. There are first hand references to Jesus outside of the Gospel writers so I wondered — and still wonder — why the word “alleged” was used. It implies doubt.

        • Hi Christine, fascinating how tone is inferred, maybe you just didn’t like my comment? (which is fine). Anyway I was not trying to being rude so my apologies that you perceived it that way. Wait – I have no control over your perception. I am not implying that the accounts are wrong, or that you or anyone is wrong for believing them. I’m just explaining why the word “alleged” seems reasonable since the stories aren’t firsthand and can’t be proven. Of course Jesus’s biography is firsthand knowledge to some who knew him, but not to you or I or anyone we personally know:) But that’s not even the point I hope. I’m not here to prove or disprove anything, personally it makes no difference either way. I think what matters is the heart of the message, which is Love. Not semantics, historical accuracy, depth or specifics of belief, or whatever.

          So yeah, “alleged” because we can’t prove these things as facts, which really doesn’t matter if we’re we’re missing the bigger point. Peace and moving on…

          • I was only asking why he used the word “alleged” in reference to contemporary writings about Jesus and not about contemporary writings about Paul. It seemed odd to me and still seems odd. “Alleged” is an important word. It implies something that has not been proved. He’s such a clear and precise writer, I am wondering why he used that word.

            In reference to your comment, if the criteria for proving anything is personal knowledge of the author … well, there’s not much point in me reading “Hamlet,” either, is there? It’s kind of a given that you have some trust in refutable documents from antiquity. Otherwise, we might as well throw out the concept of history and the only reality is now. And to be honest, knowing the author doesn’t guarantee what they’ve written is true, anyway.

  39. When I ponder this, I am always struck by the idea that everyone who takes these verses and tries to make them hard facts is basing it on the scientific view of the world that is so recent. None of these books was written in this context. I would be surprised if any of the authors entirely correlated truth and “fact” in the way that we do. I’m not disbelieving the Bible when I interpret Genesis as a wonderful story of God creating the universe while accepting evolution. I don’t believe that God knits people in the womb, either, but I understand that my children are gifts from God even if I understand the biological process.

    It’s an artificial divide. I believe the Bible has truthful lessons, but they’re not science lessons. They’re not time, date, place must be guaranteed or the point is invalid. That’s a very Enlightenment view, and God bless the Enlightenment. But don’t ruin the Bible by forcing its perspective on the writings.

  40. Well, once again, you run toward the windmills with your sword in the air. You really just sound like a guy rebelling against his conservative, evangelical heritage by re-hashing stuff that derivative thinkers wrote in their blogs 15 years ago after reading Brian McLaren. I was one of them. Oh, how “interesting” and “subversive” we were! (What we really were was bored.)

    Your point seems to be that, since no one completely understands everything about the Bible, somehow no one fully believes it. What? Seriously?

    To believe the Bible is to trust that it tells the truth about God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. It doesn’t mean that you’re completely comfortable with or understanding of everything the Bible says. It’s a posture that leads a person to approach the text with humility and a recognition that Scripture is our highest authority when measuring doctrine and practice. The bible is like the manger. Its job is to present us with Christ.

    So, in that sense, I am a BBC.

    I don’t know how helpful the term is since it doesn’t signify a whole lot. So, I prefer to say that I hold to the historic understanding of Sola Scriptura. Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith, but we have fallible rules of faith too (confessions, creeds, etc.). But even still, there’s nowt wrong with saying that you believe the Bible.

  41. I think it’s interesting that the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthian Church, “I couldn’t come to you with superior speech, but in fear and trembling, knowing nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified . For I could only give you milk, because you are babes in Christ.” Oh well, I know I butchered that, it’s from 1 Corinthians 3. Most of the Church in America are drinking baby bottles and wearing diapers, and the reason is because, number one, it’s what we have been taught. There is however, a remnant who haven’t bowed to believing the lies that have poured down the pipe. And that’s on both sides of things, the anti folks and the pious religious ones as well. I have probably been both! But thete is hope! I’m proof. But it requires not leaning on your own understanding. Revelation from our Father doesn’t come by concentration, it is GIVEN. to those who know they don’t know and ask sincerely for wisdom from above.

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