10 Things This Christian Doesn’t Believe About The Bible

Young man reading the Bible with bright green background

Whenever Christians talk about their faith with other Christians or with non-Christians the Bible is there, either as an overt discussion topic or as part of the background noise in the room. Many followers of Jesus assume that everyone believes everything about the Bible that they believe about the Bible, which makes for some very messy miscommunication and far too many disastrous conversations.

More and more Christians are gradually coming to new conclusions about the Scriptures, or they are finally putting words to things that they believed for years but felt they couldn’t express in the past in their faith communities.

If you’re a Christian, these words may not speak for you entirely (or at all) but they are things that at this stage in my own spiritual journey, I do not believe about the Bible—and I’m guessing I’m not alone.

1) I don’t believe the Bible was dictated by God. The sixty-six books comprising the Bible were composed by flawed, imperfect, emotional, very human beings who never claim to have been fully possessed by God or robbed of their faculties as they wrote. This means that however virtuous or well-meaning or inspired they might have been, they can’t help but have brought some of themselves into the writing.

2) I don’t believe the Bible explains the time and manner of earth’s creation and population accurately. The Creation accounts in Genesis are not scientific writings designed to instruct, as much as they are poetry and song meant to inspire. They should not be read as a literal explanation of the fashion or timetable of what Science clearly tells us were the far older and more gradual evolutions of life than a literal Biblical translation contends. Genesis 1 and 2 are a who story, not a how story.

3) I don’t believe the Bible accurately represents women for the times we in which we live. The Old and New Testaments were written predominantly, if not exclusively by men during a time when women were essentially marital property, with their status and moral worth often linked to marriage and to childbearing. These stories by the very nature of the context of their creation, carry cultural biases that need to be considered and challenged today, especially regarding the role of women in ministry leadership and gender roles in general, where the Bible has too often been an impediment to progress.

4) I don’t believe the Bible has much of consequence to say about gender identity and sexual orientation. I don’t advocate consulting the Scriptures for an accurate understanding of matters of sexuality for the same reason I wouldn’t want a medical text from the same time period guiding a surgeon taking a scalpel to me. What we now know is simply far more than we knew then about how the body works, and to ignore that would be foolish. The advances and discoveries over time that increase our understanding of our brains and bodies (which God enables) need to be respected and acknowledged by people of faith. It’s enough to believe that all people made in God’s image.

5) I don’t believe the Bible provides a unified, consistent message regarding marriage, war, violence, or sex. The Bible’s many authors have a great deal to say on these and other matters, but there can hardly be a single harmonious Biblical ethic found regarding any of them, no matter how much we would like this. For example, sometimes in Scripture violence is strictly prohibited, sometimes it is tolerated, and other times explicitly commanded and aided by God. So cleanly summarizing the Scriptures on this and many topics is all but impossible.

6) I don’t believe the Bible is without error. The very nature of its verbal origins, its decidedly human authors, the wide time expanse of its writing, as wells as its long and convoluted collation process, all mean that while The Bible can contain great truth, it cannot be as pure and pristine as it would need to be to be called perfect or without inconsistencies or inner conflicts.

7) I don’t believe the Bible is the only source through which we hear or experience God. Rather than a Sola Scriptura perspective, which makes the Bible the ultimate, singular resource for encountering and understanding God, I believe as the ancestors of the faith believed: that all areas of life speak the language of the Divine; nature, prayer, community, reason, and the Holy Spirit’s direct voice to each of us. The Bible is one of the many facets of God’s likeness.

8) I don’t believe the Bible should guide our government. Because it is as vast and complicated and cloudy as it is, it is irresponsible to try and superimpose the Bible on our civil system, as our government (like all governments) does not represent or serve people of a single faith tradition. The Bible is properly used as a guide to nurture a Christian’s individual spiritual journey and life within their chosen faith community. It should not be a mandated measuring stick for any nation’s people.

9) I don’t believe the Bible can be objectively interpreted or evaluated. Not only did the Bible’s numerous authors bring some of themselves to its passages, we too bring ourselves to them as we read, study, and interpret them. All of our biases and desires and histories and personalities shape the lens by which we view them, and they shape those who write and preach and teach us as well. Any objective truth they contain is therefore all but impossible to claim sole ownership of and practically speaking, beyond grasping.

10) I don’t believe the Bible is worthy of worship. The Scriptures are a tool for approaching God and for trying to put into words ideas that are far beyond words. They are a way of orienting ourselves in the world, of helping us to grow spiritually and to engage our faith. They are not Divinity, and cannot and should not be made into an idol to be blindly worshiped, especially when that worship reinforces or justifies discrimination, bigotry, or injustice based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, birthplace, or income level.

Having said all of this, none of these statements erase the deep love, affection, and respect I have for the Bible. I have found its words to be inspiring and challenging and encouraging in my spiritual journey. They have been an integral part of my faith life; a source of guidance, a cherished prayer partner, a place to find myself in the greater story of God and humanity. I have encountered God in reading and studying the Bible, but I have also realized its limitations and the way that it has been a source of pain and damage for so many when those limitations are ignored.

To many the Bible is an all-or-nothing proposition (you either view it as completely true or completely worthless) but I believe that it, like the things of God is far more complex and nuanced than that. Though many Christians will make efforts to argue me put of these points, they are simply conclusions I have come to at this place and time, after decades of study and reflection. They are not statements of fact I desire anyone else to agree with, they are my personal convictions—which is the point of the piece itself. My exploration has yielded these opinions regardless of the difficulties they cause. It would often be much easier to see the Bible simply as “God’s clear answer book” with every topic neatly dealt with, but this is reality for me and for many like me.

I realize too, that to many Christians these beliefs may be irreconcilable with their idea of what a true Christian is, but as someone who understands Jesus to be the face and image of God, and whose life I seek to grow as close as I can to emulating, I can only tell you that it is the truth of my journey in these days.

BONUS: 11) I don’t believe the Bible should be used to defend the Bible.
 Many readers will note that I do not quote Scripture in this piece, which is intentional and largely the point of the piece. So often Christians respond to questions or challenges regarding the Bible by quoting the Bible, which is often received by the listener as someone saying, “I’m completely trustworthy and honest—just ask me!” I believe the statements made above can be respectfully, thoughtfully, and intelligently engaged without needing to begin throwing isolated verses at one another like stones, or at least I hope they can.

639 thoughts on “10 Things This Christian Doesn’t Believe About The Bible

    • I believe the bible is a collection of stories that have evolved over many years. (Think Davey Crocket, Paul Bunyan, Big Bad John) These evolved into stories intended to control an ignorant people.

      Some of the rules in the bible made sense at the time — eating undercooked pork was/is dangerous

      Thinks seemed to mellow with the coming of Christ, who I believe was a good man with nice ideas, but he too became a legend similar to the above

      Yes — the bible was written by men in a time when women were considered property and the writing reflected this. It was also a time when large families were considered necessary so the gay life was discouraged. In some cases, Sadists used this book to indulge their fantasies,

      I also believe that something in us calls us to believe in a greater power, and clerics use this along with fear of punishment to continue to exert control (Pass the plate)

      • If Jesus of Nazareth resurrected as he predicted he would then that would give anyone enough reason to trust everything else he said, including what he said about the old testament. Did hundreds of eye witnesses experience death and torture to spread a lie about his resurrection or did it really happen? Any person who seeks a grounded foundation for their belief on the bible must have an answer to that question.

            • Tom Elmore – Why do you first suggest that Mr. SMith might have an intellectual problem, then conclude (judge) that his alleged problem is actually moral?

            • Exactly!…I myself would be ashamed to “claim” to be a Christian, with all these skeptical thoughts!….sounds like an evolutionist or perhaps a muslim that has put this site together.

              • First of all, he is not skeptical of being a Christian – he is actually only repeating what most scholars know to be true. He may believe in evolution – one can believe in good science and be a Christian as well. A muslim? Really? That’s what you get from this?

                • He’s a Christian if he says he is. Its not your call. The bible really boils down to Christ’s 2 commandments. “Love God (creation) and love your neighbour as yourself”. Nothing else really matters. I’m not a C. but have read the bible a couple of times when I was trying to be. Just try to
                  love him, that’s all that is required.

                  • Yes a person gets to call themselves anything they want to which is exactly why to ME the term “christian” means practically NOTHING all by itself. It seems to me there is only ONE person who could possibly really KNOW if someone was truly “of Christ” and thus truly “Christian” and that of course would have to be God Himself. Can ANY person honestly truthfully claim to KNOW what is in the heart of another person? How many people have suddenly utterly shocked people that THOUGHT they knew them? All anyone might see of another person is what they let them see…well I mean unless you go around placing wiretaps and miniature cameras ….every day people somewhere become shocked and dismayed over the action of some trusted loved one they have lived in the SAME HOUSE with for YEARS….for that matter many become shocked and dismayed at their OWN SELVES! Now I will commit the Faux pas of quoting an “isolated verse” from the Bible …just because it appears to me to be SO true that I don’t even see how anyone can honestly say it is not (not HONESTLY) it is Jeremiah 17:9 “…The heart [is] deceitful above all , and desperately wicked: who can know it?…” If you need proof just honestly think back on things you said or did that you deeply regret now….well unless you are one of those mis wired to think think their own crap does not stink…or that have selective memory blocking mechanism….then you might have to have someone that knows you well help you to remember….ahh but you DO remember now, don’t you??

                • You know what is funny is people saying that while they themselves believe all sorts of things simply because some trusted source SAID SO…people have made huge fools of themselves believing news reports or my favorite their college professors…hey if they learned at University it HAS to be right. But I seriously DO have to think a person is lying most of time when they they believe everything in the Bible …that they KNOW for a fact that their understanding OF what they read is infallible … all it typically is is a choice to SAY they believe …like a superstition. Because they are told that by making this choice they will be spared from eternity in hell. I say this at the same time I DO say believe the Bible… I started out lying I admit that…out of superstition because of my horrible guilt over so many things I desperately needed (do NEED) a “way” But lo and behold my lying about believing caught up with me …the same Book I had to read for my superstitious LIES caught me and convicted me and I honestly never went through more torturous turmoil than THAT in all my life …I was caught red handed so to speak. Now EITHER I am crazy OR I finally do understand and truly BELIEVE ….where I did NOT honestly truly believe this Book we call the Bible IS God’s Word …NOW I can honestly say (finally) that I DO… But there is a HUGE difference between then and NOW …. because originally I believed the Bible on the say so of others and I adopted the doctrine of the teacher I chose to trust …I did not SEE so many things he taught, instead like a student under a college professor or whatever I made the choice to adopt what HE claimed to KNOW as RIGHT …huge difference between doing THAT common as grass deceitful thing and actually waiting and working it out individually …. in fact there were things I honestly (looking back) did not see HOW I ever ever even COULD understand in the Book ….things that appeared just impossible to reconcile…anyway to make a long story shorter suffice it to say that MUCH of what I adopted AS right turned out to be error and the things I now SEE I learned for MYSELF …many things I learned that I am SO VERY confident of I have never heard another person teach anywhere …THAT is one way to know you are out from trusting people ! I discovered the hard way that the Bible is NOT written to be rightly understood literally, instead it is cover to cover POETRY unlike any other poetry because it is deadly serious poetry masterminded by genius that FAR outstrips the minds of mere men…truly I see how it takes the wise in their own craftiness making utter fools of men who really think they can simply pick up the Bible and read it as though it were anything else written by men and rightfully judge it by their OWN measure of judgment based on what they read “literally” …what the Bible claims of itself is that it is SNARES for the wicked …actually engineered to decieve the minds of men who have their hearts set to BE right (righteous) ….ANYONE, atheist or the most devout self professed believer and diligent reader of the Bible who claim right judgment or understanding of Bible because of what they imagine they are LITERALLY reading is lying ….I believe they do NOT know what they are talking about and either have never heard or refuse to taste what the Bible REALLY is which is the most masterfully written, most stupendous poetry in all the world! In a word? The Bible is SPIRITUAL which MEANS that it IS poetry IS allegory! The question of it’s literal historical accuracy is entirely moot I think …there is no way to validate what the words conjur from one person to another LITERALLY … while I personally do not have a problem accepting that there were historically the literal people written of in Scripture, it simply is NOT the point ….I mean it IS wonderful that God used entire nations of people spanning so many generations to create living PARABLE but the literal “the letter” is NOT where the enlightenment is! It is in the ALLEGORY that is the SPIRITUAL….which is why the Bible sternly warns over and over and over about our nature and admonishes the reader things such as this in Proverbs 3:5 KJV] “…Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean NOT unto thine OWN understanding..”.

              • How can you pass judgement so easy? This is what upsets me so greatly about many Christians and the religious institution. God is about love, being kind to others and acceptance of others, regardless of their beliefs (as long as their beliefs don’t hurt others) If you walk in positivity, faith and the light and love of God, you are on the right path, and that is that. To blindly quote scriptures, you were taught as a kid, by parents who were taught the same by their parents and so on, with such a closed mind, is the true wrong here. Why does everything have to be so black and white? Some people aren’t raised in church, some people grow up as Buddhists and are beautiful people. I grew in a Christian household, with a very judgmental and abusive mother, who used scripture to justify her actions, and still does to this day. Not to mention, there are other religions that are MUCH older than Christianity, with millions of believers, and those millions of people are wrong? How can you determine that or judge them? If we are to follow the in the steps of Jesus Christ, then we are not to ever cast judgement or look down on others. Instead of deciding John is wrong or anyone else before even reading or hearing their stance, why don’t you do some research yourself? There are disparities in the Bible, it was written by man. There are no arguments you can make to debunk this. In the Gospels, several different accounts are told of Jesus that contradict each other. It does not mean that there is not good information and value to the Bible, it just means, it was written by men and is flawed like man. If you choose to ignore that, it is your choice, but do not judge others who have are brave enough to recognize these disparities as Christians.

                • I should like to add this–my Easter comment:

                  Easter is your fresh life. No one can reconcile the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection. Why? Because it is about you—His resurrection is about YOUR resurrection—because of His. Why do the gospels contradict each other? Because it is not like He just got up like a vampire or ghost story or cells just knitting back into life. You have to change that—put that away, forget it. Jesus, the Person, died and rose. That is the truth. You don’t get it unless you change. You open your heart to accept the contradictions—the mystery. Yes, Jesus Lives! In believing that, you change—you live His Life. You rise from the death of merely existing, merely suffering, merely struggling—to a New Existence. You believe just because of the cloths. You see with new eyes, a discovery, an AHA! Mary, Simon Peter—they did not get it at first. The one whom Jesus loved—got it! It is the impact. You are different on Monday morning—or not. It is your choice to believe—or not. Easter is YOUR fresh life. Now. The story is not history—it is about you.

                  • Very refreshing comment. One has to at least try to live it. Sort of like 3-D glasses which is a woefully inadequate analogy, but apt. People who make the case for it not being a logical proof, which is true, miss the essence. Knock, and the door will be opened… I find it helpful to remember that the Bible is ABOUT something, not the think itself. It can be called the Word of God because it properly points one in the right direction. It is truly inspired but suffers from human shortcomings. We’re all created in God’s image, so it should be no surprise when one sees Him manifested in other religious traditions and even among atheists frequently. One should stand in awe of the creator and again, adhere to the magnificent being that it is about, rather than the details of what the text contains.

                • But to claim there are “other religions much older than Christianity” is a statment ignorant of the fact that the Bible claims that Jesus Christ is from the beginning….in other words Genesis is about CHRIST…now anyone can simply deny this but my point is that IF you realize that THIS is what the Bible CLAIMS of itself (when all the books of the Bible are assembled into ONE Book, the most published and most influential Book in the history of the world btw) If one realises this and INSISTS on making the statement you just stated AS if fact…HOW can you not be lying? Paper and most writting mediums do not last so people can NOT honestly claim to KNOW what written things have existed the longest…it is all biased conjecture ….I just love how people CLAIM the Bible copies things from OTHER legends etc …HOW would anyone KNOW who copied WHOM?? It’s wild assed guesses is all! But the Bible CLAIMS to be from the beginning …..how do you get older than that? I mean if a person wants to not believe it well okay but why should any of us LIE and say we KNOW things that we CAN NOT honestly KNOW….WHY? Because you read it somewhere? All that proves is which written thing YOU chose to adopt AS right…see my point?? Btw I can’t even count the number of folks who have tried to tell me that Islam is older than Christianity or the Bible ….why that is one of the most ignorant , presumptuous things one could say! And typically it is said so matter of factly…it is AMAZING the things people will adopt AS right …one needs to do at least a little homework before declaring things and even then word them as opinion rather than fact to help guard against coming off as a liar or fool.

              • While so many comments here reveal huge ignorance and loads of half-truths–it may be helpful to teach a moment. If you look at a dictionary, “myth” has two meanings. I taught a course on mythology–not the Greek fluff, from which we get Saturn cars, Achilles heels and moons around Jupiter–but the meaningful myths of ancient history. Here: The Akkadians had a myth that young gods revolted against old gods, and accidentally, Markduk the leader of the young’uns killed his mother but in reparation, took her bleeding body and out of it fashioned humans. Now the myth is that the younger generation ALWAYS revolts, and in some way or another, the Young Men detach themselves from their mothers in ways that reject and/or ‘kill them” out of their lives. But they take the “living” part and put a spark of divinity–a mysterious “other” life– into their own lives–and that of their children. This hopeful story describes the human generations–and is what real myth is all about. (Jesus rose–but everybody likes to stress the “body” part–but maybe it is the “realer” part of Jesus that rose–his body being far less important that his character, his outlook, his spirit ) Finally I think Genesis 1 is mythic–a wonderful counterpart to the Big Bang–and I assert both are not only true–but necessary for each other.

          • Except the resurrection story started spreading within weeks of the event in the very city where it happened, outside of which was the tomb where His body was laid. It wasn’t a legend that built up over time, but a claim made to people who could check the facts, because they saw it happen.

        • Yes, I believe the Resurrection occurred. And OT passages point to Jesus. And,a s the creeds tell us Jesus was Truly Man, His scientific knowledge was that of a man of the time

        • As one who strives to follow Jesus, and who preaches to others on the same journey, I do not “believe in the Bible,” whatever that may mean.

        • The accounts of Jesus’ “prediction” were written after the events depicted. That’s the simple answer to your prima facia argument.

          The fallibility of the inspired writers of the Bible can be seen in the most prolific of all the New Testament: Paul wrote that Jesus’ return would come surely ‘before this generation passes’.

          • The prophecies of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection pre-date the events. This was proven with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, all of which pre-date Jesus by at least 100 years, and yet the Isaiah 53 passage describing the “suffering savior” is intact.

          • ” Paul wrote that Jesus’ return would come surely ‘before this generation passes’.” Could you tell me where this is? Jesus prophesied that the Temple would be destroyed before the generation passed, and it was destroyed within 50 years of Jesus words.

            In Thessalonians Paul refers to the Second Coming, but does not say it will happen before the living have “fallen asleep”.

            So, if you could point me to the passage you are referring to, I’d love to read that for myself.

        • To be fair, the hundreds of eyewitnesses died for what they saw happen, not for what we have read about 2,000 years later in the umpteen thousandth version of a collection (and neglect) of dozens of handwritten documents ratified as… something… centuries after whatever events actually took place, took place. People in those years didn’t die for the bible. They died for the cause of Jesus. Not for the bible which was yet to be compiled/composed/ratified by people who faced no organized persecution whatsoever.

        • How do we know there were “hundreds of eyewitnesses?” Outside of the New Testement, there is no proof that any of those stories were true. We have evidence that there were Christians around, we know some Christians were being persecuted, and there’s a reasonable chance Jesus was a real guy. Also, just because people died for their beliefs, doesn’t make those beliefs true. Do you think the thousands of Islamic Suicide Bombers means the Quran is true?

          • Yeah, and people are saying the same thing about the holocaust. Look at how Christianity spread throughout the world after Christ’s death. This was no made up fictional story. Christ lived, died and rose again three days later.

        • Amen! There are no intellectual, historical, or scientific statements here to defend these 10 lies…Just unlearned repeated words from other people who do not want to look at the evidence because of a dis-connection from God. Usually from childhood hurts. Please read these amazing evidences for Jesus from non-christian sources:

          Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources
          Evidence from Tacitus
          Although there is overwhelming evidence that the New Testament is an accurate and trustworthy historical document, many people are still reluctant to believe what it says unless there is also some independent, non-biblical testimony that corroborates its statements. In the introduction to one of his books, F.F. Bruce tells about a Christian correspondent who was told by an agnostic friend that “apart from obscure references in Josephus and the like,” there was no historical evidence for the life of Jesus outside the Bible.{1} This, he wrote to Bruce, had caused him “great concern and some little upset in [his] spiritual life.”{2} He concludes his letter by asking, “Is such collateral proof available, and if not, are there reasons for the lack of it?”{3} The answer to this question is, “Yes, such collateral proof is available,” and we will be looking at some of it in this article.
          Let’s begin our inquiry with a passage that historian Edwin Yamauchi calls “probably the most important reference to Jesus outside the New Testament.”{4} Reporting on Emperor Nero’s decision to blame the Christians for the fire that had destroyed Rome in A.D. 64, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote:
          Nero fastened the guilt on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome. . . .{5}
          What all can we learn from this ancient (and rather unsympathetic) reference to Jesus and the early Christians? Notice, first, that Tacitus reports Christians derived their name from a historical person called Christus (from the Latin), or Christ. He is said to have “suffered the extreme penalty,” obviously alluding to the Roman method of execution known as crucifixion. This is said to have occurred during the reign of Tiberius and by the sentence of Pontius Pilatus. This confirms much of what the Gospels tell us about the death of Jesus.
          But what are we to make of Tacitus’ rather enigmatic statement that Christ’s death briefly checked “a most mischievous superstition,” which subsequently arose not only in Judaea, but also in Rome? One historian suggests that Tacitus is here “bearing indirect . . . testimony to the conviction of the early church that the Christ who had been crucified had risen from the grave.”{6} While this interpretation is admittedly speculative, it does help explain the otherwise bizarre occurrence of a rapidly growing religion based on the worship of a man who had been crucified as a criminal.{7} How else might one explain that?
          Evidence from Pliny the Younger
          Another important source of evidence about Jesus and early Christianity can be found in the letters of Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan. Pliny was the Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. In one of his letters, dated around A.D. 112, he asks Trajan’s advice about the appropriate way to conduct legal proceedings against those accused of being Christians.{8} Pliny says that he needed to consult the emperor about this issue because a great multitude of every age, class, and sex stood accused of Christianity.{9}
          At one point in his letter, Pliny relates some of the information he has learned about these Christians:
          They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.{10}
          This passage provides us with a number of interesting insights into the beliefs and practices of early Christians. First, we see that Christians regularly met on a certain fixed day for worship. Second, their worship was directed to Christ, demonstrating that they firmly believed in His divinity. Furthermore, one scholar interprets Pliny’s statement that hymns were sung to Christ, as to a god, as a reference to the rather distinctive fact that, “unlike other gods who were worshipped, Christ was a person who had lived on earth.”{11} If this interpretation is correct, Pliny understood that Christians were worshipping an actual historical person as God! Of course, this agrees perfectly with the New Testament doctrine that Jesus was both God and man.
          Not only does Pliny’s letter help us understand what early Christians believed about Jesus’ person, it also reveals the high esteem to which they held His teachings. For instance, Pliny notes that Christians bound themselves by a solemn oath not to violate various moral standards, which find their source in the ethical teachings of Jesus. In addition, Pliny’s reference to the Christian custom of sharing a common meal likely alludes to their observance of communion and the “love feast.”{12} This interpretation helps explain the Christian claim that the meal was merely food of an ordinary and innocent kind. They were attempting to counter the charge, sometimes made by non-Christians, of practicing “ritual cannibalism.”{13} The Christians of that day humbly repudiated such slanderous attacks on Jesus’ teachings. We must sometimes do the same today.
          Evidence from Josephus
          Perhaps the most remarkable reference to Jesus outside the Bible can be found in the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. On two occasions, in his Jewish Antiquities, he mentions Jesus. The second, less revealing, reference describes the condemnation of one “James” by the Jewish Sanhedrin. This James, says Josephus, was “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ.”{14} F.F. Bruce points out how this agrees with Paul’s description of James in Galatians 1:19 as “the Lord’s brother.”{15}And Edwin Yamauchi informs us that “few scholars have questioned” that Josephus actually penned this passage.{16}
          As interesting as this brief reference is, there is an earlier one, which is truly astonishing. Called the “Testimonium Flavianum,” the relevant portion declares:
          About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. And the tribe of Christians has not disappeared.{17}
          Did Josephus really write this? Most scholars think the core of the passage originated with Josephus, but that it was later altered by a Christian editor, possibly between the third and fourth century A.D.{18} But why do they think it was altered? Josephus was not a Christian, and it is difficult to believe that anyone but a Christian would have made some of these statements.{19}
          For instance, the claim that Jesus was a wise man seems authentic, but the qualifying phrase, “if indeed one ought to call him a man,” is suspect. It implies that Jesus was more than human, and it is quite unlikely that Josephus would have said that! It is also difficult to believe he would have flatly asserted that Jesus was the Christ, especially when he later refers to Jesus as “the so-called” Christ. Finally, the claim that on the third day Jesus appeared to His disciples restored to life, inasmuch as it affirms Jesus’ resurrection, is quite unlikely to come from a non-Christian!
          But even if we disregard the questionable parts of this passage, we are still left with a good deal of corroborating information about the biblical Jesus. We read that he was a wise man who performed surprising feats. And although He was crucified under Pilate, His followers continued their discipleship and became known as Christians. When we combine these statements with Josephus’ later reference to Jesus as “the so-called Christ,” a rather detailed picture emerges which harmonizes quite well with the biblical record. It increasingly appears that the “biblical Jesus” and the “historical Jesus” are one and the same!
          Evidence from the Babylonian Talmud
          There are only a few clear references to Jesus in the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled between approximately A.D. 70-500. Given this time frame, it is naturally supposed that earlier references to Jesus are more likely to be historically reliable than later ones. In the case of the Talmud, the earliest period of compilation occurred between A.D. 70-200.{20} The most significant reference to Jesus from this period states:
          On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald . . . cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.”{21}
          Let’s examine this passage. You may have noticed that it refers to someone named “Yeshu.” So why do we think this is Jesus? Actually, “Yeshu” (or “Yeshua”) is how Jesus’ name is pronounced in Hebrew. But what does the passage mean by saying that Jesus “was hanged”? Doesn’t the New Testament say he was crucified? Indeed it does. But the term “hanged” can function as a synonym for “crucified.” For instance, Galatians 3:13 declares that Christ was “hanged”, and Luke 23:39 applies this term to the criminals who were crucified with Jesus.{22} So the Talmud declares that Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover. But what of the cry of the herald that Jesus was to be stoned? This may simply indicate what the Jewish leaders were planning to do.{23} If so, Roman involvement changed their plans!{24}
          The passage also tells us why Jesus was crucified. It claims He practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy! Since this accusation comes from a rather hostile source, we should not be too surprised if Jesus is described somewhat differently than in the New Testament. But if we make allowances for this, what might such charges imply about Jesus?
          Interestingly, both accusations have close parallels in the canonical gospels. For instance, the charge of sorcery is similar to the Pharisees’ accusation that Jesus cast out demons “by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”{25} But notice this: such a charge actually tends to confirm the New Testament claim that Jesus performed miraculous feats. Apparently Jesus’ miracles were too well attested to deny. The only alternative was to ascribe them to sorcery! Likewise, the charge of enticing Israel to apostasy parallels Luke’s account of the Jewish leaders who accused Jesus of misleading the nation with his teaching.{26}Such a charge tends to corroborate the New Testament record of Jesus’ powerful teaching ministry. Thus, if read carefully, this passage from the Talmud confirms much of our knowledge about Jesus from the New Testament.
          Evidence from Lucian
          Lucian of Samosata was a second century Greek satirist. In one of his works, he wrote of the early Christians as follows:
          The Christians . . . worship a man to this day–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.{27}
          Although Lucian is jesting here at the early Christians, he does make some significant comments about their founder. For instance, he says the Christians worshipped a man, “who introduced their novel rites.” And though this man’s followers clearly thought quite highly of Him, He so angered many of His contemporaries with His teaching that He “was crucified on that account.”
          Although Lucian does not mention his name, he is clearly referring to Jesus. But what did Jesus teach to arouse such wrath? According to Lucian, he taught that all men are brothers from the moment of their conversion. That’s harmless enough. But what did this conversion involve? It involved denying the Greek gods, worshipping Jesus, and living according to His teachings. It’s not too difficult to imagine someone being killed for teaching that. Though Lucian doesn’t say so explicitly, the Christian denial of other gods combined with their worship of Jesus implies the belief that Jesus was more than human. Since they denied other gods in order to worship Him, they apparently thought Jesus a greater God than any that Greece had to offer!
          Let’s summarize what we’ve learned about Jesus from this examination of ancient non-Christian sources. First, both Josephus and Lucian indicate that Jesus was regarded as wise. Second, Pliny, the Talmud, and Lucian imply He was a powerful and revered teacher. Third, both Josephus and the Talmud indicate He performed miraculous feats. Fourth, Tacitus, Josephus, the Talmud, and Lucian all mention that He was crucified. Tacitus and Josephus say this occurred under Pontius Pilate. And the Talmud declares it happened on the eve of Passover. Fifth, there are possible references to the Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection in both Tacitus and Josephus. Sixth, Josephus records that Jesus’ followers believed He was the Christ, or Messiah. And finally, both Pliny and Lucian indicate that Christians worshipped Jesus as God!

      • No Tom, It’s not a moral problem, It’s a gullibility problem. Are we to believe all the saints of the OT rose during the crucifixion and then disappeared to only be documented by ONE line of text in the bible (and in all of history) and take on nothing more than hearsay that the resurrection was viewed by hundreds? You can only attribute beliefs in such things to gullibility lead by arguments from authority and tradition and nothing more.

        • What Bible text are you reading? If you’re going to criticize any piece of written work, you’d better do extensive research on the ground in country reading original transcripts, etc to make a flagrant statement like this.

          • I agree. Research your words, lest they come back to bite you. And this ksocreative has most likely NEVER read the whole Bible, just the parts they wanted to exploit for personal reasons. Many parts, if taken out of context, tell us something quite the opposite of what is intended. Like this, for example, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime.” Sounds like this makes murder ok? It is taken out of context, just like the Bible so often is. Here is the whole text of the 4th amendment of the US Constitution, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Makes a bit more sense now, huh?

          • Amen!….this guy is destroying other peoples faith…..what your saying and promoting is part of your account that you will have to be answerable to Christ himself on bended knee… will say a prayer for your Repentance dear sir.

              • You’ll change your tune when you find yourself kneeling before Jesus confessing that what you have heard and rejected about Him is the truth. Jesus Christ is Lord, Son of the Living God. Your unbelief cannot change the Truth.

      • I get what you’re saying, but a lot of the New Testament was written so close to the actual events that people who experienced them were still living. Why wouldn’t these people stand up and say, “Jesus never did those miracles! He never rose from the dead! These are lies!” ?
        That part doesn’t make sense to me.
        People who knew Jesus, walked, talked, and ate with him, saw him die and rise and then told people about it: most of whom were murdered in terrible ways. They saw him as a human, why would they lie about him being God?

        • No. They weren’t. The first gospel didn’t arise until almost 30 years after Jesus supposedly lived. None of the gospels are a first hand account. Biblical scholars know this. someone want to tell me how someone who said to god incarnate and who wandered for 30 years had no ability to write his own book? mark, luke, and john range anywhere between 50 and 100 years after. Considering most people barely lived to be late 40’s/early 50, this puts whoever wrote Matthew almost whole generation later. First hand account is a highly dubious claim.

          • 30 years–that means people who were young were adults. It doesn’t mean that no one was around who lived and walked with Jesus. The stories have no contradictions, they all say the same things just focusing on different details, if they weren’t true stories how could they be so close? Did someone read someone else’s account and copy it, but not copy it perfectly? From what I know about scribes, which admittedly is not a ton, they were perfectionists when it came to copying written scripture.

            • Actually, they do say different things. There are many discrepancies in the stories, different time frames, etc. It takes a lot of dancing to put them together in such a way to take care of even most of the discrepancies.

              • People tend to read the bible one book after the other. If they read the gospels in a “linear” fashion, i.e. side by side in a comparative manner, they would see the discrepancies.

                • The moral laws are all over the board with what people what to presume the Bible is literally SAYING …it is amazing how 5 different people will look at the SAME WORDS and come away ADAMANT that their view is obviously right….You see? THAT is the problem with the law according to man…the letter aka the literal our OWN understanding sworn to AS righteousness….The Bible literally does not make perfect sense because of our OWN understanding …but SPIRITUALLY according to the SPIRIT AUTHOR (Father) of the written WORD (Son) then it DOES make perfect sense SPIRITUALLY allegorically then we might see how the moral laws are all over the board with what people want to presume the Bible is literally SAYING …it is amazing how 5 different people will look at the SAME WORDS and come away ADAMANT that their view is obviously right….see that is the problem with the law according to man…the letter aka the literal our OWN understanding sworn to AS righteousness….The Bible literally does not make perfect sense because of our OWN understanding …but SPIRITUALLY according to the SPIRIT AUTHOR (Father) of the WORD(Son) it DOES make perfect sense IF we might see it …the letter KILLS the SPIRIT makes alive ….it is about the HEART ….God tries the HEART

                • Obviously if one tries to read the Bible literally as if it were a history book or journal or whatever, one can find all sorts of problems … but I am convinced the Bible HAS to be read with the sincere desire to find ALLEGORICAL meaning behind/IN what is written. I will go a step further and share my belief that the Bible is written to actually ensnare a person into either finding fault with it AS literal or ensnare them in their OWN presumptions of what it actually is saying.

                  Consider for one moment that there is nothing else like the Bible in this world ….it stands alone as BY FAR the most published and influential “Book” in the history of the world …. the only books that come anywhere in vicinity of the Bible’s influence are books written or compiled apart from the Bible BASED ON things IN the Bible …books like “the book of mormon”, the quoran/koran , various other manuscripts not included in what finally came together as “the Bible” …like those of the “apochrapha” and various other supposedly lost books …all of these being extra biblical writings that some folks ADD to the Bible as authoritative …. but my heart is simply that it makes no sense that God would make it incredibly hard for a person in this world to find HIS message to the world …it only makes sense to me that it WOULD BE the book that stands head and shoulders above every other….and like it or not THAT is an attribute that ONLY the book of 66 books so well known for it’s existence for thousands of years now as THE BIBLE.

                  I will not go so far as to say that I personally KNOW anything, all I am declaring is my OWN witness according to my own heart in the HOPE I am not imagining things I DO sincerely believe I more and more seeing in the Bible. So rather than condemning all the other religions and all the other written works of men I will simply say that I personally am forced by conscience to reject considering them ….first of all I do not have the time and secondly there is far far far MORE in the Bible that I could ever digest so that I have ZERO need to look for more EVEN without the fear that I DO have from warnings in the Bible not to add to or take away from the book (ie Revelation 22 18&19)

                  I would challenge anyone that is desperate to find God’s own heart and messages to us to FIRST consider the Bible all by itself APART from what any corporate religions insist it to be saying. I am utterly convinced the whole Bible is parable….that is deadly serious poetry written using people and lands and things AS the subject matter to illustrate things SPIRITUALLY/allegorically. I believe the Bible declares THIS to BE the only really right “way” to read and truly profit from it’s words ….what the Bible calls being “Spiritually minded”

                  The WORST thing a person can do (I am convinced) is to simply use his or her OWN ability to discern what IS and IS NOT Godly and right…THAT however appears to be our nature and I THINK what Genesis describes as “adam” (man) “eating” (partaking OF) the “fruit” (the act of leaning on our OWN presumption AS “right”) of “the tree” (the Bible describes individuals allegorically AS “trees”) of “the knowledge of good and evil”

                  There are TWO “trees” mentioned in the Genesis account ONE is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and the other “the Tree of Life” …One “way” is trusting in our OWN ability to declare what is right and what is not right …partaking of THAT “fruit” (presumption) AS righteousness …and the only other WAY is to by some miracle have the heart to truly desire to “hear” God and partake of HIS words AS righteousness…but that way is impossibly BLOCKED to us in our sin nature to presume …THAT “tree” is poetically described being guarded by cherubim wielding flaming swords blocking the way back to it.

                  Could it be that right this moment you are being gifted the incredible secret HOW to get back to THAT “tree”? That is that the Bible declares the “WAY the Truth and the Life” and that it is obtained ONLY via a “new heart” that desperately WANTS truth and NOT man’s presumptions as truth? The “Father” “Author” God and His “Son” “the WORD” I BELIEVE to be SPIRIT in the WORDS of the Bible…allegorical truth SPIRITUAL truth hidden from the world RIGHT in plain sight in this most published and influential BOOK in the history of this world.

                  All a person really has is to either trust one’s OWN best thinking or adopt the thinking of other people which is the same thing finally….OR? have a broken will to confess being incapable of rightly KNOWING what is right or not right concerning God via our OWN ability ….in the Bible God says “a broken and contrite heart I will not despise”

                  Which cup will you drink from? Choose wisely… Proverbs 3:5 says “…Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean NOT unto thine OWN understanding….” THAT heart I believe pertains to a “new heart” unlike our nature …I believe THAT pertains to the “broken and contrite heart” that God does not despise…and the only “way” in which a person could honestly ever begin to “seek Him will all the heart and all the soul…” wherein is the promise declared that THEN one “will surely find Him”

                  [1Co 2:13 KJV] 13 Which things also we (the WORDS) speak, NOT in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing SPIRITUAL things with spiritual….”

                  Try to come to truth ANY other “way”?? [Rom 3:4 KJV] 4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but EVERY man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged…”

          • 1- A book written *by* Jesus would be a Christian Koran- we don’t need that.
            2- The Gospels themselves drew on other sources, and some were likely written down early

          • Actually of the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John , Luke is the only one not written by someone who was actually there. So the other 3 are all firsthand accounts by eyewitnesses to the life and deeds of Jesus Christ. And you are completely off about Biblical scholars being unsupportive of the first 3 books being that much later.

            • No, they are not first hand accounts. The names were added later. No one knows who wrote them. We don’t have any original copies. The ones we do have are over a hundred years after and they aren’t a complete copy. We can see that they have been edited and changed over time as well. Also, they do contradict one another, not just focus on different details.

              • And don’t forget Nicea where 200 years after Christ’s death 200 people of the most powerful in the church sat down and decided what would be ‘in’ and what would be ‘out’. Even parts of Marks gospel were cut because they contradicted something.

                And the of course we have the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Haddhi scrolls, that have been kept secret from the people. They contain, among other things, reputedly the “Gospel of Christ” and the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene”. What would those scrolls tell us. How different would their message be than the fiction we call the Bible. So why won’t the Vatican and other Christian religious groups release them – because they are considered apocryphal, in that the don’t “conform to the mainstream Christian teachings”. From the few leaks we have had, the Jesus in his own words is much more like the Jesus of John’s writings. Love. Peace. Hope. Compassion.

                • I believe a certain awareness of words may help clarify. In the Gospels–the meaning of “this generation” almost always (and I cannot really cite any that do not share the meaning): “This generation” means the people “not re-born”–the people who are living and partly living, the drifters through time, the ones not awake and alert, the unrepentant (not necessarily in a religious sense–but the ones who have not yet confronted their lives, and so on. A mature person has sifted through the legacy of his parents–rejected their failures and mistakes and authentically started his own life. Jesus returns NOT to “this generation” but is alive to those who have come to humbly accept this, the Father’s universe and now life a New Life. (see Nicodemus in John’s Gospel for a better explanation than mine). In the mind of Jesus (the man) a person has to grow up and become a New Generation.

          • If someone who lived 2000 years ago declaring themselves to be the Son of G-d wrote a book, would you believe it? Wouldn’t it be more convincing to have several witnesses write about it instead?

            For example, if you’re convicted of a crime, simply going on the stand and declaring, “I’m innocent!” is pretty pointless. What creates a far more effective case is having several eyewitnesses attest to your innocence. Same logic, different context.

        • Kallosproject – Scholars believe that the first gospel was Mark, written somewhere in the 70s CE after Jerusalem and the “mother church” were destroyed by Rome 30 or so years after the crucifixion. And there is no mention of a virgin birth in Mark; the idea was introduced in Matthew and Luke some 10-20 years later as the young church went about incorporating pagan ideas into the burgeoning religion in order to gain converts.
          Coincidentally, the pagans not only believed in virgin births, but also in miracle works, the violent death of their favorite son of god and of course a resurrection.

          Given the life expectancy at the time, 30 years is long enough for most of those alive when of Jesus was crucified to die off, and nearly all would be dead by the time Matthew and Mark were written.

          Remember, Saul of Tarsus was the one most responsible for the direction of the young church, and he never even met Jesus, except of course for that miracle sighting on the road to Damascus. Saul who became Paul was the one who mythologized the messiah into a Hellenized Christ since the messiah was actually supposed to save the Jews from Roman oppression.

          When you consider that the Roman Catholic Church is what resulted from Jesus’ ministry, it’s rather easy to see that something went terribly awry in the interim. By the time Martin Luther determined that the Church was bogus, it was apparently too late to reform the 1500 year old doctrine that the Catholics came up with.

          So, when Christmas rolls around, think of all the sons of gods that were born during the winter solstice, except of course for Jesus who could not have been.

          This doesn’t mean that Jesus’ message of kindness, compassion and love is wrong – the world needs more of it – only that the Christian doctrine is.

          • Tim G. – This is how I see it from things I’ve read: Paul died in 67 CE, so I assume that at least some of his letters were written before that. A number of other letters were ghost-written for the writers that are credited – the gospels in particular were written decades after the crucifixion. Revelation was doubtless written very late in the gam, as the Catholic contingent gained prominence, in order to scare the crap out of people with visions of eternal hellfire. There are letters by Paul and James that describe the difficulties that the two had with each other. There would be little reason to include that if they were written 100 years after the fact.

            Who knows how many letters were actually circulating in the early days? The Church fathers selected the ones they wanted, probably editing them for doctrinal content, while eliminating the vast majority.

            No one knows for sure. The point is, the New Testament was compiled to suit the doctrine of a rather un-Jesus-like religion that took shape over 300 years following his execution.

      • Kallosproject, 30 years and remembering finite details and committing them to paper via anonymous scribes? Most people can’t even remember their childhood phone number past their 30’s.

        When was the Ressurection supposed to happen?

        Matthew 16.21
        From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and ON the third day be raised.

        Mark 8.31
        Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and AFTER three days rise again.

        Luke 9.22
        “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and ON the third day be raised.”

        Matthew 17.22-23
        “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and AFTER the third day he will be raised.”

        Mark 9.31
        The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days AFTER being killed, he will rise again.”

        Matthew 20.18-19
        “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and ON the third day he will be raised.”

        Mark 10.33-34
        “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and AFTER three days he will rise again.”

        Luke 18.31-33
        “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and ON the third day he will rise again.”

      • Also,
        The End Times
        Matt 24:34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
        Mark 13:30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
        Luke 21:32 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

        The context of these passages describes the second coming and the end times. “But in those days, following that distress, “’the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

        It is now 20 centuries later. Tick tock prophecy, tick tock.

        • What if by “this generation” Jesus did not refer to a scientific, DNA-based generation–but a “generation” that was not (yet) reborn into his realm? what if he meant people who were “dead” as in “let the dead bury the dead”? what if he meant people born merely of sexual union, and not of the Spirit? If you see that meaning (which, in all honesty, judging from the rest of the NT, seems far more probable than “scientific” and surface understanding)–then the timelessness of Jesus makes sense. It is always true that “this generation” of unbelieving, Pharisaical, and reluctant persons stays to fight the coming of the kingdom of God.

            • In my view of Scripture, the writers took the legacy of Jesus seriously. they were not writing texts for docudramas, history books for exegetes to pore over line by line. They believed the mature, wise and human Jesus had discovered that people had to reach a point in life when it dawned on them that merely existing was not good enough. We need to “grow up” and see the love and humility give us a “new life. ” We are “reborn” into a “realm” or community of people who are not “this generation,” but “reborn in attitude” (Way too often we negate attitude, outlook and motive when the Gospels just mean attitude, outlook and motive–which is what the Gospel is talking about–and not the much later defined Third Person of the Trinity. The bible was never meant to be a history book. They told stories to inspire and poeticize the meaning of Jesus message (word); because we have lost the value and meaning of poetry, we read the Book as though it is science, history or a docudrama re-creating what a TV camera would have registered. But that is an ultra-modern view of the Bible. It IS poetry–but poetry in the rich sense of meaning, value, insight, truth beyond mere observation.

        • If you really knew prophecy you would know that the generation that is being refered to has not happened yet. Certain things have to occur be for the generation is not to pass. It is very complicated and takes years to even come close to understanding. Wet will never know completely because we are not God. You are all looking at this from an intillectual perspective and this is not intillectual it is spiritual. When you experience something you can never deny non of this even matters. Jesus is the son of God he came to save us from sin. That is all that matters.

        • DJ: Yes it is a buffet. Unless you actually stone your non-virgin daughter, Do you observe the Sabbath and eat yesterday’s bread and travel only a VERY, VERY, VERY short distance on the “Saturday/Sabbath”? (Exodus 16:29 “See, for the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” Please, please understand that I am trying to help you. WE ALL PICK AND CHOOSE, It is faith (and our faith-community) that guides us, and it is part of the splintering of Christianity is exactly the smogasbord quality of picking and choosing what is important.

      • Timoty3. 16 says that the whole bible is inspired by God. If you don’t believe it your problem. Because you’re going to stand God someday and he is going to judge you for all the bad things you’ve done and your going to hell if you don’t recognize him as The God who created you. You talk many nonsense bytheway you dont evem know bible so good to talk about althis t

    • I saw your blog on Facebook, reposted by one of my friends. I’m grateful that you wrote this, because it allows me to share my own “spiritual journey”, and the amazing relationship I now have with God through His living Word. I share my response to her below, but want you to know that I’m praying for you and hope you’ll keep growing spiritually, and asking God to reveal more of Himself to you through his Word.

      My response to your blog shared on Facebook:
      I’m grateful that you shared this Amy. As I was reading John’s blog I was reminded of the major milestones of my own spiritual journey, and was pleased that he acknowledges that his current beliefs exist “at this stage in my own spiritual journey”.
      For the first 46 years of my life I would have agreed with many of his observations, and easily understand how and why he could arrive at these conclusions. At year 46.5 however I reached a major tipping point in my life, and started earnestly and consistently “reading” the bible. During the last 5 years I began earnestly “studying” the bible. For the past 24 months, I’ve been asking God to speak to me “through” the bible. I’ve literally been stunned at what I’ve been shown during this 24 months. The clarity and relevance of God’s Word are now indescribable, except to say that I have zero doubt of God’s presence in them. Had I remained in the “first” stage of my relationship with the bible, it would have remained a confusing, antiquated collection of stories. But during that stage I asked God to show me more – because I sought more. I needed a source of Truth, and I needed a source of Hope. And God gave me both – through this “book”.
      I could write A LOT more about my relationship with God through the bible, and am happy to share more if you’re interested, but I’ll leave you with my own points to “chew on”:
      – Satan has one mission in this world – to separate you from God. Creating a wedge between you and the bible makes his mission almost effortless
      – The bible is replete with warnings about false teachers and the “unfruitful works of darkness”. God knows all of Satan’s tricks, and exposes all of them, via His Word, in the bible
      – The easiest and most reliable source for biblical truth – is God Himself. Ask Him, with all your heart, to reveal himself and His plan for you, and He will – in ways that can only be explained via His presence.

      • Beautiful. God speaks when we listen. I have had a similar journey in many respects. I write about it on my blog. Today I finished a series about how to Go Deep with God. See at nlbrumbaugh.com if interested.
        A comment is in order in regard to John’s post, the spiritual journey is a personal one. We cannot dictate to others how it should look. That is between them and God. We can only share what we have learned and experienced. God-Truth is part of this process of discovery and new life. God can be found and known, and that is joy.

    • I wonder how Pavlovitz makes a decision on what to believe. Since he uses his own standards, how does he know that Jesus offers Salvation? Is he really sure about that — & why?

    • Well, this is a very easy way to be a Christian in today’s America. All these things are the issues that have the most contention between Chtistianity and the secular world. I think you can rely on the bible as a solid rock, and still love people…all people! Sin is sin! Not one of us is innocent! It is dangerous to sift the bible down to a level where we are comparing it to Davey Crocket! These 10 things listed are just a process of conformity. Stand strong withe the bible people!
      Oh, and Genesis is written in the form of a historical narrative! You can research that!

    • I think you should probably question your salvation that you claim to have . The only word of God that we have is the Bible .. Jesus in the New Testament modified to some degree the teachings of the Old Testament on such things as marriage and forgiveness as opposed to harsh punishment for many things that were severely punished in the Old Testament… He did not reword anything that God had declared on homosexuality and for you to cloud anyone’s judgement by adding your take on what is plainly written is false preaching or teaching…

      • “The only word of God that we have is the Bible.”

        So you deny the power and authority of the Holy Spirit to speak to and teach us? Be REEEEAAAAALLLLYYY careful about how you answer that one!

    • For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine . Instead , to suit their own desires they will gather around them people like John Pavlovitzs to say what their itching ears want to hear . 2nd Timothy 4:3

      • Didn’t you just add something to Scripture that isn’t supposed to be there? John’s name I mean. Be REALLY sure that that is ok before you do it. (Hint: It is SO not ok. )

    • So then what is the Bibles worth on Jesus?
      All of what we know about Jesus stems from the Bible or Islam…
      Literally all.
      As in nothing is written about him during his lifetime,

    • I agree as well. I believe in the bible and I believe in Jesus. BUT it would be ignorant of me to not a knowledge these things.

    • While I do not at all believe what christendom claims the Bible to be saying (as if that is not a complete hodgepodge of all sorts of stuff anyway) I personally DO “fear”/believe that the Bible is an altogether special Book among men…THE BOOK I am overwhelmingly convinced … at first I merely adopted that notion and using my OWN will selected a “church” following to adopt as righteous(right) But since that time after much pain of desperately trying to make sense of what did NOT honestly make sense? By and by I believe (unless I am going quite mad) that I FINALLY “see” how the Bible is written, HOW it is utterly AMAZING in aggreeing with itself and how utterly impossible I see it being that man could EVER have engineered such a work … the whole key to Scripture is understanding that it is SPIRITUALLY written …Spiritually as in allegorically…God’s poetry of TRUTH. But people will not typically even try to understand what the word “spiritually” means! If one would simply take a concordance and look up everywhere “Spiritually” is translated (I reference the KJV for a reverence to their heart to translate every word and generally not adding or removing words)

      In particular one verse stands out in my mind as clearly defining WHAT “Spiritually” really means it is in Revelation 11:8 “… And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which SPIRITUALLY is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified…” See that? NOT Literally…NOT “the letter” (bible says “the letter KILLS” but SPIRITUALLY…NOT “carnally” NOT according to “the flesh” but SPIRITUALLY/allegorically as to a hidden MEANING…in “mystery” ….and THAT I am more and more so overwhelmingly convinced is key to the “simplicity” of the gospel…[Rom 8:6 KJV] 6 For to be carnally minded (OWN understanding of the letter) [is] death; but to be SPIRITUALLY minded [is] life and peace…” Which certainly does NOT mean I AT ALL agree with the author of this piece I am replying to! For his, I think, is one more instance of the “great transgression” … “original sin” of eating/partaking of the FRUIT of one’s OWN understanding…. I could fill a book with the amazing simple allegory I have found but this is not the place obviously….

        • Where to begin with this. Christ the living word and the law made flesh. Who asks us to believe and follow him for our salvation. Who is the culmination of the scripture that precedes him. He has redeemed us. Logos the word is also logos the truth. Which is indivisible from the god nature of Christ. The bible is the word and truth of God. But everything John p said is also true. Perhaps we can say that the bible contains god the way a lake contains fresh water. Rivers rain and clouds exist and feed it. But the lake remains and is full.

        • Sam Pearce: “In the beginning”–does not necessarily refer to some scientific beginning in time, but simple the origin all the time right now. “at the origin,” or “if you consider where we start” or “at the beginning of all forces which surround you.” THEN: THE “logos” was with a god. For the vast meaning of “logos” confer Philo a Jewish contemporary of Jesus and Paul who wrote volumes on the meaning of “logos/word”; secondly, the Greek does not have an indefinite article and so theos means either a god and “God.” The word was a god–can mean that the logic of the universe (see PHilo) adds up to the creator. (And the word became flesh–does not say there was a pre-existing 2nd Person of the Trinity [though I agree in the doctrine of the Trinity]; I am just saying that you cannot use a single verse to prove some great big gigantic truth.

        • Since Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, which is what is being said in the rest of the verse you left out, then yes it should be taken seriously.

          I love cherries, but I can’t stand a cherry picker.

        • You need to read the history of that word, “Word” and what it translates to. Gnosis and word as you interpret it are two entirely different things.

      • Sam, for some reason you did not quote scripture accurately, just as scripture has not been for hundreds of years. Now what would that reason be??? Yes that’s right human error. You did not capitalize “Word”, that changes the whole meaning and interpretation. The “Word” or Logos is a reference to Jesus Christ.
        This scripture is not referring to a book called the bible.

      • Sam, to the point Chris made about the Word, look a bit further in John 1:

        14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

        15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

      • The “word” is not the Bible. The “word” is the express person of Jesus Christ himself. Fundies like you have tried t pervert this Bible verse for decades—just one more example of why Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are historically recent, and false perversions of the authentic, historical Christian faith that dates back 2,000 years.

    • Romans 14-9-21 So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

    • –the bible is The Word of God. Always was, is, and always will be. (at least thats what God says).

      Christians worship The Word – One God. (Jesus, Father, Holy Spirit).

      If every ‘bible’ disappeared in a cloud of smoke today, The WORD, (The Truth), will never disappear or be altered. The WORD is spiritual, and exists in God’s Spiritual Realms, for Eternity.

  1. BEWARE of those Christians whose faith is based on their own ideas and feelings, and what they think is right and not on Gods word.
    Bonus # 11 came from John to help put a wall around his progressive life. Not going to work….
    Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” ~Matthew 7:15-20

      • 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

        If Jesus is who he said he was, this word stands.

      • If the Bible is the word of God, then Johns #11 means nothing. I believe Jesus is who he said he was, this being the case, I trust that the bible is the word of God. John is trying to make a new worldview that shapes God into whatever is most convenient for him, this is just John making a new religion.

        • I trust that Jesus the Christ, Redeemer of All Mankind, Savior of the World is the Word of God. As written in John 1:1

      • That’s a pretty big if Sam. the holy bible never says of itself that it is true. even your assessment that jesus was referring to the holy bible, a set of scriptures and letters that wouldn’t be compiled for another 250 years, is fairly ridiculous. he may have meant the torah, but seeing as how that seems counter to his message of redemption and acceptance, i doubt even that is true. the verse quoted earlier about the word being with god since the beginning also says the word became flesh,so unless you’re suggesting that this is a prophetic reference to my leather bound bible, this verse simply cannot be referring to the holy bible as we know it, which is still 250 years away. stop making verses say what you want. when the new testament refers to “scripture”, the author cannot possibly be referring to the letter he is currently writing or the letters other christian leaders will right that he will never see.

    • “So often Christians respond to questions or challenges regarding the Bible by quoting the Bible, which is often received by the listener as someone saying, ‘I’m completely trustworthy and honest—just ask me!'”

      Way to go, Brad. Way to go.

    • Number 11 comes from John understanding that one cannot use logical fallacy to argue one’s point. Saying, “the bible is the because the bible says so” is circular reasoning. John is smarter than that.

      • Obviously I meant to say, “the bible is true because the bible says so.” Typing on a phone while doing other things leads to poor proofreading. :-/

      • Furthermore, The Holy Bible never says of itself that it is true. Even your assessment that Jesus was referring to the holy bible, a set of scriptures and letters that wouldn’t be compiled for another 250 years, is fairly ridiculous. He may have meant the Torah, but seeing as how that seems counter to his message of redemption and acceptance, i doubt even that is true.
        The verse quoted earlier about the Word being with God since the beginning also says the Word became flesh,so unless you’re suggesting that this is a prophetic reference to my leather bound Bible, this verse simply cannot be referring to the holy bible as we know it, which is still 250 years away.
        Stop making verses say what you want. When the new testament refers to “scripture”, the author cannot possibly be referring to the letter he is currently writing or the letters other Christian leaders will right that he well never see.

    • But just who are the false prophet’s? I have seen great fruit come from many who would cheer on this story. Remember that Jesus himself took on those who insisted they knew how to read scripture – the Pharisees. Once upon a time their ancestors had been given the law – and they were perhaps the ones who understood it best – but by the time Jesus arrived they had gotten so tied up in their own interpretations that He needed to challenge them and their interpretations of the law. To assume that the same can not be happening again today – puts us in the same situation. Only through critical questioning and continual re-evaluation when questions arise, can we be true to the message of Christ – the Gospel that speaks of love first, of all being equal in God’s eyes, of raising up the downtrodden and reaching out to those on the margins who have been vilified by “those in the know”. So yes – beware those who teach from their own “truth” rather than from the heart of God.

    • I have personally seen the fruit John brings forth. And it is very good. So to me, Brad, your scripture reference only strengthens John’s authenticity.

      • It is some of the best and most Jesus honoring fruit I have ever seen on Planet Earth. Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism have produced many fruits that will require purification by fire one day.

    • I understand Brad’s fear and I pray for him and send him love. How can something you have been told your whole life and your mind is so set on not be real? What we need is huge compassion for Brad and hope that his relationship with the divine can stand on its own in the murky waters of life without the idolotry of the bible that he uses as a life preserver. God is real. The answers are not just in a book. They are in yourself when you are truly connected. The Bible may help us get there but its only a stop along the way.

      • Now that’s a response that suggests that you understand what “love” means. Way to go, Billie. That’s how Jesus would want us to respond to one another…out of love, regardless if we agree with one another or not.

    • Brad
      I would advise you to do just that;
      Look at John’s fruit and compare it with that of fundamentalists, testing it in the furnace of love.

      • Romans 14-5 Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

        6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

        22-23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

        • What version are you using? I like it!

          I know the Holy Spirit through experience. As for the “Word” it is not the Logos (scripture inspired by the spoken word of God) but the Rhema (spoken word of God, existing in supernatural means). The Logos is the gold standard to weigh out if we’re hearing Rhema rightly.

          Also, Christ & other Apostles often quoted from sources other than their “bible” back then w/c was mostly the Torah & the Prophets.

          Is the Bible infallible? Its message, as the Holy Spirit directs to us,
          is infallible; its authors aren’t.

      • One problem with this whole John circlejerk is that if Jesus is who he said he was, everything he said can be trusted, including the parts about the word was with God and the word was God. And the part where jesus said the law and the prophets will by no means pass away. Thus if Christianity is real then John is leading people astray.

    • Part of Brad’s comment is right on…”Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” I’d venture to guess that John’s ‘fruit’ has done more for more people struggling with hard and legit questions than Brad’s fruit has. I don’t know you Brad but your fruit kinda tastes judgmental and combative – like a real bitter persimmon. For the record, Brad, I don’t agree with probably 30% of what John P. posts; however, he consistently displays scholarship, faithfulness, and sincerity, with regards to his research followed by consistency, love, and vulnerability, with regards to his posts and his responses to folks no matter their opinion of him. You would do well to spend some more time ‘abiding in the vine’ to let your fruit ripen a little bit. The greatest of these, Brad, WITHOUT EXCEPTION AND REGARDLESS OF ANOTHER’S OPINIONS OR ACTIONS, is love. Sound advice and command for folks like you who warn people of folks like John and also for folks like me who backslide and occasionally judge folks like you. Peace + to you and yours.

        • Look to the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair. Look to those of us who have been marginalized, and cast out of the broader church community, but who choose love over bitterness, even while our hearts are being battered and bruised by Christians who pray for our death (LGBTQ people), and who celebrate the atrocity in Orlando. Who refuse to be beaten down. Who choose to remain loving and faithful to Him regardless of how we our treated by others.

      • Lissaannnn, forgive me for using your post to reply to Margie above, but there is no reply” button under her post.

        Margie, to say that only Bible believers are capable of love is the height of arrogance and also ignores Jesus’ admonitions.. Love is a human emotion, not a religious dogma. When Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” and also said this is AS IMPORTANT as loving God, He made no exceptions for people who do not follow or believe in the same religious dogma ot doctrines as you do. Either be a follower of Jesus the Christ or emulate the Pharisees He castigated, you can’t do both.

      • Fortunately, neither John’s apparent “fruit” (or mine) – today, tomorrow or the day after that – is the standard. The Bible is either the standard – unless of course, we’ve already preemptively dismissed the Bible – which inescapably is the case here. It’s hard for any man to simultaneously dismiss and embrace anything.

      • Romans 14 he Message (MSG) Cultivating Good Relationships
        14 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

      • Paul said, ” For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

        Later, in the same letter, he wrote – “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

        Is Pavolvitz “not ashamed of the gospel?” Is he offering us “God’s righteousness” or Pavlovitz’s righteousness?

        Cut loose from the moorings of reliable scripture, who can speak for God?

        Many further inescapable questions naturally arise in each of Pavlovitz’s “11 points.”

        Perhaps “oddly,” there’s also the reality Pavlovitz didn’t die for mankind. Jesus did.

        • I am not at all ashamed of the Gospel. But I am often ashamed of the way people use it. And I believe in questioning, both the Bible and the people reading it, we are seeking a meaningful way to be in union with God.

    • You are the one that Mathew and John were warning us about as you are a false prophet Brad. God is love and to love one another as I have loved you is what Jesus taught.

      • Romans 14-2-4 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

    • Thank you for this verse. When I see the fruits comming from John’s tree, and how they coincide with the fruits of the spirit, than I know he’s trully a man of God

    • That’s right Brad. That verse applies to you and your fundie friends who have spent the past 100 years perverting the authentic, historical Christian faith—and in so doing—have left behind a pile of “fruit” that smells like vomit. Congratulations on kicking Jesus in the teeth.

  2. John, let me add that I have found ample evidence of the fact the manuscripts we rely upon today for scholarly translations of the bible have been edited for doctrinal and credal purposes going back to the Nicene era of the early church, which is why there is virtually no comprehensive portions of earlier manuscripts predating that Nicene era (early 300’s in the formal church development). There are plenty of scholars who footnote portions of the gospels and the letters that follow them in the NT. The catch all statement in most statements of faith, “without error in the original” is the church’s catchall confession that the manuscripts we rely upon are subject to errors and cause the divisiveness we see today. The challenge is recreating the original core writings of the Bible, which also leads to evaluating extra-bilbical writings.

    • Coachmbrown, I would agree that many footnotes entered into the text in later centuries. Many of those footnotes were found in the Codex Byzantium which later became the Majority Text used for the King James Version. However, such is not the case with the Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Alexandrium which all date to c. AD 325. In addition, there exist over 6,000 documents that date to within the first 300 years of the church in addition to 24,000 manuscripts and fragments that also date to the same period. The amplitude of texts have led many scholars to now profess that we can know with 99% certainty what was found in the original New Testament texts. Such textual evidence is not found for any other book of antiquity.


      Pastor Brian

    • It should also be pointed out that the so-called “original autographs” of the “inerrant books” that make up the Bible were destroyed long ago. No human being alive today or going back many hundreds of years has ever seen any of them to determine whether we have the same exact statements today as were written down at beginning. The fundies are always quick to hide that simple fact because they know that they do not have a leg to stand on—push come to shove. The whole doctrine of inerrancy, which is not a Biblical doctrine at all, is a man-made doctrine—precisely the kind of man-made doctrine that Jesus eviscerated the Scribes and Pharisees for supporting in Matthew 23.

  3. John, I follow you, discern much genuine sharing, from which I have gained much, and saved many in my John Pavlovitz file. I hear a lot of sadness in your latest post.

    If you are willing, I would be honored to have a phone call from you at 816-806-9170, or if you will give me a number, and a convenient time when I can reach you, that would be fine too.

  4. After going through RCIA in 1999, my pastor suggested that I get a master’s degree in theology, which I completed in 2008, at Loyola Marymount…one of my professors said in class once: “the literal is the enemy of the real”.

    In focusing so hard about the literal with regards to Scripture, we often lose the real………………

  5. The Bible is a man-made story book. It contains some stories with a message. But as far as the “scriptures” go–well..I’ve run into more people that are so adept at quoting those words and memorized every friggin’ scripture and psalm and those very same folks who “live by God’s (and Goddess’s) words, are some of the nastiest, hate-filled, non-Christian behaving people I’ve ever met.
    The older I become, the more I realize that my Roman Catholic faith is becoming more and more liberal. Thank you Pope Frank! You are the earthly version of my hipster Jesus!

  6. I like your honesty and transparency. You are a deep thinker who seeks to grow closer to Jesus. I like that. I like what you say about the Scripture and the things (mostly, though not entirely, just as you said) you don’t believe about the Bible. I can accept those even though I might not wholly agree with them.

  7. I fully agree with what you have written. One sentence from #8 doesn’t make sense to me “The Bible is properly used as a guide to nurture a Christian’s individual spiritual journey and life within their chosen faith community. ” Few if any “christian” organizations have the ability to properly use scripture to guide people in their chosen walk, simply because of your ten points.
    I think you would have given greater credence to your ten statements by also alluding to the many other very informative writings and sacred scriptures from other walks of faith.

  8. I’m with you brother. It’s encouraging to read your posts because I began a very similar journey about 10 years ahead of you and reached the very same conclusions. I have resigned myself to the belief that critical thinking is not accepted in organized religion. A lot of fear and guilt seems to produce anger and distrust. Oh well, keep trucking ahead. God is good and is enough for me.

    • Dennis, are you disagreeing with #7?
      “7) I don’t believe the Bible is the only source through which we hear or experience God.”
      Are you proving the point of #7 by siting Jesus as a different source besides the bible?

    • I agree Dennis. God exists, communicates, moves, and does on this Earth today outside the words of the Bible—and has always done just that. God cannot and should not be imprisoned by man within the walls of a book, which is another way Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism have perverted the authentic, historical Christian faith over the past 100 years.

  9. I went to seminary, and it was there that I learned to ask questions and not have all the answers. Thank God for that. I am constantly dumbfounded by people who think that believing the Bible has human elements (as in your point about the creation account) e.g. the possibility that Jonah was not really swallowed by a giant whale, or that God and Satan did not have a wager over Job’s life (what kind of loving God would do THAT anyway?) makes our faith any less beautiful. People often quote “All scripture is inspired by God….” to try and make it all come together for them. I am quick to remind them that the Bible as we know it did not exist when that was written or said, so what scripture exactly is he talking about anyway? No one really has an answer for that, just a puzzled look. God is so much bigger than the 66 books of the Bible. I am learning to weigh everything by God’s loving character and by Jesus’ command to love God and love our neighbor. When I filter things through that lens, I am more likely to do the things that God would want me to. And it’s a whole lot simpler than combing the Bible for the perfect verse to address my situation..

    Thanks for a well thought out post John!

  10. I enjoy your readings. I don’t agree with all you say, but that is to be expected. Today’s reading struck a sharp dart in my heart. To me, it sounds like you are trying to put cracks in the foundational Book of Truth. It sounds like you are putting doubt in minds concerning God’s Word. Beware of trying to rewrite what you don’t like, understand or FEEL makes sense to you. The first “red flag” was an article you wrote on knowing for sure one would go to heaven. In essence, you said no one can know for sure where they will spend eternity. Wrong! I would quote verses, but as you stated, what good is a Bible without certainty? If God’s Word is subject to truth according to my plumb line, it’s not God’s Word. The article on cancer also didn’t ring true to me. We are not going to understand everything in this life but we are NOT God…..or are we?? We don’t need to understand all that doesn’t make sense to us. Sometimes it takes years or decades to finally seep into our reality. New Age undertones always strike a caution in me. I have lived through two full-term babies dying, adopting a mentally ill daughter that has brought much pain into my life. Her daughter (19) has also been a trial of a lifetime. I have raised this child with my husband since birth. This child is now a transgender. Both my daughter and grandchild have walked away from God. We continue to love them and not preach to them. I have done my best with God’s help. It’s not over yet, faith is believing without evidence. Is Romans 8:28 true or not? “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Not MY purposes, but God’s purposes. Would I have chosen this path? No. But, I am a joyful person trusting and believing God. I devour His Word along with devotionals every morning before getting out and doing a run (or walk some days). He is my strength. He is my joy. He is my plumb line. I speak to him all day long. I see Him in nature, hear Him in other voices, but I always run what I hear through His Word, the ROCK OF MY SALVATION. There are parts of Scripture I would change if it were my decision, but it’s not. We know that in the end times MANY will fall away. That is a fearful thought! We are also warned that if anyone adds anything to the Book, or takes away anything from the Book, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life. Revelation 22, Sobering thoughts!

    • Janet,
      I appreciate where you are coming from because I once had a similar understanding. One thing I noticed in your comments is the numurous times you reference to “God’s Word”. You seem to equating Word to mean Bible.
      Word is a title of the Lord Jesus. The term translated “Word” is logos, which basically means “the expression of a thought.” Logos can be thought of as the total message of God to man (Acts 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Jesus embodied that total message, and that is why He is called the “Logos,” or “Word,” of God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).
      The phrase “word of God” means more than the printed words on a page. God is a communicator and has been speaking into the human realm since the beginning. He speaks through His creation (Psalm 19:1), through ancient prophets (Hosea 12:10; Hebrews 1:1), through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Acts 16:6), through Scripture (Hebrews 4:12), and through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:9). We can learn to know God better by seeking to hear Him in every way that He speaks.

      • Thank you for this! I often get perturbed by Christians who feel like only Christians hear God and speak to God and are full of the Love of God. Even Pope John Paul II, though not a great hero of mine, said that we must look for and appreciate the truth and beauty in all religions. I don’t necessarily believe that the Christian scriptures are even the most truthful or the most beautiful. I think they are only a small part of God’s revelation to humankind. Many Christians act as if their Scriptures were everything, including a science textbook. This often causes them to treat anyone who doesn’t believe as they do with disdain and even hatred.

    • The caution in Revleation refers explicitly to that book. John of Patmos, even as late as he wrote, did not have a New testament to restrict, nor did he sue the Potestnat Old testament.

  11. Many thanks. The BIble is my book of faith, the inspiration for my life. I cannot understand those for whom this is not enough, those who have forced it to also be a book of science, history, government, geology, etc. I treasure the Bible because God inspired real people, people like me, to witness to the actions of God in their lives. For me, the demand to believe every word was written by God and must be believed robs the Bible of its power and denies the brains God crated us with.

  12. If I were the devil I would have put a lot of effort into influencing what was written and included in the bible….l wonder how successful I would have been?

    • When the New Testament characters in the story of Jesus use the word “scripture,” they are speaking of the Torah alone because most of the earliest Christians were converted Jews. It was Torah that had true meaning for them. Today we use the word “scripture in an entirely different way that would have no meaning or understanding to a ist century Jew that had converted to Christianity. This is another way Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals pervert the authentic, historical Christian, and morons like Sarah Palin are a perfect example of the fruit that perversion produces.

  13. All I can say is that I feel sorry for you John, concerning your confusion in Christianity. The Bible is the spoken word of God, it’s not Burger King, you can’t have it your way. It’s not a buffet line where we can pick and choose what you want to consider truth. The bible doesn’t come with an eraser for you to randomly take out the parts you don’t agree with. It never tells us to tear out pages that we don’t “think” is correct. I personally don’t care what you believe, I just have to pray for the poor people that read your blog and are derailed by your misguidance, drinking the cool-aid that you despence to them as truth. I don’t know what your education is concerning Christianity, but I would suggest further education to find the truth before you lead more people onto the wrong path, as there will be a day when you will have to stand before God and be held responsible for the heresies that you continue to spread.

    • Robert hi,
      I suggest that those reading this post and getting derailed by it were on the wrong track and this may have been exactly what they needed.
      Grace & peace.

    • Robert Sadly you don’t realize the finger you’re pointing back at yourself. You have picked what you want to believe. You’ve ignored the parts that say “Love one another” and “Do not judge” and pick out from the BIble what supports your bigotry. May I also suggest you will have to face your Creator and confess that you haven’t loved all God’s children but prefer to lecture?

      • Paul to the Hebrews –

        “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

        Note that Paul manifestly did NOT say, “hath – in ANY days – spoken to us by Pavlovitch….”

        Sorry John. From all available evidence, you simply don’t rate as a “prophet.” It IS, however, heartening to know that, although you find the Bible outdated, unreliable and – well, sorta silly in the modern age – you “still love it.”

        What if I told you that Paul, again to the Hebrews, said of the revelation you “dis,” “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
        Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

        Your condescending dismissal of the mighty anvil that has throughout time worn out mountains of hammers doesn’t quite rate as “comedy,” either – but the utter predictability of it does at least bring sort-of-a-smile.

    • I have to say that thinking that the Bible is the spoken word of God is obscene! These texts were written by men, to teach, to inspire. The immense contradiction in the various texts PROVES that it could have been neither spoken nor written by God. God is truth and there can be NO CONTRADICTION in God therefore the Bible was written by men. If you find inspiration the leads to God, find and dandy, but for God’s sake don’t worship the Bible!

    • Tom, Robert it really isn’t going to get you anywhere debating progressives. I think a lot of what you have said is good for any newbie’s to the site that the progressives might pull them into their cult. This article in my opinion is not really about them believing or not believing #1 – #11 on John’s progressive list. It really is about eliminating the Bible as something meaningful in a Christian’s life. By eliminating the Bible or shooting it down it allows progressives to make up their own religion and use it to promote their progressive life style, politics, etc..
      Progressives use the same tactics with the Constitution, they use fake data for climate change, and they have infested our schools with progressive teachers that don’t allow free thinking. Little do they know that they are being used in many ways by those they attack constantly by the likes of Rothschilds and Rockefellers. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/01/16/how-oil-industry-conquered-world.aspx?e_cid=20160116Z1_PRNL_art_1&utm_source=prnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20160116Z1&et_cid=DM94942&et_rid=1313640620

      They have our schools, they are going after a single payer health system so they will have our health (The Rothschilds and Rocekfellers already got the US on all sorts of over the counter medicine vs. natural), they want the environment to be under their control, what better next step would be to make the Bible irrelevant and create God into their image, the progressive leaders would then show their followers what progressiveness is really like.
      I really don’t get into a debate with a Progressive, they either have been so brainwashed or taken over by the cult that only prayer for them is the answer. I just want to make sure those not yet affected have a chance.
      Bottom Line, anything a progressive writes, be very very cautious. There is usually a reason behind it that advances progressiveness.

    • Well Robert. When you are sitting in a Southern Baptist cesspool created by spiritual morons like Paige Patterson, it is easy to understand why you have the perspective that you do. The thing you fail to understand is that much of the spiritual nonsense you believe is only about 100 years old—and is a perversion of the authentic, historical Christian faith. John’s list is actually much closer to what most Christians in the world have believed for the past 2,000 years. It is we that feel so sorry for you because you live in falsehood and darkness because you have been taught that your darkness is truth and light for so many years. The things you believe are NOT authentic, historical, orthodox Christianity. Go visit the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and you will figure that out mighty fast.

  14. I’ll ask you to go one step further. You already doubt – even dismiss – that the Bible is the word of God… Why not accept that the religion, and all religions, are a lie? If the Bible is not the divine word of God, what is your rationale that God, as we know him, actually exists? You deny the origin story but accept the origin.

    When and if you do cross the line to athiesm, you’ll find a refreshing world where thoughts and actions are not dictated by oppressive dogma. I look forward to your arrival.

    • ” You already doubt – even dismiss – that the Bible is the word of God” — Your comment here is overly simplistic. There is much more nuance and depth to what John is posting about. John may indeed “cross the line” somewhere, but atheism is far from the only reasonable destination.

    • “I’ll ask you to go one step further. You already doubt – even dismiss – that the Bible is the word of God… Why not accept that the religion, and all religions, are a lie? ”

      Do you realize that your arguments presuppose that fundamentalism is the only valid type of religion? That all religion must be based on a book?

      You became an atheist without actually getting rid of fundamentalism.

      We start by believing in God. The testimony of our inner spirit declares God. And we are compelling to seek That Which Is, even before we know what to call. We look through a glass darkly, and try to see what is on the other side of it.

      People become Christians because the experience of the Apostles and the testimony of the Church conforms and agrees with what they have seen when they have sought God. The Bible comes LATER.

      • You really enjoy hiding behind that “look through a glass darkly” stuff, don’t you? Trouble is that you, yourself either don’t understand it – or are deliberately using the phrase, in which Paul was speaking of the transitional time during which the kingdom of the Lord was coming into its own amidst extreme Jewish persecution, to cast doubt on the daylight of the canon of scripture and to deliberately deceive.

        Bottom line? You simply don’t like what it says.

        “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
        Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
        Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
        Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” – I Peter 1:10-25

      • “Paul was speaking of the transitional time during which the kingdom of the Lord was coming into its own amidst extreme Jewish persecution.

        Where does the Bible say that that’s what Paul was speaking of?

        It doesn’t. And there you have a perfect demonstration of WHY Sola Scriptura results in schism after schism.

        • Was it written to you – or was it written to the Corinthians of that time as Paul, himself, tells us? Taken in the context of the letters of Paul, it is plain that they were in a time like no other. “These be the days of vengeance,” the Lord himself had said in his lament for Jerusalem, “that all written may be fulfilled.” It was, as they apostles and evangelists repeatedly said, “the last days,” just as Paul said in the beginning of Hebrews. To the Galatians he likened that time to the period in which the camp of Abraham was inhabited concurrently by both the son of the bond woman and the son of the free. And that time was about to end.

          If you are “looking through a dark glass today,” it’s a glass you’ve darkened yourself.

      • ” The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” – I Peter 1:10-25″

        The Word is Christ. It calls the Gospel “preached.” Not written. There was no complete New Testament when Peter wrote his Epistle. The 27 books of the New Testament had not yet been chosen by the Church.

        If the early Church believed in “Sola Scriptura,” they wouldn’t have added the New Testament to the Bible.

        • Once again, sir – as is completely obvious – the miraculous gifts of the spirit were upon the preachers who had received them. They have passed these words along to us as the written word. If you think you possess similar gifts today, you are self-deceived.

          As Peter said to his detractors who claimed those who had received the miraculous manifestation of the spirit of God were “drunken” (pretty similar, in fact, to your dismissals of scripture) – “…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel – this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

          John 6:67-68 — “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

      • “Was it written to you – or was it written to the Corinthians of that time as Paul, himself, tells us? ”

        Then why are they in the Bible NOW? Then what’s the point? The Bible was the “perfect” which “was to come,” but that was only addressed to the Corinithians?

        So we can ignore those sections of the NT that were written to someone else? Because that’s the whole thing.

        I recently spoke to someone who claimed that the Four Gospels weren’t for Christians because they took place before the resurrection, and were therefore Old Covenant. You’ve just done something similar.

        Your Sola Scriptura has just given you an excuse to ignore the entire Bible, if you want to interpret it that way.

      • Tom said,
        “the miraculous gifts of the spirit were upon the preachers who had received them. They have passed these words along to us as the written word. If you think you possess similar gifts today, you are self-deceived.”

        And then quoted:
        “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit”

        Hmmm… apparently “all flesh” only means certain apostles and teachers of the first half of the first century. Interesting.

        I have the Spirit, sir, in the same outpouring that included Peter and Paul. I enjoy the same connection that they did, and can receive the same visions, dreams and prophesies. I am not “self-deceived” to believe the prophecy of Joel is true as written, no matter how much you may wish to discount the experiences of others that you can’t or choose not to acknowledge or understand.

        • Amen that that FiveCentFather. I would also add that the only people fundies hate as much or more than Roman Catholics is Pentecostals. They have a long, documented history of it.

  15. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. Well thought and written piece which I agree thoroughly with (and no, that shouldn’t scare you!). Thank you again for your posts and sharing them with us.

  16. I find it simpler to say: While God created* the Earth, the Bible was inspired by God, but written by man**, religions were inspired by God, but defined by man, and man is imperfect. For me, to seek God in many different ways, and thus to get to know God personally through prayer, writing, worship, reading, etc. is the only way in which we can find truth for, again, man is imperfect. God loves us and simply wants us to love God. To know God is to know love. Man makes it so complicated.
    *in God’s time
    **not intending to exclude “woman”

  17. Again – thank you! I agree with all of this. Even though I inwardly duck a little while saying that, having grown up in a home and church where literal bible quotes were the standard, black&white answers to everything, no matter how obvious the contradictions and grey shades and gaps… It’s been one of the most enriching moments in my faith life to discover that I can engage with Scripture in creative ways (which came through being taught about Ignatian prayer in which imagination and experience suddenly mattered!).

  18. “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” (John 5:39-40) Bibliolatry is a big problem…in the time in which Jesus walked the earth, and today. Our loyalty, our reverence and worship, or commitment must be to the God and Savior to whom the Scriptures point, not to the Scriptures themselves.

  19. However we can have a relationship with our vision of God is what’s important. Organized religion says we have to believe only their way in order to have that relationship. Not true. And sad that many beyond number have been forced out of churches because of the Bible being used as a weapon to try to make people believe the “right way.”

    • Yes! I’m much happier now belonging to a ‘community’ which doesn’t try to cram dogma or doctrine down my throat but rather, practices what they call Practical Christianity. They don’t sit and argue over texts,.They don’t worry over “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin”, as my mother used to say. They feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the prisoners, protect the earth, stand up for minorities and refugees. They are the hands and feet of Christ. And they don’t worry if their group includes atheists, or Buddhists or whatever. They do the work of Christ.

      “34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

      37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

      40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25: 34-40

  20. “God did not love the world so much that He sent His only begotten Bible.” (Steve Richardson) After years of being beaten up by fundamentalists, this common sense scholar/pastor’s words changed my understanding completely. I am now free to love ~ sometimes even without my ego or judgement getting in the way ~ and love to sing, “Jesus knows me, this I love!”
    John, I love your zeal and your heart and your thoughtful dissertations. Don’t let the “haters” get ya down. You are in Great Company!

  21. As the beautiful song says, “In the morning when I wake, give me Jesus…and when I am alone, give me Jesus…and when I come to die, give me Jesus…give me Jesus, give me Jesus, you can have all this world, give me Jesus.” Progressives, conservative literalists, and everyone in between–let’s know, love, and serve Jesus–and all God’s people–as long as He gives us breath. All the rest doesn’t matter. Spoken by one facing a terminal illness.

    • This is precisely where the Apostle Paul landed when he said that he was determined to know nothing else but Jesus Christ and him crucified (and resurrected as part of that). Everything else falls to the side in submission to that one central fact of the Christian faith. You stay right where you are on this and do not move.away from it. If you are going towards the door sooner than most, Jesus is just on the other side of that door and ready to welcome you. Much love to you from everyone here at Johns blog, except for the fundies and conservative evangelicals who spend most of their time hating their neighbors in the name of Jesus.

    • Gabrielle. Did you notice that the fundies here did not have one kind thing to say to you about your predicament—not even an “I feel sorry for you” out of 270+ comments. Speaks volumes about where their hearts really are. Show up and post here more, and we will treat you with love and be your friend—not because we are required to do so—but because our hearts care about you in this difficult time and all other times.

  22. The Bible is not God. It is a tool, inspired by God to help us reach Him , understand Him, and for us to help others reach Him also. There is not a problem with the Bible, but a problem with man. If you only look at the Bible as our only understanding of God, then you have put God in a box, and you have put yourself above Him. God is so much more than the Bible, just as I am so much more than what you see in my flesh. Man cannot even begin to understand The Bible until he truly knows God. It is a mystery, a confusion, a fictional tale to those that don’t know God. There is deffinetely power in the Bible, but that power comes from faith, that comes from hearing the word of God. We do not belittle the Bible, for by it, do we know God, and walk in the light it shines in the darkness. I believe our problem, like so many, lies in the pride of man. We must be humble, yet wise, and interpret The Bible correctly. God is greater than the infallibility of man. Religion is not God, and never will be. But amazingly enough, we can know God, through a powerful book, called The Holy Bible.

  23. John, it takes a lot of courage to make those statements. Thank you for being courageous. I think we who have been and those who still are literalist and rely on scripture to inform thier reality need to become more humble. Words and phrases can be used, abused and misapplied especially if the motive is wrong. If the bible is Gods word and is food as it is symbolized by Jesus it should nourish us and give life to us and to those around us. How do we help and benefit people? How might scripture be applied to build up those in the faith, guide us, help us discern our way or encourage us ? Instead of ten scripture is used to discourage, separate and judge others. Yet as well we can do that with or without the bible, so it is all about out motivation.

    • Sorry for the spelling errors. My main point is to say that How we use the Bible is important. It is the revelation of Christ and we need to pay attention to what is contained in scripture.

    • It is all about how the fundies and conservative evangelicals have perverted the Christian faith—and you can see that perversion in the people they want to be President of the United States.

  24. Thanks so much for this! It took me over half a century to reach the same conclusions! I wish it hadn’t taken me so long but I’d been trapped in my childhood terror of a wrathful God. Even now, sometimes I catch myself reverting and half to give myself a good NCIS Gibbs-smack upside the head! 🙂

  25. The question that I would have to ask – by common logic – is – “Why, then, do you bother with it?”

    Is God going to be God – or is each man left to be “his own?”

    I would take strong issue with all of what you declare – point by point – except that you don’t want to hear it anymore than you actually care to “rightly divide” the scriptures.

    One point that I’d throw in about the “latest fad of mankind” here in the pudgy and soft-handed USA:

    “4) I don’t believe the Bible has much of consequence to say about gender identity and sexual orientation…”

    Inescapable truth? “You don’t really believe the Bible has much of consequence to say about ANYTHING” — because you have already preemptively dismissed it. My experience is that you simply do not like what it says or the limited choices it offers you.

    Jesus of Nazareth quite clearly answered those who play fast and loose with marriage in Matthew 19. “Have you not read that he which made them from the beginning made them male and female and said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and be joined to his wife – and they twain shall be one flesh. They are no longer twain, but one flesh.”

    Was he correct? (Tell me: Was he – or WASN’T he?) Every single cell in every human body immutably testifies to the absolute truth of his statement. Every single cell in every human body carried 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs – and, in each pair, one from father – a male, and one from mother – a female. Cross-dressers, posers and “the confused” need not apply. Those who qualify for marriage qualify first by function – or not at all.

    The ambiguity you embrace, declare and insist upon is not there. It is not there in scripture. It is not there from the mouth of the Saviour. It is not there in observable nature.

    It’s just that “you don’t want to hear it.”

    My question to you again, sir, is “why do you bother?”

    • What about intersex. Science has proven some people are niether male nor female. How do you account for that ? “If you research intersex people for example ” a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes some cells have XY” In the face of truth how can we be so dogmatic ?

      • Exactly! I have an Intersex born child. He absorbed a twin. He is a chimera, a person containing both sexes in physical form. There is much more to sexuality than most people are willing to even imagine. It is too frightening for them to accept as it might change how they see themselves and the world.

        • With due respect, folks, again, and as kindly as I might – you apparently don’t give any who are not “you” much credit. A good many of us have been “there and back” a multiple times.

          Jesus of Nazareth was no fool – as he was the power that created mankind. At the end of the “marriage and divorce” narrative in Matthew 19, he says this: “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

          Quite clearly, however – the aberration is not the standard. Life goes on – the world goes on – and so must the race.

      • Tom, we must not dismiss, discount nor oppress the ‘aberration’, the outliers and those who are different. That was the point Jesus made. And He says it is a mystery, something then to be discovered eh? because Jesus knew the time He lived in was not the time we would understand these sort of things. Now because of science we do understand so much more than we ever did, yet there is still more to be discovered.

    • Because Jesus requires us to show mercy and love to those Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals like you have chosen to hate—and want to kill. Go put that in your orchid greenhouse—moron.

  26. “Science has proven some people are neither male nor female?”


    Science often “proves” what it is “paid to prove.” Many appear to take a great deal of comfort in what they’ve been told that “science has proven.” Jesus of Nazareth, on the other hand incontrovertibly states – “Have you not read that he which made them from the beginning made them male and female and said….”

    Here’s perhaps a little clearer illlustration: If those supporting today’s latest social fad want to make a political statement, they can line up their garden hoses male-to-male and female-to-female. However – when the time comes that water is actually required from well-to-garden, they – just like everybody else – are going to have to put those hoses together as they were designed to be joined.

    My experience with the “pushers of the fad” is that – ultimately, confronted with what Jesus actually declared about the marriage relationship, they’ll finally just shell down the corn and admit that they reallly don’t care what Jesus said about it.

    Seems to me that this is, ultimately and inescapably, more-or-less the upshot of John’s article, above. The Bible is a silly antique that simply cannot be taken seriously by “modern people.” Unless, of course, they want to be happy in their lives.

      • True, ma’am – at age 61, I’m “pretty ignorant.” Or – then again – I might very well have “been there and back” a good many times. The rest of the “marriage and divorce narrative” in Matthew 19 ends with the recognition of the living word that created all things of the variation / aberration about which you say “scientific research has now found….” How long did it take “science” to discover for itself the genetic truth of his words – that in marriage, “the twain become one flesh?” He was well ahead of your “god-like scientists” on every front and still is, today. Mankind – including Mr. Pavlovitch, above – dismisses him and his revelation at its peril. Or well, heck – we could all let Pavlovitch lead us out into his chosen wilderness, “fruits and all.”

        • I am sorry if you thought I was calling you ignorant because it only occurred to me you might not know very much about genetics. So don’t take my words the wrong way. I didn’t know very much about it either until recently.

          As well Jesus did say it is a mystery. I think that left the door open to discovery not closing the door on everything.

    • My child is intersex, a chimera, possessing both types of sexual organs in physical form. There are many other types of sexual differentiation from what most people consider the ‘norm’. The ‘norm’ is only what there is the most of, what most people are used to in their small worldview. If one only lives with brown squirrels, to them, brown squirrels are the ‘norm’ until one lives where most squirrels are black. These are the same folks who seem to believe that God only speaks through their religion or their particular denomination. Once they are exposed to the experiences of other human beings, it is hoped that their worldview will broaden and that they will mature.

  27. 2Ti 3:16 ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    It is sad to note Christians who don’t believe their Bible. The Bible should be the ultimate authority of all truths. If you are a Christian and does not believe the Bible, it is like saying that God is a liar.

    • Joshua — one of the poorest Christian practices, and which your post is an prime example of, is proof-texting. The verses you’ve cited do nothing to advance the strength of your subsequent statement.

      • Peter says that in the knowledge of Jesus afforded us in scripture, we have received “all things pertaining to life and godliness.”

        You say otherwise.

        Paul says, “for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.”

        You say otherwise.

        Jesus said, “Search the scriptures – for in them you think you have eternal life – and these are they which testify of me.”

        But you say otherwise.

        Jesus I know. Paul I know. Peter I know.

        Who are you?

    • “2Ti 3:16 ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
      2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

      Where does that say it is literal?

      How come “Sola Scriptura” churches keep splitting into factions over disagreements about what the Bible MEANS?

      What does “all Scripture” mean? There was no New Testament when this what written. One could make a very good argument that both Paul and Timothy – being Greek-speakers who lived outside of Israel – considered the books that Protestants call “the Apocrypha” to be part of their Scripture.

      • “….maybe this — and maybe that….”

        Uh huh.

        The miraculous gifts of the spirit – through the laying-on-of-hands of the apostles served to guide the church in the earliest time. Even as this was the case, the letters of the apostles and others to the churches were widely shared.

        As I’ve stated, you must think that actual Christians are fools and pushovers for your endless, circuitous nonsense. I’ll say this for certain, as well — and it’s that anybody who falls for this predictable baloney deserves the outcome that he or she will inevitably receive.

      • “The miraculous gifts of the spirit – through the laying-on-of-hands of the apostles served to guide the church in the earliest time.”

        The laying on of hands never stopped.

        “Even as this was the case, the letters of the apostles and others to the churches were widely shared”

        Sure, they were shared. Although maybe not as much as you think; they had to be copied by hand and carried by messenger. But yes, they were shared. So were the Epistles of Ignatius. So was the Epistle of Clement. There was absolutely nothing saying that Revelation was “The Bible” and Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians wasn’t. In fact, as late as the 4th Century, some bishops seemed to think it was more likely the Clement was part of the canon than Revelation.

        For three centuries, they didn’t have a canon of Scripture. They had books they used in Church, and some churches used some books that aren’t now in the Bible, and DIDN’T use some books that are. 300 years.

        And I’ll ask again:

        “How come “Sola Scriptura” churches keep splitting into factions over disagreements about what the Bible MEANS?”

    • Nowhere in those scriptures does it say that the Bible is “inerrant” or that it can only be read “literally.” These are fundie assumptions about the Bible that have been imposed on it from outside of the Bible. Biblical inerrantism and the demand for a literal reading of scripture are lies human beings imposed on the Bible in the Great Lakes region of the United States about 100 years ago. The problem with most fundies is that they have been taught these lies since they were babies and they live in such terror of their mean-spirited and wrathful God that it has blinded them to the truth. Jesus said it best: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

      • Hello Dover. It really bothers me to hear Christians that they don’t believe everything written in the Bible.

        The Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Jesus Christ, Himself, said that the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) and the word of God is the truth (John 17:17). The Apostle Paul mentioned that ALL scripture is God-breathed or is given with the inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:16). He even believes ALL THINGS written in the Law and in the Prophets (Acts 24:14) and mentioned that the LAW is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good (Romans 7:12).

        All these scripture tells us that God’s word is truth. LET GOD BE TRUE and every man a liar (Romans 3:4). If you are saying that you cannot believe everything written in the Bible, then you are calling God a liar. If the very foundation of the truth that we Christians believe is false, then why should we even believe God or even Christ? It is just so irrational.

        Just because you can’t explain, believe, or even make sense of what the Bible says, you just throw it away and say it is false and it can’t be proven as something true.

        This is a very big topic and I highly encourage you and everyone to please order your free booklet, Is the Bible True by clicking this link:


        I’m not here to convince anyone. I’m here to explain the truth. It is your decision whether you believe the whole bible true or not, but I still hope you will believe its veracity.

        Like what I said, I don’t want to argue. So this would be my last reply. Thank you and may God’s will be done in our lives. 🙂

        • Josh. Blow it out your ass. You sound like a tape recorder instead of a human being. The last time I looked, Jesus and tape recorders did not have much in common—and I see none of Jesus in you. All I see is a silly little person who does not know how to think—but knows how to act like a parrot because his “handlers” have taught him to parrot everything they believe. I hope you meet Jesus someday and you figure out that He is nothing like you and your ilk. I believe in Jesus. I follow Jesus. However, I do not believe in you or any other fundie, most of whom spend their lives dedicated to treating other people like shit—which is the precise reason your fundie belief system is in the process of choking to death.

  28. “I’m trustworthy! Just ask me!” I agree with you, John. I wouldn’t trust anyone trying to sell me a car or a computer or anything else just because they assure me they’re trustworthy. Why should I trust someone trying to sell me their religion in the same way? I struggled for many years to come to the same conclusions that you did. No one sold them to me and I don’t try to sell them to anyone else just as you don’t. If they want to agree that’s up to them and I hope they would put a lot of prayer and study into it as I did and as you did. There are over 40,000 different Christian sects. Each one thinks they’re right and many want to sell me their beliefs like a used car. Some bring it to my door. My son had some folks come to his door who asked him, “Have you found Jesus?” To which he replied, “You guys were just here last week! Can’t you keep track of that guy?” 😉

  29. Yes! Well said! Human authors is the only way to maintain an understanding of free will (vs God possessing them to write stuff down), and also, I believe, the best way to stay sane when books “disagree” (which they don’t really, at least not on the identity/character of God, which is what they’re mostly meant to be about, once you get past the genre and intent issues). Thanks for writing!

  30. Thanks…I would agree that all of these things are things worthy of saying out loud. I’d add one more: That not all scripture is contained in canon of scripture as we know it (Hebrew scripture, new testament, etc.)–and that we can encounter God in very real ways in other writings. I have a bible study group that has been working through the Gospel of Thomas for the last six months–and it has been a really profound experience that has stretched how I know God.

  31. Man you have a way of just NAILING where I’m at in my journey in many of your blogs! Not surprised you have some haters. You are saying what many of us are recognizing, and in many cases, are afraid to say. I expressed in your blog about being emancipated from Christianity, that I left the church last year after being sooo immersed for so many years with so much of my identity wrapped up in it, which has been a painful process, but is one I now accept and feel liberated from BUT…. How I wish you were here in MI. I would SO go to your church!
    “human beings who never claim to have been fully possessed by God or robbed of their faculties as they wrote”… Just had to chuckle.

  32. Thank you, John. I’m so glad to find someone who understands the Bible as I think I do, but…

    You may have left out one more reason. No.12 (as I see it): The Bible, as we understand it, was created by The Church not for our Benefit, but for the Church’s opportunity to decide what the masses should be allowed to know and what they shouldn’t know. In the End, we will never know the truth because All Men Are Imperfect, because The Bible was a compilation of “books” written by people long dead, written by people who were basing their writings on their “perceptions”, which are imperfect.

    That said, I believe God is real, as is Jesus, our Lord and Christ. That does not mean I have to accept The Bible as an Absolute Authority based on The Church’s say-so.

  33. John, thanks for putting some of my thoughts in writing and articulating them far better than I could and for adding some more as to why I feel the way I do about Scripture as well – thank you so much!!!

  34. John, thank you for sharing these insights. One crucial gift I recieved from the Christian denominational tradition in which I was raised was a high view of the authority of Scripture with guides for interpretation – how to approach the faithful, nonliteral reading of the text. John, you echo parts of some of these familiar-to-me contextual guides (never set forth as the ONLY way to approach scripture, but the way my tradiiton had with the help of the Holy Spirit discerned, debated, prayed about, and handed down as the way we in that particular denomination were to approach discernment of meaning) A tradition which is reformed and always re-forming in light of new evidence, mediated by the Holy Spirit. That is why the Bible is called “the living word.” These contexts teach that the Bible was never meant to be approached as an authoritative scientific text (its world view is a flat world, just for starters); it is a sacred text. There are scientific facts, and scriptural truth, and they are not always the same. There is the poetic truth of the Genesis mythic narrative that GOD created and it was good; the fact of how GOD accomplished it? Not contained in Scripture. The writers were Inpired by GOD, but the text is limited -as Jesus was limited as a human-, in the particularities of a specific culture, knowledge, socio-political era and geography. It takes humility and care to tease out what may be the eternal message contained in Scripture from the layers of limited human restriction and contexts in which it was wrapped and that having to be written down thousands of years ago in varying literary genres – mostly poetic – places upon its intended meaning. Hebrew and Koine Greek create yet another context – the limits of human language itself. Hebrew, for instance, demands GOD be assigned a gender; words no longer hold the same meaning they did when written. I’m just a layperson, but when I was being taught these approaches to scripture I saw that they came out of Biblical scholarship and study – that the approach itself was informed by what Scripture says about itself. Every single one was firmly rooted in Scripture. That when one is seeking understanding about a moral understanding, for instance, one had to find ALL passages that were thought to address the matter, not pick and choose whichever passage seemed to provide “proof” for one’s side of the argument. That the newer testament interpreted the older… and that no interpretation that led one to conclude its meaning to be that of hatred of another group was accurate, because GOD is Love. My tradition concluded that the overarching theme of Scripture was that of GOD’s abiding love for all Creation, culminating in the incarnation, ministry, life, unjust death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Applying these quite cautious approaches to the reading of the Word, I can testify that I have on occasion encountered the Word made flesh in reading. I have walked with Jesus on a dusty road towards evening near Emmaus, and sat at table, and been served bread, and my eyes were opened. And at other times have been completely unable to make much sense of it, but for the struggle of trying and failing, and not having to have it be, ultimately, about my limited understanding. For Christ is there, too, spanning the distance between me and the Divine. The reader can rest there, in him.

    There can be no real debate over what a passage of Scripture means unless the parties involved all agree on the terms by which they approach the work of deriving meaning in the first place. In my experience, faithful people, with good intentions, can still arrive at serious disagreement even so. I am thankful to GOD that being “right” or “wrong” regarding what a particular biblical text means, while making our life less enjoyable than GOD intends, does not bar us as Christians from the Kingdom. I’m pretty certain of this because the Bible tells me the book of law does not save me; Christ does. :>)
    May his peace be with you.

  35. So you don’t believe the bible… “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness…” So you are thinking that people should believe your words and conclusions above thousands of years of history and inspired writings Jewish and Christian men and women who in some cases gave there lives to forward the purposes of God in redemption. “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God!” I don’t know you sir but your comments lack any real truth… and love, that is the genuine love of God rejoices in the truth… In fact it is the furthest thing from idolatry for a person to put their trust in God’s word for “God is not a man the He should lie”… There is one thing you are right about, you don’t believe in the bible…

  36. To add a note on defending the bible with the bible, of course a lot of what you’re referring to is circular reasoning, and I agree. Still, a lot of people mistrust or disbelieve something because of misconceptions (you point out a lot about the bible), and explaining scripture goes a long way in defending it.

  37. Thank you for writing this. I agree with all of your points and especially appreciate number 11! When people quote scripture as fact in order to prove their point it presumes that one believes the Bible is inerrant. You can’t actually have a discussion with a person when you both have such a different way of interepreting the Bible.

  38. John, I hold the same opinions regarding the Bible as you have stated here. You hit the nail on the head for me too when you stated about just now being able to put words to beliefs and convictions I’ve had for 40+ years about the Bible. Growing up the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, I learned quickly just to keep my mouth shut about my opinions regarding faith and the Bible. And even now, as an adult, a lot of people think I’ve changed or “gone astray” and need prayed for, due to my opinions on faith, the Bible and Christianity. My father, who held a doctorate degree in theology, even told me he believed there were contradictions within the Bible. Fast forward 40 years and I was told by a certificate degree holding part-time “minister” that I was wrong and everything in the Bible was the exact word of God. I had him and a couple others pretty much attacking and refuting my beliefs and convictions, telling me I was wrong and they would pray I “saw the light” before it was too late. This conversation came about in reference to yet another set of “signs” that the rapture is near and I commented that the “rapture” had been near for the last 70 years, depending upon the decade and the “signs”. LOL Obviously, I was not popular with that comment. LOL It didn’t bother me nor make me doubt my beliefs. If anything, it more deeply solidified my opinion. Thank you for once again putting into words so eloquently what I try to state but usually come off sounding haughty or lecturing. To me, it’s just common sense but I believe too many people are too afraid they’ll be damned for all eternity if they use their heart and their brain together in their faith/beliefs. For all the flack I know you’ll receive from many, you have many more right by your side, including me! Peace be with you, John.

  39. I have a lot of issues with this post although I do understand where you are coming from. The main problem I have is your lack of evidence or back up. I understand not wanting to use the bible as evidence, that would be akin to using the word you are defining in the definition. However, without any evidence at all, all this article is is an opinion piece. So, what is your evidence for your beliefs? What has caused you to think this way? Where are your sources?

    • Victoria —

      Pretty much all of Christianity is an opinion piece. Start researching the history of the Bible how the books got selected, when they got selected, when they were written etc. There is very little provenance and what the apologists tend to put up is pretty darn week. Yet again, as someone here posted, it is all about faith. You can choose to believe what Jesus said (and that he actually DID say it) but it is still faith, pure faith. In the end, it is just someone’s “opinion” that any of this is true in the first place. You choose to believe it or you don’t.

    • Faith is not a matter of evidence lady. Faith is faith. If you believe that the Bible is “inerrant,” without internal contradiction, and it must be read mostly literally, what is you objective, hard core, empirical evidence for it—apart from Pastor Homer (who is a moron) told me so.

    • Dave is right. That is why they call it faith—it is a strongly held and felt personal opinion that cannot be empirically or scientifically proven to be true in strict, objective evidential terms. When it crosses the line into hard evidence, it ceases to be “faith” and becomes “knowing,” which is very different from faith.

  40. Agree so, so much. The only comment I would make is #9 – there are some objective truths in the Bible, and they are the 10 Commandments, and the most perfect commandment, to love God and to love our fellow humans as we love ourselves. Many blessings to you John and your ministry. XXXX

  41. 1) Regarding your comment that you do not believe the Bible was written by God but by men — Who do you think created the men? the Earth? the Universe? Perhaps your definition of “God” is incomplete? Should anyone put confidence into someone else stating what God can or cannot / will or will not do, or what God is or is not capable of being? Perhaps your failure to believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is due to your failure to *fully* (or even adequately) comprehend the nature of “God”?

    2) Although I share shades of your belief on Genesis, it remains the most beautiful explanation of Creation that I’ve ever read. The *stages* of development closely parallel the scientific stories *in general* (if not in specific details) so — what’s wrong with it?

    3&4) Although the roles of women are changed significantly in advanced, Western civilizations, and in fact are *reversed* in matriarchal societies, still, men do not bear children, but merely present the seed. Until women start cloning without need of sperm, gender will continue to play a significant role in what drives the *urges* of society. Using your analogy, surgeons may be more advanced technically, but it still requires a male component and female component in order to procreate. BASIC biology has not changed, regardless of what transgendered people attempt to fabricate.

    5) To assist your understanding of what “marriage, war, violence, or sex” is all about, think of it as a setup required for a performance: Everything in the Old Testament was designed to focus people, places, and events into the One event, the birth of the Messiah (Jesus.) So what does the spotlight on Jesus have to tell us? “Love thine enemy.” <<< THIS is the entire focus / main lesson / purpose that the Bible serves to share with the world and mankind. Failure to follow that one guideline is what leads to disaster everywhere.

    6) "Error" was not about mistakes in philosophy, genealogy, or theology — "without error" was a reference to the accuracy of the transcriptions from one text to another (in the Old Testament, in the Pentateuch) by virtue of the "parity checking" methods used by the scribes who would grid off the parchment / scrolls and ensure that every character was filled in, page by page, line by line, block by block. Short of that, the various differences between the New Testament source materials clearly show that more than one version of many verses exists — that's just nit-picking equivalent to "is this dress blue or brown?"

    7) Technically, since God created *everything* and is *everywhere* — yes, you can intuit God from anything anywhere. The Bible does, however, help focus a LOT of God into a single point, to which one may return frequently as an animal in the desert would frequent an oasis that never dries up.

    8) A government that tries to rule *without* God will never last. There's nothing wrong with the Bible *guiding* our government — it is another thing entirely to assert an inane proposition that the Bible should "rule" our government, as our nation was founded on religious freedom.

    9) Anything can be objectively viewed or measured — subjective interpretations are simply internal as opposed to external — Subjectively, I hold the Bible in very high standing. Objectively, millions of Christians around the world *also* hold it in high standing. What you choose to make of it is clearly up to you.

    10) Although your comment is somewhat inflammatory, I can support your position by using the Bible itself: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." — NOTHING should come between an individual and his or her God. So worshiping anything (even a Bible) is idolatry and should be discarded (unless you're a sentient Bible.)

  42. Beautifully said! Someone once told me that you have to take the Bible “literally”. My very wise minister said you can’t take the Bible literally. You take it seriously.

    • Saying “you take it seriously” is a little different that dismissing it at useful or relevant.

      I would respectfully suggest that the first problem with Mr. Pavlovich’s position here is poor scholarship. Poor hermeneutic. And, inescapably, “bad attitude.” John apparently doesn’t like what he thinks it says, nor does he appear to countenance the importance of what these things meant to those who first received them – nor who was speaking, nor whom was being spoken to.

      The accounts of the life and times of Jesus and the others are generally delivered in literal speech. The prophetic elements among these are typically idiomatic speech – hyperbolic, but predictably and conventionally so – which is to say that the idiomatic conventions characterizing these passages are well established and recognized from Old through New. They are not literal speech.

      Even so – even in these are plenty of literal applications. Throughout the gospels, Jesus warns the generation to which he was specifically sent – and they were mainly his fleshly kinsmen – “you’ve killed every prophet the Father ever sent you – and now you’re about to kill his son. When you’ve accomplished this, expect massive retribution in YOUR generation” – which is the last days – NOT of planet earth (which is never contemplated in scripture) but, rather, of the Jewish / Mosaic economy.

      The Old Testament was delivered to and for the Jews. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the imperfect types and shadows of the old – the taking of all those who will live before God in faith from the starlight age to the daylight. Jesus was, himself, the paschal lamb whose anticipation was celebrated in every passover. Still — he plainly told the generation in which he, himself lived, “…the blood of all the prophets – from the foundation of the world – will be required of THIS generation.” Later, in his lament for Jerusalem, he declared, again of that generation, “These be the days of vengeance that all written may be fulfilled.” That destruction – read it for yourself of the events of 70 AD – came, precisely as he said. “The end of the world” – or, literally, the end of the age or milieu.

      Through this transitional generation, likened by Paul to the Galatians as the very short time in which the camp of Abraham was inhabited by both the son of the bond woman and the son of the free, Moses decreased as Christ increased, in the end leaving only the fulfillment in the Messiah to which all scripture had pointed. The new kingdom. A “new heavens and new earth.”

      We can understand these things – or we can reject them.

  43. Thank you for this deeply thoughtful post. I really appreciate it. Years ago, a wise minister told me to look for what was normative in the Bible, the overall arching truth, and that has helped me. I also see you have a book on grief and am ordering that. Our family has suffered many losses lately.

  44. This causes me to wonder what people will say in 10,000 years from today about the Bible.
    The 16th century Christians adapted for their own use what we call the Bible. The King James version is a composite of early writing, we are taught in seminary. The canon of scripture was assembled by men. We are taught all scripture is Divinely inspired…humanity has to have something to use as a higher power, it’s psychologically more safe and comforting. We Christians call that “GOD”. I like and prefer God. The Catholic Church has a great display of the Word of God. They have brought as a coronation the Holy Bible. The worship the most intensely of any religious group I have visited. They pray endlessly, and honor the Blessed Word of God with an unmatched humility.
    I like praying/saying the “Our Father and “The Apostles Creed”. The Rosary is primarily for Catholics as it focuses on the Mother of God heavily. The Greeks and Catholics focus on the Saints of the Bible and Greeks are most like the First Church in their worship. Jews celebrate as in party style with alcohol playing an important part has been my experience.

    • These testes belong to Mr. Mr. Estes. I once had a GED student who would repeatedly say to me—and this is an exact, real life quote: “Them testes just scares me to death.” She was talking about the state testes you have to pass to get your GED Certificate.

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  46. For years I’ve been saying ” I wish people who use the bible as a moral weapon and claim they know the bible inside out would study how the bible was written and put together.” Biblical theologians who have studied this more than I can’t even agree. When did Moses write the Pentateuch? Did he write it? And like John I find that most people have an all or nothing attitude and overlook the contradictions. I find it to be a great spiritual resource but not infallible.

    • Moses did not write the 5 teuches. Moses was long dead. Just as King James English is so different from modern English, the 5 teuchs are written in a kind of Hebrew language characteristic of the much later Davidic period.

  47. I agree with all 10 (& 11) points. My journey eventually led me to concluding the God of Abraham was a human invention and that Jesus was just a man and not divine. Yet, even though my journey led me to atheism, I still do my best to follow Jesus’ teachings.

  48. As a Jew, I see the Tana”kh as my family history/scrapbook. It is important and dear to me, just as my more recent family is. It doesn’t trouble me that some stories contradict each other — so do the stories about my grandmother! I follow some of its rules, just as I think about what my grandmother would say about a possible action, but it is not the ultimate authority.

  49. I guess we can just believe the parts of the Bible we choose? If there are portions of the Bible we like, we will believe those and the portions we don’t agree with, we will dismiss. Makes perfect sense to me! I am also pretty sure there is NO WAY that a “GOD” could accurately inspire any human being to write scriptures that could be relevant to all cultures, societies and races. I mean if there is a “GOD” there would be no way he/she could do something so impossible, he/she couldn’t be that big to write a book without errors. That’s just CRAZY!

  50. I once posed a question on a Christian message board: Do you think people worship the Bible and if so is that idolatry? Most of the responses were “I don’t understand the question.”
    For years the premise has been that when you “accept Jesus” you instantly are sold hook-line-sinker, fall head-over-heels in love with the Bible, all your issues are settled and you instantly become a world class people person.
    My own Christian faith has gone through a rather radical adjustment.

  51. “All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” – C.S. Lewis, ‘The Last Battle’

    The Scriptures, as we currently have them, are ‘the cover and title page’….the rest of the Story is to be revealed…..

  52. John Pavlovitz, in this article (http://pastorgabehughes.blogspot.tw/2014/12/christian-stop-sharing-john-pavlovitzs.html) Pastor Hughes proves your point: in quoting John 1:1, he identified the Bible with THE Word (“the Word was God”) rather than with the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus. Because the Bible, he argues, “is the very word of God. You cannot separate God and his Word.” This, effectively, makes the Bible part of the Holy Trinity (making it a Quatr-inity?) or perhaps substituting Christ for the Bible. From this line of reasoning, and the assumption that the Bible was dictated by God verbatim, it becomes obvious why fundamentalists approach the Bible the way they do.

      • Who wrote any of it? Can you show me a copy of one of Pauls letters with his signature at the bottom? How about a copy of John signed by John?

      • “Can you show me a copy of one of Pauls letters with his signature at the bottom? How about a copy of John signed by John?”

        Paul identified himself. The text, in fact, frequently mentions his signature, although we don’t have any actual manuscript. While scholars doubt the authorship of some of the letters, they’re virtually unanimous about most of them.

        Interesting that you should pick John. It’s the only Gospel to identify the source. It says it was written from the testimony of the Beloved Disciple. So I think it’s written by the Beloved Disciple’s followers. And the Epistles – which have similarities of a very unique style – would have been written directly by him, identifying himself only as “The Elder,” with the understanding that the original readers would have known who that was.

    • This explains the problem here pretty well. The fact of the matter is that we do not have the actual words of Jesus—never have actually had the precise words of Jesus as stated orally by him in ancient times. This video will explain it thoroughly:

  53. John I want to thank you for this thoughtful post. My journey has taken me from Catholicism, to Fundamentalism to where I am today as a follower of Jesus without hardly any answers.
    There was a time, in my Evangelical days when I would have seen your words as heretical but no longer, In many ways I have come to the same conclusions concerning the Bible.
    For a long time I thought I was alone with these musings, but over the past few years I have come upon many, including yourself who see things this way.
    Can I tell you the greatest thing I have acquired from this understanding?
    Freedom. Freedom to become who God created me to become. Freedom to love all people without the nagging thoughts that I have love them by “telling them the truth”. Freedom to question and debate, and change my points of view. And the freedom to see God as Mystery, and much larger in love and grace and forgiveness and mercy than I could have ever imagined,
    Thanks again for the great post.
    Blessings and peace to you,
    Mark Schnitzer

    • Bravo Mark!! Well said!! People need to understand that this doesn’t mean we don’t believe in God or Jesus. We’re just acknowledging that man in his imperfection put down on paper and decided what was published in the Sixty-six books. As I stated earlier….people need to learn more about how the bible was compiled instead of using it to defend it, as John stated. Luther was a heretic too!

    • Good job Mark. I bet you prayed earnestly to God one time that you wanted to have a deeper and more transcendent understanding of the Christian faith than the one you were getting at your fundie church—and God answered that prayer.

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  55. I have some honest questions for those of you who agree with this blog post and reject the inerrancy of Scripture:

    1. Was Jesus wrong in upholding the Old Testament scriptures as historically true and authoritative?

    2. If so, does that mean Jesus was merely a fallible human and not divine?

    3. Does this matter?

    To anyone who is willing to respectfully consider these questions, I appreciate it and am interested to hear from you.

    • Jesus affirmed a few passages and changed the meaning of some and ignored other passages all together. Jesus never taught the “inerrancy” that is taught in some circles today.
      Peace to you fellow traveler.

      • Thanks for the reply. What do you make of the Old Testament prophesies concerning Jesus? If the authors were not writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, how could they have known of the coming person and work of Christ? This question could be extended to apply to all the fulfilled prophesy in the Old Testament.

        • The passages are there and remain there as part of the Teaching. And if Jesus’s humanity was True, as specified in the Creeds, then yes, Jesus was thinking and speaking in human language and the human conceptual universe of a man of his time and place, a Judean raised and teaching in Galilee.

      • JD. They did not. Despite all of those assorted things called prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament, they might as well have never existed because the Jewish religionists of the 1st century missed the arrival of Jesus as their predicted messiah and killed their messiah—the one predicted by scripture.

    • Hey JD I believe Jesus is Lord and was born the son of God. I also believe he was human. Therefore although it can be said he did not sin it can also be said he had human flaws. therefore he is able to relate to us. did Jesus need to learn and question and grow and mature? I think so. But how that looks we don’t know for sure because very little is written about his childhood and youth.

      • So if the New Testament is also merely the work of human authors just the same as any other book, how can we know anything for sure about who Jesus was? I might ask another way: What is your basis for believing that Jesus is Lord and born the son of God?

      • Sure i see it as a revelation not an absolute. Even though God is absolute nothing done through human capacity is. So the bible as a revelation especially prophecy was a shadow of Christ to come but not Christ himself.

      • I have another question JD. Fundies tell me that one of the most important issues in all of the Bible is “how clean God is.” They tell me that He is the cleanest clean possible—clean beyond the rim of man’s wildest imagination. So clean in fact, that even the tiniest speck of of physical or moral dirt makes him go berserk and send people to Hell for all eternity. As all of us Christians believe, Jesus was God incarnate—at once fully man and fully human as he walked the Earth nearly 2000 years ago. My questions are as follows:

        1) Did Jesus shit?

        2) Did Jesus pee?

        3) Did Jesus’s penis ever smell bad?

        Now, if Jesus were fully human, we would expect that all of those things might occur at one time or another, especially in an area where water was scarce and people did not bathe often like we do. How then was Jesus, being fully God—and being the cleanest clean possible—far beyond any clean we can imagine in our poor human minds—able to cope emotionally and spiritual with his own pee and poop. Not just the fact that it came out of him in a time without toilet paper—but also realizing that He carried pee and poop around inside of him day and night for 32 years. If one tiny, microfine speck of dirt could make him go berserk and send a person to Hell to burn forever, why did He not send himself to Hell for the poop and pee that violated his sensibilities 24/7 for 32 years. And how do you reconcile this theology with the fact that a perfect God who hates dirt in all forms created piss, shit, germs, and dirt? Inquiring Christians would like to know?

    • The questions make no sense. The Bible says that Jesus rejected certain aspects of Old Testament law, as in the Book of Mark where Jesus by his own words implies that He did not believe in keeping the Kosher food laws and did not follow them. Jesus also rejects several other aspects of the Old Testament law, including the law that says one must never perform work on the Sabbath. Jesus never says that the Bible is “inerrant.” Jesus never says that the Bible is without internal contradictions. Jesus never says that the Bible should always be read literally—and for that matter with respect again to all three—the Bible makes no such claims for itself. John did not say that Jesus is not the divine son of the living God, and most of us here who agree with John’s 10 items, including myself, do indeed believe that Jesus was the Son of God and the predicted Messiah. Finally, if you will closely read the Book of Mark, the earliest gospel we have, you will see clearly that Mark himself never indicates that Jesus is divine or the Son of God. He simply refers to Jesus as the “son of man.” The last time I heard, God is not a man.

      So blow it out your ass.

      • Your reply indicates that you don’t really understand the basic theological teachings of Christianity. That’s okay, but before you make vulgar, condescending remarks you really should familiarize yourself with the position you’re attacking. I began by asking questions so that any arguments I make would not misrepresent the opposing view.

        Fulfilling certain aspects of Old Testament law is not the same as rejecting them. If Jesus is speaking truth when He claims to have fulfilled the law (Matt. 5:17), then this establishes that the law was prophetic in itself, pointing forward to Christ, and thus had to have been divinely inspired. Of course the word “inerrancy” isn’t in the Bible. It’s simply implicit that if all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16), and we know that God cannot err, then the Scripture that God Himself breathed likewise cannot err.

        Mark never indicates that Jesus is the Son of God? Have you read up to verse 11 in the first chapter? “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” What I am really curious to know, though, is why you personally believe that Jesus is the Son of God if you don’t believe the Bible to be divinely-inspired and authoritative. If not the Bible, then what is your basis for belief?

      • Hey JD could God-breathed mean ‘inspired’ rather than the perfect dictation of God’s word? If God inspires us, for example inspires me, He is compelling me or moving me to act or write or say something. The end result may not be perfect yet God will bless the outcome and it works to His will at the time. That is how I view scripture. God is behind it but the people He inspired wrote it after making sense of what God ‘breathed’ to them.

        • Most fundies I have known believe, regardless of the fact that the Bible says no such thing, that “God breathed” means something like “automatic writing.” In other words, a person is sitting at their desk with a piece of parchment and pen in front of them, God puts them into a drug-like trance to turn off all of their personality and what they think personally such that the person is little more than a sedated bag of water and minerals. God then picks up their right hand with his, puts a pen in it, and then tells their hand to write the word “In.” God next tells the hand to write the word “the.” God next tells the hand to write the word “beginning.” Then God tells the hand to write “the.” Then God tells the hand to write “Word.” Then God tells the hand to write the word “was.” Then God tells the hand to write the word “with.” Then God tells the hand to write the word “God.” Then God tells the hand to write the word “and.” Then God tells the hand to write the word “the.” Then God tells the hand to write “Word.” Then God tells the hand to write the word “was.” Then God tells the hand to write the word “God.” Thus, the thoughts, beliefs, and errors of the sedated man have no possibility of entering the scripture. The writing is done entirely by God alone, and every word is the word God chose to be said.

          It makes a nice fantasy, but that is about all. The Bible itself never says what “God breathed” means. What the fundies do is decide what it means outside of the Bible, declare what they have said to be unarguable Biblical truth, and then rest in the convenience that no one can travel back in time to see whether or not God did this trance writing—and put the lie to what they have said. Fundies like to believe things they know no one will ever be able to disprove because it is impossible to travel back through time and verify them—which is really an act of deceit—a perfectly couched opportunity to lie.

          • I thought God-breathed referred to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit not dictation. I guess an argument could be made that these are all the words intended to be in the Bible by God. As a priest I know explained it “God convinced men which writings are divinely inspired and which were not, at least that is our hope when the Canon was debated and decided upon” But it was a group of ‘Holy’ men that did that.

            • The fundies behave as if this is the way it was done—but that is the whole problem. The Bible does not say what “inspired by” or “God breathed” means. They just pick something and declare whatever they pick to be the unarguable truth. They can say that every word in the Bible is perfectly true because a perfect God wrote each word in the Bible—and that brings us back to the notion that men had nothing to do with it. It is also faulty thinking because one could just as easily say that a “perfect God” would have never created a perfect world where so much would go wrong. The problem is that a “perfect being” would be expected to create a perfect world where nothing ever goes wrong.

          • I grew up in a fundamentalist southern baptist church (pretty starchy). No one there believed got basically possessed the person that was writing each book of the bible. We all believed it was inspired by the holy spirit. Just like when we pray or gather in groups the holy spirit is with us. There are a few extreme people out there that ruin christianity for people . I question anyone that leads someone away from jesus by being too opinionated when it’s not what the Bible says.

  56. John,

    I have some questions concerning your article. If you don’t believe the Bible to be accurate, from where do you draw your doctrine? How do know what the teachings of Jesus are? How do you know who God is, what he is like, or what his will for you is? If you believe that the Bible is the product of man, then where do you find your connection to God? I would assume your introduction to the Christian faith either came from the Bible, the Church, or your parents. The church is led by men, your parents are human, and now you claim that the Bible is but a book written by man. How did God reveal himself to you, and how do you receive his Word, if not through the teachings and stories of the Bible?

    • God reveals Himself through creation, though the Bible, and though others. God uses every means possible to reveal his love and grace. And it is the Holy Spirit that opens our eyes. John, and I would agree with him, is not saying that the Bible has no merit, that it does not reveal God and his nature and love. It does, but it does not say everything there is to say about God, it is not inerrant. It is not the complete “Word of God”, only Jesus deserves that title….and that is in the Bible. (John 1:1;16)
      Peace to you.
      Mark Schnitzer

      • At the transfiguration, the voice from heaven said of Jesus, “This is my beloved son – hear HIM…” (He didn’t say, “listen to John Pavlovitch…”)

        Paul says concerning him – “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”

        As the Lord, himself said – and yes, I recognize that at the time, the Old Book was all that was available – “Search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life – and these are they which testify of me.”

        Meanwhile, again, Paul says of the word of God – “It is quick and alive – and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

        So – by all means – if you don’t happen to like what you see there, or insist on upholding perversity as acceptable Christian life and even fitting the standard for “marriage” – I can certainly see why you would belittle, denigrate and reject it (“…uh, yeah – well, you know – sorta’ but not really….)

        You boys are a big, arrogant and completely obvious trojan horse. You won’t soon be brought into the gates of my “city.” Not today – not tomorrow – and not the day after that.

        • I again ask, why do you go on the attack when someone shares where they are in their Christian journey? Do you believe all real Christians from all time believe exactly as you believe?

          Again, I ask because we can dialogue without diminishing the other. I seek not to arrogant but to question, to talk, to understand. One who is arrogant, at least in my opinion believes they hold all the answers.

          Peace to you,

      • Tom just reading what both you and Mark have to say. I will naturally gravitate towards Mark because of his compassion, gentleness and graciousness whereas you come off as arrogant, self confident and with disdain. I don’t find you are using Bible verses authentically because of that. Without love even the words in the bible fall flat.

    • Blow it out your Irish ass Katy. The man never said that he does not believe in the Bible. He is saying that he does not believe in the Bible “in the exact same way” that you do—and neither has most of the Christian faith on this planet for the past 2,000 years. If you grew up in Hog Wallow, Mississippi, and learned your fundie faith down at Hog Wallow Baptist Church, you have missed out on the irrefutable fact that Hog Wallow is out of touch with human history, Christian history, and damned near everything else on this planet. Visit my blog and catch up a little:


      • Dear whoever you are,

        Wherever you are from, whatever your nationality, your race, your political beliefs, I love you. However, I am disinclined to listen to your ideas and convictions and way of thinking after you have told me to “Blow it out [my] Irish ass.” The central message of Christianity is that God expressed his love for us by sending Jesus to bridge the gap that sin had created. The central mission of Christians is that we act as instruments through which God can express this love. Well, at least, that is the center of the Christian faith that I follow. I’d rather not “catch up a little” if it means using your attitude as a model. And as out of touch as you may think I am, I’d rather be out of touch with human history, Christian history, and everything else on this planet than out of touch with the defining characteristics of my own faith, love in particular.

        The non-Irish, non-fundamentalist, not-from-Hog-Wallow-Mississippi Katy

        • Let’s put it this way. You waddle like a fundie, quack like a fundie, and paddle like a fundie—so that makes you a fundie. I am just giving you a healthy dose of the way you fundies treat other Christians and most other people in general. How does it feel? Do you think Jesus would treat people that way?

      • Okay Katy. Hog Wallow, Texas. Bill Nye is right—and you are not nearly as smart as you think you are little Miss Muffin. Just remember Katy. A “C” in any undergraduate is a failure in true academic terms. A “B” in graduate school is a failure. I hope you can pass the test for the next four years. I know all too many who bomb out and leave quicker than they ever thought possible. And what kind of Presbyterian or Reformed theology person are you? I bet you are from one of those crazy conservative Presbyterian offshoots that follow R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Nancy Piercey, and other similar morons who hate Jesus in the name of loving him.

      • I know it Kathy. I just get so tired of these fundies who come here to accuse John Pavlovitz of all sorts of evil things that they think are nonChristian when, in fact, they are things that a great deal of the Christian church worldwide has always believed—but they have just never heard about them because they grew up in Hog Wallow, Texas, and attended some local church that never taught them about such things.

        Now they are getting ready to elect Donald Trump or Ted Cruz President of the United States. Then all of the real Christians out here will be hung like Hitler’s henchmen did to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I guess all of us nonfundie Christians just need to get ready to die for Jesus. The only question on my mind is whether or not the fundies will send us to Christian Re-education Concentration Camps (CRCC) first, torture us if we refuse to quit believing what Jesus has told our hearts to believe, and then kill us if we do not comply—basically the sort of treatment the Spanish Christians did to the Aztecs.

        And yes. I truly and sincerely think each one of you fundies have so much hatred in your hearts for those that disagree with you that these acts are exactly what you would do to us, if given the chance and if it were legal to do it. I can tell by the way you think, the way you talk, and the way you buy guns. Hatred and violence are part and parcel of who you are.

      • Okay you are going a mile a minute in your thoughts because you are on high alert. But if you read what Katy wrote again after taking a deep breath you would see her questions are rather harmless and sincere. She wants to understand what made John believe in Jesus if it wasn’t the Bible. She didn’t insult him or say anything bad about him.

        • No. She has just pegged him as a nonbeliever and has set what she thinks is a a clever trap for him.

          Kathy. I am going downstairs to the den to cool off and chill out for a while—maybe watch some late news and weather on CNN. I also have to get ready for the next winter storm. We are more or less trapped here in our house, which has a 45 degree angle driveway. We live at the bottom of a steep dip—street is a 45 degree angle to the right and 45 degree angle to the left at the bottom of our driveway. We were trapped here for two weeks last February. It makes me a little crazy, but I still meant the things I said in the above posts. Have you ever seen this George Carlin comedy routine> It is the perfect comedic antidote for Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. I am just sorry that George was run away from the Christian faith by people like Tom Elmore:

      • I love George Carlin he makes some excellent points. Especially about money and religion. I think aggressive fundamentalists have a hard time understanding how their religious extremism can cause someone to doubt. I felt a great affinity for Carlin because I have teetered on the edge of unbelief a few times after being called a servant of Satan and told I had evil inside me, so words can be poison to the soul.

        Good luck with the snow! We are more than halfway through winter.

  57. Perhaps there are but two types of human readers of Scripture: those who have rules of interpretation and are aware of them, and those who have rules of interpretation that are hidden from them.

    • I call myself a Christian brother because I was born into the Kingdom of God by the work of the Holy Spirit revealing the the unconditional love of God through the cross of Jesus. Just because i (or John) do not hold as tightly to the idea of the inerrency of the Bible as you do, is not an indication that we are not Christians. There have been and will be many ways of reading and interpreting Scripture but it is not how we believe in the Bible that makes us a beloved child of God but rather what God has and is doing for us in grace and love.

  58. It appears that quite a few commenters here did not read John’s post carefully enough….if you were to simply read the last 3 bolded paragraphs (before the bonus) with a reasonably open mind, that alone would address the majority of questions, concerns, and accusations.

    • Machba. What you are seeing in those people and their questions is how spiritual darkness, which Christian fundamentalism calls light and truth, has so blinded these people that they cannot even recognize the truth when it is placed under their own noses. Satan has chosen Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism to blind the world for the past 100 years (since its invention) to fight against the love of Christ by instilling hatred in the hearts of men in the name of God. The Force of Evil in this world is very clever, and deceit is one of his chief tools. Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are being molded like clay in the hands of Satan at this very moment.

  59. 1) Sola Scriptura isn’t Biblical. The Bible itself never even claims to be the only valid source of revelation.

    2) It is also impossible, since the early church had no New Testament. The first book wasn’t written until about 20 years after the resurrection; the last about 70 years later. The 27 books of the New Testament were not the precise list we have now until the 4th Century. That’s a long time.

    The Bible is the book of the Church. The Bible COMES from the Church. The basic error of modern fundamentalism is that it thinks the Church is based on the Bible, instead of the other way around.

    • So we’re counting on “whom” exactly to “be the source of revelation?”

      You are dead wrong – and arrogantly so. You must think that most actual Christians are fools. Believe me – I know exactly what you’re selling. It’s immorality thinking it will be allowed to use religion as a shield. You’re dead wrong about that, too.

      • Hello. I have been following the comments to this post now for a couple of days and I sincerely want to understand something. I tend to agree with John in the post. I have been a Christian for over 35 years now and as mentioned before gone from Fundamentalist to Progressive within that time, There was a time when I would have been a passionate “defender of the truth” and would have jumped into every argument about the Bible and every social issue I felt was straying from the Word.

        So here is my question, and I am not asking with malice. It seems that in some of the posts here there is an assumption that there is One Right and the rest are wrong. There is also an assumption that those who are wrong have a hidden agenda to degrade the Bible, or demean those who hold to it’s inerrency. Why is that?

        John did not present his thoughts as “gospel” for all people. He was sharing where he is on his Christian journey, I appreciate his openness and honesty. And at this point in life I am on the same road he is on.

        But that does not mean I dismiss the Bible, the divinity/humanity of Christ, the work of the cross, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I just see things differently now.

        Peace to you follower traveler.
        Mark Schnitzer

      • “So we’re counting on “whom” exactly to “be the source of revelation?””

        Christ, and the Body of Christ That is God’s ultimate Revelation. Himself.

        What did the church do before the New Testament existed.

        • Yeah, yeah — you’re talking in vague, deliberate circles. Maybe we oughta’ “take a vote on it,” huh?

          What did the church do before the New Testament existed? The miraculous gifts of the spirit – passed on only to those who had the hands of the apostles themselves laid upon them – supported the church as a scaffold supports a rising building, together with the shepherding of the apostles and evangelists.

          Some would like us to believe that THEY have such gifts today. But they assuredly do not. As Paul said to the Galatians – “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

          You can take that as you will, sir or madame.

          • Tom, at the end of your comment you quote a Bible verse from Galatians this is a classic misuse of scripture to a wrong end. The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ our Saviour who took away the sin of the world. I don’t think it is appropriate to take that scripture out of context for the purpose of condemning someone.

      • “Some would like us to believe that THEY have such gifts today. But they assuredly do not. ”

        And there is one more source of schism between two churches that both think they believe “only the Bible.”

      • So, in such a case – where two groups who both claim to believe “Only the Bible” split into two groups on the basis of what they think the Bible means – how can one decide which one of you is right? People who try to do so will often form a THIRD group, because they think BOTH of you are wrong.

        In your case, just from our short interaction here, I know that you sometimes take a single sentence or paragraph that I write, add a whole bunch of your own assumptions to it, and start claiming that I said things I didn’t actually say. Why would I not think it likely that you do the same with the New Testament?

      • Listen up Preacher Tom Ass-Hole. The members of the Holy Trinity and angels I believe in have never lost their capacity to communicate with mankind in the various ways that they did with assorted humans throughout the Old Testament. They can and will communicate with us however they choose and regardless of anything you might choose to think about it. They do what they wish—not what you allow them to do.

        As far as the Bible goes, we believe in the Bible and take it seriously. We just do not believe in it in the “precise same way” that you Texas Tater fundies do—and neither does most of the rest of Christianity on this planet—but I am sure you do not give a shit about that because you are so plugged into your own spiritual arrogance and self-righteousness just like every other two-bit fundie buzzard I have ever known. I will go ahead and say it. I think Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are false gospels of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They are counterfeits that were created about 100 year ago to do the bidding of Satan in this world—and you are part of Satan’s plan to bring as much hatred and death as possible into this world. And just in case you have not figured it out, this is precisely the image you people are planting in minds around the rest of the world by your thoughts, your actions, your cruelty, and most of all——your rejection of God”s love as set forth in the Holy Bible you choose to corrupt.

    • but, the majority of the NT books are already being referenced consistently by the early Church Fathers. I have little tolerance for number games

  60. I am concerned that this has become, or is edging towards a ‘Catholic vs Protestant’ polemic (disclaimer: I was a fundamentalist Protestant, I went through RCIA in 1999 and became a Roman Catholic…) – Catholics can point and say, “See! See! See! ‘Sola Scriptura’ is WHY a Magisterium is needed – Look at all the denominations Protestants have split into over what the Bible says!!!” (I would point out that the Bishops are largely discounting the ‘sensus fidelium’ in the laity today, and that Catholicism has very much its own problems)

    In I Corinthians 8, Paul gives very sage advice, advice that is derivative from the two essential commandments of God given to humankind: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. In the Corinthian church, there were those who felt free to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols, and there were those who felt eating such meat was a sin. Paul encourages those feeling free to eat such meat to show love towards those of different conscience and, if necessary, to refrain from eating such meat, out of love for the other.

    There are those holding to a more strict, literal interpretation of Scripture; there are those who do not. Both calling themselves by the name of Jesus Christ are called to show love and forbearance to each other.

    Peace be with and upon you all

    • Fundies do not understand the words “love” and “forbearance.” Their religious tradition was founded about 100 years ago, and it was founded from the “git go” to be militant and hateful. Go study the history.

  61. I’ve read most of the comments here (what a bunch of them!). It’s obvious that the most hateful, judgemental, condemning responses are from strict believers in the total inerrency of the Bible. The kindest, most loving responses are from people who mostly agree with John’s blog. It’s very apparent who is a follower of Jesus the Christ and who is a modern-day Pharisee.

    I really don’t see how any thinking person can believe every word of the Bible is true when there are SO MANY obvious contradictions. I suppose that is what is meant by “blind faith”.

  62. Well, I thought I was done with this conversation because I was sick of the “Tom-Elmore-types” on here. Then the “dover1952-types” came onto the playground and I liked some of what he/she/it said until he/she/it began fueling even more hatefulness coupled with cursing at folks. When all we can do is curse and fight and be belligerent and caustic to one another, they will not “know we are Christians by our Love.” This has been a most prophetic, enlightening post, John Pavlovitz; I’m certain it has gone beyond every expectation you may have had of speaking your experience and Truth for rational thinking believers to weigh in upon and enjoy a healthy dialogue together. It has broken my heart to see the ways in which some people have chosen to speak in this space that could have been a healthy discourse among rational, compassionate, adventurous followers of Jesus.

    • Ma’am. I agree with you. The trouble is that fundies do not understand the term “fair fight.” You have to meet them toe-to-toe and fight the way they do to be effective—you have to out nasty their nastiness to make certain that no third party on looker will feel that they have won the fight—and then toddle off and become one of the fundie followers.

      I apologize if I offended your sensibilities. My words were aimed exclusively at those fundies who, pretty much by definition, have no such sensibilities. Showing Christian Love to a fundie will get you spit upon. Fundies do not believe that any such thing as Christian Love exists or should exist outside of the act of “sharing the gospel of salvation.” Even when they donate food to the poor, they see the food not as a gift of love for the person receiving it—but rather as “fish bait” to lure people in so they can present their gospel of salvation spiel. What you define as “Christian Love” is viewed by them as a “sign of spiritual weakness.” While they despise the concept of Christian love, the fundies like to see it displayed by others (not them) because it usually means that anyone they perceive as an outside enemy will stand down, roll over, and play dead in their presence when they are in “Christian Love” displaying mode. This “stand down” then allows the fundies to run people down like an 18 wheeler going 100 mph.

      This is the way they operate. They depend on a display of Christian Love by others to achieve the evil plans and goals that they have in this world. It is like having two armies facing each other in long lines to do battle as in the American Revolutionary War. Then suddenly, on the Christian Love side, every soldier in the long line lays down all of his weapons on the ground—rendering their defenseless in the name of Jesus. Seeing this display of love and peace in Christ, one would expect the opposing fundie line to lay down their weapons too—and their would be peace—no maiming—no death. Not so. The fundie side says: “Look at those fools. They laid down their weapons in Christian Love. Charge!!!! Kill every last one of those fools.” This is how the essence of the fundie mind and heart operates. You cannot fight it or overcome it with Christian love. It has to be fought the way Jesus fought it—with harsh words and declarations—just as Jesus did in Matthew 23. Jesus set the example of how to fight the heartless fundies of his time and place in Matthew 23 because Jesus knew that He was not dealing with just ordinary nonbelievers. He was dealing with religious men so full of hatred that they would try to kill him (Jesus) rather than just civilly agree to disagree like normal people would do.

  63. Those who say Christianity is a fable because it can’t be proved do not understand faith. Those who say “If you don’t believe as I do” understand neither love nor grace.

    • “A solid refutation”.

      Well, only if you’ve anchored yourself to a particular doctrinal and philosophical worldview and think proof-texting carries more weight than it actually does. IMHO, proof-texting is Bible-lite. You can make an argument that tickles the ears but only scratches the surface. I think what a growing number like myself are realizing is summed up in this sentence from the post — “To many the Bible is an all-or-nothing proposition (you either view it as completely true or completely worthless) but I believe that it, like God, is far more complex and nuanced than that.”

    • Typical fundie bullshit easily refuted by the vast majority of the rest of Christianity, Christian pastors, and Christian theologians on Planet Earth. Fundies want you to believe that their peculiar view of Christianity is the one, true, and ONLY Christianity on this earth—in contravention to more than one billion other Christians around the world.

      • Landon, it’s disappointing you want to get one up on Dover. You did not need to proclaim in public that you will pray for him. That is not how Jesus taught us to pray, in fact, it is what he said the hypocrites would do. I was glad you shared on this blog and engaged in the conversation but if you want to truly engage you will have to make an investment of your heart and get your hands dirty. And, get to know the broken, messed up ‘church’ rejects. There is a difference between anger and hate. Thinking about fundamentalism makes me angry, as well. I can understand how that anger can spill over and be pointed at people who use their religious training to claim the high ground with Jesus while dismissing those who are not in agreement. I see how fundamentalism leads people to argue their points so they can appear right or make great repudiations rather than be open towards someone who thinks differently and then feign concern about someone’s well being after they have been summarily dismissed while smiling with self satisfaction. I see how fundamentalism can lead people to say I love you in one breath, then pity you or call you a false Christian in another breath. I see how fundamentalism uses the Bible to strain out a verse to prove their point but only extend fake compassion to bolster their image as they flaunt their ‘God-Speak” publicly. I see how fundamentalism can cause people to spend countless wasteful hours digging in the scripture to pull out a verse that justifies themselves then lowers others in estimation while in those hours people were in need of grace and understanding and assistance. I see how fundamentalism despises the weak, the meek, the poor, the broken and those who cry and despair, because fundamentalism teaches they are not strong enough in God or faithful enough or bold enough or of ‘good courage’ enough or enduring enough, because fundamentalism teaches we get all our power and strength from God but we all know we are required to strengthen and encourage each other and that is where God is sending his blessing… to give us the ability to love and bless others. I see how fundamentalism uses fear and hell fire and to trap and coerce people into a believe that can become a facade rather than give people human dignity and self determination, so much so, some become paralysed, depressed and a rolled up ball of anxiety. All of this makes me angry, makes me sick, makes me see, makes me pause. If Dover can’t hold back his anger I suspect it’s not because he hates you as much as he hates fundamentalism and has seen with his own eyes the damage it has done to children of God.

      • Thanks Kathy. I think the basic problem is that they do not have the capacity to understand what we are saying here. As set forth in Romans 14, I think people like John, you, me, and assorted others here have a higher, deeper, and better understanding of the Christian faith as a whole than the fundies who come here—including the blog post by the fundie preacher that Landon cited—a person I have actually corresponded with in the past. They are all the people the Apostle Paul refers to as “weak Christians” in Romans 14. Some of them may be 90 years old, but their growth in the faith was stunted and sidetracked down perverse paths, and they are not smart enough or “Holy Spirit sensitive” enough to realize that has happened to them. I do not hate old Landon. If he were injured and needed to go to the hospital, I would be the first one in line to take him. However, people like him grieve my heart deeply because they are willfully and blindly missing out on so much that is good, wise, useful, and valuable in the Christian faith.

  64. Brother John (Pavlovitz) you have certainly ‘stirred them up.’ 🙂 My appreciation for you and agreement with you is 100% through all 11 thoughts on the ‘Christian’ scriptures. Thank you for living ‘at risk’ so that a little more light will shine. Please keep the trumpet to your mouth. You bring a prophetic word to a religion steeped in ignorance embedded in traditions much older than Judaism. Blessings upon you and your ‘oikos.’

    • Thanks James. Again, I would just like to emphasize that the Christian fundamentalists who are being so critical of John and accusing him of not being a real Christian are adherents of a recent faith tradition that goes back only about 100 years here in the United States—where it was invented. They are a minority within Protestantism, and they are a far bigger minority when one looks at Christianity as a whole around the world. If you guys think I am angry and outrageous sometimes, you should see how fundies treat nonbelievers and other Christians when they are not a commenting guest on a blog like this one of John’s. They are mean, nasty, spiteful, heartless, straight-razor toting people—and the arguments between their preachers over minor differences in scriptural interpretation look like sponsored dogfights—which is especially odd because they claim there is no such thing as interpretation of scripture. God said one thing and one thing only, He meant one thing and one thing only, and they all 100 percent to a fundie man know what the one thing is—and anyone who says it means anything else cannot possible be a Christian—yet their preachers have these huge, mean dogfights over scripture. I tuned into one of them about 15 years and could not believe the level of meanness and viciousness that was being traded between these preachers over the tiniest and most unimportant aspects of scriptural interpretation.

      The fundies have another problem too, one that probably contributes to this viciousness. Their ranks are dying off and their churches are disappearing nationally. Millions of people have their “number,” know what they are like, and want nothing to do with their churches. Their own statistics show that 88 percent of the children raised in their churches leave those churches at age 18 and never come back to those churches or other churches like them for the rest of their lives. Te fundies blame the “evil world for this. The raw truth of the matter is that the fundies can say to themselves—and should: “We have met our own worst enemies and the enemies of God—and they are us.” Benjamin Franklin said it best of churches and religious establishments like theirs:

      “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, ‘tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

      —Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Richard Price. October 9, 1790

      Here is one very good example of how fundies have been cutting their own throats for the past 100 years and why they have become so desperate as their numbers dwindle toward nothing. Please read the following blog post by me and watch the film at the end of the post:


      • No lady. In the beginning was God, and He later gave the word to men if you are talking about the Bible. This scripture is not talking about the Bible. The Bible is not the “Word.” Jesus himself is the Word, which is why it is capitalized in the Bible. It is talking about Jesus—not the pages in a book. Most Christian theologians understand that basic point.

  65. Tom Elmore said:

    “Some would like us to believe that THEY have such gifts today. But they assuredly do not. As Paul said to the Galatians – “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

    You know damned well that this verse is speaking about a specific false gospel being taught in that ancient time and place, one that had nothing to do with what John Pavlovitz believes, and the Apostle Paul who wrote it never met John Pavlovitz or knew anything about his theology. If you know the history of the Christian church, you also know that much of the Mediterranean world and many followers of Jesus in it were earnestly struggling to understand the true meaning of the “Jesus Experience and Events.” I would suggest that you use the scripture above as a mirror so you can better see yourself in it. You will recall that multitudes followed Jesus. Today multitudes are fleeing from fundie churches like yours—not because the world is evil—but rather because they understand that Christian fundamentalism is devoid of Christ’s love and represents a largely false view of the real Christian faith. Come on over to my place and read about all the fundie evil. It is the best mirror in town:


  66. This is great. John Pavlovitz is no longer the world’s greatest threat to Christian fundamentalist BS. I am now, and the fundies are praying for me. If you folks out there really want to pray for me and change my mood and outlook:

    1) You can pray for the healing my best friend’s disease that is consuming her and destroying her family in the process.

    2) You can pray for my healing from the wasting disease that will eventually cause both of my lower legs to be amputated.

    3) You can pray for me to find a happy and good-paying job that does not involve standing all day (bad legs problem again) so i can support my family again. Over the past 2 years of unemployment, we have spent more than 20 percent of our retirement savings just to live on and meet the basic needs of day-to-day life in this country—and the spending down towards abject poverty continues on unabated—and my eligible retirement age is not here yet. You can also pray for the many millions of other older Americans “just like me,” who have also been out of work for multiple years, because no one wants to hire an old person that really knows what they are doing and has an excellent and successful personal work ethic. And no, I was not dead wood, I did not cause trouble at the office, etc. I committed the terrible sin of working for a nice Christian man—one of the best men I have ever known and still is—who lost a major government contract to local politics (actual company performance was rated A+++++ by our client—and my boss was forced to lay off nearly all of his very excellent employees and close down his office building—where he got stuck with a 2-year, $30,000 lease that had to be paid by him even though the building was for all practical purposes empty for that 2 years. You might pray for him too.

    You prayers will not change my opinions about Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. Indeed, my church and Christian denomination feels more or less the same way about it—best I can tell. They are just not as vocal about it as i am. However, things might be better around the house here if the above issues could be resolved.

  67. Are you kidding? “the same yesterday, today, and forever” must be a lie! The Bible is absolutely true for any situation the 21st century world hands out–Jesus and His Word do NOT change, regardless of culture or time period. Very distrustful take on the Scriptures.

    • My Honda van may have a problem with sudden and unexpected acceleration, like going of its own volition 35-40 mph down my nearly 45 degree driveway. What does scripture indicate that I should do about this problem?

        • The Honda van may really have the problem, but that was not my point. In the area where I live, we have signs all over the place that say “Jesus Is the Answer.” Apparently, Jesus and the Bible have all the answers to everything; therefore, I shall expect to see an answer about my van from either Jesus or the Bible. If one does not show up, I will conclude what I have suspected all along—fundies are liars who write checks neither Jesus nor the Bible are willing to cash.

  68. It’s relieving to discover that genuinely pious individuals are willing to step back a bit to reevaluate the authority of the Bible. This is an essential step in understanding what constitutes real religious principles. The first thing an intelligent individual should do BEFORE placing all their faith in any tradition or process is research its origin and the reliability of their core scriptures. An astute individual wishing to learn any particular discipline will first check the credentials of the teacher and the textbooks prior to enrolling in the class and the same principal holds true in the pursuit of spiritual acumen.

    Those who have even a basic understanding of how today’s nicely bound version of the Bible evolved over the last 2000 years know that nothing in it can really be considered reliable. Whatever Jesus said was not even written down until many years after he was hung on the cross. Anyone who has played the “Telephone” game knows what that means. Everything else was compiled from a wide array of Jewish laws collected from various tribes and communities when King Constantine insisted that the new sect that had formed under the “Christian” title canonize their beliefs into one doctrine. That process began approximately 300 years after Jesus was crucified at the council of Nicia and since then the text has undergone numerous changes over the years due to numerous social, theological, historical and political influences. To accept the text we have today as the literal word of God may provide some sentimental comfort for those who are historically naive, but it can hardly stand up to rigorous philosophical scrutiny.

    From a historically academic point of view the contents of the Bible is hardly more than a collection of moral commentaries collected over the last 2000 years by the scribes, poets, village priests, politicians, and kings that contributed to its contents. The inconsistencies, contradictions and confusion that surround the Bible are of no surprise to those who understand this fundamental point. So it is somewhat encouraging to discover that at least some Christian ministers are daring enough to share their realizations about this, yet once the reliability of the Bible becomes suspect, the entire Christian tradition becomes compromised. That is why the die-hard evangelicals are reticent about NOT peeking around the curtain to see what the more astute Christians are slowly becoming more vocal about.

    Once the Bible becomes suspect then the next logical question which rises up is: “How then can we better understand the will of God if the Bible is not reliable?” For some it is simply a matter of what they “Feel.” However that becomes a very slippery slope right down into the pit of all the concocted New Age rhetoric that no thoughtful transcendentalist can take seriously. For the most part, the Western world is primarily familiar with the Judeo/Christian/Islamic traditions and they know very little about the legitimate teachings from the Vedas. A select few are fortunate enough to encounter the bona-fide teachers of that tradition who ameliorate the philosophical difficulties that undermine other faiths.

    The origin of the Vedas are understood to come directly from Veda Vyasa, who was the literary incarnation of God and he provided a very clear insight into every aspect of life in very thorough and scientific accuracy. He clearly explains that only God can declare what real religious principles are and then he further states who God has empowered to teach the mass of mankind about those religious principles.

    “Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although fully situated in the mode of goodness, even the great rsis who occupy the topmost planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, ordinary human beings, Vidyadharas and Caranas.” 19

    “Lord Brahma, Bhagavan Narada, Lord Siva, the four Kumaras, Lord Kapila [the son of Devahuti], Svayambhuva Manu, Prahlada Maharaja, Janaka Maharaja, Grandfather Bhisma, Bali Maharaja, Sukadeva Gosvami and I myself know the real religious principle.” 20

    “My dear servants, this transcendental religious principle, which is known as bhagavata-dharma, or surrender unto the Supreme Lord and love for Him, is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature. It is very confidential and difficult for ordinary human beings to understand, but if by chance one fortunately understands it, he is immediately liberated, and thus he returns home, back to Godhead.” – Srimad Bhagavat Purana, Canto 6. “Prescribed Duties For Mankind” Chapter 3. “Yamaraja Instructs His Messengers,” Text 19-21.

    I admire the priests who have the guts to say what is obvious to the secular world about the controversial nature of the Bible. Yet at the same time I sense a futility in their attempt to rescue the Bible from complete obsolesces. One can attempt to plug the hole in the hull of a damaged boat, but at some point when those holes become too big or too many more holes occur the boat is destined to sink. At that point a wise individual will seek rescue in a safer vessel.

    When to jump ship is a personal decision which no doubt will at first involve a lot of turmoil, doubts and uncertainty. However for those who may be ready to take that leap I am happy to suggest you consider the teaching of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the 15th century incarnation of Krishna, who began the worldwide Sankirtan movement. The best way to begin that education is to read the “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” translated by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is recognized by scholars, linguists, historians, and theologists world-wide for his extraordinary literary contribution in this regard. I encourage everyone wishing to restore their lost relationship with the Supreme Personailty of Godhead to take this suggestion very seriously. What do you have to lose? If Lord Caitanyas teachings do not speak to your soul, you may continue with what you currently have. I am also available to answer further questions on this matter to anyone reading this commentary.

    Thank you.
    mayesvara dasa / Ojai, California / (805) 640-0405 / mdjagdasa @ gmail.com

  69. Although a personal believer in the “errency” of the Bible, the first “official” book for my Bible journey was the book, “The First Christmas.” Then I took the Great Courses on history of the Bible to learn that there were likely three authors of the early Old Testament plus some stories brought by the Jews when they were freed from Babylon. Then I learn that most mainstream pastors already know the history and that the Bible is parabolic. Then I studied very hard the real story of Jesus and that is when I became a committed Christian–the bravest, greatest, most revolutionary man in history. I think many pastors are afraid to tell their congregations their real beliefs because of the furor likely to result. But, if we don’t look at your ten reasons and give at least some thought, prayer and acceptance, we will continue to see more “non’s” among the Millennials and our congregations will continue to wither.

    • Hi Alan. What you have said here actually comes out in a famous debate between Bart Ehrman and a professor at a Christian college. Basically, the Baptist professor admits in the debate that there is a lot of margin for error in beliefs about the Bible and that understanding the Bible is not as clear-cut, pat, and easy as many of their church members are led to believe. In really good seminaries, even evangelical ones, all of the various arguments and conflicts about the meanings of scripture are taught and discussed in a civil and noncondescending manner—and the seminary students quickly learn there are indeed (historically and otherwise) legitimate differing views on the meaning of scripture. The professors and seminary students can handle that bottle of nitroglycerin wisely. The real trouble comes when they become pastors and have to deal with the people who sit in their pews. For example:

      1) When they preach and teach in churches after graduation, they have to preach and teach to the lowest common denominator sitting in the pews—and they have to be brief about it. Why? Mrs. Mason, Joe Elder, Ms. Farnsworth, and numerous other people in the congregation have the brain capacity and attention span of a NAVEL ORANGE. I know that sounds cruel, but it is true—and most church ministers know it. It is much easier to simply say: “I believe this…and so should you too.” The pastor may have his own doubts when he says “I believe this,” and he knows all of the many arguments from seminary surrounding that “:I believe ” statement—and some of them make him uneasy in his own Christian walk. However, he knows a frank discussion of those issues in detail and in all of their many legitimate or potentially legitimate facets with the members of his congregation would go right over their heads—in one ear and right out the other. Maybe five people out of every 100 have enough academic skills to truly follow such a long lecture, follow it really well, and fully understand it. Most preachers find that barrier impossible to overcome—so the congregation gets a necessarily simple, narrow, and limited view in sermons.

      2) Many pastors, including evangelical ones, have to be wary and constantly on guard against members of the congregation, especially powerful and well-moneyed people in the community—and the people who are just by personality, genetics, or whatever—-some of the meanest, most conceited, power hungry assholes who ever lived. And they are often women. Coping with them as a church leader is extremely difficult, and there is always the potential for some flare-up that could cause the preacher to lose his job. If any preacher ever tells you different, he is lying through his teeth. Seminary students take academic courses on how to best manage these “people problems.” In addition, this is why many pastors will not let you get socially and/or emotionally close to them or their family members—at least not as close as many church members would like to be. It is not always a matter of limited time, a need for privacy, a busy schedule, or a need for personal space. The baseline fact of the matter is that ALL church members are regarded by the pastor as potential threats to him and his family because of what could “come out” if people are allowed to get “too close.”

      You may think that your Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical preacher is strongly pro-life because he says so in his sermons. However, if you were to be as close to him as his old friend Tom Bowers that he grew up with 40 years ago and has loved like a brother all his life—you might find out different. He and Tom quietly talk about private things he would never talk over with a stranger, another friend, or another preacher—too dangerous—word might get out. The preacher knows from seminary that the pro-life position is tenuous at best and is founded on a truly tortured and contortionist view of scripture—because the Bible never directly addresses the subject. For example, no less of a famous conservative evangelical pastor that Dr. W.A. Criswell himself at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas was a strong abortion supporter in the late 1960s and early 1970s because he knew that scripture is weak to nonexistent at best on the subject of abortion. A few months ago, a well regarded, conservative evangelical pastor confessed privately that he was pro-abortion, even though from the pulpit he encouraged the members of his congregation to be anti-abortion. His confession statement went something like the following (my best paraphrasing):

      “From my own understanding of holy scripture, and I know all the arguments pro and con, it is not at all clear to me that abortion is a Biblical sin. The Bible does not directly address the subject, and it is hard to get there definitively with scripture. However, I have to preach an anti-abortion view from the pulpit for two reasons:

      A) That is what the higher up leadership in my church organization expects me to preach because they are arch conservatives.

      B) Completely apart from scripture, the conservatives in the Republican Party have made abortion such a “hot button” political issue that we pastors are no longer free to disagree with our church members on abortion—no matter what we think scripture really says.or does not say on the subject—. our church members would fire us from our jobs in a minute if we disagreed with them—and I am not the only conservative evangelical pastor who feels this way. Unfortunately, in spite of what scripture says or does not say on abortion, it has become a situation where the tail in the church pews truly is wagging the dog of the church on abortion—and many of us preachers see no way out if we want to keep putting food on the table for our families.”

      • Kathy. It depends on the pastor and his particular church situation. Some feel it more than others—and some would no doubt say that they feel no such pressure at all. But the problem remains that pastors usually serve at the pleasure of a congregation that has the power to fire them. “God may have called you to preach—but we can fire you.” After I left my old Southern Baptist church many years ago, they hired a new pastor that had a long history of splitting churches in half with discord—and he would always leave shortly thereafter. Another local pastor of the same denomination told me about that history—a history my old church apparently failed to identify during the hiring process. They found out about it later on when he split my old church in half. It was my understanding that he insisted to the congregation as a whole that the proper position of any preacher in any church should be (searching for the right words here):

        “Unquestionable and Untouchable Lord High Ruler and Master of the Church and Everyone in It”

        Apparently, He believed that this was the proper, Biblical role of any pastor in any church. A portion of the congregation either bought into that or was at least willing to tolerate it—even if they did not fully go along with it—-and another very larger chunk of the church (Old Middle Tennessee expression coming up) thought the new pastor was “as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.” They left the church en masse and started a new church in Knoxville that later became a huge megachurch called the Faith Promise Church:


      • P.S. Kathy. This is copied and pasted from the Faith Promise Church website:

        “What denomination is Faith Promise Church?

        Faith Promise Church is an autonomous, self-governing group. We have chosen to participate with other groups of churches for missions, evangelism and support. In this effort, we support missions individually and corporately. (For a listing of our core beliefs click here.)”

        Dover Translation:

        We are a traditional, highly conservative, basically fundie Southern Baptist Convention church operating in disguise as a nondenominational church because potential new members would run away before even getting to our front door if they new what our church is really like.

  70. John Pavlovitz said, “I have encountered God in reading and studying the Bible, but I have also realized its limitations and the way that it has been a source of pain and damage for so many when those limitations are ignored. To many the Bible is an all-or-nothing proposition (you either view it as completely true or completely worthless) but I believe that it, like God, is far more complex and nuanced than that.”

    I too have experienced God by reading the Bible. I was raised Catholic and was an altar boy in our large Roman Catholic Church in Superior, WI where I attended grade school & junior high school at the Cathedral Junior High School, right across the street from the church. Yet, I knew that there was just not a complete accurate representation of the Absolute Truth inherent in my faith or practice of Christianity as done so by my fellow class mates or leaders, priests, etc. I, therefore, refrained from being “confirmed” into my high school years because I could see that others were doing it – just because it was what everyone was doing; and not necessarily because those who were doing it really felt their spiritual beliefs and experience would be given a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.

    I therefore continued for the next 25 years in search of that greater “Absolute Truth” I felt was missing from my experience of being raised as a “Christian”. I joined numerous other Christian sects & churches, practiced meditation, did yoga, tried other paths like the Native American ways, Pagan ways (“Nature Spiritualists”), various spiritual paths from India, and a variety of New Age “paths” and practices. I mean, I really JOINED those others in those other paths – I prayed with them, hung out with them, studied with them, participated in choirs, and other numerous social gatherings. I dug into the heart of their own personal experiences with what they were experiencing as the spiritual truths of their religion, practice, and/or faith.

    A recent comment by “mayesvara dasa” was:

    “Once the Bible becomes suspect then the next logical question which rises up is: “How then can we better understand the will of God if the Bible is not reliable?” For some it is simply a matter of what they “Feel.” However that becomes a very slippery slope right down into the pit of all the concocted New Age rhetoric that no thoughtful transcendentalist can take seriously. For the most part, the Western world is primarily familiar with the Judeo/Christian/Islamic traditions and they know very little about the legitimate teachings from the Vedas. A select few are fortunate enough to encounter the bona-fide teachers of that tradition who ameliorate the philosophical difficulties that undermine other faiths.”

    — It wasn’t until I started hearing from the “swamis” or truly bona-fide teachers of the “Vedas” as represented by what is known in our culture as the “Hare Krishnas”, that I was firmly convinced of a much more complete and accurate representation of the Absolute Truth, or the Fullness of who God Himself really was.

    As John Pavlovitz, again said; “To many the Bible is an all-or-nothing proposition (you either view it as completely true or completely worthless) but I believe that it, like God, is far more complex and nuanced than that.”

    Not only were the “Vedas” philosophically more more in-depth and complete, but they explained in great, voluminous detail the “complexities” (as John Pavlovitz is referring to) that God Himself is infinitely composed of. Those particular followers of the “Vedas”, the “Hare Krishnas”, and in particular the “swamis” of the Hare Krishnas, led lives of great purity and strict religious, day-to-day, observances unlike I’d ever seen