Christians Need to Stop Saying “The Bible Clearly Says”

A reader recently shared the following declaration, and it’s one I’ve heard about a billion times—give or take a few hundred thousand:

“The Bible clearly says…”

He said it, as so many Christians do: matter-of-factly, definitively, and without a trace of suspicion that he could be wrong.

And he is wrong.

The Bible doesn’t clearly say very much, and we who claim the Christian faith need to be able to admit this—especially when encountering moments of disagreement on what we believe it says. Regardless of the topic at hand, there is probably less clarity than the person suggesting it would have us believe:

Is the Bible clear on violence?

We see Jesus condemning it, and then we see God both commanding it and prohibiting it. Turns out the Bible clearly sometimes says violence is abhorrent to God and sometimes God fully authorizes it—which leaves us to determine when and how violence is redemptive. We get to determine its clarity, and that clarity usually mirrors our biases and preferences—and the verse we choose to justify them.

Is the Bible clear on marriage being between one man and one woman?

Many of the Patriarchs had concubines and multiple wives, and yet they were the presented pillars of God’s people, with such realities rarely presented as deficiencies. King Solomon had 700 wives—and yet God does not get angry at the number of wives, but the fact that they are not from among the Israelites. So when did God finally “make it clear” what marriage was and wasn’t? Is there one catch-all verse that decides that matter and overrides all the other verses?

Is the Bible clear on the existence of a literal hell where bad people go to suffer eternally?

Throughout the entire Old Testament the idea of a literal hell is nearly nonexistent. Jesus refers to a place translated from the word Gehenna, which was a literal perpetually burning, local dumping ground. When he references afterlife suffering, the actual offenses are vague and numerous. Sometimes Hell is promised for religious hypocrites, sometimes for harboring angry hearts, sometimes for neglecting the poor, sometimes for unbelief. And the majority of the New Testament writings including Paul’s letters are absent the word Hell and any graphic images of eternal damnation. So how can the Bible be described as clear on the matter of hell when the existence of it, and the specific ways of entering it or avoiding it are not consistent?

The Bible also seems to clearly: affirm stoning non believers, view menstruation and semen as spiritually unclean, imply that faithful sick people will all get well. I don’t think we’d universally agree to any of these things.

When someone says “The Bible clearly says,” they are usually referring to the specific verse they are using, in the context they’ve decided this verse is appropriate, and independent of any other verses that might argue an alternative viewpoint. They are cherry-picking where and when to decide clarity based on what they want God to say: when God sounds most like them.

I can tell a fellow Christian that the Bible clearly says that Christians are to love God and to love their neighbor as themselves—and they’ll argue what loving someone looks like, until their definition of love aligns with their hateful behavior. 

If the Bible were as clear as Christians claimed it is, then each of us who have read and studied it would come to the same conclusions on every matter—and clearly we have not. That’s because the it isn’t a textbook, it’s a traveling companion.

The Bible is a sprawling 66-book library, written over thousands of years by dozens of authors in multiple languages—professing to speak of the deepest truths about the creation of all matter, the beginning and end of life on the planet as well as beyond it, and about the Maker of everything and everyone. We’d better have some ambiguity about it all—or we’ve discovered a God who is small enough to fit entirely inside our three-pound brains or our current belief system.

The Bible is filled with mystery and wonder—and it should be. If it isn’t, that’s a problem. The Bible attempts to describe in mere words, something ultimately well beyond any words. We need to wield these words with great humility, never imagining we have it all figured out, never believing that God always agrees with us—
and being very hesitant to claim clarity when it comes to the souls of another human being that we would send to Hell or put through Hell here.

That much, is clear.


202 thoughts on “Christians Need to Stop Saying “The Bible Clearly Says”

  1. As always , very insightful. Thank you for your wisdom and the courage to speak out and most of all your humility.

  2. The only thing I see the Bible speaking pretty clearly and consistently about is the need for God’s people to care for their poorest and most vulnerable neighbors.

    (And whoever you may be that wishes to bring in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which in the KJV said, “If any would not work, neither should he eat,” please pay attention to the context, as well as the changing meaning of the word “would” over the last 400 years. This one part of one verse should not be taken as a contradiction to the evidence throughout the Bible that God expects us to look out for one another, especially those who are in need.)

    • I agree. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals consistently misuse that one verse in an attempt to negate the 2,000 other Bible verses where God commands his people to care for the poor and issues grave warnings/consequences to those who try various clever means to tip-toe around those 2,000 verses. Personally, I would rather that they just be honest and say out loud what their hearts really tell them:

      “I work hard for my money, and I am not going to help any person with it except for me and the members of my family that treat me right.”

      That would be so utterly refreshing and honest.

  3. I read this to my 79 yr old retired minister husband and he said, “Well done good and faithful servant”. I say Amen to that. My read has always been, quit going on about the negatives or the do nots and take on the positives, the do’s. Love everyone and try as best you can to take care of the least, I will leave all that other stuff to God. He/She is much smarter and bigger than I am. It is not my place to throw stones or marginalize anyone. My beliefs say that God will be pleased with that. Peace and Love,

  4. Too often I’m guilty as charged.

    It’s clear, I need to keep my mouth closed (typing hands still-er) and my “secret heart” open, more.

    Vanity (SMH).

  5. John the problem as I see it is that Christians try to utilize OT arguments in an NT era and even then your statement still rings true to a point. If the Christ event reset our relationship with God and each other then to use the OT to justify behaviors and attitudes that are clearly non-Christian is the height of hypocrisy and an attempt to control the argument to our own sometimes dishonest ends. There is a lot of clarity in the NT of who and what we are and especially who and what we are struggling to be. We are called to be Jesus active and present in the world and to use the OT to justify incompatible behaviors confuses everyone.

    • The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have a really big problem—the Old Testament. One of the founding purposes of their movement was to save the whole Bible from destruction by popular German theologians of the 19th century that they disagreed with. “Save the Bible!!!” Repeat that 10 times. “Save the Bible!!!”

      God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit dissolved the Old Testament covenant because the Jews broke it in the worst kind of way—by killing Jesus. God walked out on them and left their house desolate—just as Jesus said. The old covenant does not apply to Christians, and it never applied to gentiles at any time in human history BECAUSE it was an exclusive covenant between God and Israel.

      I sometimes think the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are scared the Old Testament will disappear from the face of the Earth under the jettisoning acts taken against it by God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, 12 disciples, and apostles in the New Testament. Desperate—and I do mean desperate—in their attempts to save the Old Testament, they use one short verse in II Timothy to resurrect the whole Old Testament, place the Old Testament Law back into effect (minus the ritual law—and even some of that that they cherry pick), and effectively re-implement the Old Covenant and its laws. This is madness, heresy, and counter to the expressed will of God in the New Testament.

      I am not advocating the elimination of the Old Testament, a brief heresy that the church stood up against at one time, I am simply saying that the Old Testament should be kept because it can be useful for certain things if used in a wise, loving, Christ-like manner (which it most often is not), and the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical attempts to reinstitute the Old Testament law and pretend that the Old Covenant is still in effect for Christians is indeed heresy—because the New Testament teaches against it.

      The Old Testament has become a stumblingblock for Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals—and it is destroying their credibility, witness, and movement in the eyes of onlookers—just as one would expect such a stumbling block to do—and their intense strivings to carefully piece together the incompatible and unpieceable between the Old Testament and the New Testament makes them and their movement look silly and foolish—not because the things of God always look foolish to men—but because in reality—these strange “knittings” they do are not of God and they really are just plain silly and foolish.

  6. Personally, I don’t see the value in questioning the bible, because if you question the truth of one thing, why would anything be true?

    However, the bible clearly says, [in the OT], that it was sinners (not ‘unbelievers’) that were stoned because sin could not live in God’s presence. However, many unbelievers were swept away in violence, as God made an example to his People that unholiness cannot stand w holiness.

    The bible clearly says, that the Jews looked forward to Heaven to be reunited with their Father Abraham, and they did not want to be separated from him (which would be Hell).

    The bible clearly says that God did not condone multiple marriages, and he did exact judgment on anyone that practiced it. Polygamy / & sex slaves were customs of the pagan nations. And they still are.

    • Uh? Leslie. In the Old Testament, dead people did not go to heaven—a rare live one like Elijah—but not dead people. All dead people went to Sheol—-which was the grave. No one lived again. Sorry. Please study your Bible more closely instead of just thumping it. Thanks!!!

    • leslie m, admitting we do not know all and understand all is not “questioning” the Bible per se. Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

      It is a hubris I do not see God ever intended to claim to know everything is so “clear” when people of devout faith do not even agree. 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

      Acts 10:34-35 “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Do you understand that leslie?

    • P.S. Leslie. Because a writer got one fact wrong in your morning newspaper, the entire paper should be rejected? Because you did some bad parenting one morning, you are no longer a credible parent and should give your child up for adoption? You are spouting an old Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical maxim that was designed to protect the puny thoughts of fallible men within the fundie community. No one takes this seriously—-even in the wider Christian community—because the whole notion is just plain stupid and does not pass even the simplest credibility test.

  7. I agree with your view. However, one needs to be careful that when assigning ambiguity to the bible on a subject or theme, that we’re not neglecting the authority of scripture to justify our personal bias. That mistake is as easy to make as the one you describe It is a two-edged sword…. but didn’t someone say that?

  8. Even in places where the Bible does not contradict itself, it still doesn’t clearly say anything. Set your Bible in front of you and listen. Crickets. The Bible doesn’t have the power of speech. It has text on the page that each of us interprets according to the way we were taught to read, who our teachers were and what they taught us, as well as the effect of our life experiences. The last is particularly important as it explains whey something that we read a decade ago, or even yesterday, might suddenly make an entirely different kind of sense today.

    And that doesn’t even begin to touch the problems of iffy translation.

    • Have you heard the theory about the camel and the eye of the needle? I have always found that metaphor odd: why a camel, What a strange analogy. Some scholars claim it is a bad translation. The word for camel the animal was the same as that for that of a rope made out of camel hair much like glass can be a window or something to drink out of. “Hand me that camel so I can tie this boat” they might have said.

      It is easier for a thick rope to fit through an eye of a needle …

      Thoughts anyone?

      • That was one of the examples given in my first-year university class, “Introduction to the New Testament”, to illustrate the difficulties of translation.

        In a second-year course using the text “Gospel Parallels” by Burton Throckmorton, we compared the stories side by side as they were given by each Gospel writer. That was eye opening in showing that the accounts in the Bible are not always in agreement.

        • Yes. Set the gospels side-by-side, read them, and one does find clear contradictions. Remember the old TV shows where a main character died in one season, but the script writers come up with a very clever and imaginative story line to bring them back to life a season or two later. The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are aware of all these contradictions and have thought up clever and quite imaginative explanations for them—any BS they can find to keep up the equally BS Biblical inerrancy charade. I have actually saw a fundie list of these imaginative notions about 20 years ago. “Oh, there is no contradiction there. Those were two different sets of women who visited the tomb of Jesus—probably one or two hours apart.” Sure it was—just like the speed of light miraculously slows itself down to a crawl to accommodate some idiotic idea about young earth creationism.

          • “I believe everything in the bible is completely true, even the parts that contradict the other parts”
            -Bart Simpson

            • I am reminded of a Marcus Borg event I attended. He said something along the lines of “The Bible isn’t completely factual, but the truth can be found in it.”

                • Might be helpful if you said who you are responding to. It appears to be in response to my reply, but I didn’t make an “error claim”.

              • It seems to me that the statement “The Bible isn’t completely factual, but the truth can be found in it.” is a self-evident one.

                For instance, we know that Adam and Eve were not the only human beings until they had kids because Cain had a wife.

                We know by scientific fact that the earth was not created in six days of twenty-four hours.

                But there is still great truth in these passages because we are told that humanity is created out of love and in the image and likeness of God and that both genders equally reflect this Imagio Dei.

                We know that all of creation came into being by the command of God and the Creation story is a why for non-scientific minds to explain it.

                There are more such examples.

      • I have some thoughts Edwin. The image of a thick rope going through a needle makes more sense and is actually hopeful for rich people in this parable. A thick rope can be reduced and made as thin as a thread just as wealth can be reduced by sharing with those in need, which appears to be the point Jesus is making to wealthy people.

        What would the world look like if all the wealthy people gave up their riches , downsized their mansions and material things and used their money to help those in need ?

      • The Eye of the Needle was a very narrow gate in the wall around Jerusalem. In order for a loaded camel to enter, it had to be unloaded, the camel brought through and then the camel was reloaded.

        • So, Gloria, does that mean that rich people should periodically “unload” their wealth? and then re-earn it? Sort of like a Jubilee?

      • Here’s one explanation:

        “Some modern scholars are inclined towards the interpretation along the lines of St. Jerome and the gloss; namely, that the eye of the needle referred to a gate or gates in general which were for pedestrian traffic only and were low enough at the arch that only with great difficulty could a large animal such as a camel pass through the opening. You will find many guides in the Holy Land who favor this approach and it may reflect the reality, though I am not aware of historical evidence to prove this. It is interesting to note that the Jewish Talmud uses the image of an elephant passing through the eye of a needle to indicate that which is impossible. This inclines me towards the low gate theory, though I remain open to other approaches.”

        • Ya know, it really doesn’t matter whether he meant a gate or a real needle — the meaning is clear that rich people are not getting into heaven easily. I guess you can argue about not at all versus very little chance, but the meaning really is pretty clear in this case. Then add it to him telling the rich man to give away all he has to the poor to follow him, and you get the message that rich is not good. Exactly the opposite of what Americans tend to believe.

  9. John,
    You make some good points, there are some places of seeming ambiguity or contextual, seeming incongruity in places, and there are definitely deep and profound mysteries – like where does my responsibility to act and God’s sovereignty and purpose meet, or goodness, the Trinity – but there are other things that do become close to crystal if we allow the Bible to be taken as a whole, integrated narrative between God and humanity. You mentioned marriage, but you have bought the, ahem, Liberal theological viewpoint that because it is recorded in Scripture it is therefore encouraged by Scripture; the difference between the descriptive and the prescriptive.

    You said that God did not condemn Solomon for his multiple marriages, but that isn’t true. The story of Solomon in each of it’s recordings is a condemning one when we hold it up next to Deuteronomy 17, where God’s stipulations for future kings are spelled out explicitly. “The king must not take for himself many wives or his heart will be led astray.” All that Solomon did, in his “wisdom” was evil in the sight of God and began the destruction of the Israelite Kingdom (punctuated in his failure to adhere to the law’s stipulation in raising his Son Rehoboam to know and fear the Lord, leading to the split into two nations).

    All that to say, if you merely take sections of Scripture and fail to understand them in context, like the multiple forms of Ancient Near East marriage, you may think God is alright with them. Or you may fail to understand the difference between description and prescription. The marriage that God has blessed in the OT is that of a man marrying a woman and covenanting with her for life. A secondary form that he prescribed for the good of his peoole, in order to preserve their inheritance and livelihood, was levirate marriage in order to redeem and bless a woman who would otherwise be destitute and may sin in her extremity.

    So maybe we should say, the Bible, when understood in it’s whole counsel, instructs us this way. I could forgive someone who has really spent time in the word and understands how it connects saying, “The Bible clearly says.” What concerns me is the implication that God’s word is somehow confusing, inscrutable, or contradictory. It simply isn’t. There was once an entity that said, “surely you won’t die (implying that God’s word was wrong, indescernable, or duplicitous)…

    • Steve. i agree w you. And having the same attitude of God’s Word that Satan did, is something I avoid. The Holy Spirit is the one that unveils the Truth. When I was born-again, & decided to believe Jesus, the veil & shadow over the Word of God (the bible) was lifted. Every word made sense. There are no contradictions. The bible clearly teaches that GOD values LIFE, GOD hates SIN, and there is a WAY OUT of eternal damnation: Faith in the One He sent.

      • leslie m.

        Jesus opposed many teachings from the Old Testament– are you saying he is contradicting himself or could it be that he is saying Moses and other faithful people of God were not yet perfect in their understanding of him?

        If God does not change then we have to explain why Jesus taught some radical things which opposed Jewish laws and Jewish teachers. It can then be understood that Jesus came to clear up the misunderstandings his people said about him– which kept people separated from God and from each other.

        Form example we know the Israelites thought eating pork was sin and made laws against it. But, God told Peter in a vision (three times !) the prohibited food was not only permitted for consumption but they are good.

        it is written in the Bible that Jesus said, ” “You must stop calling unclean what God has made clean.”

        It is written in the Bible Peter was perplexed and it wasn’t clear to him right away– you see?

        • Beamer wrote “It can then be understood that Jesus came to clear up the misunderstandings his people said about him– which kept people separated from God and from each other.”

          God never changes. But what does change is our ability to comprehend. I understand much differently at this point in my life than I did in my teens, twenties, etc. because I chose to grow in my faithand walk the Mystic Path to which I am called.

          Had I stayed in the place where I was in my twenties, I would have remained someone who hated other people exactly as some people here hate other people.

          I justified that hate exactly as they do here. But I prayed, worshiped, adored, offered thanks, read, and got educated in accredited schools of outstanding reputation, not some podunk Bible college which exists to brainwash people.

          • Who says God never changes ? In the story of Hezekiah God decided to shorten his life then changed his mind and decided to extend his life.

            When people say God doesn’t change what the heck do they mean anyway ?

              • God does change. He changes his mind about things He plans to do. He even repents of things that He does—all stated in the words of the Bible. Most theologians understand the idea of “I change not” to mean that God’s fundamental, baseline, and loving nature and character do not change. It does not mean that God cannot change his mind about something or do something different from what He originally planned. Theoretically, God—with whom all things are possible—could (if He wanted to do so) do something completely different from something He has said in te Bible—and his words will still be true. My only point here is that no God who is omniscient, eternal, and possessing of all power in parallel universes is bound by chains—even chains people mistakenly believe He has imposed on himself and that will work to their advantage so that they can use those to corral God, manipulate God, and get God him to cough up a blessing for them—like Charles Stanley does. Odd as it might seem, I like a rampant and free-wheeling God who is free to do as He pleases in his own universe. I find it very comforting and loving.

            • I think there may be a difference between God changing (which I would interpret as God’s essential being) and God changing God’s mind.

              My favourite example of God changing a previous decision is when Abraham argues him down about how many righteous would there need to be found to stop the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

              • Thanks Patricia that makes sense. And, I find certain christians think that God doesn’t change his mind either.

                Yet the Bible is full of examples of God changing his mind. IMO, here are some examples :
                — divorce,
                — polygamy,
                — eunuchs,
                — King Saul
                — Isarel’s captivity
                — unclean food
                — circumscion
                — Israel walking around in circles in the desert

                And certain christians say God will never ever change his mind about LGBT people.

                Who do they think they are to tell God how to think?

                • Beamer, it comes clearer and clearer to me on my journey with God, that many Christians say they know God but prove they do not. They cannot be sure that the man translated and edited words in the Bible mean that God has made known his mind or plan for the LGBTQ people. They do not even seem to think he was serious about the Sheeps and the Goats. They do not speak for God. How could they? They may know some scripture, but many do not know God.

                  My advice, that I took long ago, is live your life true to God’s love as you understand it and leave them to God. Only God can mend their heart and open their mind. However that has to manifest.

                  • Sandi, I have come to that determination as well.

                    You make a good point about LGBT people. God thinks about us, knows who we are deep inside and cares about us– even if certain christians don’t and I find that truth not only comforting but hopeful. 🙂

              • Patricia, I love that story of Abraham arguing with God about Sodom and Gomorrah. It speaks to me of just how intimate our prayer lives can be.

            • Gloriamarie, I think they are saying more about themselves than God. The God I believe in is not the same as the one I believed in as a child and probably no the same one that I will hopefully believe in in a year because I have evolved and opened my heart and mind to see something much bigger. Peace and Love,

            • Beamer, in Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

              You wrote “Hezekiah God decided to shorten his life then changed his mind and decided to extend his life.”

              I think you might be making a fairly simple and yet All Too Common mistake that Reformed Theologians make all the time.

              God does not experience time linearly. In fact God does not experience time at all. Time is a human construct. Another way to express is to say that God lives in an Eternal Present. God is omnitemporal (I think I made that word up).

              The point of this anecdote is not God changing God’s mind, but of Hezekiah’s repentance. Before God spoke through Isaiah, God already knew that Isaiah’s word would cause Hezekiah to choose repentance.

              Hope this helps.

              • Gloriamarie, interesting take on it. I hadn’t thought of the story that way.

                I applaud your use of omnitemporal 🙂

                • Beamer, I often feel that we unecessarily complicate our own reading of Scripture.

                  Recently read a tremendous book, probably available at the public library called What is the Bible by Rob Bell. Opened my eyes to some things, especially how much is lost in translation.

                  For instance, did you know that when it say that so and so put a hand under the thigh of a man to whom he was swearing an oath? The English is translated coyly because the hand did not go under the thigh at all but gripped the man’s dangly bits. Quite a show of trust on the part of the man to whom the oath is sworn.

                  Or when Naomi told Ruth to uncover the feet of Boaz, that’s not what the Hebrew says and Ruth uncovered a part of Boaz that women lack.

                  Other interesting tidbits to be gleaned from the right books. All very readable. Happy to supply you with a list, if you desire.

        • Hi Beamer. (hey, arent i the one who gave you your nick name? 😉

          –Believers don’t ever have to be ‘perfect’ in their understanding of God. It is our Faith (being in agreement w God, The Word) that justifies us. Complete Understanding is not available in this World.

          There are immutable Truths in the bible that we can comprehend:
          –God is the Creator
          –God wants a relationship with his Creation, Man.
          –God hates rebellion
          –God sent himself in the flesh to make his point about turning away from sin.
          –God is Holy.
          –Sin cannot exist along side God
          –God is Just, He Judges
          –God is Merciful, Loving, Compassionate
          –Eternal Heaven
          –Eternal Hell
          –Faith in Jesus / God of Abraham SAVES

          –Jesus followed every Jewish Law to the letter. He was the Perfect Jew. He didn’t contradict any of God’s Laws that had been given to the Jews. In the OT, God the Father was not thrilled with sacrifices of animals & blood, He always wanted their Heart! (their Faith). That has never changed, and will not change.

          Re the dietary Laws, after Salvation was opened to the Pagans, Jesus said, ‘it doesnt matter what you put in your mouth, it’s what comes out of your mouth that I care about. ‘ …but yes, old habits die hard. [It’s like when the cage door is open, some are reluctant to go outside of it, but eventually they get use to it, and go out –freedom!]

          • Hey leslie thanks for inspiring my nickname 🙂

            Of course faith is important but there needs to be a purpose for our faith and a product of our faith which is why I think Paul talks about the importance of good works.

            I don’t think you can have faith without the prescence or cultivation of good works.

  10. Although I use the phrase ‘The Bible clearly says…’ myself, I too am aware of its limitations. Because most of the time, it’s not clear. I’ve even written an article on that phrase myself.

    How’s that for a double standard? 😉

  11. Oh, thank you! It’s a traveling companion, not a textbook!

    “The Bible attempts to describe in mere words, something ultimately well beyond any words.” How can mere human words describe the majesty and mystery of God?

    • Just went off to read your rant, Dan. Good job.

      You brought up a point that I would like to emphasize: Stories in the Bible are just that, stories, meaning that they teach something through the use of characters and narrative, and they can be true without having actually happened.

      Your example of David and Goliath is well taken and your interpretation is interesting and enlightening.

      At the risk of enraging some folks here, I’ll add another example: the story of Jesus walking on the water. Lots of people have argued over whether it was possible that he literally walked on water, and have even come up with fanciful ideas such as saying that the storm had confused those experienced fishermen and the boat was actually so close to the shore that Jesus was simply walking on edge of the beach with a few inches of water over it. (Source: Bart Ehrman’s “The Historical Jesus.”)

      But why should that question really matter? The meaning of the story is about faith and willingness to trust and commit oneself, not about boats and seas. That meaning is equally true whether or not Jesus ever literally strode across the waves. We quibble over the wrong things.

      • Amen, quit sweating over the small stuff. Worry about the least and whether they have food, shelter and love. Peace,

      • Elene. Please feel free to take another detour at your leisure and read some on my blog at the following safe link:

        I dare say that every fundie in America is certain I am going to Hell when I die because I can do what they are not allowed to do—be critical of their own beliefs, thoughts, words, actions, and inactions.

    • loved this rant — I think many pastors know about how the Bible was collected and put together. As our priest said ” the Holy Spirit guided the hands that canonized the bible but we don’t really know if Paul wrote all those letter but maybe they were written by those who spoke to Paul and so on. If people really knew the truth it would cause a serious widespread case of doubt. My question is why don’t people look in to this more why do they take what a Pastor says as complete truth?

      • Beamer, it is a good thing to do one’s own listening to what the Spirit speaks to them.

        And I can see your point. I’ve sat in congregations and listened with trembling certainty the person in the pulpit had every ounce of book knowledge of Christ but no Spirit in them and no heart-knowing.

        And then again, I’ve known pastors that needn’t say a word; quiet as a mouse, who preached by living Spirit-like. I’ll take the latter.

        In truth, those who follow Christ are all ministers to those we meet. And the only way we can be ready, is by being quiet, and listening to Him within. Then speaking and acting out, in His manner to His honor.

        • Susan you made me think of this quote I found :

          “Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons they are vexations to the spirit” — Desiderata

          I think there is some truth to that, although (as I am thinking of the present situation in America) there is a time to be loud and aggressive– yet for the benefit of my heart– in small doses. 🙂

      • Beamer asked, “My question is why don’t people look in to this more why do they take what a Pastor says as complete truth?”

        Laziness? Don’t really care? Lack of intellectual acumen?

  12. THIS IS EXCELLENT. We have got to stop using the Bible as a weapon to beat each other up with and agree to disagree as adults do.

    “If the Bible were as clear as Christians claimed it is, then each of us who have read and studied it would come to the same conclusions on every matter—and clearly we have not.” Anyone with even only the most study of Church History knows this to be true. We do not 100% agree on what the Bible says.

    One thing that few of us, at least those of us in the West, remember is that the Hebraic mindset was different from the Greek/Latin mindset. To over-simplify, because what else can one do in the comments, the Hebraic mindset embraces the both/and while the Greek/Latin mindset is an either/or. We see that clearly in the Greek tragedies where the protagonist is forced into some horrible decision that will only ever have horrible results.

    Contrast this with the Psalms, for example. More than one of the Psalms contain what to the western mind appears to be contradictory but the Hebrew mind holds both in tension, both are true at the same time. It’s anachronistic to use the word but it’s dialectical.

    Another issue for me is that every translation is an interpretation. No translation can do justice to the original languages and this is something that is simply not stressed enough. I’ve been reading some books that have really opened my eyes to the very Hebrew nature of the Gospels and the letters of the Christian Scriptures. Happy to provide their names and authors, if any are interested.

    I wonder why so many of us feel like we need the Bible to clearly say something. I know there was a time when I would state assertively and authoritatively “the Bible clearly says” but I was much younger then than now and not as well educated as I later became.

    I know part of the reason I needed the Bible to speak to me clearly was that I had fear within me about life, the universe, and, well, everything and I needed it to make sense. But as I grew up, I realized life is ambiguous and there is no safety apart from embracing the identity God gave me.

      • Thank you, Steve. What I wrote is really only the tip of the iceberg but it’s a comment on a blog and how detailed can one really get?

        I see I made a mistake when I wrote ““If the Bible were as clear as Christians claimed it is, then each of us who have read and studied it would come to the same conclusions on every matter—and clearly we have not.” Anyone with even only the most study of Church History knows this to be true. We do not 100% agree on what the Bible says.”

        Well, that’s what I get for failing to proofread first. What I meant to say was “If the Bible were as clear as Christians claimed it is, then each of us who have read and studied it would come to the same conclusions on every matter—and clearly we have not.” Anyone with even only the briefest and superficial study of Church History knows this to be true. We do not 100% agree on what the Bible says.

        BTW, Steve, it’s Gloriamarie, all one word, only one capital letter at the beginning. Thanks.

    • “…every translation is an interpretation” is a superb summation of the biggest problem in deciding what the Bible (or any translated book) means.

      For those who are so sure they understand every word and have the ONLY true understanding, I always want to ask:
      — Do you fluently speak and read Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic?
      — Do you also know regional versions of those languages, for example Macedonian Greek?
      — Are you intimately familiar with not only all of those various languages and dialects, but the cultures of each of those regions AT THE EXACT TIME that each book was written, so that you understand all the idioms that were in use then and there?

      I think we can all agree that no one on this planet can answer yes to all of those questions.

      • Elene Gusch, right on!! I was privileged to know Bruce Metzger, one of the finest Greek scholars this world has ever seen and who was my personal inspiration to study koiné. He taught at a seminary in my hometown, I dated students at that seminary, got to sit in on Bruce’s classes, a Bible study at his home, dinner, and all the time we would discuss the issues of translating the Bible.

        There are those who would claim our translations are inerrant and yet that is impossible. It simply is not possible to adequately translate the nuances of one language into another language.

        Here are two examples. (1) The Spirit hovers over the face of the deep. Other possible translations are “broods” or “dances.” Personally, I am drawn to the idea of the Spirit dancing over the face of the deep because of the implications of joy and creativity.

        (2) “I believe” is the English translation of the Latin “credo.” In English, belief is something we choose. “Credo,” on the other hand, is more accurately translated as “I give my heart to” which to me implies a much deeper source of faith than my intellectual assent to something.

        Oh, and (3) has anyone ever attempted to read an English translation of a technical or scientific book originally written in German? German is a language that can string a bunch of words together that communicates a single idea to another German-speaking person. But to those of us who speak English, that one German word may force the translator to string together a whole lotta words which convey lots of ideas to communicate the one idea meant by the original author.

        • Are you saying that the bible wasn’t written first in English by the king prophet James? You blaspheme. Madame.

        • Gloriamarie, said:“’I believe’is the English translation of the Latin ‘credo.’ In English, belief is something we choose. ‘Credo,’ on the other hand, is more accurately translated as ‘I give my heart to’ which to me implies a much deeper source of faith than my intellectual assent to something.”

          I disagree on your English translation. To believe simply means accepting something as true. The definition does not address why people accept certain things as true. A person cannot simply chose to believe or not believe something. Beliefs result from a variety of causes. As does credo.

      • Geez Elene. Now that the trolls have been vanquished, really intelligent people like you are showing up here. Glad to have you. Sit down and linger with us for a while.

  13. John, with all due respect to you, I must say that you are indeed wrong, as the Bible is very clear about many, many things concerning God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the will of God, Hell, Heaven, the New Birth, Prophetic Events, the End Times, and I could easily go on.

    You must not let your pride cause you to doubt that God has clearly spoken and He has not stuttered to use Dr. Tony Evans words. If we read the Bible at face value, without a preconceived bias for finding errors, we will find it to be a coherent, consistent, and relatively easy-to-understand book. Yes, there are difficult passages. Yes, there are verses that appear to contradict each other… the unskilled and unlearned reader.

    The Bible is clear about how the world came into being.
    The Bible is clear about where we come from as human beings.
    The Bible is clear about how and why mankind became sinful.
    The Bible is clear as to who ordained marriage and the family in the beginning.
    The Bible is clear concerning the Coming of Jesus as the Messiah and Savior.
    The Bible is clear about the Virgin Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem….based on prophetic revelation even in the Old Testament.
    The Bible is clear that Mary’s Pregnancy was by Divine Providence. The Bible is clear that in order for mankind to go to heaven, they must be “Born Again” of the Spirit of God.

    Jesus was clear about the reality of eternal punishment/hell, as He spoke about these subjects more than any other subject in the gospels!

    The Bible is clear that Jesus is returning again someday, and will be crowned “Lord of Lords and King of Kings”.

    The Bible is indeed clear, to address a few of your points, that marriage is a union between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN. Yes, in the O.T. and due to the culture of that day, people had multiple partners in some cases, BUT that doesn’t mean that God Himself advocated or approved, as HE clearly stated, “THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY”.

    So the obvious question is, if God wanted people to have multiple wives or husbands, at point then would they commit adultery? In the full context of the TEN COMMANMENTS, God clearly says, “HONOR THY MOTHER AND FATHER”, and that clearly means that God ordained one man to be married to one woman, and it is from that union that children are connected to their parents.

    Furthermore, in the New Testament, it is crystal CLEAR that whenever any of the apostles spoke about marriage, they always spoke of it as a union between one man and one woman. All one has to do is to look at 1 Corinthians 7; Ephesians 5; 1 Peter 3, and there will be no doubt as to what constitutes a marriage. Jesus affirmed marriage as a union between one man and one woman in Matthew 19:4-6, and stated CLEARLY that a “MAN MUST LEAVE HIS MOTHER AND FATHER AND CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE”. A heterosexual union is the only union that God created, ordained, and recognize.

    So, Jesus spoke about Hell/Eternal Punishment more than any other subject, and the apostle John gives the horrific details in Revelation 20:11-15. These are irrefutable!

    Finally, John, I obviously do not know you and vice versa, but from your writings, you CLEARLY are an angry man. I don’t pretend to know what has hurt you in the past, but what I do know is that whatever it was or is, it did not just happen when President Trump became President.

    I hope you find healing where it hurts. When one reads your postings, it is clear that you have some deep disdain for Christ, His Church, and the Holy Scripture, but I sincerely pray for your healing, that our God will do a mighty work in your heart and life, and I very sincerely wish you nothing but God’s best!


      • It seriously hurts me, John, to hear this woman say that you have “some deep disdain for Christ.” She seems to have no idea that it is this limited brand of religion that she espouses in itself that has caused the hurt she sees in you. And she confuses the vastness of Christ with the tininess of her specific sort of church. That brings me to tears.

        If you are angry, it seems to me that there is good reason to be angry at injustice and bigotry, so why should anyone fault you for that? But in many of your posts it sounds like you are more saddened and frustrated than angry.

        I would like to know if those like Laralynn, who are so sure of what their Bible is telling them, have made any study at all of what parts were written earlier and later, what lost sources came before the books we call the Bible now, what light archeological finds have shed on the history recounted there (in some cases completely contradicting it), what other cultures influenced the writers, and so forth. Because if you know such things, you can’t keep that same limited viewpoint.

        • On the other hand, you can apparently be “skilled and learned” in such a way that you start jumping to conclusions and making stuff up. That’s one way to get conflicting verses to agree with each other, and to get them to agree with your preconceived notions.

          Extrapolating from “honor thy father and mother” to “God limits marriage to one man and one woman” is quite a stunning leap.

          (There’s also that inconvenient thing we’re told that Jesus said about having to hate one’s father and mother in order to follow him… but that’s another subject.)

        • Elene Gusch, it seriously hurts me every time someone says that John P has “some deep disdain for Christ.” Or any of the myriad ways they express this.

          Sometimes they do it on the basis of having read only one of his posts as if one post is a fair representation of his body of work.

      • Why does the person who is filled with doubt suffer from an excess of pride while the one who has all the answers gets to claim the mantle of modesty?

        • For the same reason that an oppressed person can be told they are “too sensitive” for speaking out of injustice while the oppressor can be made into “the victim”.

          This has seemed to be my life for the last year since I came out.

    • Laralynn. thanks for your thoughtful post. I too believe that God’s Word, the bible, is very clear about abortion. It’s wrong to take an innocent’s life in the womb. Pastor John disagrees with that.

      I think you are an inspiration to Pastor John. :-). I must say, it’s so much nicer now that the comments are moderated. The personal attacks on those that disagree w Pastor John have all but disappeared. And I see that Pastor John is replying too, albeit w/ sarcasm.

      Enjoy the 4th of July!

      • Actually, now that people have to be accountable for what they post and include their emails, the vile trolls have suddenly largely vanished and many others have decided to finally be civil. Funny how that happens. Those “Christians” can be so sweet!

        • I would like to say Thank you. It has been very interesting how knowing that you have to be accountable changes everything. Thanks for holding all of us accountable. Peace and Love,

        • Thank you, sir. I can now more freely express my pain and frustration with the same things you are pained and frustrated with. It is also refreshing to see someone who is a pastor “getting it”, even when I don’t sometimes.

          Most of the people here are wonderful and welcoming. More than I can say in real life, so thank you for your blog and forum.

    • Laralynn, you could not prove John’s point better if you were paid to do so. So, well done, I suppose.

      Like the rest of us, you will answer for how you use the Bible and the love of God. Since both are clearly weapons in your hands you believe God is on your side.

      I believe in living life on God’s side instead of twisting the love of God into division from God, discrimination from God and harm from God. Seems fairly simple to me: there is no love in division, there is no love in discrimination and there is no love in harm. Not in causing them, not in allowing them, not in defending them.

  14. John, a few years ago I thought I had finally found a pastor and a community where my soul was fed. Your blogs focused on love, period. Every blog I read showed me more of God’s mercy and love. Your gentle way of writing about God’s goodness and care for Her children was a balm to my mind, heart, and soul.
    However, the past year or so has been completely different. The blogs I read now are mostly critical, political, or teaching-type, writings that I have heard all my life from seminary professors and pastors of various demoninations who believe it’s their job to educate me to their way of thinking rather than lead me to God so He can have access to educating me. I no longer have a church home that I used to have when I eagerly looked forward to each of your blogs. I’m saddened by your thought that there are more important things to talk about than God’s love for us. I’m saddened that you have taken up “causes” and believe you must tell us how to think and feel about those. I’m saddened you have joined the ranks of Biblical scholars who believe their work is to teach us the “correct” way to perceive the Bible or what’s going on in the world today. When you were talking only about God’s love, my heart was able to be open to hearing what God was saying to me, my heart was softened for the plight of the mistreated and softened to help me want to live a life of love for myself and everyone. Now, when I read your blogs, they don’t engage my heart. Instead, they engage my mind because I have my own ideas and I want to argue with you. I no longer have peace of mind when I read your blogs, just disappointment, sadness, and loss.

    • It’s a different world now, Judy, and we are all called to respond to it as we need to. I do what I’ve always done: try to speak into the places I feel I need to based on my personal faith. I wish I could write to order, but I can’t. If engaging your mind is a problem, I’m not going to argue with you, but I will suggest that we need more Christians to do so right now.

      Thanks for reading up until now. If it gives you more peace to move on, I understand.

  15. Amen John P! AMEN!

    Thank you for the words that so many have been literally aching to have faith leaders and Bible believers admit.

    We are not all Biblical scholars, but we know that when a devastating thing happens and we hear the one or few survivors say that “God saved them” or we hear someone say God healed them of cancer, we immediately wonder what the other victims “did wrong,” what the other cancer patients “deserved” and no God works like that, much less the God of Heaven and Earth! Men may well work like that, but not God.

    And then when you get into the things that ‘Bible thumpers’ pull out of context to weaponize the Bible, even our small minds recoil at the notion of such a God and why such a God chose that self-righteous ‘Bible thumper’ to assure us of his “love?”

    I have shared before how moved I was when my own pastor told me “I do not have all the answers, I just know who does, so I tell people, I know enough to know that I do not know it all.” That is the humility, decency and seeking heart we should ALL bring to reading the Bible and trying to know God.

    If we live as knowing all the answers, (when we don’t) what could God then possibly have to teach us? What if you are betting your soul and eternity on a mistranslated or misinterpreted message you used as a weapon? Why is that a gamble anyone would take?

  16. John
    I Fully disagree

    Many of your thoughts in these writings are what we call 1/2 truths , just enough to say I am a believer .
    But in what?
    The Holy spirit?
    Jesus Christ ?
    That Man is Basically Good and needs to find thier own way.
    I dont agree with a lot of your views
    I Do How ever believe that in faith one trust , believes , walks with a righteous God.
    And that thier is no Free Lunch
    God has Paid the Price for sin.
    Man has told God off , get the H our of my life because I , You can do it my or your own way.
    The Bottom Line is:
    Man Does not understand the ways of God or His way of thinking.
    Spiritual things are Spiritually Decerned and God Has to open up the eyes or mind of the one who ask for wisdom.
    Clearly stated , not my way, your way , others way
    God s Way.
    God stateds truths thru out scripture and many we dont understand and so we , you , others say there all rubbish.
    Not So. God is True
    As the bible states so many time s Let God be True and every man a liar.
    proverbs has so many things of wisdom and living according to Gods Plan
    The Bible is a Life application Book
    And must be read, interpreted , and opened
    The Cares of life get in the way of many of these truths, that does not nullify them , just means I , You , they do not understand them.
    It would take a lot more than this post to convey the things of the bible.
    The Books of the Law, The Books of Grace and love
    The Books of Forgiveness
    many more.
    if i were able to I would have hours , and hours to diliberate these thought s , but I have so much responsibility that this will have to do.
    If your open to debate with out fear of loosing control or position in this site.
    Then Keep posting , reading. I will send
    Evidence that demands a verdict.
    So Many , So Much , So little Time
    1st john, James.
    I wish you the very best and that God , the True God will open your eyes before to many get led astray and God has to intervene.
    He is all , Not me, not you , Just Gods Holiness, and His best in Lives of people.
    I Know whom I believe in and am convinced that he God will finish a good work in me , that he started .
    The Bible is Clear to those That God has opened thier eyes to see.
    The Rest dont belong to Him and are separated by sin.
    The only way back is thru a relationship with :
    Confession of sin, Forgiveness of sin
    Acceptance of Jesus Christ in to ones life for the payment of thier own sin.
    And a change of life to Gods ways.

  17. Dear John Pavlovitz:

    Perhaps I’m not particularly bright, but it seems to me that what is said ABOUT what the Bible says is often much clearer than what the Bible itself says.


  18. Yep, if I had a dollar for every time that’s been said to me… Of course, it’s always used in the context of backing up the, “I’m right and you’re wrong” argument. IMO, it’s simply a conversation stopper which allows us to avoid actually having to engage with the “other”.

    Another one I’ve had used against me is “God doesn’t work that way.” Again, it’s a supposed appeal to a higher authority which is intended to dismiss and silence what we don’t want to hear.

  19. Dear John Pavlovitz:

    We could have an Hay Day with this!

    Matthew ‘clearly’ says:

    ‘ whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward’ [Matthew 10:42]’

    And to the ‘accursed ones…’

    ‘I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink’ [Matthew 25:42]’


    But how were we to know that this had anything to do with Flint, Michigan?


    • I wish I could do something to fix Flint’s water crisis. I try not to think about how they destroyed one of my hometowns, where I went to school, where I went to church, where I went to see the doctor, where I rode with my Dad from Flint to Toronto in a snowstorm, where we all rode down to play at the Windsor beach. Just memories now.

  20. “We need to wield these words with great humility, never imagining we have it all figured out, never believing that God always agrees with us—and being very hesitant to claim clarity when it comes to the souls of another human being that we would send to Hell or put through Hell here.

    That much, is clear.”

    AMEN! Also loved your part about us trying to find God in a way that makes him small enough to fit our intellect. Thankfully God is beyond the box so many try to stuff him/her into and if more would search with their heart and soul more than their brain they would know this to be true.

  21. Clarity is not the problem John, obedience is.

    6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,4 serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

    Truth remains even if YOU disagree with it.

    • Christopher likes to hide behind God’s skirt. Christopher, your views are your own, not necessarily God’s ( and how would you know if they were hers?)

    • Obedience? The gospel has nothing to do with law and obedience to it for the Christian. The written law kills, causes disabling guilt, and points to Jesus by virtue of its own inadequacy for man. That is its only power. As the Apostle Paul plainly says in the Bible, the law has passed away. All of it is gone. If you will read your New Testament, NOWHERE does Paul or anyone else say that the 10 Commandments and moral law of the Old Testament are still in full effect—but the ritual law alone is gone. The WHOLE law has passed away for Christians. The notion that the ritual law has passed away but the 10 Commandments and moral law of the Old Testament are still in effect is often mouthed by Baptist preachers in Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches. They will not tell you to your face—but the best of them who took their seminary studies seriously and have a good memory know that this whole notion is a man-made invention of theologian John Calvin in 16th century Europe—1,500 years after Jesus and the early church. I have come to think of John Calvin as one of Satan’s finest and most successful creations— and the fact that he could spawn people like Rousas Rushdoony, Gary North, Francis Schaeffer, Nancy Pearcy, and so very many of the worst miscreants on the so-called Religious Right is all the evidence of it that I need.

  22. Wow, two days and zero comments…

    Thank you for this, John. I was never indoctrinated into the “the KJV Bible is infallible” cult and I find it difficult to understand why Biblical scholarship is so despised among evangelicals. Our modern Bible is not perfect. The Gospels were not written by the apostles whose names are attached to them and there were other writings that were omitted besides just those of the Apocrypha. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable book that contains much wisdom, but it does mean that it is not “perfect” and can therefore be reasonably debated.

    We all take from it that which speaks to us and most of us refute parts of it; at least the parts of it that approve of humans being considered nothing more than chattel (slavery and women as the mere property of men). Even the most misogynistic demoninations no longer approve of selling their daughters for 3 goats and a lamb.

    • 1) It is so despised because many fundie churches are local, independent church cults ruled over by a dictatorial, Jim Jones-like pastor who teaches that to question him and his words is to question God himself.

      2) Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism have traditionally tended to attract very large numbers of working class people with low IQs and poor educations—people who do not function well and work well with thoughts and ideas—particularly complex ones with regard to a complex God and his complex universe and its parallel dimensions. As is often said about the fundie community and even within it:

      “We need a simple Bible and a simple gospel for simple people with simple minds.”

      Repeat that five times and you will finally understand.

      • Hello Charles. Welcome.

        What is so complex about Matthew 25:31-46 and Love you G-d and your neighbor? I spend decades making my Christianity simpler and less to do with theological gymnastics. Boil it down to the fundamentals of Christianity, meaning what Christ said and did. Not what the Old Testament Fire, Brimstone, and sin/extreme obedience/shame based faith fundamentalists think.

          • Amen! It is odd that I spent decades of study, reading, and prayer, just to condense my faith into something simple and easy to understand, although difficult to follow at times.

        • Robin, that is pretty much where I am at. Love everyone, still working on that, take care of the least, still working on that and do no harm, still working on that. So from this work in progress, Amen.

  23. Pastor, Although I am Catholc I am very open minded. Love what you have to say. In fact , I am really interested in what you say. Especially about interpreting the bible. Where are you located and do you travel for speaking events. I have endstage lung cancer and asked the Lord to take over as my physician. 3 years ago they gave me a year or less. I am only on a light maintenance chemo. I love your article on President OBAMA .

  24. In Rev 2:23 The Bible clearly says that God expects to obtain universal recognition He reads hearts and returns to each according to own works, by way of demonstratively killing children to punish their mother.

  25. How can we take any religious commentary you write with any degree of seriousness, as long as you admit that you have a “… God I No Longer Believe In”?

    • Perhaps if you were to understand that the ““… God I No Longer Believe In”?” is a god formed in the image and likeness of those who have distorted Scripture to serve their own ends.

      Over the months I’ve been reading John’s blog, it is clear to me that the God John believes in is the Jesus of the Gospels.

    • Whether God made man in his image is debatable but it is clearly true that man made and continues to make God in his image.

  26. I actually had someone on FB tell me that as an absolute truth, there was only one “correct” interpretation of scripture, and the Holy Spirit gave the gift of discernment to true believers . Conveniently, the person I was debating had that gift. My response is, who is in hell, John Calvin, or John Wesley? They can’t both be right, and only one (or I suppose, neither) had the gift of discernment, thus only one truly “saved” What terrible theology.

    • Jad, people were interpreting Scripture for a very long time before John Calvin or John Wesley ever lived.

      Read St. Benedict or St. Bonaventure, for example. Catherine of Sienna, Hildegard of Bingen.

    • ‘Repent & Believe’ –is the only criteria for entering God’s Kingdom.

      [Did Calvin or Wesley reject that doctrine?]

        • First, let me say thank you JP for the moderation. I was likely one of the loudest voice for it. The need for moderation is unfortunate but it’s so much better; thank you. And I often appreciate your sobering voice.

          And thank you for the scripture reference. I heard a sermon on these particular verses some years ago and in that 20 minutes it changed the way I viewed being a Christian entirely. It was a wake-up call.

          I realized I could no longer settle into my fundamentalist easy chair and arrogantly and smugly proclaim “finished” any longer. That Christ indeed wanted, and demanded, me to do something with that renewed heart He gave me. My personal eternity depended on it.

        • I will volunteer my services as the ultimate arbiter of God, the universe and everything if it will help resolve any disputes between y’all.

        • The Bible teaches that salvation is by faith through the grace of God and not by our good works John 1:12; Acts 15:11; Romans 3:22-24; Romans 4:4-8; Romans 7:24-25; Romans 8:12; Galatians 3:6-9; and Ephesians 2:8-10. Jesus makes it clear in the parable that the salvation of the sheep is not based on their works—their inheritance was theirs since the creation of the world Matthew 25:34, long before they could ever do any good works.
          The good works are not the cause of salvation, but the effect of salvation.
          As Christians we become like Christ.
          Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; and Colossians 2:6-7. Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Good works in a Christian’s life are the direct overflow of these traits, and are only acceptable to God because of the relationship that exists between servant and Master, the saved and their Savior, the sheep and their Shepherd Ephesians 2:10.
          Followers of Christ will treat others with kindness, serving them as if they were serving Christ Himself. The unregenerate live in the opposite manner. While goats can indeed perform acts of kindness and charity, their hearts are not right with God, and their actions are not for the right purpose, which is to honor and worship God.

          • Tayesh said: “While goats can indeed perform acts of kindness and charity, their hearts are not right with God, and their actions are not for the right purpose, which is to honor and worship God.”

            There is something disquieting about being called a goat .

        • Matthew 25 doesn’t mention how one becomes righteous, only the difference between the actions and attitudes of the righteous and unrighteous. If you are using the actions of the righteous as a blueprint in order to become righteous, that’s not how it works. One can emulate the actions of a righteous individual, but it’s the condition of the heart that makes the difference that Christ is referring to in these passages. That can only come through salvation. Only salvation can produce the attitudes and actions that Christ refers to in this passage.

          Titus 3:5 says Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

          • Edward. Thanks for posting the beautiful answer that God has for us. (We cannot earn our salvation.) But I can see how it’s a temptation for some of us to think we can out-perform God. We, who are so talented, and beautiful, and have high IQs. (haha).

            Pastor John’s Emergent Church teaches that ‘Man’ will bring in The Kingdom by his good works. They think it’s up to us to make it happen.

            I’m tired already! (& also worried for those that don’t ‘measure’ up.)

        • Pastor John.

          I was unaware that joining God’s Kingdom is now merit-based. I’m wondering how many good deeds is good enough to enter The Kingdom? 100? 10? 300+ million?

    • David T. –agreed, the Holy Spirit is there to convict, lead, steer, admonish, support, prod, encourage, educate, give knowledge, and give joy & peace to those that belong to Him. We are so fortunate!

        • Pride…if everyone would let go of his or her own pride, the Spirit would be in one accord. The question is not who gets to decide (man taking charge), but rather, who will listen without prejudice (letting God do the leading), or the voice of others (appealing to one’s own proclivities). One needs to test the spirit to see if it is true and not just apply his or her own “feelings” on the matter.

            • Exactly, John, this is why certain churches teach their congregations to fear and doubt their gut feelings.

              Because the don’t wan them to use a vital tool of discernment which is our feelings.

            • Feelings are not the end to truth. I could tell you a truth about yourself that might anger or upset you as well as give you confidence or joy. The feeling you experience is not the deciding factor in whether or not what I told you is true or not. Sometimes truth hurts, sometimes it heals. If it hurts, it should give us an impetus to search out why this is the case and make changes in our lives. Of course this cannot be done using man as a reference, we need an overreaching element that goes beyond our own understanding, something that speaks from an elevated platform, namely, the Bible.

              • Edward. the reason Progressive Christians rely so heavily on their feelings as being ‘Truth’, is because no one can argue ‘feelings’. End of discussion. (literally.)

                Since ‘feelings’ are the basis in which faith issues are to be understood & discussed, there is no longer any objective standpoint from which to examine the veracity of Progressive Theology. End of discussion.

                Believers are very open to discussion, analysis, due process & scientific method when examining our faith & bible beliefs.

                • Oh leslie m, “Believers are very open to discussion, analysis, due process & scientific method when examining our faith & bible beliefs.” Some days you are just the funniest person I run into.

                • Leslie M, I have resisted commenting until now but I can’t ignore this anymore. I really wish you would stop talking about progressive Christians and what they believe. Speak about what you know which is what you, you, you believe. I consider myself a progressive and not once have you articulated what I believe. So please, stick to what you know because otherwise you are giving false witness. I am not being mean but you truly do not have any idea what you are talking about.
                  That is bearing false witness. That is not good. Peace,

                • You have more projection there than an IMAX theater. What you said is literally the exact opposite of reality.

                  Your problem is you are closeminded and reject due process science reason and logic. You opperate on pure feelings and fear of uncomfortable truths. Nice chutzpah though.

              • Yes, Edward, if the truth hurts then your feelings are helping you to discern it– but if someone is hurtful well that just makes them a meanie 🙂

                • Beamer,
                  That is a valid point. That is why truth must come from a source that is beyond man. It must come from a source that seeks to help and not destroy. Man cannot be trusted with this responsibility. That is why the Bible is so important as an external reference for our lives.

            • You’re getting pretty good at this John. It is like I told you a few years ago. All you have to do is study them closely, learn all you can about what makes them tick, and then all of the holes, flaws, and emperor clothes they are not wearing come into clear view—and you find that their understanding of the Bible and the gospel is just as human and just as wanting as any other Christian understanding of those things. Some of their flaws are so big you can drive a tractor trailer rig through them—and in the final analysis—we are all only flawed human beings with flawed minds searching for a God of grace and love who is really too big for any human to understand.

              • “and in the final analysis—we are all only flawed human beings with flawed minds searching for a God of grace and love who is really too big for any human to understand.”

                Touche, Charles! Spot on! I’ll give thanks for, hope and believe in that Grace and Love that’s too big for my understanding!

                  • Amen!
                    Of which I can claim guilt in doing too often.

                    It’s occurred to me that one’s relationship with Christ can be compared, in some small way, with their relationship with their spouse or partner. I can in no way define or describe that relationship and it’s nuances for that person (couple); the true joys, hurts, or challenges they face in their walk together. And I get into even more trouble if I superimpose my experiences of relationships as a right pattern for theirs.

                    Although I believe we can agree on good relationship necessities like love, faithfulness, truthfulness, trust, respect, honor, nurturing, patience, forgiveness, protection, kindness, courtesy and more… All I believe, that Christ IS. And requires of me, we.

                    Ha! Humans are silly. Thanks be for Grace. 🐳

                    • Susan, you hit the nail on the head. I like you analogy and I like the way you think. Thank you for sticking around and sharing. Peace and Love,

                    • Thanks Kathleen, I appreciate the support. I would miss y’all. The moderation doesn’t do much for my “immediate gratification” but it does deter abuses. And it does allow me to take in others POVs. I’m less prone to knee-jerk and be a jerk.

                      Given where I’m at right now, I am so in need of honest faith discussion that I can’t seem to break away. The blog often reinforces my Christ-centeredness; I’m proned to wander, I know that. I look for any opportunity to talk about the Lord, bc it only helps me go out and try to imitate Him for others.

                      I’m grateful for any opportunity.

                      Peace to you!

                    • I agree with all of the above. I was on my last nerve here so glad I stayed and glad you stayed. I get the lack of instant communication but for me it works better than the step away from the keys button. Peace

          • That’s not the point and I think you know that. Every single Christians believes they’re being faithful and that they are honoring God. They all would tell you the Spirit is leading them. We all ultimately decide what we believe God is saying to us. Every one of us. Religious speak about “God gets to decide” doesn’t really factor in. This is about human perspective, which people claiming to speak for God rarely admit.

          • leslie m, first of all, if you really believed that “God gets to decide who is properly led by His Spirit” why would you even be here? Second, if that was even a little bit true, how have so many religiously led people who swore God was on their side done so many heinous, unGodly, unHoly, unloving and cruel things? Westboro bigots believe they are led by God. Those who blow up people and buildings believe that too. Do we just stand by when someone who believes they are “properly led by His Spirit” acts? Do you see the problem with that thought?

  27. You say there are 66 Books in the Bible. I say there are 73. Why are you right and I am wrong? To what authority can you appeal to assert you know which books belong in the Bible?

    Some things in the Bible are very clear, but even if they weren’t, the Bible was not meant to be the be-all and end-all. It didn’t fall out of the sky in its present form and wasn’t meant to be separated from a teaching authority which has the right and duty to interpret it as well as guide the faithful regarding faith and morals.

    Christianity was not meant to be “sola scriptura.” Christ gave us a Church, against which the gates of Hell would not prevail. Christ did not give us a Bible from which each man or woman could determine their own Truth and form their own church or belief system. He did not leave us orphans without guidance.

    To find certainty regarding the Bible or faith and morals, all one needs to do is visit a Catholic Church and/or consult the Catholic Catechism.

  28. I have been following your blog (hit or miss, I confess) for several months now, after first seeing you posted via facebook friends. In a world that is rapidly spiraling towards some new disaster every day—and in the aftermath of the political insanity in this country—finding your “voice” speaking with the same sense of hurt, frustration, and pain I often feel lately has been a great gift to help me deal with my versions of these most uncomfortable sensations/emotions.
    I am constantly astonished at how my Christian friends “on the right” and those “on the left” are so diametrically opposed to each other now—and many times now their “conversations” about these differing opinions end in anger and alienation. All of them I know to be as good a people as any of us can be; all of them hold their beliefs strongly and believe they are right (clearly?). And many (thankfully, NOT all) end up beating each other up with the Bibles they hold so near and dear to their hearts.
    I don’t know any answers to any of these problems that face us in this “new world” we find ourselves in, save one: Grace. If the ins and outs of the path to finding and living happily within that Grace (love, peace, contentment, understanding, compassion, and all Grace entails) are not always clear, the fact that it is available to us IS, at least. (Or, at least, that’s MY clearly-understood-stance.)
    Thank you for your words that both stir me (because they’re so true and painful at times) and calm me (knowing I’m not alone thinking these thoughts).

  29. I really want you to know that you are the ONLY Christian of authority that I take any notice off. I love reading your posts on Facebook because you see all sides and uncover the idiots, the bigots and the haters and show them for what they are. I was brought up by non-religious parents who left it to me to decide what spiritual path I chose. I don’t have to have the 10 commandments in front of me to know that I should or shouldn’t do certain things. I volunteer with the old, poor and disabled because I empathise with them. I protest with the LGBT, Peace marchers and refugees because I want to see improvements in our lives, some security and cohesion with other people in the world. Your words make me feel I am not alone. Thank you.

  30. Thanks, John, for this and so many of your writings. Those who are so sure that their interpretation is THE one and only true interpretations are very much like the religious leaders with whom Jesus had so much difficulty. And like those leaders of Jesus’ time who had this certitude, those of our day lay heavy burdens on those who are already carrying heavy burdens – often being judged and reviled by society. Leaders with the certitude they are right continue to crucify Christ, who is at home in those being condemned.

  31. the bible has no relevance to any one today, at least no more than say the epic of Gilgamesh. The bible has the ultimate spoiler that god will win but doesnt mention little spoilers like the internet, so clearly it is penned by men from the minds of men. I seriously cant believe how thick some people are. think of it as a football match, but everyone knows who is going to win. Why did the men who wrote the bible need to tell you who is the winner???? yes so you pick the winning side. guess what your super buddy and his proclaimed bad boy adversary do not exist except for in feeble minds.

  32. *The bible clearly says that Jesus left his brother James in charge.
    *The bible clearly says that James decreed that proselytes to the Jewish religion were to not eat meat sacrificed to idols or eat the meat of an animal that was strangled, nor were they to consume the blood of an animal, and they were not to participate in sexual immorality.
    *The bible clearly states that Paul was the apostle to the proselytes.
    *The bible clearly states that Paul disregarded the Lord’s brother James’ decree as the bible clearly states that Paul said in his own words that James only said that proselytes were to remember the poor.
    *The bible clearly states that Paul was critical of Peter for still acting like a Jew when he came to where Paul was as a representative of James and the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem.
    All of this said, the bible clearly states that the ministry of Paul was not in step with the Jewish religion of Jesus and his brother James and Peter. The Christianity of Paul was something different and antagonistic to the “fundamental first church”.

    • I didn’t want to post anything explaining my sentiments concerning the nature of the first church in Jerusalem as they relate to and serve as a response to conservative Christians who use scripture to support their ideological agendas because I wanted people to try to get their heads wrapped around the complexities of viewing the New Testament as a cohesive narrative first. In order for me to make a claim that the Apostle Paul disregarded the decree of James the Lord’s brother, I was required to take evidence from the book of Acts and pair it with evidence from Paul’s letter to the Galations. In Acts, James decrees that gentiles need to follow some very specific Jewish laws, and in Galations Paul says that James said that the gentiles only had to remember the poor. In my experience dealing with Evangelical Christians, this sort of logic and familiarity with scripture usually shuts them up and that is good. But, cross referencing books of the bible to make claims within the context of biblical criticism is not possible because academic biblical scholarship operates under the supposition that the books of the bible were in no way written by people who were familiar with other books in the bible, let alone were they written to compliment one another or provide any sort of fluid narrative. It is well understood among biblical scholars that the twenty seven books that make up the New Testament were not canonized into any sort of a collection until at least the late fourth century c.e. as proven by the famous Easter homily written by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria as he argued that our current twenty seven books should be the only books used excluding all other books, of which there were many that are now known as Pseudepigrapha. So, I feel like any progressive christian should arm themselves with as much knowledge concerning what the current trends are in biblical scholarship in order to make their argument that the bible is by no means inerrant, nor did it just appear as a divinely inspired collection of complimentary books directly after Jesus ascended into heaven. Knowledge is power, and it will set you free from years of guilt as it humanizes this book that Evangelicals use to do the devil’s work.

  33. Well. I have apparently been defined as the worst commenter of the evening because all of my posts were deleted by John P. I thought they were perfectly good and honorable posts that presented ideas and thoughts worth hearing. I will take that as my invitation to leave the blog. John. You could have at least responded to the e-mail message I sent to you.

    I recede with no hard feelings toward anyone—but I shall continue my resistance against Donald Trump and one well-known corner of the so-called “Christian” faith.

    Bye y’all.

    • Bye Charles.

      [I’m sure JP is handling his site as he sees fit and he’s dong a terrific job … but the lag time in conversation is prohibitive. Previously, I thought that posting ‘Guidelines’ would have been sufficient to keep things civil here, and lively. ]

      i.e., no name-calling (idiot, bigot, homophobe, bitch), no swearing, no lewd remarks, no over-posting, no advertising, etc.

      • People can always converse in realtime on Facebook, where people have to be accountable with real names. Since so many people here couldn’t be decent to one another, the lag time is the result.

        • And appreciated. I also lament the need but since there is, so this is much better and John, I thank you for taking on the responsibility. Peace,

      • I have been thinking about your comment all day and decided not to let it pass. I think perhaps sometimes we do that thinking that it is more christian. This time I have decided that since this comment was decidedly unchristian that perhaps the Christian thing to do would be to comment. It would have been more Christian to ignore this and allow John and Charles to work it out. I notice that you have never taken exception to people who have name called or listed those names when it is someone who is Conservative. And they were out there and I was a recipient so it won’t wash to say that never happened. By not calling them out you lost the right to call Charles out. I would ask you to please practice what you keep preaching. Words are meaningless without action. And Charles I am glad you were only impatient and are still around here.

        • I sometimes forget that the John Pavlovitz ministry takes up far more of John’s time than it did when he first started this blog several years ago. Great success comes at an inevitable cost in time. Unfortunately, I was raised in the Baby Boomer culture that converted the idea of 1950s ” instant coffee” into the belief that everything in life should be available “instantly.” I apologize for my impatience.

          • It’s ok, Charles. I don’t make my husband apologize for his impatience, the running joke in the family is, Hey, patience is his long suit, NOT. I just work around it knowing that it is what it is. So keep trying and perhaps, anyway Peace and Love,

      • Leslie M? I wish you would just admit that your sole purpose for commenting here is to discredit John Pavlovitz; that you “feel” his beliefs are heretical. That would be refreshing. And you needn’t recount any “what we believe” or church’s mission statements on this one, as you’ve done in the past.

        I am receiving a full dose of this “right”, right now in my current living situation and your motivation, in neon, is blinding me. I have people all around me, speaking disdain, all the while saying “we are trying to save the unsuspecting from evil untruth”. Wow. And their seething, just-beneath-the-surface, hatred is so apparent and so off-putting that if they had truth to speak, it can’t be heard.

        Hatred and disdain have big voices. Truth in love comes in a whisper, on a refreshing breeze. Sort of like Him.

        Yet there is only One that I know that can both love and admonish in Truth, at the same time. You are not He.

        I so wish, selfishly for my own peace at the present, that fundamentalists would at least change their approach. And I know how to take the hammer. But there are those out there who don’t. Oh what missed opportunities we waste.

        I have to say it breaks my heart. I mourn over this very thing- what you are doing. It is so sad.

        • Hi Susan. As your friend—I never stopped being one—I affirm the discomfort in your life and your current angst.

          In many past posts on this blog, Leslie has openly and directly stated that she opposes the ministry of John Pavlovitz, believes he is one of the Bible’s classic “false teachers,” and that she is here primarily to correct his false beliefs so readers will not be misled, and by so doing, to undermine the John Pavlovitz ministry. All you have to do is go back and review all her posts over the past couple of years. Reverend David, a person who posts here somewhat frequently (did not know he was a Reverend and seminary graduate until just the other day), has often stated that he has tangled with Leslie on other on-line blogs where she was pursuing the same M.O. Just my personal opinion, for what it is worth, Leslie is just as much of a troll as Joe Catholic and “evil” Anonymous were until recently. The only difference is that Leslie practices her trade through a unique and somewhat subdued verbal form of what is often called “passive aggression.” All the fundie hatred for John Pavlovitz and his ministry is still there in her posts, but it is presented in what we southern born people would call a “southern belle manner” that can be summed up in the phrase: “What? little ole me?” In her subterfuge, she believes she is being “wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove” (Matthew 10:16). However, those of us like Gloriamarie, Sandi, and you—who read her posts carefully—discerned her true intent from the very beginning, which was to be a highly destructive troll without looking like a troll.

          I am not trying to be mean-spirited to Leslie here—just carefully stating the truth as I and several others here understand it. If her posts bother you that much and cut deeply into your psyche Susan, in ways that undermine your emotional health, it might be best to just avoid reading Leslie’s posts. Personally, while I know how much Leslie’s posts can hurt people, I somewhat enjoy them because they embody the pure essence of classic “fundie babble” and show just how far from Christ many people like her truly are. In other words, her posts affirm and reinforce my own understanding of how Christian fundamentalism betrayed Jesus and went off down its own self-made sociocultural rabbit hole into hatred and perdition.

          • Great comment and I have known a lot of Leslie’s in my time. I would say that they made my husbands life a nightmare at times. I would also add that they will never have ears to hear or eyes to see because they have closed themselves off from any other view other than what they believe. They would never consider anyone else might have some truth on their side. Generally I find it easier to ignore them, but occasionally they remind me of what my husband went through and I don’t seem able to help myself. Peace and Love,

          • Thanks, friend Charles. Ha! Bless our hearts, we’re below the Mason-Dixon line. Gun toting, hate-spewing, judgmental and shaming Southern belles and beaus abound!

            It’s not just Leslie M.; they’re all around me. This- sit a spell and let me punch you before I kiss you- technique is wearing thin on me.

            The ones that get Him, his grace, love, and teachings, have to then be the clean-up crews and medics; clear the table, try and heal the spiritual wounding, splint that wrist so that others will risk knocking at His door again. All that.

            I really don’t think this is what He came and lived and died for.

            Times a wastin’.

            • Susan, they are above the Mason-Dixon line too. The bane of my husband’s ministry. Every church had them, and occasionally we still hear from them, guess they are still worried about our souls, bless their hearts. Peace and Love,

          • Susan, I want you to know I concur with everything Charles has said to you. Yes, several of us have identified leslie m’s agenda. Personally, I am fascinated by the way she and Joe Catholic, he of the many names tagteam each other here because Joe is on record for stating everyone except RCCs are heretics and leslie is on record for stating anyone who doesn’t believe as she believes is a heretic. So in actuality, leslie m and Joe C have mutually excommunicated each other from the Body of Christ as unedifyingly as did the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople back in 1054.

            Charles said this and I wish to emphasize it, “f her posts bother you that much and cut deeply into your psyche Susan, in ways that undermine your emotional health, it might be best to just avoid reading Leslie’s posts. ”

            Take care of yourself, Susan. You are an important voice here and no one has to read everything that everyone writes. Let alone respond to it.

            I certainly pick and choose what to read and to whom I respond. One of the reasons is my own self-care. Some days it would damage my psyche to read some of the stuff said here. Some days I may be in too much physical pain to be positive that I will respond in a respectful and validating manner.

            Not that I perfectly meet the goals I set for myself. I am only human.

            Susan, you are a voice for reason and you write from wisdom. Please don’t let the trolls, however disguised, stop you from sharing truth with us.

            • Well, Gloriamarie, you are kind for saying so and I appreciate the support.

              Btw, I like your mysticism. Somewhere along in my youth I desired to be an anchoress. Then I chose a wandering wilderness for many years.

              I know He is gracious and and patient and good. I want others to know that. As He has said so often, do not be afraid, come. And yet, what do we do? Looking down our noses, “put the fear of God in them” with that pointing finger. SMH

              • Susan wrote “Btw, I like your mysticism. Somewhere along in my youth I desired to be an anchoress. Then I chose a wandering wilderness for many years.”

                The wandering wilderness often proves to be a mystical path.

                “Looking down our noses, “put the fear of God in them” with that pointing finger. ”

                I’ve done a word study on this “fear of God.” No doubt when the KJV was translated, “fear” meant something different just as “gay” used to mean “merry.”

                The Hebrew “fear of God” cannot be understood to mean “terror.” It is more correctly translated as “awe” or “reverence” or “worship.”

                • Exactly. So, pooey on whoever put the terror of Jesus into man’s psyche. It’s ruined my church. And evidently will make for a really somber Dining Table.

                  • Susan, Thank you for being here. I truly like you and your way of thinking. Put a smile on my face this morning. Peace and Love,

                  • Susan, All Too Sadly, Too Many people have a vision of God that is much much much too small. They seem to think God is a narrow and petty-minded as they are themselves.

                    They think it is ok to hedge on the loving the neighbor thing because they will not accept that God truly does love all human beings equally and unconditionally No Matter Who They are.

                    God loves members of ISIS, all terrorists, all who are considered criminals, deviants, perverts, sinners.

                    God is love. God loves. Jesus tells me to love as God loves. I trust the Holy Spirit is teaching me how to do that.

                    One way is through this blog and the comments of many loving people here.

      • What posting guidelines? Are there such things? I have never seen any posted here—or did I just miss them for three years? In a few of John’s past posts, he stated that he is not opposed to occasional use of bad language when it fits what is being said. Show me the guidelines, and I will do my best to follow them.

    • Maybe its time for the “regenerated” to stop using their religion to justify the worst sides of themselves and their traditional secular cultures and subcultures—which are also rebellion against God. The sword you just pulled from your scabbard cuts both ways. Please bear that in mind.

      • “For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.”

        Kurt Vonnegut

        Custodians of chaos
        In this exclusive extract from his forthcoming memoirs, Kurt Vonnegut is horrified by the hypocrisy in contemporary US politics

        • Thanks Gloriamarie. In college long ago, my girlfriend (we almost got married) had a dad who was born and grew up in Indianapolis. Kurt Vonnegut was a close friend of his because they grew up together, played together, etc. in the same Indianapolis neighborhood.

          I know. I know. Kurt Vonnegut was an author who used bad language frequently in his books, treated sex very loosely in his writings, wrote about bizarre subjects unbecoming a Christian, and had too close an association with Playboy Magazine—and he is almost surely roasting in Hell right now because of all that and much more.

          I just put in that last paragraph to save John from having to review 50 fundie responses to this post.

          • Charles, IMO, Kurt had a brilliant intellect from whom we can learn a lot.

            I fear John will still have to review that many. People who avoid education, evidence, facts, information are gonna be stuck with the knees hitting their chins in reaction.

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