The 100% Challenge

As a pastor, I often made reference in my sermons to the “astounding prophecies of the Bible,” which I believed proved the deity of Christ and the divine inspiration of Scripture beyond a reasonable doubt. It was my sincere conviction that if an unbeliever examined, for example, the Messianic prophecies embedded in the Old Testament with an open mind, he would walk away a convert to Christ. How many prophecies are we talking about here? Well, that depends on who you ask. Jews for Jesus point to several dozen Messianic prophecies, while Josh McDowell in Evidence that Demands a Verdict claims “over 300 references to the messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus.” According to ChristianAnswers.Net, “The probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled even eight such prophecies would be only 1 in 1017” (that's 10 to the power of 17).

For decades, I accepted this standard defense of the Christian faith without question. It was not until a Bible class earlier this year that serious doubts about the Messianic prophecies began to bubble to the surface. I was teaching through John's Gospel, verse by verse, when the class came to chapter 19 and verse 36 ("These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: Not one of his bones will be broken"). Someone asked me about the original prophecy, so I followed my index finger to the handy-dandy cross reference and arrived at Psalm 34:20. Ah, here I would be able to show the class one of the "astounding" prophecies of Scripture that "proves beyond a doubt" that Jesus was the Christ. What I discovered was, shall we say, underwhelming:

19 A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;

20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

This is certainly an inspiring verse of Scripture, but you would have to be a fool to take it as a prophecy of the Messiah. I was left in the truly awkward position of explaining to the class why John took a verse like this and wrenched it so violently from its original context (something I've preached against for years). As we went along, I noticed other misquoted passages the Gospel writer applied to Jesus. I was quite embarrassed--not for myself, but for the apostle John! This got me to wondering--how many other claims of prophetic fulfillment are not just a little bit off, but way off?

Here's why this question is so important to evangelical Christianity: if the Messianic prophecies fail, the entire Christian foundation erodes away with it (see Deut. 18:22). The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) recognizes this: “How do you respond to someone's claim that the Bible is not inspired? Is there a way to prove inspiration or, at least, intelligently present evidence for its inspiration? The answer is, ‘Yes!’ One of the best ways to prove inspiration is by examining prophecy.”

Got that? Christians say that you can evaluate the Bible’s claims of divine inspiration by whether or not it accurately records actual instances of fulfilled prophecy. CARM continues: “If just one prophecy failed, then we would know that God is not the true God, because the creator of all things, which includes time, would not be wrong about predicting the future.”

So, does everyone understand the rules of the game? If we can find just one bogus prophecy—one instance where the Bible says something is going to happen a certain way and it doesn’t pan out—this is all a reasonable person needs to demonstrate the Bible is human, not divine, in origin. Put another way, if there were 100 Bible prophecies and 99 were shown to be right on the money, 1 wrong prophecy would be enough to spoil a 100% perfect record. If the Messianic prophecies are shady in any way, then the Bible is not the perfect product of a perfect God (as millions believe today). Perhaps most significant, without 100% accuracy of the Messianic passages, Jesus cannot be the One sent from heaven to redeem the world.

Now that we have our challenge, can we find one bogus prophecy? Well, here's where it gets tough: choosing just one! Let’s start in Matthew, who is prolific in his quotation Old Testament prophecies and his application of them to Jesus. Should we build our case on a passage like Matthew 2:23? It says of Jesus, “And he came and dwelt in the city called Nazareth , that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, 'He shall be called a Nazarene.’” I'm sad to say that in my 20 years as a Christian, I never realized that Matthew makes reference to a prophecy that doesn’t even exist! Try as you may, you will nowhere find a place in the Old Testament where it unambiguously declares the Messiah would be a Nazarene.

How about the (in)famous example of Isaiah 7:14? Matthew uses this prophecy as the cornerstone of his Gospel, quoting Isaiah as saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child.” However, the word Matthew translates "virgin" would be more accurately translated “young woman.” The Jews had a very specific word for virgin (bethulah), but it was not the word Isaiah chose (ha-almah). Holy disappearing virgin, Batman! Further examination of the chapter reveals that the promised child of Isaiah 7:14 was to be a sign to Ahaz, a Judean king who lived centuries before Jesus was even born!

Or how about this one: Matthew’s claim that King Herod slaughtered “all the male children who were in Bethlehem and its vicinity, from two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16). Every Sunday school student knows this story (one Bible class lesson titles this episode, “Babies Give Their Lives for Jesus”). As a minister, I searched desperately to substantiate this story with the Jewish histories of Josephus or with any secular historian of that era--only to realize that there is not a shred of historical or archaeological evidence behind it. To add insult to injury, Matthew (or whoever wrote under his name) would have us believe that this fanciful tale was also a fulfillment of ancient prophecy. He quotes Jeremiah 31:15: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” Once again, a careful reading of the entire chapter in its context reveals that Jeremiah is talking about a situation far removed from Bethlehem, Herod, and the Magi. He is describing the struggles of the Israelites during the Babylonian Captivity. The few verses after verse 15 bear this out:

15 This is what the LORD says:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because her children are no more."

16 This is what the LORD says:
"Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,"
declares the LORD.
"They will return from the land of the enemy.

17 So there is hope for your future,"
declares the LORD.
"Your children will return to their own land.”

Clearly the Gospel writer was stretching it a bit (read: a lot)!

No doubt, I will hear from outraged Christians who cannot understand how a minister so in-tune with the Bible, from a conservative Christian denomination, can question these prophecies. Well, please understand that there are fair-minded, rational people out there who do have trouble with them. The man whose question sparked this search was not a skeptic, but a respected deacon of my church.

That having been said, I’m interested in what Christians perusing this forum see as so irrefutable about the so-called Messianic prophecies about Jesus. If the standard for prophecy is 100% accuracy—no misses—then (as Ricky Ricardo would say) "someone’s got some 'splaining to do!"

65 comments:

Brother Crow said...

Hey Joseph, interesting post. I, too, used to play the prophecy game. I feel certain that with proper informed research, every presumed prophecy could be disproved.

My problem with all of this comes from another angle. It seems that most credible biblical scholarship shows that the gospels were written well after the "Jesus" event, and were probably written by a number of scribes as possible fabrications to actually match or fulfill what they believed to be prophetic utterances. That is probably why some prophecies (I like your use of the "not a bone broken" reference) do not really line up with a messianic prophecy, because they were misinterpreted as such. Others...such as the reference to Matthew's non-existent "Nazarene" prophecy, may have come up from circulating oral traditions.

So, I have huge suspicions about much of anything in the so-called life of Jesus. Why? Because there is so little external evidence that he actually existed...and what little there is (Josephus, that amazingly credible historian of Rome)...is not really enough to make a judgment about his role.

Those prophecies were "fulfilled" by Jesus through the creative redaction of people a century after he might have lived...and they got a lot of it wrong!

And doesn't it seem credible - or at least possible, if not probable - that if Jesus really fulfilled every one of the "300 messianic prophecies" cited by Josh (full of it) McDowell, more Jews would have recognized his messiahship?

Still, I think we can have fun with these prophecies, so count me in.

Evie said...

Great post!

I also was never comfortable with the "broken bone" prophecy, but I refused, for decades, to pursue my questions. I can just imagine your discomfort, if not downright horror, at having the scales fall from your eyes in the midst of a bible study class!

The passage that confirmed my rejection of Christianity was the one you mentioned in this paragraph:

How about the (in)famous example of Isaiah 7:14? Matthew uses this prophecy as the cornerstone of his Gospel, quoting Isaiah as saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child.” However, the word Matthew translates "virgin" would be more accurately translated “young woman.” The Jews had a very specific word for virgin (bethulah), but it was not the word Isaiah chose (ha-almah). Holy disappearing virgin, Batman! Further examination of the chapter reveals that the promised child of Isaiah 7:14 was to be a sign to Ahaz, a Judean king who lived centuries before Jesus was even born!

When I began seriously interrogating my Christian beliefs, I felt that philosophical arguments and scientific evidence pointed toward the probable non-existence of any god, let alone the one described in the Christian bible. Therefore, my search for answers led me to examine the validity and veracity of said bible.

It didn't take me long to find lots of information refuting the "virgin birth" bit, which I had already concluded was probably wrong. When I read St. Jerome's rationalization for perpetuating the translation fraud, even though he knew the Hebrew scholars who criticized Christian interpreters were correct, then I realized that the whole Christianity thing is false, as are all other religions. The "virgin birth" is the hinge upon which a huge chunk of orthodox soteriology rests. If it ain't so, the remainders don't leave much upon which to build gospel.

IrishFarmer said...

Why are you teaching a bible class if you don't understand the hermaneutical methods of the jews at the time?

Check out Glenn Miller's work on the subject...I'm sure its enlightening. :)

John W. Loftus said...

Our methods for discerning exactness and correctness have changed. If we were to judge the NT writers by our standards of hermeneutics today they wouldn’t measure up. Another way to put this is that if we would employ the same methods in scholarly studies today as they did, we would be laughed at by our contemporaries—just try it and see!

What was Matthew’s intention? Matthew’s gospel reads as if he was making a case for Jesus as the Christ. Dunn stated in The Living Word (Fortress Press, 1987) that Matthew’s use of the sayings of Jesus is similar to the way he used the O.T. in that: “the texts used were often significantly different in sense from the original. It was evidently quite an acceptable procedure in Matthew’s time to incorporate the interpretation into the saying itself by modifying the form of the saying.” (pp. 115-122). Today we think this way of interpreting the O.T. is wrong. And yet we are supposed to believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of OT prophecy? Hardly!

Joseph said...

Irishfarmer: Are you saying the hermeneutics used by many rabbis of that era were SOUND? I can show you many examples of ridiculous and speculative interpretations by ancient rabbis that will make you laugh. You know full well that Jesus was a critic of the way Pharisees and teachers of the law mis-interpreted and mis-applied Scripture. Just because it was done doesn't mean it was done right. Peter spoke of those who "twist the Scriptures to their own destruction," did he not? Regardless of what hermeneutic was used, Matthew clearly took verses out of context and applied them to Jesus in a manner that just does not hold up under closer scrutiny. Further evidence of this, as Bro Crow pointed out, is that the Jews remain unconvinced by Matthew's case for a Messianic Jesus. Either they are hopelessly blinded by Satan or they know something we don't!

In the end, I'm a big advocate for common sense. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Bible wasn't written for pointy headed intellectuals who would have to study for years to figure out what the writers were "really" trying to say. It was written for the common person to give her reasons to believe in Jesus (John 20:30-31). Thankfully we do have the aid of modern scholarship to help us understand more about the life and times of the Biblical writers. Nevertheless, our most reliable tool for interpreting scripture is still common sense. With a good translation of the Bible in hand and a few basic reference tools, you or I should be able to read Matthew and John's Gospels and determine whether we have enough information to make an informed decision for Christ.

Jon Curry said...

With regards to Is 7:14 it's interesting to note the view put forward by Jane Schaberg that in fact Matthew does not intend to communicate that Mary was a virgin. Schaberg argues that the "mistranslation" in the Septuagint may not have been a mistranslation at all, but it may simply be that "parthenos" was ambiguous as to whether it meant sexually intact virgin or not at the time the Septuagint was translated. The translators weren't idiots. They knew how to translate almah vs bethulah from Isaiah. Perhaps parthenos was an appropriate translation of "young woman" at the time the Septuagint was translated. So also for Matthew.

Notice that Matthew goes out of his way to list 4 women in his genealogy of Jesus. Notice what they all have in common. All have a sexually dubious history (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba). Is Matthew making the best of a bad situation? In other words, yes, Jesus is an illegitimate child, but God has brought good through other women that also are of a sexually dubious nature. It's an interesting theory.

Vinny said...

I always figured that the gospels were written because the original apostles had passed away and believers figured out that Christ was not going come back as soon as they had thought. With lots of stories about Jesus floating around, they had to decide which ones should be recorded. Since they already believed Jesus to be the Christ, it was natural to record the stories that seemed to fulfill prophecies and to look to the prophecies for details of stories.

I have always been puzzled that any Christian would think that a skeptic would find the fulfilled prophecy argument persuasive. To steal an analogy, it is no more surprising than Harry Potter fufilling prophecies from "Sorcerer's Stone" in "Deathly Hallows."

Joseph said...

Jon: I hadn't heard that theory formally articulated, but I'd wondered if that was perhaps what happened. It seems that there was some scandal about Jesus' birth. If the Gospels are to be believed, his brothers and sisters held him at arm's length. Perhaps it was this social rejection that drove him inward and led him to become a disciple of John the Baptizer, eventually to helm a ministry of his own.

Vinny, as strange as it may seem, fundamentalists are very bold in these claims. I think it may have something to do with the "faith" vs. "knowledge" problem, referenced in another post. Many Christians, like me, have heard these ideas from "reliable sources" (i.e. their paster or father) and they run with them prematurely, as foregone conclusions, without doing the leg-work necessary to verify them as fact.

Dan Marvin said...

Joseph,

It is quite apparent that you do not believe in God anymore. If you think that you were deceived by all the evil Christians and The Bible, how do you know now that you are not being deceived? I have said it before, but it is so obvious that it warrants repeating again and again.

Your presupposition is that there is no God; therefore, no matter what I might present to you to show His existence, you must interpret it in a manner consistent with your presupposition: namely, that there is no God. If I were to have a video tape of God coming down from heaven, you'd say it was a special effect. If I had a thousand eye-witnesses saying they saw Him, you'd say it was mass-hysteria. If I had Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament, you'd say they were forged, dated incorrectly, or not real prophecies. So, I cannot prove anything to you since your presupposition won't allow it. It is limited.

Your presupposition cannot allow you to rightly determine God's existence from evidence -- providing that there were factual proofs of His existence. Don't you see? If I DID have incontrovertible proof, your presupposition would force you to interpret the facts consistently with your presupposition and you would not be able to see the proof.

Joseph said...

Dan, welcome! I was hoping you'd read my article and respond. Why do you presume to know what I would or wouldn't do? Are you a mind-reader now, too? Or are you simply taking a page out of "How to Respond to an Unbeliever," and quoting it verbatim?

Let me assure you: with sufficient evidence I could believe in God. Just because I no longer accept the Biblical prophecies as authentic, doesn't mean that I don't believe there could be some sort of higher intelligence or power out there in the universe. You want to convince me and the other atheists/agnostics on this blog? Accept the 100% challenge--show me a prophecy in the Bible that is irrefutable evidence of the deity of Christ and the divine inspiration of Scripture.

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tommy said...

The Book of Isaiah speaks of the Nile River drying up. Well, never once in recorded history has the Nile dried up. There's one OT prophecy that bites the dust.

Isaiah also speaks of kings and queens kneeling before Israel and kissing the ground at their feet. That never happened either.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Dan,
thats almost verbatim the same argument you used against me!

you should make it a little stronger. That presupposition thing you got from tne psuedoscience of NLP is pretty weak.

You are not considering that your presuppositions are based on circular reasoning. you believe in the christian god because the bible describes it, and the bible says it is the word of god. There is no corroborating evidence and there is a preponderance of evidence to show that it was borrowed from lots of other cultures and scriptures throughout the near east. Thats empirical evidence all converging on the one data point, that the bible is not the word of god but the words of people inspired by the idea of gods.

you need to get into some serious bible study, get closer to the originals.

The truth will sustain itself. All evidence will converge to the truth. You should have nothing to worry about if you are right.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

What Dan fails to understand about you, Joseph, and many of the members and commenters here, is that you DID have a presupposition. You started from the assumptions that God existed, that Christianity was true, and the the Bible was at least reliable, and some of you considered it inerrant. (I am saying 'you' rather than 'we' because, while I had some of the same presuppositions, I had already lost them before my study went beyond high school catechism class.)

That was your position before you began to study, and, as many of you have said, you began to study to answer objections you had heard from others, or in your own mind. You had expected the study to soothe your doubts and confirm your presuppositions, but instead it confirmed your doubts to your surprise. You were honest enough to go where the evidence drove you, but now you would be even less likely to rest on presuppositions. You'll look at the evidence, and if it re-changes your mind, that will be easier.

But admitting any of this is impossible for a believer like Dan to accept. He is totally convinced -- or thinks he is -- by what once convinced you but no longer does. If he really believes you DID try hard to hold on to your beliefs, that you read the Bible carefully, and prayed for guidance, and even used the same arguments on others that he is trying to use on you, if he believes you are honest in rejecting this, then you become a challenge to him, a challenge he dares not face because if he does, he might become like you.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Joseph: An excellent post and challenge. The question has been brought up before, but you do an excellent job of demonstrating how the 'prophecies' turn out to be talking about something else entirely. (I'd love to 'turn you loose' on the Book of Daniel, and the whole field of 'apocalyptic literature.' Believers never seem to understand that works like these, which were written in a specific format with stereotypical imagery, were not meant as 'prophecy' but were, in fact, comments on the current political situation disguised in a language somewhat similar to the "Aesopian" language of Samizdat. And yes, the Revelation of John is in the same mode.)

I have a few footnotes to your comments. The 'Slaughter of the Innocents' of course is not historical. The idea that someone like Herod, already in his last year of life -- and at 70 he must have known this -- would be so concerned with the future that he would try and kill an infant who would not be able to talk until Herod was in his grave is *ahem* out of character for him.

That he would say, about a purported Messiah "I wish to worship him" is also unlikely. The Messiah, in Jewish view, was a political/military figure, not a religious one -- though sent by God and usually accompanied by a rabbi to attest to his claim. He was to be followed, not worshiped. (The most successful -- among Jews -- Messianic claimant was Bar Kochba, someone who was almost scornful of religion. Dimont quotes him as saying "Lord, you need not help us, but don't spoil it for us either.")

But most of all, if the 'slaughter' had happened, somebody would have noticed and made a comment on it. Josephus liked gossip as much as he disliked Herod, he certainly would have mentioned it. (For a similar example of a biblical absurdity that, had it happened, would have been talked about for years, check out Matthew 27:52-53. Tell me that THAT wouldn't have been the talk of Jerusalem for years, and especially among the highest priestly circles such as Josephus' family.)

As for the "Nazarene" question, Charles Guignebert, the religious historian, makes a very compelling case that the phrase "Jesus the Nazarene" did not and could not mean "Jesus of Nazareth." Not only was Nazareth not a city but, if it even existed, a very small village, not only was the term "of such-and-such" rarely used except to distinguish two people, and the phrase that would have been used more likely would have been "Jesus of Gallilee," but the way the phrase is used in the Bible seems to imply the word 'Nazarene' had a much more important significance than merely being a place of origin. (Guignebert's suggestions for what it might have meant are less convincing. I have a hypothesis, but it is based on little evidence, and I may send it to you in e-mail for your thoughts on it.)

Vinny said...

Joseph,

When I was a senior in high school thirty years ago, I accepted Jesus as my personal saviour because the gospel seemed to promise the meaning that I was looking for in my life. However, when I read "Evidence that Demands a Verdict," I was very disappointed because I could not see how any of the arguments would ever convince any of my skeptical friends or relatives. It just seemed like all the attempts to prove that the Bible stories were reliable depended on the assumption that the stories were reliable. My own faith only lasted for a couple of years.

I guess I can understand how the someone raised in the evangelical tradition might read "Evidence" or "The Case for Christ" and assume that the authors are covering all their bases. I still cannot help but wonder whether or not McDowell and Strobel realize on some level how much shoveling they are doing.

Dan Marvin said...

That is a lot of the problem. When people pray Jesus into their heart or accept him as a personal savior (what verse is that?) they are not using scripture at all.

Please Read

Joseph said...

Dan, I was baptized into Christ, according to Acts 2:38. So, you should be able to talk to me with some level of respect. Can you understand that I'm just having a lot of problems believing that the Scriptures are divinely inspired? Why do you believe in them, especially if the Messianic prophecies are unreliable?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Joseph,
Great article. I'm writing to point out that Dan nor irishfarmer has rebutted your article, they have skirted the issue and attacked you personally.

IrishFarmer tried to poison your well. He didn't tell you what the problem was, he just threw out an unsubstantiated claim that you had a shortcoming. Namely understanding the methods of the jews at the time. He skirted the issue as well. This tactic will allow him and other christians to go about happily chanting something that sounds substantive, but is unsubstantiated. Irishfarmers blog, from what I have read, is one big personal attack on anyone that challenges christianity. None of us have 'intelligent' reasons to leave the faith. therefore we are unreasonable. At least I will concede that a christian is not unreasonable or irrational if they base their belief on the best information they have at the time.

Dan did the same thing. You are at fault because you had made up your mind ahead of time. How that happened isn't clear is it? You had to base that on something didn't you? But he won't address even that. His reasoning is circular. To break out of that he has to examine your reasons and warrants and principles that changed your mind.

That is a consistent strategy with christians. It is consistent with the faith as well. If you don't get it YOU haven't tried hard enough. Its the old "I got mine, why can't you get yours?" argument.

Dan Marvin said...

Joseph "Dan, I was baptized into Christ, according to Acts 2:38. So, you should be able to talk to me with some level of respect." Respect you for what? Going against a promise? I am afraid that you don't even understand what you have done. You didn't get sprinkled with water or you didn't just get immersed in a tub to receive the Gift of God. Being baptized means that you have publicly made a covenant (promise) with God, not just got wet, do you understand now?

I am sure you remember this from my blog:

God’s word declares that this is God's plan of salvation; 1. Hear the WORD of God. 2. Believe that Jesus is the Messiah. 3. Repent of your ways that are contrary to God’s will. 4. Be Baptized INTO Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 5. Remain faithful to the Covenant you have made with God.

Step 4 is not water baptism, do you understand that. Step 4 is a promise to God that you will allow Jesus to run your entire life, forever. Water baptism is just a symbol of this, not the act itself.

What you have done is broken step 5 and now you declared war against God by publicly denouncing Him as our Savior. You are in doubt and His wrath is upon you.

And Lee you said "If you don't get it YOU haven't tried hard enough. You sure do not understand Christians that is for sure you are utterly wrong and you basically have misunderstood the entire message of the Bible. Do you even understand the verses Ephesians 2:8-9? You can do nothing or "try hard enough" to earn your way or do anything for salvation. The Bible is clear that you are chosen to go to Heaven that if you have doubt be very disappointed in yourself, and you actions, that God did NOT chose you for salvation. Do you need examples of this (1 Peter 2:4,James 2:5,2 Timothy 2:4,2 Thessalonians 2:13,Ephesians 1:4,Acts 22:14) and countless others.

Revelation 17:14 "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."

You and Joseph are anything but faithful or even chosen for that matter. You must repent and trust in Jesus in hopes that he chooses you for salvation. Your doubt is just an indication (fruit) that the message fell on stony ground and sprung up at first but when the heat of the sun(Son) came down on you (or tribulation) you just withered away and died on the inside. Lee I can't say that you and Joseph had the same thing happened but what I read of Joseph this is what happened to him, maybe you can relate.

John 15:19 "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

Please repent so that God MAY chose you also as he has chosen me. The gift is too wonderful not to have.

John 15:16 "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

It certainly is not "I got mine, why can't you get yours?" I know why you can't get yours. It is more like "I was chosen, repent and trust in Jesus so He can chose you also and we both can go to be with the Father in Heaven."

For Him +†+,
Dan

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Dan: Let's follow your 'broken promise' argument a little farther by looking at a young man named Mohammed Jamshed. Born and raised a Muslim, he, at first, fully believed that Islam was true, that the Qu'ran was, in fact, the word of God dictated by an Angel to Mohammed. Believing that, he made the 'promises' his religion required.

But, after further reading, study, and prayer, he has been convinced that Allah was a false, non-existent being, that the Qu'ran was the work of a man, AND that Christianity was the 'one, true religion.'

By the logic of your argument, when he shows up at the door of your church, he should be told, 'you made a promise to Allah. It doesn't matter that you no longer believe. You made the prmise, so you should return to the mosque and worship there.'

Because that is what, in effect, you are telling Joseph. He DOES NOT BELIEVE in the Christian God. He doesn't see how or why he should be held to a promise he made to something he doesn't believe exists. He knows he would be a hypocrite if he pretended to believe. Maybe he's wrong, but how could your God -- if he did exist -- want him to pretend to be what he can't be in his heart. Your God would know he was lying if he pretended to 'repent of his unbelief.'

Joseph said...

Dan, you don't want to respond to my reasons for deconversion, so you instead attack my character. You don't even know me! How then can you judge my heart? Again, read your own Scriptures about the judging issue.

Here's something else for you to chew on: if the seed of the word fell on stony ground (as you claim my heart was), then how was it I able to demonstrate the "fruits of the Spirit" all those years? How was it that I was able to preach the word with conviction? Baptize others into Christ? Was that Satan working through me? I believe the Pharisees got in trouble for saying that Jesus did his works by the power of Satan.

The fact is, I was a true, genuine believer. I "fell away" because I lost my confidence in the truthfulness of Scripture. I made a difficult, but informed decision to walk away from something that was chalked full of error. And I have suffered emotionally and socially because it.

Bottom line: you have said nothing to convince me that the Christian faith is true, or that you are even a true Christian yourself (you could be an atheist masquerading as one, just to get my goat)!

Dan, all you are full of assumptions and accusations, but have not offered up one cogent argument. You believe in evangelical Christianity and you can't understand why anyone would disbelieve it. I don't know if you are a little slow or just hopelessly close-minded (I'm beginning to think the former, as you can't seem to track an argument from start to finish). Do you even read my posts and comments? Do you? If so, can you please, please, please address the issue at hand?

Here's the issue again, in case you've forgotten: the New Testament writers apparently misquote Old Testament passages in support of Jesus being the Messiah. Explain to me how these passages demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus is the Christ. Remember, if even one such passage is shown to be bogus, the entire foundation falters.

Shygetz said...

Dan, your "logic" is silly. Contracts made with fictional entities are void and meaningless. If God is real, then yes, all apostates are violating their covenants and will be punished. If He is not real, then there was never a covenant to violate.

Did you ever believe in Santa Claus? If so, should I consider you a Santa apostate, and exhort you to return to Santaism? Try thinking before typing; it's slower, but much more efficient.

You must repent and trust in Jesus in hopes that he chooses you for salvation.

Why bother? If predestination is correct, then que sera, sera. As you said:

"You can do nothing or "try hard enough" to earn your way or do anything for salvation."

Seriously, those two statements are in the same comment, yet they flatly contradict each other. Can I or can I not "do anything for salvation"? Does "repenting and trusting in Jesus" help (if so, then I can do something) or not (in which case, why bother)?

Dan Marvin said...

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said... "By the logic of your argument, when he shows up at the door of your church, he should be told, 'you made a promise to Allah."

I hope your kidding, but there is a huge difference between making a covenant with satan and making a covenant with God. I hope you understand this, one is a creation (like Mohammed) one is the Creator.

I don't know who to give credit to for this but it is worth saying.

"If I lie to a child, I'll get away with it.
If I lie to my wife, I'll be sleeping on the couch.
If I lie to a police officer, I'm obstructing justice and I'll go to jail.
If I lie to a judge, it's called perjury, and I'll go to prison.
If I lie to the government, it's called treason, and the punishment is death.
So how much more egregrious is a lie to God?
The offense hasn't changed, only the one offended.

An offense against an infinite God requires an infinite retribution."

Joseph "you have said nothing to convince me that the Christian faith is true,"

And there is nothing I can say to convince you, to think that a man can change the hard hearts of the lost is futile, Romans 9:14-23 comes to mind.

Joseph "I don't know if you are a little slow or just hopelessly close-minded"

I wouldn't use hopelessly but closed-minded, sure, you see I trust God. I will trust Jesus and you can trust every man on earth if you would like. I am very closed-minded in that sense.

Shygetz "If God is real, then yes, all apostates are violating their covenants and will be punished."

Thanks for understanding this point, talk to Joseph about it.

Shygetz "Did you ever believe in Santa Claus?" Umm I hate to bring this up because I do not celebrate Christmas with a graven image such as this, but Santa Claus was real, his name was Saint NIckolas. "Try thinking before typing; it's slower, but much more efficient." LOL

("try hard enough" to earn your way ) Shygetz "Can I or can I not "do anything for salvation"?

The only thing we can do (not works) to be saved is described in Acts 2:38 "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized (act of obedience, or Trust) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Certain religions believe they can do something to earn salvation, it is a gift from God, nothing you do will earn your way to heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9

From my blog: "That is, our religion is from the Creator. It is a result of our hope and trust in God. It is the natural fruit. False religions have stolen from God and not the other way around. False religions have a common denominator and that is there assault on the term "Justification." They are working toward their salvation. We are working as a result of our salvation."

Joseph said...

Dan, looking at your response, it's apparent that you pick and choose the points that you want to answer and blatantly ignore the rest! Unbelievable!

I'm telling you that I'm open to being convinced that the Christian faith is true. That should be enough to engage in a reasonable and well-rounded discussion on the subject. Beyond that, I'll worry about my heart and my motives, you worry about yours. So, let's talk about the facts, shall we? Explain to me why Matthew takes Jeremiah 31 completely out of context and attempts to apply it prophetically to events surrounding the infancy of Jesus? Was Jeremiah talking about the Babylonian Captivity in Jeremiah 31 or not? If he was, why does Matthew take verse 15 and say it's about the slaughter of children by King Herod hundreds of years later? And why can't this event be substantiated historically?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Dan:
Before I get to your direct comment to me, about St. Nicholas (or Nikolas). Yes, he may have been a real person, but he
a) had nothing to do with Christmas
b)had no contact with reindeer
and c) never claimed to visit all the houses in the (Western) world on one night.

In this he was very much like Yeshua bar Joseph, who was also (probably) a real person but
a) never claimed to be God's son
b) as an Orthodox -- if eccentric -- Jew, never imagined he was starting a new religion -- pne inspired mostly by another rabbi he never met
c) and never expected to be, nor was he, raised from the dead.

The parallel IS a very nice one.

More after the Mets game.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Dan:
You really show your ignorance of Islam here, and any Muslim who read this would be highly offended. Not at the "Satanic" comment, necessarily -- they might say the same about Christianity. But at the ultimate ignorant insult of claiming they deify Mohammed.

This is as stupid as saying that Jews deify Moses. All three religions worship the same God, the God that (supposedly) made the covenant with Abraham. All three claim that that God is one, and the only God there is.

And Muslims are horrified at the concept of the Trinity for precisely that reason. They consider Yeshua a Prophet, not Divine -- true, they use the Arabic form, Issa, as you use the Greek form of the name, Jesus. They consider him and Moses both Prophets, as they consider Mohammed, and believe that all three -- and Noah, and Adam -- were preaching the same message from God that appears in the Qur'an. Mohammed merely was the last Prophet, the one who delivered the message directly from God through the Angel Gabriel.

Now you might consider that nonsense. I've actually read the Qur'an and have better reason to consider it so.

But if you are going to condemn a religion for their beliefs, at least get them RIGHT!

Joseph said...

You know, I actually was holding out hope for a decent conversation with Dan. Reading his comments a few articles back, I thought he was a total ass. Now I think he's just gutsy, but uniformed. You know, one of those gung-ho soldiers for Jesus ("It's not mine to question why, it's mine to do or die"). I really gave him a chance to tear into my arguments, didn't I? But it's like having a one-way conversation with this guy! I mean, you'll spend a decent 4-5 paragraphs responding thoughtfully to his remarks and then, instead of responding to your points directly, he'll pick on something in the periphery, and throw in a couple of Scriptures as fillers. Frustrating!

DRSimrak said...

Wow. Can I say that fairly? Um... Where to begin... Well first and foremost I am a Christian. I am fundamental in my beliefs, but not a fundamentalist. The difference is that I do not believe that the ends justify the means.

Anywhoo, I have noticed a couple of things.

1. I cannot comment on the prophecy so much not because I don't care or think that it is not my business, but because I really haven't done an indepth study of it and I also am not well versed in Greek and Hebrew. I'm not an authority.

2. In reading the comments to this post, I was very intrigued with Dan, but disappointed at how as a Christian he basically resorted to name calling and cynicism. That's not my bag and it's also not scriptural.

3. An observation I have made when it comes to people and their belief in scripture and such is that it is talked about in the Bible. The reasons as to why and such. Usually what I have seen is that there is a man made promise or belief or expectation that was made and there is hurt that that promise was broken. If we look even at Jesus' coming to die for the sins of the world there is a huge misconception.

The Jews were looking for someone to free them from Roman rule which will happen, but the bigger picture goes back to Genesis were mankind fell and sin entered the world. There was a promise then that there would be a messiah that would be the ultimate sacrifice.

Anywhoo, I digress. My point is actually a question and that is, what happened? Joseph, what happened that not only do you just not believe which is your call, but that you are so angry. The reason I know you're angry is by the verbage that you use. I'm not aiming to comment on your character or even to pretend to know you, I'm just curious as to how you were hurt. In my brief reading of a couple of your posts I have gotten the sense that you and a group of others have been hurt.

In my experience, I find that a lot of times people are not so much mad at God but hurt by the people who misrepresent him.

That's really all I have to say.

If you are interested in more intellectual material I would suggest you look into Dr. Chuck Missler.

God bless I hope you find the truth you are looking for.

Joseph said...

Hi drsimrak, welcome to the discussion. I hope you stick around, as we could use your perspectives. One of your questions struck me and that was why I and others hear seemed so angry. I will say personally that I am not angry, nor am I really hurt at someone who betrayed me (I bear no animosity towards my parents for raising me as a fundamentalist). I'm frustrated because I have discovered something--something incredibly eye opening (which came, admittedly, with a deep emotional loss) and when I try to tell my fellow Christians about it, they find some way to dismiss my doubts as irrelevant or unfounded--or simply ignore them altogether. So, perhaps that may account for my rather passionate rhetoric, especially when responding to someone like Dan! But please understand that with someone like you, I project no anger. It would actually be a delight to exchange thoughtful responses with a thoughtful theist (hey, I just gave someone an idea for the title of a blog, "The Thoughtful Theist").

Now, to your point that you don't have enough background in Hebrew/Greek to evaluate the Messianic prophecies. There are plenty of scholars who are well versed in both languages who have come to the same conclusion as I. In this article, I didn't quote them because I know that most fundamentalists don't respect such "liberal" scholarship. It's better to convince them with the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone. That's why I said, if we have a good translation of the Bible in hand we should be able to look into the Scriptures ourselves (with a few basic reference tools) and uncover the relative truthfulness of it's prophetic applications.

Oh, yes--one more thing. If I may, I'd like to ask you about something you said: "The Jews were looking for someone to free them from Roman rule which will happen, but the bigger picture goes back to Genesis where mankind fell and sin entered the world. There was a promise then that there would be a messiah that would be the ultimate sacrifice." What is the prophecy you are referring to and how do you know it refers to the Messiah?

Agnosis00 said...

For those who are interested in this topic, I would recommend John Dominic Crossan’s Who Killed Jesus. He gives a very brief summary of his view here:

“My term 'prophecy historicized'…was used originally for a very specific purpose. Granted the historicity of the crucifixion, where did all those detailed hour by hour, word by word, blow by blow, data come from? I asked whether it came from history remembered and answered that it came from prophecy historicized.

My negative reasons for that conclusion were (1) that nobody outside the Gospels ever mentioned any of them, (2) that everyone seemed very dependent on Mark and went their dramatically separate ways when they ran out of Mark at 16:8. It seemed difficult to explain how Matthew and Luke (for most scholars) and John (for some scholars) were so dependent on Mark’s narrative if everyone knew such a 'history remembered' passion since the 30s.

The positive reason was that the overall structure, the individual units, and the particular texts of the passion narrative were all resonant in the background with Old Testament models, narrative and texts. My conclusion was, in that case, prophecy historicized was the best solution, not for the brutal fact of crucifixion but for all its attendant details. I would make, by the way, a similar argument for Matthew’s birth story…. Each case, however, where prophecy historicized is claimed, must be established on its own merits.”

A valuable counterpoint to Crossan is Mark Goodacre’s “tradition scripturalized.”

“The multiple echoes of Biblical themes and the varied allusions to Scriptural precedent are plausibly explained on the hypothesis that from the beginning there was an intimate interaction between event, memory, tradition and Scriptural reflection. Events generated Scriptural reflection, which in turn influenced the way events were remembered and retold.”

Dan Marvin said...

DRSimrak "In reading the comments to this post, I was very intrigued with Dan, but disappointed at how as a Christian he basically resorted to name calling and cynicism. That's not my bag and it's also not scriptural."

Can you prove this last point you made? Are you judging me on my judging others? Have you read the other posts that i have made to these people? Please point me in the right direction then. Scripturaly tell me how to do this.

Are we to just coddle the lost?

Matthew 22:39 "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"

But what does this truly mean. Does that mean we are to love them no matter what they do because we are sinners also? Do we coddle them in their sins, tell them God loves them no matter what? Nope Jesus was clear when he said this. He was telling us what the standard was. The way to show your love to your neighbor is to warn them and their sins will take them to hell.

The only way you can show your love to your neighbor was outlined in Leviticus 19:17-18 "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. I love them enough to ask them to repent and trust in Jesus, he will save them. Without him they will perish, and I just can't watch that happen to them. Are you born again?

Joseph said...

Dan, how do you know there is a God and that you are truly born again?

Dan Marvin said...

Joseph "Dan, how do you know there is a God and that you are truly born again?"

This is such a private question but I will share publicly in hopes that it will aid someone, somehow. I was born and raised an atheist and was taught to lie, cheat and steal in my fathers teachings and I couldn't believe that wrong was right, anyway, got out of the military was a life guard for a community pool. I met a woman who was at peace and very nice and said to myself "now there is the type of woman to marry" at end of summer she gave me a card with a tract in it. I said the little prayer and went to a chicks house who eventually moved in with me.

Turned out she worshiped the devil literally and I kicked her out because she was "CRAZY!" I wanted to look up in the Bible (that I never read) the section on devils and got frustrated because it was just stories, so I took three weeks and read it cover to cover and fell on my knees with a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 34:18,Psalm 51:17) and became what I thought a Christian at age 23. I was still sinning for years, it took 15 years in fact to find out I was a liberal Christian or even a gulp!, false convert. Not very long ago my life changed forever, I repented of all my sinning fasted for 11 days and put my entire and full trust in the Lord, forever, born again. I now witness daily and read God's word daily. God manifested himself to me (John14:21) and all doubt was removed.

I have had many "God experiences" that removed all my doubt. In a different blog, in the past, someone asked how does God speak to me and a couple of people, who had much better answers then mine, wrote the following:

"So how does God speak to me? In no particular order:

1) Through scripture.
2) Through nature (the big things and the small).
3) Through other Xians.
4) Through other people (all truth is God breathed).
5) Through impressions in my Spirit.
6) Through dreams (very rarely in my case).
7) With an audible voice (extremely rare in my case).
8) Through seeing things with my eyes that are not actually present in the physical world (rare, but it has happened).
9) Some things I just "know" without having perceived them.
10) Through miracles.
11) Through peace, joy etc. (deeper than mere emotion).
12) Through things I have written.
13) Through science, mathematics, philosophy.
14) Through all expressions of love.
15) Through reason.
16) In music, especially (but not exclusively) gospel / worship music."

Another answered like this

"I do not know How He is speaking with you.

He speaks to me most often in
1.synchronicities…
2.impossible "coincidences"…
3.things that oddly catch my attention…
4.unfolding chains of events
5. SYMBOLS symbolism found in my dreaming and my waking!
6. "double" meanings and "life signs"…
7. creation. everything existing in the physical world… speaks of the Spirit. everything.
8. supernatural heightening of the senses.
9. out and out "impossibilities"
10. simple spiritual intuition."

Joseph said...

Dan, most of those things sound very subjective to me. Which one would you say is the strongest objective evidence for God's existence? That's the first question. The second is, how do you know that this God is the same God described by evangelical Christians? What if he is the God of Islam or the Jehovah's Witnesses or even your Satanist girlfriend?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Dan:
I suppose, if I'm wrong I owe you an apology, but having read your 'personal testimony,' I don't believe a word of it. Even the writing doesn't sound like you -- you are, whatever I might say about your thinking processes, a pretty good writer. This comes across as stilted and copied from some colection of 'personal testimonies' in a Christian magazine. It could, just barely, be true, but the cliches and unlikely naturew of the events makes me doubt it. (Do you have any idea how rare it is to find a true Satanist? If there are a thousand of them in the country, I'd be surprised. And yes, they are most definitely crazy. Even my Wiccan friends would say that. And, btw, WHAT 'section of the Bible on devils.' And the whole "I found out I was really a liberal Christian or *gasp* a false convert."

The whole thing sounds copied, but at least its accomplished one thing. You will no longer have my comments to 'refute' or duck, because I'm through with you. I don't like dealing with liars.

Dan Marvin said...

Joseph,

"most of those things sound very subjective to me." They are! What's your point? In 1 Corinthians 12 it talks about how we all have different spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ .

"Which one would you say is the strongest objective evidence for God's existence?" Our faith alone Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

"The second is, how do you know that this God is the same God described by evangelical Christians? What if he is the God of Islam or the Jehovah's Witnesses or even your Satanist girlfriend?"

I will answer this with something someone wrote to me and I put it on my blog:

"That is, our religion is from the Creator. It is a result of our hope and trust in God. It is the natural fruit. False religions have stolen from God and not the other way around. False religions have a common denominator and that is there assault on the term "Justification." They are working toward their salvation. We are working as a result of our salvation.

We have to separate the biblical Jews from religious Jews. One had hope in the Messiah's coming. They acted as a result of this promise. King David loved God because of the promise given to him by faith. The religious Jew (Judaism), as in the case today, denies Jesus and attempts to bring to God their religious efforts.

A religion that is pure in the sight of God is a "discipline" which results and originates, from God. We do these things as a result of being justified. We do these things because God has declared us "not guilty" because of the passive/active obedience of the Messiah being given to us as a gift. His works are what save us. In contrast, the religions of the world who deny justification seek to bring their "religious" efforts to God to "save" them.

Don't let that word religion, be a hindrance. We as believers have a beautiful religion because it is a fruit which comes from God. It starts with him and ends with him. Like I said; the religion we show is a result of what God did. It is an external response. For example, we love because he first loved us right? The false religions out there have a completely different gospel. As a result they bring their filthy rags and present then to God thinking they are working their way to God. We have been made clean by the word. The false religions make themselves clean." (Moshe, carm.org)

Have a great weekend,
Dan

Joseph said...

Prup, I'm with you on this one. I've been corresponding via email with Dan for the past two days and I'm convinced this guy is seriously whack. All I'm getting from him is a drone-like dialog and a lot of condescending "I feel sorry for you" statements. I think we're all just making him feel important by continuing to respond to his comments.

Dan, if you're reading this...this is the end.

Dan Marvin said...

Wow that came out of left field. This is the very first time I publicly gave "MY story" it is understandable why you don't believe it, I didn't even believe it myself but it is funny now looking back but I thought the Bible had a category about hell or devils when I first picked it up. I had no idea when I first read it what it was about.

It is the truth, Shawna was truly a devil worshiper her dad, family and friends were also. It gets very weird as to what happened, (I should write a book about it) I was told by experts that she may have been some sort of recruiter. It was dark and real and my story, without lies. You can attach as many ad hominem fallacies you want about me but it was the truth.

Joseph you are misrepresenting me as to our conversation "All I'm getting from him is a drone-like dialog and a lot of condescending "I feel sorry for you" statements."

Joseph, in our emails you feel that water baptism is necessary for salvation and as I said it isn't. Definitions of baptized "To be baptized is to publicly acknowledge one's faith in Christ as Savior and Lord by being immersed in water. Since acceptance with God is based solely on trust in the person of Christ who died for our sins and rose from the dead, water baptism is only a sign or outward indication of one's faith. It is not necessary for salvation (I Corinthians 1:10-18; 15:1-4)."

For some added proof I gave you writings about it and Luke 23:39-43. I am hear to help anyway I can and if you chose not to believe me that is fine and understandable. Look you don't even believe that all of creation has a Creator so it is understandable that you do not believe little ol me.

Shygetz said...

You can attach as many ad hominem fallacies you want about me but it was the truth.

Not an ad hominem fallacy; neither prup nor joseph are saying your religion is false because you are a liar, they are just saying you are a liar. No ad hominem fallacy, just name calling.

Sorry to butt in, but that's really my blogging pet peeve. If I do nothing else, I will educate people as to what an ad hominem really is.

Joseph said...

Dan, in our emails (since you want to air them publicly), you state that the church of Christ breeds murderers and devils (like the woman who murdered her husband earlier this year in Tennessee). The baptism issue was brought up because you're website is full of injunctions to be baptized (you link there, and in one of your previous comments here, to the 5 Steps--a classic formula of the church of Christ)...yet you don't mention baptism once in your "testimony" here. Another inconsistency in your story.

You're like a drone, in that you continue to mouth the same tired religious dogma, but you cannot seem to respond to an argument on the issue that generated this article--namely the disingenuous nature of the Messianic prophecies.

I would love to, love to, LOVE TO have a straightforward conversation about ONE single strain of thought with you, Dan. Instead, everything keeps coming back to you "I want to help you." This is a place for thinkers to exchange ideas about the validity of Christianity. Can you defend the prophecies I mentioned in my article or not?

investigate said...

I don't want to rain on your parade, Joseph, but I found a more intriguing verse that could foreshadow the bone reference.

Numbers 9:12 speaks about the Passover Lamb, which of course Christ became with his crucifixion. The verse says of the Lamb, "They must not leave any of it till morning, or break any of its bones".

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Christ taken off the cross before nightfall?

investigate said...

And just while I'm at it...the reference to Nazarene. Nazareth was, of course, an insignificant village in Galilee.

Isa 9:1, the chapter helpfully titled "To Us a Child is Born", suggests the Messiah will be a Galilean...

Given the Micah 5:2 reference to Bethlehem...we now have an interesting couple of prophecies highlighting different parts of the Messiah's heritage...yes?

DRSimrak said...

Dan,
I'm not disputing the ways of Salvation. Scripture is clear that it is by grace through faith. I'm disputing your method, arguments and disputes get people no where.

Yes, we need to share the truth and yes, we should be honest about it. However, and this is something that I learned the hard way, it's not about shoving the gospel down people's throats, but sharing the reason and the cause for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.

Joseph,

The prophecy I'm referring too has a couple of different hinges. In Genesis 3:15 We are told that there will be enmity between the seed of the woman and the offspring of the serpent.

Then in Genesis 4:25 Eve gives birth to Seth which means appointed. Her first two sons are out of the running of those who can fulfill the prophecy. Cain killed Abel and well Abel was killed by Cain. So when she gives birth to Seth (appointed) she believed he would fulfill the prophesy.

Something that was definitely cultural of the time was that children were named for a reason, not just because it sounded cool. So in looking at the text we see that there is a prophesy here.

Now, I wouldn't form a whole scriptural doctrine in which I strictly adhered to from this, but it's a start. I referred to Chuck Missler earlier, but he has done a lot of work on this subject. I would encourage you to check him out. He's someone that has done some homework,

Dan Marvin said...

Joseph "Dan, in our emails (since you want to air them publicly),"

Sorry wrong again buddy you did this first, remember? You said "I've been corresponding via email with Dan for the past two days and I'm convinced this guy is seriously whack. All I'm getting from him is a drone-like dialog and a lot of condescending "I feel sorry for you" statements." Which just wasn't true at all. you are misrepresenting the facts.

Joseph "you state that the church of Christ breeds murderers and devils" again from my blog: The Bible says to evaluate everything to see if it is of God by its fruit, good tree = good fruit; a bad tree can never bear good fruit. We don't even have to address the Catholic Church and the mass pedophiles, and the crusades to determine the fruit, it is obvious.

The woman who murdered her husband earlier this year in Tennessee and Andrea Yates (drown her 5 kids) were fruits of the church of christ. Look at Revelation 2-3 Jesus is condemning the evil of the many different assemblies. I will stand on what I said, they have a false doctrine.

Joseph "you're (your) website is full of injunctions to be baptized" Yes, baptized into Christ not water maybe I need to be clearer about it. I will pray about it and maybe make some changes to be clearer.

Joseph "Another inconsistency in your story." How is not mentioning something an inconsistency when it isn't even part of salvation.

Your question to me was "Dan, how do you know there is a God and that you are truly born again?" I know I am born again through my repentance and Trust in Jesus, it had nothing to do with water baptism. Even though I was baptised with water also, it has nothing to do with my salvation or knowing I am truly Born Again. Consistent and true.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) you owe me an apology "I suppose, if I'm wrong I owe you an apology, but having read your 'personal testimony,' I don't believe a word of it."

Shygetz "neither prup nor joseph are saying your religion is false because you are a liar, they are just saying you are a liar. No ad hominem fallacy,"

They believe I am a liar AND that my religion is false (replace because with and) I understand your point, it is still a thin line between the two. Isn't the whole blog debunking Christianity? If they find a Christian to be a liar, is that feeding their cause? I will stand on the ad hominem fallacy but you made a point.

DRSimrak "However, and this is something that I learned the hard way, it's not about shoving the gospel down people's throats, but sharing the reason and the cause for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus." I understand 1 Peter 3:15 and I Agree. With all do respect have you gotten to know any of these individuals? After this long of talking to them, I am to the point of real concern for their souls.

We get to a point that the child needs a wake up call. The Bible describes hell as unquenchable fire,(Mark 9:43) outer darkness,(Matthew 22:13) a furnace of fire and a place where people wail and gnash their teeth,(Matthew 13:42) and a lake of fire.(Revelation 20:15) where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched,(Mark 9:48) and where people are in agony in flames.(Luke 16:24) Perhaps the most terrifying passage in the Bible describing hell says that men will drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night." (Revelation 14:10-11)

Some verses I am using in the back of my head while I talk to these folks is 2 Corinthians 5:11,Hebrews 10:31,Romans 3:19,1 Timothy 1:9-10,Romans 7:7-8,2 Timothy 3:16

Either way rejoice DRSimrak as it says in Philippians 1:15-18

"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."

Joseph said...

Investigate, thank you for responding to my challenge! I want to give your attempted explanations the attention they deserve and I fear that it will get buried 45 comments deep, so please stay tuned for a follow-up article in the next day or two.

drsimrak, Chuck Missler runs in the same circle as Hal Lindsey and the "last days madness" crowd, so I would be cautious about his perspectives (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Chuck_Missler). Having said that, if you have a specific article by him relevant to the prophecies at hand, I'd be happy to read it.

Joseph said...

Dan, how in the world is any church responsible for the free will actions of a couple of its wacko members? To prove your thesis, you would have to show that the vast majority of church of Christ members also murder their husband and kids. You're stretching here and you know it.

Oh, and I referenced my email correspondence with you, but I didn't disclose specific conversations. All respect is lost at this point.

BTW, you're careful to respond to everything in my comments BUT the one challenge I keep bringing up to you: show me how the messianic prophecies of Matthew and John are genuine and not misquotations of the Old Testament. I dare you.

Joseph said...

Agnosis, you bring up some very interesting perspectives and I will attempt to wade through the rather lengthy articles you linked to. I have no doubt that the New Testament writers believed there were were foreshadows and illusions in the Old Testament to Jesus. The big question in my mind is, can a rational person today come to the same conclusion from studying the Hebrew Scriptures alone? I'm not convinced she can.

Agnosis00 said...

Joseph,

Thanks for considering these perspectives. I would recommend just reading the link to Mark Goodacre's article, since he explains Crossan's view as well.

(The other link is just an interview with Crossan where he talks about several topics, and it is where I got the quote).

But if you are really interested, I would again recommend Crossan's book on the topic. It would bolster your case, although in a somewhat different way.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Dan: The more you write, the less I see any need to offer you an apology -- or for that matter, further notice. However, your dissemination of the myth of Satanic Cults does require some debunking.

They don't exist. at least as Christians portray them. There are small groups of Satanists, yes. If you look into them, you'll find most of the members are of two types:
First are those who are (chronologically or emotionally) in their teens or early twenties who are 'acting out' by playing at being 'really, really, really bad.' (They are usually motivated by a mixture of two factors, a desire to 'shock adults' and, frequently, a more hidden -- and I'd argue, religiously caused -- psychological masochism. They are convinced they are damned, deserve punishment, deserve to be hated in the way they have been taught to hate themselves, and by choosing this garb, they can create this effect in others.)
An even larger group get involved for no other reason than they think it gives them a great chance to get laid.

These people are, for the most part, pathetic and silly, but they are harmless. (No, I do not rule out the possibility that some seriously and dangerously disturbed people might, in fact, use Satanism as an excuse for horrible actions -- just as there have been serial killers motivated by a warped view of Christianity and a belief that 'god is speaking to them.' I am unaware of any such people -- the stories of mass murders by Satanists are all provable myths, frequently inspired by the mental manipulation of young people by 'theophostic' psychotherapists -- but they may have existed.)

There are a very few 'serious Satanists' who have been inspired by the writings of such as Simon LeVey and Aleistair Crowley -- if you check Wikipedia on this, however, be aware that the 'list of writers who associated with LeVey' were not people who agreed with him. I know of the background of at least two of them, Boucher and Bretnor, and know they remained committed Catholics until their deaths, and the others I recognize and know something about, particularly Derleth and Leiber, were also not Satanists.

The 'serious Satanists' are equally absurd but if you read their writings, they are not evil -- well, near the end I've heard LeVey went near the edge, and they frequently constructed their psuedo-philosophy so they could demonstrate that the Christian myths about Satanism were wrong, that their philosophy was as ethical as Christianity. You can even read about them on their own 'Church' websites.

Silly, yes, evil, no more so than the members of any group.

Shygetz said...

Dan says: "The Bible says to evaluate everything to see if it is of God by its fruit, good tree = good fruit; a bad tree can never bear good fruit. "

Yes; now let's evaluate the entire Christian religion by its fruit to see if it is of God, analogous to how you evaluated (or "judged") denominations by the actions of its members. The Christian religion has sprouted numerous denominations, which your theology claims is evil (according to a link you left). Indeed, you speak vehemently against denominations in your blog. Now, these denominations are the fruit of Christianity, much as the members are fruit of each denomination.

So, if the fruit of Christianity are evil, then Christianity must not be of God.

DRSimrak said...

Joseph,

Fair enough but be careful that you don't debunk the message because of the messenger. I would check this article.
http://www.khouse.org/articles/1996/44/

Joseph said...

Thanks for the link. I'll read it and respond in either my next article or an upcoming one.

Dan Marvin said...

Joseph "To prove your thesis, you would have to show that the vast majority of church of Christ members also murder their husband and kids."

Not every religious person is saved and vice versa. There are many examples of that church having bad fruit. I will give you two more, ready? You and I.

I was a false convert by that church until years later, after falling away from them, only to find out I would have gone to hell because of their teachings, and YOU because you grew up in a home of ministers from that Church and you are now an Atheist who now publicly declares war against God. How many more do you need.

There are many writings about the false doctrine of The Church of Christ, just Google it and read some. I have first hand knowledge ( "Hot Iron of experience") of the darkness in those churches in many states abroad and came to my own conclusion and it wasn't until later that I found many others that experienced the same as I have. Are YOU good fruit from that church Joseph?

So Prup (aka Jim Benton) you define satanism as "Silly, yes, evil, no" Ummm OK then remember the greatest trick for satan is to get others to believe he doesn't exist. There is another group that dedicate their entire lives to satan and do whatever is against God. They are often involved in drug dealing, gun running, prostitution, pornography they molest their own children and they feel powerful if they help destroy souls. To me that is the definition of evil and yes it is very underground and secret because who want attention when you are involved in those things. They do exist and I agree they are silly AND evil. I feel they use the evil part to intimidate and keep kids scared and silent while they exploit them in all of the above situations. They are a sick group for sure.

Shygetz "So, if the fruit of Christianity are evil, then Christianity must not be of God." Close the fruit of denominations are evil in my opinion (Jeremiah 32:38-40) and is not of God. Look at Revelation 2-3 and how many assemblies Jesus rebukes

Joseph said...

Of course, Dan, you still haven't commented once on the problems with Messianic prophecies of Scripture. Why are you avoiding the issue?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Dan: Stop spreading myths. The supposed 'evil Satanists' you describe don't exist.

(And, of course, Satan doesn't either, any more than God does, but that's a whole different argument.)

And if you are going to quote Revelations at us, kindly do some reading to see that this, like Daniel and several other books like it that no one attempted to put in the canon, were not 'prophecies,' but a particular -- and very formulaic -- type of commentary on the current events that the writer was viewing. Check out Enslin's THE LITERATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT, Chapter 37, "Apocalyptic Literature" to see what this literature was and how it was used.

Not that you will, and I have to train myself not to respond to your nonsense and lies, but you do a good job of 'pushing my buttons.'

Dan Marvin said...

Prup (aka Jim Benton) but you do a good job of 'pushing my buttons.'

How does that saying go..oh yea: "Truth hurts"

I understand your frustration with me because I am speaking truth.

The supposed 'evil Satanists' you describe don't exist.

Man, why are you defending them so much? The worst thing that can happen to them is to be exposed. If you don't think secret societies exist you are just plain delusional. Maybe they don't in your fantasy world but they do exist because I have seen it with my own eyes. I experienced it for months and I am hear to tell you that they do exist and at least they believe what the believe because they at least live that life. I felt the darkness, no one can tell me any different. The problem that I had was I thought that I could save her from all that, which was just my naivete at the time.

Look, I have read most all of the gnostic and apocryphal writings also. I must say that I agree they should not be part of today's Bible because of how they differ a great deal from the true Word of The Bible. To say that you knew more then the entire body of Biblical scholars back then that collected the books into the current Canon and what THe Bible is today as to what was authentic or not is delusional also. Do you really believe that you have been lead by the Spirit of truth more so then them? So you really think that God cannot preserve His Word? Your Logic is suspect to say the least.

Joseph said...

Dan, I don't think you have the faintest idea of what logic is. You are far more stubborn in your thinking than anyone in this forum and frankly, you aren't contributing substantively to this discussion about Bible prophecy (!!!) You make broad, sweeping statements and express them with some measure of arrogance, but don't offer corresponding evidence to back them up. I don't think anyone takes you seriously because of it. If you really want to win people over, you won't manage with your current approach.

Blue Devil Knight said...

You have let Dan derail what was starting to be an interesting discussion.

Joseph said...

Yes, and I could kick myself for it. It's been an unusually busy week with the start of school (I work at a large university), so I have been delayed in my follow-up article. But, rest assured, I will be measured in my response (or not respond at all) to those who (like Dan) would seek to derail the discussion at hand--and I encourage others here to do so, as well.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Dan, thanks for telling a bit about your story - I was edified by reading it.

Joseph said...

Don't get me wrong, I've tried to like Dan and have even exchanged a good 15-20 emails back and forth to discuss these side issues and get try to build a rapport with him. I get continually talked down to as though I were some sort of raving, slobbering , demon-possessed infidel who has nothing worthwhile to say. IMHO, this attitude does not do justice to the very important issues we're discussing in this forum and I will no longer humor it.

Matt said...

Dan,

There is a difference between there, their and they're as well as you're and your. Please learn them or forever come off as a doofus.

In regards to the current topic at hand, I just skipped my Bible study as own faith seems tested every time I do any research on things. I'm sure all can agree that life seems far more purposeful w/ a belief in a creator, and for me anger and a bit of emptyness seems to set in when I resolve to atheism. Yet there are so many questions that it is nothing less than a great challenge to my only slightly above average intellect to concede or...believe. Don't know.

Tony said...

This is a very interesting blog, one that I think I will enjoy reading for a long time. Thank you for your work.

That said, I want to make it clear I mean no disrespect to persons of any religion. But I think many of us are disturbed at how some fundamentalist Christians are "running with the ball" in our country today. It's gotten so bad you can't even have a reasonable scientific discussion about something like...say, how old the earth might be. For example, I'm pretty sure it's more than 6,000 years.

I notice most of the challenge to religious authority is "protestant" in spirit -- that is, when people can read ancient texts themselves, without interference from Church hierarchy, people can get closer to the truth, or at least the intent of the original writer(s).

As a lapsed Catholic, possibly a full-blown agnostic, I note the age of spiritual texts and that human beings were entrusted with their writing, copying, editing, etc. As a writer, I know all too well the temptations of editors to cut out the good stuff for clarity. Writers also like to show off and be clever, engage in word games, impress old girl friends, exact revenge on landlords and such.

Would it be too trite to suggest that a massive project to gather every known document in the Judeo-Christian heritage, translate these documents with contemporary tools, even leaving in vagaries and then publish the results on-line?

I think this would be fascinating exercise for believers and wise guys alike.

You know why?

Because sometimes I believe some of these writings suffer from that old game of "telephone" we used to play in grade school. You know that one, right? You tell a kid in the first seat of the first row a word or a phrase. And all each kid has to do is repeat it on down the rows to the last seat in the last row, "verbatim." More often or not we discovered the word or meaning changed completely.

Just sayin'.

Dan said...

After reading 3 challenges of a former pastor(?), we open the old NAB Bible, reprinted in 1991, to look the verses in question, we are a little shocked when the Biblical translators knew these issues a long time and they had the sound commentaries. The poster's argument was based on the Rabbi writings and he doubted Bible. His issues related to the Hebrew terms only: Nazareth, virgin or young woman, and children killing in Bethlehem.

For “Nazareth”, it was natural when the mysterious prophesy did not express the specific name. But we can guess or know it after it happened. The term “Nazareth” did not exist in the OT because this village did not exist at the time of the prophets, or it was unknown to the common people, or God wanted to keep it in secret to protect the people in Nazareth from being killed or destroyed by the evil rulers. Why did St Mathew confirm it was prophesied by the prophets? Interestingly, Some similar Hebrew terms with some symbols to Messiah were found in the OT, for example, Isa 11:1 where the Davidic king of the future is called “nazer” (“bud or descent”) and Judges 13:5,7 where Samson the future deliverer of Israel from the Philistines, is called one who shall be ”nazarite” [“consecrated”] to God.

As for virgin or young woman, the poster argued that “almah” (means young woman) used in Isaiah could NOT be “bethulah” (means virgin) in Matthew. The poster seemed to be obsessed with the modern English language that the term “woman” implies “not virgin any more”. If we make a little effort for research of truth, we will see the poster was in error. Here’s what the poster did not know at all:

Firstly, Genesis used both terms “bethulah” (virgin) in Gen 24:16 and “almah” (young woman) in Gen 24:43 for the same female “Rebekah” in the same chapter 24. More interestingly, Joel 1:8 presents the word “betulah” in a context which does not convey the usual meaning of virginity: "Mourn like a virgin (betulah) in sackcloth, grieving for the husband of her youth.".

Secondly, the Lord and Adam in Genesis called Eva was a “WOMAN” when God created her. Note that the woman Eva was still virgin 100% without any idea about sex before committing the sin.

Thirdly, in the 3rd century B.C. when a panel of 70 Hebrew scholars and Jewish rabbis began the process of translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, they themselves used the specific Greek word for VIRGIN "parthenos" not the more generic Greek word for "young woman." The Septuagint translators, 200+ years before the birth of Christ, and with no inherent belief in a "virgin birth," translated "ALMAH" in Isaiah 7:14 as "VIRGIN" not "young woman."

Matthew emphasized that Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then the term “virgin” is accurate.

As for children killing at Bethlehem, be wise, the evil rulers usually wanted to hide his secret evil actions. Matthew 2:18 probably chose a prophesy from Jeremiah. Rachel was the wife of Jacob, who was also called Israel. Rachel was considered as the mother of Israel’s people. Prophet Jeremiah portrayed that she was sitting by her grave near Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19, 48:7). She was weeping for her children (Israel’s people) as their enemies took them away to "Babylon” (Jeremiah 31:15). Now Rachel was weeping for the children in Bethlehem whom Herod had killed.

Hope the Lord Jesus still blesses the poster.