Of First Importance

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332 Responses

  1. Paigemom says:

    Indeed….that’s the good news that supersedes ALL the bad news of this life. Amen!
    In the last few years, I’ve developed what I call my Death Bed Filter. In any situation, I ask myself “will this matter on my death bed?” That tends to put a different perspective on most everything…..
    Praying for you my friend. Life is hard. God is good. Never confuse the two. Love you!

  2. Michael says:

    Paigemom,

    I amen that whole post.
    Love you too, my friend.

  3. “My faith…your faith…our faith…is based on a historical event, the resurrection of Christ.

    I have a very high view of Scripture…but the foundation of the faith is an event, not a book.”

    Amen. If it’s the book, we’re all screwed (or the Universalists may be correct, in which case we’re all in great shape).

  4. Nonnie says:

    Paigemom, I love that “deathbed filter.” I am going to remember that. I have learned and grown so much from this blog community and I know that it is because, within our diversity, we all acknowledge the supremacy of Christ and our utter need for Him, and ” the good news…that supersedes all the bad news of this life.”

  5. “Looking at the Gospel again. It is still impossibly good, too good, but true. Wish we had proclaimed it thus more clearly, more relentlessly, more generously. There is still time. Think I will.”

    That’s what Dread posted on Facebook a few days ago, and it has stuck with me.

  6. I have an increasingly low view of scripture. It is full of contradiction and paradox and is largely a function of a particular Group’s interpretation and picking and choosing of what paradox to emphasize etc.

    I think as a sort of historical record, it’s plausible, though miracles don’t seem to happen today (not the OT and NT kind that leave no doubt as to the supernaturalness of what happened).

    I hope it’s not true, as it means the vast majority of humans probably suffer in hell for eternity, created and punished in torment with no end, ever. Hardly seems “loving” or “just”.

    If it is true, then our only hope is in Jesus and I feel badly for those who seem to have had no chance.

  7. Babylon's Dread says:

    Used this text last week in a message at a funeral. Stressing the same thing. The hope of life after death is not rooted in the corporate human superstitions we all seem to share. (always talking about the people who are dead and their watching of us and such) NO it is rooted in the living historical reality that the dead Christ rose and lives and promises life to those who look to him.

    Good news the King reigns and the last enemy will be destroyed and all things put under his feet.

  8. Of first importance…I have always liked that phrase.

  9. “Good news the King reigns and the last enemy will be destroyed and all things put under his feet.”

    Does “the last enemy” include humans? Souls?

  10. “the enemy” seems to include human beings as exampled in the OT and in Revelation where we see Jesus on the White Horse slaughtering humans with a sword with blood “bridle high”…or is that metaphor for something else?

  11. Nonnie says:

    IB, I don’t understand why you don’t go over and beat up on the people at your blog. Why assault us?

  12. E, I wish Perry had a good answer, I really do. He didn’t, despite your opinion.

  13. “Why assault us?”

    Steve Wright established that words on a blog are not “assault” nor are words from a pastor etc. Please refrain from using that sort of hyperbole.

    I am on topic and I have legit questions and would like answers. Michael and others are pastors who claim to have answers.

  14. Michael says:

    “Of first importance”… the main thing.
    I think this is also the basis for our fellowship.

  15. IB Re#12
    Are you going to carry that argument to every thread? Pride, dude, pride!

  16. Sorry, Michael. That was my last for the day. It is just getting old. I apologize.

  17. Michael says:

    IGB,

    I suggest you read “Engaging the Written Word of God” by Packer.
    If that doesn’t satisfy you, I can’t help you.

  18. DT, ironically there is a paradox with regard to pride. I fully admit I’m prideful, like the publican I beg God for mercy on me a sinner, therefore I am not really prideful as I acknowledge it openly and accept it.

    According to the philosophical position that appears to be asserted in the bible, the proud are those who fake like they aren’t prideful, like the Pharisee and look down their nose at others who they judge as prideful.

  19. From John 1 : “12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

    That gives me chills reading that passage. Some complain that there is only one way. I just praise God that there is a way.

  20. Babylon's Dread says:

    The last enemy is described in the Bible as DEATH… I was just referring to the text.

    As the LORD of all he will also receive worship that is due him from every creature.

    IG stop picking fights, I am your huckleberry but I am really not inclined just now.

  21. Michael says:

    Amen, Josh.

    It’s a strange thing.
    We’re going through the deepest trials of our lives here…and I have every reason to doubt both the Scriptures and God.
    What’s happening is the reverse…the more I study the Book and the more the Book studies me, the deeper my trust and hope in both are growing.
    It’s inexplicable.
    There are times when I wonder if I’m just a terrified old man whistling in the graveyard…but I don’t think so.
    I think He’s real and the Words are true…and the only thing that’s really important is the thing of first importance.

  22. Xenia says:

    but the foundation of the faith is an event, not a book.<<<

    Very true. When I came to realize this, it was literally life-changing.

  23. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Would the Orthodox define the Gospel as I have?

  24. Yes! @ 21 – That’s hope! That’s faith, and that’s God.

    I say this as a man who is pretty comfortable in life at the moment. No major trials just now. So, I admit, it is a bit shallow.

    However, been teaching through the pastorals, particularly 2nd Timothy. Paul encourages Timothy to willfully…on purpose…share in the suffering. 2nd Peter is all about glorifying Christ through our suffering. Jesus suffered tremendously. None of the apostles had comfortable lives, and all but John were killed. Yet, somehow, I’ve got it in my head that when I suffer, it is because God stopped loving me. It shows how little I read the Bible, and how little I understand what I read.

    Your #21 is just that: Growing in the faith, even through suffering. It is strange. It is God’s way.

  25. Xenia says:

    Michael, yes, totally.

  26. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Thank you…one more question.
    Because you and I both believe this Gospel, I believe we have fellowship in Christ.
    Would the Orthodox agree with that?
    I won’t be offended if your understanding is different … 🙂

  27. Michael says:

    Josh,

    It’s so easy to believe that circumstances reflect the heart of God.
    I fight that every hour of every day…

  28. Michael, I am fighting the opposite. If I am too comfortable, I am probably doing something wrong. 🙂

    I do pray for you, brother.

  29. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I appreciate that greatly.
    If you and the rest of the folks could remember Trey in your prayers it would be much appreciated.
    My course is almost over, his is just beginning…and he needs some divine help on the journey.

  30. Kevin H says:

    Dear God, please bring turmoil into Josh’s life. Amen.

    Don’t worry Josh, I’m praying for ya. 🙂

  31. Kevin H says:

    On the serious side, praying for Trey.

  32. I do pray for Trey as well. The whole situation.

  33. Kevin H , Thank you! I pray a double heaping of turmoil upon you as well!

    Seriously though, to define my comfort before someone claims I am independently wealthy…
    I am in good health. My wife and kids are in good health.

  34. MIchael, #29
    Definitely, I will be praying for both of you.
    You know, I have always loved 1 Cor 15, it is such a good explanation of and argument for the hope we have.

  35. Crowned1 says:

    IB @ 13 said “I am on topic and I have legit questions and would like answers. Michael and others are pastors who claim to have answers.”

    Why do you need to receive answers from men? I ask because many of the answers I have received from the Lord through prayer & His Word contradict what pastors tell me.

    As an example, I do not believe in the rapture, yet have camaraderie with many folks who do. Not questioning your desire for answers…I have many unanswered as well.

  36. Michael says:

    Thanks, folks.
    He will answer…

  37. Crowned1, I’ve done what you suggest…and then get told my opinions and theories are non-orthodox or heretical or apostate 🙂

  38. Michael says:

    Crowned1,

    A true defense of the Scriptures is not a task that works on a blog.
    It is complex, to say the least.
    There are, however, excellent works that have undertaken the task and I recommend them when people ask.
    When I can afford to, I often send them out personally.
    I think the questions have been sufficiently answered by the church over the years…your mileage may vary.

  39. ” I ask because many of the answers I have received from the Lord through prayer & His Word contradict what pastors tell me.”

    You don’t know the half of it, LOL. I get all sorts of “answers”…and they contradict what pastors tell me.

  40. mike says:

    PTL that our faith is in Christ, a historical person who died and rose and ascended to the Father, all historical events and happenings.

    We have a Sure Foundation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    -mike

  41. “I think the questions have been sufficiently answered by the church over the years…your mileage may vary.”

    Horse-pucky. We have 9,000 to 30,000 different franchises in Christianity and more disagreement than agreement on so many issues.

  42. Again, Michael, what is the ‘church’? There is no monolithic unified “church”

  43. “We have a Sure Foundation in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Amen, Mike. That I am sure of!

  44. Michael says:

    IGB,

    I will not be able to persuade you, nor will I attempt to.
    As you have noted, myself and my readers are insufficiently intelligent to satisfy someone with your intellect.
    If you have read Packer and others then I certainly have nothing I can offer you.

  45. Michael, nice dodge. Packer presents a particular angle and emphasis and his interpretations differ from many others in the ‘church’

  46. …unless the “true church” is a select Group underneath the umbrella, if so, which franchise is the true church?

    Of course X will say the EO, others will say the RCC, others will say Lutherans, CC will say they are God’s specially anointed and are the true church etc.

    While many will agree on some very few Core things, there is much more disagreement than agreement on the broad range of issues.

  47. Maybe we could make one thread for IB and his questions, and the rest of us could try and answer there?…Instead of every thread.

  48. Michael says:

    It’s not a dodge.
    I just won’t waste your time when there are references that deal with all the issues surrounding Scripture much more capably than I can.
    At the end of the day you can choose to believe or not.
    I believe.

  49. No questioning. OK, got it.

    I believe, but what am I supposed to believe again?

  50. Start with the article at the top of this thread.

  51. Xenia says:

    MIchael, fellowship can mean a lot of things. We could not receive communion at each others’ churches, for example. But as far as enjoying each others’ company, yes, we can have fellowship.

  52. When Michael has communion at his church, and Xenia at her’s they are in fellowship with one another…and with every believer who ever lived…and with Jesus.

  53. Michael says:

    There was a season in my life when I asked the same questions…with the same attitude.
    I was angry with God and with those who claimed to be His people.
    The anger with His people was justifiable in many ways.
    I wanted to find reasons to walk away from Christianity and never look back.
    You can find those…
    No rational argument would have been able to overcome my anger, pain, and disappointment.
    In the end, I’m here because God kept me…because He wouldn’t let me go.
    There are many things I don’t understand…many things I wish were different…many things that hurt.
    Today I just surrender to Him…and trust that when I rise again the first thing I will see is the face of my Lord.

  54. From my time on here:

    I am to believe the following:

    1. The bible is “inerrant, infallible, perfect, without error or contradiction”…but that’s just not true (I can rattle off a ton of examples) one of the strongest being that many folks have “seen” God in the bible, yet the bible says no one has seen God at any time.

    2. Mormons have the “wrong Jesus” and the “wrong God”…yet they claim a “Godhead” construct that is actually specifically used in scripture, while “true Christians” embrace an extra-biblical term called the “Trinity” which is a wishy-washy convoluted concoction that even Justin Martyr didn’t believe (as articulated in a wishy-washy way by most Trinitarians today).

    3. God is Love and God is Just etc, yet it appears there a ton of folks who never hear the gospel let alone have the opportunity to respond to it. To dance around that fact, “true Christians” then come up with whacky extra-biblical claims like “Jesus dreams” or other whacky stuff to assert that every last human has a “chance” to believe or reject the “true Gospel” and the “true Jesus” etc. Ya, right. Total horse-pucky. People die every day with no clue as to what your version of the “true Gospel” is and they don’t get an orthodox “Jesus dream” and they die and you presume they suffer in hell for eternity having had no chance.

    4. Authority and all the appeals to such. It all boils down to the Group’s gurus and leaders and their interpretation. There is no monolithic consistent “truth” in the “church”. It is either a very select Group that has the “truth”…or the “truth” can be summarized in about four or five bullet points…and the rest isnt’ really “truth”, it’s subjective interpretation.

  55. Michael says:

    “When Michael has communion at his church, and Xenia at her’s they are in fellowship with one another…and with every believer who ever lived…and with Jesus.”

    I believe that with everything I’ve got.

  56. Crowned1 says:

    IB @ 37 said “then get told my opinions and theories are non-orthodox or heretical or apostate”

    That’s to be expected if you do not subscribe to their particular ‘flavor’ of Christianity. I’ve been told I worship a completely different God by certain denominations…simply for doctrinal differences.

    God’s church (bride) is every single believer on planet earth. Humans though…we like to assimilate into borg groups (sorry any Trek fans) and adopt language like “we believe” so “we” can put up barriers and divide the body (push “you” out).

    A lot of people think I am wrong, I am okay with that. I also believe I am wrong.

    I have faith in Christ that He will not lead me astray if I dig in His word. His leading me on the straight and narrow does not require borg consensus.

    If I end up in hell for solely trusting in God’s word I deserve it.

  57. THAT’S GREAT ib @ 54, AND WE’VE HEARD YOU SPOUT THOSE A BILLION TIMES.

    You are right, we a wrong. You’ve proven your point.

    Now can we please move on?

  58. “When Michael has communion at his church, and Xenia at her’s they are in fellowship with one another…and with every believer who ever lived…and with Jesus.”

    I believe that with everything I’ve got.”

    Me too. I understand the want for closed at communion at some local churches, and respect their right to practice as such. But I do believe that if we have the same Gospel, the same Jesus, we a re all drinking and eating together, despite differing addresses.

  59. ( |o )====::: says:

    Hey IB/Alex,
    Our journeys are so similar, and disillusionment as well. A couple things help me, maybe they’ll be of value to you.

    First and foremost, here you are among friends.

    Additionally, hat continues to help me is to treat spirituality issues more like music and less like math.

    Beautiful music, the kind that moves us, is performed with nuance, not formul, never to the grid of the staff and note value. It’s the difference between step entering notes in a computer program versus playing the part. Timing is fluid, subtleties are interpretive, and style allows for variability. It’s like the difference between a jazz groove and mechanical ragtime.

  60. Michael says:

    I believe the essentials can be boiled down to bullet points.
    It’s called the kerygma…the basic teachings of the Gospels and the book of Acts.

    1. The virgin birth
    2. The crucifixion for our sins
    3. The resurrection
    4. The ascension
    5. His return to judge the quick and the dead.

    Yes, there will be great differences in what we hang off that tree…but the tree is what is vital in my opinion.

  61. ” jazz groove and mechanical ragtime”

    Wait just a minute…ragtime was awesome 🙂

    Techno…now that sucks.

  62. Lutheran says:

    “When Michael has communion at his church, and Xenia at her’s they are in fellowship with one another…and with every believer who ever lived…and with Jesus.”

    I believe that with everything I’ve got.

    Count me in, too!

  63. G said, “Additionally, hat continues to help me is to treat spirituality issues more like music and less like math.”

    I like that metaphor. I think there’s a lot of truth in that. Thanks G.

  64. drivebytonyp. says:

    Michael,
    Praying for you,dude.

  65. Michael says:

    TONY!

    Good to see you again…and thank you!

  66. TONY P?????

    Is this really the man?

  67. ( |o )====::: says:

    Point is, Jesus came to fix what was broken, relating to a God via law, formulas, math and ledgers. Jesus entire message is that relating to God and man is centered on :: relational ::

    Ragtime interpretation of notation is mechanical.
    Think Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer”.

    Contrast that to Sting’s “Consider Me Gone”

  68. Babylon's Dread says:

    IB sounds like your problem is with the Mormons since you espouse their view of God so take yourself to them.

    The real deal is that you are hurt and angry and spoiling for a fight, you are full of information and have decided most things already.

    So what do you really want? I mean besides a fight.

  69. Nonnie says:

    Tony!!! Good to see you here again!!

    And this:
    “When Michael has communion at his church, and Xenia at her’s they are in fellowship with one another…and with every believer who ever lived…and with Jesus.”

    I believe that with everything I’ve got.

    Count me in, too! YES!!!

  70. Crowned1 says:

    Michael @ 38

    I cannot recommend works by men. Though well intentioned, I will not entertain subjectivity as any form of canon or canonical clarification. Having been “reared” by Chuck Smith at CCCM…I had many years of brainwashing to back track.

    I believe in John 3:16. I also believe that Jesus is powerful enough that if I put my faith in Him alone, I will be a part of His bride.

    The concept of ‘church fathers’ is why the body is fractured in the first place. We can postulate the inerrancy of the bible all day long but the church cannot even agree on ‘how’ one becomes saved.

    -Accepting Jesus into your heart?
    -Water baptism as an infant
    -Water baptism as an adult
    -We can’t do anything, predestined
    -Professing faith and displaying good works (fruit)

    Which is the right way? If I pick the wrong one do I go to hell? Endless questions for the church. Much simpler to trust Jesus in all things and either win or lose with Him.

  71. Hey Crowned1 – are you saying that you don’t read anything, or that you just recommend that others do?

    Honest question, just looking to understand you clearly.

  72. “So what do you really want? I mean besides a fight.”

    I think it’s been pretty clear, I don’t know how you missed it:

    I want a true supernatural miracle.

  73. @ 73 – I think you’ll have to talk to God about that. Never seen anyone around here claim to be miracle workers.

  74. Dread, can you miracle me a miracle? 🙂

  75. ( |o )====::: says:

    IB/Alex,
    Does the math / music thing help?

  76. “Never seen anyone around here claim to be miracle workers.”

    Folks have claimed real miracles on here many times.

  77. Claiming to have witnessed a miracle is different from claiming to be able to perform a miracle at IB’s call.

    If you want a miracle God is the only one who can help. If he doesn’t answer, I’m not sure what you’d expect from us.

  78. ( |o )====::: says:

    My bud, Dave Brisbin from theeffect.org did a talk on this very subject. I’ll get the link for you, post it later. It was like a drink of cold water

  79. Crowned1 says:

    Josh @ 72

    I always welcome questions 🙂

    I read the bible…and that’s it…spiritually speaking. I cannot recommend any source other than the Word as I believe it to be the only work that matters. Could I read someone else’s ‘take’ on the Word? Sure…but why…isn’t the Word sufficient?

    I consider the bible to be vanilla ice cream. Denominations to me are like ice cream toppings…the ice cream is still there but its buried under a layer of preference. I prefer vanilla.

    Hopefully that explains it better :).

  80. Umm yeah, @ 81. I get ya. What if you misunderstand or have trouble understanding a certain passage? No chance that anyone else could help you out?

  81. Crowned1 says:

    IB @ 73 – Based on Matt 4:7 & 12:38…I am unsure if your desire will be granted. It is up to God of course, but I wouldn’t bank my faith on it.

  82. Crowned1 says:

    Josh @ 82 – If a passage is ambiguous, I am okay with it remaining ambiguous.

    I am still waiting for a church consensus on ‘how one becomes saved’…once that is reached, I am happy to move on to non essentials.

    Until that time, John 3:16 is not ambiguous. Blessings.

  83. ( |o )====::: says:

    IB,
    The message was this past Sunday, hasn’t been posted yet. When he was talking I thought of so many of us who could benefit from such a fresh perspective.

    Here’s the archive. You might enjoy exploring…

    http://theeffect.org/resources/messages.html

  84. erunner says:

    Just for you ib!!! This Star Trek preview is for manly men only! 🙂

  85. I agree @ 84, and I have no problem with that.

    I would say that my understanding of scripture has been greatly enriched by others. My pastor, for example. He loves Jesus, and has been serious about the Bible for a long, long time. It would seem evident that he could help me to understand as well. Now, if I transcribed his sermons, and made a book out of that…then his book would help me understand the Bible.

    Even Paul told Timothy to teach other trustworthy men, so that they could also teach others. There is a human element that God seems to have wired into the whole thing.

    Not trying to convince you, just explaining my thoughts.

  86. mrtundraman says:

    Josh the Baptist wrote – “When Michael has communion at his church, and Xenia at her’s they are in fellowship with one another…and with every believer who ever lived…and with Jesus.”

    I’m not Orthodox, but I would say that’s not their understanding (at least as I understand it).

    Again, I may be wrong, but they might say something different about the Eucharistic meal of Catholics/Anglicans than they would about Evangelical “Memorialist” agape feasts. I don’t think they view them as the same.

    Xenia can correct me if I am wrong but I think the idea that all communions are OK is not something the Orthodox would hold.

  87. mrtundraman says:

    Yes, Michael, your posted message is the Gospel. It’s added to by many people with many agendas about what constitutes the Gospel like when Spurgeon said Calvinism is the Gospel, but the historical events constitute the Good News that God has stepped into Human History by uniting himself with humanity. The Orthodox add “God became man so that man might become god”. Others would say become “united with God” and leave the details to be explored.

  88. E, ROTFLOL! That was funny 😆

  89. mrtundraman says:

    Perhaps Paul put it best when he said:

    “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

  90. Lutheran says:

    Alex,

    Mozart wasn’t a Lutheran. He was Catholic.

    Maybe you meant to post something by Johann Sebastian Bach?

    Or maybe you’re just generalizing.

  91. mrtundraman says:

    Josh the Baptist wrote – “When Michael has communion at his church, and Xenia at her’s they are in fellowship with one another…and with every believer who ever lived…and with Jesus.”

    For someone who believes in the real presence of Christ in communion there’s a significant difference in the experience of communion compared to someone who holds to a memorialist view of communion. The memorialist view holder may be having a significant experience of God in terms of their thoughts about God. The person who believes in Real Presence holds that they are taking Christ into their body in a very real sense.

    Hard for me to explain, but the two views are quite different.

  92. Lutheran, that is funny in so many ways 😆

  93. Xenia says:

    I will have to risk offending most of you here by telling you that I do not believe we are united in Holy Communion. I am *not* saying (most of) you fine folks are not Christians- most, better Christians than me- but we are not united in the Eucharist.

    St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote that where the bishop is, there’s the Church. Where the bishop (or his delegate) presides over the Eucharist, there’s the Church.

    For me to say otherwise, for the sake of warm feelings here on the blog, would be for me to compromise.

  94. X, does the EO see real verifiable supernatural miracles today?

  95. Seems that real supernatural miracles validated apostleship, validated Messiahship etc. seems they would validate “authority” today…unless there are no more supernatural walking on water, turning water into wine, healing leprosy, resurrection from the dead type real supernatural miracles today.

  96. jamesk says:

    JTB your @61 just lost me. My son creates techno. Not much better than a well timed, well placed sub drop.

  97. Xenia says:

    IB, yes, we have miracles. I know people who have been healed of cancer, for example. I doubt if any Ortho-miracles would stand under your relentless eye, however.

  98. The Mormons claim real supernatural miracles, same as Dread’s Camp.

  99. Xenia says:

    IB, maybe you should go join the Mormons. Then you can amuse yourself pondering all the inconsistencies that exist in their “holy” books. (Book of Abraham, anyone?)

  100. mrtundraman says:

    The miracle of the Holy Fire on Pascha in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is one I think most Orthodox would say is a miracle.

  101. Xenia says:

    I could post a very long list of miracles that have happened in the Orthodox Church over the past 2000 years (including a walking-on-water incident by St. Mary of Egypt) but I can’t “prove” them scientifically from my desk here in California.

  102. Are the Mormons lying about their “miracles”? They make the same claims, folks cured of cancer, folks healed of all sorts of stuff that is not documented medically and scrutinized by science, but the same stuff.

    If these are miracles* then are they in the Tent? Or, are they delusional and their miracles are explainable?

  103. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia, Can a person who does not eat of the true bread of life have life?

  104. Xenia says:

    MTM, that is a question I ask myself a lot and have no answer for except to note that God is good and He’s the lover of mankind and is not willing that any should perish.

  105. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia, I have a personal interest as one who is attracted to the Orthodox faith, but not yet joined. I wonder myself if I can have life without being a part of the One, True, Church. I know Orthodox opinions vary…

  106. IB, (Inglourious basterd/Alex)

    At an earlier point in time I thought I understood you and even addressed you as a spiritual warrior because you refused to give up when it came to battle against impurities. I even used my real name which was probably seen and recognized by your main enemy at that time. I publically took your side of an issue that I particularly had no firsthand knowledge of, mainly due to a situation I saw as you fighting man while standing up for God.

    However; for whatever reason, you have changed your character to now be directing your wrath against God because He does not clearly, tangibly prove Himself to you by Him doing things the way you want it done, at the time you want it done.

    In fact I was for a short time impressed because I mentioned the un-needed sarcastic battle between you and MLD; and you either actually made some headway of changing for the sake of others (the innocent) or you were faking.

    Now that your sarcasm is directed personally on God (or His realness) I tend to see the slight change you made as being a fake. You being sarcastic with MLD was nothing compared to your being sarcastic to God (“If God is real”). This adds much more fuel to the fire of the innocent being spiritually abused by encouraging them to abandon God than your verbal/written battle with MLD.

    Regardless of what your history of pain and suffrage was in your past, how dare you to demand God to “prove” Himself to you in accordance to your method.

    Please, for YOUR sake, understand the difference between God proving Himself to you and you proving yourself to God. That is the miracle I pray for but the choice is yours, not God’s.

    Now this is where the big-gun comes in. If the only thing God has given you is your wife and children do not lose them by having them have to live with your bitterness of God; and then curse God for losing them also.

    I pray for you brother but the choice is you
    rs. Appreciate what God has given you which many people do not have.

    God be with you,
    Paul

    PS: This will be posted on CCA also. (If Maude allows it to be posted)

  107. Xenia says:

    MTM, thanks for reminding me about the yearly Holy Fire. This is a flame that spontaneously ignites for the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. It’s a strange flame- you can hold your hand in it and not get burned. I have friends who have been to Jerusalem for this event. You see Roman Catholics in the Church at the beginning of the video. I believe they celebrated Pascha in the Holy Land the same date as the Orthodox this year? They are guests but it’s an Orthodox phenomenon, only works for the Patriarch, no one else, apparently.

  108. mrtundraman says:

    I know there will be people who will say to themselves (or out loud) “How can he claim to be a Protestant, yet believe that the Orthodox Church is the One, True Church”?

    I do believe that there is One Church and that the Orthodox Church is more than just one part since the One, True Church is undivided being One. There’s no such thing as a part of something that is undivided. There can be no multiple churches if there is One, True Church.

  109. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia, the ceremony on the tape was 2011. The RCC were back a month ago with their Easter. Maybe in 2011 they coincided.

  110. Xenia says:

    MTM, back when I was reading your Unanswered Questions web site I never in a million years imagined you’d be attracted to Orthodoxy. May God bless you on your journey.

  111. Xenia says:

    MTM, right, my mistake.

  112. Xenia says:

    MTM, on the other hand, read this:

    http://www.news.va/en/news/asiaholy-land-catholics-and-orthodox-celebrate-eas

    See if you can make heads or tails out of it, it’s confusing.

  113. Crowned1 says:

    Josh @ 87

    I understand where you are coming from. I basically see sermons in 1 of 3 areas:

    1) Scriptural (verbatim bible)
    2) Interpretational (we think this means, I think this means, what this means, etc.)
    3) Topical (how they feel, how we can relate, how this works today, etc.)

    Hey…that’s even an acronym! SIT. I often used to SIT in the traditional church setting and believe everything that came from the pulpit (because I was young and knew no better).

    But I have come to understand that I am no longer interested in the interpretational or topical parts of sermons…and as such, it is no longer appropriate for me to SIT under the subjective teachings of men.

    All that matters to me now, is the ‘S’criptural. Blessings.

  114. Xenia says:

    Yet Crowned1, you are reading scripture and telling yourself “I think this is what it means.” You have become a congregation of one person, with yourself as the pastor.

  115. mrtundraman says:

    I find the Holy Fire fascinating. There are websites dedicated to debunking the phenomenon but I believe in my heart that there’s something to it. There are very few repeated miracles like that in the world today.

    The Orthodox have some thoughts on the uncreated light of God which relates to the Glory of God. Something I see very little commentary on in the Protestant world (at least in comparison to the Orthodox world). I think it’s the whole idea of energies….

    I was struck by the lamentation of Hades at the Holy Saturday service. Something that, again, my Protestant background doesn’t say much about. Paul does when he quotes the passage “O Death, Where is thy sting?” A personification of death as something that can be spoken to or addressed and even rebuked. Striking when the text goes alongside Scripture so well.

  116. Xenia says:

    MTM, I was talking a few weeks ago to a friend who was in Jerusalem during the Holy Fire a few years ago. He told me that he held his hand in the flame for quite some time and didn’t get burned. I think there’s something to it, too.

  117. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia, Thank you for the link. It seems that the Roman Church is following the Eastern Orthodox church at least in the Holy Land when it comes to the date for Easter. Interesting… May it lead to greater unity in the entire church so that the scandal of schism may be healed where it was first broken (East and West). If the East and West come together then what will the 20,000 Protestant denominations do?

    Not sure if you are aware of just how old this controversy is. It dates in some respects the 90’s AD and was only made worse by the Gregorian/Julian calendar changes. Apparently, there were two traditions for the date of Easter which both claimed apostolic authority.

    I can imagine that it may be that the apostle in the East was asked and gave a date and an apostle in the West was asked and gave another date.

  118. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia, Have you spent time contemplating the Orthodox concentration on the glory of God (fire, energy, etc) and in particular why it’s something we heard little to nothing about outside of maybe on Transfiguration Sunday in the Protestant Church?

  119. Xenia says:

    MTM, this question requires some thought. Let me go think.

  120. mrtundraman says:

    I wonder if the Protestant children will follow their Roman Catholic mother church if the mother church changes calendars for Easter? Few Protestants even realize they follow Rome.

  121. Crowned1 says:

    Xenia @ 117

    So if I read Scripture the Holy Spirit isn’t involved at all? He’s only involved if other people speak to me? I’m confused with what you are saying.

    I do not see myself as my own pastor. As I stated earlier, God will reveal to me everything He wants me to know about His word through His Word.

    If parts of His Word are ambiguous to me, I am okay with leaving them ambiguous. I don’t have to guess or let others guess for me. I am okay waiting till post mortem for the full revelation.

    Blessings.

  122. Michael says:

    I’m enjoying eavesdropping on the Orthodox conversation…thank you both for having it here.

  123. mrtundraman says:

    I wonder if the atonement models of the West vs the East explain some of the differences in the idea of Glory? Particularly, when we think about “Where is Jesus now?”. To some Protestants Jesus is off somewhere unknown waiting for the second coming. That led some minister to say that Jesus is not in the Godhead a present and is waiting to rejoin the Trinity in the future.

    In the Orthodox church, Christ is seen as victor over death and as seated already on His heavenly throne. I look up and see Christ reigning from Heaven and looking down on the sons of men. There’s no doubt where He is and what he’s doing there.

    The East has a Christus Victor atonement model. The West have various. When I went before the board for ordination they asked me about my view of the atonement. I didn’t have a category to put my answer in. At least not a category that I could articulate. I know now that it’s the Christus Victor model that I believe and not one of the other versions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christus_Victor

    Incidentally, the denomination had a view of the atonement similar to the Christus Victor model. They rejected that Christ died to appease God’s wrath.

  124. mrtundraman says:

    When I say “I look up”, I mean literally…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sankt_Petersburg_Auferstehungskirche_innen_2005_d.jpg

    Not my church, but an example of what you see when you look straight up in an Orthodox Church.

  125. mrtundraman says:

    “I’m enjoying eavesdropping on the Orthodox conversation…thank you both for having it here.”

    Thanks for letting us have it here. I used to hang out in the Orthodox USENET groups and just ended up in arguments since some of them have the same personalities there as we did in the CC newsgroup in our day 🙂

  126. Xenia says:

    MTM, in answer to your question about energies and fire, I believe it has to do with our belief in theosis, that is, uniting with God. We do not become little gods or the Creator, but we do unite with Him while retaining our own uniqueness. It’s not Nirvana, it’s not Mormonism, it’s…. theosis. “Conforming to the image of Christ” comes close. We have examples of St. Seraphim of Sarov glowing, of the old elder in the desert whose became “all aflame,” and so on. The hesychasts believe they can “see God,” that is, see his uncreated energies (but not His essence.) And since God is compared to a fire, it makes sense that there will be fire and light imagery. Candles, too, serve more than church illumination. They are symbolic of Christ as the light of the world.

    Just some thoughts, I don’t know if it answers your question. You probably have some good ideas yourself on this question.

  127. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia, Those are very good thoughts on the uncreated fire. Thank you.

  128. Xenia says:

    Crowned1, I do not wish to disrespect your sincere belief that you hear straight from the Holy Spirit when you read the Scriptures, In some sense, I am sure you do.

    But if this is the case, if the Holy Spirit guides all sincere Christians into an understanding of the Scriptures, why so much disagreement? Why does the Holy Spirit whisper Calvinism into the heart of the Reformed Christian and Arminianism into the heart of the Methodist? How do you know that you are right, righter than some pastor?

    But will say, in probably agreement with you, that most sermons are entirely too long and consist of the pastor’s personal opinions. Churches claim to be Bible based but the pastor reads a few verses and spends the next 45 minutes giving his opinions. I am with you on not caring much for that!

  129. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia, I wonder if people would be surprised knowing that at the 3 hour Holy Saturday Liturgy that there was no sermon. I think it is that way as a kindness to father and us all. After all, the entire service is Scripture and the Holy Spirit is there (at least in the Chrismated) to give light to His Words. What could someone say to improve on those things? It seems to me that the purpose of gathering was to rejoice together that Christ is risen.

  130. mrtundraman says:

    “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”

  131. Crowned1 says:

    Xenia @ 131 “How do you know that you are right, righter than some pastor?”

    I don’t. In fact, I am positive I am wrong. Which is why my faith is in Jesus Christ and not in my own understanding. I’m putting all my chips on John 3:16 and come what may.

    I believe God is big enough to not lead me astray.

  132. Xenia says:

    MTM, that Saturday services lasted 3 1/2 hours in my parish and there were fifteen long passages of Old Testament scripture read out loud, including the entire book of Jonah, chapters from Genesis, Daniel, and Isaiah. Hours of OT scripture readings, all about mankind’s need for redemption and the coming of the Savior and His passion. No need for a sermon! And then there was the “12 Gospels” service where every passage in the Gospels that had anything to do with the Last Supper and the Crucifixion was read, hours of Bible-reading. And again, no sermon required. Somewhere in all that our deacon, who has a wonderful bass voice, SANG the Vally of Bones chapter from Ezekiel. It was almost more than I could take in.

    Crowned1 would have loved it. 🙂

  133. Xenia says:

    Michael, thank you for letting us have this discussion here.

  134. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia, We left at 3 hours, before the Eucharist was served, because it allowed me and my children to get out without disruption. I was very pleased that my children were well behaved and quiet for the service. I kind of want to leave at “The Doors” since I think that’s the time that the Catechumens were traditionally sent outside. That doesn’t happen at the church I attend.

  135. Crowned1 says:

    Xenia @ 135

    Except for the 3.5 hours of sitting, I concur! 🙂

  136. Xenia says:

    Except for the 3.5 hours of sitting, I concur!

    Sitting? No! Standing!

  137. mrtundraman says:

    Crowned – It was about half sitting in the church I attend but maybe zero sitting in other churches. Just when my back was about to give out we got to sit down… Up and down over and over…

  138. Crowned1 says:

    Standing hmm? Well, I prefer lying down while I read…but standing is definitely 2nd!

  139. Xenia says:

    I attend a Russian parish (ROCOR) so there’s no chairs at all except a few along the sides for old folks and people not accustomed to long-term standing.

  140. mrtundraman says:

    My favorite part:

    Today Hades tearfully sighs: “Would that I had not received him who was born of Mary, for he came to me and destroyed my power; he broke my bronze gates, and being God, delivered the souls I had been holding captive.”

    O Lord, glory to your cross and to your holy resurrection!

    Today Hades groans: “My power has vanished. I received one who died as mortals die, but I could not hold him; with him and through him I lost those over which I had ruled. I had held control over the dead since the world began, and lo, he raises them all up with him!”

    O Lord, glory to your cross and to your holy resurrection!

  141. mrtundraman says:

    The Antiochians are wimpier than ROCOR. We stand about half the time and I always take my lead for standing or sitting from the oldest women in the church.

  142. Crowned1 says:

    Fascinating. My wife’s family is Lutheran and my mother’s extended family is catholic. Imagine Thanksgiving if you joined us! 😉

  143. Steve Wright says:

    Crowned1 – Sincere question here. Do you read the Bible in the original languages the Holy Spirit gave them?

    If not, you are in fact reading the interpretations of men anyways. Translation committees are required to make many judgement calls on certain interpretations as they move from the originals into English – and even the best and most literal of them still ‘lose something in the translation’

  144. Crowned1 says:

    Steve @ 146

    I hope nobody messed up John 3:16 then…all my chips are there!

    Do I read Greek, Latin or Arabic? No. Those languages were not taught at my school. Do I translate them when curious? From time to time.

  145. Steve Wright says:

    If you can translate the original language, why would you not just read them that way?

    I’m also a little confused on your emphasis on John 3:16. Is that the only verse you read?

    To be clear, I am NOT saying that our English Bibles have screwed up the message of the Gospel….

    But I thought the idea was reading and studying the whole Bible…

  146. Steve Wright said, “Crowned1 – Sincere question here. Do you read the Bible in the original languages the Holy Spirit gave them?”

    That is a hilarious assumption.

    What language did God speak to Adam and Eve with in the Garden?

  147. I read the greek and hebrew translations and it’s still contradictory and paradoxical on many issues.

  148. Steve Wright, you do know that Standard Biblical Hebrew is the Hebrew of the bible and developed around the 6th Century BCE. Was this version of the Hebrew the Holy Spirit’s language? The Archaic Hebrew? The proto-Canaanite language?

    The earliest transcription of what is considered loosely “Hebrew” was found to be about 3,000 years old. I’m guessing the Holy Spirit changed versions of Hebrew often? Did the Holy Spirit speak proto-Canaanite?

  149. Steve Wright, who wrote the Torah or Pentateuch? When?

    When were the minor prophets written? By whom?

    What languages?

  150. Steve Wright, I’m thinking back to my CC sunday school days:

    Tower of Babel.

    “All” folks on the planet spoke the “same language” after the Flood, after the Garden of Eden and before the Tower of Babel, correct?

    Then God scattered the people and mixed up their languages after the Flood, after Noah re-populated the earth, correct?

    So, what language was everyone speaking after the Flood and before the Tower of Babel?

  151. Was everyone speaking Standard Biblical Hebrew before the flood? Was God speaking Standard Biblical Hebrew to Adam and Eve in the Garden?

    Was everyone on the planet speaking Standard Biblical Hebrew during the period post-Flood and pre-Tower of Babel?

    Why does Archeology and common sense both disagree with this whacky position?

    Does studying the “Holy Spirit” language of the much later transcription of what is attributed to Moses in the 1300 BCE year period and later written down in the 600 BCE to 400 BCE period make any difference?

    Moses is said to have written the Torah or Pentateuch (though most scholars believe it was many writers over a long period of time)….and Moses (if a literal historical figure) probably spoke a much earlier version of proto-Canaanite or other ancient Aramaic language.

  152. I call bullspit on Steve Wright (again).

  153. Steve Wright said, “If you can translate the original language, why would you not just read them that way?”

    Because we don’t have the real ‘original language’…we have a version of Hebrew that is much later than the language of Moses and what is assumed to be a language that God spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden and the language of the pre-Flood period and the many languages of the post-Flood and post-Tower of Babel.

  154. Why does the archeological record show languages that are very different from Hebrew inscribed on things very much pre-dating what is assumed to be the age of the Tower of Babel event?

  155. PP Vet says:

    Just watched Mark Sanford give his acceptance speech. It was remarkable. Had nothing but contempt for the guy. But you know, he pretty much won me over. Amazing.

  156. PP Vet says:

    Speaking of grace for scoundrels, Todd is live at http://www.god.tv.

    I do not understand this grace thing, that’s for sure.

  157. If God “spoke” to Adam and Eve in the Garden and then way later to Moses…what language did Adam and Eve speak and understand? Noah?

    It is assumed that Noah and his descendants spoke the same language as the rest of the world they repopulated after the Flood. After the Tower of Babel, did Noah and his descendants keep speaking the original language? Doesn’t seem to be the case, as the Hebrew language we pick up in the Biblical Hebrew has a lot of variation the further back you go in archeology.

    The fact is, the Hebrew language evolved over time and the language of what is assumed to be Adam then Noah then Moses and so on and so forth “changed” and evolved over the generations.

    The oldest language we have empirical physical evidence for is Archaic Sumerian and then Akkadian which is far different from Hebrew and pre-dates the Biblical Hebrew and predates Moses and probably predates the assumed date of the Tower of Babel and even Noah.

  158. One could argue that there were a variety of languages pre-flood and that Noah and his family spoke one language post-Flood and the rest of the world that was repopulated spoke Noah’s language…and then the Tower of Babel occurred and the languages were re-scattered. This presents a different set of problems.

    Any way you slice it, it’s a big contradiction and just cannot be true.

  159. Xenia says:

    Nevertheless, it is true.

  160. DH says:

    this was a nice conversation to read until IB blasted his asinine thoughts again. Just go away and figure it out. You are making this a place that I just don’t enjoy any more.

  161. Michael says:

    Amen

  162. Michael says:

    None of us are enjoying this.
    I think that’s the point…to force us to either ban him or close.

  163. Truth sucks sometimes. You guys profess wanting to know what is true. Well, if your version is true, you should be able to take the heat. I’m guessing you can’t and that’s why you’re ticked off. I know, I’ve wrestled with the stuff for years. It sucks. I wish it was as nice and tidy as sunday school.

  164. Xenia says:

    You are so vain.

  165. No, not at all Michael. I want to know what’s true and what isn’t and all of your versions of “truth” aren’t ringing true when scrutinized. I could parrot and amen and kiss ass with the best of them or I can ask you questions and expect you to tell me why a problem exists in the text since you point to a “high view of scripture”

    If it’s the authority in your opinion and so rock-solid, then explain why the archeological tangible physical historical records presents major problems with the narrative you profess as so concrete?

  166. Xenia says:

    Why don’t you go off and prepare a blog called “Ex-Christians for Truth,” and then your destruction will be complete.

    Except that I don’t really want to see you destroyed, I want to see you restored. But it’s up to you.

  167. Xenia says:

    And if you are dragging your family with you into apostasy, it would be better if a millstone were tied around your neck and you were thrown into the ocean.

  168. erunner says:

    Michael, It appears you’re choosing to let him stay and have others leave. I’m not tracking at all….

  169. Crowned1, see? Don’t think and try to interpret the stuff after reading it and praying…you’ll get a millstone and be cast into hell by the Fundies.

  170. Xenia says:

    I think, Michael, that by giving IB a platform here, we are encouraging him to sin. We are provoking him to assume ever-greater apostate positions. It would be a great kindness to him, to the state of his soul, if he were not given this platform. For the sake of his salvation, I suggest you ban him.

  171. DH says:

    Ban him. you have been more than patient with that line of “logic” and “reasoning ” like someone said earlier in the day and I am paraphrasing here God doesn’t have to prove anything to IB and defiantly not at his demand. He doesn’t want answers he just wants argue and parade around his agenda. If the judges had ruled in his favor in the lawsuit , God would have been true and just and approved of by him. But it didn’t go his way and now God is not real the word is inaccurate and full of contradictions and every other big word he can throw in the conversation. I like this place . It has been a real eye opener for me and very challenging to say the least. I enjoy the different traditions of our faith in Christ. I don’t see them in conflict with each other. I respect the different views and don’t fell like I have to defend or attack someone for seeing things differently.
    I have been reading this blog for many years and have grown from the dialogs that have taken place here. It would be a shame to close it down all because of one person when many others enjoy this place.

  172. Unfortunately there are many facts that present major problems for some portions of what we consider the bible. It doesn’t mean there isn’t God, but it sure does make it unlikely that the bible is God and that it is as infallible, inerrant etc (though the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy reads like a ten lawyers wrote it with all the loopholes that redefine inerrancy and infallibility).

  173. Crowned1 says:

    Steve @ 148 “If you can translate the original language, why would you not just read them that way?”

    Because I haven’t memorized the original languages. Translating and Fluency are two completely separate things.

    “I’m also a little confused on your emphasis on John 3:16. Is that the only verse you read?”

    Far from it, but I do admit to having a healthy obsession with Jesus as Savior. As far as the emphasis though…I believe John 3:16 is exactly how someone is saved.

    Churches cannot reach a consensus on ‘how’ one is saved, so I picked the most simple answer. All my chips are on John 3:16 with no additional ‘conditionals’.

  174. Niels, if you’re out there, this is what I told you “Christians” resort to when you don’t conform and tell them the answers they want to hear. It’s as much a law and constant as gravity and is the real truth and not the veneer and fairy-tale that is presented on the surface.

    The Gahndi Jesus sales pitch is a myth. It just isn’t the reality when the rubber meets the road.

    “Truth” does not seem to be the goal. It’s about protecting and supporting a loosely thought-out opinion that is claimed to be based on a particular interpretation of the bible (whichever biblical cannon is embraced by the particular Group) and whatever the particular tradition tells the particular Group to think and acknowledge as fact, despite the anomalies and inconsistencies.

    I don’t know why it’s this way. I wish it weren’t so. I don’t know why there are no verifiable supernatural miracles, i don’t know why a personal God would be so absent today and why such a weird dynamic exists among His supposed emissaries (who are some of the most evil and hateful people on the planet underneath the surface), but it is what it is. Conform or you’re cast into hell and ostracized. Praise Jesus!

    Great example guys, but at least the truth comes out vs. the sales presentation and veneer.

  175. DH says:

    IB, what are you waiting for? You can not know everything and you are not the standard that decides what is true or accurate. Your comments are nothing less than an attack on what most of us believe here. It is insulting and it is getting old.
    List what would satisfy you. What are you looking for ? Peace ? Joy? Revenge?
    You have not even come close to being treated like Christ.
    H
    e was beaten , betrayed and much more than that. He said not a word. He forgave us. He died for us. He rose for us. He laid down His life us while we we yet sinners. What more do you want? There is so much that can be understood in the scriptures that are simple ….. just do those things.

  176. DH, I’m looking for the Truth.

  177. I’ve learned more about the variety of “Christians” true beliefs and true creeds by the responses and the practices. It’s hard to get at Truth.

    Truth and belief does not seem to be the rote Dogma and professions, it seems to be the more honest raw expressions and reactions and actions and the more desperate words that try to explain away a contradiction or anomaly or position that is under pressure.

    I press the Atheist in the same manner. I get what they really believe and what they really think is true and what they resort to when they don’t have a good answer and are highly uncomfortable.

  178. I’m not even a third of the way through this thread yet, but a couple things I want to say thus far:
    1. Michael, it does my heart good to know you are hanging on to that which is of first importance. Praying for you and Trey often.
    2. Josh has some of the best comments on this thread. Especially the one about Xenia and Michael in fellowship with one another around their communion. Priceless!
    3. IB…um…oh never mind.

  179. I think the “real” Truth lies somewhere in the middle, strangely..and that most of what we think we know may not be Absolute Truth and that God and this existence and this consciousness we perceive is much more complex and unknowable and that hopefully if God really “Is”…that He is the loving God who who has authored this confusion for some strange purpose and that He’ll have mercy on His entire Creation, despite some of the narrow narratives that cast the vast majority of humanity in hell forever and ever with no end.

  180. “No rational argument would have been able to overcome my anger, pain, and disappointment.
    In the end, I’m here because God kept me…because He wouldn’t let me go.
    There are many things I don’t understand…many things I wish were different…many things that hurt.
    Today I just surrender to Him…and trust that when I rise again the first thing I will see is the face of my Lord.”

    Beautiful…rich…thank you for sharing that, Michael.

  181. IB is definitely a good reason to toss perseverance of the saints and once saved always saved out the window.

    IB has shown himself to be a good example of how one allows himself to walk away from his salvation.

    Also, his questions are not new and not very genuine.

  182. IB,
    I have listen to your pastor several times – he pretty much agrees with what most of us believe here.

    So, have you publicly ragged on him lately? Do you boo his sermon from from you seat? Do you shout out about God’s inconsistencies?

    Where IB are you being insincere, here or at your church?

  183. Michael,
    You have let it be known that you have problems right now, big problems.
    There are many people praying for you and yours. Do what is best for you and them right now.
    Time is short and it can’t always be spent fighting the same fights that are never resolved.

  184. Steve Wright says:

    Hi Crowned,

    I guess what I was seeking by my question is whether you see English translations as also “man’s interpretations”. To be clear, I am not ripping on English (or any other native language version) and I am so thankful for the scholars that have brought the Bible into my language. But I’m also not the one suggesting we don’t read “the works of men”. 🙂

    I like the commentaries that are filled with insights on a) historical details of the time b) figures of speech, euphemisms and such that are clearer in the originals and c) written by scholars in the original languages so they can point out things I otherwise likely would miss.

    The added bonus is these are also the guys who usually give the multiple views on the tougher passages, even as they settle on their own preference – and it is nice to see those other views.

    But then again, I teach the Word too. So I really want to be confident in what I am saying, and on occasion I will say “flip a coin, there are two key views held by Spirit-filled folks for years”

    You see if Spirit-filled Christians can come to different conclusions, then that means my reliance on what I think is the Holy Spirit may also turn out to be in error. The Spirit would never be in error of course. The error would be me alone.

    I think God says in His word that He uses teachers through whom the Spirit works too.

    Peace

  185. IB, said “DH, I’m looking for the Truth.”

    To which me and Jack say,

  186. My guess is that God is more the passive God of the Deist vs. the highly personal interactive Bi-Polar God of the Christian Fundamentalist. I think this is strongly supported by the fact there are zero verifiable supernatural miracles today (that violate natural physical law). Not one. Just one would prove this thesis false. That is a highly uncomfortable fact that I cannot resolve (nor can you, despite the sincere anecdotes).

    I don’t know much for sure, but I understand math and it’s non-subjective nature. Math alone and the science we observe presents very concrete anomalies in the literal interpretation of the bible narrative in many areas, despite the knee-jerk emotional reactions and appeals to read this or that book. My reply is read a math book, read the bible and crunch the numbers. Read a science book that explains some basic truths that are provable as absolutes in our Universe. Science is not a conspiracy in its non-philosophical form. It’s a yardstick.

    As to G’s “music”…that’s what keeps me believing in God and even Jesus. There is something innate and “spiritual” even though the books don’t add up. The Universe seems to be remarkably much like humanity…organized chaos. A paradox.

  187. Crowned1 says:

    IB @ 173

    I am well aware of the ostracizing that occurs when you “change sides” in Christianity. It is simply more proof to me that I want no part in the membership of man’s temples.

    Ironically, even through the spiritual banishments I have encountered, they didn’t realize that I was still a family member and God didn’t honor their banishment.

    Now, spiritually speaking maybe I was demoted from ‘brother’ to ‘cousin’ or something along those lines…but we are all still in the Bride. Different functions in the body.

    You want God to prove Himself by a miracle? I pray that He breaks you, as He did me, and floods you to overflowing with His truth & love. I pray that you become a living miracle.

    I will pray this prayer for you nightly, until God recovers His lost & hurt sheep. John 6:37

  188. MLD, I choose to be anonymous on here now and to try to resolve these questions in what I was told was a “family” and “community” that I am a part of and that as G has said is a “safe place” etc.

    I haven’t been attending my church lately and I haven’t been running my blog due to my doubts. I have expressed this already to others and to Michael (at least about the blog part).

    This place has been billed as a “hospital” etc. I’m not beating the BG drum, could care less about it these days. I’ve got legit issues with the version of faith* you are selling.

    If you can’t handle the questioning and the challenges, I would suggest you have a weak position.

  189. Again, MLD, you and Steve Wright have shown me the Truth of your version of faith* more than you realize…and it’s not a good thing.

  190. Most of the sales pitch is pure b.s. when push comes to shove. It’s a safe* place and a community* etc etc (asterisk). Not in the true sense of the words. It’s about as “safe” as a shark tank and about as Gahndi Jesus as a UFC cage match. I don’t begrudge it, I just see through the b.s. and realize what is reality vs. what is sales pitch.

  191. At least we don’t rag on those who disagree with us and beat everyone to a pulp.

    We have a more quiet confidence in what we believe.

    Steve and I have some difference but we don’t trat each other like you treat most here

  192. “At least we don’t rag on those who disagree with us and beat everyone to a pulp.”

    That’s the biggest load of bull yet. You are the king of that (or at least you try, it just doesn’t work on me b/c there’s always a bigger a-hole principle).

  193. Pete says:

    Amen!

  194. Frosted Flake says:

    IB,
    Lord you need help! Why do you use this blog as your outhouse. Stay home dude. Some of us would just love to talk. I’m out again.

  195. IB,

    Have you read my #109?

    Since you claim to obtain more logic than the Word, and have abandoned your own Blog since just before the last legal case, God and His word is still alive and well. Are you sure you want to talk face to face with God expecting to be better worded than Him? Do you not know the difference between knowing more ways to argue with men (verbally or written) than to admit God knows, says and writes (The Ten Commandments if nothing else) absolute truth? If YOU exist, how can you not fear a God that does miracles and is Holy, Holy, Holy?

    Why do I try to reason with you? Because I fear, and see, you fall into a self destructive mode totally un-necessarily.

    Since Christ Himself suffered as much as He did after committing not a single sin; and did not question the scripture, or the belief in miracles, or “If God is real”; why do you think you have the right to doubt the Bible? Christ enduring the pain and suffering which He did, does not display how unfair the Father is, it proves that it is worth not challenging God in the slightest way.

  196. FF, Michael can ban me at any time.

  197. Michael says:

    If someone in my church or even here online was asking serious questions and struggling with doubt, I would not direct them to my blog.
    I would in no way suggest that going to another blog and taking it over despite the wishes of the owner and those who frequented it would assuage those doubts either.
    I would start with a good reference book and if they were indeed serious, I would have them read a chapter a week and meet weekly with them to discuss it.
    If they claimed to have already read all those works and were not persuaded, I would offer to pray for them and bid them peace.

    Nobody here wishes you ill, IGB.
    However, neither do they want this blog to be about you and nothing else.
    Why this is an issue for you…is beyond me.

  198. Crowned1 says:

    Steve @ 188

    I guess where you lose me…is ‘God breathed & translated literature’ is a lot different than a subjective interpretation ‘of it’.

    I don’t disagree that people other than myself can have insight into God’s Word. I simply disagree that I should accept their insights as more than opinion.

    Logically, spirit filled Christians cannot come to separate conclusions. If there are 5 interpretations of a passage, 4 people are wrong. Only God is right.

    That is why I simply lean on Him and avoid subjectivity…that way I don’t get confused by one of the four.

    You could argue ‘I am one of the four’…but I have faith that God will keep me on the straight and narrow with His Word.

  199. “The Ten Commandments if nothing else) absolute truth?”

    Is the Ten Commandments “absolute truth”?

    Do you keep the Sabbath?

  200. Michael, others make it about me. They can choose to ignore the questions, but they can’t help themselves b/c the stuff stings (and rightly so).

  201. I will say this about you Alex, at least you haven’t taken anyone’s advice and gone and spewed this on your own blog. They are a lot more fragile people there and don’t need to hear the crap that comes from you on a regular basis here.

    You are right you really aren’t worth all the consternation you cause. Mainly just a smelly fart in a small room.

    I am going back to ignoring you for a while.

  202. Michael, you’ve said this is an online community and not a church. You allow G and many others to hold non-orthodox positions and to question.

  203. Michael says:

    IGB,

    Frankly, I think you want me to ban you so you can go elsewhere and yell about how stupid, hypocritical, etc, etc, we all are.
    If you were truly looking for answers, you would look where they could be found.

  204. Paul (PAL) said, “In fact I was for a short time impressed because I mentioned the un-needed sarcastic battle between you and MLD; and you either actually made some headway of changing for the sake of others (the innocent) or you were faking.”

    I don’t fake it Paul. What you see is a constant wrestling match between the former Christian Fundamentalist and the Skeptic in me. The Skeptic is currently kicking the Fundies arse, largely due to what I’m learning from “Christians’ and Selective Fundamentalists and from Atheists, Deists, Humanists, Skeptics and other philosophical belief systems.

  205. Michael, no, I want you to do what you think “God” is telling you to do.

  206. Michael says:

    IGB,

    I do allow a variety of traditions here.
    You, however are the only person here who chooses to dominate every thread with your rants, even when no one wants to deal with you.
    G is always a gentleman…as are most here.

  207. Steve Wright says:

    Crowned – A couple points of clarification. Of course, commentaries are opinions, the issue is whether the opinion is worth listening to. 🙂 That usually to me can be determined by looking at just the bibliography.

    When I say “Spirit-filled” Christians, I am talking about people who are a) saved (obviously) and b) seriously seeking to understand God’s Word, prayerfully, methodically exegeting the text.

    Of course if two men have different views on a Scripture, they both can’t be correct and the one who is wrong is inserting his view, and not the Spirit’s – even if it is innocently done.

    As to translations, yes there is a difference but the bottom line is that the translators are people and they MUST as part of their work, insert their own interpretations on the text as they translate it. It is BOTH art and science.

  208. david sloane says:

    Matthew 25:33
    And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    Jesus tells us that there are those who are sheep and those who are goats. There is a distinction…

    Why is one set on the right hand and one put on the left?

    By inference one is acceptable and the other not acceptable.

    Wouldn’t want to be a goat…

  209. Steve W said, “Of course if two men have different views on a Scripture, they both can’t be correct and the one who is wrong is inserting his view, and not the Spirit’s – even if it is innocently done.”

    Not true.

  210. …if Steve W’s position above is Truth, then it has remarkable implications that support a very narrow ODM-type perspective of who is in the Tent and who is out and probably supports an Apostolic Succession and “Authority” position more than he understands.

  211. Michael says:

    IGB,

    God usually doesn’t help me moderate.
    He does however require that as much as possible , I walk in patience and grace.
    I’ve tried to do that with you.
    Now, however, you are creating an atmosphere that no one wants to participate in…again.
    If I allow you to continue, I have no doubt that the blog will soon die.
    I don’t enjoy what you’re doing, nor does anyone else.
    How should I deal with this, IGB?

  212. PP Vet says:

    MNUR 1 awesomedude.

  213. Michael says:

    PP Vet,

    Thank you…even though I think you hold a minority position on that. 🙂

  214. PP Vet says:

    A healthy body resists pathogens without peremptory intervention.

  215. MN, how do you perceive Jesus would handle it?

  216. How would the “correct Jesus” handle it? The YHWH/Jehovah Jesus of the OT? The White Horse Jesus of Revelation? The loving forgiving 70 times 7 turn the other cheek Jesus of the Gospels?

  217. MN, I join PP Vet in that minority opinion.

  218. I think the OT Jesus would stone me to death.

    The Revelation Jesus would cut me in half with a sword.

    And, Gahndi Jesus of the Gospels would tell me He loves me and would put up with me, even when it’s difficult.

  219. IB, with all sincerity, my heart is breaking over you.

  220. Michael says:

    IGB,

    I don’t know.

    He may have removed you so that the others can be safe and healthy.
    That doesn’t mean He abandons you, it means He cares for the rest of the people here too.
    He may have allowed you to ruin the place for reasons unknown.
    He may have seen that every effort was made to incorporate you into the community, but you refused any terms but your own.
    He always would have offered you the opportunity to repent and give some of what you demand.

  221. Michael says:

    CK,
    Thank you, my friend.

  222. Papias says:

    Michael – Praying for you.

  223. Michael says:

    IGB,

    I ask again…if what you want is answers, why don’t you seek them where you might find them?

  224. Michael says:

    papias…thank you, sir!

  225. IB in #203 asked me, “Do you keep the Sabbath?”

    Yes. Not perfectly but I do keep the Sabbath (On Saturday) seriously and try to not buy or sell on that day. I have made a couple “Happy Sabbath” comments here and also on your blog, which you have abandoned. I realized the reason for the Sabbath during search of religious matters through the Seventh Day Adventist. Keeping the Sabbath is much more than just going to church and allowing the rest of the day to be as usual. To me, it is like a date with God. I praise and worship Him, without any doubt!!!

  226. Xenia says:

    I am ever mindful of the lurkers, maybe some person whose faith is weak, who may be going through a hard time, who may be doubting God, whose reads IB’s ever-so-logical (Did God really say?) rants and lose their faith. That would be tragic.

  227. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I hear you on that.

  228. Michael, I read and comment at other blogs. This one is a community I was invited to and became a part of when I was more of a Christian Fundamentalist who suppressed the doubts and questions.

    I think it’s a great cross-section of “Christian” beliefs and attitudes and actions, etc. from a variety of boxes underneath the Tent (or one leg outside the Tent like G 🙂 )

  229. Sloane, that was hilarious! 😆 Thanks for the laugh.

  230. Michael says:

    IGB,

    If it is as you say, (and I believe it is) why do you so want to destroy it?
    That is what you are doing.

  231. I don’t believe the “you’re destroying it” narrative. I think that’s manipulation and not true. It may piss some folks off, but it hasn’t resulted in “destroying” the blog, it just ruffles some feathers at times, but participation is about as it has been on average in the past. Some get their panties in a ruffle and leave for a bit, others fill the void, etc.

    The BG stuff seemed to be the one thing that really pissed off the CC guys and many on here. I don’t beat that dead horse any longer.

  232. filbertz says:

    IB,
    we are not going to be able to help you sort this out. It is above our paygrade, experience, competence, and desire. Your questions lack sincerity, your insults lacerate, your scorn burns as though toxic. You have such a deep disdain for many here that you needlessly hurt and offend others with whom you have no beef. You would earn a significant measure of my respect if you would withdraw from the fracas, retreat a safe distance, set aside some time for R&R, and sort it out. Many have shared their concerns with you, but you’re apparently driven by something other than desire for a miracle. You haven’t encountered the God you seek here, so perhaps he’ll meet you in the quiet of solitude. Something to consider from one who cares as much about you as I do the dozens of others who have taken the opportunity to hang out here.

  233. Fil, I disagree with the “your questions lack sincerity” but you’ll believe what you want to believe.

  234. IB asked “Is the Ten Commandments “absolute truth”?”

    The answer is YES … to those whom it was written.

    But you won’t deal with that and will just move on to another question.

  235. I don’t want to talk about me anymore. I want to be anonymous and treated like everyone else. I’ll take some of the blame for posting so much on this thread and responding to every last comment directed toward me.

  236. MLD, we’ve covered that ground before. I don’t answer you sometimes b/c then I’m accused of arguing or dominating.

  237. filbertz says:

    IB
    that’s semantics. you’ll believe what you wish as well. I stand by my comment and perhaps should qualify it with “your questions appear to lack sincerity.” But what about the rest?

  238. Done answering questions, don’t make it about me. Move along. I have my take, you have yours.

  239. Michael says:

    I have to leave this now.
    I’ll pray about what to do about it.

  240. IB, this is the point – you asked a question “Is the Ten Commandments “absolute truth”?”

    I gave an answer and then you retort “we’ve covered that ground before”

    My point exactly, why do you keep asking the same questions since as you state “we’ve covered that ground before.”???

  241. Get some rest, Michael.

  242. Michael says:

    I will end the day with something I saw on the way home.
    They was a guy with a sign begging on the Ashland exit as I drove by and pulled into the gas station.
    The car behind me pulled over to the side of the road, the fellow got out of his car, gave the beggar some money…then put an arm around the guy and was praying for him when I left.
    That’s the church…

  243. Michael, as much as it pains me, I will start doing what we discussed off blog. We’ll see what happens. I think we know what the outcome will be, though you will probably disagree with my conclusion as to why.

  244. Michael,

    Just a suggestion, how about making one Sabbath (Saturday) an “Open IB blog”? And request everyone else to not comment on that thread. I would also encourage everyone else to ban themselves from responding to IB after that, for at least a week. NO “Open IB blog” ever again after that; and after the week of no response from anyone, he continues to disrespect anyone, ask everyone to ignore him another week. If he fails to be respectful after that, ban him for the sake of God’s Children.

  245. Crowned1 says:

    Steve @ 211 “the issue is whether the opinion is worth listening to”

    I fully agree with you here.

    “That usually to me can be determined by looking at just the bibliography.”

    You lost me again, unless the only source material used was the Holy Bible. Men citing/sourcing each others’ opinions in spiritual matters is circular reasoning.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. But blessings to you and yours for a wonderful week!

  246. London says:

    I sometimes think we think the “good news” is about some future event instead of the present.
    I don’t think that is the “good news” Jesus intended. I think he was invluding the here and now as part of the equation as well

  247. Michael,
    Thank you for your kind words about my efforts to be gentlemanly, I’m still very much a work in process. I learned that this is your party and you will even put up with my minority Jesus-4-Gospels-centric view if I live it more and sell it less.

    IB/Al,
    When my deepest and most intense season of deconstruction was going on I used to hijack this place, fight with many of the conservatives, and to be honest, I would be outrageous just to get a rise out of folks by daring to question my fundamentalism out loud. Some demanded that Michael ban me. Remember the blog stats? The volume of posts was you, me, then MLD. I’ve dialed it way back because I no longer care what others think, I welcomed our mutual reconciliation when you reached out to me repeatedly, and I force myself to ignore SteveW’s and MLD’s baiting and mockery of my way of doing my faith, and they have responded to my request to co-exist without commentary.

    Thing is, you do ask a lot of questions but don’t welcome or wait for answers, and you’re not processing. I also did the same thing. I still had a few who encouraged me, Michael Newnham being the best and most consistent online friend any man could ask for.

    Michael is paying forward to you the same Jesus-like grace I received. Don’t discard it or take it for granted. It is more precious than any pearl.

    Perhaps you can join me in appreciating him, his coaching, his reasons for his faith in God as he holds it, even if you will not agree with him.

    Just like the music realization made another connection between us and a few others here, seek the things that connect. God knows you can hit reddit.com and hit the atheist subreddits and get plenty of ammo to deconstruct your faith and find some brilliantly scathing stuff, but better to hold onto what still makes an intuitive connection, just like the music thing.

    Anyhow, I used to be a demanding voice for your banning, and now I refuse to be.
    I would rather the community and you find enough common ground and that you would, again, realize that this place, is indeed, a community of friends.

    Alex, you are no bastard. Yes, you have been abandoned but you are not illegitimate, and you are surrounded by people who love you and Michael Newnham is a very public father in the faith if you will let him continue to be that ally.

    Have a great next few days.
    -g

  248. Steve Wright says:

    I force myself to ignore SteveW’s and MLD’s baiting and mockery of my way of doing my faith,
    —————————————–
    I’m at a point where I am really tired of misrepresentation done in my name.

    Including this very comment, you have “fired the first shot” over and over – responding to my opinion of the blog post topic at hand or someone else’s comment with your counter-opinion of me and my views.

    Baiting you? Good grief.

    I didn’t set my clock so I can’t provide a date, but I made it a point some months ago to not engage your commentary – unless of course you choose to engage me first…which you have certainly done.

    Rest assured, if you think a “peace treaty” was necessary and you want to think somehow you brokered it – I won’t try to change your mind on either score.

  249. Steve Wright says:

    You lost me again, unless the only source material used was the Holy Bible. Men citing/sourcing each others’ opinions in spiritual matters is circular reasoning.
    —————————————————————–\
    Crowned

    My point about the bibliography was that anyone who takes a year of their life to do nothing but write and focus on one particular book of the Bible…..anyone who reads hundreds and hundreds of works on that particular book of the Bible and the culture, history and so forth of that time…..anyone who is fluent in the language that book of the Bible was written in….

    Well, that’s someone whose opinion I think is worth checking out my conclusions against.

    I especially seek those who have a different theological “bent” than I on various non-essential doctrine of the faith where brothers can agree to disagree.

  250. IB/Alex,
    I’m curious what you think of this…
    http://smootharray.com/atheism/page/8526

  251. Mr, Wright,
    We have nothing to say, best kept that way.
    Have a day

  252. brian says:

    This thread has been very troubling and helpful. I most likely share the same some of the same questions IB shares, IB having been told I was one of those most of my life, and having agreed for most of those years I relate. I will agree with Michael, there are sound very well thought out answers to many of these questions, J I Packer. In my early line of the Christian religion Dr. Packer would be on the express train to hell, right into the bowels of Satan, along with the utter vast majority of humanity. I mean the utter vast majority, who cant have any hope. They are ignoble vessels created with one purpose to give God, the Eternal Father, glory as they are cast into outer darkness. I will admit in my twisted sin tainted wretched condition, I am offended, not in my personal case, to see sentient beings equated to inanimate objects. I get the reference, but why is it wrong to call on our Father to tell us why or even just to answer?

    IB I know you are asking questions I have asked many of the same, I think I found some answers in the local community, just doing right, not for future glory but just to do right. That can start with your family. From what I can tell you are a wonderful father and husband. That is a healing balm, find some comfort in that. The traditional church cant give you the answers you need, healthy human interaction can in my opinion.

    My faith views, they are not historic or even orthodox in the sense of any common creed or understanding, I do not see committed gay relationships as a sin, I am a universalist, I hold to the validity of the ToE, an old Earth “date”. Though I would not discount it a literal gen 1-11 I see no inconsistent evidence for a literal interpretation of these events. I could list a bazillion reasons why but I consider the two sources of Truth to be different yet seeking the same understanding. Science cant ask the metaphysical questions and cant define hope, I have read several books by Prof, Dawkin’s including the God Delusion. To be honest I got face palm rash from reading the Professor’s views of theology. I dont know why people waist ink on this guy when it comes to theology. He is accurate in his discipline and is a good writer, for example his book the Greatest Show on Earth is really quite helpful even though a bit snarky.

    Pastor Wright, I wish I had a pastor like you when I first became a Christian, well you or Michael, or even Alex. I see alot of each of you in each other. Its hard for “us” we dont see it, I know I dont. I read scripture and I read verses in OT which I wont post here because I dont do gotcha type rhetoric or try to avoid it, but they dont sound like they come from a Divine being that created the entire universe and whose providence guides all. I actually think the bible is inspired because it is so messed up, it shows some of the most awful aspects of humanity and even the best. The bible has been through the ringer and has come out on top because it keeps being human. God reaching to humans and humans reaching to God. Of course that is messy.

    Is it me or do we all just hang in there by our fingernails. I know I do on a daily basis. Its funny even atheists online have told me I would be a lousy atheist and to even stay with my faith. It has only been fellow Christians that have encouraged me to become a total apostate, basically so I can fulfill Romans 1. My early christian experience is sort of the passive aggressive Paul washer style combined with the mind numbing shallow, hallow twaddle of Ray Comfort.

    What really matters, Pastor Wright runs a nice church from what I can see, helps his family and is concerned about his congregation, Michael basically does the same and he puts up with nut jobs like myself, I would have fallen into the heart of darkness with out this blog. IB a family man that rose above all the pain and broke the abuse cycle, IB you should celebrate that and dont that blankity blank “father” take that away, you want to take on his world, doing it from the higher road, he wont stand a chance.

    The only hope I have ever held to was the first time I stepped onto a medical / developmental center unit. If divinity cannot reach the “least” /best (in my opinion) of us It cant be God. I dont believe that because through the worse I have seen God reach these fine folks. It starts with common ground, we live on this pail blue dot, I think that gives us alot in common.

  253. brian says:

    ps I reported myself to the grammar and spelling police. I envy those that can write.

  254. I hate that the Xenia / Michael fellowship narrative got lost in the hubbub. That was worth digging further into.

    Xenia @ 96 pointed out, very gracefully, that she could not in good conscious say that our communion was equal to her Eucharist.

    She is absolutely right! I have nothing but respect for her for fully following her convictions, even when those convictions seem “divisive”. Listen, heaven is going to be full of the people Jesus saved regardless of what I think about, or Xenia thinks about them, or Michael thinks about them. However, here on earth, we can only work off the revelation that we’ve been given. We don’t need to try to beat each other into submission in the name of “unity”. If unity is not based on truth, it is false unity at best.

  255. Dude says:

    Micheal
    Really enjoy your blog.

  256. Crowned1 says:

    Steve @ 254

    With that many logged scholarly hours they could have some deep insights. They could also be wrong or promoting a bias. It’s the coin flip of “picking a winner” that tends to shy me away from deep study on opinions.

    In my past, I have read quite a few scholarly opinions and attempted to inform myself as much as possible about the variations in understanding of the Text. My conclusion? The Bride has no consensus so why pick a side?

    Is there a lot to learn out there? Absolutely. Do I see fruit in endlessly studying variations of the Text and spinning a wheel to pick a side? No.

    John 3:16 or bust 🙂

  257. @ Crowned1

    What would you suggest for those of us with Children? Should we teach them, or just wait until they can read, and hope they learn themselves?

    If we teach them, we will be giving them the opinions of man rather than just the word.

  258. Tim says:

    “My faith…your faith…our faith…is based on a historical event, the resurrection of Christ. I have a very high view of Scripture…but the foundation of the faith is an event, not a book. This is the Gospel, that Christ came, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead…and because He was, you will be too.”

    I think the original point of the post got lost in the discussion. Jesus is risen from the dead. *Everything* else about the faith proceeds from that point.

    If a person does not believe in the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus, then nothing else they may/may not believe about the Bible really matters.

  259. Crowned1 says:

    Josh @ 262

    Children should absolutely be taught the essentials of the faith. You can do that by reading the bible directly to them. There are plenty of passages that are simple enough for a child to have a basic understanding of the Lord.

    I would say do not give them your opinion. Give them the Word and let them form their own opinions later in life as they seek God.

    As an example, I was raised in a pre-millennial rapture environment. This created a lot of confusion for me in my adult life as I could not find any verses to validate the theory. In any case, yes…show children Jesus…both in the Word and by your example as a parent.

    As far as learning themselves though? Yes…that is exactly what I want my children to do. Learn from God’s word, not from their father who is a flawed man. Critically think…not simply repeat what they have heard.

    God promises to bless them in their pursuits. ‘Seek and ye shall find’. ‘I will not turn away any who come to Me’.

  260. Steve Wright says:

    Well said, Tim. That’s the point to stress. A Real Man, at a specific date on the calendar of history, in a specific place on the globe, surrounded by other people – both friends and enemies. And a historical event.

    Christianity is not a mythology

  261. Xenia says:

    Crowned’s philosophy of Christian life has a purity to it that is very appealing. I think it might work for some people. It did not work for me, I’m afraid. I am weak and I do need all the crutches and props that the Church offers else I know, from past experience, that I will slip-slide away.

  262. Well, Crowned1, I guess we can agree to disagree. I don’t even think that is how God set it up, as laid out in the Scritpures. For instance, I am assuming you would not read Revelation to your kid, since it is more difficult to understand. Thus, while not acting as a commentator, you are acting as an editor. It seems that you just can’t get around the influence of man, and it seems God designed it that way.

  263. Crowned1 says:

    Josh @ 267

    Absolutely brother. Agreeing to disagree is a natural part of the Christian faith and commonplace in the body 🙂

    You are correct, I would not read Revelation to my children. Revelation does not even make sense to full grown adults…if it did, we could agree on what it means.

    I will instruct my children in the way that they should go by reciting to them scripture about our Lord’s conquering of death and the salvation attained through Him alone. In addition to that, I will instruct them in morality as defined in scripture.

    Just as I did, they will reach a cross roads in their life where they will decide for themselves whether or not they will contend for the faith. God promises that if we raise our children up in the way that they should go, in their latter days they will not depart from the path.

    If there is something in the Text that I do not teach my children, that God wants them to know, He will reveal it to them.

    Blessings.

  264. Tim says:

    “Christianity is not a mythology”

    Exactly.

  265. “A Real Man, at a specific date on the calendar of history, in a specific place on the globe, surrounded by other people – both friends and enemies. And a historical event.”

    I would go as far as to say it is unquestionable that *something* happened in Jerusalem 2,000-ish years ago. The question is: What?

    Is it as the Bible records?

    Is it a hoax perpetrated by the apostles?

    Were the Apostles sincere in their belief ( no hoax), but still wrong?

    Those are really the only viable choices, right? I’d say the first is the only one that makes any sense.

  266. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, something also happened with Paul and the nearness of the time period to the events he preached is quite an apologetic. I have more confidence in the historicity of the resurrection than any other ancient event in history.

    One of my favorite verses is early in Luke when he lays out all the political leaders and the years of their rule etc as intro to his gospel. Ch 3 I think off the top of my head.

  267. Believe says:

    I’m going to choose to try and love you guys and to simply affirm what you each believe and to try to help you feel good about yourselves and your circumstances. I think that may be the real underlying truth that supercedes all others, even if it feels dishonest at times.

  268. Or you could just interact like a normal person…

  269. Steve, re: Paul, I agree. Though, if the story just started with Paul, I could say he was crazy, trying to start a cult, committing slow suicide, or something like that. However, when the other evidence is taken into account, and Paul is vetted by the Apostles, and written about by Luke…yes, it is a very strong testimony.

  270. Believe says:

    Josh, that assumes I’m normal 🙂

  271. Xenia says:

    What happened to St. Paul on the Road to Emmaus that changed everything for him…

    I’m a student at an Institute for Orthodox Studies, located in San Francisco. Every month or so I am required to travel up to the school and have a face-to-face with my advisor. My advisor happens to be a very well-known, somewhat strict monastic who is quite scholarly and other-worldly. There’s always a question I am to be prepared to answer and one time, I was to talk for an hour about the transformation that happened to St. Paul on the Road to Emmaus.

    So I talked and talked and the good monk had a beatific smile on his face but he kept asking, “But Xenia, what really happened to St. Paul that caused his transformation? So I talked some more but I still wasn’t coming up with quite what he wanted to hear. Finally, in desperation, I blurted out “It was like Scully on the X-files! She didn’t believe in space aliens until she saw one with her own eyes!” And the beatific smile turned into a sad little frown. “X-files…. That’s a television program, right?” Turned out what he wanted me to say was that the Lord called Paul by name, thereby making it personal to Paul, transforming it from head to heart knowledge and giving St. Paul the desire to sacrifice all for his Lord, Who called him by name.

  272. Crowned1 says:

    Believe @ 272 “to try to help you feel good about yourselves and your circumstances”

    I already have an app for that

  273. Steve Wright says:

    Agreed Josh. Plus Paul’s story starts with him arranging for the killing and imprisonment of Christians. Quite a switch. He says the switch is due to seeing the Lord. Other witnesses are involved, even by name, as to his blindness etc.

    I try to remind people just how short the time frame is we are talking about when we discuss the Acts history. Even discounting the immediate apostolic actions in Jerusalem, at most we are looking at the era of the JFK-Reagan years.

  274. Michael says:

    Xenia…that was wonderful…I needed that.
    Thank you.

  275. Steve Wright says:

    Xenia sort of beat me to it.

    Xenia, I know it was not funny to you at the time, but it is OK if we chuckle now about your X-files gaffe there? 🙂

  276. @ 275 – “Josh, that assumes I’m normal”

    Well played!

  277. Xenia says:

    Please laugh! When I got back to the car I told my husband and we both had a good laugh!

  278. I’m sure this is common knowledge…by why is Xenia using Emmaus instead of Damascus?

  279. Xenia says:

    Oh…. you’re right! Sorry!

    Damascus.

  280. Whew…

    Thought my brain was going crazy 🙂

  281. Steve Wright says:

    I see Josh was a little gun-shy there to suggest Xenia might have goofed. 🙂

  282. You’re right about that Steve. When it comes down to one of us being wrong, the odds were heavily stacked against me 🙂

  283. Steve Wright says:

    Amen, Josh

  284. Steve Wright says:

    Same here I meant

  285. So often it seems that even attempts to change course, make positive statements (273) is countered with not so veiled insult (274). The “yeah, right, I’ll believe it when I see it” response can zap the wind out of ones sails in a NY nanosecond. What is normal? When one is in the dark night of the soul, the last thing one needs to hear is they need to be “more normal”. Who decides, what is the yardstick for normalacy when traversing dark canyons? Not mentioned to shame – as once upon a time I have been either the one exhorting others to get more normal, as well as the one being exhorted. More of an observation….. Each of our journeys is as individual as our fingerprints. Reading of Dallas Willard’s impact on people’s lives an encouragement today. Thankful today to be more and more free from the damned if I do v. damned if I don’t mental frustation that plagued most of my earlier walk.
    Peace to all.

  286. Xenia says:

    Gentlemen, there’s a difference between being a know-it-all (me) and actually knowing something.

  287. @ 290 – I apologize if my # 273 seemed rude. There is a long history of erratic, back and forth behavior, name-changes, etc. I would prefer, instead of a pronouncement of doing better (which we’ve seen before) just doing better. You know? Again, I’m sorry for the weariness. I’ts old to me.

  288. Lutheran says:

    Thinking about Paul’s “conversion experience,” I love what Chaplain Mike over at the Internet Monk pointed out in a recent post — that that was just the start, not the whole fabric, of Paul’s conversion.

    “The resurrected Lord appeared to Saul (1Cor. 15:8), spoke to him, and revealed his identity to him. He literally stopped the persecuting Pharisee in his tracks, knocked him to the ground, and blinded him. Jesus confronted him with the charge that Saul was actually fighting against God rather than serving him.

    Let’s stop there for a moment.

    Though this personal encounter with Jesus literally turned Paul around, it forms only the beginning of his conversion story. There is no word here about forgiveness. No good news was proclaimed. No “decision” was made. Paul did not pray a “sinner’s prayer,” confess his sins, or profess his faith. He did not simply pick up and go on his way rejoicing as a converted and transformed individual.

    If I may put it this boldly, what happened on the road to Damascus was not enough to “save” Paul.

    On the road, Jesus got Paul’s attention. Then, he sent him through what we might call a structured Gospel process.

    What happened next?

    Jesus instructed Paul to go into the city where he would be told what to do. Notice, he did not just tell him to “ask the Savior into his heart” or “pray silently” — he commanded Paul to go somewhere where he would have to do something.

    The stricken man had three days of preparation and silence in the city. He fasted.

    Presumably he prayed. He waited.

    A Christian named Ananias came into the picture and did specific acts with regard to Paul: he laid his hands on him, he proclaimed good news of Christ and God’s calling on Paul’s life and prayed that he would receive the Spirit. Paul regained his sight.

    Ananias instructed Paul to be baptized in order to “have his sins washed away” (a strong text on the sacramental nature of baptism) as he called on Jesus’ name in faith (Acts 22:16).

    Paul stayed with the congregation in Damascus for a time and took opportunity to witness to who Jesus was and what he had done for him.

    You see, Jesus did not just “save” Paul directly through a personal spiritual encounter, a “born again experience,” a private conversion. It was not Paul’s “Damascus Road” experience that did the trick.

    It was what happened there plus what happened when Paul went into Damascus.

    On the road, Jesus got Paul’s attention in a dramatic fashion, introduced himself to him, and then sent him to the Church. There, through such practices as fasting, solitude, prayer, the laying on of hands, baptism, and public witness, Paul became a thoroughly converted, changed man.

    As Cyprian of Carthage famously said, “He cannot have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother.”

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/a-structured-gospel

  289. Steve Wright says:

    Lutheran, I would gently counter that otherwise good word from Mike to point out the testimony of Stephen.

    Saul of Tarsus was there, he heard it all and saw it all. He of course knew what Christians were already preaching in so much as he was actively rounding them up to persecute them.

    Plus, on the road, Jesus spoke (I interpret as do many) a reference to the conviction on Saul since that time (kick against the goads)

    All that to say, it is my belief that one either is saved or not at any instant (forgetting eternal security issues at this point). In a moment one goes from being lost on the way to hell, to being saved,forgiven and on the way to glory.

    That is not to say there is not a gospel process. I went through one myself and as a result I do not know the moment I got saved. I can tell you the general timeframe within a few weeks though. I do know that at one instant during those weeks I would not have been saved, and the next moment I was born again – without a sinner’s prayer, baptism, altar call or any other decision-type explanation.

    I simply came to believe.

    That instant, that moment, happened to Saul/Paul somewhere. I believe the road is where it did. He first calls Jesus, “Lord” there – and the testimony before Agrippa mentions only the road details (ch26 12-19)

    I guess Mike would not? That this instant did not happen until a few days later? (with the ramification, hypothetically of course, that if Saul had died during those couple of days he would be in hell). Did it not happen until the official water baptism?

    Just pondering with a slightly different take. No desire to debate the point further…

  290. Steve Wright says:

    Speaking of the word, “pondering”….

    I miss Em

  291. Lutheran says:

    Steve,

    You’d have to ask Chaplain Mike.

    But I disagree that conversion always takes place in a specific moment. It can. But it doesn’t have to. I think we have to be careful not to read into Scripture our extra-biblical notions. Like
    “accepting Christ,” or “having a personal relationship with Jesus,” terms you won’t find in Holy Scripture.

    In the early church they didn’t have ‘decisions for Jesus’ either. If you wanted to ‘follow Jesus,’ you’d tell the bishop. He’d enroll you into a catechism class for a year or two. They you’d be baptized and join the church at Easter. The “deciding for Christ” thing is an invention of the Anabaptists, and later, revivalism, along with a good heapin’ of American individualism. Not saying that’s wrong, just noting the context.

    I think we’re smart to acknowledge that God doesn’t bring everyone into the Kingdom in the same way. There can be fits and starts and fits and starts and fits and starts some more. We can let God be God!

  292. Just read on a friend’s FB status:
    “A true friend is like ivy, the greater the ruin the closer he clings.”~D.L. Moody on Proverbs 17:17.

  293. Steve Wright says:

    I already left basically the same comment on his site. 🙂

    I am in full agreement about the decision thing. In fact, when someone comes up after a service to tell me they believe the gospel and want to receive Christ, I make sure they understand they already have!! (Of course, we talk more too – but I’m trying to educate that their salvation is not determined by the sinner’s prayer) We don’t do altar calls, hand raising etc.

    My beef was that I don’t think Saul is a proper example for making the point.

    My point then about the moment of conversion was not to connect it to such decision points, but to acknowledge that at some instant a person is converted (regenerated, saved, forgiven etc.) whereas before that instant he was not.

    Heaven/hell. Saved/damned. Forgiven/In Sins. It is a status, a declaration in God’s sight. Only two camps. We move from one to the other but we aren’t in both at the same time nor are we in some sort of third ‘process’ camp. My salvation was a process, but at some instant the salvation actually happened.

    I think Church History consensus is rather strong that (quote) Paul was converted on the Damasacus Road. Right?

    To write, as Mike did, “what happened on the road to Damascus was not enough to “save” Paul…..is a bridge too far for me…

    I think a lot of times we have very good and Biblical points, but find the wrong verses and illustrations to make those points. At least it is something I try to guard against when I teach because the temptation is often there.

  294. Believe/Alex,
    Nice rebranding.

  295. PP Vet says:

    “We move from one to the other but we aren’t in both at the same time nor are we in some sort of third ‘process’ camp.”

    Thankfully someone is speaking some sense in the face of the wacko-stupid soteriology from dead superstitious religious traditions that made its way into prior comments.

  296. mrtundraman says:

    Xenia wrote “You are so vain.” …. You probably think this blog is about you…. You’re so vain….

  297. Bob says:

    To say Saul “converted” to Christianity is an absurd and arrogant statement made from the perspective of centuries of “Christian” history and world dominance.

    The facts of scriptures are these:
    Saul was a Jew.
    Saul was a Pharisee from the school of Hillel and taught by the greatest rabbi of the time.
    Saul never denounced either his Jewishness or being a Pharisee.
    Saul actually used both to gain access to Jewish communities to teach the Gospel.
    Saul’s teaching about the Messiah and the end of the age were/are very orthodox Pharisee teachings.
    Saul was expecting a Messiah (part of Pharisaic teaching and tradition).
    Saul was confronted on the road and understood Jesus to be the Messiah.
    Saul was fulfilled as a Jewish believer.
    Saul always hoped for his Jewish brothers to also know Jesus is the Messiah.

    Saul a convert? No way!

    Just think how the Orthodox (and maybe not so) would treat Saul today as a Jew who came to know the Messiah.

  298. Goose says:

    Bob @ 302….

    In general, well said…

    I believe the Scriptures also support the fact that Paul was Torah observant even after Acts 9.

  299. Lutheran says:

    Steve W,

    I read your reply to Chaplain Mike. And then his response.

    Looks like you missed the boat with your comments.

    I’ll cast my vote with Mike’s analysis of the passage and his thesis that the Gospel that brings forgiveness and freedom to obey comes to us through ordered means that provide clarity for the life of faith through disciplined practices.

    Actually, this is the majority view of Christendom. Lifelong catechism/instruction is the norm, not the exception.

  300. Steve Wright says:

    that at some instant a person is converted (regenerated, saved, forgiven etc.) whereas before that instant he was not.
    —————————————————-
    Speaking for myself, I was using conversion in the salvific sense. I even gave a bunch of synonyms here to how I was using conversion. You know, the Acts chapter 3:19 sense (which was said to a crowd of Jews I would add)

    “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, NKJV

    Did somebody else write that conversion was to Christianity from Judaism?

    I’m the guy who makes some people pull out their hair around here when I talk of Messianic Judaism and Completed Jews and so forth…. 🙂

    Now if MLD shows up, you guys can have some fun. 🙂

    Whom you addressing, Bob? I missed it.

  301. Steve Wright says:

    Mike chose not to engage anything I wrote. But didn’t hesitate to say I had lots of “misconceptions” while then moving the goalposts in the discussion of conversion by now defining as baptism and incorporation into a church when I was quite clear to be using it in the salvific sense.

    I referenced in passing about half a dozen Biblical details. None of them addressed. But such things tend to not sway folks who want a good evangelical-bash.

    Are you saying the majority of Christendom does not believe that salvation happens at a distinct moment – even if one does not know the exact moment (or when one does as those who hold to infant baptism for example).

    Lifelong catechism and the life of faith is NOT what I am talking about, nor is it what Mike was talking about when he said Paul was not saved on the Road (until he then answered me that though not saved, he would not have gone to hell if he died before Ananias showed up)

    But I’m the one missing the boat 🙂

    (The irony of all this that I agree with all of you about the main point against decision theology but reject the Biblical example used is not lost on me)

  302. I guess I had better go read the article – I will be back later with my ruling. 😉

    Messianic Judaism??? Is this some aborrant religion I have not heard of? I have heard of Messianic Jews, but they are suppose to be Christians – but I have not heard of a branch of Judaism called Messianic. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Recontructionist …not Messianic.

  303. Steve Wright says:

    MLD, I will make it easy for you.

    I go back in time with my handgun and walk next to Saul of Tarsus with it placed at his head. If I pull the trigger when he is watching Stephen get killed, we agree Saul goes to hell. Right?

    So at what point in Saul’s life am I first able to pull the trigger and send him to glory and not hell?

    I can’t believe this is hard to understand. Look, if someone wants to say I can’t pull that trigger until his baptism, FINE. I disagree but it at least is a clear POV. I vote for the appearance of Jesus on the road.

    Instead we get talking out of both sides of the mouth, Saul is not saved yet but not going to hell either, all apparently in order to stay loyal to an initial argument that was poorly worded and insufficiently supported Biblically. – apparently because the author that crafted the poorly worded point is otherwise a good, intelligent, and very well liked brother in the Lord (of which I have no doubt).

    But they say us evangelicals have our hero worship 😉

    (The Messianic Judaism was just to rile you up, MLD) Off to sleep and offline tomorrow…

  304. Din;t make it easy for me, I am trying to read his article and the comments.

    Where do we see evidence that Paul was at the stoning of Stephen?

    But to make one of Chaplain Mike’s point – Paul was saved by the preaching of the law… and we know that is impossible

  305. As you may know, I don’t think that a Messianic Jew is any more of a particular person than a Messianic Muslim or a Messianic Hindu – or a completed Muslim or a completed Hindu.

  306. Steve Wright says:

    And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ (Paul present)
    ——————————————————————

    At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me lin the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, (Yeah, Jesus said more to Paul than we see in the initial account. Note this is all called the singular heavenly vision (optasia) – ALL pre Ananias)
    —————————————————————————————-

    “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. (Sorry, I don’t have enough faith to believe all these dear saints never laid a gospel witness on Paul during all this personal persecution at his hands.)
    ———————————————————————————

    because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Both these conditions were sure met on the Damascus road)
    ——————————————————————————

    Offered for those interested in a little Scripture. References left out for moderation sake

  307. @ 309 – Acts 7:58

  308. Thank you Steve and Josh.

  309. I have moved in the same direction as Chaplain Mike over these past 10 years – away from that instantaneous salvation to having a theology about conversion.

    The Acts 22 passage is so powerful in Paul’s own testimony that it took a “churchman” and the sacraments to “wash away his sins” – so, what was happening in that time period between being tossed off his donkey and his baptism?

  310. Trying to decipher the precise moment Paul (or anyone else) entered into Salvation is really an impossible task. It is timelessness intersecting with time. Our existence is so bound to time, we can’t fathom anything else, however salvation is eternal. Timeless. The road to Damascus, or in my case Nov. 28, 1993, note a point in time. While our minds are slave to such markers, I don’t think that God is bound to such.

    Now, it is obvious that Paul’s journey with Christ began with the confrontation on the Road to Damascus. It didn’t end there, as none of our Christian lives end the moment we are confronted with the Gospel. However, to say that Paul would have gone to Hell had he been killed on the way to see Ananias seems a bit presumptuous.

  311. “However, to say that Paul would have gone to Hell had he been killed on the way to see Ananias seems a bit presumptuous.”

    No one in my camp would say that. Steve’s statement to that effect shows the “either or” mind set of those who hold to a position of instantaneous salvation. As Steve said you are either saved or you are not.

  312. “As Steve said you are either saved or you are not.”

    Is there another option?!?

  313. I brought over Chaplain Mikes last comment to Steve;

    Steve, I’m saying you have a different conception of “saved” than those of us who see conversion as a process. Certainly what happened to Paul on the road was the key element in the process — that is where Jesus revealed himself to Paul! — but according to Acts, Paul’s sins were not “washed away” until he arose and was baptized under the guiding hand of a fellow Christian who had been called by God to lay hands on him and impart the Spirit, bring healing to his sight, and direct him to the rite of baptism. I believe God’s hand was on him through it all and no, he would not have been “in hell” if he had died.

    However, Paul’s experience was not instantaneous, it involved the church as well as Paul personally meeting Jesus, and it involved the use of sacramental means. I believe this sets an example for us.

  314. I think the key may be in “I’m saying you have a different conception of “saved” than those of us who see conversion as a process.”

    Look at the Ethiopian in Acts 8 – he read scripture, he had scripture expounded to him by Philip – but it wasn’t until sometime later, when the Philip’s preaching about baptism became clear to him and They together, the churchman Philip and the convert applied the sacrament.

    Would he have died in the interim – or was God working a process that would be brought to fruition?

  315. Steve Wright says:

    I’m not going to debate Mike further at his site….but for our convo here….Mike wrote, “Though this personal encounter with Jesus literally turned Paul around, it forms only the beginning of his conversion story. There is no word here about forgiveness. No good news was proclaimed. ”

    No word here about forgiveness?

    Paul’s own testimony says otherwise. Sure you have to read it later in Acts (26) but that is why I pasted it above. It is not uncommon for the Bible to give greater details in one account than it does in another account. The gospels are filled with examples and of course Stephen’s comments about the OT history of Israel also includes details not found in the OT account.

    Paul said Jesus said THIS to him: “I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me”

    Paul calls ALL of this his one “heavenly vision” and it includes forgiveness of sins and faith in Jesus.

    Look, I too have taken one passage and forgotten about details found in another passage. I own up to it too. The main point may be fine and good, but THIS example in the Bible does not support it.

    When you teach through the book of Acts for 46 straight Sundays, covering each and every verse in the entire book, you do get at least a little knowledge about Paul’s life that otherwise might be forgotten or overlooked…..

  316. Steve,
    You should bring that point up on his site – I would be interested in his reply.

    However, what we see in Acts 26 is a commissioning of Paul for a purpose and not necessarily for salvation … which may have come to fruition in the presence and acts of Ananias

    You know, God commissioned the Babylonians and Assyrians to do his work also without first “saving” them.

  317. Steve Wright says:

    MLD, I’m done. Even here you mention a point of “fruition” when it comes to salvation. That is what I have been saying all along – and I have agreed all along that salvation is a process.

    Like Josh wrote, I too do not know the exact moment of my salvation…I can’t even pinpoint it with 100% certainty to the MONTH – I can say sometime in March or April of 1993,

    Obviously God kept me here during the process (which was almost an entire year prior if you recall my testimony of reading the Bible alone with no church or Christians around) – and sure, one can say God would not have let Paul die between the road and Ananias.

    But HYPOTHETICALLY, if I HAD died in the prior months, I would most definitely not have been saved. That was all I was asking about Paul. It sure seems that most Christians of various traditions talk about Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road. It sure seems the Bible gives ample support as well. Now, if someone wants to just say “look, water baptism was needed before Paul’s sins were washed away and so he was not saved until that happened” then fine….say THAT.

    Mike specifically challenged the traditional view about the Damascus Road, and of course he recognized the controversy somewhat in the way he framed his words about “If I may put it this boldly…” He wrote no mention of forgiveness of sins was told Paul on the road when the Bible says otherwise and now you equivocate as well. He’ll just likely dig in further and like I said, I have stuff to do all day…

    I just answered back with Scripture.

    Non-evangelicals can stick together as good as us evangelicals often do. 🙂

  318. Lutheran says:

    ‘Non-evangelicals can stick together as good as us evangelicals often do.’

    Steve,

    “Us evangelicals?” Sorry, buddy.

    The term “evangelical” was used to describe Lutherans oh, 500 years ago.

    A better term for your tribe would be “fundagelicals.” I know this sounds perjorative. But actually it’s pretty accurate. American evangelicalism is an outgrowth of the fundamentalism that occurred around the turn of the 19th century. Then in the 40s and early 50s you had folks like Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga who said fundamentalism was kinda stupid, reactionary and generally antiintellectual.

    And there are many observers who would say evangelicalism is basically a construct.

    http://www.amazon.com/Deconstructing-Evangelicalism-Conservative-Protestantism-Graham/dp/B0046LUNOM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368115429&sr=8-1&keywords=deconstructing+evangelicalism

  319. I think Steve was talking about the modern definition of evangelical, which is:

    If we hate it, it’s evangelical.

  320. Steve Wright says:

    Josh gets it.

    Before the Paul example is given, Mike wrote:

    “Let me give an example that I formerly did not appreciate in the free-form evangelical world in which I used to live and serve.”

    I guess adding “free-form” is somehow the caveat – left undefined.

    But Josh’s definition fits…perfectly. if we hate it, it’s evangelical.

    The example of Paul stinks….the criticism about decision theology is valid, I just preached against it LAST SUNDAY.

    And I assume I am part of the “free-form evangelical world” and yet pastor a church that does nothing like what is criticized in the article.

  321. Steve Wright says:

    A final thought.

    When an under-shepherd like myself preaches is critical of decision theology and those who promote it, and does so to a congregation like the one I have, part of an affiliation like mine, influenced by the current evangelical voices, I am actually trying to correct a faulty emphasis…to change thinking that is so prevalent and move the people to a more Biblical understanding.

    I’m trying to teach.

    I can’t make the judgement, but I will ask the question, when a pastor is critical of decision theology and those who promote it, and does so to his people that already reject decision theology and is not part of a movement where it is prevalent, and where there is currently no risk of such views getting a foothold, what is his purpose in doing so?

  322. Xenia says:

    I think a lot of people are operating on old memories of their experiences in evangelical churches, practices that may not be all that common nowadays.

    The worst example I saw, happened ten years ago, was at a funeral for a young boy who shot himself, weather intentionally or not, we’ll never know. The dad was a well-known person in the community and the Baptist church was packed to the rafters with all kinds of people.

    At the end of the service, the minister gave the ” with every eye closed” spiel and “if you want to go to heaven and see Freddie when you die” raise your hand.” I did not close my eyes, I watched to see what was going to happen. A few people did raise their hands. The minister said (paraphrase), “You are now saved for all eternity and there’s nothing that can happen that will change that.” And that’s ALL he said to them. No mention of repentance, forgiveness, baptism, “here’s a Bible for you to read,” church attendance, zip. I watched to see if the minister talked to the hand-raisers later and maybe he did but I didn’t see it. I think this kind of thing is horrible and prays on the emotions of the grieving people who wanted to see little Freddie again in the afterlife.

    I don’t know how common this kind of thing is anymore (my story is ten years old) but it is a horrible practice and once you’ve witnessed it, you want to rail against it.

  323. Steve Wright says:

    Xenia, that is horrible, and exactly the sort of thing I was speaking against last week and often do so. We do want to rail, but rail towards those who actually believe that it is proper evangelism…where it might do some good.

    If I was let’s say an ex-Jehovah Witness, I would hope I would not consistently want to be critical of JWs when speaking to a bunch of non-JWs. What profit would there be in that?

    Have a special class, even start one’s own ministry that specifically seeks to teach on the errors of the JWs, how to best witness to them and so forth, and invite those interested to come – people who might have family or friends in that group and want to learn at a deeper level..

    I see no purpose though in doing so just to get a bunch of easy “Amens” and “those stupid JWs” from the larger Body of Christ.

    And of course, the difference is that criticizing evangelicals is to criticize Christ’s bride, hardly the case with JWs

    So I am saying we all might guard against such criticism when done in a “preaching to the choir” environment (which to be clear a blog is NOT as all sorts of views might show up and read)

    Why would I with my beliefs want to spend a lot of time preaching against infant baptism, or Mary-related Catholic teachings and so forth to my church? Why would a church of Baptists want to preach against speaking in tongues all the time (I was in one of those for a couple years).

    An advantage to teaching through all the Scripture, verse by verse, is I can touch on these issues briefly when the passage warrant, but such occasions are few and far between and such emphasis would indeed be brief.

  324. Xenia says:

    Steve, I agree, mostly.

  325. Believe says:

    I actually agree with Steve Wright above.

    Preaching to the choir does little. It’s a pep rally and changes few hearts and minds and persuades only the already faithful.

    If you want persuade people to your way of thinking, you have to use subtlety and nuance and deception. “Wise as a serpent”…

    The direct approach and blunt honesty only polarizes and alienates.

    There was a good reason the Prophets of the OT routinely got killed 😆

    If you want to know how to sell your angle, Dale Carnegie wrote the bible on it. Message me and I’ll send you a copy.

  326. “There was a good reason the Prophets of the OT routinely got killed”

    Who? I’m racking my brain, but not coming up with anybody.

  327. Bob says:

    Steve:

    “Whom you addressing, Bob? I missed it.”

    Not addressing anyone in general, I’m addressing the whole concept of Paul’s “conversion” to Christianity.

    The scriptures don’t reveal a man who was converted to anything thing. What they do reveal is a man with passion, education and connections who realized the cult he was prosecuting was in reality had accepted the real Messiah of his faith. The point is no conversion, just a completion.

    I might suggest you spend some time studying about Hillel, from whose school Saul/Paul had been educated under. You might find the historical significance very revealing about Saul/Paul’s behavior and teachings.

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