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October 21, 2015

Comments

Thank you for sharing, Tim. This was helpful. I'm continually amazed at how coherent the Christian worldview is.

Ah, most of those 12 points are only beliefs, they are not facts. Also, if you take out one of them then you never get to the last one. Almost anyone who is an objective truth seeker could cast doubt on most of those points if not completely disprove one or more of them.

The Bible is the word of God? Do a search on the Exodus and be a truth seeker and not an apologist and you'll discover it never happened.

The tower of Babel? Languages evolved over a long period of time.

I could go on but gotta go back to work.

Actually, these are well-supported, well-grounded conclusions.

For instance, point 3 is supported by sound arguments such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

"Most of those 12 points are only beliefs, they are not facts."

  1. Truth about reality is knowable.

    Just a belief?

    If this is just a belief, then everything is just a belief. (Because, you see, the moment something goes beyond mere belief and becomes knowledge, this claim is proven true.)

  2. Opposites cannot both be true

    Just a belief?

    Again, if this is just a belief, then everything is just a belief.

  3. The theistic God exists

    Just a belief?

    There are proofs for the claim that God exists you know. This is more than mere belief. I grant, Mike, that its denial is a belief of yours and others. The fact of disagreeing opinion doesn't make it a mere matter of opinion. You could be wrong in your opinion. That's a possibility. I could also be wrong in my opinion. Who is right comes down to whether the proofs work, and calls for no off-hand answer.

    But one thing that does call for an offhand answer is that this is not a mere matter of opinion. This is something that can be known one way or the other.

  4. If God exists, then miracles are possible

    Just a belief?

    This is a logical truth.

  5. Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God

    Just a belief?

    Maybe. I do note though that it is more likely the atheist who believes it than the theist. Atheists are the ones more likely to say that God needs to show Himself. Christians are as likely to be content with hearing the words of eternal life and believing because of that.

  6. The New Testament is historically reliable

    Just a belief?

    Hardly. The New Testament makes all sorts of claims that are quite accurate historically. The events at the Tower of Babel, by the way, are not among the claims made by the New Testament....As a seeker of the truth, I found out that that's in the Old Testament.

  7. The New Testament says that Jesus claimed to be God

    Just a belief?

    No. The NT does say that Jesus made that claim. And because of the reliability of the NT on other matters, it's probable that Jesus really did make that claim. (No one is saying yet that Jesus' claim is true...that's the next step).

  8. Jesus’ claim to be God is confirmed by miracles.

    Just a belief?

    Like proof for the existence of God, the proof provided by the miracle claims of the New Testament is not a mere matter of opinion. You have to critically examine the claims to decide whether the conclusion that Jesus is God is supported. It might be that the Christians are wrong. It might be that the atheists are wrong. But the issue is not insoluble. You have to examine the claims and find out which is right. It might not be easy to do that. That does not make it a mere matter of opinion.

  9. Therefore, Jesus is God.

    Just a belief?

    No. If something has confirmed that Jesus is God (as was claimed in the previous step), then He is God...that's just logic. If you have a problem here, your way forward is back. Go see what you think went wrong at the confirmation stage...but you can't really claim that something that is confirmed may yet be false.

  10. Whatever Jesus (who is God) teaches is true.

    Just a belief?

    I think this is just another way of saying that God never lies. The latter is a logical truth.

  11. Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God.

    Just a belief?

    Well, again, given the reliability of the New Testament, this one is not really up for debate. Jesus did teach that.

  12. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God.

    Just a belief?

    Once more, if you have a problem here the way forward is back, because this definitely does follow from the earlier lines.
Now, by my count, there are three contingent claims here about which there can be serious debate: Line-3, Line-5 and Line-8. And there are three contingent claims about which no serious person has much doubt. Line-6, Line-7 and Line-11. The rest are transparently necessary truths or logical consequences of earlier claims. In those cases real debate isn't even possible.

And none of the claims are mere matters of opinion.

WisdomLover,


"Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God.
Just a belief?
Well, again, given the reliability of the New Testament, this one is not really up for debate. Jesus did teach that."
- The "Bible" as we know it didn´t even exist during the lifetime of Jesus... And all books of the NT were written after Jesus was already dead. This is indeed not up for debate - Jesus could not have taught that the Bible is the "word of God" because there was no such thing as the Bible while he was teaching.

@Mike:

Hi! I need to point out that this list is precisely that: a list. These points aren't intended to be taken on faith, but have well developed arguments in back of them. Obviously the article itself doesn't have room for those arguments, so it just gives us the list in order to show what Christians' focal points should be (according to Geisler) in a well-rounded apologetic.

Nobody's expecting to throw this list - as a mere list - at a skeptic and expect him to fall to his knees in spontaneous conversion.

"Ah, most of those 12 points are only beliefs, they are not facts."

If you were to reverse each of those 12 statements, so that they say the very opposite (e.g., "Reality is unknowable"), would they then turn into "facts," by your definition?

"Almost anyone who is an objective truth seeker could cast doubt on most of those points if not completely disprove one or more of them. The Bible is the word of God? Do a search on the Exodus and be a truth seeker and not an apologist and you'll discover it never happened."

There are very good arguments in support of it. Can you point to any particular feature in the story that "couldn't" have happened?

Have /you/ researched the matter as "a truth seeker" rather than as an apologist for /unbelief/?

"The tower of Babel? Languages evolved over a long period of time."

What finding in science establishes your claim as fact? Conversely, don't you find yourself going "Hmmm" when you read that most languages can be traced back to somehere in the Middle East? (Or haven't you researched it far enough to have discovered that?)

"I could go on but gotta go back to work."

I hope your work includes further research into the claims of the Bible. All the best!

@Andy #1 (me being #2):

"The 'Bible' as we know it didn´t even exist during the lifetime of Jesus... And all books of the NT were written after Jesus was already dead. This is indeed not up for debate - Jesus could not have taught that the Bible is the 'word of God' because there was no such thing as the Bible while he was teaching."

Depends on the time-context. Jesus taught that the Scriptures - as compiled by the Jews up to that time; i.e., the same Old Testament books we have today - were the inspired Word of God. Therefore it's accurate to say that he affirmed the divine origin of "the Bible" of his day.

However, by extension, if (a) Jesus' own words and character can be reasonably affirmed, and (b) Jesus affirmed the OT, then (c) it makes sense to conclude that the New Testament is likewise trustworthy.

Andy,

" Conversely, don't you find yourself going "Hmmm" when you read that most languages can be traced back to somehere in the Middle East?"
- Can you show me even just a single native North- or South american language (e.g. Navajo or Pirahã) or native australian (e.g. Wajarri) or far-east asian language (e.g. Korean) that was influenced in any way whatsoever by middle eastern languages?

Andy #2,

"Depends on the time-context. Jesus taught that the Scriptures - as compiled by the Jews up to that time; i.e., the same Old Testament books we have today - were the inspired Word of God. Therefore it's accurate to say that he affirmed the divine origin of "the Bible" of his day."
- Which would lack the entire New Testament! When people hear "Bible", they think of the Bible we have today - it´s quite a different book (to put it at its mildest) if you substract the entire NT.


Andy #1,

The New Testament writers considered each other's writings as Scripture. Peter refers to Paul's letters as Scripture (2Peter 3:15-16). Also, Paul refers to Luke's Gospel narrative as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18 when he quotes "the worker deserves his wages."

The_Pathan

"Peter refers to Paul's letters as Scripture (2Peter 3:15-16). Also, Paul refers to Luke's Gospel narrative as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18 when he quotes "the worker deserves his wages."
- The general consensus among scholars is that Peter didn´t write 2 Peter and that Paul didn´t write the epistles to Timothy. But that is beside the point because:

"The New Testament writers considered each other's writings as Scripture."
- That´s not what the OP argued for and what WisdomLover called "not up for debate". That was rather "Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God" - and Jesus neither did that nor could he have possibly done it since none of the NT books even existed during his lifetime.

Andy #1,

The question on who wrote 2 Peter and the epistle to Timothy is for another debate. I'm just refuting your claim that the Scripture "would lack the entire New Testament." Yes, Jesus refers to Scripture as the Word of God. I'm providing examples where the New Testament writers refer to other books/letters of the New Testament as Scripture. For instance, Paul's letters are referred to as "Scripture."

11b. Jesus taught t hat the Holy Spirit would guide the disciples into truth.

The_Pathan

" I'm just refuting your claim that the Scripture "would lack the entire New Testament."
- You didn´t provide such a refutation because:

"Yes, Jesus refers to Scripture as the Word of God."
- that is an equivocation fallacy because the "scripture" you talk about here excludes the entire NT.

"For instance, Paul's letters are referred to as "Scripture.""
- And Jesus could not have said anything about those scriptures because Paul had not yet written them while Jesus was alive.

Andy is absolutely correct, and all attempts to counter his argument are leaps of faith that are hardly "facts." We know a lot less for sure than we think we do.

That we refer to the New Testament as the "inspired Word of God" is entirely our call.

>> "Yes, Jesus refers to Scripture as the Word of God."
- that is an equivocation fallacy because the "scripture" you talk about here excludes the entire NT.

Still, there is the matter of automaticity of acceptance of the writings of the Apostles from the beginnings. At the point when John was putting the finishing touches on his writings, the Council of Jamnia was determining the canon of the Old Testament. The Sanhedrin which survived the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. settled in Jabneh (Jamnia) and treated the matter of the Apocryphal books suggested by the Septuagint. The rabbins rejected their inclusion.

A similar process was arising in the "Christian synagogue" which arose in the later 70's. As the Apostles concluded their writings, the Christian community began a process of gathering the letter and gospel accounts. The Apostolic fathers of the early 100's quote all the gospels and a vast number of the letters (except for the shorter epistles, due to personal content).

This rapid understanding of the New Testament as Scriptures was due to the association of the Apostles with Jesus, supported by the support of the Paraclete (Jn 16:13). This was the sufficient divine inspiration that allowed the NT's rapid assembly, always verifying apostolic authorship.

"Truth about reality is knowable"

Really?

I think this is well up for debate straight up. Seeing as it has vexed Philosophers forever I dont think the matter has been settled.

Definitions of:

Truth
Reality
Knowable

are required.

I am.

Hey this is truth seeker again, thanks for the response, I appreciate you taking the time. I wish you all the best in life but your argument doesn't hold water. As mentioned I posted my short note from work, as I am doing again, so I don't have the time to contemplate or construct my thoughts about this stuff because I need to quickly get back to my job so I'm at a huge disadvantage here. Let me clarify that I'm not an atheist, I'm a liberal Christian. I recognized that the Bible has errors, lots of them, all over the place (as does the Quarn, just any Muslims read this) . My reference to the OT is valid because the NT including Jesus talks about it including the appearance of Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus (and it is possible if not likely Moses never existed). Yes, you will find some stuff that is historically accurate within the NT but you will also find stuff that is not, such as the alleged decree that gets Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem, thus Jesus is born there. There are also numerous places in the NT that contradict each other and it is well known that Acts is filled with historical errors. Anyway, if even one of the 11 "facts" are belief you still need to change your #12 fact to "I believe", so you believe the Bible is the Word of God, so you end up at the same spot you began. Here is a cut and paste from Wikipedia regarding the census.... In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.(Luke 2:1–7)

This appears to give a precise date, but elsewhere Luke has placed the nativity "in the days of Herod" (Luke 1:5 - "In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah..."); as Herod died in 4 BCE and the census was in 6 CE, this means that the gospel is not consistent with the historical evidence.[13] The scenario of Luke 2:1-7 is unrealistic in other ways as well: almost all scholars agree that people would not be required to travel in order to register for tax purposes (it would be the taxation officials who would travel, as they had to link property to its owners), and Joseph, as a resident of Galilee rather than Judaea, would not have been affected by the census in any case.[14]

Various proposals have been made to resolve the problem - the Gospel text has been mistranslated, the census has been misdated, there were two censuses – but these are rejected by most scholars for reasons set out by Raymond E. Brown in The Birth of the Messiah (1977, pp.546-555) and in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, "Chronology".[15] The evangelists were ignorant on many points about the early life of Jesus, as can be seen in the contradictory accounts of Luke and Matthew (Matthew says that Mary and Joseph lived in Bethlehem, fled to Egypt, returned to their home in Bethlehem, and finally fled again to Galilee; according to Luke they lived in Galilee, went to Bethlehem only because of the census, and returned immediately to Nazareth).[4] They both place Jesus' birth in Bethlehem because, according to a prophecy in Micah 5:2, the messiah was to come from that town (Matthew quotes Micah, and Luke refers to the birth of the messiah in the "city of David"): "theological needs here create biographical 'facts'."[4]

One other note, and I really gotta go, if God intended the Bible to be the "Word of God" Jesus would of written a gospel himself. What you believe is that God and His Son decided he'd go to earth and die for our sins but not write anything, yet the Bible is supposed to be the word of God but when he makes his big appearance he writes NOTHING. God himself becomes human and writes nothing but it gets better. God decides (in the case of the Gospels) to wait about 30 or 40 years and then inspire a few people who didn't know Jesus to write about Jesus' life and then not even preserve the original documents but use copies of copies of copies to transmit the "Good News" and then if you don't believe you go to hell for all eternity. I think that is incredible sad and no true God would do that. I know I wouldn't do that and I bet everyone reading this would not do that. Please pardon typos as I gotta go and can't proof read this post.

Andy #1,

Jesus gave apostolic authority to men like Paul (following Jesus' resurrection) to write Scripture as was communicated in the book of Acts. 2 Peter is one such example where New Testament writings like that of Paul's were considered as Scripture (or the Bible) at that time. Now the process of how all the New Testament books came to be considered as such is for a more extensive, more in-depth discussion (though DGFischer communicated this in summary quite well). The bottom line is that there is no contradiction between the fact that Jesus taught that the Bible (i.e. Scripture) is the Word of God and that New Testament writings such as Paul's Epistles would fall into that category (even though those writings were written after His earthly ministry).

Michael Evans,

There are more fallacies in your post than I care to address right now.
My questions for you are: So you call yourself a liberal "Christian?" What does that even mean? If you're going to disregard some portions of Scripture, who's to pick and choose what applies to your religion? What exactly are you getting your "truth" from? Sure, you can call yourself liberal "truth" seeker, but please don't use the term "Christian" and fool yourself into thinking that you're actually a true follower of Christ.

The_Pathan,

When you tease out the details of liberal Christianity you find that J. Gresham Machen was right along time ago: it's a different religion. Its simply modern western secularism with a theological vocabulary. American Jesus.

Andy, Perry-

If the NT is reliable, then Jesus did say that the Apostles would be guided to all truth. This is not a matter of debate.

Jesus might be wrong of course, but in that case your issue isn't with what the NT reports Him as saying, it's with whether He's confirmed as God.

Assuming everything up to line 11, Jesus said that all apostolic teaching authoritative.

So it is not our call that the NT is inspired and authoritative. That was Jesus' call. And the fact that it wasn;t yet written is unimportant. The whole point of Jesus promise was based on the fact that the NT wasn't written yet.

So, no, point 11 is not a mere matter of opinion.

"Truth about reality is knowable"

Really?

I think this is well up for debate straight up. Seeing as it has vexed Philosophers forever I dont think the matter has been settled.

The fact that people debate something does not make it mere opinion.

If this particular statement is a mere opinion, then everything is a mere opinion...because the statement is saying, essentially, some things are not mere matters of opinion. To deny it is to say that everything is a matter of opinion.

Even saying that that the statement is a mere matter of opinion is to say that you can't know whether anything is knowable.

Modern Biblical scholarship holds that James, 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Jude have possible pseudonymous authorship. In that light, I feel safe in saying that it is indeed our call to deem the N.T. the "inspired Word of God" and that the arguments for Jesus' saying the apostles would be guided to all truth is insufficient to support that he "taught the Bible is the Word of God."

"Modern Biblical Scholarship" == 19th through 21st century know-it-alls who actually have the chutzpah to think they know better how to read the text of Scripture than the early councils, comprised of fluent speakers of the living languages.

Sorry...no sale.

Let's consider the arguments against James the (Half-)brother of Jesus being the author of James...note even some of the councils that included James thought there was some question about its authorship...so really you should be able to make the strongest case here.

Here are some reasons given for doubting the authorship of James:

  1. The letter is too well-written.

  2. The author doesn't even claim to be the (half-)brother of Jesus

  3. It was not mentioned by many early Christian writers. Origen and Iranaeus are among the first (and they are late second/early third century). Nor is it listed on the Muratorian fragment.

  4. It's talk of rich and poor church members and the preference of the rich over the poor was consistent with the 1st/2nd century church.
The letter is too well-written.

The charge that a book of Scripture is too well written to be the product of the author is a well-worn liberal scholar's chestnut. It's also so frequently debunked you wonder why they ever bother with it. James was probably as well-educated as Jesus was. And Jesus was well-educated.

People assume that Joseph was this poor carpenter barely scraping by making his crude wooden implements, living in this hovel with Mary, Jesus, James, Salome. They conveniently forget that the family was given a fortune by wise men from the east shortly after the birth of Jesus. Of course, modern Biblical scholars like to deny the Matthew account because, they say, it conflicts with Luke.

Also, Joseph, the legal father of Jesus and James, responded to the Augustine census of 8 BC to return to his home town of Bethlehem. That was a census of Roman citizens. Joseph probably wasn't some poor downtrodden carpenter even before he married Mary. Of course, modern Biblical scholars like to deny the Luke account because, they say, it conflicts with Matthew.

But when we discard the fever-dreams of modern Biblical scholars, we see that James was not only well-off and well-educated, like Jesus his brother, he was a well-off, well-educated Roman citizen. He was perfectly capable of writing the Book of James.

Oooh...sorry. I posted when I meant only to preview.

Sorry for the unfinished form above. Also, please forgive any typos or poorly structured thoughts. It was a work in progress.

Continuing where I left off before the inadvertent post...

The author doesn't claim to be the (half-)brother of Jesus

Did you know that in his First and Second Inaugural Addresses, George W. Bush, never mentioned that he was the son of George H.W. Bush. Though he does reference his father in a list of former presidents in attendance.

Conclusion: The first speech was actually given by Al Gore, and the second by John Kerry. (The one making this inference, probably thinks Bush stole the election(s) anyway.)

Real Conclusion: Authors may have reasons not to mention family connection. Especially family connections that are well-known.

James was not mentioned by many early Christian writers.After his death, J.S. Bach was known for his virtuosity as an organist. When late 18th century/early 19th century music aficionados mention Bach, they are talking about Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach. Bach's son. A fine composer. But not the greatest composer of music ever.

Conclusion: The compositions of J.S. Bach were actually composed much later...or substantially re-written...by Mendelssohn, who 're-discovered' Bach. (Someone probably believes this.)

Real Conclusion: The fact that a work doesn't 'catch on' right away is not relevant to the question of authorship.

It is not in the Muratorian fragment

The Muratorian fragment is a very early list of apostolic writings that includes 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, but also includes some texts that were ultimately not accepted, like the Shepherd of Hermas and the Apocalypse of Peter. Some books are explicitly rejected. Some are simply no mentioned. James and Hebrews for example. No one knows who wrote it.

This is one guy's opinion at the time. I acknowledge that this unknown second century guy probably had a better bead on which writings are apostolic and which aren't than any or all modern Biblical scholars.

But the wisdom of a crowd of good thinkers in a good position to make the judgment (unlike any modern scholar) chose the canon. I'll take the judgment of hundreds of Muratorian fragments combined over one any day.

The book talks about the rich being favored over the poor in the ChurchCause that could only have happened later than the time of James' life (which ended around AD 60).

Honestly these reasons for thinking James was by a later author are so stupid that it hardly is worth considering them. Except that they fly under the unimpeachable banner of modern Biblical scholarship. A field I have less respect for every passing day.

Wisdomlover,

Why would you think James was a Roman Citizen?

Hi, I'm back. First let me say that I wish everyone the very best in your journey of faith and hope you all enjoy happy and fulfilled lives. I wouldn't have posted anything except the conclusion that the Bible is the Word of God based upon those 11 statements seemed like too much baloney to let slide. If you believe the Bible is the Word of God I'm ok with that but the 11 points don't make it a fact. Because of time constraints I only skimmed through some of the responses therefore I will likely miss addressing what may appear to be good rebuttals and my apologies in advance.

First, the evolution of language has been debated for centuries but there are no scholars that I'm aware of that attribute the diversity of language to the Tower of Babel. Yeah, sure you can find religious stuff that support the TOB but serious scholars do not. Do your own research and the majority of people will conclude the TOB is a myth. The only people who believe the TOB is true are those who begin with a belief and then find support for their belief. Same with the world wide flood and Noah's arc.

Another point is that most things are not a matter of what is possible but what is probable. We could just be dreaming all this and will someday wake up, it is possible, but not probable.

Regarding the Exodus, Israeli archaeologists did a study and they came to the conclusion the Exodus never happened, or if it did it was just a small number of people nothing close to the numbers described in the Bible. This is key because Israel would have the most to gain if the Exodus was confirmed. Some scholars think Israelis came out of the Canaanite civilization.

Yes, liberal Christianity is a different religion than evangelical Christianity, for sure and fortunately I must say.

And let's see.... there was some post asking how I decide what is and what is not truth or scripture or something like that. I find truth within, just like the guys who wrote the Bible and just like you. You decide if the Bible is true or not from within, the guys that wrote the Bible wrote what they felt inside. So do I. So do you.

All the best and believe it or not, none of this is as serious and you think :) Oh, yes, pardon typos as I did not proof read the post. Happy blogging.

Modern Biblical scholarship? WL is good in dismissing this line.
Perry Shields,
Have you ever considered reading the Biblical commentaries of the conservative position? The ones I grew up with were Lenski (big in Lutheran circles) and Hendricksen (Reformed). In their introductions to the Biblical books they studied, they encounter the chief arguments of recent scholarship and display the weaknesses inherent with their thought. The historical-grammatical school of interpretation can be well-grounded, while the historical-critical schools can become merely speculative.

The question about Colossians is due to a perceived advanced high Christology which many place in the mid second century in response to a growing Gnostic trend in Christian circles. This assumption discounts whether Jesus was whom He claimed to be, the divine Son of the Father. Christ’s divine identification has been explained as legendary accumulations to Jesus’ ministry. This promulgated in the Gospels as second century documents. This 19th century notion has lost its influence due to papyrus studies. Much research can defend that the notion of Jesus as divine could be traced through the sources to as early as 35 A.D. This makes Jesus’ divine claims original to the faith. Colossians could easily be Paul’s letter drafted in the late 40’s, early 50’s.

The question on Paul’s writing of the letters to Timothy is based on word usage. Much of the vocabulary Paul uses in Timothy and Titus is unique to those letters. But these letters are pastoral epistles, essential different in scope of audience. These letters were written to individuals of a ministerial profession, not to large audience of congregations. Differences in word choice would be natural. Consider a pastor in conversation with a member of the congregation and a pastor in conference with those of like calling. In chatting about lexical problems, uses of aorist and hiphils (and don’t get me on those discussions on points of doctrine and casuistry!), and other pastoral matters, you could become lost in the argot. And matters of style? Consider the case of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and those delightful stories given to Alice and her friends. Hard to think that a renowned logician and mathematician could craft Alice in Wonderland. Criticism on the basis of language are iffy at best and impossible to prove with certainty.

Second Thessalonians? Attributed to a later writer due to an assumed identity with apocalyptic literature involved in the mid second century. Flimsy evidence and a supreme example of coincidental association.

Honestly, the case against the variety of NT books is rebutted by J. P. Holding. Consider his case in a series of videos at the Tekton site // https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtCRA26nfPg

Warning! Holding is a touch rude (aren’t we all in our worse moments?) in his approach to the question of NT authenticity. This is perhaps because of one too many “atheist fundies” (his quote, not mine) who love to play “troll” at his site. But it is a good summary of why modern Biblical scholarship is flawed.

Mike Evans,

Your conclusions for the tower of Babel, the exodus, and other points you mentioned elsewhere are all based on what you claim the majority of scholars or those you deem "serious" scholars conclude.

Do the majority of scholars conclude that Jesus rose from the dead?

When we apply your methodology consistent (which is simply to believe whatever the majority of scholars believe) what will be left of Christianity? Virtually nothing to distinguish it from bland secular humanism.

believe it or not, none of this is as serious and you think :)

How do you explain the fact that liberal Christianity, which you admit is a different religion than evangelical Christianity, is dying and disappearing at astonishing speeds (far greater than conservative sects)?

Acts 20:29–30 “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

Hi Remington,

Thanks for reading and posting. Blogging is good way to exchange ideas that's all I'm doing, I'm not a wolf. Believing stuff like satan is tricking you and the wolf thing just keeps a person from investigating with an open mind, keeps you in fear. I'm not up on the polls so I just did a Google search and found this, it shows that Protestantism and Evangelicals are on the decline, scroll down and view the chart for a succinct summary. I say keep the faith dude if that is your comfort zone.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/05/12/christianity-faces-sharp-decline-as-americans-are-becoming-even-less-affiliated-with-religion/

Best regards, Mike

"Modern Biblical Scholarship" == 19th through 21st century know-it-alls .....and following.

Well said Wisdom Lover! (as usual)
Thank-you, RnB

Mike,

I'm not a wolf.

Identifying yourself as a Christian then undermining the Bible and telling everyone that undermining the Bible is not a big deal is exactly what one would expect of a wolf in sheep's clothing. And one would expect that the wolf will deny being a wolf when it's pointed out that he is behaving wolfishly. And that doesn't require denying your sincerity.

Believing stuff like satan is tricking you and the wolf thing just keeps a person from investigating with an open mind, keeps you in fear.

The Bible teaches that we should be on guard against such "wolves" and it also teaches that Satan is working against the Church. So I guess you would say that *the Bible* keeps us in fear and from investigating with an open mind? Again, sounds very wolfish.

But in fact neither is the case. Being wise to the craftiness of spiritual warfare doesn't entail being in fear or lacking "an open mind" (depending on how one would cash that out).

I'm not up on the polls so I just did a Google search and found this, it shows that Protestantism and Evangelicals are on the decline, scroll down and view the chart for a succinct summary.

You need to read more carefully. First, read what I said more carefully. I said that liberal Christianity is dying and disappearing at astonishing speeds "far greater than conservative sects" - so my observation is consistent with a general decline in Christianity. Second, read what you googled more carefully - scroll to about midway down the page and look at the chart titled "Changing U.S. Religious Landscape" ... it confirms exactly what I said.

Hi Rem,

Thanks again, good posting. However if I'm representing truth and you are the one that is wrong on the points discussed then the roles switch and you are the wolf and you are misleading people. However I have no interest in de-converting you from evangelical Christianity but going back to those 11 statements that supposedly prove the Bible is the Word of God I just couldn't let it go because it is misleading.

Regarding the poll, you're right, I didn't read it carefully as I didn't have time, I only looked at the graph. Nonetheless we can agree that Christianity is on the decline, at least here in the U.S.

The good thing about blogging is that it allows us to exchange ideas, I think the blogs would be boring and not so useful if we only blogged with groups of people we agree with.

All the best, Mike

Mike,

However if I'm representing truth and you are the one that is wrong on the points discussed then the roles switch and you are the wolf and you are misleading people.

Naturally the truth or falsity of the claims being made is more important than whether or not a wolf is making them. I haven't bothered to interact on that level because (1) your modus operandi is just to cling to what "serious" scholars say and (2) WisdomLover and DGFischer have already responded adequately to the claims. What I rather focused on was was the corrosive nature of your method, a sort of "buyer beware" label, if you will. Anyone who picks up your mantle should be made to understand that the stopping point for that is, ultimately, an abandonment of anything that can meaningfully call itself Christianity. To say that "none of this is as serious as you think :)" could only be true if you already assume that the New Testament is fundamentally wrong about Jesus and the significance of his work. Jesus and Paul thought it was worth mentioning that we should be on our guard against false teachers and wolves. So maybe it's worth reminding ourselves of that on occasion.

Now departing from the immediate conversation (and thus I no longer have you in particular in mind, Mike): why should wolves in sheeps clothing be thought uncommon or something to ignore? It's a smart plan to take down an ideology from the inside, isn't it? How do you attack from the inside then? Join the group and then get them to accept a benign conclusion via a pattern of thought that will eventually unravel the entire foundation. (Again not saying that this is what you are doing, Mike. I'm just saying it seems like a smart strategy and it's what I would trie to do if I were a devil. And my point is that if that's a possibility then it's one to be on guard against.)

Ok guys, here we go, one more go around, if you got the patience. I just want to go back to the original posting. I don’t think the premise holds water. Doesn’t mean the Bible isn’t the word of God but the argument itself is weak at best. Here we go…..

Truth about reality is knowable.

I’m not a philosopher but it is debated. Some mathematician back in the 1930’s argued that it was not. So the point is debatable.

Opposites cannot both be true.

I would agree with that although for the sake of argument we do have the word paradoxical in the English language and if I recall I believe the word has been used in church sermons that I’ve heard.


The theistic God exists

I believe in God but many don’t and they make pretty strong arguments too. Watch Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins debates. They usually kick ask ☺

If God exists then miracles are possible.

Hmmm, don’t think there is an argument point there.

Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God

Or not. There are books written that describe miracles by people who advocate other religions and of course the Bible records miracles by people that oppose God. Remember the Egyptian magicians. Also, I heard of some guy currently living in India that supposedly preforms miracles. Of course you and I don’t believe it.

The NT says that Jesus claimed to be God.

Hmmm, some Christians beg to differ. If only I could recall his name but a fundamentalist agreed that Jesus probably never said the exact words in the Gospel of John and never out right claimed to be God. Of course other non-fundies would whole heartily agree that Jesus did not claim to be God. Bart Ehrman for instance wrote a book titled something like How Jesus Became God and Dr. Robert Price wrote a book titled something like The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man. Anyway the point is that it is not a given that Jesus went around claiming to be God.

The New Testament is historically Reliable

That point was addressed earlier regarding the contractions in the gospels in regards to Jesus’ birth and flight into Egypt. Many more contradictions could be pointed out. Also, why does the author of these 12 statements limit his premise to the NT, does he concede that the OT is not historically reliable?

Jesus’ claim to be God is confirmed by miracles

If you believe all the miracle stories. Many don’t. Most don’t. The writers of the gospels were evangelists attempting to convert people and some of the miracle stories are a metaphor.


Therefore Jesus is God

Well only if you believe all the prior statements. And if you do believe all the prior statements you didn’t need them to get to this point anyway.

Whatever Jesus (who is God) teaches is true.

Yep, if he is God and if the gospels accurately record what he said. He may not be God and the gospels may not be as accurate as you hope. Please note the “may not” statement is non-definitive because all this happened two thousand years ago and we will never know for sure until someone invents a time machine.

Jesus taught the Bible is the Word of God.

No he didn’t. We taught the OT was the Word of God and as we have seen a lot of the OT is mythology. The NT had not been written and Jesus wasn’t around to sign off on it.

Therefore it is true that the Bible is the Word of God.

Odd way to finish considering earlier on the author would not include the OT and now the entire Bible is the Word of God.


To finish up it is possible that the Bible is the Word of God but these 12 statements don’t get you anywhere closer to believing or not believing. If you are already a believer you agree with them, if you are not this will not persuade you toward fundamentalism.

Once again kind regards to all and happy seeking for truth,
Mike

GH5-

I think both James and Jesus were Roman citizens because I think Joseph was a Roman citizen. I think Joseph was a Roman citizen because he responded to the census of Augustus in 8BC, the purpose of which was to count Roman citizens.

@Remington and the other Christians who've posted here:

After reading this entire thread, and researching "liberal Christianity," I must agree that Mike Evans is a wolf among the sheep. I must also conclude that "liberal Christianity" is merely a euphemistic title for "Wolves masquerading as sheep," or "antichrists masquerading as Christians.

Whether intentional or not, the blasphemous doctrine he spreads is poisonous venom which can be dangerous to those who aren't well grounded in the Word of God. After an initial rebuke,I do not believe his argument merits further response. If he cannot be convinced by God's Word, he will not be convinced by logic. Shunning him may move him to re-evaluate his misconceptions and motives.

One other point...

He mentioned the decline of Christianity as evidence that his logic is valid. Doesn't the Bible predict this very thing for the last days?
Moreover, it can be argued that the decline, or "turning away" we are seeing in Christianity today are the "professors" rather than true believers in Jesus?

The Bible says that the Gospel will be preached in all the world. That doesn't necessarily mean that those who are preached to will accept Jesus.

Christ's true bride (the true church) doesn't include every cult that proclaims they are Christian. Those will fall away, but the true bride... the nucleus of true believers will never die.

Thanks to everyone for their contribution. It has been very interesting.

Hi Rem,

I did NOT bring up the decline in Christianity. You initiated that conversation by saying liberal Christianity was on the decline. Here are your exact words "How do you explain the fact that liberal Christianity, which you admit is a different religion than evangelical Christianity, is dying and disappearing at astonishing speeds (far greater than conservative sects)?" As any objective truth seeker can see it was Rem who used the stats to discredit liberal Christianity. I provided a link in response to his comment that shows a decline in Christianity but did not say that the decline was an indicator of what is true and what is false.

So since I’ve been forced back into this conversation I'll mention something that I didn't make as clear as I could have in an earlier statement in regarding those 12 statements that prove nothing. Tim Barret initially chastised me for bring the OT into the discussion. The weird reasoning of Geilser and Tim is this: He / they omit the OT from his statement of the NT being historically accurate implying that the OT is inaccurate. Yet they go on to say that Jesus taught the scriptures are the Word of God and as we all know Jesus was referencing the OT because the NT did not exist during Jesus' lifetime. So the argument goes like this: The OT is inaccurate and not allowed in the discussion but then Jesus quotes the OT therefore it is the Word of God. Is that weird or what? I think even Greg Koukl would agree with me on this one. None of this proves the Bible is not the Word of God, it just proves those 12 statements are baloney and lead nowhere.

However as a full disclose statement I will say the Bible is not inerrant and that is more than just my opinion, that is an indisputable fact. I'm sure the apologist on this website would say the "autographs" are inerrant but that is a meaningless statement because we do not have the autographs and therefore that premise can never be proved or disproved. What we do have has errors, contradictions and myths. Yes, we also have some historically accurate stuff and some great teachings as well.

Best regards and happy lives to all,
Mike

People, for Heaven's sake, let's be adults. A different opinion does not equate "wolf in sheep's clothing;" it's just a different opinion. Faith in God does not depend on an inerrant Bible, or on the Bible at all for that matter. God is bigger than the books that make up the Bible.

Are we loving God with all we've got, demonstrated by loving our neighbor as ourselves? Because that's what matters - not whether we believe Jesus "authenticated" the Bible or not.

I left the church because I was weary of being called names for questioning long-held assumptions. You know, that's how cults react to people questioing their dogma - they call them names.

Mike made valid, arguable points. He's no "wolf."

The Evangelical Church has to get over itself thinking it has air-tight arguments. There are valid counter-arguments to all points originally listed and a challenge is not a threat to God. It may be a challenge to the foundation of Evangelicalism, but so what? Religious doctrines are man-made anyway.

Mike, you are not alone.

Thanks Perry, I appreciated it and I agree what matters is that we love others as we love ourselves.

Kind regards,
Mike

Perry,

People, for Heaven's sake, let's be adults. A different opinion does not equate "wolf in sheep's clothing;" it's just a different opinion.

That's a straw-man. No one said different opinion = wolf in sheep's clothing.

Faith in God does not depend on an inerrant Bible, or on the Bible at all for that matter. God is bigger than the books that make up the Bible.

Which side-steps the question of whether (or in what sense) the Bible is God's word. Try plugging this into your statement:

Faith in God does not depend on God's inerrant speech, or on what God says at all for that matter. God is bigger than what he says.

Are we loving God with all we've got, demonstrated by loving our neighbor as ourselves? Because that's what matters - not whether we believe Jesus "authenticated" the Bible or not.

Throwing what God says under the bus doesn't strike me as very loving towards God.

I left the church because I was weary of being called names for questioning long-held assumptions. You know, that's how cults react to people questioing their dogma - they call them names.

So when Jesus warned of false teachers was he trying to build a cult? Or do you think it's only cultish to label a false teacher a false teacher?

The Evangelical Church has to get over itself thinking it has air-tight arguments. There are valid counter-arguments to all points originally listed and a challenge is not a threat to God.

"Air-tight" arguments is vague. It's not clear anyone here thinks the arguments are "air-tight" in every sense of that word we might cash out. (The same could be said for your use of "valid" since you don't seem to be using it in the technical sense of a valid argument.)

Religious doctrines are man-made anyway.

Are you saying doctrines like "God is love" or "God is omnibenevolent" are man-made or are you just trying to give us an example of how liberal Christianity isn't very reflective? :)

Perry, Mike,

Content-less Christianity.

Is this what we are after?

Have we traded in the Holy Spirit for the will-o-the-wisp?

Mike,

I did NOT bring up the decline in Christianity. You initiated that conversation by saying liberal Christianity was on the decline. Here are your exact words "How do you explain the fact that liberal Christianity, which you admit is a different religion than evangelical Christianity, is dying and disappearing at astonishing speeds (far greater than conservative sects)?" As any objective truth seeker can see it was Rem who used the stats to discredit liberal Christianity. I provided a link in response to his comment that shows a decline in Christianity but did not say that the decline was an indicator of what is true and what is false.

For the record, I didn't bring up a decline in liberal Christianity as an indicator of what is true and what is false. Anyone can go back and see that I originally mentioned it in response to your claim that your claims are not a serious issue at all. My point was, we have statistical evidence that the fastest way to kill your church is to adopt some of the same positions you're adopting.

Evangelical churches might be seeing some decrees in over all membership, but unlike the mainline denominations (those who are liberal) they won't completely disappear in the next few generations if their current rate of decline isn't reversed.

And this particular point was made in the context of my other comments that your position would seem to leave us with little reason to hold onto any theology that is recognizably Christian.

Anyway, I think it's a shame that you've chosen to spend a lot of time interacting with these remarks and almost no time interacting with the arguments laid out by others like WL and DGF. Perhaps my comments provided an easy distraction.

He / they omit the OT from his statement of the NT being historically accurate implying that the OT is inaccurate.

That's not implied at all. The reason premise 6 mentions the NT and not the OT is because the NT is what gives us our information Jesus, which is essential to the argument.

Remington - all of your responses grow from a position that the Bible is the Word of God. Walk behind that starting point, and then deal with my statements. If I don't begin with premise that the Bible is inarguably tne inerrant Word of God, then I can comfortably say Yes, God is bigger than the Bible.

Yeah, that's right, Rem accused me, not you ,but I didn't initiate that conversation nor did I say or even imply the decline was an indicator of what is true or false.

I see, perhaps I wasn't clear regarding that issue however the statements could be written in a clearer manner as to avoid any misinterpretation. Nonetheless if I wanted to go back and re-read the 12 statements I could still make a strong case against them. Also, if a person wanted, they could re-write them using similar logic and draw the conclusion that the Quran is the word of god or some other holy book.

I haven't had time to read WL and DGF comments. If I ever get caught up on my work I'll I may go back and read their comments and respond.

Take it easy my friend,
Mike

Fundamentslism has a low ceiling. People are either comfortable there (there is a certain safety in being told what to believe), or they yearn for more. My journey started with R.C. Sproul's THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS, which turned my preconceived notions on their heads. Actually, Greg Koukl himself planted the seed over 20 years ago when, in a locker room, he told me he didn't believe in the Rapture. At the time, it was a scary position to question such a dogmatic Evangelical belief. I thank him for showing me nothing is above questioning, and furthermore, we should not be frightened if a formerly long-held belief needs to be ditched.

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