This is What Hatred in the Name of Jesus Looks Like

ill pray for you

Yesterday, I wrote a post about deaf pastor turned atheist Justin Vollmar. Wasting no time, the Christian hate mongers have taken to the internet to attack, disparage, and shit all over Justin. I suspect he knew this would happen. It ALWAYS happens when a person of some notoriety deconverts.  Five years after my deconversion, and I still face the wrath of God’s holy warriors. Justin is in for a long, difficult ride. I wish it could be different, but Evangelicals won’t allow it. Justin pissed where they live and they aim to make sure he knows how offended they are.

Denise, a Calvinistic, Fundamentalist, Evangelical member of a special group of Christians who think God has given them the gift of discernment, has leveled her double-barrel shotgun at Justin. In classic Denise fashion, she pulled both triggers at the same time, caring not what she said.  Here is an excerpt of what Denise had to say:

1Jn 2:18  Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19  They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us….

Here’s a story of a deaf “Christian” “pastor” who studied himself away from The Faith and from God. Interestingly, he’s going to continue his “online church” of “atheist” skepticism, which is at best, hypocritical, at worst, mocking. But whatever. I guess he thinks he’s being cute or clever.

He’s neither.

My response after reading the article was this:

I wouldn’t want to be that mocker before the thrice Holy God of Israel! But he does show what happens when people study themselves away from the truth. Feeding on every man’s opinion about the Bible instead of the Bible was one of the biggest mistakes he made and proved he was not of Christ b/c he didn’t hear the Shepherd’s voice in Scripture but instead was more interested in man’s voice….and THEN complained about the diversity of interpretations, at that! What a fool. Only a fool says there is no God.

I’m willing to bet that he’s an evolutionist too—if so,is he going to quit that b/c of the diversity of theories there too? No, consistency isn’t his problem, nor is hypocrisy (that he sees in everyone ELSE–except he was the hypocrite, like all “atheists” who claim to have once been Christians).

No, his own unbelief that was the problem the whole time. A goat trying to unify goats and sheep just doesn’t work. Darkness can’t shed any light and the blind can’t lead anyone anywhere because they are incapable of seeing where they are going. Simply put, the man could not offer anyone anything of value because he didn’t have anything of value to give. That is to say, no one in falsehood can offer the truth; one without the Gospel cannot give it to those in need.

It’s a shame. Because his handicap is the least of his problems. He’s dead inside and earning the wrath of God and Hell. And now he mocks His creator, Who is infinitely good and patient…

…Such men anger me. He did this with his eyes wide open. Instead of humbling himself before God and going to Scripture alone for the answers to his questions (although his questions became veiled insults, not sincere questions, as with all scoffers), he mocks Him. Now he’s trying his best to lead others down the broad road of destruction.

What the Denise’s of the Evangelical world fail to understand is that when they respond like this they only reinforce the atheist’s negative opinion of Christianity. Why would anyone want to be a member of the religion Denise, aka Surphing, is a part of? Why would anyone want to be a part of a hater’s club, a group that attacks anyone who is not just like them?

Thank you Denise for reminding me why leaving Christianity was the single best thing I ever did. Keep up the good work. You and your ilk are experts at turning people from Christianity to godlessness. Too bad there isn’t an afterlife and a judgment, Denise. I suspect you would have a lot to give an account for.

At least she didn’t say to Justin, he that hath ears let him hear.  A regular reader sent me an email and wondered how long it would be before an Evangelical dropped that line. I thought I would steal their righteous thunder.

Comments (192)

  1. ismellarat

    “I’m willing to bet that he’s an evolutionist too—if so…”

    Does she know of any atheists who are creationists? :)

    Reply
    1. Guest

      Well, there are some people who think Earth was alien-seeded…

      Reply
      1. ismellarat

        But were the aliens intelligently designed?

        Reply
        1. Guest

          Never could get a straight answer about that. I agree it’s just pushing back the issue to the aliens, though.

          Reply
        2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          In the Evangelical world there are no aliens. :) On inhabitable planet, created by God, populated with humans, 6,014 years ago. Surely, you don’t have a problem with this? :)

          Can you imagine what would have to the many of the religions of the world if ET showed up or we found advanced life on some other planet? Of course, a new religion would then be started. :)

          Reply
  2. Matt Martin

    I too wondered how long it would be before Justin incurred the Wrath of the Elect for his appalling apostasy.

    Doesn’t Denise just have all the charm of a cornered death adder? :) I can just see her, incandescent with rage, tapping out with righteous staccato fingers her rebuke on her undoubtedly ultra high traffic blerg.

    Why do they crazies always rely so heavily on Hebrews? Is it an especially potent source of brimstone?

    Reply
    1. Lydia

      I was hoping he could somehow avoid it.

      Reply
  3. justindvollmar

    LOL. Her comments amuse me very much.

    Reply
    1. NeverAgainV

      I had a feeling it was only a matter of time when the venom would start spewing.
      Hugs to you and fist bump Justin.

      Reply
  4. 29dinosaurtanya.reid@virbac.com.auScott

    Denise and her surphside website fire shotguns at everyone by the looks of it. A loose cannon! I wouldn’t lose any sleep over her……. (as if a woman should be rebuking a man anyway!!) Self righteous pharisee! How dare she become angry on behalf of G(g)od! Who does she think she is to declare someone fit for hell (if that exists)! If she’s true to her Calvinism why can’t she just rest in the fact that God knows His elect and they will hear his voice and He won’t cast them off or lose any.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yeah, she even hates people like John Piper and Rick Warren. The “discerners” are equal opportunity haters. :)

      Reply
  5. NeverAgainV

    Well Denise must not truly be SAVED because I notice she is not using His Majesty’s Holy Bible, the King James Version!! She is using one of those “perversions”!!

    You need to repent and stop being deceived sister. /// sarcasm off

    Oh I read what Denise wrote feeling so sad…yet at the same time so grateful that I am no longer a believer in that god. Actually thanks to loving and compassionate Christians like Denise- haha- I was able to escape the vice grip of that dreadful religion. It was believers like her that made me realize if a good god is going to turn a person to thinking like THAT and hating over BELIEFS, THOUGHT CRIMES…then I had my epiphany and decided I was finished w/ that cruel god and it’s cruel religion.

    *sigh* it’s unfortunate but here are the true colors shining through in all their glory. funny thing is my xpastor would not have wanted anyone in his cult to write something like that publicly. I mean they believe the exact same way as this Denise, but he’s a coward and wont really show the true colors because he knows that type of hatred doesn’t go over very well w/ intelligent human beings. At least Denise is showing the true colors of her belief system. Just like the ole Westboro Baptist church…they’re all pretty much the same. Some just like to stay hidden more than others.

    Reply
  6. Byroniac

    Wow! I have been on both sides of this. First, on Denise’s side with a very similar Calvinism (but continuationist/semi-charismatic Baptistic beliefs) and now as an ex-Calvinist atheist. I can see exactly where she is coming from, and would have counseled her to only “preach to the choir” because the world at large would not understand or appreciate those kinds of sentiments (and now when I write this, I go “duh. really?”). I genuinely miss Christianity in the comfort and security and confidence it provided me in its faulty, mistaken beliefs, but I do not miss the genuine hatred and venom such as espoused by her. I have not been atheist for very long, perhaps about 3 or 4 years, and I feel that I am in a long transitioning process from deep emotional attachments to a now defunct childhood religion. Occasionally, I still have epiphanies of newfound humanity (but fortunately most of the “you mean I don’t have to hate people anymore?” variety have already arrived and past in my thinking). In the past, I would have drawn heavily on the language of Romans 9 and dishonored vessels, but now, I catch myself going to this, “Amen! We gained a brother!” LOL. Old habits die hard, I guess.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Hey Byron,

      Great to see you comment, my friend. Long time no read.

      You said “I genuinely miss Christianity in the comfort and security and confidence it provided me in its faulty, mistaken beliefs”

      I think a lot of us think this way too. The Christian belief system was like a security blanket. It gave us all the answers. Now, life is much more complex because we have to THINK and use reason to come to a conclusion about this or that. There is no owner’s manual for us to consult.

      BTW thanks for the follow Twitter and Google+

      Bruce

      Reply
      1. Byroniac

        “Now, life is much more complex because we have to THINK and use reason to come to a conclusion about this or that.” Yes, excellent point. Maybe I’m still getting used to this idea of thinking independently.

        Reply
        1. NeverAgainV

          I’ve felt the same way Byron. I sure missed the “certainty” of the religion, but all of the bad stuff, UGH, I don’t miss that AT ALL. LOL.

          Reply
      2. kcchief1

        First timer here on your blog. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of your blog so far and yet I am always saddened when I read about people like Denise. She is definitely the “Poster Girl” for why we shouldn’t believe anything about religion. How could a real god create someone like Denise and then say , “Well done thy good and faithful servant” ?

        Thanks Bruce for allowing me to comment. The best to you in your journey !

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Welcome and thank you for commenting.

          I looked at your blog and saw the green pictures of your homestead. PLEASE send some of that green here. I am so tired of looking at snow. :) Last night, we passed the all time snow record set for our part of Ohio. (previous record was 1977-78, the year of the Blizzard of 78)

          Reply
  7. Larry Knight

    Mark 16:19 says,”…he (Jesus) was received up into heaven..” Acts 1:9 says, “he (jesus) was taken up; and a cloud received him…” Since heaven apparently is located in a cloud, shouldn’t the FAA ban pilots from flying through clouds and possibly crash landing on the golden streets of heaven? Imagine how disruptive this would be for all the gods and angels.

    Reply
    1. Guest

      Joseph Fielding Smith, later president of LDS church, said in 1961 “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it. The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.”

      He admitted he was wrong in 1970, though.

      Reply
  8. John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    This response of Denise is simply dreadful. How can hate represent a Jesus who tells Christians to be compassionate and show kindness towards their enemies?

    Until the churches become centres of compassion and demonstrate healing-mercy and loving-kindness towards all, what value is any of their religious dogma? If religious dogma makes people spiteful, venomous and hateful, why would anyone want to be a part of that?

    The trouble with people like Denise is that religious dogma is paramount and if someone rejects all the religious dogma and becomes an atheist, they seem to see it as a sign from God to take their vengeance out on such people,

    I wish Justin the best for his future and may compassion and kindness follow him and flow from him all the days of his life. The problem is that many Fundamentalists are going to vent their spleen and show their hatred and they are NOT going to obey Jesus about showing love.

    At least he has you, and others who support your blog and similar blogs, to befriend him, welcome him and show him genuine kindness.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      John, you said “Until the churches become centres of compassion and demonstrate healing-mercy and loving-kindness towards all, what value is any of their religious dogma? If religious dogma makes people spiteful, venomous and hateful, why would anyone want to be a part of that?”

      And that is exactly right. Why would anyone want what Denise has to offer? Her beliefs are so narrow, so defined, dare I say cultic, that there is no room for the slightest bit of dissent. It is Denise’s way or hell. Choose!

      Reply
  9. Lynn

    Wow. That was ugly. And wishing Justin the best!

    Reply
  10. unapologist

    Denise is just writing what most of them are thinking. Leaving the cult is rarely an easy or smooth transition and the members that stay need to rationalize why someone would leave something to which they have devoted their entire lives. I feel sorry for Denise, she lives in a box where nothing from the outside can get inside.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I give Denise credit for one thing…like you said…she is putting into words what many Evangelicals think. It is so ugly when you actually read the words. (and it still causes me shame when I think about the years I spent believing and saying the very same things)

      MY counselor told me it was very rare for someone my age to leave the ministry and the religion I had spent 50 years believing. By leaving, I was admitting that much of what I based my life on was a fraud and untrue. I had a tough time with this for awhile because everything I thought I knew was wrong. I was like a ship without a rudder. Fortunately, I ran into people on the internet who were farther along in the deconversion process and they were quite helpful. (as is my counselor as he helps me rebuild my life)

      Reply
      1. gimpi

        But you got out of the box, Bruce. You stood on your own two feet, saw the outside, and were honest and brave enough to refuse to stay with a comfortable bigotry. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. I doubt I’m that brave or strong. I was born out here and no one made a serious attempt to indoctrinate me in my childhood. I had that part of life pretty easy. Credit where it’s due, and you’re due some.

        Reply
  11. Gary

    Christ said to love your neighbor as yourself…that would include loving our atheist, ex-Christian neighbors. Shame on “Denise”. She does not represent true Christianity.

    Unfortunately, she is not the first Christian to behave in this manner. Many Christians have been hateful, judgmental, and even murderous of those who disagree with them for the last two thousand years. But did Jesus act like that? No. It IS possible to remain true to your Christian beliefs without being hateful. Loving God and loving our neighbor should be every Christian’s highest priority, not beating people over the head with God’s Law.

    A couple of months ago I left a comment for Bruce that I now wish I had worded differently. It was more “preachy” than compassionate. It was wrong. I was wrong, and I ask Bruce to forgive me.

    I am also an ex-Fundie. We all grew up in a very negative, judgmental, angry, hateful world. It was not true Christianity, and the pastors and evangelists involved in the IBF cult should apologize to each and everyone of us for the hell on earth that they put us through.

    I sincerely wish each and everyone of you who has escaped this cult peace and happiness.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      No problem.

      But here’s the problem :) You preach love and compassion, but isn’t this love and compassion predicated on the fact you think I (we) are wrong, the enemy of God, and headed for hell? When I have love and compassion on others, it is because I love them and want to help them.

      The Christian church has a huge PR problem. Since anyone can get on the internet and say most anything, and do so anonymously,social media, blog posts, and blog comments are filled with the words of nasty, hateful Christians. I have had countless Christians say the most vile things about me, including wishing me and my family were dead. They can say these things because they are safe and secure in their homes, beyond being held accountable for their behavior. None of them would dare say these things to my face, because in front of them would be a big-ass 6 foot tall man who would put their nose where their ear is.

      I certainly don’t think all Christians act this way or even think this way. I just wish Christians/pastors/churches would do a better job of policing their ranks. (and atheists could do a better job of this too)

      Reply
      1. Gary

        I agree with you that Christian pastors and Churches need to do more to teach Christians that “loving your neighbor” is higher up on God’s list of “Do’s” than making sure that non-believers are aware of all of God’s “Dont’s”. (Actually, truly loving your neighbor as much, or more, than you love yourself is at the TOP of God’s “Do’s” list.)

        Conservative/fundamentalist Churches downplay this command of God and preach the Law to sinners, beating the miserable SOB’s over the head until they give in and repent, while liberal Churches tell everyone “do whatever you want, it’s ok with God…as long as you don’t hurt anyone else in the process.”

        Jesus loved the “sinners”, the tax collectors, the sexually “immoral” PRIOR to telling them to turn from sin. There is a happy balance that unfortunately the majority of the world’s conservative and liberal Christians do not follow.

        Reply
    2. sgl

      gary, do you personally believe that atheists will go to heaven?

      if not, aren’t you really saying that while christians shouldn’t hate atheists, god hates them enough to torment them for eternity, and you worship that god. that’s a pretty slim difference.

      and in fact, if god/jesus is going to burn them in hell, then aren’t the denise’s of the world treating atheists exactly like jesus will? isn’t that the natural and logical consequence of believing in salvation thru grace/proper belief, and not salvation thru works?

      Reply
      1. gary

        This is the biggest issue I wrestled with when I was in my agonistic/maybe-atheist phase of life. Jesus sure was a nice guy, but his Father, the God of the Old Testament and Paul’s epistles, sure is one mean, vindictive SOB.

        If one is going to decide if he or she is going to believe in the Christian God based on whether the Christian God is a “nice god” or a “mean god”, hands down the “mean god” vote is going to win.

        To me the question had to come down to this: Is he God or isn’t he? If he isn’t God, I want nothing to do with him because I think he has done some really f…’d up things. I mean, who kills all the first born children of an entire nation???

        But if he IS God…then regardless of my opinion of his “niceness”, I had better take what he says seriously. As the old saying goes, “Don’t cut off your nose, to spite your face.”

        Reply
  12. gimpi

    Denise, a Calvinistic, Fundamentalist, Evangelical member of a special group of Christians who think God has given them the gift of discernment,…

    EEEW! If this is what discernment looks like, I guess I should be happy that, apparently, I haven’t been afflicted with it. What a cold-hearted, closed-minded full-on bitch! Oh, and somehow, I think “angering” this nut won’t give Justin many sleepless nights.

    Good luck, Justin. Enjoy life outside of the bubble. We’re not perfect out here, but we’re a whole lot nicer than Denise.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Since the day Al Gore invented the internet, more and more fundamentalists are taking to the web to exercise their “discernment” gift. Prior to the internet, this gift was only exercised on Sunday. Now, like minded fundamentalists can band together and do corporate discernment. Denise is in league with people like Ken Silva, a SBC pastor of ten or so people. They spend their days “discerning” most everything that goes on in Christendom. It is safe to say that they are against everything. Denise is even against fundamentalists like John Piper and Rick Warren, both of whom are Calvinists.

      Reply
      1. gimpi

        This “discernment” stuff is relatively new, then? I have never been especially religious, but I attended church as a child and teen (occasionally) and don’t remember hearing a word about it. Of course, that was (mumble-mumble) years ago.

        Reply
  13. Gary

    I left fundamentalism/evangelical Christianity and abandoned my faith in God in my mid-twenties because I never “felt” God “move” me, or “heard” God speak to me in an “inner voice”, as evangelical Christianity told me a true Christian should.

    For years after my “decision(s) for Christ”, I would pray and beg God to speak to me and “move” me like he seemed to do for all the really good, “spirit-filled” Christians, but he never did.

    I decided he must not want me, so I didn’t want him.

    Is this lack of “feeling” what caused some of you to become atheists?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I can’t speak for all atheists, but for me, the bottom line is that I don’t believe the Bible is what Christians claim it is and I reject the fundamental tenets of Christianity like the virgin birth, deity of Christ, Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, and the miracle Jesus performed. While I think the Bible has some value, I reject the notion that it is, in any way, the words of God or a divine moral handbook. Since I believe these things, I know that I can no longer call myself a Christian. I think saying you are a Christian is a serious matter and if someone is going to claim to follow Jesus they should actually believe what the Bible says about him.

      Reply
      1. ismellarat

        “I am an atheist” means to many such people, “I hate everything you stand for” – which is exactly what they’re told you guys are all about, your souls having been given over to Satan, and all.

        “I like what’s good about your faith, and don’t like what’s bad,” presents, I think, a much bigger challenge, since it forces either the response, “but there isn’t anything bad” (which leaves them wide open to having to openly stand behind everything they likewise – if secretly – wish were not the case) – or a tacit admission that there is.

        I never lose with that, and, what’s more, it’s exactly what I think. I only “bash” the parts I don’t like. If someone calls himself a Christian and lives an exemplary life because of it, more power to him, and his worldview. There’s too much us vs. them/score one for the team thinking on all sides.

        Reply
      2. Gary

        I definitely had my doubts about the existence of God after my nightmare experience with fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity. I decided to just ignore God and religion for many years. I then checked out liberal Christianity because it seemed compatible with my new liberal world view and politics. It was ok at first. No one was judgmental (except being judgmental of the conservative Churches). Everyone did pretty much whatever they wanted to as long as they didn’t break the Golden Rule and hurt someone.

        It seemed really phony to me, however. They didn’t seem to believe in the Bible which according to God himself is his very word. It seemed to me that this form of Christianity was really just a social club for do-gooders. I knew I could do good without buying into their phony/fake Christianity. I left.

        Reply
        1. sgl

          re: “They didn’t seem to believe in the Bible which according to God himself is his very word.”

          if you investigate the claim that “god himself” says that, and research the process by which the bible came to be, and read about the contradictions in the bible, it’s really hard to believe it’s the word of god, rather than the end result of political wrangling and human egos and attempts to control and rule over everyone else.

          Reply
          1. Gary

            I agree with you that there are some minor facts that APPEAR to be contradictory, but isn’t it pretty amazing that out of the thousands of copies, of copies, of copies of the original manuscripts, there is not one contradiction over any major doctrine? There may seem to be conflict, such as Paul in Romans and James in his epistle, but how could so many people be copying so many different copies over so many years and yet there is no great discrepancy between any of the 66 Books?

            Remember, unlike in Islam and other religions, there was no “book” handed out to the disciples. The “Bible” was an oral tradition. I challenge you to sit 10 people down in a circle and have them whisper a five sentence story into the ear of the person next to them, and do that all around the circle, and how close to the original story will the tenth person’s recounting of the story be? You probably played this game as a kid. The last person’s story is almost always VERY different from the original. So how did a verbal Gospel remain the same in Asia Minor, Palestine, Egypt, Greece and Rome over hundreds of years?

            Archaeology (to date) has not demonstrated evidence of domesticated camels in the days of the Patriarchs…so let’s toss the Bible into the trash heap of bad fictional writing?? Come on!

            Any so called “discrepancies” in the Bible are minor and do not alter the fundamental story of the Book.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            What do you hope to accomplish, Gary? You really want to go toe to toe with me about the Bible, it’s contradictions, and the fact that the Bible can be used to prove most any doctrine? (As church history clearly shows)

            Let’s start with Genesis. I can prove conclusively from Genesis polytheism and that monotheistic Christians read their theology into the text. I can easily look at the plethora of disagreements the various Christian sects have with each other and show that there is no such thing as a singular Christianity; that Christianity has been evolving for 2,000 years. Christians can’t even agree on Ecclesiology, communion, salvation, or baptism. Every sect believes they are right, and guess what? They are.

            The Bible teaches multiple Christianities, that of Peter, Jesus, James, and Paul. The Bible is internally contradictory and Christians must use bizarre harmonization techniques to give the Bible the illusion of coherence. Reading and letting each book/author stand on its own reveals a very different story from what modern Christians are telling.

            Have you read any of Bart Ehrman’s books? If not, start there and then we can talk.

            Off to bed, I am.

          3. sgl

            re: “…some minor facts that APPEAR to be contradictory…”

            i don’t consider the contradictions between, for example, the 4 synoptic gospels re: how many people opened the tomb, what they did aftewards, etc, to be “minor facts”. or, why one gospel mentions the flight into egypt but not the census, and the other mentions the opposite. try to reconcile the timelines on the two accounts — it can’t be done.

            i think it goes far beyond “appear”, do actually *being* contradictory.

            re: “…there is not one contradiction over any major doctrine…”

            as bruce says, there’s numerous contradictions over major doctrine, hence the numerous burning of heretics at the stake, etc.

            in short, your statements i excerpted above are so far from any semblance of reality, it doesn’t make any sense to continue discussion until you have a firm grasp of what the issues actually are. i’ll reiterate bruce’s admonition — read bart erhman.

        2. gimpi

          You say “social club for do-gooders” as though it’s a bad thing. It’s a darn-sight better than the ravings of Denise, in my opinion. What’s wrong with people who want to help other people banding together under a banner of some sort to do so?

          Reply
          1. gary

            I am all in favor of do-gooders. My point is that I don’t need a phony version of Christianity to be a do-gooder. I can give money or volunteer time to/for a charity. For me either, orthodox Christianity is true and should be followed, or it is just another social organization. Nothing wrong with social organizations, but that is not why I go to church.

          2. Lynn123

            Amen! I recently returned to church-a much nicer one than IFB. If I had the nerve, I’d love to say, “What I’m actually looking for is a social club for do-gooders!”

  14. Gary

    I really didn’t seriously investigate Christianity again until in my mid 40′s. (I’m now 52) And the reason why I started to re-investigate Christianity was because I started having children (I waited a long time, I know. I’m what they call a dinosaur dad.) :)

    I could handle being responsible for my own fate if It turned out that I was wrong, that Christianity really is true, and that God really does exist, but I didn’t want to be responsible for screwing up things for my kids. So this is how I “investigated” God. (I would be interested in your take on it, Bruce, or anyone else of the atheist persuasion. I search for the truth, where-ever it is found.)

    First question for me, was: Is there a Supreme Being or Beings who govern(s) the universe?

    If evolution is true and the Law of Entropy is true, aren’t things supposed to become more disordered, not more ordered? If the above are true, how did a blob crawl out of the ocean to eventually become a complex human being? I am a physician. The human body is just too complicated, and too fine-tuned a machine, to have been created by “chance”.

    And how did the original matter that caused the “Big Bang” come into existence? Did the Big Bang occur out of nothingness? Who are what created the “that” that banged?

    And how did organic life develop from non-organic material? What created “life”, whether it be a microbe, an amoeba, a fish, etc.? How did that first living cell develop from a non-living source?

    What about all the Laws of Nature?

    Why does the earth’s orbit remain relatively constant? If the earth were just a little closer to the sun, we would burn up, the earth would be uninhabitable. If earth were just a little further away, we would freeze to death, the earth would be uninhabitable. What or who created this Law? How could such a complex system as a planet’s orbit around another sphere have just developed by chance?

    Why does it appear that life only exists on earth? Yea, I know, we haven’t been able to investigate other solar systems to see if a planet equi-distant from it’s sun, as earth is from its sun, has life, but isn’t it odd that at least in our solar system, no other planet seems to have living creatures? Why just us?

    And why the other fixed laws of physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology? Why does the universe have so much ORDER and how did this order come into existence? Evolution does not answer these questions.

    Reply
    1. ismellarat

      Infinite parallel universes. Infinity is bigger than the most stupendous, but still finite, odds you might assign to such things happening by chance.

      It seems we’re all in some kind of contest. The winner is whoever comes up with the least ridiculous worldview, and can say it with a straight face.

      I may as well guess that something is out there. Call me crazy, but who isn’t.

      This guy sure has me pegged:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV9yDhu5rBA

      Reply
      1. Gary

        I watched the video. It is very interesting, especially when it discussed amino acids as the origin of life. I found the science article below that discusses this issue further (strictly from a scientific viewpoint. It is NOT a Christian/creationist article). I believe that both sides of this issue should be informed regarding the latest scientific research.

        http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2010/04/peptides-may-hold-missing-link-to-life.html

        I think Christians make a big mistake when they try to hard to make science compatible with Genesis chapter one of the Bible. Liberal Christians have attempted to do this by becoming theistic evolutionists, which the performer in your video, rightly ridiculed. These liberal Christians state that God created the matter that eventually created the “Big Bang” and then allowed evolution to take its course unfettered.

        I say, God either did what he said he did in Genesis chapter one of the Bible, exactly as he said he did it, or the whole Bible is a pile of crap and should be tossed in the trash.

        I think that the entire Bible stands or falls on Genesis chapter one. If Adam did not exist; if Adam did not sin, then there is no need for a Savior to redeem fallen man from the sin, which the Bible says, they have all inherited from Grandpa Adam. So can we scientifically prove the historicity of Adam?

        Also, if evolution is true that the earth existed for billions of years before man, it would mean that death existed before man. It would mean that death is a good thing, because when plants and animals die, they create nutrients for other organisms to grow and thrive. The Bible says that death came into existence because of Adam’s fall, and that death is the ultimate evil. So if evolution is true, the Bible cannot be true. Death is either good or it is evil, both cannot be true.

        Does this mean that a Christian cannot believe in science? No. The laws of science require that for something to be declared as fact, it must be observable and reproducible. Interspecies evolution has not been observed and reproduced. The origin of life has not been observed and reproduced. Therefore, these two issues remain in the realm of theory. Science has never denied the existence of God. That is not the realm of science. Science deals with theory and facts, not the supernatural.

        To believe in God, to believe that the universe was created by a Supreme Being, one must believe in the POSSIBILITY that the supernatural exists. Demanding scientific evidence to believe in the supernatural is an oxymoron.

        If you are looking for hard, cold, observable, reproducible, scientific evidence for the existence of God, you are not going to find it, and you should save yourself the hassle, and remain an atheist.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Hey something we can agree on:

          “I say, God either did what he said he did in Genesis chapter one of the Bible, exactly as he said he did it, or the whole Bible is a pile of crap and should be tossed in the trash.

          I think that the entire Bible stands or falls on Genesis chapter one. If Adam did not exist; if Adam did not sin, then there is no need for a Savior to redeem fallen man from the sin, which the Bible says, they have all inherited from Grandpa Adam. So can we scientifically prove the historicity of Adam?”

          And by all means scoop that shit up and take it out of here.

          Reply
          1. carmen

            Bruce, you do make me chuckle. . . can you say SUCCINCT?? oh, my. .

      2. gary

        I’m getting a comment error, so I apologize if I am re-posting the same comment when the first one already went through.

        I watched the video. It is very interesting, especially when it discussed amino acids as the origin of life. I found the science article below that discusses this issue further (strictly from a scientific viewpoint. It is NOT a Christian/creationist article). I believe that both sides of this issue should be informed regarding the latest scientific research.

        http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2010/04/peptides-may-hold-missing-link-to-life.html

        I think Christians make a big mistake when they try to hard to make science compatible with Genesis chapter one of the Bible. Liberal Christians have attempted to do this by becoming theistic evolutionists, which the performer in your video, rightly ridiculed. These liberal Christians state that God created the matter that eventually created the “Big Bang” and then allowed evolution to take its course unfettered.

        I say, God either did what he said he did in Genesis chapter one of the Bible, exactly as he said he did it, or the whole Bible is a pile of crap and should be tossed in the trash.

        I think that the entire Bible stands or falls on Genesis chapter one. If Adam did not exist; if Adam did not sin, then there is no need for a Savior to redeem fallen man from the sin, which the Bible says, they have all inherited from Grandpa Adam. So can we scientifically prove the historicity of Adam?

        Also, if evolution is true that the earth existed for billions of years before man, it would mean that death existed before man. It would mean that death is a good thing, because when plants and animals die, they create nutrients for other organisms to grow and thrive. The Bible says that death came into existence because of Adam’s fall, and that death is the ultimate evil. So if evolution is true, the Bible cannot be true. Death is either good or it is evil, both cannot be true.

        Does this mean that a Christian cannot believe in science? No. The laws of science require that for something to be declared as fact, it must be observable and reproducible. Interspecies evolution has not been observed and reproduced. The origin of life has not been observed and reproduced. Therefore, these two issues remain in the realm of theory. Science has never denied the existence of God. That is not the realm of science. Science deals with theory and facts, not the supernatural.

        To believe in God, to believe that the universe was created by a Supreme Being, one must believe in the POSSIBILITY that the supernatural exists. Demanding scientific evidence to believe in the supernatural is an oxymoron.

        If you are looking for hard, cold, observable, reproducible, scientific evidence for the existence of God, you are not going to find it, and you should save yourself the hassle, and remain an atheist.

        Reply
        1. ismellarat

          Of course I posted the video mostly as a joke.

          I was talking about the infinite parallel universes theory in response to what you said, and it didn’t address any of that. I just thought it helped show that, yes, every ultimate theory seems nonsensical. It’s Magic Man Done It vs. molecules in motion with no transcendent meaning, save for what collections of these molecules temporarily “imagine” they’re “creating.”

          I wish I had the background to step into your world as easily as you can into mine. I can follow the logic of articles such as what you linked to, but can’t tell you anything original.

          I’m sure I also didn’t tell you anything new with the parallel universes, but is it true, in that the odds against us existing are thought to be as stupendous as the creationists say – and that this is supposed to be the answer to them?

          Re: “…or the whole Bible is a pile of crap…” sgl (one of the commenters here) recently introduced me to Tolstoy, who put in this way what most believers secretly already suspect (albeit to a much lesser degree):

          “…I was in the position of a man who receives a bag of stinking dirt, and only after long struggle and much labor finds that amid that dirt lie priceless pearls…”

          There’s more here (the first place that I found containing these words today; I haven’t seen the rest of the site):

          http://redroom.com/member/kevin-arnold/blog/tolstoy%E2%80%99s-gospel-once-difficult-to-obtain-is-now-available-in-books-and-onl

          I wouldn’t feel disappointed, if we were to wake up in some other existence and find that all the world’s religions had been wrong in their exclusivity. I’d be much more grateful to just be alive.

          Here’s an old earth view of death before the Fall:

          http://www.oldearth.org/death.htm

          And you can’t prove it ain’t so, so therefore it must be true. :)

          …edit… I don’t exactly know why, but for some reason, I had you pegged as a skeptic. I hadn’t read your other posts. Maybe it was because you said you had become a liberal, and left that worldview, also. So you went full circle?

          You’d like Austin Miles’s books and blog. He was an agnostic, became a Christian, wrote a book about it, became an atheist, wrote two books about it, became a Christian again, got a master’s in divinity at 73, and now preaches and blogs. He must be in his eighties.

          http://www.amazon.com/Austin-Miles/e/B001KIWXNI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1392291252&sr=8-1

          http://www.skepticfiles.org/fw/miles.htm

          http://www.revaustinmiles.com/

          He’s most interesting when he talks about his earlier life from the perspective of his later conversion/deconversion/conversion:

          https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ACGW_enUS496US496&q=don't+call+me+brother+site:revaustinmiles.com

          I love it, when people look back and say “here’s where I think I was mistaken.”

          Reply
    2. sgl

      Law of Entropy applies to whole systems not to individual parts. the earth gets an ongoing supply of energy from the sun, and that energy can be used to get more orderly on earth, while the sun is getting more disorderly. the people that use that argument don’t understand science very well, or aren’t looking for real answers by just a soundbite, to justify their beliefs.

      also, saying “god did it” doesn’t really explain how god came into being, does it? all you really did was add one level of indirection. eg, “big bang happened but we don’t know where matter or energy came from”, vs “god created matter and energy, but we don’t know where god came from.” is that really a better answer?

      also, for the sake of argument, assume i agreed that “god” was a useful answer, how does that then lead to “and god only spoke to a small group of jewish tribesmen, and wanted them to chop off their foreskin”, etc.? could not your same “logic” be used to “prove” that hinduism, or islam, or judaism, or native american indian religions, or any other religion with a creation story, is the “truth”, since after all, it couldn’t have just come out of nothing? how do you decide that the creation account in genesis, of all creation accounts of all peoples of the earth, is the correct one?

      and that god decides to save me just for believing in his existance and having “proper” beliefs about him, not by how i act?

      did god never talk to any other peoples of the earth? every prophet in the old and new testament was a true prophet? not a single bad political decision was made for including a particular book in the bible? every pope that issued an edict was a true man of god and not a political hack?

      and yet, we still ended up with tens of thousands of flavors of christianity? so, even with god himself talking, the message was misunderstood?

      or is it just a characteristic of humans and human societies to tell stories, and form “tribes” based on these, and create “enemies” of people that are different?

      lastly, re: the body not occurring by chance, reminds me of a joke i heard, but the shorter version is a line from a movie: “Let me just say that if God was a city planner he would not put a playground next to a sewage system! “

      Reply
      1. gary

        I think we first need to decide whether or not “God”…whoever, whatever he/she/it is… exists before we start discussing the Christian God. If there is no supreme being, there is obviously no Christian God.

        If you can prove to me that it is impossible for a Supreme Being to have supernaturally created the universe, then I will concede that the Christian God does not exist.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Few atheists, including Richard Dawkins, would ever use the word impossible. The question is, is it probable? Is it probable that the Christian God as revealed in Genesis created the universe? On both counts I say no.

          You are on dangerous ground here because the argument you are attempting to make here can be turned on its glad and used against your position. i.e. If you can prove to me that it is impossible for Allah/Zeus/Flying Spaghetti monster…..

          Reply
          1. gary

            Excellent point, Bruce. I cannot prove, with observable, reproducible scientific evidence the impossibility of Allah, Zeus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster of being god.

            What I am trying to point out is that science has never said that there is no God, Christian or otherwise. There has never been a scientific discovery that proves that a Supreme Creator Being does not exist.

            So, is there enough circumstantial evidence to SUGGEST that there is a Supreme Being that created the universe and established its many very orderly Laws of Nature?

            Since I have no scientific evidence to prove without any doubt whatsoever the existence of God, because I cannot observe him or reproduce him, I am forced to look at circumstantial evidence for his existence or non-existence. And since I am making my decision to believe or not believe in God based on circumstantial evidence, my conclusion will only be MY OPINION.

            Circumstantial evidence is the best that any religion that believes in a god, or any non-religion that denies a god, can do to prove its validity. Bottom line, a Christian cannot prove that God exists, and an atheist cannot prove that God does NOT exist.

            Would you agree with that?

            I know, Bruce, that you do not believe in the Christian God, but do you believe in a Supreme Creator Being? Or do you believe that the universe and all life within it exists by random chance, by the lucky organizational skills of amino acids?

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            I think we don’t know, but based on what evidence is at hand, no I do not think a deity exists. Not knowing does not mean a deity exists. It means we don’t know. Knowing this, why do you speak authoritatively about the existence of God? Shouldn’t every Christian minister tell their congregation, I don’t know?

            Because I see no evidence for the existence of a god, I live my day to day life as an atheist. On the god question I am an agnostic. I am pretty certain that none of the gods in the current panoply of gods that humans worship is God. It is possible that a god of some sort might yet reveal itself to us. For all we know, what we think is reality may be the dream or project of an advanced alien race.

      2. gary

        Just discussing the female body…I have NO complaints with God’s design! The current location of the “playground” doesn’t bother me a bit! :)

        Reply
        1. ... Zoe ~

          Bother’s me.

          Reply
        2. gimpi

          You’ve never experienced childbirth, had a fistula, or experienced menopause, GARY, right? Believe me, walk a mile in a pair of high-heeled sandals and you’ll have a ton of suggestions.

          Reply
        3. Byroniac

          Back in college one day with my friends, we observed a very attractive girl walking through our lunch room, and my friend said, “that didn’t crawl out of any slime pit: that’s the hand of God!”. To this day, this remains the single greatest challenge to the Theory of Evolution in my opinion, LOL.

          Reply
  15. gary

    Good morning!

    Above you asked me, Bruce, what I hoped to accomplish here. I seek the truth. I like to have my positions challenged; it will either sharpen the defense of my position or show me that I am wrong. I am fully willing to admit I am wrong. I want to hear your evidence against the existence of the Christian God.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You are not seeking truth because you think you already have it. I have no need to give evidence against the existence of the Christian God. You are the one saying such a God exists. If I am not swayed by this God’s divine book, what other possible argument could you make? Are you saying the Bible is not sufficient? Are you saying that it does not contain everything pertaining to life and godliness? Why did you quickly move away from:

      Let’s start with Genesis. I can prove conclusively from Genesis polytheism and that monotheistic Christians read their theology into the text. I can easily look at the plethora of disagreements the various Christian sects have with each other and show that there is no such thing as a singular Christianity; that Christianity has been evolving for 2,000 years. Christians can’t even agree on Ecclesiology, communion, salvation, or baptism. Every sect believes they are right, and guess what? They are.

      The Bible teaches multiple Christianities, that of Peter, Jesus, James, and Paul. The Bible is internally contradictory and Christians must use bizarre harmonization techniques to give the Bible the illusion of coherence. Reading and letting each book/author stand on its own reveals a very different story from what modern Christians are telling.

      Have you read any of Bart Ehrman’s books? If not, start there and then we can talk.

      I am not a scientist and neither are you. I am, however, theologically trained, and since your authoritative claims rest on an inspired, infallible, inerrant text, this is where our discussion should focus. For example…we know the universe and the earth are much older than the 6014 years creationists say it is. Either this means that Genesis must be taken as an allegory or it is wrong. (and old earth creationism is even worse) As I mentioned before, it is quite easy two disprove monotheism from the first three chapters of Genesis. You have to also explain why there are two creation accounts in the Bible and why they differ with each other. (as is the case for the Ten Commandments)

      First account:

      Genesis 1:25-27 (Humans were created after the other animals.)
      And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image…. So God created man in his own image.

      Genesis 1:27 (The first man and woman were created simultaneously.)
      So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

      Second Account:

      Genesis 2:18-19 (Humans were created before the other animals.)
      And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

      Genesis 2:18-22 (The man was created first, then the animals, then the woman from the man’s rib.)
      And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them…. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

      http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/accounts.html

      Reply
  16. gary

    As I stated above, Christians cannot prove God’s existence with scientific evidence and atheists cannot prove the non-existence of God with scientific evidence. Both sides can only “prove” their position with circumstantial evidence, and in the case of Christians, an appeal to a “Magic Man”; a supernatural being, who by definition cannot be substantiated with scientific evidence.

    So what is the Christian’s circumstantial evidence:

    -the order and complexity of the universe. Can all this really exist by random chance as atheists insist?

    -the human conscience. Why do humans possess this trait if we are just another animal?

    -why has every civilization of humans believed in a deity? Do we see this behavior in other animals?

    -So if there is a Supreme Being, who is he, she or it? Since there is no billboard in the sky giving us the answer, I think we should look at the gods throughout history and see what circumstantial evidence supports their claim.

    -Evolution does not disprove God. Evolution APPEARS to disprove a six, twenty-four hour, day Creation, young earth. However, this claim fails to take into account the Christian belief in a supernatural God. A supernatural God can do anything; including making the earth APPEAR to be billions of years old. God created Adam as a mature man, not a day old baby, maybe he did the same thing with the earth?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Ah there is that word APPEARS and then the appeal to faith. Discussion over.

      Reply
    2. gimpi

      I’ll give it a go:

      “the order and complexity of the universe. Can all this really exist by random chance as atheists insist?” The universe is not that orderly. Brown dwarf stars that never turn on, rouge planets that wander homeless, asteroid fields – planets that never coalesced, comets and meteors that strike worlds, pulsars, galactic collisions, what about all this strikes you as orderly?

      “the human conscience. Why do humans possess this trait if we are just another animal?” Because we’re a social animal. Our conscience gives us a survival-advantage because we will work together and sacrifice for the group.

      “-why has every civilization of humans believed in a deity? Do we see this behavior in other animals?” Actually, they haven’t. Buddhism, for example, is a non-theistic religion. Many religions have multiple gods, but they don’t really regard them as supreme beings, more as archetypes or examples. As to animals, who knows? We’d have to develop a way to ask bonobos or dolphins, and our language skills are lacking.

      “-Evolution does not disprove God. Evolution APPEARS to disprove a six, twenty-four hour, day Creation, young earth. However, this claim fails to take into account the Christian belief in a supernatural God. A supernatural God can do anything; including making the earth APPEAR to be billions of years old. God created Adam as a mature man, not a day old baby, maybe he did the same thing with the earth?” Why would you choose to add a layer of complication to a working theory? Have you heard of Occam’s Razor? In general, if you don’t need a complication to make your theory work, you don’t want it. A supernatural creation that is made to look like a natural process is an example of one heck of a complication.

      Reply
  17. gary

    So if I understand the Atheist position, your evidence against the existence of the Christian God are these:

    1. Evolution

    Scientific evidence dates the earth to be billions of years old. This fact proves that the six day Creation story in Genesis chapter one is false, thereby proving the Bible wrong, thereby proving the non-existence of the Christian God.

    2. The Bible is full of historical and factual inaccuracies, therefore, the Bible is fallible, proving the nonexistence of the Christian God.

    3. The writers of the Bible contradict each other on doctrine, thereby proving that a Supreme Being was NOT dictating His words to them. If there were a God, all the writers should be consistent and the unity of the Bible should be easily recognizable.

    3. The plethora of Christian denominations, sects, and cults proves that there is no Christian God.

    Are there any more?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I can’t answer for other atheists. I can say, yes I think the Bible is not what Christians claim it is, and yes there is no evidence in the natural world that the Christian God as revealed in the Christian Bible exists. As I have stated countless times before, I can readily see how someone can conclude that there is a deistic God of some sort, a God who created the universe and said there ya go boys do with it what you will. But, to get from there being A GOD to this God being THE GOD, the Christian God, the God of the Bible, I see no evidence for this. Since Christianity is a text-based religion, as all the Abrahamic religions are, our discussion must focus on the text many Christians say is divine.

      I ask again, have you read any of Bart Ehrman’s books? If not, read, and then we will talk. Start with Misquoting Jesus or Jesus Interrupted or Forged.

      Reply
  18. gary

    I haven’t appealed to faith yet, Bruce. I am following your rules of discussion. I don’t understand why you want to end our conversation. I have atheists come onto my Christian blog all the time and I always WELCOME their comments. Like I said, I think it is good to have my positions challenged; my defense of my position will be better, or I will realize I am wrong. I am here genuinely open to having my mind changed, but do you demand that I drop all my current beliefs before I can converse with you?

    Here is my bottom line, and after this if you are not willing to continue the conversation, I will not comment further.

    Christianity stands or falls on the Resurrection of Jesus in the first century AD, under Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius Caesar. If that event did not happen, Christianity is a joke. At least eleven witnesses, and maybe up to 500 witnesses, stated that they saw Jesus after being publically crucified and buried. These witnesses say they not only saw him, but they touched him and ate a meal with him (and probably more than one meal if he was with them for 40 days.) These witnesses were willing to be tortured and suffer excruciating deaths to support their eye witness testimony. That would be pretty strong evidence in any court of law.

    There is no evidence of a world-wide conspiracy to perpetuate a lie of the resurrection. There is no historical evidence that the Romans or anyone else questioned the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth or his death.

    So bottom line: You either believe the eleven witnesses who gave their lives to support their eye witness testimony, or you write them off as all insane, for what sane person would die a horrific death for something they KNOW is a lie.

    It my opinion, the circumstantial evidence weighs more heavily in FAVOR of the Christian God than against him. It takes more FAITH to NOT believe in the Christian God, than to believe.

    I hope you will consider continuing this discussion, if not I wish you peace and happiness, Bruce.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      As I said, you have ignored the issues I raised, and it is clear to me you have not read one Bart Ehrman book. There is no point in having a discussion with you.

      As far as they resurrection is concerned. Yes, I think the resurrection is a myth. Every graveyard I pass is a reminder of the truth that people die and do not live again. Now, if we could possibly interview these 11-500 witnesses, you do have a list of their names and addresses, then perhaps there would be some evidence to support your resurrection claim. A photograph would be nice too. All you have is several contradictory stories in an ancient text written by unknown authors. You can not produce this text. All you have are copies, of copies, of copies, most dating centuries after the supposed resurrection of Jesus. Most are just fragments and the oldest complete copy of the NT dates is dated 3 centuries after the recorded events. If Jesus really resurrected from the dead, why are there no historical accounts of this? Surely, a resurrection from the dead would have been big news.By all means, point me a Roman author who says one word about Jesus resurrecting from the dead.

      In the end, it is about faith, you have it, I don’t.

      Reply
      1. gary

        No, I have not read any of Bart Ehrman’s books, but I promise I will, if you or your readers can give me convincing evidence against the Resurrection.

        Roman documents mention Jesus. I can provide them if you wish. Jewish documents mention Jesus and John the Baptist. The are historical documents written by the disciples of the apostles, Polycarp being one, the disciple of John, testifying to the eye witness accounts of John and the other apostles. So there are historical documents that testify to the resurrection.

        So why wasn’t news of the Resurrection published in the Roman Times, or the Jewish Daily News? For one, who would believe such a story unless you personally had seen Jesus, and two, neither the Romans or the Jews would be to eager to publish such news. The Romans for failing to successfully execute a criminal, and for the Jews, it would prove that they had killed their God.

        Why has no evidence been discovered of a massive conspiracy to perpetuate the lie of the Resurrection? Why did neither the Romans or the Jews make public declarations, as Christianity grew like wild-fire: “There is no evidence of this Jesus of Nazareth, and there is no evidence of his death”?

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Not that mention Jesus, that mention his resurrection. First century accounts. How many actual first century accounts can you provide for the resurrection and for Jesus? (and don’t use Josephus, read Ehrman and you will know why)

          So no one would believe the story, so they didn’t report it? Really? Wouldn’t this have been quite easy to prove since Jesus was walking around in their midst? He wasn’t hard to find. The resurrection accounts grew like the accounts of all religions do. I give you one, irrefutable proof of this: Mormonism. I am sure you think Mormonism is a false religion and the book of Mormon is the fabrication of Joseph Smith. There is no difference between Christianity and Mormonism. Why do you accept the one and reject the other? (and some would argue that Mormonism has more proof than Christianity)

          The fact you have not read Bart Ehrman speaks volumes. So, go read, and we will talk.

          Reply
          1. gary

            Ok, I will read Ehrman. Tell me which of his books to start with.

            If Mormonism can give me eleven eye witnesses to the angel Moroni handing Joseph Smith the Book of Mormon, AND those eleven witnesses were not only willing to be tortured and horrifically killed to support their eye-witness testimony, but actually WERE tortured and horrifically killed, all refusing to recant the “lie”, I will become a Mormon TODAY.

            Once again, why no evidence of the Romans and Jews stamping out this “lie” by publically announcing that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist, there is no historical record of him, and that there is no record of his execution under Pontius Pilate, during the Jewish Passover, during the early/mid 30′s AD? It would have been SO simple to stamp out this “lie” that was spreading so fast that in a few more centuries the mighty Roman Empire would bend its knees to this “imaginary” Jesus, and all they would have had to have done was to show to the world the lack of proof of Jesus Christ’s very existence, let alone his execution. Why did NO ONE in the first three or four centuries AD do this?

            If your argument is solely based on the fact that the Romans and Jews did not publically announce the news that Jesus was risen, your argument is weak.

            To believe your position, the Roman Empire which had conquered the known world, for some reason was not intelligent enough to demand evidence of the existence of this Jewish Jesus who claimed to be God. Couldn’t they have easily looked up in their census records any evidence of this trouble-making Jew? But NO ONE denied the existence or execution of this Jew who claimed to be the one and only God, in defiance of the Roman Caesar, who claimed to be the one and only god, and executed as a traitor, anyone who claimed otherwise.

            The burden of proof is not on Christians to prove that Jesus existed. The burden of proof is on atheists to prove that he did not AND to prove that, at a minimum, the eleven eye witnesses who say they saw and touched him were certifiably nuts for being willing to suffer horrific torture and death for something they absolutely knew was a fabricated lie.

            Who is willing to die for something that they KNOW first hand is a lie?

            If the Resurrection occurred, all the apparent errors in the Bible are irrelevant, and all the scientific evidence in support of Darwinian Evolution are irrelevant. Why? Because if Jesus of Nazareth came back from the dead, his is God, and God is not limited to complying with human rules of logic, reason, and science.

            Atheists primary arguments against the Christian God is that his existence defies science, reason, and logic and that there is no evidence of his resurrection. If you are looking for a video tape of the event, you are not going to find it. However, if you are willing to accept the testimony of eleven eyewitnesses, whose stories are documented by their very disciples in other historical evidence, then you have enough circumstantial evidence to make a judgment, a verdict, on the existence of the Christian God, which would pass as valid in any court of law.

            I’m getting the feeling that some of you aren’t really interested in discussing both sides of this issue. Is it possible that you only want to hear from readers who confirm your position? That is a big mistake made by many Christians; isolating themselves from opposing views. As former Christians, you should be award of that error. Listening to the “other side” is not going to kill you.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            No we already KNOW both sides of the issue. You have not said one thing that we have not heard before. What possible new evidence could you give, Gary? I studied the Bible for most of my adult life. Inside and out. Besides, I have been listening to the other side repeat the same drivel over and over…for six years. Forgive me for not wanting to hear any more of it, knowing that nothing I say will cause you to change your mind. You are convinced that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God. Nothing will move you from this belief, except maybe Bart Ehrman. If he can’t move you off your errant belief about the Bible, nothing will. The first two books I mentioned in a previous post will be a good place to start.

            You are quite wrong that atheists must prove there is no God. It is you who is making a positive claim and it is up to you to prove it. Again, I am not interested in proving, disproving God. My focus in on the Bible itself and you refuse to answer the issues/questions I raised. If I can disabuse you of your claims about the Bible, then these peripheral arguments you seem to want to have become moot.

            Again, read Ehrman and get back to me. This is my last comment until you do. No faking it. No reading a review of his books. Do your homework.

          3. sgl

            re: “I’m getting the feeling that some of you aren’t really interested in discussing both sides of this issue.”

            as bruce pointed out, you haven’t done your homework AT ALL. so you aren’t discussing both sides of the issue, you’re only discussing YOUR (chrisitian) side of the issue, and YOUR misunderstood views of atheism. we’ve mentioned various criticisms, which you’ve ignored, glossed over, or misunderstood.

            and since many of us commenting on this blog were previously christians, and/or have studied christianity a fair amount, we already know the christian side quite well too.

            many, probably even most atheists think jesus actually existed, they just don’t think he was god. so much of your argument is bogus, and shows you don’t have a decent grasp of many atheist’s views.

            we you read the sources we’ve given you, i think you’ll see that your “11 eyewitnesses” claim is on far far shakier ground than you realize.

          4. sgl

            re: “If the Resurrection occurred, all the apparent errors in the Bible are irrelevant, and all the scientific evidence in support of Darwinian Evolution are irrelevant. Why? Because if Jesus of Nazareth came back from the dead, his is God, …”

            even if it occurred (which i don’t believe, because the only “evidence” is the 4 synoptic gospels, which give differing accounts of what happened), you will still have problems. many christians were persecuted and even killed by other christians arguing over what it means. ie, how one is saved, the details of the trinity, pre-trib, post-trib, etc, etc, etc.

            in fact, there are multiple theologies in the bible. the books called matthew, mark, and luke are fairly similar in their theological views, but the book called john is much different. (i say “books called” because scholars don’t think those books were written by the disciples, but by other unknown authors, which you need to read erhman to get the details.) also, the theology of paul is quite different still. and paul’s vision is a single witness (or not, depending on which of the two conflicting accounts of the road to damascus conversion you want to believe). furthermore, scholars believe based on word choice and style analysis, that about 1/3 of the epistles attributed to paul were not written by him, ie, they were forgeries by unknown authors.

            so, even if i believed those inconsistent accounts by unknown authors written decades after the event were reliable eyewitness accounts, i’d still have to decide which of all the competing salvation claims are correct too.

            in short, there’s complexity upon complexity all built on assumptions and interpretations that are quite shaky. (of which the above is the merest glimpse of a summary of erhman.) and the fact that the tone and content of your questions shows you have no clue to even being aware of the existence of these issues, which shows that your “certainty” and “faith” is built upon sand. (there are people that are still christian and aware of these issues, but they tend to be more liberal.)

        2. sgl

          another link from the lawyer re: priests and why they didn’t disclaim the resurrection:
          http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/2007/11/why-didnt-priests-show-body.html

          i think he does an excellent job laying out the numerous embedded assumptions in your question, which you don’t even realize are embedded in your thinking.

          Reply
        3. Lynn123

          Gary, you keep mentioning people being tortured and dying. There’s a guy who’s written on this in detail. His blog is called “Thoughts from a Sandwich.”

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/

            I think Gary has read some of DagoodS posts.

    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      And so no comment reader doubts what your position is, your blog subtitle states:

      I grew up in a fundamentalist/evangelical Christian family. I am now an orthodox (confessional) Lutheran. I became a Lutheran once I realized that Baptists and evangelicals teach new doctrine never heard of by any Christian prior to approximately 800-1100 AD. The purpose of this blog is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to help other evangelical Christians rediscover the true doctrines of our 2,000 year old Christian Faith.

      Reply
    3. sgl

      as bruce points out, you haven’t read any bart erhman, and it shows that you don’t have any idea where the problems lie.

      your “eyewitness” accounts are not. the 4 gospels were written decades after the events they supposedly describe by unknown authors, they contradict each other in multiple ways re: the resurrection (among many other contradictions in other parts as well).

      “wouldn’t die for a lie” also proves that mormonism is true, no? after all, many of them were persecuted for their beliefs. all your “reasons” are not reasons at all, but mere justifications.

      re: “…pretty strong evidence in any court of law.”

      wrong! there’s a lawyer who was a christian who thought he was “defending the faith”, but after digging into it using his legal perspective, he realized that all the problems bart erhman and others talk about, were *not* defensible in a court of law. try reading his deconversion story on his blog:
      http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/2007/09/my-deconversion-story-in-which-we-test.html
      he doesn’t blog much any more, but his blog has extensive and very detailed analysis of multiple issue related to the bible. and he also has some pretty good descriptions of the legal system too, from an inside view.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Damn, you mentioned Mormonism the same time I did. :) And thanks for mentioning DagoodS blog.

        Reply
        1. sgl

          must be a sign from god that he’s a mormon!! :)
          time to convert — do you know where to buy that special funny underwear mormons wear?

          Reply
    4. gimpi

      I keep jumping in here, sorry, but I can offer up an example of spontaneous resurrection. My dad. He was in a savage industrial accident at Boeing at the age of 20. A drill-bit broke and attempted, as I understand it, to perform a prefrontal lobotomy. He was rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead. He was toe-tagged, taken to the morgue. After a while, an attendant noticed him twitching. He was rushed upstairs, and was found to be breathing on his own. He (over time) made a profound, though not total, recovery. He was able, after a year or so, to return to work, he got married, fathered two kids (hi, there) and lived to be 62 years old. At that point a calcified aneurism shifted in his brain and cause additional damage.

      He was dead. He came back. It happens, for natural reasons.

      Perhaps that’s why I’m so hard to impress:-)

      Reply
      1. gary

        Your father’s story is very interesting and I am happy for you that you had him for more years than it seemed he would have.

        However, if Jesus story is true:

        -he was executed by professionals, the Romans, who had crucified thousands of Jews in the preceding years. What would have been the punishment for the Roman captain of the guard at Calvary for letting a very famous prisoner live?

        -a sword was placed into his side to make sure he was dead. John the Apostle witnessed this event.

        -Christ was sealed in a tomb for three days. Romans guards were placed at the entrance to make sure his disciples didn’t try to steal the body.

        -After three days, the stone is rolled away and the soldiers can’t tell anyone why. The disciples, who would later be willing to give their lives for their testimony, saw Jesus.

        -not long afterwards Jesus walked through a locked door and ate dinner with the eleven.

        How can a man who had just been crucified, hanging from a tree, with a sword stuck in his side, have the ability to walk, talk, and eat within only a few days of such massive injuries to his body?

        Natural medicine cannot explain the “resurrection”. It was either a supernatural event or it never happened, just as Bruce believes. Again, it all comes down to the eleven eye-witnesses. If you can prove that they did not exist or that they were all insane, then your position is believable. Without proving this, your position is weak.

        Reply
        1. sgl

          re: “… for letting a very famous prisoner live”

          while jesus became famous later, he wasn’t famous at the time. from the roman point of view, he was yet another religious troublemaker that they got rid of; dime-a-dozen in those days.

          Reply
        2. gimpi

          I feel you’re using a logical fallacy, the excluded middle. Either/or. Either these 11 witnesses don’t exist or they are insane. How about mistaken? How about confused? How about misquoted? How about a combination of these things?

          As to the accounts of the crucifixion, there are problems. The most pronounced one I’m aware of is that crucified people weren’t generally placed in tombs. They were left to rot, very publicly. Why was a tomb even allowed? Also, remember, this was not, at that time, a famous person. There were many people being executed for sedition at that time. “Just one more rabble-rouser,” would be the Roman position.

          None of this is conclusive. You see, I don’t use the excluded middle fallacy.

          Reply
  19. Gary

    I will read Erhman and I will read the blog of the Ex-Christian attorney.

    While I am doing that, would one of you please explain why neither the Roman Empire nor the Jews made any attempt to discredit this “lie” by announcing the fact that there was not one shred of evidence of Christ’s birth, his miracles, his disciples, nor his execution?

    This movement took over the world, but yet was a total fabrication, built upon the purported existence of a man, for whom no historical evidence existed, and NONE of its enemies attempted to discredit it with the allegation of a lack of evidence of their founder’s existence???

    Yes, plenty of Mormons were willing to die for their faith, but only ONE of them said he saw the angel. Many people throughout history have died for their religion because they believed what someone else told them was the truth. Christianity has eleven eye witnesses who died refusing to deny the resurrection. Islam has one witness. Mormonism has one witness.

    One witness can lie. One witness can be deranged. But ELEVEN eye witnesses claiming the same eye witness account? And you say we do not have proof of the apostles? What about the writings of Polycarp and other disciples of the very apostles. How are you writing their accounts off?

    I will read your atheist colleague’s book and get back to you, since that is what you have requested.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You assume thousands of people were Christians during the time of Christ. They weren’t. Christianity was a marginal cult that was considered a subset of Judaism. It was not until the fourth century that Christianity became pervasive.

      You have no proof for your eleven witnesses seeing anything. You can’t even prove who they were for sure and their deaths, for the most part, are legends for which their is no historical proof. Again, by all means point me to the First Century source material that documents the death of the eleven apostles.

      It is one thing to say a Jesus existed. I readily admit that it is plausible. However, you are making extraordinary claims for this man, and apart from the Bible, you have no FIRST HAND proof for your claims. At best, all you have is the what a guy told a guy, told a guy, told a guy, told a guy….. Yes, there are a handful of historical references to Jesus, but these do little to bolster your claims that Jesus was all that Christians claim he is.

      As we now know, eyewitness testimony is quite unreliable. At one time, I really believed a car speeding right at the side of my car floated over the top of my car to the other side of the road. I was a Christian when I believed this and I was certain God protected me from imminent death. Now I know that what I “saw” was not correct and that my mind did not process accurately what I saw. Do unexplainable things happen? Sure. All this means is that unexplainable things happen. It really is that simple.

      This really is my last comment. If others want to beat a dead horse, they are free to do so.

      Reply
      1. sgl

        re: “If others want to beat a dead horse…”

        but maybe it will come back to life in 3 days!!! ;)

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Very funny, my friend. :)

          Reply
    2. sgl

      since you like DaGoods writing, here’s a link to his views on “die for a lie”:

      http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/05/die-for-lie-wont-fly.html

      Reply
  20. N00b

    deleted. decided against engaging Gary.

    Reply
  21. gary

    Ok. I just finished reading DaGoodS’s de-conversion testimony. VERY interesting! (Great writing style too, by the way!) His story is very thought-provoking. I agree with him that most Christians have never entertained the possibility that Jesus never existed and that Christianity’s origins have no historical hard evidence from the first century.

    I’m open minded. I will read Mr. Erhman and see what he has to say before making a final judgment. However, while it is fresh in my mind, I would like to leave a few comments about DaGoodS’s story:

    -evangelical Christians are told that if they are true Christians they will “feel” God’s presence within them, and that he will “speak” to them and “move”, “lead” them. Orthodox Christians (RCC, EOC, Anglican, Lutheran) do not believe this. In fact, Luther believed that it isn’t even necessary for a believer to know he has faith, or to know that he believes!!

    All that the true believer needs to know is that he was baptized and that he has not REJECTED Christ, either by outright rejection, by ongoing, willful sin, or on-going, willful neglect of his faith. One of DGS’s reasons for leaving Christianity is because God did not answer his prayer and “prove” to DGS his existence. We orthodox do not believe that it is possible to “feel” God or hear God speak to us in an “inner voice” as we believe that this idea is mysticism or a belief in personal revelations. All orthodox Christian Churches denounce this teaching as false.

    -evangelical Christians tend to believe that becoming a Christian automatically turns you into a better person and makes your life much better (happier??) Orthodox Christians do not believe this. Christians are simply baptized sinners who daily repent of their sins. That is the only difference between us and a non-baptized sinner. We do not believe that there was any magical transformation in our personality or character when we were baptized.

    –most evangelical Christians believe in “Once Saved, Always Saved”, so if they see an evangelical pastor, evangelist, deacon, deaconess, Sunday School teacher suddenly become an atheist, it is devastating to them. “How could the person who led me to Christ be an atheist?” Orthodox Christians do not believe in OSAS. Since we are all sinners, it is no surprise that even the most religious in our midst are tempted to return to a life of sin and reject God. Therefore if an orthodox Christian priest or pastor declares his new found atheism, it may be upsetting, but it does not shake the foundation of our belief structure.

    I will come back after reading Mr. Erhman’s book. Since that will take me some time, you probably won’t hear from me for awhile, which I know will leave you all devastated.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yeah, we get it…Orthodox Christian(your flavor)=true Christianity. Did I miss anything? This is the argument EVERY sect makes. Makes a farce out of the verse that says, how pleasant it for brethren to dwell together in unity. Oh wait, you don’t consider them “really” wink wink your brethren. One of the biggest indictments of Christianity is the internecine wars, splits, and divisions that plague Christianity. Every sect has their “truth.” It is quite entertaining for those of us on the outside. My take is this…every sect is correct, every truth is THE truth, everyone is right. (since every sect can proved their beliefs from the Bible) And we must not forget groups like the Gnostics who were declared heretical. Maybe they were “true” Christianity? Calvinists and Arminians have been fighting each other forever.Both have the Bible as their authority, both are correct.

      I could counter every point you have made in this comment, but I don’t want to keep you from reading Dr. Ehrman’s book. :)

      Reply
      1. ... Zoe ~

        Happens every time. ‘Yeah but . . . we so and so’s don’t believe that, that’s false, we have the truth.’

        Reply
    2. sgl

      re: “We orthodox do not believe that it is possible to “feel” God or hear God speak to us in an “inner voice” as we believe that this idea is mysticism or a belief in personal revelations. All orthodox Christian Churches denounce this teaching as false.”

      my (admittedly limited) understanding was that catholics do believe in mysticism, altho they qualify it and try to control it with discernment, usually under the control of the religious hierarchy. but there are numerous mystics in catholic history, and still today, including among laypersons. (not sure about lutherans and other sects).

      also, if you can’t feel god’s presence, how did the bible get “inspired” to begin with? what about the burning bush? or paul’s road to damascus conversion? or is it just that god did his talking/inspiring, and now he’s done so no more inspiration is needed?

      also, sam harris, so-called new atheist, believes in mystical experiences, but he just attributes them to the way the mind works, not to god and all the dogma that comes with that. eg, in the second half of this essay:

      ———-
      http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/the-problem-with-atheism

      One clue as to how daunting most people would find such a project is the fact that solitary confinement—which is essentially what we are talking about—is considered a punishment even inside a prison. Even when cooped up with homicidal maniacs and rapists, most people still prefer the company of others to spending any significant amount of time alone in a box.

      And yet, for thousands of years, contemplatives have claimed to find extraordinary depths of psychological well-being while spending vast stretches of time in total isolation. It seems to me that, as rational people, whether we call ourselves “atheists” or not, we have a choice to make in how we view this whole enterprise. Either the contemplative literature is a mere catalogue of religious delusion, deliberate fraud, and psychopathology, or people have been having interesting and even normative experiences under the name of “spirituality” and “mysticism” for millennia.

      [....]

      Most us think that if a person is walking down the street talking to himself—that is, not able to censor himself in front of other people—he’s probably mentally ill. But if we talk to ourselves all day long silently—thinking, thinking, thinking, rehearsing prior conversations, thinking about what we said, what we didn’t say, what we should have said, jabbering on to ourselves about what we hope is going to happen, what just happened, what almost happened, what should have happened, what may yet happen—but we just know enough to just keep this conversation private, this is perfectly normal. This is perfectly compatible with sanity. Well, this is not what the experience of millions of contemplatives suggests.

      ———-
      http://www.newsweek.com/rationalist-sam-harris-believes-god-73859

      Though he prefers the Eastern mystics, he sees some wisdom in the Western mystical tradition as well. “If I open a page of [the 13th-century Christian mystic] Meister Eckhart, I often know what he’s talking about.”

      ———-

      Reply
    3. sgl

      also, to maybe give you a running start, or save you some money, here’s a link to a 1.5 hr (1 hr lecture, 0.5 hr q&a) bart erhman lecture at stanford on misquoting jesus. should give a decent summary of what’s in the book, altho i’m sure lots got left out too:

      Misquoting Jesus in the Bible – Professor Bart D. Ehrman
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfheSAcCsrE

      Reply
  22. Gary

    I’m going to buy Erhman’s book today, but thanks for the video.

    One thing I forgot to mention about reading DGS’s deconversion story. Orthodox Christians interpret the Bible through the lens of the Church Fathers. If we read a passage of the Bible that seems to teach something new, we read the Church Fathers to see what they had to say about it before declaring that we have discovered a new doctrine.

    The majority of Reformed and Evangelicals do not do this. In fact, they believe that it is wrong to do this. In these Christian denominations, the final authority on the interpretation of Scripture is the individual, and if the final authority is the individual, that is how you get thousands of Christian denominations and sects. Along with doctrines like the Rapture, adult-only baptism, a symbolic Lord’s Supper, etc.

    We can’t all be right, Bruce. Yes, we could all be wrong, but we can’t all be right. Jesus is the only way, or he isn’t. God either exists or he doesn’t it. An agnostic can proclaim universalism, an atheist cannot. An atheist has taken the position that theists are wrong, just as Lutherans say Evangelicals are wrong, and Catholics say Lutherans are wrong, and so on.

    Atheism is nothing more than another “denomination” proclaiming to the world that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      No, what I am saying is the Bible is such a convoluted. contradictory text that every sect can finds it “proofs” in the text. Actually, most atheists I know are agnostic on the God question. Sure would love it if Christians were a bit agnostic.

      Reply
  23. Gary

    Here is the reason that I am going to buy, read, and study Erhman’s book:

    The validity of Christianity rises and falls on one event: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians must be able to demonstrate to the world, beyond a reasonable doubt, that after three days of being dead, he came back to life, thereby proving his claim to be God.

    It doesn’t matter if the Patriarchs had camels. It doesn’t matter that the account of Judas’ suicide in Luke is different than in Acts. Why? Because if Christ came back from the dead, the Supernatural enters the story, and once you accept the Supernatural, anything is possible. (ie. God could have domesticated camels JUST for the Patriarchs use or he could have even brought them down from heaven. There is no limit to the possibilities. In creation, he could have created the earth in a mature state, in one day, making it appear to be old, but actually young, and on and on.)

    And if we can prove that Jesus is the Supreme Being, the Almighty Ruler of Heaven and Earth, “The Magic Man”, then the issue of whether he is an inconsistent, big, Meanie because of all the “terrible” things he did in the Old Testament are irrelevant. Why? If you are in the military, and your commander orders you to charge, and you refuse because you believe that he is a big “Meanie”, your strongly held convictions regarding your commander’s morality are not going to do you much good in front of the firing squad.

    Too many evangelicals look at Jesus as their warm, fuzzy, teddy bear or their therapist. He is neither. He is your Almighty King. Obey him or perish. Whether or not you love him or feel fuzzy inside about him is irrelevant.

    So I will search for evidence for the historicity of the Resurrection. I will read Erhman and I will read refutations against him. Then I will be baaaaaaack!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Ah, already setting yourself to be proved right.

      Ehrman deals with textual/historical issues. He spends very little time on whether something supernatural happened.

      You are getting quite preachy.

      Reply
      1. gary

        If Erhman can convince me that there is no evidence of the Resurrection, I will gladly admit I am wrong…and I will join your “club”. You may not believe me, but I really am willing to keep an open mind. I’m not determined to prove Christianity, I am determined to find the truth.

        My necessary requirement for denying the validity of Christianity will be this: a lack of credible eyewitness testimony to the Resurrection. Without this, Christianity has no more validity than Zeus and his gods on Mt. Olympus.

        I hope you will keep an open mind too, Bruce. You and I are both preaching a “Gospel”. I am trying to rescue evangelicals from the emotional and spiritual exhaustion of the Evangelical Theological Roller Coaster, by showing them the peace and beauty of apostolic, catholic Christianity found in orthodox Lutheranism. You are trying to rescue them from God.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          As I said, you are setting yourself up to keep believing what you believe. I find it interesting that you moved the goal post, and now the discussion is about about the resurrection. You might as well not buy the book.

          Please stop telling me what you think I am doing. I am not trying to convert anyone. I am one man with a story to tell. I have no orthodoxy I must defend and no hell to threaten others with.

          The problem, Gary, is that you think you have escaped the fundamentalist mindset of Evangelicalism, yet you are a part of a fundamentalist Lutheran sect, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Take, for example, the LCMS belief on the Bible, http://lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1081 . Not much different than what an Evangelical believes. Granted, there are many differences too…the LCMS gospel is antithetical to the Evangelical gospel.

          As far as an open mind, I know all I need to know about Christianity. I can’t think of anything that you could possibly tell me that would surprise me or be something I have never heard before. Am I closed minded? Nope. I am simply stating that I have a settled opinion about Christianity. Does this sound smug, arrogant? Perhaps, but it is what it is. I spent most of my life in the Christian church, studying the Bible. I know it frontwards and backwards. I can’t imagine there is anything I have not read or seen before in the Bible.

          So, if you are here to evangelize, you are wasting your time. I have already spent far more time answering you than I would most people of your persuasion. If you have not yet read the comment rules, please do so. http://brucegerencser.net/comment-rules/

          I think I have said all I can say, Gary. I wish you well.

          Bruce

          Reply
        2. sgl

          re: “My necessary requirement for denying the validity of Christianity will be this: a lack of credible eyewitness testimony to the Resurrection.”

          there’s far far less evidence that you’ve been led to believe. your talk of “11 eyewitnesses” that seemingly all suffered death rather than deny the resurrection shows you don’t really understand just how scantily clad the emperor is!

          also, as bruce notes, you’ve moved the goalposts multiple times in this tread. it all depended on genesis. no wait, it depends on life can’t just spontaneously happen and matter and energy have to come from somewhere. no, wait, what i really mean is, it depends on the resurrection….

          those of us who have watched and interacted with multiple christians have seen this behavior before. multiple times.

          Reply
    2. Matt Martin

      Raphael Lataster has written a neat little text in which he deals with Ehrman extensively. It’s called There was no Jesus, There is no God. Definitely worth a read.

      Reply
      1. gary

        Is Lataster critical of Ehrman or just expounding further on his position?

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          I have not read the book, but it looks like he is a mythicists, so he would take issue with Ehrman’s position that Jesus was a real person. Ehrman defended the existence of Jesus in his latest book, Did Jesus Exist. Here is a review I did for the publisher of the book: http://brucegerencser.net/2013/09/did-jesus-exist-a-book-review/

          Reply
          1. gary

            I just read your review. Wow! I definitely want to read that book, but you told me to read the others first, so that is what I will do.

            I think I now understand your position: You believe that Jesus really did exist, you just don’t believe that he was God, or that he rose from the dead.

            Ok, I hope you will still be willing to talk to me after I read all THREE books. They sound fascinating.

            BTW: orthodox Christians are not afraid to read non-biblical sources regarding our faith. That is why we often read the Early Church Fathers, and even the non-canonical epistles and “gospels”. Lutherans, specifically, believe that the Bible is the highest authority on Christian doctrine, but not the only authority. We think it is foolish to rely solely on one’s personal understanding of a passage. Imagine if we did that with other historical documents. We would believe that the writers of the US Bill of Rights believed that “ALL men are created equal”.

            You are going to convince many more orthodox to read Ehrman’s books than you will evangelicals.

        2. Matt Martin

          Lataster advances the Christ as myth hypothesis. He asserts that the synoptic gospels are not scrutinised by historians in the same way as other sources from antiquity because of the taboo that surrounds critiquing religious beliefs and that must change. He uses Bayesian methods to approach sources, eg separating the probable from the possible and so on.

          It’s certainly worth a read. I’m not a bible scholar or an antiquarian — it’s not my domain of expertise so to speak; I don’t yet hold a position on this either way.

          Reply
    3. Lynn123

      “Too many evangelicals look at Jesus as their warm, fuzzy, teddy bear or their therapist. He is neither. He is your Almighty King. Obey him or perish. Whether or not you love him or feel fuzzy inside about him is irrelevant.”

      So you disagree with the gazillion Christians who say it’s all about a relationship? You’d tell them if doesn’t matter if they love Jesus or not; that they only need worry that he’s gonna send them to hell? (What a nice guy he is!)

      “He is your Almighty King.” With that statement, you no longer sound like a man with an open mind. You sound deeply embedded in it all with very strong opinions re doctrine. You were only pretending to be open-minded. You were quite convincing for awhile there.

      Reply
  24. NeverAgainV

    Hey Gary,

    I’ll admit I have a bit of a soft spot for Lutherans because it was where I took my kids after we left the cult & before we left they had been in the Lutheran school for a few years. It was allowable to me because it was not Catholicism, which was considered evil by the cult we left…but not batshit crazy azz Baptists! LOL Over time though I did reject Christianity.

    I do appreciate the ELCA way more than the Missouri Synod, which seems to be the conservatives of the Lutheran church…though I have heard there are even more stricter sects of Lutherans. Maybe like the Baptists have their cult like sects?

    Thinking out loud, sorry for getting off topic.

    Carry on :)

    Reply
    1. gary

      As I said above, I am going to read all three of Ehrman’s books before I try to re-engage Bruce and other atheists on the issue of the existence of God and whether Jesus Christ was God. I just finished reading the introduction and have started the first chapter of MISQUOTING JESUS. It is very interesting and thought provoking. I was surprised to learn that Ehrman was another one of “us”: an ex-born again Fundie. Have any of you noticed that one particular branch of Christianity has a higher “drop out” rate to atheism?

      You are correct that the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS) is more conservative than the ELCA. However, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) broke fellowship with us in the 1960′s because we are too “moderate”. So I guess our “conservativeness” is relative.

      The LCMS does teach that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. However, I know that we do not have a problem stating that a scribe or translator messed up a particular text. I assume the big issue, as Ehrman is pointing out in the first chapter of MISQUOTING JESUS, is how can Christians prove that the ORIGINAL manuscripts were inerrant. Can we blame all the apparent contradictions in the Bible that we have today solely on the scribes and translators, and maintain that the originals were without contradiction/perfect/inerrant…when we do not HAVE the originals. I will have to study the LCMS position on this issue in more detail.

      I must again emphasize that for orthodox Christians, the historicity of the Resurrection is of much higher importance than the inerrancy of Scripture. If we can prove without a reasonable doubt that Jesus was DEAD, his mangled, blood-drained body was left in a sealed tomb for three days, and then was capable of rolling away a heavy stone, evade Roman guards, and walk through a closed, locked door and have dinner with his disciples, then the apparent errors in our current Bible can be written off to errors by the scribes and translators. But if we can’t prove the Resurrection, but can only offer up “faith” as our “evidence” of this supernatural event, then we are pissing into the wind, and Christianity is a waste of time, and any intelligent person should abandon it. That is the issue I am going to investigate by reading Ehrman.

      Lastly: fundamentalists and evangelicals are known for basing their faith on the Bible and its inerrancy. We orthodox, at least we orthodox Lutherans, base our faith on a risen, supernatural God. This is why we believe that he bodily, really and truly, comes to us every Sunday in the bread and wine of the Holy Sacrament.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        You said “We orthodox, at least we orthodox Lutherans, base our faith on a risen, supernatural God. This is why we believe that he bodily, really and truly, comes to us every Sunday in the bread and wine of the Holy Sacrament.”

        And these beliefs come from WHERE?

        It always comes back to the Bible. No Bible=No Christianity. (in any meaningful sense of the word)

        Reply
        1. ... Zoe ~

          Exactly.

          Reply
        2. Gary

          You are correct, Bruce, but unlike evangelicals, orthodox Lutherans (as do all orthodox Churches) would question the “literal” interpretation of a passage of Scripture whose “literal” meaning was never once mentioned in the writings of the Early Church Fathers.

          For instance the Rapture. Certain passages of Scripture certainly sound as if they support a sudden, secret taking up of living believers into the air to meet Christ, but there is zero evidence in the writings of not only the Early Church but of ANY ONE in the Church until the Plymouth Brethren in England preached this interpretation in the 1830′s (?).

          So to orthodox Christians, even to Lutherans who’s founder made famous the statement “sola Scriptura”, we would not accept the literal interpretation of a passage as “Gospel” unless it had support in the writings of the Church Fathers. When Luther and his followers proclaimed “Sola Scriptura” to the world in the 1500′s, they did not mean, “Toss out the writings of the ‘Catholic’ church fathers, we will only accept OUR current fifteenth century, western-European, UNDERSTANDING of the literal interpretation of the Bible as our sole authority for Christian doctrine.

          Again, to Luther and to orthodox Lutherans today, the Bible is the final authority, over and above Popes, Councils, Church Fathers, AND contemporary, individual interpretation. However, the literal interpretation often cannot be understood without cultural, literary, and social context…and we can primarily only obtain this context from contemporaneous writings.

          Again, I must emphasize the critical difference between orthodox Christians and evangelicals: the foundation of an evangelical Christian’s faith is the inerrancy of the Bible. This is because Jesus and how he agrees with THEIR doctrine of salvation can ONLY be found in the Bible. In my experience, the overwhelming majority of evangelicals will not allow an appeal to extra-biblical texts as having any authority in helping us to understand the meaning of a passage of Scripture. The Bible for these Christians is the ONLY authority to establish Christian doctrine, so therefore the ultimate authority on the meaning of Scripture is…the individual evangelical reading the text.

          Just to be clear, I and many other orthodox Lutherans, divide Christianity along these lines:

          1. Roman Catholic
          2. Eastern Orthodox
          3. orthodox Lutherans
          4. conservative Reformed (we include most Baptists and evangelicals in this group)
          5. Liberal Protestants (includes liberal Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc.)

          I have just finished chapter one of Misquoting Jesus. Very good reading, so far. Nothing too disturbing to my faith…yet. :)

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            No matter how you spin this…it all comes back to the Bible and someone saying THIS is what it means. Christianity is an evolving religion and as it changes interpretations change. There is no unchanging truth, as any survey of Christian church history shows. While confessions and historical interpretations are all well and good, the vast majority of the people in pew don’t care about these things. They go to church because of the social benefits they derive from being with a group of likeminded people. (pretty much like a social club, the VFW, the Elks, the Moose, etc)

      2. Lynn123

        You’re eating his actual body and drinking his actual blood every Sunday??

        Reply
  25. Gary

    Just finished the second chapter of Misquoting Jesus. A little more disturbing. If I were a fundamentalist who was honestly seeking the truth, I would be an atheist at this very moment this evening!

    Why? As a fundamentalist Christian, I was taught that every “jot and tittle” of the Bible is without error and that the KJV is the only inerrant Word of God in the English language. (God sent an angel to deliver the KJV directly into the hands of King James I). Well, maybe not that last part. :)

    There is no way after reading chapter two of Ehrman’s book that one can continue to believe that every word, let alone every jot and tittle, even in the “original Greek” as evangelicals refer to the Greek New Testament copies of copies of copies, is inerrant. If you started Ehrmans’ book with that belief system, he just shredded it into pieces.

    Good book. Now to chapter 3.

    Reply
  26. gary

    Just finished chapter 3. Wow! If I were still a KJV-only fundamentalist, I would be changing my undies right now, because I have just soiled them. 200,000-400,000 variations in the NT texts!! And the story about how Erasmus rushed his Greek New Testament to publication just to beat his competition in Spain, is mind-blowing! And it is this sloppily prepared Greek New Testament, obtained from just a few late Greek texts that serves as the blueprint of the HOLY of HOLIES of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity: the King James Version of the Bible!

    I didn’t know any of this. I’m sure most Christians don’t know any of this, and I will bet that NONE or almost none of the pastors in fundamentalist Christian churches know any of this.

    They would only teach that stuff in “apostate, liberal” seminaries. No upstanding BBF pastor in my day in fundamentalism would ever stoop so low in sin as to even CONSIDER attending one of those dens of liberal heresy.

    I’ll be honest; I’m a little rattled. If you are a Christian reading this, however—don’t panic. I’m not ready to abandon ship, yet.

    Holy cow!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Most college/seminary trained Evangelical pastors know these things. The argument is not over the evidence; it is over the interpretation of that evidence. Those trained in far-right Baptist Fundamentalist colleges may not have been taught these things.

      Reply
  27. Gary

    I went to church today, as usual.

    As I was enjoying the beauty and comfort of the High-Church, liturgical, orthodox Lutheran worship service, whose well-worn rhythm is like that old, comfortable blanket that you love so much to wrap yourself in, the thought crossed my mind: What if those Ex-Christian atheists are right? What if all that I believe is just a 2,000 year old myth? What if all these nice, kind, generous, overwhelmingly non-judgmental people sitting in the pews are simply ignorant fools believing that a dead first century Jew was God.

    If true, I will never again see my deceased mother, grandparents, nephew, or friends. I’m 52. If this is all there is, I only have thirty or so, at the most, years to experience life. When death comes there will be no comfort, no peace, only the fear of the unknown. How sad.

    So do I really want to continue this investigation into the existence or non-existence of God, or should I just stop and stick my head in the sand, and cry out, “It’s all based on faith” and ignore the evidence?

    I have to know. I will continue my reading.

    Reply
    1. Aram McLean

      I would suggest that fear of the unknown only exists before death. Also the fear of pain. Once you’re dead, how can there be fear? I don’t look at death as a part of life. Rather it is simply the other. Much like how scared you felt before you were born. (Remember that? ;)
      On the flip side, thinking on the tiny chance there is more (regardless of which ‘faith’ you follow in this life), it’s not fear of the unknown that fills me but rather anticipation.
      Yes, it’s unlikely there is more. But still exciting to know that one day we will enter the undiscovered country and know (or not know anything as the case may be) the truth!
      Though I admit, I would prefer another 50 years yet :)
      PS I agree that accepting you will probably never see your loved ones again is a tough thing. I’ve lost a few friends. But the way I see it is they live on in us. And hey, IF (that tiny tiny if) there’s more, then it truly won’t matter what you believed before you died. This is life, love it, live it, tell your loved ones you love them every day. Grab every minute with everything you have. Forget the superstition. Live the cliche. It’s the only thing that’s real.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Who are you trying to convince, Gary?

      It has never been all or nothing. The question is whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant belief and worship. I contend it is not. Did Jesus exist? Probably. Did the Christian religion exist? Sure. Was Jesus virgin born, work miracles, and resurrect from the dead? Unlikely, bases on the extant evidence. And to believe otherwise requires faith.

      You are attempting to reduce Christianity down to whether the resurrection happened. Nothing else matters, according to you. ( though you seem to spend a lot of time talking about the things that don’t matter) Your evidence for the resurrection is primarily the Bible, yet you have no problem jettisoning, minimizing, or explaining away other passages of the Bible. If the authority and correctness of other passages of Scripture can be questioned, why not the passages about the resurrection? If none of the resurrection narratives match the other, why should we trust that they are a historical, accurate report of what happened?

      Religion has great value even if it is untrue. It gives people a sense of community and connection. Humans crave human connection and will turn these connections into tribes that have common beliefs. This is why some atheists go to atheist churches. They miss the community they had when going to church. For me? I have six kids, nine grandchildren, and a blog read by thousands. They are my community.

      Yes, it is true, atheism can be cold and sterile. How can it not be. This is why most atheists are also humanists. It is our humanistic beliefs that guide our morals, ethics, and politics. Yes, we will not see again those who die. That is the cold reality of life. This is why life must be lived to its fullest. We will all die. If you live to be 70, you have 18 years left. 80? 28 years left. Any way you look at it, most of your life is in the rearview mirror. I will soon be 57 years old. I am in poor health and it is likely I will be dead in less than ten years. Do I want to spend the rest of my hoping there is an afterlife? Nope. I want to enjoy what life I have left.

      Reply
      1. Aram McLean

        Don’t say such things Bruce. We need you around for at least another twenty years, minimum!
        Feel them hugs!

        Reply
    3. sgl

      re: “…all these nice, kind, generous, overwhelmingly non-judgmental people sitting in the pews are simply ignorant fools …”

      if your characterization of all these people in your church was true, and also representative of the majority of christians, there would be no reason to have this conversation! and bruce’s blog wouldn’t exist! and a huge number of very divisive issues in american politics would already be solved!

      don’t you think denise, whose vitriol initiated this thread, is viewed by her fellow pew warmers as “nice, kind, generous”? after all, she likely is to the people that agree with her. it’s only when people disagree with her that she shows zero spiritual humility, and thinks that she alone has the TRUTH.

      if all bruce’s former friends had remained friends, realizing that various people have different beliefs, and that he was still “nice, kind, and generous” and therefore worthy of remaining friends with, then he likely would have never started this blog to begin with!

      re: “non-judgmental”
      ha! there was a survey done of you people’s views of christianity by the barna group, and the book “unchristian” was written about the results and what to do about them. haven’t read the book, but one of the reviews summarizes the results rather concisely:

      ———-
      http://www.amazon.com/review/R8YIGA2YV38S5/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0801072719&nodeID=283155&store=books

      In his book The Heart of Christianity (2003) Marcus Borg of Oregon State University describes how his university students have a uniformly negative image of Christianity. “When I ask them to write a short essay on their impression of Christianity,” says Borg, “they consistently use five adjectives: Christians are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted.”

      [....]

      According to Kinnaman’s Barna study, here are the percentages of people outside the church who think that the following words describe present-day Christianity:

      * antihomosexual 91%
      * judgmental 87%
      * hypocritical 85%
      * old-fashioned 78%
      * too political 75%
      * out of touch with reality 72%
      * insensitive to others 70%
      * boring 68%

      It would be hard to overestimate, says Kinnaman, “how firmly people reject– and feel rejected by– Christians” (19). Or think about it this way, he suggests: “When you introduce yourself as a Christian to a friend, neighbor, or business associate who is an outsider, you might as well have it tattooed on your arm: antihomosexual, gay-hater, homophobic. I doubt you think of yourself in these terms, but that’s what outsiders think of you” (93).

      ———-

      Reply
    4. Lynn123

      I have a sneaky feeling we’re getting our leg pulled here. I could be wrong.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        You can check out Gary’s blog http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/

        He seems quite Fundamentalist at times, quite questioning other times. I am not sure what to make of it…has certainly made for an interesting comment thread.

        Reply
  28. gary

    Just to give evidence to Bruce and others that I am seriously investigating your position, I am asking some tough questions about Ehrman’s books on an orthodox Lutheran website, whose posts are primarily from orthodox Lutheran pastors. I want to see how they respond to Ehrman’s assertions. Although I state that I am discussing these issues with “atheist friends” I do not mention Bruce by name or the name of his blog, as I do not want Bruce to think that I am trying to flood his blog with atheist-hating Lutherans. But hopefully you will see that I do take you and Ehrman’s beliefs and assertions seriously and that I am genuinely seeking the truth. Here is the site:

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=35128&cpage=1#comment-854481

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I left the following comment:
      @Jim Pierce #27

      Well I am the atheist in question. I was a Christian for 50 years and a pastor for 25 of those years. I doubt I need to continue struggling with the gospels. Been there, done that. :)

      Gary misrepresented my view,but I see he corrected himself. Gary originally came to my blog to defend his version of Christianity against Evangelicalism. (The primary focus of my writing) I think he didn’t expect to run into a person who is quite conversant in theology, yet an atheist.

      I am not trying to disabuse Gary of his faith. As I shared with him earlier, I think religion has great value, even if it is untrue. Humans desire human connection and community and religion provides this. My goal is not to evangelize for atheism. I tell my story and I try to use my long experience with Evangelicalism to encourage people to question their beliefs. I do think, in general, Evangelicalism is mentally and emotionally harmful and intellectually lacking. I encourage people to seek out expressions of Christianity that are affirming emotionally and intellectually challenging. Since I think Missouri synod and Wisconsin synod churches are quite fundamentalist, I would never recommend someone go to such churches. (And yes I have attended a variety of Lutheran churches)

      I am somewhat disappointed that Abby so easily dismissed Ehrman’s scholarship based on his past. She seems to give him very little credit for growing beyond his days at Moody. He is a widely recognized scholar and few people question the issues and evidence he raises in his books. The disagreement comes when people interpret the evidence.

      Gary desperately wants to find evidence for the resurrection from extra-biblical sources. I told him, as you have, there is none. Either you believe or you don’t. I don’t. Gary points to the 500 witnesses and the testimony of the apostles. I point to the fact that something like a dead man coming back to life and countless dead people coming back to life after the resurrection would have been written about. Yet, we have no record outside of the Bible. Either you believe or you don’t. This is the essence of faith.

      Gary’s faith is important to him; by all means he should hang on to it. As I told him, atheism is a cold, sterile belief and this is why most atheists are humanists. It is humanism that gives us a moral, ethical, and political framework to live our lives.

      I want to correct one error that seems to permeate this discussion. On the god question, many atheists, including Richard Dawkins, are agnostics. I explain it this way. I live my life as an atheist because I see no evidence a god exists. But, I also know it is impossible to state with certainty no god exists, so I am an agnostic. Is it possible a god of some sort exists? Sure. Is it probable? No. When it comes to Christianity, I have weighed it in the balances and found it wanting. Who knows…maybe a deity will reveal itself to us some day. Until then, I remain unconvinced.

      I have no desire to enter the discussion here. I just wanted to clear a few things up. Gary seems to think I am emotionally vulnerable and didn’t want to mention my name. It really is ok. I am a big boy. :) for six years, the Evangelicals have been hammering me. I think I can handle a few Lutherans. :)

      Reply
      1. NeverAgainV

        “:) for six years, the Evangelicals have been hammering me. I think I can handle a few Lutherans. :)”

        That is great Bruce! LOL!!!

        Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I left another comment to Abby, answering a question she had. Again, I have no desire to get sucked into another discussion, It is all I can do to handle this site. I said to Abby:

      @Abby #42

      Textual and historical information are what ultimately led me to deconvert. While there are many factors that play a part in my deconversion, at the end of the day, I no longer believe the claims Christians make for the Bible and I no longer believe the central claims of Christianity.

      I hope you will rethink your dismissiveness of Ehrman. If a Lutheran scholar had his credentials you would not dismiss him out of hand. Yet, because you don’t like Ehrman’s back story, you dismiss him. Surely you can see that this is not intellectually fair. After all, according to some Christians, all truth is God’s truth?

      BTW, your approach in your previous comment is quite similar to the approach Evangelicals use. The atheist disbelieves for some other reason than what he claims. It should come as no surprise then that atheists like me, have little time for Christians. If they can’t at least let us control our own storyline and accept our story at face value, instead of straining it through a peculiar religious seive, there is little to talk about.

      For those interested in the discussion you can find it http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=35128

      Reply
  29. Gary

    Just finished chapter six of MISQUOTING JESUS. Again…very, very interesting. This chapter shows how scribes who were hand copying the Scriptures, made some very significant changes in the text of several passages of the Gospels, especially in Luke and Mark, most probably to counter the teachings of the “heretics” of the day: the Ebionites, then the Docitists, then the Gnostics.

    Again, I think this information is disturbing to any Christian, but only earth-shattering to a fundamentalist. None of these alterations of the original text undo any of the major doctrines of the traditional Christian Faith; doctrine shared not only by us orthodox but also doctrines we hold in common with the evangelicals and even the fundamentalist evangelicals. It will take more than alterations to shake my faith…but I am only at chapter SEVEN…so I can’t say anything definitive at this point.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Gary,

      Please stop being condescending. I read your comment on the Lutheran blog. You said:

      “God can soften the heart of even the most embittered, hard-hearted sinner.

      I ask every believer reading this blog post, to stop for a moment, and pray for Bruce. I was in exactly the same place as he years ago, and it sounds like Jim Pierce was also at that same place: giving up on God. But God brought Jim and I both back from the brink of unbelief. He can do the same with Bruce. Please pray for this fallen brother!”

      I have granted you unprecedented latitude and freedom on this blog. Your comment clearly shows you haven’t heard one word I have said. Since this is the case, there is no need for you to comment further. The fact that you know my story and yet you can say that you were in the same place that I was, that I have given up on God, and that I stand in need of prayer, shows you are not listening to what I have to say. Your agenda seems very clear to me.

      So Go with God, but please go.

      Bruce

      Reply
      1. Gary

        Dear Bruce,

        You have asked me to make no such comments on YOUR blog, and I have complied with your rules. I ask for you to please show me patience as I genuinely try to understand the atheist position while avoiding offending you.

        The reason I left the comment above on the Lutheran blog is because a judgmental fundamentalist Lutheran had just made some disparaging remarks about you as an atheist. I wanted to nip it in the bud, and express my belief in the importance of compassion, over and above bringing down the hammer of “the Law”.

        I would very much appreciate if you would let me stay for the sole purpose of commenting on Ehrman’s books which you advised me to read prior to interacting with you on the topic of the existence or non-existence of God. I would like to make sure that I understand Ehrman’s positions; positions that you and your readers seem to relate so strongly with.

        I promise, no further comments about my faith or your faith.

        I just finished MISQUOTING JESUS. Excellent book. I would recommend it to every person interested in understanding Christianity. If his evidence is correct, which I am strongly inclined to believe, it is impossible to believe that when God said he would preserve his “Word” that he meant every word that he “dictated” to the authors of the NT. He either meant that he would preserve his “message” in the verbal tradition that existed at that time, or it is all a lie.

        I want to read Ehrman’s “Q & A” at the end of the book. it looks interesting, then I will start on the next book you recommended, Bruce. Have a good night!

        If you choose not to publish any more of my comments, I truly wish you the best!

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Ok, as long as you know where I am coming from on this.

          Reply
      2. John Arthur

        Hi Bruce,

        Did you notice comment 21 by Gary on the same post at Steadfast Lutherans? He makes it pretty clear that his purpose of feigning genuine dialogue is to preach the gospel to you. After talking about his reading of Bart Ehrman, he says

        “I am fully that I will never argue an atheist into believing in Christ. That is the Holy Spirit’s realm alone. However, I wanted to understand them, and preach the Gospel to them.”

        He can’t seem to really accept people where they are at and he doesn’t seem to really understand the real primary reason that you have become an atheist. He’s out to preach to all the atheists that visit your blog, and he really isn’t interested in your viewpoint or Ehrman’s.

        Shalom,
        John Arthur

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          He asked for a little more rope so I gave it to him. :) we will see what he does with it. Gary should understand that more important than God, the Holy Spirit, and the gospel is how Christians engage me and others on this blog. Integrity and honesty matters. Saying one thing here and another thing on the Lutheran site will only cause we atheists to look poorly on Gary’s God. If Gary wants to “understand” I am quite willing to help him to do so. But, if the real goal is to evangelize then he is going to be sorely disappointed. Most of us are more than a match for his Holy Spirit. :)

          Reply
  30. Abby

    Video by John Lennox, Mathematics Professor at Oxford University. “Seven Days that Divide the World.”

    If anyone gets all the way through it, I’d like to hear what you think.

    http://vimeo.com/60014422

    Reply
  31. DagoodS

    Wow. I’m….genuinely touched my blog was mentioned. More than once.

    Reply
    1. ... Zoe ~

      And Gary has visited your blog DagoodS but I think he mistakenly referred to you as Vinny.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      You are respected and loved by some of us. The rest just haven’t met you yet. :)

      Reply
  32. rickray1

    Goodness me, and gravy to go with it ! Bruce, I just rediscovered your blog and I’m so happy to see you giving your all once again. I thought I died and went to Hea…..you know what I mean!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Good to see your name in the comments Rick!

      Reply
  33. gary

    I finished the Q & A at the end of MISQUOTING JESUS and have started the first chapter of JESUS INTERRUPTED. It seems that Bart Ehrman left Evangelical Christianity due to the conflict he discovered between: the concept of inerrancy that he had learned in evangelical Christian churches, and the glaring, overwhelming evidence against this position in his studies of New Testament Textual Criticism at Princeton.

    One issue I’m wondering is this: When an evangelical talks about the inerrancy of the “Bible” and an orthodox Lutheran talks about the inerrancy of “Holy Scriptures”, are we really talking about the same thing? I am not sure we are. I am investigating this issue with other orthodox Lutherans on the Lutheran blog mentioned above.

    Is it possible that what evangelicals define as “inerrancy” is a new concept, never postulated by the Church Catholic, which we orthodox Lutherans consider ourselves a part of, but an invention of the evangelical branch of Christianity in just the last few hundred years?

    Is it fair to judge the “inerrancy” of Holy Scriptures by a definition that over 90% of historic catholic Christianity has NEVER used?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Sometimes the argument is a distinction without a difference.

      I would frame the discussion this way, what do you consider authoritative? To what degree is it authoritative? How do you determine what is authoritative and what is not? Is the Text of the Bible inspired? In what way is it inspired?

      Often non-Evangelicals, liberal Christians dismiss Evangelicals because they believe all the Bible is inerrant. However, when I poke a bit, I find that every Christian believes in some sort of inerrancy. i.e. Is what the Bible says about Jesus true?

      Bruce

      Reply
      1. gary

        I agree with your statement that all Christians believe in the inerrancy of Scripture to some extent. Liberals hate that word, but if you ask them if they believe Jesus rose again, I would bet that most of them would say yes, even if they believe it was in a spiritual sense only.

        My questions to the orthodox Lutherans on this issue is causing a bit of a stir. I do not now believe that every word in my English language Bible or even in the surviving Greek manuscripts is the very Word of God. With all the very blatant scribe alterations that position is impossible, unless one sticks his head in the sand and just appeals to “faith”.

        I believe that when God said he would preserve his Word, he meant that he would preserve his essential message to mankind: the message of salvation through Jesus Christ and the core doctrines of the Christian Faith: all the doctrines stated in the Three Great Creeds. I believe that this has always been the position of the Church Catholic. If the LCMS has adopted a stricter definition of “inerrancy” that whitewashes over all the thousands of scribe alterations in the Greek copies, of copies, of copies, of copies, etc. of the original, now nonexistent, manuscripts, then I believe that they have given in to the social pressures of their surrounding Reformed and evangelical American Christian neighbors. I will have to investigate this issue more within my Church.

        I have not yet been convinced that God’s Word, his message to mankind, is errant, but by your recommendation to read Ehrman, I have now, definitely, fully abandoned any remaining belief I had in the inerrancy of every passage in my printed Bible. It is flat out impossible to believe this without ignoring the evidence.

        I will comment again when I get further along in Ehrman’s JESUS, INTERRUPTED.

        Reply
  34. Gary

    I just left the comment below on the orthodox Lutheran website. After listening to both sides, I really do think that what triggered Bart Ehrman’s and DaGoodS’s exit from Christianity was the issue of “inerrancy”. Ehrman says that “inerrancy” caused him to leave Evangelicalism. He then went to liberal Christianity and eventually left Christianity all together because of all the cruelty in the world, and in Bible, that to him conflicted with the concept of a loving Jesus.

    I think if you look closely you find that both Ehrman and DaGoodS experienced a complete melt down of their fundamentalist evangelical worldview when they found apparent/real contradictions in the Bible and discovered that there had been thousands of alterations to the texts over the first 1,500 years of Christianity.

    I include a link in my comment to an article by an orthodox Lutheran theologian who refutes Ehrman. Bottom line: catholic/orthodox Christianity has never defined “inerrancy” as it relates to Holy Scripture as evangelicals have so strictly defined it. Essentially, the Bible sitting on one’s nightstand is NOT inerrant in that you can open it up, and whatever page you land on you can believe that God said every one of the words on that page. We orthodox define inerrancy as this: the MESSAGE of God, the core teachings and doctrines of the Faith, present IN the printed word is what is inerrant. After finishing MISQUOTING JESUS, and being astounded by the number of alterations make by scribes, NONE of them change the MESSAGE. These alterations simply demonstrate that the printed text is fallible because it is written by fallible humans.

    I do have one criticism of the Lutheran theologian who refutes Ehrman’s statements. This Lutheran seems to think that Erhman is “gleefully” determined to destroy Christianity at all costs. Baloney! I think that Ehrman entered Princeton ready to set the “liberal academics” straight with the “truths” of evangelical Christianity, but came out of seminary with his world view and Christian beliefs in tatters. I think that Ehrman is genuinely seeking the truth. His worldview exploded and he lost his faith. I don’t think that he has any malevolent motives.

    Here is my comment:

    I went online and found a very helpful article from a WELS theologian. It is written in layman’s terms so much easier to read and understand than that of Dr. Preus. Here is the link:

    http://www.wels.net/sites/wels/files/Translations%20and%20the%20Text%20of%20the%20Greek%20New%20Testament.pdf

    After reading this article I am VERY happily reassured of the orthodox Lutheran position on the issue of “inerrancy”. We orthodox Lutherans believe that the original manuscripts were inerrant (yes, based on faith in the reliability of the promises of a historically verifiable risen Christ) and that God’s MESSAGE to mankind, is present and preserved in the existing Greek manuscripts and in our English language Bibles. This is a VERY different definition than what I understood “inerrancy” to mean as a fundamentalist Baptist.

    I was taught as a Christian fundamentalist that if I picked up my KJV Bible, I could trust that every word in it had been spoken by God. However, it was interesting that they would teach this as an absolute, unquestioned fact, but when confronted with the many “baptism passages” that in their plain, simple interpretation indicate that God saves and forgives sins in Baptism, then the KJV was no longer inerrant: Anglican translators had deliberately avoided translating “baptizo” as “immersion” to perpetuate the “catholic” view of baptism and the Greek word “eis” in Acts 2:38 and in the accounts in the Gospels where this word is used to state that John’s baptism was “for” repentance, were mistranslated. The translators should have translated “eis” as “because of”.

    So in reality, even the fundamentalist evangelicals never believed that any of our English translations, including the KJV, of the Bible are inerrant. What they really believed was inerrant, however, were the existing Greek manuscripts. It was unthinkable to them that God would allow the scribes who copied the Bible, prior to the printing press, to alter his very words. The study of New Testament Textual Criticism leaves this concept of “inerrant” in tatters. The thousands of scribes who copied the Bible during the 1,500 years of Christianity prior to the printing press, were NOT inspired by God to correctly copy every letter, word, sentence, and paragraph EXACTLY as God had said it. They made errors. They made a lot of errors. THOUSANDS of them. However, the vast majority of these alterations by scribes were spelling errors or other insignificant changes. Bottom line: the MESSAGE, the truths of God, the core beliefs of Christianity are NOT affected by these human errors! Thanks be to God!

    The English language Bible lying on your nightstand is NOT inerrant, in the sense that every word printed between the first chapter of Genesis and the last chapter of Revelations are the very words of God. BUT…the message of God, contained IN those words, is inerrant!

    Bart Ehrman is correct when he says that the BIBLE contains errors, however, he has never proven that the WORD OF GOD is errant, and that is the critical issue that must be pointed out: Ehrman’s and fundamentalists’ definition of “inerrancy” is a recent invention; it has never been the definition used by the overwhelming majority of Christians now or for the last 2,000 years.

    (Bruce and readers: So summarizing the above statement, I don’t think the scribe errors and apparent/real contradictions in the Bible nullify the Christian Faith; but I have not finished reading Ehrman, so I will comment again, once I have done so.)

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Where is or what is the WORD OF GOD, Gary? Where can I find this WORD OF GOD? Sooner or later you must come back to the Bible itself, because, as you are learning there is no witness to the essence of the gospel message outside of the Bible. You are trying to play a shell game in hopes of escaping the fact that the written record of the WORD OF GOD (which I assume you think is Jesus) gives contradictory stories about Jesus.

      You speak of the MESSAGE, the TRUTHS of GOD bring inerrant. Again what message, which truth? Is the Lutheran communion practice, its ecclesiology, the TRUTHS OF GOD? Is the writings of Paul the TRUTHS OF GOD? All of them, some of them?

      I find it interesting that many modern Christians desperately want to distance themselves from vast portions of the Bible, yet they want to hang on to the Jesus parts, the parts that guarantee them eternal life in heaven. What hermeneutic do you use to determine this? Why is the story of Jesus more important than say, Genesis 1-3, the creation stories? Doesn’t the story of Jesus depend on Genesis 1-3 since it establishes how sin came into the world and why Jesus has to come to earth to die.

      As far as the inerrant in the originals argument. It is a specious argument that can not be proved. Since we do not have the originals, it is impossible to tell whether the extant manuscripts are an accurate reflection of these original texts.

      Let me be clear, I think it is impossible to decouple Christianity from the Bible and still have a meaningful expression of Christianity. You might have some sort of spiritualism, but you will not have historic Christianity. I would also ask you to consider, since you are fond of the church fathers, why did the church fathers spend so much time exegeting the Biblical text?

      I also think you do a huge disservice to DagoodS and Bart Ehrman when you reduce their views to their rejection of inerrancy. Their journeys are far more complex than that. Did it play a part? Sure, but there are plenty of Evangelicals who don’t think the Bible is inerrant, yet they are still an Evangelical. Why did they ultimately deconvert?

      I suspect you would say the central message of Christianity is the divinity of Jesus and his death and resurrection? It is these truths that DagoodS, Ehrman, and myself reject. Inerrancy plays no part in our rejection of these beliefs. Speaking for myself, I don’t think there is a God, so Jesus could not have been God. Since all dead people stay dead, Jesus did not resurrect from the dead. This brings us right back to the fact that believing the central message of Christianity requires faith, a faith the atheist/agnostic/non-Christian does not have.

      Bruce

      Reply
      1. gary

        You make very good points, Bruce.

        You are very right, there is no way to prove that the original manuscripts were inerrant or inspired. I want to finish reading Ehrman. He is a fascinating writer and I have already learned tons that I did not know before. I am not yet ready to base the validity of Christianity solely on my faith. I want to investigate the historicity of Jesus, the resurrection, and his apostles.

        If all I run into is, “you have to accept everything by faith” my belief system is on shaky ground. Some Christians may have faith simply because they believe that God gives faith, so they accept the Bible, on faith, as true. That isn’t good enough for me.

        I want some tangible proof of the resurrection. What my criteria is for this proof I am not yet sure of. I need to do some more study and finish the Ehrman books.

        Just to be clear, what I said was that inerrancy was the trigger towards their unbelief, not the only cause. If Ehrman and DaGoodS had had a catholic/orthodox definition of “inerrancy” to begin with, would they have still deconverted? Possibly, but possibly not.

        Also, I do believe in a literal, six, twenty-four hour day Creation and in the historicity of the Bible, but only because I believe in a Supernatural Being who is not bound by humans rules of history, etc. However, I still demand at least some proof of the existence of this Supernatural Being, I am not willing to just accept this “by faith”. I want at least some circumstantial evidence to verify the Resurrection for me to believe.

        Christians following my discussions on this issue have suggested that I read HISTORY AND CHRISTIANITY by John W. Montgomery. Have you heard of it or read it?

        Reply
        1. sgl

          gary,
          i skimmed my copy of “jesus interrupted” last night, as it’s been awhile. i think “jesus interrupted” will give you a few more challenges on the notion that the “message” survived intact despite the errors in text.

          re: Erhman deconversion
          i agree with bruce that you’re seeing what you want to see, not what he actually says. erhman went from fundamentalist to liberal, and was a liberal christian for 15 years before deconverting, and not for reasons of innerrancy

          Reply
          1. gary

            I thought I said as much: Ehrman left Evangelicalism due to inerrancy; he left Christianity years later for other reasons, primarily the existence of Evil.

            Could you explain why you feel the “message” did not survive intact from reading MISQUOTING JESUS? Even if you remove the last portion of Mark 16, and I John 5:7, does this completely destroy the doctrine of believing and being baptized to be saved, or the doctrine of the Trinity? I don’t think so.

            I think these passages were “doctored” to support these orthodox Christian doctrines, but removing them from the Bible doesn’t change anything that I see.

          2. sgl

            re: “Could you explain why you feel the “message” did not survive intact from reading MISQUOTING JESUS?”

            you mentioned the incorrect book. i mean that the book you just started reading (jesus interrupted) will give you more challenges than the book that you just finished reading (misquoting jesus).

            eg, of the 4 gospels, only 1, john, says that jesus was god. the others say he was the son of man or the son of god, but not god. and john was the last gospel written.

            also, all 4 gospels were written in greek by rather literate educated people, so not the illiterate galilee disciples that spoke aramaic. erhman does a much better job laying this out, but it’s one example (of many) of the difficulties with thinking that the message itself came thru without error. hence the ongoing arguments over how you’re saved, among other doctrine and dogma.

            best to continue reading erhman, because he lays it out in detail (as you’ve seen from the first book of his you read), and you can pause and think thru what he says. ie, my 2 paragraphs are a whole chapter in his book, and that’s in the middle of the book with a buildup of other issues before it. (and other issues after it.) so, carry on…

        2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          I have heard of Montgomery but I have not read this book.

          Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I went and read what these Lutheran’s are saying, and they are most certainly arguing for an inerrant text. They are play a word game, a game of semantics. There is very little difference between the Evangelical position and that of the Lutherans on the website you referenced. Even the official synod statements about the Bible are quite Evangelical.

      Reply
  35. Gary

    A humorous side note:

    The realization that scribes have altered the text of the NT has been known among scholars for many, many centuries, even in Jerome’s day. Check out this statement by Martin Luther regarding the “Coma Johanneum”, the alteration by a scribe of of I John 5:7–

    “I and others believe that it …(was) added by some IGNORAMUS.”

    Reply
  36. Ken

    Gary you might want to read a short book on the Resurrection by Geza Vermes who was one of

    Reply
    1. gary

      Have you read it?

      I just did a search on it and some of the reviews aren’t that good. Supposedly the author is a brilliant scholar but critics say he “dumbed-down” this book for the general public to the point it really doesn’t say anything.

      Reply
      1. kcchief1

        Yes, I have read it several times along with another of his books The Nativity.

        OK, what’s wrong with making the book easy enough for the public to read ? You may be a scholar but I am not. :-)

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          I think the brilliance of a man like Bart Ehrman is his ability to take complex, contentious, often contradictory issues and make them accessible to those who lack a seminary/college education. While I can wade through the tomes that Bible scholars love to write, I appreciate books that make what is in the tome accessible. The tomes are read by about 10 people, 9 of which are the scholar’s friends. the one other reader is his mother. :) BY writing at a popular/accessible level, it widens the audience and allows those lacking the necessary education to understand the issues. If they are so inclined, THEN they can go read the scholar’s tome. It took me a long time to understand this. I loved reading Turretin or one of the many long-worded Puritan authors, shouldn’t everyone love to read them? I had to learn that I was paid to read and study, so I could afford the time to read long, deep, complex books. The average Joe? They had a real job. :)

          Reply
        2. gary

          No, I’m not a scholar, but I want real details, not just a discussion of probabilities and possibilities. I will read more reviews about Vermes book. Maybe the critics are wrong.

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            You are setting yourself up to be disappointed. You are looking for evidence that does not exist. We have no original manuscripts, Jesus never wrote one word (could he even write) , and all we have are copies of copies of copies, most of which are fragments or partial books, copied centuries after the fact. This is why, as I keep telling you, believing requires faith. Either you believe or you don’t. People who “want” to believe will have the requisite faith and they will believe. Those of us who do not have faith will look at the texts, history, etc and come to our various conclusions, but we will not believe.

      2. kcchief1

        Yes he was a brilliant scholar. Unfortunately he passed away last year. You won’t find many good “christian reviews ” of his works because he left his position with the Catholic Church some years ago and reclaimed his Jewishness until his death.

        He also concludes that a physical resurrection is not likely “historical”

        Reply
      3. kcchief1

        I doubt that Gary went to a neutral site like amazon,com to read the reviews on this book. :-)

        Reply
  37. John Arthur

    Hi Gary,

    Evangelical scholars on theology and of the bible, in leading Evangelical seminaries in the USA and leading theological colleges in Australia and Great Britain, believe the data that Bart Ehrman presents regarding textual variations, but don’t accept Ehrman’s overall position. They accept the view that it is the bible’s message that is inerrant and this is its message in the now missing original manuscripts. Many say that the original Mss are verbally inspired, though other Evangelical scholars at these leading institutions talk about it being infallible in matters of faith and practice and not in every detail So how is this different from Missouri Synod Lutherans?

    You need to look at whether there are contradictions between different parts of the bible, where there are no variant readings in the extant Mss (and Ehrman and others believe that there are). If you examine passages in their immediate and broader contexts and make use of literary, historical, sociological, rhetorical, form, reader-response and other forms of biblical criticism (where these are relevant to particular passages that you are examining), and you come across ‘apparent’ contradictions you need to look at whether these are only apparent or whether they are real.

    I see Bruce is going to deal with posts relating to contradictions in the bible and he has commenced his first post on this. I am sure that you would agree that if there are actual contradictions in the bible, it would make it extremely difficult to hold to the Missouri Synod view of the bible.

    Shalom,
    John Arthur

    Reply
    1. gary

      Hi John,

      I am sure that evangelical colleges and seminaries today, such as Talbot and maybe Biola, teach textual criticism, but I seriously doubt that Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri did so in the 1960′s and ’70′s when my fundamentalist Baptist pastor (my father!) went to Bible college. I will bet that such a critical approach to the Bible would have been seen as godless liberalism.

      I will post a more succinct statement below on the orthodox Lutheran position on Inerrancy. Tell me if you still think that the LCMS and evangelical position is the same. I agree with Bruce however, it still all boils down to having faith that the original manuscripts were inspired. That said, I still say that if there is enough evidence to support the Resurrection, then faith in inspiration and inerrancy of the original manuscripts is reasonable. It may come down to exactly how strong of proof each person demands to believe it actually happened.

      I obviously need to continue reading Ehrman to get a better understanding of your position.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Perhaps you can show us the significant differences between the standard Evangelical belief on inerrancy and the belief of the Missouri/Wisconsin synod?

        Here is a link to the Evangelical Chicago statement on Biblical inerrancy http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html Please note Robert Preus signed this statement.

        Reply
  38. DagoodS

    Zoe, I’ve been commenting over at Gary’s blog.

    Bruce Gerencser, I am amused I asked Gary the same questions as to how one determines “the WORD OF GOD” as you did. Apparently apostates think alike! *grin*

    Gary, I would clarify for readers, on the one hand, I agree with you inerrancy was the “trigger” leading me to my exit from Christianity. Historicity was the bullet, methodology the hammer, inconsistency from apologists the rifling, incoherence the spring, science the clip, languages the slide, poor Christian arguments the barrel….the list goes on. It takes more than a “trigger” to fire the bullet, you know.

    On the other hand, I would disagree loss of inerrancy caused “a complete melt down of [my] fundamentalist evangelical worldview…” It was methodology, methodology, methodology.

    Like discovering running causes one to burn calories, only to later discover it is all kinds of exercise (not just running) causing one to burn calories. Once the methodology appropriately applied to inerrancy generated results, the same method applied to other Christian claims eventually caused the “meltdown” of my fundamentalist evangelical worldview.

    It is the reason I keep asking (as does Bruce Gerencser) about methodology. It is too important to ignore.

    Reply
  39. John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    You and your readers might like to know that Gary is writing posts relating to his reading of Bart Ehrman’s works and it seems that his aim is to refute Ehrman.

    He is seeking to understand why people become agnostics/atheists so that he can preach the Gospel to you. He reiterated this last sentiment in his post on Ehrman at http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2014/02/the-historical-method-of.html.
    In his second post he looks at whether Jesus was really born in Bethlehem. http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2014/02/discrepencies-in-the-bible-was-jesus-really.html.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Sorry this didn’t get posted right away. I found it in the spam folder.

      Yeah, I read his posts and this is why Gary’s commenting days are over on this blog. He can take to his own blog and “prove” his faith. I see that DagoodS is patiently, like he always is, trying to help Gary see the “light.” I like the approach he is taking with Gary.

      Reply
    2. sgl

      i’ve been following those threads too. for a bit, it was clear he was twisting in the wind. (if i’m not mistaken, i think the technical theological term is “sh*tting bricks”). in bruce’s box analogy, he’d stepped outside the box briefly. but then, he dove head-first into a detailed analysis of his sects defn of “inerrancy” and determined that it wasn’t really wrong after all, because their flavor of inerrancy was ‘the message’ not ‘the text’.

      watching his self-justification for maintaining inerrancy with ‘jesus, interrupted’ and the bigger message issues is entertaining as well, but it’s pretty clear he’s jumped back in the inerrancy box, as the most simplistic “explanations” of problems is acceptable to him. we’ll see if the sheer volume of problems in the entire book gets to him, or if DagoodS probing questions do.

      my best guess is, he’ll stay in the box for now, but be on a shakier foundation for a while. maybe something else will push him off in the future. he does seem a bit more focused on learning the truth than most, altho he’s quick to rationalize “solutions” to maintain his views.

      but, @bruce, i’d be curious your general perspective, if you have one, on what signs you notice on those people that ultimately keep probing, vs those that give up?

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        This is a good question. I think some people are greater risk takers so they are more willing to wander outside of the confines of their box. I think how we were raised, our education,our experiences play a part too. I remember when I first started wandering outside of the box, a post of mine was posted on exchristian.net. I met some great people there, but there was an atheist element that was very pushy and vocal. They came after me because some of my answers were not philosophically or intellectually sound or violated the tenets of godlessness. At the time I would have called myself an agnostic. Some of these guys were brutal and their lack of compassion sent me running for the hills. They were every bit as brutal as anyone I had met in Baptist Fundamentalism. While this certainly caused me to draw back for a time, my desire for knowledge pushed me back out of the box. This is why I don’t let atheists or Christians abuse people on this blog. (and a few atheists, who are no longer welcome here, think I am a compromising, weak, accommodationist or a “secret” Christian)I suppose if someone has a bad experience when they wander outside the box it can make them reluctant to do so again.

        Some people find a natural stopping place, a place where they are intellectually and emotionally comfortable. As an atheist, I have to understand this, knowing that many people will never come as far down the path as I have. If all they do is get away from fundamentalism, I am happy. (little does Gary know how fundamentalist he still is, a Lutheran version of his IFB preacher father) A significant number of the readers of this blog have found a way to make peace with God/Bible/Christianity. While I intellectually reject their beliefs, I do understand and respect them for going as far as they did.

        I know my personality plays a part in this. I am an all in kind of guy. If I set my mind and desire on something, I tend to learn/study the hell out of it. Computers/photography/blogging with WordPress are all passions of mine and I continue to expand my knowledge about these things. As my counselor told me this week, Bruce when something matters to you, it REALLY matters to you. :) He recognizes the kind of personality I have. Is this good? Bad? I don’t know. It is who I am.

        Reply
        1. sgl

          re: ” (little does Gary know how fundamentalist he still is, …”

          very true!! he protested so much about not being a fundamentalist, and then i saw the following quote on one of his replies on the lutheran pastor forum, when someone suggested he discuss is doubts/issues with his pastor:
          ———-
          [by gary ]
          http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=35128#comment-854822

          Discussing this issue with my LCMS pastor would be a mistake. He does not believe in a literal, six, twenty-four hour day Creation or that Methuselah was really over 900 years old, and other issues. I believe in a literal, twenty-four hour day, Creation and that Methuselah lived to be over 900 years old.

          ———-

          riiiiigggghhttt, you’re not a fundamentalist. ;)

          Reply
  40. Gary

    You have caused quite a stir among orthodox (fundamentalist) Lutherans, Bruce, and you have turned me into a black sheep among them. But I thank you for opening my eyes. You are right. The existence of God, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the inerrancy of the Scriptures CANNOT be proven. They can only be believed by faith. And faith is either a beautiful gift from God or a silly superstition of ignorant people.

    Thank you for the enlightenment.

    Here is evidence of your fame:

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=35993

    Gary

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Hi Gary,

      I cannot see any difference between your position and that of early 20th C. Fundamentalist B.B. Warfield. You believe that the Scriptures are inerrant only in the original (but now missing ) mss, so did Warfield. You believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are historical events, so did Warfield. Warfield would agree with you that there are errors in the Greek mss.

      I do agree with you that many Baptists and other evangelicals in the pews hold that the bible in their hands is without error. But many Baptist evangelical scholars would agree with you that the Greek Mss of the NT are not without error.

      So how do you really differ from many Evangelical scholars? Please explain! How are you different from many theological Fundamentalist scholars? And how really is the LCMS really different from theological Fundamentalism?

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
      1. Gary

        I am probably no different than these evangelical scholars, but my position now is much different than what it was at the beginning of this thread.

        I guess what I am trying to point out is that Bruce and Dagood helped me to see that Christians cannot “prove” the existence of God, the historicity of the Resurrection, or the inerrancy of the Bible. Christians, including myself, spend hours trying to convince non-believers of the above Christian concepts when we really shouldn’t. None of these beliefs can be proven by reason, logic or through scientific methods.

        So what is left:

        1. I can decide that since the Bible and the existing Greek manuscripts DO have discrepancies…a lot of them…Christianity is a farce, and I can chuck it and live my life as a good, kind humanist.

        2. I can become a liberal Christian who believes that Jesus was a wonderful spiritual leader but deny any of the supernatural, illogical claims such as the Resurrection and Biblical inerrancy.

        3. I can maintain my belief in the Christian God, the historicity of all the OT and NT stories, the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, the inerrancy of the “autographs” (which no longer exist) and that all the true doctrines and practices of the Christian Faith, as given by God, have been preserved in orthodox Christianity. Can I prove any of this. ABSOLUTELY NOT. And for this reason, I will never again argue/debate an agnostic, atheist, or other non-believer on the validity of Christianity using logic and reason. My position is foolish. My position is silly. My position is uneducated. My position is based on what I call “faith”…childlike faith.

        4. I can bury my head in the sand and say that there are NO discrepancies in the Bible and ignore all the evidence.

        My educated brain says that to continue believing in Christianity after what I have learned from Bruce, Daygood and Ehrman is foolish, but my heart still believes. I cannot tell you why. Maybe it is just fear to lose what I am comfortable with. Maybe it really is due to divine intervention. I choose, rightly or wrongly, to believe the latter.

        Thank you, again Bruce and Daygood for the enlightenment. I wish you all the very best.

        Reply
        1. John Arthur

          Hi Gary,

          Thanks for expanding on your position and clarifying it. You are to be commended for reading Ehrman and I better understand your position now. I have no problems with it. No one can know for sure whether God exists or not (and even if it is unlikely that s/he does ), like you, I choose to believe in God by faith.

          I view God as a God of compassion, healing-mercy and loving-kindness. Unlike you, I am not an orthodox Christian, but I wish you well on your journey.

          Shalom,

          John Arthur

          Reply
          1. Gary

            Shalom, and peace be with you, John!

  41. Gary

    You don’t need to print this, Bruce, but I thought that you would find it interesting. I left it on my discussion with the orthodox Lutherans on The Brothers of John the Steadfast:

    When I was first confronted with all these errors in the Bible I was sick to my stomach. I was depressed. I questioned my faith. But instead of sticking my head in the sand and pretending that they do not exist or abandoning my faith, I faced them, and now my faith is stronger than ever.

    I believe in the inerrancy of God and his Word by faith alone, not because I can use my reason, logic, and Seminary education to “prove” that the Bible or the existing manuscripts are without error. Isn’t that what Christianity is all about…child-like faith? If the truths of Christianity can be proven from simply reading the Scriptures, then the educated elite of Jewish society would have accepted Christ as the Messiah. They didn’t. Why? They did not have faith.

    I know that the information I have presented is upsetting. “Biblical inerrancy” as defined in the Chicago Statement has been the security blanket that all conservative Protestant Christians have grown up with. “The Bible tells me so.” “If its in the Bible it has to be right, no matter if its doctrine, practice, history or archaeology.”

    To have our security blanket ripped away from us is very upsetting. But it must be done! It must be done before we teach our children the same simplistic nonsense, and this nonsense, when brought into the light of scrutiny by their educated peers or professors, drives our children away from the Faith.

    We believe in God and the inerrancy of his MESSAGE, not the inerrancy of every historical date and fact of minutia in a written book.

    Reply
  42. Gary

    Well, the fundamentalist/orthodox Lutherans are soiling their undergarments over my “conversion” on the issues of the non-provability of the Resurrection, the existence of God, and that the Bible is not inerrant; that all these beliefs can only be based on faith. These Lutherans are gathering the firewood for my burning-at-the-stake as we speak.

    Below is a comment by one of the blog writers of The Brothers of John the Steadfast, a very conservative Lutheran blog, condemning my “conversion”. I would be curious what the atheists on Bruce’s blog would say about his assertion that atheists snicker in disrespect those Christians who refuse to debate the “evidence” with atheists to confirm the veracity of the above theological beliefs in contrast to those Christians who vigorously defend Christianity with science, reason, and logic:

    “I can tell you right now, speaking as a former atheist, nothing pleases the atheist more than watching a Christian retreat into irrational babble in the guise of “faith.” Why? Because when a Christian says that there is no sense in reasoning with an atheist because belief in God is solely in the purview of faith, then the atheist’s contention that belief in God is irrational has been given strong support.

    The evidence we have (for the Resurrection) are the Gospel accounts and Paul’s corroboration of those accounts. Such evidence is remarkable and only a skeptic with an axe to grind against God would reject the evidence out of hand.

    I’m sorry you got your intellectual booty thoroughly kicked by Ehrman and a couple atheists, but you aren’t solving your problem by running to fideism.

    I believe the Scriptures report the historical fact that Christ is risen from the dead. Indeed, the resurrection is falsifiable. All that is needed are the bones of Christ and it is a done deal that Christianity is false… so says the Apostle Paul. Right? If there is no resurrection our faith is in vain. Yes?

    Finally, I completely agree that “No amount of persuasion based on science, reason, and logic is going to sway ANYONE to believe… Jesus Christ as Lord.” Absolutely true. However, where you are wrong is in your thinking that we can’t demonstrate through “science, reason, and logic” the probability Jesus rose from the grave just as reported in the Gospels and confirmed by the Apostle Paul in his epistles.”

    Here is the actual online discussion:

    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2014/03/why-i-will-no-longer-debate-atheists.html?showComment=1395869707882#c2544945944011082887

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Actually, I think it is those who try to argue metaphysical, supernatural claims from an evidence standpoint are the one’s who make a fool of themselves. They seem to ignore Hebrews 11.

      Reply
      1. Gary

        Well, all I can say, Bruce, is thank you for “kicking the intellectual booty” out of me, as this man describes it. It truly was cathartic.

        I believe that with my new perspective, I can now be a much kinder, more compassionate human being… to all people…regardless of their belief or non-belief in the Christian God.

        I can love people without feeling it my duty to beat them over the head with hell-fire and damnation.

        So I credit atheists…Bruce Gerencser, DagoodS, and Bart Ehrman…not a Christian…for making me a better human being, and a better Christian.

        Reply
  43. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    Right, that was the comment and website I was responding to. Notice the first line in the last paragraph…the inerrancy of scripture is an article of faith. FAITH.

    I think it’s best if you do not post long, cut and paste sections from other websites. Share a link and then others can decide if they want to read it. We are very afar afield now in this discussion, which is fine, but I would like the discussion to stay focused on what we are talking about here rather than what is being said on another site.

    According to this author, people like me can not understand inerrancy because We lack faith. This is a classic Christian cop-out, one as old as the Bible. The Bible says, the natural man understands not the things of God, neither can he, because they are spiritually discerned. (loose paraphrase )

    So when I was a Christian I could understand and discern these things and now that I am not a Christian I can no longer understand these things? Does this make sense to you? And if it does, why are you here discussing these things with people who can not understand? Maybe God gives every person who deconverts a lobotomy?

    Bruce

    Reply
  44. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    From Wikipedia:

    “One of the signature teachings of the Lutheran Reformation is the teaching named Sola scriptura—”Scripture alone.” The Missouri Synod believes that the Bible is the only standard by which church teachings can be judged. It also holds that Scripture is explained and interpreted by the Book of Concord—a series of confessions of faith composed by Lutherans in the 16th century. Missouri Synod pastors and congregations agree to teach in harmony with the Book of Concord because it teaches and faithfully explains the Word of God. The Missouri Synod also teaches biblical inerrancy,[9] the teaching that Bible is inspired by God and is without error. For this reason, they reject much—if not all—of modern liberal scholarship. Franz August Otto Pieper’s Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod provides a summary of the major beliefs of the LCMS.

    Reply
  45. gary

    I’m not sure if the LCMS, in its own documents, uses the term “biblical inerrancy” but rather uses the term “Scriptural inerrancy”. I think there is a difference.

    Textual inerrancy doesn’t seem to make or break for either one of us the topic of our original discussion: Is there a God, and is Jesus Christ that God?

    So I need to read Ehrman’s second book and then we should talk again.

    Reply
  46. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    Bible and Scripture are the same, Gary.

    Reply
  47. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    I went back though your comments on this post and you have taken this discussion all over the place. I also re-read your first comments on this site. Again, you are all over the place, from a raging Lutheran fundamentalist to a questioner/doubter. Perhaps you need to slow down here and focus on what you think the real issues are for you. If the issue is that you want proof God exists, Jesus is divine, and be resurrected from the dead, you have the Bible. Isn’t that enough for you? Surely your faith should sustain you. If you are looking for substantive and substantial evidence outside the Bible and the literature of Christendom, good luck with that. The issue then is not the Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, as you claim. THE issue is whether you believe the testimony of the Bible. THAT is the issue.

    Several readers wonder if you are just jerking me around to wear me out. I hope that is not the case.

    Bruce

    Reply
  48. gary

    Do I believe the testimony of the Bible?

    I will only believe it IF I can find enough evidence of the Resurrection to convince me that Jesus Christ is God and that his Word, his testimony, is therefore something reliable that I can place my faith in. I have no interest in placing my faith in faith alone.

    Just to prove that I am not interested in “wearing you out”, I will not post any further comments until I have completely finished JESUS, INTERRUPTED.

    Reply
  49. NeverAgainV

    maybe you should try the ELCA Gary? I think they are a more kinder & gentler Lutheranism. I am a Humanist who doesn’t know what I believe, though I want to believe there is a good in the universe, a good god or gods or whatever…
    Anyhow I attend the Ethical Humanist Society and we have our soup kitchens at the ELCA here. They seem way more inclusive.

    I don’t like it when we go to the Baptist church, though I think that BC is a bit more on the liberal side?? Baptist just makes me shudder. :(

    Reply
  50. Gary

    Thank you for the suggestion.

    I still think its possible to be orthodox AND kind. Other than no longer believing that the Bible is inerrant in all details, including historical minutia, I still believe the core Christian beliefs.

    However, I now have no intention of trying to convert atheists or agnostics. I have no intention of condemning people who do not share my views on social issues. What they do is none of my business. And I do not support the imposition of Christian morality on secular society. My views are for my church/Church, and that’s it.

    I am going to catch a lot of heat for being a “liberal”, but maybe I can help to pull others out of the negative, judgmental mind-set of fundamentalism in the process.

    Reply
  51. NeverAgainV

    Good luck Gary. :)

    Reply
  52. Gary

    Thanks!

    Reply

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