There is an irreconcilable conflict between Jesus and Paul and Peter when it comes to how to view apostates that were once followers of Jesus
Progressive, liberal, kind-hearted Christians stress the two great laws emphasized by Jesus in Mark 12:28-33:
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Love God and love your fellow man. All the laws of the Bible are summed up in these two commands, Love God and love your fellow man. If Christians truly embraced these two commands I suspect I would have very little to write about on this blog.
Sadly most CHRISTians live in denial of the teachings of Christ. They are ensconced in the teaching of Paul and Peter, and they most often live lives in total denial of the teachings of the man they claim is their Lord and Savior.
This is clearly shown by their response to people like me. For some reason, an evangelical pastor turned atheist is such a threat to the Christian faith of some that I must be attacked and ridiculed at every opportunity. So sharp are their attacks that I had to implement comment moderation and limit abusive commenters to one comment. (my thinking is they get one chance to tell me what an awful man I am so they better make it count, kind of like an enema)
Where does this need to attack and ridicule come from? Is it just a reflection of their lack of civility, maturity or a lack of character? I am sure this explains some of their behavior but I think they really do believe the Bible gives them warrant to say the things they say.
What does the Bible say?
Peter writes in 2 Peter 2:1-22:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
How does Peter describe people like me?
- A false teacher who brings upon himself swift destruction
- A person who, with his words, manipulates people for material gain
- A person who deserves the judgment and damnation of God
- A person who is like the people God killed in the flood, the people God killed with fire and brimstone at Sodom and Gomorrah, and like the rebellious angels God cast out of heaven
- Like a dog who eats its own vomit
- Like a sow wallowing in the mud
- Like Balaam
Let’s face it Peter describes people like me in such a way that many Christians conclude we are worthy of all the derision we receive.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:1-10
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.
Paul paints a lurid picture of apostates like me. Paul says my “folly” will be made manifest to all men and many Christians feel they have the gift of manifestation.
Paul writes in Romans 1:16-32:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
People like me are described as those who hold the truth in unrighteousness. We worship the creation rather than the creator. We refuse to acknowledge God and we give him no worship or thanks. Our foolish hearts are darkened and we are vain in our imaginations. Result? God gives us over to a reprobate mind.
According to the Bible I am a reprobate, a person beyond the grace of God., a person who has already secured a berth in hell.
In Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-29 Paul makes it clear that people like me have no hope of God ever extending grace to us again:
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, f they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
These verses make it clear that apostates like me have no second chance. We have spit in the face of God, we have trampled under our feet the blood of Jesus, and we have spited the spirit of grace. We are enemies of God.
According to the Bible, since I am a unregenerate, unsaved person I have a deceitful, wicked heart. I am incapable of doing good and I am unable to love in the truest sense of the word. (because true love comes from God)
I make no bones about my beliefs. I don’t believe there is a god. I don’t believe that Jesus was God nor do I believe he died on the cross for my sins and resurrected from the dead three days later. I totally reject the Christians concept of original sin. I also reject any notion that suggests the Bible is a divine book written by God, a book that every human being is obligated to obey. I am an atheist.
At one time I believed the Bible was the inspired, inerrant Word of God. I believed that there was one God and that Jesus, the son of God, died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead three days later, thus vanquishing sin and death. I believed that Jesus was the way, truth, and life. As Paul said of himself, I at one time said of myself, I KNOW in whom I have believed…At one time, according to the book of 1 John, I had a know-so salvation.
Christian people who meet me, interact with me on Facebook, or trade emails with me are often faced with a dilemma. I am a nice guy who is kind and compassionate most of the time. I love my family and I love my neighbors. My “good” works stack up quite favorably with many of the super-saints that come to this blog to tell me what their God thinks of me. Ask the people who know me about my life and character. I have no doubt the report will be favorable. (I am not perfect to be sure but I am a better Christian than many of the Christians I know)
But, the Bible says……….. I know some Christians want to see me in a good light, but doing so puts them in direct conflict with the Bible. Paul and Peter are not ambiguous on the matter. What’s it going to be?
I fully understand why some Christians believe that I am a deadly enemy, an enemy they are commanded to wage war against. (Ephesians 6) Thousands of people read this blog and, in the minds of the warring faithful, I am an enemy of their eternal souls. They feel obligated to speak up for God, Jesus, the Bible, and the Christian faith. They feel they will be rewarded by God for standing up for the faith once delivered to the saints. Well done thou good and faith Servant. Enter in……
Some Christians attempt to navigate a third way when dealing with people like me. They think I was hurt by the Church and that my apostasy is an emotional response to the hateful, nasty, mean-spiritedness that is all too common in Evangelical Christianity. In their minds I am still a Christian, one that has been wounded by the Church.
I readily admit there is an emotional component to my defection from Christianity. However, it is not the primary reason. The issue is, and remains so, that I do not believe the Bible is truth and I do not have the requisite faith to believe. I am the enemy of God.
I am quite happy when a liberal minded, progressive Christian sincerely attempts to love me as their neighbor but I do understand WHY many Christians respond differently. The Bible is on their side. The liberal minded, progressive Christian has love, compassion, civility, and decency on their side. They are good people. But, if life is all about preparing to meet God, if it is allow about preparing for eternity, if it is all about keeping the commandments of God, then the Bible believers who eviscerate me and attempt to sodomize me with the words of the Bible clearly have God on their side.