If You Don’t Believe What the Bible Says You Can’t Be Saved

word of god

An anonymous commenter left the following comment on the Galatians 4 blog:

if the Bible is not truth; the Word of God – then NO ONE can be saved. If we do not believe the Bible, we cannot be saved.

This comment was left on a post titled, The IFB Pastor Turned Atheist: Those Who Fall Away. The post is about my defection from Christianity. The author of the blog post agrees with the anonymous commenter’s view that if we do not believe the Bible we cannot be saved.

Here’s the problem with this view:

First, it makes salvation dependent on reading the right words and believing the right things.

Second, the first century Christian church had no Bible.  They had the Old Testament, a text that makes no mention of Christian salvation and Christian oral traditions.

Third, the gospels were not written until decades after Jesus Christ died and resurrected from the dead. The writings of Paul were written first and they are quite sparse when it comes mentioning Jesus and clearly articulating the Christian gospel. Paul’s writings need the gospels for the Christian/Pauline gospel to make sense.

Fourth, the printing press was invented  1500 years AFTER the death of Jesus. What Bible did people read before the invention of the printing press?

Fifth, illiteracy and the cost of a printed Bible meant that most Christians did not own a copy of the Bible. They relied on others to read the Bible to them or pass on the oral stories of Christianity.

Sixth, it took centuries to complete the canon of the Christian Bible. Prior to this, Christians had “incomplete” Bibles, often containing onlt a few few books of the Bible.

The anonymous commenter does what a lot of Christians do: he takes how things are now and reads it back into Church history. You know, if the Oxford, Calf-Skinned KJV Scofield Bible was good enough for the Apostle Paul it is good enough for me.

Most Christians have little knowledge about the long, complex, and contradictory history of the Bible and the Christian church. This lack of historical knowledge allows them to make statements like the anonymous commenter made on the Galatians 4 blog.

The bigger problem is the way fundamentalists read the Bible. When they read the phrase “word of God” they assume it means “the Bible.”  This, however, is not the case.  Most of the instances in the Bible where we find the phrase “word of God” refer to spoken words or to Jesus Christ himself.

The phrase “word of God” appears 49 times in the Bible. As you can easily see, the phrase has several different meanings:

  • 1Samuel 9:27 And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may show thee the word of God.
  • 1Kings 12:22 But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,
  • 1Chronicles17:3 And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying,
  • Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
  • Mark 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
  • Luke 3:2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
  • Luke 4:4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
  • Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
  • Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
  • Luke 8:21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear theword of God, and do it.
  • Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
  • John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
  • Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
  • Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
  • Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
  • Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
  • Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
  • Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
  • Acts 13:5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
  • Acts 13:7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
  • Acts 13:44 And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
  • Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
  • Acts 17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.
  • Acts 18:11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
  • Acts 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
  • Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
  • Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
  • 1Corinthians14:36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
  • 2Corithians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
  • 2Corinthians 4:2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
  • Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
  • Colossians 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
  • 1Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
  • 1Timothy 4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
  • 2Timothy 2:9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
  • Titus 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that theword of God be not blasphemed.
  • Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
  • Hebrews 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
  • Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
    Hebrews 13:7  Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
  • 1Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
  • 2Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
  • 1John 2:14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
  • Revelation 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
  • Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
  • Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
  • Revelation19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
  • Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The word scripture appears 32 times in the Bible. Most of the time, the word scripture refers to the Old Testament, a text that is devoid of any mention of the Christian gospel.

The Bible states in John 1:1-2 that Jesus was the Word:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. (the rest of John 1 makes it clear that the Word  John 1:1-2 is speaking of is Jesus)

With this thought in mind, that Jesus is the Word, let’s look at Hebrews 4:12-14:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Raise your hand if you have heard Hebrews 4:12-13 quoted in reference to the Bible, the Word of God? Anyone raised in a Baptist church has heard this countless times. However, look closely at Hebrews 4:12-14. Is the word of God here the Bible or Jesus? Notice the male pronoun in the phrase manifest in HIS sight? Verse 14 makes the “who” of the text very clear when it says, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God…”

The whole point of this exercise it to show that it is important to NOT read preconceived ideas and beliefs into the text. Pastors breed ignorance when they quote verses to “prove” a point and not actually conveying to the congregation what the text actually says. They also breed ignorance when they refuse to say, not the Bible says or God says, but our Church says, or I say. Far too many preachers are like Alfred Shannon, Jr, a 40 year member of the Church of Christ. Shannon says about himself:

I adhere to the principle of speaking where the bible speaks, and remaining silent where the bible is silent.I do not add to or take from God’s Word nor do I go beyond that which was written. I prove all things by the scripture, and by no other source. This site is designed to preach the gospel and doctrine of Christ unto all the world.

This kind of thinking is common in every sect that believes the Bible is an inerrant, infallible text. They think THEIR interpretation is the one, true, exact interpretation and they alone are preaching the pure word of God. They are naïvely or deliberately ignorant about the influence of culture, upbringing, and tribal affiliation on what one believes. In their mind, they believe exactly what was written on parchment 2,000 years ago. In  Shannon Jr’s sect, many of the churches have a building cornerstone that says AD 33. That’s right, like the Catholic and Landmark Baptist sect, they believe they are the one true church, established by Jesus to propagate the gospel to the ends of the earth.

This kind of intransigence closes the mind off from any other belief or idea. Until a person can dare to think that they might be wrong, that their sect might be wrong, or that the claims they make for the Bible might be untrue, there is no hope of reaching them. They are intellectually walled off from any voice but their own.

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71 Comments

  1. Matt

    How can you claim to have been a pastor for so long and yet be so ignorant of the Bible? You say, “Pastors breed ignorance when they quote verses to prove a point…”. Well you have proved your own point. You gave 47 scriptures on the “Word of God”, but you do not understand the Bible. The Bible IS the inspired Word of God. Not God written, but God inspired. God Himself made sure that His word was recorded. He made sure that His canon was completed. You will not find errors in His word, nor will you find contradictions in His word.

    Salvation is dependent on only Jesus. It is not dependent on works or religion. The first century church had exactly what they needed to gain salvation, because they did gain it.

    The gospels were written by the Apostles who were actively preaching all over the world, and they were obviously writers and clearly capable of leaving their message everywhere they preached.

    Paul, the greatest evangelist to ever walk this earth besides Jesus Himself was hardly “sparse” on speaking of Christ and the gospel. It must be that your personal understanding is what is “sparse”.

    Writing utensils and Scribes predate the printing press.

    Prior to the “complete” collection of writings we call the Bible, people had complete and accurate teachings from the Apostles and Christ Himself.

    You seem to have a lack of the history of the Bible and the Christian church. This allows you to make the false statements that you do.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Nice compendium of Evangelical one liners. Have you ever read any of Bart Ehrman’s books? If not, I encourage you to do so.

      Reply
      1. Matt

        So, could it be that you might believe everything you read EXCEPT the Bible? No, I won’t read this man’s work, but even if I did it wouldn’t change my mind because I have been TRULY converted to Christ.

        Once a person is truly born again they will not betray Christ -even unto death.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          I think the Bible is a literary work written by men. It is an admixture of fact and fiction. Matt, the issue is facts not beliefs. Bart Ehrman does a masterful job of presenting the facts about the text of the Bible. Why wouldn’t you want to read one of his books? If your faith is so strong and unassailable, surely a book wouldn’t cause any harm, right?

          I will even buy the book for you.

          Until you are willing to educate yourself, there is no possible way to have a meaningful conversation with you. That is, if you were commenting because you desired dialog and discussion.

          You are not adding anything to the discussion. You seem to think that if you assert something it is factual. This is what I meant when I said your comments are a compendium of Evangelical one liners. These statements might get amens at your church, but they have no power or force with me or the readers of this blog.

          Generally, I delete comments like yours, but since your comments provided insight into the thinking of a Christian fundamentalist, I approved them. Don’t assume I will continue to do so.

          I wish you well, Matt.

          Reply
          1. Matt

            I believe from reading all of your writings that you are Biblically illiterate.

            You state that you “think” the Bible is both “factual” and “fiction”. How do you come to this conclusion? Is your hypothesis based on someone doesn’t opinion?

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Simple. There are errors and contradictions in the Bible. It is historically and scientifically inaccurate. For example, we now know the universe is 14 billion years old, yet the Bible says, as interpreted by young earth creationists, the universe is 6,019 years old. Which is correct?

            So, there are historical facts and fictions in the Bible. Many of its stories are fictional. We know that virgins can’t have babies, dead people can’t come back to life after they have been in the grave, and humans can’t walk on water, walk through walls, or turn water into wine. While the miracles found in the Bible might convey some deeper spiritual truth, they are in no way factual.

            Anyone with a basic understanding of how the text of the Bible came into being and its history knows these things. This is why I am encouraging you to read one or more of Bart Ehrman’s books. Your position may play well in church or among people who think the same way, but such views will not withstand scrutiny. All it takes to know this is reading a few books. Again, if your faith is so strong, surely reading a book about the text of the Bible wouldn’t hurt you in any way.

            Another good book to read is The Evolution of God by Robert Wright.

        2. John Arthur

          Hi Matt,

          Why are you afraid to read Bart Ehrman’s books? If you don’t wish to read Bart Ehrman’s writings, why not visit a decent theological seminary and borrow books on historical critical method and biblical commentaries written within this framework?

          Liberal seminaries use this method and, increasingly, evangelical seminaries are doing the same, though the most Fundamentalist ones
          cling to outdated methods of biblical scholarship under the guise of being faithful to Jesus.

          Are you afraid of losing your faith? If so, it is probably based on a foundation of sand.

          Shalom,’

          John Arthur

          Reply
          1. matt

            Why would I use man’s writings to teach me about God’s? Why would I need to rely on someone else’s opinion of a simple book like the Bible? My faith is not built on sand, it is built on the word of God, not the word of “fill in the blank”.

        3. brbr2424

          It sounds like reading Ehrman is a challenge you fear you will fail. If you are secure in your beliefs and TRULY converted then reading Bart Ehrman’s books will make your faith even stronger. It would also make you better able to debate atheists.

          You say that “even if I did (read Ehrman) it wouldn’t change my mind”. Talk is cheap. Prove it!

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Imagine if I treated the Bible the same way? Well, I know the truth and reading the Bible won’t change my mind. I suspect Matt would be challenging me in the same way you are challenging him. I hope he will some day dare to read one of Ehrman’s books.

          2. matt

            You guys sure seem to be stuck up this authors butt don’t you? You sound like a bunch of drug pushers. Yeah, he sure “opened” your minds didn’t he.

            No, all he actually did for you was provide validation for what you already were thinking. You weren’t looking for “truth”, you were just looking for someone else to tell you what you wanted to hear.

            The same tactic that worked on each of you, and the same one you yourselves attempt to use on others is really nothing new.

            The old, “Did God REALLY say?”, “Did God REALLY mean?”, and “Your eyes will be opened and you will have special knowledge”.

            Sound familiar? Nothing new guys. You all were hoodwinked, and misery loves company.

          3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Yes, I am Bruce Almighty and those who read this blog are part of my cult. What does that say about you, Matt? Here you are spending significant time commenting on an atheist’s blog. Why is that? Here’s my take: fundamentalists like you desperately need to feel they right. What better way to show you are right than “wowing” the stupid, deluded people on an atheist blog with your superior understanding of the Bible. So superior is your understanding that there is no book in the world worth reading. Truly, a God walks amongst us.

          4. Becky Wiren

            Matt assumes that every single person here is an atheist. Obviously he hasn’t read enough to know that there are Christians, theists and agnostics here too. He also assumes we all have followed the same path to atheism. If he had any interest in keeping a (slightly) open mind, he would find out that he has been wrong.

          5. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Why Becky, surely you are part of the Bruce cult, yes? 🙂

            Over the year, a lot of fundamentalists have commented on this blog. Matt is a special kind of fundamentalist, so blinded by what he thinks is a superior knowledge of the Bible, that he thinks he has nothing to learn from us unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines.

            Matt’s a local, 35 year old ex-military. He reminds me of another man, about his age at the time, who visited the church I was pastoring in West Unity. One night after church we were talking about a particular theological subject and I offered to loan him a book. He replied, all I need is the Bible. I was flabbergasted by such an ignorant response. People who say this think they are showing their spiritual prowess, but what they are really doing is exposing their ignorance. No one, I repeat no one, would naturally come to Matt’s theological conclusions by just reading the Bible.

            The Bible is a complex book, originally written in languages Matt does not understand. Yet, he thinks his knowledge is superior to someone like Bart Ehrman who has spent decades studying the Biblical text. He is so certain of this that he knows, without reading the book, that Ehrman couldn’t possibly say anything that would cause him to change his mind.

            There’s nothing more I can do. That’s why I stopped approving his comments. He is still young…maybe, just maybe he might come to see the light or at least realize that he is not as smart as he thinks he is.

          6. Becky Wiren

            *sigh* However, of course I’m part of your cult. 😉

    2. John Arthur

      Hi Matt,

      “The gospels were written by the apostles”.

      Most N.T. scholars accept that the authors of the Gospels are anonymous. The titles “…according to Mark, …according to Matthew, …according to Luke, …according to John” were probably added much later than their date of writing (about 70 CE to 100 CE). Most conservatives assume that because early church tradition (second century) claims that Matthew and John (both apostles) wrote their gospels and that Mark used Peter and Luke was a companion of Paul that they are in a sense apostolic writings. Mark and Luke were not apostles, so your statement is inaccurate.

      Most biblical scholars hold that early church tradition is not reliable on some issues, so what makes you think that they were reliable on the issue of Mark relying somewhat on Peter and Luke relying somewhat on Paul, given that we do not really know who wrote these canonical Gospels.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
      1. matt

        Does your salvation really hang on “who” actually wrote the book? No, it does not.

        Reply
        1. KarenH

          Does your witness really hang on the accuracy and honesty of your claims? Yes, it does.

          P.S. Therefore, when you claim a specific person had a specific position and then wrote a specific document and it turns out that the specific person neither wrote the document nor held the position? Your witness is a failure. Because if 2 of your 3 claims have been proven false, then it’s fair to assume the 3rd one is no more accurate than the others.

          Reply
          1. matt

            Karen, what do you base your claims that the new testament accounts are false, off of? A book written centuries later? Probably.

    3. John Arthur

      Hi Mat,

      “…nor will you find contradictions in His word.”

      How do you reconcile the commands of God to the Israelites to commit genocide with Jesus command that we love our enemies? Sure, the people of Canaan were very wicked, but does this justify the barbaric slaughter of defenseless children and little babies? How can we reconcile this with Jesus’ attitude to little children?

      Doesn’t the barbaric slaughter of the Canaanites and the later command of God to slaughter the Amalekites by king Saul seem more like the “powers that be” justifying their barbarism to their own people rather God actually saying it?

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
      1. John Arthur

        Hi Matt,

        Why have you refused to answer the question about reconciling Jesus with the slaughter of the Canaanites and the later slaughter of the Amalekites? If there are no contradictions in the bible, then shouldn’t you be able to answer it?

        Shalom,

        John Arthur

        Reply
        1. matt

          John, the reason I will not provide you an answer to your question is this.

          You have pulled a question from what I call the “atheist hamster wheel of questions”. Neat word huh?

          Here’s how it works. You pick a question that has been answered for you hundreds of times, I give you an answer, you claim my answer is false and then you ask me another question that has been answered for you hundreds of times….it’s the atheist hamster wheel.

          You see, you are not really looking for an answer, because you already found the one that fits you. Did you hear that? You are not looking for anything.

          Reply
          1. John Arthur

            Hi Matt,

            Is the real reason that you don’t want to provide an answer that you have no answer?

            You have evaded a simple question. How do you reconcile the barbaric slaughter of little children and babies that is said to be commanded by God in some of the OT with the attitude of Jesus? An attempted answer to this question may have been given by others many times, but I do not find these answers satisfactory.

            Perhaps you could summarise an answer that you find satisfactory, and we can examine it. After all, if the bible is infallible as you claim, then there can be no errors in the now missing original manuscripts.

            To suggest that I pulled a question from the “atheist hamster wheel”is ludicrous. I am not an atheist, but you have assumed that I am.

            To suggest that I am not looking for an answer is an attempt to evade the question. To suggest that I am “not looking for anything” is to assume more than I know about myself and suggests that you base your assertions on the motives of people without a lack of knowledge of them.

            I hope that you are able to provide an answer to my question or else I will have to conclude that you don’t have one.

            Shalom,

            John Arthur

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Hey John,

            I think Matt sees himself as the teacher and everyone who reads this blog is the student. If you don’t sincerely want to know, he is not going waste his infinite knowledge on you.

            Or, he really doesn’t have an answer for you.

            Matt say, I just read the Bible, but his comments reflect that he has read more than the Bible. He thinks that Calvinism is error. The word Calvinism doesn’t appear in the Bible, so where did his understanding of Calvinism come from?

            The notion that the mind is a blank slate and by reading just the Bible one can understand the “truth” is ludicrous. All one has to do is start in Genesis. Read the first three chapters. Result? Polytheism. There is no monotheism to be found in Genesis 1-3. Same goes for salvation. There are at least 4 plans of salvation taught in the Bible. Which is correct?

            The truth is, Matt’s theology has human handprints all over it. What’s sad is that he can’t see this. Even in my most fundamentalist days, I recognized the value of educated teachers and books.

            Bruce

          3. matt

            Bruce, maybe you should explain all four of your salvation plans and how they differ.

            Also, the first the chapters of Genesis and polytheism. Can you explain how you came to that conclusion?

          4. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            As far as polytheism in Genesis 1-3, note the plural pronouns. A literal, normative reading of the text would lead one to believe that there are multiple gods. What Christians do is read Trinitarian monotheism into the text.

            As far as salvation is concerned, the OT, Jesus, Paul, and James each taught a different plan of salvation. Read the texts vertically rather than horizontally, allowing each book to stand on its own. Christians attempt to harmonize the texts rather than letting them speak for themselves.

            If you really want to discuss these issues, I am quite willing to do so. If you are not. Then I hope you won’t mind if I treat you like you treated John:

            you have already made up your mind, so don’t act like you haven’t.

          5. matt

            Yes, you are correct. If you pick a verse out of the Bible and attempt to make it stand on it’s own, it may not. That’s why we have the WHOLE Bible. If you were to so reading the Bible after Genesis 3 you may very well think there are many God’s talking. That’s why we keep reading.

            God saying, “Let us…” does not prove an argument for mono, or poly. It could logically go either way.

            Explain your four plans of salvation.

          6. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            You miss what I am doing here. I am using your literalist hermeneutic to read the text.

            Appealing to the monotheism of the NT does not solve the polytheism problem of Genesis 1-3. All it shows is that there was an evolution from multiple Gods to one God.

            Again, Robert Wright’s book, The Evolution of God is a good read on this subject.

          7. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Actually, the plural pronoun does prove there was more than one God. After all, we use plural pronouns when there is more than one.

            Who was God talking to?

            There are many insurmountable problems for orthodox Christianity when Genesis 1-3 is allowed to stand on its own two feet. No wonder sects and churches spend so much time explaining away what the text says.

          8. matt

            Comment deleted

          9. matt

            Comment deleted,

          10. matt

            John, you are done looking. My answer will not satisfy you because it is not the one you are biased to.

            You have already made up your mind. So don’t act like you haven’t.

            I, nor anybody else have to reconcile anything that God has done in the past. It’s not our place.

          11. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            So if you think everyone has their mind made up, why are you commenting? Funny how poorly you think of me and the people who frequent this blog, yet here you are reading and commenting.

          12. Byroniac

            “Bruce, maybe you should explain all four of your salvation plans and how they differ.”

            Insert “Facepalm” here.

            “Also, the first the chapters of Genesis and polytheism. Can you explain how you came to that conclusion?”

            Insert “LOL” here. Perhaps he just simply picked up the book and read it without any preconceived ideas? A definite no-no, that.

            Bruce, please delete my previous comment as it interpreted what I wrote as HTML, which is my mistake.

          13. John Arthur

            Hi Matt,

            you say that it is not our place to reconcile what God has done in the past, but it was Israel that slaughtered the Canaanites and the human Hebrew text says that God told them to do so.

            If a nation were to commit genocide today, I believe that it is highly probable that you would consider it immoral even if the leaders of that nation were to claim that God told them so. You would probably consider such an act barbaric and see the justification as false. You would likely consider such a view of God barbaric and reject such a concept of God. It is completely incompatible with Jesus’command to love our enemies and his attitude to little children.

            The only reason you believe that God made such a command to the Israelites (as far as I can see) is that you believe the text is infallible and you appear to be caught in a contradiction. Is God violent like the OT claims in some passages or is Jesus the express image or likeness of the invisible God as your holy text claims ?

            Shalom,

            John Arthur

          14. John Arthur

            Hi Matt,

            You say that I have already made up my mind and any answer that you could give I would likely reject because I don’t have a bias towards your view. (Am I interpreting you correctly?)

            Matt, you refuse to read authors that interpret the bible through historical critical methods and suggest that anyone who reads the bible (presumably under the guidance of the Spirit) will come to a conclusion that you would come to. You seem to believe in the clarity of the bible, when read as a whole and in its context.

            Most Conservative Evangelicals agree with the doctrine of the clarity of the bible (at least as pertains to salvation and central Christian doctrines as interpreted by them). But is their claim consistent with the facts?

            By the end of the 16th century, there were less than one hundred denominations. Today there are well over 30, 0000 , each claiming to have the correct interpretation of the bible. Yet they conflict on many doctrines. If all it required was just to read the bible, and if the bible was clear on essential doctrines, why do we have such a proliferation of denominations by people who believe that they are led by the same Spirit?

            Why are you afraid to examine what biblical scholars have found in their researches on the bible? If perfect love cast out fear, and if you actually have the love of God in your heart, why would biblical scholarship or the views of non Christians cause you so much anguish? Surely you would be confident enough to read Bart Ehrman’s books. Surely, you actually believe that God would protect you with his love.

            Bart Ehrman was once a Fundamentalist, a graduate of Moody Bible College and of Wheaton College. He did his PhD in textual criticism at Princeton Theological Seminary under one of the world’s leading textual scholars (Bruce Metzger) but you seem to think that you know more than the leading biblical scholars and that you don’t need to read them.

            How do you know the social setting of an ancient text, the political, economic and social structures which form the unwritten context of the text ,without studying them? The various texts of the bible have both their written context and a shared unwritten context between the authors and the first readers . No amount of just reading the bible can create the shared unwritten context. If you do not study this, you just end up reading the values of the 21st century into the bible, oblivious to the original context.

            Shalom,

            John Arthur

          15. John Arthur

            Hi Matt,

            You say that I have already made up my mind and any answer that you could give I would likely reject because I don’t have a bias towards your view. (Am I interpreting you correctly?)

            Matt, you refuse to read authors that interpret the bible through historical critical methods and suggest that anyone who reads the bible (presumably under the guidance of the Spirit) will come to a conclusion that you would come to. You seem to believe in the clarity of the bible, when read as a whole and in its context.

            Most Conservative Evangelicals agree with the doctrine of the clarity of the bible (at least as pertains to salvation and central Christian doctrines as interpreted by them). But is their claim consistent with the facts?

            By the end of the 16th century, there were less than one hundred denominations. Today there are well over 30, 0000 , each claiming to have the correct interpretation of the bible. Yet they conflict on many doctrines. If all it required was just to read the bible, and if the bible was clear on essential doctrines, why do we have such a proliferation of denominations by people who believe that they are led by the same Spirit?

            Why are you afraid to examine what biblical scholars have found in their researches on the bible? If perfect love cast out fear, and if you actually have the love of God in your heart, why would biblical scholarship or the views of non Christians cause you so much anguish? Surely you would be confident enough to read Bart Ehrman’s books. Surely, you actually believe that God would protect you with his love.

            Bart Ehrman was once a Fundamentalist, a graduate of Moody Bible College and of Wheaton College. He did his PhD in textual criticism at Princeton Theological Seminary under one of the world’s leading textual scholars (Bruce Metzger) but you seem to think that you know more than the leading biblical scholars and that you don’t need to read them.

            How do you know the social setting of an ancient text, the political, economic and social structures which form the unwritten context of the text ,without studying them? The various texts of the bible have both their written context and a shared unwritten context between the authors and the first readers . No amount of just reading the bible can create the shared unwritten context. If you do not study this, you just end up reading the values of the 21st century into the bible, oblivious to the original context.

            Shalom,

            John Arthur

  2. Matt

    The Old Testament is not “devoid” of the gospel. On the contrary, it continually points to a promise of redemption and victory over death and sin. You don’t understand your Bible.

    You are correct when you say, “it is important to NOT read preconceived ideas and beliefs into the text”. The problem is – you do.

    Anybody who attends a church where the pastor does not stand on the Word of God, but instead adds to or takes away from the gospel message of salvation – should leave that church and never return. This is a false teacher preaching a false doctrine.

    It does not matter how long ago God’s Word was recorded or what it was recorded on. It is still the Word of God and it will not change – ever. A wise man will FIRST believe what he reads and THEN he can attempt to teach others. A fool will do the opposite -right?

    Christ alone is the cornerstone of the church, and on Him alone is it built. It is NOT built on man, works or religion.

    Until you can open your mind up and dare to think that you might be wrong, that atheism might be wrong, or that your claims about the Bible might be untrue, there is no hope in reaching you. You are intellectually walled off from any voice but your own.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Again, nice compendium of Evangelical one liners. Have you ever read any of Bart Ehrman’s books? If not, I encourage you to do so.

      Reply
      1. matt

        Bruce, we don’t know how old the universe is, and the Bible doesn’t tell us.

        Can you give any other examples of fictional stories in the Bible other than miracles, which you obviously don’t believe in?

        So, you were a pastor for 25 years and you didn’t even believe the Bible. Why would you waste yours and everyone else’s time?

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Yes, we do know how old the universe is, 14 billion years old. Biblically, if one starts with Genesis 1 and adds up the various chronologies and dates, one comes to 6,019 years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ussher If you are a literalist, then the universe, as created by God in 6 24 hour days, according to the Bible, is 6,019 years old.

          How about historical evidence for most of the historical events recorded in the OT? David? Abraham? Moses? Noah? The Flood? The mass migration of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan? There is very little in the OT that can be verified historically. There is more evidence for Harry Potter than there is some of the characters and events in the Bible.

          In the NT, the gospel accounts wildly differ from one another. How many angels were at the tomb?? Start with that one. The list of discrepancies is long. That said, theologians and sects have found various ways to “explain” these discrepancies. I find their explanations intellectually lacking and little more than attempts to keep people from seeing the emperor has no clothes.

          Of course, I believed the Bible. I was a committed follower of Jesus, as was my wife. Invest some time in reading some of my biographical posts and any questions you might have will be answered. People change. I once was a Christian and not I am not. I suspect that you and I would have had much in common years ago.

          You might find these posts helpful:

          https://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/evangelicalism-atheism-part-one/
          https://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/evangelicalism-atheism-part-two/
          https://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/evangelicalism-atheism-part-three/
          https://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/evangelicalism-atheism-part-four/
          https://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/stopped-believing/
          https://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/danger-box-makes-sense/
          https://brucegerencser.net/2015/02/found-left-box/
          https://brucegerencser.net/2014/12/dear-family-friends-former-parishioners/

          Reply
  3. angie

    It appears that it does not take much to offend people, when someone challenges their views. This is a very insightful passage, and it reminds me of why I am agnostic. I had a hard time accepting the passage in Romans passage about predestination, and I was told that it did not matter if a Christian was saved or not. God already had predetermined list of chosen Christians who would not be sent to hell. This was when I learned about Calvinism, and rejected it. What is the point of being saved and living a Christian life, if one is going to be sent to hell due to not being on this predetermined list? Calvinism and some views from the United Methodist church left me deeply troubled, and being told to not ask questions just turned me away from organized religion.

    Reply
    1. matt

      Angie, Calvinistic predestination is a false teaching. Go find a person who can explain that passage to you more clearly. My advise to you is, don’t worry about what this church or that church is telling you. Read your Bible for yourself, or but a commentary or study Bible to help you understand better. If you understand the entire Bible message from Old to New Testament you will see for yourself easily what Paul meant when he wrote the word predestined.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Matt,

        How about we simplify things. What you believe=correct Anything that deviates from or disagrees with your belief=false

        Pretty well sums it up, yes?

        Even Christians should find your approach offensive. There have been predestinarians in the Christian Church since the days of Augustine. All sects, except Pelagians, believe in some sort of predestination and election. Even Arminians believe in prevenient grace. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevenient_grace

        That said, there is no possible way a person can read the Bible and come to a coherent understanding of predestination and election. What one believes about these things is not based on uninfluenced study but on the sect they are a part of. Every sect thinks they are right. Every sect thinks their interpretation is the right/true interpretation. The Bible can be used to “prove” and justify most every theological system and belief. This is why there are tens of thousands of sects. Didn’t Jesus say that the world would know people are his disciples through their love and unity? One church, one Lord, one Baptism? How’s the working out?

        Reply
  4. matt

    Believing in predestination as a Calvinist or in predestination in the sense that God predestined the entire human race before creation makes no difference on your salvation. You, a 25 year student of the Bible don’t even understand the plan of salvation.

    Your downfall as a so called “Christian” was listening to every false teacher that planted an idea in your head through their books. You naively believed everything you read except the Bible and you put all of your trust in other men and not in Jesus Christ.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      This is your last comment Matt, I will not approve any further comments from you.

      I tried….

      Reply
      1. Becky Wiren

        It’s obvious that Matt didn’t read very many of your blogs and your life history. Because he keeps referring to how you didn’t believe the Bible during your ministry. He is quite obnoxious since he can’t be bothered to even read enough to make accurate comments. He’s self-centered and has a giant ego, at least that’s my impression. I avoid people like him like the plague.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          He refused to read any of the links I suggested. It’s the old…can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink.

          Reply
          1. Byroniac

            I know Matt’s type. I see them from time to time, obnoxious, self-appointed prophets of God with the message of truth from on high and a persecution/martyr complex. I think the especially intelligent ones hope to be used by God and/or their intellect to frustrate the heathen infidels (us) who know not God (nevermind the fact that some of us have a virtual restraining order against the guy in our heads and happen to be well-acquainted with the stalking tendencies of his fan club). “You can’t fix stupid.” This is true for as long as he has divorced himself from reason and evidence and married Divine Truth(TM) from his chosen sect and interpretation of Man’s (oops, God’s) Word. Sigh. I love your replies to him, Bruce. I hope he will eventually give it all some thought, but I suppose that’s rare and shouldn’t be expected.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Change is hard, and life long, hard core fundamentalists rarely change. I may have been a Fundamentalist, but I never would have abused people like I have been abused over the years. I don’t understand it. I suspect the Internet helps give the Matt’s of the world boldness. They are safe from being held accountable for their behavior.

  5. Geoff

    For me Matt sums up the difficulty bible supporters will have for as long as they continue to exist.

    The bible is a book. What kind of book is it? Read without the trappings of christian belief it’s not history, it’s not inspirational, it’s not moralistic, it’s hugely inaccurate, it’s not scientific, it contains reference to events that clearly cannot be true; in short, as a read it’s pretty pointless.

    I do accept that it has its place in the sense of understanding recent human history, and it would be difficult to ignore in this regard. However, the same can be said of Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or Grimms fairy tales. All help us to understand human beings, especially the nature of the times they were written, but none lay claim to any more truth than do others. This includes the bible.

    Reply
    1. Byroniac

      For me, once I stopped believing that the Bible was in any sense magical, I not only read it less often but started comparing it (unfavorably) with other stories I generally have a higher appreciation level for (LOTR, Dune, etc). There is some good stuff in there, as well as some human wisdom. So I can’t say it’s completely worthless. But the thing is, I am not sure I would be worse off if I never read it again for the rest of my life. Lately, I have tried reading it again to refresh my mind, and I made it so far from Genesis to Psalms and now I have been having a tendency to go, “Blah. Think I will skip tonight. (repeat)”. I admire the serious scholarly bent of some people who commit themselves to study a book they no longer believe in (or never did), but that is just not me. If I am going to commit that much time and energy to it, I’m too much of a pragmatist and I want something positive and useful to me for my time spent, and personally, I think I’ve already sunk lower than the point of diminishing returns at this point. But that is just me.

      Reply
      1. Becky Wiren

        You’re better than me. I don’t think I could go through the Old Testament again. Most of it is and was dry as a bone to me, full of laws and death, with some rare bright spots. I would do better if I wanted to read the New Testament, but I don’t. At least not know. 😉

        Reply
        1. Byroniac

          Know the feeling, Becky Wiren, know the feeling.

          Reply
        2. Becky Wiren

          *now

          Reply
  6. Julia Childress

    First time commenter, here. I greatly enjoy your blog. A word about my POV: I have walked through the valley of the shadow of fundamentalism and came out still a Christian, but fundamentalist no longer. Several years ago I took a class in Old Testament taught by a rabbi. During one class, he explained the concept of the JEDP sources of the Pentateuch. A tentative little wail came from the back of the class. A young girl, literally on the verge of tears, blurted out “but Moses wrote the first five books of the bible.” The devil made me do it, but I said “even the part where Moses dies and is buried?” The rabbi then gave an excellent summary of the development of the Hebrew Bible. It turns out that the girl was a home-schooler who had been totally deprived of any information inconsistent with her parents’ world view. However one feels about the bible, it is a book filled with violence and beauty and you miss a lot when you limit it to literalism.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Welcome and thanks for commenting. Literalism and fundamentalism are the problem. Imagine how different the world would be without fundamentalism and its demand that their holy books be taken literally. So much pain, suffering, and death can be traced back to fundamentalists and their holy books.

      Reply
  7. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

    Here’s an article written by a fundamentalist about this article.

    http://galatiansfour.blogspot.com/2015/03/ex-ifb-pastor-still-rejects-word-of-god.html

    The author used to comment here from time to time. He has now determined he can’t reach us so he has knocked the dust off his sandals and moved on. I am glad for him. Sure wouldn’t want him having dirty feet all the time. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Byroniac

      Bruce, am I allowed to facepalm on offsite commentary on one of your blog posts? Because I need to, now. Oops, too late, I already did (better to ask forgiveness than permission and all that).

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Yes you may. 🙂

        Reply
    2. John Arthur

      Hi Bruce,

      He might not be commenting is still reading your website and making another post about you. I suspect he feels threatened by what you write.

      The 4 canonical Gospels were most probably written between about CE 70 and CE 100 as most biblical scholars hold (some 40 -70 years after Jesus’ death), yet ‘Bible Believer’ claims that this is false and says that this view has been spread around by Rome, without giving due recognition to non Catholic biblical scholars who also support this view.

      He is a hyper-Fundamentalist. He says that you cannot divorce the bible and Jesus, (and judging by his large quote in red at the end of his post) does he really mean “in the beginning was the bible (Word) and the bible (Word) was with God and the bible (Word) was God?

      The guy is crazy and I agree that it is a good thing he has decided to discontinue blogging here.
      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  8. matt

    Comment deleted

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Hi Matt,

      You tried to put two irrelevant comments on my website that had nothing to do with the Dalai Lama’s view that that his religion is kindness.

      You asked me how to reconcile the jihadist Jesus of the book of Revelation with my view of Jesus as love, yet you refuse to say how you can reconcile the violent god of much of the OT with the Jesus of the Gospels who told us to love our enemies.

      I don’t try to reconcile them. The Jihadist Jesus of the violent and bloody book of Revelation is consistent with the violent view of God in some part of the OT, but is totally inconsistent with the view of Jesus in the bulk of the 4 Gospels material (except the terrible doctrine of hell which I totally reject).

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
      1. matt

        Comment deleted

        Reply
    2. John Arthur

      Hi Matt,

      You tried to carry on the conversation on Bruce’s website on mine, but your comments were totally irrelevant to the Dalai Lama’s view of religion.

      Your long rant in defence of the KJV is not supported by the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars, including a very substantial majority of Evangelical scholars.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  9. matt

    Comment deleted.

    Reply
  10. Dale

    Cut and paste from fundamentalist website removed.

    I did not even bother to comment on the rest of your message. Because if you don’t understand this above information then everything else won’t matter.

    I would add that to say that you defected from the Christians is impossible since the scriptures say that if we had a genuine conversion though repentance from our sins and we convicted that we have no hope in our own ability to be right with God because draws us to him by faith and by grace from him we would never leave him. But our leaving showed we never recieved him as saviour and Lord.

    Reply
    1. another ami

      Good grief, is this idiot Sarah Palin’s speech writer? Can we prosecute these folks for murdering spelling, syntax, grammar and the English language in general?
      “,,,genuine conversion though repentance from our sins and we convicted that we have no hope in our own ability to be right with God because draws us…”. The stupid, it burns.

      Reply
      1. Geoff

        I agree, I really have no idea as to what Dale is babbling on about.

        Reply
  11. Brian

    I had not read this thread until the last few comments appeared. I have now read it. At the very beginning Matt the military man who dearly needs to watch Full Metal Jacket, writes in part: “NO ONE can be saved…”
    I agree with this five word excerpt. Ain’t none of us getting out alive.
    But we are alive today and the rent is paid to the end of the month!

    Reply

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