Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Greatest Experiment

Yesterday, I was actively involved with posting comments over at the Christian Post article response website. However, when I tried to log in and continue the conversation there, I was unable to log in. Could I have been banned for some reason?

Anyway, the article I was responding to was Atheists 'Evangelizing' in America; How Christians Can Respond. You can also view the comments that I had contributed there.

Two of the last few comments there (as of Thursday, Oct. 13th at 9:15 a.m.) were directed towards me. They were posted by a person with the screen name of "Citizen."

This is what he/she wrote:

Christinewjc: You don't know what your dad saw, and you don't know why he suddenly got better. But you've taken that lack of knowledge and filled it with the assumptions of faith, rather than being honest and admitting that you do not know, and leaving it at that.

christinewjc: It's important to add however, that what I've said does not detract from the specialness of your dad being able to enjoy some last pleasures before he went. That's special even if without knowledge of why it happened.

Citizen was replying to my comment which read as follows:

No Citizen. Your analysis of me and my beliefs is incomplete and therefore, incorrect. Taking the "believe it, then I'll see it" concept a bit further, I suggest you read about a very special, supernatural spiritual experience that I had had at the time when my dad was very ill with lung cancer. Because of faith, destiny is fixed.

It is but one of many where God has come through and strengthened me towards steadfast faith in Jesus Christ.

I am sorry to read that you were once a believer, but have now abandoned the faith. It is never too late to turn your life back around towards faith in Jesus, though. There is always hope.

Since I was unable to log back into the conversation there, I posted a comment here at this blog. This was my response:

If "Citizen" decides to come over here to read this thread:

Just wanted to tell you two things. I have been unable to log in at the Christian Post. I tried many times this morning, and it would not work. Perhaps I have been banned? I don't know.

Anyway, I wanted to share one more thing about my experience with my dad.

This morning, the Holy Spirit brought back to mind another word that my dad said when he referred to "Joe." My dad called him "my buddy Joe." That is more accurately how he answered my question when I asked, "What dad?" He replied, "I was talking to my buddy Joe."

Now, this may seem trivial to anyone who did not know my dad. However, it is an important point when considering this encounter.

My dad typically referred to his fellow air force companions as "buddies." I'm sure it was probably commonly used terminology within the military in WWII.

It is for that reason that when I asked my mom if dad knows a "Joe," the war buddy conclusion made more sense. I don't recall my dad having a good friend named "Joe" during the years I lived with my parents (or, even thereafter, for that matter!).

The fact that he called him my buddy Joe leads me to believe that he was, in fact, visited by an angel of the Lord and the angel appeared to him in the likeness of his war buddy, Joe. My dad seemed quite comfortable and unafraid while he was listening to "Joe." This indicates a likelihood of familiarity.

Of course, I can't prove anything to you about this. But I wanted to make that clarification anyway.

Within the comments there, I referred "Citizen" to a former blogpost called The Folly of the God Haters

You might want to read through the comments there. One new comment, in particular, was so good that I wanted to bring it up here so that everyone who regularly reads this blog would not miss it. It was written by a commenter named Analyst:

Analyst said...
Juan Buehler said
"These atheists would not make such a big deal of christianity if it was less pervasive, as other mythologies are."

What we really have here is the cultural fallout from such a long christian silence in the marketplace, that such truly ridiculous sentiments not only actually exist but are alarmingly widespread. Christians, Jews, or anyone who walks with Jesus the Jewish Messiah, knows that there is nothing mythological about God or the Bible at all. The real myths are the rumors that the Bible is full of inaccuracies or has been proven wrong, or that God is to blame for evil, etc, etc.

For the most part, atheists have their perspective of Christians entirely backward. It is not that followers of Jesus cannot think or abandon rational thought, but that they know, from personal experience, that no amount of rational discussion can take the place of meeting the Creator personally. [And unfortunately, that tends to produce a kind of intellectual laziness, in the same sense that you might brush off someone who says you're not married when you were in your own wedding and go home to your spouse every day.]

No mythology can produce changed lives and miraculous events - simple fact. Of course those who have experienced those things will believe in them, while many of those who have not personally experienced them are going to question or ridicule them.

The difference is that while unbelievers "don't know" if there's a God, or have defined a god as Juan just did (set of rules we couldn't obey, etc.) on their own in a way that God "doesn't deserve my respect", true Christians have done a radical thing: they have read or heard the Bible - at least portions of the New Testament or New Torah - and have given God the chance to speak for Himself, and prove Himself on His terms.

And it is the history of these millions of changed lives throughout the centuries, and the immensely positive results on society, that should give everyone serious doubts that God's existence can be rationally dismissed.

However, Christians have so abandoned interaction in our society, for so long, that people cannot recognize the historical nonsense revisionism about the supposed horrible problems with God and Christianity. They cannot correctly identify a personal belief in the personal and loving God of the Bible as the overwhelming primary source of historic American events such as Abolition, Women's Suffrage, child labor laws, public education, colleges and universities (for more than the first 100 years), and much more.

Further, those who do not know God are not able - on their own - to recognize that the evil that is attributed to Christianity has everything to do with those who chose to do evil, and nothing to do with the approval of either God or Christians who follow Him. Ironically, they also seem unable to recognize the real evils of dictatorships/regimes/governments that torture and murder millions of people without conscience.

Until an atheist is willing to try what I call the Greatest Experiment, they have no license to talk about the very subject of their greatest ignorance as if they are experts on it, while treating those who know God as if they are blind nuts. That's real arrogance. At least all true Christians have been in the shoes of unbelievers, but the reverse is not (or very rarely) true. [By "true Christian", I'm talking about those who personally know God and walk with Him and obey Him, in contrast to the too-common political or social sense where someone thinks they are a Christian because they live in America or visit a church a few times a year.]

What's the Greatest Experiment? It's this: acknowledging that if there is a loving Creator God who bothered to reveal Himself through the Bible, then He certainly has the right to judge us as He chooses and has warned us, and further, that if He is a loving God then we can pray and ask HIM to reveal Himself to us, and ask Him to change our heart and life, and promise Him that if He can do that, and really does love us, then we will read His Word and try to obediently serve Him with a whole heart - since He has promised to help us.

That's the Greatest Experiment, and everyone who tries it will find that it's as scientific as anything will ever need to be for them - because if God radically changes them from the inside out and puts His spirit in their hearts to walk with them through daily life, and guides and empowers and comforts them in difficult circumstances, as Christians claim He does, then for that person God becomes a proven fact - case closed.

Of course, one appealing beauty of the Greatest Experiment is that if we are sincere in our prayer, yet God doesn't show up in our lives, then we're off the hook! So, why not try the experiment and make sure that he doesn't exist, so that you can brag that you personally tried the Experiment. But people whose hearts are selfishly & rebelliously determined to be their own god will not give God any legitimately sincere opportunity to prove Himself. Instead, they'll presume to judge God, and thumb their nose at the fact that God has promised to save us if we'll accept the provision He sent in having His Son suffer and die for the penalty of our rebellion, in our place, and to judge and sentance us if we refuse the only acceptable substitute payment for our rebellion.

Christine - thank you for your efforts. Found your blog tonight for the first time. Awesome.

October 10, 2007 8:27:00 PM PDT

Wow!! All I can say is what a terrific comment...and thank you Analyst!

HT: Christian Business Daily

The Christian Post

With special thanks to Analyst for his excellent comment!!

Thought for the day:

The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel.
Thomas Watson


Doug said...

Nice work, C!

Atheism seems to be the fastest growing religion in the country.

Christinewjc said...

Hey Doug,

Thanks for the compliment! I think most of the "good work" words belong to Analyst, though. I have read his/her essay several times now and it speaks so vividly about what Christians face regarding the "New Atheism." The writer also covered the reasons we can have absolute confidence in God, His Word, the Bible, and, of course, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Atheism may be growing, especially because of all the new books about it that have been published recently. However, Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds over...way over any and all of their futile efforts.

It appears that the usual visiting atheist/skeptic/agnostic commenters have nothing to say about this post...

1Sa 2:9 He will guard the feet of His saints, But the wicked shall be silent in darkness.

"For by strength no man shall prevail.

Average Citizen said...

Hello, christinewjc,

I am Citizen from Christian Post. As requested I am responding here. As it happens, I have already tried the "Greatest Experiment." It lasted three years. So I am perfectly qualified, according to your friend's standards, to state that mythology is eminently capable of producing changed lives and miraculous events.

How? Easy. Accepting a mythologying involves changing your mind, and that is something very powerful. Our thoughts cause our emotions, they influence how we see the past, they can lead to depression or lead us out of it. They may even be able to change our brain chemistry. It's not a shock that someone changing their mind would lead to changing their actions too. Doesn't have to be a supernatural result.

Same thing with miraculous events. When you've got a mythology, ordinary, everyday occurrances will be read for signs that reinforce said mythology. You will give credence to stories that reinforce the mythology, when otherwise you wouldn't. Coincidences will suddenly seem purposeful. Its very superstitious.

Moreover, your commenters comment that Christians had been absent from the marketplace is absurd. Christianity has seeped into every pore of our government, Christian leaders are asked to comment on the moral issues of the day, as though they had any more moral expertise than a philosopher, or a cook, or even a stay-at-home mother. The Churches are still there. Christianity hasn't been absent from the marketplace, its just been hiding behind the special protection from criticism it receives. Protection that is now being dismantled, and about time too.

I've read the bible, and I've found the god portrayed there to be a vengeful, petty, jealous, spiteful, nationalistic, domineering, totalitarian, feudal, arbitrary god, with the morality of a mafia protection racket. This god has no justice, because he accounts every sin alike, whereas justice would be recognizing that some crimes are greater than others. He has no justice, because no crime is so heinous as to be worth eternal torture. Even worse, his followers claim that he's holy, and therefore above judgement. Power claiming to be above judgement and accountability is corrupt. This is a being that you think is worthy of worship? This is someone you want judging you? If this were my judge, I'd ask him to recuse himself, or try to get him impeached for corruption and racketeering.

I also read your "folly of the god haters" post, and I can tell you that all the talk of atheists being fools has caused me to wonder if according to the bible, the bible itself is going to hell. Isn't jesus quoted as saying that those who say "you fool" are in danger of hellfire? Guess the bible is goin' to hell. Ironic, really.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Average Citizen,

Welcome to Talk Wisdom.
Since you have tried the Great Experiment for three years (as you have claimed) then perhaps you can consider yourself off the hook! But then, there's that nagging sense of emptiness when one is not reconciled back to our God, our Creator. Note that Analyst mentioned the need for being sincere in our prayer.

Did you pray? Did you confess and repent? Did you humble yourself before the Lord thy God? Did you drop your arrogance, pride, and "I'll do it my way" attitude so that through confession and repentance, the love of God could be manifested through Christ's sacrificial death at the cross for your personal sins? Did you ask Him to be Lord of your life? Once cleansed of your sin, did you ask the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your life so that he could lead to unto all truth through the power of Jesus Christ?

One more thing. You misinterpreted (as atheists so often do) Jesus' quote in Scripture. You quoted only part of it:

Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

It is usually wise (as well as definitely needed here) to read the Scripture both before and after a single verse. This helps prevent misinterpretation. Also, proper hermeunetics, Scripture interprets Scripture, Sola Scriptura, and proper exegesis (as exhibited below in Henry's commentary) is essential when studying the Bible and researching the meaning being brought forth by the author, as well as the speaker being quoted within Scripture.

Make note that Jesus was referring to a brother - who is generally, in Scripture, regarded as a fellow believer.

Matthew Henry commentary:

Mat 5:21-26

[quote]Christ having laid down these principles, that Moses and the prophets were still to be their rulers, but that the scribes and Pharisees were to be no longer their rulers, proceeds to expound the law in some particular instances, and to vindicate it from the corrupt glosses which those expositors had put upon it. He adds not any thing new, only limits and restrains some permissions which had been abused: and as to the precepts, shows the breadth, strictness, and spiritual nature of them, adding such explanatory statutes as made them more clear, and tended much toward the perfecting of our obedience to them. In these verses, he explains the law of the sixth commandment, according to the true intent and full extent of it.

I. Here is the command itself laid down (v. 12); We have heard it, and remember it; he speaks to them who know the law, who had Moses read to them in their synagogues every sabbath-day; you have heard that it was said by them, or rather as it is in the margin, to them of old time, to your forefathers the Jews, Thou shalt not kill. Note, The laws of God are not novel, upstart laws, but were delivered to them of old time; they are ancient laws, but of that nature as never to be antiquated nor grow obsolete. The moral law agrees with the law of nature, and the eternal rules and reasons of good and evil, that is, the rectitude of the eternal Mind. Killing is here forbidden, killing ourselves, killing any other, directly or indirectly, or being any way accessory to it. The law of God, the God of life, is a hedge of protection about our lives. It was one of the precepts of Noah, Gen. 9:5, 6.

II. The exposition of this command which the Jewish teachers contended themselves with; their comment upon it was, Whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. This was all they had to say upon it, that wilful murderers were liable to the sword of justice, and casual ones to the judgment of the city of refuge. The courts of judgment sat in the gate of their principal cities; the judges, ordinarily, were in number twenty-three; these tried, condemned, and executed murderers; so that whoever killed, was in danger of their judgment. Now this gloss of theirs upon this commandment was faulty, for it intimated, 1. That the law of the sixth commandment was only external, and forbade no more than the act of murder, and laid to restraint upon the inward lusts, from which wars and fightings come. This was indeed the proµton pseudos—the fundamental error of the Jewish teachers, that the divine law prohibited only the sinful act, not the sinful thought; they were disposed haerere in cortice—to rest in the letter of the law, and they never enquired into the spiritual meaning of it. Paul, while a Pharisee, did not, till, by the key of the tenth commandment, divine grace let him into the knowledge of the spiritual nature of all the rest, Rom. 7:7, 14. 2. Another mistake of theirs was, that this law was merely political and municipal, given for them, and intended as a directory for their courts, and no more; as if they only were the people, and the wisdom of the law must die with them.

III. The exposition which Christ gave of this commandment; and we are sure that according to his exposition of it we must be judged hereafter, and therefore ought to be ruled now. The commandment is exceeding broad, and not to be limited by the will of the flesh, or the will of men.

1. Christ tells them that rash anger is heart-murder (v. 22); Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, breaks the sixth commandment. By our brother here, we are to understand any person, though ever so much our inferior, as a child, a servant, for we are all made of one blood. Anger is a natural passion; there are cases in which it is lawful and laudable; but it is then sinful, when we are angry without cause. The word is eikeµ, which signifies, sine causâ, sine effectu, et sine modo—without cause, without any good effect, without moderation; so that the anger is then sinful, (1.) When it is without any just provocation given; either for no cause, or no good cause, or no great and proportionable cause; when we are angry at children or servants for that which could not be helped, which was only a piece of forgetfulness or mistake, that we ourselves might easily have been guilty of, and for which we should not have been angry at ourselves; when we are angry upon groundless surmises, or for trivial affronts not worth speaking of. (2.) When it is without any good end aimed at, merely to show our authority, to gratify a brutish passion, to let people know our resentments, and excite ourselves to revenge, then it is in vain, it is to do hurt; whereas if we are at any time angry, it should be to awaken the offender to repentance, and prevent his doing so again; to clear ourselves (2 Co. 7:11), and to give warning to others. (3.) When it exceeds due bounds; when we are hardy and headstrong in our anger, violent and vehement, outrageous and mischievous, and when we seek the hurt of those we are displeased at. This is a breach of the sixth commandment, for he that is thus angry, would kill if he could and durst; he has taken the first step toward it; Cain’s killing his brother began in anger; he is a murderer in the account of God, who knows his heart, whence murder proceeds, ch. 15:19.

2. He tells them, that given opprobrious language to our brother is tongue-murder, calling him, Raca, and, Thou fool. When this is done with mildness and for a good end, to convince others of their vanity and folly, it is not sinful. Thus James says, O vain man; and Paul, Thou fool; and Christ himself, O fools, and slow of heart. But when it proceeds from anger and malice within, it is the smoke of that fire which is kindled from hell, and falls under the same character. (1.) Raca is a scornful word, and comes from pride, "Thou empty fellow;’’ it is the language of that which Solomon calls proud wrath (Prov. 21:24), which tramples upon our brother-disdains to set him even with the dogs of our flock. This people who knoweth not the law, is cursed, is such language, Jn. 7:49. (2.) Thou fool, is a spiteful word, and comes from hatred; looking upon him, not only as mean and not to be honoured, but as vile and not to be loved; "Thou wicked man, thou reprobate.’’ The former speaks a man without sense, this (in scripture language) speaks a man without grace; the more the reproach touches his spiritual condition, the worse it is; the former is a haughty taunting of our brother, this is a malicious censuring and condemning of him, as abandoned of God. Now this is a breach of the sixth commandment; malicious slanders and censures are poison under the tongue, that kills secretly and slowly; bitter words are as arrows that would suddenly (Ps. 64:3), or as a sword in the bones. The good name of our neighbour, which is better than life, is thereby stabbed and murdered; and it is an evidence of such an ill-will to our neighbour as would strike at his life, if it were in our power.

3. He tells them, that how light soever they made of these sins, they would certainly be reckoned for; he that is angry with is brother shall be in danger of the judgment and anger of God; he that calls him Raca, shall be in danger of the council, of being punished by the Sanhedrim for reviling an Israelite; but whosoever saith, Thou fool, thou profane person, thou child of hell, shall be in danger of hell-fire, to which he condemns his brother; so the learned Dr. Whitby. Some think, in allusion to the penalties used in the several courts of judgment among the Jews, Christ shows that the sin of rash anger exposes men to lower or higher punishments, according to the degrees of its proceeding. The Jews had three capital punishments, each worse than the other; beheading, which was inflicted by the judgment; stoning, by the council or chief Sanhedrim; and burning in the valley of the son of Hinnom, which was used only in extraordinary cases: it signifies, therefore, that rash anger and reproachful language are damning sins; but some are more sinful than others, and accordingly there is a greater damnation, and a sorer punishment reserved for them: Christ would thus show which sin was most sinful, by showing which it was the punishment whereof was most dreadful.

IV. From all this it is here inferred, that we ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with our brethren, and that if at any time a breach happens, we should labour for a reconciliation, by confessing our fault, humbling ourselves to our brother, begging his pardon, and making restitution, or offering satisfaction for wrong done in word or deed, according as the nature of the thing is; and that we should do this quickly for two reasons:

1. Because, till this be done, we are utterly unfit for communion with God in holy ordinances, v. 23, 24. The case supposed is, "That thy brother have somewhat against thee,’’ that thou has injured and offended him, either really or in his apprehension; if thou are the party offended, there needs not this delay; if thou have aught against thy brother, make short work of it; no more is to be done but to forgive him (Mk. 11:25), and forgive the injury; but if the quarrel began on thy side, and the fault was either at first or afterwards thine, so that thy brother has a controversy with thee, go and be reconciled to him before thou offer thy gift at the altar, before thou approach solemnly to God in the gospel-services of prayer and praise, hearing the word or the sacraments. Note, (1.) When we are addressing ourselves to any religious exercises, it is good for us to take that occasion of serious reflection and self-examination: there are many things to be remembered, when we bring our gift to the altar, and this among the rest, whether our brother hath aught against us; then, if ever, we are disposed to be serious, and therefore should then call ourselves to an account. (2.) Religious exercises are not acceptable to God, if they are performed when we are in wrath; envy, malice, and uncharitableness, are sins so displeasing to God, that nothing pleases him which comes from a heart wherein they are predominant, 1 Tim. 2:8. Prayers made in wrath are written in gall, Isa. 1:15; 58:4. (3.) Love or charity is so much better than all burnt-offerings and sacrifice, that God will have reconciliation made with an offended brother before the gift be offered; he is content to stay for the gift, rather than have it offered while we are under guilt and engaged in a quarrel. (4.) Though we are unfitted for communion with God, by a continual quarrel with a brother, yet that can be no excuse for the omission or neglect of our duty: "Leave there thy gift before the altar, lest otherwise, when thou has gone away, thou be tempted not to come again.’’ Many give this as a reason why they do not come to church or to the communion, because they are at variance with some neighbour; and whose fault is that? One sin will never excuse another, but will rather double the guilt. Want of charity cannot justify the want of piety. The difficulty is easily got over; those who have wronged us, we must forgive; and those whom we have wronged, we must make satisfaction to, or at least make a tender of it, and desire a renewal of the friendship, so that if reconciliation be not made, it may not be our fault; and then come, come and welcome, come and offer thy gift, and it shall be accepted. Therefore we must not let the sun go down upon our wrath any day, because we must go to prayer before we go to sleep; much less let the sun rise upon our wrath on a sabbath-day, because it is a day of prayer.

2. Because, till this be done, we lie exposed to much danger, v. 25, 26. It is at our peril if we do not labour after an agreement, and that quickly, upon two accounts:

(1.) Upon a temporal account. If the offence we have done to our brother, in his body, goods, or reputation, be such as will bear action, in which he may recover considerable damages, it is our wisdom, and it is our duty to our family, to prevent that by a humble submission and a just and peaceable satisfaction; lest otherwise he recover it by law, and put us to the extremity of a prison. In such a case it is better to compound and make the best terms we can, than to stand it out; for it is in vain to contend with the law, and there is danger of our being crushed by it. Many ruin their estates by an obstinate persisting in the offences they have given, which would soon have been pacified by a little yielding at first. Solomon’s advice in case of suretyship is, Go, humble thyself, and so secure and deliver thyself, Prov. 6:1-5. It is good to agree, for the law is costly. Though we must be merciful to those we have advantage against, yet we must be just to those that have advantage against us, as far as we are able. "Agree, and compound with thine adversary quickly, lest he be exasperated by thy stubbornness, and provoked to insist upon the utmost demand, and will not make thee the abatement which at first he would have made.’’ A prison is an uncomfortable place to those who are brought to it by their own pride and prodigality, their own wilfulness and folly.

(2.) Upon a spiritual account. "Go, and be reconciled to thy brother, be just to him, be friendly with him, because while the quarrel continues, as thou art unfit to bring thy gift to the altar, unfit to come to the table of the Lord, so thou art unfit to die: if thou persist in this sin, there is danger lest thou be suddenly snatched away by the wrath of God, whose judgment thou canst not escape nor except against; and if that iniquity be laid to thy charge, thou art undone for ever.’’ Hell is a prison for all that live and die in malice and uncharitableness, for all that are contentious (Rom. 2:8), and out of that prison there is no rescue, no redemption, no escape, to eternity.

This is very applicable to the great business of our reconciliation to God through Christ; Agree with him quickly, whilst thou art in the way. Note, [1.] The great God is an Adversary to all sinners, antidikos—a law-adversary; he has a controversy with them, an action against them. [2.] It is our concern to agree with him, to acquaint ourselves with him, that we may be at peace, Job 22:21; 2 Co. 5:20. [3.] It is our wisdom to do this quickly, while we are in the way. While we are alive, we are in the way; after death, it will be too late to do it; therefore give not sleep to thine eyes till it be done. [4.] They who continue in a state of enmity to God, are continually exposed to the arrests of his justice, and the most dreadful instances of his wrath. Christ is the Judge, to whom impenitent sinners will be delivered; for all judgment is committed to the Son; he that was rejected as a Saviour, cannot be escaped as a Judge, Rev. 6:16, 17. It is a fearful thing to be thus turned over to the Lord Jesus, when the Lamb shall become the Lion. Angels are the officers to whom Christ will deliver them (ch. 13:41, 42); devils are so too, having the power of death as executioners to all unbelievers, Heb. 2:14. Hell is the prison, into which those will be cast that continue in a state of enmity to God, 2 Pt. 2:4. [5.] Damned sinners must remain in it to eternity; they shall not depart till they have paid the uttermost farthing, and that will not be to the utmost ages of eternity: divine justice will be for ever in the satisfying, but never satisfied. [end quote]

Also, check out The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge for corresponding verses.

Christinewjc said...

One more thing. Jesus said, "...That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause."

So, being angry without a cause is another stipulation within the entire quote that needs to be considered in our interpretation of this verse and portion of Scripture.

didymus said...

Average Citizen,

I was skimming through your comment, you mention that you have read the Bible and that you found the God portrayed there to be a vengeful, petty, jealous, … etc. I’ve read the Bible to and I can see what your saying. I’d like to recommend a book that you made me think of, or maybe you’ve already read it, God: A Biography, by Jack Miles. It certainly won’t convert you to Christianity, but it may flesh out some of the reasons why you see what you see when you read the Bible. (I don’t agree with everything the book says, but it definitely changed my point of view about God, and broadened my hermeneutical horizons).

Hilton Harrell Jr said...


Christinewjc said...

Hi Didymus,

Welcome to Talk Wisdom!

Sounds like an interesting book. The viewpoint that God is mean in the OT seems to be a constant theme with atheists, agnostics and skeptics. Perhaps Miles' book will shed some light on the subject.

Since you stated in your comment that the book "won't convert you to Christianity," I was wondering from what perspective/worldview does the author share his thoughts and conclusions?

Christinewjc said...

Hello Hilton Harrell Jr.,

Welcome to Talk Wisdom!

Went over to your link and saw that brief monkey video...hilarious! Looks like you have a dozen other blogs too! Skimmed through some of your posts. It's definitely a place that I will be visiting again!

Keep up the great work!

mike rucker said...

>No mythology can produce changed
>lives and miraculous events -
>simple fact.

actually, much more complex mistruth. changed lives happen all the time, for the good and for the not so good, upon things that may or may not have the facts to back them up.

what do you say to a billion budhhists, or muslims, or hindus, or native americans, or any of an endless list of humans over the spans of time who have reached out and met God without having a bible or an apologetics license?

i know your heart is open wide, but your mind is a little too closed. God gives us the revelation we *need* for *our* benefit, not as a basis to judge us for *his*.

the world doesn't need another christian with a well-formed outline in her hand, christinewjc. the world needs christians with one hand held open up to God and one hand stretched out to others. that's the message of Jesus' cross we seem to have missed.

mike rucker

Christinewjc said...

Hello Mike,

Welcome to Talk Wisdom!

First, that was a quote from someone else, not me. Also, he was referring to the fact that those who do not believe in Christ's resurrection from the dead and, instead, call it "mythology" often cannot answer as to why all the disciples (except John) ran away during the time of the crucifixion, but returned as fearless followers (even unto their own deaths) when they saw the risen Christ.

Since this conversation was brought over from another site, perhaps you missed these details.

I agree that "changed lives happen all the time." However, Analyst was specifically discussing the changed lives of the disciples once they witnessed the resurrection of Christ.

Also, the changed lives of millions of Christians since then is evidence of the truth of the Gospel of salvation through Christ.

In my own opinion, other religions can actually be a stepping stone towards true faith in Jesus Christ. However, as Jesus tells us in the Bible there is only one way to God and it is through His Son.

I glanced at your blog and noticed that you label yourself a "former fundamentalist." Thus, I sense your aversion towards me and the subjects covered here at my blog.

mike rucker said...

i'm sorry if my tone came off as "aversion to you". that wasn't my intent, although i do have the tendency to poke people in the eye upon first encountering them, just to get the ball rolling, so to speak. :)

your subjects are very timely and critical, and i look forward to reading more of them.

at this point we've reached different conclusions; hopefully, we can learn from each other.

what is crippling our country right now are people who stake out one position and never move, wearing a badge of "integrity" or "truth" or "standing for principles." none of that is wrong in itself, but if we both sit at each end waiting for the other to come over, there's no hope for us or our children.

setting aside differences and abandoning principles are two entirely different things - and that's what people in your camp - and here i'm admittedly judging you, if only on the evidence i have so far - forgive me if i'm wrong - that's what people in your camp do not seem to understand.

glad to have crossed your path.

mike rucker

Christinewjc said...


Ah! I're criticism is well taken. In fact, it sounds a bit like an analogy that I recently read in J. Vernon McGee's Jesus - The Centerpiece of Scripture.

Vernon was discussing the fact that on the first day of preaching at summer conferences, he always spoke on sin. Two preachers wanted an interview with him and asked, "Do you preach like this in your own pulpit?" Vernon replied, "Well, I never change my message. We have two or three members of my church here, and you can go ask them."

They said, "How do you get by with it? Don't you get in trouble?" He replied, "Yes, I do. Frankly, God has given me a wonderful church, some of the most wonderful people. No preacher in this day of Laodicea should be ungrateful when 2,500 people come out to midweek Bible study."

McGee went on to share how there are some members of the congregation that criticize him. Then McGee said this, "They criticize the preacher so that they can divert attention from themselves because they know they're rotten within. But they don't want to face up to it."

I shared all of this with you as a lead up to McGee's question posed to the preachers.

"Have you ever noticed that when you throw a rock at a bunch of dogs, it's always the hit dog that hollers?"


If the truth be told, we all must realize that each and every one of us needs to first be that "hit dog" before the Gospel of salvation can heal us.

Christinewjc said...

P.S. Glad to have crossed your path, too, Mike. We can all learn from each other...that's for sure!

mike rucker said...

wanted to share this with you, since you helped me see it today.

mike rucker

didymus said...

Christinewjc asks, I was wondering from what perspective/worldview does the author share his thoughts and conclusions?

I believe he, Jack Miles, is a liberal Episcopalian, and he writes the book from the perspective of the Bible as literature, with God as the main protagonist in an evolving story. It allows him to draw out the different facets and evolving nature of God’s character.

Christinewjc said...

Wow Mike! Am I sensing a bit of a change of heart in you?

I read what you wrote last night. I want to read it again when I return from all of my errands today!

God bless!

Christinewjc said...

Hi Didymus,

Thanks for the clarification.

What I am about to say is not meant to take away from the man's literary achievement. However, the author's view about God's character and nature appears to be incorrect.

I don't think that I can agree that God's character and nature is an evolving one. It may be perceived that way (in the worldview of the typical liberal mindset; such as is evident in the case of Miles and his book); but the Bible is filled with Scriptures emphasizing how God's character and nature does not change.

How mankind perceives God, can, and oftentimes most definitely does, change. But God Himself does not change.

mike rucker said...


you never gave me any other feedback; i've been holding my breath now for 22 hours, 11 minutes, and 7 seconds...

i haven't had a change of heart, just a little more revealed to me, i think. not to toot my horn, but i have never heard salvation, hell, etc., expressed like this, and to me - finally - it all seems to fit.

i've been going back and forth with some people on that joel osteen comments page, and i swear to you, christine, it's the christians these days who can be the most critical and ungracious. a few of our final exhanges - me, ben and a girl named lori - were taken off the page because we got a little nasty (i was just having fun at their expense - i have to keep a sense of humor in all this) with each other. but if christians who want to stick to a literal interpretation can't address the judgmental and intolerant tone that accompanies their every word, we're all going to pay. you may be right in the end, but if you cannot make your point with at least an attitude of sincerely wanting to understand the other side, how can you claim to have the spirit of Christ?

thanks for reading my writings - my own wife and daughters have said they don't want to hear any more... :)

mike rucker

Christinewjc said...

Hi Mike,


Sorry about the delay. I've had two busy family-needs-type days in a row.

I wanted to re-read your post so that I could discover what it was exactly that was revealed to you. You summed it up quite well when your wrote:

"...but i have never heard salvation, hell, etc., expressed like this, and to me - finally - it all seems to fit."

You wrote: "i've been going back and forth with some people on that joel osteen comments page, and i swear to you, christine, it's the christians these days who can be the most critical and ungracious. a few of our final exhanges - me, ben and a girl named lori - were taken off the page because we got a little nasty (i was just having fun at their expense - i have to keep a sense of humor in all this) with each other. but if christians who want to stick to a literal interpretation can't address the judgmental and intolerant tone that accompanies their every word, we're all going to pay. you may be right in the end, but if you cannot make your point with at least an attitude of sincerely wanting to understand the other side, how can you claim to have the spirit of Christ?"

I need to get back over to the Challies blog. So, that must be where you found a link to Talk Wisdom? I did one post there but haven't been back yet.

The part of your comment that I placed in bold above has often been attributed to me at this blog. Sometimes the criticism was correct. Other times, it wasn't.

I think that before the Good News of the Gospel is shared with non-believers, the bad news of our sin condition and need for repentance must also be shared. As the "hit dog" analogy shows, it hurts to be hit with the reality of our sin problem.

Some Christians do a much better job than I by gently nudging people towards Christ through love. However, eventually, the step towards repentance of sin must be dealt with. I have come to understand that no matter how lovingly we present it, the act of dropping one's pride, realizing our sinful nature, understanding that we cannot "cure" ourselves, seeing the truth of the Bible and Who it reveals, coming to the cross of Christ on our knees in repentance, humbly confessing our sins and our need for the Savior, asking for forgiveness which enables the Lord to take our sins away through faith, inviting Jesus to live in our hearts through the Holy Spirit's indwelling, and thus coming full circle realizing what Christ has done for us, is first a very hurtful course to journey in which then becomes a joyful and amazing grace experience.

It is only then that we, as believers have the scales fall off of our eyes and the blinders removed from the truth that is right there before us. His name is Jesus Christ. The realization of the mercy, grace, and love of our Righteous and Holy God for us absolutely surpasses anything that we could ever experience on this earth. This leads to us becoming a "new creation" in Christ and we are never the same.

Sharing the salvation message of Jesus Christ with others is then the main focus of every born again Christian. We may never do it perfectly, but God has chosen his children to carry on the Great Commission; despite our fallibilities in doing so.

I have heard some Christians say that their mentor(s) never said anything that would ever condemn, judge or hurt them. It was the love of Christ through the mentor that shined through and brought them to the cross of Christ.

Then, I have heard testimonies of those who literally needed the Bible thumped over their heads in order to come to repentance.

Of course, there are all of those inbetween those two scenarios, too.

I'm glad to read your writings, Mike. I hear ya about family "not wanting to hear any more." That happens to me whenever I try to discuss Creation/Intelligent Design vs. Darwinism with my family. Their eyes glaze over! heh heh

Interestingly enough, I recently had a discussion with my daughter because her biology professor bad-mouthed ID theory in class. You can read a bit about it here.

What you wrote is very well said:

..."but if christians who want to stick to a literal interpretation can't address the judgmental and intolerant tone that accompanies their every word, we're all going to pay. you may be right in the end, but if you cannot make your point with at least an attitude of sincerely wanting to understand the other side, how can you claim to have the spirit of Christ?"

I have found that oftentimes, people not only want me (and other Biblical Christians) to understand the other side, they won't be happy until we agree and accept their worldview. There is quite a huge difference. Sometimes, I can understand the other side (because I've been where they are...not a born-again Christian yet). However, now that I am born-again I cannot go back to believing what I now perceive as a lie and against God's will for our lives. In such cases, the conversation ends with the usual, "we will just have to agree to disagree." We come full circle and, unfortunately, nothing has changed. Except...perhaps a seed revealing Christ as Savior and towards God's absolute truth found in the pages of the Bible may have been planted.

mike rucker said...

Hi Mike,



>Sorry about the delay. I've had two busy family-needs-type
>days in a row.

no problem. that's a lovely picture of you and your daughter on the website; my middle one is photogenic like the two of you - never takes a bad picture.

>I think that before the Good News of the Gospel is shared with
>non-believers, the bad news of our sin condition and need for
>repentance must also be shared. As the "hit dog" analogy shows, it
>hurts to be hit with the reality of our sin problem.

my view is a little different. unless someone becomes convinced of their own need for repentance, they will not see a need for it. and i don't think we convince anyone of their sin by saying, "all have sinned." a person who thinks he does not need God will not seek God. but if i'm sharing with you what God did for me, you - with the Holy Spirit's guidance - may be able to see your need.

since everything i'm seeing these days is no longer "either/or", but "both/and", i'm sure the truth lies somewhere in a balance between our positions.

>I have come to understand that no matter how lovingly we present it,
>the act of dropping one's pride, realizing our sinful nature,
>understanding that we cannot "cure" ourselves, seeing the truth of the
>Bible and Who it reveals, coming to the cross of Christ on our knees in
>repentance, humbly confessing our sins and our need for the Savior,
>asking for forgiveness which enables the Lord to take our sins away
>through faith, inviting Jesus to live in our hearts through the Holy
>Spirit's indwelling, and thus coming full circle realizing what Christ
>has done for us, is first a very hurtful course to journey in which then
>becomes a joyful and amazing grace experience.

i think that was the most powerful (run-on) sentence i've ever read... :) i may print it out and paste it somewhere to re-read when necessary. or maybe i'll just tack it up with a note that says, "boy - don't you wish *you* could write like this?"...

>I have heard some Christians say that their mentor(s) never said >anything that would ever condemn... Then, I have heard testimonies
>of those who literally needed the Bible thumped over their heads...
>Of course, there are all of those inbetween those two scenarios, too.

yes, i agree. all things to all men, in a way.

>That happens to me whenever I try to discuss Creation/Intelligent
>Design vs. Darwinism with my family.

well, you probably don't want to get me started on that topic. as a techie and Georgia Tech grad i believe we need to see evolution as science and the Bible as revelation about God. my position is that creationists/IDers no longer even know what Genesis says anymore... as hard as it is to believe, it's become irrelevant to their (your?) position.

>I have found that oftentimes, people not only want me (and other
>Biblical Christians) to understand the other side, they won't be
>happy until we agree and accept their worldview.

i think we're all guilty of that to some extent. i am, anyway. i'm right, and i not only want to convince you of the validity of my position, i want you to say, "mike, you were right" when we're done. nothing less. :)

>"we will just have to agree to disagree."

the key is to do this without being disagreeable, which my carnal side often finds is quite fun to do after beating my head against somebody's wall for a while.

thanks for your thoughts.

mike rucker

Christinewjc said...

Hi Mike,

Glad to read that you are breathing again...


Thanks for the nice compliment about my profile picture. Since it is now about a year or two old, in person, my daughter now looks better and I look a lot older! ha ha!! Need to get a new pic up soon.

You wrote: "my view is a little different. unless someone becomes convinced of their own need for repentance, they will not see a need for it. and i don't think we convince anyone of their sin by saying, "all have sinned." a person who thinks he does not need God will not seek God. but if i'm sharing with you what God did for me, you - with the Holy Spirit's guidance - may be able to see your need."

That's a great, truthful observation. It explains why some people will outrightly reject any encouragement to repent of their sins, and, instead, label the evangelist as "bigoted," "intolerant," "judgmental," and the biggie..."not loving." There is a portion of Scripture in 2 Peter 2 that well describes this phenomenon.

Note this portion:

1Pe 2:6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

"Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame."[fn2]

1Pe 2:7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,[fn3]

"The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone,"[fn4]

1Pe 2:8 and

"A stone of stumbling
And a rock of offense."[fn5]

They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.


The prior verses describe Jesus Christ as being that "stone of stumbling" and "a rock of offense."

If non-believers find Jesus Himself, as well as His gospel message offensive, why would we ever presume to think that they wouldn't find us, His followers offensive as well for what we share?

Godly sorrow must be felt by the individual for his/her sin, before their need for repentance will ever enter into their heart, soul, spirit and minds !

2Cr 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Yes. I agree. That was quite the "run-on" sentence. Should have used the semi-colon (;) instead of the comma!

Even though that sentence may not be "grammatically correct," it is biblically correct and counters the "it's only about love" liberal crowd that wants to ignore Christ's sacrifice, (or, in many cases, desires to skip over the cross of Christ) and only enjoy the grace, mercy and love of Christ. Unfortunately, they have not learned that Good Friday precedes the Good News of salvation.

I thought that perhaps you might be a "theistic evolutionist." It's ok. We can skip over such differences.

I hear ya about trying to accomplish the feat of "agreeing to disagree" without being "disagreeable." Trouble is, no matter how much we may desire to accomplish that, in reality, it is quite difficult to do.

You are welcome for the thoughts!


P.S. I went over to the Challies blog and could not find the comment box. Do you happen to know if the author of the blog typically closes down the comments on older posts?

mike rucker said...

>I thought that perhaps you might
>be a "theistic evolutionist."

i'm not sure i'm a theistic evolutionist, but that label probably fits as good as any. i expect i've put any number of descriptors in, "i'm not a ___________, but i play one on TV" at one time or another...

i don't share this with everyone, because i'm not always certain people can think through it and remain sane. but if you walk outside your door, and gaze up at the sky, and then lower your gaze and look at the ground as it stretches from horizon to horizon, the biblical phrases, "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," and, "and I saw a new heaven, and a new earth" ring true, and have a completeness about them.

if, however, you go to a site like this, and see exactly where the star in our solar system (the sun) and the little rock that circles it (our earth) really lie, suddenly "the heavens and the earth" aren't quite as identifiable, nor as central perhaps to the big story as we think.

one can only sit and try to let this sink in, and wonder how - or if - it affects any held beliefs or presuppositions.

it's something we really don't think about much.

maybe we should.

have a good weekend.

mike rucker

Christinewjc said...


I just re-read this post today. It is really beautiful.

Are you sure you are an "agnostic?"

You don't sound like one...

mike rucker said...

thanks for the compliment - or were you complimenting your blog post?... :)

'agnostic ' - ah, the term must be rooted in "agony" somehow...

i'll never be an atheist simply because of things i've seen God do in my life. to me, whether or not they were all coincidences is irrelevant.

but i feel my prayers hit the ceiling much more than i feel great rapture, so i'm stuck in that 'agonizing' middle, occasionally stumbling across an understanding here and there.

thanks again.


Christinewjc said...

Hi Mike,

Oops! Should have said your comment because that's what I was referring to.

I think that we all can relate to the "answered prayers," vs. "unanswered prayers" dilemma. But like you, I have seen so many examples of God working in my life that I have no doubt about His existence and love for us which was shown through Jesus Christ.

It is my prayer that one day you will find yourself stepping out, once and for all, from that "agonizing middle" into steadfast faith in Jesus.