Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Why Is The Bible So Confusing?



I can't tell you how many times I've heard non-Christians and Christians alike complaining about how confusing the Bible is and how it contradicts itself. I decided to try to shed a light on why there are so many differing opinions out there, why (in a belief system that is supposed to be about unity) there are so many different "Christian" theological ideas and why people see contradictions where there aren't any.

Sound like an impossible task? Believe it or not, it all is explained, actually, in one verse: (I Corinthians 2:14) "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." Did you get that? Where does spiritual truth come from? The Spirit of God alone.

(If, of course, you don't believe in God or in the Bible, consider this idea philosophically: If there were a God and He wanted us to come to love Him and know Him better, wouldn't He want to be intimately involved in that process? The Bible tells of a God Who works in just this manner--a characteristic that is also mirrored in how Jesus taught--through parables. The Bible teaches us that learning about God and spiritual matters is a two-way street. God doesn't force unwanted beliefs on us. He desires that we want to know Him.)

The Bible is full of spiritual truth, but it is not like any other book we will ever study. You can spend your entire life studying the Bible and never get it. It isn't like a mathematics textbook--something that, if you spend enough time and energy studying it, eventually it will make sense. No. The message and the wisdom in the Bible can only be revealed by the Spirit of God. No matter how hard we try to get it, we won't, unless God reveals it to us.

So, how do we ever understand? We ask Him to show us. We ask for Him to reveal His truth to us.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receiveds; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Mathew 7:7-8

So, how do we understand what the Bible is saying to us? We ask God to reveal it to us. How do we reconcile the "contradictions" in the Bible? We ask God to show us the passages in the Bible that will make its full meaning clear, and we keep reading, digging and searching while being open to His teaching. Why are there so many different theological sects out there? Because not everyone is open to the Spirit's leading to the same degree, too many people ignore the part of the Bible that says to avoid meaningless arguments (2 Timothy 2:23) and too many of us have allowed our focus to shift from Christ to politics, popular culture & lies.

The question you should ask yourself is this: are you honestly asking God to reveal Himself to you? And, when He does answer, will you be open to His Spirit? Will you allow yourself to learn what He has to say, or will you rely on your own limited ideas about what "He must be like"? Remember, God cannot be put into a box. He is not subject to human limitations, rules or expectations. God defines Himself. But, if you listen, He'll tell you Who He is.

22 comments:

KingJaymz said...

Hey Susan, I hope this reaches your eyes. I just wanted you to know that I am dropping by every day. I don't always 100% agree with you on stuff, but I like the way that you differ. I have renamed your link on my blog to be "Susan's Writeous Blog." I think that well captures the essense of what's going on here.

I haven't posted my thoughts and opinions on this topic because I don't want to be a discussion killer (something I have been accused of elsewhere). I am very passionate and firm in my beliefs, but I can take some disagreement. My ego isn't very fragile, and I don't get offended or flame people (not the marks of a mature believer), especially not the gracious host of the discussion. Unless you just totally agree and think I am 100% right (LOL). My wife always says, "And when your right, Dubble J (another one of her nicknames for me), you're not wrong." She likes to give me a hard time about it.

So, without further ado, here is my response to the topic:
To the further development of the topic of the different schools of theology and denominations, I would add to that that different people experience God in different ways, which accounts for some doctrinal/denominational differences. I don't believe that the gift of tongues is intended to be a frequent and ordinary experience for every believer, so I do not attend a charismatic church. I am not saying that the gift of tongues is gone and no longer available (I have heard one to many missionary stories about miraculous happenings to even allow the thought to enter my mind). I have attended churches that are open to the exercise of the "charismatic" spiritual gifts, but it was a rare occasion that it occurred, and it was Lord-led. You find such doctrinal differences in the churches that Paul wrote his epistles to. Tongues were on the A-list in Corinth, but not so much at Colosse or Galatia. I postulate that God created us all with specific personalities, as individual as we are genetically. Some are predisposed to experience Him through liturgical means, others are not. Some like exhuberant praise, others prefer a reflective, prayerful style of worship, but one is not over the other in importance. Both need to happen in the Christian experience, but the Bible gives no mandate for either to be the norm. Hebrews 11:25, however is incredibly specific.

I think that some people tend to seize on areas of freedom and claim that they are confusing because they think they need some sort of specific mandate. The Lord left the door open for His people to be the people that they are, and that involves church body choice and (to some extent) doctrinal style.

I am intentionally undenominational (not non-denominational, which has become a denomination unto itself). I would merely identify myself as a Protestant Christian. I currently attend a Conservative Baptist church, but I have attended Evangelical Church and Calvary Chapel churches (which are extremely different in their base theology from Baptist). I am hoping that the next church I attend will be Lutheran, Episcopal or Presbyterian (all of orthodox faith, of course, not of the morally liberal persuasion). The body of Christ is large, broad and diverse. I could care less if a church is Pre-trib, Post-trib, Arminian, or Calvinist. If they affirm the Apostle's Creed, the sacraments and the love of Christ is being practiced amongst the body, then there is all that is necessary to find salvation.

I am coming to the end of my schooling, for now, and will be reading your postings of chapters of your next book. I'll let you know what I think.

Blessings

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

Jared,
I don't think we disagree as much as you may think. I'm not saying that there isn't room in God's kingdom from differing styles--all of which might be God-led. For example, I love head-banger Christian rock, but it's unlikely that the senior ladies at my church would appreciate it in the worship service. That's okay. We're different because God is infinitely creative.

However, I think in the areas in which denominations completley contradict one another on theological issues, there is something there that is not right. God tells us in Romans 15:5-6 that He has given us the spirit of unity and that we should make every effort to preserve it. I think we've done a pretty sucky job of this because we like to follow man's teachings above God's. We also involve ourselves in meaningless arguments (though God warned us about this in 2 Timothy 2:23) instead of seeing the Bible as a whole and asking God to clarify it to us (or, just trusting that He knows what He's talking about even when we don't).

I think having so many denominations is a poor witness, more's the pity.

Again, I'm not against the idea that God speaks to us in differnt ways. I would even go so far as to say that there are some things that may actually be a sin for one person but not for another. (i.e. drinking alcohol. It's not a sin if you use it wisely, but it might be considered a sin if you are a recovering alcoholic and willfully exposing yourself to temptation.) I have no problem with there being many kinds of differing styles within churches; I do have a problem with the fact that we bicker more than we pray.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses as always.

God bless,
Susan

KingJaymz said...

I get you spot on on this. You are 100% right. It is a cryin' shame and pathetic that we bicker more than we pray. Unfortunately, what makes us different is argued about more than what makes us one is celebrated (Jesus, that is).

I see a lot of room for doctrinal and theological difference, though. Your reference to Romans 15:5-6 is an excellent one. It is instructive, but I think that has to be on the "big ones" in this day and age (don't get me wrong; I'm not saying it shouldn't apply to the smaller things, but read on). That is because of interpretational differences. For instance, I could not follow the Church of Christ teachings on several things because I don't believe that the Scripture supports them at all. I feel the same about many Pentacostal teachings. I could pick at least 2 things that I can probably contend with that I can not abide by in almost any denomination. Every denomination has their own "doctrines of men" that serve as dividing lines. I think the best we can do is have a broad mind of love and acceptance of those differences for the spirit of cooperation while continuing to respectfully challenge one another intellectually about the theology and doctrines that we embrace.

Now, I really don't like Arminianism, and I think it is fools theology (like fools gold) and completely man centered, rather than God centered. Not to mention the fact that it has no real history in the church (it came about in the late 1800's). I try to be a little more pluralistic, though, because I want to preserve the unity of the spirit in love and cooperation. To most people, they think of Arminianism as the "I am not a robot" theology. It is usually because of a lack of understanding rather than a desire to be man centered. I just trust the Lord that He will bring them to the knowledge of the truth. I trust He will if they are truly seeking Him. I just see how people (and God) were patient with me when I didn't fully believe or understand the truth. The Lord was faithful to bring me around.

Back to my original point, there are some really good arguments for mid-trib and post-trib theology. I don't find them to hold sway over my pre-trib leanings, but I am open to others believing that. It isn't a serious point of contention for me. We need to find peaceful ways to work towards that Romans 15:5-6 command/ideal. I think there are plenty of other things that the church should be more ashamed of besides having plenty of denominations. For such examples, see the current post on my blog.

Boy, I have been a real wind-bag lately, huh? I'll let my diarhea of the fingers cease for now. There is a lot there to respond to, should someone find themselves interested.

Albert said...

Susan said "You can spend your entire life studying the Bible and never get it." Seems a little unfair to me and what if you are the proverbial "village idiot"? Is there any point then in studying the Bible at all?
Susan also said "The message and the wisdom in the Bible can only be revealed by the Spirit of God. No matter how hard we try to get it, we won't, unless God reveals it to us."
Does this mean that God sometimes refuses to reveal "it" to us? It seems this must be the case because the internet is littered with a seemingly endless supply of Ex-Christians who did their best,often through sincere prayer and yet felt absolutely nothing in return for their efforts. Does God therefore play favourites? I hope you say no because I hate to think that you would be a Calvinist :-)
As far as reconciling "contradictions " and such by always putting the fault on the reader of the Bible rather than its authors please read this
2think.org/hundredsheep/bible/apostasy.shtml

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

Jared,
Call me an idealist, but I believe that the Spirit of God, if sought with an open heart and an honest willingness to learn, would be more than capable of uniting us in our doctrinal differences. At the very least, we could all agree that we don't know all the answers yet.

I don't really know where I stand in the whole Calvinist/Arminianism/Wesleyan debate. I don't think any of them have it fully right. I know what I believe and I know why I believe it; let's just leave it at that.

As far as pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, who cares? I certainly hope it's not post-trib, but even if it is, I know that God will never abandon us. I'm not one to spend a lot of time debating this kind of thing. You're right, though, we should spend more time celebrating the one thing we can agree on--Jesus.

Susan

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

Albert,
No, I'm not a Calvinist! Ha, Ha! That's pretty funny. You know, this same debate has come up for me on another website discussion board that I think you'll find very interesting. Here's the link:
http://conversationattheedge.com/2006/08/09/only-seekers-will-understand-the-bible/

I will certainly read what the guy says about Christians and apostates soon and let you know what my take on it is. It looks very interesting, but I have to make dinner now.

Some of what you might find on that link I just added might answer some of your questions, but I will certainly make a more defined response here as soon as I get a minute.
Thanks!
Susan

KingJaymz said...

I read the article, and felt moved to respond to some of the ideas in it. There was a lot of misinformation.

-------

“In the second line of defense, it is important to minimize the potential damage that can be done to the believer’s faith by the apostate. The first frequently employed strategy is also the most obvious – disassociation. Many religious systems will forbid all contact with the apostate. This tenet is usually strictly enforced, even to the point of threatening believers with excommunication if they knowingly consort with apostates.” This is completely untrue of the vast majority of Christian churches, and even Catholic churches that I have had any association with. I have had plenty of association with people who have left the church, including members of my own family. I pray for them, love them, and try to minister to them as effectively as possible. I care for them deeply, but they have to make their own choices.

“While an apologetic system is ostensibly designed to win over the non-believer…” This tenet is completely false. The purpose of apologetics is a rational, intelligent defense of the faith. The whole idea of Christian apologetics is based on 1 Peter 3:15.

“At the same time, it is imperative to maintain that apostasy from one’s own faith is rare or non-existent. So effective is this strategy that most believers are quite surprised to learn that apostates from their own ranks actually exist.” Again, another grossly false idea. We Christians are very aware of individuals leaving the church. The thought of it doesn’t shock us at all.

“With all of the above in mind, it is quite significant to note that the number of inactive members, or outright apostates, seems to be directly related to the amount of information that is available to the believer. During the Dark Ages, for example, literacy was restricted to the clergy, thus ensuring that the believer had little or no access to competing ideas. The believer was thus completely dependent on the Priest for an exposition of the Truth. This system allowed the Church to brand heretics as not only enemies to the faith, but in fact as enemies of society at large. Punishment of heresy was commensurate with this concept.” Now this argument is really dumb. During the Dark Ages, the government was controlled by individuals high up in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church (pretty much the Pope and his people), and your choice was to be a Catholic or be dead in many cases. This argument pays no attention to outside forces beyond literacy or church membership, or what influenced those things.

This is especially evident from the type of information that the apologist chooses to expose. For example, a survey of Internet Web sites devoted to apologetics will reveal that very few actually contain links to opposing arguments. In contrast, sites devoted to Atheism or similar freethought systems will very often link to Theist arguments. This is not even true for the website this article is on. I found no links to any Christian, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or any other religiously affiliated website. And this is really a ridiculous point of contention because, as mentioned above, apologetics is for believers, not non-believers.

One of the premises of this whole article is that any rational individual can not believe in any religion or faith. That is pretty narrow-minded if you ask me. Wouldn’t that be the pot calling the kettle black? That is on top of being full of lies and half-truths, including several more that I didn’t address.

--------

Just so that I am not misunderstood, I never said that I was a Calvinist. I agree with much of what Calvinism teaches, but I don't buy into it wholesale. Too numerous to count, the Bible refers to believers and Israel as "chosen." If everyone is "chosen" then no one is. That is the thought we have to try to get over. God can be sovereign and we can be held accountable for our actions.

That said, I can't agree with the idea that Jesus only died for the possibility of the salvation of the chosen, because the Bible says he died for the sins of the world.

I am with you Susan, I really don't want to get into a great theological debate here, and I hope you don't feel "egged" on. I am comfortable with you being satisfied about your beliefs and convictions and knowing why you believe that way. That is the heart of 1 Peter 3:15. I would rather celebrate with you that we are siblings in our Lord.

I hope dinner was yummy.

Blessings,

Jared

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

Albert,
I hate to think that you're not going to drop by again, but let me address the questions you raised earlier just in case you do stop by.

I said,

"You can spend your entire life studying the Bible and never get it."

You said,

"Seems a little unfair to me and what if you are the proverbial "village idiot"? Is there any point then in studying the Bible at all?"

If someone is searching for God, He will reveal Himself to them. (Even if they're the village idiot.) He may not even choose to use the Bible in this process. It may come from another area entirely. Certainly you can see, though, that people studying the Bible for knowlege rather than to know God, may never see God in its pages. God may be trying to get their attention, but He's not going to force them to listen. What's unfair about that? Seems just like free will in action to me.

I said, "The message and the wisdom in the Bible can only be revealed by the Spirit of God. No matter how hard we try to get it, we won't, unless God reveals it to us."

You asked,

"Does this mean that God sometimes refuses to reveal "it" to us?" No. It's there for all to see. There are no secrets in the Christian faith (unlike many others I could mention). Still, He may not reveal spiritual truths to us if we don't have any desire to know Him or have anything to do with Him. He's a gentleman, not a spiritual rapist.

It seems this must be the case because the internet is littered with a seemingly endless supply of Ex-Christians who did their best,often through sincere prayer and yet felt absolutely nothing in return for their efforts. Does God therefore play favourites?

Does God play favorites? I don't know. Perhaps some could argue that the Jews are His favorites, even though they've rejected Jesus.

As far as those who have left Christianity, I think you've hit on the answer to that question yourself. "they tried their best". I can try my best to know God and communicate with Him, but never truly connect with Him because my approach is completely wrong. For example, I have an agnostic friend (great guy on many levels) but he refuses to believe in Jesus because he says that if God wanted Him to believe in Jesus, He wouldn't have told him through the Bible through a bunch of dead guys, but He would come down bodily and reveal Himself that way. Well, I'm sorry, but God is Who He is and doesn't need our permission or direction on how to behave. We don't get to define how He has, has not, or should reveal Himself. The right question would be, "God, how have you shown yourself to me? Please open my eyes to your Truth. Show me Who You are and blow away my false ideas, no matter what they are. Give me patience to wait on your perfect timing, willingness to listen and wisdom to understand."

Best of luck to you, Albert.
Susan

KingJaymz said...

During this difficult time in my life, God has put wonderful people in my path, filled with His grace, that are a reminder and model for me. Your response to Albert was encouraging and exemplary of what my own interaction should be like with others. I thank God for how you have shown that to me and hope that I am able to be softened by my exposure to it.

Albert said...

I don't think you really ever answered my question of seekers/christians who have done everything and I mean EVERYTHING right and yet not "connected" with God. Furthermore how do you know that you could tell them the one thing that would bring them closer to God? What if, any suggestions you made they had already tried?
Go to the internet and read about people who were down on their knees asking, no, begging God to come into their lives and yet it never happened. No offense intended but your attitude is starting to come off as a bit pretentious here. Furthermore you spend a lot of time trying to seemingly excuse God's actions or more often lack of action. Did you ever see that movie "Oh God" with John Denver and George Burns/ If you didn't rent it, and if you did, remember that scene where "God" shows up in Denver's bathroom?All they have is a nice one on one chat for a little while. No magic tricks, no miracles, just a simple chat between the Creator and his creation. Why can't it be like that? Please don't answer me with the quote about "not testing the Lord". What if you had a friend who said to you they couldn't be sure if they could respond to your desire to have a simple chat with them? I don't think you'd value that friend very much. The "relationship" you have with your God seems very unbalanced and one sided and you don't even allow yourself to hold him to any standards of accountability to you.
P.S. I'll pop back later to read your response but I won't add any further posts. If there really is something beyond this life I'd like to meet you there for a discussion over a nice glass of lemonade and we'll see whose version of reality was the most accurate :-)
All the best to you and your family..........Albert

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

Albert,
Thanks again for stopping by. I want to apologize for coming off as pretentious. It's hard to state a belief in writing sometimes because we don't have the benefit of the face-to-face conversation that would you to read my attitudes more directly.

You said,

"Furthermore how do you know that you could tell them the one thing that would bring them closer to God?"

I could ask you a similar question, "How do you know that I think I could say anything that would bring them closer to God? Have I ever stated that anywhere in my blog? I don't believe that, for one thing. The only One who draws people to God is God. Certainly not me or anything I say or write. I don't expect you to listen to what I say and change your entire perspective because of it. My intention here, actually, is not to change hearts or minds, but to simply put some thoughts out there that might give people something to think about, chew on and, possibly, seek the Lord about. If they have questions, I answer them, debate with them, whatever, but I don't consider myself all-wise or incapable of being wrong or, even, of being instructed. I certainly apologize if I gave a different impression. It certainly wasn't intended.

You asked,

"What if, any suggestions you made they had already tried?"

That's entirely possible. For one thing, I don't understand God's methods, His purposes or His timing. I think He's given us a glimpse, but we don't see the whole picture yet.

You want to know why seekers who have done "EVERYTHING" right still don't connect with God. Honestly, Albert, I couldn't say. I think there may be a myriad of answers out there, but who's to say which one fits your case exactly? I haven't lived your life. I think each individual is on his/her own path. As I said before, I think there are times we don't get the answers we're looking for because we're asking the wrong questions. I think there are also times when we think we're doing everything right, but realize we're relying on our own actions instead of simply accepting Jesus' free gift. I think there are times that people who have once accepted Christ (as you may have) go through deep, long periods of darkness and seeming silence from God and end up giving up. That's not to say that I believe God has given up on you, though. Perhaps He's allowing you to go through something hard so that your faith, when you find it again, is much more real and solidly founded. I went through just such a time.

You may think by reading my blog that I think I have it all figured out. Believe me, I don't. I was raised Christian, but in college I started dating a guy who I knew wasn't good for me. I knew God wasn't pleased, but I simply didn't trust Him to give me a husband who could love me like I wanted to be loved. I ended up single, pregnant, alone and very, VERY ANGRY! There were times I contemplated suicide and sincerely doubted that God had ever truly loved me--or that if He did, certainly wouldn't bother making THAT mistake again!

My confidence in God's desire to reach us stems largely from that experience. I didn't have such a confidence before. Though I'd been a Christian since age 5, it wasn't until I was 24 that I understood 3 things: 1, God truly loved me no matter what, 2, God answers prayer, but not always when or how or when we want or expect, 3, sometimes you have to go through a lot of crap, seemingly alone, before you see God's presence or purpose in it.

I gave some reasons above for a lack of connection with God, but honestly, I have no idea if you fit any of those possibilities. There could be an entirely different reason for what you are going through.

You also said,

"The "relationship" you have with your God seems very unbalanced and one sided and you don't even allow yourself to hold him to any standards of accountability to you."

I don't hold God to any accountability to me because I believe that He keeps His promises and that I don't have to hold Him accountable. To me that actually sounds a little like a nagging wife. A wife nags because she believes that if she doesn't complain that her husband will NEVER take out the garbage. A wife who trusts her husband to fulfill his responsibilities might get frustrated that the trash is spilling over, but waits and says nothing, knowing that eventually he'll notice and take it out. I simply believe that God will do what He promises to do because He always has for me. There were times, though, that I felt like He wasn't. Now, looking back, I see that I had a mistaken perception. This was my experience, though. I don't know what you're going through or how God will answer you. But, if you're hoping I'll say something like, "You're right. God doesn't really care about you. You must be somebody He made just so that He can play hide'n'seek with", I can't. I simply don't believe it.

Albert, I know I'm not offering the answers you desire. I'm terribly, terribly sorry, too. I sincerely care about you and your situation. I've felt it and I know how desperately agonizing it is. I've been praying for you (No, not that you'll keep visiting my blog! Ha!) but for you to somehow be blessed with what your heart truly desires.

Thanks again for all you've added to this discussion. I hope you'll check out this discussion board that I've recently discovered. It's an open forum discussion between Christians and non-Christians. I have found the people there to be very real, very down-to-earth and very aware of the differences in perceptions we have.

The address is: http://www.off-the-map.org/ebayatheist/index.php

Best of luck to you on your journey.
Susan

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

Albert,
something just occured to me. Perhaps God allows some people to go through long periods of struggle so that they have something of eternal value to teach others. For example, I feel that you are helping me learn empathy. Maybe some of what you have to say will also help blow away some of the silly, foolish stereotypes that some Christians have--like one I recently heard: "non-Christians only reject Christ because they prefer to engage in immorality". Truly ridiculous!

Well, for what it's worth, thanks for sharing and helping me learn empathy.
Susan

Anonymous said...

There are some who would say that this use of manipulative propaganda is a very conniving way to brain wash individuals with weak minds. It is very manipulative to write a story and give orders that the reader will only find truth if he/she will allow understanding only under such circumstances. What if a person who has never been introduced to such material, how are they to automatically allow their minds to be spiritually overtaken? Does this mean one can't grasp it until the spirit has been controlled? Is it possible to have an understanding in a logical setting.

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

Anonymous,
Thank you for adding a post to my blog. I appreciate your insight. I assume that by "manipulative propoganda" you were referring to the Bible? Is that right, or were you simply referring to my blog?

Either way, to address your comments and questions, let me begin by making something clear that I think I unfortunately neglected to do earlier. That is, that while God has certainly given us many guidelines through the Bible to understand His Truth, knowing God isn't just a series of steps one takes. It isn't something you "do" so much as something you "become". Let me try to give an example:

How would you go about falling in love? Well, first you have to meet a person you find appealing. Then you have to start to get to know him or her. But then what? Is there a step for "falling in love" that can be explained by a list of steps? No. There are simply some things in life that can't be plotted on a chart or defined by science. A love relationship is one of those things--and that's exactly what God wants from each of us. He wants us to love Him and for us to love Him back. That's the jist of it all. It's a relationship, not a religion.

You asked: "What if a person who has never been introduced to such material, how are they to automatically allow their minds to be spiritually overtaken?"

It isn't the material, so much as it is the Person of Christ. The Bible tells us that if you seek you will find. I believe that even those who have never had the benefit of owning a Bible are truly seeking to know God, He is obligated to show Himself to them.

You also asked: "Does this mean one can't grasp it until the spirit has been controlled?"

This is a very interesting question and well-put. However, I don't think any of us could adequately define when exactly the light goes on, so to speak, for anyone other than our own selves. God's relationship with each individual is different. At what point do you fall in love? At what point does that crush turn to commitment? At what point does that commitment turn into a desire to really know the other person and put their desires above your own? Who knows? I think that as you get to know God, little by little you will understand more and more about Him. There will be flashes of understanding, but much of the learning will be spread over the years until one day you look back and realize how He was there all along and how He had been calling to you from the beginning.

Your last question was: "Is it possible to have an understanding in a logical setting."

Sure it is. Whenever you learn about truth, you use logic. However, logic will get you only so far when you're falling in love. You can logically decide if the other person has qualities you find important: attractiveness, a good sense of humor, a love for people and children, a good job, etc... but knowing all of that won't touch your heart if you're only using logic.

Here's a suggestion. Read the book of Matthew. Get to know a little bit more about Jesus and see what happens. Think of it like you would a first date.

Thanks so much for logging on! I hope to hear from you again.

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

Only christians could swallow such nonsensical garbage ! ! ! ! !
(But you probably won't even post this because you don't want to have opposing views on your site).

PAUL SAID, "God is not the author of confusion," (I Corinthians 14:33), yet never has a book produced more confusion than the bible! There are hundreds of denominations and sects, all using the "inspired Scriptures" to prove their conflicting doctrines.
Why do trained theologians differ? Why do educated translators disagree over Greek and Hebrew meanings? Why all the confusion? Shouldn't a document that was "divinely inspired" by an omniscient and omnipotent deity be as clear as possible?
"If the trumpet give an uncertain sound," Paul wrote in I Corinthians 14:8, "who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air." For almost two millennia, the bible has been producing a most "uncertain sound."
The problem is not with human limitations, as some claim. The problem is the bible itself. People who are free of theological bias notice that the bible contains hundreds of discrepancies. Should it surprise us when such a literary and moral mish-mash, taken seriously, causes so much discord?

Should we kill?
Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill."
Leviticus 24:17 "And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death."
vs.
Exodus 32:27 "Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, . . . and slay every man his brother, . . . companion, . . . neighbor."
I Samuel 6:19 " . . . and the people lamented because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter."
I Samuel 15:2,3,7,8 "Thus saith the Lord . . . Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. . . . And Saul smote the Amalekites . . . and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword."
Numbers 15:36 "And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses."
Hosea 13:16 "they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with children shall be ripped up."

Should we tell lies?
Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness."
Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."
vs.
I Kings 22:23 "The Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee."
II Thessalonians 2:11 "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."
Also, compare Joshua 2:4-6 with James 2:25.

Should we steal?
Exodus 20:15 "Thou shalt not steal."
Leviticus 19:13 "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him."
vs.
Exodus 3:22 "And ye shall spoil the Egyptians."
Exodus 12:35-36 "And they spoiled [plundered, NRSV] the Egyptians."
Luke 19:29-34 "[Jesus] sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village . . . ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. . . . And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him."
I was taught as a child that when you take something without asking for it, that is stealing.

Want more? Check out "Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist" by Dan Barker

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

Dear Anonymous commentor:

You said:
"(But you probably won't even post this because you don't want to have opposing views on your site)."

My friend, I've posted every comment I've received so far on this site. And, among them, are several opposing views. In fact, it's the one kind of comment I can count on.

You said:
"PAUL SAID, "God is not the author of confusion," (I Corinthians 14:33), yet never has a book produced more confusion than the bible! "

You know what? I agree with you. You are absolutely right. The Bible has produced the most confusion of any book out there. However, I don't think the confusion was intended nor ordained by the Author. He gave us the Bible to help us understand Him better and He uses it as His living word through which He communicates with our minds and spirits. The confusion comes from us. If we aren't interested in being in active communication with God through His Word, then it simply won't make sense to us.

You said:
"Shouldn't a document that was "divinely inspired" by an omniscient and omnipotent deity be as clear as possible?"

Well, I don't know. Should it? In human terms, being "clear" would certainly be the most effective means to get across a message. If I wanted to explain to you how to make my delicious marinara sauce, I would write out the recipe, making sure to give detailed instructions about the ingredients, temperature and cooking time. But, then, how personal is a recipe? In fact, how personal are any of the books out there when it comes to helping us develop a relationship with the Creator of the universe?

Furthermore, our relationship with God is just that--a relationship. Have you ever tried to write a recipe for falling in love? It's impossible because love is a mystery between two people. It is an individual thing which cannot be explained in a mathematical equation or plotted on a graph. We can't delineate the steps one must take to achieve "love", nor even adequately explain what it is that makes my heart skip a beat when my husband walks into the room. Now, most books aren't intended to help us fall in love. The Bible is intended to do just that. So, should it or would it be perfectly clear? Wouldn't that largely depends upon the reader and how open their hearts are to falling in love with God?

As a married woman, I am able (and obligated) to avoid situations which would compromise my feelings or my commitment to my husband. If I see a man at a coffee shop who I find attractive, I stop drinking coffee. If a guy flirts with me in the produce section, I politely take my leave and shop for cereal. The same is true in how we approach the opportunity for a relationship with God. We can be open to His advances or we can walk the other way. So, while I hope you walk the other way when the opportunity for an illicit affair comes along, I surely wish you would open the door when God comes knocking. Open the door to the Bible and ask Him to speak to you through it--not the preacher or the nuns or the guy holding a sign on the street corner or even me. It's God's Word, not man's.

Anonymous said...

In order to make Christianity attractive to all, it should make sense to any Joe picking up the book. To not do so is counter-productive and illogical. Your god is supposed to be logical. This will be all I will post. Good day.

Susan Elizabeth Thomas said...

My friend, I hear (see?) the frustration in your words and I feel badly for you. It would certainly seem that relationships would be much easier if they followed a logical process.

A friend of mine (a chemical engineer) recently got engaged and then discovered that his fiance was dealing with many pressures that were causing her to feel quite depresssed. Shouldn't an engagement be a happy time? And, why didn't it work when he said, "You need to just stop listening to your friends and do what you want to do." Seems like a simple solution, right? But, this lovely woman (understandably) needed to take some time to process things before she was able to just take what he saw as the next "logical" step. (And, in the mean time, he was also very frustrated and depressed.)

I suppose sometimes our ideas of what is "logical" doesn't always fit with someone else's methods of dealing with emotion or relationships, etc. And, if this is true for our human relationships, couldn't it also be true for our relationship with God? Couldn't it be true that God shouldn't have to fit into our ideas of what is "logical"? My husband doesn't, my friends don't and my children certainly don't. And yet, we think God--the Creator of the Universe--should fit into what is likely to be a very narrow-minded, small and underestimated opinion of Him. And, if He doesn't? Well, He must not exist at all. Hmmmm... Seems to me that He seems even more real for having a personality rather than just being the result of a complicated equation.

Perhaps it would be wiser to ask Him to explain Who He is instead of trying to cram Him into our self-made world view. Isn't that the least you would do for a friend?

James Hanford said...

When I read the last couple paragraphs I was astounded. We have to ask God honestly to reconcile the contradictions? Isn't this a special pleading and a logical fallacy? C'mon, we've known that arguments from beyond human understanding don't make any sense since the Ancient Greeks!
Essentially- you can't make the Bible make sense until after you've accepted it and honestly believe it... Does that seem out of order to anyone besides me?

Anonymous said...

I guess you never read 1 Timothy 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; She must be silent.

Anonymous said...

So many words to confuse. The bible can be read in many different ways. So in the end it really proves nothing or does it?

I studied the bible with Catholics and non Catholics and with the Jehovah Witnesses, so I speak from experience.

The God that I know of (mystical experience) is a God of absolute love, love beyond words.

So the killing of women and children with the bible god is not a god of true love. God also wanted to kill Moses but his wife threw down the foreskin of their son and all was ok. This is pure superstition and resembles a pagan ritual.

Thinking thoughts beyond the fluff and puff.

Do not plunder the Mystery with concepts. Zen Master