Old Testament Vs. New Testament- What do we believe?

Posted on January 28, 2009. Filed under: Church, Politics, Theology |

So if this is your first time reading this Blog, I’d like to welcome you to more than just a blog- It’s a conversation. People learning and growing in what they believe, why they believe it, and how current issues affect us, and out moral stances. Last week, I posted a blog post entitled “Abortion- a very sad debate,” in which I criticized some extreme anti-abortionists on their methods of protest and demonstration. I accompanied it by a video that showed these people holding their signs, and when questioned about the consequences of of the females who went through with abortion, they didn’t have very good answers. I mentioned in the post that my stance was pro-life, but asked the question of what we were doing to meet the needs of these women who were facing the choice of keeping a child or terminating a pregnancy. This article led to many comments followed by some debate about abortion, life, theology, absolute truth, science, and faith. In the most recent comments, the article has shifted fro abortion to some of the latter subjects previously mentioned. That being said, I have decided to start a new post shifting the conversation to the subject of the Bible. 

Cara, a friend from high school, has chimed in on our conversation. She mentioned earlier that she was glad that she hadn’t been pushed to the side or alienated from the discussion because her beliefs are different. So Cara, if you are reading this, you are welcome! I always welcome the opportunity to have these conversations. I feel like it educates me, and also helps me to understand that if I believe what I say I believe, and truly follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, I will “love my neighbor as myself” which in a practical way in the situation of these conversations means that I am going to love other people, and engage in conversation with them, even if I do not totally agree with them. So here is the deal. If you are Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, hindu, Agnostic, New age or whatever. You are welcome to read this site, comment on what you see, and join in the conversation about faith, the Bible, and the supernatural. 

Before I present the next questions, it is important for any new readers to understand where I stand on these issues. Hopefully in knowing this, it will help you understand the reason behind the answer. Put quite simply, I believe in the literal person of Jesus Christ. I belief he came to Earth, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, faced the same temptation that you and I face, died on a cross, rose from the dead three days later, and ascended to heaven. I believe that he is coming again one day, and that through the holy spirit, I have a relationship with him that can never be severed. Yea, this is all based on faith, and  what I believe to be truth through God’s word, the holy bible.

So here are the questions. Is it true that there are some things in the Old Testament of the Bible that no longer apply, or, that still do apply? Is everything in the New Testament applicable? What reasons to people have to believe that the Bible is the literal, inherent word of God if they are not Christians? I have been asked to give clarity to these issues. Because I am not nearly as trained biblically as I would like to be on this subject, I am going to invite my friends Pastor Dennis Thurman, Michael Seay (BA Moody Bible Institute) and Jonathan Blaylock (In school at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute and Liberty University) to help answer these tough questions. 

Chime in fellas! For all those who had questions, enjoy. I will be commenting and moderating.

One final note to all who read and comment on this blog- Please remember that we are all human beings, and being such, we have feelings. And don’t give me that bit about the Gospel is offensive. I realize that. That is used to many times to excuse our harsh tones and arrogant attitudes. Please be civil. To all those who aren’t Christians, yes, I know that we seem like close minded jerks. I know you’ve had bad experiences at church and with mean people who don’t even know why they believe what they believe. However, I would like to think that my fellow Christians who read and comment on this blog would do so in love and for the purpose of bringing glory to our God, not self promoting or anything else, so if possible, try and stick around! Bottom line guys- just be nice, and everybody will have a great time!

Blessings and peace,

Josh

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32 Responses to “Old Testament Vs. New Testament- What do we believe?”

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I wrote a really long response to the abortion post, but forgot put my name and email in the required boxes and lost everything I wrote. It was dumb, but anyway here I am.

Regarding Absolute/Relative truth:
If a person makes the claim that there are no absolutes or nothing is absolute, they are making an absolute statement. It’s a self-defeating arguement.

If you twist it to say that “nothing is absolute”, isn’t an absolute statement, then your admitting that absolutes are possible.

Josh about your beliefs in this post…if Scripture is subjective, as you indicated on a response to my saying that it isn’t, then is “love your neighbor as your self” subject to who you consider your neighbor to be? I don’t think so. Scripture is objective. God had one meaning in the words that He inspired appx. 40 different authors to pen. They are subjective to nothing or no one! When He said, “don’t have homosexual relations,” that’s what He meant. It’s objective.

I’ll comment more a little later on, when I have more time. The Heels are on!

“If you twist it to say that “nothing is absolute”, isn’t an absolute statement, then your admitting that absolutes are possible.”

If that were the case in my explanation then yes, however it wasn’t. I said, we make truths based upon observation, cause and effect, and experimentation. I explained about water and how we can consider it a truth but there is always a margin of error. By your assertions, you eliminate the margin of error by saying that the bible cannot be interpreted, or is infallible. I feel that you are being intellectually dishonest.

Well, even though the Bible is open for interpretation, we have to address the question of why believe the Bible is infallible. Here is a thought I have, (again coming from someone who is still learning and studying.) If there are parts of the Bible that are not true, or are a lie, there is a good chance that the whole Bible is a lie, because if it has one error, why not more, and how do you know what’s real and what’s not, or what’s a lie and what isn’t? For the most part, it has been pretty easy for scientists to prove most of the Bible correct, at least from a historical and genealogical standpoint. The things that you hear are that are debatable are the creation story, Noah’s ark, Jonah in the belly of a fish, Jesus being born of a virgin, and his coming back from the dead and ascension back into heaven. While those events are EXTREMELY significant in the life of any Christian, they take up a small percentage of the Bible. Do I believe they are correct and literal? Yes. Call me crazy, but that comes from faith. It’s very hard to dispute that a man named Jesus walked the planet. It’s hard to dispute the existence of his followers because of their sheer numbers. The other thing that is just mind boggling are the amount of witnesses that saw first hand the miracles of Jesus.

The other thing that I think proves the infallibility of the Bible are the prophecies. In reality, the Bible isn’t one book, but a collection of many. Has anyone ever thought about the logical probability that all these books would predict the same thing at the same time by many people who had never even met? This has got to hold some weight. Take the whole born of a virgin thing out of the equation, just the fact that so many different people were right about the same things is staggering. But then again, I believe it boils down to a faith issue.

Is that even close guys? Just curious. Honestly, for anyone who questions my Faith (Which is Ok, I welcome question) all I can say is that there was a moment in my life that was a supernatural. One where my questions weren’t all answered, but it was Ok, because I experienced something that I never had before. This came out of a situation where someone had shared the simple life changing message of Jesus Christ and it supernaturally changed who I was as a person and is still changing me. Even though we can complicate a lot of things out of the Bible, the message of Jesus is really very simple. The FACT that I experienced life change, and still am, helps to prove the scriptures right for me, because what it says is what happened in my life. C.S. Lewis even experienced that, who many do not know was a former atheist.

I’m gonna let someone else continue where I left off, and hopefully I didn’t jack the facts up too much.

Josh

Josh, I think your dead on about FAITH. good observation about CS Lewis. He actually came to know Christ while trying to disprove Christ. Amazing how God works! If the Bible is open for interpretation though, then you have problems like this: Read John 1:1 in the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, etc., then read it in the New World Translation. The translator has simply interpreted this verse different, however, only 1 can be correct…or if they’re both correct then explain it to me.

I guess technically you can interpret anything you want, any way you want, but there’s only one correct interpretation of the Word of God. is “love your neighbor” based on what you interpret “love” to be and “neighbor’ to be? Or did God have one meaning in that statement and it doesn’t matter who you consider your neighbor to be?

Cara, “nothing is absolute” is a direct quote from you. That’s an absolute! There is no margin for error with the Word of God. It is infalliable! As Josh has stated, it takes Faith to believe, but I believe that God’s Word is absolute truth!

If the Bible could have been disproven, it would have been a long time ago. No book has undergone more scrutiny, been more attacked and vilified than the Bible. Yet, it endures, as Christ Himself declared, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matt.24:35) But, that digresses a bit from the original question concerning the authority of Old Testament teaching versus New Testament. They are not contradictory, but complimentary. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The OT was given to prepare the way for the teaching of the NT, like an appetizer for the main course. This certainly isn’t meant to sound like the OT is less than God’s Word, anymore than saying an appetizer is less than real food. In fact, the only Bible Jesus had was the OT. That is the Bible the Apostles preached from, since they were in the process of living out and writing the story that would become the NT. Paul said this, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness…” (2 Tim.3:16) and that “all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition…” (1 Cor.10:11) and in both instances, Paul is referring to the OT. Having said that, it is vital to note that the OT law was given to Israel as a nation–so the dietary laws, religious ceremonies, etc. are not for us to keep as a code of conduct. In the church, we are no longer under that law, but under grace (read Galatians and/or Romans). Clearly, the Mosaic law was never given to be a way of salvation, but to show our need of a Savior, since we are all lawbreakers. Only one perfect Man has ever lived–Christ Jesus. Whether in the OT or NT there has always only been one way of salvation–through faith in Christ (see Hebrews 11). The difference is that the OT believers looked forward to a Savior to come and we look back to One who has come. To what extent was/is the church to follow such OT laws as ethical principles? The debate isn’t new. See Acts 10:1-11:18 and Acts 15 particularly. There was some tension between Jews and Gentiles in the church over some of these matters non-essential to salvation (see Romans 14:1-15:7). The principles taught in the OT are binding for us as they reveal the holy nature of God. For example, the Jews were commanded not to eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:10-12). Are we to refuse shrimp? Not as a law–and I’m glad–I love ’em. But it isn’t the letter of the law we follow now, but the abiding spirit of the law. What would that be? There are several reasons we could give for God giving such a law–health issues included–but the primary principle is this: God’s people are to be different than the pagans. These values are to be reflected in all of life, even including what we eat. That is still a valid truth today. The type of food I eat isn’t the issue, but do I receive it with thanksgiving? Am I a glutton? Do I indulge too much while others are starving? (see 1 Cor.6:12-20; 8:1-13; 11:20-21). I have gone too long. But at least perhaps this has given you grist for your mill.

I dont care whether it was a quote or not, you understand the connotation at which it was read. I see that this discussion has taken a turn for the worst, you believe the bible to be absolute truth:

31:1-54. Under God’s direction, Moses’ army defeats the Midianites. They kill all the adult males, but take the women and children captive. When Moses learns that they left some live, he angrily says: “Have you saved all the women alive? Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” So they went back and did as Moses (and presumably God) instructed, killing everyone except for the virgins. In this way they got 32,000 virgins

*Now isn’t that strange? God tells Moses to kill the Midianites. They killed all men, baby boys, young men, and old women but saved the virgins and the young girls? If the Canaanites were such terrible people that God thought they needed be destroyed, then why would they salvage the women?

“Their children shall be dashed
to pieces before their eyes!
There houses spoiled, and their
wives raped…Dash the young men
to pieces…have no pity on the
fruit of the womb, the children
shall not be spared”
— Isa 13:16-18
*wow, now God talks about rape as if it is little importance and and speaks of killing children and the unborn? I thought abortion was a sin?

I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing… Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16.

*men rule over women? should we not be considered equals?Oh that’s right, eve at the forbidden fruit, women are the reason for the fall of man… tisk tisk….

“When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. … If a man lies with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days…” Leviticus 15:19-32.

*Unclean? isn’t menstruation a natural process that all women HAVE to abide by starting at certain development until later in life? why are we considered “unclean” by this?

“…If however the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death…” Deuteronomy 22:13-21.

*stoned to death because she is not a virgin?””

“…women should remain silent in churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission…” 1 Corinthians 14:34

*Now Im sure everyone at your church would be guilty is this is ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

Now I could go on forever by throwing these verses in, and having you try to justify your own silly admission of absolute truth, but if you agree to all the lovely parts, then that must mean that you agree with all the horrific parts as well, after all, it is absolute truth. So does anyone really want to try to argue any of these verses because to me, they are pretty straight forward. Do we take what we want from the bible or do we worship it as a whole? If the latter is the case, then “no thank you” I’d rather not believe any of it then be a hypocrite. I know that there are some nice parts to the bible, I will not dispute that, but when addressing the WHOLE word of god as absolute truth, you are degrading all that we have come to realize and work for in the past century even.

As for believing in Christianity because of the vast numbers of followers of the religion is somewhat alarming. There are equal amounts if not more people, whom believe in the Muslim faith, does that mean that Muhammad was real? I dont understand that logic. A lot of people believed in Zuess, Apollo, during the ancient Greek times, though we now consider them to be mythological. How can this be?

Josh,

Here are my answers to your questions (in order as you asked):
1. Yes (no longer apply) and Yes (some that still apply)
2. No (everything in the NT applicable)
3. They do not have any reasons (outsider believing the Bible is inerrant).
People and places have been verified by archeology. Objects have been discovered and there are more original manuscripts of the NT than Shakespeare’s plays. However, to expect an outsider to believe it is inerrant and the words of God, is something that happens when God opens our eyes. This does not mean that outsiders do not respect or believe parts of the Bible.

Also, I have a question for my brother Jonathan. You said “The translator has simply interpreted this verse (John 1:1) different, however, only 1 can be correct…or if they’re both correct then explain it to me.” My question is, do you believe one translation of that verse is correct or were you being sarcastic? Just wondering bro. Great posts! Congrats on the baby!

Michael Seay

First of all let me say that this will be my last post on this blog or any others similar to this. Fortunately, I have to much stuff to do and don’t have time to deal with this everyday. I have found my self on this blog right before I go to bed and right when I get up in the morning, and that is a problem. I would much rather spend any free time I have with my Creator or my wife, not arguing with no end in sight. I’m a full time student at two different schools, I’m a full-time student minister, I’m a full-time husband, and soon to be a full-time father! (In no particular order) I simply don’t have time to worry and stress about this. It is doing nobody any good! The Bible says that “iron sharpens iron” and I believe that, but this conversation has more than iron in it. Paul told young Timothy to shun “idle bablings, … but to pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart!” (2 Tim. 2) Spending hours of the time that God has given me in these endless arguments isn’t good stewardship of my time. So, for these reasons, this is my last post at joshfowler.net.

Cara, I tried to tell you several “posts” ago that this wasn’t going to work, because I believe in absolute truth and you believe in relativism. Obviously, I’m not going to change your mind, nor is anybody else on this blog. Thankfully though, God has the power to change your mind and your heart, I just pray that He does!

Let me address your picking and choosing of verses. Don’t tick off God! God didn’t rape women or kill babies, He simply let man live in the sin that they wanted to live in! If a nation chooses to ignore the absolute truth of God Almighty, then it will have to live with the consequences! The Numbers 31 passage: the virgins were pure; they hadn’t been influenced yet with idolatry. Sex was an act of worship to the false fertility gods or goddesses. The virgins obviously hadn’t given in to idolatry yet and Moses realized that and thought it best to spare their lives.

I can see how easy it is for you take these verses out of context and read them any way you want to, but that is exactly why the Bible isn’t open for interpretation! I’m not going to respond to the rest of your verses, because it would do no good. If I justify every one of those, you’ll simply find another verse to rip out of the context it was divinely placed in.

Cara, you seem to be intelligent! I hope I haven’t disrespected you in any of my comments, if I have please forgive me. I have enjoyed these conversations. Allow me to leave you with this. Heaven is absolutely real and you can’t get there on your own. Hell is absolutely real and you can get there on your own. God is absolutely real and He desires for you to spend absolute eternity with Him, so He graciously made a way for you to do that. He became flesh in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. He lived and breathed upon planet earth for appx. 33 years. He died on a cross. Nobody killed Him, not the Jews, not the Romans, not my sins or your sins, but He willingly gave His life for you. After 3 days of death, He rose from the grave. His body was not stolen, it was not hidden, but He rose from the dead! He has been alive since that time (nearly 2000 years), He is alive today! He walked upon planet earth for another 40 days. People touched Him, they ate with Him, thousands of people saw Him alive after His death!!! It’s real! He ascended to Heaven and He is there desiring to have a relationship with you! He wants to you with Him in Heaven. That’s Awesome! It has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with going to church or hearing the stories as you have said you have done as a child. It’s a personal relationship with the Person that created you. He loves you!!! Unconditionally!!! Just talk to Him! Invite Him to be a part of your life! You made a comment, “Do we take what we want from the bible or do we worship it as a whole?” Neither, we accept the Bible, the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation as the divinely inspired Word of God and we regard it as Absolute Truth, but never ever worship it! The Bible is not worthy of our worship; the God of the Bible is. Cara, I want you to know that I will be praying to Jehovah God about you! My wife will be praying for you! If I could prove everything to you that I just told you God did for you, then it wouldn’t require faith! Jesus want’s you to have faith in Him, not have Him proven to you and then you have faith. If you wait till you are standing in front of Him to believe in His existence, then I’m afraid it will be much too late! It takes faith, not evidence. As Dennis has already said, People have been trying to disprove God and disprove the Bible for 2000 years! It has yet to be done, and I’m sorry, but you aren’t going to do it either. Please ask Jesus into your life!

Michael, great answers. I believe several translations are accurate, such as: KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, ESV, and more, but I believe the New World Translation is severely flawed. If you look up John 1:1 in the NWT, I think you will agree! If you’re not familiar with it, it the translation that the Watch Tower organization published and has been “interpreted” subjectively to meet their agenda. To answer your question, I was being sarcastic.

May God Bless all who read at joshfowler.net

Jonathan, I see that you are taking one verse and acting as if that should be the way all verses are treated. Well, if that were the case, then how come we have changed translations throughout time. One example is from the 10 commandments. “Thou Shalt not kill” then it has been interpreted as “Thou Shall not Murder” because there are different connotations to both murder and kill. Murder is to end something’s life in malice: whilst killing is simply ending the life of something.. could you explain why this is, if there is only one interpretation. You see, language evolves just as everything else does.

Well it is a pity that you are quiting the discussion. I am also a mother, I own and run an engineering company; but I put a great deal of importance on sharing and learning; simply asking questions. I haven’t taken any verses out of context, I expounded only on what was written in black and white. We can all justify anything we want but we should at least be ready for the tough questions. If you put all of your faith into this book, then you should be able to answer my questions and correct my misuse of the verses and terms, however, I have found that there is ALWAYS a justification somewhere, for everything bad, good, or indifferent in your holy book. Since when is murdering young children a worthy thing? whether your god insists it or not, we need to have a set of morals and ethics that aren’t defiled by some 2,000 year old text. If we should not murder, we should not murder, whatever the circumstance… H. Sapien species is far from perfect but we do not need to try to justify wrong doing because of ANY reason; whether it be God, politics, etc. This is only an argument to no end if the goal is to try to convert each other one way or the other, we are intelligent individuals and surely we can ask each other simple questions. Whether I believe your God or not, it is important for us to speak about things. I have noticed that you had cut off all discussion at first by saying that there is no room for interpretation of scripture. That in itself is a denial; whether you felt I had threatened your ideology has no bearing on the fact that experience is relative. well, good day

Just to clarify something and it’s a big deal! I am NOT trying to prove the existence or lack there of pertaining to ANY Gods. Im only asking questions.

Those are some good observations from both sides. Definitely well thought out. I am going to blog on this issue a little bit more, and perhaps some down the road. I really appreciate everyone’s responses, and hopefully we can continue the conversation.

Cara – I think the worst crime we commit as Christians is that we run from folks who ask questions, sometimes because we are uncertain ourselves.

I came face to face with the fact, a couple years back, that the questions of non-believers led me to doubt my own faith. I had to realize that no, I don’t have all the answers. There are things about the Bible that I just have to say “I don’t know” about. Your questions are very fair, and it disappoints me to see the many examples of Christians basically telling searchers like yourself to just shut up and believe.

Faith, I believe, is a gift from God. It’s not something we can conjure up on our own, and it’s not something that we can convince someone else to have. Neither is it a blind acceptance of things that we really DON’T believe. Faith, in my definition, is a trust in God that results in a life change.

I can’t understand the perspective of a holy God that told his people to do things, in His name, that today are criminal and wicked. Yet, apparently He did just that. Many times, in contradiction to “thou shalt not kill”, he specifically commanded “kill them.” That’s hard for me to wrap my hands around. Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself”, then James or Peter or one of those guys says “Love not the world.” (For us to claim that we don’t have to “interpret” the Bible would be a terrible mistake, guys. ANY sentence, paragraph, or book can be read many ways. To claim that we can’t interpret the Bible due to the “no private interpretation” clause is to grab the Catholic doctrine that doesn’t allow the laity to even own a copy of the Scriptures, since only “the Church” can properly interpret. I take issue with that pretty strongly.)

There’s a huge misconception – and I’m as guilty as anybody – that a person has to comprehend, understand, and agree with the entire Bible before they can become a convert to Christianity and truly follow Christ. In other words, you’ve got to BECOME a right-wing conservative before God will save you.

That’s a terrible mistake.

Only through the power of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit can ANYONE even come to Christ. It’s a gift. It’s grace. For someone who doesn’t believe the Gospel to just change their mind on their own is an impossibility.

Beyond that, believing the Gospel doesn’t automatically resolve all the issues that we have about why God loved Israel and hated Esau. I believe that we should interpret Old Testament events through the lens of the New Testament, but there is a great deal of difference between life under “the law” and life under “grace.”

Yes, the Bible is true. I believe that. However, I believe that NARRATIVE STORIES do not always indicate “absolute truth.” This leads to the nonsense of “he went and hanged himself” being combined with “go thou and do likewise.” Narrative stories indicate what HAPPENED.

As well, I maintain that some of the Pauline epistles contain statements that are Paul’s thoughts and opinions based on his culture. A huge percentage of supposed “literalists” VERY QUICKLY disregard Paul’s position on women and long hair, but grab really quickly onto the church discipline clause about not associating with those in immorality.

My point is that we DO have to interpret the Bible, and to claim that Southern Baptists have it all right and other theologians need not apply is really a frustrating mistake.

Jonathan, I understand you don’t want to get embroiled in this in a wrong way. I challenge you, though, to consider this – if you were having this same conversation with a lady on a street corner in Waynesville while handing out tracts, wouldn’t that seem to be a wonderful witnessing opportunity? We can talk freely here, Josh has invited us to, and we have a lady who is very willing to discuss our faith with us. Isn’t that the ultimate in witnessing opportunity? “Witnessing” has become a “hit and run” disease, where we Christians want to spend 30 seconds telling someone they’re going to hell and then leave them on their own. I see that as a travesty. Cara doesn’t agree with “us”. We may see her beliefs as incorrect, but it is NOT a waste of our time, as Christians, to discuss our faith with her. Quite the opposite.

It’s EXACTLY what we’re supposed to do.

Thanks, all.

Thank you Bernard! I appreciate your outlook upon this subject; and to be honest, the lack of unanswered questions and the way people have asserted themselves upon asking the questions is certainly one reason why I disbelieve in the Abrahamic religions. I was raised babtist, and went to church in high school: but the amount of hypocritical actions and close mindedness is what began my questioning. I find that to be rational to say the least. I have christian acquaintances, and i enjoy them just as much as atheist acquaintances, but for the whole, I have found that the staunch religious often deny scientific evidence if they feel that it jeopardizes their holy book. We have new evidence pouring in all the time to help us better understand our universe and existence, but to insist that only the word of god is infallible while other works are mere trivialities or doom to be insufficient by the creation of man, is what often baffles me. I find if one says that their god certainly exists, the burden of proof falls upon them, and if they are unable to prove the supernatural objectively, then it is their failing; not the person asking for the evidence. I know that things always change; new information is gathered everyday. If we were to find physical, mathematical, evidence to support the supernatural I would never deny it. That seems to be the difference between the dogmatic types and the curious questioners of the world. Intelligent individuals do not quake when one of our theories or works are proved incorrect or fallible. We accept it and are often gracious for the correction! because that shows that we are learning more!

Creation versus scientific theory is a prime example of your problem, and I can’t resolve all that. I really wish I could say something that would “explain” everything. I wish I could explain how stars are billions of light years away, yet I believe that the entire universe is basically 10,000 or less years old. I don’t have that answer. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I don’t want to pound my Bible and say “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!” That does nothing for your questions. Neither does it do anything for the fact that my analytical, engineering mind wonders about the same things. God didn’t make me an automaton, neither does he demand blind, uninformed acceptance of things that just don’t make sense. Without intelligent, inquiring minds, much of what we regard as medical science – which is a blessing and a healing to many Christians – would be impossible. GOD CREATED THE INTELLECT. He’s not angry when we are curious, or even confused. He’s only angry when we are rebellious in our questioning. He’s only angry – I believe – when we refuse to believe His Son.

I don’t see the Old Testament as “irrelevant”, yet I don’t see it as our ruling document. I get fairly frustrated when preachers and teachers use the Old Testament to “whip Christians into shape” and then use “God never changes” to justify doing so. MUCH of the Old Testament was a governmental law for the Israelites. A good portion of that serves the purposes of PROVING that man can never be good enough to satisfy God, who is perfect. This all points to our need for a saviour – a perfect sacrifice. Most of the remainder of the OT is prophetic regarding the coming of the Messiah, because here is my key point – EVERYTHING ABOUT CREATION, from the beginning until the end, is really about Christ’s death on the cross. That moment is the center. In that moment, God glorified His Son for all eternity. John Piper refers to it as “the scream of the damned.”

Coming to see that has changed my perspective in so many ways. Everything in history (as we know it) before the cross had the purpose of showing the need of a perfect sacrifice. Everything since has the purpose of glorifying the Saviour that died at that moment. The entire “story” is about glorifying God, and Christ’s death on the cross was the ultimate glory.

Is the Bible historically accurate? I believe it to be so, within the reasonable grounds of the fact that the Bible as I read it is only a translation. The King James Version is not the original text. Any who would tell you that the King James is actually the word of God while other translations are not really miss the point, I’m afraid. We don’t HAVE the original text of most of the Bible, if any. I believe that there could be, and probably ARE, mistakes in translation. Those things may sometimes lead to the questions that we have – things that seem to contradict, things that don’t make sense. I do believe that God has preserved the Bible, but I don’t assign the word “infallible” to the translators. I see that as a mistake, even though I believe that God could easily have done so. (If the King James translators were infallible and inerrant, why not all the Wycliffe translators that work today? Why is the “English version” perfect and others don’t have the same privilege? If we have to believe the KJV to be saved, what about people who don’t even read or speak English?)

My faith is in the God that I believe inspired and anointed the writing of the Bible. While I do believe in the inerrancy of the Scripture as it was originally given, my faith is not in the Bible itself. My faith is in Christ, who the Bible is about. I could memorize every word in the Bible and still spend eternity in hell, but I can know Christ EVEN IF THERE ARE MISTAKES IN TRANSLATION. My faith is in Christ.

The Bible is God’s word to us. There are things in it that I can’t settle. I don’t “accept them blindly”, but I don’t get hung up on them and throw out the entire Gospel story because of them. I don’t deny you your questions, but I do hope that you can see the Christ that I see EVEN THROUGH THOSE QUESTIONS.

Without seeing Christ for what He really is – the Saviour of the world, the restorer of peace with God, the sacrifice for all time – it truly doesn’t matter what we think of the Bible. I believe that the “Word of God” is Jesus Christ. I believe that the Bible is the written form of that for us to base our faith on, but I do not believe that we should worship the Bible. I believe the Bible is our highest written authority and that all questions relative to Christianity are addressed in the Bible, but my ability to resolve scientific questions with Biblical accuracy is limited.

I feel like I’m rambling; these are hard questions. These are serious issues. I don’t possess any “proof” that will convince you. My belief in Christ is not based on a scientific proof; it’s based on the fact that God has personally revealed Christ to me through Bible.

I hope that SOMETHING I’ve said makes sense. I don’t at all want to downplay the power, accuracy, or the truth of the Bible. I just want to encourage you to question, to explore, and to search for God, to search for truth. While I’m an absolutist in that I believe there IS an absolute truth, I’m definitely not convinced that I personally know all that absolute truth. It’s not mine to say what that truth is, even though I believe it exists. I’m seeking it. I’m trying to follow the Christ that I believe IS truth. His words were that He IS “the way, the truth, and the life.” He is absolute. I trust Him. I don’t trust myself, my knowledge, or my understanding. I trust Him.

Thanks for reading my mess 🙂

“I believe that the entire universe is basically 10,000 or less years old.”
This is the problem. We know with an error of .1% that our Universe is 13.7 billion years old, and that our planet is 4.6 billion. We know that by measuring the amount of radiation left over from the big bang. The thing I find most beneficial to religion at the moment, is that the purveyors of your beliefs do not deny scientific evidence. We have made a system of of accurately scrutinizing and experimenting so well, that we now have the ability to call things “truth” based upon the probabilistic outcomes. Evolution springs to mind, and is an example of this ridiculous denial of evidence. I know many intelligent religious and what makes them intelligent is that they do not deny the reality of physical proof. For the most part of my religious friends, they say that God was the thing that made the big bang and is what has pushed evolution along. I feel that God doesn’t have to be sacrificed when acknowledging science; and the people that do are quite obviously not understanding what science is here for. Science is unbiased, it doesn’t care about what outcomes occur after the experiments; the scientific method is a way of encouraging truth by not allowing scientist to run a muck. For anyone to insist that God and science cannot compliment each other are certainly not allowing the two to coincide. This is the underlying travesty I see some religious display. As I said, there are MANY scientist that are religious, this does not limit there understanding of their holy books and god. If evolution is not apparently so; then how come our religious leaders have accepted the theory whole heartedly and insist it should be taught in ALL schools, religious or not, throughout the globe? why has creationism been thrown out of science classes IF it is equally viable and taught as such? If this doesn’t give reason enough, then I dont know what will. We need to STOP thinking that science is out to get us. We rely upon science in every sort of medium in our lives. It can coincide with religion, and we need to understand that. Science is what we can thank for the addition of length to our life span in the last few centuries even. Science is what allows us to speak to so many different peoples all around the world to share our views and to gain knowledge. It has helped us go into space, build satellites that help us to see the far reaches of our universe. Like I have stated; if one fails to understand that god and science can be and are intertwined, then they are limiting and thus dooming themselves to regress. Progression is key.

I think you miss my point pretty badly, Cara.

There are pieces of truth in many things.

There are also pieces of untruth in many things that also contain pieces of truth.

A truth surrounded by lies is still a truth.

The Bible, correctly, states that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” This, however is not a reference to truth, as some Christians would purport. It is, in my opinion, a reference to the sinful state of men and the fact that the slightest sin contaminates us to the point that God cannot allow us in His presence.

There are truths in much of science. Learning truth and deducing falsehood from it changes neither the truth nor the falsehood; it only confuses the student.

To proclaim that a house must be 100 years old because it contains wood that is 100 years old is highly erroneous. Yet, it is true that the house contains wood that is 100 years old. The house may actually be 200 years old, or it may be 2 days old. We have some truth, but we do not have enough information to make statements of certainty.

I believe that the Bible is true. That also means that it contains truths. I do not believe that it contains ALL truth, because there are other things that are true, also. Thus, I do not deny the existence of truth OUTSIDE the Bible. I do, however, give the Bible an authority that I give no other source, because of my belief in the nature of the Bible. You cannot accept that. You basically insist that science and the Bible cannot co-exist, so science must be right and the Bible wrong. Thus, by extension, you proclaim that NOTHING in the Bible can be considered truth.

I didn’t make any assertion that science and the Bible cannot coexist. I believe that they can and do. You want me to believe science over the Bible. I don’t make that concession. I only concede that sometimes I don’t know how to TRULY reconcile the two.

“You cannot accept that. You basically insist that science and the Bible cannot co-exist, so science must be right and the Bible wrong. Thus, by extension, you proclaim that NOTHING in the Bible can be considered truth.”

-Actually, I stated quite the opposite. I said that they DO and CAN coincide and NEVER did I say the bible doesn’t consist of truth, however by the understanding and evidence we have now, we can see that the bible uses symbolism or metaphor to explain a particular notion. I was explaining the reason I see religion and science to be at ends, is because the overwhelming fear that science somehow tries or even cares to limit probabilities pertaining to creation stories. Look at how many creation stories in different religions and you will understand why science doesn’t recall them to be “truth” because there are so many varying differences. Which one is correct? well, we cant establish that unless it can hold up and prove viable based upon the scientific method. I never said that “You” in particular said that science and religion can’t coexist; I was referring to what Josh had said on the last post about abortion; nevertheless, there are quite a few that carry this belief. As for your analogy of the old timber… I can understand that… but you must understand that science has no agenda. What is proved through the scientific method isn’t biased: It is simply the outcome. However, we can use these outcomes as bias if we so choose, but that isn’t the purpose of science now is it?

Sorry, didn’t mean to misquote you. Seriously, I wasn’t even meaning to quote you, just to summarize. What I was getting at was that your viewpoint precludes us being able to TRUST the Bible to be truth.

Just curious, which parts of the Bible do you regard as truth, and which parts do you think are only imagery? Just creation? Or are we dealing with the whole penal substitution problem that says Christ’s death on the cross was just an illustration? How do you decide what to believe and what to ignore?

I commend your honestly pertaining to experiencing difficulty while trying to reconcile the truth. That is about the most honest and humbling thing I have heard anyone say upon the subject. ALl of us have a hard time at it; that is, unless you consist in a delusion that only what you believe and think is true. That is also another problem. We humans are so egotistical, we portray egotism even when we dont realize it! we are self-absorbed characters always putting ourselves first in any situation. I won’t disclaim that we don’t have occasional bouts of true altruism, but most times all of our actions are done for the benefit of ourselves. Not of Jesus, not of Vishnu, Thor, or Muhammad. My one reason for posting is to show that we can all live in accordance to any ideology is we choose. There is a margin of error pertaining to all things, and not one person, one book, or one story has all the answers. We rely upon everything and everyone relatively. We pick and choose what benefits us as individuals and what doesn’t; we have those choices and that’s what makes this world so beautiful and awe inspiring! thanks for sharing your truths with me 🙂

“How do you decide what to believe and what to ignore?”
well, I dont think we should ignore any of it. The question really is: what should be taken literally, and what should be taken using other literary techniques. I dont think there is any one answer regarding this question because it is all reliant upon the individual. As we have discussed about what to take and what to put behind us pertaining to the OT. You can see by the varying level of comments that it is pretty much subjectivist. If I believe that Jesus’s life was simply a story used to portray sacrifice for the greater good; and you believe he was an actual person that has sacrificed himself for the greater good; is the basis of our assertion not the same? Whether he existed in a physical sense or not, doesn’t seem to be the most important thing as a whole; it is the meaning we associate with the actions and the teachings that have been instilled. Take Homer’s Iliad or the Odyssey, for example. We have no proof whether Odysseus truly existed or did not; but whether it was a fictional character or whether he truly physically existed proves nothing with regards to what these poems have done for western literature. There are still great lessons to learn from this work whether the characters are real or fiction.

Bernard, just to take it back to your belief that the Earth/Universe is 10,000 years old. Do you believe this because you have overwhelming evidence that logically cannot be disproved? Or is it just faith based -ie- your sacred book tells you this is true, which I suggest is your argument. If the latter is correct, then it just leads to further questions from me. The first of which would be, why do so many sub-categories based on the Abrahamic Religions continue to disagree upon this very question-the age of the
Earth/Universe? Look, this is a very interesting and fundamental question that you have raised. When I first entered discussions with you and Josh, it was centered upon abortion. From there, you have made our debates centered around your holy book. So why don’t we now, take your statement of the age of the earth/universe and look at trying to comprehensively come up with an answer that we can’t logically dispute. Bernard, in your early writing you used the age of timber to make a point. Let’s go from there. In my home, which is a wild island of of the tip of Australia called Tasmania; There lives a tree that is very, very slow to mature, it’s common name is Huon Pine, its scientific name is {Lagarostrobos franklinii.} It’s not uncommon for these trees to live for 10,000 years. It’s very easily proved by ring boring. However, some years ago, a documentary was produced about a Huon pine tree that was discovered in a very remote southwestern corner of this wild state that when ring bored, it gave a an age of 30-40,000 years old. this can be easily verified via the net. To me, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Something that even I am capable of verifying. They have dated Lichens in the Antarctica as being 45,000 years old, (and we are talking about things that are still alive, we haven’t even begun to discuss the things that are dead.) So perhaps if we talk about this fundamental question, might we maybe able to persuade each other where the truth actually lies?

Cara – Lucky you in Tasmania 🙂

Just to clarify, my discussion of the Bible was based on the topic of THIS post by Josh. I don’t think I was involved in the abortion post at all??? Just so you understand that I’ve not been trying to twist the topic from one thing into another.

I can’t post excessively this morning; I’ve got to get some work done, but I don’t want to ignore you, either.

While “created with the appearance of age” is a rather weak argument in most scientific circles, and justifiably so, I am convinced that at the very least, Adam – the very first man – was created and went from not existing to being a grown man in a literal moment. I don’t believe that he was alive for 25 or 30 years before he appeared to be 25 or 30 years old. Largely, I can accept this because I believe that Adam was not the product of a sperm and egg conception, thus there was no reproductive process that would have caused him to be an embryo, then a fetus, then a baby, then a child, and finally a man. Thus, if Adam had died 5 seconds after God caused him to be alive and had been autopsied, his autopsy report would have indicated that he was a twenty-five year old male. (Or some age – it might have been 18 or 35, I don’t know.) I can accept that. I can accept that, and I can likewise accept that trees were created by the direct power of God with age rings already in place. (I hear you laughing now, because I know that this argument is treated by scholarly folks as childish and idiotic.) When God said “Let there be light,” I believe he created light itself – not just light sources. Yes, stars are billions of light years away and we see their light, but I believe it is POSSIBLE that God created the very shafts of light from the stars to the earth such that, one second after He said “Let there be light”, that light from Alpha Centauri and millions of others stars could be seen here on earth.

You see that as far fetched. I understand. I have been scorned before for accepting these possibilities as likelihoods. I cannot prove them.

However, you must admit that the scientfic study of universe origin makes the presumption that there is no God. You presume that because a tree is 30,000 years old, there HAD to be a seed or a sprout planted 30,000 years ago that grew into that tree. That’s the only way you see that said tree could exist. Thus, you conclude the age of the tree to prove the age of the earth. You “sort of” will admit that perhaps God initiated evolution – which is a scientific compromise of sorts – but you cannot accept the possibility that said God simply spoke it all into being in a fully developed, historically accurate state.

There is language involved in the creation story in the Bible as I read it that probably doesn’t reflect the actual original writings entirely accurately, I understand. But I don’t dismiss it all by saying “it’s just a word picture of the evolutionary process.” I think that’s a mistake, even though literal seven day creationism is laughed to scorn by many intelligent people.

See, when we really reach out and believe the principle of life after death, it truly changes our entire perspective. That’s why these questions are so central to Christianity. Why would someone believe in hell if they don’t believe that God is a creator? Why would God create man in the first place? If I can’t trust Genesis 1, why can I trust John 3:16? If God isn’t able to supernaturally create an entire universe, why should I believe the part that says he will reject those who don’t believe in His Son?

I don’t deny the age rings in your tree. Not at all. I simply don’t KNOW how they got there. My basic point is that, using rounded numbers, if God created that tree 10,000 years ago, it could have immediately been a 20,000 year old tree. Perhaps that’s incorrect, but it is NOT incorrect to say that my understanding of God as I see Him definitely gives Him this capability. I believe that God is able to do exactly that. Whether He DID or not, I cannot prove. But I believe He is able to.

That’s no more impossible to me than the big bang. Big bangs, high speed collisions of atoms that came from nowhere and nothing, multiple iterations of the universe, perfect conditions on earth for life just by lucky chance – those ideas are just not things that I accept, Cara. You make the presumption that they are truth. I must remind you that they are speculative theory, developed with the purpose of explaining the very existence of you and I without including any possible acknowledgment of God. There is no PROOF that there was a big bang that is satisfactory to me. It is simply an explanation of what possibly happened that satisfies the curiosity of a good number of scientists that do not accept the possibility of an intentional Creator.

My “theories” are just possibilities. God has not provided me with scientific proof that what I am willing to accept is necessarily “truth”. Again, I understand your skepticism and I anticipate a lot of suggestion that I’m truly an idiot for even suggesting that this would be possible. Be kind; I’m just a redneck with a college degree, nothing special.

Can I accept that someone who believes in Christ can also believe in evolution and the big bang? Yes, I can allow for that possibility as well. However, it is unlikely that someone will say “Man is naturally sinful because of the curse placed on Adam for disobeying God in the garden of Eden”, if they only believe Adam to be an “illustration” of prehistoric man. In other words, they quickly refuse to believe that every human being is born as a sinner – in a rebellious state against God. This is the first step to understanding that “we” need a Saviour, and if we never admit that we need a Saviour, we will definitely never trust in Him for the salvation and forgiveness that He offers. Thus, we may “follow the teachings” of Christ in a limited sense, but never place our faith in Him for forgiveness and restoration to a proper relationship with God. We can “live good” for an eternity, but if we never accept that we are born with a stain, we’ll never trust the Christ that this is really all about.

It’s a deep, deep cycle. It’s really ALL about Christ. And Christ is what the Bible is really about. I keep bringing this back to the Bible for a reason – the Bible is about Christ, and Christ is what really matters. We can argue science till the end of time, but what we’re really arguing about is whether Christ is really the Son of God. You seem to be seeking to resolve Christianity with evolution. Many people have made that resolution and concluded that there is a huge gap in Genesis 1, or that the 7 days represent millions of years, or billions, and that the big bang was when God said “Let there be light”, and many other “reconciliation” theories. I CANNOT PROVE THEM WRONG. They may be right. I cannot prove YOU wrong. You may be right, in some big scheme of things. I don’t think you are. I say that respectfully, but my beliefs greatly disagree with yours, even though our questions are similar.

Thanks for the conversation. Enjoy your wild island 🙂

Bernard, you have grotesquely evaded the initial reason for the last post. You said that you believe that earth/universe is less than 10,000 years old. The life of the Huon pine proves that assertion to be incorrect. If you can’t see that, then you are most certainly not allowing yourself to, through fear of skepticism to your holy book. Well, I cant help you there. If you want to deny the age of actual living things to persist in story then by all means do that….. but I think you will find that the evidence scarcely sides with you.

I’m clearly a really bad communicator. Perhaps I should take up something less intellectually demanding. The arena of trying to make a point in a kind fashion obviously isn’t my ball of wax.

You’re not bad, but you show exactly what I have been talking about earlier, this separation between god and science. By saying that the assertion that god has pushed evolution along as being a compromise by the science community, clearly expresses the problems that I see are abundant when addressing faith in a biblical sense. There are a few definitions to the word theory as well. You need to understand this and know when which definition is relative pertaining to a theory. Theories are not all the same, and that is a most common misunderstanding.

I’ll leave it to you to sum yourself up, however you see fit. Personally, I’m at ease with my cognitive reasoning and my place in the universe. It’s abundantly obvious to anyone who reads our little conjectures that no matter how solid the evidence and reasoning placed before you, it is frivolous compared to your christian faith based monologue. I consider myself a redneck and Im proud, your college degree is the luxury afforded to you by the most technically advanced civilization of the last century; you should be proud of that and use the power that it brings wisely. I truly believe that our technical advances from almost only a handful of beautiful and brilliant minds should be regarded with the utmost respect, and those who are quick to criticize science should at least have the respect to not use the internet as their medium. My personal opinion of your gods if they are so overwhelmingly loving and omnipotent then there logic too is flawed; they have so much to answer for. I can only sum them up as being gross underachievers. Bernard, had you been born in ancient Greece, then you too would have been one of the vast majority who were all to quick to hand out the cup of hemlock that drained the life from Socrates; or tore the flesh off of Hypatia of Alexandria on the charge of not worshiping the cities Gods. For this Socrates was found guilty, but the erected bronze sculptures clearly displays where the real guilt lies. You as the populous knew these gods to be true but where are they today? Today, the killing goes on in the name of other gods. best regards-Cara

Wow. Now I’ve been told that Christians have no right to use the Internet. That’s bizarre. Quite possibly the most bizarre thing I’ll hear all day.

Cara, I wish you the best in your life. I hope I’ve not belittled or insulted you, but you’ve thrown a good deal of trash in my direction in the past couple posts. That disappoints me, because I’ve tried to treat you and your thoughts with respect and decency. You don’t seem to want to return that, so I’m not going to listen to you any more. There’s absolutely no need to belittle me. You don’t even know me. I simply told you what I believe and shared some of the struggles that I’ve also had. You insult my Bible and my God with the lower case letters, you accuse me of “killing”, you class me with Greek pagans and make really broadbrush accusations about who I would be and how I would behave. That’s totally unnecessary.

I hope you have a great day. Thank you.

“Now I’ve been told that Christians have no right to use the Internet.”

-No you haven’t. So by using lower case letters for a word I am belittling gods? Well, at least I am being unbiased and not simply addressing your individual GOD… That’s fine if you dont want to listen. You have misquoted and misrepresented me many times, so perhaps you stopped reading a long time ago. To respect something is to hold it in high regard. There are plenty of things that are not deserving of respect and it varies from person to person. Sorry if the analogy of ancient Greece has knocked your nose out of line: I was making a point of religious zealousness, not trying to incriminate you personally; another literary technique; but of course we will all take such personal mentions to heart.. because we are so egotistical.. Anyway, good day! 🙂


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