“If You Need Religion to Be Good You Are Not Good”

“If You Need Religion to Be Good You Are Not Good”

The statement “if you need religion to be good you are not good” is one of the many convoluted quibbles that the irreligious use to justify themselves, which borders on insanity. It is a meaningless statement and is totally ambiguous. First, because it does not define religion and secondly, because it does not define what goodness is.

The statement also infers that a good person always does the good which they know they ought to do, and that humans know from instinct what is good. Every truly good person knows that they do not always do, what they know is the right thing to do. Every thinking person, who is not allergic to religion, knows that humans learn good from their culture and some kind of religion is a part of every culture.

The quibble assumes that the reader knows the definition of religion; most people do not. This includes the new atheists who fancy themselves as intellectuals. What happens when you define religion as practicing virtue? Let’s replace the word ‘religion’ in the quibble with ‘virtue’, “If you need to practice virtue to be good, you are not good.” It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Consequently the quibble doesn’t define what it means to be good either, and it assumes that everyone knows what constitutes good.  The statement assumes that at the very least, some people are inherently good without any training from culture; or  devoid of outside instruction and limits being placed on them. In other words, some must be born good and some must be born bad, or all are born good and go bad, or all are born bad and some get better. I do wish that a little quibble could solve this paradox. Alas, it cannot for it is nonsense.

The truth is that if you are self-righteous, you do not need religion to feel righteous  because you assume you are righteous (the new atheist). In other words, you lie to yourself, or you have the moral standard of a cockroach.

The statement, “If You Need Religion to Be Good You Are Not Good” is a statement  from a self-righteous person making a fallacious underhanded moral judgment on religion and those that practice it. Did I say moral judgment? I thought the biggest sin of the left (atheism being the furthest left you can go) is to make a moral judgment. However, many of them that I know are very judgmental people. They often are a mirror image of the far right fundamentalist that they despise.

Good religion, honesty and reason would teach a person that they are not as good as they think they are. God did not give humanity religion to make men good; he gave it to show us that we are not as good as we think we are. This may be why there are so many self-righteous atheists, because they lack good religion, honest self-awareness and an enlightened moral reasoning. Good religion will always teach people that they are imperfect and in need of improvement.

In this, I am not saying that atheists are not moral people. In fact, the majority that I know seem to be quite moral. However, I don’t know any that were made moral by their atheism. Most inherited their values from their culture as most people do. In contrast, I have seen a number of people who were not moral, become so, through the help of good religion. I have seen huge numbers of people overcome addictions with the help of faith and good religion. I must sadly admit that I have also seen some fairly good people, become very evil through bad religion.

The God Moloch and Abortion

The God Moloch and Abortion

The god Moloch was an ancient pagan god that was worshipped in the Mediterranean area in ancient times. The worship of this god consisted of a number of typical acts of worship, but there was one that set them apart from most other pagan gods, and that was infanticide, i.e. the killing of babies by burning them alive as an offering to god. There was also some evidence that they practiced all kinds of sexual perversion, even bestiality. This culture was so disgusting to the God of the Jews that he order the Israelites to totally destroy them.

Now let me share the rest of the story. The god Moloch was just one of the many forms that the god mammon (money) has taken throughout the history of humanity [i]. This observation led me to the question, what was the real reason for killing their children? Was it religious or economic? In actuality, I believe it was both. Ancient people were not as ignorant as we moderns would like to believe. They knew, or at least believed, that their resources were limited and that they had to manage the number of people in the tribe. So, they simply killed their children, however, it is not easy to get a mother to kill her off spring purely for economic reason, so religion was used by the leaders to justify the killing. The killing was then actually turned into a virtue and the mother could then actually think they were honoring god by killing their children.

The same god of mammon (money) was appealed to in the 60s to justify killing of the unborn in the U.S.  The world was over populated and abortion was a way of controlling the population[ii]. In the same manner, someone would have to be sacrificed for the tribe to exist. Some would have to be burned alive for the tribe. The difference between us and them is now we have the technology for witch doctors to burn the babies alive in the womb before birth with an incendiary salt solution which can burn the fetus alive. Of course, for the left the witch doctors, and those that help him in this human sacrifice, are considered virtuous and even martyrs by the tribe of the left, because they are saving the tribe from starvation and extinction. Needless to say, the tribe survived and everybody makes money and we are civilized and they were barbarians

[i] Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” NKJV

[ii] A new form of ethics was created to justify abortion called life boat ethics. The earth was imaged as a life boat floating out in space and those in the lifeboat had the right to refuse others the right to get into the boat for there wasn’t enough food for an unlimited number. This ethic actually made those, who are kept people out of the lifeboat, heroes.

Conflicting Visions of the Second Coming

Conflicting Visions of the Second Coming

There are two basic visions of eschatology or the second coming of Christ. They are the ‘thief in the night’ vision and the ‘sign seeking’ vision. Both visions have been with the church since her beginning and will be with her to some degree until her consummation. However, the question is which version is Biblical?

The most important thing in determining if a view is Biblical or not is to determine what rules of hermeneutics one will adhere to in their study of the text. Hermeneutics is the study or science of interpretation and like all true science, it has rules and laws that it follows to guides its study of a text. We can use these rules to help us critique the two versions of the second coming of the Lord.

To begin with we need to study what each view teaches and what is the biblical basis for their interpretation. Let’s start with the ‘sign seeking’ vision.

This version holds to the view that God has given a number of signs that point to the time of the second coming. These signs constitute the fulfillment of current events that align with the prophecies. This school of thought uses a  standard referred to by scholars as to the pesher hermeneutic or method of interpretation.[1] This method is not new and was practiced even in the days of Christ by the Essenes and other groups. It basically interprets all prophecy as being fulfilled in the lifetime of the reader. Therefore, the question of whom the author was originally speaking to is not a priority in this version or its hermeneutic. God is speaking to them personally and anything happening in scripture or history is happening specifically to them.  They really don’t care to whom it was originally intended for. You might call this interpretation the ‘me’ interpretation of the Bible for its adherence believes that every prophecy must be fulfilled in their lifetime and God is talking to them personally.

The scriptural basis for this ‘sign seeking’ vision is taken from a number of places in the Old Testament most of which are highly figurative. Scripture such as the book of Daniel, the Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 and also the book of Revelation. However, for the most part, this version is heavily dependent on Matthew 24  and without Matthew 24 this vision would have a hard time surviving.

On the other hand, the ‘thief in the night’ vision believes that there are no specific signs for the coming of the Lord. This vision emphasizes that Christians should be prepared at all times for the second coming of their Lord, “Look he stands at the door”. Scripture demonstrates that the Bible is simply teaching us that the Lord’s return is likened to a ‘thief in the night’ when people are not expecting him. It also corresponds to the latter section of Matthew 24 starting with verse 36 to the end of the chapter for its proof text, along with a number of lesser texts.

In view of the importance of Matthew 24 to both visions, it would seem logical that it should be the place that we begin to put these two versions to the litmus test of truth.

To do this we need to look at the immediate context of the signs and predictions made in Matthew 24. We would draw this from the verses preceding Matthew 24 and those following immediately after the signs section, which is Matthew 24:1-36

After that, we need to look at the overall context of the entire book of Matthew to see if it lines up with our interpretation of chapter 24.

Now let’s turn to the immediate context of Matthew 24, which is the latter section of Matthew 23. In Matthew 23 we find Jesus giving a scalding criticism of the leaders of the Jewish nation by reminding them of their father’s sins against God and man, but especially against God’s prophets. In verse 32 he said, “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.”  In this he was saying that the generation presently living would complete their rebellion against God by rejecting God’s son and killing him, i.e. they will kill the greatest prophet of all, the Son of God.

Jesus goes on to say in verses 35 and 36 that the generation presently living would receive the retribution for their sins and sins of their fathers’ “so that on you may come all the righteous bloodshed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation”. (Mt 23:35-36).

After that, in verse 37 Jesus turned his criticism from the leaders of Israel to the city of Jerusalem, as the city which kills the prophets. He says to the city in verse 38 “See, your house is left to you desolate.” We are given some help in understanding this in Luke’s gospel, chapter 21:20-24 which is a parallel passage of Matthew 24. There it is clear that the thing that causes the abomination of desolation is the army of Rome laying siege to the city of Jerusalem and then finally destroying it in A.D. 70.

Next in Matthew 24, as Jesus  walked away,  his disciples pointed to the temple and basically  asked: “how can this be, for God’s house is in Jerusalem?” In essence, they were questioning his prophecy on the city and the nation.  How could God destroy the city of David and his own temple?

In response, Jesus points to the temple and says in Matthew 24:2 “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” They then ask Jesus for signs, which would lead up to this destruction of the temple. Jesus answers their questions about the Temple in verses 2-34 of Matthew 24.

From  Matthew 23 we see that Jesus, in the context of Matthew 24, is talking to his disciples about a judgment which was coming on the nation of Israel in the city of Jerusalem, for their sins. In this prophecy Jesus placed it in the time frame of that generation presently living, “I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation. (Mt 23:36)

As we move into Matthew 24 the disciples ask Jesus three questions. “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Mt 24:3) Their first question is when will these things happen?  What are the “these things” that the disciples are asking about? Well, they are the things he just told them in Matthew 23. The second question is what will be the sign (singular) of his coming, and the third question is when will the end of the age, or the world, happen.

One of the problems with understanding Matthew 24 is how Jesus answered these questions. He uses a code language called apocalyptic literature to veil what he was saying from the outsiders. In other words, he was trying to confuse those that did not understand the Jewish culture and the highly figurative language used by them during turbulent periods of their history. This language is often used to cloak or shroud a message of destruction on the outsiders and the enemies of God. In this case, it was the Romans.

In verse 33 of chapter 24, Jesus answered the disciple’s question about the coming judgment and the signs of the destruction of the temple. “So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” In this verse, Jesus plainly tells them that what he just told them in verse 4-32, were the signs and he clearly tells them that they would see all these signs fulfilled. In fact, he goes on to set a time limit on there for fulfillment. “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place (Mt 24:34).

Then in verse 35, which we might call the transition text, Jesus moves from talking about the destruction of the temple to the end of the age or world “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”.  He then contrasts this event with the previous one; the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. The first has numerous and obvious signs and the latter has none. The reason being no one knows when it is going to happen “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Mt 24:36).  This statement would make no sense if Jesus was still talking about the same event of verses 4-35 where he gives a host of signs. If you assume Matthew 24 to be talking about one event then you must take the position that Jesus contradicts himself and is a false prophet.

Jesus then makes three comparisons of his second coming and the end of age or world, with other events Matthew 24 verses 37-44. It will be like the days of Noah, like a normal workday and like a thief coming in the night. In other, words nothing out of ordinary will be happening.

Then Jesus tells three longer parables in a row about his second coming. The first one is the parable of the wise servant, verses 45-51, where he warned that the master could come at any time, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Mt 24:44). The second parable of the ten virgins warns that it could be sooner than we think (Mt 24:50). The third parable of the talents Matthew 25:14-30 warns it could be later than we think (Mt 25:5). In these parables Jesus covered all the bases: his coming could be sooner, it could be later. The overarching message is that Jesus “will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” In other words as a thief in the night.

Which version and interpretation of Matthew 24 squares best with the overall context of the gospel of Matthew? The Gospel of Matthew is a book showing the unfolding of Gods plan to bring the good news of Christ to the world. This unfolding or revelation shows how and why Gods focus changed from the nation of Israel to the man Jesus and then to a new nation made up of true Israelites assembled out of a people from every nation of the earth (John 3:1-5, 2 Peter 2:9, Daniel 7:13-14).

At the very beginning of his story, Matthew tells of the birth of Jesus and puts it in the context of the leaders of Israel rejecting Christ and attempting to kill him. On the other hand, the wise men of the east which symbolizes the world were seeking him and embraced him as the new king. This story of wise men set much of the storyline of the book and history of the Christian movement which we read about in the Book of Acts.

In Matthew’s recording of Jesus returning from exile in Egypt, Matthew sees the return and restoration of the true Israel to the land and the destruction of children in Ramah as the judgment on unfaithful Israel who is left childless[2].  This theme continues in the fourth chapter with the new Israel (Jesus) entering the wilderness to be tested as did the first Israel, with the marked difference that the physical nation was unfaithful and the latter was true to his calling.

John Sets the Stage

In the third chapter of his Gospel, Matthew has John the Baptist coming on the stage with a twofold message; one of blessing for those who embrace the Christ and one of judgment on those who do evil and reject him.

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, we have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree, therefore, that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”(Mt 3:7-12)

The point cannot be missed, the Messiah is coming soon not just to bless the nation of Israel but to judge it and purify it. In fact, the judgment has already started (The ax has already begun its work) as seen in the Ministry of John. The interpretation of this section of scripture has been grossly misinterpreted by associating it with the tongues of fire that appeared over the heads of the apostles on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts two. The two sections have only one thing in common and that is the word fire. The passage in Acts two does not explain the event which was experienced by the apostles in acts two. If anything, they represent the phenomena that took place in the Old Testament when the Temple was dedicated. This would be exactly what we would expect to see on the day of Pentecost in as recorded in Acts 2 seeing that the Lord had come to dwell in his new temple, the Church.

The Parables Tell the Story

The parables in the gospel of Matthew, tell the same story of God coming to his people, then rejecting him and the retribution that follows. The first is the parable of the tenants found in Matthew 21:33-46. In this parable, Jesus tells a story that parallels what the leaders and the nation of Israel were doing in rejecting him. In essence, they were rejecting the creator God who had made them a nation and had given them the land as represented by the vineyard. In verse 41 he tells them the owner (God) responds to their final and complete rejection of God’s rule through rejecting his son. “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and  rent the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” The miserable death would be the desertion of Jerusalem.  Then in verses 43-46, Jesus gives his explanation of the parable. “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but to the one on whom it falls, they will be crushed.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet”.

It is obvious that the Jewish leaders who heard Jesus tell this parable understood that it was spoken about them and not a generation of people that would exist 2000 years later.

The second is the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14. In this parable, the Lord likens the rule of God or kingdom of God to a King throwing a party for his son’s wedding and sending out his servants to invite people to the party, however, the people he invited began to make excuses, seized some of the messengers and killed the others. Now, we need to remember that in that culture to say no to the Kings’ invitation was unthinkable. It would be a horrendous offense worthy of death. This is exactly what we see in the parable. The King took offense and was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city, (Mt 22:7) Note that there are two groups of people who were slated for judgment by the King; those that were indifferent to the message of the King and those who had killed the messengers of the King. i.e. those that do not accept the invitation offered through his son.

It becomes obvious when we consider the overall context of the book of Matthew that the sign seeking version is not the best interpretation of Matthew 24. Those that use the sign seeking version to interpret this section of Scripture must ignore the basic law of hermeneutics, which says you must consider the context of the passage. The context would include who Jesus was speaking to when he said: “all these things shall come upon this generation”.

My conclusion is that Matthew 24 does not support the sign seeking version:  rather in the first section of the chapter verses 1-34 it points to the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, with the last section of the chapter pointing to and confirming the thief in the night version. If the sign seeking version is to be established by the Bible it must be done by some other section of Scripture other than Matthew 24. It was the thief in the night version and interpretation of Matthew 24 which seem to be shared by the early church Father Tertullian who clearly was making reference to Matthew 24 when he spoke of the overthrow of Jerusalem and the temple[3].

[1] Why do Westerners seem convinced that Christ will come on our watch? The truth is, we aren’t the first. The Dead Sea Scrolls are copies of Old Testament books discovered near Qumran, the commune of the Essenes on the rim of the Dead Sea. This reclusive group of Jews from Jesus’ day had several peculiarities. One of the lesser-known was a method of biblical interpretation that scholars often call pesher. This method of interpretation requires two presuppositions. First, it assumes a verse of Scripture is referring to the end of time, even if it doesn’t originally appear to be…..Second-and this is the most important ingredient-the pesher exegete interprets his or her current time as the eschaton. Thus, step one is assuming a given passage is actually about the end of time; step two is assuming that time is now.  E. Randolph Richards; Brandon J. O’Brien. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible (Kindle Locations 2276-2284). Kindle Edition.

[2] The new Adam has come It is no longer the seed of Abraham it has become the seed of Christ. One greater than Abraham and Moses has come.

[3] Jesus was questioned by His disciples concerning when those things were to come to pass that He had said about the destruction of the temple. So He first spoke to them about the order of Jewish events until the overthrow of Jerusalem. Then, he spoke about the things that will concern all nations— up to the very end of the world. . . . Therefore, although there is presently a sprouting in the acknowledgment of all this mystery, yet it is only in the actual presence of the Lord that the flower will be developed and the fruit will be borne. . . . Who has yet beheld Jesus descending from heaven in a manner similar to how the apostles saw Him ascend?. . . . Up to the present moment, no one has smitten their breasts, tribe by tribe, looking on Him whom they pierced. No one has yet fallen in with Elijah. No one has yet escaped from the Antichrist. No one has yet had to bewail the downfall of Babylon. Tertullian (c. 210, W), 3.561).


The Amazing New Atheist-Revised With Footnotes

The Amazing New Atheist-Revised With Footnotes

I am truly amazed at people who claim they are atheist and then spent a great deal of their time talking about or even arguing about transcendental concepts like love, justices and truth. Well, not so much about love, but a lot about truth and morality.  If there is no God, are these concept not just empty expressions? Why spent the time and effort to try to convince the theist or for that matter anyone that there is no God?  If there is no God, is not truth just a subjective term that has no real content? All concepts which I call ultimate concepts e.g. love; truth, justice and beauty have their roots in a belief in an absolute or a cosmic order, which reveals these things to humanity.  If you remove the absolute or the ultimate you destroy all the concepts that are built on it. Our founding fathers spoke of these things as self-evident truths[1]. If you reject a cosmic order which reveals truths to mankind you turn truth, justice and beauty into nothing but beliefs and according to atheists beliefs only exist in people’s head and cannot be established in reality. In fact this is one of their favorite arguments against belief in God. It is simple a belief like a belief in a unicorn or spaghetti monster. Is believing in love the same as believing in a unicorn or spaghetti monster.To be consistent with their scientific materialism they would have to say yes. Love is only a biological reaction of chemicals in the brain and has nothing to do with reality or the social construction we humans put on love, i.e. it is an illusion like the belief in God.

 When we are talking about ultimate concepts we are talking about the very foundations of human culture and civilization. To take the idea of a deity or a cosmic order out of the equation would mean make up and necessitate the complete remaking of everything, our language, our culture, values, civilization and in essences the very way we think about everything.  We are talking about the world of Nietzsche, a world, which has gone beyond good and evil, a world of a mad man[2]. When this is understood the question may change from, Is there a God, to can mankind survive as man without the idea of God? By survive, I do not mean maintaining biological life but rather living in a state of freedom and human dignity. I personally think not.  For this reason I believe that atheism is the most dangers and destructive ideology in the world. Of course, many atheists are like Karl Marx who criticized all ideology and at the same time fail to see that he was creating one. The new atheists seem so engrossed in destroying religion and belief in God, that they have neglected to considered what a world would look like without the idea of God?

Some may respond by saying that they feel religion is evil and that they are simply trying to do away with evil and replace it with something better. Well I would have to agree that some religion is evil but not because religion itself is evil but rather because there are evil men in religion.  However, we again run into a similar problem as above.  Without the concept of a God can there be any ground for the concepts of good and evil?  If there is no good and evil how could religion be evil? You might reply, because religion hurts people. My answer is, it has not hurt me, what standard are you using to make that judgment? You might say reason. My question is why is your reason different from billions of other people who believe in God and what makes your reason better than theirs? Moreover, how do you know that it is evil to hurt people? Is it evil when my dentist hurts me to fix a tooth? Was it unreasonable for the Nazis to hit children in the head so they could find a cure for head trauma? They seemed to think it was reasonable. You say, no for those children were humans. Without God is there any different between a lab animal and a human being? If you say, there is a different, on what ground do you justify your opinion?

I have had atheists respond by saying that they can create a new morality based on reason alone, which can replace the morality of religion. Of course, there has been other groups that have believed that, like the Nazis and the Communist. The hypothesis of a human created morality raises some interesting questions? Like who are going to be the Angels that create this new morality; Scientists, philosophers or maybe politicians, all of whom would of necessity have to be atheists in order for the foundation of this new morality to be total free from religion. Even then, would this system of morality be free from religion or just a different type of religion? And who would enforce this new morality, maybe the state? I believe I have seen this kind of morality somewhere. I think this experiment was the very thing tried by the Communist in Russia. They even had a church called the church of scientific atheism.

In view of the above thoughts I would think that if a person really was an atheist they would think long and hard about destroying the ideal of God and the way of thinking that accompanies it. What would a world look like without faith in God? Would the idea of truth and freedom survived in this brave new world?  If history is any commentary they did not do to well in atheistic Russia or China.

Some will say I cannot believe. When people say this they are often saying that their intelligent is keeping them from believing. No, some of the most intelligent people in history have been believers. The truth is that belief in God is as much a matter of the will as the intelligent. So it is not so much a question of your intellect as much as your want too. It is the human ego, which has blinded many to their motives. We all like to think that our beliefs are correct because we all like to think we are smarter than the other guy.

It would be more accurate for many especially those in the educated class to say that they have been conditioned not to believe by a secular education. If honest, the majority of this class would have to say that their minds have been captured by a materialistic liberal world view, which discourages any other way of viewing the world. They are like a man sitting in a room with a multitude of windows that are boarded up except one. Because, they are so occupied with what is going on outside the one window they have forgotten the other ones, which are boarded up. In fact, some are so excited about what they are seeing out of the one window, that they have total ignored the others to point that some actually say they don’t exist or if they do notice them, they quickly ignore them believing they cannot be as important as the one through which they are viewing the world. I challenge these folks to take a look at their conditioning and realize that there are a number of worlds out there other than the materialistic world of science and western Liberalism.

The first step on the road to faith is to ask yourself what is the real reason for you lack of faith[3]. This step many take some hard work but the true God only reveals himself to those that are earnestly seeking Him i.e. those that work at it.  Like many endeavors in life, things may not be equal; it may be harder for some because of their preconditioning to find God. Yet one thing I do know, if you find God too easily you probably have found an idol and not the true God.

[1] The new atheists have little or no knowledge of the concept of natural law and self-evident truth taught in philosophy andtheology. Please note my article “Atheism, Natural Law and Self-evident Truth”. I am not saying that atheist are immoral. I am saying that they don’t know the real reason of why they are moral.

[2] Nietzsche was an atheistic nihilist who preach the death of God. He went mad and died in an insane asylum. He believed that man was evolving into what he called the over man or Superman who through reason alone could live above the old moral codes of religion. His vision was somewhat tainted by two world wars and the moral declension of Western culture. The new atheists believe they are the fulfillment of Nietzsche’s prophecy of the over man. However, they have not reached this state by exceeding the morality of religion, but rather by subverting words and interpreting declension as progress.

[3] Note the article “The making of an Atheist”.

Unbelievable Beliefs

Unbelievable Beliefs

Sometimes when I hear people espousing their beliefs, I wonder why anyone would want to believe what some people believe.  The other day I was reading a book in which the author was propounding his atheism and a belief system that reduced everything in life to a chemical reaction in the brain.  To this person, concepts like love, faith, and hope were nothing more than illusions.

After reading a bit of the book, my curiosity (probably one of those illusions) began to cause a number of questions to arise in my biological illusion maker.  My first one was:  Is this guy serious?  The second one was:  Does he live his life on the basis of his beliefs and what does that life look like?  Finally, I came to a question that most interested me:  Why would anyone want to believe such things?

For the life of me, I have not been able to figure out why anyone in his right mind would want to believe such ideas[1].  I guess someone could appeal to truth and claim that science has proven that we are nothing more than biological entities.  However, I believe there are a great number of scientists who would disagree with that proposition.  Besides, if we really are only a bunch of chemicals and our thoughts are nothing more than a chemical reaction, can there be such a thing as truth?  Would not this belief make the concept of truth just one of those empty God words in the final analysis? Just another Illusion?

It seems like to me that if there is no truth, it would be the prudent thing to pick a belief system that would make you happy or at least create an illusion of it.  I once read a book which propounded that the best belief system (illusion) to deal with life and death was Christianity[2].  If you believe you are just a mess of chemicals, you might try Christianity for the pragmatic benefits.  However, if you begin to really believe it, you may find your chemistry being changed.

“I tell you the truth; no one can see the kingdom of God, unless he is born again” (Jesus, the Christ).

[1] This question plagued me to the point that I spent hours thinking about it. I finally put my thoughts down in an article entitled, “The Making of a Fundamentalist Atheist”.

[2]The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

A Rant Against the New Atheist

A Rant Against the New Atheist

I have found that many new atheists (not the old type) are not true skeptics[1] and in many ways resemble the true believers they so noisily criticize. The majority seem to be ignorant of the things they criticize and often seem to be just repeating talking points from the Internet. If you refute their arguments, they either ignore your response completely or reciprocate with a whole lot of rhetoric,[2] which is an indicator that they really did not understand their own argument to begin with or that they have ignored your response. In this, they remind of me of many of the religious folks they aggressively attack.

One thing that really irks me is the young, white male, college type, who seems to run on a 100% octane of ego. He knows nothing, or at the very best, little, about religion, theology or science, other than the twisted and shallow information he may get through the net. Even so, he blogs on as though he was an expert on the great philosophical questions of life. Many of these young men are not old enough to be experts on anything. As I reflected on this atheist type, the more this nagging question kept coming to mind: Why would young healthy males spend so much time arguing for their beliefs, if those beliefs had not become a faith (religion)? The word religion is a symbol that stands for one’s ultimate concern, and I believe for many of the new atheists, their ideology of unbelief has become their religion without them even being aware of it.

Many of the new atheist types operate from the presupposition that the only true knowledge comes from science, and yet they know little about it. If they truly understood science, they would know that science is mute and neutral when it comes to the question of God[3]. Where is the scientific argument against the existence of God? The truth is, the atheists have no scientific argument or proof that there is no God. What they have are assumptions and assertions that they arrogate as evidence. The majority need some basic knowledge of epistemology. Then they might have an awareness that large amounts of their knowledge is based on presuppositions that cannot be proven. Of course, the same could be said for the theist. However, astute theists understand the source of their knowledge and therefore, understand that the root of their knowledge is faith. In this acknowledgment, they reflect self-awareness and a basic honesty that many atheists do not have about the foundation of their beliefs.

Here is the source of much of the problematic thinking of the new atheist; he cannot tell the difference between the facts and his opinion or interpretation of the facts. This is a problem that all true believers have, whether religious or nonreligious, and yes, most atheists are true believers and think as true believers do, i.e., one-dimensional and concrete. Atheists are the fundamentalists of the secular minded and therefore, are mirror images of the far right they criticize and hate.

Another thing that irks me is the undercurrent of intellectual snobbery that fills the majority of atheist blogs. Seldom do I read a blog or interact with new atheist types without them inferring someway that they are intellectually superior to believers. Therefore, they write as though the fundamentals and presuppositions of their materialistic worldview have been proven and are now a fact that all educated people believe. The truth is that only a small minority of people believe in materialism and even fewer live it out consistently, which is strange for an ideology that claims to reflect reality (note the facts below) 4 For example, I recently had one writer say he, “could not believe in God because nature was a closed system and was the whole show,” i.e., the only thing that existed. This is like saying there is no God because there is no God and there is no God because I believe there is no God. This is an argument from an unprovable assumption that nature is all there is or that it is the whole show. From a scientific perspective, a scientist can say that we only study nature. However, if they add, because that’s all that exists, they are no longer speaking as scientists but rather as philosophers. It is here that it becomes obvious that what most people consider science has a metaphysical basis that is used to interpret the facts. Sorry, there is no such thing as pure science.

The bottom line is this: I wish the new atheists would stop polluting science by bringing it into the mud puddle of their atheistic apologetics. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God Who is outside nature. In fact, at this time science does not even have the knowledge or tools to prove or disprove the existence of God within nature. For all science knows, Zeus may be somewhere out there in the universe. At the very best, scientists can simply say that they have not found Him. Of course, the honest ones would admit that they do not know what they would be looking for if they were looking for him, it or she, which means if they found it they may not recognize it.

Still another thing that irritates me about the new atheists is their constant attacks on organized religion. They seem to be obtuse to the fact that like anything, religion can be good or bad depending on the men who are in it and controlling it. Unfortunately, the more power any human organization has the more prone it is to corruption; this is true for government, religion and even charitable organizations. This is also true for atheism. When government and atheism were mixed in communist Russia and China, it became more corrupt than the religions it was trying to replace. However, the new atheists continue to try to organize themselves, thinking they are going to be the angels of light who save the world from darkness. We have heard that rhetoric before, and it has always led to tyranny.

[1] The majority of the new atheists do not qualify as true skeptics because of their blind faith in science, reason, and human knowledge in general. A true skeptic doubts everything, even their doubts. I have found in my discussions with atheists that I am far more skeptical about things in general than they are.

[2] The rhetoric is usually in the form of rehearsing the tall tale of undirected evolution, which is based on suppositions and assertions only.

[3]  The US National Academy of Sciences has gone on record with the following statement: “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”  Taken from “Who Made God?:A Searching for a Theory of Everything” by Fay Weldon.

Faith, Science And Human Knowledge

Faith, Science And Human Knowledge

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Heb 11:1-3

I often hear people say that science is based on reason and religion is based on faith. After reflecting on this for while I came to the conclusion that science and religion both have a faith component and a rational one.

First of all, let’s look at the thought process that goes on in science. The first thing we find in the making of any scientific theory is a hunch that something is true. This hunch may come from a number of sources. It may originate in the imagination of the scientist or a scientist may stumble on something by accident, which creates a curiosity. It may come through some tacit awareness, which is beyond explanation. We call this tacit awareness creativity or inspiration. Whatever it is, it is the motivation which moves the scientist to the next step of searching for evidence to  prove his hunch. When he obtains what he thinks is enough evidence; he is moved to publish his belief publicly. It is at this time that his hunch becomes a theory that the Bible calls faith. It is still a hunch, though, he now has somet evidence to support it. However, at this point the evidence is not enough to turn his hunch into fact.

In science, the hunch stage of an idea is called a hypothesis. In layman’s language, a hunch might be called an educated guess based on tacit knowledge, which would necessitate a strong element of faith. At this level of knowledge there may be  little, to no evidence to support the hunch or hypothesis, yet because of the scientists faith they continue on, looking for evidence. If they find enough evidence to support their hunch, then they will publish it for the scientific community to have their hypothesis tested. If the scientific community, through the scientific method, confirms  their belief, then the hypothesis is moved to the status of a theory.

What is a Theory? A theory is “a proposed explanation whose status is still conjecture and subject to experimentation in contrast to a well-established proposition that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact”. One of the problems with the idea of a theory is that it is hard sometimes for many people to determine the difference between a theory, and a fact. The main difference is that a fact has a large degree of certitude and the theory still has a faith element in it, though less than the hypothesis.

¶Over the course of time if a theory maintains its integrity, it will then be referred as a law; e.g. the law of gravity or the law of thermodynamics.  However, some theories may never reach the level of law because of the number of pieces missing in its explanation of the facts, or the failure of scientists to be able to apply the scientific method to the theory. There are a number of theories that the scientific method cannot be applied to, such as Darwinian evolution, which has elements that must be accepted by faith and can never be proven or disproven by empirical evidence. One of these elements is whether or not evolution is directed by a force in or outside of nature, or it is completely undirected and random.

I think it quite self-evident that science, as in all disciplines of human knowledge, has a faith element in it that is very similar to a faith in God. When a person has a real faith in God, which is not inherited from family or culture, you will basically find very similar steps as we saw in science. We see a hunch or hypothesis that there is something more than nature. The hunch may come from pondering one’s thoughts or the incredible sense of awe that comes through observing the wonders of nature, or a tacit revelation which cannot be explained.

¶The next step is for a person to begin to search for God. Now, it is important to note that at this point the hunch is not what the Bible calls faith; it is still only a hunch. However, as the person begins to look for God and the evidence begins to grow, his hunch starts to grow into faith.  His tacit hunch enables him to see more and more of the evidence for God. In this, his hunch becomes the instrument or tool which aids him in his search for God.

¶Sometimes you must believe something in order to see it. For example, scientists believed there were atoms hundreds of years before they could prove their existence. If they rejected everything because they could not see it, they would have never looked for atoms. If they had not believed, they would have never found the atom.

When does a person’s hunch, become faith?  Just like the scientist, a hunch becomes faith when it is confirmed by evidence and when it is publicly published.  In Biblical Christianity this happens when a person confesses Christ publicly by being baptize or immersed into Christ (Gal 3:26, 27)[i]. As the  evidence grows, faith continues to move through the phases of a hypothesis, a theory and then in the certitude of law, which the Bible calls the law of the Spirit of life. This is simpler to the phases of a scientific belief, which is first a hunch, then a theory and then law.

If this is all true why do people believe that science is objective and faith is subjective? First let me point out that the categories of objective and subjective are somewhat artificial. It can be established that all human thought, including science has some subjective elements. The hard and fast difference between science and theology actually came out of the struggle between the philosophers and the natural philosophers. Natural philosophers, whom we now call scientists, wanted to separate themselves from the philosophers who sought the truth by reason alone (in their minds only). The natural philosophers (scientists) believed that the search for truth needed to be proven by observation and experimentation (outside their minds in nature). So, the die was  cast for the different ways of approaching truth. In the course  of time and because of the great successes of science, science won the day and philosophy had to take second place.

But what about theology?  Where does that fit in? Well, on the surface, it appears to be more akin to philosophy than science.  However, Christian theology actually is more akin to science for it has an authority outside of the human mind. That outside authority and source of information is the Scriptures, which the faith community accepts as authoritative.  Furthermore, the faith community has a set of facts that it can observe and use to develop hypotheses and theories. In theology like science, there is a community where these theories can also be published; where they can be questioned and verified. The different between theology and science is the set of facts they are examining. Science looks at the facts of nature and gives a naturalist interpretation of the facts. The theologian looks at scripture and also gives an interpretation. Both science and theology have rules, or laws, to govern their interpretation of the facts.  Science uses the scientific method and theology uses the laws of hermeneutics. Both have laws or principles to limit arbitrary and personal interpretations.

It is self-evident that faith is a key element in the pursuit of all human knowledge. I had a friend tell me he could not even eat his wife’s stew without faith. Not only is faith the beginning of all pursuits of knowledge, it is also the thing that keeps people motivated in their quest for knowledge; once on the road faith turns into hope. It may be the hope of a religious faith or the hope of discovering a new scientific truth, but when analyzed it is simply faith.

[i]  In Gal 3:26, 27 the apostle Paul speaks of faith and baptism as synonymous with one another. In Paul faith is born in an outward action and is more than a subjective thought.

ETERNAL SECURITY Questions To Ask Yourself


Questions To Ask Yourself

Thanks to Charles Stanley 

My Answer and questions to Mr. Stanley.

I found these question by Charles Stanly on the net. My responds to Mr. Stanly is based on the simple belief that we are saved in Christ. To be in Christ is to be in a loving relationship with Christ and His Father. This relationship is entered through faith and is maintained by faith. However, I believe a person can lose their faith and fall out of this loving relationship with Jesus and be lost.


If Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost, and yet we can somehow become unsaved – and therefore undo what Christ came to do – would it not be wise for God to take us on to heaven the moment we are saved in order to insure we make it? Isn’t it unnecessarily risky to force us to stay here?

Satan and Man have been undoing the things of God since the fall. If this was not the case, we would have no free will. If we have no free will, we are simply a part of a comic rerun where everything has all ready been determined.

I  personally have not reached the point where I can judge what is wise for God to do, or not to do. I guess Mr. Stanley has.

It seems that Mr. Stanley’s questions come from the presumption that Gods eternal purpose is to save mankind.  Really?  Is mankind the center of Gods purpose? I was under the impression that God and Christ were the center and their purpose is, and was, to restore Gods rule or the kingdom of God? Could it be that God only wants the tried and the true to serve him in his kingdom?

If a person cannot be unsaved who was saved before, how can a small child who is saved or at least safe become unsaved? If people are elected in eternity to be saved how then did they become lost or unelected requiring Jesus to die for them?  Why did Jesus  come, to seek and to save the lost, if saved people cannot become  lost people and the unsaved people could not respond to his preaching because they were not elected in eternity? Is the coming of Christ just a cosmic deception or joke?


If our salvation is not secure, how could Jesus say about those to whom He gives eternal life, “and they shall never perish” (John 10:28)? If even one man or woman receives eternal life and then forfeits it through sin or apostasy, will they not perish? And by doing so, do they not make Jesus’ words a lie?  Is Christ a liar???

The gift of eternal life is given to those that hear and follow Christ, which means that the promise of eternal life is conditional.  In verse 10:27 of the book of John, He tells us who his sheep are. They are those that hear his voice and follow him which are two conditions.  In this section of scripture Jesus says nothing about the gift being free or coming without conditions, or by some prior election by God.  These ideas are read into the passage by Mr. Stanley. In actuality, the text has nothing to do with whether a person can fall away from Christ (stop hearing his voice and following Christ). This section of Scripture is not talking about the sheep falling away, but rather them being force or captured against their will by Satan. It is very similar to the thoughts of Paul when he says that no temptation is to great to overcome the believer (1 Cor 10:13). The real question is can a people lose their faith in Christ and stop listening and following Christ? Does a person lose their free will when they become a Christian?

When Christ gives a gift, he surely guards the gift so that no one can take it from the one receiving it. However, he does not force one to accept or keep the gift. If that was the case we would not have free will, something I wonder if Mr. Stanley believes in. Where in the Bible does it teach that a person loses their free will when they become a Christian? Can something be rightly call a gift if it is forced on someone?

Moreover, from the context it is very doubtful that Jesus is talking about people losing their salvation through personal sin. Rather, he seems to be talking about Satan pulling the Lord’s sheep out relationship with the Father. “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:29). Jesus is simply saying that God  will never let Satan tempt us beyond our ability to endure. He is not talking about eternal security. In Christ we enter the protective care of God, similar to the relationship that Adam had with God in the garden. He was protected from the power of Satan (Satan powers were limited), but Adam had the free will to succumb to temptation and walk away from his relationship with God. It was Satan who told Adam “you will not die”. Do not let anyone tell you, you will not die. Satan is still saying you shall not die and God is still saying, “The wages sin is death”.


Why should God let you into heaven? If your answer includes words such as try, my best, church, believe in God, Sunday School, teach or give, chances are that you still haven’t come to grips with the simple truth that salvation is by faith alone. 

The Bible teaches us that we are saved by grace through faith. Why does Mr. Stanley add the word “alone”. Could you please give me a passage in the Bible where the phase “by faith alone or by grace alone” is used? Can real faith be separated from obedience? What is real faith? Is true faith simply mental assent?

Let me ask the question another way: What are you trusting in, to get you into heaven? Is it Christ plus something? Or can you say with confidence that your hope and your trust are in Christ and Christ alone

Mr. Stanley is right if you are a person who trusts in their own effort and goodness to get themselves into heaven. No human being can obligate God to save them by being good enough. Questions like those above are appropriate when talking to a people who are self righteous.  However,  their presumption really doesn’t have much to do with the question of unconditional salvation, for that question hinges on the definition of faith. What is saving faith and what does it do, i.e. what does faith look like?


If salvation wasn’t permanent, why introduce the concept of adoption? Wouldn’t it have been better just to describe salvation in terms of a conditional legal contract between man and God?

The Bible teaches that our adoption is finalized at the resurrection, not at the point of faith (Rom 8:23).  After one has put their faith in Christ they enter a time of testing and growth just like the first Adam, Israel and Christ himself. Unfortunately, like the Israelites in the wilderness some will not pass the test. Was the promise of entering the Promised Land conditional or unconditional? If unconditional then why did so few make it in?


The authors of the New Testament left us with detailed explanations of how one becomes a child of God. If that process could be reversed doesn’t it make sense that at least one of them would have gone into equal detail explaining that as well?

In the letter of 1John the apostle John go into great detail about who is a Christian and how they can have the security of knowing that they have eternal life.  His letter rules out the majority of people that claim to be Christian, and his criteria for knowing that you have eternal life would limit that knowledge to very few (Matt 7:13-14).  By the way, he does not list believing in unconditional security as one of the proofs of salvation or even being a Christian.


What is the significance of a seal that can be continually removed and reapplied? What does it really seal?

The seal is not a seal like the one you put on a jar of canned goods. It was the mark or seal of the king. Yes, we are sealed or marked by the Holy Spirit. The mark of the Holy Spirit is a life lived in holiness and love. If one continues to live in sin after believing in Jesus he probably was not saved to begin with and therefore never received the seal of the Spirit (living like Jesus). Then you have those who become Christians and begin to live like Jesus which is the seal of the Spirit and then they fall into sin. At that point they simply no longer have the mark or seal of the Spirit, which is living like Jesus. “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.  Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.  This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:3-6

The seal of the Spirit is not some mystical mark or seal. It is simply living like Jesus. This is too simple for those who want to live like the devil and at the same time have the good feeling that they are eternally secure in Christ by accepted Jesus into their heart sometime in the past which the Bible nowhere tells people to do for salvation.


If a man or a woman ends up in hell, who has at some point in life put his or her trust in Christ, doesn’t that make what Jesus said to Nicodemus a lie? Or at best only half true?

In his discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus was not talking about a person losing their salvation.  Again as in many places, Mr. Stanley uses the silence of the Scriptures to argue his point.


If my faith maintains my salvation, I must ask myself, “What must I do to maintain my faith?” For, to neglect the cultivation of my faith is to run the risk of weakening or losing my faith and thus my salvation. I have discovered that my faith is maintained and strengthened by activities such as the following: Prayer, Bible Study, Christian Fellowship, Church Attendance and Evangelism. If these and similar activities are necessary to maintain my faith – and the maintenance of my faith is necessary for salvation – how can I avoid the conclusion that I am saved by my good works?

 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.  Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall. “ Peter 1:5-11   How does Mr. Stanley’s ideas square with what Peter says?

Here Mr. Stanley shows his real colors in making faith, a good work. He misunderstands Paul’s understanding of good works and in doing so, embraces the totality of the teaching of Calvinism, which one would have to do to be logical and consistent in accepting unconditional security. It appears that Mr. Stanley believes that faith is a gift from God and is given to those that God elected in eternity. In this Mr. Stanley demonstrates himself as a true Calvinist. I respect Mr. Stanley’s consistency, but totally reject his Calvinism.

In Ephesians 2:8 the apostle Paul says, “For it is by grace  you have been saved, through faith – and this not of yourselves for it is the gift of God”. Calvinists misunderstand this passage and interpret the gift as faith. However a close reading of the passage seems to indicate that God’s  gift is salvation, not  grace or faith. The gift comes out of God’s grace and is  accepted by faith. The gift is salvation or eternal life. The wages sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:23).


If our salvation hinges on the consistency of our faith, by what standard are we to judge our consistency?

Can we have doubts at all? How long can we doubt? To what degree can we doubt? Is there a divine quota we dare not exceed?

Mr. Stanley is great at asking questions.  Questions that are similar to the faulty and loaded questions, such as  “When did you  stop beating your wife?” or “Who created God?”  However, I do not find them helping his position on unconditional security. Here are a few realistic questions. Can you find one plain passage of Scripture that teaches that a Christian has unconditional security?  Is the term unconditional security or any of its equivalent phrases such as, “once saved always saved” or even “eternal security”, ever been found in the Bible? Why  has the doctrine of unconditional security  not been found in the early Christian fathers manuscripts which record the historical faith for first 400 years of the Christian movement, right up to the time of Augustine? What about the hundreds of warnings in the Bible that teach that a person must have faith to be saved and the fruit of faith to know that they are saved?

To answer Mr. Stanley’s questions about faith and doubt, Jesus said that if we had the faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains.  It does not take a lot of real faith to be saved. The question is, do we have any? Moreover, true faith does not spend its’ time introspectively looking at itself. It is too concerned with doing the will of the Father. It is the faith of the  Gnostic who would  look inward for confirmation. True faith looks outward at its fruit. The fruit does not make the tree, but  it sure tells you what kind of tree it is.

Watch the following video to see what the early Christians believed about this subject


Wrangling About Words

Wrangling About Words

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm” 1Tim 1:5-7

When I read material written by many evangelicals about salvation, my mind often goes into a tailspin. They talk about salvation by “faith alone”, yet the bible only uses that expression one time and  claims that it is not true (James 2:24). The Bible simply says that we are saved by faith.  Why add the “alone” to the equation?  I am sure that many people add alone to the equation because they believe it clarifies what the Bible teaches on salvation.  However, the question is does it clarify or does it just confuse the issue?

Before we dig deep into this expression “faith alone” I would like us to find the source of this expression and see if we can learn a possible reason for its introduction into the equation of evangelical salvation messages.  I think most historians would agree that it was Martin Luther the Protestant reformer who was the first to use this expression or at the very least popularized it.  If we go back and look at his reason, it may help us to understand its true meaning.

Luther lived in a time when the church had reached an absolute low. The clergy had run amok and the church had become nothing more than the handmaiden of the aristocracy.  It was using the fear of hell to oppress the people financially and politically. The atmosphere was one that you had to pay the church for your salvation by purchasing indulgences and absolution for your sins.  The church stood between the people; and God mediating salvation to the people.  In this environment, the idea of good works was reduced to buying your salvation from the Church.  This left the appearance that one could obligate God to save you, which of course is foolishness.  However, foolishness has been the norm for the masses.  What Luther wanted to do was break down everything that stood between the people and God and thus the emphasis on “faith alone”; no indulgences, absolutions or church, nothing but the faith of the individual, thus “faith alone”.

With this background information, we might ask has this concept of “faith alone” gone amok.  Well, the only way for us to answer that is to look at what the Scriptures say about faith.  As mentioned above, the bible only uses the expression “faith alone” one time and it teaches that true faith is never alone (James 2:24).  However, it does says that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-10).  It also says that we are saved by faith apart from works, that is the works of the Law of Moses, or you could say the works of religion. In this, Luther was right when he said we are saved by “faith alone”. That is faith in Jesus apart from the works of religion.  However, some modern-day evangelicals take it much farther than Luther or the Bible.  They leave the impression that a person who believes in Jesus can do anything and live any way they wish and still be saved by a simple confession of faith uttered sometime in the past. Is this  what “faith alone” means or should we stick to the Bible and say that salvation is by Grace, through faith? Should we not try to define faith by what the Bible says about it?

I personally think that the expression by “faith alone” today is very confusing to the average person. Instead of clarifying, it confuses and darkens the true meaning of faith. In a real sense faith is never alone for by its very nature genuine faith produces the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5).  If there is no obedience, there is simply not a true faith.  The closest word we have to faith in English is the word trust.  If you trust God, it seems logical that you would trust that his will for your life is the optimal thing for you to do and humans usually do what’s best for them.  Therefore, if there is no obedience there is no true faith.  This would imply that true faith capsulate trust and obedience.

In much American religion, we see faith reduced to mental assent. By that I mean that one accepts intellectually that there is a God, a Christ, and that he died for your sins. However, this mental assent alone is the dead faith that James says that demons have, and he adds,“they shudder”.  Some have said that James talks about two kinds of faith, a living faith and a dead faith.  Actually he talks about three kinds of faith. The third kind is the faith of demons.  This faith creates fear in them to the point that they shudder.  Of course, their faith does not lead them to repentance because they hate God.  James infers that the faith of demons is greater than those who have a dead faith, which does not lead them to repentance and doing works of love.  At least  demons believe enough to be moved to fear. Of course, if I had a dead faith, I would like to believe that some metaphysical surgery could separate faith from works, so I could be saved by a dead faith. Maybe the expression “faith alone” accomplished this surgery in the mind of some.

¶Someone might ask, “When is faith obeyed enough, to become a saving faith?” Likewise, you might as well ask, “When does a person believes sufficiently enough to have a saving faith?”  In the New Testimony it appears that faith was accepted by the body of Christ when a person was  led to confessing Christ and  was baptized (Acts 2:38, 22:16). The act of baptism was a public identification with Christ and his Church. If you were not identified with Christ you were not saved (Matt 10:32). This may be why baptism was done immediately in the New Testament when people believed on Christ. Note the examples of conversions in the book of Acts (Acts 2:36-38, Acts 8:9-13, Acts 8:26-40, Acts 9:1-19, Acts 16:29-34,Acts 16:13-15,Acts 19:1-8).

For the identifying marks of a true believe read the epistle of first John.  “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).  John is the only New Testament writer that addresses the question of how a person can know if they are a true believer and he does not base it on the notion of assurance by “faith alone”. Rather John says it come from keeping the commandments of Christ and walking as he did (1Jn 2:3-6).

In Hebrews the eleventh chapter, the writer gets into what constitutes real faith.  He begins by saying, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  However, in verse six he gives us some insight to what constitutes faith “And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  In this Scripture, we see three ingredients of true faith. The first is mental acceptance, which is an intellectual belief in His existence. The second is a trust that he will reward you in the resurrection. In other words, you believe his promises as Abraham did (Rom 4). The finally ingredient is being earnest in seeking him and his will.  To be earnest is to be sincere and diligent in seeking and doing his will “Seek first His Kingdom”.  The Hebrew writer goes on in Chapter eleven to give a number of examples of what real faith looks like in actual man and woman. After reading the chapter you come away with the image that real faith is a dynamic force that moves men to action for God.  Read the chapters then look at our churches, filled with people with little or no real change or power in their lives, filled with emotions that are paraded as actual faith and yet few good works to support its claim.

However, the scripture says that it is impossible to please God without a true faith and that faith constitutes trust, the obedience of faith and a will that is seeking the heart of God.  To reduce faith to a one-time confession of intellectual beliefs or just a mental assent to some facts is to teach a false gospel that is not taught in the New Testament. Watch out for the “faith alone” doctrine.

Is Repentance Moral Reform? Acts 2:38

Is Repentance Moral Reform? Acts 2:38

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”Acts 2:38

The question I want us to focus on is, Does “to repent” in Acts 2:38 mean moral reform or something else? I have heard it taught as moral reform or as simply a turning to God. However, there are some problems with both interpretations. First, it would seem unlikely that the Apostle Peter would tell devout Jews that they needed to reform morally or turn to God. In the context of Acts 2:38, repentance or turning would seem to mean turning to Christ or to believing on Christ. In essence, Peter was telling his audience simply to believe in Jesus. This would echo the words of Jesus to His disciples in John 14:1, “You believe in God believe also in me.”

However, the text seems to indicate that a necessary part of this turning to God includes baptism or what we might call a bodily and public expression of this turning or repentance. Baptism then would be viewed as the initiation act that puts a person into Christ where His blood cleanses from sin and where one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Rom 6:1-3, Gal 3:26,27).

It is also important to note that Peter’s statement is a commandment not a request. Man left God by breaking a commandment, and he must returns by keeping a commandment. Therefore, he is commanded to believe on Jesus or believe the gospel (1 Thess. 1:8). Adam’s sin began in his heart and was consummated in his outward disobedience. In like manner, man returns to God by believing and acting out his faith in baptism and a life that bears the fruit of repentance (Acts 26:20). This is why Paul uses faith and baptism as synonymous. “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ (Gal 3:26-27 ASV).

We can summarize the teaching of Acts 2:38 by saying that God commands two things: faith in Christ and baptism into Christ. These two acts constitute turning toward God (Acts 3:19). To those who turn to God by belief and baptism, God promises two things: the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It would be fair to ask the question, Does faith and baptism in themselves remit sin? Absolutely not; nothing but the free action of a forgiving God can do that. Faith-baptism simply puts a person into Christ where one has access to the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins, both of which are in Christ (Eph 1:7, Rom 6:3).