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Sampson’s Samson Post – Losing His Faith

Yet another celebrity Christian has announced on social media that he has left the faith .  Premier Christianity asked me to respond to  Hillsong’s Marty Sampson’s Instagram post announcing this.   You can read the original here…

An open letter to the Hillsong worship leader who is “losing his faith”

The Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson has announced he’s “losing his faith”. In an Instagram post, Sampson said, “How many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen? Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.” 48 hours later, Sampson deleted the post. He then posted a collection of photographs of well known Christian apologists including William Lane Craig and John Lennox, explaining “I don’t know these men personally, but I do watch them regularly and listen to their arguments.” Here, David Robertson responds by penning an open letter to Marty Sampson

 

marty-sampson-main_article_image

Dear Marty,

I am so sorry to read your Instagram post about how you are ‘losing your faith’.  I suspect you know this already but be prepared for the reaction. There will be those who laud your “courage and openness” and others who lament your “backsliding and apostasy”.

Forgive me for writing this but your post sparked so many emotions and questions…

Firstly there is a deep sorrow that someone who once sang “for endless days we will sing your praise” has now decided to walk away from Jesus. You no longer see “his wounds, his hands, his feet, my Saviour on that cursed tree”. (‘O Praise the Name’). As someone who loves and follows Jesus and knows what life without him is like, I cannot help but feel a deep sorrow for you, and also for those whom you have served with.

 

Hillsong are not every Christian’s cup of tea and I’m afraid that your public renunciation of your faith will do harm to them, and to the wider body of Christ. I can already feel the schadenfreude of those who dislike Hillsong – “see we told you that they were shallow and not ‘real’ Christians”. They conveniently forget that Christians from every tribe have fallen and left the faith. The joy of atheists who hate the God they don’t believe will also fill the web.

But I’m also somewhat disturbed and perplexed at what kind of faith you actually had. Your post said that “no one” talks about how many preachers fall, how many miracles happen, why the Bible is full of contradictions, how can a God of love send people to hell. You seem to have been living in some kind of sheltered cocoon. In the Christian world I inhabit people never stop talking about these things! Was your faith or your church background really so superficial and shallow that these questions were never discussed? Little wonder that your faith collapsed like a house of sand, if it was built on such flimsy foundations and was never tested!

I wrestle with these questions every day – and most Christians I know do as well. Let’s take your claim that the Bible is “full of contradictions”. That’s the kind of statement I often hear from those who have never read the Bible, but as a Christian songwriter that cannot be your situation. When did you become aware of these apparent contradictions? I have been reading and studying the Bible for the past 40 years and I have yet to come across any substantive or real contradiction. It would be helpful if you could share some of these contradictions that you claim the Bible is full of.

Some of your other statements are stunning.

You are “so happy now, so at peace with the world”. You have, like John Lennon, imagined that there is no heaven and suddenly you are transported into secular paradise. This kind of peace is not new. Jeremiah spoke of it “peace, peace – when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14)

You say you want genuine truth. Again I think of Lennon. “I’m sick and tired of reading things by neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians, all I want is the truth, please gimme some truth” (‘Gimme Some Truth’).And I also think of a politician who asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:37) – not knowing that the answer to his question was standing in front of him. “I am the truth” (John 14:6). Ironically having stated that you only want truth, you have turned your back on it and walked into darkness and falsehood.

You say you don’t believe. Again that is so like Lennon who in his song ‘God’listed the things he did not believe in – and ended up saying “I believe in me”.I love U2’s reply – “Don’t Believe the Devil, Don’t believe his book, but the truth is not the same without the lies he made up” (‘God – Part Two’).

 

You say, “Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion”. I’m not sure where you picked up that old modernist myth but it is one that has been thoroughly debunked in the 21st Century. I suggest you read John Lennox’s God’s Undertaker that is helpfully subtitled ‘Has Science buried God?’

You say, “Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point”. As someone who seeks after absolute truth I’m sure you won’t want to judge that truth by what it ‘seems’ to you, or where you ‘are’ at, at any particular point. Study the different religions and you will see a phenomenal difference between idolatry and real faith. I remember one Chinese atheist turning to me in tears and explaining that she was crying because “Jesus is just so beautiful, so beautiful”. Remember how you used to write and sing about your gaze being “transfixed” on his face?  What caused you to turn away so much that you have ended up believing the lie that Jesus is just another religion?

You complain about the attitude of some Christians. Many of us can understand that disillusionment. But we still follow Christ. I am reminded of Bonheoffer’s statement: “Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great sense of disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves”.  (Cited by Rebecca McLaughlin in Confronting Christianity). It appears from your post that you have not been ‘fortunate’ in the way Bonheoffer describes. Incidentally if you are truly interested in truth I would highly recommend McLaughlin’s book – which deals with precisely the issues you raise. You would be better to confront real Christianity, rather than walk away from the caricature you describe.

136455_w_760Your Instagram post was a picture of Samson bringing down the temple. It’s an apt metaphor, not because this particular Sampson is going to bring down the temple, but because it reminds us how Samson went blind when he turned away from God, and how God used him when he was restored!

Your post reminded me of yet another Lennon song – “You can go to church and sing a hymn….you can live a lie until you die, but one thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside” (‘Crippled Inside’)

 

 You are a songwriter. I have cited to you another songwriter who flirted with Christianity but is best known for a song that rejects it. It may help you to read the songs that Jesus sang. The Psalmist knew what it was to doubt and question – but he also knew where the ultimate truth lies. Try Psalm 73, Psalm 22 and don’t forget Psalm 14!

Like many other followers of Jesus, I pray for you. But if you want more than that and your questions are for real, then, if you still live in Sydney, why not give me a shout and we can chat….?

Yours,

David

PS. Marty – now I’m even more confused. You have removed your original post and replaced it with one which includes photos of amongst others, John Lennox, William Lane Craig and Ravi Zacharias. You say you watch them regularly and listen to their arguments. Yet you posted that no-one talked about these issues! Given that that is what these men do and you tell us you listen to them – you can understand my confusion. To be honest it sounds like confusion is the best word to describe this situation.

 

108 comments

  1. You’ve been reading the Bible for 40 years and haven’t found contradiction? Jesus wept!

    No doubt if I remind you of the many that really are there you will hand wave, talk about context blah blah blah.

    1. Yes – feel free……but I see you already have your fingers in your ears…and are repeating the fundamentalist atheist methodology of ‘see no good, hear no good, speak no good’!

      1. David, I wont bother – there are plenty of scholar out there – probably the vast majority – who admit there are problems with the bible and internal consistency / contradiction – but he you carry on with your “fundamentalist atheist” nonsense.

        As for methodology – how wrong can you be?

      2. David – please. To deny this is inanity and insanity. And to be honest, pretty disingenuous. And it’s not like it’s a new thing.

        Basically what you want is for me to quote a perceived contradiction which you will respond to with your explanation. Only your followers will be impressed.

        Google is your friend.

      3. You make a claim….You are asked for evidence for that claim…..you refuse to give that evidence stating that to even ask for such evidence is ‘inanity and insanity’….you suggest Google. I will leave people to judge for themselves but at the moment is the evidence is that you have no evidence for your claim…

      4. Start with genealogies. Then we will see how long it is before you come back with something like “context” or some arm waving excuse as to why a contradiction is not a contradiction.

        No rational person is convinced, David.

      5. Feel free….point out the contradiction….but I see you already have your excuse in…’no rational person’ would think otherwise than you…so if they do – they cannot be rational…and thus with that irrational statement you stay safe within your own circle, talking to yourself!

      6. Thats hilarious…you resort to Wiki! And a dreadful one-liner article which does not engage with, nor know the scholarship. Matthews and Luke’s genealogies differ because one is the genealogy of Joseph and the other of Mary. No contradiction….Try again…and this time think for yourself…

      7. No they don’t – they are genelogies of different parents….for someone who prides himself on knowing about biblical scholarship you show an amazing lack of knowledge!

      8. Of course they do. Example:
        Matthew’s argues Jesus’ lineage goes through his father – Joseph
        Luke’s argues his lineage goes through his mother.
        That is a contradiction.
        Matthew argues his lineage is from Abraham
        Luke argues it is from Adam
        That also is a contradiction

        for someone who prides himself on knowing about biblical scholarship you show an amazing lack of knowledge!

      9. Wow. Even by your standard that’s quite special. I’m pretty sure your fellow atheists won’t want to own your ‘logic’

        When I tell you my lineage through my mother and then tell you my lineage through my father it’s not contradictory

        Given that Abraham came from Adam- something Luke explicitly states your notion that this is contradictory is absurd.

        Go away and learn how to read and the basic principles of logic and you won’t embarrass yourself so much!

      10. Matthew’s genealogy has Joseph descended from King David through King Solomon, and from thence to a man named Jacob. On the other hand Luke’s has Joseph descended from David along a radically different line, through another son, Nathan, from thence to a man named Eli. Indeed, everything after this inconsistency is different between the two accounts. In addition, after the man named Hezron, Matthew lists the next in line as a man named Ram, but Luke claims it was Arni, who fathered Admin, who fathered the next person the two accounts agree upon.

        This isn’t even to mention, of course, the contradiction in the fact that these geneaologies connect Jesus to figures like David and Solomon through Joseph, who the Bible claims was not even related to Jesus by blood, making his geneaology completely irrelevant.

      11. Again Mark – don’t rely on Wiki or atheist memes…do some proper scholarship…The two genealogies are different because they refer to Mary and Joseph….there are those who take a different view (concerning lineage and royalty etc)….theree is no proven contradiction….is that all you have?

      12. I think you ought to go back and re read the relevant chapters.
        Here’s another one ….

        Matt traces lineage through Solomon.
        Luke through Nathan.

        And there hundreds of other contradictions through the bible.
        I no how you hate using the internet but this is a fairly comprehensive list to be going on with.
        Feel free to refute ….

      13. Again you miss the point – it’s two different lineages – one of Mary and one of Joseph…SO again no contradiction. You state there are hundreds of contradictions in the Bible and yet, despite your use of Wiki and Google, you havn’t managed to come up with one that you can prove!

      14. You will be familiar with these two, I’m sure.

        “… I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” — Genesis 32:30

        “No man hath seen God at any time…”– John 1:18

        How much more blatant of a contradiction do you need before you acknowledge them?

      15. I said prove some contradictions – not demonstrate your inability to read. In Genesis 32:30 Jacob says that ‘he has seen God face to face’ because of his wrestling with ‘the man’. John 1:18 is Jesus saying that he is only one in that relationship to God. It’s not a contradiction…its a way of speaking. Your inability to read is the problem here – not any contradiction.

      16. David,
        This is embarrassing. How can Mark and or Douglas (Ark) think they are in any way credible, with such callow, ignorant, comments masquerading as intellectual elite atheists. Shams, the both.
        I’m not sure why you play their game, though I can understand why you “answer fools according to their folly” and the necessary refutation . “when I was a child I thought like a child” nonsense over genealogies.
        Doubt is any of them even acknowledge that well educated, qualified, professionals, including scientists are Christians and believe the reality of the creeds.
        Also doubt, that either of them would bother to read this book:
        New York Times columnist David Brooks’s The Second Mountain suggests that most of us get to the top of our “first mountain” (career success, financial stability, or whatever), and then find that it isn’t enough and go in search of a second.

      17. Thise you will like, and John K may have some interest as well – he’ll know why.

        “… with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26

        “…The LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” — Judges 1:19

        And this is even more blatant.

        “…thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. ” — Exodus 21:23-25

        “…ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” — Matthew 5:3

        These are great, too.

        “Honor thy father and thy mother…”– Exodus 20:12

        “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. ” — Luke 14:26

        There are no difficult words so you should be okay, David.

      18. Ark – please stop working through your Google list of supposed contradictions. Read the bible for yourself. Think for yourself. Have an open mind. Your list is just silly – and demonstrates both a lack of literary knowledge and basic logic.

        Judges 1:19 does not teach that God was unable to drive out the people – but that the men of Judah were ..”The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron”. You did not read that verse and think ‘oh my – thats a contradiction of Matthew 19:26! Someone told you it was a contradiction and such is your desperation to disbelieve the Bible – like a drowning man you clung to that straw.

        Exodus 20:12 and Luke 14:26 is not a contradiction. Jesus taught that we should honour our father and mother….he also taught that we should love him before everything and everyone else – even if it meant that we lost those we love.

        And the Matthew 5:38 (not Matthew 5;3) is an oldie but goldie. Again its not a contradcition but a development. The principle of retributive justice still stands – but Jesus was saying to his disciples you have to go further. You don’t insult people or take them to court….the basic justice principle is not removed. Again its not a contradiction.

        You really need to stop the simplistic, literalistic, out of context reading…and start doing some thinking!

      19. Ark – please stop working through your Google list of supposed contradictions. Read the bible for yourself. Think for yourself.

        Thanks for the advice,David. I have read the bible but utilizing Google is far quicker.

        Exodus 20:12 and Luke 14:26 is not a contradiction. Jesus taught that we should honour our father and mother….he also taught that we should love him before everything and everyone else – even if it meant that we lost those we love.

        Difficult to honour your folks when Jesus is emphatic that one must hate them.

        You really need to stop the simplistic, literalistic, out of context reading…and start doing some thinking!

        So, literalism is not the way to read and understand the bible? Fair enough.
        I take it, therefore, that you also do not follow this literal methodology, am I correct?

      20. I read the bible in context, as it was written…..when Jesus said that he was a door – he did not mean he was wooden and had a handle… Fascinating that you can’t come up with contradictions but have to Google them, because ‘it’s easier’….that just about says it all!

      21. My question would be why the Bible needs to not have contradictions. Given that it was written across thousands of years and by different groups of people, it would be more convincing of there were ‘contradictions’ and a difference of perspectives.

        Jesus seems to contradict the law on numerous occasions, those are contradictions in text. I’m thinking Sabbath laws, adultery and justifiable retaliation.

        ??

      22. Do you believe that the Bible is God breathed? That men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit? Do you think the Holy Spirit would inspire people to error?

      23. Well David here is a list from a friend of mine who is a real Biblical scholar – feel free…

        1. The Order of Creation
        Genesis chapter 1 has God create plants (vv. 11-12), then various animal species (vv. 20-25), and finally men and women (vv. 26-27), apparently several, as with the animals, all at the same time. But Genesis chapter 2 has a different order of creation: first a male human (v. 7), then plants (the Garden of Eden, vv. 8-9), then the animals (vv. 18-20) in case any might prove to be suitable company for him, and finally a female human (21-23).

        2. The Missing Mrs. Cain
        Who was Mrs. Cain (Gen. 4:17a)? Cain’s sister? Did God suspend the incest taboo as well as any ill genetic effects? Why bother with such nonsense? For the rest of the Cain stories make it quite clear that he is not pictured as the first human infant born into an otherwise empty world. For whom did he build the city (v. 17b)? Who is he afraid is going to kill him (4:14)?

        3. Competing Culture Heroes
        Genesis 4:2 depicts Abel as the first shepherd, Cain the first farmer. But verse 20 makes Jabal the first nomadic herdsman, while in Genesis 9:20 Noah is the first tiller of the soil.

        4. The Duration of the Flood
        Did the Flood last 150 days in all (Gen. 7:24)? Or only 61 (40 days of rain plus three weeks of drainage, as in 8:6-12)? Did Noah bring aboard a single pair of all animal species (6:19-20) or seven pairs of kosher animals with one pair of non-kosher ones (7:2-3)?

        5. Who Sold Joseph?
        Genesis 37:28 says Joseph was pulled out of the pit by Midianites, who sold him to Ishmaelites, who in turn sold him into Egyptian slavery. But 37:36 says the Midianites sold him as a slave themselves once they got into Egypt.

      24. Mark – please try to think and read for yourself….I am not wasting my time answering 25 trivialities ‘from a friend’….lets just take the first five to see how daft they are.

        1. No Genesis 1 and 2 do not have a different order of creation. Read them.
        2. Mrs Cain was his sister.
        3. No contradictions in any of these (other than the sign of desperation in your friends head!±)
        4. Again no contradiction. Read the texts.
        5. This is my favourite piece of desperation. Genesis 37:28 does not say that the Midianites sold him to the Ishmaelites.

        There some real (apparent) contradictions in the Bible…but your friend has got nowhere near any of them….maybe he should try a new career?!

  2. I genuinely fear for many of these individuals who attend and worship within many of these church gatherings. I love worship old and new, but as a past worship leader I was often saddened by how this ‘industry’ was led. That begs the question then ‘did God ever want the glorification of His name to be a multi billion industry?’ I sat in a worship session and was taught how to write a would be hit song – time to get off that train!
    It seems that many in all different kinds of churches never seem to be taught the cost of following Christ. Look at His apostles as an example – besides Thomas who I believe died in India, all the rest lost their lives for being followers of Jesus – many still do.
    A worship song is not a study of Scripture. We do not build our spiritual knowledge on such songs. They are, or at least should be, there to turn our eyes to the One who died and rose for our sins.
    Please believe me when I say that this is not a generic pointing a finger of accusation at many of these churches and individuals, but rather a plea to call you back to deep study of scripture, of sacrificial prayer, of selflessly reaching out to the lost and also reflecting the call of the Old Testament prophets To Come Back To God. Take time to mediate and prayerfully consider once again the opening words of that great hymn – ‘Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.’ It is only by His amazing grace – perfect and free!
    If you stand behind a pulpit or place yourself on the stage be sure to know that satan will come after you – be carefully of the target on your back.
    Do not put any individual on a pedestal, but rather pray for them that God will hold them and protect them – we all need protection, especially from ourselves!

  3. I know of a young man raised in the Pentecostal Church, who came away in unbelief, with unanswered questions. However, he returned to faith and to home in England from Australia, after going through Josh McDowell’s New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, six years ago, the last 5 years of which he went through nation wide (England) specialist cancer treatment. He died, firm in the faith, notwithstanding “prophesies, words of knowledge, about his health and future in Christian leadership. His Christian mother stills grieves, maybe exacerbated by the believed false prophesies. Still much too raw to even gently raise questions over the prophesies.

    1. The problem is, Geoff, that the overwhelming majority of Christians do not believe in Jesus as the Creator and Lord of the universe due to historical/empirical evidence but due to their intense emotions and perceptions about this belief. And as the song says, “You’ve lost that loving feeling…now it’s gone, gone, gone.”

      If for some reason all those warm, fuzzy feelings dry up, there is nothing left, and the person realizes its time to move on.

      1. Gary,
        See below for a reply to you, specifically, and more generally to you, Mark, Douglas (Ark) and John,
        May God soften, and unblock, your hard and blocked heart all too evidence.
        But be of good cheer, you all will be in the ice white heat of death, before then.

  4. Like so many who lose their faith they realise that it was built on castles made of sand, and as Hendrix once sang, ”And so Castles made of sand, drift in to the sea, eventually.”

    1. Ark, I think you made a wrong interpretation of the lyrics (similar to your other wrong interpretations) and the “castles” are more likely the pride that makes you believe that you are the captain of your own ship, the master of your own soul.
      Those will melt into the sand.

      1. Hey, Randy,
        I have been a fan of Hendrix since I was 13 years old and know his stuff pretty much inside and out, but feel free to educate us with your own extensive knowledge.
        And please enlighten me of the ”other wrong interpretations”.
        In fact, why not pop over and have a chat on my blog where you will not have to suffer the frustration of being moderated.

    2. Douglas, Ark,
      You may enjoy this being bolstered in your belief by reading this book:
      New York Times columnist David Brooks’s The Second Mountain suggests that most of us get to the top of our “first mountain” (career success, financial stability, or whatever), and then find that it isn’t enough and go in search of a second.
      You’re a sad old,lonely. man, living in the past, in the world embracing fog of “Purple Haze.” Time to leave grieving for the dead past, grow up, and move on, into the waiting room of death, from death to death. Tis later than you think.
      You look for comfort acceptance in the most unusual places, this site, as you seek virtual solace and fellowship in commonality with Hendrix.
      Aw man, man, we love you man, you know we do. Peace, man, peace.
      Be of good cheer as we sing together along with the Allman Bros,” classic,
      “Will the circle be unbroken?”
      https://youtu.be/9OwSag4s-QU
      After 4: 1,2, 3, 4.now..
      We love you man, you know we do.
      Lets sign in, turn on get with with this. You just know you just love it man. We’re having such fun. Sing it, sing it.
      Norman, yes the one and only, let’s hear it for Norman… put your hands together, the one and only, the incomparable…. Norman Greebaum – Spirit in the Sky.
      Groove it, groove it, dig it let’s dig it man.
      https://youtu.be/swIcX57vYDI

      1. Lol … you are priceless, Geoff.

        Old? Good grief! I’d venture that David is a few years older than I am.
        I hope he isn’t offended by your definition of old?
        Well, I have to admit we all get sad from time to time. Maybe you don’t? That would be nice.
        Lonely? I am part of a strong family business, don’t have to work too hard these days, I have a great wife and kids, smashing friends, live in a pretty good country, and even my dogs and cats seem okay with me?

        Thanks for the music link. Not my favorite Allman Brothers track. I’ve always been partial to their Brothers and Sister Album. Played it to death back in the day.
        You’d appreciate the track Wasted Words . Go have a listen on You Tube. Right up your street I imagine.

        Being as you are so young, maybe you should stick to your Justin Beiber cds?

        S’cuse me while I kiss the sky, but I have to go and oil my creaking joints, fumigate my toupee, and take my false teeth out of their glass.
        T’ra
        Regards
        Ark

  5. It is now that Marty will find out how deep God’s love is for him. God will strip everything away to the bare bone and all that will be left is the Blood of the Lamb and the word of Marty’s testimony. Praying for you Marty.

    God Bless

    1. That is provided always Marty does not go on ignoring the dire warning; If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned (Jn. 15:6).

  6. Let’s have some empirical worldwide evidence. Such a sweeping statement from a Dr.
    And it ignores my real life and death life story, and Nigel Paul Johnson clear sighted comment above.
    Many factors may be in play that have not been explained nor explored, one of which may be too much too soon and the self idolatry for doing amazing things for God, man of power for the hour, as it were , of performance and entertainment, of creativity that can’t be maintained, of the tyranny of the new.
    Below simplistic, is your comment that does no credit to you and the profession in which you are qualified, and or employed.

  7. As an aside to a personal story of Samson..
    From a US survey, 78% of atheists have not children. You’ll die out boyos. Entropy rules your world.
    As a further aside, the usual suspects here, Mark, Douglas, Gary, John only biliously vilify conversions to Christ.

      1. Gary, here it is: (though I’ve not been able to find it on the site so can’t verify it or methodology. Nor do I know how recent, though was posted up this week, and where questions were asked about source, they were answered by others who didn’t originally post, merely repeating “The Pew Research Centre”)
        Can’t help you further. Make of it what you will. I could find questions to interrogate the data, and I’m not a statistician. No doubt you could do also.
        They are interesting, if correct.

        Atheists Statistics:

        40% Age 18-29
        68% Men
        78% White
        57% High school/some college
        40% Never married
        78% No kids
        83% Situational ethics
        69% Democrats
        70% Feel wonder at the universe
        94% Approve LGBT
        87% Approve abortion
        91% Believe in evolution
        Source: Pew Research Center

  8. So what about the latest documentary “Hail, Satan?” then, just to throw that into the argument. Not so easy to dismiss that. Some folk don’t know what to believe.

    Tonight we were looking at the parable of the drag-net. No amount of wishful thinking there or debatable chatter. Oh for the grace of our Lord. Thanks be to God.

  9. David, your reaction was much like mine: not really knowing where to start in dealing with the multitudinous excuses people give for dismissing the Bible out-of-hand. “No miracles”? Come and have a coffee with me and I’ll enlighten you. “No one talks about …”? What planet has he been living on? And when people say there are “contradictions”, I hear “I can’t be bothered to contemplate”. Translation of all the above: “I don’t want to believe there’s anything mightier, more powerful or more intelligent than I.” And looking at the state of the world, you can see how well that notion is working out. But all that being said, I’ll be very interested to read Marty’s explanation for taking down that post and putting up one about apologists.

  10. Great response to Marty Sampson’s ‘reasons’ for losing his faith, David. Can’t speak for Oz but sadly I find that, in the UK, the lack of thought, teaching and even interest with these issues (and the reasoned responses which can be provided – as you outline) leaves many vulnerable to the superficial and deceptive propaganda that atheists and sceptics often parade.

  11. David,

    The fact that you moderate comments and refuse to publish comments that point out the massive holes your supernatural belief system is proof that your belief system is not based on evidence but upon your intense emotions involving this belief. Marty Sampson’s emotions dried up and he then saw that there was nothing left validating this ancient tall tale.

    There is no good evidence for your beliefs, David. Alleged eyewitness testimony may be sufficient for auto accidents and murder trials, but not for alleged alien abductions or first century dead corpse reanimations. If 500 Hari Krishna’s claim that they all saw a herd of cattle be beamed up into a space ship, would you believe their eyewitness testimony? Of course you wouldn’t. You would think they were nuts. So why do you believe a two thousand year old claim that 500 people saw a walking, talking, resurrected dead corpse? It makes no sense, David. The only possible explanation is that you so desperately want YOUR fantastical claim to be true.

    Your belief rests on very shaky ground, David. Your emotions, perceptions, and subjective personal experiences are not good evidence for any thinking, educated modern person to believe that a dead first century peasant is the Creator and Lord of the universe.

    Superstitions are not real, my friend.

    1. Love the smug superior tone that so many fundamentalist atheists adopt – of which your post is a classic. You cannot allow for the possibility that anyone may be wrong and you don’t have capacity or the knowledge to engage with the arguments so you just mock, proclaim your own superiority and self declare that only you are or can be, right. The only reason I moderate comments is not to stop those who disagree but to ensure that my blog is not taken over by those who have nothing better to do in their lives then self-confirm their own eccentricities – whether religious or not.

      I must admit there is a temptation to allow more posts like yours – because in a way its very reassuring to see how empty and vacuous the oppositions arguments are! However I try to resist that temptation – because I know that there are intelligent atheists out there who do actually have some good arguments and know how to post them. In this case the only reason I am posting yours is to explain why I moderate comments – not because your comments are brilliant, but precisely the opposite. Its not fair to intelligent atheists to let the fundamentalist emotive ones rant on….

    2. @Gary

      Generally speaking, atheists assert that God does not exist because they cannot substantiate their opposition to God otherwise than by fooling themselves that they do not believe in God.

      Atheists de-emphasise their opposition to God so as to, were it possible, deny that intolerance to His commandments is debilitating to them and society.

      In all evidence, atheists crave for and desperately need every dumb reassurance enabling them to cling onto their false hope that God does not exist; for not only are atheists quite aware that God exists, but they also know they are hated of God and that ultimately God is going to send them to hell which, paradoxically, exactly is where they actually want to be.

      Finally, and to be perfectly clear; there has not yet been one single atheist that does not believe in God; every single atheist, including Richard Dawkins, believes in God, but since not a single one of them wants to recognise God for who He is; they exert efforts betraying both God and themselves to not recognise Him with, would you believe it?, the monumental delusion; there is no God!

      1. You have made an incorrect assumption, Edouard: You have assumed incorrectly that I know as a fact that a creator god does not exist. I have never made such a claim here or anywhere else. I personally have no idea whether or not a Creator God exists. Once the experts have reached a consensus on the origin of the universe, I will accept their consensus conclusion, whatever it is, even if it happens to be that the universe was created by a god.

        What I am an atheist about is YOUR god, the first century peasant, Jesus of Nazareth. Although I believe that this man existed, I do not believe that he was a god, that he walked on water, that he raised people from the dead, that he came back from the dead himself, or that he is currently sitting on a golden throne somewhere beyond the universe, or in another dimension, ruling as Lord and Master of the Heaven and Earth.

        I don’t believe in your god because the evidence for his existence is very poor. If you can provide quality evidence for his existence, I am open to discussing it with you.

      2. \
        ‘once ‘the experts’ have reached a consensus on the origin of the universe, I will accept their consensus conclusion, whatever it is, even if it happens to be that the universe was created by a God” – no you won’t. That is both a meaningless and dishonest statement….who are these self appointed ‘experts’? Why are you unable to think for yourself?!

      3. David,

        Most educated people in the western world accept consensus expert opinion regarding all issues about which they themselves are not an expert. As an educated person, I follow that habit. Respect for consensus expert opinion is fundamental to the success of any advanced industrialized nation. A nation in which every individual believes that he or she is the ultimate authority on every issue is a nation in chaos.

        I trust consensus expert opinion on all issues about which I am not an expert. Since I am not an historian or New Testament scholar…

        –I trust expert consensus opinion that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical person.
        –I trust expert consensus opinion that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by the Romans during the reign of Pontius Pilate.
        –I trust expert consensus opinion that shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, some of his followers came to believe that he had appeared to them in some fashion.

        And, I trust consensus expert opinion that the Gospels were NOT written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses, but by non-eyewitnesses writing one or more generations removed from the (alleged) events they describe. Therefore, the detailed accounts of people seeing a walking, talking, broiled fish eating, resurrected Jesus cannot be assumed to be eyewitness accounts. And that is DEVASTATING for your belief that the bodily resurrection of Jesus was a real, historical event.

      4. But how do you determine what is an ‘expert’? It seems as though ‘experts’ are those who agree with your presuppositions. I am an historian and a New Testament scholar and I can assure you that your definition of what the experts say is wrong.

        Consensus expert opinion is NOT that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. I suggest you read Prof Richard Bauckham’s ‘Jesus and the Eye Witnesses’. Or Prof NT Wright on the resurrection. Both are leading experts in the field. Which is devastating for your belief that you would accept expert consensus. If (as it does) expert consensus accepts that the Gospels were written by eye witnesses and their associates, would you believe that Christ rose from the dead?!

    3. When scripture records this “claim” there were still many, many people alive who, if this was not true, could have come forward and denied it … no one came forward…

    1. Thanks but no thanks….The reason that I moderate comments, is the same reason that most bloggers who have a large following do….because the nature of Internet discussion means that far too often the comments get taken over by the obcessed, the eccentric and those who want to use the blog to shout – because no one is listening to them on their own sites. Your blog being a prime example. My faith is based on solid evidence. You are always welcome to discuss that evidence but merely putting your fingers in your ears and shouting atheist memes is not discussion….I’ll leave you to educate people through that format on your own blog!

      1. My faith is based on solid evidence.

        It would be an excellent exercise in building bridges if you were to write a post or two detailing the evidence you base your faith upon.
        Maybe this would be the better way to go instead of all the continual back and forth and acrimony?

        You are a committed Christian and I (for one) am a committed atheist. We are both passionate about our perspectives.

        As (part of) your evangelical mission is to bring the ‘lost sheep’ into the fold an open, frank and honest presentation/discussion of the claimed evidence could only be beneficial to all concerned.

        Such a discussion might also encourage more positive dialogue and who knows, maybe some of us would be more inclined to buy your book?

      2. Douglas, (Ark)
        You are a cracked vinyl LP, with a jumping needle, that needs to be turned off.
        Why would anyone listen to your harping and carping rather than engage fully by listening and reading books of those on both sides debate who approach it in and adult way? Sure you have opinions, but I am not interested, been there done that got the T -shirt, nothing new, not even crass, cloth-eared concrete brain antagonism. Hardly progressive.
        You’ve been more than found out on another Christian blog, that no one should give even a gossamer weight of trust to anything you come out wit. There is a smiling, painted, self congratulatory, tragic-comedy clown face about it all .
        As and atheist for over 40 years, I had no interest in Christianity or any recognised faiths. Live and let live. There is something weird and disturbingly unhealthy in your obsessional stance towards Christianity, a “look at me” childishness, a playing to the gallery of your blog disciples.
        Most of all, get a life and and take your playground games elsewhere.
        I certainly hope you don’t harangue your Christian mother and your with in the way you do with David and other Christians who visit, read and may comment.

        BUT, if it all stems from the death of your brother, my heart goes out to you.

        Nevertheless, the atheist reality is captured here. It is doubtful that, if you interpret it through your feelings you just wont get it. Nothing new for you.
        https://youtu.be/Vq25ZJwZJzU
        Running on Empty – Jackson Browne
        And I’ll leave with
        1 this wake up call- https://youtu.be/7SX-HFcSIoU
        “Before the Deluge “- Jackson Brown nearly gets it with some remarkable, heart -aching contemporary, for today, analysis, with a flaccid, flawed and failing solution, of an internal, light -within -us, Babel rebuilding. There is a crying out, an ache in his voice and music for the glorious gospel ending.
        David, if you are not familiar with it, have a listen (with lyrics).
        2 For a Dancer: with lyrics
        https://youtu.be/78AVc2jV4Sg
        Indeed Douglas, “There is one dance you’ll do alone”
        It has, to me, an air of Ecclesiastes to it.
        Finally, Douglas, I pray you find who you are looking for, to give, identity, security, acceptance, unidentified eternal longings, who you were made for. Our LORD Jesus Christ. May he bless you.

        (PS David- Jackson Browne was born in Heidelberg)

      3. Gary, I agree with you that the Gospels were not written by eyewitness accounts, and this, I believe, is the most popular view of NT scholars. This is also why we have the synoptic gospels, M,M,L – as they use some of the same sources. We also know that each gospel writer understood the significance of Jesus through slightly different lenses, or articulated it differently. Thus, messages were amplified or tweaked. However, the suggestion that they were not written by eyewitness accounts, does not change much. We have to decide how we respond to Jesus’ resurrection. Even if the gospel writers were there, we were not – we have to decide whether to trust those first reports, as the writers of the gospels had to. What is extraordinary, is the commitment to Jesus and trust in him after these reported events. More than written accounts, it is the lives the believers lived that convince me of their truth.

  12. @Gary,

    You are misconstruing what you are reading Gary: Please read it again and you may construe; (1) that I am writing on the nature of atheism in general and (2) that I am saying atheists know there is a God because they all atheists believe in God; so I am definitely not assuming that either you or atheists know as a fact that a creator God does not exist.

    “I don’t believe in your god because the evidence for his existence is very poor. If you can provide quality evidence for his existence, I am open to discussing it with you.”

    I understand you very well; for I also do not believe Jesus “is currently sitting on a golden throne somewhere beyond the universe, or in another dimension, ruling as Lord and Master of the Heaven and Earth”. I mean let’s face it, in view of the past and as things are right now and set to become if Jesus was master of Heaven AND Earth (my emphasis added) we both would be quite sensible not to want to have anything to do with him.

    Lastly, no Gary I cannot provide you with quality evidence of his existence because all the quality evidence required of each and every person actually is self-evidently provided by God; for God is in every person.

    The point is Gary, to begin with God does not expect anyone to believe in His Son and nor even does the Son of God expect you to believe Him either. That is not at all what is required first; what is required before anything else is repentance hence “repent ye, and believe the gospel” and the only source of quality evidence evidencing that you need to repent already is in yourself such that other than God Himself, no one else needs to provide you with any evidence.

    Gary if you genuinely would like to tune-in to God, then rather than asking me or anyone else to provide you with quality evidence, look instead to yourself and see if you have got any evidence that you need to repent to God. If you do then I suggest you simply repent and – to your amazement – God will provide you with more quality evidence than you have bargained for unless you are asking for it just out of curiosity.

    1. I think you have hit the proverbial nail on its head, Edouard. The Bible, the source of Christian teaching, does not ask people to believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the Creator and King of Heaven and Earth based on historical and/or empirical evidence. The Bible asks people to repent first and then believe by faith (which the author of Hebrews defines as “hope in things unseen”).

      But ask yourself this question, Edouard: If someone from another religion asked you to believe in his gods by repenting first and then believing in unseen things through hope, would you follow his suggestion? Of course not. You would demand historical and or empirical evidence for his claims. Why? Answer: Subjective feelings, perceptions, and personal experiences are not sufficient evidence to believe universal truth claims, universal truth claims of such importance that they become one’s entire worldview. And that is all “faith” is, at least in the biblical sense: It is belief, hope, that a spirit lives inside you, guiding you and “leading” you to do and say what the Creator of the universe wants you to do. That is not rational thinking, Edouard.

      Once someone loses the “feeling” and perception that a spirit/ghost lives inside of him giving him life guidance, he starts looking at the empirical/historical evidence, and when he does, he sees just how poor the evidence for this ancient claim really is.

      1. You speak with such certainty…but you are completely wrong. The Bible does not ask us to believe first and then to get the evidence….You are basing your whole attack on Christianity on two falsehoods – your view of faith and your view of your own ability to work things out

      2. So you disagree with Edouard, David? Edouard said above,

        “God does not expect anyone to believe in His Son and nor even does the Son of God expect you to believe Him either. That is not at all what is required first; what is required before anything else is repentance hence “repent ye, and believe the gospel” and the only source of quality evidence evidencing that you need to repent already is in yourself such that other than God Himself, no one else needs to provide you with any evidence.”

        Edouard is right. Paul said that Christianity is “foolish” to non-believers. Why would he say that if Christian faith is based on good evidence??? When is good evidence ever foolish? No, early Christians such as Paul and the author of John believed that faith was hope in the mysterious, unexplainable workings of God (“the unseen”). That is why the author of John says this “Blessed is he who believes without seeing!”. True Christian faith is not based on historical or empirical evidence. It is based on hope.

      3. I completely disagree with Edourad. God does requires us to believe in his Son – ‘This is the work God requires – to believe in the One he has sent” Good evidence is foolish to those who are foolish. ….(Ps 14:1)…..And don’t cherry pick quotes….John is saying that those who are blessed are those who have not seen Jesus but still believe….he also says that he is writing his Gospel, giving evidence, SO that people may believe….

      4. @Gary,

        Faith is not “hope in things unseen”; faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In other words, faith is a tangible proposition (argument) leading to the tangible evidence of what is proposed.

        RE: “But ask yourself this question, Edouard: If someone from another religion asked you to believe in his gods by repenting first and then believing in unseen things through hope, would you follow his suggestion?”

        Gary, no offence meant, but the foregoing proposition lets me think some prankster has perverted your faith because, first of all faith’s proposition is not from someone; it is exclusively from the Creator (Isa. 48:11) and secondly, the choice one makes eventually is confirmed, that is; fully substantiated by tangible evidence of things otherwise not seen or naturally considered intangible.

        In a nutshell, the Creator’s proposition is: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deu. 30:19 – 20).

        RE: “And that is all “faith” is, at least in the biblical sense: It is belief, hope, that a spirit lives inside you, guiding you and “leading” you to do and say what the Creator of the universe wants you to do.”

        No Gary that is wishful thinking because as per faith’s proposition, the Creator of the universe confronts you this day with a choice and the choice you make is entirely up to you. So and although the Creator urges you to choose life and blessing, you may choose not to, in which case your choice is death and cursing.

        RE: “Once someone loses the “feeling” and perception that a spirit/ghost lives inside of him giving him life guidance, he starts looking at the empirical/historical evidence, and when he does, he sees just how poor the evidence for this ancient claim really is”.

        Gary there is no question of “feeling” as that is an utter perversion of faith.

        Note. Faith is very easily perverted, particularly the faith of little children: that is why Jesus Christ got very angry when his disciples were forbidding little children from coming to Him (Mk. 10:13 – 16). And in all evidence, in this regard Gary there is no end in explaining what needn’t be explained at all; in muddying what is perfectly clear; in complicating beyond measure what is understandable to little children, and this even onto farcically questioning which to choose between life and death from the minute faith is perverted into being “hope in things unseen” instead of “the evidence of things not seen” (He. 11:1).

        Gary the Creator makes no attempt to convince you or anyone else, but He does challenge you and everyone else to seek Him; you can be certain of that!

  13. David: Consensus expert opinion is NOT that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. I suggest you read Prof Richard Bauckham’s ‘Jesus and the Eye Witnesses’. Or Prof NT Wright on the resurrection. Both are leading experts in the field.

    Gary: I will let Richard Bauckham and NT Wright speak for themselves on the authorship of the Gospels:

    Richard Bauckham: “The argument of this book [Jesus and the Eyewitnesses]–that the texts of our Gospels are close to the eyewitness reports of the words and deeds of Jesus–runs counter to almost all recent scholarship. As we have indicated from time to time, the prevalent view is that a long period of oral transmission in the churches intervened between whatever the eyewitnesses said and the Jesus traditions as they reached the Evangelists [the authors of the Gospels]. No doubt the eyewitnesses started the process of oral tradition, but it passed through many retellings, reformulations, and expansions before the Evangelists themselves did their own editorial work on it.” p. 240

  14. SLight of hand…he states that he doesn’t know because in terms of absolute proof that is impossible….but he himself believes that they are reliable accounts of the eyewitnesses – as does Bauckham… As you are NOT a NT scholar or historian -and I am….would you like to answer the question….if NT ‘experts’ thought that the Gospels were reliable would you believe them?

    1. David,
      He, Gary, has been on another Anglican, Christian blog, with the exact same playlist. And on repeat after repeat hoping that repetition of and in itself will amount to a consensus of experts. He cited NT Wright as he did here, but none of the respondent commentator’s contribution, dispatched him so concisely in the way you have. Consensus is key to him. One thread that extended into eternity, was him banging on about consensus.
      He’s gone so far to claim that Richard Baukham supports his contention, when in fact the whole burden of Baukham’s work is the very opposite, as you’ve said.
      He’ll also dismiss out of hand anyone, scholar, he considers to be evangelical, unless he can contort and distort it into his world view
      Wonder if he ever tried a “Consensus Management” approach that was flavour of the month in the last century, morphing, at times, into group-think.
      Gary, is one of Douglas’s crowd of cohorts, presumably because he claims MD (Medical Doctor) qualifications and a Christian family upbringing, but de-converted when he started to think as he grew up! A typical Richard Dawkins contention.
      Now he spends his time telling us all how stupid we all are.
      My, retired, extremely wise, pragmatic, medical Doctor (GP) was highly instrumental in my wife and me becoming Christian’s both in our slightly beyond middle years.
      Intelligent, intellectual Christians are beyond the comprehension of most of the atheists that you permit on your blog.
      There is something deeply unsettling to them about Christians otherwise why do they bother? They get so rattled.

    2. To answer your question, if the consensus of scholars were that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses I would accept their consensus position as fact.  But “reliability” and eyewitness testimony is not one and the same.  Just because we know someone is an eyewitness is not proof that his or her testimony is reliable (the truth).  How would scholars ever prove that Jesus really did walk on water, for instance?  Even if several eyewitnesses claimed in their writings that he performed this feat, that is not proof that he did, merely that multiple eyewitnesses claim that such an event happened.  And since we cannot interview these eyewitnesses to make sure that their statements corroborate and that they have not all copied an original story from one source, proving “reliability” would be impossible.  But if somehow it were possible to prove that all the stories in the Bible are historical facts, yes, I would believe.

      Back to my point:  I never claimed that Bauckham and Wright question the reliability of the Gospels.  Both men very much believe the Gospels to contain reliable information.  However, the quotes I provided disprove your claim that these two scholars believe that the consensus or even the majority of New Testament scholars believes that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses or by the associates of eyewitnesses.  And as I said previously, if the consensus of experts doubts the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels this is absolutely devastating for your belief system.  Your fantastical supernatural beliefs are based on, at best, third hand information.  Without eyewitness testimony, why should any educated, modern person believe that the brain-dead corpse of a first century peasant came back to life, ate a broiled fish lunch with his former associates, and then forty days later, lifted off into the clouds?

      By the way, since you mentioned Bauckham, are you aware that he does not believe that the Gospel of Matthew was written by the Apostle Matthew nor does he believe that the Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee?

      1. And again you avoid the question. Accepting that the consensus of scholars teaches that the consensus of scholars teaches is not accepting that the Bible is written by eyewitnesses who were recording what they saw and experienced. The consensus of ‘experts’ (of which you doubtless consider yourself to be one!) does not agree that the gospels were not written by eyewitnesses (although it does depend on your definition of ‘expert’). It has never been devastating to ‘my faith’ to hear what various academics pontificate about various subjects. I don’t have your blind trust in ‘experts’…I prefer to think and investigate for myself. Unlike you I have both a degree in history and one in theology and New Testament. I have also been studying this subject for the past 40 years. I have also met people like you many times….know it alls who think that someone their trust in ‘experts’ (of their own choosing) is going to devastate Christians. Some of us have heard it many times before…there is nothing new under the sun!

        The bottom line is that you do not believe because of your pride and arrogance – its nothing to do with evidence. Your mocking superior and snide tone comes from someone who thinks he is educated but displays all the ignorance and prejudice of the man with his eyes firmly closed = yelling ‘it doesn’t exist, I can’t see it. One day you will see…I just hope that it is not on the Judgement Day

  15. The consensus of “experts” is surely something to be very wary of – because today’s consensus is often superseded by tomorrow’s consensus. Opinions often come in fashions and people follow the fashion like sheep – often without knowing anything about the basis of those opinions. They just accept the opinions of ‘experts’ because they are the so-called ‘experts’. Begs the question – “whom can we trust”. Maybe we don’t want to trust – but rather spout off our own opinions.
    Nobody really ‘wants’ there to be a God. We all want to be autonomous. We also all know people who exercise their autonomy to their own detriment. The bible is an affront to our autonomy – and surely that is what makes us angry – even those of us who believe it – because it always challenges our thinking and behaviour – it appears to attack our freedom to think and do and say whatever we want. As ever – we immediately think “surely God did not say”…… These days we can Google our bent and find those who will feed our preferences, agree with us and provide us with a way out – the ‘expert’ opinion and then we can be angry with those who sought to take us captive with narrow dogmatic views. Discipline is soooooooo hard – we must cast off the shackles. We might though, find ourselves on a never-ending journey of so-called liberation – headed towards….what?? Recently I came across the Junia Project – now there’s a project that would let me cast off the biblical restraints on womanhood. All based on one obscure name – there is an entire theology built – which offers freedom from biblical restraints. Freedom is what we want – and yet it is what we are losing. Why?
    Ark often calls the bible geopolitical fiction – and yet will willingly believe the opinions and consensus of those whose findings and opinions he cannot test – because it suits his bent. Those who seek to persuade others away from the Christian faith often have agendas or are deceived themselves – and not satisfied to only deceive themselves – seek to deceive others. There is a lot of geopolitical fiction out there – and it’s not the bible! In all of this – I am absolutely certain – that God and his Word is unchanging and trustworthy. Not that anybody should be persuaded by my opinion and subjective experience – but when I look out and see all those who are running around like headless chickens – God and his Word are my anchor. Speaking of Marty Sampson losing his faith, or anyone else for that matter – Ark posed the pertinent question – what foundation was his faith built on in the first place?

  16. I was hoping that the questions around contradictions would be satifactually answered.

    You could all be right, if David et al, you are willing to concede that the truth of scripture is not restricted to the details, but comes through thematically. However, your use of scripture suggests you take a literal interpretation.

    I would be interested in how you understand the following:

    Creation: who came first, people or animals? Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 disagree
    David’s census: 2 Sam 24:1 vs. 1 Chron 21:1. Who told David to take the census, God or the devil?
    Punishment for adultery: Lev 21:10 vs. John 8:3-11; death or forgiveness?

    1. Simon – its almost as if you are looking for contradictions….why? So that you can ‘pick ‘n’ mix whatever doctrines you want?

      As Augustine said – if you believe in the Bible what you like, and leave out what you don’t like, its not the bible you believe – buy yourself.

      Creation – Genesis 1 and 2 do not disagree about who came first.
      The Census – this is an apparent contradiction and is the only one in your list that can be taken seriously – but it’s clear that it is possible for both to be true – the Lord can permit or use the devil – see 2 Corinthians 12:7 – a messenger of Satan…
      Adultery – Lev 21:10 does not mention adultery…and Jesus does not negate the punishment in John…

      I’m curious….did these questions arise out of your own reading of Scripture as you wrestled with the text? Or were they just ‘contradictions’ that you read somewhere on the internet and didn’t bother investigating?

      I don’t believe in what you call a ‘literal’ reading of Scripture, but I do believe in an intelligent (and humble) one.

      1. Whether or not Simon was looking for contradictions is immaterial to the discussion. I think the discussion is what we do with those that we find.

        To correct you, David, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, do seem to offer different orders of creation. You’ll have to look again.

        I think Simon meant Lev 20.10.

        I have found contradictions though my own study – I was looking for orthodoxy not errors.

        I think the idea of God using or being in league with Satan is an example of how not applying your historical criticisms can land you in confusion.

      2. Stuart – thats a fine example of twisting words in order to make your point. Simon’s point was that Genesis 1 says that animals were made first and then humans – and Genesis 2 says the opposite. It doesn’t. Perhaps you need to reflect a wee bit more before telling others to look again. Consider what we are discussing and not what we are not discussing.

        Who said God was in ‘league with Satan’? There is a difference between God using even the evil of Satan to bring good (ie. Job or Paul’s messenger of Satan) and God being in league with Satan..

      3. I’ll give you that the order is ambiguous in Gen 2, though Eve is obviously created after Adam. In Gen 1 the suggestion is that A&E come together. In fact, it is an important part of the story – it’s a revelation. Equality for everyone.

        I’m not sure what you mean about twisting words? There’s no intention to do so.

        To me, your interpretation sounds a little Marcionist. I believe that if God is good, then they must be opposed to evil, which we attribute to Satan. We may well ask how Job, or another was aware of the conversations in the heavenly realms. Clearly, Job and others are metaphors, parables and ‘myths’ used to convey great truth. I cannot believe that a loving God would subject people to misery or kill people we love to test us. If we are happy to believe that, we just need to reframe God as a bit of a git. But that’s okay – God is what she is.

        But back to Simon’s questions. What of Lev 20.10?

        Thanks for hosting the discussion

      4. Thanks – you admit then that Genesis 2 does not say what was being alleged – the opposite of Genesis 1.

        The idea that Genesis 1 and 2 contradict one another about the creation of humanity on your reading only works if you have a rather bizarre way of reading…and I can’t help you with that.

        I’m afraid that you don’t seem to understand what Marcionism is…..because your view is Marcionist….the notion that there is a Good God and a bad one…God is opposed to evil…where did you get the idea that I said he wasn’t. Clearly JOb is not a metaphor…and if it were, what would it be a metaphor for….

        Your comment about God being a bit of ‘a git’ because he doesn’t fit your standards is cheap, crass and ignorant….

        As to Simon’s question – you are going to have to wait for that – as we are recording a video on it tomorrow…

      5. I don’t think it would be such a bizarre way of reading. Genesis 2 clearly implies man and THEN plants were created (see 2:5-8). Many have raised this as a question and insight as to how the two accounts were written – Prof. David Bokovoy among many.

        The problem is not that God doesn’t fit my standards, clearly mine are far below – but rather I think God wouldn’t fit his own. Jesus taught acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion. How do we reconcile a traditional reading of some OT passages with that? It’s the classic Euthyphro dilemma.

        As I currently understand it, Job is a story about suffering and a lack of justice. It was obviously written in a completely different cultural and theological setting – one where God is in complete control. You will also recognise this in other OT writings and works such as Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. I think it is an attempt to find reason and to understand the age-old question of suffering. But it is also an important statement about our faithfulness to God. I would ask how it was authored? Who saw Job’s suffering AND heard the conversations between God and the accuser? For those reasons alone, I am led to believe it cannot be historical.

        Obviously we disagree about how Job should be read – but I am always keen to learn and willing to change my perspective on things. I am interested in how you read Job and how you apply the lessons you’ve learned from studying history to this text.

        Thanks

      6. You will note that you are now arguing a different thing – we were talking about the ‘contradiction’ between Genesis 1 and 2 – whereby Genesis 1 says man was created after the animals and Genesis 2 says it was the other way round (it doesn’t). But even then you are wrong about the vegetation – Genesis 2;5-8 explictly says that the plants were created before humanity.

        Yes you are right about the standards of Jesus – he accepted the OT as the Word of God and said that not a word of it cannot be broken. Are you wiser than Christ?

        You think that the book of JOb is the same as Bede’s ecclesiastical history? Have you forgotten about the Holy Spirit? ‘You are led to believe it cannot be historical’ – but in that one statement you have made yourself the authority on what is, and isn’t true within the bible….you are the judge. I take it the other way round…it is the word of God that judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12) not the other way round!

        There is nothing in Job, or in my study of history which would tell me anything other than Job is a poem about something that really happened.

        I find it fascinating that you think that Job was in a different time ‘where God was in complete control’. Was this a lie? Has it changed? Is God no longer in complete control? It seems you have a very poor grasp not only of the Bible, but of the God of the Bible!

      7. Thanks for replying.

        Firstly, ‘Genesis 2;5-8 explicitly says that the plants were created before humanity’ – we’re going to have to agree to disagree. With a bit of fluidity, contraction and expansion – perhaps, but the explicit reading suggests they are different stories unconcerned with the timeline of the other. And this we know to be true. To me, and many others it is not explicit. Given that Gen 1 & 2 were written by different groups of people at different times, and I believe for a purpose other than providing historical records, I am unconcerned by the discrepancy.

        Although I read your words are antagonistic, I will true to be more positive.

        We need to understand what the ‘Word of God’ is. Is it an order of verbs and nouns? I do not think so. The word of God, I believe, is the will of God revealed. This is consistent with the word becoming flesh in Christ. And of course, the fleshy embodiment of the word, at times, contradicts the written word. We have already mentioned this. Jesus takes the word and the law, as interpreted by the priests and scribes, and he pushes it further. We also know that the written word was redacted over time – the Dead Sea Scrolls and our own translations are perfect examples of this. However, what Jesus represents is the pure undiluted revelation of God. That is the Word of God. This is why he can seeming break the law and yet be consistent with it.

        I do not claim to be wiser than Christ though, clearly, we disagree with him if we are to say that he accepted all of the OT (as written words) as the ‘Word of God’. I have already fumbled an explanation as to why I do not think the Word of God is restricted to what is written. Firstly, Jesus did not say ‘Old Testament’, he refers to Jewish law, much of which is not in our Bibles. So clearly, we do not take Jesus’ words too seriously, else we’d study the Talmud, Midrash, Mishnah and Gemara is as much detail. Secondly, do we uphold the law of the Old Testament? The answer is no. We eat pretty much what we want, we plant what we want (within the laws of the land), and we don’t stone people for making mistakes. Tongue and cheek – would you be in favour of restoring a Jewish style corporate punishment system?

        So, when we say ‘Word of God’, do we sometimes mean what the reformers of the 16 century gave us?

        Our own translations and the copying errors, or redactions of the OT should be our concern. The reveal something very important. And yes, I think that writings like Bede’s are similar in nature. They are human explanations of events beyond our complete understanding.

        I have not forgotten the Holy Spirit – but there lies another challenge. I believe that God’s spirit speaks to use through scripture and other sources. I also believe that sometimes what we assume is God’s spirit, is actually our own bias or bad theology; as I am sure you agree – I’m probably giving you a real-time example of that. How is it that God’s spirit can point two people in such different directions? Ergo, reading scripture and understanding the Word of God, requires exercise. In this way, we are all authorities of what is considered historical or otherwise only in so far as we need to wrestle with the text and decide how it is to be applied. To quote Jed Bartlet “Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?”

        We could well get lost here. Our job is to understand scripture, so that it can be authoritative in its truest nature – unshackled from our bias and misinterpretation.

        I really like your explanation of Job – I think you’re spot on. Though how far the historicity goes is anyone’s guess. That, I know, is where we would have some differences. In the same way that Abraham is framed within his Pagan upbringing, I believe Job is understood through his theocracy. Which leads us on to the final part of your response. Is God in complete control?

        I’ll avoid the personal slights, A difference in opinion does not mean that one has a very poor grasp.

        Why do you run this blog?
        What time did you get up this morning and why?
        Why do you get frustrated with my questions?
        Why did Grenfell happen?
        Why did Hitler rise to power?

        I would argue that clearly God is not in control. Of course, the next question would be – what is the point in all of this if things are already determined? It would be cruel. In fact, your suggestion that God is in control is contradictory to the Bible. From the beginning and throughout people disobey God. Why in the story of Adam and Eve does God seem to not know where they are? Why did they eat the fruit?

        Another set of questions leading on from the first…

        Why are we concerned by suffering?
        Why do we try to make it better?
        Why did Jesus instruct his disciples in the way he did, if they do not have agency?

        I believe that it is my own decision to respond to the Gospel and model my life of Christ.

      8. No we don’t have to agree to disagree – the text is plain. It does not say that either animals or plants were created after humanity….It seems as though you are just desperate to find contradictions where there are none. And you make so many mistakes and errors.

        Your view of the Word of God is bizarre. It is enfleshed in Christ – that is true – but how do you know who Christ is and what he did – (you don’t have him in your house!)? Through his word. Jesus did not contradict his own word.

        Jesus did refer to the OT as we have it…

        We do not keep the ceremonial law of the OT because Jesus fulfilled it and the temple was abolished. We do not keep the civil law of Israel because we do not live in the theocratic state of Israel…

        Bede is not the same as the Bible….you have such a bizarre and irrational view – which Bede himself would have abhorred.

        God’s Spirit does not point people in two different contradictory directions. You seem to be confusing God’s Spirit and yours.

        You do realise that Jed Bartlett is just a fictional character? Sorkin is just putting in his mouth an old meme which is easily answered. Do you think Sorkin was inspired by the Holy Spirit?!

        You say you want to ‘understand Scripture unshackled from our bias’ but you leave nothing but our bias to understand it. According to you Scripture contains errors and it’s just up to us to sort it out as we wish…Your theology is as eccentric as your reading….do you think that people cannot disobey God if he is in control?! Are we robots? Can he not be so in control that he can use even our wrong decisions?

        You have no Gospel if you have no Christ. And you have no Christ – except the one you make up in your own head – without Scripture!

        The absurdity of your eccentric reading of Scripture is your notion that saying God is sovereign (in control) is unbioblical! Thats what we call in the trade ‘flat earth theology’….arguing directly contrary to the evidence.

      9. The obvious truth is that there are contradictions and that whether God, through their Spirit, can inspire people to record words with perfect accuracy or not – they choose not to. The fact that we have different translations is proof of that. And more importantly, we need it to be true. We misunderstand human history and God’s interaction with us if we suppose that scripture is without error. Scripture is surely a record of God breaking into history? Into the imperfect minds of people. Here’s a contradiction:

        ‘For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.’ Hosea 6.6.

        It is contrary not just to other passages, but to large swathes of the Church’s teaching.

        The fact that there are contradictions is of no concern – they even legitimise scripture as reliable recordings of individuals on a journey to understand God’s will.

        The fact that we have so many translations is proof of contradiction. Perhaps not with the original text (though, I believe there are), but contradictions with our understanding and the passing on of the original – and that is the whole point. We, and the authors, see in part. This seems plain as day.

        A question to David. If the Spirit did inspire scripture, how do we recognise it, and what should be considered scripture? I’m guessing that you’re Bible has a few less books than most Bibles in the world. Do you recognise the Apocrypha? What about the Torah? What about Psalm 151?

        Would appreciate your thoughts.

      10. Different translations are not proof of contradictions in the original ms – they are just proof of different translations… My bible does not have a few less books that most Bibles in the world – because most do not have the Apocrypha. There is no Psalm 151. The Torah is not…nor does it claim to be..Scripture. Basically we recognise the Bible Jesus had (the OT) and the NT Gospels and letters…

      11. Roman Catholic Bibles have the Apocrapha. RC is the largest denomination. Therefore, it could be true that most Bibles have more books than ours. Or at least most of the Bibles people are taught from.

        It would be interesting to discuss what Jesus may have considered scripture. Obviously he read scrolls as separate works. But he would have surely valued the Talmud just as much? It is a post industrialisation trait to only trust what is written. And we are learning that this is unwise!!

      12. I suggest you look at the Bible sales figure…. We also know what Jesus considered Scripture – the OT in Hebrew as we have it. Why would he have valued the Talmud – solely human writings – as much? And no it is not a post industrialisation trait to only trust what is written…possibly even the other way round!

      13. I’ve done the research. I have a degree in history and another in theology. I have also studied Judaism and comparative religion. And read some of the Talmud. What ‘research’ have you done?

    2. Hi David, please can you expand on your question to Stuart regarding the Holy Spirit? Thanks

      And if you have time, what are your thoughts on the interplay between theological study and Spirit led interpretation?

      1. Sure….The Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit. They are God-breathed. Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Surely God was able to inspire his word to be without error?

      2. “Surely God was able to inspire his word to be without error?”

        Well you havent convinced me – and you already said there were contradictions – there are quite a few contradictions with reality disregarding the internal contradictions for which you offer only special pleading… and the whine that my biblical scholar is not as good as you.

      3. I said that there are ‘apparent’ contradictions. You are the one making the claim that there are many real contradictions – if you make the claim you have to be able to substantiate it. So far you have offered nothing substantial.

    3. I’ve done a fair bit of research – though would not claim to be ‘done’. I still have plenty to learn.
      I have a degree in theology and am a published historian. But there’s no history needed. The Talmud remains important to Jews today.

      However, we’re speaking a little anachronistically as the Talmud was not completed until after Jesus’ life time. So, did he read the Talmud – he could not have. In fact, some scholars argue that he appears in it! I’m sure you all know this and are referring to the oral traditions it records.

      Those oral traditions, which became the Mishnah (and part of the Talmud) would have been, and remain, central to a Rabbi’s teachings. In fact, that is why they were reluctantly recorded. As a Jew, Jesus would have studied these oral traditions – they provided teachings on everyday life. As a Rabbi, he would have memorised it. We have a particular definition and understanding of what ‘scripture’ is, and so may be confusing this discussion. Did Jesus value the teachings of the ‘Talmud’ (what would become) alongside the Torah. Absolutely – every Jew does.

      And understanding the role of the oral tradition within Judaism and the role of Midrash and the Gemara, would help us all treat the Bible with a little more respect, maturity and grace. It is not, and was never, intended to be a stickler’s guide to appeasing God. Rabbis did not hold a consensus they disagreed all the time. But they did this through discussion and debate – thus the Midrash and Gemara. It is okay to disagree.

      What is not okay, and shows a profound weakness in understanding, is hitting out at others because we are so narrow minded to believe we have the correct understanding. That will always be a sign of great ignorance.

      1. Stuart you were the one who stated that Jesus would have used the Talmud as he used the OT scriptures. I am even more bemused that you said this when you knew that the Talmud did not exist in Jesus’s lifetime! You hit out at those who hit out because they are so narrow minded to believe we have the correct understanding. but that is precisely what you believe! Or why else would you post it?

  17. The contradictions in the Gospels do not bother me at all. They do not bother me because I know that one must always looking at the genre of literature one is reading before one can understand the purpose of the author’s work. The authors of the Gospels were writing works of evangelism, not history textbooks. They were writing in the literary genre of Greco-Roman biography which allowed for embellishments in the details of the story. The core story is that Jesus was crucified, buried, and then appeared to his followers, in some fashion, after his death. Any embellished details added to this story such as the appearance of heavenly beings and dead people shaken out of their graves would have been seen in the first century for what it was: good story telling. Only modern people expect the Gospels to be read as a modern biography, with every detail in the story being historically accurate.

    1. Again you are demonstrating the truth of the saying that ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. The authors of the Gospels were writing history (what happened) as well as theology etc. The Good News (evangelism) comes from the fact that the news is true and actually happened. They were not writing myth. I’m curious as to how much Greco-Roman biography you have actually read? Or is this just you repeating something that you have read from ‘experts’? Ie. Those who confirm your bias

      If for example you read the Gospel of Luke you will find that it is introduced not as a myth, but as a history complete with sources and evidence.

      You are also aware that the writers of the Gospels were Jews who rejected Greco Roman myths?

      It’s only some modern people (with access to Wiki and Google) who think that they know the ancients better than they did themselves.

      It’s sad to see such prejudice and ignorance displayed as knowledge.

  18. Genuine question related to the subject matter.

    As somebody who enjoys Hillsong music and singing it in church. Should we reconsider it’s appropriateness if the author openly renounces the faith?

    1. @Blair

      Blair, it is yet an open question whether Sampson is running on the faith or his faith. If it is the latter then Hillsong music obviously does not enable faith. Thus, Christians without the Spirit are Christians running on their own faith or auto-persuasions whereas Christians with the Spirit are led by the Spirit (Ro. 8:14) and, therefore, running on the faith.

      The obvious question, however, is not the appropriateness of anything other than the appropriateness of one’s own faith; for not until that is settled and not unless that is settled by God (See: Jn. 14:23 or 1 Jn. 2:27) can one begin to decide what is and what is not appropriate because “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God which have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father” (Ro. 8:14 – 15).

      I hope that answers your question.

  19. David, I have been looking at your bio. In your denomination, are all clergy with a theology degree considered scholars? I see that you have a theology degree but I don’t see a degree in New Testament studies? Do you have one? If not, would you kindly provide a source (other than your own, of course) which refers to you as a “New Testament scholar”?

    Thanks.

    1. Gary I know you are trying to be smart and think that you are but yes – I have a degree in theology which includes New Testament theology (it also includes OT, Systematic and Historical theology). And yes all our clergy are considered scholars – in that they generally have to have two degrees and spend 7 years studying. Can you tell us what qualifications you have in theology?

  20. A very interesting topic and I am not entirely surprised that some of those in the ‘worship leading’ fraternity might have this problem. For some time now I have felt that there is actually too much (I can hardly believe I am saying this) emphasis on praise and worship and nowhere near enough emphasis on God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Little Word, little faith. Moody said, “Either this book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book” It is not just the Word you read but the Word you ‘hide in your heart’ that builds strong faith.

    The questions Marty raised all have straightforward answers in God’s Word that will sometimes pitch the believer against a lost world but that should come as no surprise. The world is not going to pat someone on the back for casting out demons, laying hands on the sick and speaking in tongues! If our Lord Jesus was misrepresented and misunderstood then so will we be.

    I suspect there is a loss of willingness to fight the good fight of faith because of persecution and ridicule. When you are a worship leader there is an almost ‘star’ status accompanying the role that might possibly seem to be at variance with the liberal moral views of the ‘star’ celebrities in the world. This is therefore a classic ‘love not the world’ scenario that we all have to guard against.

    Once you stop going against the world and drifting downstream it might seem easier for a while but the cost will be terrible in the long run – not because God will punish you, but because you are on the ‘wide path’ that leads to destruction. Marty, God is gracious, slow to anger, and will both forgive and restore you if you ask Him to.

  21. May he pursue it, his unbelief, whole heartedly. May the eyes of his heart open again, at the right time, to the One who gives the gift of faith to all! May he receive rest and healing! May he open to the revelation that dwarfs all human knowledge! G-d bless him and keep him!

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