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The New Year I Came Out

This weeks Christian Today article is a bit personal –

The New Year I Came Out

I always knew I was different. There was that feeling inside; that 12 year old’s angst as I considered who I was; that indefinable something as others went their way with wild parties and girls. I tried to be like them. But I just couldn’t. In today’s parlance I was just not being true to myself.

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The Slim Years!

I tried to divert and get what I wanted in different ways. There was even a phase when as a 14-year-old I tried communism. I became politically active, even leading a school strike against the raising of the school leaving age.

I tried mocking those who frightened me because I thought I might end up like them. I was very good at arguing against such unfortunates. I really did not want to be different. I knew that it would be social suicide, intellectual damnation and almost certainly harm my future prospects. The society I lived in wasn’t ready for people like me.

There came a point where I admitted to myself who I was and what I believed. But even then I was determined to keep it secret.

And then one incredible New Year, I came out….or perhaps I should say I was outed.

As a Christian.

We were sitting in the sixth year common room (a rather grand title for a portacabin in 00UHDY7OQ5PV0WO0ODXIthe school playground). Four of my classmates got up and headed to their usual Thursday lunchtime prayer meeting. Some sneered. Some shook their heads in mock amusement. Others ignored. It was the ‘Bible bashers, the Holy Joes, the Religious Weirdos up to their usual tricks. And then in a moment that changed my life, one of the group turned to me and asked: “Do you want to come with us?”

How my pals laughed. Was I not the one who was expert at arguing against Christians? Was I not the one who led the mocking crowd? For some reason, utterly inexplicable to me, I got up and walked out the door with the Christians to a prayer meeting. And never looked back.

We sat in that meeting and, apparently unusually for them, they prayed round in a circle. When it came to me I thought I had better pray something. And so I did. There was silence. No hallelujahs. Not even a mumbled ‘amen’. Just silence. And then a tap on the shoulder.

“Are you a Christian?”

“I guess so.”

“What happened?”

So I explained about my prayer on New Year’s Eve, as I wrestled with my desire to be an atheist and my knowledge that it would be a denial of reality and a denial of who I was.

“God, if you exist, show me.”

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Dingwall Town Hall

It was midnight and I walked out into the beautiful, cold, starry night in the Highland town of Dingwall, and looked to the heavens. There was no answer. Not a bolt of lightning. Not an angelic choir. Not even a still small voice. If God was there, he was keeping pretty quiet about it.

For two weeks I tried to put it out of my mind. I told myself “there was no answer, therefore there is no God”, whilst at the same time knowing what a dumb argument that was. Until one Sunday morning I got out of my bed and turned to my youngest brother.

“Come on…we’re going to church.”

After various questionings of my sanity, my brother came with me. I was, after all, bigger than him. Shall we say that he was compelled to come in – it was my first successful attempt at evangelism! Much to my mother’s surprise and delight, (she had long given up on trying to get us to go to church) – we headed out the door and cycled to a little church in the fishing village of Balintore.

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Balintore UF Church

I don’t know what it was, the singing of a psalm, the reading of the Bible, the splashing of the sea waves on the nearby beach, but suddenly it became crystal clear. Of course God existed. Nothing made sense without Him. How could you have a creation without the Creator? It wasn’t God that was silent. It was me that wasn’t listening. He who has ears let him hear. The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim his handiwork. She who has eyes let her see.

And then there was the Bible, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and the Church, and history, and science, and morality, and love, and justice, and hope, and humanity. All of the pieces fell into place.

I still didn’t like Christians and I did not want to be associated with them, so I reasoned that I could be a secret follower of Jesus – like Nicodemeus – until that day I was outed.

At the prayer meeting the teacher who led it, asked me if I would be willing to take on the leadership of the group – because, good old Brethren lady that she was, she thought that a man (even though a boy) should lead. I of course said no, but she assured me, in that wonderful way that women who believe in ‘submission’ sometimes have, it would be ok because she would tell me what to do! She was a good teacher.

The small group also asked if I would be willing to speak on their behalf at a debate being held by the school debating society the following week. The subject was the existence of God and the participants were to be an atheist, an agnostic, a ‘liberal’ Christian and an evangelical. I spoke on behalf of the biblical Christians (even then I did not like the label, evangelical).

Afterwards I was approached by one of my favourite teachers, the head of the English department. I liked him because he never gave me or anyone the belt – he didn’t need to, he had that kind of authority.

“Robertson,” he exclaimed, “….that was brilliant. Your best performance yet. You almost had me convinced you really were a Christian!”

“Sir….I am! And no-one will ever say that to me again!”

I knew I was well and truly outed. I knew I couldn’t be a halfway Christian, or a secret

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First Childrens Mission..!

Christian, or a nominal Christian. Whatever was to happen in my future I now belonged to Christ and would follow him..whatever. Where he leads me I will follow, what he feeds me I will swallow. Life was to be full of Christian clichés…some of them were even true!

It’s been 41 years since the day I came out. Everything I feared would happen did. The social ostracism, the sneering mockery (this was in the days before social media – now that is only multiplied), the knowing glances from those who thought that I had thrown away a prospective glowing career, the spiritual warfare, the dysfunctional churches and, above all, my own weakness and sin. Life as a Christian has been hard. But it is life!

And I do not regret a minute of it. With Christ comes not only trouble and persecution, but also the “solid joys and lasting treasures that none but Zion’s children know”.

My hope and prayer for those of you who read this is that some will come to know the Christ who gives more than we can ask or think; that some of you will yourselves be encouraged to ‘come out’ and make your stance for and with Christ; and that those of you who are feeling weary and worn would be encouraged in the Lord.

Fight the good fight, lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called. The battle belongs to the Lord. The victory we get to share with Him. Happy New Year.

David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney and blogs at www.theweeflea.com

34 comments

    1. “Everything I feared would happen did. The social ostracism, the sneering mockery (this was in the days before social media – now that is only multiplied), the knowing glances from those who thought that I had thrown away a prospective glowing career, the spiritual warfare, the dysfunctional churches and, above all, my own weakness and sin. Life as a Christian has been hard. But it is life!”
      Usually I agree with everything you say David, you are a fearless critic of today’s societies. However I am worried that we modern Christians were the first to invent a culture of victimhood. Take a look at these articles and tell me what you think.
      Christian Today – Evangelical Victimhood
      https://www.christiantoday.com/article/evangelical-victimhood-why-we-should-challenge-the-narrative/90677.htm
      The Evangelical Persecution Complex
      https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/08/the-evangelical-persecution-complex/375506/
      There are plenty others if you look for him, God bless,

      1. Hi Nathan – thanks for your comments and the links to the articles.

        Modern Christians were not the first to invent a culture of victimhood. So you have nothing to worry about there – although we can easily succumb to it.

        Both articles are shallow and superficial – especially the first one – which uses pejorative and prejudiced language. They are also entirely centred on American evangelicals – which is hardly the whole evangelical world.

        I have read several articles along the same lines and to be honest I find them depressing. Firstly there is, of course, the danger of Christians exaggerating, fear-mongering etc. But the trouble with these type of articles is that they usually go to extremes and they are seen from a very narrow-angle (often Western middle class). Often I find it is clergymen saying ‘you’re not persecuted – because you’re not having your head chopped off!”. But I know many Christians who experience discrimination, prejudice, mockery etc. I was also speaking about spiritual warfare. I tend to believe what the Bible says – “everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus, will suffer persecution” (1 Timothy 3:12). I was not claiming ‘woe is me, I am being persecuted’. I’m just simply testifying to the reality of what I experienced. All my Christian life there has been opposition. Ironically I am just sitting listening to a sermon from someone preaching on Hebrews 11 and they are just listing a series of attacks on Christians in the West. One example is an Iranian Christian describing the attack on St Georges Tron in Glasgow as equivalent to the kind of persecution of the Church he sought to escape from in his own country….was he wrong? Is it ok for closeted academics who don’t experience persecution to say to those who do, that its not real…?

      1. Hi Timothy.

        Why do you think Jesus chose you while ignoring several billion others, including Jews Muslims Hindus, Buddhist, Jainists and every other Christian who belongs to a different denomination/sect, including, Christadelphians.?

        Regards
        Ark.

  1. David

    I read your blog almost every day but this latest post leads me to write.
    My father was from Hilton and Balintore UF was my family`s church. Was the preacher that day you refer to Rev Paterson? I met you in University at Edinburgh. I was in Fraser House. Do you remember the furore around the IRA hunger-strikers?

    If you have time amongst all your tremendously busy activities, please drop me a line at my email.

    You are doing terrific work and may God Bless you.

    William

  2. Douglas,
    It has something to do with conversion, not merely to propositional truth, which I’d suggest converts no- one. Truth is a person, Jesus Christ, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells,: complete and replete in him. It is all of Triune God; salvation, sanctification, and keeping.

    As the church, in many parts, at this time of year, succumbs to the new year plans, and planning this is apt.
    We had an excellent talk, yesterday, based on this passage from the letter of James.
    “Boasting About Tomorrow
    13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

    Footnotes:
    James 4:4 An allusion to covenant unfaithfulness; see Hosea 3:1.
    James 4:5 Or that the spirit he caused to dwell in us envies intensely; or that the Spirit he caused to dwell in us longs jealously
    James 4:6 Prov. 3:34
    James 4:11 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a believer, whether man or woman, as part of God’s family. ”
    From, biblegateway.com

    And from a more prosaic source, Wood Allen I think, when asked, “What makes God laugh?” replied in a heartbeat, “Tell him your plans for the future.”

    Christians will tell you that life for them is not all, “hunky-dory -glory”; even David’s near death, critical-life testimony is an example of evidence, of life’s exigencies, even under God’s sovereignty.
    Here is an extended answer, for your leisurely meditation and hopefully, understanding and edification : chew it over

    “Romans 8 New International Version (NIV)
    Life Through the Spirit
    8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

    9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

    12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

    14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

    Present Suffering and Future Glory
    18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

    22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

    26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

    28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

    More Than Conquerors
    31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Footnotes:
    Romans 8:2 The Greek is singular; some manuscripts me
    Romans 8:3 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit; also in verses 4-13.
    Romans 8:3 Or flesh, for sin
    Romans 8:10 Or you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive
    Romans 8:11 Some manuscripts bodies through
    Romans 8:15 The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture; also in verse 23.
    Romans 8:15 Aramaic for father
    Romans 8:21 Or subjected it in hope. 21 For
    Romans 8:28 Or that all things work together for good to those who love God, who; or that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good—with those who
    Romans 8:36 Psalm 44:22
    Romans 8:38 Or nor heavenly rulers”

    Again, from biblegateway.com

    1. Hi, Geoff.

      In all honesty , do you really expect to reach someone such as me by simply trotting out reams of biblical text?

      I assure you the only way you will reach any atheist is through evidence.
      So, have another go, I’d be interested to read what you have .

      1. Douglas,
        It may have something to do with reading and understanding, comprehension, seeing the Kingdom of God, of hardness of heart and lack of desire, and inability.
        It it always deeply significant that you bat away any invitation to read scripture even when it answers at some length your question to David.
        Further evidence is your refusal to read Ephesians 1&2 and answer truthfully why you wouldn’t want all that is described there. Why wouldn’t you even not want to have that desire. What deep down are you resisting. Is it still the death of your brother at a young age that angers you; that blames the God you do not believe exists, but exonerates and forgives the ignorance of gods you do believe, including scientism, that with all the evidence around you, let you down. while at the same time run your life, even at a subconscious, visceral, level.
        It is truly fascinating that you are drawn to David’s blog, even sometimes without bringing sneering and mocking comments.
        God bless you with knowledge of him, light from light, true enlightenment, not fake or counterfeit that pervades the world you, we all, inhabit. For all we like sheep have gone astray.
        Yours in Christ Jesus,
        Geoff

      2. It may have something to do with reading and understanding, comprehension, seeing the Kingdom of God, of hardness of heart and lack of desire, and inability.
        It it always deeply significant that you bat away any invitation to read scripture even when it answers at some length your question to David.

        Okay, let’s see if we can offer an answer that is more satisfactory to you, shall we?

        Nothing in the reams of text you have offered as a ”reason” for Christianity is based on any verifiable evidence whatsoever, so quoting such text and/or referring Ephesians is going to have the same result.
        None of the text you have cited is a reason for why one is a Christian, which was my original question to David, unless one accepts the notion one is a sinner, one is deserving of Hell, and that the human sacrifice of the biblical character Jesus of nazareth was the payment of this ”sin”.
        David does accept these terms, as do you.

        So while you continue to harp on with such terms as ”malign heart motives and methods ….” I’ll continue to point out that you have not once produced a shred of evidence for such claims.

        However, the moment you do, then we can have a real discussion.

        The floor is yours, Geoff.
        Any time you’re ready ….?

        Regards

        Ark.

      3. I assure you the only way you will reach any atheist is through evidence.

        First, in my experience, atheists demand evidence and then ignore it or dismiss it out of hand.
        Second, I can think of at least one ex-atheist I know who became a Christian for a reason other than evidence.
        Third, I’m not sure what sort of evidence you would expect to a question about why God would do something. That’s a question that requires an answer about God’s reasoning or nature, and surely the best answer to that would be something God has said, i.e. something from the Bible.

      4. @ Phillip

        1. Never once have I ever ignored or dismissed evidence when it has been presented and in context especially with regard religion.
        For example, if you believe you have evidence to verify the foundational tenets of your faith, then please, with David’s leave, present here and we can discuss it.
        Or, if you are able to ”run the gauntlet” as it were, of the non-believers , including former Christians who have experience of being actively involved with the type of evangelical Christianity featured here, then pop over to my blog and post there.

        2.

        Second, I can think of at least one ex-atheist I know who became a Christian for a reason other than evidence.

        Why would you think I would disagree with this point?
        No one that I have ever engaged, read about, watched (video) or listened to(podcast) , became a Christian because of evidence.
        Any deconvert will attest to this fact.

        3.

        Third, I’m not sure what sort of evidence you would expect to a question about why God would do something.

        This is a question ( and a few variants on the theme) that pops up with almost ubiquitous regularity.
        As we are discussing an omnipotent deity, I take the view that it/he /she would know full well that I would be convinced by verifiable evidence.

        the best answer to that would be something God has said, i.e. something from the Bible.

        When one considers how error ridden the bible is and the fact is composed and compiled by (fallible) men I would imagine the very last place you would encourage a non believer to look
        would be the bible.
        As Asimov is quoted as saying.

        “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”

        Regards & Happy New Year.

        Ark

      5. Hello Ark,

        1. Your comment was about reaching any atheist. My comment was therefore about atheists generally, not exceptions to the rule as you are claiming to be (and given that I’m new here, I’m not disputing that claim).
        2. “Why would you think I would disagree with this point?” Because you claimed that the only way to reach any atheist was with evidence. You are therefore denying that atheists can be reached on any basis other than evidence.
        3. You seem to have missed the point that I was highlighting that your question is about why God would do something. Years ago, I saw someone claim that a creationist website should not be used as evidence of what creationists believe. Sure, you might want to look elsewhere regarding whether their claims were correct, but surely if you want to know what they believe, then what they put on their website should be the prime source of information. The same here. You might want to look outside the Bible regarding whether God exists, but the Bible should be the prime source about what God is like, or in this case, why He would do something. If you are asking why God would do something, the question is premised on God existing (even if that’s just hypothetical for the sake of the question), and given that you are asking Christians, the question is premised on a Christian understanding of that, and that understanding comes from the Bible. It would be like you asking me how David became a Christian, then rejecting me quoting David by way of an answer.

        And no, the Bible is not error-ridden.

      6. Philip

        You are therefore denying that atheists can be reached on any basis other than evidence.

        Fair enough … my apologies; yes there are other ways besides using evidence that could reach an atheist. However in all cases I am aware of there were serious underlying emotional issues. And, these were usually exacerbated by the convert being part of what one could label a Christian background/environment.
        If you have any examples that fall outside these parameters I’d be interested to hear of them.

        If you are asking why God would do something, the question is premised on God existing (even if that’s just hypothetical for the sake of the question),

        Again, fair point. Although in my experience trying to find a neutral starting point is usually well nigh impossible in such discussions – a point you illustrate by capitalising the word ‘’God’’ – Yahweh is simply one among many thousands, but obviously you do not see it in this light.
        Ultimately then, the onus falls on the claimant for their god to provide evidence for their claims. From a neutral perspective, the bible can no more be used as evidence for the existence of Yahweh than a JK Rowling novel can be used as evidence for the existence of Harry Potter.

        And no, the Bible is not error-ridden.

        Well, error is a mistake and -ridden as a suffix means full.
        So yes, the bible is error-ridden. From the tale of Adam and Eve, to Noah’s flood, the Exodus, are all examples of errors, scientific, archaeological, geologic, historical.
        And there are numerous other examples, including those in the New Testament, that I am sure you are aware of.

        Regards
        Ark

      7. “…in my experience trying to find a neutral starting point is usually well nigh impossible in such discussions…”
        True, and I wasn’t saying that you were at fault for assuming God, but the point is that you did assume God (for the sake of the question), and therefore the answer had to as well.

        “… a point you illustrate by capitalising the word ‘’God’’ – Yahweh is simply one among many thousands…”
        Among many thousands of what? I hear this often from atheists, but I consider it a gross exaggeration. The English word “God” refers to the supreme being, or creator. By definition, there can only be one supreme being (of there was more than one, neither/none would be supreme). However, there are multiple claimants for that role. So when I refer to “God”, I’m often referring to whoever has that role, regardless of which is the correct claimant (of course I believe Yahweh is the correct claimant). But as far as I’m aware, there are not actually that many claimants! Yahweh is one. Allah is another, but there’s not too many more. None of the ancient Greek ‘gods’ qualify, as they were all the offspring of other ‘gods’, including even the king of the ‘gods’, Zeus. In animistic religions, people worship spirits, not God. There’s an interesting account in the book “Eternity in their Hearts” about a tribe in eastern India that worshipped the spirits of the mountains but had an ancient memory of the “true God”, who they stopped worshipping generations earlier.

        “From a neutral perspective, the bible can no more be used as evidence for the existence of Yahweh than a JK Rowling novel can be used as evidence for the existence of Harry Potter.”
        How is it reasonable to equate a novel with multiple eye-witness testimonies (which is what the Bible purports to be and is believed to be by millions)? Of course the Bible can be used as evidence!

        “From the tale of Adam and Eve, to Noah’s flood, the Exodus, are all examples of errors, scientific, archaeological, geologic, historical.”
        No, they are not errors. Rather, you are citing competing historical views as “evidence” that the Bible is wrong. That is, there are (at least) two views of history. One (the biblical one) is documented by eye-witnesses. The other is a story told about the past that is based on a naturalistic worldview. That is, people who did not witness the events start with the position that everything can be explained naturally (i.e. without invoking the supernatural), come up with an naturalistic explanation, claim that their explanation is correct, then use that to argue that the competing (biblical) explanation is therefore wrong. That’s a circular argument. And unfortunately, most historical science is done this way, invoking a principle termed methodological naturalism, i.e. science only allows for natural explanations. Therefore Dr. Scott Todd, writing in Nature, said “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.” Science has not shown the Bible to be wrong, because the evidence doesn’t count. Naturalistic science has deemed the Bible to be wrong.

        “And there are numerous other examples, including those in the New Testament, that I am sure you are aware of.”
        I’m aware of the claims, but I’ve yet to see one that withstands scrutiny.

      8. ‘’I wasn’t saying that you were at fault for assuming God, but the point is that you did assume God (for the sake of the question), and therefore the answer had to as well.’’
        Not assumption, ( as I am an atheist and would never assume a god/God ) merely trying to establish a foundation, the point you illustrate when you write this ….
        ‘’Among many thousands of what?
        Well … gods, obviously

        ‘’I hear this often from atheists, but I consider it a gross exaggeration. The English word “God” refers to the supreme being, or creator. ‘’
        A quick Google search reveals there are only 120 creator gods, apparently, so I stand corrected, and gladly amend my initial figure. Although these other supreme beings/creators I would venture you have no truck with, neither the semantics surrounding which one their respective followers claim is the One and Only, am I right?

        ‘’ … of course I believe Yahweh is the correct claimant’’.
        Yes, but belief s one thing …. evidence to support such a belief is another thing entirely.

        ‘’How is it reasonable to equate a novel with multiple eye-witness testimonies (which is what the Bible purports to be and is believed to be by millions)?
        Again, ‘’purports to be’’ and ‘’Believed by millions’’ does not increase the bible’s credibility unless evidence can support the text. Which, as far as most of its content goes, it does not.

        ’’Of course the Bible can be used as evidence!’’
        As an object it can be used as evidence, sure. But not evidence for most of the claims it makes. Noah’s Flood is as good an example as any.

        “From the tale of Adam and Eve, … etc
        ‘’No, they are not errors. Rather, you are citing competing historical views as “evidence” that the Bible is wrong. ‘’
        Sorry, that is incorrect. The tale of Noah’s flood , for example, is a myth and is thus, to claim it is factual is incorrect (wrong) and the evidence supports this to the hilt. Of course, if you are a Young Earth Creationist then you will reject all scientific evidence.

        ‘’ …there are (at least) two views of history. One (the biblical one) is documented by eye-witnesses.’’
        Which eyewitnesses are these, please? And can you provide verifiable evidence for their claims.

        ‘’ That’s a circular argument. And unfortunately, most historical science is done this way, invoking a principle termed methodological naturalism, i.e. science only allows for natural explanations.’’
        How would you measure anything supernatural?

        ‘’Naturalistic science has deemed the Bible to be wrong.’’
        What other science is there to demonstrate that the bible is correct?

        ‘’I’m aware of the claims, but I’ve yet to see one that withstands scrutiny’’
        I already cited Noah’s Flood as an example of error and, of course, it does not stand up to scrutiny.

      9. “Well … gods, obviously…”
        No, it wasn’t obvious. You could have meant “claimants” for the title.

        “A quick Google search reveals there are only 120 creator gods, apparently, so I stand corrected, and gladly amend my initial figure.”
        But again, there can, by definition, only be one. So there are (according to your Google search) 120 claimants for the role, not 120 gods. Further, if it was just a “quick” search, I presume that you didn’t assess the list to see how many actually qualified as creators, nor whether they were not different “gods” or the same God under a different name. To take one example, a number of Aboriginal tales have the creator being “Baiame”. Is that a different claimant to the title, or just a different term or name for the same creator? One of those tales, titled “The coming of death”, although having a number of different details, says that the creator created man, put the man and his wife in a place that was good to live, told them that there was one tree they couldn’t eat of, and if they did they would bring evil on themselves and all their descendants, that although they initially obeyed the woman was tempted, then the evil, including death, was released on them and their descendants, and they no longer lived in paradise. The story has so many details in common with the Genesis account that it is highly likely that it’s a memory of the same events, which is to be expected if the Aborigines are descended from Adam and Eve. And therefore Baiame is not a “different creator God”, nor even a different claimant, but the same God. I would therefore be very suspicious of that list of 120 without further evidence that they were all actually different claimants.

        “…neither the semantics surrounding which one their respective followers claim is the One and Only, am I right?”
        I’m not sure I understand the question, but it comes down to evidence, not semantics.

        “Yes, but belief s one thing …. evidence to support such a belief is another thing entirely.”
        Absolutely. Which is why I put my belief in parentheses, because I wasn’t wanting to get into evidence in that comment.

        Again, ‘’purports to be’’ and ‘’Believed by millions’’ does not increase the bible’s credibility unless evidence can support the text.
        I wasn’t claiming that it increases it’s credibility. I was claiming that it puts it into a different category than a novel, and therefore your comparison was a very poor one.

        “Which, as far as most of its content goes, it does not.”
        How have you measured that?

        “As an object it can be used as evidence, sure. But not evidence for most of the claims it makes.”
        I think you are splitting hairs. Virtually the only evidence we have for ancient people is documentary evidence, of the type that the Bible is.

        Sorry, that is incorrect. The tale of Noah’s flood , for example, is a myth…
        If I’m incorrect as you claim, and you’re not claiming it’s a myth on the basis of a competing view (the standard secular one), then on what basis are you claiming that it’s a myth?

        “…the evidence supports this [that Noah’s flood is a myth] to the hilt.”
        What evidence?

        “Of course, if you are a Young Earth Creationist then you will reject all scientific evidence.”
        Absolutely false, and slanderously so, especially given that it was creationists who gave us modern science. Why do you resort to making up insults?

        “Which eyewitnesses are these, please?”
        The ones who wrote the various books of the Bible, or who are quoted in it. There are indications in Genesis that it was compiled by Moses from pre-existing documents, written by predecessor such as Adam and Seth.

        “And can you provide verifiable evidence for their claims.”
        What verifiable evidence do you expect for any ancient eye-witness?

        “How would you measure anything supernatural?”
        How does that address my point?

        “What other science is there to demonstrate that the bible is correct?”
        Science that is prepared to look at the evidence fairly and not rule out supernatural explanations a priori.

        “I already cited Noah’s Flood as an example of error and, of course, it does not stand up to scrutiny.”
        Yet I note that you don’t say how it is an error, and you’re ignoring (a) that there are many scientists that accept the Flood as real, and (b) there has even been a book written about it, titled “A Feasibility Study on Noah’s Ark” (which showed it to be feasible).

      10. @Philip

        I’m not sure I understand the question, but it comes down to evidence, not semantics.

        Fair enough, let’s stick with evidence. If you believe you have evidence for Yahweh then please, present it.
        We can deal with the other aspects of the bible – veracity of Noah and his ark and the gospels etc in the next round., if necessary

        Regards
        Ark

      11. Hello Ark,

        I’m continually encountering atheists who assert that God doesn’t exist, or some related claim (such as Noah’s flood being a myth), and when I ask them for evidence that He doesn’t exist (or etc.), they try to put the onus on me to prove that He does, even though I didn’t actually claim that, and even though they’ve yet to provide evidence for their claim.

        I feel somewhat like you’re doing the same thing, but for now I’m going to humour you and start to address your request.

        The first problem however, is what would you accept as evidence, or what types of evidence would you accept? You’ve already dismissed His revelation to us as evidence without good reason.

        There is general evidence for God’s existence (without identifying which is the correct claimant), such as the Kalam Cosmological argument, the argument from fine tuning, the moral argument, the argument from design, etc.
        Actually, some of those will tell us more than just that there is a God; from those some characteristics of God can be deduced.

        Then there are the claims of the Bible, which to the extent we’ve been able to test them, normally are consistent with what the Bible claims (and the few inconsistent ones are either disputable, arguments from silence, or have turned out to to be wrong). There is also the evidence of Jesus (God in human form), and the testimony of millions who know God.

        I’m sure that there are others that I haven’t thought of at the moment, but that’s a bit of an overview.

        One I like is a subset of the argument from design, that being the existence of meaningful information in living things. The genetic code is just that—a code, and it carries information (of the type that means something; it’s not just random data). Not only does every known source such information trace back to an intelligence, but mathematically it’s impossible for it to arise by chance. To put it another way, natural processes such as the evolutionary processes cannot produce the genetic information we observe in living things. It must have come from an intelligent being. And that intelligent source, preceding all life on Earth, had to be intelligent aliens (which doesn’t resolve the issue, it just moves it back one step), or it had to be something external to the universe, i.e. God.

        Note that this is a logical deduction from the evidence, not a God of the Gaps argument. It is an argument from what we observe and can deduce.

      12. The first problem however, is what would you accept as evidence,

        I don’t consider this a problem at all. As we are dealing with a claimed omnipotent deity – Yahweh – I maintain that such an entity would know what would convinde me of its existence. And this would logically include every other individual who is currently a non-believer or follower of a different faith than the one you subscribe to.

        And as mentioned in my previous comment we can deal with the other bible issues once we have sorted this out.

        Also, I did check out  “A Feasibility Study on Noah’s Ark” and it turns out that Woodmorappe. Is a Young Earth Creationist. I am disappointed that you would cite YEC nonsense as an authority.
        If this is not your position then please clarify what is your position.,
        Thanks
        Regards
        Ark.

      13. Ark,
        “I maintain that such an entity would know what would convinde me of its existence”
        Well I’m not God, and I was the one asking the question, and I don’t know. (Although if you’re typical of many atheists, the answer is “none”. Please prove me wrong.)

        “…Woodmorappe. Is a Young Earth Creationist. I am disappointed that you would cite YEC nonsense as an authority.”
        And I’m disappointed (but not surprised) that you would dismiss someone’s arguments just because you don’t agree with their views. Further, how is it nonsense?

        “And as mentioned in my previous comment we can deal with the other bible issues once we have sorted this out.”
        What “other bible issues” are you referring to now? As I have pointed out, part of the evidence for God’s existence is the Bible and it’s claims. That’s not a separate issue, but part of the same issue.

    2. What deep down are you resisting. Is it still the death of your brother at a young age that angers you; that blames the God you do not believe exists,

      @ Geoff

      I highly doubt you blame, Allah, Hannuman, Shiva or Ganesh when things occasionally take a down turn in your life, or you can’t find your car keys, or even when the cat dies, now do you? Of course not, because you do not believe in them. And rightly so!

      So why on earth would I blame a god thatI do not believe in?

      When seen in this light , I hope that you can understand why it all sounds rather silly.

  3. Pillory and persecution.
    Taken from a lecture by Dr Richard Turnbull – Oppression and Toleration- Nov 2019 Christian Institute
    It focused on the time of Charles 11 and identified two long term tends in religious liberty,
    1 the quest for liberty of a monolithic state
    2 the quest for liberty from a monolithic church

    ” ineffectiveness of all former attempts and design to destroy the gospel. You know what endeavours of old there has been to darken the sun, to put out the light of heaven, in the Marian days, and in other days since then; and yet it has defied prisons, racks, flames, pillories, or anything else to extinguish the glory of it.”
    Thomas Brooks, quoted by Lee Gatiss, The great Ejection, p32

  4. Evidence

    Of course evidence exists. Existence is evidence. A Christ no one could invent is evidence.

    But we remember,

    ‘If they believe not Moses and the prophets neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead’.

    Rich in prophetic irony, for of course, the speaker did rise from the dead… and still, as predicted, they did not believe.

  5. Boy , This blog has sure provided a feed for those professing Christ!

    PS If this means anything to the reader: A very happy , peaceful and purposeful year to all.

  6. The threat of Christ’s Kingdom.

    Finally from me on this. It is highly pertinent to the season and to Ark.

    (The quotation from Thomas Nagel, prof of philosophy and law, is a thoughtful confession from an atheist.)

    It is from “Hidden Christmas”, by Tim Keller, a small, pocketable, A5 size book based on 10 or more meditations and sermons on each biblical text. delivered in Christmas services across decades.
    (You may recall David a Solas event in Inverness, a few years ago , with you Andy Bannister and a RZIM speaker whose name eludes me: I bought the book there.)

    It is of Keller’s usual easy but deep, dovetailing- with- humanity, style and provides a mind and heart ballast that seems to be missing from some seasonal messages.
    The question on the inside front cover: “Mangers, shepherds and angels -everyone thinks they’re familiar with the story of Christmas. But despite the abundance of these Christian references in popular culture, how many of us have examined the hard edges of the this biblical story?”
    He does indeed explore the hard edges that are subsumed into the gospel of the supernatural miracle of the incarnation of God the Son and the necessity and centrality.
    Keller identifies one of the hidden truths of Christmas as the “threat of Christ’s Kingdom” shown in, “the dark episode of King Herod’s violent lust for power points to our natural resistance to, even hatred of, the claims of God on our lives. We create Gods of our liking to mask our own hostility to the real God, who reveals himself as our absolute King. And if the LORD born at Christmas is the true God, then no one will seek for him unless our hearts are supernaturally changed to want to and seek him.”
    Keller continues , citing Thomas Nagel: “I want atheism to be true… I’m taking about fear of religion itself… I hope there is no God. I don’t want there to be a God. I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not rare.. (Nagel) doubts that there is anyone who is genuinely indifferent as to whether there is a God.”

  7. Dear Angry, shouting , Ark,
    Got a hang-over have we?
    Calm down dear.
    Asimov, doesn’t know what he was talking about, and neither could he, as he could never properly read it without the Spirit of God working properly in his life.

    I know I’ll not get a sensible answer, but in all the passages I’ve quoted above, if you are able to read them properly, really and truthfully would you say it is,” the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
    And without any self awareness, you go off on one, providing once more evidence that David highlights of antagonism mockery. Same as it ever was, year out, year in.
    You really do need the peace of our Lord. Shalom

    1. Dear Geoff
      I’m not angry nor am I shouting.
      Furthermore, I never get a hangover as I rarely drink.

      Asimov was highly intelligent and erudite. If, as you claim, he could ‘’never properly read it without the Spirit of God working properly in his life’’ then perhaps we should ask why your omnipotent deity decided not only to exclude Asimov but also the billions who worship other deities?

      1. Douglas,
        You continue, as always, by not answering questions. By talking past me . You’d make a poor witness in court!
        Your appeal to atheist authority doesn’t work. See the quote above from Thomas Nagel
        It is not a question of intelligence, though intelligence is not excluded.
        It’s a question of right qualifications, the award of the right first class honours, BA.
        Born Again, or BfA, Born from Above. All Christian have this first class qualification in their Union with Christ and as they are enabled to to Enjoy God.

        I think we are done. There’s nothing new from you, in your closed system world view and so soon into the new year.

      2. Read the thread again, Geoff.
        As far as I can see I have answered every question you have posed.

        However, feel free to pose any you think I have omitted to answer, but this time please don’t fill the comment with bible text.

        Much obliged.

        Ark

      3. Doulgas,
        I credit you with too much intelligence to not know the questions asked and the points implied, to not know the games you play and enjoy.
        But I also credit you with malign heart motives and methods in your responses to anything Christian, at least, on this site and another where you’ve popped up. There is no bona fides in your contributions,
        Not sure whether this comment will come up in the right order. It’s meant to be last, to your last one. May you come to know Christ.
        Yours in Christ, Geoff

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