So I check my facebook messages today. I made the mistake of commenting on an acquaintance's Xian Scripture post. Here's what followed (names removed for privacy):
Image by JLA Kliché via Flickr
I am sending this message to you in your in-box because it will be longer than the regular posting on your wall will allow.
Having grown up in a bible-believing family and church, you should know that you always read bible verses in context. This you did not do in your post. If you had read (or if you had read, but not ignored) the preceding verses, you would have your answer to your own question. I will quote starting with verse 3: "If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment, for we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either."
Firstly, "sound words" are those of Jesus Christ. This means He alone is the truth. The doctrine conforming to godliness is what is laid out in the bible. I'm sorry, Jonathan, we don't get to decide what is truth. God already did that. When you say there is no real truth and anyone can believe anything they want about God and religion, you are saying you are the final authority. So where does your authority come from that you can assert such an arrogant proposition as that?
The authority I have to assert what I am saying comes from the bible, written by men and women inspired of God. This is not my opinion.
Jesus himself said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." If He was lying, He was not a great teacher, as some say He was. If he was delusional, then why is His grave empty? I say He was telling the truth, and if you want to question His authority to say this, then you are making yourself to be of greater authority than Jesus Christ, who died to pay the penalty for your sins and rose again so you could have eternal life.
Do you think God was so stupid as to send His only Son to earth to die for us to provide eternal life for us and to make the relationship to God right again for us if there was any other way to God? If every other religion is just as valid and provides the route to God as Christianity, then it was unnecessary for God to send Jesus to earth. What a stupid thing for Him to do!
If you will look at all religions objectively, there is only one religion where someone else paid the penalty for our sins. That one religion is Christianity. Every other religion is works-oriented. You get to heaven or whatever the goal is by certain works. In the muslim religion, your greatest reward in the afterlife comes by killing the infidels, who are those who don't believe in Islam. What kind of a religion is that? And aren't you glad there are so many muslim hypocrites out there? If they all followed the teachings of the Koran, we would all be dead.
Now, there is one other Scripture passage I would like to write about, because I think it will help you understand why you have such a hard time understanding the Word of God: II Cor. 4:3 &4: "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." Satan is the god of this world, as you well know, Jonathan, and he has blinded your mind to know and understand the truth. He does not want you to know the truth, and will do everything he can to deceive you, so you will not know the peace and love that comes with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and Satan does not want you to spend eternity in heaven.
Finally, I challenge you to prove that Christianity is not true. I want tangible evidence, not feelings or opinions. You show me that what I have said is not true by authoritative means. And I want to know by what authority the person who provides the evidence receives his authority. And where they received their authority, until it gets to the final authority.
May God grant you wisdom in this endeavor,
Here's my post in reply:
Hello to you too :) First of all, yes, I was responding to an acquaintance's status update with my own opinion. As I should have done, I should have checked the context of this.
Allow me to ask some questions of your letter, which i appreciate you taking the time to send to me.
First I have to ask - do you really believe that if someone does not agree with Xianity, they are "conceited and understand nothing"? Am i reading this wrong? I advocate a different "doctrine", I suppose, but I am agree with "sound words"...just not all those of "Jesus Christ."
My main point in bringing this up is that for me, 'godliness' often comes out as 'pretentiousness' or 'piety' which i do not like. honesty, integrity and being grounded sound much more appealing.
But that's my opinion.
Also - here's one thing: Anytime a person accepts that one religious figure is ALONE the truth...they stop looking for truth (because they believe they've found it). as if truth were small enough to fit into a single set of beliefs...
if a person believes he has ALL the truth, that's even a more dangerous matter. to claim one has Absolute truth in my opinion, is just as arrogant a proposition as saying i am a final authority. personally, I would rather weigh and decide for myself, rather than buy into a system of belief that has no room for other religions and that condemns them in many cases to a burning hell.
also there is no logical basis for that authority. we believe something is infallible - so do the jews with their torah, so does islam with it's Koran. I'm not saying there is no truth in religious scripture. i'm saying that you cannot put one above the other on the basis of saying it was written by holy men and women. all 'holy' scriptures claim that, regardless of their religion.
and yes, i would respectfully say that your statements are an opinion, because there exists a different stance. one may call it wrong, but but that does not negate that it is an opinion.
why is Jesus grave empty? there is a great article on this:
I do not want to argue this much, because the debate already exists if you are interested to read it.
and yes, because a man claims to be a spiritual teacher, claims to be the son of God, claims to have a virgin birth, claims that I have sins (which i do not believe in) and that he's here to pay them for me...then i HAVE to believe in him...I have no real alternative option, cause if i don't i'm going to burn?
why is this so dichotomistic?
my grandfather could have said he was dying for my sins - in fact, if i recall correctly, don't Mormons get baptized for other's sins? maybe i can ask one of them to do it for me. hehe.
okay and also your question that Yahweh's sending his Son to earth (a very common theme among other religions too) negates any other way to God? what about the Israelites pre-Jesus? They obviously didn't believe in him - he wasn't around. They had a sacrificial system.
Are we saying that the pre-Jesus Judaism negates all the Jews' religion, even though they served the same god, Yahweh? Like...Jesus' earthly grandparents? They're not going to be 'saved'? How is that logical?
Let me ask a few more questions. You write that there is only one religion that someone else paid the penalty for our sins. What about Mithras, the Persian god that died for the Persians' sins? What about Tammuz, a god of Assyria, Sumeria, and Babylon?
Trust, ye saints, your Lord restored,
Trust ye in your risen Lord;
For the pains which Tammuz endured
Our salvation have procured.
Iao was crucified on a tree in Nepal. The name of this incarnate god and oriental saviour occurs frequently in the holy bibles and sacred books of other countries. Some suppose that Iao is the root of the name of the Jewish God, Yehouah (Jehovah), often abbreviated to Yeho.
So my point is, that there were many other religions that another god paid for our "sins" per se.
Are other religions works oriented? Yes...and Xianity in it's own way is too. Part of that religion is the expression of faith - whether personal or group. Does not the book of James say "faith without works is dead"?
You cannot conceivably believe (or maybe you can) in a religion where you sin...and get forgiven...sin and get forgiven...and sin some more....and ta da....as long as you're forgiven, you get to go to heaven?
oh, and i would like to ask your knowledge of Islam, because if that were the REAL truth of Islam (to gain heaven's VIP status through killing infidels) why are there Muslims that oppose this belief? surely a VIP entrance to heaven is not to be opposed...
Again, whether they follow a strict interpretation of the Koran, or a loose one...does that make them all that different than a conservative Christian or a liberal one? What of the xians that fought in the crusades? it is decently supported by many sources that Islam was not as violent as it is seen as now, until the xians decided to invade the holy land.
Now, if you're designing a religion, it stands to reason that you would want to explain how people wouldn't all accept your faith, right? that's one take on your scripture passage 2nd Cor 4:3 and 4.
Of course, those that don't understand are perishing...you have to exclude them if they don't agree with you. they're gonna burn.
Did you know there's more support that "Satan" as a being didn't really exist for Judaism until they bumped into Zoroastrianism in Persia? there's support to say that there was no records of an "evil being" until then. as far as i understand (and have read up on) Yahweh was sourced for both good and evil until the Israelites learned about Mithraism (an offshoot of Zoroastrianism) in their 'exile' in persia.
Many aspects of Mithraism seem to mirror Xianity as well - check out http://www.realmagick.com/articles/51/1551.html here.
As I have stated before in the former Facebook Badventist group-now called the New Rationalist Confederation, I don't like to argue the details of xianity or it's antagonists. I argue the practicality and practical results of xianity and it's follewers. should you wish to discuss that, i'd be happy to.
In my opinion, the burden of proof needs not be shouldered alone my those such as myself, but by the believers as well. look outside the bible, look to historical non-apologetical sources, see what you can find to be logical.
Unlike many, i didn't not reject xianity for personal offense. it was a catalyst yes, but i have had intellectual differences with xianity for a while before that. please don't think i left xianity for something as petty as an argument with a church member or something.
Authority is not something anyone can claim. my study of scientific research shows us that. we can allow someone to have authority by seeing their research, the support for or against an issue. but are we 100% certain? never. there's always room for expansion of knowledge on a subject. 100% certainty leave out the room for more knowledge.
Why is it that when it comes to medical and scientific research, we can appreciate both sides of the issue, but when it comes to religions...that's off the table?
I cannot prove xianity is not true. Nor can anyone (I believe) successfully prove it is. It is a faith-based religion, and subjective to personal experience, which is (in my opinion) in the lower rung of proof on the research ladder. so if you're asking me to prove that Xianity is wrong, I cannot do that. But I can point out the burden of proof, the alternative explanations, and the practical results of Xianity.
If one were to set faith aside, and ask themselves, as i used to ask my youth group - if heaven didn't exist, if hell didn't exist, would you still live as a xian?
May your gods (Jesus and Yahweh) grant you wisdom in all endeavors :)
Please realize that I respect all opinions, and also that I'm not intentionally trying to offend anyone - this is my opinion, and i am wrong many times too. I am not perfect, but i do believe in sound logic.