The Bible is one of those topics where I find myself speechless. I just don’t know what to believe anymore. I appreciate Justin’s honesty in this video. While I’m sure many will find it discouraging at best, I actually find the clip to be hopeful. Hearing Justin provide an alternative way to approach the Bible makes be think that maybe one of these days I’ll be able to find some fresh meaning in this book that is otherwise dead to me.

Do you read the Bible? Has the way you approach it changed over time?

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Justin Masterson has a blog called All It Is For What It’s Worth.
Music by Dan Spinks.

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47 Responses to “The Bible As Myth”

  1. jim says:

    Thanks for raising an issue that Christians are told to ignore. If I had been told that the gospels were all written 50 -100 years after Jesus died it would have made me a smarter Christian. Instead they allowed me to believe that a guy named Mark or Matthew actually sat there taking notes while Jesus talked.They hoped I wouldn’t read or notice what actually happened. That served to make me question even more about what my spiritual elders told me. And don’t even get me started on the Council of Nicea because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (which should give you a hint of how I feel about the likelihood a group of power hungry religious men would actually be avle to determine what the words of god should or shouldnt be)

  2. Dan says:

    I definitely have not done the studying to know this for myself but I was talking to a friend a few years ago. He told me that Constantine or someone of that era commanded that the Bible be “trimmed down” to the books it now contain. Thus, meaning that original scripts were taken out of what was once known as the biblical scriptures. I had about the same response to him as I do to this video. Of course all kinds of possibilities exist surrounding scripture. But if you claim some reliance, some faith in the God the bible speaks of, then where does that faith require your full understanding? Faith is not sight, faith is not understanding. Faith is belief. For me, if I believe in a God who sent his son to earth, that that man lived a perfect life, died for the sins of mankind, ROSE from the dead in order to make a way to heaven for all of man, then I am putting major faith in something I cannot completely understand, but something much bigger than me. And if I believe in that something, that God, then why can’t I rely on him to give me what I need? If he can do those things, can he not also preserve his word, his message even through the fallacy of man? Can he not speak his perfect will through imperfect people?
    I do read the bible. At times, a good bit. At other times, very little. But I read it with my heart positioned to hear what my God might be wanting me to hear. I do my best to remember that if he wants me to hear something and I am willing to hear from him, he will make it happen. It doesn’t happen because I understand it all, it happens because of his great love. And in that love, I have faith. I approach the bible, nowadays, with a conscious trust in God and in what the bible says.
    My last comment, though, is this. If you are unsure of whether the bible is true, then do you believe any of it?

    • Craig says:

      Good stuff, Dan, so much to respond to! It sounds like what you are saying that God doesn’t require understanding, but rather faith (or belief), and that you don’t necessarily understand everything the Bible claims, but you do believe it. Is that a fair summery? Here’s my dilemma: my faith/beliefs are influenced primarily by my experiences with God and not the Bible…that’s just how I’ve come to know God. I’d say that 90% of my faith/belief lines up with modern interpretations of the Bible, but there’s still that 10% that doesn’t. That’s the part that’s in question for me. Here’s an example: I came to a point in my previous marriage where I felt that God was OK with me getting a divorce. I ended up relying more on what I heard God saying than the verse in the Bible that says “God hates divorce” (among others). The two didn’t agree with one another. Some would say that believing in the Bible means taking it at face value, even when you don’t understand it. But that wasn’t enough for me in that situation and still to this day I don’t regret that decision. Maybe my interpretation of that text was wrong or maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye. Regardless, in that moment I needed to chose between my faith in God and my faith in the Bible and God won. To answer your question ” If you are unsure of whether the bible is true, then do you believe any of it?”…yes, yes I do. I’d ask you the reverse question: If you believe in God/Jesus do you have to believe in the infallibility of the Bible?

      • Dan says:

        Yes, I’d say that’s pretty fair. Thing is, and you highlight it in your words, its not just a written word. It’s a group of stories about people who shared relationships with God. Those stories highlight the fallacy of man and the incredible mercy and power of God. Plain and simple, God means for us to interact with him, just like in these stories. Often, I think we forget he wants to interact with us because so many people have set God up on a far off pedestal where we can’t touch him or hear him. I do mean both of those literally and figuratively. But we need the scriptures as well because of what they highlight. We need both. We need the scriptures as a sort of guide, a rough model of what type of being God is. We need the intimate relationship with God because his is alive and he speaks more than just what’s already been written. I can’t honestly answer your last question the way you asked it. What I can say is that if you believe in God/Jesus, you must believe his is big enough to accomodate man’s inaccuracies and get to you .

        • Andy says:

          I think you two have great points. I agreew tih Dan in that I believe in God/Jesus and I continue to develpoe a relationship with Him. I can do this by reading the bible and having God show me what He wants to show me. God will have us understand the bible when we are ready for it. We must be ready to listen and understand what He wants of us in this life. I don’t think we are supposed to understand all of the bible because no one can know it all. God’s ways are mysterious and wonderful and I have great faith in Him and His ways. Believing in Him is most important to me and accepting His Son as my Savior is what will save me. I enjoyed reading you thoughts andI pray for all who read this. I hope it encourages them to read the bible for themselves and get saved.

  3. Benjamin Ady says:

    “this is what God said”

    I love Justin’s take on this.

    I grew up with everyone in the church, from the pastor on “down”, regularly saying “God says _______” where the blank was filled in with what *they* thought and said. Now this seems so incredibly obvious to me, but back then I really did believe, along with everyone else, that I could really fill that blank in with something which was somehow God’s words separated from my tiny little Benjaminish take on it.

    Later on, when I got married, I found out my relationships with my wife and with other people worked better when I took responsibility for my opinions and thoughts and ideas. I mean to say I find I get along better, and achieve greater intimacy, when I can simply say “I think this” or “I feel this” or “I want this”, instead of trying to fob if off on God.

    I’m slowly having to work my way back to appreciating the Bible as myth in the sense that Justin describes. I find I’m much more open to other myths. I was greatly moved by a brilliant native american story teller who shared a myth with us at my lovely wife’s naturalization ceremony. The last time “the Mormons” came to my door, for the first time ever I invited them in and said “So, tell me what the whole Mormon story is. I’ve never actually gotten to hear it.”. I still feel somewhat threatened by the Bible Myth because it was kind of crammed down my throat by controlling irresponsible people, who kind of taught me to cram it on others that way. But I’m getting there. Just recently I reread/reheard the story about Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, and I was amazed at myself in that instead of seeing it in the one somewhat boring and repulsive light in which I’d always had it presented, I was able to see the story from two new points of view which were both true and were also mutually exclusive. Hooray =)

  4. Al Doyle says:

    Justin— praise your courage and authenticity. It’s become the fashion these days to worship the Bible, even over the One who inspired it. This video is very compelling. Last year I began to read the Word with no chapter or verse notations, and the books assembled more close to the story! Wow it was a great experience.

    Craig— Your beautiful example of the decision process that led you to proceed with a divorce is such a great example of the half-verse mentality we have been taught to use. God hates divorce! Duh! God hates sin. He didn’t say don’t divorce, he just said enough to make us think about our choices very seriously, as we should, as you did.

    Benjamin— like you I have been very moved by the mythology of indigenous cultures. A friend of mine, Walt Mix has been studying his Hawaiian heritage as well as the heritage of other indigenous people around the world. When he shares their mythology there is a remarkable resemblance to the stories in the Bible. God want to talk to us. All of us. Everywhere.

  5. Julie says:

    These comments are brilliant and makes me appreciate so many different perspectives. My approach to reading the Bible is that I read it when I get the urge to read it. I did study it formally in Bible College and came away with more questions than answers and almost walked away from Christianity completely. I have come to believe that the beauty of the Bible is that it shows a relationship between God and man. What I have seen over and over again is that God isn’t in to the society that man has attempted to build and what God reminds us is that His Kingdom looks really different than what we attempt to make His Kingdom look like. I think that the Bible contains God’s Truth but it was never meant to be picked apart and every word to be taken literally. It’s a book that is meant to be read in whole and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s a book that contains glimpses of the mysteries of God. I also think it’s just one piece of what God gave us to understand Him. Look at nature. The intricacies of the tiniest insect and the splendor of a thunderstorm. Look at people and relationships. How complicated and beautiful we who are the reflection of God on earth are.

  6. Winn says:

    I often ask folks, “how do you think readers of the Bible read it before someone added chapters and verses to it?” Yep, verses are helpful for finding things you might want to find, a kind of map as it were, but that is where their usefulness ends. They are simply useless for any other reason and, in my opinion, one of the greatest reasons that folks read Scripture in such a fragmented way instead of reading it as a complete story with lots of sub-stories that move the whole storyline along.

    I am fond of “The Books of The Bible” which is Today’s New International Version in which all the chapters and verses have been taken out. It like reading the Bible without any additives. I created reading guides to help folks read through this text version in 100, 200, or 300 days. If you are interested you can see it at: http://tinyurl.com/ReadingTheBible.

    The Bible as “myth” is surely functional, but is often a put off to folks of a previous generation who hear in the word “myth” a meaning of “a half-truth” or “a fictitious story” rather than as “a traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a help for a reader ti understand the worldview of a certain people.” It is in this latter sense that I hear Justin using the word.

    Craig, kudos on this short, vibrant, and informative video.

  7. Denis Beausejour says:

    Justin

    Wow. Thanks for looping me into your video, discussion, and doubts. Very well done and said. Until I can drop by “the porch” (study break), here are a few quick thoughts.

    Let’s start with doubt. Check out Matthew 28:17. That should be our first sign that doubt is a very real experience in the journey with Jesus. You are in good company! It is part of the individual wrestling with faith we each need to do – did you catch Mother Theresa’s memoirs about not hearing from God for 50 years?

    Then there’s the text. Yes, there are translation issues. Yes, there are copyist errors and glosses (additions). Yes, there are decisions made about what books are in or out of the canon. These things are pretty well known and documented. But do these things really change the core message and it’s overall trustworthiness? When we read Homer or Beowulf, we can still interact with the text even though it may have had transmission issues. By the way, the dead sea scrolls proved conclusively that the text we have is pretty reliable, and that the book was written well before Jesus lived.

    Probably the biggest issue is how we study texts. I am a fan of the historical and grammatical school, analyzing it according to many factors, including genre and the likely author, timing and occasion. The Gospels are very different animals from poetry and apocalyptic texts. Narratives very different from epistles.

    Like many of us, Billy Graham had a crisis of faith about the text before he was able to fully commit his life to Jesus and the Gospel. He was counting the cost – I sense you are too. Charles Templeton (partner in evangelistic ministry) had the same crisis and decided it was all a lie – his story is worth investigating.

    The good news? We have intellect and total freedom to choose. That’s cool.

    This dialogue has helped me understand some things as I prepare to dive into Genesis. It makes me realize that I can’t “pontificate” on things without articulating alternate possibilities, and also the areas of the text that are cloudy or opaque. It will be fun, because there are folks of all persuasions (old earth, young earth, myth, allegory, framework) in our church and I will probably get everyone mad!

    One thing I have done is to find a mechanical Hebrew translation of the text of Genesis. This helps me, a non-Hebrew speaker, to hear the vocab and flow more directly. Then, when I look at what the scholars have to say, I have a context. By the way, I have great respect for the translators – their knowledge of the languages and nuances of grammar are often crucial, and by looking at 2-3 good ones, you can really size up what is definitive and what is still up for grabs.

    The text of Genesis 1 is mind-blowing. Almost a genre on it’s own. It has lifted my awe for God, and his ability to speak to us in different ways at different times.

    Let me close now some pastoral thoughts/questions.

    1. We can know about God by creation, by conscience, by the Spirit, by others (the Body) and by the Bible. In your experience, how much of what you “know” or “believe” depends on the texts? If we don’t believe the texts to be authentic or authoritative, how do we know Jesus died for our sins, or the criteria for eternal life?

    2. Do you experience God speaking to you or directing you these days? What is He saying? Is there anything that He has asked you to do that you’ve refused Him?

    3. What part of the Bible do you find the most helpful or attractive? Maybe He’s prompting you to dig there?

    4. Are the issues or hurts from your past church experiences resolved? Could some of the issues with the Bible (like some friends who responded above) be related to unhealthy uses of authority? (mis-use of Scripture)

    5. What did Jesus say about the Bible? If we think He is trustworthy, then this would be pretty crucial.

    Look forward to talking with you at a more leisurely pace. Thanks for stirring us! I am reminded by John 5:39-40 that dead reliance on the Bible without a vibrant relationship with Jesus is death. Bibliolatry. I think part of your message is to say watch out for bibliolaters. We Pharisees need to hear that.

    Love you dude, Denis

  8. Denis Beausejour says:

    In the dead sea scrolls comment above, I am referring to the book of Isaiah, sorry!

  9. Benjamin Ady says:

    Denis,

    You ask some … difficult questions. If you were directing them toward me, I do believe I’d answer them all with more questions =).

    Your response felt … defensive to me. It felt like you were unable to listen to Justin’s story without … having to question it it in a way that denoted more a scramble to make sure he was in the right/not in the wrong than a genuine curiosity.

    I’m probably doing exactly what I’m accusing you of doing =P. Ah well. Suffice it to say I felt super defensive with regards to your questions. They seemed to match up well with some of my internal voices which ever seek to condemn.

    • All,

      WOW; I’m stunned, humbled, and thrilled at the dialogue this has video has produced. Props to Craig for making me sound far more eloquent than I am, and (more importantly) telling the story beautifully.

      I want to write 1,000 things back, but I’m going to wait until I have time. I have really really enjoyed reading every comment; and I can’t wait to join the dialogue when I can (hopefully later this weekend).

      Denis, I look forward to talking it with you one-on-one on my porch soon. (And, with anyone else who is willing to come to my porch; it’s where all of my life’s great dialogues seem to happen). And for everyone else, I look forward to following up here. But suffice it to say, this is a rich community… thanks.

      That’s All,
      Justin

    • Ryne says:

      I’ve been lonkiog for a post like this for an age

  10. Denis Beausejour says:

    Thanks Justin….looking forward to the porch!

    Benjamin – thanks for your comments above. I receive them. Justin’s video actually moved me to a new place, but that was perhaps not evident in my comments.

    I am sorry that my questions connected to a condemning voice. In re-reading them, I can see how that could have happened. I am sorry, please forgive me.

    I am starting a series in Genesis Sunday and want to engage folks with the text…like our respective entries above, I believe every text has a meaning that can be discerned. But only through good listening and careful interaction.

    Maybe you guys can participate…see blog at http://Genesis.MariemontChurch.org

    I am learning to listen and dialogue, thanks for helping me along!

    Denis

  11. Darren Smith says:

    Interesting Video..I became a Christian years ago then couple years later I Married a Morman Girl. I am still Married to her. I have not converted to being a Morman but with your view point you would be a canidate.I have not been reading my Bible that sits on my night stand. I do however feel that God had and still is in control of his “Word” Thanks for your video Im going to start reading it again.

    http://www.junkinmytrunkradioshow.com/

    Darren

  12. Odean says:

    Interesting but also feel we are teetering on dangerous waters here. However, if God wants to speak to us he will through his word. We are not dealing with a Shakespeare or Sophocles. We are dealing with GOD. If he wants to reach you, he will. I can and have read scripture that seemed to jump off the pages speaking directly to me one day. Some time later, that same passage doesn’t have the same dynamic, because GOD has something else to tell me that day.

    The Bible is GODs word. GOD created the universe. Anyone claiming to understand the universe is… a nut job. We can’t even figure out how to balance our checkbooks every month let alone understand GODs ability to not be bound by our simple 4 dimensional perspective of the universe, space, and time. This would be like the average person debating ‘relativity’ with Einstein or Hawking. It’s great to think, but don’t get stuck on ‘stupid’ in the process. GOD is GOD and we are not.

    • Justin says:

      Odean,

      For whatever it might be worth, I hear you and agree with you on nearly all points… the rest I just have questions to understand better.

      I’m really sure I don’t totally understand GOD yet either… how could we? As such, I’m really delighted to get to take our best guesses together, fueled by our experiences, and rooted in the places that we have felt/seen/heard/tasted/touched GOD. It sounds like you have seen and heard from GOD through the pages of the Bible. Magnificent! That must be such a powerful experience…feeling as if the words jump off the page and GOD is speaking to you directly. I would love to have that moment more often… and (as I mentioned in the video), I’ve found that I do have that moment now more than ever as I have begun to approach the Bible as humanity’s inspired story of trying our best to understand the wholly-unknowable GOD, versus an infallible record of GOD in His totality.

      Your quotation that “it is great to think, but don’t get stuck on ‘stupid’ in the process” really hits home for me… often times, I find that my best attempts to THINK my way out of a situation where I am really meant to FEEL or DO something results in futile spinning. Again, this has been really helped by viewing the Bible as a multi-millenial myth collection inspired by man’s experience touching/seeing/feeling/hearing/knowing parts of GOD has freed me up to FEEL the experiences of GOD versus needing to logically work them out in my head. It has been a huge blessing on me.

      I guess the part I don’t understand just yet, and would like to learn more from you about, is how you distinguish between GOD touching you / reaching out to you from the pages of the Bible, and GOD touching you / reaching out to you from the pages of Shakespeare, as you said, or Sophocles. You mentioned that “If God wants to speak to us, He will through His word;” it’s hard to tell from text on a screen, but are you saying that, to you, GOD can ONLY speak to us through the Bible, or that GOD can use the Bible as one of the ways He speaks to us? If it’s the former, then we’re ruling out every other experience in life other than reading the Bible, right? If it’s the latter, then couldn’t GOD speak to us through other non-Biblical authors as well?

      Just curious; I want to be sure I understand your perspective, given how much we seem to have in common in our views otherwise.

      Cheers,
      Justin

      • Odean says:

        - You missed my point. God is God and we are not. We can’t possibly think at his level. The Bible is HIS word. Can he speak through other works of man? I guess so, he is God. However what we think we are hearing must be compared to scripture. If what we hear is counter to the Bible, it’s not from God.
        - What we hear and what we want to hear are two different things. Always compare what you are hearing to the scriptures.

        Everyones natural tendency is to break the rules. WE ARE SINNERS! Every one of us! Today we see many people turning their back on God and worshiping his creation. Not that the creation should be neglected, but it must be put into the proper perspective. Caring for creation and worshiping it are two different polar directions. READ THE BIBLE FOR GODS WORD. Read other books for human interpretations. The Bible IS NOT folklore, it IS Gods word!

        Re

        • Winn says:

          Odean,

          So, let me get your point straight.

          The Bible is God’s Word. Check.
          We are sinners! Check.
          We read Scripture as sinners. Check.

          You wrote: “READ THE BIBLE FOR GODS WORD. Read other books for human interpretations.”

          So as a sinner when you read the Bible do you think that your “interpretation” is the correct one and everyone’s else is not reading correctly?

          You make it sound like just because you are reading the Bible, by the way which version, or are you reading it in Hebrew and Greek, that there is no interpretation going on. When you read the text and I read the text we are both interpreting. There is no other way to read. So, in fact, it ends up meaning what you read it to mean or you interpret it to mean, unless you are trying to discover what the author who wrote it meant for the listener who heard it and later read it.

          Winn

          • Odean says:

            To many people sometime will read something and jump to a conclusion. Sometime not comparing the conclusion they make with everything else the book’s have to say on that subject. Is it possible for me to read something and misinterpret it, yes. Do I read Greek or Hebrew, no.
            What are we arguing here? Do you want me to prove the Bible is the word of God and not fable and folklore? I’m not qualified to have that debate with you. If you want to not believe that it’s the word of God, don’t read it. If you want instead to worship a different God, go ahead. We have the free will to do that. However what is important is to provide a specific topic for debate with example of the text’s, then have this type of discussion. Can the book be misunderstood? Obviously, ask the followers of Jim Jones. Oh, wait, they are dead. However, if I read “The New Improved Bible” by Bobby Atheist, chances are his interpretation will differ from mine.

            Is their something specific you are questioning to be true/false in the Bible?

        • Justin says:

          Odean,

          Aaaah, it seems I have missed your point. My apologies, I didn’t mean to misrepresent you!

          I guess we may think pretty differently about the Bible as a whole. For me, it is a collection of stories, proverbs, poems and statements written by the hands of 40 authors over the course of 1500 years or so outlining their experiences with God. As a collection, it doesn’t register as the single focused word of one being, even if that being is God. It may contain scores of unique and priceless insights as to the nature of God, and may have been inspired throughout by divine touch, and may even be the book with the MOST insight as to the nature of God… but I guess I can’t connect with thinking of it as one single voice or authorship, and as such, am not able to look to as a literal, infallible “word of God.”

          I’m really glad, however, that you are able to find such hope, joy, and direction in it! I hope you continue to find inspiration and truth in its pages as I do the same. If you are interested in any other textual sources that have taught me about the nature of God, let me know; I’d be happy to recommend some!

          Cheers,
          Justin

        • Darvin says:

          That saves me. Thanks for being so seislbne!

  13. Albert Rauch says:

    If Justin lived all his life by the same standard as he seeks to defined the bible then everything would be in question. What is a father? Maybe my dog is my father because there is someone who may define their dog as their father. The bible is so unique because it also defines its points well. The problem is not the bible but us who now live in a relativistic world that no longer tolerates objective truth. Peter in his epistles challenges his readers with the fact that they could trust the bible and it is not mere fables. My family have been bible translators for 40 years and the clarity of the Greek is very clear and easily translated in English. The bible is not a paraphrase as Justin described but a translation. Is God big enough to do this? What God have we created? If we take this line of logic then we should do the same for every aspect of lives which soon leave in us in shambles since there is no hope for us if truth is simply self-perceived. I can believe whatever I want but will believing it make it true? My natural tendency is to break rules, make my own rules and has been since the day I could speak and walk. Why, because my natural self screams for rebellion from a all-knowing God. What we think about the bible will not hurt God but it will hurt us since it is our futures that we are playing this bet on.

    • Justin says:

      Albert,

      I’m really interested in this point; perhaps you can help me to understand it better? (And, I’m grateful you saw fit to reply to the video; thanks for taking an interest in what I had to say here!)

      What’s curious is, I think the point about “dog as father” speaks to me not of the danger of seeing the Bible as an interpretation, but rather the necessity of looking at the Bible as an interpreted text, not just a translated one. You’re exactly right to point out that if I were to simply accept someone else’s definition of “father” I would be in trouble, because their definition is nowhere near mine… they can define a dog as their father if they like (though I think we’d all find it a bit nuts, right?), but all the more reason why I cannot use their definition of “father” as my own. Likewise, when I read “abba” or “father” in the Bible, I must realize that the “father” that the Pastor or Priest is thinking of is not the “father” that I am thinking of, and is likely not the “father” that the original author thought of. For one of us, “father” may be a kind man with abundant love and loyalty for his family… for another, “father” may be a distant and cold provider who does not connect with his children… for the third, “father” may be an alcoholic and abuser. It all depends on who their “father” was. As such, reading the word “Father” in the Bible as a reference to God as Father is, by nature, a deviation from the literal definition of “the man who impregnated your mother,” and is therefore REQUIRING metaphoric interpretation. This interpretation happens instantly, subconsciously, and with very heavy influence by your own experiences with your Father… whether one realizes it or not.

      The point being that EVERY translation is an act of interpretation, even the translation of English words from an author to the thoughts of the reader… obviously, we use millions of tiny data points to form our interpretation and to ensure that it is close to those of our community, but it is interpretation nonetheless.

      I really really want to write more about this; but I have to head out… I want to spend more time reading your comment because I think it’s quite insightful, and I look forward to writing more later.

      Cheers,
      Justin

      • Michael says:

        Justin thanks for sharing and being so thoughtful on important matters! Regarding your example of our personal subjective concepts for “father” and how that can differ from even the scriptural authors’: Spot on! However we are not left with an ambiguity in this case as the authors flesh out what kind of father God is directly and through recording His actions, most “down to earth” being in the gospels, where Jesus even states “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Also regarding truth to be found beyond scriptures:definitely! As one who takes the authority claimed by scripture plainly I would have to discount a “truth” that contradicts what scripture unambiguously (emphasis on unambiguously ) reveals.

  14. Redeemed says:

    Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation. For prophecy never had it’s origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. All scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving (bringing back to life) the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure, and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold. They are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them your servant is warned, in keeping them there is great reward. If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.

  15. raij says:

    All conversation aside…the bottom line is God is still God. You can debate and argue all day long but in the end He has the final say. I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. I believe that it is living and powerful and has the ability to change hearts and lives.
    You can look at this through your natural eyes yes there are a lot of questions, however, the proof of the power of the word is in the testimonies of the people who have been changed.
    As far as personal interpretation goes, I think its important that we search out the original meaning of words in context.
    I think we’re living in a time when people have no fear of God, no reverence for His word and His presence. I know that I don’t want to lose my salvation because I did not obey the precepts of the word of God.
    The Bible says that we need to watch for false prophets and false teachers because they will deceive many (Matt. 24:24).
    Are you willing to chance it?

  16. J Charles says:

    Justin, you are a textbook case of a false prophet; deceiving with superfluous, and seeimingly beautiful words, which in fact have no substance or truth. You are purposely deceiving the naive, and leading those who are weighed down by sins astray. Contrary to your frustratingly sophomoric and simplistic way of reading the Scriptures, there are in fact rules to reading and interpreting a text. You are confusing subjective interpretation–verbal significance–with meaning. The meaning itself is objective, your subjective rendering of the text does not deliver meaning, but rather subjective significance; you have confused the two. Again, your subjective definition of father can be wrong, and can hold a certain significance to you, but, again, that is your subjective interpretation outside of the objective meaning of the word. If sophists like youself applied their own sickeningly perverted views to all interpretation then us communicating through an internet forum would be impossible–which it is not. Why? Because language, does in fact have objective meaning. Matthew 7:15-16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.”

    • Justin says:

      J Charles,

      Wow, man, I have been called a lot of strange things in my life, but “false prophet” is a new one for me! I think you may be giving me a bit more credit for intention and forethought than I deserve, however. I meant neither to be deceptive nor to lead others astray… truthfully, I didn’t intend to lead anybody anywhere at all with this video.

      My hope was that, in sharing my struggle to reconcile the fundamentalist’s perspective of literal interpretation with the collective weight of both intuition and scientific revelation, that I might be able to spur on growth and challenge for those who are struggling with a similar reconciliation. I don’t mean to sway opinions to be more like mine (heaven knows taking a literal interpretation would be a lot simpler…I just can’t seem to make it work), I hope to encourage others who struggle by reminding them “you’re not the only one,” and to perhaps inspire a meaningful dialogue on these important questions.

      It’s a little hard to have a meaningful dialogue, however, with someone who chooses to see me as an agent of evil, dedicated to leading others down a path of sin. So, in lieu of a dialogue, please allow me to wish you well, and to respectfully recognize that your perspective on God is no less valid nor less noble than mine. I hope that you continue to find peace, purpose, and truth in your reading and worship as I continue my search for truth.

      My Best,
      Justin

      • J Charles says:

        Justin I certainly do not think that you are intentionally deceiving people; I am sure you are quite well intentioned. But, unfortunately, you are sowing teachings in opposition to Scripture amongst people who already hold fairly erroneous views concerning Scriptures’ teachings. Your view concerning language itself are so tinged with the philosophically indefensible position of post-modernism that it has downright affected your doctrine. One of the famous hermeneutical replies to post modern literary criticism would be Hirsch’s Validity in Interpretation. Now, intentions aside, the views which you proselytize are not faithful to Biblical teaching (read my comment below to Ben). You are presuming to be a teacher and are denying essential biblical doctrine; the definition of a false prophet. Are you well intentioned? Sure, perhaps, but so what? Intentions account for very little when the fruit of your actions is evil. I am in no way a fundamentalist, in fact I would view fundamentalism as part of the reason that most Christians are so ill equipped to spot erroneous and false teaching–which this site is inundated with.

  17. J Charles says:

    For any of you new Christians; stay away from this site until you are more mature and grounded in your faith. I come here to peruse the various heresies of the post-modern “church.” This is not the biblical Christianity of Clement, Polycarp, Augustine, Calvin, Luther or Spurgeon. These men deceive with crafty arguments which lack any real substance. Read the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 1:18-24 ESV

    “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
    Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
    Christ warned about false prophets, and Paul prophesied about those who desired wordly wisdom opposed to God’s wisdom. Men like Justin deceive with their intentionally ambiguous and seemingly “open minded” approach; which lacks any real truth or substance. He will–like all false teachers– continually remain vague and attempt to subtely deny orthodox principles of the faith; these teachings–call them what you will–are not what Christ handed down to the Apostles, and plainly sit in contradiction with Scripture. Read for yourself, do not take my word for it. Start in Genesis and read to Revelations.

    • Benjamin Ady says:

      J Charles,

      You claim that there are crafty arguments being which are deceptive. Could you unpack what you mean a little bit, and perhaps use a specific example to do so? What specific orthodox principle of the faith is Justin denying? What specifically do you see Justin as teaching which you believe to be in contradiction with Scripture?

      Zooming out from that question, how do you choose what you consider to be inside and outside of orthodoxy?

      One last question–why is it important to you that new Christians not be exposed to ideas which you consider to be outside orthodoxy?

      thanks!

      Benjamin

      • J Charles says:

        Benjamin,

        Thank you for your comment. Let me first say that I am using polemics intentionally because, in my view, the greatest danger to the Church right now (in my humble opinion) is the downgrade of Scripture. Liberal protestantism, over the past century, has systematically dismantled Scripture and subjected it to arbitrarily unrealistic standards of criticism. Spurgeon called it the downgrade and it was already in full swing. Now, under the influence of postmodernism, the downgrade has become even more destructive–eroding the basic beliefs of biblical inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work,” and Matthew 5:18:
        “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Critics will charge that inerrancy is a teaching of Protestant scholasticism–which is false. The Church has always held that Scripture was God Breathed and was not carried along by the will of men but rather bt the will of God. Now would I say that my Esv is inerrant like the original document? No, but I would say that it is reliable, and that God Himself has providentially preserved His word. The variance between the various copies we have if very slight; most variance is as simple as an addition of an article or preposition; evidence itself of God’s providence and preservation of His Word. As far as what is orthodox; does it agree with Scripture and is it a historically accepted doctrine? The Scriptures are the ultimate litmus test for all doctrine and belief, but the early creeds and councils are also authoritative and communicate the early Church’s beliefs. I would direct you to I and II Clement as an excellent example of how early Church theology was undoubtedly in line with our Biblical Canon (the teachings of the Gospel as well as Pauline theology was obviously held by the early Church Fathers). Now unfortunately for want of time and space I cannot give you a very thorough handling of these issues (I am also on my cell phone and do not have access to many primary sources at the moment). Now onto what I stated about new Christians. New believers are typically very ignorant in regards to what the whole counsel of Scripture teaches because most have not read the whole Bible, nor are they acquainted with the writings of the saints, the creeds, councils, Church history or the history of Israel. Paul himself addresses those who are only able to handle “spiritual milk” because they lack the maturity to eat “meat.” Quite simply, I urge new believers to avoid this site because they have no idea what open theism or higher criticism–things which pale in comparison to the Scriptures comments on false teaching or the elementary principles of this world. I know I have not even begun to address your question and I hope you will not hold it against me; I simply do not have the mental capacity nor the resources to fully unpack every doctrine or teaching mentioned. My apologies for not keeping this as succinct as I probably should have.

      • J Charles says:

        Had to make some edits….

        Benjamin,

        Thank you for your comment. Let me first say that I am using polemics intentionally because, in my view, the greatest danger to the Church right now (in my humble opinion) is the downgrade of Scripture. Liberal protestantism, over the past century, has systematically dismantled Scripture and subjected it to arbitrarily unrealistic standards of criticism. Spurgeon called it the downgrade and it was already in full swing in his day. Now, under the influence of postmodernism, the downgrade has become even more destructive–eroding the basic beliefs of biblical inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work,” and Matthew 5:18:
        “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Critics will charge that inerrancy is a teaching of Protestant scholasticism–which is false. The Church has always held that Scripture was God Breathed and was not carried along by the will of men but rather bt the will of God. Now would I say that my ESV is inerrant like the original autographs? No, but I would say that it is reliable, and that God Himself has providentially preserved His Word. The variance between the copies we have is very slight; most variance is as simple as an addition of an article or preposition; evidence itself of God’s providence and preservation of His Word. Also, I do not think it to be in accordance with the character of the LORD, as taught by Scripture and the saints of old, to have let His word see decay! As far as what is orthodox; does it agree with Scripture and is it a historically accepted doctrine? The Scriptures are the ultimate litmus test for all doctrine and belief, but the early creeds and councils are also authoritative and communicate the early Church’s beliefs. I would direct you to I and II Clement as an excellent example of how early Church theology was undoubtedly in line with our Biblical Canon (the teachings of the Gospel as well as Pauline theology were obviously disseminated and held by the early Church Fathers). Now unfortunately for want of time and space I cannot give you a very thorough handling of these issues (I am also on my cell phone and do not have access to many primary sources at the moment). Now onto what I stated about new Christians. New believers are typically very ignorant in regards to what the whole counsel of Scripture teaches because most have not read the whole Bible, nor are they acquainted with the writings of the saints, the creeds, the councils, the history of the church or the history of Israel. Paul himself addresses those who are only able to handle “spiritual milk” because they lack the maturity to eat “meat.” Quite simply, I urge new believers to avoid this site because they have no idea what open theism or higher criticism are–things which pale in comparison to the Scriptures’ comments on false teaching or the elementary principles of this world. I know I have not even begun to address your question and I hope you will not hold it against me; I simply do not have the mental capacity nor the resources to fully unpack every doctrine or teaching mentioned. My apologies for not keeping this as succinct as I probably should have.

      • Kaylana says:

        That’s a we–tthoughllout answer to a challenging question

  18. Benjamin Ady says:

    Charles,

    Hurrah–I love your answer. It feels sympathetic and connective. Thank you! I’m also massively impressed that you typed out the first iteration on your cell phone. Wow! =)

    It sounds like you are a bit of a scholar of church history. Are you a professor? Your knowledge base seems like that of a professor, but your engagement level seems higher than that of a professor (wow, what does that say about my experience of professors? =).

    You elaborated a bit on what you meant by “danger”, methinks, when you talked about destruction/erosion/dismantling of (in the larger sense) orthodox beliefs and (more specifically) the basic belief of biblical inspiration. This leads me to another question–why do you see this as dangerous? I mean–here–a picture of what you might perhaps see as the worst possible outcome–the entire church, all over the world, individually and collectively, come to look at Scripture more like Justin looks at it in the video above, and thus not so much like the historical/(little “o”)orthodox church looks at it. What do you mean when you say this is “dangerous”. What’s the danger? Why do you see this as a negative, bad, or scary thing?

    • J Charles says:

      Benjamin,

      Thank you for your response, and for your kind words. It is important to guard against the erosion of Scripture, and the erosion of the classically held view that Scripture in inspired because Christ, the Apostles, and the early Church all believed Scripture to be God Breathed. I believe that 2 Timothy 1:12-14 really gets at the crux of the issue: “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” You see the Scriptures, as well as the beliefs of the early Church, are all part of the “deposit” that Christ entrusted to the Apostles, and the Apostles to the early Church. Now it is important that we hold to these same views. why? Because if we do not, then we have wandered from the truth, and if we have wandered from the truth then we have no hope in the world. If we embrace views that the Scriptures do not teach, and that the Church has never held, then we can be sure that those views cannot be labeled as “Christian.” The post-modern church has largely embraced views that have never been part of Biblical teaching or of classical Christianity; this is a huge red flag. If we stray from these views, then we are no longer walking according to the deposit which Christ gave to His bride, the Church. It seems to be a fairly straight forward issue; if you are teaching views that cannot be backed up by the Scriptures, or the teachings of the church, then chances are that you have swerved from orthodox Christianity. Does that make sense Benjamin? Did I answer your question?

  19. Benjamin Ady says:

    Charles,

    thanks for continuing to engage. I hear all that you are saying. What do you mean when you say that if you wander from the truth, you have no hope in the world?

  20. Benjamin Ady says:

    Charles–I want to reply at more length.

    I guess I’m a little confused, because you said “dangerous”, and now a couple of things are happening for me. First of all, in all you describe and talk about, I myself experience no sense whatsoever of danger. Secondly, in your comments and replies, you yourself seem to me to be exhibiting no sense of danger.

    So I’m wondering what the above means. Do we perhaps mean very different things by danger? Or do you sense danger and I’m just not getting/hearing it? To me danger means a sense of imminent physical or psychological harm. What does it mean to you?

  21. J Charles says:

    Benjamin,
    When I say that we have no “hope in the world” if we wander from the truth, I mean that if we walk away from the propositional truth of the Gospel–that all who repent and believe in Christ will be saved–then we have wandered from the truth, and salvation is not possible, because there is only one saving Gospel. In Galatians 1: 6 – 9 Paul says: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” So why is Paul so adamant that we not stray from the Gospel that was originally taught by Christ and the Apostles? Because there is no other Gospel! There is no other way to salvation but through Christ! So if we change the Gospel, then we have no hope of salvation but only a fearful expectation of judgment and “a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27). Just by operating by the most basic principle of logic, the law of non-contradiction, we can see the necessity of holding fast to the Gospel of Christ! Let me just set up a very basic, rudimentary “mental exercise”—for lack of a better term. “There is only one Gospel by which a person can be saved. This Gospel states that all who repent of their sins, and believe in Christ will be saved. Person A believes a different Gospel. Person A is not saved.” Now that is about as logically straightforward as I can make my point. Benjamin, when I invoke terms like “danger,” I am referring to the fact that if we have not believed the true Gospel, then we are not saved, and if we are not saved then we will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20); this is very serious stuff! Now can a person be in danger, be unsaved, and not believe they are in danger? Of course! Jeremiah 17:9 states that the human heart is deceitful beyond all things! Revelations 1 also states that we have become darkened in our understanding and have gone after lies instead of the truth! Again, basic Christian doctrine states that all have sinned, and have fallen short of the glory of God, and that there is only one Way to God the Father, which is through Christ!

  22. J Charles says:

    Also, I notice a lot of folks are throwing around phrases like “what does this mean to you?” Quite frankly, it does not matter what our subjective interpretation of a text or proposition is. To quote Parmenides “What is, is.” Our opinion, or interpretation is completely irrelevant! The objective truth of the matter is what dictates its meaning, importance, relevance, etc. To put it another way. I am currently sitting in a Starbucks in Texas. Now I can believe that I am sitting in a wal-mart in Alaska, but that does not, in any way, change the fact that the objective truth of the matter is that I am currently in Texas, in a Starbucks. I can believe with all the convinction in the world, that I am in Alaska, but I am not in Alaska! Again, subjective significance, is not the same thing as objective truth!

  23. Benjamin Ady says:

    Charles,

    Again–thanks for answering so clearly and openly. =).

    Tell me more about this lake of fire–what are the details about it–where is it, how hot is it, what fuels the fire, how did it come into existence, what is the general of experience of the people hanging out there, is there any way to leave once you’re there, etc. etc. etc.?

    Another thought experiment–how do you imagine you would feel if Jesus himself came and spoke to you, and you really knew and believed it was him, and he told you that you had misunderstood, and that there actually isn’t any lake of fire, and there actually isn’t any danger whatsoever. If you are able to imagine coming to believe that–how do you imagine you would feel, in such a scenario?

    Also–just to let you know, I would totally love it if you could refrain from quoting Scripture passages in your answers. I think it’s awesome for you that you know and love the scriptures, but for me it gets really hard to kind of hear/understand/delineate you and your voice and your thoughts and ideas and experiences and beliefs in among all those scripture passages. If you can’t or won’t do that, I’m totally kewl with that–just thought I’d ask in case it was a possibility.

  24. Dave says:

    “To quote Parmenides ‘What is, is.’”

    Actually, that was Bill Clinton 8^)

    Just a little joke.

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