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BOOM.

That’s what happened, right?  The Big Bang-Boom-Pow?  The generally accepted account of the beginning of the universe is that around 14 or so billion years ago, all energy, matter, space, and time was released from a nearly infinitesimally small, hot, dense, point.  Everything in the universe came from some teeny tiny point?  And I thought those shirts that come in tiny bottles was cool.

Anyhoo, the common misconception is that this little bit of scientific fact disproves the Bible, and that Christians are just ignorant of all the scientific data.  Now the reason for this misconception:  misinterpreting the Bible.  Yes, it’s true that there are Christians out there who deny the Big Bang, “its un-Biblical,” blah blah blah.  What I’d like to show is that the only ignorance is on the part of those who don’t properly understand the Bible: some Christians and non-Christians alike.

So what does Big Bang cosmology say?  Well, in a nutshell (I’m no scientist) all of space, time, energy, and matter comes from a neatly infinitesimally small point at some finite time in the past.  After that, different elements formed, objects coalesced into stars/planets, etc as the universe continually expanded (which it still is) kind of like a balloon.  So the three main components are a finite universe, an expanding universe, and curved space.  But is this how people always thought of the universe?  Not at all.  In fact, up until recently the universes was understood very differently.  It was thought to be infinite, static (unchanging), and have natural laws that act differently depending on where you are or how you’re moving.  If you look at the Bible, however, it depicts the universe as having a beginning (Genesis 1:1), an expansion of the universe (Isaiah 44:24), and whose laws are constant (Jeremiah 33:25).

Then we made some discoveries:

1.  Theory of Relativity- Einstein’s famous theory of relativity gave us evidence that space is curved and that laws are the same everywhere in the universe (which is what allows us to make calculations for objects in space and galaxies lightyears away)

2. Hubble Telescope- Edwin Hubble, looking out to the stars, made the discovery that the universe was indeed expanding by looking at the velocity and distance of galaxies.

3. Cosmic Background Radiation- Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias unintentionally found cosmic background radiation when working on a new type of antenna.  CMB had been predicted but not yet detected, and its existence is one of the best evidences for Big Bang cosmology.  The COBE (COsmic Background Explorer) satellite was launched and by 1992 more evidence was found to support the Big Bang and a finite universe.

Does the Bible give us all the information we need to understand the physical universe?  Absolutely not.  But if God’s word is the word of God, then by golly it should not be in direct contrast with God’s creation.  Now our interpretations may contrast at times, but this only means we need to be more careful as to HOW we interpret nature and Scripture. 

Only our interpretations can be flawed, not God’s word.

Pretty cool, huh?  Biblical authors unknowingly speaking to scientific truths that we only understand in modern times?  This blog is only a glimpse and a simplification of a talk given by Dr. Jeff Zweerink, an astronomer from Reasons to Believe, which is an organization of scientists who seek to harmonize scientific truths with the Bible.  They’re good guys, I love their stuff, and the best part is they’re honest and open with their reasoning and science.

Armor meets in the CCV Shift offices at 6:30 on Tuesdays
Check out the Facebook at facebook.com/ccvarmor
Disagree with anything said here?  There’s a comment box!

For more info on the evidence Theory of General Relativity, click here
For more info on Hubble’s discovery, click here
For more info on CMB click here
Check out Reasons to Believe’s website, www.reasons.org

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Well that doesn’t look right…

Unless of course you’re one of those people who think Christianity is bad (see my last post), you might think the image is spot-on.  For us Christians, however, this is a symbol that should move and motivate us.  The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is quite true here.

What do you think of when you see this symbol???

Not everyone is going to interpret it the same way.  For some it is an expression for how much hate and emotional violence Christianity has caused society (racial prejudice, bigotry, etc), and for others its for the exclusivity of Christians (Christians claim they’re right and everyone else is wrong).

Before we can go any further in talking about whether or not Christianity is intolerant, we first need to define what it means to be intolerant.

in·tol·er·ant:
a) unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs
b)lacking respect for practices and beliefs other than one’s own
c)opposed to the inclusion or participation of those different from oneself
d)unwilling or unable to endure or support

We should probably make sure we’re talking about the same thing when we throw around the word “intolerant,” because sometimes we can mean very different things and have a very unnecessary argument (my mom: “I said dress NICE!”   “This IS nice”- my dad).  A lot of the time, when people claim Christians are intolerant they are talking about how Christians have treated “sinners.”  By that, of course, I mean anyone who denies Christ as savior and does not live the way that God wants us to live.  In recent decades, this has come to be associated with treatment of homosexuals, atheists, and pornstars.  That’s just the way the cookie has crumbled.  Fundamentalist groups like the infamous Westboro Baptist Church have been at the forefront of hatin’ on er’body.  This would be definitions a) and b).  But this doesn’t jive with Christian teaching!   Matthew 5:44 says to love and pray for our enemies.  Matthew 7:1 says to not judge!  So is Christianity intolerant?

It definitely is not but sadly, Christians can be.  Like I mentioned last week, if there’s a way to abuse something, people will abuse it; the Bible is no different.  The verses used here come from the Old Testament, which say things like “…you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them…but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.” Ex. 23:24.  Yikes.  Seems harsh, God.  Well we’re limited to discussion here, but suffice it say that justice was done on the cross, so punishment is different.  Also, a lot of the Old Testament verses are talking about specific people at specific times, to do specific things.  Everything that Jesus says, however, is for all of his followers to do, not just specific people.

But there’s still 2 more definitions that can make us intolerant!  So let’s keep going.  See, when we look at the last two…we’re totally intolerant.

Wait…WHAT?

…yeah.  We are.  But if think about it, we have to be.  Think about definition c).  When we’re taking part of communion, how can we offer it to non-believers?  Christians shouldn’t even take it if they aren’t willing to submit to Christ and thank Him for his sacrifice.  If we ask non-believers to do that, we ask them to be hypocrites.  If we do it without respecting it for what it is and represents, then we are hypocrites as well.  There are some things we do as Christians for the simple fact that we are Christians.  We don’t exclude someone based on any race, nationality, height, weight, style, or shoe size, we include everyone.  But they need to be like us in the sense that we are children of God, followers of Jesus Christ.

Then there’s definition d).  Why?  If we Christians find, for example, human life to exist at the point of conception, then we cannot support an abortion bill.  If the government wants to ban any discussion of religion from public schools, then we cannot support it.   Neither should we endure any of these things, we should raise awareness, peacefully protest, and fight for these rights that we believe all humans should have.

Here’s the kicker though: If c) and d) are proper definitions of intolerance, then almost NOBODY is tolerant!  Think about it!  If your family wants to have a family dinner, can you invite your friend?  Probably not (I tried it all the time as a kid).  If a scholarship is created to be awarded to an African-American student for certain merits, can that award go to a white student?  No, because by definition, it’s for an African-American.  It has a certain purpose to fulfill.  Just like communion for the Christian.  I doubt anybody (except maybe radical KKK people) would say that it was INTOLERANT to fight against slavery.  Why couldn’t the North just be tolerant, and accept slavery?  Because it violated what some people found to be inalienable rights, what some people found to be detrimental to living a proper life.  In the same way, people who fight for religious freedom in public schools and the right to life for the unborn, find these to be inalienable rights.  What about homosexuality?  Well, as a Christian, I believe that God wants us to live a certain way because it is better for us, it allows us to be closer to Him, and not does not give us laws “just because.”  This is why Christians oppose homosexuality in different ways (we won’t talk about marriage, or anything else, because there’s not enough room to discuss it- for the sake of the Christian and for the non-Christian), why they oppose prostitution, pornography, and the like.  It has nothing to do with just hating people for being different (now we know some people do this, though, and it’s not limited to just religious people).  It’s about living how we were created to, living the best way possible.  Which reminds me, isn’t intolerant to claim to have the only truth?

Well yes.  But in order to claim something not truth, you have to claim you have more of THE truth.  If you disagree with my Christian truth and call me intolerant for it, you automatically assume more truth, and are intolerant of my truth.  See tolerance means we have to tolerate things, to put up with things.  By its definition it implies disagreement and conflict.  Penn Jillette, (I’m summarizing here) said in an interview that he thinks the way “tolerance” is used is condescending.  Why?  Because saying, “Oh you just believe what you want to, go ahead,” is the way you talk to a child.

“True respect is being able to look someone in the eye and say “You’re wrong,” and being able to have someone say right back, “YOU’RE wrong.”

Armor meets in the CCV Shift offices at 6:30 on Tuesdays
Check out the Facebook at facebook.com/ccvarmor
Disagree with anything said here?  Let me know.

To see Penn’s full interview on “tolerance” click here
To read an atheist’s similar opinion on intolerance, click here

“Do you see what Christianity does?!”

Christians have some very serious allegations against them.  The Crusades, where tens of thousands of “heathens” were killed?  The slave trade, where Christians bought and sold Africans and African-Americans as property to be beaten and used??  The multiple Native-American massacres committed by American Christians?!

“WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY FOR YOURSELVES?!?”

You’re right.  You’re absolutely right. In the name of God, people have committed horrible atrocities, using the Bible to back up what they did.  Christians have raped, they’ve murdered, they’ve beaten, and enslaved.

         “That’s why I don’t believe in God.  Religion just leads to atrocities.”

Well, let’s not jump to conclusions too quickly here, Speedy Gonzales.  It CAN…but so can the belief that no God exists, and that there is nothing after this life to which you will answer.   Pol Pot, who did not believe in God, has between 1-3 million deaths on his hands from his vicious reign in Cambodia.   Adolf Hitler, who needs no introduction, is responsible for over 46 million deaths in Europe during WWII; although anti-Christian groups will claim that he was a Catholic, the book “Hitler’s Secret Conversations” contains multiple quotes about his real views of Christendom, that it was “the heaviest blow that ever struck humanity” and is “a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature.”  Also, Jesus was a Jew…so…yeah.  How about Joseph Stalin?  He had around 20 million people killed, not to mention the 14 million people he allowed to starve to death.  Although he went to seminary, he left it and became a staunch atheist.  The government was the only thing he believed people had to answer to.

Do I need to go on?  Because in terms of numbers, those 3 men alone pretty much take the cake.  But if you insist, I guess I’ll keep going.  Just for you.

What does the world look like with no God?  Now there’s no one view that every atheist holds, and I’m quick to admit most atheists I know are nice enough people who care about causes like word hunger, but the view that is dangerous is this:  There is no one I have to answer to, I create my own path, I make my own rules, and the only fear that I should have is that someone/thing on Earth that is more powerful than I might be against me.  The problem with this mentality, as we have seen with dictators, is that when they do not fear anything on Earth, then their power corrupts them, and they are able to do whatever it is that they wish.   They have no one that can appeal to them on any level of morality, and there is no universal basis for such a primitive thing as morals; morality is socially constructed.  To be short: You can be your own god.  Just because an atheist is a good person does not mean they’re entirely rational for doing so: there is not justification for morality apart from objective truth.  Objectivity does not exist for the atheist.

What about a true Christian worldview?  What does that look like?

It looks good.  Christians have been at the forefront for human and civil rights issues throughout history.  Take Martin Luther King Jr., for example.  He was a devout Christian, and his speeches were practically sermons.  He was using the Scripture to speak to the people and the government, calling them out on their crimes against the Bible.  There’s Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish Christian, helped (with some help) save as many as 120,000 Jews during WWII!  Archbishop Desmond Tutu fought to end apartheid in South Africa.  The list can go on and on!

Am I saying all atheists would evil dictators if given the chance?  No.  Am I saying all true Christians leads a cause for justice and human rights?  No (although we should…).  The point is, Christianity doesn’t make the world worse.

“Ok some Christians have been good, but that still ignores all the others who are commanded to check their brains at the door and uncritically worship and follow a vicious, evil God that makes them do vicious, evil things! “

Do some Christians check their brains at the door?  Yes.  Do some Christians, in their ignorance, carry out evil things?  Yes.  Is that what God wants?  Absolutely NOT!  We are to love our enemies (Mat 5:44), be peacemakers (Mat 5:9), and turn the other cheek when evil is done to us (Mat 5:39).  Can you square up these verses with the Crusades?  Native-American murders?  -No way José (what is with the Hispanic references?!).  Also, how do you determine what is vicious or evil?  Because in order to do that, you have to admit that you have an inherent, innate ability to determine right from wrong.  Now where could you have gotten that ability?  Does your understanding of the world account for that?  The Bible does.

But the Bible condones slavery!

Does it?  Well that depends on what you mean by “slavery.”  If you’re thinking of New World slavery (African-American slaves), you’re certainly wrong.  But slavery before that would have meant something very different.  It wasn’t race based, it was not always involuntary, slavery could mean having a better life, and in fact, you couldn’t tell a slave from a free person.  The institution of slavery that you think of is race based, oppressive, and dehumanizing.  What does the Bible say about that kind of slavery?  Well it says we’re supposed to end it and despise it in Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 33:15 and that God works for justice for all who are oppressed Psalm 103:6.  Treating slaves like cattle, as if they have no worth, and are beneath any other human, is an injustice and abomination in the eyes of God.  So there is no way you can say that the Bible actually condones slavery, you silly goose! =)  It’s the silliest, goosiest thing I’ve heard all day!  That’s why we had the American Anti-Slavery Society formed in 1833 by Christians, and the paper The Liberator was printed, which infuriated slave-owners across the South.  There was a full on revival in America to wake up “Christians” into realizing how wrong they were.

What you should recognize is that the Bible, like anything else in this world, can be corrupted and abused to do wicked things, but that when used properly, when read honestly and carefully, can only leave people with the conclusion that we are to help people, love people, care for people, and our faith is worthless if it does not inspire us to serve out of gratitude and love.  Because of the verses about loving your neighbor, taking care of the poor, feeding the hungry, freeing the oppressed, and inherently valuing humans as children of God, the Bible has within it a self-correcting apparatus.  Even when people abuse Scripture, distort the Gospel, and cause harm in the world, those who have the truth in them can always contend right back with the same book to show them their error.  In what way can you appeal to someone with who rejects God?  With what “truth” can you speak?  You can only speak of “your” truth” and never “THE truth.”

The Bible gives us a meeting ground where TRUTH can be fought for, which is why the world is infinitely better off with it.

Armor meets in the CCV Shift offices at 6:30 on Tuesdays
Check out the Facebook at facebook.com/ccvarmor

Disagree with anything said here?  Let me know.

For more info on the Heroes/Villains of history, check out this
For more info on Slavery and the Bible check out this and this or American slavery, this
For more info on Hitler and his beliefs check out this or (from different opinion) this
To play an online Speedy Gonzales game check out this

“Christianity is full of errors and contradictions.”

“It’s just a bunch of nonsense.”

I’ve heard that before. In fact, it’s pretty common, and I’m willing to bet you have heard something like that too. My favorite question to ask is: “Oh, really? Show me where.” A majority of people get a little less confident at that point. But there are some people who are ready to point out some very troubling passages in the Bible. Does Scripture really have contradictions? Are there really errors? mistakes? How could God mess that stuff up?! Is Christianity false?! Before we start tearing down our “Hillsong United” posters and throwing away our WWJD bracelets, let’s examine some of these claims. One thing you should always remember is that people can be wrong. People are going to have ideas and opinions that are not fully thought through, so instead of just taking things at face value and believing everything we hear, we should test them to see what holds true.

1 Thess. 5:21 “but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

Common Errors/Contradictions in the Bible:
1. God is love/God hates people
2. Genealogies in Matthew/Luke don’t match
3. Genesis 1 and 2 give different accounts of creation
4. Genesis 7 says 2 of each kind of animal AND 7 of each kind
5. God has been seen but can never be seen…(?)

In order to be fair to both sides, I’m going to give the Claim and the Response

1. God is pure love/God hates people

Claim– You talk about how much God loves everyone. The New Testament is all about love. 1 John 4:8 says God is love, and Malachi 3:6 says God never changes. But then Psalm 5:5, Hosea 9:15, and Leviticus 20:23 (to name a FEW) all talk about God how much God hates certain people! That’s not the God of the New Testament, that’s not your Jesus, and that’s not a God I want to follow.

Response– I see what you mean, but before we talk about the contradiction, let’s talk about “A God I want to follow,” because that always seems to come up with this claim. If God is actually God, and heaven and hell are real, then you should want to follow Him even if you don’t agree with everything you see. If God is GOD then he’s obviously a lot smarter than you, a lot better than you, and has a better sense of justice than you do, human. Let’s make sure that we don’t put our own fallible, prideful selves above God, if He exists. Now concerning a God that loves and hates at the same time…is that really a contradiction? If we are created in His image, then are like Him, similar to Him. Have you ever been so mad at your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/sister/friend that you just hated them? Well, not really, I mean you love them. But I mean, man, sometimes you just hate them! Ugh! Why is that? Because they’re not acting how you want to them to act? Because they’re not doing what they are supposed to? Hm. Maybe we should define what hate means. In Hebrew, the word for hate (sane), has been translated into English as: detest, enemy, foe, hate, turned against, unloved, hatred, hating. So what is hate? Hate is the feeling you experience when something or someone is not in line with what you believe should BE. When something is not right. So when God hates people, it is those people who are turned against Him, who are not doing what they were created to do. When God hates people, it is because they are wicked. Should God hate? Yes. He’s all knowing, just, and good. Now I know, everyone sins, no one is perfect, so does God hate all of us? Well, yes, if we were all living in wickedness, defying God and destroying his creations (us, the earth, animals). God hates that. But does he still love the whole time? Absolutely. Romans 5:8 says that “God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:10 says that we were His enemies. Christ died for his enemies. So can God hate you? Yes. He hates YOU that does evil, not YOU that does good. What I mean by that, is that when we talk about the “self” we do not always mean the same thing. For instance, if I love you (which I do), but you are really bothering me, you just are bitter, you intentionally annoy me, you hurt my feelings, I may say I hate you, but I don’t hate YOU (the whole self), I hate YOU, the part of you that is bad, the part that is mean. When I do something I don’t want to, that I don’t normally do, I would say, “That’s not me.” It’s not the ME that I really am, the one that I want to be, and the one that I’m supposed to be, it’s the sinful ME that I don’t like, that I hate. Still with me? I hope so. So there is this contradictory, dualistic aspect of hate/love that we can see in our own lives, so why should it be any different for God? God loves you, but he hates the YOU that sins, that disobeys Him, that hurts other people. Why? Because he knows what’s best for you, and it grieves Him when you are not being the best YOU that He made you to be. Ephesians 4:30

Not all the answers are going to be this long, I promise.

2.Genealogies in Matthew/Luke don’t match

ClaimMatthew 1 has this big genealogy of Jesus, and so does Luke 3, but the problem is that THEY’RE NOT THE SAME. Matthew says the father of Joseph is Jacob, Luke says the father of Joseph is Heli, and Matthew has 28 generations between Jesus and David while Luke has 43! Your own authors mixed that up, obviously Luke thought Matthew was wrong, but Matthew would probably say Luke is wrong, and you expect me to believe the Gospels know anything about Jesus? Please. This is not “God-breathed.”

Response– You’re very right. Matthew has 28, while Luke has 43, that’s very good counting, but where you’re wrong is your assumption of what “father” and “son” mean. This is why it’s important to not just have knowledge about your English Bible, but the original Bible, in the original languages. In Matthew, the word used in the Greek word is γενναω (ghen-nah-o), which means “to cause to arise, to father, to be begotten.” So in the Greek, it doesn’t even say “Jacob the father of Joseph,” it says “Jacob gave rise to Joseph.” It means that Joseph descended from Jacob, who descended from Matthan, who descended from Eleazar…” blah blah blah. The same notion goes for Luke, which uses the word υιος (hwee-os) which can mean son, yes, but also descendent or offspring. That’s why you see a lot of repeat names when you compare both of them. Why the confusion? Raymond Brown, a Biblical scholar, points out that Matthew is using two well-known genealogies of the time, one from Abraham-David, and the other up to the Babylonian exile. Well, Matthew notices they both have 14 names. So he uses three pairs of 7 in his genealogy; 7 is the number for completion (think 7 days of creation), so Jesus is a symbol of completion (for a much more elaborate explanation, click here). For Luke, his genealogy focused on having Jesus as the son of God, which is why it links him to Adam, who of course came from God (for more click here).

3. Genesis 1 and 2 give different accounts of creation

Claim- Anybody who believes in the Genesis account of creation is a fool. First of all, the Bible has nothing to do with science, but more importantly Genesis 1 and 2 contradict each other. Genesis 1 says man came last, but Genesis 2 says man came before plants and animals. The text is pretty self-explanatory, and the only explanation is that the Bible doesn’t make sense.

Response– As far as science and Genesis goes, maybe you should read this page first. Now, if we’re going to read the text properly, we should be careful about what we say the text DOES and DOES NOT say. Now what the text does not say, is surprisingly a lot. In Genesis 1 we have a pretty clear order of events, a clear “daily” ordering of events. Genesis 2, however, does not give such a clear order of events. In fact, there really isn’t a clear ordering of events in timeline at all like there is in chapter 1. When it says that “no plant had yet sprung up,” it says this in reference to when God used a “mist” to water the Earth. You can clump verses 2:5-6 together, and then look at v 2:7 as separate, THEN God created man. It says that God HAD created a garden in the East (Eden), made trees grow out of the ground, and then put Adam inside it. Trees take time to grow, and it doesn’t say God “poofed” them or just created them as is, it says he made them grow. So the trees had to have grown before Adam was made in order for them to grown in the garden. As far as the animals are concerned, people say v2:18 and 2:19 proves animals did not exist before Adam. But v 2:19 says that God HAD formed out of the ground all the animals, as in BEFORE. It doesn’t say when, but it implies before the existence of man. No discrepancies.

4. Genesis 7 says 2 of each kind of animal AND 7 of each kind

Claim– Just one more place where the Bible says one thing, then says another. Genesis 7 says two of each kind of animal and then 7 of each kind. It can’t be both. Whoever wrote this didn’t know what he was talking about.

Response– There is a big misconception that Noah only brought two of each kind of animal. This is probably because of Sunday schools emphasizing the “two by two” of animals entering the ark. So is it 2 or 7? It’s both. “WHAT?!?!?!” I know, calm down, shh…. It first says two of each animal, but then later God commands him to take more of the clean animals. It says 7 of every clean animal, and 2 of every unclean animal. What’s an unclean animal? Check it out here if you really want to know, but it’s not important for right now. The confusion comes from verses like Genesis 6:19-22 where it says “bring two of every animal/bird (some versions say kind, but that’s a word added in translation to make better sense in English).” This is the first commandment to Noah (the second comes in 7:2). Then verses like 7:8-9 that says that the animals entered the ark “two by two.” But all those two verses are saying is that the animals were split up into pairs. If you have 7 goats, then you have 3 pairs of goats and then one extra one. Of course, the Old Testament wouldn’t be complete if there wasn’t a sacrifice. And that’s exactly what scholars say that 7th animal was for: sacrifice. “But what about 7:1-5??? It says ‘pairs.’ ” Yes, but not in the Hebrew; it only says “seven sevens.” Why do scholars sometimes add it? It makes more sense in English I guess, but its not in the original. So you really only have 7, not 7 pairs, of clean animals, and 2 of the unclean.

5. God has been seen but He can never be seen…(?)

Claim– You have verses like Exodus 33:20, 1 John 1:18, and 1 John 4:12 that say no one has seen God, and no one CAN see God, but then you have a ton of verses where people see God!!! Genesis 12:7, Genesis 17:1, Exodus 3:16, Numbers 12:7-8, Job 42:5, and Amos 7:7-8 just to name a few. Direct contradiction; no way the Bible can be taken seriously.

Response-This is a pretty simple answer. God’s true self, his true essence, cannot be seen. We don’t even have to use Scripture for this because we have brains. If God created the universe, and is omnipresent, then he can’t exist within our universe or be restricted to any type of form or shape. So when God “appears” to people or Moses looks at a burning bush, no one is actually seeing God’s true form, they’re seeing either a messenger of God, or an instrument of God. And when Job says “now my eyes have seen you” he’s speaking metaphorically. As in he understands God, he is closer to God. Now I heard from one of my college professors, “Well you can’t pick and choose whatever you want to be literal or metaphorical in the Bible; it’s either all literal or all metaphorical.” Really? The beauty of literature is its ability to describe things beyond the mere words used. Words can paint pictures (speaking metaphorically, of course), so why should restraints of literal/metaphorical usage be put on the Bible and nothing else? Or did Shakespeare actually think the Earth was one large, flat stage?

Let’s be real here

These are not the only “errors” or contradictions in the Bible, just 5 common ones.  So even if these get answered, there are a whole lot more to answer to as well.  But if these can all be answered, should we worry a great deal about the others?  No.  A lot of the “errors” are very small, and easily argued.  But some are not; some people argue that small mistakes (i.e.wrong dates, misquoted passages from the OT) really do exist, and they ARE errors, but they do not take away from the legitimacy of the Bible in any way.  Scribes, when copying the book (some argue) undoubtedly messed up, and what we have now is slightly erred, although the original may have been perfect.  Some people say “Biblical inerrancy” means no errors (big or small), and some say “Biblical inerrancy” means it is error free in general, but little tiny errors don’t matter.  What do you think?  Study the text for yourself, make your own decision, and make sure that whatever you believe is Biblically based as well as rational.


Bible Liar, Pants on Fire

The first misconception that we’re going to discuss is that the Bible was just made up, that it’s a lie, that it’s not real history. “It’s a book about moral goodness, but that stuff never happened.” A lot of people don’t think there even was a real Jesus of Nazareth. Others say, “Yeah he was a real person, but he was just a wise teacher. People made stuff up after he died.” Well, what’s the truth of the matter? Is there any reason for us to believe that Jesus actually walked the earth, performed miracles, was crucified, and rose from the dead? Because most objections to historical Christianity are aimed at Jesus and the legitimacy of the New Testament, that is where we’re going to focus our attention. An examination of historical accuracy of the entire Bible is not suited for a blog or one session at Armor.

We can talk about the Old Testament (OT), or the Hebrew Bible, for a hot minute though. Why not? The OT is actually one of the best texts we have for ancient history. In fact, despite minor disputes over small details (i.e dates for Joshua, or Saul), most historians and archaeologists don’t debate the OT as historically legitimate. Some doubt the supernatural stuff, but other than that it has been tested and holds quite true. The Abrahamic home of Ur has been excavated, the Hittite civilization has been discovered (which was doubted to have existed because the only evidence we had of them was in the OT), and there is now evidence that suggests the Hebrews really were in captivity in Egypt. Although this is debated amongst scholars, the Egyptian records tell us of the Habiru (slaves) who spoke Hurrian (Hurria would have been a kingdom Abraham would have went through), who worshiped Yahweh, worked on the Pithom and Rameses cities (same as the Hebrews in the OT), and the same pottery of the Habiru was the same kind of pottery found in Israel. They are discussed as a people who were known for their military organization and influence. They were even known at one point as mercenaries for city-states (kind of like David before he was king?) Now this is debated amongst scholars, but it seems to me that it is entirely possible that the “Habiru” were the Hebrews of the OT. One reason the OT is probably so reliable is the fact that Hebrew scribes believed the Scripture to be God breathed, so if you changed a single word you were violating God. They even spoke each word as they wrote it because they believed that there was real power in speaking God’s word. Because of this, the textual discrepancies between texts are few and far between, even more backed up by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

For some evidence on Ur and the Hittites click here, on the Habiru click here and here, and on the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls here (there are better sources offline, if you want to learn more)

Now we’ll get into the hot topic: the New Testament (NT). But first, why is the NT so much more debated than the OT? I think this is an important thing to know, because it affects how seriously we should look at the evidence supporting the NT. The reason that it is so hotly contested is because if the NT really is true, there’s no other option except to radically change your life. If Jesus Christ really was the Messiah, was God in the flesh, died for our sins, and commanded you to follow him, then there is nothing more important to conforming to his will for our lives.

Let that sink in for a moment

If that didn’t make you stop for a second, you’re not grasping the weight of that sentence. Everything about your life has to change: your desires, your goals, your motivations, your priorities…everything (Well, not your favorite brand of underwear, but you know what I mean…I’m a Fruit of the Loom guy, myself). So now that you know why people are so for it and against it, let’s see what the evidence really is. Keep in mind, nothing can be proven (first rule of science). This is only a case of evidence, which asks you at the end whether or not it seems to be legitimate or rational.

The first piece of evidence for the NT is the fact that has the most extant manuscript evidence than ANY other ancient text- thousands more. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, and well over 8,000 5th century Latin translations (over 25,000 in all). It can only take a handful for historians to deem a piece of literature legitimate; it’s as if God was like “You want manuscript evidence?! I’LL SHOW YOU MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE!” So if you can’t find the NT reliable, you literally obscure all of the ancient period. But we wouldn’t want that. Now a good question to ask is, “OKAY, but how old are they?” Good question, astute skeptic. I’ve got a good answer. The oldest piece we have is the Rylands Papyrus (or P52) and it dates at 117-138CE, and its from the Gospel of John. It may sound late, but we have classical poem’s from people like Sophocles that were written 1,400 years later. Socrates never even wrote anything down himself, Plato and others wrote of him. And speakig of plato, do you think we have anything Plato literally wrote himself? We only have later copies. Scholars, however, have been able to reconstruct the past, and the consensus for the Gospels is:
1. Matthew- 68-73CE
2. Mark- 70-100CE (some say earlier)
3. Luke- 80-100CE (some say 110)
4. John- 90-110CE (some argue portions of it pre-date 70CE, he just hadn’t published yet)

Scholars also talk about the mysterious “Q,” (Quelle=source in German), that Matthew and Luke were said to have drawn on as a source, which would pre-date all of the texts. That means there was a text that could very well have been in existence as early as 50-65CE! If Jesus died around 30ish CE then that is a very close date. Why didn’t they write stuff right away? Why didn’t Jesus write anything? Well back then not many people were literate. So oral discourse was the preference, especially because Jesus was preaching to the poor and disenfranchised. Besides, what’s more believable, hearing someone tell a first-hand account of something or reading about it? The writings were probably published so late because the writers didn’t write until the very end of their lives, when they would no longer be around to tell people themselves.

If that’s not enough (which it usually isn’t for people), we have non-Christian authors that talked about Jesus as a very real person. Who?
1. Josephus (70-80CE): Talked about Jesus being a wise teacher, a supposed-miracle worker, was crucified, and had disciples
2. Tacitus (1-2 Century): Talked about how Jesus was crucified by Pilate, was a wise man
3. Pliny (108-109CE): Talked about Jesus/Christians in a negative way, and were bad for the empire
4. Lucion of Samosata (140CE): Talked bout how Christians believe the crucifixion of Jesus led to eternal life, and that Christians despised material things
5. Mara Bar-Serapion (70CE): Talked about the Jews executing a “wise king,” who had left behind teachings for his followers

“Why are these guys so important? They didn’t believe Jesus was resurrected or the Messiah.” True, but what it shows is that other people DID believe Jesus rose from the dead around the time of his death and soon afterwards. There was no time to pass for people to start making things up and creating a legend a long time after Jesus’s death. So Gospel accounts of what Jesus did and where he went can be found to be very reliable. That doesn’t prove he was God or that he could heal the blind, but it shows that people at least believed these things about him. In fact some people believed so much that they were giving up their lives and dying just because they believed this. Jesus was claimed to have been seen by over 500 people, people that would’ve still been alive when people were preaching about the resurrection to either deny or accept this claim. Why would the writers claim over 500 people? Isn’t that a LOT to lie about? What if one denied it? Wouldn’t that lose credibility? Maybe it’s because all of them actually saw him. Would you die for a lie? (There’s an argument called Lord/Lunatic/Liar, which I’ve already written on here, and info on other arguments are in the recommended reading at the bottom)

One last thing. Back then the dead coming back to life was not a believable concept. Most Greek philosophical thought believed that the material world, the physical world, was the lowest of the forms. The spirit form was higher, and closer to perfection. That’s why we’re so close to the ground, because we’re weighed down with matter. So if Jesus was a God, why would he come back in the flesh? That’s ridiculous, and it doesn’t make sense. So in order to completely change a Greek’s beliefs about what made sense and what was true, it would’ve taken a lot more than just a few pretty words; it would have taken something supernatural. Just because the people lived a long time ago doesn’t mean they were dumber than you.

So be honest.
What does the evidence look like to you?
Is it all just one big fat lie?

Armor meets at 6:30 in the CCV Shift offices

Recommended reading:
“The New Evidence for that Demands a Verdict” -Josh McDowell
“Mere Christianity” -C.S. Lewis
“Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament” -Jason David BeDuhn
“The Accuracy of the Old Testament” -John Duncan

Some of you are either laughing, offended, or a little bit of both
But this is something Christians need to see.

The point is that everyone has an opinion about Christianity, and a lot of people have misconceptions about what Christianity actually IS.  Here’s an exercise for you:  Go to Google.com and type “Christianity is” in the search bar.  Then let the “Google suggestions” suggest some searches for you.  What do you find?

Christianity is…false
Christianity is…a lie
Christianity is…evil
Christianity is…stupid

You can easily add to the list: bigotry, exclusive, and ignorant.  These are all too common misconceptions about what Christianity is, and what it produces and leads to.  How do you respond?  What do you say when professors in classrooms claim that the Old Testament was just borrowed from other religions, that they have proof of it?  That science disproves the Bible?  That religion was born out of ignorance of the natural world?

“GOD IS FOR PEOPLE WHO CANT COPE WITH LIFE.”

As a Christian, these are things you are going to hear in life.  And as a Christian, you need to have answers.   1 Peter 3:15 “…but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”  We are not called to believe in God just BECAUSE- we’re called to believe in God because He is the truth.  Are you the person in class who sits there silently as a professor belittles your faith and misleads your fellow classmates?  Are you not able to give a reason for the hope that is in you?  The world is full of the lost and blind, those do not yet see the truth of the Gospel.  So how can we idly stand by while people are furthering ignorance and even fed lies?

ARMOR, an apologetic group at CCV, is starting a series called “Christianity is…”  The focus of it is to arm Christians with knowledge and reason so that they are able to respond intelligently, tactfully, and respectfully to the claims and assaults against Christianity in an academic setting like college, or even a personal setting with a friend.  If you believe in the Gospel (the good news), then there is nothing more important than that news.

But the world demands answers…are you ready for the questions?

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Isn’t this a pretty shield?!

Scripture tells us to take up the armor of God, the shield of faith, in order to defend ourselves against the Enemy.  The problem is that too many Christians have some pretty illustration of this “shield of faith” that has great aesthetic appeal, but when it comes to defense, its made of porcelain.  What matters is not how your faith looks to the world, or how many Christian bumper stickers you have, what matters is whether or not your shield is made of, and can actually quench the fiery darts of the evil one.

So what is…”faith”?

Here’s some dictionary definitions:
1)    a belief in God or in the teachings of a religion
2)    a belief in anything, as a code of ethics
3)    trust in a person or thing
4)    a belief that is not based on proof

According to Allaboutreligion.org it is “the acceptance of what we cannot see but feel deep within our hearts.”  According to Richard Dawkins, a renowned evolutionary biologist, faith is a “belief in something for which there is no evidence.”  According to him, faith is a blind man stumbling about.  So which definition is right?  What is faith???

4 Components of Faith:
It is:

1) Evidential
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see.”

Acts 17:2 “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.”

Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

2) Trusting
James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed.”

3) A Belief in God
John 3:16b “…that whosoever should believe in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”

4) Active
James 2:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him? And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled;” and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it?  Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.”

John 15:5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing”

Let’s Check Out the Greek

The Greek word for faith in the Bible is pistis.  What is pistis?  If you look it up in a Greek lexicon, you’ll find that it means “conviction of the truth,” or fidelity, the “character of one who can be relied upon.”  Pistis and its variations get translated as “faithfulness,” “to believe,” “proof,” “pledge,” and “assurance.”  So when Jesus asks you to have faith in him, he’s not just asking you to “take his word for it.”
John 5:31-36“ If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.  There is another who testifies about me (John the Baptist)…But I have a greater testimony than John’s, for the works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”

So Christian Faith is…

…not just one thing!  Our faith is much more dense and powerful than the modern meaning of “faith.”  Yes, it’s a belief in God and Christian teaching.  Yes, it’s a trust in a person or thing (Jesus).  Yes, it means to trust and believe despite doubts, even when we do not know everything, and it is something that we feel in our hearts to be true, but only because of the evidence of Jesus Christ’s existence, of his works, of the incredible story of who he was, and who he IS.  It is based on its ability to resonate with the hearts of all people and answer to the human condition better than any other explanation by science or any other religion.  It is a REASONED faith, an active faith, one built upon a rock, not upon sand.  What would happen if Christians were only using one or two of those definitions up there?  What would happen if we let the world and culture define what our faith was?  People would probably get the wrong idea and think that Christians are just simple-minded, science-fearing, historically ignorant, sheep.

…wouldn’t that be awful?

Have you ever wondered why early Christians were so courageous?  Why they suffered so much persecution?  If the persecutions happened in America, how many Christians would be martyrs?  How far have we drifted from Biblical, Christian faith?  I’m not trying to make any Christian feel bad, I’m trying to encourage so that we might attain the faith we’re called to have.

Mark 9:24 “I believe!  Help my unbelief!”

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