Kenton Sparks, Biblical Criticism, and the Narrative

What scholar denies that vocabulary can be different? I already went through this. Many think the vocabulary is not just different, but strikingly different to the point that, it speaks against Pauline authorship. They think that a different author explains the evidence better. Not that it is a smoking gun or proven. Since you and conservatives seem to enjoy jumping on Bart Ehrman, I’lll use him [emphasis mine]:

“Of course the argument from vocabulary can never be decisive in itself. Everybody uses different words on different occasions, and the Christian vocabulary of himself must have developed over time. The magnitude of these differences must give us pause, however, particularly since they coincide with other features of the letters that suggest they were written after Paul passed off the scene.

Once again, I reiterate a point you have yet to respond to (among many), a divide and conquer technique won’t work here. There is a significant number of things all lining up in favor of pseudonymous composition. I quoted Campenhausen to this effect. It’s the convergence of multiple lines of evidence that create stronger scholarly belief against Pauline authorship.

Key point to remember: You have not discovered something new and blatant that you think all the competent and sober exegetes, who have spent their lives reading new languages, reading, and in some cases translating, countless texts from antiquity have missed. They spend their careers reading and discussing issues in peer-reviewed Journals. You have not suddenly found out, much to the oversight of ~80% of critical scholars who deny Pauline authorship, that writing style can vary from work to work. You need to put that to rest.

Scholars do not just think that because the writing style is different, Paul could not have written it. They think the actual differences are so numerous and significant that it warrants a great deal of skepticism.

As for your scholars who uses Paul’s lack of reference to the cross, instead of poisoning the well, you could state the scholar’s name, present the scholar’s arguments and we could evaluate that scholar’s reasoning on why they think that is a significant omissions, of it is just part of a larger package. What these scholars would presumably argue is that the words are absent where they tend to expect them. The NJBC writes:

"Numerous key theological terms used in the Pastoral do not appear in Paul (e.g. “piety,” “good conscience,” “epiphany,” “sound teaching,” “trustrworthy word”), and many words important in Paul’s writings are not found in the Pastoral even when they would be expected (e.g., “body” [of Christ, etc.], “cross,” “freedom,” “covenant”). The collective absence of these latter terms is striking." p. 892

For me, I would how many times are they used in each case in each Pauline work? And how many examples are there like this besides the few often referenced? Scholarship is about establishing trends and leading to judgments of what is more probable, not concocting logical proofs and indubitable certainty. That has no place here.

Does the fact that Phil 4:8 seems to outline “a set of distinctively Gr (stoic) virtues” [NJBC] lead scholars to think that doesn’t counter the idea that Paul seems to use the words differently in the Pastorals? For 1 These 2:10 it seems we have three virtual synonyms that signify an oratorical style. I haven’t looked at all the examples to be honest I don’t care too as this is sushi a minor point. But either way you have not shown how your two examples are analogous or suggest what you want them to do. To do that you need to dig deeper and actually dialogue with scholarship on the issue, as opposed to summary statements.

I have read countless competent and sober exegetes who suggest vocabulary seems to carry a different meaning in the pastorals. Do you think they aren’t aware of the two genuine Pauline passages you quoted? It is possible they all get it wrong. It is also possible you are misrepresenting things for the umpteenth time.

Again, the key point: You, in your great wisdom and scholarly erudition, with your clearly advanced ability to search the New Testament digitally, have not discovered some new and extremely simple and obvious fact that 80% of critical scholars the world over have missed.

Mark Powell lays out the most common arguments:

*Paul uses the word righteousness to mean“being in a right relationship with God” (Rom. 5:17; 10:3–4; Gal. 3:21); in the Pastoral Letters it means “being a morally upright person” (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; 3:16; Titus 1:8).

  • – Paul uses the word faith to mean “trust in Jesus Christ” (Rom.1:16; 2Cor. 5:7; Gal. 2:20); in the Pastoral Letters it means “Christian doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:19; 3:9; 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:8; 4:7; Titus 1:13).
    – Paul uses the word common to mean “unclean” (Rom.14:14); in the Pastoral Letters it means“shared”(Titus 1:4)."

I don’t think your proof-text hunting is good enough to dismiss this, even though they are not conclusive of anything in and of themselves.

Maybe this quote will help explain the issue to you better than Perrin’s: The NJBC writes:

"Overall, whereas Paul ordinarily favored a passionate and explosive style sprinkled with interjected thoughts and unfinished sentences, the Pastoral are much more formal and subdued. They depict Paul explaining basic matters in rather sharp language to longtime colleagues whom he has just left (1 Tim 1:3; Titus 1:5) and whom he shortly will see again (1 Tim 3:14; Titus 3:12), a phenomenon that can be only called odd if in fat Paul himself were the author."

Like I mentioned before, I have no issue using Ehrman (NT Intro pg 390):

“Paul’s churches were “charismatic” communities, that is, congregations of people who believed that they had been endowed with God’s Spirit and so been given “gifts” . . . to enable them to minister to one another as teachers, prophets, evangelists, healers, almsgivers, tongues-speakers, tongue-interpreters, and so on. There was nobody ultimately in charge, except the apostle (who wasn’t on the scene), because everyone had received an equal endowment o the Spirit, and so no one could lord it over anyone else. At least that is how Paul thought the church ought to be (1 Corinthians 12-14).”

Bart goes on to ask, what happens when disagreements happen? It may not have been a big concern to Paul initially since the end was nigh, but the end result is a bit of chaos.

"The developments within the Pauline communities appear to have been taken place in response to this chaos. With the passing of time, Paul’s churches developed a kind of hierarchy of authority in which church leaders emerged and began to take control of the congregations. To a limited extent, this development began in the later years of Paul’s ministry: in the letter to the Philippians, for example, he mentions “overseers and deacons” as among his recipients (1:1). But Paul assigns no special role to those persons nor does he assume that they can deal directly with the issues that he addresses."

Oh EM GEE, you keep ranting about scholars either being deceptive about this passage or unaware of it but they know of it and treat it appropriately. Sparks is 100% correct. Conservatives cannot fairly assess critical scholarship. You yourself are unequivocal proof of this but I digress. Bart continues:

“Some fifty years or so after Paul had died, however, these offices had developed considerably tin port-orthodox circles. Each Christian locality had a clear cut leader called a “bishop” (the Greek works is episkopos, literally meaning “overseer,” as in Phil 1:1), under whom served “presbyters” (Greek for “elders”), who appear to have tended to the spiritual needs of the communities, and “deacons” (Greek for “ministers”), who may have focused on their material needs. In the early second-century writings of Ignatius, for example, we find churches i nAsia Minor with a solitary bishop in charge and a board of presbyters and deacons under him . . .” pg 390 NT INTRO

Maybe now that you actually understand what he argues, maybe you can retract your character assaulting statement that Bart is either really stupid or being deceptive on this issue. WWJD?

Finally, how do the pastorals fit into this:

“With the passing of time, then, a church hierarchy developed out of the loosely organized, charismatic churches established by Paul and presumably by other missionaries like him. Where di the Pastoral epistles stand in this line of development? In these letters “Paul” writes to his officially designated representatives, ordained by the laying on of hands, instructing them to appoint bishops and deacons who are suitable for the governance of the church and to pass along to them the true teaching that the apostles himself has provided. The clerical structure of these letters appears far removed from what we find in Paul, but it is closely aligned with what we find in port-orthodoc authors of the second century.” pg 391.

No many scholars disagree with human on the 2nd century part here. Many think the pastorals were written by Pauline disciples, in Pauline communities facing struggles and bridge the gap between the charismatic church of Paul and the structured the more structured one ca. 1110CE. Of course, linear development in all churches cannot be assumed.

According to competent scholars it doesn’t. You need to show how your crude analogies to your own writings actually apply to scholarly arguments. For example, the NJBC writes:

Most important to note is the divergence between Paul and the Pastorals in the usage of various commonplace and recurrent Gk adverbs, conjunctions, and particles, for such linguistic features are less subject to conscious control. For example, the manner in which the Pastorals use kai, “and,” differs considerably from Paul’s typical usage.”

You seem to think scholars are stupid or the vast majority of them have been convicted by simple nonsense that you could punch holes in with five minutes of thought. Get off your pedestal. Come back down to earth with the rest of us mortals.

Now it gets interesting. You want to argue that the Pastorals are so wildly different from Paul’s genuine corpus because these were private correspondences to friends. Now you want to assert that these three private correspondences were circulated widely enough to influence early second century Christian though. Sorry, you will have to offer another conjecture for this one. There is no doubt that Christians in the second century were influenced by apostolic thought, but you are missing the point. The outlook of the Pastorals is similar to those in the second century on many points and dissimilar to Paul in others. In fact, many scholars date it to ca. 80s and think it bridges a gap. Others think some of them many have come late enough to be responses to Gnosticism. Its hard to tell when you only have access to one side of a phone call.

Vinnie

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“The synoptics’ Jesus must ask his disciples who they think he is (Mark 8:27 and parr.), and it is clear he has not identified himself explicity.” This is a noted difference between GJohn and the synoptics or so the analysis goes.
Do we suppose He didn’t know who He was? Or, because supposedly He didn’t make the same claims in the synoptocs as He does in John, He must test them to make sure they are getting the picture?
How about this: They knew. He knew. He knew they knew. A poignant reminder just who it was they were dealing with, serving as a stark contrast.

I don’t recall that you mentioned David. Sorry, I must have missed it.
My middle name is sin. None of us is perfect. But, there’s a difference between failure when we want to follow Him and are doing our best to obey Him, and the purposeful, deliberate, massacre of innocent, unarmed human beings over a sustained period of time without repentance, don’t you think?

The principle of proportionality demands extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims. Of the approximately 100 billion people who have lived before us, all have died and none have returned, so the claim that one (or more) of them rose from the dead is about as extraordinary as one will ever find. Is the evidence commensurate with the conviction? According to philosopher Larry Shapiro of the University of Wisconsin–Madison in his 2016 book The Miracle Myth (Columbia University Press), “evidence for the resurrection is nowhere near as complete or convincing as the evidence on which historians rely to justify belief in other historical events such as the destruction of Pompeii.” Because miracles are far less probable than ordinary historical occurrences, such as volcanic eruptions, “the evidence necessary to justify beliefs about them must be many times better than that which would justify our beliefs in run-of-the-mill historical events. But it isn’t.”

What about the eyewitnesses? Maybe they “were superstitious or credulous” and saw what they wanted to see, Shapiro suggests. “Maybe they reported only feeling Jesus ‘in spirit,’ and over the decades their testimony was altered to suggest that they saw Jesus in the flesh. Maybe accounts of the resurrection never appeared in the original gospels and were added in later centuries. Any of these explanations for the gospel descriptions of Jesus’s resurrection are far more likely than the possibility that Jesus actually returned to life after being dead for three days.” The principle of proportionality also means we should prefer the more probable explanation over less probable ones, which these alternatives surely are.

Perhaps this is why Jesus was silent when Pontius Pilate asked him (John 18:38), “What is truth?”

Scientific American April 2017

I think he was silent because he made a stronger argument for who he was by not bothering to answer. If Pilate really wanted to know, really and truly wanted to know, he would never accept his answer.

Why did the apostles turn from being terrified defeated cowards overnight into bold, confident, zealots for Christ? What accounts for this instantaneous transformation?
Why were they willing to sacrifice everything to perpetuate the story that He rose from the dead? If they created this story, they could have walked away from it. What was in it for them?
If people forged sections of the NT to increase their status by faking their identity, as people recognized them for themselves and not the famous authors and writers they pretended to be, what was the point?
His enemies never accused him of not performing miracles. Just the opposite took place. They looked at the miracles, knew they were authentic and realized they had to kill him. His miracles were proof he was who he claimed to be. If they didn’t kill him, the people would follow him.
If he wasn’t resurrected, hundreds of millions of people must be liars or deluded. Hundreds of millions of people who describe him as God’s living and indwelling Son, as their personal Savior, cannot be dismissed with a flick of the wrist. Their testimonies add up to extraordinary evidence, IMO.
The reality of Dr. Collins’ testimony is the reason for this site.

John Meier doesn’t agree on putting the two schools against one another in Jesus’ day:

“In light of the almost universal tendency on the part of exegetes to explain Mark 10:2–12 (as well as any teaching on divorce attributed to the historical Jesus) by appealing to the debate between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai, it is important to emphasize a point made earlier in this chapter. Almost all the pre-70 Jewish texts known to us reflect a Judaism in which a man could divorce his wife for practically any reason. There is no hint of a debate over the precise grounds for divorce, let alone the specific debate over ʿerwat dābār (“shame of a thing” in Deut 24:1) between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai, as reported in the mishnaic tractate Giṭṭin.” Law and Love, V4 Marginal

Jesus may have been simply rejecting the most common interpretation of divorce from this patriarchal, male-dominated society, rather than siding between two schools.

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27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

A heirarchy of leadership roles existed in different terms with Christ always at the Head of everything.

Man is very committed to exaggerating what isn’t important and undervaluing the things which are.

What come through loud and clear in these documents? The texts are not God. They are mere words. Christianity is a mystical thing. The question is, Who is behind the writings? Can we see his hand behind the words? Can we sense that the God of the universe having spoke, still speaks? There are trillions of possibilities why certain topics were included and addressed in the manner we see. Ehrman said all the variants don’t amount to a hill of beans.

The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.

“I remember a Q and A where his answer basically conceded the core thesis. The concession was sooooo huge, either the host or his intellectual interlocur gafawed.”

Randy, I couldn’t find anything about a Nazi Lutheran Church. That’s why I asked about it.

Sorry, I meant the state sponsored one altered by the Nazis. They actually tried to change the Bible and remove pro Jewish elements as in beaglelady’s link above.
Blessings.

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@beaglelady posted this link, and @Randy reposted it above.

You could also try googling “Reichskirche.”

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Yahweh ben Yahweh Yahweh ben Yahweh , which in Hebrew means “the Lord son of the Lord", (born Hulon Mitchell Jr. ; October 27, 1935 – May 7, 2007) was an American cult leader who in 1979 founded and led the Nation of Yahweh, a new religious movement headquartered in Florida that had thousands of Black American devotees at its peak. Yahweh was later indicted on three counts of federal racketeering and extortion charges, of which he was found not guilty. However, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.[1]

Dead churches are harder to identify. However, they aren’t involved, generally speaking, with murdering whites to prove their devotion to their messiah, but they are just as far removed from God as you can be.

  • Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012), believed by members of the Unification Church to be the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ, fulfilling Jesus’ unfinished mission. Church members (“Unificationists”) consider Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Han, to be the True Parents of humankind as the restored Adam and Eve.[21][22]

Claiming to be a member of an estasblished, mainline denomination or to be a Catholic means as much as following Zoro. It all revolves around our hearts. It always has. It is the opposite of joining a club or a fraternity, or a political party.
Being a Christian is living a radically distinct spiritual way of life, being connected to and rooted in and living in a different dimension. We disagree about definitions. That’s why I don’t think millions of Christians murdered millions of Jews. I define what I mean by “Christian” very differently. I say most people who attend a church do not know God at all. And, I’m not talking about how much anyone sins. The criminal dying next to Christ who joined him in heaven didn’t exactly have a history of clean living

@Vinnie and @Daniel_Fisher , thank you for your thoughts. I am really struggling about some concerns. For example, the question about where we stop in regard to determining what God’s word is, is valid–but it seems to me it should not bear on whether we consider something to be inerrant or not. Is that not a prejudice, if I determine not to question something because I want certainty?

Another benefit from self and Bible criticism is to realize that God is God–He is not surprised by the existence of those who have never read of Him through the Bible. He will not neglect them, being just, any more than He will miss any of the rest of us. God is much more patient than we can be–otherwise He is not just, and not God.

Thanks.

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You make a lot of sense. I look at it a bit differently.
God being just means He would make a way for us to be in good standing with him. Jesus came and sacrificed his life, shedding his blood, as the propitiation for our failures. That’s what I believe. More than a “belief”, He’s made himself known to me personally and his forgiveness is an intimate piece of what He offers me. He offers fatherhood, friendship, companionship, guidance, conversation, someone to laugh with, someone to enjoy watching football with, on and on.

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Amen.

That’s great, but the majority of us don’t have an experience like that. Others may have the experience in another way. It may be a good idea for another thread, but consider how many from different faiths report experiences of the divine. Interestingly, there are drugs that produce similar experiences. There have been conversion experiences from those who go to Islam from Christianity, from other religions to Christianity, the dreams of Muslims becoming Christians, etc. Thanks. Should you call out Gouranga? One-time Christian philosopher Michael Sudduth thinks so - Randal Rauser
“Smell the Color 9,” by Chris Rice, is more consistent with my experience:

“Well, my heart of faith keeps pounding, so I know I’m doing fine,
But sometimes finding You is just like trying to
Smell the color 9.
Nine’s not a color
And even if it were, you can’t smell a color.
That’s my point exactly.”

Sufis in Islam value experience with God, similar to Pentecostals in our faith (Roumi, I think, was one of their poets).
That is where I struggle with cumulative evidence. thanks.

Hi Ralphie,

A church has a patriotic and fervent vision to restore the greatness of their past. A charismatic leader who promises to restore that greatness, and give that church greater power, gains their support. With the support of most of those churches, that charismatic leader works to overturn a democratically elected government.

Am I talking about 2016 or 2020? No, I am talking about Hitler in the early 30s.

My goal is not to start a political argument. I am simply hoping to make you stop and think–very carefully and very deeply. There must be something new you can learn from this discussion of things you previously had not heard of.

My $.02,
Chris

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Well, while i personally affirm inerrancy, and think it enormously consequential a doctrine, I certainly do not claim it essential for salvation, or even essential that a person affirm it to be able to know truth from God.

I do think it of enormous consequence, as otherwise I fear there is a slippery slope… once we say that Scripture may contain errors of history or science, it seems there is a very small step to affirming that Scripture contains errors of theology… and then arise the danger of us deciding what is true based on our preferences…

Of course, I could just as easily say that “God is much more wrathful and punishing than we can be, otherwise he would not be just, and not be God.” And I suspect you would object to that sentiment, but on what basis could you? The same Scripture that claims God to be patient also claims him to be wrathful… sometimes in the very same breath.

The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’

Why is my selection of God’s attribute of punishing from Scripture erroneous while your selection of him being patient remains (dare I say) inerrant?

I fear it a very dangerous method to select those parts of the Bible that fit our personal preferences while rejecting those that don’t. I think we’ve discussed before, but essentially, members of Westbrook Baptist Church are essentially using the same method, while simply using a different “filter” than you are. But once we embrace the “Thomas Jefferson” model of biblical interpretation, you simply can’t object to Fred Phelps’s view of God on the basis that he is ignoring the various Scriptures that speak of God being kind, merciful, patient, and loving. You have chosen to reject those Scriptures that speak of God as being vengeful, as inflicting punishment, as having wrath; why can Pastor Phelps not simply ignore or reject a different set of Scriptures according to his own personal preferences?

For what it is worth, I affirm absolute inerrancy of Scripture and it is not because i personally need certainty… affirming inerrancy after all requires me to embrace (as inerrant) the doubts, questions, fears, uncertainty, and struggles of Job, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, the Psalms of doubt and lament, and all the refusal of God to answer certain questions.

At the same time, we have to embrace the fact that if we reject the Bible’s theological inerrancy, then you have no basis having certainty that God is patient. perhaps that was one sentiment that the biblical authors falsely ascribed to God but wherein they erred? Perhaps your own belief in God’s patience is simply a continuation of the same error?

If you maintain certainty that God is indeed patient, kind, and loving, as it seems you are (correct me if I am mistaken)… are you not (dare I use the phrase) committing “The Sin of Certainty”?

And finally, to the point of this thread… i would never use the following as an argument for Pauline authorship of the pastorals (it would be backwards, a cart leading the horse kind of argument)… but it is relevant to your question of what and how we consider something to be God’s Word or not…

But while I could understand the principle that a student of Paul might, if it was common and accepted enough, in good conscience write pseudopigrapha in Paul’s name: never intending to deceive and not expecting the reader or audience to assume that it was literally Paul who wrote it…

(I have a very hard time buying this at all, but I could go so far for the sake of the argument…)

…But The pastorals are simply not pseudepigrapha of that proposed or hypothetical kind. If not by Paul, They are downright forgeries, also known as lies. The author is not simply writing in Paul’s name to give honor, or to reflect consonance with that school of thought, or the like. If the Pastoral epistles are pseudopigrapha, then the author intentionally wrote deceitfully, including numerous specific (false) personal claims and details, specifically to make it sound like it was from Paul writing to an individual acquaintance, when it was nothing of the kind:

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia…”
“I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you…”
“I hope to come to you soon”
“As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice…”
“what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses…”
“Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.”
“When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.”

It is one thing to write in someone’s name for honorific purposes, to identify with a philosophical or theological school, or the like. It is another altogether to include lots of little irrelevant personal details that, if untrue, have the sole purpose of deceiving the readers into believing the letter to be actually from Paul’s own hand. The latter is nothing more than blatant lies, and I have a hard time understanding why we should find anything else therein valuable for teaching truth when the entire package is a bold-face lie. Once someone has produced a forgery with intent to deceive, why should I listen to anything contained therein? And if it is a forgery, then it should be excised from the Bible entirely.

Again, i would never use this as an argument for Pauline authorship, but let’s be clear about the options. Either these letters are from Paul, and thus are rightly established in the canon of the Bible, or they are blatant forgeries and bold-faced lies, written by a brazen liar purposefully intending to deceive his audience on the authenticity of said letter, and thus presumably willing to deceive on any other point within. How reliable do we treat witnesses or experts once we already know them to have foisted a major deception on us? If they are forgeries, they should be excised from the Bible and absolutely rejected from being in any sense “God’s word”… i see little middle ground, I’m afraid.

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Cardinal Bellarmine likewise affirmed the absolute inerrancy of Scripture, and applied that doctrine to Psalm 104:5 and many other passages that speak clearly of the Earth not having any motion.

“Oh, but Bellarmine was wrong! Those passages were not intending to teach science!” Of course we think that today. But at the time, Bellarmine had 1500 years of exegesis to back him up, and all Galileo had was a few telescopes.

Best,
Chris Falter

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You make some good points. It can still be a little gray, with perhaps Paul saying “Luke, write Timothy a letter, telling of the things we spoke of, and tell him I want my cloak back while you are at it… and sign my name.”
Inerrancy is such a messy subject. I am not sure what you are calling absolute inerrancy, but even the Chicago Statement has enough wiggle room to make it almost meaningless. I think your term theological inerrancy may be more meaningful, if you are using that to describe the “perfect for its purpose” definition.

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That’s not even hypothetical! At one point we learn from the text itself that it isn’t even Paul writing it but his secretary!

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This is a key point. These, (“punishing” and “patient” or “wrathful” and “loving”) are not two symmetrical attributes. It is not some sort of yin and yang situation where both have to ‘balance’ each other out. One of those things must be understood in light of the other! And it is important which one is which.

Consider the following sentences:

  1. If God is wrathful toward something or someone, then it must be loving for God to be that way perhaps for some reason we cannot yet see, because God cannot ever be anything other than loving.

  2. If God is loving toward something or someone, then it must be wrathful for God to be that way perhaps for some reason we cannot yet see, because God cannot ever be anything other than wrathful.

I maintain that the second sentence is incoherent. Only the first statement makes any scriptural sense. One concept is grounded in, and preceded by the other. Parents don’t love their kids so that they can punish them. They punish them because they love them. There is no symmetry here. No yin and yang. One of them is the foundational attribute from which the other may spring as needed. The other is not.

The bible does not portray these things in equal or parallel terms…

[edited to remove confrontational language and tones.]

But, that’s why it is so cool to know Jesus. He is available to everyone who calls on him. My experience with Christ is not unique. I have mentioned a few others. Even Dr. Ehrman who was blown away by the very qualities in Christ he experienced that I have and so many others have.

Vinnie loves Jesus. Vinnie experiences Christ’s presence and He is enamored with him.

As far as I’m concerned, each to his own way. I don’t mind. I just can’t help but share with others what happened to me, and what I found. I have not been the same since I poured out my heart to this God and He answered me in no uncertain terms. If your or other’s God meets your deepest needs, so be it. I don’t think less of people if we disagree, at all. I grieve, that is true. I grieve for everyone who hasn’t come to know Jesus. He is the greatest guy, the coolest dude, the best friend I ever had and I have no doubt He will be those things to anyone who seeks him. That’s what I honestly believe. You don’t have to agree. No one does. I do wish and pray that everyone would check him out. He will not let you down.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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