The civil war of Christian theology

(Thomas) #1

I cannot help but resent modern Christian theology. How could I not? It is a jumble of opposing and confusing theories. From Biologos to Young Earth Creationism and every variation in between. Each one holds truth yet each one also harbours views that twist scripture to suit itself. I find none completely convincing. Though some are more intellectually sound than others (YEC is one I can definitely reject and lay to rest, though I admire their unwavering dedication to scriptural authority, their interpretations are clearly in error). Either the position opposes modern scientific advances, ums and ahs on certain topics, twists scripture to suit itself or simply throws out the passage’s intention and obvious meaning entirely (The rejection of a literal Adam and Eve seems to destroy Paul’s theology on original sin and Jesus of Nazareth).

There are many ways to interpret the Bible, and yet only one way can be correct. The fact that I have spent the last Ten years studying and tormenting my brain trying to believe it and understand it’s meaning attests to the fact that it is far easier to simply reject it as myth. And for the average person, this is exactly what happens. The average person picking up the Bible for the first time will more often than not write it off as fairy tale nonsense. Who can blame them!? And no intelligent and critical thinker can read it and simply come to faith based on the text alone. Not one. If anyone claims to have done so, they are either lying or experienced some kind of miraculous intervention!

The Bible declares that it is God’s desire that not one of us are lost but that we all come to faith in Jesus of Nazareth and be saved, but at the same time, it is full of stories that simply cannot be accepted without serious allowances and/or picking and choosing what to take literally and what to take as metaphorical. What intelligent and rational Human Being could believe in talking snakes, Global floods and surviving death? Not one! Not without re-interpreting, twisting or spending copious amounts of time studying ways in which it could possibly make sense.

Atheists have it easy. It is incredibly easy to simply not believe. Even though it is lazy and thoughtless. To simply reject the Bible and be done with it is the far easier option. What person enjoys fighting a constant war to keep their deepest beliefs? Let alone a civil war with other believers! Satan might as well be casting out Satan! No wonder Atheism is on the rise. The battle cannot be won while believers are divided against each other. And the worst part? When something is disproved or shown to be at odds with the evidence, people will still cling to it. You cannot change a made-up mind. Dawkins will NEVER accept that God exists and Ham will NEVER deny his Young Earth Creationism. Thinking outside the box and following the argument wherever it leads is not within their ability! These people cannot be reasoned with. Nothing positive can be gained from mixing with them.

This is why I stopped going to church, this is why I do not maintain fellowship with Christians. This is why I simply keep to myself for the most part and try to come to my own understandings. Which I might add are constantly changing, never fixed. Except when it comes to the reality of Jesus Christ being the Lord and saviour of Mankind. Our only hope. He is the ONLY reason I do not throw it all out as garbage. Such a compassionate, wise and loving entity can only be exactly what He claimed to be.
Even as I resent and disagree with the methods of God and the stories in the Old Testament.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

You sound like a disillusioned apologetics warrior. I heard someone comment recently that if you like (or agree with, or approve of) everyone you go to church with, then you aren’t attending any real church. You’re attending a social club. I do hope you find sustenance from a community somewhere that can at least provide some spiritual nourishment. I’m convinced that nobody can go it alone and stay spiritually healthy. Better to find that group of exasperating fools that at least shares a glimmer of the innermost hope you have tucked away. Jesus changed the world with twelve of them. Amen to Christ being the only reason!

(Mervin Bitikofer) #3

Of course … to chime in with your list on the “cons” side of community … Somebody once told the joke to me about my own church (and I’m sure you could substitute any denomination and it would be as true): Mennonites are a lot like manure. When they are all together in a pile they stink. You have to spread them around before they do any good.

Maybe you’re adding some great fertilizer to the
community right here! :smile:

(Thomas) #4

I wouldn’t presume that denominational Christianity and Atheism is useful like manure is…

(Henry Stoddard) #5

You know something, Mervin. The world really troubles me. Why are so many people having a hard time believing in the Bible with scientific theory. Benjamin Warfield believed in Theistic Evolution; however, it caused him no problem. He was the Lion of Princeton Theological Seminary. It does not matter what method God through the eternal Word used to create the universe. God still did it! 0 + 0 = 0. That equation can make nothing. A Creator + 0 = A Wonderful Creation. Why can’t people understand that? You know something? I would like to be an optimistic amillennialist like Benjamin Warfield. As Loraine Boettner said: Many things are better due to the science God has given us; however, the world cannot see that. When I see our world today, there has been improvement. But people are losing faith for no reason. God is in everything I see. Oh, there is still sin, but the beauty of God’s nature is here, and in spite of the problems that our world faces it is still a good place in many ways. The Bible is not a book of science; however, it is the road to eternal life in God’s Kingdom. I look forward to that glorious day when there shall be a New Heaven and a New Earth in which all doubt will be forever gone. I am the type of amillennialist that Anthony Hoekema and William Hendricksen were. The world has become better in many ways, but the Kingdom of Evil is still here too. It will remain until the end of the church age when the trumpet of the Lord shall shout and time shall be no more. No matter how the Triune God created things, that is our destiny if we call upon the Lord Jesus Christ. I find it difficult to believe that no one believes that on this blog. When Christ returns on that great and glorious time, will he find faith on earth? He will always have mine. And science is God’s gift to humankind. I would rather live now than one hundred years ago. Whether I walk the veil with Him or meet Him in the air, I will always have faith in Him. God help all those that cannot see the truth!

(Thomas) #6

I think the problem is and always will be faith. At least it is for me. If God appeared before me as He did for Saul/Paul then I would kneel and follow, however I would still question Him on what everything is all about because I WANT to know it all. Though I would kneel because I know God even if He doesn’t know me. I would kneel because I WANT to. And I am looking for a reason to do so.

The problem is that He WONT appear to me like He did for Saul (yes, I am extremely jealous of Saul/Paul). And He wont appear for you or your neighbour or ANYONE. He will not even answer your prayers. Try it, pray right now and you will get no answer. So I am left with the miserable concept of ‘faith’.

No intelligent, thinking person enjoys the idea of faith. I freely admit that I HATE faith.

No amount of faith is EVER good enough for me. No argument is entirely convincing. Or rather, the arguments are convincing, but they still do not change the fact that God is absent from the real World.
I have read it all. From Lewis to McGrath, to Turek, to Ross to Clayton to Collins. I am constantly reading apologetic materials and trying to fit the Bible in with what I know of the World because faith isn’t enough, it does nothing for me. I need constant reminding of the arguments in favour of God’s very existence or I just go off and do my own thing. My own thing is REAL, the World around me is REAL. But God… He seems to disappear for me as soon as I close the Bible.

For me, God only seems to exist in the argument, in the text. Not in the real World. And I would love to change that. But I never can.

There is a lot of bitter resentment inside me over the whole deal. Many Days I wish I could just let it go. But I somehow keep getting drawn back into my books, my questions and my yearning.

And the civil war within the theological World is just plain tiring. How is the truth ever going to be known when everyone wants it their own way?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #7

God will and does use any group in whatever way He sees fit, too often despite of ourselves rather than because of any faithfulness we may have.

There are practical atheists (those who live as if God isn’t around), and then there are atheists … those who have embraced that as a given. “Practical atheism” blurs the distinction for all of us, to be honest. The story is repeated (probably among outright atheists I imagine) as follows:

I needed a bicycle, so I prayed for one. I quickly discovered that God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and prayed for forgiveness instead.

And that is where the “parable” usually is stopped. It needs to go on, though, as the practical atheist discovers in subsequent life, that God doesn’t work that latter way either. And the atheist replies “well, of course --something that doesn’t exist can’t work in any way at all!” But the atheist’s problem is that he has put himself in charge and decided exactly how it is that God should work; and that will blind him to any of the ways that God actually does work. The atheist thinks: If God were real, I would have my bike right now … If God were real he would be done with it and just appear before me instead of all this “hide-and-seek” stuff. If God were real, He would appear before me like He did to Paul, etc. So the real faith that such a person has (and yes … an astounding faith it is, despite his claim to have done away with all faith) is the faith that he himself is in charge; maybe the only one in charge.

As one begins to let go and learn to trust that maybe my own way isn’t God’s way, then start to go down that path of halting humility before God, it may open up new avenues of insight. None of us is ever finished trying to struggle in that direction. And fortunately God doesn’t ever give up on us.

(George Brooks) #8

Well, gee… this seems a bit extreme. There ARE Evangelical denominations that AGREE with Old Earth Scenarios, and even more that don’t take an official position.

There ARE places where Evolution-Friendly Christians gather … so I would recommend putting on your “shopper’s hat” and find the one in your area that makes you smile…


(Henry Stoddard) #9

My friend Benjamin,

Believe me that God loves you and he is here with you. No, God does not always give us the answer to prayer that we want to receive, but believe me he is there. He has been with me in times of trouble as well as in times that were good. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, will one day come again. He will come for us individually or at the Second Advent (John 14:1-4). He is here during the Age of the Church. Please read all of Chapter 14 in the Gospel of John. During the invisible age of the Kingdom of God also known as the age of the church, God the Father and the Lord Jesus will send to us His Holy Spirit. He will comfort you and help your doubts to vanish. As for those of different creation or religious opinions, do not let them trouble you. We are human beings, little three dimensional creatures in a grand creation, who see things darkly. But that will one day not be the case. For as the Apostle Paul said: For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Corinthians13:12).

Believe me, one day you will see the great Triune God in person who loves all of us . If you go to a church that does not feed your spiritual needs, there are others. Baptists, Churches of Christ and Assemblies of God may be helpful. Please do not let differences of opinion rob you of peace. Also, I would encourage you to read Romans 10: 8-13 and may God bless you. I will keep you in my thoughts and my prayers.

Your Brother in Christ Jesus,

Edward :grinning:

(Mervin Bitikofer) #10

Amen, Henry. I really appreciate your heart-felt insights. And I agree that science provides no good reason for anybody to turn away from God.

Regarding what flavor of millennialist any of us is … I liked a humorous line I heard from one of my own pastors, I think, and will gladly adopt it for myself. I’ve decided I’m a “pan-millennialist” which means: God will make everything all pan out in the end.

(Patrick ) #11

Well stated. You are absolutely correct in your critical thinking.
I would like to add one thing. You can have a great life filled with purpose and meaning that you determine. You have a great head on your shoulders, put it to use helping yourself, your family and those around you. Live long and prosper.

(Patrick ) #12

Faith is pretending to know something that you really don’t know. Look at the evidence. Then you decide what is truth and what is allusion. But then get off your butt and do something! Talk a walk, look at the world, then change the world for the better starting with changing how you see the world.

(Henry Stoddard) #13

I know Patrick that you mean well; however, we are only three dimensional creatures that do not see and experience everything there IS. That is scientific fact; therefore, please keep that in mind! Also, Faith is no children’s story as you would think. It is the ultimate reality.

(Albert Leo) #14

Don’t be too sure of that, Benjamin–that He won’t appear to anyone. HOW He appears may not be as obvious as you may think. Perhaps, after persecuting Christians whom he must have realized were innocent, Saul’s conscience began to bother him. Whatever occurred on the road to Damascus, whether it was a thunderbolt that knocked him off his horse (as depicted in many paintings) or some other accident, it might well have been his conscience that “spoke to him”. It is quite probable that no one else heard it.

I can imagine that you could be jealous that you have not experienced the kind of vision that Saul did. But would you then be willing to devote your life, and your death, to spreading the Gospel as Saul felt he was commanded to do? I had the first part of Saul’s experience: While on a night patrol, a German rifle grenade knocked a 3" hole in my skull with all the noise and visual fireworks you can imagine–but no Voice telling me what to do–not even how to get back to our lines on my own. The doctors who treated me thought it totally impossible that I did so. But IF that blow to my head was to get my attention (like it was for Saul), I have spent more than 70 years attempting to figure out what exact message He was trying to get across.

Perhaps the good Lord is being more subtle with you, Benjamin. He is allowing you to have these troublesome doubts so that you really EARN what He has in store for you. After all, He did love Doubting Thomas. If you were indifferent, then you might have something to worry about.
Al Leo

(Ralph Dave Westfall) #15

“There are many ways to interpret the Bible, and yet only one way can be correct.”

Says who?

I see the Bible as a means of communication designed to project a saving message to all kinds of different people and groups over thousands of years–to male and female, intelligent or not, more or less educated, young and old, rich or poor, in all kinds of languages and cultures in different stages of civilization. It could serve that same purpose in the ancient world with a literal interpretation of Genesis, and in ours with an allegorical one.

(Henry Stoddard) #16

I don’t know if I completely agree; however, that is a great answer. I would think that you might want to expand on that. It would be a great thesis! :grinning:

(system) #17

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