Recycled image and still no second coming
Never one to belabour a point, Don Camp has responded to my posts and comments about prophecy over on his own blog, Biblical Musing. This is a modified version of my response to that post.
What you seem to be saying, Don, is ‘leave a selected prophecy long enough and eventually it’ll appear to come true’. Perhaps, but then, if you take any selection of predictions from any source and you’ll find this to be the case. Why? Because:
1) You’ll have cherry-picked from the start so only those ‘prophecies’ that are vague enough or appear to have been fulfilled already will make up the bulk of your selection.
2) The vagueness of many that are chosen will make it relatively easy to scout around and alight on circumstances that seem to demonstrate some sort of fulfilment. You may even invent some that do, like the synoptic gospel writers do.
3) Some prophecies will indeed come true, but at no greater rate than chance allows. A prophecy you cite may say a particular city state will fall and return to the wilderness from which it was built. To claim that when, centuries later, it does so is not a fulfilment of this prophecy; it is a happy coincidence (for you and your so-called prophet, not so much for the denizens of the city state.) Just look at the number of ancient cities to which this has happened, without there being a preceding ‘prophecy’. It just happens.
4) You’ll ignore your own failure rate, or explain it away: i) discounting those prophecies that have never come to pass, even after millennia; ii) insisting ‘they could still occur! With God a day is like a thousand years!’; iii) reinterpreting them: ‘they’re metaphorical’ etc.
5) You invoke the get-out clause; the god says ‘if you don’t do ‘x’ then I’ll make ‘y’ happen.’ “Well, praise the god, everyone did ‘x’ and the calamity was averted! It’s a miracle!” This then counts, somehow or other, as a win for the ‘prophecy’.
These are your strategies, Don. You use them in combination to demonstrate the ‘fulfilment’ of biblical prophecy. You work really hard at nullifying your own cognitive dissonance, desperately attempting to demonstrate the truth of ancient fantasies. You conclude your post by saying Jesus will return as King soon. No, he won’t. You need to apply every one of your strategies to believe this is ever going to happen.
Great reply, Neil. This is classic Biblical nonsense. I liken it to all the Nostradamus fans that are constantly parading the same 10 or 12 verses he supposedly “got right” except you have to jump through a metaphorical jungle of twisted and tired translation to eventually get to his point. They also NEVER mention the other 990 quatrains that never seem to apply to anything or make any sense whatsoever!
In Jesus’s case though, it always helps that a) we’re never really sure whether he ever said these things or a writer put the words in his mouth, which is relatively common to ancient writings, and b) the writings began some 40-70 years AFTER the fact, so they could have written anything in and it would appear as though Jesus “foresaw” these things. The destruction of the temple is a perfect example. The temple fell in 70 CE, 40 years after Jesus’ execution. Mark was writing right around then, may 70-75 CE. This is like drawing the bullseye around the dart, works every time!!
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There are a lot more prophecies than the predictions Jesus made. There are a whole lot more than Nostradamus. Many are like the several Neil complained had failed but turn out on closer look were actually 100 % correct. I know of none, in fact, that have failed. You’ll have to wait for the book. *SMILE*
And they’re we have it again. Your first two sentences are non-sequitors. Neither I nor other commenters have suggested that Jesus’s and Nostrodamus’s prophecies are the only ones.
You claim a 100% success rate for ‘other’ prophecies. Which? Where is your evidence, other than the sleight-of-hand strategies I pick you up on in my post? The best you’ve got to offer is that those of us who recognise that prophecies don’t ever deliver are making some sort of category error. Seriously?
You, on the other hand, know of no prophecies that have failed; even if this is true (and I don’t for a minute believe it is), it’s another example of your self-delusionary cherry-picking.
I’ll not be rushing out to buy your hypothetical book. You’re merely deflecting the argument to an uncertain future point. Isn’t that what prophecy is all about?
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Absolutely right. ‘Drawing the bullseye around the dart’ is precisely what they do. They delude themselves into thinking they’re not doing anything of the sort and that we can’t see them doing it.
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I think I need to write a prophecy primer for you and for those who follow my blog since these are legitimate challenges. I will not make it long. (That is a prophecy btw even though the topic does have the makings of a book.)
I think a primer is in order because you and many others, including some Bible teachers, confuse several categories of biblical statements and that makes any discussion also confusing.
One example is confusing a conditional promises or warnings with foretelling the future. Not the same. Another is foreshadowing with foretelling. Not the same. Then there is the issue of types. That’s a term used in biblical study but seldom otherwise. You might understand it but some of my readers may not. In any case they are not the same. And then there is prophecy proper which is predicting an event that will happen in the future.
Anyway, give me a little time. The project is interesting, but I have other things to do as well.
No doubt about it … Don is the WINNER! He fully deserves to wear the crown … “King of Word Salads”!
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Neil: You claim a 100% success rate for ‘other’ prophecies. Which?
I think that the ball is in your court. But here are a few that did not fail:
1) Jeremiah 25. Seventy years of captivity in Babylon foretold. Jeremiah even gives the year of his prophecy, the beginning of the captivity. FACT: From the destruction of the temple recorded in Ezekiel to the date of its reconstruction was almost to the month seventy years.
2) Isaiah 23. Tyre would be conquered but eventually recover but not as before. The prophecy is long and, along with the companion prophecy in Ezekiel 26, detailed. But both were fulfilled in detail by several armies that came against her. https://biblereadingarcheology.com/2017/09/13/what-happened-to-tyre/comment-page-1/
3) Daniel 9:25,26
25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
Counting from the order to rebuilt Jerusalem to the beginning of Jesus Messiah’s public teaching there were 483 years. That is precisely what the prophecy predicted if the sevens were groups of seven years. 69 X 7 = 483. BTW “anointed one” is the word Messiah מָשִׁיחַ.
Interesting, don’t you think?
Now what prophecy failed?
I’ve already provided examples of failed prophecies in earlier posts. You commented on them.
FACT, as you keep saying on your blog: Many OT prophecies were written after the event they purport to predict. We can recognise the ones that weren’t created in this way by the FACT they failed to come to pass.
FACT: Jesus prophecy of the temple’s destruction was written after it had happened.
We go round in circles. You’ve been told all of this, and provided with evidence, but still you persist in your fallacious FACTS.
No, Neil, you provide no FACTS at all. What you provide is opinion. You can tell the difference, right? An opinion lacks compelling evidence. Your claim that the Olivet Discourse was written after Jesus’ death and put in his mouth has literally no evidence, not just inadequate. It is made ONLY on the basis of the obvious;y fulfilled prophecy of the destruction of the temple, which you claim could not have been made before the destruction of the temple because prophecy is impossible. You see the fallacy of a begging the question, don’t you?
Have you considered the other prophecies that are interwoven with your favorite failed prophecy made by Jesus?
In Matthew 24:14 he predicted that the gospel would be preached in all the world.
He made that prophecy when the group of disciples number somewhere around 100 and they were a motley group at that. FACT: No one would have predicted what Jesus predicted. Today we can say that has happened and in a world far larger than anyone at the time knew. .
In the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven in the loaf, Matthew 13:31-33, Jesus predicted that the kingdom of God would increase to be very large and would grow to be present in all the earth. FACT: That has happened. There are 2 billion or more Christians and there are Christians in every nation.
In addition to the destruction of the temple, Jesus predicted that the temple worship would come to an end.
FACT: Not only did it become desolate when the temple was destroyed but it has remained so for almost 2000 years.
Jesus also predicted that his disciples would be persecuted and put to death throughout the world for their witness to Jesus, Matthew 24:9. At the time Jesus and the disciples were present only in Judea. FACT: Today with 2000 years behind us, that has happened and continues to happen. Approximately 100,000 Christians are killed each year for their faith. In some places, such as the Muslim countries of the Middle East, being known as a Christian just by itself places you at risk. Some of those executions have been videoed and made public by extremists.
Then there are the wars and famines and earthquakes et al. FACT: Though there were such before Jesus and have been throughout history, today they are increasing and are headed to a climax. The world population rose from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7.9 billion today makes worldwide famine inevitable and probable in the next several decades. (The war in Ukraine will contribute to that because the source of the Middle East’s wheat is cut off and little planting is going on in Ukraine.) Climate change, which is happening more and more rapidly, is inevitable and will exacerbate the famines and social upheaval and wars Jesus spoke of. Together they spell apocalypse. Yet, Jesus predicted these things and that they would precede the end times, and he did this when the world was at a relatively stable time, Pax Romana, if you recall. And there were few serious threats to it. No one could have predicted what Jesus predicted.
We are seeing these prophecies fulfilled before our eyes. And you claim that Jesus failed?
I don’t claim Jesus’ so-called prophecy of the temple’s destruction was made after the event. It is the scholarly consensus. Real scholars, as opposed to amateur evangelical apologists, call this ‘vaticinium ex eventu’. Even if it were genuine, the prophecy fails because Jesus is also made to say that the destruction is the beginning of the end, prior to the appearance of the Son Of Man. Evidently it was not.
There have been wars and rumours of wars ever since Mark penned these words. What makes you think the current crop of conflicts are the ones he was taking about? There’s no evidence Jesus or his script writer thought this ‘prophecy’ applied to events 2000 years in the future. They believed the end was imminent (as we’ve explained to you using your very own holy book.) Your delude yourself if you think they were talking about this decade in the second millennia. But then again, this is what ‘faith’ is – delusion. It is your view that is nothing but opinion, Don. It is not, despite your special pleading, based on anything from the Bible.
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I assure you there is no consensus among biblical scholars that the prophecy of the temple’s destruction was made after the event. The only way you can make that claim is to exclude conservative scholars. I recommend to you Drs. Craig Evans and Craig Blomberg. Both agree that Matthew and Mark were written after the destruction of the temple but not that the prophecy originated at that point.
Real scholars? I would divide biblical scholars into liberal and conservative, if making that division is important. The fact is that biblical scholars as a whole differ on that issue.
Neil: Even if it were genuine, the prophecy fails because Jesus is also made to say that the destruction is the beginning of the end, prior to the appearance of the Son of Man.
Well, strictly speaking Jesus actually says the opposite. After the destruction of the temple (Matt, 24:15-11 also Mark 13) there follows a period of time (Matt. 24:23-26 also Mark 13) during which false messiah’s and false prophets will deceive many. He does not tell us how long that period will be. What he says is that after the distress of those days which would include all of the events predicted including wars, famines, etc. and the destruction of the temple, and the false messiahs and prophets, then there would be a climaxing event of the darkening of the sun and moon and a falling of the stars. After that the Son of Man will come.
What we do know is that the events Jesus foretold continue to happen. The only particular points in that broad panorama of history are the destruction of the temple and the falling of the stars. The first has happened. I don’t think you debate that. The last is yet to happen. And I don’t think you debate that either.
Neil: There’s no evidence Jesus or his script writer thought this ‘prophecy’ applied to events 2000 years in the future.
There is no evidence that they thought it did not apply to events in a more distant future either. Based on what Jesus said in the parables that follow in Matthew there is every indication that he was speaking of a distant event. In virtually every one of them there is emphasis on the “long time.”
His followers believed his coming was imminent; maybe, but if so that does not mean that they believed he would come the day after tomorrow. It meant he could come the day after tomorrow or at any time after these events, and no one knew when they would happen. So be ready.
So we’re disregarding, as evangelicals always do, the promise that ‘these things’ would happen while some of the original audience, ‘this generation’, was still alive. But we’ve been down this road already, Don, and you have some convoluted way of explaining how these statements mean entirely the opposite of what they say.
But really, we’re arguing over something that is the equivalent of the colour of the tooth fairy’s dress. Is it pink or blue or some other shade? Ultimately, it’s of no importance because the tooth fairy doesn’t exist. Same with your celestial Jesus.
That’s right, God doesn’t exist for you. And that makes all the difference. That is why you struggle to make the scriptures say something they do not. They might point to God.
They might point to God. … OH! I’m SURE the scriptures point to “God.” Thing is, when one doesn’t believe in such an entity, the “scriptures” are nothing more than stories designed to keep naïve people entertained.
From now on, instead of addressing the points you constantly regurgitate, I’m going to grade your work. This one gets 2/10.
I am just reading as any ordinary reader would. It doesn’t take amu fancy circumlocution. And I hope that is what evangelicals would do. I think you are reading through the lens of your presumptions. I will treat it among the examples of prophecies and how to read them in a future blog post. I am on some of Isaiah’s prophecies at the moment. http://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2022/05/isaiahs-prophecies.html
This plug for your own blog gets 1/10.
Neil: So we’re disregarding, as evangelicals always do, the promise that ‘these things’ would happen while some of the original audience, ‘this generation’ was still alive.
My goodness, we have gone over this multiple times! But the answer is still no.
There are several reasons.
If we were there and heard Jesus speaking, his intonation, pauses, and body language would make the meaning clear. But we aren’t. So we depend on the skills of close reading and the syntactical clues in the text.
1) The skill of close reading expects that we read the phrase in context. The indicates that there were events that would happen before the coming of the Lord and that those events would take time to happen. It is unlikely then that Jesus would be talking about the generations of his disciples but about a more distant generation.
The parables that follow the passage indicate as much, as well, since each includes the phrase “a long time.”
2) Syntax. In English we would separate the phrase “This generation” from the preceding description of events leading up to the end. We might make it a separate paragraph. Greek does not have paragraphs, so we are left with the one syntactical practice Greek does have: The referent of the pronoun “this” is the closest to the pronoun. (You may not know this unless you’ve studied Greek.)
The closest referent is the phrase that immediately precedes it is: “when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.”
The disciples did not see all these things and the context implies they would not.
The only confusion is in the use of the second person “you.” It could be understood as “you the disciples before me.” But the second person plural can be understood as “you all” and include people of any time. To that we can look at Mark 13:27. Jesus says at the end of a parable that had to do with his return, “What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!” Everyone could, of course, mean everyone alive at the present. But if we put together all the clues of context and syntax, the meaning is most likely a reference to everyone who is a follower of Jesus in any generation. the present and any to follow.
Sorry, Don. I fell asleep at the beginning of your comment and couldn’t face starting again once I woke up.
In the link below you can find a slew of Islamic prophecies uttered by the prophet Muhammad. One of the prophecies (I can’t remember which number) states that the teachings of Islam would reach the whole world. This prophecy was uttered when Muslims were being heavily persecuted; yet Muhammad was right! Islam has indeed spread across the globe! And that’s just one of the many fulfilled prophecies in the link below. Personally, I’m not particularly impressed with anything Don has presented, as there are many religious groups that make stunning prophecies about the last days! I tried to post the prophecies of the Kali Yuga (these prophecies are really something), but I guess it wasn’t accepted.
These are some of the prophecies of the Kali Yuga.
Isn’t your second link to Hindu writings?
I am not claiming that no one but a biblical prophet can predict the future. Even odds makers in Las Vegas do so and are right often enough that people bet their money on their predictions. There are prophets aplenty even today. I am only claiming that the Hebrew and biblical prophets got it right. And that includes the prophecies about the Messiah. It is those prophecies that set biblical prophecies apart from the others.
It might be said, as well, that Jesus predicted ” many false prophets will appear and deceive many people” (Matthew 24:11). Was Mohamed a fulfillment of that prophecy? Was Joseph Smith? One test of a prophet based on scripture is that they would not lead people away from Yahweh. (Note that biblically a prophet does more than predict the future. His primary mission is to speak God’s message to the people.) Mohamed definitely led people away from Yahweh and his means of salvation. Joseph Smith definitely led people away from Yahweh to a different God and means of salvation. Another was that what the prophet said would come to pass. If it did not. He should not be received as a prophet. The Vedas preached a message diametrically opposed to Jesus and the Bible, though having lived in India, I have to wonder if many Hindus take Kali Yuga quoted on the website seriously. No question India is a mess, however. So many gurus, so little time.
The very fact that individuals came up with their own messages and “led people away from Yahweh” simply proves that there simply isn’t enough validity to the story to make it “real” for everyone.
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Or that they were expressing the purpose of Satan who in every way desires to undermine God’s purpose of salvation.
Nan, I looked at your blog and watched the video “Dear Believer, Why Do You Believe?” I agree that asking the why question is important if not vital if one is to live with intellectual integrity. I also agree with the video that not many ask the question. But I was most interested in the end of the video and the reference to Carl Sagan. I wonder if he ever asked why he believed.
I remember from “Cosmos” his statement of faith: “The cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.” But read a bit more, Sagan actually sounds, well, almost religious.
“The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”
Mystery for sure.
I say statement of faith because he had zero evidence for even one of those statements. Today men and women in his field of science would even take issue with Sagan on several points. But it has become the statement of faith for most atheists, nonetheless. At least that is implied in the video. Why?
The video used clips showing people engaged in religious activities from a lot of religious systems. As it said, they can’t all be right, but they have one thing in common, God. And for that they have far more evidence than Sagan had for his belief. Ironic isn’t it?
But Sagan is gone. So, I wonder if you have asked the question, why do you believe what you believe?
I have many times. I was not raise in the culture of Christianity. My culture was thoroughly secular. I came to believe in Christ as a teenager, and what convinced me was that it made sense out of life. Over the years since, I have continued to ask the question because my belief has been challenged by atheists promoting their belief and by other religions doing the same. Each encounter and the thinking that went on because of it has served to confirm my conviction that Jesus and the biblical worldview makes sense and a lot more than anything I’ve heard of other belief systems.
It is a good exercise, this asking why. I recommend it to you.
Don, I appreciated your comment. It shows that you really do look beyond YOUR faith. And, to me, that’s always a good sign.
My question to you is … why should I ask why? I don’t really care “why.” I’ve made my peace –. and it doesn’t require or involve belief in any “outside force.”
But that’s me. Everyone has their own approach to living and what it means to them. I do feel rather sorry, however, for those that believe in that very, very ancient fable and cling to the belief that there is “something” beyond the grave … instead of doing as Robert Frost suggested and Carpe Diem! Because, in essence, that’s really all we have.
I appreciate your answering. But one more question, why object to the beliefs others have? You call my belief an ancient fable. I think of at as a very present reality and the only thing I’ve ever found that answers the existential questions of who am I, what is it all about, and where is it going.
Because your belief is an ancient fable, Don. Who cares if you’ve found some meaning in the teachings of Christianity!
As far as I’m concerned, you’re just another delusional adherent of the Christian faith!
The world view espoused by you is a rather absurd one! Talking serpents, talking donkeys, human sacrifice and the list goes on.
Just because you’ve intellectualized your faith and have learned how to insulate yourself from all of the main criticisms of Christianity, hardly means a thing.
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Absolutely right. This is what evangelicals like Don do. But myth is myth and delusion is delusion.
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Some twenty years ago a visiting lecturer came to LaGrande, OR, to speak at Eastern Oregon University. The point he made in his lecture was that we needed a modern myth to account for the universe and our place in it. That myth was the myth preached by Carl Sagan: the cosmos is all there is, all there has been, all there ever will be.
I was pleased that he considered that a myth because it is. Ther is no evidence for the cosmos he believed in, and there are astrophysicist today who would also consider it naive on the basis of current science. I think you’ll find that Stephen Hawking did not believe it to be accurate.
It makes for a great story, and Sagan got rather emotional about it. But it is a myth nevertheless. And sense it is not true, though believed by many, it is a delusion as well. So, I suppose I am in good company.
There’s every evidence for this universe. It’s the one almost every scientist acknowledges. There’s no evidence, however, for a universe managed by the petty God of the Bible. The Book of Myths doesn’t even suggest such a thing; it has no concept of the universe as we now know it to be.
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Well, we agree. There is evidence for the universe. I also agree that it isn’t micro-managed by God. It was created to function without that, but that is actually one of the biggest problems for materials: How did that happen. There is no reason that whatever was the primal matter should evolve as it did into a universe that is so conducive for life like us. There is no reason why the universe should have evolved into anything. Theoretically, it might, had the fundamental forces been just a tad bit different, either collapsed before ever reaching a size and constituency that might support life. Or it might have enlarged too rapidly for stars to form and, of course, life like ourselves to exist. That fine-tuning of the forces and laws is pretty surprising.
0/10 for this one. There is no ‘fine tuning’ of the universe and certainly no ‘fine tuner’. You need to do more reading on this topic and resubmit your work (though preferably not here.)
Neil: There is no ‘fine tuning’ of the universe
What is the basis for making that claim?
You mean the universe that is 99% antithetical and hostile to life? The universe that is totally indifferent to that life that has arisen in a minute pocket of itself? Research it yourself, Don – somewhere other than where the fine-tuning argument is being used to ‘prove’ a fine-tuning God.
1/10 for this effort.
I always wonder at the Christians who actually believe they were created and “loved” by something that, if it did exist, was capable of creating the EXTREMELY vast UNIVERSE! I mean, we’re not talking about this little speck of a planet named “Earth” — we’re talking about the entire enormous and mind-boggling UNIVERSE!
Yes. That is what I mean.
It a mindless argument to say that, because we know of only one planet with life out of potentially hundreds of billions we do not know of in the universe, the universe is not fine-tuned for life. However, even if there was only this planet, the fact that this planet depends on the fine-tuning of the universe to exist and be able to sustain life in prodigious variety is hard to image if the universe were not pretty much exactly as it is.
You personify the universe. It has no attitude one way or another. It is neither indifferent nor concerned. It simply is.
Fine-tuning has nothing to do with religion. “The characterization of the universe as finely tuned suggests that the occurrence of life in the universe is very sensitive to the values of certain fundamental physical constants and that the observed values are, for some reason, improbable.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_universe
Oh come on Don, you know you’re advocating fine-tuning as a way of demonstrating your God, the fine-tuner. Why mention it otherwise?
I included the possibility of life on other planets in my 99% figure. If I was referring to the Earth as the only place where life exists (though as far as we know it is) that figure would have been something like 99.9999%.
I fail to see how describing the universe as indifferent is personifying it. A lamp-post is indifferent to my existence too. This doesn’t mean it has consciously decided to ignore me. But of course you know this; you’re just being pedantic.
I’m afraid your comment this time is a complete fail. Please spend some time in personal study (of something other than the Bible) and refrain from writing for the next several weeks.
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Oh, I meant to say, Don: I’m planning a trip across the known universe, a journey of about 94 billion light years, give or take, and I’d like to welcome you to accompany me. My car is fine-tuned for the trip.
Well, when I say ‘for the trip’, I mean the first few yards of it. I trust this will be acceptable to you.
The real world is the real world. If there is a God who made it, he can do things beyond what we have come to expect naturally. But it is also possible that the talking serpents and donkeys are ways of making something that was more a spiritual experience than a literal experience. As for the talking serpent it is in a story that I believe is an allegory. In any case, surely a few puzzles are not insurmountable obstacles to believing the core truth.
As for human sacrifice, that was not what you think it was. But you would not think that a father who sacrifices his life to save his child is absurd, would you. I think you would consider him a hero. There is no difference. Except that is was God who sacrificed himself to save us. The catch was that God could not die, to he made himself a man and as a man sacrificed himself for us. The bottom line, however, is that it was a God sacrifice.
Doing as he did had an additional effect. It demonstrated to us how valuable God considered us. Why would he die for us if we were worth nothing?
I’ve considered all the reasonable criticism of Christianity and have not found one that does not have an answer and an answer that is both reasonable and in sync with what is revealed to us in the scripture. In that sense I have intellectualized or arrived at a rational and reasonable faith, but by far the more important thing for me and for anyone is personalizing faith. And it is there I cannot help anyone. It requires personally coming to terms with God, not just with the idea of God but with him as a person.
Most people who have what I call a simple faith will encounter trouble believing over time; there are too many conflicts with reality. Most people who intellectualize their faith will find that sterile. Only a personal and ongoing relationship with God will be sufficient. If you ever come to the place of reconsidering, don’t be satisfied with anything short of that relationship. That is where the glory is.
That end bit is proselytising, Don. I’ve told you I won’t approve your comments when they are nothing more than you peddling your wares. You’ve your own blog for that.
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