The Case for The Bible | Evidence

I bet you thought I left yet another thing unfinished. Nope! I may get sidetracked, but sooner or later, I do get back to what I started. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes years. In this case, it has been 2.5 months since I started reading New Evidence and blogging about it.

Saturday was my first full day off after working 12 days in a row, so I spent about six hours of it getting through part one of four in this book. Part one was “The Case for The Bible”. After a bit of history explaining how we got the Bible, including the materials used to write it, some interesting things were pointed out. First of all, Christ himself witnessed to the Old Testament talking about the law, the prophets, the writings (Psalms), and the martyrs throughout the entire OT from Abel to Zechariah. (I like how that’s A-Z!)

When speaking to the historical reliability of the Bible, more interesting points were made:

  1. The unexplained is not necessarily unexplainable.
  2. Fallible interpretations do not mean fallible revelation.
  3. Make sure you understand the content of the passage.
  4. Interpret difficult passages in light of clear ones.
  5. Don’t base teaching on obscure passages. The main things are the plain things. If something is important, it will be clearly taught in scripture, and probably in more than one place. When a passage is unclear, never conclude that it means something else or opposes another plain teaching.
  6. The Bible is a human book with human characteristics.
  7. Just because a report is incomplete does not mean it’s false. Sometimes things are complimentary, not contradictory.
  8. New Testament citations of the OT need not always be exact.
  9. Context will dictate whether a word should be taken literally or figuratively.
  10. General statements don’t necessarily mean universal promises.
  11. Later revelation supersedes previous revelation. God did not reveal everything at once, but that doesn’t make contradiction.
  12. Archaeology has found evidence that proves the accuracy of the Bible.
  13. The Bible is trustworthy and historically reliable.

Translated text of the Bible compared to that of 1,000 years earlier proved to be word for word identical in more than 95% of the text. The other 5% were merely variations in spelling – nothing that affected the message. In 184 cases, evidence shows that for 2300-3900 years, the text of the proper names in the Hebrew Bible have been transmitted with minute accuracy.

Then, of course, there are the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Part two is “The Case for Jesus” – just over 200 pages. Will it be a week? Two weeks? Another 2.5 months? My goal was to finish by the end of January. I’m changing that to finish by the end of March!

Agnosticism, Skepticism, Pick an ‘ism’ | Evidence

The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict

This is the fairly large book by Josh McDowell that I found in my closet the other day. I remember buying it years ago when the left side of my brain took over and started looking for proof of many things in the Bible. I was already embarking on other Bible studies and reading the entire Bible cover to cover, though. By the time I finished those, I was satisfied … for a while.

I read “A Case for Christ” and was also satisfied with this historical facts listed in that book. I believe Jesus existed, and he was a good man. What I still struggled with were the supernatural acts of a being that no one could see, hear, or touch, and that this being was Jesus’s father and also Jesus himself. Immaculate conception???

So I picked up “A Case for a Creator” and was overwhelmed because it was a much harder read than the other book. I never finished it and have no idea what happened to either book. So I’m hoping that this Evidence book will fill in some blanks for me.

The series of posts I write while reading this book will be called “Evidence”, and it will be a place where I share my questions, feelings, doubts, answers, and revelations. My first question that I even jotted down right in the book after reading the author’s note in the beginning is this…

Why do people need to rely on something (God, Jesus, etc.) to be a loving, forgiving, generous, unselfish person? It is possible to be all of these things without believing in something you can’t see, touch, or know is real.

Josh (the author) said it himself in his note…

How could something as flimsy as Christianity stand up to an intellectual examination?

This is something very personal, and I know there are a lot of people out there who think you shouldn’t discuss “religion”. I think they’re wrong. You probably shouldn’t push your own beliefs on others, but there’s nothing wrong with discussing religious or spiritual beliefs. So feel free to reply to any post in this series with your thoughts, insight, or questions. {All replies are subject to approval. Any blatant attacks on other comments will not be approved. I invite healthy, civilized discussion only.}

I want to describe where I stand going into this study, but I don’t know how to explain thoroughly enough and still keep it brief or easy to follow. My mind is hyperactive!

OK, so I’ve already mentioned my struggle with the supernatural-ness of it all. My mind wanders to all the cults out there and how people say they’re so bad. People are easily swept into believing all sorts of things that Christians say are false. How do I know Christianity isn’t also a cult? I’m not saying it is! Don’t get your panties in a bunch! I know it’s so much bigger than any other following, but it clearly has many of the same characteristics of what we call cults.

My biggest issue with organized religion is the recitation of creeds in unison to profess our faith. These things are not in the Bible. Why do we have to do this? The Lord’s Prayer is in the Bible. I have no issue reciting that one in unison.

Then there’s the belief that “the Lord will provide”. This is even straight from the Bible, but it’s certainly tossed around by many. How do we know this supernatural being will provide? What if things turn out how they do simply because that’s how they were going to turn out – period? If God knows the number of our days and knows what will happen, then how can prayer change things? Those two things are contradictory. If we change things through prayer, then what God already knew would happen isn’t going to happen that way anymore. Is your head spinning yet? Do you have an answer for that one? Where does this free will come into play if He has already planned our days? Do we have a point A and point B in place but alter that path along the way by our own free will? Is that how it works?

These are just a few of the things I psychoanalyze. How do I know the whole concept of God isn’t purely psychological? The power of suggestion is a just that – a powerful thing! Couldn’t the idea of a Holy Spirit dwelling within us be a powerful psychological suggestion?

To the other extreme, science would have us believe that humans began as an amoeba and slowly evolved over time. They also have said that we evolved from apes. If so, then why are they still in existence? However, if you think about how life develops now from two single cells that join together and create an entire body full of vital organs and an elaborate central nervous system in just nine months, there’s no denying how amazing that is!

I see how happy and content people with strong faith are; how full of joy they are. I want that. I also see how uncomfortable some people are around those who are exuberantly overflowing with their love of Christ. I don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable. Then I see the worst – people who call themselves Christians but turn their backs on people who don’t believe exactly what they believe. I can’t accept that. Love others as you love yourself. Live as Jesus lived. I don’t remember reading anything about Jesus turning his back on anyone. If I’m wrong, please give me chapter and verse so I can look it up.

Now that I’ve laid this all out here, it should be interesting to document what I learn from this book, which is technically not a true book but a compilation of notes prepared for the author’s lecture series, “Christianity: Hoax or History?”

Colorado Christian Cardplayers 4 Christ | January Poker Night

CCC4P is an official poker league organized on PokerSoup.com. We gather together in fellowship for lighthearted gaming that doesn’t break the bank. Last night’s game: Texas Hold ‘em

I brought the only estrogen to the game last night. It seems I was left on my own to represent the ladies. Sadly, I let the ladies down – finishing 9th out of 10 players. Sorry ladies! I really did have high hopes, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. We’ll get ‘em next time!

 

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Texas Hold ‘em | Poker Night with Fellow Christians

The Lord did not say, “Thou shalt not gamble!”

We are warned against greed, the love of money, and being irresponsible with what God gives us. These things become a huge issue with those addicted to gambling. It’s true. However, if you have limits which you adhere to and cheerfully put a large percentage (if not all) of your winnings in the offering pot as it comes by, there is no sin being committed by taking part in a poker game once per month with fellow Christians! Greg and I are a part of Colorado Christian Cardplayers 4 Christ poker league. We know and adhere to our limits and cheerfully place our winnings (if we win) into the offering pot!

Last night, I placed 3rd. Had to represent the ladies! Hollah! So I walked away with $20. I put 50% of that into the offering pot this morning, and am using the other 50% for my movie ticket to see Burlesque with my girles today.

Do not attempt to adjust your monitor. It is snowing on my blog. ‘Tis the season!

 

Does Strife + God Make Sense?

I just found out that the person who first trained me at my current job has decided to leave the company after her position was eliminated. Supposedly, the parent company did try to offer some other position(s), but she didn’t feel it was right for her.  In her email to all of us saying goodbye, she quoted this verse:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 … “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Well, she quoted Jer 29:11, but I like the next part as well. It seemed to fit our own situation perfectly. You see, we recently started attending church after a year (give or take) of not going due to work schedules.

Here’s what’s more interesting. I got my “V8″ moment in August 1997. That’s when I accepted Christ in my life. Things were looking pretty grim on the financial homefront. We then tried a church that completely freaked Greg out because it was pretty contemporary. What I didn’t care for is that they required children to go to separate classes and not attend church with us, which was equally traumatic for them. Soon after, we were presented with the opportunity to move into Greg’s sister’s house free of rent to “house sit” while they were temporarily transferred to another state. What a great opportunity to get our finances sorted out and save for a new house.

We found a Presbyterian church near that house and started attending and tithing what we could (more on that in a bit). Before we knew it, Greg was offered a promotion, which meant relocating to Denver! Thank you, Jesus!

Cut to recent events after all this time not gathering in His house and leaning on Him. We’ve had a lot of crap handed to us with Greg’s job loss and the medical issues we’re dealing with that I still can’t go into detail on (but would love to for the support)! After the first week of being in prayer and gathering in His name again at Peace With Christ Lutheran Church, Greg was referred for a job running the Denver operation of a transportation company (name withheld for now). Yes, running it! No boss hanging over him here. After our second week of leaning on the Lord, Greg has now had his first and second interviews for this company. We are cautiously optimistic at this point.

This is where the honesty comes in when I reveal that I’m also cautiously optimistic about religion. It’s true! My walk may be closer by His side again, but I haven’t fully let Him carry me. I can’t explain my feelings about the whole thing. I’ve been told that it’s not about feelings; it’s about faith. I’m bad at that part! You’d think that the evidence would be clear to me at this point looking at the history outlined above, right? It does have my attention at least. I’m trying.

I said I’d mention more about tithing, so here it is… What I don’t understand is how God will take care of the rest if you give Him your “first fruits”. If we gave 10%, we would default on debt payments and end up in trouble with them, which is very, very bad! Am I to believe that if I gave 10% of my income in tithing that my debt would miraculously disappear? I don’t think the credit card companies were sent that memo. For those who have been wise with their money, I absolutely believe tithing would not be a difficult thing to do. That’s really all I have to say about that. We will do what we can.

Before I could even finish this post, Greg walked in to tell me they had already called him back and offered him the job! He starts on Monday! They are putting together all the details to email to him this afternoon. I guess now I can tell you where … Matheson Postal Services. It’s very near UPS in Commerce City, so no change in commute.

Times of strife were small potatoes while we were “religiously” attending church and tithing what we could. When not attending, that strife was more like two ton boulder sized potatoes. I’d say that’s enough to make me pay more attention to the path I’m supposed to be walking instead of trying to make my own path.