Ideology of the disbelieving theologian
A couple of years ago, Timo Eskola wrote Ateistit alttarilla, a book about priests and theologians who want to completely reject the traditional Christian doctrine and replace them with different kinds of teachings. They do not believe in atonement, the final judgment or hell, and they doubt the reality of miracles and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They say that these only exist in people’s imagination, not in reality.
They also use Christian terms but apply to them entirely new meanings. For example, when they say "salvation", they do not mean being saved from hell and getting to heaven. Instead, they mean finding freedom and purpose for one’s self. They have completely changed the primary meaning of the word.
This writing examines the world views of such people and compares their ideologies to those of traditional Christian ideologies. It is interesting to note that many of the arguments these people use are the same arguments that are used by atheists. Their ideology is closely related to deism and naturalism. Let's consider this subject further.
STRESSING COMMON SENSE. One of disbelieving theologians’ most commonly held ideas is their reliance upon their own logic and wisdom. They consider themselves to be critically thinking and sensible people – people with good common sense who are not prejudiced. Many of them think that they have a scientific view of the world; thus, they reject everything that contradicts this self-image. Among those contradictions are miracles as described in the Bible, God's work throughout history, the Holy Bible's description of Creation events, etc. They consider these to be outdated beliefs that should no longer be considered true. They believe that an enlightened person can use currently available information to deduce that these things are not true.
One example of a person who promotes these points is Anglican Bishop John Spong. He teaches that we should reject the Bible’s description of Creation events, and interpretations made during the first centuries of Christianity, because they are nonsense and merely products of their time. Thus, he rejects man’s fall, Christ’s atonement and God’s creation of the universe. Instead, he supports Darwin’s theory of evolution. Spong holds Darwin’s work in high esteem, as can be seen in Spong's public theses. He has stated, for example:
"The story in the Bible of a complete Creation that is over now and from where people fell to sin is pre-Darwinist mythology and post-Darwinist nonsense."
Where does common sense come from? As noted above, many disbelieving theologians stress their own common sense and scientific ideology. They think that they are wise and progressive people, because they do not believe in the miracles described in the Bible or in God’s intervention in earthly events. Instead, they believe that everything came into being by itself, without cause, reason or influence. They believe that the birth of the universe and life were random events, and that everything came into being by itself. They prefer these standard scientific theories over the information given in the Bible.
There is a major problem with this logic: How can we trust people’s understanding and judgment if our intellectual abilities are the product of evolution from a primitive form of life, or even if they are the product of the big bang? Is it wise to trust our own knowledge and wisdom? How could random development create a solid foundation for the ideas, even if we consider them to be correct? If everything had an impersonal start, then there is no foundation for rational deduction. If people were not created as images of God but came into being as the result of random processes, how can we trust any of our own thoughts? We cannot assume that the intellectual abilities of a disbelieving theologian -- or anyone else -- to be trustworthy. The information they provide could just as well be false than true.
Where does this lead us? Anyone whose belief system – theologian, priest or anyone else – relies on a beginning with no sense and random processes but still considers him/herself wise and sensible, is faced with a huge discrepancy and is in danger of major self-deception. Should we trust such information and wisdom? Even Darwin admitted this contradiction: he stated that if humans evolved from lower life forms, human thoughts may not be reliable:
I have awful doubts of whether or not the convictions of the human mind are of any value, whether they are at all reliable taking into account the fact that the human mind was evolved from the minds of less developed animals. Would anybody trust convictions generated in the mind of an ape, if there are any such convictions in the minds of apes. (1)
Should we trust Darwin? We stated before that John Spong and many other disbelieving theologians support the theory of evolution. They would rather support Darwin's theory than agree with the historically held viewpoint that God created everything and that history as described in the Bible is true. They believe that the first chapters of the Bible represent an outdated, unscientific view of the world, whereas Darwin's proposal that everything came into being by itself is a scientific description of how the world reached its current stage of development.
Such theologians do not understand, however, that they have replaced one set of beliefs with another. Both of these ideas – the description of creation in the Bible, and random creation and development of life over time – require belief. There is a simple reason why this is so: we cannot prove what has happened in the past. Questions about the origins of the universe, life, and humans are all answered through faith. None of us were present to witness any beginnings. We can create theories to explain what happened, but it is impossible for us to prove our origins in any scientific way. We cannot go back to the past and see what happened. Thus, we are all in the same position.
The points below illustrate these areas requiring leaps of faith that we can find in the field of "science". None of these have been proven correct, even though people claim otherwise. People choose to believe that these must have happened since their only alternative is to believe that God created everything after all.
- The big bang theory: everything – galaxies, our sun, planets, oceans, mountains, humans, flowers, butterflies, worms, giraffes, birds, cheetahs, elephants and everything else that exists – started from a space the size of a pinhead.
- The birth of galaxies: never proven.
- Creation of our solar system: an enigma.
- The start of life: Unknown. We do not know how life could have started by itself. People believe life started by itself, even though there exists no recorded observations or evidence from the natural world that support this idea.
What about the validity of the theory of evolution itself? Disbelieving theologians believe in the theory but – interestingly enough – evolutionists themselves have in their own writings still pointed to facts that rule out the theory. These provide enough information for us to conclude that the theory is false.
Darwin’s writings contain similar mentions of facts that contradict his own theory. He admitted (or was forced to admit) three things that challenge his theory. If we take Darwin's statements as such, we can see that he possessed no proof to support evolution.
The observations he made – which were excellent and precise descriptions of nature – only describe normal variations found within individual species.
1) Darwin did not have any direct data to support that one species had changed into another:
“I am actually tired of telling people that I do not claim to have any direct evidence of a species having changed into another species and that I believe this view correct mainly because so many phenomena can be grouped and explained based on it.” (2)
2) Modern species are different from each other:
“According to this theory, there must have been innumerable intermediate forms between species. Why is it then that we cannot find them buried inside the crust of the Earth? Why is it that the entire wildlife is not at a state of confusion instead of being composed, as we can see, of clearly determined species? Geological research has not exposed the countless slight differences between past and modern species that this theory requires. And this is the most apparent of the many arguments presented against it. However, the answer lies in the large inconsistency of geological findings.” (3)
3) Fossil data put his theory to a major test:
But I could never have even imagined how weak is the evidence given by even the best preserved geological layers. The lack of innumerable intermediate forms between species that should have been living during the early and later stages of each formation has put my theory to a major test. (4)
“People who believe that the story told by geology is somewhat complete will probably reject my theory without a second thought.” (5)
Professor of comparative anatomy Richard Owen (1804–1892), a contemporary of Darwin, criticised Darwin for not considering the evidence as such. Darwin invoked the incompleteness of the findings but Owen stated that the only justification can be found from the data that had been found and dug up so far. The future can be predicted based on this data. If the data does not support the existence of intermediate forms, the theory should be rejected.
Owen's statement also shows that it is a question of a matter of faith, not of fact. Darwin's theory, which disbelieving theologians place so much importance upon, does not stand on a firm foundation. It is an idea supported by faith, as is belief in creation, but there is not good evidence to support it. Theologians who conform with Darwin’s ideology do not want to admit this.
“It is true that so far, permanent and useful conclusions have been based on the information we have. Now we are asked to accept the hypothesis by pleading insufficient information. People say that the geological chronicles are so incomplete! On the other hand, is there any human chronicle that is fully complete? (...) But when Mr Darwin, when referring to the lack of the fossil intermediate forms that are a requirement for his hypothesis – the lack of the countless intermediate forms that should have existed at some point during the history of the world according to the "theory of natural selection" – loudly proclaims what can or cannot be left to be found in the layers that have not been touched yet, we would reply that we can only predict the future based on what we have already found. (...) Are there any cases in which a fossil has been proven to be such an intermediate form based on the facts observed? We have been searching in vain for such examples.” (6)
”SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF THE BIBLE”. Since most disbelieving theologians believe in the theory of evolution and other teachings by Darwin, it is only natural that they have doubts about the description of how everything began that is provided in the Bible. It is difficult for them to believe that God created everything. They consider a random and impersonal beginning to be a more scientific explanation than the traditionally held idea that an intelligent Designer is behind everything.
The same attitude is reflected in the way they regard study of the Bible. Disbelieving theologians refuse to acknowledge the fact that God can take part in the events of the world. They deny the virgin birth, deny God’s becoming a man, and they deny biblical prophecies and miracles. They consider these to be products of their time, representations of an old, mythical ideology that is no longer relevant in modern times. Their criticism prevents them from accepting these things and considering them to be true. This viewpoint is clearly illustrated by the quote below, a statement by David Friedrich Strauss who is considered one of the trailblazers in naturalistic study of the Bible:
“Thus, when we are faced with a story of a phenomenon or event that is clearly stated to be or that is assumed to be caused by the direct influence of God or the influence of a person with supernatural powers, we must consider such parts of the story untrue.” (7)
Deistic or naturalistic ideology. The claim of disbelieving theologians that the virgin birth, God’s becoming a man, and miracles are impossible is easy to refute with one statement: If there is an almighty God, then these occurrences pose no problems. They are not only possible, they are likely because such activities are what we can expect an almighty being to do. This is why the ultimate question is whether or not God exists. If we can answer that question, then the occurrences mentioned above are in no way surprising.
The ideology shared by disbelieving theologians is in truth deistic or naturalistic. These ideologies are based on religious attitudes, not science.
Deism assumes that the universe is closed from the influence of God because God is not interested in it. Deists believe that God started the universe but has not influenced it since. This is why miracles cannot occur and the miracles mentioned in the Bible are impossible. Deists consider the universe to be like a closed box that God cannot influence.
What is the inherent weakness of deism? It is a belief system that cannot be proven because we are limited beings. If a person knew for sure that God has not influenced any events, then the person him-/herself would have to be an omniscient being who is aware of all the events in history. Such omniscience cannot be attributed to any human being, not even a theologian. Since people are imperfect, they cannot have complete knowledge. A deist must be satisfied with his or her own prejudices instead of scientific proof.
Naturalism is an ideology that considers matter to be everything there is. This overrules the existence of God. Everything was created by itself with no influence from God. Furthermore, values are systems created by people and there is nothing after death; this means that naturalism is in practice the same as atheism. Many disbelieving theologians are naturalists even though they often use Christian terminology. They have simply changed the meaning of the terminology.
What is the inherent weakness of naturalism? It is the same as in the case of deism: because our knowledge and experiences are limited, nobody can prove that there is no God who has influenced the events of the world. If a person only knows one per cent of all the information out there, who can say that God is not part of the 99% of information we do not know? Since our knowledge is so limited, it is clear that naturalism is not scientifically verified information; it is an ideology supported by faith.
What does the evidence suggest? The only scientific way to study history is to study the accounts of eyewitnesses and interviewing them. This is the only way we can get in touch with the events of the past. These accounts are a link that allows us to learn about the past.
The stories in the New Testament meet this requirement: the authors either witnessed the events themselves or talked with people who saw them. It is also stated that they told the truth and did not lie. There is no better starting point for finding out what happened. This is the most scientific approach we can take.
What happens, then, when a disbelieving theologian refuses to accept the information provided by eyewitnesses? The simple answer is: the theologian tumbles into an unscientific approach and a sea of imaginary stories. The theologian believes that he or she can tell "what actually happened" 2,000 years after the fact – which is a completely absurd idea. This is not possible: the theologian will only have to guess and use his or her imagination because the theologian can only use the same sources as the rest of us. The early sources contradict theologians’ assumptions.
- (John 1:14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
- (1 John 1:1-3) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show to you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
- (Luke 1:1-4) For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
2 Even as they delivered them to us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus,
4 That you might know the certainty of those things, wherein you have been instructed.
- (2 Peter 1:16) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
- (John 19:35) And he that saw it bore record, and his record is true: and he knows that he said true, that you might believe.
- (John 21:24) This is the disciple which testifies of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
Events described in the New and Old Testaments can also be verified using external references. Archaeological findings, notes written by historians living in the same era, and supplemental information provided by apostolic fathers all repeatedly support the Bible’s historical accuracy. These recorded accounts confirm the existence of dozens of rulers, individuals and geographic locations that were originally only known through accounts found in the Bible. These accounts provide strong evidence that these did in fact exist.
The next quote is about Luke the physician’s skills as an historian. (Other Gospels in addition to Luke’s describe the same events.) If Luke was very faithful when describing relatively minute details – whose accuracy can be confirmed by comparison with other sources – why would he be less faithful when describing miracles or other occurrences that cannot be confirmed through external sources? Only disbelieving theologians’ naturalistic prejudices prevent them from accepting these truths.
In a sense, this is exactly what archaeology does. If ancient historical details have been proven to be correct time and time again, we should also trust the stories of the historian in question that cannot be confirmed in the same way.
I asked for a professional opinion from McRay. – What do you think: does archaeology prove or disprove the reliability of the New Testament when archaeologists study the details included in the stories?
McRay immediately replied. – The studies make the New Testament more reliable, there is no question of that. Just like any ancient document is more reliable if archaeologists notice when proceeding with their digs that the author provided correct information about a location or event. (...)
– The consensus among both liberal and conservative scientists is that Luke was a very faithful historian, McRay replied. – He was a learned man, he was eloquent, his command of Greek was almost classical, he wrote like a well-educated man and archaeological findings have proven time and time again that Luke was very precise in his writings.
McRay added that in many cases related to the harbour stories, scientists at first thought that some of Luke's references were false, but later findings have confirmed that he wrote the information correctly. (...) One prominent archaeologist carefully studied Luke's references of 32 countries, 54 cities and nine islands without finding a single error. (8)
DISBELIEVING THEOLOGIAN'S IDEA OF THE BIBLE. We studied some aspects of how a disbelieving theologian regards the Bible. We noted that disbelieving theologians support a deistic or naturalistic ideology and they interpret the Bible based on this ideology. We have also noted that disbelieving theologians highly value their own common sense but doubt many of the events in the Bible.
We will study the way disbelieving theologians feel about the Bible in more detail in this chapter. The plan is to study the most important aspects and how they differ from the traditional view of Christianity. Disbelieving theologians' view of the Bible is usually based upon the following (at least):
No resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit (Acts 23:8). As noted above, many disbelieving theologians consider the universe to be closed from God and anything supernatural. This is why they do not believe the miracles in the Bible or that God could have spoken through written words.
It is interesting to note that there is a group in the Bible that is very similar to the modern disbelieving theologians: the Sadducees. Their way of thinking was not very different from that of the modern disbelieving theologians: they also considered the universe to be closed. They claimed that there was no resurrection, angels or spirits. There were Sadducees during the times of Jesus and also later on when Paul was in active duty:
- (Matt 22:23-30) The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,
24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed to his brother.
25 Now there were with us seven brothers: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife to his brother:
26 Likewise the second also, and the third, to the seventh.
27 And last of all the woman died also.
28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
29 Jesus answered and said to them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
- (Acts 23:6-11) But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as you have testified of me in Jerusalem, so must you bear witness also at Rome.
Another similar description is also available in the Acts of the Apostles: Paul’s meeting with Greek philosophers. Their ideology was almost exactly the same as that of the Sadducees and modern disbelieving theologians; they did not consider resurrection possible:
- (Acts 17:16-23, 30-33) Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached to them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19 And they took him, and brought him to Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof you speak, is?
20 For you bring certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21 For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.
22 Then Paul stood in the middle of Mars' hill, and said, You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I to you.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent:
31 Because he has appointed a day, inwhich he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear you again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
Has God said? (Gen 3:1) One commonly held opinion amongst disbelieving theologians is that the Bible is not actually the word of God. They deny this fact, just as Satan did in Paradise. They consider the Bible to be a collection of people’s interpretations and opinions about God: their feelings, ideas and conceptions. Or they say, "It was Peter who said that.", or, "It was Paul who said that." But they do not consider the Bible to be the record of God's words spoken to us. This doubt controls everything; such a person rarely even wants to know the truth. (Jesus promised thatHe that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened” (Matt 7:8), and ”If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17). Their doubt hides their own selfishness:
It is exactly this doubt that can be claimed to be "honest" and "truth-loving". It has an excellent logical façade that is based on a great "scientific way of thinking". It is just this doubt that is expressed in Pilate's question: "What is truth?"
Nevertheless, the doubt hides a great deal of selfishness. It is only selfishness that has turned towards one's own great "self" or "the self of the humankind" and focuses on them. We could call it intellect that is not seeking for the face of God.
… I don’t mean to claim that there are no honest doubts but I do dare to claim that this is very, very rare. A clear sign of an honest disbeliever is that he wants to be released from his doubts and he is willing to try any route leading away from disbelief. If the disbeliever is not interested in this, then his/her doubt is only a mask that covers their selfishness. (9)
Another quote further illustrates the way disbelieving theologians and religious liberals think. They consider truth to be relative and that every spiritual viewpoint is equally good. They are of the opinion that doctrine is not the important factor in a religion; the most important thing is how the religion helps us in our lives. Thus, they reject as being irrelevant the most important factors: God's Being and personality, and the existence of grace, sin, heaven, and hell. . If this is not a foolish attitude, then what is? The single underlying cause of such an attitude is disbelief. Steven Weinberg, an atheist and physicist, has aptly addressed this point:
Religiously liberal people are in a sense further away from scientists than fundamentalists and other conservative Christians when it comes to their way of thinking. The conservatives at least say, like the scientists, that they believe what they believe because they consider it to be the truth, not because it makes them happy or good. Many religious liberals seem to think that people can believe in completely different things without any of them being wrong, as long as their belief "works for them". One person believes in reincarnation, another in heaven and hell, a third in the soul being destroyed when you die, but you cannot say that anyone of these people is wrong as long as their belief stirs them spiritually. - -
Wolfgang Paul was once asked whether a particularly poorly done publication was wrong or not. He said that this term was too polite – the essay was not even wrong. In my opinion, religious conservatives are wrong in what they believe but they have still not forgotten what believing in something means. In my eyes, religious liberals do not even seem to be wrong.
You often hear people say that the important thing in religion is not theology but the way the religion helps us in our lives. How weird is it that people consider the existence and being of God, grace and sin, heaven and hell unimportant! I presume that people do not consider the theology of their assumed religion important because they do not want to admit to themselves that they do not believe any of it. (10)
Genesis. Holding a critical attitude towards Genesis is a typical trait of a disbelieving theologian, which is most likely the product of their belief in the theory of evolution, as stated above. They suspect the Creation and our beginnings as depicted in the Bible.
Have disbelieving theologians ever carefully thought through the entire subject? Maybe they have failed to note the following:
- Both events – Divine Creation or big bang/evolution – demand an exercise of faith. They are beliefs about events that occurred in the past, and neither can be proven absolutely true. This is because we cannot go back in time to see what actually happened.
- The atheistic philosophy includes such ideas as the big bang, the birth of galaxies, the birth of the solar system, the creation of life and intermediate forms between species. The birth of galaxies has not been proven and the birth of the solar system remains a mystery, as does the creation of life. No intermediate forms have been found. Furthermore, the big bang – the idea that countless beautiful animals, plants, oceans, stars, our Sun and everything in our infinitely huge universe came into being from a space of which size was a pinpoint – is simply illogical.
- In addition to the Creation, Genesis describes the Fall, the Flood and the confusion of languages.
The complexity and beauty of nature proves Creation. Our intelligence and the fact that we differ from animals is also consistent with the Bible: humans are different from the rest of the creation in, for example, that they have given names to all the animals (Gen 2:20).
Another important point is that the Fall, the Flood and the confusion of languages can be found in the traditions of several peoples, and there are signs of the Flood on all of the world's tall mountains. These practical observations are clearly more consistent with records in the Bible than they are with atheistic claims.
- When disbelieving theologians deny our creation as described in Genesis, they also either deny Jesus, or claim that He was a liar, or label Him ignorant. After all, Jesus spoke about the Creation, the Flood and the formation of humans – the last one already happened in the early stages of the world’s Creation. He considered these to be actual events:
- (Matt 19:3-6) The Pharisees also came to him, tempting him, and saying to him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?
6 Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
- (Mark 10:6-9) But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and join to his wife;
8 And they two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
- (Matt 24:36-39, 44) But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
44 Therefore be you also ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes.
Rejecting the Word is another common characteristic of a disbelieving theologian. Their attitude towards the Word is negative and unbelieving.
Jesus touched on this subject in one of His parables. He described groups of people who cannot be influenced by the seed of the Word. One was the group of people from whose hearts the devil took the Word so that they would not believe and so be saved. Jesus’ words seem to best apply to people who can read the Word but do not believe it; thus, God cannot influence their lives. Consider:
- (Matt 13: 3-9,18-23) And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and immediately they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred times, some sixty times, some thirty times.
9 Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
18 Hear you therefore the parable of the sower.
19 When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;
21 Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended.
22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty.
- (Luke 8:11,12) Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
MORALS. When we talk about morals, we must first understand the foundation of Christian morality. It is based on the belief that there exists an almighty God who created the universe and all its people. If we fail to understand this, we cannot address theism or Christian morals. The origins of people and the natural world must first be agreed upon before turning toward examination of the notions of right and wrong.
This means that since theism is based on the belief that God created everything He must also be the source of our morality. Our ethics come from beyond our natural world; they are given to us by an infinite and personal God and, in particular, they reflect His good nature. Goodness is a reflection of God, and it is manifested particularly in the life of Jesus and the laws and teachings available in the Bible. God’s instructions and laws include the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and in numerous other lessons found in the New Testament gospels and letters. By studying these lessons we can learn what is right and wrong.
Disbelieving theologians think differently about the source of morality and ethics, because they rely upon deistic or naturalistic ideologies, and they place great weight on Darwin’s work. Thus, they do not believe there is any supernatural influence upon our moral codes. They do not believe in the existence of objective truth, and do not believe that universal and eternally valid behavior models exist for people. In their opinion, ethical conduct is not defined in the Bible.
They believe that values are created by people who act independently from supernatural influence. This is a logical outcome of their rejection of God as Creator and belief that reason and morality developed in stages. The Humanist Manifesto II illustrates this commonly shared naturalistic view of disbelieving theologians:
“We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics are autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction.”
So, how are the morals of a disbelieving theologian different from those held by traditional Christians? Are there any major differences?
In brief, one can state that there are many similarities, which is no surprise. This is because people by nature know the difference between right and wrong, as is stated in the Letter to the Romans; thus, we find no major differences. We all make ethical evaluations all the time, i.e. we differentiate right from wrong simply because we are ethical beings:
- (Rom 2:14,15) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves:
15 Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;
There are some differences, however, and new differences seem to appear over time. When disbelieving theologians study the development of society, their morals also change. Since they do not consider the ethical instructions of the Bible to be up-to-date, they would rather use the values and valuations of the society instead of the revelation of the Bible. This has happened in the case of homosexuality and premarital/extramarital affairs; they want to be “tolerant, moderate and loving”. They do not consider these things to be sins that will take us away from God; they consider these to be acceptable models of behavior. For example, Bishop John T. Robinson wrote:
There is nothing that is simply wrong. We cannot start from the claim that sexual relations before marriage or divorce is wrong or sinful as such. - - - There are no ”ready-made” moral solutions for Christians. (11)
The passage above illustrates the difference between relative morality and Biblical morality as evident in sexuality, in particular. There arises great confusion in this area when people no longer believe God’s instruction as we are given in the Bible.
In this matter we should return to the very beginning, the Creation. A good basis for sexual ethics can be found in the Creation of man and in the book of Genesis (which people want to deny). Jesus referred to this act of creation when he was teaching people about divorce. He taught us that marriage is meant to be permanent and should not be dissolved. The same passage also shows that God created man and woman to complement each other. He did not create two men or two women; He created two sexes. People no longer want to believe in what Bible says and thus want to deny this and replace it with different kinds of models. A disbelieving theologian would prefer to take his or her lead from these models rather than from the model given to us through Jesus and that was evident during Creation.
- (Matt 19:3-6) The Pharisees also came to him, tempting him, and saying to him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?
6 Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
DISBELIEVING THEOLOGIANS AND SALVATION. Disbelieving theologians do have some kind of an idea about salvation but a very different one compared to the traditional Christian view. Their way of thinking usually includes the points listed below.
- Many truths and many roads
- Measuring religion on moral grounds only
Many truths and many roads. One claim made by disbelieving theologians is that truth is relative and that there are several truths. They do not believe in the existence of a single truth that can only be found in the Bible. They consider such a view to be narrow-minded. They do not place much weight on what we believe. We can choose the type of Christianity that pleases us, or maybe a different religion altogether. No view is better than any others. The only important thing is that people should apply their moral ideals to their lives. People can be good Muslims, Jews, Christians, or can choose to believe in nothing since all roads are equally good. The only way to measure religion is by its morality. Nothing else – such as Jesus’ death to redeem our souls, sin itself, heaven or hell – none of that matters.
The following quote illustrates this type of thinking well. The quote suggests that all roads lead to the top, i.e. to God, and we can believe in what we want because it does not matter. This is considered to be a liberal idea, but it is in fact a philosophical viewpoint that is difficult to support.
Socrates: How can you know that they all go to the top?
Sanna: How can you know that they do not?
Socrates: I do not know. And I do not claim that I do. But you claim that you know that they do end up there. How can you know this if you are not standing at the top?
Sanna: No, I am not at the top. I do not assume that.
Socrates: Obviously, you are assuming something else – you assume that you know that all religions are of human origin, that they are rather our ways to God than God's ways to us. This is what you think of religion, is it not?
Socrates: How can you know that? How can you know that it is not the opposite, as your own religion – the Bible – claims: that God searches for people more than people search for God?
Sanna: I do not know. But does it make any difference?
Socrates: If it is the invention of God and not ours – note that I do not know if it is or not – it would make sense that there would only be one way made by God. If, on the other hand, religion comes from man, it would make sense that there are many ways, because there are many people, nations, and cultures. And if religion comes from man, it would make sense that all religions are equal in principle, because they are human, limited combinations of good and bad. If religion comes from God, it would make sense that other religions, human religions, would be of lower rank than the religion of God, because human things are of lower rank than divine ones. (12)
Another issue disbelieving theologians fail to take into account is the fact that their views are very similar to those of Hinduism. They are of the opinion that there are many equal roads to God, and this is exactly what Hinduism teaches. So, are disbelieving theologians actually Hindus? Their ideas are very similar to this religion. One of the sacred books of the Hindu state:
Oh Paartha, no matter how the people approach me, I will receive them; whatever way they use, it is also my way. (13)
Jesus’ words. The idea of disbelieving theologians that all roads and all religions are equal goes against what Jesus said. He did not teach that we can take many roads to get to God. Instead, He said that there is only one road: Himself. He also said that He is the truth. The fact that Jesus frankly said this precludes all other alternatives. To a liberal person, this may appear to be especially narrow-minded, but we should approach this matter from the point, whether or not Jesus’ statement is true. If Jesus was telling the truth when He said that He is the only way to reach God and get eternal life, then we must take heed that. In addition, Jesus’ words are important because He led a pure and holy life – which was admitted by both the people opposing Him and His disciples – and the fact that several prophecies came true in Him. This is a good starting point for believing that He told the truth. A person who does not believe that Jesus was telling the truth claims to believe the opposite: that Jesus was a liar and ignorant. Disbelieving theologians are such people.
- (John 8:44-46) You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45 And because I tell you the truth, you believe me not.
46 Which of you convinces me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me?
- (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
- (John 10:9) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Measuring religion solely on moral grounds. Another practice of disbelieving theologians is that they judge religions solely on their teachings of moral conduct. They consider ethical behavior to be the core of Christianity’s message, and therefore do not believe that Christ and his work of atonement are the most important factors. Instead, they focus on the importance of having right values and conforming to accepted standards of behavior. They believe that God’s most important message to the modern world is that we should develop a high ethical standard. This is why it does not matter what we believe in. It’s only the way that we live our lives that matters. People can believe in Christ or not; this does not carry any major significance.
For the same reason, disbelieving theologians consider the differences between different religions to be non-existent. Since they believe that religions are to be measured by their moral or ethical tenets, one belief system cannot be superior to others. Disbelieving theologians believe that all religions teach basically the same tenets, even though they may appear different. People can represent any religion whatsoever and this does not matter, because only morality matters. All roads lead to God.
Morality is a universal issue. If we consider disbelieving theologians’ stance on the importance of morals (codes of conduct), we find that they correctly conclude that morality is an important part of various religions. Codes of conduct can be found in Hinduism’s Law of Karma, the Eightfold Path of Buddhism, Confucianism, and other religions. One cannot deny that these teachings are similar to that in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and to other lessons in the New Testament. Jesus taught us to love our neighbours as ourselves, which is actually nothing new. (Matt 22:35-40: Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.) People have known this through the ages even though many people have failed to obey the commandment. Worldly laws also have features in which matters are separated morally.
So, what is missing from this idea of good deeds and conduct? Even though these are valuable and good, there is one great inherent weakness: they do not produce an assurance of salvation. People will never know whether they have done enough, whether they are good enough or whether God accepts their efforts. A person cannot find assurance by examining him-/herself or by doing his/her best. This is stated as fact by all the major religions including Christianity. If we do not take the atonement of Jesus Christ seriously, then we cannot know that we are going to heaven. Paul Little describes his observations:
The Muslims do not have an assurance of salvation either. I have often asked the Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists whether they are going to nirvana or heaven after they die. None of them has been able to give me a definitive answer. They have rather referred to the incompleteness of their life, which is an impediment in reaching this goal. (14)
The reason why we cannot find the assurance of salvation in ourselves is simple: we are sinful and imperfect beings, which is clearly noted in the verses below. Since we’re not 100% perfect, we cannot find assurance on this basis:
- (Rom 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
- (1 John 1:8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
How can we resolve this lack of assurance of our own salvation? It is the same old thing that disbelieving theologians want to deny and which they belittle: Jesus Christ died to atone for our sins. For when disbelieving theologians deny Christ’s atonement and God’s forgiveness, replacing them with dogma and ethical ideals – these beliefs do not offer people any assurance of salvation, or even any hope. They only lead a person to a dead end.
At the core of the Gospel we find Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became a man, who died and was resurrected, and who forgave our sins and assured us access to God. Our salvation does not come from following roads that have been built by people to reach God; it comes from a loving God who reached out to us, who reconciled us to Himself through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. God gave us the gift of eternal life. Our salvation does not depend on what we do, it depends upon something someone else did for us. Consider these passages from the Holy Bible:
God was the initiator
- (John 3:16,17) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
- (1 John 4:9,10) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
- (Rom 5:8) But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- (2 Cor 5:18-20) And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God.
Jesus died and carried our sins for us
- (Rom 5:6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
- (Rom 5:8) But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- (Rom 8:32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
- (Gal 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
- (Gal 3:13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree
- (1 Thess 5:10) Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
- (Tit 2:14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
- (1 John 3:16) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
- (1 Tim 2:6) Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
- (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
- (Hebr 6:20) Where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
- (Isa 53:5-6) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
- (Rom 4:25) Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.
Salvation is a gift
- (Eph 2:8-9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- (Rom 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the atonemen that is in Christ Jesus
- (Rev 21:6) And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
- (Rev 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Universalism, the claim that salvation is for everyone, is a belief commonly shared amongst disbelieving theologians. This doctrine is all about people being approved based on God’s Creation. In this doctrine, God’s only characteristic is love; no judgement of any kind is accepted. Hell does not exist. Judgement is considered incompatible with the goodness of God. “We will all be saved in the end,” they say.
What is the foundation for their belief? There is one great problem with this belief that everyone will be saved: No solid support can be found for such a conclusion. No support for this belief exists in the Bible. This belief is more the product of imagination and biased attitudes than it is the product of careful consideration. Such information does not carry much significance.
A person who has lived a couple of decades on the earth cannot know with certainty what comes after death. He may have opinions, but he does not have any personal experience about life after death; thus, trusting the "sure" opinions and claims of such a person is not advisable.
If we wanted to get directions to a specific address in New York City, would we be wise to ask someone living in China or Africa for directions? It would be impossible for such a person to provide us with correct information because they’ve never been to New York City. To get correct directions we must ask someone who has lived in New York City, and who knows every detail. Only such a person can correctly guide us.
The same applies to our search for answers about eternity. There is only one person who knows about life after death: Jesus, who came from eternity and returned there. He is completely certain about what waits for us on the other side of death because He is the Son of God and was with His Father, God, before coming to earth. He is surely the best and most reliable expert to whom we can turn.
A disbelieving theologian who does not believe these words is claiming that Jesus is both ignorant and a liar. Ultimately, the question we must each answer is, who has more information about and authority in these matters, a disbelieving theologian or Jesus Christ?
Jesus spoke about Himself and described His existence in eternity. He also told us about damnation and Heaven. Consider His words carefully:
- (John 6:38-43,47) For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Father's will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he said, I came down from heaven?
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, Murmur not among yourselves.
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me has everlasting life.
- (John 7:32-36) The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.
33 Then said Jesus to them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go to him that sent me.
34 You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come.
35 Then said the Jews among themselves, Where will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go to the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
36 What manner of saying is this that he said, You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come?
- (John 16:27,28) For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
(John 17:3-5) And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
4 I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
- (John 8:23,24) And he said to them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.
- (Matt 16:25,26) For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
- (Matt 5:21,22) You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
- (Matt 7:13,14) Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
- (Matt 8:11,12) And I say to you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- (Matt 10:28) And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
- (Matt 25:41,46) Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
- (Rev 20:12-15) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
- (Rev 21:7,8) He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
- (Rev 22:14,15) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie.
- (Matt 5:20) For I say to you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
- (Matt 6:1) Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
- (Matt 7:20,21) Why by their fruits you shall know them.
21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
- (Matt 6:19-21) Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
- (Matt 19:21-24) Jesus said to him, If you will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23 Then said Jesus to his disciples, Truly I say to you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
- (Matt 18:2-4) And Jesus called a little child to him, and set him in the middle of them,
3 And said, Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
- (Rev 21:1-6) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
The conversation below is about this matter. The firm belief of a disbelieving theologian in universalism is difficult to justify with the Bible. The Bible does not support universalism. This is why disbelieving theologians must rely on a way of thinking they cannot prove right, an ideology that is based on their imagination and what they want to believe.
We should also note that the other religions that disbelieving theologians also like to defend mention hell and judgement: Buddhism and Islam, for example. They also recognise the fact that people will have to carry the responsibility for their own actions.
The owner of the village hotel was a universalist. The next morning I started my day, as usual, by inviting people to the meeting and talking with them about their souls. The people of the village were agitated. After having talked to a couple of people I entered a tailor’s shop where I met with a group of people talking about my sermon of the previous evening. I had not heard about the hotel owner before but I met him at the tailor’s shop. He was among the crowd, defending his views. When I entered and made a few remarks, I immediately noticed having started a lively conversation. The hotel owner stepped forward, supported by his friends, to debate my opinion and defend the ideology of all people being saved. Someone introduced him to me. I said, “I would love to discuss your opinions but if we are to discuss, we must first agree on the rules of the discussion.”
So, after having agreed on the basic rules, we launched into our respective argumentation. It did not take long for me to disprove each and every one of his claims. He was not very familiar with the Bible and he had a uniquely peculiar way of quoting the parts of the Scripture he knew, mainly those opposing universalism. However, like a true universalist, he mainly focused on the question of the absolute injustice of eternal damnation.
I soon proved it to him and his friends that if you consider the Bible, you could see that his arguments were on a very weak foundation. At that time, he stated that no matter what the Bible says, eternal damnation is still unfair and if the Bible threatened that people would end up in eternal damnation, it could not be true. This resolved the case of the Bible. In fact, it was easy for me to note that they were all doubtful and did not want to concede because they noticed that their opinions were contrary to the Bible. Then I started to argue the fairness of eternal damnation with him. I noticed that his friends became restless and I felt that the ground on which they were standing started to falter. Soon one of them left the shop. As I continued, another one left, and finally all of them left him when they apparently noticed, one after the other, that he was completely wrong.
He had been their leader, and God offered me the opportunity to tire him out in the presence of his supporters. When there was no longer anything left to say, I stressed the fact that he should immediately pay attention to the issue of salvation, and wished him a friendly good morning. Then I left, confident that I would soon hear more of this conversation. (...) His pains increased, and when he finally told me what was bothering him, he at first told me about his anxiety about his sins and then conveyed his belief in Christ. Within the course of a couple of days, his friends also found God, and I believe that revivalism made them pure. (15)
Imaginary god. The major reason why disbelieving theologians believe that everybody will be saved is that they have an imaginary god. They have chosen in their minds a god that pleases them and then commit to this idea. They only accept the parts of God that please them and reject others, the possibility of judgement, in particular. They have no concrete evidence to support their ideas and they are unable to tell from where they got this information.
Let’s study a related quote. The quote shows that a person can choose in his or her mind the god that pleases him/her. They only accept the Bible’s teachings about a loving and forgiving God but reject that He judges the unrepentant. Such theology is characteristic of many disbelieving theologians. They only accept the nice things in the Bible and reject the things they do not like. In such a case, we should question why they even bother reading the Bible or other literature if they have already decided what they want to believe. All such reading is pointless.
Sanna: So you mean that we should not interpret the Book based on our beliefs?
Socrates: Of course not! Doing so is confusing interpretation with belief.
Socrates: Besides, if you do so, why do you need the Bible at all?
Sanna: What do you mean?
Socrates: If it agrees with you, it is unnecessary and if it doesn’t, it’s wrong. Why read a book that must be unnecessary and wrong? In fact, why read anything or listen to anybody? After all, everything is unnecessary and wrong... Do you have any proof of God's forgiveness?
Sanna: No, I do not.
Socrates: So you only know through Jesus and from the Bible that God is forgiving.
Socrates: Do these two sources say anything about God’s punishment, justice and judgement, or hell?
Sanna: Yes, they do.
Socrates: All of these three things are taught by the Bible?
Sanna: Yes, they are.
Socrates: Does Jesus also teach all of these three things?
Sanna: Well yes, in his parables, but in my interpretation...
Socrates: It is only fable?
Socrates: So, why don’t you think that Jesus’ teachings about the loving and forgiving God are also fables?
Sanna: I simply cannot believe that God is unforgiving...
Socrates: The only reason why you do this is that the literal judgement by God contradicts your belief system. (...) Your believing in God being forgiving but not judgmental is a little like a bar of chocolate, right? It is a wonderful idea, the idea that when we deal with God, we will only be faced with one side of God’s fairness. The fact that God will reward you for being good but will not punish you for being bad – isn’t that a wonderful and attractive idea? Is it not true that it attracts you like a bar of chocolate? (...)
Sanna: Alright, let me teach you one thing. Socrates, there is one thing I know for sure. God is love, not a judge. God is a silent, small voice, not an earthquake.
Socrates: I’m not going to go into how you know that now. However, I will ask you one question: Why could God not be both?
Sanna: How would that be possible?
Socrates: Does love not make it own assessments? Does not love have eyes? Could love not equally well be an earthquake than a silent, small voice? In fact, could love not be the largest earthquake of them all?
Sanna: I don’t know which God you believe in but I prefer the God of peace.
Socrates: That may be the case, but the problem is that it is not about what you prefer but what is the truth.
Sanna: It is a question of which god I choose to believe.
Socrates: Do you select your beliefs like you would select a bar of chocolate?
Sanna (confused): Well, of course not... I don’t know anymore...
Socrates: Hah, those are the magical words! (16)
DISBELIEVING THEOLOGIAN'S PROBLEM. One of the things that disbelieving theologians believe is that there is no original sin. They do not believe that the Fall occurred, that it took place at a certain time and place, or that every generation since the Fall has paid the penalty. They do not believe the Bible’s description even though it fits with our modern reality. (Rom 5:12: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned –). This can be clearly seen in newspaper articles reporting domestic violence, wars and illegal acts, or when seeing people get sick and die.
The same problem applies to internal condition of disbelieving theologians. They have never seen themselves as sinners – people who are far away from God. They do not know what it’s like to see yourself in the light of God and how the law points out sin, and thus they do not understand that they need to be forgiven and saved. Quite the contrary: They often are self-centered and proud, and believe themselves to be progressive, scientific and liberal, better than other people. They compare themselves and their wisdom to that of others, even though the Bible warns that God does not like pride:
- (James 4:6) But he gives more grace. Therefore he says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
What does the Bible teach about this subject?
It teaches that we must be humble in front of God and confess that our pride is a sin. If we do this, God can forgive us. So, confess to God your sin of pride, ask Him to forgive you in the name of His son, Jesus Christ, and you will be forgiven.
- (1 Peter 5:5) Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time
- (1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Turn to Jesus Christ with all your heart, because only He can give eternal life. Ask Him to enter your life and give yourself to Him:
- (John 5:39,40) Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And you will not come to me, that you might have life.
So, if you have turned to Jesus Christ and received Him in your life, you are a child of God and have eternal life. You have eternal life regardless of what you feel right now. Do not base your assurance of salvation on your ever-changing emotions, but rely on the word of the Bible and on Jesus Christ, just like the anchor of a ship is always thrown outside the ship, never inside.
- (John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name
- (1 John 5:11-13) And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
13 These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
THE PRAYER OF SALVATION: Lord, Jesus, I turn to You. I confess that I have sinned against You and have not lived according to Your will. However, I want to turn away from my sins and follow You with all my heart. I also believe that my sins have been forgiven through Your atonement and I have received eternal life through You. I thank You for the salvation that You have given me. Amen.
1. Charles Darwin: The Life and Letter of Charles Darwin Including an Autobiographical Chapter. (1887, 1: 315-316), Toim. Fancis Darwin. London: John Murray.
2. Darwin, F & Seward A. C. toim. (1903, 1: 184): More letters of Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray.
3. Charles Darwin: The origin of species, vol 2, 6 th ed., p. 49 –
4. Charles Darwin: Lajien synty (The origin of species), p. 446
5. Charles Darwin: Lajien synty (The origin of species), p. 457
6. Richard Owen; sit. Søren Løvtrup (1987) Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth. London: Croom Helm
7. David Friedrich Strauss: The Life of Jesus Critically Examined. London: SCM, 1973
8. Lee Strobel: Tapaus Kristus (The Case for Christ), p. 132-134,136
9. Olav Valen-Sendstad: Ihminen kohtaa Jumalan (Ordet og troen), p. 28, 31
10. Steven Weinberg: Unelmia viimeisestä teoriasta, p. 242,243, New York: Basic
11. John T. Robinson: Rehellinen Jumalan edessä (Honest to God)
12. Peter Kreeft: Sokrates & Jeesus, p. 62,63
13. Bhagavadagita (IV:11)
14. Paul Little: Tiedä miksi uskot (Know Why You Believe), p. 129
15. Charles G. Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä, p. 101 – 104
16. Peter Kreeft: Sokrates & Jeesus, p. 34-36
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!