A couple of years ago, Timo Eskola wrote Ateistit alttarilla, a book about priests and theologians who want to completely reject the traditional Christian doctrines 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.
In this text we are going to discuss those beliefs that many current priests and theologians have, in particular those, who deny the fundamentals of Christianity. Our goal is to understand, how they view the nature of Christian beliefs and, how it differs from the views of the New Testament. The purpose of this text is not to attack against anyone, but to get these people to think that maybe they are wrong and lost after all, although they themselves think otherwise.
The thoughts of a well-known Episcopal church’s bishop, John Shelby Spong, serve as the starting point for this text. He is one of those new priests that have abandoned traditional Christian views. Among other things, he doesn’t believe in a personal God, fast creation nor does he believe in atonement, which is the backbone of Christian thinking. He has taught differently about these and other core aspects of Christianity than, what we have been used to for centuries since the times of early congregation. That is why we should discuss the correctness of his views. We begin with the so called scientific worldview that is behind Spong’s thinking and which is the reason, why many others deny many of the teachings and core aspects of Christian beliefs.
1. Scientific or false worldview
2. “Scientific Bible research”
3. Origin of man and the Fall
4. Perception of sin
5. Denying the meaning of Jesus
6. Misleading priests
1. Scientific or false worldview? One of the main reasons, why priests and theologians deny the fundamentals of Christianity is the so called scientific worldview. By that they often mean the view that is based on Darwin’s theory, i.e. millions of years and that everything came to be by itself. They much rather hold on to these theories than to that historical perception that God created all and that the early history of the Bible is true. They think the early chapters of the Bible present an outdated and unscientific view of the world, whereas Darwin’s theory and the coming about by itself are scientific depictions of how the world developed to its current state.
The well-known bishop John Shelby Spong is a prime example of this kind of thinking. According to his opinion all early depictions of the Bible and interpretations of Christianity’s first century should be thrown away, as they represent outdated views and are bound to their time. That is why he abandons the Fall, atonement and creation, and instead of those, he believes in the evolutionary theory. Darwin has an important part in Spong’s thinking and it comes clear in his public theses. This is what he has said:
” 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.”
John Spong goes on about the same topic in his book “Why Christianity Must Change or Die”. He refers to Darwin, to millions of years, the origin of galaxies and how humans have developed from lower lifeforms. He practically believes more in these theories than in God creating the world in a short period of time:
In 1859 Darwin’s most significant work, On the Origin of Species, was published. With the publication of this book also began to crumble the base for last religious descriptions about human origin… A claim stating that creation is good, implies that we are stating creation to be at its end. But Darwin showed that creation has not ended even to this day. New galaxies are still being born… Thus, no Fall ever happened. In some way, everyone is still continuously struggling to be able to go deeper and genuinely be themselves. We humans have developed slowly but steadily during an evolution process that has lasted for billions of year s. We were not created in the image of God in any literal sense. We simply developed from lower lifeforms and eventually we also developed a higher consciousness than other species. (1)
What does the evidence suggest? Many faithless priests and theologians are like John Spong. They much rather believe in the former theories than in God’s swift creation. Yet, they don’t consider or have not thought about the fact that they have replaced one belief with another. As both perceptions – depiction by the Bible, and accidental coming about and development – are about faith. It is due to a simple reason: we cannot certify the events of the past. Questions concerning the Universe and the origin of life all belong to the realm of faith. None of us were there to witness these events taking place. There are only different theories about how it all came to be, but scientifically it is impossible to prove any of them. We cannot go back to the past and see how it all went, and that is why we’re all in the same boat.
Thus, when priests and theologians hold on to the previously mentioned theories by John Spong, they have replaced one faith with another. It is not a question of science, but a question of blind belief in unproved theories. The following are such things. None of these have been observed, although some might claim otherwise:
• The Big Bang 15 billion years ago, ergo the thought of a pin sized space generating the current Universe by itself: galaxies, the Sun, planets, oceans, mountains, people, flowers, butterflies, worms, giraffes, birds, cheetahs, elephants and everything else that exists. It is comparable to someone taking a matchbox (which is much bigger than a pin) in their hand and saying that from inside the box will come all kinds of things, such as the oceans, galaxies, people, elephants and all the other things already mentioned. They claim it is a scientific fact and that you should not question it, because all the rational scientists believe in it.
However, such a theory should be questioned. It is clear that it won’t happen and that believeing in such things is nonsense. It indicates a lack of thinking if we believe in this kind of theory. It wasn’t for nothing, when the pope wrote that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.
- (1 Cor 1:19,20) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
• The origin of galaxies. In an earlier extract John Spong spoke about the origin of galaxies, but it has not been observed:
I do not want to claim that we really understand the process that created the galaxies. The theory on the birth of the galaxies is one of the major unsolved problems in astrophysics and we still seem to be far from the actual solution even today. (Steven Weinberg: Kolme ensimmäistä minuuttia, s. 88)
It is quite embarrassing that no one has explained the origin of them (galaxies)… Most of the astronomers and cosmologists openly admit that there is no sufficient theory for the formation of the galaxies. In other words, one of the central features of the universe is without an explanation. (W.R. Corliss: A Catalog of Astronomical Anomalies, Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos, p. 184, Sourcebook Project, 1987)
•The origin of the Solar System is a mystery. There are countless of theories around it, but they are merely speculations, because no person has been there to observe it. People are compelled to come up with all kinds of weird theories, as they know there is an origin to the Solar System, yet they refuse to believe in God’s creation.
• It is not known, how the world came to be on its own. This is believed, although no observation or scientific research support it. Scientists admit that life had a beginning, but as they don’t believe in creation, they are faced with an unsolved problem.
• How about the validity of evolutionary theory itself? Faithless theologians believe it, but it is interesting that evolutionists themselves have brought up facts in their texts that debunk the theory. That is enough to show that it is false.
This kind of material can also be found in Darwin’s writings. He himself admitted or was compelled to admit that he didn’t have actual material on one species transforming into another and that fossil data made him really question his theory. If Darwin’s statements are taken as they are, he didn’t have proof for evolutionary theory. His remarks, which are beautiful and explicit depictions of nature per se, only suggest variation within the created kinds. All the other wonderful examples, which come up in evolutionary literature (resistance of bacteria etc.) also fall in the same category. They are about species’ adaptation to changing environment, not about emergence of new species.
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)
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. (3)
People who believe that the story told by geology is somewhat complete will probably reject my theory without a second thought. (4)
• In his previous quotation John Spong brought up the notion of humans being the result of a long evolutionary process. He believes that for everything to have developed, it must have taken hundreds of millions of years.
These kinds of people should ask themselves though, whether they know any facts that would prove against those hundreds of millions of years. Have they even tried to familiarize themselves with the matter? Its seems as if they have uncritically accepted these periods of millions and billions of years, without realizing that they are unproved claims. Have they considered, e.g., the following aspects that go against geological charts and common time calculations?
• Why both human and dinosaur footprints can be found from the same strata e.g. in Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and in other parts of the United States?
• Why trilobites have been found underneath human footprints? According to the common belief trilobites lived 600-250 million years ago, which is long before dinosaurs.
• Why have we found bones of a modern human and items belonging to man from carbon layers that are “300 million years old”?
• Why do radiocarbon datings show ages of millions or even hundreds of millions of years for new lava containing rocks?
• Why can we find radiocarbon also from Cambrian period fossils and from dinosaurs that have been considered as being ten or even hundred million years old? The half-life of radiocarbon is only ca. 5700 years, and it shouldn’t appear at all after 100,000-200,000 years.
When John Spong and countless of other priests uncritically believe in everything coming about by itself, in life coming into existence on its own, in evolution and in millions of years, and they don’t take into consideration that most of the scientists are overwhelmed by spiritual blindness and can make mistakes. Scientists can think of themselves as being wise, but in reality they are unwise in spiritual matters. That is why they believe in the above, completely unproved and crazy, theories. Blind trust in these scientists won’t make you any wiser. These might sound like harsh words, but it is a testimony of the Bible about natural human. Every person is without God and Christ in some sense and in spiritual blindness. Human mind is twisted by sin. John Spong and other priests like him make a big mistake, when they blindly trust scientists’ materials and theories, which don’t have practical evidence.
- (1 Cor 2:14) But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
- (2 Cor 4:3,4) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
- (Matt 13:14,15) And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
- (Eph 4:17,18) This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you from now on walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
2. “Scientific Bible research”. When John Spong and faithless theologians like him believe in the evolutionary theory and in Darwin’s teachings, it is natural that they doubt the depiction of Bible about the beginning of life. They have hard time believing that God created everything. They think that a coincidental, impersonal and mindless beginning is a more scientific explanation than the traditional perception that a personal and intelligent God is behind everything.
The same attitude comes across in relation to all kinds of Bible research. John Spong and the like-minded faithless theologians don’t recognize the fact that God can intervene with the events of the world. They don’t accept virgin birth, God becoming a man or the narrations of the Bible about miracles and prophecies. They consider those as being the products of their own time. They represent a mythical or old worldview that doesn’t apply to current day. Logical criticality prevents them from accepting these facts and holding them true. This view clearly comes apparent from a few citations. The first citation comes from David Friedrich Strauss, who has been considered as one of the pioneers of naturalistic Bible research. The latter comment is from John Spong, who tells how the expansion of our knowledge has belied virgin birth and Ascension, among other things. Yet, Spong admits the general historical nature of Jesus:
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. (5)
In addition to writers of biblical era describing the coming of Jesus into our world as this supernatural event, according to creed the leaving of Jesus also happened in a supernatural way. He ascended, we say, having completed his heavenly two-way journey that began from his home that is heaven. Just as tales about the virgin birth of Jesus, our extended knowledge has belied tales about his literal Ascension.
… However, between those two creed sentences, which talk about the legendary and miraculous coming of Jesus into the world and His evenly miraculous leaving, fits a bit of historical truth, when we say that “He suffered during Pontius Pilate’s time, was crucified, died and was buried. This is about objective, historically measurable and literal facts.
Pontius Pilates was a real person. He served as a prefect in the Roman Judaea from 26 B.C. to 36 A.D. Crucifixion was a common way of execution for the ancient Romans. History really is in a very cruel way present in this part of the creed. (6)
Matter of science or incredulity? John Spong saying that virgin birth, God becoming a man and miracles are impossible, is easy to refute with one fact: if an almighty God does exist, the previously mentioned events are not a problem at all. They are possible and likely, because that is something that one can expect from an almighty being. That is why, in the end, it’s about His existence. If it’s resolved, the previous points are not surprising.
Why is it then that John Spong and other priests don’t consider depictions of the Bible as believable? One of the main reasons is the naturalistic worldview. This view of the world has shut away from God’s supernatural influence. Hence, depictions in Gospel about virgin birth, e.g., are impossible to accept for these kinds of people. This kind of perception often appears in the education of new priests, thus it is no wonder if they also adopt the same views.
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.
The major issue with research presented by many faithless theologians is that they are contradictory with the most important source, which is Gospel. Ergo, if we only cover the life of Jesus, He is referred to in Christian, Roman and Jewish texts. From these texts, the New Testament is the most important, as it is the oldest, we know the people, who wrote it, and it contains the most information. Texts from the outside usually confirm, what is said in the Gospel, but they don’t offer anything new per se.
As such, when we compare John Spong and the opinions of liberal priests with the New Testament, their perceptions don’t have a reliable base. They are based on assumptions, not on undisputed facts. If everyone is using exactly the same sources – the texts from the New Testament – these don’t support their perceptions. Texts from the New Testament mention the Resurrection, miracles and e.g. virgin birth, so these priests’ views are merely based on their own imagination, which is difficult to prove to be correct.
How about sources outside the New Testament? As said before, they don’t necessarily bring anything new, but they do confirm the most important aspects of, what is written about Jesus in the Gospel and in the Scriptures. The following mentions of Jesus pop up in these texts. It is worth noting that they mention the miracles and healings done by Jesus and the disciples. They also include, how the followers of Jesus thought of Him as God and Messiah. For example, John Spong thinks that the divinity of Jesus is from a later part of history and that miracles and the Resurrection didn’t really happen, but the old sources are against him.
- Jesus was a man filled with wisdom, if he can even be called a man (Josephus).
- Jesus was known by the name Jesus the Nazarene (Talmud).
- He said that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Talmud).
- He was a teacher (Josephus, Talmud).
- He had disciples (Talmud).
- He worked miracles (Josephus, Talmud).
- His disciples healed the sick and worked miracles (Talmud).
- Pilate (26–36 A.D.) condemned Him to death (Tacitus, Josephus) because of the provocation of influential Jewish men (Josephus) during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (14–37 AD.) (Tacitus).
- He was condemned to death on the cross (Josephus, Tacitus, Thallus, Talmud).
- There was darkness at the time of His crucifixion (Thallus).
- He was crucified during the Passover (Talmud).
- He rose from the dead (Josephus).
- The successors of Jesus regarded Him as God and sang songs to praise Him (Plinius the Younger).
- He had Jewish and Greek successors (Josephus).
- Faith in Christ originated from Judea (Tacitus, Josephus) and spread to Rome from there (Tacitus).
- Jesus' successors were called Christians (Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Plinius the Younger).
- Jesus had a brother called Jacob (Josephus).
- Jesus was called Christ or the Messiah (Josephus).
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. (7)
Turning to tales. Priests like John Spong often believe to be scientific and rational. As a consequence, they’ll abandon any view that would suggest to prophecies that have come true, to supernatural or to God’s influence in the world. They consider these things to be impossible and implausible. Due to this viewpoint, they’ll have to conjecture, why the Scriptures of the New Testament were written the way that they appear now. They think that they know, 2000 years later, “what really happed”, but that is a completely irrational assumption. They cannot know and have to rely on guesses and imagination, because they have the same sources available to them as everyone else. These early sources are not compatible with their assumptions.
One way that this affects the lives of researchers like John Spong is that they easily turn to stories and tales. (2 Tim 4:3,4: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.). When they don’t believe in the narrations of the New Testament, they’ll start to fabricate their own stories of, how Jesus really talked and what he did. This kind of distortion occurs repeatedly in the texts of liberal priests as well as in secular media (Da Vinci Code, etc.), and John Spong is no exception. Consequently, Spong has presented a view, among other things, that Jesus was married. Although he has no early sources to back him up, he’s still made up this kind of idea:
...Whose wedding was this? The story doesn’t say, but what it says is that the mother of Jesus was worried about the vine running out… Would wedding-guests be worried about such things? Not really, but the mother of the groom, who hosts the wedding, would absolutely worry. Indeed, how Maria acted, would have been completely out of place in this said event had she not been the host. Are we seeing a glimpse of Jesus’ own wedding here, a tradition that people have not been able to completely keep silent about. (8)
Not to talk too much about liberal priests’ imagination and fabricated stories, there are very good reasons to believe in the historical accuracy of the New Testament. Here are three reasons:
Eyewitnesses’ observations or eyewitnesses’ interviews are one of the most important reasons to believe in the historical accuracy of the events. These terms apply well to the New Testament, as the writers themselves had witnessed the events or had interviewed people that had:
- (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.
Speaking the truth. Another thing is that the writers said they were telling the truth. Many current theologians can disclaim this, but they must remember that the majority of the disciples had to suffer a martyr’s death, because of their belief. Hardly anyone is willing to die over a conscious lie:
- (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.
Major public events and well-known people. When the New Testament mentions major public events and well-known people, such as high priests or rulers, it indicates the true historical nature of the Testament. The Apostles might also, in their public speeches, appeal (Acts 2:14-36, 3:12-26, 7:2-53, 13:16-41, 17: 22-31, 22:3-21, 24:10-21, 26:2-23) to the fact that the listeners themselves knew matters and, therefore, they did not occur anywhere out of reach.
- (Matt 4:24,25) And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought to him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
- (Matt 16:9-11) Do you not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up?
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up?
11 How is it that you do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread, that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
- (Acts 2:22,40,41) You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the middle of you, as you yourselves also know
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.
- (Acts 26:24-26) And as he thus spoke for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, you are beside yourself; much learning does make you mad.
25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26 For the king knows of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
3. Origin of man and the Fall. If some priests believe in evolution and in millions of years, consequently, they have a hard time believing in the Fall. John Spong is one such example of this kind of thinking. He believes that life developed as the result of 4,5 – 5 billion years lasting evolutionary process, and that Adam and Eve were not the first people in human ancestry and that the Fall never happened. He has written the following:
We now know that human life developed as the result of 4,5 – 5 billion years lasting evolution process. The human race didn’t have any first parents, and thus it is not possible that disobedience of the first humans would have affected other humans in any way … Hence, the Fall never happened. In some way, everyone is still continuously struggling to be able to go deeper and genuinely be themselves. We humans have developed slowly but steadily during an evolution process that has lasted for billions of years… We humans don’t live in sin. Also, we are not born with sin… In some way, everyone is still continuously struggling to be able to go deeper and genuinely be themselves. Rather, we are the result of a long lasting evolutionary process and we are still developing. (9)
If we think about Spong’s claims in more detail, they appear to be against the Bible, and additionally, they also seem to be against practical observations. Here are a few examples that demonstrate this:
• As noted earlier, an evolutionary process that is said to have produced all the current species in the beginning from a single stem cell over a period of million years has not been proven by any fossils. A statement about fossil data from a late atheist paleontologist, Stephen Jay Gould, shows how there is no proof. John Spon’s thoughts about lengthy evolutionary processes have no grounds. A much more rational explanation would be that the species were roughly created the way that they are now, and it doesn’t have to be millions of years ago. Fossils support the idea that species have been separate from the beginning.
The extreme rareness of intermediate forms in fossil material continues to be the trade secret of palaeontologists. The evolution trees appearing in our textbooks include facts only at the heads and folding points of the branches. The rest is reasoning, no matter how reasonable it is, not evidence of fossils –- I do not want in any way to belittle the potential competence of the gradual evolution view. I want only to remark that it has never 'been observed' in rocks. (...) (10)
• When John Spong and numerous priests like him start off with the notion that the Fall never existed and that there is no sin, they are bound to run into a logical conflict: They have to explain evilness without sin. If violence, greed, betrayal, theft, sexual abuse or Hitler’s and other dictators’ wrongdoings towards others are not sin, then what are they? Are they merely shortcomings of men? Faith in the goodness of man isn’t supported by the surrounding reality of the world. It is much more logical to believe in the message of the Bible, which says the Fall of man has happened and that people are sinful. That is a realistic depiction of the current world. Additionally, the Fall is present in many nations’ heritage stories, hence it should be regarded as a historical fact.
- (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.
Can evil and suffering be reduced in the world then? John Spong and countless other priests like him don’t take a note of Jesus’ and the disciples’ teachings, but they do have good advice for reducing suffering: all people must repent, turn to God and let them be saved by Him. If this was done, evil and suffering would decrease tremendously in the world:
- (Acts 17:29,30) For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like to gold, or silver, or stone, graven by are and man's device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent
- (Acts 26:19,20) Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision:
20 But showed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
4. Perception of sin
- (Luke 13:2,3) And Jesus answering said to them, Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
- (Acts 17:29,30) For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like to gold, or silver, or stone, graven by are and man's device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent
- (1 Cor 6:9,10) Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
If we read the Bible and the above passages, we can see how Jesus and the Apostles preached repentance and faith in the Gospel. It meant that a person, who does not regret, and wants to stay unchanged and a sinner, cannot join God. The unrighteous ones shall not inherit the kingdom of God, as is written in the Corinthians. Or if God did forgive the ones, who don’t have regret, he would act against His essence. It would be equivalent to Him accepting wrongdoings. That is something you cannot expect from a loving God.
Some new priests think otherwise. They claim that the previous teachings don’t have any meaning, and that it doesn’t really matter how a person lives. For example, a well-known bishop John T. Robinson used to write in one of his books, how there is no ‘readily packaged’ moral solutions. There is nothing that is a definite wrong. He doesn’t believe that moral is always the same and that it would come from God:
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 domain that Robinson was referring to is sexuality. That is exactly the area, where many current priests abandon the Bible ethics. They claim to know that people will end up fine in the eternal life, despite how they are living on earth (The question is, how they attained such knowledge?). They regard extramarital affairs acceptable, as does Robinson, or then they defend homosexual relationships in the name of “equality and human rights”. These sins in question have become acceptable, because these priests follow societal trends. These kinds of people don’t believe in any abiding moral that would come from God. They don’t consider it to be rational if some think Jesus’ and the Apostles’ teachings are current and relate to current people. They place themselves above Jesus and the Apostles. Yet they don’t take into account the following aspects:
• What is love? Firstly, one should consider what love towards sinners is. Is it, when you hug them and encourage them to continue living in sin or that you warn them of the wrong choices, as you would warn someone of thin ice: “I worry for you. Please don’t go walk on thin ice, so you wouldn’t drown. It can end up badly for you.”
Accordingly, things change if, e.g., the previous passages, especially 1 Cor 6:9,10, are true. Thus, if we defend people’s wrong choices in the name of love, we are leading other people into hell. That is if we defend other people’s sins, we are turning them away from eternal life with God. Indeed, when many priests pose as sinners’ friends, they are practically consuming people, because their teachings don’t acknowledge eternity and God’s judgment. They have become deceivers, who lead many people into eternal separation from God. They also turn God’s virtue into uncleanliness, when they say sinful things are good (Isaiah 5:20: Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!).
- (Eze 33:8.9) When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand.
9 Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
- (Juuda 1:4) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
What causes it? The reason, why some priests heavily defend homosexual behavior, is because they regard it as an innate disposition, just as the color of your skin, which is determined at birth. Hence, they react negatively towards sexual therapy, where some people want to willingly get rid of that sexual orientation. They completely reject it in the same way that Pharisees turned people away from God during the time of Jesus. (Luke 11:52: Woe to you, lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in you hindered.).
However, many homosexuals think differently about the innateness of homosexuality. Some might believe in it, but many think their disposition originates from the environment they grew up in and how they reacted to the environmental factors. This was also a common perception in the field of psychology a few decades ago. Will this not change the matter? On the other hand, we might just have wrong actually innate dispositions, but God’s virtue is powerful enough to free us from those as well. Whether it is an innate or an acquired disposition or an addiction, He wants to free us from them. Sometimes it doesn’t take that long, sometimes it does. Changing is a lifelong process.
I read an interesting study by an expert: it was a survey to find out how many actively homosexual people believed they were born that way. Eighty-five percent of the interviewees were of the opinion that their homosexuality was a learned way of behaving caused by destructive influence early on in their home and enticement by another person.
Nowadays, my first question when meeting with a homosexual is usually, “Who gave you the inspiration for it?” All of them can answer me. I will ask then, “What would have happened to you and your sexuality if you hadn’t met your uncle, or if your cousin had not come into your life? Or without your stepfather? What do you think would have happened?” This is when the bells start to toll. They say, “Maybe, maybe, maybe.” (12)
• Predictions for development. Some priests denying the reality of sin or perhaps teaching Universalism (doctrine claiming everyone is saved) has been foreseen. William Booth, the founder of Salvation Army, had a revelation during the final years of his life about the state of the world and Christianity the day before the second coming of Jesus. It involved people preferring to hear something that they wanted to hear, rather than what they should hear, that is we don’t talk about hell nor our liability, and how Christianity is full of forgiveness without repentance. It is difficult to deny that development isn’t headed to the direction of Booth’s prophecy, as many priests nowadays deny sin and hell and teach forgiveness without repentance, similarly as prophesied in Booth’s prophecy. From this kind of current state we admittedly conclude that the second coming of Jesus is probably not that far away. We live in society, where we have drifted further away from traditional Christian decree and behavior.
1. "At that time politics is without God. (...) There will be a day when the official state politics of the entire West is of the kind that nobody in a leading position fears God (...) the new generation of political leaders will rule Europe; a generation that does not fear God in the least;
2. Then there will be heaven without hell (...) There will be a day when a great withdrawal of what the Bible says to be "the Gospel of the full truth" will take place. At that time a "gospel" for the itching ears of the people will be preached. The hearers will determine what is preached from the pulpits. Then, the common order for the pulpits will be 'speak mild, sweet words; speak about heaven, leave us in peace so that we would not have to be strained when you preach about hell.'
3. Christianity is full of forgiveness but without repentance. The teaching of the Bible that there is not forgiveness without repentance will disappear from Christianity.
4. The day before the coming of Jesus will be full of the joy of salvation, with people who have not been born again from above.
5. There is a lot of religion without the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:5 Jude 18,19).
6. Christianity without Christ. Christ is not anywhere where the 'BLOOD and FIRE ' are not valid – deny one of the two and you will have forms of Christianity but without Christ."
Another prophecy is also concerned with the development of church. Some current priests heavily supporting the blessing of homosexuals has been foreseen already in the early 70s, e.g., by David Wilkerson in his famous book The Vision. We cannot deny the direction of development going similarly as in the book. Is that also another sign of Jesus’ prompt Second Coming:
"There are two forces that prevent gays from dedicating themselves completely to their sin: society does not accept them and the church's teachings are against them. But these barriers will disappear when society no longer resists their sin and deems it abnormal, but on the contrary encourages them to continue, and when the church no longer preaches about their sin but supports them in their sexual activities. The floodgates will open, and the gays will be encouraged to continue in their sin. I have seen in my vision that these two obstacles will be wiped away and when they are taken away, chaos will follow."(13).
5. Denying the meaning of Jesus. When reading the New Testament, we can see how corrupt teaching already existed during the early congregation. They had, among other things, teachings adhering to legalism, some denied resurrection and some preached a different Jesus and gospel. And that is why Paul the Apostle wrote to Corinthians that they shouldn’t succumb to wrong teachings and be misled by false apostles. False teachings, which included, e.g., preaching another kind of Jesus, would mislead them:
- (2 Cor 11:3,4) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.
Denying the meaning of Jesus is also typical for priests and theologians, who are like John Spong. They claim to know, after 2000 years, that Jesus wasn’t the product of virgin birth, that he is not the Son of God, who became a man, and that he didn’t do miracles or that he wasn’t resurrected. The reason for this is not that Spong or the priests like him could prove their views, but it’s merely about a naturalistic bias, and what can or cannot happen in their opinion. Spong has written the following:
A Savior, who would restore us to the preceding state of the Fall, is therefore pre-Darwinism superstition and past-Darwinism twaddle. A supernatural Savior, who would descent to our Fallen world bringing the creation back to its original perfection, is a theistic myth. Thus, we must release Jesus from the role of Savior. (14)
What is the stance of the Bible in the matter? We are going to look at another viewpoint with respect to liberal priests like Spong setting themselves above the texts of the New Testament in this matter. We will see what the New Testament says about these kinds of people. The following paragraphs contain some mentionings that are nearly 2000 years old:
- (2 John 7) For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
- (1 John 4:1-3) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
- (1 John 2:22,23,26) Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son.
23 Whoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father: he that acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
26 These things have I written to you concerning them that seduce you.
- (Matt 10:33) But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
- (2 Peter 2:1) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
When liberal theologians and priests deny the meaning of Jesus, they also automatically deny the atonement. They might regard it as a martyr‘s death, which radiated compassion towards the ones who suffer, but they definitely don’t see it as a death to atone sins. This is the Gospel they despise. It becomes apparent from the following quotes. Words about the cross are foolishness to these teachers, as Paul the Apostle wrote almost 2000 years ago. This is not a new thing, but repetition of the old:
Heikki Räisänen: It is futile nowadays to expect the reader to wait for the Son of Man, who descents from the clouds, which is what every generation over the last 2000 years have waited whilst interpreting all the signs. It is useless to expect him to believe that a heavenly god like creature became a man and came to earth to pour out his blood as a sacrifice for humans’ sins, only to soon return to his heavenly home. (15)
Antti Kylläinen: The real issue with Expiationism, however, is the image that it creates of God. The God image of Expiationism is more reminiscent of that of the two headed monsters of antique stories, rather than that of the God of virtue and love, who Jesus of Nazareth also proclaimed.
John Spong: Personally, I would rather despise than praise that kind of divinity that requires the sacrifice of your own son. (17)
Abandoning the atonement of Jesus is, therefore, not a new phenomenon. Paul the Apostle grieved and cried over the same thing already in his time. The most precious thing for people, a connection with God and forgiveness of sins, is received through it. Yet, if we regard this important gift as cheap and reject it, we’ll lose salvation:
- (Phil 3:18,19) For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
- (1 Cor 1:18) For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God.
Why is it then that these priests and theologians consider the sacrifice that Jesus made for us as cheap? Perhaps, the following two aspects are the most important reasons for their antagonistic stance. They don’t understand the severity of their situation nor the essence of God. Both make it more difficult to understand, why the atonement of Jesus was necessary. If a person doesn’t know that they are sinful and away from God, why would they care about atonement and forgiveness? Many priests and theologians are at this state.
They don’t understand the severity of their situation
- (Luke 18: 9-14) And he spoke this parable to certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
If we read the previous allegory of Jesus, we can see that there are two characters: a Pharisee and a publican. The other one, the publican, saw himself as full of sin and needing the forgiveness of God. The Pharisee, on the other hand, was satisfied with himself and didn’t think he was worse than others in front of God.
The state of many priests and theologians is reminiscent of Jesus’ allegory of the Pharisee. They might consider themselves as wise, collected, progressive and tolerant. At the same time, they might look arrogantly at those, who are not as insightful or as progressive as they are. Their main characteristic is namely that they easily compare themselves to others, but have never seen themselves as sinners or lost. They don’t see the severity of their sins, how it separates them from salvation and God, and that is also why they don’t understand Gospel. They think Gospel is this insignificant thing.
Furthermore, they don’t understand that in their current state and with their false teachings, they are under God’s wrath and judgment. They make God’s good and loving ideas redundant towards themselves with their insurgency. However, they can be forgiven for all of that right away if they pray for God and put their trust in Jesus. Yet, it is often difficult, as they are too self-absorbed to admit this:
- (Rom 1:18-22) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
- (Luke 7:29,30) And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
They don’t understand the essence of God. Secondly, many priests and theologians don’t understand the essence of God. They most often see God merely as love, but don’t understand His holiness. They have some sort of an imaginary god – “My God” – which is the product of their imagination, but which has never been a part of history. This imaginary god doesn’t doom those sinners, who don’t regret, to hell, and he doesn’t see any evil. However, when we ask them, where they got their god concept, they cannot provide us with a clear answer. We understand that, as they have an imaginary god.
In any case, according to the Bible God possesses both qualities. He loves people, but He also hates sin and injustice. Many don’t want to comprehend this simple thing, but for example, a mother might feel the same:
• Mothers love their children.
• Mothers hate it if someone tries to harm their children. Ergo, mothers have hatred towards sin – in this case the sin that is directed at their children.
Thus, a mother can have two qualities that are not contradicting each other, then why is it so difficult to connect the same idea into God? He also has holiness, which is hatred towards sin, and love for people, as the following passages show. They don’t entail any conflict:
- (1 John 1:5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
- (1 John 4:8) He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
God’s holiness, ergo hatred towards sin and injustice, becomes apparent, when he dooms those sinners, who don’t regret, into hell. It is precisely about people, who deliberately do wrong, don’t want to change and don’t care about forgiveness. God is willing to forgive everybody, but people must first confess their sins. If God did forgive unrepentant wrongdoers, who enjoy being bad and don’t want to change, he would be going against his essence. He accepting injustice is something that you cannot expect from a loving God. A God accepting injustice is a bad God.
- (Rom 3:5,6) But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who takes vengeance? (I speak as a man)
6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
- (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.
- (Prov 28:13) He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.
Love towards people. God’s other quality is love, which is something that almost everyone agrees on, which is a wonderful thing. But how can we see His love? When John Spong and many other priests like him abandon the atonement, they don’t realize that God’s love becomes apparent precisely through it – that is what God did for us through Jesus Christ, so that we could be forgiven our sins. The following aspects relate to this:
1. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to Earth and lived a life without sin. When none of the people couldn’t and still can’t do that, God himself came down to earth in the shape of Jesus Christ and fulfilled all the requirements of holiness and sinlessness. He did what we couldn’t do:
- (John 3:16) 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.
- (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.
- (Gal 4:4,5) But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
2. Secondly, all sins were taken to the cross – both past and the future sins – so that they would no longer be separating God and man. It’s not that God threw all the sins onto another, innocent Jesus, third party, as John Spong said it, rather ”God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5:19). God took on the whole thing, in order for everyone to be able to join God and have their sins forgiven:
- (2 Cor 5:19-21) 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.
21 For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
- (Acts 13:38) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:
3. Thirdly, salvation is based on mercy. It is a gift that we can receive. Everything is already done for us, so that we can receive salvation as a gift. That is what people go through, when they turn to God, confess their sins and put their trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30. 31: And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.)
- (John 1:17) For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
- (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 redemption 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.
What if we reject God’s gift of mercy? That is also possible. If we do this, however, we are not making a very wise decision. That is when we must atone our own sins in hell. If we don’t accept, what God has already done for us and what we can receive as a gift, there are no other options left:
In 1892, Wilson and Porter were sentenced to be hanged for a mail robbery.
Porter was executed, but
The responsibility, as you see, is yours. If you do not accept God’s pardoning, He will not force you to do it. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3) (18)
My friend, if you are damned, it is not because of your sins, but because you have not received mercy that God offers to you through Jesus. That is why it is fair. If you reject Jesus, what can God do? You then dismiss your only hope of salvation. (19)
6. Misleading priests. To end this text, I have added a summary of some of the common beliefs that faithless priests and theologians have. They are about paradigms that differ from the traditional Christian belief, therefore, these priests are not really Christians, except in a cultural sense. Their perceptions deviate from, what Jesus and the Apostles taught.
On a more serious note, if the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles recorded in the New Testament are true (e.g. heaven and hell), then these people are leading people away from God and salvation. Practically, they have become spokesmen for hell, as two completely differing claims cannot be true at the same time.
- (Matt 18:6,7) But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe to the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
- (James 3:1) My brothers, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
1. Creation isn’t true, because everything developed on its own from a stem cell for over milliard years.
This claim is easy to refute with the help of fossils, as no transitional forms have ever been found. Life coming about by itself has not been proved either. A third fact that debunks this view, is that even some fossils from the Cambrian period (“600-400 million years ago”) contain radiocarbon (half-life is ca. 5700 years). These fossils should then be measured only in thousand years. That is not the same as millions of years.
2. Virgin birth, resurrection and miracles didn’t happen during the time of Jesus.
This perception is based on a naturalistic worldview, where everything is explained from a materialistic stand point. It contradicts the New Testament as well as history, because e.g. apostolic fathers, such as Josephus and Talmud have referred to miracles that happened through Jesus or the disciples.
3. People are fundamentally good. The Fall has not happened and there is no sin.
This view is completely contradictory with the surrounding reality and history. Jesus, the Son of God, came to atone real sins, and not just people’s shortcomings. Through Him it is possible for everyone to be forgiven for their sins if one regrets them. Gospel provides a good message about the forgiveness of sins.
4. The Bible is not a special announcement, but a demonstration of people’s religious ideas.
This perception is typical for those people, who don’t think that Jesus is divine. These two things usually go hand in hand.
5. The essence of Christian faith doesn’t really differ from other religions.
This view doesn’t respect the teachings of the religions. It cannot be true, because there really are differences, e.g., in relation to life after death and to the concept of God. Every perception and people behind them should be, of course, respected, but all the perceptions cannot be concurrently true.
6. God is solely kind in the sense that there is no judgment or hell.
As we have already established, this view is based on imagination and on such an imaginary god, who has never been a part of history.
7. Jesus is merely a person and a good teacher, but by no means is he divine.
This one is logically the worst option, as no good teacher would ever present such claims about themselves (the Son of God, Messiah, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the one who has come down from heaven beside God) as Jesus did if they really weren’t true. If his claims are false, he cannot be that good of a teacher. On the other hand, if his claims are true, he must be divine.
In the end, we’ll have a look at a description about, what can happen to those spiritual teachers, who mislead others. They are also responsible for the misled people. God’s will, of course, is not that people would act this way, but that they would be saved and later on lead other people to God’s eternal kingdom. The description is about a preacher in the underworld.
We stopped at yet another pit of fire and brimstone. There was a fairly large man in the pit, and I heard that he was preaching the Gospel! I didn’t ask anything anymore. I just looked at Jesus, amazed, to get an answer, because He always knew what I was thinking. And the Lord answered, “When he was on the earth, he was a preacher of Gospel.”
I wondered what such a man was doing in Hell. (...) He spread his hands as if holding a book and started to read from it, like from the Bible.
He read one writing after another, and I thought that this was good. Jesus said to the man, with great love in His voice, "Quiet. Be still.” The man immediately stopped talking and slowly turned to look at Jesus.
I saw his soul inside his bony figure. He said to Jesus, “Lord, I am preaching the truth now to all people. Now, Lord, I am prepared to go and tell everyone about this place. When I was on the earth, I did not believe in damnation – nor did I believe in Your second coming. I told people what they wanted to hear and changed the truth so that it pleased them. I made my own rules about Heaven, about right and wrong. I led many astray and caused many to abandon Your Holy Word. I caused many to abandon You.”
“But, Lord, I have changed. Please let me out, and I will do as You want.”
Jesus said to the preacher,
“Not only did you pervert God's Holy Word but you also lied that you did not know the truth. The joys of life were more important to you than the truth. I visited you myself and tried to change you, but you turned your back on me. You went your own ways and held the Devil as your lord. You knew the truth but you did not turn back to me. I was there all the time, waiting for you, calling for you. I wanted you to come back to me but you refused.
The judgement has now been given.”
There was pity in the Lord’s face.
I knew that if the man had listened to the Saviour’s call, he would not be here.
Jesus spoke again,
“You should have told the truth, and you would have turned many to faith with God’s Word. All my Words are true. You knew the way of the Cross. You knew the way of righteousness. You knew you should have spoken the truth. Yet, Satan filled your heart with lies and you turned to sin. You should have sincerely repented, instead of only partly. Now it is too late.” (20)
1. John Shelby Spong: ”Miksi kristinuskon tulee muuttua tai kuolla” (Why Christianity Must Change or Die), p. 59,130
2. Darwin, F & Seward A. C. toim. (1903, 1: 184): More letters of Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray.
3. Charles Darwin: Lajien synty (The origin of species), p. 446
4. Charles Darwin: Lajien synty (The origin of species), p. 457
5. David Friedrich Strauss: The Life of Jesus Critically Examined. London: SCM, 1973
6. John Shelby Spong: ”Miksi kristinuskon tulee muuttua tai kuolla” (Why Christianity Must Change or Die), p. 34,35
7. Lee Strobel: Tapaus Kristus (The Case for Christ), p. 132-134,136
8. John Shelby Spong: Born of Woman: A Bishop Rethinks the Birth of Jesus
9. John Shelby Spong: ”Miksi kristinuskon tulee muuttua tai kuolla” (Why Christianity Must Change or Die), p. 128,130,131
10. Stephen Jay Gould: The Panda’s Thumb, (1988), p. 182,183. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
11. John T. Robinson: Rehellinen Jumalan edessä (Honest to God)
12. Bill Hybels: Kristityt seksihullussa kulttuurissa (Christians in a Sex Crazed Culture), s. 132
13. David Wilkerson: Näky, p. 48
14. John Shelby Spong: ”Miksi kristinuskon tulee muuttua tai kuolla” (Why Christianity Must Change or Die), p. 132
15. Heikki Räisänen: Raamattunäkemystä etsimässä
16. Antti Kylliäinen: Kaikki pääsevät taivaaseen, p. 100
17. John Shelby Spong: ”Miksi kristinuskon tulee muuttua tai kuolla” (Why Christianity Must Change or Die), p. 128
18. Oswald J. Smith: Jumalan pelastus, p. 35
19. Oswald J. Smith:Maa johon kaipaan, p. 89
20. Mary Baxter: Jumalan ilmoitus kadotuksesta (A Divine Revelation of Hell), p. 37-39
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!