My Story · Uncategorized

My Story: The Greatest Question of Them All

The entire foundation of Christianity is based on one core belief: to some extent or another the book we call the Bible is written or direct by God as a message to humans about reality, about truth. On one end we have Christians who would say that the Bible is the absolute authority on life, it is the original, inspired, authorized, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. This is the fundamental view (and common but not exclusive to evangelicals).

At the other end of the spectrum is the belief that while the Bible contains the message of God it is in fact prone to human errors, tainted by cultural influences, and correctable by science and historical analysis. This view allows for the acceptance of evolution, opens the door for universal-ism, and allows for adaptation of the Christian religion to modern culture. It still would insist that God’s primary message is through the Scriptures but that we must weight this with a grain of salt.

I certainly began my life (till about 22) with the most extreme fundamental view. God’s word was perfect. In fact, it was living, the words themselves could convict and change lives. This would explain why many Christians endlessly repeat Bible verses about Jesus to those who don’t believe. The Bible is more powerful than any other book in history because God himself wrote or inspired it. Therefore, it can actually change your thought process and make you think in a new way.

Without delving into too many details, I began slowly progressing toward the more liberal view. While a number of issues impacted this the primary influence was sparked by this one question:

Who determined which books would be a part of the New Testament and which ones would not?

Seems simple enough. Through childhood I figured that the books of the New Testament were unanimously chosen by the original early church and clearly believed to be written by God to even the first generation believers. I thought that these books were all written by first hand encounters with Jesus.

Numerous authors (including but not in any way exclusive to the one’s we know in the New Testament) penned numerous books, letters, and apocryphal literature regarding Christianity in the first few centuries of the religion. Many of these books are presumed to be written by those who claim to have written them, many were written using famous people as their pen name (a common practice). Some of the stories and facts align with other historical documents of the time, others do not. Very few (if any) early church leaders believed they were writing God’s Word on par with the Old Testament. Different sects of Christianity followed different teachings and held different books in high esteem. Eventually the official church leaders (perhaps like the Catholic Church in Europe, or the Baptists in the US as the most common sect) got together and selected which books agreed with the established church doctrine and rejected those which did not. Certain sects of Christianity disagreed with this selection and at least as recently as Martin Luther, key Christian leaders have strongly questioned its validity.

Before you jump down my throat let me clarify, this is an over-simplification, and not 100% accurate. But it gives you an idea. For a more detailed explainations I’ve included a couple of links I found helpful:

http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/NTcanon.html#XIII

http://www.churchhistory101.com/new-testament-canon.php

….to be continued. Happy Holidays!

Follow my world adventures on Instagram @Jeltown

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35 thoughts on “My Story: The Greatest Question of Them All

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the formation of the Holy Bible. I concur. You are a mature Christian and show much talent for the LORD. Look forward to future and past posts (whatever your name is. LOL) 🙂 Merry Christmas #promisedsoil

  2. Have you ever heard of the unction of the Holy Spirit? There have been many times in my life when I felt led to do something for no apparent reason or in contrast to what I had originally intended to do. And, inevitably, if I performed that which I felt urged to do a feeling of joy enveloped me in a way that would never have happened if I simply did what I had originally intended prior to the subtle but persistent urge. And many times I would later learn that the action I followed through with blessed one or more individuals in a way, and with needs, that I was unaware of.
    I have since learned that this is part of the unction of the Holy Spirit. As a Christian I believe the Bible was set down through divine inspiration: the unction of the Holy Spirit. However, as a human, can I attest to the complete infallibility of the Bible (especially with so many versions on the market these days)? The most honest answer a human, with all our faults, can make is “no.” Only God knows for sure if those He touched with divine inspiration followed through to the letter. But one thing I do know beyond all doubt is that I have witnessed things that cannot be explained by science or natural laws. And I believe a perfect God can easily take something fallible and use it for good… and for His glory.
    God’s Word has always been a message of hope. Whether humanity has always used it for that purpose is another story. However, evolution (by itself) has never been a message of hope. It tells humanity they are nothing more than an accident of nature with no real purpose beyond existing from birth to death. Only by attaching the initiation and instituting of natural laws to a supernatural intelligent Creator (Intelligent Design) can any hope be found in those theories.

    1. I have heard of the spirit moving people to understand things and make choices. It is perfectly compatable with human psychology and even expected. Therefore I do not give it any more credit than intuition, “I have a a bad feeling about this”, or dreams and visions that muslims and other faiths have. In other words, if what is claimed to be supernatural can be explained by natural means I will always choose the natural explaination.

    2. It saddens me when people take God’s intentions and twist them around to be the flaws of humankind. Yes, men are flawed, and as a result there are things in the Bible that are influenced by the times. However, the basic word -is as God wants us to hear and follow. When we change that word -we change the direction of mankind. Do we really want to make God and Christ dirty words that should not be spoken? Do we want to toss the love he gives us aside -and encourage people to do the work of Satan?

      jwtatfbc – I agree with so much that you’ve said here. Thank you!

      I hope that each of you will dig deep inside and discover that God is just -and his love is freely offered. To receive we need only believe -How simple can it get? It doesn’t come wrapped in pretty foil -promising to free you of all your woes. It won’t provide you with every worldly thing you can want. What it does offer is peace -knowing there is a purpose for this life and hope in death.

      Life is hard! It doesn’t get easier, unless you trade your soul to the devil. I am sure he will give you “things” to keep you doing his work. He wants you to believe the lies he whispers in your ear. In the end -well, it is a fate I would never wish upon you.

      If I am wrong -let’s even go so far as to say your beliefs are right -I’ll still live a life knowing I was the kind of person I can respect, and I will die knowing I didn’t make this “one” trip about useless items that I can’t even take with me. I loved as completely as I could, I shared what I had with others, I didn’t decide I was more important than the person next to me and I loved my God -believing there was a purpose behind my suffering. I could never be disappointed in this life! I pray that you won’t be either.

        1. Always good to hear the voices of our fellow mankind. Everyone is important and has a voice that needs to be heard. I believe we are “one” people with 1 God. May he bless you in your journey.

      1. I am happy that you will be able to end your life knowing that you’ve had a meaningful existence and a good life. I too have that feeling and believe that my life is every bit as meaningful and fulfilling as yours!

  3. HI. There are many stories out there. There are a lot of detractors who have no other interest than to tear down any God thing they can, especially the ones connected with Christ. Theories abound, but one thing you can rely on. The bible comes from the Jewish nation, who fought God’s enemies many years ago in their fight to survive. Well, guess what? They are still fighting the same enemies and pretty-much for the same reason. That God will bring forth his witness into the world, that there is such a thing as good and evil, and that he exists to make sure that goodness “wins”. Israel’s story is a picture of our lives also, as we encounter moral enemies on our life’s journey. Soon there will be another conflict in the “Middle East”. Are you ready for it being the last, EVER?

    1. Thanks! I found it helpful as well. I am now reading Did Jesus Exist? by Bart D. Ehrman and On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt by Richard Carrier. They discuss early church history and whether Jesus existed or not (most agree he did but of course not quite like he’s presented in the Bible). Thanks for the comment.

      1. Just so you know, Bart Ehrman is an athiest. As you said, most people agree that he did exist, but whether he was God or not, is a topic that many people debate. For me, it is a matter of faith. I can’t present an argument for it but it is something I believe.

          1. I would have to disagree with your phrasing of “far right Christian ones believe he was actually God or did miracles.”

            Frankly, I don’t see how anyone can call themself a Christian and not believe Jesus was God. It is a fundamental part of Christianity. Now, I do now of at least one Christian (he believes that Jesus was God) scholar who does not believe he did miracles. Google “John Switzer” and/or “more catholic less roman”. He is a professor at Spring Hill College, a former Catholic and an Episcopal priest (last I heard).

          2. Actually the earliest church did not believe Jesus was God and much of the biblical writers did not either. Jesus did not think of himself as god either by what we can tell. The consensus among biblical scholars is that Jesus was not considered God until well after his death by the majority of his followers. Read Did Jesus Exist? by Bart D. Ehrman where he goes into this in great detail.

          3. Your claim that even the early church did not recognize Jesus as God is demonstrably false. Ditto your claim that there is a consensus among biblical scholars that Jesus was not considered God until well after his death. If you want the most accurate picture of history, you must go to primary sources, or as close to primary as possible.
            Did Jesus Exist was published in 2013 and is the author’s interpretation of primary or near primary documents. He has either distorted readings of primary documents or ignored them altogether.
            First, the Bible itself: “Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him (Jesus confirming His divinity).” Matthew 16:16. “And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ.” Luke 4:41. “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:69.
            There is a consensus that early church historian Eusebius is the best, most reliable source for the history of the early church. While Eusebius lived approximately A.D. 260 -337. He is much closer to primary than Ehrman in 2013, some 2000 years later. Eusebius also drew on primary sources available to him that are even closer to the life of Christ.
            The following are excerpts from Eusebius, the Church History, translation by Paul L. Meier.
            Eusebius was probably born around A.D. 260 and died in A.D. 337, two years after the emperor Constantine. He is the only ancient author who undertake the task of tracing the rise of Christianity during it’s crucial first three centuries., and his Church History is the cornerstone chronicle on which later historians would build. The Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus provides a fascinating addenda to our information about the people, places and events of the biblical world. Eusebius does the same for the period up to A.D. 324.
            The title in the original Greek is Ekklesiastices Historias, in Latin Historia Ecclesiastica, and in English Ecclesiastical History, the formal title by which it is still known (usually abbreviated by scholars as Hist. eccl or simply H.E.). It comprises ten books, of which the first deals with Jesus as the Incarnate Word of God. Books 2-7 cover the rise of Christendom from the ascension of Christ in A.D. 33 up o the reign of Diocletian, which began in 284, and the Great Persecution under the same in 303 that ended under his successor in 311. Book 9 reports Constantine’s victory in the West and Maximim’s renewed persecution in the East. Book 10 celebrates the toleration, peace, and imperial favor final accorded the church.
            Eusebius was a prolific author of books, chronologies, treatises, dictionaries, and orations, not to mention his extensive correspondence. He was a contemporary of Constantine and was chosen to deliver the oration marking his 30th year as emperor.
            From Eusebius himself, from his Historia Ecclesiastica:
            It is my purpose to record-
            • The successions from the holy apostles and the periods extending from our saviours tie to our own:
            • The many important events that occurred in the history of the church
            • Those who were distinguished in its leadership…
            • The names, number, and ages of those who, DRIVEN BY LOVE OF NOVELTY TO THE EXTREMITY OF ERROR, HAVE ANNOUNCED THEMSELVES AS SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE (FALSELY SO-CALLED) WHILE RAVAGING CHRIST’S FLOCK MERCILESSLY, LIKE FEROCIOUS WOLVES. (Emphasis added)
            • The martyrdoms of our own time and the gracious deliverance provided by our Savior and Lord, Jesus the Christ of God…
            THE NATURE OF CHRIST
            His character is two-fold: like the head of the body in that he is regarded as God and yet comparable to the feet in that he put on humanity for the sake of our salvation…If I begin his story with the principal and most basic points to consider, both the antiquity and divine character of Christianity will be demonstrated to those who suppose that it is recent and foreign, appearing only yesterday.
            Indeed, this is also the teaching of the great Moses, the earliest of all the prophets, when by the Holy Spirit he described the origin and ordering of the universe: the Creator gave over to none but Christ himself the making of subordinate things…
            Finally, there is no consensus among biblical scholars that Jesus was not considered God. There are certainly people who agree with Ehrman, but that does not constitute a consensus.
            If you Google Bart Erhamn’s name, you’ll see some of the following automatic suggestions pop up before you can finish typing his name: “Bart D. Erhman Debunked”, “Bart D. Erhman Critics”, Bart D.Ehrman misquoting Jesus.” Here is a link to just ONE of many articles written to refute him: http://www.worldmag.com/2014/04/raining_on_bart_ehrman_s_easter_parade
            If there is a consensus that he is correct, why is debunking him an actual category in Google or other web searches?
            I would invite you to acquire a copy of a translation of Eusebius – any translation at all, but not a commentary. Read it and judge for yourself without anyone else telling you what to think. I would also invite you to Google Bart D. Ehrman Debunked and read up on his opposition.

  4. Hi! I wrote all this amazing stuff – lol – and it disappeared in a flash. I must have leaned on some button or other. Anyhow, I will research some of your sites and I hope you will do what God asks of us in Isaiah, “Come, let us reason together…” I go to God with m y questions and He usually provides answers. Some I wait on, in faith, trusting I’ll get the answer before long or maybe not until heaven. I’m old, I’ve walked away from God and followed my own way after attending college as a new believer. Eight years later, miserable when I should have been happiest, I met some young moms strong in the faith and I came back to Christ. That was over thirty years ago and my life is richer and more complete and I pray often as we get closer to Jesus’ return and the very real possibility of having to choose Christ or the Antichrist and the mark of the beast, that God will strengthen me to hold on no matter what comes my way. May God show you the truth of His character and isn’t it great that He lets you choose, because your choosing Him pleases Him? I want a God that loves me and guides me. A young man I spoke to who ardently wanted me to chuck the faith said in a bitter tone, “I wish He didn’t give me free choice.”
    I found that interesting. I wondered why he was so bent on talking Christians out of their faith. I know why I want people to find Jesus, but why does he think following Jesus is something worth his passion to deliver people from. What does he care if I like commands that benefit my life and the life of others? Unless he’s being led by the enemy of our souls. What do you think?

    1. I understand where you are coming from. But I believe many atheist honestly and sincerely believe that you will be happier and better off without your faith and they truly want to help you. Just like you would share your faith with someone who is hurting in hopes that they can come to the same place of hope as you have.

      I find that my life is richer and more blessed than ever. Its not perfect and I struggle with life’s questions like anyone. But I am fulfilled and have a meaningful life, friends, career, and family. I am no longer religious. And yet (as you will see in a January post in this series) I have a peace about my life that is no different than what a Christian feels in their faith.

      I do wish that if there was a God, he would not give us a choice. As errant human beings it would be most loving for him to choose for us what is best rather than allowing us to make poor choices out of a misguided desire to grant us free will. Free will is only beneficial if you are capable of choosing what is best. Based on Scripture I am not. Thus it would be more loving for God to take away my free will than to allow me to make poor choices or even reject Him.

      1. My husband and I talked about this and he said he has the same thought about free choice sometimes. If Jesus Christ hadn’t come down from heaven and died on the cross and raised Himself from the dead so we could get to heaven, he said he would wonder about being a Christian. Since that’s been proven true and many prophecies have come true that were written thousands of years ago: Israeli’s being gathered from the four corners of the world and once again having a homeland in the twentieth century, for instance, he holds onto his faith. The idea of heaven and hell being real is a strong inducement to stay the course. But my husband the pastor said, “Who can truly understand the mind and purposes of God with our limited human minds. I know He’s loving and good, but some things like free will knowing some will choose against Him is hard to figure out. I have faith to believe in God and His mercies. It comes down to faith.”

  5. I really like reading your thoughts on the “big” issues, and the thought-provoking comments and discussions from/with others resulting from them. We will never all agree, but time spent on this is more rewarding and meaningful than so much of what we can occupy ourselves with in this life.

    As for me, I believe reason and faith have to go together. They are like eyes and a nose, perhaps – maybe not the same thing, but they are both on the face, and the face would not be complete without them.

    1. I am glad you are able to appreciate conflicting views. My challenge to you is this: is faith necessary? Is it virtuous to have faith? Do you define faith as “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof” (as the dictionary does)? If so is this really a good thing?

      1. I addressed faith in one of my blog entries awhile back…it was one you hit “like” on, IIRC, and how I found your blog.

  6. HI! I finally read the second link you sited – church history 101 – from beginning to end. I started the first link you sited – http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/NTcanon.html#XIII – and decided I’m not up to reading it now. It doesn’t change my thinking or my believing. It’s interesting. Jesus said to Nicodemus in the garden at night, out of sight of other Jews, that you must be born again in John chapter three. In 1Corinthians 2:14, it says: For the natural man is not able to take in the things of the Spirit of God: for they seem foolish to him, and he is not able to have knowledge of them, because such knowledge comes only through the Spirit.

    A friend of ours, highly intelligent, kept reading Scripture to please an evangelical friend of his. After many years, he decided to give it a try and accept Jesus as LORD and savior. My husband suggested he go off by himself and talk to God. That’s when he prayed to be “born again.” After that he read the Bible and he shouted out in amazement. “I’ve been reading this book all this time and this is the first time it made any sense to me.”

    It says in Isaiah_55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
    Isaiah_55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    . The men doing the research sound like pleasant people. What is the state of their relationship with God? Do you know?
    I hope you’ll keep pondering.

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