Historical Evidence of the Resurrection: A Debate with a Skeptical Friend

By Tim Stratton

While attending Biola University, Dr. Clay Jones gave me the assignment to engage in friendly and respectful debate with a skeptical non-believer regarding the historical resurrection of Jesus. A deep-thinking friend of mine (who happened to be an atheist who would debate my views quite often) graciously accepted my invitation to have this conversation. The following is my conversation with Justin.

I am humbled and honored to have a friend like you, Justin! Thank you!

My initial case

Dear Justin,

Thank you for having this conversation with me! Please feel free to take your time when responding. I will try to get back to you within one week after each of your responses. I will be making a case that we have good reason to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. To accomplish this task, I will not begin with the assumption that the Bible is the Word of God; rather, I will begin by treating the 27 books of the New Testament as they were originally written – as individual historical narratives.

All of Christianity hangs on the Resurrection! Even the Apostle Paul realized this and said, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain” (1st Corinthians 15:14). That is to say, if the Resurrection did not really happen, then Christians are idiots, and wasting their time on Sunday mornings! They should be out playing golf instead! However, if Jesus really did rise from the dead, then life has way more meaning than a game of golf!

Do Christians have good historical reasons to put our faith in Jesus? Can we really know what happened 2,000 years ago? When it comes to studying ancient history, we need to abide by the “Rules of Historical Research.” As Mike Licona has pointed out, to establish something of the ancient past as historical, we need to have multiple, and converging lines of evidence such as:

  • eyewitness data
  • closeness to the facts
  • criteria

We don’t say, “Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great never existed!” In fact, we not only believe they existed, but we believe we actually know many things about them. When it comes to establishing historical data, it does not matter that something happened 2000 years ago — what matters is this: do we have access to an event that happened 2000 years ago? Licona has taught me that historians don’t just take one person’s word for it. They come to their conclusions through converging lines of evidence, such as:

–  written

–  pictorial

– inferential

– archaeological

– Etc.…

Again, no one doubts Alexander the Great, Caesar, or the history written about them. We have great historical reasons to conclude that we actually have knowledge of these individuals and many things they did. However, the sources confirming the historicity of these men, and their lives, are far inferior than the sources we have for Jesus! We not only have New Testament sources (27 individual historical documents collected into one volume) but even trained atheistic scholars and historians will go to the New Testament and use it for their purposes (I am treating it just as they do — I am not assuming anything special or supernatural about the Bible).

With this in mind, skeptical scholars will never say we cannot use the New Testament as a historical document — because it is a historical document — and it is recognized as such. Obviously, atheistic historians don’t conclude it is the inspired word of God, because, they don’t believe in anything “supernatural.” However, they conclude that the books that have been compiled into the Bible, are historical books written by people who lived a long time ago and who believed in God. These skeptics just arbitrarily choose to ignore the parts that have anything to do with the supernatural only because of their assumptions (blind faith) in naturalism (that nature is all that exists).

Moreover, on top of the many independent reports of the New Testament, we also have over a dozen non-biblical sources of Jesus within 100 years after his life! Every single one of them is NON-CHRISTIAN! Plus, we have archeological sources, and other Christian sources apart from the New Testament. When you compile all of this evidence together, it’s an incredible amount of historical evidence and information about the man, Jesus of Nazareth.

Justin, I know what you are probably thinking right now, “But how can you know anything about an event that happened 2000 years ago?”

When it comes to good history, the crucial time gap is not between the time of the event and today; the crucial time gap is between the time of the event and the evidence for the event! As William Lane Craig has pointed out, if the gap between the event itself and the evidence for the event is short, then it doesn’t matter how long the evidence and the event have receded into the past. Craig says,

“Good evidence does not become bad evidence, just because of the passage of time!”

Therefore, it’s irrelevant how long ago the Resurrection occurred. What’s critical is the GAP between the evidence and the event that the evidence is about! In the case of Jesus, that gap is extremely short.

Many volumes have been written providing evidence pointing to a historical resurrection of Jesus (from Josh McDowell to Lee Strobel, to N.T. Wright), but I want to offer some facts that a couple of my profs at Biola have been using in recent debates with famous skeptics. (I highly recommend the work of Dr. Michael Licona, Gary Habermas, and William Lane Craig when it comes to the evidence of the resurrection!) In fact, if you want to do your own study, I highly recommend a book by Michael Licona entitled, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.”

Let’s examine a little passage of scripture, with HUGE implications! Remember, I am only treating scripture as ancient history, nothing more! Consider this piece of evidence we find in the pre-biblical oral tradition that was handed down to the Apostle Paul, which he then records in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

This creed states, “that Jesus was crucified to pay for our sins, and that He died and was buried, and that He rose from the dead on the third day and that He was seen by eyewitnesses.” It is obvious from the wording used in this creed that it did not originate with Paul, the author of 1st Corinthians. This is even accepted by the vast majority of non-Christian scholars, that Paul must have received this creed by someone else in Jerusalem (probably Peter and James) anywhere from two to eight years after the crucifixion.

Paul says, “I gave you what I was given!”

Since this saying already existed when it was first given to Paul, we can logically infer this creed was established even earlier, and therefore, these beliefs would pre-date the oral tradition itself, which amazingly brings us right back to the historical moment of the crucifixion of Jesus!

We have early documentation that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus and gave testimony of this within months of his death. This provides warrant to believe that the claims stated in this creed are true. Moreover, we must also consider the illogicality of this creed being invented and accepted in the very town Jesus was reported to have lived in and was executed in, at the very time of His execution, if this Jesus story was just a myth. To understand how unlikely it is that such a thing could happen if Jesus had never actually lived, or the resurrection being a myth, imagine the following scenario provided by Amy Hall:

Suppose you decide you would like to start your own religion (because there’s a lot of money in it), so you invent the story of an amazing man named Hobart. You head off for Los Angeles and start proclaiming that just a couple of years ago, Hobart had, in that very city, done countless miracles and caused such an uproar that, eventually, the city officials got involved and held a public execution (on Venice Beach), but then Hobart—amazing as he was—rose from the dead and made numerous appearances around L.A.

How many followers would you get?  Besides Tom Cruise, you would be lucky if you got one! Let alone thousands who would be willing to die for this story!

Everyone in Los Angeles would remember perfectly well that no such man had existed. You would never gain enough followers to get any sort of movement started. Such a plan is obviously ridiculous and doomed to failure. And yet, to claim that Jesus never existed, and the multiple appearances of the risen Jesus never happened, one would have to assume this very scenario occurred successfully in first century Jerusalem—a city with significantly fewer people than Los Angeles! This is not likely.

We can come to our conclusions through the multiple testimonies of people who were either companions of Jesus themselves and of other people who knew the companions of Jesus! This is fantastic and extremely EARLY evidence! When we look at the past to see what actually occurred, we look for multiple independent sources, eye-witness sources, early sources, embarrassing reports, etc… We have all of this in abundance when it comes to the Resurrection! In fact, as Mike Licona once told me,

“We have as much data that Jesus rose from the dead, if not more than we have of Julius Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC!”

The vast majority of the harshest, skeptical, and atheistic historians admit up to twelve things as historical fact about Jesus. These twelve facts create an overwhelming cumulative case for the Resurrection of Jesus. However, we only need three of the twelve to make a minimal case. For our purposes, I will use five to come to the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead:

1- Jesus died by crucifixion.

2- Jesus’ disciples (at least) really believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to them.

3- The church persecutor and Christian hunter, Saul, was radically transformed into the Jesus preaching Paul.

4- The skeptic James (the brother of Jesus) was suddenly changed into someone who was willing to die for the Gospel.

5- The tomb of Jesus was found empty by his women followers.

These are the accepted facts regarding Jesus. So, as historians, we need to ask what hypothesis best accounts for all of these facts? The Resurrection hypothesis can account for all of them, and no naturalistic hypothesis offered can account for all of these together. I encourage you to come up with one.

To decipher the inference to the best explanation, we use the criteria of the historical method. The hypothesis that best meets all of the criteria is to be preferred and regarded as to what most likely (or probably) occurred. Here are the five points of criteria:

  • Explanatory Scope
  • Explanatory Power
  • Plausibility
  • Less Ad Hoc or Contrived
  • It provides Illumination

With the criteria in mind, Mike Licona said:

“The MAIN objection to the resurrection, is not a lack of historical evidence (we have that); rather, it’s a matter of WORLDVIEW, because the resurrection of Jesus requires a Supernatural Being to exist.

If you consider my essay on the Kalam Cosmological Argument you will notice that we sound philosophical evidence — supported by the scientific data — that a Supernatural “Cause” of the Universe does exist! If we have evidence of a “Supernatural Cause and Creator of the Universe,” the resurrection of Jesus by this Supernatural being would be mere “child’s play!” Therefore, one has no grounds to reject the historical evidence in regards to the resurrection of Jesus.

What do you think, Justin? I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Tim

Justin’s first objection

Hey, Tim. Sorry for the late reply. I haven’t had that much free time as I work anywhere from 60-110 hours a week!

While reading your argument, something popped into mind. We do know about Alexander the Great. But, not as much as we think we know. Just like the possible life/death of Jesus. It’s written in the scripture that he died from the wounds, as a result of the crucifixion.

I ask you this question: Would it be possible that Jesus didn’t really die as a result? 1st century Jerusalem was not very medically advanced. So, it would be possible that the “examiner” would be wrong and placed his body in the tomb. When Jesus awoke, he left the tomb.

It’s not unheard of to hear about people being buried alive, as it happened all the way up to the early 1900’s.

Tim’s response

Those are very good questions, Justin! Is it possible that Jesus did not die as a result of the crucifixion? Is it possible that the Romans thought Jesus was dead when he was just completely “beat up?” Is it then possible that Jesus woke up in the tomb, and walked out?

As I mentioned in my original email, it is accepted as historical fact that Jesus was crucified; however, does this mean we can have certainty about his death? I agree with you, Justin, we have all heard of someone that has been declared dead, and hours later started breathing again. If this still happens today, how can we be sure it didn’t happen 2000 years ago? Let’s label this hypothesis as the “Apparent Death Theory” (ADT), and see how it stands up when compared to historical and medical research.

I think the ADT is highly unlikely, implausible, and NOT the inference to the best explanation for several reasons. First, when considering what we know about Roman scourging and crucifixion, survival seems quite implausible. In the March 21, 1986, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study was done on the effects of Roman scourging. I won’t bore you with all the details right now, but if you are interested in seeing what it was like, the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” seems to demonstrate quite accurately what a Roman scourging was like.

Something else to consider is that a scourging was just the warm-up! When it came to nailing a convict on a cross, each wound was intentionally inflicted to cause immense physical agony. The Journal reported that when the convict had his wrists nailed, “the driven nail would crush or sever the rather large sensorimotor median nerve. The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms.” This would eventually lead to death by asphyxiation.

On the cross, the convict wanted to take pressure off of his nailed feet. To accomplish this, he had to allow the weight of his body to be applied to his nailed wrists (Imagine doing pull-ups with nailed wrists!!!). Moreover, while in the down position the convict is being suffocated. Pull-ups become your only means of survival! I don’t care how strong a guy is, a person can only do so many pull-ups, let alone, pull-ups with nailed wrists! Thus, the victim would have to push up on his nailed feet in order to exhale. However, this would be extremely painful causing the nail to tear through the flesh on his feet. This would lead to severe muscle cramps and spasms making the act of breathing extremely painful.

Moreover, if Roman executioners desired to speed the process up, it was common for them to break the legs of the victims with clubs. This would stop the victim from exhaling, as they could no longer use their arms or their legs to lift their torso up to breathe out. The Romans had the “art of death” down to a science, and it was easy to know when the convict was dead as he was no longer pushing up for air. The team that published the article in the medical journal concluded the following:

“Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.”

What’s more, the Romans had back up measures to ensure the death of the crucified convict. The Roman author Quintilian reports that Roman executioners would thrust spears into the side of crucified victims to ensure the convict that appeared dead really was! This is exactly what is reported to have happened to Jesus in the book of John 19:34-35. It is also written that after Jesus was stabbed with the spear, a combination of blood and water flowed out of his body. Two thousand years ago they may not have known why this occurred, but we do now! When the sac that surrounds the heart (the pericardium) is ruptured, water flows out, and if the right side of the heart is likewise pierced, blood and water would be combined as it was described in the book of John. This would ensure the death of Jesus.

The death of Jesus on the cross is known with a very high degree of historical certainty; however, suppose he did somehow survive the scourging and crucifixion. Would it really be possible for him to push the heavy stone of his tomb away with his pierced hands and feet after being recently scourged and crucified, let alone walk many blocks to find his disciples? The skeptical German scholar D.F. Strauss finally concluded that this would not be plausible.

Even if this bizarre scenario were somehow possible, is it plausible that after this beaten, wounded, and mutilated Jesus limped to the disciple’s residence, that the disciples would conclude that Jesus was the risen Prince of life? They would have concluded that he was barely alive, but hardly risen. It’s been said that if this scenario occurred, when Jesus presented his wounds to the “doubting” Thomas, Jesus would have responded with, “Ouch! That still hurts!”

In conclusion, it does not seem plausible that Jesus would have survived the scourging and crucifixion the Roman executors had down to an “artful” science. Moreover, even if one were to grant the survival of the crucifixion, it seems even more unlikely that Jesus would have not only recovered on the third day, but regained the strength to push the giant rock away from the tomb, and then walk a great distance to find his disciples, and then convince them that he was the risen Son of God. This is not the inference to the best explanation.

Justin, I think your questions are great and the possibilities you offered must be weighed by any historian worth his salt. However, when considering the criterion of plausibility when coming to historical conclusions, I think the ADT hypothesis must be rejected by the same historians.

What do you think?

Justin’s next objection

Tim- I’ve read your rebuttal. You make very convincing arguments and it even convinced me! I haven’t read much about the Romans (I’m currently studying bugs). But, with all of the facts you’ve backed your argument with, you’ll never hear that objection from me again.

Now, I raise another question, what if it wasn’t actually Jesus on the cross? But instead a “fill-in” of sorts. Someone who put themselves in Jesus’ place? Someone who looked almost exactly like [or very similar to] Jesus?

Tim’s next response

That’s a great question, Justin! Could Jesus have had a “doppelgänger,” a twin brother, or just a disciple who really looked like him who was willing to sacrifice himself on the cross in place of Jesus?

First of all, I might surprise you with my answer: YES, it is possible. With that being said, it is not plausible! 100% certainty eludes us in almost all things in life; however, adequate and even reasonable certainty is quite attainable. So, for example, when we say that a certain hypothesis is “true,” we mean that it corresponds with a good degree of accuracy to accepted conditions or past events.

The question is raised: how does one attain such knowledge? More specifically, how does a historian attain “historical knowledge”? Historians come to their conclusions by weighing hypothesis against specific criteria. Dr. Michael Licona explains this and says:

“Merely stating “what-if” possibilities without supporting evidence does not challenge a hypothesis with strong supporting evidence. What-ifs must be supported by evidence and argumentation. We established the following five criteria for the best explanation (listed in descending order of importance):  (1) plausibility, (2-3) explanatory scope, explanatory power, (4) less ad hoc and (5) illumination.”

From this point, Justin, a hypothesis can be awarded the distinction “historical” when it has either (1) met the five criteria better than competing hypothesis and (2) outdistanced competing hypothesis by significant margins. Remember the accepted historical facts regarding the man, Jesus of Nazareth:

1- Jesus died by crucifixion.

2- Jesus’ disciples (at least) really believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to them.

3- The church persecutor and Christian hunter, Saul, was radically transformed into the Jesus preaching Paul!

4- The skeptic James (the brother of Jesus) was suddenly changed into someone who was willing to die for the Gospel!

5- The tomb of Jesus was found empty by his women followers.

Let’s examine the hypothesis “Jesus had a clone,” using the criteria to infer the best explanation against the accepted facts regarding Jesus. Could this hypothesis possibly explain fact (1)? Yes, because even though Jesus would not have really died by crucifixion, it explains why everyone would have thought that he did. I do not think that this is necessarily plausible; however, it does have explanatory scope and power. With that said, it fails by being “ad-hoc.” One must assume, without any supporting evidence, that Jesus had a follower who was willing to save Jesus by going to the cross for him and just so happened to look exactly like him. That is quite unlikely.

Does the “clone theory” explain fact (2)? As good historians, let’s try to put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples (or at least their sandals)! The disciples were in a position to know if one of the followers of Jesus looked like him, and was willing to sacrifice his life for Jesus as well. Moreover, after three years of spending every single day together, the disciples would surely have been able to distinguish any differences between Jesus and his look-alike. They would have been in a position to know if it was really Jesus who they watched being arrested and crucified.

Furthermore, on the third day when the real Jesus made his appearances to the disciples, they would have immediately come to the conclusion, “Dude… they crucified your look-alike, and not you! They got the wrong guy!”

Moreover, The Clone theory doesn’t explain the existence of the pierced hands, feet, and side which the “doubting” Thomas insisted upon examining.

The question then becomes, “Why would the cowardly disciples be transformed into bold proclaimers of the risen Jesus, even in the face of execution? This would mean that the disciples were willingly committing fraud. However, this goes against the accepted 2nd fact, that the disciples really believed Jesus was raised from the dead.

Fact (2) is held by the vast majority of scholars and historians because the disciple’s lives were radically transformed in the face of imprisonment, sufferings, and martyrdom. People die for lies all the time, but do people die for lies they know are not true? I cannot find any examples of such a thing ever occurring; however, even if one single example could be found, this is not the kind of thing that typically happens. Therefore, the “clone theory” ultimately supposes the disciples were willingly deceptive, and therefore, it is defeated by the martyrdom and sufferings of all of the disciples. This demonstrates that the Clone Theory does not explain fact (2).

Does the clone theory explain fact (3) about Paul’s transformation? At first glance, I think it could because Paul (unlike the disciples) probably was not in a position to know whether or not Jesus had a look-alike clone that was willing to suffer scourging, crucifixion, and death. However, it is unlikely that Paul knew exactly what Jesus looked like anyway since

the FBI’s most wanted posters were not out yet!

With this in mind, a look-alike of Jesus is not even needed. Anyone could claim to be Jesus, but there was something different about this appearance that Paul really believed he had and was willing to sacrifice his status as prominent Pharisee to attest that Jesus was the truth, and ultimately suffer and die for this proclamation. This is a problem for the clone theory.

Does this hypothesis best account for fact (4)? No, because James (the brother of Jesus) would be in a position to know about a supposed “Jesus clone” even more than the disciples. James was a skeptic who was not transformed and converted until after Jesus’ death on the cross. Our conclusions regarding James are arrived at because:

  1. The Gospels report that Jesus’ brothers, including James, were unbelievers during his ministry (Mark 3:21, 32; 6:3-4; John 7:5).
  2. The ancient creedal material in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 (that I listed in my first email), states: “Then He appeared to James.”
  3. Subsequent to the alleged event of Jesus’ resurrection, James is identified as a leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:12-21; Gal. 1:19).
  4. Not only did James convert to Christianity, his beliefs in Jesus and his resurrection were so strong that he died as a martyr because of them. (This is attested by both Christian sources and non-Christian, extra-Biblical sources).

Therefore, James would not only be in an outstanding position to know whether or not his brother had a clone, who was also the most loyal friend a guy could ever have, but his transformation from a skeptic to a martyr would be highly implausible.

The biggest problem for the ad hoc “Clone Hypothesis” comes when it is weighed against the accepted historical fact (5) of the Empty Tomb. If Jesus really did have a clone that was willing to give his life for the real Jesus, the tomb would not be empty. The tomb would still have the dead look-alike decaying inside. Even if the “real” Jesus was making appearances, the tomb would not be empty.

I must admit, the fact (5) is not accepted by all skeptical scholars or as many who affirm the other four facts; however, it is still accepted by most critical scholars (so I am in good company) when comparing it to the “Hobart Scenario” that I explained in my first email.

I think the “Clone Theory” is one of the best “what-if” natural hypotheses to explain the belief in the risen Jesus. However, it has many problems, it is implausible and extremely ad-hoc. Conversely, the hypothesis, “God raised Jesus from the dead,” explains every one of the five accepted facts. In fact, the only additional belief that one must hold to accept that hypothesis is a belief in God. As you know, I believe there are many good reasons based on philosophy and science (like the Kalam Cosmological Argument) to hold to a belief in theism.

For the theist, there are no additional beliefs that must be held to accept the hypothesis that “God raised Jesus from the dead” as the best explanation of the accepted historical facts.

What do you think, Justin?

Your friend,

Tim

Justin’s final objection

I have no arguments against your first four stated facts. But, when reading fact five; I got to thinking, it is possible for the dead “clone” to have been “thrown-out,” much like week-old bread, so it would have appeared that Jesus has risen from the dead [the tomb would be empty] and the wounds on his hands and feet could be superficial.

Admittedly, it has been a few years since I’ve read the bible. So, it is possible that there is a passage that contradicts my argument, and I don’t remember.

What do you think?

Tim’s final response

Thank you for your reply, Justin! I am so thankful for your participation in this conversation. You have pushed me think and do some additional research which has been extremely beneficial to me! I know that you are extremely busy, and I really appreciate you taking the time to have this dialogue with me.

The hypothesis you are offering is fun to entertain and contemplate. With that being said, I hope you see that since the first four stated facts I offered are best explained by the hypothesis, “God raised Jesus from the dead.” Therefore, even if the new “Clone Theory” you offer passes fact (5) of the empty tomb, the Resurrection hypothesis is still the most likely, and therefore, the best explanation as to what actually happened.

Remember, what I wrote earlier regarding the “Clone Hypothesis.” I said,  that I think the “Clone Theory” is one of the best “what-if” naturalistic hypotheses to explain the belief in the risen Jesus. However, it has many problems; namely, it is implausible and ad-hoc.

I don’t think adding these additional ingredients to the recipe makes this cake more believable. One must assume (without any historical supporting evidence) that Jesus had a doppelgänger. If that’s not enough, one must also assume that his close friends, followers, and family members did not know about this clone. Moreover, if that’s not enough, we must also assume that this clone was willing to die for a lie! People die for lies all the time, but they die for lies they think are true (like the Muslim terrorists on 9-11)! This clone would be sacrificing himself for a lie, which he knew was a lie! I cannot think of anybody in the history of mankind who was willing to do that!

On top of this already amazing scenario, this clone (that no one else was aware of) would also have to sneak in, and then trade places with Jesus, while Jesus skipped town for three days. After this, the perfect clone (which fooled all of Jesus’ friends, followers, and family members) was willingly tortured, scourged, crucified, and executed. AND THEN we must believe that the clone was buried in the tomb, but then, the clone’s body was discarded (which just so happened to work out perfectly for the real Jesus). This allowed Jesus to pierce his own hands, feet, and side (superficially), sneak back into town from hiding, just so he could come back to “punk” his friends, followers, and family!

Jesus also could only appear to his friends, followers, and family, because the authorities would have crucified him AGAIN if they caught him “appearing” to the hundreds of people that Paul reports. Speaking of Paul, he also had to appear to Paul, and take the chance that Paul would not have killed him with his own bare hands! He would have had to exist for the rest of his days in hiding or in disguise — kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie, “Catch Me If You Can.”

Doing all of this with the knowledge that this hoax would probably change the calendar, let alone the entire world, for at least the next couple thousand years.

I don’t even think the late Johnny Cochrane could sell this story to a jury in Hollywood! The principle of Occam’s razor states that the simplest explanation should always be preferred. The different clone hypotheses offered are not simple at all, in fact, they are extremely improbable, not to mention, ad hoc. As I mentioned before, the hypothesis, “God raised Jesus from the dead,” explains every one of the five accepted facts. In fact, the only additional belief that one must hold (to accept that hypothesis) is a belief in God. There are many good reasons based on philosophy and science to hold to a belief in theism.

So, for the theist, there are no additional beliefs that must be held to accept the hypothesis that “God raised Jesus from the dead” as the inference to the best explanation of the accepted historical facts.

Justin, I hope you see that the reason anyone rejects the resurrection of Jesus is not due to a lack of evidence (we have that), but rather, based on their presuppositions in naturalism (The blind faith that nature is all there is). The arguments I referenced above provide a strong case against naturalism, which effectively demonstrates that there is no problem with following the evidence leading to the resurrection. This evidence supports the proposition, “God raised Jesus from the dead!” Thus, we have good reason to place our faith in Christianity. You see, Christianity is a reasonable faith.

Justin, as far as my assignment goes, you have helped me complete it. I want to let you know that I am more than willing to continue our friendly and respectful conversation if you would like.  I hope this doesn’t offend you, but I am praying that you would come to know the Risen Jesus the way I do!

I am honored to have a true friend like you!

Sincerely,

Tim

Notes

Justin gave me permission to publish our dialogue! More importantly, Justin no longer opposes Christianity! Happy Easter!

 


(The FreeThinking Theist) Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.

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58 replies
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    “However, the sources confirming the historicity of these men, and their lives, are far inferior than the sources we have for Jesus!”
    .
    That’s nonsense. We have contemporaneous portraits of Caesar. We have coins with his face on them made when he was alive. We have many contemporaneous witnesses to Caesar. We have direct records of his speeches, noted while he was alive. We have archaeological evidence of Caesar’s invasion of Britain. We have letter written about Caesar while he was alive by noted people such as Cicero. We have poems about Caesar written while he was alive.
    .
    To quote Richard Carrier:
    “We have actual coins and inscriptions dating from Caesar’s time and the time of his contemporaries. None for Jesus. We also have several eyewitness accounts. Caesar’s own, and Cicero’s and Sallust’s, as Bock also mentions (although he omits the most important one, Cicero’s Letters). But also Pompey (surviving collections of Cicero’s letters include letters from Pompey) and Augustus (Caesar’s adopted son and successor, who commissioned many inscriptions and coins). And Livy, a contemporary of Caesar, covers Caesar in his histories—and in their poetry, so do contemporaries Virgil, Ovid, and Catullus. The Gospels are not eyewitness sources, name no eyewitness sources, and have no verifiable eyewitness sources. There are no eyewitness sources for Jesus. There are at least nine for Caesar. ”
    .
    And yet you say the evidence for Caesar is ‘far inferior’ to the evidence for Jesus? Is that something you’ve genuinely researched or did you just read it somewhere and accept it as Gospel?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Interesting that absolutely no-one has attempted to defend Tim Stratton’s “evidence for Caesar is far inferior than the sources we have for Jesus”.
      .
      No-one wants to defend the “documentation that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus and gave testimony of this” claim either. I feel bad for Tim’s friend Justin, who obviously trusts Tim and believes him when he makes these claims. Hopefully Justin has other friends who respect him enough to give him the truth.

      Reply
  2. Andy Ryan says:

    “We have early documentation that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus and gave testimony of this within months of his death. ”
    .
    Do we? Who were these people? Do you have interviews with them? Details of their names, where they lived, exactly what they claimed they saw? How many different accounts do we have that they saw what they saw? As far as I can tell we have a single claim that hundreds of people saw the risen Jesus and we know nothing about any of them. That’s not hundreds of claims – that’s just one. How can we verify it is true?

    Reply
  3. Susan says:

    Andy are you really going to keep your shell game up of trying to substitute your objections for Christians’ actual evidence.

    There are people who really believe in God who even devote and change their whole lives around for Him.

    Do you really think they are doing that with nebulous evidence?

    Think deeply now. You are desperately trying to communicate your own doubts to people like you want to control their thinking.

    You will have to prove that you are sane first and that they are not before anyone should grant you any ability to communicate doubt to them.

    Faith in the true believer does really act like a supernatural shield y’know.

    Are you going to keep shooting arrows for the evil one?

    10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

    18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Do you really think they are doing that with nebulous evidence?”
      .
      Yes.
      .
      You’ve not addressed a single point I made in either of my responses. Unless you can, we have nothing to discuss.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Ok, you have rejected spiritual enlightenment so no need for us to talk further.

        Maybe some day you will appreciate what a witness from God signifies then you might be able to see the light.

        Til then goodbye.

        I want to avoid spiritually unsound ideas. I am still receiving revelation from God and would hate to upset that stream of prophetic consciousness with unholy ideas.

        Peace Be With You!

        Reply
        • toby says:

          I am still receiving revelation from God and would hate to upset that stream of prophetic consciousness with unholy ideas.
          Are you saying that you’re a prophet? There’s very few other ways (if any) to read and interpret that sentence.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            I am not claiming anything in front of a group of people who willfully reject evidence that disproves their beliefs.

            But the gift of prophecy is still around today.

            In spite of all the counterfeit false prophets it still exists.

            I have seen it and you may have too but you probably didn’t recognize it for what it was.

            When you destroy a witness from God you destroy your chance at forming a relationship with Him.

            He has been using general revelation for a long time but you have to understand that enough to accept it to form a relationship.

            The Word of God has always been delivered by prophets. People wholly dedicated to God and they had a Clean/unclean doctrine back in Deuteronomy they had to meet.

            I am done talking now Toby.

            You can stay in your state rejecting God if you want. I am not wasting any more valuable time on people who refuse to help themselves.

            People are blind as bats these days. They subject their bodies to anything not knowing they are the temples of God. Over eating til they are fat and can’t stop. Taking drugs til they can’t stop without counseling.
            All because their minds are dark and they won’t fight sin and take their temples back for God and take care of them.

            The scriptures are God transferring His identity and
            knowledge to us but people today are destroyed from a lack of knowledge just like in Old Testament times.

            You can use your own mind for or against God but most people don’t know that. They only live for themselves then when their sins mess them up they are angry at everybody but themselves.

            But God provided His counsel so people are without excuse.

            Also sometimes obedience is the wisest course if you don’t understand worldly dangers. To understand dangers you have to experience them which is dangerous.

            But you see all the people today experimenting with dangerous things like drugs when they could have simply heeded God and never took the self destructive risks that they do. That is prudence but every fool has a higher opinion of himself than of God so they communicate error and encourage people in their bad behavior. A lot of people don’t care if they hurt you so long as they make money.

            So I am out of here. I am looking for teachable people now that don’t reject godly knowledge. That is dangerous to reject God and his wisdom. Read what the Bible has to say about fools.

            If you have no desire to know God then I can’t make you can I?

            But you should stop arguing and commenting on what you refused to know.

            I suck at math but would never interfere with other people’s right to get a math education.

            But you atheists sit up on boards refusing to know God yet determined to meddle and deny people spiritual educations.

            So you might be able to get a few laws changed but God’s people will continue to oppose your meddling and God is keeping a record of all your words and deeds.

            You debate so you can advance your ignorance and communicate your confusion in an attempt to deny your confusion doesn’t exist. But it does. You have a perverse spirit of error and confusion riding you.

            Goodbye.

          • bob says:

            Susan – I am still receiving revelation from God…
            This explains so much. This explains why you keep recommending Joyce Meyer.
            I am guessing you also speak in tongues, believe in divine healing from God, perhaps enjoy some Benny Hinn and Jimmy Swaggart.
            This explains why you are psychologically incapable of self evaluation, exercising reason, and putting together a cogent paragraph.
            .
            Seek professional help, please, before you hurt someone.

  4. Susan Tan says:

    Benny Hinn is a fake. I have never listened to Swaggart.

    Fakes like to copy the real deal didn’t you know.

    But of course you didn’t know. Because you were too busy rebelling in your own mind against God so you can do your own thing.

    And stop projecting your evil stereotypes on people.

    Are you the same as American Atheist founder Madeline Murray O’Hare who used to consort with murderers. Or that atheist painter Riviera who was a cannibal?

    Stop stereotyping for once in your life and start using your mind to actually know God.

    The fact that you can’t distinguish between me and others shows me your mind is not that free or good.

    You harbor a grudge against Christians and discriminate against them so you can maintain your own hard heart and do your selfish will instead of God’s

    Reply
    • bob says:

      OK, so I was wrong – you don’t like Benny Hinn and don’t know Jimmy Swaggart. That’s really all you had to say Susan 🙂
      And yes, I have been known to hang out with murders and am quite partial to dinning on human flesh…how did you know?

      Reply
      • toby says:

        I haven’t kept track of her arguments with Mark, but it sounds as if she’s a universalist so really we don’t have to change. We’ll all get saved if she’s right. It would seem her preaching is pointless.

        Reply
        • Susan says:

          You should repent and change.

          You could lose a thousand years of life for your unbelief.

          Plus there is a purification process which could involve some pain and take longer than one lifetime.

          People always assume universal restoration undermines or means no repentance but it doesn’t we follow the scriptures, too.

          This is why people need to study doctrine themselves.

          You don’t know God’s position if you don’t learn doctrine. You assume and learn the opinions of others that might be wrong.

          Reply
          • bob says:

            You could lose a thousand years of life for your unbelief.
            How much life will I have left if I lose 1,000 years? Just trying to determine if I want to believe or not believe…after all, belief is a choice, right?
            .
            Plus there is a purification process which could involve some pain and take longer than one lifetime.
            Some pain…how much pain…like, root canal pain or cavity filling pain? Can you be more specific so I can make an informed decision? GOD! Why does this have to be so difficult?

        • Mark Heavlin says:

          “I haven’t kept track of her arguments with Mark, but it sounds as if she’s a universalist so really we don’t have to change. We’ll all get saved if she’s right. It would seem her preaching is pointless.”
          .
          I just wanted to point out that she has NOT provided a single verse that shows anyone who is thrown into the lake of fire in Revelation 20:15 is EVER getting out. The “universalist” position is not a mainstream Christian view point for obvious reasons. So while you may be rooting for her to be right. I personally would NOT bet eternity on her being right on anything ever.

          Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          “I haven’t kept track of her arguments with Mark, but it sounds as if she’s a universalist so really we don’t have to change. We’ll all get saved if she’s right. It would seem her preaching is pointless.”
          .
          One other point that I forgot to make earlier. Who to believe: SUSAN or Jesus?
          .
          SUSAN:
          “universalism” – all are saved.
          OR
          John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
          John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

          Reply
          • bob says:

            Mark – do either one of those verses you just sited, in any way, say that all will not be saved? No, they do not. I am not saying you are wrong, but I am saying that neither of those two verses make your point. Saying that you have to be “born again” to be saved does not mean that not everyone will be “born again”. Saying that the only way to the “father” is thru Jesus does not mean that only some will come to the father. It just means that Jesus is the only pathway.
            .
            Try this one – 1 Cor 15:22 – For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
            The word “all” is used twice. Who is the word “all” referring to?

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            @BOB – I understand your point that maybe the two verses above may not be clear. I used them specifically for Susan because she has implied other places that “universalism” involves some sort of pain,suffering, punishment for unbelievers to be saved. I think you will find the following three verses much clearer then.
            .
            Matthew 7:13-14 13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.
            .
            Matthew 25:41 Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
            .
            Revelation 20:14-15 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
            .
            .
            “As to the single verse from 1 Corinthians 15:22 and The word “all” is used twice. Who is the word “all” referring to?”
            .
            Verses 20-34 deal with “The Order of Resurrection”. The word “all” in verse 22 clearly refers to all humans. But that verse does not imply all are saved either. Just that “all” are resurrected. Revelation 20:11-15 deals with “The Final Judgment”. Link provided to the commentaries on “biblehub.com” for 1 Corinthians 15:22; if you care to do more reading on the subject. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_corinthians/15-22.htm
            .
            The Order of Resurrection
            1 Corinthians 15:20-26 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him. 24 Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
            .
            The Final Judgment
            Revelation 20:11-15 11 Then I saw a great white throne and the One who sat on it. The earth and the heavens fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And there were open books, and one of them was the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead, and each one was judged according to his deeds. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
            .
            Hope all of this helped your understanding.

          • bob says:

            @ Mark:
            I think you will find the following three verses much clearer then.
            Mark, they are perhaps a tad clearer, but pretty much just lead to more questions / confusion.
            For instance: Matthew 7:13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
            Why is this gate, the one that leads to destruction, so wide and easy to access?
            14 But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it. And conversely, why is this gate, the good gate, so narrow and hard to find? If Jesus is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”, why does he make it so easy to “parish”?
            .
            Next you offer Matthew 25:41 Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.Who are the cursed? – obviously, from reading the entire text concerning the “sheep and goats”, Jesus is talking about those who did not care for the sick, hungry, thirsty, those in need of clothes, those in prison – those will be sent to “eternal fire”. This brings up the question – why does he not include those who do not believe there is a God?
            .
            And finally – Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And there were open books, and one of them was the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books.
            Well, let’s compare “scripture with scripture”:
            1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
            That seems pretty straight forward – Love is from God, period!
            .
            1 Corinthians 13:4-5 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
            That seems pretty straight forward – Love does not keep a record of the wrongs people do or say, period!
            .
            So:
            A) 1 John 4 tells us who is the source of love is – God.
            B) 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that one of the attributes of love is that it doesn’t keep a record of what people do wrong.
            C) Revelation 20 tells us that people will be judged based on the actual RECORD of the WRONGS they have done.
            Conclusion: God is love, love does not record wrongs, God records wrongs,…wait…what?
            .
            I hope you can see that pretty much any and every verse you will now provide to counter this conclusion will only lead to more questions and more confusion…for the person who is honestly skeptical.

          • toby says:

            Matthew 25:41 Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
            You know . . . it doesn’t specify that people will be there eternally. It just says that the fire is eternal.

          • Mark Heavlin says:

            Toby and Bob,
            .
            Toby first. Bob later.
            .
            So Toby – SUSAN is glad that you have joined her “universalist” team as it were. Maybe you can help her out and find a single verse in The Holy Bible where it shows anyone who is thrown into the lake of fire as ever getting out. And when you find it can you please provide Translation, Book, Chapter, and Verse so that I could verify for myself.
            I have already stated previously that we would NOT be two weeks into this argument if she could have shown that single verse. But all she has produced to date is Scripture that she has taken OUT OF CONTEXT and NOT pertaining to anyone ever getting out of the lake of fire.

      • Susan says:

        Lol. Good comeback. Now stop stereotyping every Christian you meet and you will be making progress in this world.

        Quite a bit of atheism’s impression of Christians seems to be false stereotypes. I know because I have dialogued with hundreds of atheists on the subject of Christianity.

        Stop focusing on Christians so much and start focusing on Jesus and you will make a lot more spiritual progress. As many Christians will tell you they are just works in progress and they get fooled by this world like everyone else though the church likes to task them with providing a character witness. I never expected total perfection from a Christian. But then I could always tell the difference between a person and Jesus.

        Of course, if you want to keep forcing the supernatural burden of perfection onto Christians to deny Jesus exists that is up to you. But I never made that mistake in my thinking.

        We really mainly have to focus on Jesus and ourselves. If you examine yourself you escape the judgment.

        Check 1 Cor. 5 there is a whole lot of Cross judging between believers and unbelievers that should never go on. A Christian may have to live in this world but there is nothing stopping him from separating himself from the world’s evil ways. He just has to check what God says to do but some people aren’t that well trained especially in this day and age of constant distractions.

        Reply
  5. Susan says:

    You will either have to put the scriptures together yourself Bob or consult someone who has.

    You can compare the papers on becomingone.org with what Martin writes on the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge site or look at Creation’s Jubilee by Jones or google mercifultruth.com and read that site.

    Scripture is extraordinarily dense and sometimes a doctrine is hiding in plain sight and different people key on different questions when filling everything in. The Bible is like a mind picture puzzle of the plan of God. It seems to me some people learn the best path is grace and repentance and being born again and stop there. It is hard to sort the literal from the figurative language now that dogma has become institutionalized. Also no one wants to risk offending God or lose fellowship by challenging eternal torment but there is always some variation in beliefs among Christians. You can look at belief statements or different unified theologies to see that.

    Why is everything so fuzzy. It could be because certain key doctrines must take central stage in the whole salvation process and people allowed the experts to control things instead of learning to research the scriptures themselves like all Christians should do. The scriptures are what the
    Holy Spirit uses to tutor the children of God and we are called the sons in training.

    So locate a credible bible scholar and start to assemble your own word picture until understanding dawns. That is how revelation from the scriptures work. Get personallly involved in your own salvation and don’t rely on hearsay exclusively because there are a lot of sloppy wordsmiths around and people that have trouble sorting the literal from the figurative and symbolic.

    Then you will be on the active seeker’s path to enlightenment instead of the lazy passive milk fed path.

    Reply
  6. Susan says:

    Toby and Bob if you have the time google mercifultruth.com to see the translation errors imposed on the text and the scriptural verses explaining how God saves everyone.

    In this format you cannot get the gist of the full Biblical explanation.

    You can also be subject to people confusing the literal with the figurative. These people ought to have been Berean when the error was pointed out but people have strange reactions and some people refuse to be corrected.

    Check that site so you are taking some responsibility for yourselves because this concerns you and you don’t want to be victims of an incomplete interpretation.

    God grants revelation and discernment but no where in the scriptures that I can recall does it say it is granted in equal measure to all believers.

    We have to ask for wisdom and for increases in faith and revelation.

    If you aren’t Berean enough to check and assume you are correct then you could be communicating an error.

    There are more sites too if you want additional scriptural comparisons.

    Theology is not easy to do especially in this format.

    You can skip steps, get things backwards, use the wrong interpretive method, apply human emotion erroneously, etc.

    Check that site. I think Tipton’s explanations are quite clear and thorough so don’t be the victims of other people’s errors. Check the doctrine yourself.
    Personally, I believe God uses Biblical meditation to build a spiritual mind in His people through a divine osmosis that old time Christians used to call chewing the cud. The Bible is the Christian’s pure spiritual food. Remember Christ said man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. You will need a good spiritual foundation grounded in Biblical knowledge to grow in faith and in your relationship with God.

    Try reading those essays on that site for yourself. I am hoping you see the light because eternal torment is a dark doctrine that came from the mind of man not God.

    If you don’t want to read it write the site name down for future reference.

    I believe in teaching the Gospel. Teaching is how one imparts knowledge on a subject. Why would you analyze to take apart a position you did not even know exists in the Bible? But a lot of people don’t check the Bible themselves and relinquish controls to others.

    So if you really want detailed info read that site.

    My goal when I set out years ago was not to debate atheists. It was to see they got the best spiritual education possible and it is all here inexpensively on the web if you can ask the right question or know where to look.

    Thanks for reading and study the scriptures like God says for yourselves so you can develop a thorough comprehension of God’s plan.

    He does everything according to His will but the natural mind likes to bring Him low to their level of understanding when we have to try to elevate our understanding to His as closely as possible.

    Some people are more successful at that than others. God appoints the teachers, the apostles, the evangelists, etc.

    I hope this helps. Atheists don’t need an argument as much as a solid grasp of the scriptures but sometimes you have to fight to receive a good education.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      “If you aren’t Berean enough to check and assume you are correct then you could be communicating an error.”
      .
      Or you could be like you and continually communicate an error even after you have been informed that the error exists.
      .
      .
      To review here – You have presented yourself as a well studied expert on “universalism”. And yet when I asked for a single verse from The Holy Bible that ever shows anyone who gets thrown into the lake of fire as ever getting out. You can provide NOTHING from The Holy Bible to support your pet theory that is NOT TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT or refuted in the same passage just a few verses later.

      Reply
  7. Susan says:

    Footnote: another good essay is “If God Could Save Everyone, Would He?” It explains the Old Testament Right of Redemption and how Christ came to qualify and fill his position as redeemer to all men.

    Reply
    • Susan says:

      It also explains the Lake of Fire and the second death as well as the Great Jubilee with key verses.

      Free will is not controlling. God does not have to respect man’s free will. In fact, He doesn’t if He hardened Pharoah’s heart, humbled Nebuchadnezzar, used the pagan King Cyrus for His purposes and struck angry Saul with blindness on the Road to Damascus giving him a whole new attitude.

      Why does God have to respect evil men’s free will.

      Regarding free will Dr. Jones explains the following:

      Some years ago some religious philosophers came to the conclusion that “God is dead.” What they meant was that God created all things and then left it all to fend for itself, to evolve into whatever men might make it. The bottom line is that they believed that God was indifferent and no longer concerned Himself with human history. This kind of thinking was a natural outgrowth of the idea that God was helpless to do anything in the face of man’s free will. But which is worse, to make God helpless or to make Him indifferent?

      Those of us who have a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ and who see His hand in our lives every day do not subscribe to the idea of God’s helplessness nor to His indifference. The very fact that He sent Jesus Christ to die for the sin of the world shows how intensely interested He is in man. He is anything but indifferent.

      The Bible also gives many examples to show that God is anything but helpless. He constantly takes the credit for the overthrow of whole nations, as well as the positive events, such as the redemption of Israel from Egypt. Isaiah 45 is the great “sovereignty” chapter in the Old Testament. God says that even a pagan king like Cyrus the Persian would do everything that God tells him to do. In Romans 9 Paul says that God raised up His own opposition in the person of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to show us that He was sovereign. – end quote

      Religious philosophers? Sounds like deism which started up during the Age of Enlightenment. Thomas Jefferson was a deist and rewrote the Bible.

      From Wikipedia:

      Jefferson Bible

      The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, commonly referred to as the Jefferson Bible, refers to one of two religious works constructed by Thomas Jefferson. The first, The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, was completed in 1804, but no copies exist today.[1] The second, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, was completed in 1820 by cutting and pasting with a razor and glue numerous sections from the New Testament as extractions of the doctrine of Jesus. Jefferson’s condensed composition is especially notable for its exclusion of all miracles by Jesus and most mentions of the supernatural, including sections of the four gospels that contain the Resurrection and most other miracles, and passages that portray Jesus as divine.[2][3][4][5]

      More info here on Jefferson editing God’s word:
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

      Reply
      • Mark Heavlin says:

        You suffer from a confused mind.
        .
        Plain and Simple and Straight Up provide a single verse from The Holy Bible that ever shows anyone who is thrown into the lake of fire from Revelation 20:15 as ever getting out. Otherwise let it go – Because “universalism” can NOT be true no matter how many people think it is or how many people you quote.

        Reply
    • St. Lee says:

      Ironically, Susan is still receiving revelation from God, so we all should keep an eye out for a new edition of the Bible with the “Gospel According to Susan” included. Remember, you want the Susan edition, not the Hitler edition!

      BTW, I think I speak for the few Christians who comment here when I give a big thanks to Susan for giving all the unbeliever’s a good reason to lump us all together with her as inconsistent, incoherent fruitcakes.

      (though to beat someone to a punchline, I’ll add that I am sure many of you think that of us even without Susan’s ramblings)

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        I would never change a word in the Bible because it is a supernatural work that serves God’s purposes.

        But I was born much too late to in this world to correct the free will doctrine which probably weakens people’s perception of exactly how powerful God is in favor of stressing men’s free will as controlling.

        But according to you I am a fruitcake so stop reading my posts.

        Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          “I would never change a word in the Bible because it is a supernatural work that serves God’s purposes.”
          .
          This is Jesus speaking here in Matthew 10:28:
          .
          Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
          .
          “SUSAN says:
          April 12, 2018 at 1:48 pm
          Take the word hell out of Jesus’ words and substitute the true meaning “Valley of Hinnom”.
          Hell is not a literal place it is a metaphor.
          Getting to the truth of a matter can require questioning authority.
          If Luther hadn’t done it the Church would still be selling God’s grace today.”
          .
          You assume that Jesus used the wrong word and want to put your own words in place of the one he used because he got it wrong???????
          .
          WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
          .
          WHAT?????????????????
          .
          I would caution you that you are on very dangerous ground here SUSAN. Do you have NO comprehension of the things you have said previously??????? This is so BLATANT as to be unbelievable.

          Reply
          • bob says:

            Markus – can you point out anything in the link you provided that would pass as evidence…EVIDENCE, for the existence of hell as a “real place”? I skimmed over it and could not spot any such evidence…perhaps it’s because I suspected that since you posted the link, it would obviously not present any actual EVIDENCE.

  8. Susan says:

    Perfect love casts out fear. The early Christians did not teach eternal torment. It took organized religion under a pope sitting in the place directing priests under him as if he were their head to cook up the eternal torment doctrine.

    The Bible says headship goes from God to Christ to men.

    The wages of sin are death not hell.

    But without Christ you cannot be born again in this lifetime.

    The pope tried to control God’s revelation by replacing the priesthood of the believers with an Old Covenant like priest system.

    But Christians are not on the Levitical system.
    We are the Melchizedek order.

    This false eternal torment doctrine is easily researched on the internet because many, many people are checking into key words and finding them mistranslated.

    The Catholic Church planted a fear doctrine in plenty of people’s heads when it organized. It was selling God’s free grace, too.

    The Word of God is FREE. There is no copyright on the Word of God because God owns it.

    But people who bought the lie of eternal torment would like to own your head, too through fear.

    The pope controlled so much In Catholicism that you could not even divorce a spouse for being a psychopath without seeking the pope’s approval.

    But where is the pope in the scriptural flow chart of headship from God to Christ to man.

    He is not in it but yet he wants to control general revelation and dole it out in bits and pieces with his false interpretations ruling your thinking and actions.

    Well down the centuries people got wise to this unlawful, unbiblically instituted marriage between the church and the state but they didn’t understand Babylonianism had entered the Church trying to redefine doctrine and change times, etc.

    But they realized something was wrong so there were the Waldenses and the Albigensians and maybe other groups realizing that Church doctrine was not straight. Finally we get the Reformation splitting from the Church. There is no pope office mentioned in the scriptures. It is not mentioned in the spiritual headship line at all yet the pope system wants to control the masses by the doctrinal feedings and interpretations.

    But study the scriptures and get your own headship. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and if you will seek Him then he has no problem letting you develop headship for yourself. He will feed you his sound ideas personally through the Holy Spirit.

    Don’t let unholy men not appointed by God to control your spiritual birth. This is a supernatural event and it is brought about by our cooperation with Christ not from someone whipping you with a fear doctrine.

    God is love and His people are receiving His love not some error prone man’s fear.

    How did you establish the truth in your own heart by refusing to meditate along with God and allow someone else’s unscriptural meditations and interpretations control you?

    A Christian always meditates along with God until God sets them apart which is making people holy.

    Only God can make one Holy so don’t let unholy people control you with unscriptural ideas.

    Read the scriptures and research them to establish the truth of the matter in your own head.

    God is love and He is turning his children into lovers like He is not fear mongering haters.
    Love brings peace in the soul. Not so fear.

    Really am I going to let God into my heart if I fear Him?

    Of course not. I learned to love and respect Him perfectly before consenting to such a spiritual union and He does not tyrannize over my thought life with fear.

    The same was true of Mary. She loved and respected God enough to come into holy spiritual union with God and give birth to Jesus. She should have been afraid of her community but perfect love casts out fear.

    If you are still fearing God then maybe it is because you have not been made perfect in love and if that is the case you will need to repent.

    I am not giving up love, joy and peace to serve someone else’s fear now am I?

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      SUSAN: “I would never change a word in the Bible because it is a supernatural work that serves God’s purposes.”
      .
      This is Jesus speaking here in Matthew 10:28:
      .
      Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
      .
      “SUSAN says:
      April 12, 2018 at 1:48 pm
      Take the word hell out of Jesus’ words and substitute the true meaning “Valley of Hinnom”.
      Hell is not a literal place it is a metaphor.
      Getting to the truth of a matter can require questioning authority.
      If Luther hadn’t done it the Church would still be selling God’s grace today.”
      .
      You assume that Jesus used the wrong word and want to put your own words in place of the one he used because he got it wrong???????
      .
      WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      .
      WHAT?????????????????
      .
      I would caution you that you are on very dangerous ground here SUSAN. Do you have NO comprehension of the things you have said previously??????? This is so BLATANT as to be unbelievable.

      Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      SUSAN: “I would never change a word in the Bible because it is a supernatural work that serves God’s purposes.”
      .
      This is Jesus speaking here in Matthew 10:28:
      .
      Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
      .
      “SUSAN says:
      April 12, 2018 at 1:48 pm
      Take the word hell out of Jesus’ words and substitute the true meaning “Valley of Hinnom”.
      Hell is not a literal place it is a metaphor.
      Getting to the truth of a matter can require questioning authority.
      If Luther hadn’t done it the Church would still be selling God’s grace today.”
      .
      You assume that Jesus used the wrong word and want to put your own words in place of the one he used because he got it wrong???????
      .
      WHAT?????????????????
      .
      WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      .
      I would caution you that you are on very dangerous ground here SUSAN. Do you have NO comprehension of the things you have said previously??????? This is so BLATANT as to be unbelievable.

      Reply
  9. Susan says:

    Oh and these crazy political marriages do not just occur in the Church. Atheism married communism in the Soviet Union. It was a marriage of ideas and from that marriage the state targeted millions of Christians in the Soviet Union for death.
    Read up on the deeds of the Miltant Society of the Godless.

    Most atheists say communism was purely political but it isn’t their is a clear marriage of ideas that carried over into the state’s actions against it’s own people. They weren’t a free society. The state owns everything under communism. Atheists just don’t want to be perceived as evil but they were manipulated by evil and willing participants in it. Though if you read Christian missionary Richard Wurmbrand’s book about Karl Marx he was really a Satanist. But he shaped the ideas of a lot of atheists like Mao and Lenin. Some people claim Stalin was worse than Hitler. He may have killed more people.

    The human mind is poweful but it can be shaped to conform to either good or evil.

    So are you going to put your mind into the hands of your Maker or settle for a hothouse of half baked theories and ideas from philosophers and other thinkers.

    The communist leaders allowed Marx to form their thoughtlives, i.e. and look how they acted on it.

    I think I will reason along with God as spiritually and biblically as possible now along biblical lines based on biblical keys that way I am helping God shape my mind instead of letting Human’s erroneous opinions shape it.

    Jones has a very fine mind but then he has studied and worked exclusively for God since his boyhood and is now around 70 yrs old.

    I think I will take 60 years of dedicated service over someone I don’t know on the internet.

    A good part of spiritual warfare could be psychological warfare through the war of ideas and I would rather take direction from God in those battles then listen to men who probably didn’t even put the time into the scriptures that I did.

    You are not right because eternal tormentists outnumber universalists.

    God was always defeating the many by using the few. Go read what He told Gideon to do. He told Gideon to whittle down his numbers.

    But the truth is God only needs one man fully dedicated to Him to change this world. He did it with Abraham, Moses and Jesus didn’t He? God changed this whole world just with Jesus alone and God likes displaying his power through weakness.

    Judges 7 King James Version (KJV)

    7 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

    2 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

    3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

    4 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

    5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

    6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

    7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.

    8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

    9 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.

    When I read a doctrinal interpretation I am using my own mind to sort truth from error Heavlin so stop trying to use your overly literal interpretation to dominate mine.

    Prove your mind is better than mine.

    You can’t. All you can do is cast insults like stones so you had better examine yourself.

    You don’t control my mind. You have no authority to do that. The Holy Spirit is my tutor and a person is self dedicated to God.

    So let people use their own minds for a
    change.

    You aren’t illuminating anyone’s mind by threatening them. God is love and that is His presence and illumination.

    God likes to teach us in the Bible using contrasts because that is how the world is. Full of contrasts. Light and dark. Good and evil. Etc.

    And you are supposed to be using scripture from the whole bible. Context will only give you a limited understanding.

    That is why the Bible is loaded with cross cites.

    The book of Revelation contains a lot of parallels to Genesis and you don’t learn that limiting yourself to context. Context has some use but it isn’t necessarily controlling. Read 1 Corinthians the spirit is higher than the letter.

    2 Corinthians 3

    4Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    Can you imagine anything that would quench spirit quicker than fear?

    I can’t and I see a huge portion of humanity struggling under fear and anxiety. Some of them are even paranoid delusional and paranoid schizophrenic. And you want to scare people even more with hell? What do you think these struggling people are going to imagine? Maybe they will conjure up Dante’s inferno in their mind which isn’t a peaceful thought.

    God doesn’t need to threaten anyone. He is powerful enough on His own to save everyone.

    Fear comes from the carnal mind of man.

    But God didn’t give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.

    So who puts this natural fear onto people doctrinally? Who suggested it?

    A holy fear is reverence not torment.

    So stop tormenting people with a false doctrinal position trying to control them.

    Instead teach them to trust God so they can receive the gift of faith from Him.

    I was never afraid of God so why would I teach other people to fear Him.

    Extreme reverence and awe does not equal fear of Him.

    And He puts fearlessness in His people so stop trying to turn them into anxious worried cowards who have to stay in line.

    God is in control and we are all still learning from Him so stop being such a control freak and let people learn. God granted people a whole lifetime to do it in.

    Are you going to speed people up by doing things the wrong way? Try reading the Bible spiritually for a change. God’s way is merciful and full of grace. He came to restore man so stop destabilizing His position in people’s minds through fear.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      SUSAN: “I would never change a word in the Bible because it is a supernatural work that serves God’s purposes.”
      .
      This is Jesus speaking here in Matthew 10:28:
      .
      Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
      .
      “SUSAN says:
      April 12, 2018 at 1:48 pm
      Take the word hell out of Jesus’ words and substitute the true meaning “Valley of Hinnom”.
      Hell is not a literal place it is a metaphor.
      Getting to the truth of a matter can require questioning authority.
      If Luther hadn’t done it the Church would still be selling God’s grace today.”
      .
      You assume that Jesus used the wrong word and want to put your own words in place of the one he used because he got it wrong???????
      .
      WHAT?????????????????
      .
      WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      .
      WHAT?????????????????
      .
      I would caution you that you are on very dangerous ground here SUSAN. Do you have NO comprehension of the things you have said previously??????? This is so BLATANT as to be unbelievable.

      Reply
  10. Susan says:

    The devil can quote scripture and he likes to send false prophets into the Church to redefine terms and give bad interpretations to people. He can appear like an angel of light in his false robes can’t he?

    So what protection to unmask a false prophet do you have but using your own spiritual gifts and mind in connection with the Word to understand?

    But you actually have to go to God to get a spiritual mind before you can use it.

    I don’t know why anyone sticks to materialism when God can turn a person into a New Creation.

    Am really going to look everywhere but at myself when God starts to work on me and tells me to examine my own errors? That is what sin is error and some of it is inborn countributed by genetics.
    So with my consent He intends to scrap the old me and start over.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      “The devil can quote scripture and he likes to send false prophets into the Church to redefine terms and give bad interpretations to people.”
      .
      You mean like your pet theory of “universalism” that you can NOT support with a single verse from The Holy Bible? Except that which you TAKE OUT OF CONTEXT or you interpretation is COMPLETELY REFUTED in the same passage.
      .
      .
      “That is what sin is error and some of it is inborn countributed by genetics.”
      .
      What does human genetics have to do with sin??????????
      Do you even have a clue as to what you are talking about???????????????
      .
      .
      You have a severely confused mind.

      Reply
  11. Susan says:

    “Eternal” Punishment (Matthew 25:46) Is NOT Found In The Greek New Testament.

    By Tony Nungesser and Gary Amirault

    The entire concept of eternal or everlasting punishment hinges primarily on a single verse of Scripture– Matthew 25:46. This is the only place in the entire Bible where we find these two words together AND only in some Bibles. There are over a dozen English translations which do NOT contain the concept of “eternal punishment” on ANY of their pages, NOR the pagan concept of Hell.

    The Greek form for “everlasting punishment” in Matthew 25:46 is ”kolasin aionion.” Kolasin is a noun in the accusative form, singular voice, feminine gender and means “punishment, chastening, correction, to cut-off as in pruning a tree to bare more fruit.” “Aionion” is the adjective form of “aion,” in the singular form and means “pertaining to an eon or age, an indeterminate period of time.” (Note: the two words in many, not all translations become reversed when bringing the Greek into English, that is, “kolasin aionion” literally punishment everlasting is reversed to everlasting punishment so as to make better sense in English.)

    “Aionion,” as shown above, is the singular form of the adjective of the Greek noun “aion.” Many people unfamiliar with the Greek do not realize that the endings of the same word change (inflection) to indicate its mood, case, gender, etc. Therefore, “aionion” may appear with different endings. “Aionion, aioniou, aionios,” for example, are all different inflections of the adjective form of the noun “aion.”

    The noun “aion” in Greek literature has always meant “an indeterminate period of time. It could be as short as the time Jonah spent in the belly of a fish (three days or nights even though the KJV has him in the “belly of Hell” “forever,” obviously a mistranslation; see Jonah 2:2, 2:6.), the length of a man’s life, or as long as an age.

    The Bible speaks of at least 5 “aions” and perhaps many more. If there were “aions” in the past, then aions must have an end. The New Testament writers spoke of “the present wicked aion” which ended during that very generation. Obviously, it was followed by another “aion”– the “aion” in which we presently live. If there are “aions” to come, it must mean that this one we live in will also end.

    There is a verse which says “the consummation of the aions” proving that each “aion” ends. So how can they be eternal?
    There is “the coming eon” (Matt.10:30, Luke 18:30
    There is “the present wicked eon” (Gal.1:4)
    There is “the oncoming eons (future)(Eph.2:7)
    There is “the conclusion of the eon (present) (Mt.13:39,40)
    There is “the secret concealed from the eons (past) (Eph.3:9)

    Plainly, the Greek word “aion” transliterated “eon” cannot mean “eternal.” A study into the Greek of the Biblical period and before will bear this out.

    “Aionion” is the adjective of the noun “aion.”

    Since grammar rules mandate an adjective CANNOT take on a greater force than its noun form, it is evident that “aionion” in any of its adjective forms (ios, ou, on) CANNOT possible mean “everlasting” or anything remotely indicating eternity or unending time.

    For example, “hourly” cannot mean “pertaining to days, weeks, months, or years. The word MUST mean “pertaining to an hour.” Therefore, “aionion,” the adjective form of the noun “aion” which clearly means a period of indeterminate TIME, CANNOT mean, “forever and ever, eternal, everlasting, eternity, etc.” or other words which connote timelessness or unending ages.

    Therefore, those many Bibles which do NOT contain the teaching of everlasting punishment or Hell are true to the original languages of Greek and Hebrew. Those which teach everlasting punishment or Hell are false. Scholars are just as easily subjected to the “traditions of the elders” as the rest of us. It’s time to let the original Greek and Hebrew languages of the Bible break down the traditions of men.

    Here is a list of Bibles which have taken major steps towards correcting many of the corruptions found in the King James Bible, NIV, NASB, NRSV, Amplified, as well as other leading selling Bibles:

    Some of them are published by leading Evangelical Christian publishers like Baker Book House, Kregal and Eerdman’s Publishing. Here’s a partial list of some English Bible translations that do NOT contain Hell nor the concept of everlasting punishment: Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible (Kregal Publishers), Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (Baker Book House Publishers; Robert Young is author of the famous Young’s Concordance), Concordant Literal Translation of the N.T. (Concordant Publishing Concern), Scarlet’s New Testament (Nathaniel Scarlett, 1798), The New Testament (Abner Kneeland, 1823) Emphatic Diaglott (Greek/English Interlinear), The New Covenant (J.W. Hanson, 1884), New Testament in Modern Speech (Weymouth, 1910), The Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible (1976), The Twentieth Century New Testament (1900), The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Anointed (James L. Tomanek)1958), The Western New Testament (1926), The New Testament, a Translation (Rev. Edgar Lewis Clementson, 1938), The People’s New Testament (Arthur Overbury), The New Testament, A New Translation based upon the Oldest Manuscripts (Johannes Greber, 1980) Jonathan Mitchell New Testament (2009) Far Above All New Testament (2009).

    There are other translations like the Companion Bible King James Version, American Standard Version (1901), the Newberry Reference Bible (Still published by Kregal Publications), and the Riverside New Testament by Ballantine (1934) which contain footnotes, marginal readings and appendages which point out that several key Greek and Hebrew words have been MIStranslated by such Bible versions as the King James Bible.

    For much more information on how this word as well as words have been mistranslated in many leading selling Bibles, write to the address below or visit our internet site. http://www.tentmaker.org

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      “The entire concept of eternal or everlasting punishment hinges primarily on a single verse of Scripture– Matthew 25:46. This is the only place in the entire Bible where we find these two words together AND only in some Bibles.”
      .
      While they may be correct that Matthew 25:46 is the only verse that uses those two exact words their assertion that the entire concept hinges on that single verse is patently ABSURD. As evidenced by the following verses.
      .
      Matthew 25:41 Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
      .
      Revelation 19:20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed signs on his behalf, by which he deceived those who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. Both of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
      .
      Revelation 20:10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, into which the beast and the false prophet had already been thrown. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
      .
      And still the question remains: Show a single Scripture for The Holy Bible that shows anyone who is thrown into the lake of fire as ever getting out.

      Reply
  12. Susan says:

    You said I did not provide a verse that Jesus saves.

    But I specifically quoted this one in
    another thread plus giving you dozens of the all verses in that thread as well.

    “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time”

    It says ransom for ALL.

    Jesus ransomed the world and everyone in it for God. It says so quite clearly.

    And you want to deny his accomplishment to serve your evil pet doctrine?

    There is a plan of the ages but nobody bothers to learn it except a tiny minority in Christianity who live quiet lives of totally committed doctrinal study like Dr Ernest L Martin who wrote:

    The Doctrine of the Ages of the Bible here:
    http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d050101.htm

    Quote from above:

    One doctrine that gives problems to Christians today it is that which concerns the Ages. The truth is the majority of Christian people today do not understand that the Bible itself talks about various ages both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Most people do not even realize that such a teaching exists in the Bible.

    One day the atheists will be saying to God “But the Christians said” in self defense but ignorance of the Bible is no biblical excuse for God.

    While God will be asking Christians “Why did you teach them so poorly and give them the idea they could blaspheme me?

    I can’t believe you would take on Bible scholars who have spent their whole lives studying the scriptures with such a cursory look.

    I mean these are fully dedicated professional bible experts and you are a professional engineer right?

    You should have doubted your own superficial understanding more.

    No wonder you have to defend and can’t teach the Gospels.

    I hope you buckle down and consult someone who actually dedicates himself to full time research of the scriptures.

    Not a minister. A scholar.

    A minister has a divided focus between people and God. He takes care of people for God.

    But scholars train ministers in the intricacies of the Bible so they can do a better job ministering.

    I hope this helps your biblical comprehension improve.

    May His Grace Abound to You!

    Atheists feel free to read any works I mention or post.

    I once knew an atheist reading everything I posted while the rest of the forum merely debated superficially. He left the forum to go to medical school. But I found out later he actually died within a short interval after my extensive web postings that he used to read so I hope he was saved on the end. I believe he appreciated the importance of freedom of speech in learning the truth and correcting errors in human understanding.

    You don’t have to defend the Gospel if you can actually deliver it effectively.

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      How embarrassing for you that still you can NOT properly quote Scripture. Goodness are you a two year old that you must continually be corrected? Here is the two verses you attempted to post above properly quoted.
      .
      1 Timothy 2:5-6 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
      .
      .
      “It says ransom for ALL.
      Jesus ransomed the world and everyone in it for God. It says so quite clearly.
      And you want to deny his accomplishment to serve your evil pet doctrine?”
      .
      And yet again you are taking this Scripture OUT OF CONTEXT. I suggest you go study what the commentaries have to say about verse 6 specifically. They do NOT agree with your quite literal interpretation of the word “all” here. Link provided: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_timothy/2-6.htm
      .
      Nor does Jesus as he is talking here in John 3:17-18. He should KNOW as it was himself that was the sacrifice.
      .
      John 3:17-18 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son
      .
      .
      As to the rest of what you wrote. Do you have any comprehension on how to actually write something that does not sound like gibberish and has an actual point?
      .
      And seriously, you should take your own advice and STOP posting here. It is obvious to even the atheists that you are confused.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        You are no Christian, sir. You are a character assasin with a condemning spirit.

        You should not be pulling condemnation verses out of the Bible early.

        You should be mastering the Bible and actually trying to save them.

        All judgment of eternal destiny is reserved to Jesus and Jesus rebuked two of his disciples for wanting to bring fire down on people early.

        I am sorry for you that you have allowed this spirit of condemnation to rule in your heart.

        The mark of an overcomer is forgiveness.

        Also we are told to be encouraged not condemners.

        But you can’t be corrected because you are afraid. So convinced God will cast you into hell for making a mistake that you have given up reasoning and research to parrot verses and wag them like a talisman warding off evil.

        But the evil is the eternal torment doctrine and there is a lot about the afterlife the church doesn’t teach that well.

        You should have tried to go beyond your teachers if there were more to learn but you did not.

        I guess you like having a condemning spirit more than actually saving people because your method of going about it is so poor.

        Atheists usually know the hell verses.

        But they never research into it that deeply. They just get mad at God and you are probably just offending them more Heavlin especially since you don’t have the connections to correct the doctrinal error so you just reinforce and project the lie and your own fear onto them.

        Try getting a deeper Bible education. Your opinions might change and that is spiritual growth.

        Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          You are no Christian, sir.
          .
          Who are you to judge me?
          .
          .
          You are a character assasin with a condemning spirit.
          .
          What? I have a condemning spirit for quoting Scripture where Jesus is speaking on the subject we are discussing? I will repeat it here as you obviously missed it. And this passage was in reply to your post not addressed to whomever else you are referring. Jesus does not appear to agree with your “universalist” theory here as he is talking here in John 3:17-18. He should KNOW as it was himself that was the sacrifice.
          .
          John 3:17-18 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son
          .
          .
          “All judgment of eternal destiny is reserved to Jesus”
          .
          Acts 17:30-31 30 Although God overlooked the ignorance of earlier times, He now commands all men everywhere to repent. 31 For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.
          .
          You got another verse you are referring to about this other than this one then post it?
          .
          .
          “Jesus rebuked two of his disciples for wanting to bring fire down on people early.”
          .
          Yeah you attempted to quote the verses in another thread to prove “universalism”. Which is using them OUT OF CONTEXT. I replied but my reply got hit by “the awaiting moderation bug” give it a day it will post.
          .
          .
          “I am sorry for you that you have allowed this spirit of condemnation to rule in your heart.
          The mark of an overcomer is forgiveness.
          Also we are told to be encouraged not condemners.
          But you can’t be corrected because you are afraid. So convinced God will cast you into hell for making a mistake that you have given up reasoning and research to parrot verses and wag them like a talisman warding off evil.”
          .
          What? This section is completely incoherent. Do you have any comprehension of what you are actually saying here because it makes ZERO sense.
          .
          .
          “But the evil is the eternal torment doctrine and there is a lot about the afterlife the church doesn’t teach that well.”
          .
          Again, I would refer you to John 3:17-18 posted above. These are NOT my words but Jesus’ words.
          .
          .
          “You should have tried to go beyond your teachers if there were more to learn but you did not.
          I guess you like having a condemning spirit more than actually saving people because your method of going about it is so poor.
          Atheists usually know the hell verses.
          But they never research into it that deeply. They just get mad at God and you are probably just offending them more Heavlin especially since you don’t have the connections to correct the doctrinal error so you just reinforce and project the lie and your own fear onto them.
          Try getting a deeper Bible education. Your opinions might change and that is spiritual growth.”
          .
          What? This section is completely incoherent. Do you have any comprehension of what you are actually saying here because it makes ZERO sense. I would suggest to you that you re- read the above passage while looking in a mirror except to substitute your name where you have mine.

          Reply
      • toby says:

        It is obvious to even the atheists that you are confused.
        Such a lovely backhanded compliment.
        .
        Susan fails to realize that this site is built upon apologetics that claim to be based on reason and argument. She fails to offer any arguments for her reasons (largely bible verses and appeals to trust god over your own senses). She has given up her own intellect (which she would say why trust it more than god) to spread her mind virus through long posts of proselytizing appeals to join her life of blind biblical regurgitation. She thinks she’s doing good, the lords work, but she’s kind of like a student on the first day of school that has wandered into the wrong classroom and begins talking about poetry instead of algebra.

        Reply
        • bob says:

          And…and, she does it with confident glee.
          Honestly, I have yet to actually meet, face to face, Christians who display the mentality that I encounter on sites such as this one. I guess I should count that as a plus.

          Reply
        • Mark Heavlin says:

          “Such a lovely backhanded compliment.”
          .
          You are welcome.
          Almost “Atacamaic” like my sense of humor sometimes. Go look up “Atacama Desert”.

          Reply
  13. Susan says:

    Here is an interesting work on the Lake of Fire:

    Where is the Lake of Fire?
    http://www.askelm.com/secrets/sec106.htm

    Some quotes from it:

    “in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascends up for the ages of the ages: and they have no rest day or night” (Revelation 14:10–11, not “forever and ever” see Greek).

    This is an exact reference to Isaiah 34:8-10.

    “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion. And the streams [of Edom] shall be turned into pitch, and the dust into brimstone, and the land [of Edom] shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; the smoke shall go up for the age [not forever see Hebrew]” from generation to generation it shall lie waste. This burning of Edom (an area that borders the southern and southeastern portions of the Dead Sea) occurs when “the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll” (Isaiah 34:4),

    “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication [promiscuity] and going over to strange flesh, are set forth [are presently set forth] for an example, suffering [are presently suffering] the vengeance of age-lasting fire” (Jude verse 7, not “eternal” fire because the fires have long gone out—see proper Greek understanding).

    Another explanation of Death and Hades by Dr. Martin:

    John says the lake has the factor of death associated with it. “The Lake of the Fire…is the second death.” This is where Hades (hell) and Death are to be cast (Revelation 20:14). Hades and Death are the proper names of angelic powers who control those areas and conditions of judgment. This reference shows that “The Lake of the Fire” cannot be a symbol of the ordinary grave (Hades), because Hades (an angelic power) is “thrown” into it.

    As someone once pointed out if the Lake of Fire was hell why would God throw hell into itself?
    Also you don’t throw places.

    Reply
  14. Susan Tan says:

    Goodbye everyone. Enjoy your petty lives of making cheap jokes at other people’s expense. It really does not bother me because I base my self worth on God’s love.

    Besides why spend your valuable time on people determined to reject God when there are many others who won’t.

    Charity work is better than debating because it honors God.

    Not that apologetics isn’t important. It is primarily to benefit believers.

    You can sow the Gospel anywhere if you are creative.

    I sowed it in 2 international cities by passing the Gospel tracts out at monuments visited by international tourists. Gave some out to hotel workers, left them in public lobbies and doled them out liberally to taxi drivers.

    I have promoted and defended the Gospel in multiple online communities.

    I used to leave tracts at gas stations in every state that I passed through on cross country trips. I even deposited them in libraries and those “take one free” stands. Once I put some copies in a Fed Ex mailbox.

    So all this debating has not put one dent in my fervor for the Gospel and the human right given to them by Christ to be born again.

    Go ahead those of you who make cheap jokes at people. Be negative and miserable with that little cloud of miasma and bugs following you around like that comic strip character called Pigpen. I don’t care. Jesus loves me and I know it. So sorry you all of your had to wallow in all this abysmal unbelief for so long that you no longer know how to appeal to God to get you out of it.

    But I am out of it. There are a million more cheerful things to do for God. There is no limit on the creative ways to promote the Gospel and truly feel like a success at the most meaningful thing in life.

    I have evangelized all sorts of people now. Multiple ethnic groups, a few Muslims, a few Buddhists. a few Hindus, a few Wiccans, a few agnostics and many, many atheists. So it could be time for me to carry the Gospel in new ways.

    I just wanted you to know I think Jesus finally taught me to be content in all circumstances and your spitefulness bounces off me like that asp bite did off Paul.

    I no longer have much of a fear of man nor does group rejection bother me.

    I am secure. I have Jesus firmly implanted in my life and really couldn’t care less what a bunch of haters with critical spirits say.

    Ciao. Have a nice life everyone. Hope you all learn you don’t have to one up or verbally beat up others so much. It is a sign of insecurity.

    Get Jesus. There is nothing like Jesus for curing s bad case of insecurity. I know because once upon a time I suffered from social anxiety like Moses did and I would that you cannot get any humbler. But God gave me my self esteem and I learned to let all the hater talk to role off my back like a duck does water. Why let a hater project hate on you? That is stupid.

    God Bless everyone reading! Seriously, I really have to stop using this gift of helps to save the haters. Toxic people are gonna toxic and God is recording every word and deed.

    I really am childlike trying to help haters but I finally learned not to take the bait.

    Haters gonna hate.

    God Bless haters! There is nothing more to prove. You are adults and should take responsibility for yourselves and learn not to hate. You must have had some really terrible role models you learned this from.

    But really this forum is a breeze to my first two atheist loaded forums. Some seriously deranged, psychotic atheists in those forums but they never shut me up because they didn’t scare me. So I got banned but I expect a lot of deathbed conversions from those groups. Because when you make an impression then you make an impression.

    But now I am older and wiser and you all of you should act like responsible adults but don’t seem to have the fruit of the spirit known as self control so I will have to leave you to your misery. Sorry.

    God Bless!

    Reply
    • Mark Heavlin says:

      @SUSAN
      .
      To review here from my perspective. You hold a very minority position called “universalism”. You claim that you have studied this idea extensively to the point of being and expert on it. I readily admit that I had never heard of it until now. I asked you for a SINGLE VERSE for THE HOLY BIBLE that showed that anyone who was thrown into the lake of fire in Revelation 20:15 ever gets out. Of the few attempts at citing that verse everything you provided was either TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT or your interpretation of said verse was REFUTED just a couple of verses later in the same passage. The verses you took OUT OF CONTEXT were NOT determined to be OUT OF CONTEXT by me but from looking at all of the commentaries that explain them in greater detail by multiple Biblical experts. The Scripture of THE HOLY BIBLE is TRUTH and CAN NOT BE BROKEN. If in all most a month of two people ( St. Lee and myself ) asking you for some Biblical proof you can NOT provide it. I would be very concerned that “universalism” is NOT TRUE. There are multiple verses that REFUTE “universalism” outright. Such as John 3:16-18 and the whole Chapter of Revelation 20.
      .
      .
      As to the rest of your again long winded mostly incoherent illogical rant above. I suggest that maybe in a month or two you come back and re-read it. As most of it applies directly to you.

      Reply

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