Questionable Bible Quotes

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There are few things more dangerous than inbred religious certainty.
Bart D. Ehrman (God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer)
My interpretation can only be as inerrant as I am, and that's good to keep in mind.
Rachel Held Evans (Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions)
The question 'What was there before creation?' is meaningless. Time is a property of creation, therefore before creation there was no before creation.
Glen Duncan (I, Lucifer)
The unborn” are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus, but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.
Dave Barnhart
When we refer to 'the biblical approach to economics' or the biblical response to politics' or 'biblical womanhood,' we're using the Bible as a weapon disguised as an adjective.
Rachel Held Evans (Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions)
The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart -- it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that benefits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice -- it does not so much nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask.
Rich Mullins
4. Religion. Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion... shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy and Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine therefore candidly what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis as the earth does, should have stopped, should not by that sudden stoppage have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time have resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth's motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition, by being gibbeted, according to the Roman law, which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile, or death in fureâ. ...Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you... In fine, I repeat, you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it... I forgot to observe, when speaking of the New Testament, that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us, to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration, as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, and not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost... [Letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, advising him in matters of religion, 1787]
Thomas Jefferson (Letters of Thomas Jefferson)
I’ve often said that those who say having a childlike faith means not asking questions haven’t met too many children.
Rachel Held Evans (Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again)
The best of life on Earth is a glimpse of Heaven; the worst of life is a glimpse of Hell. For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to Hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to Heaven.
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
If no one had ever challenged religious authority, there’d be no democracy, no public schools, women’s rights, improvements to science and medicine, evolution of slavery and no laws against child abuse or spousal abuse. I was afraid to challenge my religious beliefs because that was the basis of creation—mine anyway. I was afraid to question the Bible or anything in it, and when I did, that’s when I became involved with PFLAG and realized that my son was a perfectly normal human being and there was nothing for God to heal because Bobby was perfect just the way he was.
Mary Griffith
Christians often ask why God does not speak to them, as he is believed to have done in former days. When I hear such questions, it always makes me think of the rabbi who asked how it could be that God often showed himself to people in the olden days whereas nowadays nobody ever sees him. The rabbi replied: "Nowadays there is no longer anybody who can bow low enough." This answer hits the nail on the head. We are so captivated by and entangled in our subjective consciousness that we have forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions. The Buddhist discards the world of unconscious fantasies as useless illusions; the Christian puts his Church and his Bible between himself and his unconscious; and the rational intellectual does not yet know that his consciousness is not his total psyche.
C.G. Jung
The ancients were afraid that if they went to the end of the earth they would fall off and be consumed by dragons. But once we understand that Christianity is true to what is there, true to the ultimate environment - the infinite, personal God who is really there - then our minds are freed. We can pursue any question and can be sure that we will not fall off the end of the earth.
Francis A. Schaeffer (Art and the Bible: Two Essays (L'Abri Pamphlets))
Let’s de-bunk some of this, shall we? Myth 1– Kings and Queens are divine beings – rubbish. Kings and queens of old were murdering bastards who ruled with a rod of iron. Myth 2 – the rich prosper out of godliness – more rubbish. They gained their wealth by royal patronage and taxing and stealing from the masses. Myth 3 - the poor are poor because they’re depraved – yet more rubbish. They’re poor because of their naivety and childlike belief in, oh yes, Kings and Queens, the Church and the order of things. Finally, Myth 4 - women are evil and deliberately seductive – the biggest nonsense of all. Women are sexually attractive to men because they are the opposite sex to men; it’s not hard to see, is it? It’s the same for every species on the planet, you can see it in any mating ritual on the Discovery channel but this truth has been reversed and buried under the eternal lie fostered upon us by the church. That’s what the bible has achieved and that’s why our society is divided and divided again. That’s why we are never working as one, because religion was designed to divide and rule the masses,” she broke off and looked deliberately round the room, “but the big question is, for what purpose and by whom?
Arun D. Ellis
The only authority my mother recognized was God's. God is love and the Bible is truth--everything else was up for debate. She taught me to challenge authority and question the system. The only way it backfired on her was that I constantly challenged and questioned her.
Trevor Noah (Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood)
I Only Believe What I See But I Question Everything I Hear
Charleston Parker (One Soul, Many Faces: Revealing the Hidden Truth)
Nothing is more often misdiagnosed than our homesickness for Heaven. We think that what we want is sex, drugs, alcohol, a new job, a raise, a doctorate, a spouse, a large-screen television, a new car, a cabin in the woods, a condo in Hawaii. What we really want is the person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven. Nothing less can satisfy us.
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
The Scientific Revolution has not been a revolution of knowledge. It has been above all a revolution of ignorance. The great discovery that launched the Scientific Revolution was the discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most important questions. Premodern traditions of knowledge such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism asserted that everything that is important to know about the world was already known. The great gods, or the one almighty God, or the wise people of the past possessed all-encompassing wisdom, which they revealed to us in scriptures and oral traditions. Ordinary mortals gained knowledge by delving into these ancient texts and traditions and understanding them properly. It was inconceivable that the Bible, the Qur’an or the Vedas were missing out on a crucial secret of the universe – a secret that might yet be discovered by flesh-and-blood creatures.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Men are keen on blaming women for the rise in sin. It's been something plaguing humanity since the Bible first accused Eve of tempting Adam. As if he had no mind to taste that forbidden fruit before she offered it to him. Everyone seems to forget God told Adam the fruit was forbidden. He created Eve later.” “Honestly?” I snorted. “I didn’t realize you were so well versed in religion.” Thomas placed my hand in the crook of his arm, steering us toward my uncle, who’d just exited the station. “I enjoy causing discord when forced to attend parties. You ought to hear the arguments that break out from uttering something so supposedly blasphemous. The one question no one can answer is always, if Adam had been warned, why didn’t he pass the message along to his wife? Seems he was more to blame than she was. Yet Eve is always the villain, the wicked temptress who cursed us all.
Kerri Maniscalco (Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #4))
What we love about this life are the things that resonate with the life we were made for. The things we love are not merely the best this life has to offer—they are previews of the greater life to come.
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.
Lou Holtz
How strong is a faith that can't stand up to a few honest questions?
Kenneth C. Davis (Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned)
It's a scary thing, a life-changing, paradigm-shifting thing, to honestly ask yourself this question: Am I moving with God to rescue, restore, and redeem humanity? Or am I clinging fast, eyeteeth clenched, to an imperfect world's habits and cultural customs, in full knowledge of injustice or imperfections, living at odds with God's dream for his daughters and sons?
Sarah Bessey (Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women)
it’s not our place to question God’s will, and it is clearly God’s will that the two of us become man and wife.” It’s a testament to my fine character that I don’t smash that Bible right into his nose. “You wouldn’t know God’s will if it tipped its hat and said howdy.
Rae Carson (Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1))
For Christians, then, the question is not “Who gets the Bible right?” The question is and has always been, “Who gets Jesus right?” The Gospel writers and Paul couldn’t have made that any clearer.
Peter Enns (The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It)
I'm in no rush to patch up these questions. God save me from the day when stories of violence, rape, and ethnic cleansing inspire within me anything other than revulsion. I don't want to become a person who is unbothered by these texts, and if Jesus is who he says he is, then I don't think he wants me to either. There are parts of the Bible that inspire, parts that perplex, and parts that leave you with an open wound. I'm still wrestling, and like Jacob, I will wrestle until I am blessed. God hasn't let go of me yet.
Rachel Held Evans (Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again)
A Christ-centered church is not a showcase for saints but a hospital for sinners.
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
Then when G-d asks [Cain], 'Where is your brother Abel?' he arrogantly responds, 'I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?' In essence, the entire Bible is written as an affirmative response to this question.
Joseph Telushkin
Widespread criticisms of jihad in Islam and the so-called sword verses in the Quran have unearthed for fair-minded Christians difficult questions about Christianity's own traditions of holy war and 'texts of terror.' Like Hinduism's Mahabharata epic, the Bible devotes entire books to war and rumors thereof. Unlike the Quran, however, it contains hardly any rules for how to conduct a just war.
Stephen Prothero (God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter)
Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature. Dorothy Day, Catholic social activist and journalist
Sarah Bessey (Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women)
Fundamentalist Christianity: fascinating. These people actually believe that the world is twelve thousand years old. Swear to God. Based on what? I asked them. "Well, we looked at all the people in the Bible and we added 'em up all the way back to Adam and Eve, their ages? Twelve thousand years." "Well, how fucking scientific, OK. I didn't know that you'd gone to so much trouble there. That's good. You believe the world's twelve thousand years old?" "That's right." "OK, I got one word to ask you, a one word question, ready?" "Uh huh." "Dinosaurs." You know, the world's twelve thousand years old and dinosaurs existed, and existed in that time, you'd think it would been mentioned in the fucking Bible at some point: And O, Jesus and the disciples walked to Nazareth. But the trail was blocked by a giant brontosaurus... with a splinter in its paw. And the disciples did run a-screamin'. "What a big fucking lizard, Lord!" "I'm sure gonna mention this in my book," Luke said. "Well, I'm sure gonna mention it in my book," Matthew said. But Jesus was unafraid. And he took the splinter from the brontosaurus paw, and the brontosaurus became his friend. And Jesus sent him to Scotland where he lived in a loch, O so many years, attracting fat American families with their fat fuckin' dollars to look for the Loch Ness Monster. And O the Scots did praise the Lord: "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!" Twelve thousand years old. But I actually asked this guy, "OK, dinosaur fossils-- how does that fit into your scheme of life? What's the deal?" He goes: "God put those here to test our faith." "I think God put you here to test my faith, dude. I think I've figured this out." Does that-- That's what this guy said. Does that bother anyone here? The idea that God might be fucking with our heads? Anyone have trouble sleeping restfully with that thought in their head? God's running around burying fossils: "Ho ho! We'll see who believes in me now, ha ha! I'm a prankster God. I am killing me, ho ho ho!" You know? You die, you go to St. Peter: "Did you believe in dinosaurs?" "Well, yeah. There were fossils everywhere. (trapdoor opens) Aaaaarhhh!" "You fuckin' idiot! Flying lizards? You're a moron. God was fuckin' with you!" "It seemed so plausible, aaaaaahh!" "Enjoy the lake of fire, fucker!" They believe this. But you ever notice how people who believe in Creationism usually look pretty unevolved. Eyes really close together, big furry hands and feet? "I believe God created me in one day." Yeah, looks like he rushed it. Such a weird belief. Lots of Christians wear crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he's gonna want to see a fucking cross, man? "Ow." Might be why he hasn't shown up yet. "Man, they're still wearing crosses. Fuck it, I'm not goin' back, Dad. No, they totally missed the point. When they start wearing fishes, I might show up again, but... let me bury fossils with you, Dad. Fuck 'em, let's fuck with 'em! Hand me that brontosaurus head, Dad.
Bill Hicks (Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines)
In the truest sense, Christian pilgrims have the best of both worlds. We have joy whenever this world reminds us of the next, and we take solace whenever it does not. C. S. Lewis
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
We human beings instinctively regard the seen world as the “real” world and the unseen world as the “unreal” world, but the Bible calls for almost the opposite.
Philip Yancey (Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud)
If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
The basic question is not how much of our money we should give to God, but how much of God's money we should keep for ourselves.
Jim George (A Husband After God's Own Heart: 12 Things That Really Matter in Your Marriage)
It comes back to the old question: How can the Bible be so wise in some places and so barbaric in others? And why should we put any faith in a book that includes such brutality?
A.J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible)
No parent should have to bury a child ... No mother should have to bury a son. Mothers are not meant to bury sons. It is not in the natural order of things. I buried my son. In a potter's field. In a field of Blood. In empty, acrid silence. There was no funeral. There were no mourners. His friends all absent. His father dead. His sisters refusing to attend. I discovered his body alone, I dug his grave alone, I placed him in a hole, and covered him with dirt and rock alone. I was not able to finish burying him before sundown, and I'm not sure if that affected his fate ... I begrudge God none of this. I do not curse him or bemoan my lot. And though my heart keeps beating only to keep breaking--I do not question why. I remember the morning my son was born as if it was yesterday. The moment the midwife placed him in my arms, I was infused with a love beyond all measure and understanding. I remember holding my son, and looking over at my own mother and saying, "Now I understand why the sun comes up at day and the stars come out at night. I understand why rain falls gently. Now I understand you, Mother" ... I loved my son every day of his life, and I will love him ferociously long after I've stopped breathing. I am a simple woman. I am not bright or learn-ed. I do not read. I do not write. My opinions are not solicited. My voice is not important ... On the day of my son's birth I was infused with a love beyond all measure and understanding ... The world tells me that God is in Heaven and that my son is in Hell. I tell the world the one true thing I know: If my son is in Hell, then there is no Heaven--because if my son sits in Hell, there is no God.
Stephen Adly Guirgis (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot)
I like how you call homosexuality an abomination." "I don't say homosexuality's an abomination, Mr. President, the bible does." "Yes it does. Leviticus-" "18:22" "Chapter in verse. I wanted to ask you a couple questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo Mcgary,insists on working on the sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it ok to call the police? Here's one that's really important, cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Red Skins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?
Aaron Sorkin
We tend to start with Earth and reason up toward Heaven, when instead we should start with Heaven and reason down toward Earth.
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
Some of us know how we came by our fortune, and some of us don't, but we wear it all the same. There's only one question worth asking now: How do we aim to live with it?
Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible)
He had won it as a child, playing Scriptural Jeopardy in his Sunday-school class. When faced with answers from the Bible, Ig had all the right questions.
Joe Hill
The truth is, you can bend Scripture to say just about anything you want it to say. You can bend it until it breaks. For those who count the Bible as sacred, interpretation is not a matter of whether to pick and choose, but how to pick and choose. We’re all selective. We all wrestle with how to interpret and apply the Bible to our lives. We all go to the text looking for something, and we all have a tendency to find it. So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: are we reading with the prejudice of love, with Christ as our model, or are we reading with the prejudices of judgment and power, self-interest and greed? Are we seeking to enslave or liberate, burden or set free?
Rachel Held Evans (Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (series_title))
One more, final question came from the audience on my last night in Newtown, and it was the one I most did not want to hear: “Will God protect my child?” I stayed silent for what seemed like minutes. More than anything I wanted to answer with authority, “Yes! Of course God will protect you. Let me read you some promises from the Bible.” I knew, though, that behind me on the same platform twenty-six candles were flickering in memory of victims, proof that we have no immunity from the effects of a broken planet. My mind raced back to Japan, where I heard from parents who had lost their children to a tsunami in a middle school, and forward to that very morning when I heard from parents who had lost theirs to a shooter in an elementary school. At last I said, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t promise that.” None of us is exempt. We all die, some old, some tragically young. God provides support and solidarity, yes, but not protection—at least not the kind of protection we desperately long for. On this cursed planet, even God suffered the loss of a Son.
Philip Yancey (The Question That Never Goes Away)
Atheists/agnostics scored an average of 6.7 out of 12 on questions specifically regarding the Bible and Christianity. This is a higher score than (Protestant) Christians (6.2) and Catholics (5.4).
Pew Report
Christians often ask why God does not speak to them, as he is believed to have done in former days. When I hear such questions, it always makes me think of the rabbi who was asked how it could be that God often showed himself to people in the olden days while nowadays nobody ever sees him. The rabbi replied: "Nowadays there is now longer anybody who can bow low enough." This answer hits the nail on the head. We are so captivated by and entangled in our subjective consciousness that we have forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions. The Buddhist discards the world of unconscious fantasies as useless illusions; the Christian puts his Church and his Bible between himself and his unconscious; and the rational intellectual does not yet know that his consciousness is not his total psyche. This ignorance persists today in spite of the fact that for more than 70 years the unconscious has been a basic scientific concept that is indispensable to any serious psychological investigation.
C.G. Jung (Man and His Symbols)
When I have doubts about my faith, or deep nagging questions that keep me up at night, I don’t have the luxury of finding “my truth” because I am committed to the truth. I want to know what is real. I want my worldview (the lens through which I see the world) to line up with reality. God either exists, or he doesn’t. The Bible is his Word, or it’s not. Jesus was raised from the dead, or he wasn’t. Christianity is true, or it isn’t. There is no “my truth” when it comes to God.
Alisa Childers (Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity)
If the people of Europe had known as much of astronomy and geology when the bible was introduced among them, as they do now, there never could have been one believer in the doctrine of inspiration. If the writers of the various parts of the bible had known as much about the sciences as is now known by every intelligent man, the book never could have been written. It was produced by ignorance, and has been believed and defended by its author. It has lost power in the proportion that man has gained knowledge. A few years ago, this book was appealed to in the settlement of all scientific questions; but now, even the clergy confess that in such matters, it has ceased to speak with the voice of authority. For the establishment of facts, the word of man is now considered far better than the word of God. In the world of science, Jehovah was superseded by Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. All that God told Moses, admitting the entire account to be true, is dust and ashes compared to the discoveries of Descartes, Laplace, and Humboldt. In matters of fact, the bible has ceased to be regarded as a standard. Science has succeeded in breaking the chains of theology. A few years ago, Science endeavored to show that it was not inconsistent with the bible. The tables have been turned, and now, Religion is endeavoring to prove that the bible is not inconsistent with Science. The standard has been changed.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Some Mistakes of Moses)
So if you blame Facebook, Trump, or Putin for ushering in a new and frightening era of post-truth, remind yourself that centuries ago millions of Christians locked themselves inside a self-reinforcing mythological bubble, never daring to question the factual veracity of the Bible, while millions of Muslims put their unquestioning faith in the Quran. For millennia, much of what passed for “news” and “facts” in human social networks were stories about miracles, angels, demons, and witches, with bold reporters giving live coverage straight from the deepest pits of the underworld. We have zero scientific evidence that Eve was tempted by the serpent, that the souls of all infidels burn in hell after they die, or that the creator of the universe doesn’t like it when a Brahmin marries a Dalit—yet billions of people have believed in these stories for thousands of years. Some fake news lasts forever.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
No creed must be accepted upon authority of a "divine" nature. Religions must be put to the question. no moral dogma must be taken for granted- no standard of measurement deified. There is nothing inherently sacred about moral codes. Like the wooden idols of long ago, they are the work of human hands, and what man has made, man can destroy!
Anton Szandor LaVey (The Satanic Bible)
It seems that a whole lot of people, both Christians and non-Christians, are under the impression that you can’t be a Christian and vote for a Democrat, you can’t be a Christian and believe in evolution, you can’t be a Christian and be gay, you can’t be a Christian and have questions about the Bible, you can’t be a Christian and be tolerant of other religions, you can’t be a Christian and be a feminist, you can’t be a Christian and drink or smoke, you can’t be a Christian and read the New York Times, you can’t be a Christian and support gay rights, you can’t be a Christian and get depressed, you can’t be a Christian and doubt. In fact, I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals. False fundamentals make it impossible for faith to adapt to change. The longer the list of requirements and contingencies and prerequisites, the more vulnerable faith becomes to shifting environments and the more likely it is to fade slowly into extinction. When the gospel gets all entangled with extras, dangerous ultimatums threaten to take it down with them. The yoke gets too heavy and we stumble beneath it.
Rachel Held Evans (Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions)
It would upset us, but would we think it unloving if a doctor told us we had a potentially fatal cancer? And would the doctor not tell us if the cancer could be eradicated? Why then do we not tell unsaved people about the cancer of sin and evil and how the inevitable penalty of eternal destruction can be avoided by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ?
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
Ewww... intelligent design people! They're just buck-toothed, Bible-pushing nincompoops with community-college degrees who're trying to sell a gussied-up creationism to a cretinous public! No need to address their concerns or respond to their arguments. They are Not Science. They are poopy-heads. There. I just saved you the trouble of reading 90 percent of the responses to the ID position... This is how losers act just before they lose: arrogant, self-satisfied, too important to be bothered with substantive refutation, and disdainful of their own faults... The only remaining question is whether Darwinism will exit gracefully, or whether it will go down biting, screaming, censoring, and denouncing to the bitter end. — Tech Central Station contributor Douglas Kern, 2005
Jonathan Wells (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design)
If this Jesus is God’s answer, what is the question? Paul eventually came to the conclusion that God was answering a question that gets at the core of not simply the Jewish drama, but the human drama, a question that no one was yet asking in quite the same way.
Peter Enns (The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It)
We’re at different places on our journey but we share a guiding story, a sweeping epic drama called the Bible. We find faith as we follow Jesus and share a willingness to honestly wrestle with God and our questions and doubts. We find dignity as God’s image-bearers and strive to call out that dignity in one another.
Rachel Held Evans (Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church)
People would question anything having to do with God, but they wouldn’t question their own questions. They would challenge the authority of a theologian, but they wouldn’t challenge the authority of their buddy who claimed he had read a book that disproved the Bible.
Randy Ingermanson (Transgression (City of God, #1))
Contrary to what many of us are told, Israel’s origin stories weren’t designed to answer scientific, twenty-first-century questions about the beginning of the universe or the biological evolution of human beings, but rather were meant to answer then-pressing, ancient questions about the nature of God and God’s relationship to creation.
Rachel Held Evans (Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again)
most people are accusing God, asking, “How can you punish sinners? How can you let good people go to hell?” But the question the Bible asks is exactly the opposite: “God, how can you be just and still let guilty sinners into heaven?” And the only answer to that question is Jesus Christ.
David Platt (A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography)
We all go to the text looking for something, and we all have a tendency to find it. So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: are we reading with the prejudice of love, with Christ as our model, or are we reading with the prejudices of judgment and power, self-interest and greed? Are we seeking to enslave or liberate, burden or set free?
Rachel Held Evans (Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (series_title))
The weird thing about the bible is that almost everything in it is a metaphor. So it seems to me that when the bible describes church as a place where two or more people discuss God, they don’t mean just the cathedral like churches. I don’t know what, who or where God is; but if everything is a metaphor, I think he or she is a comparison to us. I think we are like, or as God. I think when we get together, and talk about ourselves, about being human, about what hurts us; we are also talking about God. So that’s also church, right? I know this might seem blasphemous, but my priest tells me its okay to ask questions, even if they seem bizarre.
Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X)
One bold message in the Book of Job is that you can say anything to God. Throw at him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment—he can absorb them all. As often as not, spiritual giants of the Bible are shown contending with God. They prefer to go away limping, like Jacob, rather than to shut God out. In this respect, the Bible prefigures a tenet of modern psychology: you can’t really deny your feelings or make them disappear, so you might as well express them. God can deal with every human response save one. He cannot abide the response I fall back on instinctively: an attempt to ignore him or treat him as though he does not exist. That response never once occurred to Job.
Philip Yancey (Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud)
A few years ago the Deists denied the inspiration of the Bible on account of its cruelty. At the same time they worshiped what they were pleased to call the God of Nature. Now we are convinced that Nature is as cruel as the Bible; so that, if the God of Nature did not write the Bible, this God at least has caused earthquakes and pestilence and famine, and this God has allowed millions of his children to destroy one another. So that now we have arrived at the question -- not as to whether the Bible is inspired and not as to whether Jehovah is the real God, but whether there is a God or not.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Ingersoll the Magnificent)
What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would his Word still be enough for his people to come together? At Brook Hills we decided to try to answer this question. We actually stripped away the entertainment value and invited people to come together simply to study God’s Word for hours at a time. We called it Secret Church. We set a date—one Friday night—when we would gather from six o’clock in the evening until midnight, and for six hours we would do nothing but study the Word and pray. We would interrupt the six-hour Bible study periodically to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are forced to gather secretly. We would also pray for ourselves, that we would learn to love the Word as they do.
David Platt (Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream)
She says it’s wrong to be frittering away my hours asking questions when there’s work to be done. But I don’t see how a question can be wrong. Can you, Pa? Ma says the Bible sets out what’s right and wrong so we don’t have to bother ourselves with it none but it seems to me that it ain’t so matter-of-fact. Like when you kilt that old cow last week and I didn’t want to eat it ’cause he was my favorite and so gentle besides. Ma said I was sinful to waste food. But I said that maybe we shouldn’t go about killing and eating cows when they was so peaceful-like. Ma said that was foolishness and that God put the cows here just so as we can eat ’em. But that don’t seem like such a good deal for the cows to me. Preacher told us not more than four Sundays ago that God loves all his creatures, but it ain’t loving to my way of thinking to create a thing just for it to be food. Them cows ain’t never done nothing to us. Which got me to thinking that maybe we got it wrong and they got a purpose we don’t know nothing about.
Victoria Forester (The Girl Who Could Fly (Piper McCloud, #1))
Think of friends or family members who loved Jesus and are with him now. Picture them with you, walking together in this place. All of you have powerful bodies, stronger than those of an Olympic decathlete. You are laughing, playing, talking, and reminiscing. You reach up to a tree to pick an apple or orange. You take a bite. It’s so sweet that it’s startling. You’ve never tasted anything so good. Now you see someone coming toward you. It’s Jesus, with a big smile on his face. You fall to your knees in worship. He pulls you up and embraces you.
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
Protestantism's evolution away from hierarchy and authority has enormous consequences for America and the world. On the one hand, the democratization of religion runs parallel to political democratization. The king of England, questioning the pope, inspires English subjects to question the king and his Anglican bishops. Such dissent is backed up by a Bible full of handy Scripture arguing for arguing with one's kIng. This is the root of self-government in the English-speaking world.
Sarah Vowell (The Wordy Shipmates)
If this letter system works, it should be reproducible and consistent. If this letter system works, it should be demonstrated in biblical narrative—with consistency. It has. It does. It will. For instance: Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the Babylonian wall. (Da 5:1-31) The question has always been, “What method would produce the same interpretation?” If you will pull out your Strong’s Concordance and translate those same four words, you won’t get the same results that Daniel got. Was Daniel using a different method than modern Christians? Yes, obviously.
Michael Ben Zehabe (The Meaning of Hebrew Letters: A Hebrew Language Program For Christians (The Jonah Project))
As I have said, the Bible consistently changes the questions we bring to the problem of pain. It rarely, or ambiguously, answers the backward-looking question “Why?” Instead, it raises the very different, forward-looking question, “To what end?”We are not put on earth merely to satisfy our desires, to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with him. And that process may be served by the mysterious pattern of all creation: pleasure sometimes emerges against a background of pain, evil may be transformed into good, and suffering may produce something of value.
Philip Yancey (Where Is God When It Hurts?)
The question remains: How does God want to be worshipped? Where can we go to find God's reply to that question? You know the only answer: to God's all-sufficient Word, the Bible. That God-breathed book is the comprehensive and completed revelation of the will of God for us by which we can be thoroughly equipped for every good work, including the good work of worship.
Joseph C. Morecraft III (How God Wants Us To Worship Him)
Despite the fact that the Gospels are filled with page after page of Jesus confronting and rebuking the religious leaders of his day for their hurtful approach to Scripture, we have somehow adopted their approach to biblical interpretation characterized by unquestioning obedience, rather than the approach of Jesus characterized by a hermeneutic of faithful questioning.
Derek Flood (Disarming Scripture: Cherry-Picking Liberals, Violence-Loving Conservatives, and Why We All Need to Learn to Read the Bible Like Jesus Did)
It will probably will not be long until the churches will divide as sharply upon political, as upon theological questions; and when that day comes, if there are not liberals enough to hold the balance of power, this Government will be destroyed. The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church. Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave. 1879
Robert G. Ingersoll (Some Mistakes of Moses)
We’ve fallen for the devil’s lie. His most basic strategy, the same one he employed with Adam and Eve, is to make us believe that sin brings fulfillment. However, in reality, sin robs us of fulfillment. Sin doesn’t make life interesting; it makes life empty. Sin doesn’t create adventure; it blunts it. Sin doesn’t expand life; it shrinks it. Sin’s emptiness inevitably leads to boredom. When there’s fulfillment, when there’s beauty, when we see God as he truly is—an endless reservoir of fascination—boredom becomes impossible.
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
The question isn’t always which account of Christianity uses the Bible. The question is which does justice to as much of the biblical witness as possible. There are uses of Scripture that utter a false testimony about God. This is what we see in Satan’s use of Scripture in the wilderness. The problem isn’t that the Scriptures that Satan quoted were untrue, but when made to do the work that he wanted them to do, they distorted the biblical witness. This is my claim about the slave master exegesis of the antebellum South. The slave master arrangement of biblical material bore false witness about God. This remains true of quotations of the Bible in our own day that challenge our commitment to the refugee, the poor, and the disinherited.
Esau McCaulley (Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope)
The justification I hear more often than any other for leaving the Bible behind is that “everyone knows” it is antiquated and full of scientific nonsense, if not blatant errors and contradictions. Amazingly, when I ask people to cite examples, many cannot bring to mind even one. Apparently, they base their opinion on hearsay and repeat a widespread misconception. Among those who do answer my question, one Bible portion draws more vigorous attack than all others combined: the first few chapters of Genesis. This attack opens a wonderful door of opportunity for me—and for every believer who knows something about the scientific discoveries of the past few decades. Instead of offering an excuse for disbelief and rejection, these chapters present some of the most persuasive evidences ever assembled for the supernatural authorship, accuracy, and authority of the Bible.
Hugh Ross (Navigating Genesis: A Scientist's Journey through Genesis 1–11)
So in considering the writings of Paul, the question is not, Are head coverings good or bad? The question is, in that context, Did head coverings help or hurt the advancement of the gospel and the preservation of unity? The question is not, Should Christians eat meat? but rather, in that context, Did eating meat help or hurt the advancement of the gospel and the preservation of unity? And as we consider the application of Paul’s teachings in our various contexts today, the question is not, Should women be allowed to preach? but Do women preachers help or hurt the advancement of the gospel and the preservation of unity? Paul was smart enough to know the answers to these questions would vary from church to church and person to person, so surely he was smart enough to also know they would vary from culture to culture and century to century. Was Paul a man of his time? Of course. But that’s exactly the point. God meets us where we are, as we are. The Spirit shows up in the thick of it.
Rachel Held Evans (Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again)
President Josiah Bartlet: Good. I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an abomination. Dr. Jenna Jacobs: I don't say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does. President Josiah Bartlet: Yes, it does. Leviticus. Dr. Jenna Jacobs: 18:22. President Josiah Bartlet: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that, can I ask another? My Chief of Staff Leo McGarry insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or is it okay to call the police? Here's one that's really important 'cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town: Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you? One last thing: While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building, when the President stands, nobody sits.
Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing Script Book)
Invariably, I will be referred to Gleason Archer's massive Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, a heavy volume that seeks to provide the reader with sound explanations for every conceivable puzzle found within the Bible - from whether God approved of Rahab's lie, to where Cain got his wife. (Note to well-meaning apologists: it's not always the best idea to present a skeptic with a five-hundred-page book listing hundreds of apparent contradictions in Scripture when the skeptic didn't even know that half of them existed before you recommended it.)
Rachel Held Evans (Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions)
Disagreeing with his cousin’s characterization of the Bible as “nonsense,” he wrote that, on the contrary, one could find in it “all of the most difficult questions concerning Morals, Lawmaking, Industry, and Medical Science … resolved in the most simple way, often treated from a contemporary point of view.” He also urged her to read his own letters to her more carefully, saying that each sentence contained something specific and that “if perhaps the surface seems smooth to you, the water is very deep, and often the smoother the surface the deeper the water.
Allen Shawn (Arnold Schoenberg's Journey)
In the LGBT community, the opposite of pride is self- hatred. But in the Bible, the opposite of pride is faith. Was pride keeping me from faith, or was pride keeping me from self-hatred? That was when the question inserted itself like a foot in the door: Did pride distort self-esteem the way lust distorts love? This was the first of my many betrayals against the LGBT community: whose dictionary did I trust? The one used by the community that I helped create or the one that reflected the God who created me? As soon as the question formed itself into words, I felt convicted of the sin of pride. Pride was my downfall. I asked God for the mercy to repent of my pride at its root.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ)
What made Luther’s stance so outrageous was not that he valorized the Bible. That is hardly unusual for Christians. What was shocking was that he set it above everything else. He treated the views of the early church fathers, of more recent scholars, even of church councils, with great respect, but he would not be constrained by them. In the end, anything outside the Bible, including anyone else’s interpretation of the Bible, was a mere opinion. This was the true and enduring radicalism of Protestantism: its readiness to question every human authority and tradition.
Alec Ryrie (Protestants: The Faith That Made the Modern World)
Morals do exist outside of organized religion, and the ‘morality’ taught by many of these archaic systems is often outdated, sexist, racist, and teaches intolerance and inequality. When a parent forces a child into a religion, the parent is effectively handicapping his or her own offspring by limiting the abilities of the child to question the world around him or her and make informed decisions. Children raised under these conditions will mature believing that their religion is the only correct one, and, in the case of Christianity, they will believe that all who doubt their religion’s validity will suffer eternal damnation. This environment is one that often breeds hate, ignorance, and ‘justified’ violence.
David G. McAfee (Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings)
The vast majority of protesters were men, and it made perfect sense to Louie—the male of the species felt threatened by the biology of women. Even in the Bible, normal female biological functions were made pathological: You were unclean when you had your menses. Childbirth had to occur in pain. And there was the questionable nature of those who bled regularly—but did not die. There was, of course, the history, too. Women had been property. Their chastity had always belonged to a man, until abortion and contraception put control of women’s sexuality in the women’s hands. If women could have sex without the fear of unwanted pregnancy, then suddenly the man’s role had shrunk to a level somewhere between unnecessary and vestigial. So instead, men vilified women who had abortions. They created the stigma: good women want to be mothers, bad women don’t.
Jodi Picoult (A Spark of Light)
Who dies best, the soldier who falls for your sake, or the fly in my whiskey-glass? The happy agony of the fly is his reward for an adventurous dive in no cause but his own. Gorged and crazed, he touches bottom, knows he's gone as far as he can go, and bravely sticks. I sleep on. In the morning I pour new happiness upon the crust of the old, and only as I raise the glass to my lips descry through that rich brown double inch my flattened hero. I drink around his death, being no angler by any inclination, and leave him in the weird shallows. The glass set down, I idle beneath the fan, while beyond my window-bars a warm drizzle passes silently from clouds to leaves. How to die? How to live? These questions, if we ask the dead fly, are both answered thus: In a drunken state. But drunk on WHAT should we all be? Well, there's love to drink, of course, and death, which is the same thing, and whiskey, better still, and heroin, best of all—except maybe for holiness. Accordingly, let this book, like its characters, be devoted to Addiction, Addicts, Pushers, Prostitutes and Pimps. With upraised needles, Bibles, dildoes and shot glasses, let us now throw our condoms in the fire, unbutton our trousers, and happily commit THIS MULTITUDE OF CRIMES.
William T. Vollmann (The Royal Family)
Meanwhile, we on this dying Earth can relax and rejoice for our loved ones who are in the presence of Christ. As the apostle Paul tells us, though we naturally grieve at losing loved ones, we are not “to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Our parting is not the end of our relationship, only an interruption. We have not “lost” them, because we know where they are. They are experiencing the joy of Christ’s presence in a place so wonderful that Christ called it Paradise. And one day, we’re told, in a magnificent reunion, they and we “will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18).
Randy Alcorn (Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home (Clear Answers to 44 Real Questions About the Afterlife, Angels, Resurrection, ... and the Kingdom of God) (Alcorn, Randy))
White ain't nothing.' Mama's grip did not lessen. 'It is something, Cassie. White is something just like black is something. Everybody born on this Earth is something, and nobody, no matter what color is better than anybody else.' 'Then how come Mr. Simms don't know that.' 'Because he's one of those people who has to believe that white people are better than black people to make himself feel big.' I stared questionably at Mama, not really understanding. Mama squeezed my hadn't and explained further, 'You see, Cassie, many years ago, when our people were fist brought from Africa in chains to work as slaves in this country--' 'Like Big Ma's Papa and Mama?' Mama nodded. "Yes, baby. Like Papa Luke and Mama Rachael. Except they were born right here is Mississippi, but their grandparents were born in Africa. And when they came, there was some white people who thought that is was wrong for any people to be slaves. So the people who needed slaves to work in their fields and the people who were making money bringing slaves from Africa preached that black people weren't really people like white people were, so slavery was all right. They also said that slavery was good for us because it thought us to be good Christians, like the white people.' She sighed deeply, her voice fading into a distant whisper, 'But they didn't teach us Christianity to save our souls, but to teach us obedience. They were afraid of slave revolts and they wanted us to learn the Bible's teachings about slaves being loyal to their masters. But even teaching Christianity didn't make us stop wanting to be free and many slaves ran away.
Mildred D. Taylor
It is the same for us all - 'whoever'. I am to deny myself, take up my cross and follow him. Every Christian is called to costly sacrifice. Denying yourself does not mean tweaking your behaviour here and there. It is saying 'no' to your deepest sense of who you are, for the sake of Christ. To take up a cross is to declare your life (as you have known it) forfeit. It is laying down your life for the very reason that your life, it turns out, is not yours at all. It belongs to Jesus. He made it. And through his death he has bought it. Ever since I have been open about my own experiences with homosexuality, a number of Christians have said something like this: 'the gospel must be harder for you than it is for me', as though I have more to give up than they do. But the fact is that the gospel demands everything out of all of us. If someone thinks the gospel has somehow slotted into their life quite easily, without causing any major adjustments to their lifestyle or aspirations, it is likely that they have not really started following Jesus at all.
Sam Allberry (Is God anti-gay?: And other questions about homosexuality, the Bible and same-sex attraction)
Psychologists say the best way to handle children at this stage of development is not to answer their questions directly but instead to tell them a story. As pediatrician Alan Greene explained, “After conversing with thousands of children, I’ve decided that what they really mean is, ‘That’s interesting to me. Let’s talk about that together. Tell me more, please?’ Questions are a child’s way of expressing love and trust. They are a child’s way of starting a conversation. So instead of simply insisting over and over again that the object of my son’s attention is, in fact, an elephant, I might tell him about how, in India, elephants are symbols of good luck, or about how some say elephants have the best memories of all the animals. I might tell him about the time I saw an elephant spin a basketball on the tip of his trunk, or about how once there was an elephant named Horton who heard a Who. I might tell him that once upon a time, there was an elephant and four blind men; each man felt a different part of the elephant’s body: the ears, the tail, the side, and the tusk . . .
Rachel Held Evans (Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again)
One of the questions asked by al-Balkhi, and often repeated to this day, is this: Why do the children of Israel continue to suffer? My grandmother Dodo thought it was because the goyim were jealous. The seder for Passover (which is a shame-faced simulacrum of a Hellenic question-and-answer session, even including the wine) tells the children that it's one of those things that happens to every Jewish generation. After the Shoah or Endlösung or Holocaust, many rabbis tried to tell the survivors that the immolation had been a punishment for 'exile,' or for insufficient attention to the Covenant. This explanation was something of a flop with those whose parents or children had been the raw material for the 'proof,' so for a time the professional interpreters of god's will went decently quiet. This interval of ambivalence lasted until the war of 1967, when it was announced that the divine purpose could be discerned after all. How wrong, how foolish, to have announced its discovery prematurely! The exile and the Shoah could now both be understood, as part of a heavenly if somewhat roundabout scheme to recover the Western Wall in Jerusalem and other pieces of biblically mandated real estate. I regard it as a matter of self-respect to spit in public on rationalizations of this kind. (They are almost as repellent, in their combination of arrogance, masochism, and affected false modesty, as Edith Stein's 'offer' of her life to expiate the regrettable unbelief in Jesus of her former fellow Jews.) The sage Jews are those who have put religion behind them and become in so many societies the leaven of the secular and the atheist.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
White ain't nothing.' Mama's grip did not lessen. 'It is something, Cassie. White is something just like black is something. Everybody born on this Earth is something, and nobody, no matter what color is better than anybody else.' 'Then how come Mr. Simms don't know that.' 'Because he's one of those people who has to believe that white people are better than black people to make himself feel big.' I stared questionably at Mama, not really understanding. Mama squeezed my hadn't and explained further, 'You see, Cassie, many years ago, when our people were fist brought from Africa in chains to work as slaves in this country--' 'Like Big Ma's Papa and Mama?' Mama nodded. "Yes, baby. Like Papa Luke and Mama Rachel. Except they were born right here is Mississippi, but their grandparents were born in Africa. And when they came, there was some white people who thought that is was wrong for any people to be slaves. So the people who needed slaves to work in their fields and the people who were making money bringing slaves from Africa preached that black people weren't really people like white people were, so slavery was all right. They also said that slavery was good for us because it thought us to be good Christians, like the white people.' She sighed deeply, her voice fading into a distant whisper, 'But they didn't teach us Christianity to save our souls, but to teach us obedience. They were afraid of slave revolts and they wanted us to learn the Bible's teachings about slaves being loyal to their masters. But even teaching Christianity didn't make us stop wanting to be free, and many slaves ran away.” ... She was silent for a moment, then went on. 'Well, after a while, slavery became so profitable to people who had slaves and even to those who didn't that most people started to believe that black people weren't really people like everybody else. And when the Civil War was fought, and Mama Rachel and Papa Luke and all the other slaves were freed, people continued to think that way. Even the Northeners who fought the war didn't really see us equal to white people. 'So, now, even though seventy years have passed since slavery, most white people still think of us as they did then, that we're not as good as they are. And people like Mr. Simms hold onto that belief harder than some other folks because they have little else to hold onto. For him to believe that he is better than we are makes him think that he's important, simply because he's white.
Mildred D. Taylor (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Logans, #4))
After a long and happy life, I find myself at the pearly gates (a sight of great joy; the word for “pearl” in Greek is, by the way, margarita). Standing there is St. Peter. This truly is heaven, for finally my academic questions will receive answers. I immediately begin the questions that have been plaguing me for half a century: “Can you speak Greek? Where did you go when you wandered off in the middle of Acts? How was the incident between you and Paul in Antioch resolved? What happened to your wife?” Peter looks at me with some bemusement and states, “Look, lady, I’ve got a whole line of saved people to process. Pick up your harp and slippers here, and get the wings and halo at the next table. We’ll talk after dinner.” As I float off, I hear, behind me, a man trying to gain Peter’s attention. He has located a “red letter Bible,” which is a text in which the words of Jesus are printed in red letters. This is heaven, and all sorts of sacred art and Scriptures, from the Bhagavad Gita to the Qur’an, are easily available (missing, however, was the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version). The fellow has his Bible open to John 14, and he is frenetically pointing at v. 6: “Jesus says here, in red letters, that he is the way. I’ve seen this woman on television (actually, she’s thinner in person). She’s not Christian; she’s not baptized - she shouldn’t be here!” “Oy,” says Peter, “another one - wait here.” He returns a few minutes later with a man about five foot three with dark hair and eyes. I notice immediately that he has holes in his wrists, for when the empire executes an individual, the circumstances of that death cannot be forgotten. “What is it, my son?” he asks. The man, obviously nonplussed, sputters, “I don’t mean to be rude, but didn’t you say that no one comes to the Father except through you?” “Well,” responds Jesus, “John does have me saying this.” (Waiting in line, a few other biblical scholars who overhear this conversation sigh at Jesus’s phrasing; a number of them remain convinced that Jesus said no such thing. They’ll have to make the inquiry on their own time.) “But if you flip back to the Gospel of Matthew, which does come first in the canon, you’ll notice in chapter 25, at the judgment of the sheep and the goats, that I am not interested in those who say ‘Lord, Lord,’ but in those who do their best to live a righteous life: feeding the hungry, visiting people in prison . . . ” Becoming almost apoplectic, the man interrupts, “But, but, that’s works righteousness. You’re saying she’s earned her way into heaven?” “No,” replies Jesus, “I am not saying that at all. I am saying that I am the way, not you, not your church, not your reading of John’s Gospel, and not the claim of any individual Christian or any particular congregation. I am making the determination, and it is by my grace that anyone gets in, including you. Do you want to argue?” The last thing I recall seeing, before picking up my heavenly accessories, is Jesus handing the poor man a Kleenex to help get the log out of his eye.
Amy-Jill Levine (The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus)
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN we pray? Have you ever really thought about that? When you bow your knee and fold your hands or walk the floor with your eyes closed, opening your heart to heaven, what exactly happens? There are very few references in the Bible about the proper procedures for how to pray, and I believe that is because prayer is more about the heart’s attitude and focus than it is about whether we stand, sit, close our eyes, or any other practice we normally associate with prayer. The truth be told, if we are supposed to pray without ceasing, we should also be able to work on an engine, write an e-mail, give a presentation, change a diaper, write a report, have coffee with a friend, encourage a coworker, pay our bills, and any of the other myriad of things we do in a day while still keeping the communication lines open with heaven. I believe that every day we need focused times of prayer, but at all other times we should be in an attitude of prayer with our spiritual ears open to the thoughts of heaven. There should be seasons of intense, concentrated prayer and fasting with specified hours set aside for intercession, and there should be times when prayer is simply a regular part of our daily routine. A great interest has arisen in the last decade around 24-7 prayer rooms where different church members pray in hour-long blocks so that unbroken intercession is raised up for their city and our world. Other churches dedicate evenings solely to prayer and worship and gather believers to lift their voices in song and petition to the Lord. While all of these are wonderful things to do, at its essence prayer is simply conversation with God. Because we have changed passports from the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of heaven, we are members of God’s family and therefore have the right to talk with our Father anytime we want because He is not limited by time and space. Yet while it isn’t difficult to speak to Him, even as a babe in faith, it does take some maturity to discern His voice from the voice of our own thoughts, dreams, and desires. This is why, when I speak about prayer, I get more questions about hearing the voice of God than anything else.
Cindy Trimm (The Prayer Warrior's Way: Strategies from Heaven for Intimate Communication with God)
I pity those reviewers above, and people like them, who ridicule authors like R.A. Boulay and other proponents of similar Ancient Astronaut theories, simply for putting forth so many interesting questions (because that's really what he often throughout openly admits is all he does does) in light of fascinating and thought-provoking references which are all from copious sources. Some people will perhaps only read the cover and introduction and dismiss it as soon as any little bit of information flies in the face of their beliefs or normalcy biases. Some of those people, I'm sure, are some of the ones who reviewed this book so negatively without any constructive criticism or plausible rebuttal. It's sad to see how programmed and indoctrinated the vast majority of humanity has become to the ills of dogma, indoctrination, unverified status quos and basic ignorance; not to mention the laziness and conformity that results in such acquiescence and lack of critical thinking or lack of information gathering to confirm or debunk something. Too many people just take what's spoon fed to them all their lives and settle for it unquestioningly. For those people I like to offer a great Einstein quote and one of my personal favorites and that is: "Condemnation without investigation is the highest form of ignorance" I found this book to be a very interesting gathering of information and collection of obscure and/or remote antiquated information, i.e. biblical, sacred, mythological and otherwise, that we were not exactly taught to us in bible school, or any other public school for that matter. And I am of the school of thought that has been so for intended purposes. The author clearly cites all his fascinating sources and cross-references them rather plausibly. He organizes the information in a sequential manner that piques ones interest even as he jumps from one set of information to the next. The information, although eclectic as it spans from different cultures and time periods, interestingly ties together in several respects and it is this synchronicity that makes the information all the more remarkable. For those of you who continue to seek truth and enlightenment because you understand that an open mind makes for and lifelong pursuit of such things I leave you with these Socrates quotes: "True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.
Socrates
...Although the term Existentialism was invented in the 20th century by the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel, the roots of this thought go back much further in time, so much so, that this subject was mentioned even in the Old Testament. If we take, for example, the Book of Ecclesiastes, especially chapter 5, verses 15-16, we will find a strong existential sentiment there which declares, 'This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind?' The aforementioned book was so controversial that in the distant past there were whole disputes over whether it should be included in the Bible. But if nothing else, this book proves that Existential Thought has always had its place in the centre of human life. However, if we consider recent Existentialism, we can see it was the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who launched this movement, particularly with his book Being and Nothingness, in 1943. Nevertheless, Sartre's thought was not a new one in philosophy. In fact, it goes back three hundred years and was first uttered by the French philosopher René Descartes in his 1637 Discours de la Méthode, where he asserts, 'I think, therefore I am' . It was on this Cartesian model of the isolated ego-self that Sartre built his existential consciousness, because for him, Man was brought into this world for no apparent reason and so it cannot be expected that he understand such a piece of absurdity rationally.'' '' Sir, what can you tell us about what Sartre thought regarding the unconscious mind in this respect, please?'' a charming female student sitting in the front row asked, listening keenly to every word he had to say. ''Yes, good question. Going back to Sartre's Being and Nothingness it can be seen that this philosopher shares many ideological concepts with the Neo-Freudian psychoanalysts but at the same time, Sartre was diametrically opposed to one of the fundamental foundations of psychology, which is the human unconscious. This is precisely because if Sartre were to accept the unconscious, the same subject would end up dissolving his entire thesis which revolved around what he understood as being the liberty of Man. This stems from the fact that according to Sartre, if a person accepts the unconscious mind he is also admitting that he can never be free in his choices since these choices are already pre-established inside of him. Therefore, what can clearly be seen in this argument is the fact that apparently, Sartre had no idea about how physics, especially Quantum Mechanics works, even though it was widely known in his time as seen in such works as Heisenberg's The Uncertainty Principle, where science confirmed that first of all, everything is interconnected - the direct opposite of Sartrean existential isolation - and second, that at the subatomic level, everything is undetermined and so there is nothing that is pre-established; all scientific facts that in themselves disprove the Existential Ontology of Sartre and Existentialism itself...
Anton Sammut (Paceville and Metanoia)
You think I hate men. I guess I do, although some of my best friends...I don't like this position. I mistrust generalized hatred. I feel like one of those twelfth century monks raving on about how evil women are and how they must cover themselves up completely when they go out lest they lead men into evil thoughts. The assumption that the men are the ones who matter, and that the women exist only in relation to them, is so silent and underrunning that ever we never picked it up until recently. But after all, look at what we read. I read Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and Wittgenstein and Freud and Erikson; I read de Montherlant and Joyce and Lawrence and sillier people like Miller and Mailer and Roth and Philip Wylie. I read the Bible and Greek myths and didn't question why all later redactions relegated Gaea-Tellus and Lilith to a footnote and made Saturn the creator of the world. I read or read about, without much question, the Hindus and the Jews, Pythagoras and Aristotle, Seneca, Cato, St.Paul, Luther, Sam Johnson, Rousseau, Swift...well, you understand. For years I didn't take it personally. So now it is difficult for me to call others bigots when I am one myself. I tell people at once, to warn them, that I suffer from deformation of character. But the truth is I am sick unto death of four thousand years of males telling me how rotten my sex is. Especially it makes me sick when I look around and see such rotten men and such magnificent women, all of whom have a sneaking suspicion that the four thousand years of remarks are correct. These days I feel like an outlaw, a criminal. Maybe that's what the people perceive who look at me so strangely as I walk the beach. I feel like an outlaw not only because I think that men are rotten and women are great, but because I have come to believe that oppressed people have the right to use criminal means to survive. Criminal means being, of course, defying the laws passed by the oppressors to keep the oppressed in line. Such a position takes you scarily close to advocating oppression itself, though. We are bound in by the terms of the sentence. Subject-verb-object. The best we can do is turn it around. and that's no answer, is it?
Marilyn French (The Women's Room)
It is now time for us to ask the personal question put to Jesus Christ by Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, ‘What shall I do Lord?’ or the similar question asked by the Philippian jailer, ’What must I do to be saved?’ Clearly we must do something. Christianity is no mere passive acquiescence in a series of propositions, however true. We may believe in the deity and the salvation of Christ, and acknowledge ourselves to be sinners in need of his salvation, but this does not make us Christians. We have to make a personal response to Jesus Christ, committing ourselves unreservedly to him as our Savior and Lord … At its simplest Christ’s call was “Follow me.” He asked men and women for their personal allegiance. He invited them to learn from him, to obey his words and to identify themselves with his cause … Now there can be no following without a previous forsaking. To follow Christ is to renounce all lesser loyalties … let me be more explicit about the forsaking which cannot be separated from the following of Jesus Christ. First, there must be a renunciation of sin. This, in a word, is repentance. It is the first part of Christian conversion. It can in no circumstances be bypassed. Repentance and faith belong together. We cannot follow Christ without forsaking sin … Repentance is a definite turn from every thought, word, deed, and habit which is known to be wrong … There can be no compromise here. There may be sins in our lives which we do not think we could ever renounce, but we must be willing to let them go as we cry to God for deliverance from them. If you are in doubt regarding what is right and what is wrong, do not be too greatly influenced by the customs and conventions of Christians you may know. Go by the clear teaching of the Bible and by the prompting of your conscience, and Christ will gradually lead you further along the path of righteousness. When he puts his finger on anything, give it up. It may be some association or recreation, some literature we read, or some attitude of pride, jealousy or resentment, or an unforgiving spirit. Jesus told his followers to pluck out their eye and cut off their hand or foot if it caused them to sin. We are not to obey this with dead literalism, of course, and mutilate our bodies. It is a figure of speech for dealing ruthlessly with the avenues along which temptation comes to us.
John R.W. Stott (Basic Christianity (IVP Classics))
With the best of intentions, the generation before mine worked diligently to prepare their children to make an intelligent case for Christianity. We were constantly reminded of the superiority of our own worldview and the shortcomings of all others. We learned that as Christians, we alone had access to absolute truth and could win any argument. The appropriate Bible verses were picked out for us, the opposing positions summarized for us, and the best responses articulated for us, so that we wouldn’t have to struggle through two thousand years of theological deliberations and debates but could get right to the bottom line on the important stuff: the deity of Christ, the nature of the Trinity, the role and interpretation of Scripture, and the fundamentals of Christianity. As a result, many of us entered the world with both an unparalleled level of conviction and a crippling lack of curiosity. So ready with the answers, we didn’t know what the questions were anymore. So prepared to defend the faith, we missed the thrill of discovering it for ourselves. So convinced we had God right, it never occurred to us that we might be wrong. In short, we never learned to doubt. Doubt is a difficult animal to master because it requires that we learn the difference between doubting God and doubting what we believe about God. The former has the potential to destroy faith; the latter has the power to enrich and refine it. The former is a vice; the latter a virtue. Where would we be if the apostle Peter had not doubted the necessity of food laws, or if Martin Luther had not doubted the notion that salvation can be purchased? What if Galileo had simply accepted church-instituted cosmology paradigms, or William Wilberforce the condition of slavery? We do an injustice to the intricacies and shadings of Christian history when we gloss over the struggles, when we read Paul’s epistles or Saint Augustine’s Confessions without acknowledging the difficult questions that these believers asked and the agony with which they often asked them. If I’ve learned anything over the past five years, it’s that doubt is the mechanism by which faith evolves. It helps us cast off false fundamentals so that we can recover what has been lost or embrace what is new. It is a refining fire, a hot flame that keeps our faith alive and moving and bubbling about, where certainty would only freeze it on the spot. I would argue that healthy doubt (questioning one’s beliefs) is perhaps the best defense against unhealthy doubt (questioning God). When we know how to make a distinction between our ideas about God and God himself, our faith remains safe when one of those ideas is seriously challenged. When we recognize that our theology is not the moon but rather a finger pointing at the moon, we enjoy the freedom of questioning it from time to time. We can say, as Tennyson said, Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be; They are but broken lights of thee, And thou, O Lord, art more than they.15 I sometimes wonder if I might have spent fewer nights in angry, resentful prayer if only I’d known that my little systems — my theology, my presuppositions, my beliefs, even my fundamentals — were but broken lights of a holy, transcendent God. I wish I had known to question them, not him. What my generation is learning the hard way is that faith is not about defending conquered ground but about discovering new territory. Faith isn’t about being right, or settling down, or refusing to change. Faith is a journey, and every generation contributes its own sketches to the map. I’ve got miles and miles to go on this journey, but I think I can see Jesus up ahead.
Rachel Held Evans (Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions)
The essence of this knowledge was the ability to `see all' and to `know all'. Was this not precisely the ability Adam and Eve acquired after eating the forbidden fruit, which grew on the branches of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil'? · Finally, just as Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden, so were the four First Men of the Popol Vuh deprived of their ability to `see far'. Thereafter `their eyes were covered and they could only see what was close ...' Both the Popol Vuh and Genesis therefore tell the story of mankind's fall from grace. In both cases, this state of grace was closely associated with knowledge, and the reader is left in no doubt that the knowledge in question was so remarkable that it conferred godlike powers on those who possessed it. The Bible, adopting a dark and muttering tone of voice, calls it `the knowledge of good and evil' and has nothing further to add. The Popol Vuh is much more informative. It tells us that the knowledge of the First Men consisted of the ability to see `things hidden in the distance', that they were astronomers who `examined the four corners, the four points of the arch of the sky', and that they were geographers who succeeded in measuring `the round face of the earth'. 7 Geography is about maps. In Part I we saw evidence suggesting that the cartographers of an as yet unidentified civilization might have mapped the planet with great thoroughness at an early date. Could the Popol Vuh be transmitting some garbled memory of that same civilization when it speaks nostalgically of the First Men and of the miraculous geographical knowledge they possessed? Geography is about maps, and astronomy is about stars. Very often the two disciplines go hand in hand because stars are essential for navigation on long sea-going voyages of discovery (and long sea-going voyages of discovery are essential for the production of accurate maps). Is it accidental that the First Men of the Popol Vuh were remembered not only for studying `the round face of the earth' but for their contemplation of `the arch of heaven'?
Graham Hancock (Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth's Lost Civilization)
Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness—that of the seemliness of religious symbols—had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic Song of Songs), they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.
Susan Sontag (Against Interpretation and Other Essays)
One," said the recording secretary. "Jesus wept," answered Leon promptly. There was not a sound in the church. You could almost hear the butterflies pass. Father looked down and laid his lower lip in folds with his fingers, like he did sometimes when it wouldn't behave to suit him. "Two," said the secretary after just a breath of pause. Leon looked over the congregation easily and then fastened his eyes on Abram Saunders, the father of Absalom, and said reprovingly: "Give not sleep to thine eyes nor slumber to thine eyelids." Abram straightened up suddenly and blinked in astonishment, while father held fast to his lip. "Three," called the secretary hurriedly. Leon shifted his gaze to Betsy Alton, who hadn't spoken to her next door neighbour in five years. "Hatred stirreth up strife," he told her softly, "but love covereth all sins." Things were so quiet it seemed as if the air would snap. "Four." The mild blue eyes travelled back to the men's side and settled on Isaac Thomas, a man too lazy to plow and sow land his father had left him. They were not so mild, and the voice was touched with command: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise." Still that silence. "Five," said the secretary hurriedly, as if he wished it were over. Back came the eyes to the women's side and past all question looked straight at Hannah Dover. "As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman without discretion." "Six," said the secretary and looked appealingly at father, whose face was filled with dismay. Again Leon's eyes crossed the aisle and he looked directly at the man whom everybody in the community called "Stiff-necked Johnny." I think he was rather proud of it, he worked so hard to keep them doing it. "Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck," Leon commanded him. Toward the door some one tittered. "Seven," called the secretary hastily. Leon glanced around the room. "But how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," he announced in delighted tones as if he had found it out by himself. "Eight," called the secretary with something like a breath of relief. Our angel boy never had looked so angelic, and he was beaming on the Princess. "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee," he told her. Laddie would thrash him for that. Instantly after, "Nine," he recited straight at Laddie: "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" More than one giggled that time. "Ten!" came almost sharply. Leon looked scared for the first time. He actually seemed to shiver. Maybe he realized at last that it was a pretty serious thing he was doing. When he spoke he said these words in the most surprised voice you ever heard: "I was almost in all evil in the midst of the congregation and assembly." "Eleven." Perhaps these words are in the Bible. They are not there to read the way Leon repeated them, for he put a short pause after the first name, and he glanced toward our father: "Jesus Christ, the SAME, yesterday, and to-day, and forever!" Sure as you live my mother's shoulders shook. "Twelve." Suddenly Leon seemed to be forsaken. He surely shrank in size and appeared abused. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up," he announced, and looked as happy over the ending as he had seemed forlorn at the beginning. "Thirteen." "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; what can man do unto me?" inquired Leon of every one in the church. Then he soberly made a bow and walked to his seat.
Gene Stratton-Porter (Laddie: A True Blue Story (Library of Indiana Classics))
Christ is all in the entire work of salvation. Let me just take you back to the period before this world was made. There was a time when this great world, the sun, the moon, the stars, and all which now exist throughout the whole of the vast universe, lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in an acorn cup. There was a time when the Great Creator lived alone, and yet he could foresee that he would make a world, and that men would be born to people it; and in that vast eternity a great scheme was devised, whereby he might save a fallen race. Do you know who devised it? God planned it from first to last. Neither Gabriel nor any of the holy angels had anything to do with it. I question whether they were even told how God might be just, and yet save the transgressors. God was all in the drawing up of the scheme, and Christ was all in carrying it out. There was a dark and doleful night! Jesus was in the garden, sweating great drops of blood, which fell to the ground; nobody then came to bear the load that had been laid upon him. An angel stood there to strengthen him, but not to bear the sentence. The cup was put into his hands, and Jesus said, "Father, must I drink it?" and his Father replied, "If thou dost not drink, sinners cannot be saved"; and he took the cup and drained it to its very dregs. No man helped him. And when he hung upon that accursed tree of Calvary, when his precious hands were pierced, when: "From his head, his hands, his feet, Sorrow and love flowed mingled down," there was nobody to help him. He was "all" in the work of salvation. And, my friends, if any of you shall be saved, it must be by Christ alone. There must be no patchwork; Christ did it all, and will not be helped in the matter. Christ will not allow you, as some say, to do what you can, and leave him to make up the rest. What can you do that is not sinful? Christ has done all for us; the work of redemption is all finished. Christ planned it all, and worked out all; and we, therefore, preach a full salvation through Jesus Christ.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
My mom was a sayyed from the bloodline of the Prophet (which you know about now). In Iran, if you convert from Islam to Christianity or Judaism, it’s a capital crime. That means if they find you guilty in religious court, they kill you. But if you convert to something else, like Buddhism or something, then it’s not so bad. Probably because Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sister religions, and you always have the worst fights with your sister. And probably nothing happens if you’re just a six-year-old. Except if you say, “I’m a Christian now,” in your school, chances are the Committee will hear about it and raid your house, because if you’re a Christian now, then so are your parents probably. And the Committee does stuff way worse than killing you. When my sister walked out of her room and said she’d met Jesus, my mom knew all that. And here is the part that gets hard to believe: Sima, my mom, read about him and became a Christian too. Not just a regular one, who keeps it in their pocket. She fell in love. She wanted everybody to have what she had, to be free, to realize that in other religions you have rules and codes and obligations to follow to earn good things, but all you had to do with Jesus was believe he was the one who died for you. And she believed. When I tell the story in Oklahoma, this is the part where the grown-ups always interrupt me. They say, “Okay, but why did she convert?” Cause up to that point, I’ve told them about the house with the birds in the walls, all the villages my grandfather owned, all the gold, my mom’s own medical practice—all the amazing things she had that we don’t have anymore because she became a Christian. All the money she gave up, so we’re poor now. But I don’t have an answer for them. How can you explain why you believe anything? So I just say what my mom says when people ask her. She looks them in the eye with the begging hope that they’ll hear her and she says, “Because it’s true.” Why else would she believe it? It’s true and it’s more valuable than seven million dollars in gold coins, and thousands of acres of Persian countryside, and ten years of education to get a medical degree, and all your family, and a home, and the best cream puffs of Jolfa, and even maybe your life. My mom wouldn’t have made the trade otherwise. If you believe it’s true, that there is a God and He wants you to believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for you—then it has to take over your life. It has to be worth more than everything else, because heaven’s waiting on the other side. That or Sima is insane. There’s no middle. You can’t say it’s a quirky thing she thinks sometimes, cause she went all the way with it. If it’s not true, she made a giant mistake. But she doesn’t think so. She had all that wealth, the love of all those people she helped in her clinic. They treated her like a queen. She was a sayyed. And she’s poor now. People spit on her on buses. She’s a refugee in places people hate refugees, with a husband who hits harder than a second-degree black belt because he’s a third-degree black belt. And she’ll tell you—it’s worth it. Jesus is better. It’s true. We can keep talking about it, keep grinding our teeth on why Sima converted, since it turned the fate of everybody in the story. It’s why we’re here hiding in Oklahoma. We can wonder and question and disagree. You can be certain she’s dead wrong. But you can’t make Sima agree with you. It’s true. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. This whole story hinges on it. Sima—who was such a fierce Muslim that she marched for the Revolution, who studied the Quran the way very few people do read the Bible and knew in her heart that it was true.
Daniel Nayeri (Everything Sad Is Untrue)
What Kant took to be the necessary schemata of reality,' says a modern Freudian, 'are really only the necessary schemata of repression.' And an experimental psychologist adds that 'a sense of time can only exist where there is submission to reality.' To see everything as out of mere succession is to behave like a man drugged or insane. Literature and history, as we know them, are not like that; they must submit, be repressed. It is characteristic of the stage we are now at, I think, that the question of how far this submission ought to go--or, to put it the other way, how far one may cultivate fictional patterns or paradigms--is one which is debated, under various forms, by existentialist philosophers, by novelists and anti-novelists, by all who condemn the myths of historiography. It is a debate of fundamental interest, I think, and I shall discuss it in my fifth talk. Certainly, it seems, there must, even when we have achieved a modern degree of clerical scepticism, be some submission to the fictive patterns. For one thing, a systematic submission of this kind is almost another way of describing what we call 'form.' 'An inter-connexion of parts all mutually implied'; a duration (rather than a space) organizing the moment in terms of the end, giving meaning to the interval between tick and tock because we humanly do not want it to be an indeterminate interval between the tick of birth and the tock of death. That is a way of speaking in temporal terms of literary form. One thinks again of the Bible: of a beginning and an end (denied by the physicist Aristotle to the world) but humanly acceptable (and allowed by him to plots). Revelation, which epitomizes the Bible, puts our fate into a book, and calls it the book of life, which is the holy city. Revelation answers the command, 'write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter'--'what is past and passing and to come'--and the command to make these things interdependent. Our novels do likewise. Biology and cultural adaptation require it; the End is a fact of life and a fact of the imagination, working out from the middle, the human crisis. As the theologians say, we 'live from the End,' even if the world should be endless. We need ends and kairoi and the pleroma, even now when the history of the world has so terribly and so untidily expanded its endless successiveness. We re-create the horizons we have abolished, the structures that have collapsed; and we do so in terms of the old patterns, adapting them to our new worlds. Ends, for example, become a matter of images, figures for what does not exist except humanly. Our stories must recognize mere successiveness but not be merely successive; Ulysses, for example, may be said to unite the irreducible chronos of Dublin with the irreducible kairoi of Homer. In the middest, we look for a fullness of time, for beginning, middle, and end in concord. For concord or consonance really is the root of the matter, even in a world which thinks it can only be a fiction. The theologians revive typology, and are followed by the literary critics. We seek to repeat the performance of the New Testament, a book which rewrites and requites another book and achieves harmony with it rather than questioning its truth. One of the seminal remarks of modern literary thought was Eliot's observation that in the timeless order of literature this process is continued. Thus we secularize the principle which recurs from the New Testament through Alexandrian allegory and Renaissance Neo-Platonism to our own time. We achieve our secular concords of past and present and future, modifying the past and allowing for the future without falsifying our own moment of crisis. We need, and provide, fictions of concord.
Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction)