EASTER: THE AWKWARD STUFF IN THE GOSPEL ACCOUNTS

The following I have lifted from my post on “Biblical Literalism: The Shaping of God“. Here you will find some awkward puzzles if you believe the gospels to give a totally accurate account of the events of Easter. Maybe there is someone out there who can help the reader make sense of the contradictions and awkward bits. For myself I prefer to think that the gospel accounts give a dimly remembered reconstruction of how the gospel writers saw the events years afterwards. I am happy for someone to come along with a more convincing explanation because it does seem at first glance that the contradictions are genuine.

We start with an observation from Justice Haim Cohn, a prominent contemporary Jewish scholar who draws our attention to some obvious problems in accepting the veracity of the account of Jesus’ evening trial in the house of the High Priest. First according to Jewish law and custom, the Sanhedrin were not allowed to exercise jurisdiction in the High Priest’s house or for that matter anywhere outside the Courthouse and Temple precinct. No session of the criminal court was permissible after nightfall. Passover or Pesach would not have provided the setting since no criminal trial was permissible on a feast day or the eve of a feast day. In view of the formalistic and rigorous attitude to the law for which the Pharisees were well known a conviction must be proceeded by two truthful and reliable witnesses and in fact the charge of blasphemy was inapplicable since it was closely defined as pronouncing the ineffable name of God, the tetragrammaton which under Jewish law might only be pronounced once a year on the Day of Atonenment – and then only by the High Priest in the Kodesh Kodashim, the innermost sanctuary of the Temple.

Now to the detail of the gospel accounts.    Jesus’ last words were?

Matt.27:46,50: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” …Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”

Or was it: Luke23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:” and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

Then in John’s version John19:30: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished:” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

And for that matter who did his followers actually see at the sepulchre?

Mark 16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

Luke 24:4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

John 20:12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

Next we move to the events of the resurrection.
According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Mary Magdalene was among the group of women who were told by angels at the empty tomb that Jesus had risen “even as he said,” and Luke went as far as to say that when the women heard this, “they remembered his words” (24:9). Such statements as these can be put together with Matthew’s claim that the women encountered Jesus, even held him, and worshipped him as they were running from the tomb to tell the disciples what they had seen, Matt 28:9 This presumably indicates the women left the tomb convinced that Jesus has risen from the dead. Despite the unambiguous nature of these statements, John’s account of the resurrection had Mary saying, after she had found the disciples, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we know not where they have laid him” (20:1).

Matthew records Jesus saying: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth.”(Matthew 12: 40) The creed accepts this unquestioningly with the phrase ‘on the third day’ but hold on… This does not tie with the details in Matthew. Surely he was buried after his death which occurred on the 9th hour (about 3pm on Friday).(Matt 27:45-46.) He had escaped the tomb before dawn on the first day of the week (Matt 28:1). By any reckoning this is closer to one day and two nights (36 hours) and not 72 hours or the predicted 3 days and three nights).
Judas died how?
“And he cast down the pieces of silver into the temple and departed, and went out and hanged himself.” (Matt. 27:5)
or was it:..
“And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all of his bowels gushed out.” (Acts 1:18)

OK,  over now to the experts. Are the accounts meant to be taken literally – and how else might we interpret the accounts if they so obviously seem substantively different?

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39 Responses to EASTER: THE AWKWARD STUFF IN THE GOSPEL ACCOUNTS

  1. Cherel says:

    The differences in these accounts actually prove their authenticity. No two witnesses ever give exactly the same accounting of anything. They can all be accurate accounts based on different aspects of what happened. I have no problem blending all the different pieces and seeing them fit. Such as Judas hanging himself and the rope breaking or coming loose and allowing his body to fall and burst open. And Jesus could easily have made all three of those simple statements with each hearer remembering what spoke the most clearly to their heart. I could go on but you get the point by now, I’m sure.

    I sincerely can’t figure out what kind of good news you have to share with those you “minister” to. Do you actually speak at your churches or are you the custodian?

    We are living in challenging times when the brave in heart need to speak the truth in love to this lost and dying post-modern world. It is a shame that you waste your intelligence on such drivel.

  2. peddiebill says:

    It is strange that what I see as trying to base my faith on honesty, you dismiss as drivel. Your lack of ability to see contradictions in the detail, when to me they are actually there in the words of the text, I actually believe to be your presenting the gospel in a dishonest way. I stress that I know you wont think that to be the case, I am simply stating how it comes across to me.

    It is precisely because my faith is based on what I believe to be the best and fairest interpretation I have managed to find thus far,that I am prepared to make its expression my life work. If, for example, I had to believe things I honestly thought were actually untrue on the basis of evidence I know exists eg that the world is only 6 thousand years old, when the huge amount of evidence I studied at University points me to an approximately 4.65 thousand million year old earth just because it happens to fit with your – but not my interpretation of the Bible I would have to say I would rather do something else where I can hang on to my integrity. I haven’t had the sort of experiences which make me want to be a Bible literalist and I find your alternative presentation unattractive because for me it would insist that I not say what I truly believe. I dont find my view as empty as you seem to think it is – which is why I have been involved in issues which I believe to be Christian for a good part of my adult life.

    I think Jesus was crucified because he challenged the blind following of religious rules and preferred instead to insist on the value of all human life (including heretics eg Samaritans). He insisted on the spirit of the law – the pharisees wanted the letter of the law. I may well be interpreting you wrongly but I hear your statements as in line with the letter of the law. The spirit of the law encourages me to tackle issues like inequality, injustice and intolerance. I have felt your intolerance of my views in your posts personally and can only hope that this is not an essential part of your faith.

    I have read you on the subject of Islamic people so I know what your alternative is in expression – and certainly believe I see there, limits to your notion of tolerance. Because I teach tolerance of people who have had different backgrounds of faith experience this to me is important.

    I find plenty of good news in the gospels and consider Jesus was far ahead of his time on topics like forgiveness, tolerance and showing compassion. I highlight such teaching in my preaching and am sorry that you find no value in this. When I have difficulty with a Bible text I dont want to pretend that I find no difficulty, otherwise how could I learn. I do not pretend to know all about the Christ I follow, but having read the scholars on how the Bible came to be compiled – and the errors that it contains as a consequence, I prefer not to pretend I am unaware of such matters.

    • katargeo says:

      Tolerance of people in terms of respecting their individuality and their human worth as created in the image of God is a good thing. Tolerance for destructive ideologies and worldviews that cause oppression and tyranny are something quite different. If we say Johnny believes that 2 + 2 = 5, and our public schools continue to pass him along even though he can barely read or write, that kind of tolerance can be destructive. Tolerating evil leads to more evil. Neville Chamberlain was ultra tolerant of Hitler and Nazism. He was a liberal unitarian that had too much confidence in the innate goodness of man. He kept thinking that if we can be tolerant and just affirm Mr. Hitler and meet his needs, then he would be happy and leave the rest of the world alone. Chamberlain could have read Mein Kampf and gotten Hitler’s game plan, but Liberals like Chamberlain refuse to believe in intrinsic evil and the existence of evil ideologies and religions. In the end this type of tolerance led to the death of 45 million people. People tolerated Hitler’s evil NAZI ideology based on Eugenics (social Darwinism – survival of the fittest race) and Nietzschean ethics (God is dead and there is no objective basis for morals – therefore we need a “superman” to impose them on society) Plato once said, “Tolerance and Apathy are the last values of a dying society.” Respect people and their dignity, but prove and test all ideas. Tolerance of ignorance and destructive ideologies and religions can be fatal.

    • carla burge says:

      Amen!!

  3. Cherel says:

    The philospohical “liberals” of today all play the tolerance and compassion cards and essentially accuse anyone of who disagrees with their viewpoint of lacking those qualities when it is far from the the truth. And truth is actually where our paths diverge. Since we do not know one another in our everyday lives it would require a lengthy exchange of personal stories to determine who is more compassionate in action I suppose. But, I have not accused you of lacking compassion– if anything it would be tolerance that you lack from my perspective, because while you claim to embrace tolerance, you only exhibit it toward those who share your lack of faith in the veracity of the Holy Bible.

    The challenge you face with the Bible seems to be that you have spent much more time exposing yourself to the writings of its detractors than you have spent in the Word itself. You spent years studying and teaching evolution instead of getting to know the God Who says He spoke everything into existence from nothing in literally a moment of time. (Yes, He did it incrementally throughout 6 days and rested the 7th day to give us a pattern for work and rest; but when He spoke, what He spoke came into existence. (Let there be light and there was light!)

    I really don’t care how many millions or billions of years evolutionists decide it would have taken for light to come into existence by itself, out of nothing, or how long it should take to travel to the earth from a distant spot in the universe. Why? Because it had a Creator and He has revealed Himself to us in His Creation and through His Word and He invites us into relationship with Him if we will believe in Him and trust Him. By the grace of God, I have made that choice.

    I was born with a sin nature that pulled me down. I needed a Savior and He was there for me. Evolution is just a word that non-believers use in an attempt to make sense of their existence because they refuse to believe in and be accountable to their personal Creator and Father, God.

    How can you relate to 4.65 thousand million years when you probably won’t live to be one hundred? What evidence could be so reliable that it would be worth turning one’s back on the Creator Who was there and is here and Who bids you to believe Him when he tells you that truth? Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by Me.” Either He spoke the truth about all things or He is a liar and should bring you no comfort at all.

    If you spent more time in the Bible you would see how cohesive and consisitent it is. Jesus, Himself, referred to creation when teaching on the sacredness of the marriage of a man and a woman and against divorce. Jesus referred to the days of Noah– yes, He spoke of Noah and the flood. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was even born, I Am!” Jesus mentioned the prophet Daniel. Jesus said the Old Testament books taught about Him and His coming the first time. The unity of scripture and the truth of Creation is woven all through the Bible. If you refuse to believe God created the earth you might as well throw out the Bible entirely and get on with studying whatever you can find to study during your few remaining years.

    You can’t be serious about honesty and integrity when you undermine the integrity of God’s Word and claim an association with Jesus. He is the living Word! He fulfilled and was in agreement with what had already been written. If you “follow Christ” then believe Him.

    Jesus said, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” John 8:23-24

    Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31

    Jesus said, “The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me.” John 16:9

    Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you; Believe in the One He has sent.” John 6:29

    It is a choice. Your intellect can be fooled by error that seems reasonable. Only God can change your heart and renew your mind so you can “know” the truth.

  4. Judi says:

    Well put Cherel. I’ve never understood any religion or person who claims to glean certain “truths” from Jesus while denying his veracity. He never asked for half-hearted, “it pangs my integrity to follow you” followers. This attitude toward God’s word saddens me greatly.

    Jesus Christ is God, Creator, and (mutually exclusive) Savior, or he’s a liar. That’s the truth of it. He can’t be both a great teacher and a gross liar. He stated His case clearly, repeatedly letting people know that they were for Him or against Him.

    It may seem intolerant for Jesus to claim He’s the only way, but it’s the truth (or not as the case may be for you). Personally I’m glad He let us know that. The bible says he taught with real authority quite unlike the teachers of his day.

    Tolerance is a red herring, greatly distracting from truth. Those who champion it can’t master it. Jesus is also good, love, truth, righteousness, etc. And all of these are intolerant qualities. If I love truth, I hate lies. If I love my kids I hate anything that harms them. If I love righteousness I hate wickedness.

    The truth question always remains. Who determines what is righteous, loving, truthful, etc? Can my heart be my guide? Is my understanding infallible? Far from it! My heart and mind and understanding are very, very limited. Thank God for His revealed Word, Jesus Christ.

    I believe He is all He claims to be. My redeemer lives, and I shall see Him face to face!

    It’s all about Jesus. Colossians 2:2-10, sums it up.
    “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”

  5. peddiebill says:

    Sarah Palins of the world unite!
    I am pleased for you that you have no doubts and wish I could say the same
    for myself.

    I would however like to make a couple of observations.

    Many of the Christians I admire have had doubts eg Albert Schweitzer, Mother
    Teresa, Karen Armstrong etc and the last thing you could say about any of
    them was that they didnt know their Bibles.

    In many cases the ones who have absolutely no doubts eg many of the
    televangelists(think Jimmy Swaggart), many of the Tea Party types, Ian
    Paisley, Pat Robertson and all those who have used the scriptures to predict
    the end of the world with certainty (and absolute lack of success) quite
    frankly worry me. A little more humble doubt might have made their claimed doubt free statements a bit more acceptable.

    Besides I would have thought that it isnt a question to signing up to a list
    of things you believe, but rather taking the things that you believe and
    acting on them.

    For me I would prefer to have others look at my life and tell me whether or
    not my actions measure up to my stated beliefs. After all there is another
    verse that says: Even the devils believe and tremble.

    That the sign posts I use are different to yours shouldnt be a concern to
    you. We are each on our own separate journey. I am not going to tell you
    that your journey is wrong because I am working out my own salvation with
    fear and trembling…. and besides if I judge you then I too have to be
    judged.

    You may be assured that I take the notion of responding to the words of
    Jesus very seriously indeed and let them guide my life choices – which is
    why I worked for a year as a volunteer missionary teacher in New Guinea ,
    and chose an area of poverty in Auckland to spend a good part of my teaching life. You may also be assured that my life is not perfect which again is another reason why I am uncomfortable with the notion of telling others how they must read their Bible and how they must act. I note that you are
    however telling me how I must read my Bible so presumably you feel under no
    such constraint. Because I take a Church service every week I can assure
    you that I value the Bible greatly and each week examine the set readings
    carefully. I try to read the Bible carefully and in context – and also
    read what the scholars have noticed or discovered so that I know more about
    how to interpret what I am reading. However you must also remember that I
    have had to study science and education up to doctorate level which is why I
    cannot pretend to believe things which I am convinced the evidence does not
    support.

    There is a Flat Earth society in Illinois who insist the Bible
    shows the Earth is flat – saying therefore it must be. They certainly have
    found verses to support their case. I not only dont believe that the earth
    is flat – I actually could not believe it because I have read and seen
    evidence to the contrary. Similarly I believe in evolution and an ancient
    Earth because I am convinced by the evidence. So even if as Cherel tells me
    I must believe in a literal six day creation and a young Earth I simply
    cannot for exactly the same reason why I must go against the Bible teaching
    on a flat Earth. I have seen too much to the contrary.

    Declaiming Bible verses is sometimes helpful – but when the selctive quote is used to ask me to ignore what I see as reality, it comes across (to me anyway) as high sounding nonsense. I might change my mind if I saw contrary evidence in favour but thus far I have found so many serious errors of fact in the Creation Science literature I no longer trust it. Cherel regards my belief in an ancient Earth as wrong and liberal nonsense. I tried to suggest my belief was based on evidence but I found she was so set against the notion that to discuss the evidence with her would have been a waste of time and only earned me yet another scolding lecture (of which I must say I have now received many!) Because I read the Bible carefully, I am also aware that parts of the Bible are totally inappropriate for the different setting we have today. This is why I dont cheerfully dash babies brains out against the rocks, kill children who swear at their parents or stone people to death for wearing mixed fibre clothing.

    (I also note in passing that you insist that Jesus must be God and Creator
    otherwise he is a liar. I do remember that he called himself “Son of Man”
    and that he did say “Why do you call me good, only my Father in heaven is
    good.” He did say “I and the Father are one” – but I had thought that this
    meant of the same spirit. Sorry I missed that bit in the New Testament
    about Jesus calling himself Creator. verse reference please?)

    • katargeo says:

      Col 1:15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    • katargeo says:

      Bill I do applaud your questions. It is part of growing toward maturity and wisdom. You seem pretty sincere in it. Truth can always be examined, and we must not be afraid to ask hard questions. Thomas had doubts, but he worked through those doubts. Doubts are good if they lead us to seek ANSWERS not EXCUSES. I don’t know you Bill, and I certainly don’t pretend to judge your salvation or relationship with God. However all of us are called to hold each other accountable and judge ideas and conduct. Jesus didn’t oppose judging; what he opposed was shallow judgment based on mere appearance (John 7:24) St. Paul tells us that the spiritual man judges all things (1 Cor 2:15) and that all of us are called to carefully examine all things (1 Thess 5:21) From your answers about your life you do appear to be trying to apply some biblical concepts. For this I applaud you! I too have serious questions about some things in the OT. I try to ask hard questions. However I have availed of many good books that have helped me find many (not all) the answers. Whether Genesis teaches a young earth, I am not sure. I don’t see it clearly as a black and white issue. i try to examine Hebrew and Greek texts to also look for answers. Keep searching for answers. From my experience with a friend who was at one time a devout Christian and then went into post modernism and relativism, it appeared to me that he was not looking for answers but excuses. At first I couldn’t see it. He was struggling with his marriage and was looking for an excuse to leave his wife. When he became post modern and ended up rejecting objective truth, he felt no qualms about leaving his wife. He now totally rejects all forms of Christianity. He gets very irate if anyone tries to reason with him. He says he feels judged. As a friend I tried to reason with him about the destruction he was doing to his family. I tried not to be overly judgmental or harsh, but I wanted to point him to firm objective principles. In the end I really feel he wasn’t looking for answers.

      • peddiebill says:

        I have no intention of leaving my wife. I cant cook. Besides she sees me as an unfinished project.
        Look at my post on does Christianity make a difference and take some comfort that the born agains are no better than anyone else when it comes to all sorts of measures of life, including stability of marriage.

  6. Cherel says:

    Jesus the Creator

    In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:1-5 NLT

    He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn– not with a physical birth … but a birth that comes from God. John 1:10-13 NLT

    Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see– such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. Col 1:15-17 NLT

    Confidence in Salvation

    —“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 NLT

    …God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1John 5:11

    I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13 NLT

    But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31

    Response to accusations

    First, I have never intended to give you a scolding lecture and I am sorry that you perceive my input from that perspective. I am not against you personally. I care about you and your readers which is why I take the time to write. I’m not mincing words but neither am I attacking you. I’m addressing issues.

    Paul said we should be very careful about taking on the position of a teacher of the Word of God because it brings us into a position of being judged by a higher standard.
    My responses are to the content of your messages. I’m not telling you how to believe for yourself (although I am concerned about your soul’s salvation) but I’m very concerned about the influence you have in sowing spiritual doubt that may cause someone else to lose out on eternal salvation. Jesus condemned that behavior. (He spoke of the sorrow that would come to someone for “offending” the little ones and
    he rebuked religious leaders who refuse to enter the kingdom themselves and also block others who are trying to entering.)

    When I was attending a Christian college, I had professors who thought it was appropriate to rip out the foundational beliefs of their young students and they used some of your methods. It worked because many young people have only a superficial knowledge of scripture and lack a real relationship with Jesus. So, when they sat under the tutelage of someone they often admired and considered intelligent, they came to believe their spiritual heritage was foolish and their worldly college education was wise. When I went to discuss the situation with a college dean He said, “Yes, I know there are some students who will leave here and never believe in God again, but I don’t know what we can do about it.” I was grieved. And I saw some of the fruit that type of teaching bore. I would not want to have to face God with those lost souls on my account. Even now, I must speak up.

    Contrary to some of your assertions, I am not Pharisaical. I have not attempted to instruct you on how to keep the outside of your cup clean. I have not asked you to line up with any rules. I have not compared you with spiritual mama bears or spiritual failures or even with demons who believe and tremble. I am simply challenging your message when I see it as unscriptural.

    Demeaning the Scriptures

    On several occasions in our discussions you have gone into listing things you find disturbing in the Bible without truly distinguishing between historical events that are recorded because they happened (not because they were right or required) and behavior required by the law. For an accurate portrayal of scripture, this is not helpful. It muddies the water for people who have no clue about what the Bible really teaches. This is irresponsible on the part of someone who “represents” Jesus, God, Christianity, or the Bible, on any level. I’m simply asking you to consider what message you are sending to those who are following you regularly or casually.

    Final Thoughts

    Jesus came to bring assurance of salvation. He bid Thomas to reach into His side and believe so that he would no longer doubt. I have been praying for you because I believe you are searching for the reality of the truth in your life. I pray you may come to faith and experience the love of Jesus and know you are saved.

  7. peddiebill says:

    Right. So (as I suspected) Jesus didnt say he was the creator, it was the commentators like John. Therefore if I dont happen to think that it was actually Jesus who created the Universe it doesn’t make Jesus to be a liar. In fact if he was able to perform tricks like creating the Universe then there would have been no genuine suffering on the cross and the whole deal of the resurrection mere sham. It may however cause me to think again about the metaphors used by the commentators.
    Thank you for continuing to pray that I might see the light and become saved like you.
    I dont think it has quite worked yet because, putting it bluntly, I am not attracted to your attitudes, particularly towards people who dont think like you eg Muslims, liberals, scientists, evolutionists (and I am only guessing – everyone else like Mormons, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Catholics) etc. who I suspect from your comments you would consider not to have the one true faith – ie yours. It would worry me to think that my attitudes need to become the same as yours (ie Muslims are something like a quarter of the world’s population) before I am let into heaven. As for the televangelists, the God-pumpers, they scare me. Their proven hypocrisy, and I would have to say their certainty in their formulae for salvation, seems to me to be a mile away from the gospel. It isnt a question of using the right Bible quotations. When Jesus or many of his subsequent followers use those words from the Bible I listen because I find in the way they live their lives an impression of true compassion, a coherence and consistency with their faith. A child molestor, wife beater or bigot can say exactly the same words and they sound like empty hypocrisy. I guess this is why I tend to be skeptical of religious visitors who preach at me without first knowing anything about me or giving me the chance to learn anything about them. Thomas is certainly my favorite disciple – he is remembered for his doubts – (honest doubts) – whereas he should be remembered for his practical evangelism in South India. The story of Thomas and the building of the palace of King Gundaphorus is one of my most treasured anecdotes.
    PS It would assist my site if you were to make your points a little briefer

  8. Cherel says:

    Okay. So you have made yourself very clear. You do not believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and so, again, I’m not sure why you want to teach from it or attempt to model any of its teachings.

    I did not visit your site and preach at you without learning anything about you or giving you a chance to get to know me. I have spent a great deal of time on your site trying to understand where you are coming from. And, my responses have been long trying to help you undersatnd where I am coming from. My site is also open to you. That’s how this started. You visited my site to disagree with me and invited me to visit your site to get more understanding of issues from your perspective.

    You have misjudged me totally, but that’s your right. You continue to lump me in with everyone you apparently mistrust and despise when you don’t even know me. I’m not at all attracted to televangelists– give me a break! Your reaction to me and what I believe is very much colored by your own worldview.

    I happen to love the individuals in every category you mentioned– especially the Jews. I absolutely embrace the Bible’s teaching that they are God’s chosen people and I honor them for that and believe we should support Israel. Because I do not embrace or endorse someone’s doctrine does not mean I don’t love them (including Muslims), and for you to portray me as a bigoted hater because you don’t agree with me is beyond the pale. You really shouldn’t claim to be tolerant. You believe what you believe just as much as I believe what I believe. And according to Father Dominique Pire, tolerance is a negative word which “implies grudging concessions by smug consciences.” It is not a virtue and is not found in the Bible.

    I was hoping you would understand the sincerity of my concerns about your soul because you have admitted you are unsure about your salvation. The “one true faith” is not mine but I believe the Bible teaches the way of salvation and I have been born again. You might want to read my post about The Baptism of Love. The Holy Spirit gave me new life and I truly want that for everyone. That’s true love.

    • peddiebill says:

      Sorry if I misunderstood you. For example I thought that way because on 10 April you wrote about Muslims that you likened them to Hitler and said: “I see no hope of changing their mind (as a group) about Jihad and world domination. Islam has been violently aggressive since its inception”. Then as I remember on 8 April you said”they are bullies” and on a different post the same day you wrote:
      “From what I can determine mobs of Muslims and other extremists will find reason to kill no matter what. Its impossible for them not to be provoked about something because their religion (or lack of it) keeps them miserable. They are living in deep darkness.” (!)
      I will accept your word that this actually means you love and understand them and no doubt they would agree.

  9. Sujatha Selwyn says:

    Hi Bill, I was going to say just what Cherel said in her first message : The very fact that there are different accounts of the same event, in fact authenticate the Bible. For instance, if 10 children went on a school trip and were asked to give an account of their day, you can be sure that there will be 10 different versions. The base would be the same – the trip, the place they went to, the teachers who went with them, etc. But other things would vary, according to what each individual took in/encountered/observed, etc. Similarly too, that Jesus had a meal with his disciples before he was crucified, he was tried, crucified, Judas repented for what he had done and died, Jesus was resurrected, there was an empty tomb, someone was there to explain that Jesus had risen, some people saw the resurrected Jesus – are all given. Intricate details might vary and in fact should vary as they were written by different people and more so as some of them wrote based on what they heard and not necessarily witnessed and wrote years later too. To me, it does not actually matter that there are differences in the various accounts, I would infact see the truth as a whole of the various accounts put together – somewhat like the 7 utterings on the cross. FYI, in the tamil bible, it is written that Jesus rose on the 3rd day. the first day being the Friday and the 2nd Saturday. I don’t see any discrepancy there. And even if there are any, going back to what you profess Bill, what is important is that we understand the spirit in which these accounts were written, rather than the letter ! That Jesus loved me enough to die for my sins and rose again is more than I am happy about and grateful for. My own personal relationship with God transcends these details that you have pointed out and I am sure there are many more. When I read the Bible, I try to understand what God is trying to tell me through a piece of scripture period. I have no doubt in my mind that the word of God is inspired by the Holy Spirit and that it is the living word. The only one who is above the word is the one who uttered them – God.

    • peddiebill says:

      Thanks for this Sujatha – it may surprise you to know that in essence I agree! It is also refreshing to have someone present a view at slight variance to mine without the apparent need to tell me how hopeless my view must therefore be.
      I too think that different viewpoints change how events are recorded – which is why I guess I am opposed to any one account as ever being seen as exactly true – and certainly not free from error. Having had some experience interviewing students about various incidents I am quite convinced that various views are actually needed for precisely the reason that no-one is ever a totally accurate observer. I even suspect that most of the accounts in the Bible were recorded by flawed human beings like us ….well…. me!
      I am also attracted to a thought that even if we are faced with all sorts of ways of interpreting the cruxifixion and resurrection the important thing is that what Jesus stood for was not finished by the crucifixion. I have absolutely no idea about what exactly happened biologically in the resurrection, yet what whatever happened I can see that for the disciples there were substantial changes in them as a consequence. If there are not changes for us as well, then it would not matter either way for us.
      Tamil bible? Sounds suspicious.

  10. Cherel says:

    Thank you, Sujatha, for sharing your insight in a manner Bill can relate to. I see we share a common faith and relationship with Jesus. It is good to hear from you. I agree that the details are not as important as a relationship with God. I don’t believe any of us will ever understand everything, but we can know Jesus loves us and rejoice in the new life we have found in Him.

    As for your last comment to me Bill, I can only say that my comments are related to the negative aspects of the teachings of Islam, not to the individuals being misled by them. I can love the people and disagree with teachings such as Jihad, polygamy, child marriage, wife beating, death to infidels, hatred of the Jews and the State of Israel, etc. Many Muslim people are coming to faith in Jesus. In fact, I believe a lot of the chaos in the Middle East right now is happening to open those countries for the gospel to be shared with Muslims. They need good news. And that is a loving perspective.

    • peddiebill says:

      Thanks for this Cherel. Tell me though, I am curious. I understand you dont approve of some actions of the Muslims, but it seems to me to say you love them only has substance if it relates to actions. For example I know there are plenty of Islamic people in the US. When you invite them into your home to show them hospitality, or when you are helping new Muslim immigrants, do you really find them showing these bad characteristics you talk about. Although I have only had the occasional meal with a Muslim, or talked with them at their Mosques I cant honestly say I relate to your picture of how they are to what I see. Certainly the Muslims I met in Turkey were nothing like you portray….but on the other hand you may well have encountered different Muslims. I particularly enjoyed meeting the Sufi who seemed to me to be gentle mystics. When, as happened a few weeks back, I saw a series of pictures and heard the story of one man just back from Gaza I couldnt believe how unpleasant imposed conditions had become. Yet until I – and others who are in a position to help – can be more motivated to do something I guess such conditions will prevail. I certainly couldn’t go so far as to say I love Muslim people because on thinking about it I have had comparatively little to do with them and love as explained by Paul is expressed in positive action.

  11. Aaron says:

    Thanks for all your great articles Bill. I have enjoyed reading your website for a while now. Keep up the great work.

    The comments on this particular article have gone way off topic… Easter can be a difficult time for Christians who want to take the bible seriously and understand the underlying messages when there are so many people insisting that the stories must be literal and factual. As you have tried to point out there are many contradictions in the different stories. Despite the old line being trotted out that ‘it must be true because the witnesses would never agree in every detail’, there are far more logical and meaningful understandings of the texts.

    The gospel writers relied on oral tradition developed over the 50 to 70 years between the Easter events and the gospels being written. They were all writing for different audiences, and had different prejudices. The communities that developed the oral traditions had searched to understand the meaning of Jesus’ life and death through their own sacred writings.

    Insisting on a literal interpretation of scripture very often misses the real meaning. You are so busy twisting your mind into a pretzel trying to explain away all the inconsistencies that you miss the point. Are Jesus’ parables historical? No. are they true? Yes. Same thing for the stories told about Jesus by the gospel writers.

    God didn’t write the gospels. They are human creations, with human inconsistencies. Questioning their historicity is all part of taking the bible seriously, and can be wonderfully helpful in developing a deeper and more meaningful faith. The gospels can help to point us towards God but we have to understand their flaws before was can fully appreciate their insights.

    The real question is not “did these events actually happen”, because clearly there is far more to understanding these stories than reading them as straight forward historical narratives. That is a modern way of reading the gospel accounts. A better question is “what was so special about Jesus that his followers were so inspired by him?” “what made them change their holy day from Saturday to Sunday?” “What made them interpret his life in the light of their old testament hero’s and write their stories they way they chose to?” Clearly they believed that death was not the end. That Death could not contain the power of the message of love that they had learned from Jesus.

    For me resurrection has nothing to do with a resuscitated corpse. I also find the idea of substitutionary atonement abhorrent. Easter has everything to do with a man who believed so passionately about the kingdom of God that he was prepared to die for it. Resurrection has everything to do with us showing that Jesus is alive in the actions we take in our lives. Do we show compassion and love? What are we doing to help make the Kingdom of a God a reality “on earth as it is in heaven”.

    • peddiebill says:

      I appreciate the feedback on the site Aaron. Sometimes I get the impression that I am annoying more people than those who can find positive aspects in my posts. I relate very much to your comments (which may get me into even more trouble!). I am pleased that you have drawn the discussion back in the direction I was hoping it might go.

    • Judi says:

      You’re right Aaron, I was a little off topic with my last post about Islam. Sorry, Bill’s site has had a cumulative effect on me which happened to land in the Easter conversation. However, my main point is that Jesus is all in all, which is very fitting in regards to Easter. I’m completely in agreement with Sujatha on this subject, even the bit where she agreed with Bill. 🙂

      We don’t understand everything nor can we, but that should not impair our faith. I have to disagree with your statements that believing the Bible literally misses the point. Pulling out random scriptures to support various beliefs often misses the point, but taking the Bible seriously as a whole and rightly dividing the word is critical. You can spend your whole life reading and learning more and more about God if you read the Bible with faith. Likewise, you can spend your whole life attempting to understand God from a position lacking faith and you’ll never get it. As G. K. Chesterton said, “You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.” Or as stated in Hebrews 11:6, it’s impossible to please God without faith.

      The real question really is did these events actually happen.

      1 Corinthians 15:3-7 & 12-20
      I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless… and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.

      The book of Hebrews also explains this in detail, and is meant to be taken quite literally. It’s better to read the whole book for complete context, but to sum up I’ve excerpted the passages below.

      Hebrews 1:1-3
      Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

      Hebrews 2:1-4
      So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.

      Hebrews 3:12-15 & 19
      Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.

      Hebrews 4:1-3
      God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest.

      Hebrews 5:7-12
      While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him… There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.

  12. Sujatha says:

    Hi Bill, you are right, we do not know what happened in the resurrection and it has not been explained to us in the Bible in a manner that we can comprehend. But I think that our lack of understanding does not negate something that is. For instance, when we were in primary school, we were taught that the solar system has 9 planets. but now we know that a few more have been found and there are possibly many more. Our lack of knowledge of the presence of the other planets previously, does not mean that they did not exist when we were ignorant about them. Similarly too, I think that there are things in the bible which we cannot quite fathom, but that is no indication that it is not true nor that they dont exist. it is our understanding that undergoes a change not what is, not the truth. I am sure that one day we will know the answers to what we dont undestand now !

    Tamil Bible – nothing suspicious Bill ! It is almost the same as the bible in other languages. I think the verse is the same in English as well but it is not the one you quoted – about 3 days and 3 nights.

    Cherel, thanks ! You are so right – we cannot understand everything totally. Jesus told us to trust like children. I draw on my parenting and my relationship with my parents to relate to God and understand his attitude towards me. Children dont understand everything that happens around them but are smug in the knowledge that the parents will take care of everything. This is not to say they dont question, they do and we try and address them as best as the child can understand. But if the child still does not, it is more due to the childs understanding which is still evolving ! hence I am open to the possibility that I dont understand everything in the Bible, but I do not doubt its veracity. Besides the essence of the Bible is more important than the nitty gritty, the spirit than the letter. I am glad I know what I do, and am sure I will know the rest eventually. Till then I just hold on to the Father’s Hand and carry on 🙂

    • peddiebill says:

      I agree about the essence of the Bible which is why I read it. Sometimes however I struggle when I am trying to act on the main precepts. Loving people with loving actions is a lot easier if they are like me and those I relate to. I have always been profoundly impressed by Jesus because he did the things he talked about. He touched the lepers (absolutely forbidden), he put people ahead of laws (even some of the laws in the Old Testament) eg he healed on the Sabbath, he didnt just talk about how to deal with enemies he went among them even when he was doing things that culture forbade – eg talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, he showed forgiveness even on the Cross. Now that is something worth trying to follow. But its like teaching.
      It doesnt always work with real pupils.
      I’ll take your statement about the Tamil Bible on trust. When I try to sing a song on the screen in Tamil I have to be a tadpole.

  13. Judi says:

    “They are living in deep darkness.” (!)

    Yes! And forgive my passion for a moment; it’s heart wrenching! Read any biography of someone trying to leave this great religion of peace and you may gain more compassion for them rather than for the system of beliefs (letter of the law) that keeps them in darkness. How can you take a religion (though it’s more of a political and legal system than anything) seriously that codifies child (even infant) marriage, female genital mutilation, slavery, and all manner of abuses against women. My conservative feminist heart breaks! You talk of Muslims being a quarter of the world’s population, women are half. I’m sure you love your wife, but I love their wives too. It’s not a system most of them signed up for, it was forced on them. And it’s not just their own system that keeps them in bondage; it’s our silence and complicity, our pseudo compassion and understanding, our lack of faith in the One who came to set the captives free!

    Sorry Bill, I don’t have any desire to attack you, but rather to defend the voiceless downtrodden. Passion for God burns within me. Not the passion of a televangelist that wants somebody’s money, but passion for God’s integrity and His love and His heart’s desire to save us. He is the lover of all humanity – gentle, meek and lowly. My favorite of God’s many wonderful virtues is His humility. That He, being God, would lower himself to become like, serve and die for us; that He loves the poor, the sinner and most unlovely among us. Here is a God I can believe in, here is a love I can confidently share. Jesus Christ is not just another voice among many; He is the only hope of humanity. He is all in all.

    “These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.”

    “There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.”

    “In the end it will not matter to us whether we wrote well or ill; whether we fought with flails or reeds. It will matter to us greatly on what side we fought.”

    “Unless a man becomes the enemy of an evil, he will not even become its slave but rather its champion.”

    -G. K. Chesterton

  14. peddiebill says:

    I too am rather interested in helping the down-trodden but sometimes have difficulty in knowing how to help. I try to help new immigrants eg with paperwork and on occasion helping them with English as a second language. I have taken disadvantaged kids on outdoor education experiences and for a few years helped with a drop-in centre for junior gang members. Once a fortnight for 27 years I took my guitar and a group of friends down to the local intellectually handicapped home , told them stories and sang with them. However since this was actually fun (it was also the first time that anyone has enjoyed my singing!) it hardly counts as putting myself out.Also through Rotary I helped raise money for food banks…again probably with mixed motives because I enjoy the fellowship of Rotary. And really I would have to say outside that I am struggling to think of much at all. Because love for one’s fellows is not a theoretical construct I therefore cant go as far as you to say I love the disadvantaged because if I did I would be doing more for them.
    As to your implied criticism that I dont love other people’s wives. I am guilty as charged. Call it a desire for self protection.

  15. peddiebill says:

    From a post I recently encountered on the net I note that according to a recent Gallup public opinion poll 28 percent of Americans do consider the Bible to be the literal word of God. Forty-nine percent think of it as inspired Word, that is not entirely literal. Nineteen percent think it’s an ancient book of fables, legends and history.
    It is clear to me that those who have been critical of my position seem to come from the 28% category. Since the size of these categories doesnt seem to change much from year to year, presumably the different groups are not particularly good at convincing those in other groups to change camp.

    • katargeo says:

      Actually Bill the number of people moving toward relativism and away from belief in objective truth is increasing in America. According to Barna only 4% of Americans still hold to a Christian Worldview (which includes believing that the Bible is Accurate) the numbers of Evangelicals believing in relativism grew from about 40% two decades ago to around 56% (if I remember right)It is interesting to note over the past few decades as belief in objective truth and morals has declined many social pathologies have greatly increased:
      1) Illegitimate Birth Rate (5% to 41% in my lifetime)
      2) Teenage suicide
      3) Divorce
      4) Number of people imprisoned (1975 = 239,000 2010 = 2.3 million)
      5) Alcohol and Drug abuse
      6) Teen pregnancy
      7) School drop out rates

      • peddiebill says:

        I would have thought that objective truth is the opposite of dogmatic assertion and blind faith. Surely if you are interested in objectivity, testing every assertion carefully, dealing with contradictions, testing whether prayer actually works and collecting as much hard information as possible before coming to a conclusion is objective. It is sometimes called liberal Christianity. It looks as if you are advocating dogmatism instead. Since the dogmatic ones in Christianity have shown similar lapses eg marriage breakdown rates for born agains etc perhaps you are really presenting a case for Islam of the Saudi Arabian kind because on all of the factors you mention they score brilliantly!

  16. Cherel says:

    Bill and Aaron: It’s interesting to note that those who judge the Bible and doubt its contents struggle with a belief in their personal eternal salvation and focus more on this life. Whereas, those who take God at His Word believe they can and will be saved because Jesus died for them and promised to save those who believe. Since this life is so short, the eternal perspective is undoubtably more important, which is why the conversation engages me. Not for my sake, but for yours. Judi shared some excellent passages concerning the truth about Jesus and the Word.

    Contrary to what Aaron said, the believers are not the ones who have their “minds twisted into a pretzel.” We study God’s Word because we believe it is true, and trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. It’s an ongoing process.

    I’m curious, Bill, how you can accept what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John said Jesus said, while rejecting the rest of their testimony about Him.

    As for the poll. I think I would probably fit in the 49% category, depending on how the poll was worded and what they meant by literal. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe God inspired around 40 men over a period of close to 1500 years to write His messages to us in 3 languages. I believe He allowed them to write those messages not only in their language of choice but also out of their personal style, and cultural and educational experience. The books are very different because the men were different, but the message is cohesive because it is God’s message.

    The fact that so many books actually function as one Holy Book with a consistent message is “miraculous.” The compilation and preservation of the Bible in the hostile environment of this world is “miraculous.” The Bible’s ability to speak to hearts in all cultures and all eras is “supernatural.”

    So, if literal means God dictated it verbatim. I don’t think that is the case. If literal means every word in the Bible is to be taken literally; again, I don’t believe that is the case. There are parables and hyperbolic statements, for example.

    On the other hand, I believe the Bible was inerrant in its originally inspired state. And a discussion of possible errors in today’s versions is beyond the scope of this comment.

    Sujatha, I enjoyed your comments and totally agree. “I am open to the possibility that I dont understand everything in the Bible, but I do not doubt its veracity. Besides the essence of the Bible is more important than the nitty gritty, the spirit than the letter.”
    Very well put. Do you have a blog? Mine is justicemusings.wordpress.com if you care to visit me there.

  17. peddiebill says:

    Cherel,
    I guess you know about the resurrection plant. When it runs out of water it pulls up its roots and looks as if it has shrivelled up and died. But it is only hibernating. It allows the wind to blow it along in its shrivelled state until it somehow senses water. (you’ll have to ask my wife the Latin name for the plant – and ask Prince Charles what to say to one when you see one being blown along the road! He talks to plants. )Then having sensed water the resurrection plant puts down its roots and starts growing again. You focus on the state of Jesus from crucifixion to resurrection and believe it is important to believe the detail. I think it is far more important to individually offer the sort of environment to allow Jesus to take root in an individual’s life. Simply stopping and celebrating the detail of that first resurrection is not sufficient for me because knowing about it wouldnt necessarily change me. In fact I know people who have passed exams in that sort of detail without allowing what Jesus stood for to take root in their lives. One of the gospel accounts has the disciples saying in summary that they had heard the women had told them Jesus was no longer in the tomb but they had a dinner appointment at Emmaus so they were heading to Emmaus instead of following up the story. In other words simply hearing about it wont necessarily make a difference. Metaphorically speaking I think it is only when I allow the resurrection to come alive for me that I will be able to actually show love for my fellows. Maybe the resurrection plant can teach me something.

    • katargeo says:

      Bill why would you want to believe in Jesus if he is a fraud. Jesus claimed over and over that he would rise again. If he didn’t rise from the dead then he is a liar and all of his disciples were liars. The resurrection is the heart and soul of the Gospel Jesus preached.

      1 Cor 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

      • peddiebill says:

        I believe in Jesus because of what he taught in the main thrust of his teaching. It makes sense and thus far it has helped me personally. Since I know terms like rising again can have many different meanings and because I happen to think that the laws of nature would still apply I tend not to worry too much about the supernatural. I have found too many instances that when people focus on the supernatural they head off in all sorts of strange directions. If you want to be among them – that is fine by me. However for me I even have trouble with the simple stuff I can understand – like forgiving my enemies for a start.

    • katargeo says:

      Bill why would you want to believe in Jesus if he is a fraud. Jesus claimed over and over that he would rise again. If he didn’t rise from the dead then he is a liar and all of his disciples were liars. The resurrection is the heart and soul of the Gospel Jesus preached.

      St . Paul says: And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

  18. Sujatha says:

    Hi Cherel, am very glad to be part of this discussion with you all. I dont have a blogspot, must start one 🙂 I will surely visit yours shortly.

    I think what Bill is trying to do here is to encourage healthy discussions about the Word, God, the teachings of the Bible, etc. He has a deep rooted faith and ministers in a very practical way. These days spiritual business is a flourishing and lucrative one. Many are the people who unquestioningly accept anything that is dished out to them by preachers who thunder on from pulpits or the televison ! This, the danger of accepting, believing anything that is proclaimed in the guise of ‘preaching’ that Bill is worried about I guess. He wants people to boldly question what does not seem right and not be afraid to deal with niggly bits that they are not comfortable with. We have a plethora of preachers who purportedly preach from the Bible but take scripture out of context, twist it to suit themselves. People not having a questioning mind and blindly accepting anything that is preached is not healthy and Bill is trying to provoke people into thinking and questioning I guess. Also Bill’s is a practical brand of christianity which believes in acting, not merely believing.

    Bill, this is my concern too, that I am not doing anything to practice all that I believe in. For instance, it is my hearts desire to be able to give full time care to abused/homeless children but my life and all that it entails, does not include this and I have to admit that I am unable to do it, atleast for the present. Hence I do nothing about this much as I would like to. I also realise that while this may be my desire, this is possibly not what God has called me to do, at least not at the moment. In summation, I hold Biblical values close to my heart, and practice them as best as I can, within the scope provided by my life, my circumstances. If I dont hate anyone and try and love people as best as I can, I am on the right path. I have not arrived yet, but I am journeying. And I think God is concerned more with our trying than the results.

    In the process I fail often, human as I am. For instance, I can understand what Cherel says about muslims. I dont want to open a Pandora’s box with this ! Bill, NZ has not seen a lot of damage happen because of muslims, and I dont wish for it to. However, where I come from, the struggle between muslims and hindus is a historic one and one that has caused many a blood bath. It was difficult to watch Muslims killing people mindlessly in Mumbai a few years ago (One of my ex-colleagues died in this) and not feel animosity towards them. I totally recognise that all muslims are not to be lumped together and that there are many muslims who are victims themselves, particularly innocent women and children. I guess this is what Cherel was trying to articulate. Cherel, please correct me if I am wrong.

    while I understand that it is foremost to practice ‘love’ and without doing that, there is no point in knowing or believing the word, I am being honest when I state that it is a struggle to do that. I am human and who better to understand me than Jesus who was himself human. This is my comfort that my Redeemer knows me and yet accepts me.

    Happy Easter everyone ! An empty grave fills us with hope 🙂 (eventhough it is not quite clear how many men were outside the grave Bill !)

  19. Sujatha says:

    Hi Judi, loved your words : ‘Passion for God burns within me. Not the passion of a televangelist that wants somebody’s money, but passion for God’s integrity and His love and His heart’s desire to save us’. I can so relate to that !

    Cherel, I have a website, though I dont write on there. I compose spiritual songs in tamil and have recorded a few albums. my website is http://www.nenjamae.com. My testimony (text and video) and some of my songs are on the site.

    • Judi says:

      Thanks Sujatha! I must say this discussion has served to encourage my faith. God is so good!

      • Sujatha says:

        Hi Judy, thanks for visiting my website and the feedback. Sorry I didnt realise it was you and mailed you ! It just dawned on me !!
        Sujatha

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