What is really “dangerous” within Christianity?

First, consider this Bible reference:

Luke 9:49-50
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

That seems like an absolute proclamation. Jesus certainly did not say, “Whoever preaches my doctrines exactly according to some standard made long ago is for you.”

And yet we have this from some bigoted Christian:

https://pjmedia.com/faith/2016/09/29/the-5-most-dangerous-wolves-preying-on-christians/?singlepage=true

The 5 Most Dangerous Wolves Preying on Christians

That quote in red was another direct quote from Jesus.  So who are these “wolves”?

5. Andy Stanley

Image Credit Wikipedia

Image Credit Wikipedia

Stanley is the senior pastor of Atlanta mega-church North Point Community Church and several satellite churches. His theology has become continually squishy and his church has a history of crossing into the profane during the worship services. While noting his increasing theological liberalism, however, I believed that there were several more dangerous candidates for this list. That changed a couple of weeks ago.
In a recent sermon, Stanley had the audacity to challenge the authority of the Bible. In fact, he now believes that the Gospels were written a couple of hundred years after the life of Jesus. At this point, he’s a short step away from Walter Bauer’s claims that orthodoxy simply reflects the winners of ecclesiastical battles and not the truth of the Gospel as revealed by Jesus Christ and taught throughout the Bible. Leading people into a religion that allows its adherents to pick and choose from the Bible what they want to believe and/or follow, Andy Stanley is leading people away from true faith in Jesus Christ.

Whenever the Gospels were written, they lack credibility on serious issues like the events and circumstances regarding the birth of Jesus. Refusing to lie about the Bible is consistent with the commandment supposedly from God Himself, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

4. Matthew Vines

Image Credit MatthewVines.com
Image Credit MatthewVines.com

Matthew Vines first burst onto the evangelical scene with his 2012 YouTube video “The Gay Debate: the Bible and Homosexuality.” His subsequent book, God and the Gay Christian, stirred up much confusion among Christians reeling from the increased social pressure to affirm homosexuality as good. As many theologians have pointed out, Vines’ hermeneutical approach to the Bible allows for no outside mediation in reference to one’s own prejudices. Not to mention that his claims about homosexuality and the Bible have been refuted several times over. Unfortunately, many people have unthinkingly bought Vines’ lies wholesale. Vines has chosen the lust of the flesh over obeying God. Possibly worse, he’s dedicated his life to deceiving others.

Bullshit! The entire case against homosexuality from a Christian perspective is that it is a sin. But how do you sin? By choice. But if people, even those raised in and very loyal to Christianity, are still gay, that means God Himself made them that way and so how can one seriously claim that homosexuality is a sin, without also leading to the logical conclusion that God Himself is a sinner? Either that, or he does not condemn homosexuality at all. So which is it, Christian homophobes? PICK ONE OF THOSE TWO OPTIONS! It does not matter what a Bible written by MEN said thousands of years ago. And the phrase “Vines’ hermeneutical approach to the Bible allows for no outside mediation in reference to one’s own prejudices…” is projection at its most laughable.

3. Jim Wallis (Sojourners)

Image Credit Wikipedia
Image Credit Wikipedia

Unlike the other names on this list, Jim Wallis may not as be as well known among evangelicals. His influence, however, snakes throughout most of the internal attacks on the Church and the absolute truth of God’s Word. As founder and editor of Sojourners, Wallis is one of the primary leaders in the resurgence of the heretical Social Gospel movement. Turning people away from the truth that their primary problem is their individual sin before a holy God, Wallis and his ilk teach that humanity’s greatest problem is the oppression of each other. Further, as a prominent figure in the Red Letter Christian movement, Wallis explicitly denies the inerrancy of the entire Bible. Briefly, Red Letter Christians run roughshod over the Bible’s clear teaching that the entire book is the word of God (Jesus). Discarding basically every tenet of actual orthodoxy, Jim Wallis repackages Christianity in a form that appeals to those who want to claim to be a Christian but without actually submitting to God.

The Social Gospel is about taking the teachings of Jesus and applying them to both reality and to society as a whole, not just to individuals, though individuals may need guidance too. It does not contradict the Bible at all. The claim that “Wallis explicitly denies the inerrancy of the entire Bible…[and] Red Letter Christians run roughshod over the Bible’s clear teaching that the entire book is the word of God (Jesus).   ,” is especially noteworthy. You know who else denied that the entire Bible is the Word of God? JESUS HIMSELF! So now we know that the author of that nonsense is a liar defaming fellow Christians!

2. Rachel Held Evans

Image Credit Wikipedia
Image Credit Wikipedia

Rachel Held Evans has become synonymous with “straw-man attacks on Christianity.” Her constant drumbeat of anti-evangelicalism is only bested by her continual evangelistic efforts for liberalism — both politically and theologically. Recently, Evans made news by encouraging pro-life Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton. In the piece, her arguments are those of a supporter of abortion even though she claims to be pro-life. For example (the most obvious example), she declares that she believes “abortion is morally wrong in most cases [emphasis added].” Well, if abortion is the murder of babies, and abortion is most definitely the murder of babies, then abortion is morally wrong in all cases.

Evans is an expert at shifting terms and definitions around, and she uses that dishonest skill to sow confusion in the minds of her readers. Her track record consists of rejecting the authority of the Bible, embracing the heresy of universalism, and declaring good what God has declared evil (homosexuality, same-sex marriage, erased gender distinctions, etc.), among other serious errors/heresies. Sadly, many are following evangelicalism’s Pied Piper straight to hell.

Actually, the Bible nowhere says that abortion is the murder of babies. The writer above is reading something into the Bible that is not there. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having an OPINION about abortion, whether based on what the Bible says or not. It’s when you try to make that opinion the basis for laws that impact lives other than your own that the ethical trouble arises. Quite simply, if you are someone that cannot get pregnant, you have no business even talking about the issue, let alone trying to control the lives of those who CAN get pregnant. WHAT ARROGANCE!

And as for her “shifting terms and definitions around”, maybe that stems from her responding to real needs of real people in real time and not some dogmatic claims and commandments from long ago. THAT is what genuine religion is about, as well as fair politics.

And finally…..

1. Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen
Pastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen (REUTERS/Richard Carson)

The Prosperity Gospel may very well be the most destructive heresy plaguing Christianity today. Preying on the hurting, weak, and vulnerable, the Prosperity Gospel empties the Good News of Jesus of all its power unto salvation and replaces it with a man-centered religion that is defined by a warped version of the most materialistic aspects of the American Dream. The list of Prosperity Gospel preachers who take advantage of the naïve and hurting is long, and includes such anti-luminaries as Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, and T.D. Jakes. But none have reached the level of influence that the number-one wolf on this list enjoys.

What makes Osteen especially dangerous is his soft-peddling of his heresies. When faced with criticism of Osteen, many Christians will quickly admit that he has his problems, but they’ll end with the rejoinder that Osteen’s ministry has been a blessing in their life, nonetheless. Slowly but surely, these deceived Christians are allowing a teaching to affect them that flatly contradicts the teachings of Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and the entire canon of Scriptures: that Christ followers are called to suffer.

Turning hearts away from the hope found only in Jesus Christ, Joel Osteen is dangling the shiny false salvation of earthly prosperity in the eyes of people who are hurting. Jesus had something to say about those who prey on his vulnerable disciples — “it would be better for him to have a great millstone around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

I actually agree that the “Prosperity Gospel” is a bad thing for Christians to take seriously. But not because I am a Christian.It is because I do not measure people’s worth in terms of material possessions one may have. In any case, Jesus did condemn the wealthy.

Matthew 19:24

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

But the fact remains that Osteen is clearly not against Jesus.

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Remember Luke 9:49-50 above?

Is the writer, by attacking Osteen as a false teacher, putting himself above Jesus by contradicting him?

I have just as much right to call John Ellis a false teacher as he does to call others false. And unlike that hypocrite, I can back up my positions with both scripture and REALITY itself!  Ellis does not even have scripture for his support!

Five Things Most Christians Get Wrong About the Bible

Inspired by atheist YouTube personality Steve Shives, I have compiled the following list of five things Christians, and many other people, typically get wrong about the Bible.

  1. It is treated as a single work, when in fact it was sixty-six (and perhaps more, according to some Christian denominations) SEPARATE works that were never intended by their many original authors to be put together. That did not happen until centuries after the books were written. Imagine a massive English book that assembled some of the works of Dr. Suess, Stephen King, Louis L’Amour, Anne Rice, Barbara Cartland, R. L. Stine, Sidney Sheldon, and Richard Scarry into a single volume to allow people easy access to samples of American literature. Would it ever have been reasonable to claim that those specific works by those specific authors must from then on always be sold together in that specific form?
  2. It combines scriptures from TWO different religions, but misrepresents them in the process. The scriptures of the Jewish religion are called the “Old Testament” and the scriptures of the Christian religion are called the “New Testament”, even though they are actually over 1900 years old and thus are hardly “new” by any standard you can name. The implication that Christians should have any claim to the scriptures of some other religion, even an earlier and related one, would be considered nonsense by most people if we were talking about any other subject. Do Americans have any claim whatsoever to the Constitution of the British government?
  3. It is assumed that these scriptures were intended for all of mankind, when in fact most of the Jewish Scriptures were written by Jews and intended only for Jews. Maybe the Christian Scriptures were intended for all mankind, but…….Jesus only came to the Jewish people and was never known to go outside his people’s homeland. It was only later after his supposed resurrection that he dispatched his disciples to preach the Gospel around the world.
  4. Even more damning, there is NOTHING in the Christian scriptures that came directly from Jesus himself. In fact about half of the Christian Scriptures came from Paul, who was depicted in the book of Acts as originally an enemy of the Christians who later converted to Christianity and helped spread the Gospel among non-Jews. In what context would this be considered credible anywhere else? Imagine if Abraham Lincoln was credited with ending slavery in the USA, but wrote nothing about slavery that we have to verify his involvement, except biographies decades after his death that do not even agree on the circumstances of his birth, and most of the work of ending slavery after him was done by General Robert E. Lee, himself once a slaveowner who fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War and later became an abolitionist.
  5. Revelation is treated by most Christians as the last thing God ever revealed to mankind. Sure, let us ignore the Quran, the Book of Mormon, the Urantia Book, and Conversations with God, among other things. But if those are not valid, why accept the Christian scriptures……or even the Jewish ones, for that matter?

The Bible and a flat Earth

About a decade ago, I was having a debate on evolution with a couple of Christian bigots. And the issue of the Bible teaching the Earth being flat came up. When I suggested this, they vehemently denied it.

The Bible says the Earth is round, Dale. He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. -Isaiah 40:22- So much for that argument…. Dale. Christians aren’t idiots.

And to prevent you from claiming that “Circle” does not mean “Sphere”, and playing a little word game, the English translation of the Bible was written in the English vernacular of that time. They used the word “circle” to describe the shape of anything round, like a melon, or a grapefruit, or a round rock. So don’t go there. This isn’t Geometry class.

But then again, how would they have explained THIS passage?

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%204&version=NIV

Matthew 4: 8-10

Again, the devil took him [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]

Why would the devil have to take Jesus to a mountain to show him anything? If the Earth is a sphere, such a move is pointless. Only if the Earth is indeed flat does it make sense. Which is why I did not believe my opponents then and I certainly don’t now!

Of course, the story could be only a metaphor. But that would apply to almost anything else in the Bible, including the creation stories in the book of Genesis.

More Idiocy from Answers in Genesis

Opposing Views is a website that generally presents different opinions on various topics and allows its users to debate them freely. So it was a surprise to see the Creationist propaganda mill known as Answers in Genesis publish this rank nonsense for all to see on that site:

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/religion/dear-atheists-bodie-hodge Continue reading

The Absurdity of the Book of Job

The Book of Job is one of those Bible works that clearly served a theological purpose: solving the problem of evil. Ancient Hebrews assumed that the universe was created by an all-powerful and intelligent deity who also gave laws to govern the lives of his Chosen People. But this created a dilemma: how could an all-powerful God allow for evil in his own creation? The Book of Job attempts to address this issue, but does so in a sloppy manner that really does not give any genuine answers.

Continue reading

Stop Overlooking Evil in Religion!

Rebecca Watson just reported on a supposedly “moderate Theist”, named Stan, who criticized her attacks on Helen Ukpabio, a self-professed “witch-hunter” and Christian fanatic in Nigeria.

Here is the message he sent her:

Subject: Moving beyond Skepticism toward agendas
Message: Thank you guys/gals for years of entertainment, lessons regarding logical fallicies, interesting interviews, laughs and the ‘how-to’ in approaching a supposed “science-based” essay.

I continue to download your podcast weekly, though lately I find myself only to listen briefly to your science news, check who may be interviewed and skip to ‘Science or Fiction.’

Over these years (in MY subjective estimation) you have continued to drift toward an ‘agenda-based’ position forwarding not only skeptical thinking but actively pushing atheism.

It’s no longer limited to Rebecca’s consistant slam on organized religion, but seems woven through most your dialogues whenever the subject arises.

OK, example please! Late examples would be the story of a supposed Christian lady leader in Africa killing witches (the one coming or who came to Houston, TX). These acts of this organization in Africa are terrible. And so, you blame it on the religious group(s) for allowing or supporting this. In the same vein, let’s poke at the religious for our history segment on burning witches at the stake (last week). Skeptically, I think the anthropologists would look more at the local government structures at the time to be the culprit; but, religion is an easy target for you.

I wondered today, that say a man entered a local bank, loudly declared himself to be an athiest and proceeded to rob the bank at gunpoint, how you would spin it on SGU.

By what I see as of late, I think you would not deem it noteworthy, since 1) It’s not a topic driven by my afore mentioned agenda; 2) You wouldn’t accept that he was an athiest just by his declaration; and 3) You would NEVER associate his atheism (if he was) to this disassociative act.

If the last two reasons above seem sensible to you, why not apply that with inflamed news that includes religions?

I don’t think you can defend the position that you do give religious news the ‘fair skeptical look,’… and thus my first point (not your agenda) has grounds.

Though I may slowly drift from your podcast, I do thank you greatly for your lessons, and for introducing me to various energized skeptics across the globe who can keep focused on the “Science” and fair “Skepticism,” not focusing on groups to slam in order to feel good or more right.

I absolutely hate when people write like this. It is so intellectually dishonest!

Fighting bigotry is not about promoting the atheist agenda. Unless and until the speaker in the podcast is explicitly stating he wants to promote atheism, any such assumption from Theists should be considered an outright lie!

Indeed, I consider the writer above to be a backstabber.  As the saying goes, it is not so much the evil doers that are the scourge of the world as much as the supposedly good people who do nothing….including Christians who ignore or make excuses for the extremists amongst themselves. Stan is an idiot.

Rebecca answered him as follows:

I don’t understand the complaint at all. Helen Ukpabio founded an evangelical Christian ministry based upon her interpretation of the Bible. She preaches to congregations around the world about witches, telling them that God hates these children and demands that they be cured or murdered.

Why on earth would we discuss that without mentioning religion? She is literally using religious belief to convince people to murder children. We never said that this is what all Christians do. We never even said that this is what all Christians believe or support. So what did we say that was incorrect?

When Stan did not give a straight reply to her, she sent another message:

Apparently I don’t merit a direct response, but I’ll try once more, anyway. Witches are paranormal creatures that do not exist. Our podcast is called “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.” Skeptics often rationally discuss the paranormal.

Now, I’m very curious: please explain why we should not have covered the Helen Ukpabio witch-hunter story.

The answer, quite simply, is that the Bible itself condones and even commands the sort of brutal stunts against women and children who are labled “witches” that Ukpabio calls for. And Stan must know that.

This whole issue would not exist if Christian leaders would stop lying about the Bible itself and how it was made.

There is nothing moderate about asserting as fact what is actually a falsehood. Not in politics nor in religion!

You can be a theist without believing in the Bible as the Word of God. You can even be a Christian without believing in the Bible as the Word of God. In short, you can be a Christian without believing in any lies. Try it sometime!

Jesus said even the Torah is not the Word of God

I am neither a Jew nor a Christian, but I find it ironic that many Christians insist that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, considering that Jesus did not teach that and indeed seemed to indicate that fallible MEN made some parts of it.

Matthew 19:3-9

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

   4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

This passage strikes at the very heart of fundamentalist dogma, that the entire Bible from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, was revealed by God and has absolute authority over men. Of course, if you are an Orthodox Jew, you would naturally take offense at anyone overturning a law of the Torah. But often Christian sects like the Jehovah’s Witnesses also fall prey to excessive legalism, which Jesus denied! If certain laws in the Torah were made by Moses, not God, why not allow for the possibility that other passages, even in the New Testament, were also made by men for a specific time and people, not by God for all peoples and all times? How can we tell?

We can’t, which is why Biblical authority is a concept we need to discard.