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May 19

Interview with a Pastor – Allen Atzbi, Element Church

This is the first part in a series of interviews with pastors. I’ve asked questions I thought an atheist audience would want to know, but I’m open to suggestions for different questions. Feel free to comment and let me know. For these posts, I will limit myself to only asking the questions. I want the pastors’ answers to speak for themselves. So, I will withold commentary, though, I may revisit these issues in the ensuing comments or on a later post. Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, let’s get to it!

My first guest is Allen Atzbi, the youth pastor of Element Church. Element Church is a thriving non-denominational church in Wentzville, MO (the St. Louis area). Outreach Magazine recently named Element one of the 50 “Fastest-Growing Churches in America,” and the 9th largest by percentage growth. Element is known in the community for their love for people and their innovation. For more info visit www.elementchurch.com or email allena@elementchurch.com. I’m sure Allen would love to hear from you if you have questions, but please be respectful. This piece is a bit long, but worth the read if you have an interest in truly understandng the people with whom you disagree.

General Questions

1. Why do you think the Christian faith is the one true faith, if that is your belief?
That’s a really great question. A lot of people have the “all roads lead to the same place” idea that, as long as you believe in something, you’re good to go, but that just doesn’t make sense. I mean, test out that theory; go out to your car and begin driving for Rome (they say all roads lead there too). You can’t use a map, a GPS, or get any sort of directions; just drive, and by that belief, in a few days you should find yourself in the Vatican’s parking lot. Sounds silly when you look at it like that doesn’t it? Obviously one path will lead you one direction and a different path another. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Why is Jesus the ONLY way to the Father in Heaven? Because Jesus is the only way to receive God’s forgiveness. He is the only sinless Son of God who took the justice for our sins on the cross.

Why do I believe that, you asked. Short version: the Law and the Prophets. The Law, the Ten Commandments, shouts at me that I’m guilty, that I’ve broken them like a pane of glass in letter or in spirit. I was a liar, thief, blasphemer, and so much more. Like a referee throwing flags all over the field, my conscience confirms my shame. I deserve God’s furious wrath on Judgment Day; I desperately need forgiveness—which is what Jesus died to make available.

The Prophets, because centuries before the birth of Jesus there were prophecies written of a Savior who would love us so much that He would die for us, making a way where we could be forgiven if we’d just choose to love Him back. Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth the Jewish Bible predicted He would in an uncanny way be like Moses (which He unmistakably was), be born in Bethlehem, come before the destruction of the second temple in AD 70, be wounded and bruised for our sins, die between criminals, be buried in a rich man’s tomb, rise from His own death, and so much more. In fact, in the book of Daniel, it breathtakingly predicts the precise year this Savior would die for the sins of the people five hundred years in advance! What year? AD 32. The same year Jesus died. Any sincere skeptic has to take a step back and see the thumbprint of God all over Jesus. Just read Isaiah 53 to a random co-worker and ask them who it’s talking about, and then remember it was written 700 years before the coming of Christ.

Peter Stoner in his book Science Speaks determined the probability of one man fulfilling just eight of the prophecies of the coming Savior to be 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That is 1 in 10 with 17 zeroes behind it (100,000,000,000,000,000). To help make that more real, imagine you covered the entire state of Texas two feet deep with silver dollars. Then you pick up a silver dollar and Sharpie a big X on it. Then you shuffle the entire state together and mix up the silver dollars. Now, you blindfold a person, tell them they can travel through the entire state of Texas, but they only have one chance to reach down and grab a silver dollar. The chance that they’d, on their first try, randomly pick up the silver dollar with the X on it would be the same 1 in 10 to the 17th power. It’s no coincidence that Jesus fulfilled these ancient prophecies. He is exactly who He said He was, which means through Him and Him alone can we know God.

2. Do you ever question your faith? If so, with what issues do you wrestle and how do you resolve the dissonance?
Yeah, sure, every blue moon I have my doubting moments. Since I became a follower of Christ as a teen, every now and then I’d have a few days in a row of just raw struggles with waves of unbelief. (It used to be a few times a year; although nowadays I can’t remember the last time I had one.) Tons of random thoughts would run through my mind, and in the end I’d end up still loving Jesus. It wasn’t that there was a single thought I craved an answer to, more of a heart full of unbelief with tons of doubts sprinting through my mind. Finally years ago I felt this was much more a heart issue than a mind issue, more spiritual than intellectual, so I decided to approach it spiritually. I prayed about those doubts and decided to nail down exactly what my doubts were. I decided to make a list of any major skeptical objection or question I had and objectively seek the answers. I did it with the mindset of being objective and unbiased, meaning not caring what conclusion I came to so long as I did a fairly conclusive study, hungering for nothing but the truth. Now of course I understood that if God is there He is not obligated to bow before me and answer every question or shut every door of doubt; but like any good juror I wanted to see which way the evidence pointed me to make a verdict. So I’d make that list and then research both sides of the argument. In the end I always came to the conclusion that the Bible is God’s Word, Jesus is God’s Son, and through Him I can know God. In retrospect that’s the same path that former Legal Editor for the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel took in writing the award-winning book The Case for Christ (a book I’d highly recommend any sincere skeptic read).

3. Have you always believed in God or was there a time you did not?
I have pretty much always believed in some form of a Creator; but I have not always believed in Jesus. In fact I grew up with two Jewish parents. They divorced when I was young, and then when I was in middle school my mom remarried… a Muslim. And as a teen, all my friends were atheists, agnostics or thought they were God! With such a buffet of spiritual beliefs all around me I finally started asking the hard questions. I figured when I died I wasn’t going to stand before fifteen different Gods for all the major religions of the world and just pick the one I liked, either there was one God or no God at all, and I needed to know. I didn’t want to believe in something just to believe, I wanted the truth, whatever that was. When I learned more about Jesus, God in His own profound way began drawing me to Himself. I became convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world. When I became a true follower of Christ I became “born again.” I became new inside. My sins were forgiven, and I was infused with new life. I was translated from darkness to light, from lost to found, from slavery to freedom. Somewhere in that joyous and tough time I got plugged into a good Christian church, began to grow and here I am today.

4. What, if anything, would convince you that there is no God?
Eek! That’s like asking what could convince you that the sun isn’t hot. I’ve felt the warmth of the Son of God in my life; I haven’t simply learned about Him, I know Him. I couldn’t deny His existence anymore than I could deny my own; I’ve walked with Him. I think that’s where many atheists and agnostics find the disconnect; many have had a Christian experience—were raised in church, learned the facts and stories, saw the good and the bad, but didn’t meet Christ. Like memorizing the stats on the back of a baseball card, but never meeting the player, many know tons about the Bible, but have never met the Author. When you meet Him, you just can’t be convinced that He isn’t.

5. Why do you think there are atheists? What, in your opinion, is keeping them from God?
I love atheists! I really couldn’t generalize. The reason a person would turn to Atheism or Islam or Judaism is as different as each person is. However, when someone hears the gospel and rejects it there are usually far fewer reasons.

There are a lot of “front-end” reasons that seem to keep people from God: they felt disillusioned or burned by a church, they blame God for certain painful experiences, they wrestle with objections, they were raised in an unbelieving family, etc.

While those front-end reasons are all real, and there are many, many more—in John 3, Jesus said it all boils down to “men loved darkness rather than light.” Beneath surface reasons, at its core the reason the Bible says people reject Jesus is a love for the things God hates, a stiff-necked prideful attitude that only looks the way they want to see, a spiritual blindness that Satan himself places on the minds of unbelievers, and a rejection of the Holy Spirit who’s trying to attract them to Christ.

I really wish there were a perkier, friendlier way to say that. But I care far too much for you and your readers to dilute or sugarcoat truth.

It’s been said the reason most people can’t find God is the same reason a thief can’t find a cop; they won’t look. Intuitively we know everything made has a maker. We know cars don’t make themselves, if there is a car there is a car maker; if there is a cell phone there is a cell maker. If there is creation then there is a Creator. What would you think of a man who looked at the Mona Lisa and said he didn’t think anyone painted it because he couldn’t touch, taste, smell, hear, or see the painter? You’d think whether he realizes it or not he has obvious ulterior motives for denying the obvious. If there is a painting, there is a painter; the painting is all the evidence you need. The universe, even just the human eye that God has lent you to read this interview, is vastly more complex than any painting; God has made His existence crystal clear. When we deny the obvious and attribute it to a cosmic bang, we have to stop and reexamine our motives.

6. Do you think that believers in other faiths deserve to go to Hell? How about atheists who outright deny the existence of God?
Forget other faiths or atheists; I deserve to go to Hell! I’ve broken eleven of the Ten Commandments. On my own I’m lost and guilty. I’ve lied, stolen, used God’s name in vain, dishonored my parents, and so much more. On Judgment Day God will be more just than a Supreme Court judge. Scripture says He sees our thought life, every deed done in darkness, and will bring it all into account. The Bible says all fornicators, thieves, and liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire. On my own I would get God’s judicial wrath poured out on me and end up in Hell. That’s not because God is a jerk, it’s because He’s holy and just. Imagine a man stands before a judge in a human court of law and he’s been found guilty of rape and murder. If the judge looks the other way and lets the man go free he is a corrupt judge, the Bible warns the opposite of God. He is so holy He doesn’t only look at the works of our hands, but also the attitudes of our heart. In 1 John 3:15 it says God sees hatred as murder, in Matthew 5:27,28 it says God sees lust, or x-rated thoughts, as adultery. We all need God’s forgiveness. And please keep in mind… God WANTS to forgive. The Bible says God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” In Romans 5:8 it says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We did the crime, but Jesus paid the fine in His own blood. He showed the depth of His love on that cross. But knowing that isn’t enough, you have to choose to follow Him to have the forgiveness He died to make available.

And it’s worth adding: Christians are no better than non-Christians; we’re just infinitely better off. Like a man jumping out of a plane with a parachute is better off than a man who jumps off without one. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

7. Do you think miracles still occur today? Have you ever witnessed one?
Absolutely. The scent of a freshly budded rose, the incredible symphony of intricate, unseen life-giving transactions within the human body, the distance of the sun from the earth—not too close to scorch us to death or too far to drive us into an ice age, but at just the right distance to ripen our tomatoes. If you’re asking about spontaneous healing, raising the dead, and those sorts of miracles, I have had friends I trust share with me amazing stories, but I can’t say that I have yet personally eye-witnessed one.

8. Do you think that the modern church is shaped by the teachings of Paul more than Jesus?
The teachings of Paul are the teachings of Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” or God-breathed. When you write a text message, do you write it or does your phone? Of course you’re the one doing the typing; your phone is just the instrument you use. In the same way God used men to write His “text” to mankind, the Bible, but He is the one who wrote it. A study of the Bible’s supernatural prophecies proves God to be the author.

9. According to the website, you believe in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. How should we interpret the use of imminent?
That He’s coming soon. Jesus told us He’d return suddenly as a thief in the night; it also goes on to say that no man knows the day or hour of His return. Imminent is sooner than it was yesterday. It could be next week or in hundreds of years; but each person should live like He’s coming back tonight, because He just might.

10. You say in your bio that you’re a huge fan of Ray Comfort. Do you agree with his views about the age of the Earth and biological evolution?
Yes, I sure am a huge fan of Ray Comfort. I love his heart and the wisdom God’s given him. In fact he has a great blog called “Atheism Central” that you can find at www.RayComfortFood.BlogSpot.com.

To answer your question, I honestly don’t know what Ray believes about the age of the earth. As for me, it’s a non-issue. Genesis 1 starts off with, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” The way it’s written gives room for the idea that God didn’t make the earth on the first day, but that it could have been there already in a messy state before God made Adam. With that thought in mind, I am not positive if you can define the age of the earth by starting at the time God made man. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3 that one day God will purify the whole earth by fire before He brings a new Heaven and a new Earth; perhaps God already did that millennia ago. Maybe there was a pre-Adamic race of people who lived for tens of thousands or millions of years and in a similar way God ended their age. Perhaps the dinosaurs were alive during that period or perhaps the dinosaurs were on the ark in baby form so they could fit. Got me. I honestly have no idea. I personally think the age of the earth or what killed the dinosaurs, etc. are interesting but trivial matters that aren’t worth being stumbling blocks to people. There are logical hypotheses to them, but it’s all guessing games. I can only know for sure what the Bible does clearly say: the first man rebelled against God, ate the forbidden fruit and brought suffering, death, and the desperate need for forgiveness to all mankind.

As far as evolution, I don’t know the full details of what Ray believes on that either. (I think I’m going to have to turn in my Ray Comfort fan club badge soon.) As for me on evolution, the proper term used to teach macro-evolution is “The Theory of Evolution.” A theory is purely a guess, a hypothesis, an idea. There is no conclusive evidence for evolution or it’d become “The Fact of Evolution.” Evolution is a religion built on blind faith. You’ve probably seen the famous evolution diagram with a hunched chimp on the far left, a man on the far right, and in-between the supposed different stages of a monkey with arthritis slowly turning into a tall-standing man through millions of years. While it makes for interesting art, all we really have in the fossil record is a chimp and a man, with no transitional forms in-between to prove that change ever happened. The missing link is still missing. Why? It never existed. If anyone thinks they have scientific proof for evolution they can visit www.IntelligentDesignVersusEvolution.com and take them up on their $10,000 offer for evidence.

11. If you had the chance to convert an atheist, what is the most important thing you could tell him or her?
If I had a chance to sit with them over coffee and share my heart, I’d plead with tears in my eyes for them to come to Christ. There is nothing more important or urgent than getting your life right with God. I would beg them to doubt their doubts. I’d ask them a question asked me years ago, “If you were to die tonight, where would you go?” Whether or not they believed in Heaven or Hell, I’d ask them again, “If there is a Heaven, do you think you’re good enough to go there?” Most would say they consider themselves a good person, and then I’d ask them if they kept the Ten Commandments. Had they told a lie, had they used God’s name in vain, dishonored their parents, looked with lust, hated, always had God first in their life? Chances are they’d be guilty like me. On Judgment Day we both deserve to go to an eternal Hell to get justice for our sins. But that’s not God’s will.

Two-thousand years ago God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come and teach us the way, but ultimately to die on the cross for our sins. When Jesus died on that cross it was a legal transaction. It was the sinless dying for the sinful. It’s as though we’ve committed this horrible crime, we’re in the courtroom, and the judge says we have earned the death sentence, when someone we don’t even know walks into the courtroom and says they’ll take our place. Jesus’ death on the cross was for our crimes, not His (He never sinned). It was God expressing His love for us.

After Jesus died, He was buried; three days later He rose from the dead. He was seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses after His resurrection, many of whom died in the waves of severe persecution that arose after His crucifixion. They died for Him when they could have denied Him and lived, but they wouldn’t deny what they had seen. You don’t die for a lie; they had seen Him. He also fulfilled the supernatural prophecies about His coming that were made hundreds of years before His birth, so intellectually we could know it’s the truth. But knowing isn’t enough. We have to choose to follow Him.

This past Easter weekend I shared a story that I thought perfectly illustrates the heart of the good news… there is a bridge that goes over a large river. It’s the sort of bridge that has two separate sides that motors move up and down. When it’s down, trains can run over it and when it’s up ships can go between it. Normally the bridge is up for passing ships. But at a certain time each day, a train would come and the bridge would be lowered, allowing the train to cross the river. A switchman sat in a small booth where he operated the controls to move the bridge. This day the switchman brought his four-year-old son with him to work. The train’s daily whistle let him know it was time to move the bridge. The father, with his hand on the lever to lower the bridge, heard his little boy cry for help. The panicked father ran out of the booth and saw that the little boy had got caught in the gears of the engine that raises and lowers the bridge. Just as he was about to run to save him, he looked at the coming train. If he went to get his boy now, the train wouldn’t have enough time to stop before crashing into the raised bridge. If the bridge didn’t lower, hundreds would lose their lives. If it did lower his son would be crushed in the gears and he would lose his boy. The train was getting closer; he had to make his decision quickly. He took one long look at his crying son and with tears streaming down his own face he ran back into the booth, shut his eyes and pulled the lever to lower the bridge. His boy’s crying stopped. The train safely crossed just as the bridge closed. That man gave up his son so others could live. That is a picture of the sacrifice the heavenly Father made for all of us when He sent Jesus.

On our own we’re doomed, ready to crash into the wrath of God for our sins, but in His love God made the heartbreaking decision to send His Son to get tortured and killed in the gears of eternal justice so we could cross the bridge of God’s mercy to find forgiveness. The Bible says if we will believe and repent (choose to love God and thus ditch sin), if we’ll choose to truly follow Jesus, God will forgive our sins. It’s the greatest story ever told with the greatest command ever given: repent and be forgiven.

I’d say to that atheist or anyone reading this interview that there is nothing more important than knowing God. I’d say turn to Christ, I beg you. Like me, you’re guilty; you desperately need God’s forgiveness. You are standing on the tracks and Judgment Day is racing around the corner. Right now, in God’s love for you He is offering you a pardon. He is offering mercy when you deserve wrath. Step off the tracks into His arms. Like the prodigal son of old come home. Right now God’s arms are stretched out to hug you and embrace you, but there will come a day when He will lower His arms, put on His robe, pick up His gavel, and judge the world in righteousness. Don’t meet God as your Judge; meet Him as your Father. Repent, pull a one-eighty, choose to love Him with all your heart and follow Jesus.

Isaiah 55:6,7 says, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

12. Do you think that pastors have an obligation to teach church members about Biblical scholarship?
Absolutely, I love the idea of sharing more about the backdrop, history, etc. of the Bible. In fact many churches do offer classes or small groups on these topics. I was actually just looking at a youth ministry curriculum that got into some of the rich theological nuggets of how the Bible came to be. Good stuff.

Biblical Questions

1. On your website you say, “We believe the entire Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God and should be the supreme and final authority in our lives and faith.” What does infallible mean to you? Do you think the Bible contains contradictions or errors?

 Infallible? That it’s surefire truth. Watertight, perfect, God inspired.

There are definitely some difficult and confusing sayings, but there are no doctrinal contradictions in the Bible. A deep saying is not a contradiction. A so-called contradiction might be when someone says in conversation, “I hear you” and then later claims, “I didn’t hear you.” Is that a contradiction? No, it’s simply two different tenses of a phrase. The first meant they heard the sound of your voice while the second meant they didn’t pay attention to what was being said. There are great Christian resources online and in books to help with some of those more confusing passages.

I love what Mark Twain said, “It isn’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me; it is the parts that I do understand.”

2. Do you think there are any pseudopigraphic attributions in the Bible? For example, were the Pastoral Epistles really written by Paul and the letter of Peter written by Simon Peter?
You definitely get the ten-dollar prize for the big word of the day. I feel smarter for just having heard this question. [Big smile.]

At the beginning or end of many of the Bible books it says who God used to write them. Understanding all Scripture is inspired by God, I believe what it says.

3. Should certain controversial stories in the Bible, like the creation account and Noah’s ark, be taken literally?
If I asked you what your name is and you told me, and then I said I didn’t believe you and asked for your real name, you’d find yourself insulted. Insulted because I’m suggesting you’re a liar. I am attacking your character. If God says He made man from dust or saved man and animal-kind via a hand-made boat, fantastic. I buy it wholeheartedly and literally, as it was written. When God speaks I listen. He is surely trustworthy.

4. Do you believe in Glossolalia? Why has it changed since the original Day of Pentecost from earthly language into something else?
Yes, I sure do, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Scripture is speaking in unknown languages or “tongues” (Glossolalia). It’s important to mention though that tongues weren’t limited to the foreign languages mentioned in Acts 2. In 1 Corinthians 13:1 Paul goes on to say that tongues can be in the languages of men… or of angels, and then in the next chapter, 14, he goes on to explain tongues is largely for the purpose of private prayer or public prophecy when someone with another gift of the Holy Spirit is present, the gift of interpretation of tongues. In 1 Corinthians 14:2 it says, “Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.” So, from its origin, much of speaking in tongues isn’t meant to be understood by men, but only by God.

5. Do you think the canonical gospels are eyewitness accounts?
Hmmm… great question. I’m honestly not sure. The gospel of Luke starts off with Luke saying that he wasn’t an eyewitness himself but was putting together an orderly account from eyewitness testimonies, the others I’m not sure about offhand. As I recall Matthew, Mark and John were all written in first person eyewitness language, were accepted as Scripture by the early church, and were quoted by others in the early church in their writings (who could verify the authorship). Beyond that I’d really have to research it out. Great question.

6. How do you deal with the passages in the Bible people have traditionally found difficult? (Examples: children being mauled by bears for teasing Elisha in 2 Kings 2:23-24 or some of the harsher punishments prescribed by Leviticus.)
The starting point for any difficult question is the understanding that God is holy, just and love. He can’t sin, everything He does is altogether right, if God looks wrong in some passage the starting point is to understand He can’t be wrong and our understanding must be wrong.

The next step to help better understand the moral behind a difficult passage is to dig into the text, the history, and the context. In the Elisha passage you mentioned the Hebrew word used could refer to children or “young men”; while the KJV translates it as “children” the NIV translates it out as “youth.” (An important reminder: the original Hebrew and Greek are divinely inspired, our English translations of them aren’t; hence the many translations. Translating into a language with a more limited vocabulary can leave some gaps that only looking into a Hebrew/Greek concordance or referencing a few translations can help.) Keep in mind also there were at least 42 of these “youth”; this may not have been a small group of playground kids making fun of a bald man, but instead may have been a threatening gang of twenty-somethings ridiculing a prophet of God, and thus God Himself. God stepped in and made an example of them for all generations. Is it God’s norm to kill youth for mocking a preacher, or kill a man for gathering sticks on the Sabbath, or as in Acts to kill a couple for lying? No, of course not, the Bible was written only once and is full of potent warnings for all mankind for all time. God gave us these severe examples to help us see the seriousness of the issues.

So, to sum up, how do I deal with difficult passages? With the understanding God can’t sin, with integrity and due study, and with humility to know that I might not get everything this side of Heaven and that’s ok, God is certainly trustworthy.

7. If the Torah is no longer applicable to Christians, then should we still honor the Ten Commandments? If so, what separates it from the rest of the Law?
There is a common misconception in how that question is asked. The Torah, the first five books of the Bible, are totally applicable to Christians today; the over 600 laws had a special function to create an identity for God’s chosen people, protect their health, reveal God’s holiness, etc. Now that Christ has come we are no longer under that tutor. The Bible says Jesus fulfilled the Law. The Ten Commandments, unlike most of those laws, are moral laws, not ceremonial. Morality has not changed. It was wrong to murder then, it’s wrong to murder now; it was wrong to lie then, it’s wrong to lie now, etc. The New Testament consistently reaffirms the moral teachings of the Old Testament Law.

8. What do you think is the most common misconception about the Bible?
That it’s just a good book. There is tons of evidence that the Bible is God’s supernatural book for mankind. There are at least four keys to scientifically, rationally, and logically prove the Bible.

1) The Bible is historically accurate. It all really happened (Noah’s worldwide flood, the walls of Jericho falling outwards, God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.). Archeology has given us plenty of evidence of that.

2) The Bible’s teachings are in perfect harmony. Over 40 different people wrote the Bible over a span of about 1,500 years, and there are no contradictions in its teachings. It all agrees with itself.

3) The Bible is the same today as the day it was written. The Bible has been preserved. Comparing our modern Bible text with ancient Bible text, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, easily proves the Bible hasn’t been tampered with or changed.

4) The Bible contains supernatural prophecies. The Bible contains scientific and medical foreknowledge, precise event predictions, and messianic prophecies. Many of the messianic prophecies (predictions of the Messiah/Savior) were given hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. They give us details about the Messiah’s birth, death, and much more. Jesus Christ fulfilled every one of the prophecies (no one else came close).

God made it clear that He wrote the Bible. My prayer is that everyone would read it and do what it says. A great section to start is called “John.”

For more info about the Bible your readers could check out The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell.

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15 comments

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  1. Mark C.

    First reaction: Utter speechlessness.

    Thoughts:
    1. He has a horrid epistemology.
    2. He seems to be lacking horribly in critical thinking skills.
    3. He also seems to be lacking in imagination — either that or he is too imaginative — with regard to the psychological states he thinks atheists have.
    4. His responses to question 8 are insane.

    There are, unfortunately, way too many people like this. He is far too similar to the exasperatingly dense Ray Comfort, whose name I was dismayed to see.

  2. Mike

    I used to follow Ray’s blog and I would comment and argue. Eventually I just realized it was an act of futility. No matter how many times it was pointed out his straw man attack on evolution or his elementary fallacies in reasoning, he didn’t care.

  3. Ben

    “As for me on evolution, the proper term used to teach macro-evolution is “The Theory of Evolution.” A theory is purely a guess, a hypothesis, an idea. There is no conclusive evidence for evolution or it’d become “The Fact of Evolution.” ”

    I can’t stand this nonense being repeated. Anyone who says this about the word theory in science shows that they have no formal science education. This is like defining an hour as a minute, and is your typical straw man move. Here is a textbook definition of theory:

    “A theory =def (roughly) a body of laws and principles used as a framework for investigation and explanation.”

    Individual hypotheses impact the larger theories, but they are not the same thing. Think of a spiderweb as a theory and each individual strand being hypotheses that are strengthened or weakened upon testing and observation. By the way, evolution is pretty much conceded as a fact now; the only part we are still trying to grasp is the exact mechanism (i.e., like natural selection).

  4. Chris

    I like that he says the only things he knows for sure are those things clearly stated in the bible. Well…ironically, you need some things that have been excluded in that definition. You need to be able to trust your sense perception and your cognitive faculties, otherwise you couldn’t read and interpret the words. You need logic if you are going to reason your way to trusting the Bible as truth. Or, you could say you take it on faith, in which case you would need to trust that faith is reliable to tell you what to believe.

    So, the bible cannot be the ultmate foundation of belief and certainty. It would need at least a few other more fundamental things.

  5. Anonymous

    Not as weird as the guy on the other thread defending the murdering of children as justifiable, but still pretty odd stuff here.

  6. Mike

    It is a shame about evolution. I addressed some common misconceptions once before on the site – http://foxholeatheism.com/in-defense-of-science/ – but I didn’t even think to include the “just a theory” issue because it’s quite obviously wrong. But maybe I was wrong to think it was so obvious to others.

  7. Jesus Freak (and proud of it)

    Ray Comfort and this man have shown you evolutionists the light about your false religion and you cant accept the Truth. There has never been any evidence of evolution observed. To look around at creation and deny a creator takes way more faith than tusting Jesus and the Bible, which have transformed so many lives and prven to be True.

  8. Mark C.

    Jesus Freak, I hope you’re not a poe. If you aren’t, then please continue reading my comment.

    I take religion to be a set of doctrines that usually compels the regular repetition of certain acts (a.k.a. rituals). These doctrines usually involve statements regarding the existence of minds having no material constitution, which can, somehow, dominate the regular behavior of the material. The belief that evolution occurs and is responsible for major change in biological populations does not really fit this conception of religion… at all. In fact, when evidence for the occurrence of evolution is introduced, the dissimilarity is made even more apparent.

    The fact that there is evidence for the occurrence of evolution, though, has naught to do with the fact that belief in said occurrence does not constitute a religion. And actually, we know from observation that evolution is a continuous and current process — it is occurring now. The evidence you want is that such changes can lead to the gulfs we see between modern organisms and historic ones from many millennia ago. Humanity has not been cataloging species long enough to notice changes that huge. Indeed, our species hasn’t been around long enough. What we can do is infer major evolutionary change from the existence of very real, easily observable evolutionary processes. We can also compare species, whether ancient or modern, and, with the knowledge of said processes, infer relationships between said species.

    While it would be stupid to look at something we know was created and deny that it was created, we really don’t know that our universe is a created thing. We weren’t there to witness its creation. We have no evidence that any others were created. We don’t know anyone who can provide first-hand evidence that it was created (and no, Jesus doesn’t count, since you have to believe in a creator to believe Jesus was divine in the first place). We really have no reason to believe it was created. This is true especially since, for all our sciences and everyday experiences can tell, consciousnesses are tied to the material. We really have no reason to think that the word “creation” is at all applicable to the universe.

    Now, the Bible is a collection of writings by different people. It was put together for what amount to political reasons. There were scriptures that were left out. Jews sincerely think that Jesus didn’t fulfill the messianic prophecies. We don’t even have the original documents. Archaeology, from what I’ve heard, doesn’t back up things like the Exodus, or the existence of the town of Nazareth. All kinds of sciences converge on the conclusion that Genesis is a fairy tale, probably meant as a myth to unite a people. There are tons of other religions out there with curious similarities. Making up religions is so simple — just look at Islam! Look at Scientology! And believing things on the non-authority of tradition is bad enough, but then people are expected to make the extra leap to belief in unverifiable, magical events?!

    I’m sorry, but that pill is too big to swallow.

    A belief system’s transformative powers have nothing to do with its truth. And “Truth” versus “truth” makes no sense to me. If something is the case, then an accurate description of that something is true. I have no idea what capitalizing the word is supposed to do to it.

  9. Mike

    I think it’s interesting when people criticize evolution by caling it a religion. It seems like they are arguing that being a religion is a bad thing because that is what apparently gives evolution its unbelievable quality. Oh, the irony.

  10. Danimal

    What a clown…it puzzles me how somebody can base their faith on a book with such fantastical stories. I want to start a religion based on The Lord of the Rings. If I could transport back in time and tell the same story 2,000 years ago, I’ll bet I’m a good enough salesman I could get a drove of mindless saps to believe the whole Lord of the Rings saga and we would be here today talking about Frodo Baggins and the miracles he worked to save Middle Earth from Evil. How different is the tale of Frodo and his friends from Noah and his Arc of animals? Were penguins on that boat? What about grizzly bears and salmon? I’m told grizzly bears are quite fond of salmon and given the empirical evidence of those two species in their natural habitat I’m pretty sure the arc would have been a little light on fish upon docking. Obviously this example was a little silly but so is this particular story of the bible. If someone can read that story and discredit is as being a goof, how can you base your thoughts and ideals on every other tale in the same text? There are just so many flaws in the logic of the bible, I baffles my mind how anybody can use logic to discredit any objections one has in regards to its credibility.

  11. Mike

    I was really interested to know what the archaeological evidence and other proofs were, but I didn’t want to turn it into a debate. Maybe I’ll ask him about it another time.

  12. Dawn

    Very interesting interview. I didn’t agree with some of his doctinal assertions but his answers were definently sincere. If I were an athiest, expecially an ex-christian athiest, I don’t know if this would help me or not. It would depend on how desperate I was to find truth. God is always willing to reveal himself personally to an individual, but they have to have the honest desire to receive it. God works with the heart, not logic. He says his ways are higher than our ways, his thoughs higher than our thoughts. His logic superseeds our logic, but he knows just what it takes in order to reach each person. The Bible demonstrates that the dishonest doubter will not believe even though they see a miracle (notice I didn’t say honest doubter). Why? Because you have to want truth to get it. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after rightousness: for they shall be filled…Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”. Math 5:6,8. Remember the account of the rich man who died and went to hell. He asked for Lazarus to return from the dead to testify to his brothers so they wouldnt go to hell also. His request was denied with this response, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead”. God knew they had already the opportunity to recieve truth if they wanted, but they rejected it which means they rejected God. And when you reject God, you will discredit any miracle, or simply not care. God is truth.
    Mike,
    I love the idea of you interviewing Christians. Actually I would really love it if you could send Reverend Ernest Angley some questions. His email address is eangley@ernestangley.org. His ministry team works from a database of answers that come directly from him, or if they don’t have that particular answer, they will sent it to him. Let me know, thanks

  13. Mike

    Sure. I’ll email him.

  14. Dawb

    Also if you want, ask him about homosexuality. More precisley, ask him, “Are homosexuals born that way?”

  15. Dawn

    That was by Dawn, no Dawb, lol

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