Why Does Jesus Turn Decent People into Jackasses?

Donkey_Jackass_Mule

One of my friends in college had a very personal relationship with Jesus, one that, on occasion, led him to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and spend 90 minutes of quality time with Jesus before class. When I first met “D,” I was sort of jealous of his spiritual discipline. At the time, I was experimenting with Calvinism and easily shamed by the intensities of other people’s relationships with Jesus. But overtime I stopped being jealous of D’s close relationship with Jesus. Because I began to notice that the more time D hung out with Jesus the bigger jackass he became. We could always tell when D and Jesus were engaging in “bro” time, because that quality time always seemed to make D angry, prideful, and intoxicated with his own spiritual certainty. As a recovering Baptist who, at the time, was a young and flourishing Presbyterian, I didn’t want to end up being one of Jesus’s jackasses.

Why do close relationships with Jesus turn some people into jackasses? That idea seems counter to everything that Jesus taught about God’s Kingdom. Still, sometimes Jesus comes into a person’s heart and makes them shape shifters.

I’ve known lots of people who Jesus has helped. I’ve seen Jesus help alcoholics to begin recovery. I’ve seen Jesus help fix marriages. I’ve seen Jesus make rich selfish people into rich giving people.

None of those things surprise me at all, because I believe that Jesus saves, that Jesus heals, and that Jesus changes people’s lives.

But let’s face it: how a relationship with Jesus affects people seems to vary a good bit. Because as much as Jesus brings some people hope, healing, and resurrection, that same Jesus also makes some people turn into intolerant name-calling Christians who seem downright entitled to utilize the Bible as a device to be mean and hateful. If engaging scripture and prayer and going to church makes us act like nasty, self-righteous jackasses, we’ve completely missed the point.

Engaging God’s story in scripture should not make us certain, but it should help us to be merciful.
Trusting in Jesus should not make us intolerant, but it should help us to be peaceful.
Spending time in prayer should not make us angry people who are bent on shouting our opinions from the rooftops, but it should help us to be gracious and thankful.

A lot of us Christians, rather than being followers of Jesus, we’re defenders of religious certainty. And having certainty about what is and isn’t true, good, and holy is actually not faith, it’s just certainty. And certainty regarding matters of faith isn’t Christian.

So we end up acting like jackasses, kicking and galloping and trolling around like we own the place. All the while bellowing scripture and unfounded statistics…

We can’t love people when we’re intoxicated with certainty. We can’t serve people with a pure heart if we’re burdened by certainty. We can’t be anything remotely close to “Christ-like” when we’re certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that we know what’s up regarding God. Why?

Because we’re too busy defending our rightness to be kind, thoughtful, and good.

So instead, we kick, stomp, and wake up the neighbors shouting. And then we blame Jesus for the messes we make.

Comments

  1. johnnygf says

    I’ve just been looking at I John with the help of Don Carson (this talk, today: http://www.atthecastle.org.uk/audio/don-carson-1-john-16-227/ ) and then I saw this blog post.

    I think D (and even I’ve been a bit of a D at times) finds in Jesus something they like, which is great, but they miss the big picture and the things they find attractive in God they turn into idols. In essence, they use God as a fig leaf for their moralistic therapeutic deism.

    When someone is a D, all their Bible reading becomes Bible idolatry and all their ‘quiet time’ becomes listening to themselves.

    Paul welcomed that people like D preach the Gospel, but John, the gentle apostle, who had such a close walk with Jesus had a very stark thing to say about them: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness”

  2. KristinRumer says

    I completely disagree with this article. This is insulting to Jesus Christ and offensive. How dare you blame the shortcomings and selfishness of man on the savior of the world? The rudeness and cruelty of man is a result of sin and the devil. Jesus came to earth for the sole purpose to die for us, and we repay him with complacency, claiming he turns so called “decent people” into selfish jerks. This is not the Jesus of the bible. I would go so far as to say that these people have a false sense of salvation… And it breaks my heart. You would never say these things if you truly knew my king.

  3. slkierley says

    KristinRumer Plus, this sounds like it’s more offensive to you than Him. Who are YOU to speak for Him, and to declare what is offensive to Him? You are showing a lot of hubris in your comments. sorry rry that this “breaks your heart.” Since you are clearly the Savior of the world, your opinion is what matters most, right?
    S
    o

  4. slkierley says

    I totally agree with this! Growing up in a Pentecostal, Mega crazy church, I have to agree 110% with this. I too used to be this person. Christians tend to be the worst when it comes to actually acting Christ like, and treating others like Jesus would. Most Christians tend to act as if they own the world, tho, our Maker does, we still tend to act like spoiled brats in His Kingdom.

  5. marriagelife says

    I *was* “D.” I was so certain what the Bible said and meant. I used the “clearly” far too often. It’s taken a lot of prayer and many valuable conversations with some very loving and patient people but I’ve come to the place where I realize that I don’t want to shut down conversations anymore. I don’t want to be “right” at the expense of building relationship. And honestly, we’re all just doing the best we can. What is clear to us, what we are certain of, is based so much on our own personal interpretation and perception. We have to be willing to leave room at the table for grace.

  6. DavidBalesdeGraaff says

    And as well let us not forget – I am assuming – that we are Christians here discussing this article so let’s be loving to each other in our words here huh?

  7. LeanneZeck says

    This is exactly what came up (not in these terms) in my Bible Study. Is it because we’ve experienced something so amazing that we want others to experience it the same way so we leave little room for God to be God, becoming obnoxious and totalitarian in our living out our faith?
    Is it because we want to feel like we have something special and that we are not just going along with the crowd that we narrow the road even more than Christ’s definition in Scripture?
    Is it because it is easier to make Christ over in our image than it is for us to allow Christ to make us over in His Image?
    Is it because being a pharisee is easier than being a disciple? Is it easier to follow the letter of the Law than to embrace the Spirit of the Law?
    Is it because we fear that if we are wrong in one area, that we are wrong in every area–a lie we often fall into?
    Is it because pride gets in the way and we don’t want to admit the possibility of seeing things dimly means we don’t have all the answers?
    Is it because we are committing idolatry in our love of our opinion, our dogma, Scripture, our freedoms, our patriotism and have lost sight of God?

  8. KristinRumer says

    I apologize if I came off arrogant. I do not view myself as better than anyone, honestly. I am a wretch in need of a merciful savior. But I really believe that true disciples of Christ will have a spirit of love and a joyfullness about them. They will show the fruits of a believer. The individuals the author is referring to, though I am not the judge of salvation nor the savior of anyone, do not sound like disciples of Christ. And I was offended because I interpreted that the author was blaming the selfishness of man on a relationship with Jesus, whom I view as my fiancé.

  9. pastorguy says

    Your content speaks the obvious to nay Christian with their eyes open, but why do you have to use the “Shock Jock” title?Something in me knee jerks at the sad wording of something that just isn’t true.
    Obvious content, sad title.

  10. SteveRussell1 says

    I was “D”, come from a family with a bunch of “D’s”.  Wasn’t able to move away until I moved away and got out from that kind of influence.  My family thinks my wife pulled me away from the right way to God, But I was long gone when I met her.  She just helped me stand my ground on why I believe what I do.  Wish my family could understand there is more to Jesus than what they seem to know.

  11. WilliamShelton1 says

    pastorguy I was raised in the so-called Bible Belt. I agree with the title of this post 100 percent. In fact, that is why I bothered to read it. That is also why I am no longer a Christian.

  12. VeronicaZundel says

    I think this happens because too often our evangelism is designed to make converts, rather than to make disciples.

  13. EdFancon says

    Great thought process.  Personally, I think many miss the most important lesson of Christ and that’s to show and give Grace to others.  It’s something I have come to realize in my judgmental daily life I lacked.  Through association with others who strive to live with grace as part of their daily lives I hope to show the qualities of potential to do the same.

  14. Bladeseeker says

    redaunt4KristinRumerI’m just perusing this discussion after it turned up on a facebook post by ‘Kissing Fish’. I’m curious though, as to what relevance to the conversation Kristin’s gender holds for you?

  15. EllieRavinsky says

    VeronicaZundelOMG you are SO right.  I have been in those groups and you are just another “star in their crown”.

  16. EllieRavinsky says

    KristinRumerActually the author isn’t saying anything about JESUS.  And, the article agrees with you 100% on your last two sentences.  I think you need to read it again.  It’s true, some people use Jesus as a way to lord over others instead of showing them His love.

  17. EllieRavinsky says

    johnnygfThis is fantastic commentary. I have been guilty of “listening to myself” in prayer and meditation too.  Thanks for what you said, good stuff.

  18. seyton144 says

    As an atheist, this pretty much is the distinction I make between Christians I love, respect, and take (them and their beliefs) seriously and those I can’t stand.  The truth is no one really knows these things for certain, or their know them through faith and you can’t browbeat others into having what is a spiritual gift.  I can talk to Christians who acknowledge this and we have good conversations about spirituality and religion etc.  Those who can’t I refuse to discuss religon etc. with.  And truthfully, if anyone ever manages to convert me, it will be the first group not the obnoxiously, destructively certain group.

  19. Tonydasinga says

    There is, in fact, objective truth. We may not know all of it, but God exists or He doesn’t. It is a binary situation, both cannot be true. I believe He does. And I believe Jesus is the living Christ. I have faith that this is TRUE, therefore I live in the certainty that it is TRUE. However, if we as Christians do not reflect on the depths from which we have been raised, our certainty becomes arrogant, prideful, and judgemental. 1 Peter 3:15 says we should be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us, BUT with “gentleness and respect”. How do we do that? We remember Eph 2:8-9:
    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” It is GRACE, people. We have nothing to boast about but our weakness that God so graciously raised us out of. We must be humble.
    INFORMATION is simply DATA
    TRANSFORMATION happens when INFORMATION is APPLIED
    Our TRANSFORMATION helps others trust our INFORMATION.
    Christian, worry about being more like Christ by APPLYING, to YOUR life, the information you proclaim from the rooftops, and evangelism will be your lifestyle, not an intellectual debate.
    1 Corinthians 1:8b “…knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”
    With “gentleness and respect”,
    Tony

  20. KarinConterKilic says

    Would anybody explain to me what they think the author meant by:
    “And certainty regarding matters of faith isn’t Christian.”
    Thanks in advance…

  21. MichaelRigby says

    KarinConterKilic I can’t comment on behalf of the author but I see it like this. Faith is walking through a room blind folded and then been instructed through the obstacles by someone (God). You need faith in them to make sure you don’t hit anything and hurt yourself. If we know where the obstacles are and memorise a route through, that is not faith but certainty in your self and your own knowledge. I could be miles from what he meant but that’s my interpretation.

  22. pickupmylaundry says

    I responded to you on FB but didn’t realize it was your post that was shared by Jamie The Very Worst Missionary there. Hope you don’t mind if I post here.

    As an atheist, your article comes close to being spot on the money. Thanks for expressing it so plainly. My only issue arises when the faithful attach more meaning to their recovery or change to God and Jesus. A small example would be the high recidivism rate of alcoholics who use Jesus as their anchor. Falling back into undesirable, addictive behavior eventually cause tremendous harm to that person AND his family, friends and support group. You can supplant my example with almost any bad behavior – overeating, risky sexuality – and even worse, psychological illness. What’s the remedy for lifelong schizophrenia that isn’t cured by Jesus?

    Andre

  23. pickupmylaundry says

    Tonydasinga You lost me in your first paragraph (actually, you didn’t but I’d like to make a point). If there is, in fact, as you say, objective truth, how can you “believe” God exists? Gravity isn’t something that is debatable, right? You and I know know it exists and we no longer have to prove that theory. There are no similar proofs for the existence of God or his glory, are there?

  24. pickupmylaundry says

    LeanneZeck Why cant people (atheists, the faithful, etc) just let people be? Lead by example. If I saw life fulfillment from a life of charity and no one attempted to cajole me into being charitable, the likelihood is that I would follow. Try to trick me into giving NOT of my own free will and i wont. Because I am smart and hate shucksters.

  25. KellyW2010 says

    pickupmylaundry Tonydasinga
    “Proof”is ongoing… Yes we have “proof” that gravity exists, but not long ago the sun moved around the earth – and Galileo died condemned for heresy (sigh, by the Church) because of that “proof”.  Xrays and radio waves (etc) were initially considered ridiculous. Mental illness wasn’t a physical issue, but now we know that chemicals and hormones are out of balance… So I’m always uneasy about the use of scientific language to attempt to verify (or even explain)  a theoretical issue.
    Scripture itself defines faith: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” As a wise teacher I know says – we run the ramp of reason before we take a leap of faith. Just because there is no “proof” God exists, doesn’t mean God isn’t real.

  26. EllieRavinsky says

    KellyW2010pickupmylaundryTonydasingaI love what you said but…in the end it also doesn’t prove God DOES exist either.

  27. MichaelRigby says

    EllieRavinsky …and that’s where faith comes in. I can neither prove nor disprove God does or doesn’t exist. I can only have faith that he / she / it exists backed up by my experiences. I can go out looking for God and see his / her / its work in everything or I could go around being blind to everything. For every one publicised bad thing going on in this world, there’s usually a good work going unnoticed. God at work or natural human morality? Only you can decide…

  28. Scott van Pletzen Rands says

    Keep reading…your answer is just below that line.
    “We can’t love people when we’re intoxicated with certainty. We can’t serve people with a pure heart if we’re burdened by certainty. We can’t be anything remotely close to “Christ-like” when we’re certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that we know what’s up regarding God. Why?
    “Because we’re too busy defending our rightness to be kind, thoughtful, and good.”

  29. CherylHermanFrancis says

    No, we usually blame those other non-believers or folks who don’t believe just like we do for our messes… Sigh. I had to share this one on my FB wall. Maybe it’s because I live in the heart of the Bible-thumping South or just because it speaks to me and I hope to my friends. Thanks for writing these thoughts down so well.

  30. macisaguy says

    “We can’t be anything remotely close to “Christ-like” when we’re certain
    beyond a shadow of a doubt that we know what’s up regarding God.”
    For me being certain beyond a shadow of a doubt  that I know what’s up regarding God is the very thing that allows me to be anything remotely Christlike.  God has drastically changed my life and filled it with love, joy and hope.  He brought me into His family…forever.  I believe in His promises without a shadow of a doubt.  And putting my full faith in those promises, putting all my eggs in that basket, allows me to let go of the world, and LOVE.  The pressures of outside opinion, depression, fear, etc. fall away because I am so certain of God’s grace and goodness.  Always and forever.
    Embracing those things, brings me to a place of incredible thankfulness…which leads me to want to share everything good thing I’ve discovered in Jesus and God’s promises with anyone and everyone.

  31. CherylHermanFrancis says

    pastorguyBut the title definitely reaches those disenchanted with the way some Christians act and gets them to read more, which makes what you call a “sad” title an effective one… and that’s kinda the point of a title.

  32. AprilleighKnapikLauer says

    EllieRavinsky johnnygf I think all of us are guilty of that at times, but the “D”s of this world make it a habit and the rest of us are either better at pulling ourselves up short or have better accountability partners.

  33. KellyW2010 says

    EllieRavinsky MichaelRigby Faith IS subjective. But faith, or no faith, doesn’t change reality! So, if we have faith and God is not real, faith is what it is – confidence in what we hope for. If we don’t have faith, and God is real, our lack of faith doesn’t change the real-ness of God. (What I suspect Tonydasinga was trying to indicate using “objective” truth). 

    Good conversation! My take away is to keep asking questions!

  34. VeronicaZundel says

    KellyW2010pickupmylaundryTonydasingaMany a court case is settled on the basis of the balance of evidence, or ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.  than total ‘proof’. Lack of final ‘proof is not the same thing as lack of evidence. Proof is evidence that cannot be denied, but often we have to rely on available evidence, which is always deniable – hence the number of appeals against verdicts.

    If we had ‘proof’ of God, there would be no need for faith. However, we may decide that there is sufficient evidence – in Scriptural accounts, in the life of Jesus, in the lives of Christians. Different people will clearly weigh this evidence differently, but to demand conclusive proof is unreasonable. I can’t prove my late mother loved me, and I could easily cite evidence that she didn’t, but on balance the evidence suggests to me that she did.

  35. KacyM says

    All I have to say is that a person must die daily. This isn’t Jesus transforming people, it’s human pride. The person has not died to themselves and embraced the cross. They are not dead. Instead the pride takes over. This is why we must stay humble. We can be certain about our salvation and relationship with Jesus. We can be certain that He loves us and that we are His. We can be certain that He is in us and us in Him. We can be certain in all this and still love. The truth is, if you are in Jesus and He is in you, you will be love. Otherwise, you’re not dead and it’s just your self amplifying what hasn’t yet died.

    Jesus came for more than that. He came to make us like Him. He was certain of who the Father was, who He was, and what that meant for him here. He wants us to walk as HE did, not as we think we ought. Another look at Philippians 2 will show us how we ought to be. “Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to but rather in humility, consider others better than yourselves.” 

    Instead of bashing others in their faults, let us love others in the midst of them. Yes, let’s call out truth. But let us not slander others at the cost of love. Jesus is love and we are learning to grow in His love. Mercy triumphs over judgement. Blessings!

  36. JessiStronger says

    Reminds me of that “Organic Food Makes People Jerks” story that came out a few years ago. Maybe your friend D felt like spending 90 minutes in prayer was his good deed for the day, and entitled him to judge everyone who wasn’t as holy.

  37. doihavetohaveaname says

    pickupmylaundry
    I
    usually don’t reply to, well, replies on posts.  However, in your case, I
    couldn’t pass it up.  A little bit about me: I am a Christian, with
    bipolar 1 disorder, who recently relapsed with alcohol.  I know that
    bipolar isn’t schizophrenia, but as far as psychological illness goes it is one
    of the lifelong, more extreme ones that often leads to death through suicide,
    etc.  I have been stable for a year and a half now, but I will probably
    (barring medical advances) be taking pills for the rest of my life and the odds
    are that I will go through more manic/depressive episodes in my life with an
    extreme risk of this if I ever have to stop my medication after becoming
    pregnant (or any other reason).  When I was initially diagnosed I had
    well-meaning Christian friends who basically said that I just needed to have
    faith, I should pray for complete healing instead of settling for taking pills,
    be anointed with oil and I could be “cured.”  That was some of
    the worst advice I have ever heard.  I do believe God can completely
    heal, but I rarely expect what are classified as lifelong illnesses to be cured
    this side of heaven.  If you don’t mind me using theological terms, I
    believe that we live in a fallen world that has been affected by sin in every
    way, bringing illness, death, pain, suffering…  I do believe in
    miracles, but more often I simply believe in strength to get through a REALLY
    crappy day.  And then the next. It’s difficult.I’ve been relatively lucky/blessed to have
    been diagnosed early on and quickly treated with effective medication, but initially
    it was very difficult.Why me?Why anyone?How will I make it through?Do
    you actually hear me, God?That being
    said, God was my biggest source of strength. 
    God gives me hope that I can make it through, and that one day I will be completely healed.  I know there are many non-Christians who also suffer due to mental
    illness and make it through, but I imagine it to be more difficult. Not
    being them, it’s hard to say.
    Your
    “high
    recidivism rate of alcoholics who use Jesus as their anchor” comment hits very
    close to home right now as yesterday, after an assessment, a chemical
    dependency professional recommended that I should seek intensive outpatient
    treatment.I battled alcohol addiction
    as a teenager and was involved in AA/sober for almost three years, perfectly
    able to accept the alcoholic label.Meeting
    God was a big factor in my recovery.I didn’t
    become a Christian, and then sober up.In fact, I was pretty much done with God at that point in my life.I was raised in a “Christian” family, and I
    do believe that both of my parents are truly Christian, but let’s just say that
    the 5 CPS reports I know about as a result of one person in my family and
    another man professing to be a Christian do not reflect my understanding of
    what Christianity should look like.But
    then I got to AA, and God used it to break down the walls that I had built up
    between us.I don’t believe in the
    wishy-washy God-as-you-understand-them-to-be/any higher power is good for you,
    but I definitely believe that seeking help and strength beyond yourself is the
    best way to attack addition.Twelve step
    programs have had great success with that.
    But now, today, these
    last few months of relapse… as I said, I was successfully sober for a few
    years, had one drink, went back to being sober, and then when I turned 21
    decided to drink again.At this point, I
    hadn’t been to AA in over two years.I
    decided that I wasn’t actually an alcoholic, I had just responded to negative
    (horrible) situations in my life as a teenager through drinking, and now that I
    was at a healthy place in my life, I would try drinking again.It worked for the most part for about half a
    year, and then I broke my most basic rule when it came to drinking.I drank when it felt like a compulsion, and
    then everything went downhill, leading to an intervention on Sunday and an
    assessment yesterday after a few months of drinking. Now I
    am facing the alcoholic label/probable necessity of lifelong sobriety once
    again.I hate this right now.I hate that I let myself get here.I don’t believe that this reflects a lack of
    the strength of God.I believe that I’m
    in this situation right now because my pride got in the way, because I didn’t
    reach out for help both from God and other people when I started struggling. I
    do believe that God is my way out, and that Jesus needs to be my anchor, but
    prayer/Bible reading/Christian book reading hasn’t been enough.God uses all means to help his people, and
    right now it looks like a secular treatment plan might be his way of helping
    me.I just haven’t gotten to the point
    where I accept this yet.
    Anyways, that’s
    probably way more about me than you wanted to know.I couldn’t figure out how to keep it
    shorter.Sorry.Hope there was something helpful in
    there.

  38. TommyFox says

    I think your cause and effect is pretty weak, and so this whole article is weak. The kind of shotty work that if you were a scientist you would see a cause and effect relationship between beakers and all diseases so you would try to outlaw beakers. Fail.

  39. RyanFerguson says

    I don’t think certainty is the problem here, per se, and I disagree with the idea that certainty is not Christian faith. But I see what you’re getting at.
    I think there is some stuff we need to be certain of: That there is one God, and He is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ; that Jesus died on a Roman cross to reconcile man and creation to God; that Jesus was resurrected to give us resurrection; and that God is eternal, that we may rely on him eternally. There may be a few things that need to be added to that list, and there may be a few things that can be removed from it as essential stuff to be certain of, but there is some central stuff that we need to be clear about in order to know God and be known by God in a saving way. Faith is not being uncertain about these things, faith is believing that God has revealed these things to us through the Son and the Holy Spirit in history.

    Now, being certain of things that God has not revealed to us, that’s a big problem. We could be certain that God has saved us because we’re better than everyone else. We would thus create our own self-righteousness, judgementalism against others, moral supremacy, self-worship, worship of morality, etc. This is being certain of a lie, and it has no validity.

    I believe we need to know central, salvific biblical doctrines so that the God we worship is the God who has revealed himself in the bible, and not a counterfeit god of our creation, so that we can have a real relationship with God. Likewise, we need to be certain of this so that we can be aware when presented with heresy. Now, there’s a lot of stuff that God has revealed in the bible, which we (at a personal level) have not come to understand, which we might be wrestling with, or we might not even be conscious of at this point in time. Do we need to be certain of that which has not yet been revealed to us through Word and Spirit? No. If anything, we need to be certain of our own uncertainty. I think we need to be certain that we don’t know everything about God, but that He will show us through His Word what He will show us.

    Certainty isn’t the problem here. False certainty is.

  40. pickupmylaundry says

    RyanFerguson  Your initial premise destroys your argument: “I think there is some stuff we need to be certain of: That there is one God, and He is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ; that Jesus died on a Roman cross to reconcile man and creation to God; that Jesus was resurrected to give us resurrection; and that God is eternal, that we may rely on him eternally.”

    Apart from my feelings about God, just a question – of the billions born throughout the history of time that do not believe (or haven’t even heard of Jesus), what would you have done to them? Or for that matter, what  would be your final answer to any atheist who led a pious life? Interested to know anyone’s answer to this.

  41. JordanGoldberg says

    This is not a very good article at all, both Biblically and logically. You assert that if we’re “certain” then we somehow are incapable of being kind, thoughtful or good. Well you shouldn’t even be saying “good” anyway, because Matthew 19:17 tells us plainly that no one is good but God.
    And why are you saying that intolerance is bad? How about intolerance of sin? Is that bad? Oh, maybe we should be “tolerant” like this article implies, and tolerate as much sin as we like. When it’s pushed to it’s logical conclusion, it’s absurd.
    How can you say that it’s not Biblical to be certain that the Bible is a true revelation from God? In fact, the opposite is true. John 8:31-32 “…Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” We CAN know the truth, and we CAN be certain IF the Biblical worldview is true.

    The problem with this article is that there is no substance to it. It’s just all wishy-washy, emotional rambling that speaks against Christians who defend the faith and implies that philosophically astute Christians are nasty towards everyone. This article is NOT supported Biblically at all. In fact, the opposite. 2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. The writer of this article seems to be one of those people who doesn’t want to show people that the Bible is true and accurate… and if people think that the Bible is just a collection of myths written by goat-herders, then what is “loving people” going to do? Do you think non-Christians are really going to start believing the Bible if they believe all of the evidence is stacked against it, and that the Bible is just a collection of stories?
    Ultimately it’s entirely up to God whether he will unveil the truth to people and soften their hearts, but it is our job to defend Biblical authority. That’s Biblical – this article however, is not.

    Even people who profess a hatred for God are capable of love. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t love people at all – we should love people as much as we possibly can. But the writer of this article implies the fallacy of false choice. It’s not a choice of “Either you’re certain of the Bible, or you love people… can’t be both”. That’s just ridiculous.

  42. WilliamShelton1 says

    JordanGoldberg You totally missed the point of the article and, I suspect, did so intentionally. It is people like you who have totally and completely turned me off to Christianity, It could be such a beautiful religion, and it is when expressed by people who understand that a little tolerance and kindness go a whole lot further than your self-righteous chest-thumping brand of Christianity allows. * smh *

  43. DavidNoahParker says

    JordanGoldberg you are reading certainty into the authors words which is exactly his point.  he isn’t arguing that the kind of certainty that …only God is good, and that all of man kind is sinful … is a bad certainty.  he isn’t saying that to be a good christian you need to tolerate Sin he is simply pointing out just as Jesus did in Matthew 7 that brow beating people will not help them and might just come back and bite u in the ass.  This crazy fixation by the church on calling out sinners and labeling them as less then is directly the antithesis of what Jesus himself said to do that is his point.  its also a reminder that you and I are idiots who think we know how God would have us deal with a sinner’s sin. the reality is that we are not here to wash peoples sin away we are here to love and serve and in doing that point to Jesus and not pretend that Jesus is pointing peoples issues out through us.  The Holy spirit does not need our dulled and imprecise tools to do its work.

  44. DavidNoahParker says

    macisaguy The certainties that you raise are all good ones, I believe that the author was directing his words and thoughts at the kind of certainties that may overtime lead a christian to believe the he or she is better than others and in turn judge them rather then truly love them.  when Christians add “I am certain that God hates Homosexuals, women who have abortions, men who rape women, children who don’t obey their parents and even spiders… we change in our hearts the God we love into a false idol that is only a poor reflection of the Good God who gives out mercy like candy, who blesses everyone, and longs to talk with them.  yadda yadda yadda  then we being of a singular mind treat those people like they are dirt because we are almost universally incapable of separating our feelings and emoticons from our knowledge and actions.  that is the authors point (a gut check, have you bitten off more than you can chew)

  45. NathanielChap says

    I see a both sides. Although we are no better in and of ourselves in comparison to those in sin; sin does need to be brought into the light. Not for our own self good but for the spiritual growth of the brother in sin. The Apostles and early church were not afraid to point out the sin in others, but at the same time they did not view themselves as being high and mighty. Paul revealed much sin to the Church in Corinth but at the same time he considered himself the chiefest of sinners and the least of all the saints. It is not wrong to point out sin and to be confident in where we stand as long as our purpose in doing so is to bring glory to God, drawing others to the Father and revealing the love of Christ to the world. In the end, it’s not about us……..it’s all about Him!

  46. DavidNoahParker says

    NathanielChap agreed though there are guidelines straight from the teachers mouth (well from someone who heard him say it but didn’t write it down till 50 or 60 years afterward) in Matthew 7 Jesus himself warns against “casting pearls before swine” and not giving what is holy to dogs.  of course he is parable speaking about how correcting those who don’t care or don’t want to hear it is not beneficial to them or you.

  47. Tonydasinga says

    VeronicaZundel KellyW2010 pickupmylaundry Tonydasinga  

    @VeronicaZundel @KellyW2010 @pickupmylaundryhttp://www.livefyre.com/profile/28995985/ @http://www.livefyre.com/profile/28991960/
    Thank you all for the excellent discussion! There is no way to verify the existence of God. Kelly… the quote “we run the ramp of reason before we take a leap of faith” is a great way to look at the fact that we look at all available evidence (history, archeology, prophesy, etc.) as the basis for faith. We all have faith in something… the existence of God, Atheism, or anything inbetween. Based on the evidence I’ve seen in regard to spiritual matters, it all seems to lead to God. More specifically, the God of the Bible.
    @pickupmylaundry Gravity is no longer a “theory” but a law of nature that has been proven, as you said. That being said, it is a force that is not literally visible. We simply know its existence because of how mass interacts in the universe. I CAN, however, choose to not believe in it. (I know we are talking about something proven and something unproven… Bear with me!!) Just because I (hypothetically) don’t FEEL like gravity exists, or at least not in the way others say, doesn’t necessarily make it NOT exist! If you and I decided to go to the 12th story of a building and stand on the balcony, you might be concerned about the stability of the balcony, whereas I couldn’t care less because I don’t believe in gravity! Ultimately, there is truth about whether or not we would drop from a failing balcony, regardless of what I believe. The point is not that I am comparing God and gravity, the point is that simply believing something – anything – doesn’t necessarily make it TRUE. That goes for Christians as well, btw. Just because I believe Jesus is God, doesn’t make it true. I happen to think that with the “balance of evidence”, put quite well by @VeronicaZundel, it seems that what is true is causing me to believe! I would love to start another post about evidence, and am happy to, but I would love to stay on topic!
    I think it is worth noting… we can talk about all of this, and I could be right on ALL accounts… But speaking to Matthew’s original point, I don’t believe that being “right” makes me a better person than anyone who disagrees. The things I have stated inform the way I live my life, not for a medal or a pat on the back, but as an overflow of my heart in gratitude to the God in whom I believe. 
    1 Corinthians 13:2 states “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 
    To be a “D” as Matthew put it, is to be one who may have “the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge” and “a faith that can move mountains”, however the “D” is one who “is nothing” without love.
    I am grateful to meet you all on here! Keep ‘em comin’!

  48. Tonydasinga says

    VeronicaZundel KellyW2010 pickupmylaundry MichaelRigby EllieRavinsky  

    Forgive the repost… I had a hard time replying below, so restarting the discussion up here!

    Thank you all for the excellent discussion! There is no way to verify the existence of God. Kelly… the quote “we run the ramp of reason before we take a leap of faith” is a great way to look at the fact that we look at all available evidence (history, archeology, prophesy, etc.) as the basis for faith. We all have faith in something… the existence of God, Atheism, or anything inbetween. Based on the evidence I’ve seen in regard to spiritual matters, it all seems to lead to God. More specifically, the God of the Bible.
    @pickupmylaundry Gravity is no longer a “theory” but a law of nature that has been proven, as you said. That being said, it is a force that is not literally visible. We simply know its existence because of how mass interacts in the universe. I CAN, however, choose to not believe in it. (I know we are talking about something proven and something unproven… Bear with me!!) Just because I (hypothetically) don’t FEEL like gravity exists, or at least not in the way others say, doesn’t necessarily make it NOT exist! If you and I decided to go to the 12th story of a building and stand on the balcony, you might be concerned about the stability of the balcony, whereas I couldn’t care less because I don’t believe in gravity! Ultimately, there is truth about whether or not we would drop from a failing balcony, regardless of what I believe. The point is not that I am comparing God and gravity, the point is that simply believing something – anything – doesn’t necessarily make it TRUE. That goes for Christians as well, btw. Just because I believe Jesus is God, doesn’t make it true. I happen to think that with the “balance of evidence”, put quite well by @VeronicaZundel, it seems that what is true is causing me to believe! I would love to start another post about evidence, and am happy to, but I would love to stay on topic!
    I think it is worth noting… we can talk about all of this, and I could be right on ALL accounts… But speaking to Matthew’s original point, I don’t believe that being “right” makes me a better person than anyone who disagrees. The things I have stated inform the way I live my life, not for a medal or a pat on the back, but as an overflow of my heart in gratitude to the God in whom I believe. 
    1 Corinthians 13:2 states “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 
    To be a “D” as Matthew put it, is to be one who may have “the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge” and “a faith that can move mountains”, however the “D” is one who “is nothing” without love.
    I am grateful to meet you all on here! Keep ‘em comin’!

  49. DavidBalesdeGraaff says

    When you browbeat people with morality you push them away. You don’t have to ACCEPT sin, but ‘be in the world but not of it’,  so that people see your light shine and will want to be a part of that. Jesus just told us to spread the word of the gospel not to go around brandishing our morality and thus doing the opposite of what He commanded. GOD is judge. Boundaries are important … a necessity even so that your own belief isn’t compromised, but doing that in a spirit of love can attract people to your faith. And one last thing is that it’s God’s place/ job to draw people to Him and plant the seeds of faith in their hearts. We’re just supposed to love them and be there to share the gospel with them when the Spirit of God prompts them AND us. Let’s get off of being Pharisaical over our own trophies of morality and get down to truly studying the word and what Jesus meant exactly as to what we are to do until He comes back. The EXACT brand of moral brandishing displayed here in this thread is exactly why I’ve slid so far away from my faith out of fear of God and the unbearable weight it became in my life. The authoritarian dictator that God still is in my heart’s understanding is a direct result of this self righteousness from others in my life that I experience from some posts here in this thread. My two cents worth.

  50. DavidBalesdeGraaff says

    DavidNoahParkermacisaguyTruly said. Humans are so small and only raised up because 1) God created them in His image and 2) because He chose them for His own. If He exists, He is SOOOO much bigger than we that if we even BEGIN to dare to think that we understand him then we are walking a farce. A favorite Christian singer of mine sings a song where he says more or less that after he has come so far with Christ he realizes that he doesn’t know anything. I think it’s in the book of Isaiah or Ezekiel where it says (God I think) ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord or instructed Him as His counselor?’. Once again my two cents worth as a comparatively un-objective human.

  51. Tomkent1 says

    WilliamShelton1 this kinda turns the whole thing on it’s head! Matthew writes that religious certainty makes people unchristian and unloving. JordanGoldberg disagrees, and then you post a comment that seems based in some kind of certainty, and which is unloving and intolerant of JordanGoldberg

    Does this mean that you too ought to be less certain so that you can be more loving?

  52. Tomkent1 says

    DavidNoahParker surely describing that problem as being about ‘certainty’ is not the most meaningful label? Surely that problem is more about being judgemental than about being certain?

  53. DavidNoahParker says

    Tomkent1 DavidNoahParker most people would not venture a judgment unless they felt certain about the issue.  I suppose you could look at it as 6 of one, half a dozen of the other… however I actually like how the author chose the word “certainty”  whether purposeful or not I think it can force the reader to stop and take stock of what they are certain of.  Am i certain that God is good and has me best interests at heart?  yeah 92.7% of the time sure I am.  Am I certain that people who commit suicide are going to hell?  Umm no idea…so I keep my trap shut and mind open.  I know in my head that I have no right to judge anyone for anything.  I mean obviously there are finite consequences for things we mortal do on this sphere dancing around in space but after that OMG I have no idea, I also have no idea what is in that mans heart or that one or hers or yours or sometimes my own for that matter.  In fact its probably safe to say for all people that there is literally nothing we can ever be 100% ironclad certain about, yet a certainty is what we all base our judgments upon.  When I say that person is a slacker there might be some data pointing to that but the reality is i don’t know them, what they are dealing with or what they do with every waking moment of there life.  Yet what I have done is watch this person and decided with some degree of certainty that I am better because I am more productive.  ……  i like that the word certainty in the blog post spurs a conversation and a head/heart check.  its regrettable but understanding that people get derailed by the word, but its still a wonderful opportunity

  54. DavidNoahParker says

    Tomkent1 WilliamShelton1 JordanGoldberg if I may hazard a guess William has been burned by the church and its people, I know I have.  to the point that when I think about and speak about what Christians do I almost never include myself in the title “Christian”  what is so profoundly hard about all of this is that realistically Christians in most cases don’t act any worse then nonchristians with the major exception of towards LGBT people but because Christians are called to be loving and kind, and supportive, and Christlike …. when they don’t do these things they not only magnify there failure but also actually hurt other people and often claim to do so in Jesus name.  Williams reaction seems to be one of anger at someone who just doesn’t get it, and worst of all because they feel (so William believes may possibly be the case) so certain that they are right and in no need of a heart/head check.  and that is a frustrating prospect for sure.

    WilliamShelton1  I certainly don’t want to make assumptions about you or what you were saying.  I apologize if I have done you wrong :)

  55. WilliamShelton1 says

    Tomkent1 No, it doesn’t. I have little patience with the blatantly intolerant and the willfully blind. Should I include you in one of those groups?

  56. WilliamShelton1 says

    DavidNoahParker No need to apologize, David. You are very close to being right in those assumptions, but instead of someone, it would be many …

  57. Bladeseeker says

    pickupmylaundryLeanneZeck Beautifully said, Leanne. In fact, that’s exactly how I was led back to Jesus in my thirties, after being disenchanted by all the hypocrisy and bigotry I saw as a young adult. I met and became friends with a warm, intelligent, gentle but strong woman in whom I saw…or rather ‘felt’… something I knew I wanted…and definitely needed. She was so calm and unruffled – the aura of peace was palpable. Her gentle eyes were still keenly intelligent, her conversation filled with all sorts of wisdom and acceptance of people, no matter their circumstances in life or their prevailing attitudes. People buzzed around her like bees to the proverbial honey pot. It was 12 months into our friendship before I even knew her views on spirituality. Although I was vulnerable at the time, having just been through a divorce, had anyone tried to foist religion on me, I’d have run a mile and would possibly still be running. I can’t remember the turning point in the conversation but I must have heard someone say they’d seen her at church or something like that. I approached her – she didn’t approach me. She was genuinely humble about it, telling me that it would be a privilege to answer any of my questions and help me along my journey if I wanted her to. Well, I did want her to – and have discovered after 20 years of friendship that her humility is absolutely genuine and her love of Jesus is shown by her love of humanity. To this day she uses all her time and talent to ‘be’ Christ for others, not to talk about him endlessly (unless we want to), or to ‘win souls for Jesus’. And in case I’ve made her sound like someone who comes across as ‘holier than thou’, she’s actually one of the most straight-forward, down-to-earth and outright funny people I’ve ever known. Wish there were more like her. She’s a keeper for sure.

  58. crusty11 says

    MichaelRigby

    I’m all for having faith, but over the years, I’ve become jaded and have little faith anyone is steering this ship. After seeing so much death and destruction in this world, I find it hard to believe the  loving God of the Bible is capable of such indifference towards those He professes love for. So many examples of people of apparently equal faith praying to be spared from the tragedy of the day… one is saved and the other is destroyed. And then the one who is “saved” goes on the news, thanking the Lord for answering their prayers, leaving their neighbor wondering why that person was more deserving of mercy.
    This, along with the very point of this article have left me with little faith. The self-righteous hypocrites who claim to be as smart as God, taking on the role of judge, which is a duty very clearly the Lord’s, spewing hate instead of love do more to drive people away from faith than anything. Though I do have to say Pope Francis has given me some hope that there are leaders in the church who actually get it!

  59. crusty11 says

    Bladeseeker

    Amen! Those who walk the walk instead of spending all their time talking the talk do more to show the way than those spewing fire & brimstone, telling everyone they’re going to hell!

  60. JohnNLizP says

    You write “having certainty about what is and isn’t true, good, and holy is actually not faith, it’s just certainty. And certainty regarding matters of faith isn’t Christian.”  Isn’t it interesting how “certain” you sound about that?   After reading several of your posts i am now more certain than ever that you seem much more in love with your own opinions than the Truth of Scripture. 

    “Professing to be wise… they became fools.”   I am very certain of that.

  61. JaisonJRaju says

    I feel you on this one. I really connected with this article. I have also been guilty of said behavior as well.

  62. JaisonJRaju says

    I think this sums up the author’s intent very well.
    “Engaging God’s story in scripture should not make us certain, but it should help us to be merciful.
    Trusting in Jesus should not make us intolerant, but it should help us to be peaceful.
    Spending time in prayer should not make us angry people who are bent on shouting our opinions from the rooftops, but it should help us to be gracious and thankful.”
    An article like this gives me hope that people are starting to discern the patterns between gracious believing Christians and the subtle and insidious qualities of religious Christians (mock humility is another pattern!)

  63. DavidNoahParker says

    BrentDill I believe he addressing the issue of people claiming Christ in it.  actually other then the acknowledgment of Jesus’s ability to do great things I don’t think this is about Jesus at all.  Its about what some people do in his name believing that it is his will.

  64. CherieBartlett says

    When the Pharisees and the Sadducee nitpicked Jesus with their interpretation of the Torah, Jesus led them to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ To follow these two commandments is very difficult and leaves no time for finding sawdust in the eyes of others.

  65. Tomkent1 says

    DavidNoahParker, fair point about not jumping to conclusions and being judgemental of others. Yep, there are things that we cannot be sure of, especially in terms of the motivations of others.
    But neither should Christians regard ‘certainty’ in general as the enemy or antithesis of faith. To do so, is to disregard what the Bible says in Hebrews chapter 11.

  66. DavidNoahParker says

    Tomkent1 DavidNoahParker certainly there are whole realms of certainty that are not good for our faith or relationships with God and man.  conversely there are treasure troves of almost certainties that help shape our faith and our love.  We are in a candy chop but half the candy is laced with poison, not enough to kill us but enough to make us ill and irritable….

  67. JohnNLizP says

    JaisonJRaju Thats your right…   but the point I made still stands… its amazing how many times people claim that they are sure that no one can be “sure” about anything…. that is hypocrisy and a false argument. Sorry, if it burns down one that you agree with… but that changes nothing…  Turner is wrong in spite of what he says “feeling” right.

  68. JohnNLizP says

    JaisonJRaju Can you point to a single time that Jesus advocated “tolerance”?   Mercy is a much much different response than tolerance. Mixing the two is a false representation of Jesus’ entire message. Jesus offered mercy to sinners…  but felt the sin was so incredibly egregious that it required the death penalty. He therefore offered Himself in their (and our) place to pay this penalty. That is not “tolerance”. It is justice… and mercy rolled into one. 

    Even after He stopped the woman who was caught in adultery from being stoned to death for her sin, He told her “stop sinning”. He also never said that she did not deserve to die for the crime, He simply reminded everyone in the crowd that they too were guilty and deserved the same punishment. That is the message that we as Christians bring to the world. “The consequences of sin is death” We all deserve eternal punishment for our sin and nothing we can do changes that. The mercy of God made a way for us… He sacrificed His own Son to pay our well deserved death sentence and give us life. Do you think having to see His son suffer that torment, which He did not deserve, brought about by our sin made Him more or less tolerant of sin?

    The Word makes it perfectly clear that God hates sin. He has no tolerance for it at all. On the other hand He has a vast love for us. It is His desire that “all men come to repentance and be saved”. To repent means to acknowledge ones sin and turn away from it to God. No one will ever bring their sin into His presence and find tolerance for it.

  69. Mhvest says

    I can’t get people to read this whole thing on FB. Can I cut the last five paragraphs, post it in parenthesis with your name and a link to this page?  This is really important and I want to share it.  I know I’m like that sometimes and I know it’s because  want validation which other people can’t usually offer.

  70. JojoRuba says

    “A lot of us Christians, rather than being followers of Jesus, we’re defenders of religious certainty. And having certainty about what is and isn’t true, good, and holy is actually not faith, it’s just certainty. And certainty regarding matters of faith isn’t Christian.”

    Just wondering if you are certain about this and if not, then why are you publicly attacking fellow Christians when you aren’t even sure about what you believe.

  71. EllieRavinsky says

    JojoRubaI
    totally agree. I got beat up really badly last week from people who
    supposedly share my faith/denomination.  I am always told I’m not
    “really” my religion because I deny certain truths and you have to
    believe 100%.  I will never be against these things and tried to be kind
    about how I felt.  The problem is, I believe most things but not all. 
    That’s not good enough.  I am going to hell and not a true believer.  
    I
    love Jesus, try to draw closer to him daily, and seek to grow in my
    healing from a horrible childhood and abuse.  They are horrible and
    relentless in their arrogance and hatred.  They launch vicious attacks
    that really hurt me and were cruel and had nothing to do with Jesus or
    his life.  Someone stood up for me and asked them if this was how Jesus
    would act and when confronted about how cruel they are to me, they
    became angry and said how dare this person ATTACK THEM?!  They even said
    that Jesus would do this and tried to use the Bible.  To make it worse
    the super elite running the page blocked me from responding so they
    could launch more attacks and they were allowed to do this and say that I
    obviously ‘ran out of answers’ when they knew I’d been blocked from
    defending myself.  They called me horrible names and I never once called
    anyone a name but because I said I didn’t believe the “canned answers” I
    was blocked and they were allowed to taunt, name call, and be hurtful
    (in the name of Jesus of course).  They also told one defender I
    deserved everything I get for not being obedient to Jesus.  Good grief
    this sounds more and more like a cult.  I wonder if they are flying to
    Guyanna next week and drinking kool aid.  What are they afraid of and
    why so freaked out when someone says they don’t agree with a few
    things? 

    I guess I should lie.  How can I affirm what
    I sincerely don’t believe?  They say I am uneducated about the topics. 
    That’s a lie.  I have a master’s in theology and I study in detail what
    troubles me and I actually feel justified in my beliefs based on those
    studies.  Then I’m told I’m following Satan.  I wish I could find a
    church that meets in people’s homes, a casual spiritual community that
    helps each other grow as a Christian as I’m sick of punching a time
    clock at a church and only being judged and condemned by the “CHURCH”
    people who are orthodox and better than me.  I truly hate
    myself when I am there because I will never ever measure up.  They
    wouldn’t have the guts to say this stuff to my face but they said things
    that HURT like, “Go ahead and leave.  I’m sure God will put a new
    convert in your place.”  God save me from your followers.  I am done
    with the institutional church, but I love Jesus and seek to be like him;
    loving, humble, embracing all.

  72. AndrewImlay says

    EllieRavinsky JojoRuba  I’m really glad you wrote and that I re-read your post four times, each time catching a nuance I had missed previously.

    First: It takes a lot to put it out there that you had a horrible childhood and abuse. As a child, you had no choice but to depend on the adults around you to show you what are acceptable ways to be treated. You deserved better than what you got. You deserved safety, physically and emotionally. You deserved to be cherished. You deserved the freedom to explore your world, without condemnation, to learn more about it. You deserved that others rearrange their priorities so you could learn to be vulnerable, trusting, and unafraid. You deserved pride and support as others watched you grow.

    Second: Could you do me a favor and re-read that last paragraph, this time thinking not of the adults in your childhood, but rather thinking of the members of your current church? Please take the time before I go further.

    Do you see what I (think I’m) seeing? Patterns established in our childhoods are very, very hard to change. (I wonder if you’ve experienced emotional abuse or betrayal in romantic relationships, or avoid them altogether). In any case, I feel very, very sad reading about your experiences, because the churches I’ve been a part of do not (dys-)function like the one you’ve attended. And you have much, much more to offer a community of faith than I do.

    So allow me to step out a little more and offer suggestions about where you might go from here; pardon me if you’re already doing these things or if I’m being presumptuous. 
    –Is there a particular professor from your Div program whom you trust? Could you tell him/her your story, and ask for references to another church? This is urgent, and they will see that. Your present “church” is damaging you, and reinforcing damage with every interaction. Your prof will want to stop that right away.
    –Are you in regular counseling, Christian or otherwise? It sounds like your childhood experiences are still writing the script for your emotional life today. It takes literally years to learn new decisions, habits, and perceptions, and we might need a professional with whom we can be vulnerable and who will gently press us into new ways of thinking and acting.
    — I’m not actually Christian, so this is a little strange: I hope you don’t give up on the institutional church. I imagine you taking a break. But there are so many churches which will treat you with dignity; I imagine you literally crying the day you realize you’re in a new community where you can be genuinely vulnerable and trusting and be loved in return.

    I’d like to end with a quote from Pope Francis himself — I think Matthew paraphrased it above. I know you’re Protestant, but it feels so right for you. From a long essay by Andrew Sullivan, Deep Dish, Dec. 17 (behind a $12 paywall, but worth it! It addresses so much you speak of!). Note that Pope Francis is the head of arguably the most orthodoxy-bound, legalistic denomination, and listen to his astonishing condemnation of unbending piety:

    “In this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble…If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God.”

    God and peace be with you,
    Andrew Imlay.
    P.S. Feel free to let me know how things go…

  73. EllieRavinsky says

    AndrewImlay Thank you –that was a very caring email.  I will give that some thought and ponder what you’ve said.  I did change churches but have been too afraid to reach out or be honest about my doubts over certain teachings.  I guess I was burned bad and it’s going to take time to open up.  Thanks again, I will deeply think about all you said.

  74. AndrewImlay says

    JohnNLizP JaisonJRaju 
    John:

    It sounds like you don’t know the dictionary meaning of “tolerance”, or as Matthew used it, “Trusting in Jesus should not make us intolerant”. “Intolerant”, from the dictionary, is “not showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with”. For Jesus or God, “opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with” means “sin”. Does Jesus or God allow the existence of sin? From scanning the newspaper this morning, I’d say, certainly. Therefore, God and Jesus tolerate sin. Even if they hate it.

    Maybe you’re confusing “tolerate” with “advocate”. For instance, you tolerate your Hindu neighbors, but you don’t advocate Hinduism. Since Matthew was talking about Christians, not God, I’d say that in a nation of many religions, it’s crucial that we citizens tolerate other religions or beliefs even though they (may) constitute sin. The alternative to toleration is conversion or, failing that, eradication of other people. Cf. the Inquisition. 

    Oh– the parable of the woman caught in adultery not being stoned to death has always been a favorite of mine, so I was disappointed to find out that it was written by a transcriber centuries after the rest of the gospel.

    I hope you see that given the definition of “tolerance”, Jesus’ message was consistently one of tolerance — of not using force, shame, or power to change people. Cf. the Samaritan.

  75. AndrewImlay says

    JohnNLizP  
    John (again): Your endorsement of spiritual certainty, and judgment against people who regard such certainty with suspicion, just begs for a restatement of a quote from Pope Francis:

    “In this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble…If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God.”

  76. thesauros says

    yolf65 thesauros Yes, it’s sarcasm. All of the essentials to Christian life and belief, starting with the certainty of Creator God’s existence and including our the certainty of our salvation are found throughout the Bible. It’s how we live out that certainty (eg. sarcasm) that causes such hatred and loathing for Christians.

  77. JohnNLizP says

    AndrewImlay It sounds like you have missed the point. It doesn’t matter what the “dictionary” definition of tolerance is. We are talking about current societal trends. I am using the word tolerance in the same sense that groups who demand it have been. Tolerance has ceased to be a “live and let live” ideal and morphed into a demand for acceptance of certain behaviors as normal, equal and even preferable in some cases. This is political correctness and its not a Biblical virtue. 

    You have given no evidence of Jesus teaching either the “dictionary” version or pc version of tolerance. You have allowed yourself to be deceived and discount the scripture which is the only place that you can find the truth about who and what Jesus is. In those very pages we find Jesus using force, teaching about sin and the “shame” it brings, and warning people about the power of God’s wrath that will change everything. 

    i hope that you repent, turn to God and allow His Spirit to guide you in understanding His Word.

  78. JojoRuba says

    If we don’t have certainty, then we can’t be certain that we should love our neighbours or our enemies; Without certainty, we can’t advocate for justice or be intolerant of injustice; Without certainty, hope becomes meaningless and trust becomes unwise.

    It isn’t certainty you have a problem with, it’s what some people who are certain, do.

    The Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me (John 14:6)” wasn’t confused or uncertain. He knew what He was and is. If He wasn’t certain about that, then those of us who follow Him have a meaningless faith.

    I am certain (just like you) that there are many bad Christians (and others) who behave unChristlike because they are sure of their ideas. But it is only because I am certain that their behaviour is ungodly, that I can in anyway attempt to correct them.

  79. DavidNoahParker says

    Except Jesus didn’t ask us to correct anyone… That’s not our job, our job is to love. And loving doesn’t mean changing others

  80. azuredreamz91 says

    EllieRavinsky

    EllieRavinsky Hello, i think this pastor preaches alot of truths from God that will help you in your walk.

    Take care!
    You could email me @ zhen_cheng_91@hotmail.com too :)
    I’m not good on this website, email is good to talk :)

  81. JojoRuba says

    DavidNoahParker  Oh and if love doesn’t mean changing others, than how can we ever do the Great Commission? Certainly (there’s that word again), the Holy Spirit saves us but consider what Luke says to his friend Theophilus:

    1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of theword, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. Luke 1:1-4

    If certainty is against biblical love, then does that mean Luke is telling Theophilus right at the start of his gospel, how to be unloving because he says Theophilus can “know the exact truth” of what Jesus taught? He sounds pretty certain here, doesn’t he?

  82. JojoRuba says

    TerriKnoll DavidNoahParker So should you try to change our minds if we don’t understand this article?

    If we can never correct anyone, we can never help them become better people – in fact, we can’t help them be more like Christ. That’s not just in the gospel, that’s the heart of the Great Commission.

  83. thesauros says

    JojoRuba DavidNoahParker Since his, “It’s not loving to change anyone” was so outrageous, I thought he was just trolling.

  84. says

    2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
    1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
    1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
    1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
    1:7 And our hope of yoIu is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
    WE SHARE IN BOTH YOUR SUFFERING AND ALSO IN THE EARNEST AND JOYFUL EXPECTATION OF THE COMING OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.
    DO NOT LET THE TRIAL WHICH IS INTENDED FOR THE PERFECTING OF YOUR FAITH BECOME A TEMPTATION WHICH DRAWS US AWAY FROM OUR LORD.
    LET NO MAN SAY WHEN HE IS TEMPTED I AM TEMPTED OF GOD.

  85. says

    I am certain of many things regarding my Christian faith, and for that there is no apology.
    However; that being said we are at all times to demonstrate the love of God torwards both, believers and non believers alike that they too may become certain of if nothing else: GOD LOVES ME, CARES FOR ME, AND HAS A PLAN OF REDEMPTION FOR ME.
    My part is to continually draw closer to God that I may become conformed closer to the image of His Son whereby we are better b-ball let to demonstrate the love of God towards all mankind.
    And yes teach them ALL things that He has commanded us. Not bible-bashing but loving to life.
    May The God of ALL HOPE comfort and guide you all the days of your life as you seek to follow and know Him closer.
    IM CERTAIN THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD TO DRAW ALL MEN UNTO HIMSELF IN TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS.

  86. says

    I am certain of many things regarding my Christian faith, and for that there is no apology.
    However; that being said we are at all times to demonstrate the love of God torwards both, believers and non believers alike that they too may become certain of if nothing else: GOD LOVES ME, CARES FOR ME, AND HAS A PLAN OF REDEMPTION FOR ME.
    My part is to continually draw closer to God that I may become conformed closer to the image of His Son whereby we are better equipped to demonstrate the love of God towards all mankind.
    And yes teach them ALL things that He has commanded us. Not bible-bashing but loving to life.
    May The God of ALL HOPE comfort and guide you all the days of your life as you seek to follow and know Him closer.
    IM CERTAIN THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD TO DRAW ALL MEN UNTO HIMSELF IN TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS.

  87. deeper_still says

    Hi Matthew,

    If you really, really want to know the answer to your question, do go right ahead and ask Jesus. Why hear it second-hand? Go right back and hear what Jesus said.

    Deepak

  88. Jjoe5678 says

    I’ve often wondered that same question about you. Loved your first book, but you’ve become a complete ass, a caricature. You’ve become what you hate, a loud, angry “preacher” who mocks and ridicules anyone he disagrees with. You’re Pat Robertson for Christian hipsters! You must be proud.

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