Thursday, March 04, 2010


Continuing...[Why? Check the last post.]

8. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

7. You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs - though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend eternity in an infinite hell of suffering. Yet, you consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

Remember our guidelines for comments. [Check last post again..]

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


It seems, as these points which you are sharing indicate, that atheists have some good reason to say that the witness of those claiming to be Christian is less than convincing.

As abundant knowledge "about the Bible, Christianity, and church history" (#10)doesn't make one a Christian, neither does the ability to speak in tongues.

On the other hand, some of those whom I am proud to call brethren, do speak in tongues and show more evidence of saving grace than some who don't.

I believe that genuine followers of Christ ARE 'most "tolerant" and "loving"'(of course that raises some pertinent questions),but, as in #8, the obvious lack of evidence gives every reason for atheists to be very cynical.

The measure of a Christian is not what he claims to believe, but how that belief is expressed in relationships with others (Mark 12 29-31; Rom.13:9).

Chris Ryan said...

Well what's left to say after Aussie John posts a comment like that?!

The miraculous was hardly proof in Jesus' time, it certainly isn't definitive proof in our own. Anyone can babble like a lunatic. Others will really speak in tongues. How do we distinguish? Very difficult for those of us not gifted with interpretation.

But God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. I don't presume to believe that will be those who believe in the Christian doctrines as I do. God is not so parocial. All we can do is point people down the sure path. It is God's part to have mercy.

Paul Burleson said...

"Well what's left to say after Aussie John posts a comment like that?!"

Chris, my thoughts entirely.

You guys, along with all on the comments on the first post, are doing exactly what I desired with this. Showing a respectful, thoughtful dialogue can be had with those who have, as Assie John said so well, "every reason [for atheists] to be very cynical."

You are further evidence that what Aussie John said here..."The measure of a Christian is not what he claims to believe, but how that belief is expressed in relationships with others" being put on full display here.

Gosh..this is good..and fun.

Lee said...

If you look through Paul's visits to the various churches in Acts, especially beginning with the Macedonian call and going through to Ephesus, the only place where tongue speaking and healing is mentioned is when they arrived at Ephesus. That was a place where there was also a lot of witchcraft and sorcery, and the tongues and healing were a movement of the Holy Spirit that the people steeped in the local culture could understand and relate to. There were no tongues in Philippi, or Berea or Thessaonika or Corinth.

And I really like that statement, "The measure of a Christian is not what he claims to believe, but how that belief is expressed n relationships with others." I Peter 3 speaks of having a hope within you that is so visible, outsiders ask you for the reason you have it, and I think that says it all. What the world sees in most Christians are the flaws, the air of superiority, the anger, the conflict, the insistence on having their own selfish way, but none of that is the true essence of the Christian faith.

traveller said...

Aussie John, I will make it unanimous not anything further to add to your comment.

So, at the risk of taking us in a different direction I will comment off of something from Chris Ryan's comment, "The miraculous was hardly proof in Jesus' time, it certainly isn't definitive proof in our own."

This idea is not original with me but I do not recall who to give the credit to for the thought. The thought was that the miracles of Jesus, while certainly demonstrating the power of God and Jesus as a part of the Trinity, were not really for that purpose but to show us what the world would be like when God's Kingdom was completely restored and that this was being inaugurated with the coming of Jesus and his resurrection. So, healing, the casting our of demons, etc. were to show us the new heavens and new earth would not include these results of the fall as a consequence of God's redemption. (Revelation 21:3-5)

Paul Burleson said...

Good thoughts all.

Just one additional one.

I've always thought that Acts 2:22 was a good capsule form of the purposes for the miraculous.

Miracles...the activity of God. [When God accts it is a miraculous thing done.]

Wonders...the awesomeness of God. [When God acts it's an awesome thing to behold.]

Signs...The authentication of God. [When God acts often it demonstrates that it really is God present performing things.]

The gospel of John is the record of seven "signs" that this really is God present. Remember that John ends with the declaration that if ALL He did had been recorded then the world COULDN'T contain the books. So the question is begged.."Why did John choose thse seven?"

Just a thought!! Probably too simplistic but it always been fun to think about that way.

[My word opposed to k-mart. I would presume referencing the quality of my thought. ;)]

Aussie John said...


'eavenly thoughts!

Chris Ryan said...


You may be right.

But I wonder if the "signs" are more "signs of the times" than signs assuring this is of God. Especially in John.

Each of the "signs" take place during major Jewish feasts around major Jewish customs. It is as if Jesus is trying to show that "these times they are a'changin'." Each sign points to a break between the old and the new way of understanding God in the world.

traveller said...

Paul and Chris, interesting thoughts. I tend to lean toward Chris' thought on signs. It seems that Jesus' coming is the herald of new creation. Things are changing as a result of Jesus' arrival in creation. With his resurrection it is the dawning of the coming dominion of God over creation that will be fulfilled at the return of Jesus. All that resulted from the fall is now being reversed. Sin, death, shame, evil, are all defeated with the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Now, that's a hope worth living out every day.

Paul Burleson said...


Again, good stuff.

I do think the gospel of John is different from the synoptics in that there is a universal approach to who and what Jesus is about. Thus there are several events that the other three do not record. For example, a whole chapter was given to His encounter with the Samaritan woman the other three gospels do not mention. You also find John referencing how the Greeks went up to the worship of the Temple. He emphasizes Christ speaking even to Greeks. You do not find that in the other Gospels.

In fact, I read one person who said this.."Now the apostle John is writing long after, say 61 C.E. or 70 C.E. (after the destruction of Jerusalem) is now calling the festivals "the Jewish festivals." There seems to be a definite change. He seems to be emphasizing Gentile things. His whole geography is Gentile. His explanations of Hebrew expressions show that he was primarily speaking to Gentiles."

So this verse..."And many other signs [or miracles] truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN [he only gave a few], that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name"... The Jewishness of the Messiahship [with all the implications that go with it] is stated but then the divine nature of that Messiah is announced in keeping with the universal nature of redemption and the new work being accomplished.

So guys it may be that both ideas may have their place in the purpose of these seven.

I'm always reminded how Ron Dunn used to say "Some believed Jesus would come from Bethlehem. Some thought Egypt. Others Nazareth.

Ron would say how the Bethlehem believers argued for their view, the Nazareth group theirs and the Egypt group theirs. Who was right? All of them.

I laugh everytime I think of him telling that to put to rest arguments [which we're not doing thank the Lord] over minor points of biblical thought.