Last night I was talking to a hungry young “seeker” who has been coming to “Coffee and Theology” for four weeks now. After class each week he patiently waits for everyone from the study to leave so that he can sit down and drill me with questions. He is not antagonistic and has no intention of showing how much he knows. I appreciate his quiet, patient demeanor. However, make no mistake about it, this guy, who cannot be over twenty-three, has thought through the issues with vigor. He will catch you off guard. This is not him trying to be a wise guy. He really knows what needs to be asked. I get the sense that he can spot a phony from ten miles away. Really, he is just a postmodern seeker who has no time for naiveté. I get the sense that if he gets any more cliché, trite answers-that-rhyme, he will just seek truth elsewhere (think “it’s training time for reigning time” or “the Bible is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” and you will be in my boat). I get the sense that he will only seek truth in a place where he can tell that people have truly wrestled with the issues.

Chuck Swindoll taught me to do everything I could to be real. Now, sometimes I don’t know which end is up in my own life, so I cannot always define what “real” is in every circumstance. However, the point is that the time for polished answers is gone. The time when every point in the sermon starts with the same letter is history (although, I admit, I still do this sometimes!). The time for feeling the pressure to answer every question is no longer on the calendar. People want you to be real. They can spot a fake. In fact, if you have too many answers, they may get up and leave. Isn’t that odd? We don’t like people who know it all. We don’t like those who immediately respond to sincere questions – those we have wrestled with for years – with a response with a red bow on it. We like things to be a little messy. We like things to be cracked. We like things to be bare, raw, unfinished, and imperfect. Kind of a “nude” theology.

Notice, I changed from the third person (“those postmoderns”) to the first person (“we”) mid-paragraph. Why? Because I am the same. I have quite a bit of postmodern blood flowing through my system. No, not in the sense that truth cannot be found. No, not in the sense that all roads eventually lead to God. No, not in the sense that hell is not a bad place to go. But in the sense that I get quite suspicious when people think they have all the answers. Know-it-alls need Jesus too, I know. However, it is harder for me to carry on conversations with pretty-boy know-it-all fresh-out-of-seminary theologians, even when it does actually seem like they know it all!

However, there are exceptions to this. There are certain people to whom I can turn and expect a solid answer, and I don’t look at them with a raised eyebrow. Why? Because they have answered “I don’t know” a time or two before. Some people already have “real” or “not naive” tattooed on their foreheads. Some have studied enough, are wise enough, and have been through the ringer called “life” enough to have informed I-don’t-knows rather than forced and less than real answers.

As I talked to the gentleman last night and discussed a dump truck full of wonderful questions, I began to think about this very stuff. You see, most of the questions that he had, I did feel like I had answers for. Relatively speaking, they were “softball” questions. However, I started to see him distancing himself, as I could tell the ink was drying on my forehead with the word “irrelevant.” It was not the answers that I was giving that were at issue. They were tried and tested and had their backing in the best of church history and biblical scholarship. However, I needed to do something to regain his confidence. After all, how did he know that I had studied this stuff? How could he know I was not just making this up in a made-to-order fashion? He doesn’t. No one ever does. They either trust you or they don’t. And it takes a while these days to gain people’s trust, especially in my business. So I decided to throw something back at him that I did not know the answer to.

“Yeah, those are great questions, the answers to which the church is united and the Bible is pretty clear. However, related to this, you know something that I have questions about? I don’t know why God ______.” (I’ll leave it blank to keep from turning this discussion into a debate about the subject that I don’t know the answer to!)

Things like this help disarm suspicion. “Disarm” is a great word. It should be a staple in evangelism 101. We need to disarm people. We all need to be very intentional about the way we share the Gospel. We need to make concession in our belief – intentional concessions – so we can be more real. Here are some suggestions:

“Here is something I don’t have the answer to…”

“Here is the major problem with my system…” (and don’t immediately try to solve it!).

“This is something that causes me to get angry with God…” (and don’t make something up for the sake of concession, like I have done before!).

“I hold to this doctrine, but not too strongly right now.”

“There is legitimate disagreement about this, and there are people smarter than me who disagree with me. So keep that in mind.”

If you cannot think of any concession, ironically, you probably need to study more. Your theology is too dressed up. I think you get what I am saying. We just want to be real. People are smarter than we often think. They can see through our sewn together fig leaf coverings. They are suspicious that you are in denial about your own theological nudity (and some people are!). And you know what? They have every right to be suspicious. We all need to be a little more transparent. Our theology is often too dressed up, covered up, and braided. Let your hair down. Make some concessions here and there for the sake of the Gospel.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    52 replies to "Theological Nudity"

    • John Metz

      Michael,
      One thing that I have found attractive about your blog is that you are very honest and transparent about yourself, where you are, and what you struggle with. This post is a good example of that quality. Thanks

    • StuartB

      That word “disarm”…it’s a good word, and I understand how you were using it…but I’ve seen “disarm” being used in the context of demolishing or negating any opinion or comment others would have.

      To disarm, to put at ease, is good, but to disarm, basically to remove your opponent’s arms, is bad.

    • Mark Thomas

      Michael,

      I have been following the Parchment & Pen Blog since I was introduced to Dan’s Greek Grammar my second year in college. All these years I have never taken time to respond to you, or the blog in general. However, after reading this post, I have to take time to say thank you for your effort as well as the other writers for the contributions to our faith and lives. I pray that Yahweh will continue to use you and increase your influence for our good and His glory.

      Regards,

      Mark

    • Doc Pagala

      It’s all too easy to get into polemics even when not trying to go there. Seekers are a bit of a challenge. They want to pick your brain to see if you believe your own convictions, yet are skeptical and often unwilling to disarm themselves of their own preconceptions or prejudices for the fear of vulnerability, pride or pet vice. John Metz conveyed my sentiment about your blogs, and I can appreciate your conviction. Not having all of the answers is what can be expected if we are honest with ourselves and others. It’s better to leave them questioning, plant the seed and move on. If they really are “seeking” then they will come back for another round when they have mulled it over. Or perhaps not, but it’s all good. God will take care of the rest.

    • Brian Osisek

      Michael nice post. True authenticity is certainly hard to find in us mortals. I know there has been times that I’ve not been truly authentic with others.

      Pride has a way of wrapping its tentacles around us and poisoning us throughly with its deadly poison. I need to be very intentional about being authentic—it seems that at times we can be less than authentic.

      I pray that God will help us to do the hard work of self-examination.

    • Ken Hall

      Is the spelling error in the title purposeful?
      I enjoyed the article. I was influenced in the same way by Ray Stedman.
      There are lots of big words I can’t remember any more. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality/Church has been very helpful lately.
      Thanks, Ken

    • Pete

      Michael, next time you get one of these folks, send them to an Orthodox church.

      We haven’t “made any concessions to the Gospel” for 2,000 years, and we are keeping it “real”.

    • Very interesting! Since I am somewhat older (I am just talking literal time here), and I lived thru the whole “existential” time of philosophy (60’s), I can say that truth must be an actual sense of enlightenment, not just experience in itself, but a time when we somewhat understand and live truth both mentally and yet too somehow empirically. Faith finds that place of existence in being, and knows.. and yet it doesn’t “know” from itself. It is here that the truth is itself something we must learn. So words, without the power of truth, mean so little. I hope I am expressing this? The point is, I guess “reality”, and the ground of just being real. But when God’s word does come, we will “know” it, and surely too experience truth! And yet faith does not recede, but it is that old “faith seeking understanding.” Anyway.. faith is sometimes “knowing” too without a lick of experience, but we know that we know, etc.

    • I.e. “know that we know”, is often just the bare Word of God, itself!

    • Ed Babinski

      Michael,

      If this person’s questions are honest and he’s intelligent, why not post and list his questions here on your open blog to let him see the kinds of answers people give them?

      You seem confident your “techniques” concerning how best to address “seekers with questions” are the way to go, when in fact if his conversion relies on some sort of technique in which you disarm his suspicions, then when he begins to meet far more Christians, and reads biblical scholarship of a wider variety, will your “technique” be the thing that keeps hm in the fold in the long run?

    • Indeed “Seekers” sometimes come to Christ, and sometimes they do not! Indeed regeneration and the “call” of God is God’s work! We are just vessels of God ourselves. (1 Cor. 3:6-7)

    • I am convinced that when we are young we think we know all the answers and it is a mark of maturity to realize we have not. I have concluded I do not know all the questions. I is important to reach the place of being honestly willing to admit that.

    • C Michael Patton

      Ed, not sure if you read the post but the “technique” as you put it is honesty. Disarm inning assumes a healthy suspicion that should be there. Honesty will gain an audience. At least it does with me. Some Christians will attempt to manufacture answers and/or convince themselves that they are more sure of things than they are. However, this is not exclusive to or even, that I can say with any authority, most prominite in Christian circles. Every does it. We often do it for our own reassurance due to our own insecurities.

      As far as posting the questions that he asked me, I have been at this blogging thing long enough to know that it would certainly detract from the main subject of this post. But none of them are unique and have been discussed on this blog quite a lot.

      Hope that helps.

    • C Michael Patton

      Pete,

      Heading East is not the best solution in my opinion. However, I can understand those who do go there sometimes. At best the Eastern mind has a strong sense of man’s finitude. I am often humored by how much we think we know. I am getting ready to start my PhD so that I can move from a .00023 to a .00024 in my knowledge base. Man and all our glory! However, that small bit that God has revealed is incredibly important, so I don’t want to come across as pessimistic or dismissive of what we can know.

    • Jeff Ayers

      A breath of fresh air…. Your attitude, your humility and your article are what is missing in the crowd of “intelligensia” (pastors, teachers, professors etc.)

      The “theological nudity” is really a need to be “transparent” by avoiding a 1.) defensive attitude, or 2.) cynical spirit as to “why” the question is being asked and overcoming the 3.) FEAR of not knowing the answer.

      I was saved in 1980 and I can count on one hand the amount of times in 32 years I have EVER received an answer to my (tough) Bible questions. (Due to a lack of TRANSPARENCY i.e. ” theological nudity” on the teachers part)

      A sample of the type of “answers” I received from my pastors, Sunday school teachers , evangelists and college professors:

      “We don’t need to worry about such things, you need to stick to the basics”

      “We have better things to do as Christians than to answer those kind of Bible questions”

      “you should be out winning souls instead of studying __________”

      “Why are you asking me this, what is your point you are trying to make?”

      OR they dodge the question
      OR they hear you ask the question, then flat out ignore you, and keep moving on with the “lesson”
      OR they get IRRITATED and act as if you are trying to “catch” them
      OR they brand you behind your back as a “trouble maker”

      I could go on and on. But as a new Christian, a babe in Christ, I was always fearful of asking questions lest I be questioned for why I am asking a…

    • Jeff Ayers

      @CMP post #8— to answer your question the title is misspelled “Theoligical” instead of “Theological”

    • Tory Green

      I like reading this blog because of posts like this. I think everyone needs to be humbled in this way I know I do. I’ve never been to seminary but an average laymen like me can get a few books read under his belt and learn some words from a greek lexicon and you think you have God and the whole universe figured out. When my wife and I had a miscarriage I tried all of the trite and pat answers to help my wife with her hurting. In the end it didn’t help her or me and I found that all of my answers were really me just smokescreening my own anger and confusion. Its comforting to have all of the answers but you end up being just really naieve. This is something that I know I want to work on in my life because I want to help people and that won’t happen if you come off as phony.

    • C Michael Patton

      Okay, I just saw the typo. It was in the graphic! Ha. Thanks for letting me know.

    • Ben Thorp

      A definite “Amen” to this post.

    • Pete

      Michael,

      Thanks and let me clarify. Many (if not most) in the West are taught to approach God from a scholastic point of view, and try “to figure out” God. They use systems (say the sinners prayer and be saved no matter what!) and predictions (remember that Gog and Magog were supposed to attack Isreal in 1984?) based on INDIVIDUAL interpretations of the Bible.

      Years (or decades later) some realize that this is impossible. First, for example, some realize that the TULIP system is bunk. Then they move toward “original” Christianity…but all the while approaching God and trying to figure Him out.

      The Eastern view is much different. From the beginning, we are open and honest in confessing our ignorance of God and His ways. For example, in our Liturgy each Sunday we hear the priest exclaim: “It is proper and right to sing to You, bless You, praise You, thank You and worship You in all places of Your dominion; for You are God ineffable, beyond comprehension, invisible, beyond understanding”.

      Certainly, Orthodox have deep theology and do not check out minds at the door. It would take lifetimes to study everything. But in the end, the Eastern way is to put the books down, go to chruch, bow down, repent, and worship. Then repeat.

      Glory to God for all things

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      Good to see you posting again. Not too much longer in school, right?!!

      This has been the major shift in my life over the past 3 years. It was hard because of my background, my foundation, my usual approach. I was very Josh McDowell like in that “the evidence demands a verdict” type approach. My goal used to be to produce a Grudem-like tome by life’s end. But not now.

      I am not sure if it was moving more away from the academy and into pastoral leadership, or moving from the US to Europe (yeah, those flaming liberals, right?!). But my whole mindset and approach has gone through a major revamp. I think there was some good stuff in the early chapters of Kenton Sparks’ book God’s Word in Human Words (well, the whole book was good). But he laid out a summary of the philosophical approaches to knowledge and truth. The modernist approach of a Cartesian-like empirical evidence-based focus just doesn’t satisfy. I believe we can reasonably and practically know God’s truth, God’s revelation of himself in Christ and Scripture. But it is far from the over-done empirical proofs of modernism.

      People can fight against, but we do live in a post-modern world. Modernism nor post-modernism are either inherently evil. They are approaches of different eras. If we want to reach people today, guess how we need to…

    • In reality, the East and EO is very mystical and has their own kind of “scholastic” (academic/intellectual) theology, i.e. “a balancing of cataphatic with apophatic theology, a hermeneutic defined by Sacred Tradition…and a therapeutic soteriology.” (Their quote)

      The West is certainly more Greco-Roman, as we can see with the Roman Hellenistic Jew, Saul/Paul, or St. Paul. And as I have noted, the EO does not teach or believe in the Pauline doctrine of Imputation, nor the Roman idea of Adoption, in which St. Paul adds in for example from Eph. 1:5, are said to be foreordained unto “adoption as sons” through Jesus Christ.

    • Ed Babinski

      Mike, If you honestly “don’t know,” but you “believe,” then it would be honest of you to put THAT in the creed:

      “We don’t know for sure, but we believe . . . ”

      Say THAT each week in church.

      I stopped going to church partly because I honestly didn’t know, and felt that reciting the creed was dishonest.

      How about adding to the Creed,

      “We believe there is salvation only for Christian believers, and prematurely deceased zygotes, fetuses, and children, and those who never got to hear the Gospel but had some love for what is good, though we don’t want to completely exclude the possibility that perhaps even some heretics, members of other relgions, agnostics and atheists might be saved via God’s mysterious will that we don’t claim to know the depths of.”

      • C Michael Patton

        No, because you are mixing warrant with knowledge. If God came down and told me to quit my job and did not tell me why, I would have warrant (because God told me) and not understanding of why. Christian belief has warrant and sometimes explanation. But sometimes it has warrant without explanation. I am warranted (indeed, necessitated), for example, to believe that God created all things out of nothing even though I cannot tell you how.

        Hope that helps adjust the creed. 🙂

    • Mr. Babinski: “Stopped going to church”? This is much further than honest unbelief: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mk. 9:24) I would challenge you to acknowledge your loss of “faith” here! I have seen and suspected this in your blog writings. This is not an attack, just seeking to help you see your own loss here! Note, even Calvin taught that the Church was the Mother of us all (The True Church With Which as Mother Of All The Godly We Must Keep Unity), as Christians. And herself, a ‘Means of Grace: Holy Catholic Church’ (Institutes, book 4. chapter 1).

      Again, a friendly and spiritual challenge! 🙂

    • Dave Z

      @Ed

      The ancient creeds start with the words “We believe…,” not “we know without a shadow of a doubt.” You already got your wish.

      Chesterton said “The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

      Myself, I’m becoming less and less concerned with what I know, and more concerned with what Paul describes as “the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ in us, deity dwelling right inside us. That, to me is one of the most amazing and powerful concepts in scripture.

      Not that we shouldn’t have an understanding of what we believe and why, and be able to present that in an effective manner, but these waters run deep and we cannot, in this life, see to the bottom. And probably not in the next life either. I think Michael is just saying we need to recognize the limits of our vision and understanding and ‘fess up about it.

      Oh, and a hearty “Amen” in Scottle’s direction.

    • Ed Babinski

      @ Dave Z, I know Chestertonianity, I used to belong to that church, its Scriptures being The Everlasting Man, and Orthodoxy, among other works. Chesterton said the atheist H.G. Wells would be in heaven. But compare Chestertonianity with the fact that early Christians rioted over creedal statements. The Arian-Athanasian riots, the Donatists versus the Catholics. If creedal statements were the same as saying, “we don’t know, we just happen to believe this,” there would have been no major disputes, and diversity of beliefs would have been the rule. Instead Christian rulers, given the chance, outlawed honest questions, declared anyone who doubted the Trinity “insane,” destroyed the works of Athanasius, Porphyry, persecuted unbelievers, pagans, Jews, witches, heretics, apostates, all of which were stigmatized and/or persecuted since Christianity’s earliest days. The OT taught that anyone who even “tempts” you to worship other gods should be stoned to death, and Yahweh even slaughters his own chosen people on numerous occasions for various reasons. In the NT people are cursed, called anathema, turned over to Satan, and warnings galore appear concerning the dangers of following other Christs. And Jesus is depicted spewing lackluster Christians out of his mouth. In Acts a husband and wife, both church members are struck dead instantly, and in 1 Cor Paul says that “many of you [Christians] are ill and some have fallen asleep” due to God’s judgment. So your response is…

    • Ed Babinski

      @Father Robert, I acknowledged my lack of belief decades ago.

      @Michael, Albert Schweitzer called Christian apologetics “cooked and fragile” thinking. I agree. Also, I suggest that you study the history of disputes over doctrine. Only after the Enlightenment period did people begin to acknowledge honest doubts about such things as the inspiration of Scripture (Deists). Prior to that there was only marginal room for the kind of honestly and acknowledgment of questions that Evangelicals claim to have achieved today. As questions are acknowledged, and some governments no longer use force to maintain unanimity of religious belief, diversity of opinion continues to grow, and churches are forced to acknowledge more questions still, in order to attract people who are well aware that we no longer live in a world of doctrinal religious creedal inerrant “answers.” More people switch churches now too, not just in order to marry someone of another religion. And people who admit they don’t go to church are also on the rise. I doubt most people today can name the four Gospels, let alone even recite a creed. But in history religious doctrines and creedal beliefs used to be held far more vigorously, and to deny them in the company of others could have consequences. Today you sit down and tell people “I don’t know,” when they ask sticky questions. And you hope you haven’t offended them, or that they won’t leave when you start to preach. Christianity has been defanged by…

    • C Michael Patton

      Okay, but my comment stands. Warrant is the distinction. People could have argued all day long over many things (and I teach and have wrote on all of these—especially the diversity and reasons for it—and I am not so gloom about it). But they did not dispute the resurrection of Christ. Lots of people obviously don’t believe so no use quoting a non-believer about the validity of Christian apologetics (any more than me quoting William Lane Craig an the invalidity of atheist apologetics!).

      However, this post is about theological humility about the (many) things we don’t know. Not warrant for our faith in general. I appreciate you asking questions here if you really have them, but let’s keep to the topic if we can.

    • @Ed Babinski: Yes, I was told this, so why do you even hang around? Btw, there is simply nothing worse or more fearful than apostasy! And yet the apostate could care less! Yes, I am one that still believes in the doctrine of a Sovereign Holy God! And like Plato, I believe that the soul of man cannot undergo annihilation! Calvin, was perhaps, since the Reformation one of the greatest souls to stand for Christ, certainly fallible, he was however like the Apostle Paul, with guts and glory, toward the doctrine of God! This spirit is a gift from God Himself. I would rather believe God, than seek to understand Him.

    • Teleologist

      Chesterton said the atheist H.G. Wells would be in heaven. But compare Chestertonianity with the fact that early Christians rioted over creedal statements. The Arian-Athanasian riots, the Donatists versus the Catholics.

      I don’t know what you think you’ve discovered here but all you’ve done is to point out bad “human” behavior. This is not exclusive to people who call themselves Christians. As a matter of fact Christianity is the only one that provides an answer to these bad behaviors, in that one needs to repent and accept Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and savior because we can’t save ourselves. On the other hand if you are an atheist then there is no such thing as bad or good morality. It doesn’t matter how vociferous or belligerent you rant and protest to this reality, but this is a fact. Outside of God/Christianity, human beings are nothing more than the random collection of star stuff. We are formed by the random collision of atoms, without purpose and without meaning. Life is absurd and the fundamental question is should we commit suicide. “Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” – Bertrand Russell. While Christians might not be able to answer every question to everyone’s satisfaction, it is still far more satisfying then the sublime irrationality and absurdity of atheism. No one is more delusional than the atheist.

    • Teleologist

      Instead Christian rulers, given the chance, outlawed honest questions, declared anyone who doubted the Trinity “insane,” destroyed the works of Athanasius, Porphyry, persecuted unbelievers, pagans, Jews, witches, heretics, apostates, all of which were stigmatized and/or persecuted since Christianity’s earliest days.

      And given the chance, we all know that atheists would never demonstrate any bad behaviors. It isn’t like atheists would deny tenure to professors who question Darwinism, silent their critics by denying their ability to publish, deny their ability to pursue post graduate degrees, denying Christians the ability to demonstrate their faith in public venues, accuse religious parent of child abuse for exposing them to their religious beliefs. On the contrary atheists are the bastion of open and tolerance to critics who question their core beliefs.

    • Ed Babinski

      @Michael, If “they” didn’t dispute the resurrection of Christ then why does Matthew end with “some doubted?” Why is there a story in the fourth Gospel about Jesus making a special trip back to show himself to one person, doubting Thomas–apparently the message of that late tale was to inspire people with doubts believe they are “more blessed if they can believe the story without seeing the raised Jesus.” Why does Paul have to dispute the matter of “how we are raised,” and fails to describe precisely what he saw, only to say, “Jesus appeared to me” (Acts is a later tale about what Paul saw/heard, and not written by Paul). It looks like there were doubts early on, which later Gospels tried cover up by providing new stories about the raised Jesus offering people to touch him (John), eating fish and “not a spirit” (Luke) and eating with his disciples for several weeks before ascending into the sky (Acts). Those are late tales. Crossan mentions that the story of Jesus’ burial in a tomb continues to grow from a hasty burial and Jesus not being anointed in Mark to a glorious amount of spices, the burial of a true king in John. Crossan argues that prior to Mark’s hasty burial tale the truth is probably that Jesus was laid in a common grave by the Romans and Mark’s story arose purely out of hope that Jesus avoided at least that fate. Crossan makes his case about five minutes before the interview ends here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story

    • Michael: Imagine you have supposed questions from an apostate, coming over and over. And this is also one of the reasons I myself at least, am a presuppositionalist as to Holy Scripture. Let the Scripture speak, not evidential “ideas” and mere questions of unbelief.

    • mbaker

      Ed,

      While I can agree with you on the present church’s lack of real conviction, because they are presently trying to placate others, IMO, to gain converts. However I don’t think it is a matter of church or pragmatic methods one way or the other.

      For example , I have to have faith every day I drive that others, Christian or not, will stop at stop signs and red lights and stay in their own lanes and obey the speed the limit. or won’t try to set off a bomb on an airplane, or at other public venue, like a football or basketball game, or in any other place all of us might frequent.

      For me, at least that takes a lot more faith in my fellow man than what is said against Christianity, or questioned about it.

      So , I would rather take my chances with Christ, who is consistent, than rely on on my fellow man who isn’t, and that includes many Christians.

      Sure, you may have heard this all before many times before, but that’s okay. Just my personal two cents, for whatever it’s worth.

    • C Michael Patton

      Ed, the history of the church has been united about the resurrection. There will always be some who doubt, including myself. The doubting in the New Testament (and it’s recording) illustrate the point of this post. They were naked in their testimony! It’s a mark of historicity. I would have more concern if it were too clean.

      But, again, this post is simply about authenticity. While I appreciate if you have questions, your post resemble “trolling” more than the dialogue we aspire to have. So please remain on topic. Feel free to ask me questions about the importance of transparency in a postmodern world.

    • Steve Martin

      Ed,

      They saw him raise the dead…and yet did not believe.

      Whos is the gospel meant for? For those who ‘hear it’.

    • JOHN FORD

      Michael:

      I’ve followed your Ministry for the past 3-4 years and took your “Theology Program” here in CT where I live. If you don’t realize it. Your addmission of “Theological Nudity” makes you the real deal!

      Thanks for all you do.

      John

    • I wonder what would have happened to Christianity if the Apostle Paul would have said, I think I saw the Risen Jesus? Or did I just have an hallucination, an illusion? But thankfully we have St. Paul’s statements in 1 Cor. 15, and I will just quote a few verses: “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is not true that the dead are not raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have this hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Cor. 15: 12-19)

      But thank God St. Paul knows better, and continues on to proclaim what we Anglicans have called for centuries: “in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection..in Christ!” And so with St. Paul we can KNOW by faith, that indeed Christ has been raised from the dead, as too Paul himself had seen and given testimony! “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15:20)

      Indeed “in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to…

    • And btw, I am not myself one of those who “doubts” in the Resurrection of Christ, or in the Incarnation and deity and divinity of Jesus Christ! I see my faith as a ‘sure and certain’ gift, and I praise and thank God for it! (Eph. 2: 10) But I am the first to sign-up for the “mystery” of the faith, but to “doubt” one piece of it? Thankfully by the grace of God, I never have! And oh yes, on a personal level God and I have had our many up’s and down’s, but GOD has always been consistent, I have been the one inconsistent! But thankfully again, by faith (deeply existential & mystical, again God’s), I see Christ in the glory, for ME! (Heb. 9:24) It is here too, that Col. 1:27 is also very real for me…”the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” John Wesley used to say, ‘the inner witness’, if you don’t have that, perhaps you don’t have Christ? (Rom. 8: 16, etc.)

      I have been a bit hard on MR. ED, but as a pastor-teacher shepherd I must, for he is sowing doubt and unbelief! We can see in Scripture how Paul handled these kind of men and people (2 Tim. 2: 16-18 ; note too, 1 Tim. 1:19-20). And surely one can see the “shipwreck” our friend Ed has made of his faith! Yes today this is not a popular position, but we as Christians are not here to be “popular”, and even always here to “dialogue”, but to speak truth and faithfulness, as ‘In Christ’! And of course as Paul said, “in love”, as much as we can.

    • Steve Martin

      Personally, I’m long past the time of getting upset when I encounter an unbeliever who refuses to see the light.

      Jesus told us to buckle down and be more convincing through better arguments.

      No…no…I guess he didn’t. He said, “move on”. The universe doesn’t hinge on whether someone believes or not. And as Jesus told Niccodemus…it isn’t up to us to make it happen, anyway. The Spirit of God opens hearts and ears and minds…not our wit or winsomeness or wills.

    • Ed Babinski

      Thanks for all the responses guys!

      1) I should consider that the controversies of the early church over doctrines mean nothing because bad things are done by people, and you can’t blame Christians for being people. REPLY: My point was that such controversies were never resolved, they were made illegal, and alternative views were criminalized. Controversies over everything from Jesus’ divinity to the resurrection remain with us today. Read James D. G. Dunn or Dale Allison, or other biblical scholars. The works of early Christian “heretics” and early critics of Christianity only survive today in portions excerpted by Christians who tried to reply to such works. The works of Arius and Porphyry were destroyed by laws that were enforced by Christian Roman emperors. But today as I said the controversies remain, without laws to prevent them from remaining controversies.

      2) I should hope in some sort of mystery, not trust logic. REPLY: I’m agnostic. I have a hope unrelated to any particular religion. I’m agnostic about NDEs as well since they are varied and don’t prove the truth of any particular religion. Most people who are revived don’t even remember having an NDE at all. People also have NDE-like experiences simply by taking ketamine, or falling unconscious after g-force training in a machine.

    • Ed Babinski

      Steve Martin says “Ed, They saw him raise the dead…and yet did not believe.”

      REPLY: The earliest Gospels contain only the story of a girl near death in Mark and recently dead in Matthew, same story. And she rose while inside a house. It’s in the last written Gospel were Jesus raises someone dead for days who “stinketh.” And that story remains suspect for a variety of reasons. 1) It appears to be constructed out of previous Gospel tales, like a parable in Luke. In a similar fashion the fourth Gospel author seems to have constructed his tale of the anointing by mixing earlier Gospel tales of Jesus’ anointing. 2) The Fourth Gospel author makes the raising of Lazarus the reason why the Jews seek to have Jesus executed. But in the earlier Gospels the Jewish leaders seek to have Jesus executed because of the ruckus Jesus raised in the Temple. But the Fourth Gospel writer moves that episode to the start of his Gospel. So it looks like the Fourth Gospel writer is introducing a new miracle story. He also begins his Gospel with a new first miracle of Jesus, the turning of water into wine. There are many reasons why scholars do not take the fourth Gospel as seriously as say, Mark, the one that they believe to be prior to all the Gospels.

    • Ed Babinski

      Father Rpbert’s fears of other people’s beliefs that differ from his own are palpable. Presuppositionalism is not a means to facillitate discussion, but to strangle it. No wonder so many Reconstructionists are presuppositionalists and say such things as “rocks are cheap, we should stone homosexuals with them as the Bible dictates” (Rushdooney), or, “Stoning disobedient children in their mid-teens should be legalized.” (another Chalcedonian preacher). I am paraphrasing them, but their exact statements are online. I’ve definitely read such things.

    • C Michael Patton

      Ed, though I have not kept up on this except the lat two, your outright dismissal of things by non substantive “this is probably made up not only lacks argumentative force of any kind, but is a simple conversation stopper. I suppose you could get it over with in much fewer words and just assert that any thing that supports the evangelical confessions in any historic area is “probably made up.” It may not convince anyone but it may show the hand of your presuppositions.

    • Charisse

      “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl 2:9)

      We know postmodernism is nothing new. It is our continual struggle to try and understand that which makes no sense, humanly speaking. Praise be to God for His mercy in subjecting us to futility with the HOPE that we will turn to Christ. (Rom 8:20)

      “The secret things belong to the Lord out God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law”(Deut 29:29) God in His precious Word has provided all we need for it to be sufficient.(2 Tim 3:16) However, to suggest we know everything would be as you said theologically dishonest. But, the comfort is in knowing Who our God is and His character. He loves His own and anything that happens to His beloved is for their ultimate good. This is why we can rest in our Good Shepherds arms as Phillip Keller so wonderfully expressed in “A Shepherds look at Psalm 23”.

      Anyway, the sadness are those without the Holy Spirit who cannot understand the things of God.(1 Cor 2:14) Perhps God will grant them understanding and repentance through faith in His precious son Christ Jesus.

    • @Michael & Steve: Sorry, mates, it’s hard to be kind to pseudointellectualism and supposed scholarship, which does not seek real evidence or dialogue, but masks (sort of) behind its own presupposition of unbelief! I have grown wary of such people. Indeed apostasy is very real today, there is nothing worse than someone who really hates “truth”, and in reality just does not WANT truth! I can see only the Adversary behind such! It it always the same, “Has God said?” Often we forget the spiritual nature of this whole reality, the world and the age we live in is simply but profoundly fallen. And we have nothing really but the absolutes of God’s revelation, both the “rhema” and the Logos of God!

      Yes, I was a “theonomist” once, as I was a Royal Marine, both kinda stand near the absolutes of God, and Law of God! I am thinking of an old Sgt. Major! 😉

    • I did my share of work on Rudolf Bultmann for awhile (years ago), and though I don’t agree with his “form criticism”, his existential theology was essentially kergmatic, which sought or saw individual salvation in terms of life changes produced by the kerygma or the proclaimed WORD! I would myself not call this agnosticism by Bultmann, but a believe in a form of scientific (so-called) theology. I myself don’t see this depth in form criticism, but the depth of the “existential” is real in Christian spirituality and even a Christian mysticism! But, unbelief is always just that, no matter what smoke-screens one puts in front of it!

    • NW

      Ed,

      (1) What does it matter that the works of early Christian heretics have been destroyed, it’s not as if their contributions would’ve carried the same historical and/or theological weight as the writings of the NT. More to the point, nothing of great importance to a critical investigation of the Christian faith depends on non-canonical writings produced in the 2nd century or beyond.

      (2) The case for the existence of a non-material soul as well as an afterlife for human consciousness on the basis of NDEs is much better than you’re letting on. If you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend Carter’s “Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death” for a comprehensive treatment of the evidence to date.

      (3) Your speculations about the gospel of John are just that and can be safely ignored.

      (4) I agree with you about presuppositionalism.

    • NW

      Ed,

      As per CMP’s main entry, we Christians freely admit that we don’t have all the answers. Perhaps the most that can be said for the Christian faith is that it holds up surprisingly well when subjected to critical scrutiny (unlike every other religion) and boasts a decent argument for the historicity of its central miracle in the resurrection of Jesus (even Allison grants this). What more can one want given the reality of our situation!

      On the other hand, the worldview that tries to explain reality solely in physical terms is almost certainly false for many good reasons.

    • Teleologist

      @Ed

      Ed: My point was that such controversies were never resolved, they were made illegal, and alternative views were criminalized. Controversies over everything from Jesus’ divinity to the resurrection remain with us today.

      You’ve demonstrated you lack any rational objectivity on this issue. Just because you know a bit more about Christian history than your atheist friends does not mean you can think logically, because while you attack Christians for outlawing dissenting criticisms, you blindly do the same to those who criticize and dissent from Darwinism. You outlaw scientists from offering dissenting evidence to Darwinism. You outlaw them from offering an alternative theory to Darwinian evolution. You persecute anyone who dares to question the atheistic Darwinian theocracy. But what makes you blind and lack any credible objectivity on this issue is that you don’t see any parallel between what you are doing and what you attack the Christians for doing.

      2) I should hope in some sort of mystery, not trust logic.

      No one is asking you to “not trust logic” and hope for mystery. No one relies more on magic then an atheist or agnostic who is a practicing atheist anyway. If you think this is what Christianity is about then it just demonstrate that you don’t understand Christianity.

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