Dr. John Warwick Montgomery responds to Bart Ehrman’s latest book, Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:11
Tom Brady has anything & everything a person could want in this world. He has the money, the cars, the girl, the house, the Super Bowl rings, the fame…yet he still feels there’s more to life.
Sometimes the answer is simple, but I wonder if he’d be willing to accept it?
John 4:1-14 (The Message):
Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee. To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon. A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.) The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.) Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?” Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
This is footnote #18 from a chapter in my book. I reference it a lot in conversation, so I am posting it here for ease of reference without having people — nor myself — having to search through pages or programs to see it. Enjoy:
I like to say, “I am a Baptist at heart, just not in dress or drink.” Which is a humorous way of saying I am a product of the hippie/boomer generation while at the same time I very much enjoy doctrinal orthodoxy. Being at a church that defends the major aspects of the faith and allows at the same time the grace and space needed to grow and learn — which often times is a lifetime — has been a blessing. So what we defend is God the Father and the Revelation He gave us (the Bible), Jesus Christ the Son and the work he wrought on the Cross for us, and the Holy Spirit and the daily regeneration He works in us. Let me, if you will, share a response to a young man whom contacted me via email. He seemed a bit confused and almost demanded that people know and accept inerrancy before taking them as believers. Here is my response to him, it is long but still in abridged form:
I myself am still learning about theology, God, relationships in the Body, etc. What I believed about God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit 10-years ago I have matured in. Would you have run me through a list of doctrinal beliefs (10-years ago) and if we didn’t agree on this list would I be your friend? Would I be allowed a place in your church to be able to hash out life issues, theology, and the like; a place where relationships can grow and spurn understanding and deeper knowledge about God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit as well as all the dynamics (or egos) between the body of Christ? I suspect, because I am a finite being, that in 10-years from now I will have matured and reformulated peripheral beliefs about my faith as well as growing in understanding of the shared Christian’s doctrinal foundations. In fact, Paul says that we look through a clouded mirror and that one day we will see as we are seen. I will not fully comprehend everything I need to until I stand before my Creator. On that day I suspect that even the knowledge of this perfect theology will give way to that relationship I was originally intended for. Dennis Prager has a neat saying, he says often to “not let the perfect get in the way of the good.” That small sentence has a big meaning. When I first started going to this church 12-years ago [from the date of this writing], I tested my pastor. One of my tests I gave was this question during general conversation (thinking all-the-while that it would reveal an all-important issue that would tell me if he was orthodox or not): “do you believe that Noah’s flood was universal.” He responded back that he “didn’t see an issue with the Flood being local.” For years that bugged me and I thought that while I enjoyed his preaching I didn’t agree with his stance on a Biblical issue that was crucial in my mind’s eye. During this time my wife and I were reunited after three-years of separation, this three-time felon went to seminary — in other words, God was working on me. I finally was in a deep conversation with him and others in a membership class and it hit me like a ton of bricks. He mentioned that separating on issues like the age of the earth is not important in the grand scheme of things (salvation), although they are fun and interesting topics to discuss, and he enjoys doing such with members who are mature enough not to find a church that they think is “perfect.” (Don’t ruin the good with the perfect, in other words.) What is important is what God the Father provided us with, what Jesus accomplished on the cross (and thusly who He is), and how the Holy Spirit is regenerating our lives through Him and the body of Christ, the kinesthetics of God touching our lives, so-to-speak. God won’t deny a person into heaven if he or she believes the earth to be 4.5 billion years old… they nor I will not really care how old the earth is at that point anyhow — he or she gets in because they know Jesus, not doctrine. Jesus is preeminent, doctrine is secondary. Secondary in that it may take a life-time in a healthy-well-balanced church to really know and understand doctrine. My pastor, I found out later, is a committed young-earth creationist like myself, after finding this out I felt embarrassed about my list of questions I asked 12-years ago. There are people that I rub shoulders with at church that do not believe the following like my or I believe. In fact, they may never learn how to express this truth as well as Norman Geisler until the day they die:
Holy Scripture, as the inspired Word of God witnessing authoritatively to Jesus Christ, may properly be called infallible and inerrant. These negative terms have a special value, for they explicitly safeguard crucial positive truths. Infallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and [a]reliable rule and guide in all matters. Similarly, inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions. We affirm that canonical Scripture should always be interpreted on the basis that it is infallible and inerrant. However, in determining what the God-taught writer is asserting in each passage, we must pay the most careful attention to its claims and character as a human production. In inspiration, God utilized the culture and conventions of his penman’s milieu, a milieu that God controls in His sovereign providence; it is misinterpretation to imagine otherwise. (Geisler)
However, if conversation comes up with a person or family of our church who doesn’t know all the aspects of the doctrine of inerrancy/infallibility, they may know at least this much after a discussion with myself or another person whom loves theology: “that inerrancy means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact” (Grudem). In case you didn’t catch what that sentence meant, it means that the Bible always tells the truth, and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about (Grudem). However, to run down a list with a family that has gone to the church for 2-years, or for 10-years about where they stand on inerrancy would cause more harm than good in my mind’s eye. These persons need a safe environment where they can grow, disagree, hash things out, learn, inculcate… all the while learning about the essentials in unity, in the non-essentials have liberty, but in all things they do, try to do in love (Rupertus Meldenius/Augustine).
Here is a great example of the sexual revolutions idea that gender was a social construct, or that gender is neutral. This idea has crept into secular psychological ideas of gender, which make even schools in California handle this topic improperly:
A plan that has been launched in the California state Assembly again could be used to ban references to “mom” and “dad” in public schools statewide by prohibiting anything that would “reflect adversely” on the homosexual lifestyle choice.
It’s similar to a plan WND reported was approved by lawmakers last year, but fell by the wayside when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.
“SB 777 forcibly thrusts young school children into dealing with sexual issues, requiring that homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality be taught in a favorable light,” according to an alert issued by the Capitol Resource Institute.
“Not only does SB 777 require that classroom instruction and materials promote and embrace controversial sexual practices, it also bans school-sponsored activities from ‘reflecting adversely’ on homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals,” the group said.
“Pushing this radical homosexual agenda in California schools will stifle the truth in favor of political correctness and will inevitably conflict with the religious and moral convictions of both students and parents,” said CRI Executive Director Karen England. “The full ramifications of this sweeping legislation could affect the entire nation as most textbook companies tailor their material to their number one purchaser: California.”
She noted that Los Angeles schools already have implemented most of the proposals now pending for districts across the state, and among the changes are:
- “Mom” and “dad” and “husband” and “wife” would have to be edited from all texts.
- Cheerleading and sports teams would have to be gender-neutral.
- Prom kings and queens would be banned, or if featured, would have to be gender neutral so that the king could be female and the queen male.
- Gender-neutral bathrooms could be required for those confused about their gender identity.
- A male who believes he really is female would be allowed into the women’s restroom, and a woman believing herself a male would be allowed into a men’s room.
- Even scientific information, such has statistics showing AIDS rates in the homosexual community, could be banned.
“It’s embarrassing that we’ve got kids who can’t pass their exit exams, but we add all sorts of complications [to school],” she told WND.
She cited an informational document published by the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the Transgender Law Center. ….
“If you want to use a restroom that matches your gender identity you should be allowed to do so,” it advises. “Whenever students are divided up into boys and girls, you should be allowed to join the group or participate in the program that matches your gender identity as much as possible.”
Further, the groups advise, “If you change your name to one that better matches your gender identity, a school needs to use that name to refer to you.” …
This also about gender neutral bathrooms:
Textbooks would have to be rewritten to eliminate references to the traditional family-or at least give equal time and preference to homosexual roommates as is given to a man and woman in a committed marriage relationship. References to “mom and dad” or “husband and wife” could be banned as discriminatory.
- Gender-neutral bathrooms could be required, to accommodate those students who are confused about their gender identity.
- Cheerleading and sports activities would not be permitted to have gender distinctions.
- Schools could be prohibited from having a “prom king and queen,” to avoid showing bias based on gender and sexual orientation. Or, schools could be required to crown a female “king,” which is something that nearly happened at Fresno High School when transgender student, Cinthia Covarrubias, born a female, decided she would run for prom “king” instead of queen. The issue became moot when Ms. Covarrubias was not elected by the student body.
- Teachers might be barred from stating their support for traditional marriage. AIDS statistics, including disproportional infection rates in the homosexual community, could be considered taboo.
“Pushing this radical homosexual agenda in California schools will stifle the truth in favor of political correctness and will inevitably conflict with the religious and moral convictions of both students and parents,” said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute. “The full ramifications of this sweeping legislation could affect the entire nation as most textbook companies tailor their material to their number one purchaser: California.”
For more on this topic, go to my old site:
There are other tags in those posts that may apply as well. Continuing in this vein the Gay/Lesbian/Trans-sexual undercurrent (not all, but many) subscribe to this idea in some form or fashion. They believe through an operation and hormonal treatments that they can truly dodge nature, some would say God. But all too often something traumatic has happened that drive these people to poor choices in their life. This naturalistic (neo-Darwinian) view of psychology and nature IS what is hurting these young kids the most. When they need friends to love and to help them through all their life’s journey’s… instead they receive wholesale codependency on acceptance of one’s behaviors enables people to enter further into self-delusion. While I will never be able to do this topic justice in this short post, nor in the small clip from a larger these that I am about to quote from, it should engender some deeper thinking [outside the box] for friendships to foster a healthy bond that would allow for times of honesty and not just wholesale acceptance. Here is a quote about some of the issues involved in my last paragraph:
The Role of Self-Labeling
This brings us to the psychologically dangerous decision to identify oneself as a different species of man: “I am a homosexual.” As if the essence of that existence were different from that of heterosexuals. It may give a sense of relief after a period of struggle and worry, but at the same time it is defeatist. The self-identified homosexual takes on the role of the definitive outsider. It is, in fact, a tragic role. Quite different from a sober and realistic self-appraisal: I have these fantasies and feelings, still I resist taking on the role and identity of “homosexual”.
That role brings certain rewards, to be sure. It makes one feel at home among fellow homosexuals. It temporarily takes away the tension of having to fight homosexual impulses, and yields the emotional gratifications of feeling unique and tragic—however unconscious that may be—and, of course, of having sexual adventures. Recalling her discovery of the lesbian subculture, an ex-lesbian writes about the “sense of belonging” it gave her: “As though I had come home. I had found my true peer group [recall the homosexual’s childhood drama of feeling the outsider]. Looking back now, I see how needy we all were—a group of misfits who had finally found a niche in life” (Howard 1991, 117). The coin has another side, however. Real happiness, let alone inner peace, is never found that way. Restlessness will increase, as will the feeling of an inner void. Conscience will send out its disquieting and persistent signals. For it is a false “self” the unhappy person has identified with. The door to the homosexual “way of life” has opened. Initially, it is a seducing dream; in time it turns out to be a terrible illusion. “Being a homosexual” means leading an unreal life, ever farther away from one’s real person.
“Self-labeling” is greatly stimulated by the propaganda that repeats that many people simply “are” homosexual. But homosexual interests are often, perhaps usually, not constant. There are highs and lows; periods when the person has more or less heterosexual feelings may alternate with fits of homosexuality. Certainly, many youngsters and young adults who did not cultivate the self-image of “being homosexual” have thereby prevented themselves from developing a full-fledged homosexual orientation. Self-labeling, on the other hand, reinforces the homosexual side, especially when it is only in its beginnings, and starves the heterosexual component. It is important to recognize that about half of homosexual men can be regarded as bisexuals and the proportion among women is even larger. (pp. 23-24)
In this process of self-diagnosis and enabling from peers and philosophical naturalistic assumptions via secular society, these young men and women have violence done to them by the silence of shallow relationships. By shallow I mean that there isn’t a bond built between the person’s involved to challenge foundational beliefs that would in the long-run help the person more than hinder them… that is truly coming to terms with all aspects of one self and maybe what led that person to believe he or she is homosexual. (Alcoholics family and friends often fall into the same behavior at times, that is, acting as enablers.)
What follows is a 24-minute interview with Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon, who has some great insights on this topic (his articles can be found here):
I was at Starbucks and overheard a conversation (more like a monologue) between an elderly gentlemen, 55[+], and a kid about 19-years old. The 19-year old was sitting in Starbucks reading his Bible when an older man sat next to him and almost “strategically” started conversation with him. As I eavesdropped after hearing key words that sparked the historian & philosophy guy in me (WWI, WWII, Germany, creation, evolution, Bible, God, Christopher Hitchens, and the like). What finally drew me into the conversation after listening to it for about 10-minutes off to one side while I was studying on the other-side (multi-tasking) was when the old guy, whom I had already realized was an atheist making a “coffee career” out of shaking 19-year olds faith, said:
- “I don’t know how anybody today can believe in the Bible.”
At this point I asked if I could join the conversation, the answer was an emphatic “yes” from the youngster. After some feeling each other out in conversation… for instance, he liked Christopher Hitchens work on atheism but not on the stance against Islamo-Fascism, I liked Hitchens on his war stance but not on his atheism. I probed a bit to see if this “scientific” (his words) gentlemen looked at any other issue but his own, so I asked since he enjoys Christopher Hitchens so, I wondered if he listened to any of the debats he had with persons on the topic of his atheism? The answer was “No.” I asked if he had read any defense of the Judeo-Christian faith since he so vehemently opposed it – to the point of railroading youngsters in a coffee shop, the answer, “No” of course. I am sorry, but I make it a point to know and understand someone else’s position before I assail it. This “straw-man” approach will come up later.
I knew he had views on Germany, Christianity, and the like… so I had prepared some integrations of it in what I knew would be discussed. After a rough start on my part I fell into my groove. The old-cantankerous-atheist mentioned that he is a firm believer in separation of Church and State. I asked him where that phrase was found, he responded with that “it didn’t matter where it was, what do I think.” Anyone who knows me knows that this is an invitation I love to hear – like a vampire waiting to be invited into the house. (I should add an aside here: after I quoted a few thinkers on the subject he gruffed that this is why he doesn’t like talking to people like me. Because, he said, I talk of what others say and this makes me look like an idiot! This will come up later.)
I responded with that the Declaration smacks of religious philosophy, the Constitution was written with Natural Law in mind, Natural Law from the Judeo-Christian standpoint, and that I was religious and I vote, so there isn’t separation of church and state! There just isn’t a Federal Church. I challenged him to look into what many signers of the Bill of Rights (and the author of the First Amendment) and the Constitution did after that fateful meeting in Philadelphia and the signing of the Declaration later wrote in regards to their state constitutions. This was after he said the Founders were not religious at all and held contempt for religion. (I want to make an aside here, when people like this guy say “religion,” what he really means is Christianity.)
I merely challenged him to read the original state constitutions of the thirteen colonies and then say what he said (I didn’t inform him what those state constitutions said, but I will here for the reader):
Usually my main point by showing this is that in the least there is a disconnect with what the authors of the Bill of Rights thought was the separation of church and state versus say, silver haired atheist guy sitting in Starbucks. But in his case my point is also that the founders didn’t abhor religious ideology nor philosophy (see another blog on this topic: Who Did the Founders Quote Most?).
The old-man spoke of there not being absolute truth (a self-defeating statement), and if there were… who’s truth would it be, he challenged. I asked the young Christian kid if his laptop was on-line, so I pulled up a quote and read it aloud to the old-man after introducing the fact that Fascism never “lived” in Germany but only in Italy. In fact, Mussolini had a master’s degree in philosophy and even wrote a book in regards to some of his philosophy. In this book Mussolini defined what fascism is, he said:
I pointed out that his view on truth fits better with Mussolini’s vision rather than the Christian’s vision.
Right around this junction is when he got a little miffed and threw out the most common objection I come across, one that is almost childlike in its emoting factor. You see, people rarely ever really think about what they say, nor do they follow what they say to their logical conclusion. He said he “Doesn’t like religion because it has killed more people than any other ideology.” I interjected that another way of putting this statement is that he “rejects the Christian faith and chooses his non-belief because of all the death Christianity has caused.” He didn’t object.
- You are wrong. And if I may show you how, if you take, for example, the 7 Crusades, the 3 Inquisitions, and the Salem Witch Trials, and ad all the people killed in the name of religion during those endeavors, the World Book Encyclopedia puts the number at a high of about 100,000 people killed. Since he is an atheist, I am sure he knows what the “father of the ‘God-is-dead’ movement” said on this matter? Nietzsche said that because God has died that the Twentieth-Century was going to be the bloodiest in mankind’s history. This nineteenth-century “prophet” was right. Just in the twentieth-century alone, non-God/secular movements have killed over 100,000,000 people. Some say 166,000,000 or so (see figure 1.2).
My point here is two-fold. If you want to throw around numbers in some kind of blame game, lets do it, because the deaths caused by people who misuse their position in no way deals with whether or not that position is true or false. Secondly, if one rejects religious philosophy because of the deaths it has caused, how much more must one reject non-faith — realizing that non-faith has killed more people in 100-years than all religions did in the 1900-years preceding it.
He then mentioned that Christianity was acting against their stated goals in killing people. I agreed! Only in the Bible do you have an example of a person who lived a life that the Christian can use as a reference point to re-align himself morally to. I mentioned that a major museum had to cancel a speech by Nobel Prize winning co-founder of the Double-Helix in DNA (one of the most important scientific discoveries ever) Dr. Watson. Why? I asked him, he didn’t know. I told him that it was canceled because Dr. Watson believes the Black people have evolved from a separate branch on our evolutionary tree and are less intelligent/evolved than the Caucasian races.
I continued. This is what Hitler wrote about in Mein Kampf, that using Darwin’s thesis about the survival of the fittest and our evolutionary past, it is logical to rid (in this rat race evolutionists’ call “survival of the fittest”) the planet of such lesser animals or to view other people with such racist tendencies. Racist thinking is endemic to the theory of evolution. It is a logical outworking of it. In Christianity we have Acts saying we all came from one-man, we are all from “one-blood.” We sing, “Red, Yellow, Black and White, we are all precious in His sight!” We have a focus point to re-align ourselves with (the Bible) that the atheist doesn’t. We have an example in the life of Christ that evolution does not provide; evolution is in fact “red in tooth and claw.” Or as the quote I was referencing from Mein Kampf:
The conversation wagged on for a bit more. I defended theistic thought at times – not wanting to inundate this angry man with “Biblical thinking” as much as I wanted to challenge his foundational thinking on certain topics. Hitchens came up again as did the Iraq war. So the old-man switched gears and quoted the commandment about “Thou shall not kill.” The young Christian kid quickly showed him that the Bible actually reads “Thou shall not murder.” Which was the crux of the reason he brought it up – his misunderstanding of it, applied.
He asked, with this commandment wrongly understood in mind, if I condoned the killing in Iraq. I simply responded that he was first arguing for a secular, non-religious government, and now he was trying to put religion into government actions. Which was he arguing for? That aside, I said he was committing a fallacy in his understanding about the Ten Commandments and the cultural, historical, theological context that they should be studied. I mentioned he should read some Dennis Prager writings on the Ten Commandments so he can better understand the Hebrew thinking behind such Scripture before he builds a “straw-man,” a false premise, and then attack something (the false premise) that no Christian or Jewish person believes… outside of his mind that is.
I mentioned that I have read Hitchens’ book God is Not Great, and almost every other atheist/naturalistic epitome written from ancient Greece up to the present, has he (I asked again) read any one good defense of the Christian Faith? Like, Unshakeable Foundations by Norman Geisler? He responded that he didn’t have the time nor will to read such stuff. (In other words, he was a closed minded bigot who went around arguing his point of view to the exclusion of all other points of view.)
I said “such thinking on your part would… well… make me think you were an idiot.” And on that note I left for work.
- If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy me Defending the Faith Over a Syrah. I had a few glasses of wine in my and I had close to total recall. That was fun!
- “Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” (Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist. Ignatius Press; 1999, by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.)
- Taken from my blog: Mussolini Defines Fascism
My son boogied next door to the Starbuck’s where where he was getting a footlong sub-sandwich from Subway… you know those 16-year-olds will eat you out of house and home. Me, I had to have a “cup-o-joe.” As I was waiting for my venti java-chip frappachino with two add shots and caramel drizzled on the inside of the cup (yes, I am trying to beat the rapture), I noticed a guy reading a book. Being the bibliophile I am – (and Masters College being so close… brothers in the Lord and all that) – I accosted the guy and asked what he was reading. I was somewhat surprised to see he was reading the Urantia book. So my mind did a switch from a planned friendly conversation with a fellow seminary student to that of evangelism.
For those who do not know what the Urantia book is, I suggest a few stops online, as well as reading my intro to the new age:
- Watchman Expositor Profile: The Urantia Book;
- Apologetic Index: Urantia;
- A Crash Course in the New Age (me, so its long).
Now that you are caught up, I will continue. I sat beside the guy and mentioned that the Urantia book was an interesting read. He asked if I had read it, I mentioned that I had read large swaths of it. Naturally he asked what I thought of it, I said my feelings were mixed. I then asked him if he believed in reincarnation of the soul, he eventually answered yes.
This is important, almost any new age religion or Eastern religion adherent you meet you can break their religious view down into the lowest possible denominator, which in this case is pantheism. Almost all pantheists believe in reincarnation, here in the West they would believe in classical reincarnation: souls that revisit the earth and are punished according to their built up karma. You do not have to worry about side issue, you can have one line of attack for hundreds of religious views, and it will work.
I made mention of the Killing Fields and the fact that during the mass slaughter of people in Cambodia, people were fleeing (these people being Buddhists) into neighboring Buddhist nations. This influx of people created refugee camps. You would think that fellow Buddhists would be concerned about their own, but they were not. Because the Buddha taught that you are your own island, and you must work out your own karma. So these fellow Buddhists viewed these refugees plight through the lens of Eastern ideology. In other words, these people were starving and being killed and dying because of something they did in a previous life. It took many Christian organizations to come in and feed, clothe, and provide shelter to these Buddhists.
I then mentioned that this is why the holy men in India can walk by those who are maimed, starving, uneducated, and the like, and walk right by them. Why? Because they are in that predicament because of some built up karma. This is why it takes a Mother Theresa to literally adopt the city of Calcutta. As he was ingesting this, I continued my challenge:
I mentioned that the Urantia book was a message given to the author by an alien civilization through the means of automatic writing (where the author allows a spirit or some being to write through them while they are in an altered state of consciousness). I politely engaged him in conversation, challenging him at one point with this:
“The Urantia book was given through automatic writing, so too was The Book of Laws by Alistair Crowley (Alistair saying a spirit at the Great Pyramid gave this writing to him), as well as some of the writings of Carl Jung. However, even though these books/messages were given by ‘spiritual’ means as a way to properly view reality, they contradict each other… how do you delineate what is true, in other words, do you have a way to judge which of these books/messages is true and which are false.”
He was caught off guard I am sure because this is a poignant question that 1) has never been asked of him, 2) gets him to think internally about whether he has ever questioned his own thinking on the acceptance of such an occult text, and 3), how does he judge truth. This is the answer I got:
“There have been studies where people are hooked up to machines and when presented with truth they somehow know it to be true, likewise, I just know the Urantia book to be true.”
This answer is similar to those adherents of Scientology and also the “burning in the bosom” that Mormons experience. It is just that, experience, which are subjective at best. I then asked the gentlemen if he bases truth on his feelings, to which he responded positively to. I didn’t press the issue as I had already challenged his thinking on other issues (I used some examples from a paper I did – I attached it if you are curious), but I could have continued with this line of thinking by comparing Hitler’s feelings on truth as compared to those of Mother Theresa.
I hope this short brush with this guy will help you formulate a response to a self-refuting worldview, here I will post the end of a paper I did for my world religions class, enjoy (references have been removed for ease of publishing):
~ Adapted from an online debate many years ago ~
The law of cause and effect to which on the “spiritual” plain is called Karma. One writer says of the law:
Karma simply means that there remains naught after each personality but the causes produced by it. No “personality” – a mere bunch of material atoms and of indistinctual mental characteristics – can of course continue as such, in the world of pure Spirit.
The fundamental idea behind karma is that of action followed by reaction. The Bhagavad-Gita, one of the best-known Hindu scriptures, defines it quite simply as “the name given to the creative force that brings beings into existence” (8:3). Thus, it may be viewed as the fundamental creative action that is perpetuated in each individual soul.
Practically, karma is somewhat like Isaac Newton’s law: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Mark Albrecht continues:
It could be pictured as a set of moral scales; all the bad deeds piled up on one side must be balanced by good deeds on the other.
Yet it is more complicated than that. Perhaps the best way of picturing karma and its relationship to rebirth (reincarnation) is something like this: Each person is a sort of electronic sensor or microphone with a wire hooked up to a great computer in the heavens; the computer is ‘God’ Each thought, motive and act, as well as all the things that happen to us, are relayed back to the computer and filed away. Upon death the data bank in the computer is activated, and the ‘readout’ of our next life or lives, is cranked out and handed to us. If our negative karma (deeds, thoughts, motives, circumstances, and so on) outweighs our positive karmic pattern, we are assigned a more miserable existence in the next round, and vice versa. We have nothing to say about it. There is no mercy, forgiveness or court of appeals.
Earlier Albrecht made the point that:
Hinduism and Buddhism teach that humans can only achieve final liberation from the round of rebirths by this doctrine. Only through the pitfalls and travails of the human condition can a soul earn sufficient merit to warrant its release or liberation (Sanskrit: moksha or samadhi). Thus, a soul must evolve through various life forms to the human state, the evolutionary plateau where moral lessons are learned through multitudes of reincarnations.
If you are born into a family that is well off, and you have a good family relationship, then you are being rewarded for some good work[s] from a previous life. If you are born into a famine-ridden area, destitute, or mentally or physically incapable of caring for yourself, then you are in retribution for the “cause and effect” law of karma. This is the reason that there is no firm “right or wrong” in this life according to Eastern thought. All people who are treated unfairly or unjustly — like slaves were in America, racial wars, famine and disease in undeveloped nations — are merely reaping what they sowed in a previous incarnation. In addition, to interfere with this process — outlaw slavery, end racial strife, feed and heal the hungry and sick — is to interfere with a person’s karma, which is strictly forbidden in the eastern philosophies! (Alternatively, doing so has no intrinsic value – e.g., no real positive moral benefit.)
It is laughable that some defend this doctrine tooth and nail. However, if really believed, they would come to realize there is no real good or evil! The Inquisitions, the Mumbai terror killings at the hands of Muslims, as examples, were merely the outgrowth of the victim’s previous lives. Therefore, when those here defend karmic destiny in other posts speak of the horrible atrocities committed by “religion,” they are not consistently living out their philosophy of life and death, which are illusory. The innocent victims of the Inquisitions, terror attacks, tsunamis, or Crusades then are merely being “paid back” for something they themselves did in a previous life. It is the actions said persons did prior that creates much of the evil upon them now. So in the future when people who are believers in reincarnation say that Christianity isn’t what it purports to be because of the evil it has committed in the past, I will remind them that evil is merely an illusion (Maya – Hinduism; Sunyata – Buddhism) to be overcome, as karmic reincarnation demands.