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Lying so we can win the debate.

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Christians lie. No we’re not supposed to. There’s a whole teaching about this. It’s actually not the “don’t bear false witness ” command, Ex 20.16 which has to do with perjury. It’s the one about how Christians need to be rid of lying, and tell the truth to one another. Ep 4.25 But we lie just the same. Usually to get out of trouble. Sometimes to defraud. And sometimes when we debate with antichrists, and wanna score points, we borrow a rather common tactic we see in politics: We ignore whether our “facts” are all that factual. Oh, we wish they were factual, ’cause they really help our case. We’ll psyche ourselves into believing they’re factual. We’re willing to dismiss any evidence which says it’s false knowledge. We’re totally willing to perpetuate fraud. Yeah, it’s fraud. There’s a command against that too. Mk 10.19 But Christians dismiss this particular sin, ’cause we figure it’s so important to win these arguments, score victories for Jesus… and really stick i

False knowledge, and how it’s confused with faith.

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There are plenty of people who “just know” things. And man alive, are they frustrating. Y’see, they can’t tell you why they know what they do. They don’t know where they got their knowledge, nor what it’s based on. Not that it matters where they got it: They believe it. You can’t tell them any different. But they’re wrong. It’s false knowledge. I’ll tell people something they’ve not heard before, and they’ll respond—whether in Sunday school, my classrooms, or the workplace— THEY. “Why, what you’re saying can’t be true, for I know different.” ME. [ patiently ] “Well your knowledge is wrong. Relax; we’re all wrong sometimes.” THEY. “Nope; can’t be. I know this.” ME. “Okay, maybe I’m wrong. So prove your case. Show me why you’re right.” THEY. “Don’t need to. I know I’m right.” Every once in a while they’ll really try to prove their case. Turns out there’s a thousand holes in their reasoning. Easy to see, easy to chip away at. But they can’t see the holes. An

Postmodernism: Don’t take “truths” for granted.

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POSTMODERN poʊs(t)'mɑd.ərn adjective. Coming later than modern. 2. A 20th century concept and style in arts and criticism, representing a departure from modernism, typified by a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies. 3. Anti-modern. [Pomo 'poʊ.moʊ abbreviation , postmodernism poʊs(t)'mɑd.ərn.iz.əm noun , postmodernist poʊs(t)'mɑd.ərn.ist adjective , postmodernity poʊs(t).moʊd'ər.nə.di noun. ] I grew up postmodern. I just didn’t know it had a name. I also didn’t realize, at the time, how badly it scared the heebie-jeebies out of Christian apologists. The label’s not new. It first cropped up in the 1950s. Artists and architects started using it to describe the hip, exciting things they were doing. The current scene was “modern,” so they claimed they were beyond modern, post modern; whatever modern was, they weren’t. Pomo is a common abbreviation, although some pomos really hate it. I don’t, and use it. Gradually people began to clai

Stay on the lookout for the second coming.

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1 Thessalonians 5.6-11. In the original text of 1 Thessalonians it was all one continuous stream. No punctuation, no sentences, no paragraphs. We had to figure these things out by their context. The sentences are easy enough to figure out, but naturally Christians are gonna disagree on the rest. Hence different Greek New Testaments disagree on where the paragraph breaks should go… and since I’ve been writing about this book a paragraph at a time, y’might notice I’m not precisely following any one GNT. Textus Receptus and United Bible Societies’ edition: One big paragraph from 1-11. Nestle-Aland: One big paragraph, but they capitalize the first word in the sentences which they think might be the start of a new subject, and therefore are debatably new paragraphs. Tyndale House: Four paragraphs. 1-3, 4-5, 6-10, and 11 by itself. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Emphatic Diaglott has 1-4, and 5 all the way to the end of the chapter. But I don’t think its focus was on proper paragr

Completing the cities of Israel before the second coming.

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Matthew 10.23. In the middle of Jesus’s Olivet Discourse, there’s this verse, only found in Matthew , which goes like yea. Matthew 10.23 KWL “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another! Amen amen! I promise you, you might not finish the cities of Israel before whenever the Son of Man might come.” Because translators tend to automatically convert any sentence with οὐ μὴ / u mi , “never,” into absolute statements (like Luke Skywalker’s “I’ll never join you; you killed my father!”) they dismiss all the subjunctive verbs Jesus uses in such statements. He said might never , but they translate it as if he said never . Because people find comfort in absolutes. Especially when the absolutes promise ’em something they want. We want Jesus to return! (Well, most of us.) So here, Jesus promises, with “amen amen,” that his students might not have to be chased through every city in Israel before he returns for them. And Christians nowadays, who want Jesus to return

Does God listen to pagans when they pray?

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I’ll answer the question in the title right away: Yes. God listens to pagans when they pray. And, well, duh . Of course he listens to them! He listens to everyone. He knows what everyone’s saying, what everyone’s thinking, and whether what we’re saying and what we’re thinking line up. (And when they aren’t, he knows we’re being hypocrites. ) He knows what our needs are; he hears us express ’em to him; he knows whether we’re sincere. True of everybody. Not just Christians. Why’s this even a question? Because of course there are Christians who claim he doesn’t. Only we get access to the Almighty; only true believers. (And maybe Jews… depending on whether they like Jews. If they like Jews, they always manage to find an exception to the “no pagans” rule; they’re God’s chosen people so he has to listen to them, doesn’t he? And if they’re antisemites, either Jews are simply another type of pagan he dismisses; or God’s rejected the Jews ’cause of the sins antisemites claim are

Do we really get whatever we ask in Jesus’s name?

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While the idea of “God’ll give us whatever we ask in Jesus’s name” has been largely misunderstood, misinterpreted, and abused, by Christians who wanna depict God as if he’s a magic genie who grants way more than three wishes—or like Santa Claus, who will only give you presents if you’re good, so be good for goodness’ sake—the reality is Jesus does hear prayer requests. And isn’t just willing, but eager , to answer the good requests. John 16.23-24 KJV 23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. Here’s the context of this scripture; it’s important, y’know. At the time Jesus was speaking with his students about leaving them; about returning to his Father. Once he’d done so, they’d be miserable. But once he comes back in victory, having conquered sin and death, they’ll be ov

“In Jesus name”—and why it doesn’t always work.

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Jesus told us, more than once, we can use his name whenever we ask the Father for things. John 14.12-15 KJV 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.   John 15.16 KJV Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.   John 16.23-24 KJV 23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. Usually Christians are fully aware o

When Jesus catches us by surprise.

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1 Thessalonians 5.1-5. Since Paul, Silas, and Timothy just finished writing about the rapture at Jesus’s second coming in the previous paragraph, Christians read today’s paragraph (or paragraphs; the Tyndale House Greek New Testament is pretty sure this is two) as if they’re still talking about it. And they kinda are. Because the apostles didn’t know when Jesus is returning—none of us do!—and for all they knew, the next big disaster might end with the second coming. Which might still be true. You don’t know. Neither do I. All we know is Jesus can return at any time. Which the Thessalonians shoulda learned fairly quickly after they first followed Jesus. The apostles even write they’ve known it perfectly well. 1Th 5.2 When he returns, it won’t be predictable—no matter how often “prophecy scholars” try to predict it. It won’t be at a time we expect—no matter how often “prophecy scholars” say we should definitely expect it. It comes like a thief at night, and as Jesus said,

Family members and loved ones may turn on you.

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Mark 13.12-13, Matthew 10.21-22, Luke 21.16-18, John 16.2-3. In Jesus’s Olivet Discourse, he warned his students of the tribulation they’d undergo. Not just the Romans destroying the temple, but how Christians would be persecuted. It’s something the students needed to hear. Something all Christians need to hear. ’Cause the assumption most people would come to is when God’s on our side, we should never, ever suffer. Suffering’s for losers; for people who lack God. Our God’s a winner, so his followers oughta be winners—people who call down fire on their oppressors 1Ki 1.9-12 or when people just try to put ’em to death, God always supernaturally rescues ’em. Da 3.24-25, 6.19-22 It’s an assumption Christians still make: “I’m working for God, so he’ll keep me safe.” God guarantees no such thing. The only thing he does guarantee is in this life, we have tribulation. Jn 16.33 Suffering happens. Happened to Jesus too. Imagining that the righteous, the obedient, “good people

Jesus is returning. Sooner than you think.

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IMMEDIACY ɪ'mi.di.ə.si noun. Bringing one into direct, instant involvement with something. (Usually including a sense of urgency or excitement.) 2. Christian doctrine that Christ Jesus may return at any time. [Immediacist ɪ'mi.di.ə.sɪst adjective. ] I don’t know when Jesus will return. Neither do you. Neither does anyone. Neither did Jesus, Mk 13.32 although some Christians are mighty sure he found out once he ascended to heaven. And occasionally some nutjob will claim the Father told them when it’s gonna happen, and use the occasion to whip gullible Christians into a frenzy; maybe get ’em to join their death cult or something. All of them have been, and will be, lying. Because Jesus said that info is none of our business. Acts 1.6-7 KJV 6 When they therefore were come together, [the students] asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seaso