The sinner’s prayer isn’t proof of your salvation.

by K.W. Leslie, 30 June

Back in grad school I heard this ridiculous story from a preacher. I’ve shared it before; now again. Goes like so.

There once was this Christian who felt unsure of his salvation. He hoped he was saved, but he was just so full of doubts. A little voice inside his head kept telling him, “Oh you’re not saved. Not really.” Of course the preacher assumed this voice was Satan, but considering how such baiting will simply drive us Christians to make certain we’re saved, I’m pretty sure Satan abandoned this tactic long ago as stupid. But I digress.

This uncertain Christian came up with a clever plan: First he said the sinner’s prayer again. (He no doubt said it ages ago, but bear with me.) Next he made a sign with that day’s date on it, fixed it to a stake, and pounded the stake into his backyard. Now every time the voice in his head told him, “You’re not saved,” he could look out the back window at his sign, and say, “I am so saved, devil. Get thee behind me.”

Followed by a rash of my fellow students placing signs with various dates on ’em in the yard behind their dorms… Nah, just kidding. Nobody did that. Because this uncertain Christian posting signs in his backyard is, to put it kindly, dumb. “Yeah I know what’ll confirm my salvation: A sign in the yard!” Say the wind blows it away some day; then where will he be? Wouldn’t that surely look a sign from God suggesting no, he’s not saved?

Signs in your yard may indicate all sorts of things. Like whom you voted for, who installed your solar panels, who does your lawn, whom you voted for, whether the house is on the market, when the garage sale will be. Of course they mean nothing if they’re not true; if the sign says “Garage sale Saturday” but it was actually a Saturday in 2019. A sign can tell you the date of your sinner’s prayer, but did the sinner’s prayer even work?

Because sinner’s prayers don’t save people. Never did. God saves us, by his grace and through our faith. Does he automatically do this whenever a person says the sinner’s prayer? Well some evangelists claim he absolutely does, every single time.

Romans 10.13 KJV
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Jl 2.32

Of course they forget to quote the context of this verse—namely the verses following.

Romans 10.14-16 KJV
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Is 52.7 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? Is 53.1

If a petitioner lacks faith in God—as proven when they don’t live the gospel after they prayed the sinner’s prayer—calling upon the Lord won’t save you. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?”

It’s like claiming, “I don’t know whether my checking account has any money in it. So I’m gonna send the bank a letter, then put the date I sent the letter on a sign. And every time I’m not sure there’s anything in that account, I’m gonna look at that sign and tell myself, ‘No you do have money. ’Cause you sent ’em a letter on this date!’ ”

Like I said, dumb.

When the sinner’s prayer doesn’t work.

by K.W. Leslie, 29 June

Imagine you share Jesus with someone. (Hope you do share Jesus with people. But anyway.)

Imagine they respond well: They express an interest in this Jesus whom you speak of. They believe you when you tell ’em Jesus saved them. They wanna become a Christian right here and now. So you say the sinner’s prayer with them. They recite all the words right after you. They feel happy about it. You feel happy about it. And there was much rejoicing. Yea!

Okay, now imagine it’s a year later and you meet up with that person again… and you find their life hasn’t changed. At all.

They don’t go to church; they don’t see the point. They don’t read the bible; they don’t see the point. They don’t pray; no more than usual, which is the occasional “God, get me out of this and I promise I’ll…” and nothing more. Not even religious feelings, which I admit are usually self-manufactured, but they don’t even have that.

No fruit of the Spirit. They’re not any happier, any more joyful. They’re as impatient as ever, as unkind as ever, and don’t know the difference between love and romance or passion or covetousness. Nothing.

Sinner’s prayer didn’t take.

It actually happens a lot. I used to work at a summer camp program for inner city youth. Those kids would come one summer, hear the gospel, say the sinner’s prayer, go home… and not be Christian. Then they’d come back next summer. Hear the gospel again, say the sinnner’s prayer again, go home, and still not be Christian. And repeat till they were too old for summer camp.

Evangelists know from experience: We’ll hold an evangelism event; some important guy from an evangelism ministry will come to town, and we’ll get a really big church to host it, or have it at the community center or ballpark. The important guy will ask everyone to come forward if they want Jesus, and counselors will be there at the foot of the stage to talk with those who come forward, and lead ’em in the sinner’s prayer. And next year, or two years later, we’ll hold another evangelism event, and again invite people to come forward, and many who come forward will turn out to be the same people who came forward last time. Who will pray the sinner’s prayer again. Who knows?—maybe this time they’ll repent.

I’ve done street evangelism. And sometimes ran into the same people. And they wanted to say the sinner’s prayer again, ’cause this time they meant it. And later, they’ll mean it again.

Like I said, it actually happens a lot.

But if Christians are new to evangelism, or if they’ve never really paid attention before, this is news to them. Some of ’em are kinda horrified: “It didn’t work? What d’you mean it didn’t work? The word of God doesn’t return void!”

Well yeah, if it were the word of God. It’s not; it’s just the sinner’s prayer.

“Yeah, but ‘he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it…’ ” Pp 1.6

Yeah yeah, I know the Steve Green song. You’re assuming God actually made ’em Christian and put the Holy Spirit in them, so they’re going to heaven no matter what. But he didn’t do that yet. Because they weren’t ready yet.

But some folks don’t believe that’s how God works: They insist grace is irresistible. If anybody says the sinner’s prayer, it’s because God led this person to pray that prayer, because God determined this person’d become Christian, and they will become Christian. Because determinism. It’s not actually up to them. Sure, their lifestyle makes it look like the sinner’s prayer didn’t take, but these determinists believe in their heart of hearts God will make it take, whether they want it to or not.

…’Cause that’s what they do. And I get that. If I were the Holy Spirit, and somebody said the sinner’s prayer, I’d’ve stepped right in and unilaterally changed a whole lot of stuff about ’em. Reprogrammed their brain so they’d be happier and more obedient. Knocked all the temptations out of their paths. Shouted at ’em nice and loud whenever they were about to sin, “DONT.” I’d go mad with benevolent power. I’d want ’em saved!

It’s mighty Calvinist of me, but I admit it’s not all that loving. Love is patient, 1Co 13.4 love doesn’t seek its own way, 1Co 13.5 and God is love. 1Jn 4.16 God might transform a person who has no interest in transformation, but usually he prefers to reward those who earnestly seek him. He 11.6 Not those who only turn to Jesus just to escape hell, and have no interest in becoming any different than before.

On people who have no real interest in following Jesus, the sinner’s prayer doesn’t work. It’s a prayer of surrender, and they didn’t surrender.

The “sinner’s prayer.” And how to lead one.

by K.W. Leslie, 28 June

In the scriptures, whenever someone wanted to become Christian, how’d they get initiated? Simple: They got baptized. Right away: They found some water and baptized ’em right then and there.

Acts 8.35-38 KJV
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

Splash, and you’re Christian. But by the end of the first century, ancient Christians got it into their heads there oughta be more delay than this: Too many people were getting baptized, yet didn’t continue to follow Jesus. And baptism is a sacrament, right?—it ought not be something we take lightly. So maybe we oughta delay those baptisms till people prove they really mean it. Maybe delay it a year. Make ’em take a catechism first.

Yep, this is why churches work this way. Make you memorize a catechism first. Make you take a Christian Initiation class, or at least baptism classes where they explain to you why baptism’s such a big, big deal. But this process can take weeks or months—and when we compare our whole initiation process to what we read in Acts, it’s like, “If people wanna follow Jesus, why do we make ’em wait so long and jump through so many hoops? The apostles didn’t.”

Correct. No they didn’t. And I wouldn’t either. Same as Philip and that eunuch: The dude wanted to be baptized, so Philip baptized him. The Textus Receptus (and KJV) added a verse where Philip double-checked whether the eunuch really believed in Jesus, which is why most churches still require a profession of faith before you get under the water—and that’s cool. If you wanna baptize new converts yourself, right away, without waiting for your church to schedule their beginning-of-the-year 12-week baptism classes, go right ahead. Philip did.

But popular Christian culture has come up with another way of initiating new believers: Make ’em say the sinner’s prayer.

The sinner’s prayer is the first prayer we formally pray to Jesus. We might’ve made informal prayers to him before, or begged him for stuff, or tried to bargain with him. This one is where we ask him to formally become our Lord, and promise to follow him. And then, we figure, we’re in. ’Cause

Romans 10.9 KJV
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

So there ya go. Easy-peasy-follow-Jeezy.

Though sometimes the sinner’s prayer can get a little tricky. Y’see, most of the churches who push the idea of the sinner’s prayer, don’t tell you how the sinner’s prayer goes. They don’t have a formal, written-down, memorize-this, pray-it-by-rote sinner’s prayer. Some of ’em don’t believe in rote prayers, and think of them as dead religion. They insist whenever you pray, you gotta do it extemporaneously: Make it up. Pray it from the heart. Pray what you feel; don’t just recite someone else’s prayer.

Which is dumb. Newbies don’t know how to pray, much less pray extemporaneously! Sometimes they’ll do it wrong. And even if they do just fine, they’ll feel like they did it wrong; like there was more they could’ve and should’ve said, but they didn’t, and maybe now they can’t make up for it. Don’t add to their stress level! You come up with a sinner’s prayer, then have them repeat after you. And if they wanna add anything to it, that’s fine.

We tend to say “the sinner’s prayer,” as if there’s only one version of it, like the Lord’s Prayer. (Which has three versions of it: The Matthew version, the Luke version, and the Book of Common Prayer version.) Many churches have their own sinner’s prayer; sometimes more than one, in their denomination’s prayer books. Many evangelistic ministries have their own sinner’s prayer too. There’s no standard prayer. You can compose your own if you want.

Pre-existence: Did you exist before you were born?

by K.W. Leslie, 25 June

We Christians believe in Jesus’s incarnation—that Jesus wasn’t created, ’cause he’s God and has always existed. But he’s also human; at some point in time he became human. Before that point Moses could correctly say “God is not a man,” Nu 23.19 but after that point no he couldn’t. God’s a man now.

And every so often you’re gonna find some Christian who claims everybody existed before they were born. They won’t claim we’ve always existed, like God; they figure he created us at some point. Possibly at the beginning of creation. Then, one at a time, he sent all these pre-existing ghosts to earth to be embodied. Or incarnated, to use the Latin-based term.

Latter-day Saints actually believe this. They claim God makes these pre-babies in heaven, and billions and billions of ’em are sitting up there waiting to come to earth and be born Mormon. They call it premortality.

Now when you ask Mormons how God makes ’em: I’ve found their “elders” (which is what they call their kids who go door-to-door to share their version of the gospel) either get really quiet, and tell me I really oughta ask their bishop… or they blurt it right out, then quickly realize they really shouldn’t’ve done that. ’Cause Mormons believe God used to be human eons ago, and eventually became God. And back when he was human he got married, and got to take his wife to heaven with him… and they make babies like we make babies. Which usually raises a ton of new questions from both potential converts and skeptics, which is why the elders suddenly realize they really need their bishop there, to explain it in a way which doesn’t invoke outrage, mockery, and unbelief. Well, much outrage, mockery, and unbelief.

But LDS beliefs about prolific heavenly procreation aside, Christians who believe in pre-existence figure it just makes sense—to them anyway—that God created something of us before our parents and biology made our bodies. Because the scriptures say multiple times that God knew us before we were born—and how could this be true, unless we existed before we were born?

Fr’instance Jeremiah ben Hilkiah. Prolifers love to quote the following verse to prove a fetus is a person. And a fetus is a person, but this verse isn’t actually about that. Nor does it actually say that.

Jeremiah 1.4-5 NIV
4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

The LORD didn’t tell Jeremiah, “When I formed you in the womb,” but “Before I formed you in the womb.” Before Jeremiah was conceived. The Hebrew word בְּטֶ֨רֶם/be-terém isn’t one of those loose participles like the בְּ/be- prefix at the beginning of the word, which could mean “in, on, among, over, through, against; when, whenever,” as the Kohlenberger/Mounce Hebrew-Aramaic Dictionary defines it. Terém is an adverb meaning “not yet.” Jeremiah’s body was not yet made before the LORD fully knew who he was and determined he’d be God’s prophet.

So if God knew Jeremiah before he was born, it stands to reason Jeremiah existed before he was born. Right?

Nah. You probably figured this out right quick: God knew Jeremiah because he’s not limited by time. He’s currently present at every point in our entire eternal life. Simultaneously here right now, and 50 years from now, and centuries after we’ve been resurrected in Jesus’s kingdom, and trillions of years after that, and so on forever. And he’s present before we were ever “a gleam in your father’s eye,” as the creepy popular saying goes—knowing all that stuff about us before ever creating us. The LORD’s talking about his own infinite omnipresence-based all-knowingness, not/i> Jeremiah’s pre-existence.

But God’s state of filling time is a brain-bending idea. And we humans much prefer to adopt ideas which we can more easily grasp. Like the time-based idea Jeremiah musta existed before he was conceived and born. You know, like Jesus. Or like Mormons believe… minus 7,000,000,000 acts of heavenly coitus at least.

There’s evangelicals, and there’s Evangelicals.

by K.W. Leslie, 24 June
EVANGELICAL i.væn'ʤɛl.ə.kəl adjective. Has to do with the evangel, i.e. the gospel.
2. [capitalized] Holds to the Protestant tradition of individual conversion to Christianity (i.e. being born again). Plus Jesus’s atonement, the bible’s authority, and an active Christian lifestyle.
[Evangelicalism i.væn'ʤɛl.ə.kəl.ɪz.əm noun.]

I once heard a pagan define Evangelical as “somebody who actually believes in all that doo-doo.” She didn’t use the word “doo-doo”; it was something less family-friendly, and an indication of her own unbelief in all our doo-doo. And while we do believe in it, that’s not quite the proper definition.

Over the past several decades another definition has cropped up in the press: A politically conservative Protestant. It’s also incorrect, but it’s totally understandable why people might jump to that conclusion. Evangelicals are Protestant, and in the United States most white Evangelicals are politically conservative. Sometimes more so than they are Christian; some conservative beliefs, and many conservative attitudes, are wholly incompatible with Jesus’s teachings. Not just a little incompatible, and with a little adjustment Jesus’ll be totally cool with it: Wholly incompatible. You likely know which views I mean, and if you don’t you need to read his Semon on the Mount again.

And quite often I see people in the press confuse Evangelical for evangelistic, evangelism, evangelist, and other terms which have to do with sharing the gospel. Understandable mixup, but the lowercase-E evangelical has to do with sharing the gospel, and the uppercase-E Evangelical has to do with a Christian religious movement.

Every Christian is the lowercase-E kind of evangelical. That is, we all believe—or are expected to believe, ’cause Jesus orders us to believe Mt 28.19-20 —in sharing Jesus and his gospel with the world. We all believe in this doo-doo. We may not agree about miracles, or worship styles, or how to interpret bible, or whether electric guitars are of God. (And they totally are. God likes his music loud.) But we all agree—or are expected to agree—Jesus is God the Son, our Lord, conceived by the Spirit, born of Mary, suffered under Pilate, crucified, died, buried, resurrected, ascended, coming back to personally inaugurate God’s kingdom of which he is King. By definition, those who don’t believe the gospel aren’t Christian. They might go through the motions because they love the trappings. But they’re like those women who wear yoga pants yet clearly never do yoga.

The uppercase Evangelical is a whole different animal. This term refers to a Protestant movement which emphasizes individual conversion. In other words, we aren’t Christian because we were born one. There are those who figure they were born into a Christian family or country, baptized as a baby, assimilated into a predominantly Christian culture, and they’re Christian by default. Evangelicals believe that’s rubbish: You’re Christian because you came to Christ, on your own, without your culture forcing it upon you, with your full consent and knowledge. You confessed him as Lord, of your own free will. You’re responsible for being in this religion. It might’ve been dropped on you, as it was me; but you took ownership of it.

Ironically the movement was started by John Calvin. I say “ironically” ’cause Calvin and Calvinists are really big fans of determinism, the belief God’s in such control of the cosmos, we’re actually not responsible for being in this religion: God put us here. We only think we chose him with our free will, but this is because he’s been working us without our knowledge. There are tons of moral problems with determinism, which I discuss in my article on it. But that’s not today’s subject; it’s Evangelicalism, and Evangelicals are correct about how religion isn’t up to our community or state. If it were, we’d get a state full of hypocrites, who are faking religion so they don’t get in trouble. (We got plenty enough of those as it is!) But my parents can’t determine my religion for me, nor my government. Each of us has to decide for Jesus for ourselves.

Searching the bible with Siri. Or Google.

by K.W. Leslie, 23 June

You know how it goes: Half a verse pops into your head, and you think to yourself, “What’s the whole verse? Where’s that located? What’s its context?” (Or at least you should be asking yourself about its context.)

So what I usually do is whip out my iPhone, activate Siri, and quote my half a verse to her. Presto, she finds it. Usually on Bible Gateway, with a link I can press to go right to it. Takes all of 15 seconds.

Don’t tell me the olden days were better. They bloody well were not. If you had half a verse in your head and wanted to know where it was in the bible, you had to get out a concordance. If you don’t know what that is, God has been kind to you: It’s a big ol’ book, about five times bigger than a bible, which has every word in a bible translation listed in alphabetical order. Well almost every word; they skipped the far too common words, like and or the or in. But underneath every other word, they list every single occurrence of that word in that translation.

Fr’instance the word “wet” appears five times in the New Living Translation:

  • Exodus 16.13: “…the camp was wet with dew.”
  • Leviticus 11.38: “But if the seed is wet…”
  • Judges 6.37: “If the fleece is wet with dew…”
  • Judges 6.39: “…the ground around it is wet with dew.”
  • Job 16.13: “The ground is wet with my blood.”

Not that stuff doesn’t get wet in the New Testament—people get baptized, remember?—but the translators didn’t use “wet” to describe any of it. “Soaked,” yes. Not “wet.”

Anyway, back in the olden days this is what I had to do when I wanted to find a verse. I had to be home, ’cause that’s where my concordances were, ’cause nobody was yet able to carry books around on their phone. I had to make sure I remembered the verse in the proper translation: My churches had me memorize ’em in the King James Version until I was about 12 or so, and then everything sorta shifted to the New International Version. (Probably ’cause the last anti-NIV holdouts in the denomination had died. Hey, sometimes that’s what it takes for positive change to happen.) So if I couldn’t find it in my KJV concordance, I had an NIV concordance. And if I couldn’t find it in that either… well, it’s probably because I had memorized the verse in the 1978 edition of the NIV, but my concordance was published in 1990 and used the 1983 edition. I didn’t yet know present-day translations get occasional updates. Most people still don’t.

If this all seems like a headache to you, it is. Now imagine life before concordances.

Although sometimes, if you were lucky enough to have one of these people in your community, there’d be a person with an eidetic memory who’d read the bible and could quote most if not all of it. And could tell you the chapter and verse of anything you quoted to them. It’s like having a human Siri. I once met a woman who could do that; it was neat. You could have her recall verse address after verse address all day, for fun, and she found it fun too.

Not yet ready for miracles.

by K.W. Leslie, 22 June

About a decade ago, a cessationist of my acquaintance, whom I’ll call Izak, wrote about a member of his church whose child had died. The member asked Izak to come pray for the grieving family, so he did.

While he was at the house, Izak decided—kinda on a spur of the moment—to pray God would raise their child from the dead. Yeah, Izak says he firmly believes God turned off the miracles after bible times. He won’t shut up about this, either; he writes pretty frequently about this utter absence of faith in God. Methinks he doth protest too much, because like he said, he did decide to try to raise the dead this one time. Just in case.

Of course nothing happened.

And Izak likes to say, “Of course nothing happened,” because it proves his worldview: God doesn’t intervene till the End Times. Meanwhile we Christians have to believe, really hard, that miracles used to happen; that Jesus rose from the dead because of one… even though God doesn’t do such things now, and the natural conclusion one would usually make to a miracle-free existence is to conclude all the ancient miracle stories are utter fabrications, if not dirty lies. Man alive, has God stacked the deck against all those faithful cessationists.

Okay, so what do I mean by saying “Of course nothing happened”? Have I gone cessationist on you?

Nah. Nothing happened because Izak has no faith. And therefore he’s not ready to see a miracle. It wouldn’t grow his faith; it’d only grow his denial.

The “Early Church Fathers”: Ancient Christians. Who wrote stuff.

by K.W. Leslie, 21 June

Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament ends with Paul of Tarsus in Rome, awaiting his trial before Nero Claudius Caesar, and encouraging the Christians of Rome. And that’s it. Its author Luke never tells us what came next; most scholars figure Luke didn’t know what came next, ’cause he wrote the book while Paul awaited trial. That’s likely so.

But when I was a kid, I wanted to know what happened next. How’d the trial go? And there, my Sunday school teacher was no help; nobody had told her how it went, and she hadn’t bothered to investigate.

So I did. Turns out it went well. Paul was released, and went back to traveling the Roman Empire and founding churches. But about a decade later he got arrested during the Neronian persecution (and possibly wrote 2 Timothy while awaiting trial), stood before Nero Caesar again, and this time things didn’t go his way. He was condemned and beheaded.

I shared this info with one of my youth pastors, who told me, “Well that probably happened. But we don’t know whether it happened.”

Why don’t we know?

“Because Catholics wrote it.”

This pastor believed as soon as the New Testament was finalized, Roman Catholics swooped in and took over Christianity big time. Everyone in the church, and everything they did after that, was “Catholic”—and therefore, to his mind, heretic—until Martin Luther gave ’em the finger in 1517. And while he was a huge fan of Luther doing that, he wasn’t so sure about Lutherans either. Dude had a lot of prejudices. So the stories of Paul after Acts were “Catholic,” and therefore not to be trusted. And the stories of the ancient church, the teachings of ancient and medieval Christians, and really all of Christianity’s first 15 centuries: “Catholic,” and not to be trusted.

Thanks to him, and most of the folks in that church, I was pretty much ignorant of Christian history—and okay with that, ’cause I imagined it was unreliable, ’cause heretics. I had a lot of gaps in my knowledge which my bible college had to fill in. By which point I had changed churches, had learned enough about Catholics to know better than to think them heretic, and most importantly had learned there were no “Roman Catholics” until the Orthodox/Catholic schism developed. All those ancient Christians who recorded the church’s earliest ideas, history, teachings, and testimonies: They were a fairly loose network of people who were trying to follow Jesus as best they could in the predominantly pagan, and occasionally murderous, culture of the Roman Empire.

The guy with the dorm room next to mine was an Orthodox Christian, and he had splurged on a 38-volume set of the ante-Nicene, Nicene, and post-Nicene fathers. This was before ebooks were a thing, and the print edition set him back at least a thousand dollars. (Which is why I was so jazzed when a CD-ROM version came out five years later, and was only $39.95!) “Borrow whatever you like,” he told me. “The school library isn’t always that accessible, so it’s good to have your own library.” True that. I borrowed his volumes regularly till he graduated at the end of my sophomore year.

Continuationism. Because the miracles never stopped.

by K.W. Leslie, 18 June
CONTINUATIONIST kən.tɪn.jʊ'eɪ.ʃən.ɪst adjective. Believes the Holy Spirit’s gifts (particularly tongues and prophecy) continued from bible times to the present day.

Honestly I’m not a fan of the term continuationist, because the default setting for Christianity is—and should be!—the Holy Spirit is living, active, and still doing as he did among the ancient Christians.

As prophesied by the prophet Joel in the fifth century BC, and fulfilled 24 May 33 on the first Christian Pentecost:

Joel 2.28-29 NKJV
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Before the church age, the Spirit’s power was only poured out like this to prophets. But now every Christian has the Spirit within us, and therefore he can empower Jesus’s church with supernatural gifts as necessary—miracles, signs, healing, exorcisms, and speaking in tongues. These gifts are often necessary in this hurting world, which needs to learn God is here, loves us, and wants to save us.

But not every Christian believes this. Cessationists insist God turned off the miracles less than a century after he pouring out his Spirit upon his church. Gone within two generations. Not because of a massive doubt problem among his followers (although certain cessationists believe this too), but because they figure miracles are no longer needed now that we have a bible. And back this faithless idea with various out-of-context scriptures.

To their minds, cessationists feel they’re right to believe God has depowered and abandoned his people, He 13.5 with nothing to keep us going but our beliefs and our bibles. That those of us who insist miracles continued—whom they granted the label “continuationist”—are delusional, deceived by devils which trick us with mighty acts of power. ’Cause somehow their supernatural abilities never got turned off, yet ours has.

Does this make any sense to you? ’Cause it does to cessationists. To their minds, they’re the norm, and continuationists are weirdos. Even though we continuationists outnumber ’em by more than four to one. Seriously.

And even though cessationist churches are full of people who don’t actually believe in cessationism. Because they’ve seen stuff. Miraculous stuff. Stuff which makes ’em describe themselves as “soft cessationists”—they grudgingly admit God permits some miracles to take place once in a while, under certain circumstances. But not so often that they get uncomfortable—and not in continuationist churches, ’cause they’re pretty sure we continuationists are too wayward for God to legitimately work among us.

Basically there’s a lot of pride and denial going on among cessationists. But enough about them; their unbelief will just frustrate you. Let’s stick to normal Christians, who know God interacts with his kids on a regular basis. ’Cause we’ve seen him do it.

Your God-experiences have to jibe with the scriptures.

by K.W. Leslie, 17 June

In the year 610, Muhammad ibn Abdullah al Mecca began having visions of an angel he identified as Jibril, who’d be גַּבְרִיאֵל/Gavryél, “Gabriel.” Because Muhammad was at the time illiterate, Jibril had him memorize certain recitations, and these were later collected into the Quran, Islam’s scriptures.

Problem is, Muhammad never double-checked ’em against the Christian scriptures. Even though his revelations told him to.

Quran, 10 (“Jonah”) :94
So if you’re in doubt about what We revealed to you, then ask those who’ve previously read the bible. Truth has truly already come to you from your Lord. So don’t be among the doubters.

Despite this instruction, he didn’t. He presumed Jibril would never steer him wrong; why would a holy angel do any such thing?

Hence the Quran has a lot of things in it which contradict the Christian scriptures. The way Muslims reconcile the differences is to claim Jews and Christians must’ve twisted or distorted the bible. (Usually they figure we let errors slip in, but the more paranoid sort assume Jews and Christians deliberately altered our scriptures, just to mess with them.) Whereas Christians figure whoever Jibril is, it’s not the angel Gabriel from Daniel and Luke: Either it’s an invention of Muhammad’s imagination, an outright fabrication, or an evil spirit messing with the poor guy.

I bring up Muhammad because he’s a good example of someone who sought a God-experience, and, well, got something. Got several. Every chapter of the Quran comes from a different revelation, so he had at least that many experiences. But were they God-experiences? Muhammad surely thought so, as has every Muslim since.

But like the Quran itself teaches, we’re meant to silence our doubts by comparing it against the scriptures. Our God-experiences shouldn’t depict a different God than we find in the bible. Nor should it deviate from orthodox Christianity, from what our fellow Christians have taught from the beginning—because plenty of heretics claim their deviant teachings are totally based on bible, but they’re based on out-of-context readings, and obvious violations of the clear intent of the scriptures.

The bible is a product of legitimate God-experiences. If we had a legitimate God-experience, it should be wholly consistent with the scriptures. If it’s not, we got a serious problem. It’s either a psychotic delusion, a serious self-delusion, an elaborate hoax by a rather evil prankster, or an evil spirit trying to lead us astray.

Those who regularly blaspheme the Holy Spirit, who claim all present-day miracles and prophecies and God-experiences are caused by evil spirits, don’t bother to compare these experiences with bible either. Oh, they claim to. Usually they quote the passage about how these activities will ultimately cease—

1 Corinthians 13.8-10 KJV
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

—and the reason these revelations will cease is because Jesus is returning and we won’t need supernatural revelation when we can simply FaceTime Jesus on our mobile phones and ask him personally. (Well, he’ll be busy ruling the world, so it won’t be that simple. But you get the idea.) But if you’re cessationist, you’ve been taught to misuse this verse to claim these activities already ceased. Ceased a long time ago. So “according to bible” God doesn’t do that stuff anymore, and therefore every present-day supernatural activity must automatically be Satan… and if any one of them is the Holy Spirit, guess who they just blasphemed. Yep.

Christians should know better than to embrace any doctrine which claims Satan can do more than the Almighty. But neither should we blanketly accept every supposed God-experience as legit. We gotta test stuff. At the very least, it’s gotta be consistent with the scriptures. If it’s not even that, don’t accept it! Don’t believe it.

Galatians 1.8 KJV
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Jesus warns against blaspheming the Spirit.

by K.W. Leslie, 16 June

Mark 3.28-30, Matthew 12.31-32, Luke 12.10.

Fairly soon after we become Christians, we hear a rumor there’s such a thing as “the unpardonable sin.” Or multiple unpardonable sins. Certain things we can do which push God’s grace to the limit, ’cause apparently it has a limit, and these sins cross it. Do ’em and you’re going to hell. Game over, man, game over.

Problem is, the rumor doesn’t always tell us what the unpardonable sin is. When I was a kid I thought it was saying, “F--- God,” and Dad had committed it a bunch of times, so he was surely going to hell. I’ve had newbies ask me whether it was murder. Or Catholics tell me it was one of the seven deadly sins, ’cause what made ’em deadly was they’d send you to hell.

There are in fact multiple unpardonable sins, and today I’m get to what Jesus teaches about one of them, namely blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Turns up in the gospels, right after Jesus had to correct the Pharisee scribes for accusing him of using Satan to perform exorcisms.

Mark 3.28-30 KWL
28 “Amen! I promise you every sin will be forgiven humanity’s children,
and every blasphemy, however often people blaspheme.
29 But when anyone blasphemes the Holy Spirit they aren’t forgiven in the age to come:
In that age, they’ll be liable for a crime.”
30 For the scribes were saying, “Jesus has an unclean spirit.”
 
Matthew 12.31-32 KWL
31 “This is why I tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people.
But blaspheming the Spirit won’t be forgiven.
32 Whenever one says a word against the Son of Man, it’ll be forgiven them.
But whenever it’s said against the Holy Spirit, it won’t be forgiven them.
Neither in this age, nor in the next.”
 
Lk 12.10 KWL
“And anyone who’ll say a word about the Son of Man will be forgiven.
But speaking in blasphemy about the Holy Spirit won’t be forgiven.”

So there y’go: Everyone can be forgiven anything and everything. But one massive exception is when people blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Do that, and you’re sitting out the age to come. No New Jerusalem for you. Just weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Scary, right? Hence people wanna make sure they never, ever commit this crime. Problem is, instead of actually avoiding it, many foolish Christians have chosen to redefine and re-explain blaspheming the Spirit till it no longer means what, at face value, Jesus is talking about. Largely because they and their favorite preachers are blaspheming the Spirit. Regularly. I’m not kidding.

So… does that mean they’re going to hell? Not necessarily. But I’ll get to that.

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

by K.W. Leslie, 15 June

Our English word blasphemy comes from the Greek βλασφημία/vlasfimía—which largely means the same thing. It’s irreverence towards, and slander against, people and things we oughta reverence. We Christians tend to only use it to describe irreverence towards God (and bibliolaters to describe irreverence towards the bible), but the ancients applied it to all sorts of things. Like irreverence towards the temple, Moses, the prophets, and the scriptures. Even kings and emperors; yes you could blaspheme a king. Especially when they claimed godhood, as some of ’em did.

Some blasphemy is totally unintentional, like when we claim stuff about God that’s not so. When we claim, “God will send you to hell for that,” and no he won’t. When we claim God’s secret will is for evil to happen, and no it’s not. Other times it’s totally intentional, ’cause we’re pissed at God over something he did or didn’t do, so we yell at him a bit, or otherwise throw a tantrum and say some evil things. God is fully aware we’re just acting up, and forgives us once we snap out of it.

But then Jesus said this:

Mark 3.28-30 KJV
28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30 Because they said, [Jesus] hath an unclean spirit.

Said the same thing in two other gospels. In context, it’s part of the story where Jerusalem scribes visiting the Galilee gave their expert opinion, and declared Jesus did his exorcisms by the power of Beelzebub (in Aramaic Baal Zevúl, a local pagan god; their euphemism for Satan) instead of the Holy Spirit. Jesus pointed out this reasoning was stupid: Satan’s not gonna fight itself, and if it is, it’s falling apart. And then he said blaspheming τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον/to Pnéfma to Ágion, the Holy Spirit, means you don’t get forgiven. Mt 12.31-32, Lk 12.10 The crime follows you to Kingdom Come—and it looks like it keeps you out of it.

Yikes.

Hence some Christians are terrified of committing it. Afraid they might accidentally, unintentionally commit it. So afraid, they’re afraid of critiquing any miracle or prophet—even though we’re supposed to double-check these things, and make sure they’re really God. But they refuse to, lest they say “It’s devilish” when it’s really the Spirit, and stumble into blaspheming the Spirit. And that’s why so many Christians let so many phonies get away with so much evil.

On the other extreme, some Christians claim blasphemy of the Spirit never, ever happens. Not anymore. ’Cause cessationism! As soon as “that which is perfect has come,” 1Co 13.10 which cessationists insist refers to the bible, God switched off the miracles: He doesn’t need ’em to confirm his message anymore, ’cause now the bible does that. The conditions under which blasphemy of the Spirit could happen, no longer does. So whenever you see a “miracle,” or hear a “prophecy,” feel free to call it the work of Satan.

And on another axis you have those Christians who are quick to point to other scriptures which state God forgives every sin. 1Jn 1.7, 9 Every single possible potential sin; no exceptions. If you’re worried about the scriptures’ warnings against such things… don’t! God forgives all.

Lastly we have the Christians who try their darnedest to redefine blaspheming the Spirit so it’s not what Jesus warned the scribes against doing. It’s some other thing. It’s apostasy. Or it’s numbing your conscience so much, you can’t tell the difference between good and evil anymore; confounding the Spirit with Satan is just a symptom of the real problem.

I think instead of convenient little answers which make us calm down and stop worrying about committing this sin, we oughta figure out for real what it is, whether we do it, and whether we can still get into God’s kingdom even if we did it.

Cessationists: Those who imagine miracles stopped.

by K.W. Leslie, 14 June
CESSATIONIST sɛ'seɪ.ʃən.ist noun. One who believes divine miracles and prophecy ceased in the past. (And may happen again in future, but currently don’t.)
2. One who believes miracles and prophecy never happened; that all biblical descriptions of them are fantasies, exaggerations, misreports, or lies.
3. Having to do with a cessationist’s beliefs.
[Cessationism sɛ'seɪ.ʃən.iz.əm noun.]

When you read the bible, y’might notice there are a ton of miracles in it.

Jesus performed many. So’d the prophets of the Old Testament. Since Jesus empowers his followers with the Holy Spirit Ac 2.38-39 —same as himself Ac 10.38 and the Old Testament prophets Zc 7.12 —he told his students they’d perform miracles just like his, if not greater. Jn 14.12 Arguably his followers did exactly that, as retold in Acts.

And if his followers kept that up, certainly the world should be filled with miracles—just on the basis of pure numbers, ’cause a third of the planet identifies as Christian. Instead of one supernaturally-empowered Jesus the Nazarene, who was limited to the Galilee or Jerusalem or wherever else he traveled, what we should see is every Christian everywhere with the Spirit-empowered ability to prophesy, cure the sick, and perform Jesus-level wonders.

I could spend this article ranting why this isn’t so. (I’d mostly blame a lack of faith.) But not today; today I’m gonna discuss the Christians who believe it shouldn’t be so.

Y’see, they insist miracles ceased. God stopped doing them. He no longer empowers them. They don’t happen anymore. It’s why we call such people cessationist: They happened once, but not now.

We find them all over Christendom. I grew up in churches full of cessationists. I’ve since visited churches where the leaders, and the people actively involved in the church, for certain aren’t cessationist… but the rank-and-file attendees largely are. They have their doubts about whether God does such things anymore, and sometimes these doubts metastasize into full-on miracle-denying Spirit-blaspheming cessationism.

Yes, Spirit-blaspheming. Because whenever you tell a cessationist about a present-day miracle, most of the time their knee-jerk response is, “God doesn’t do that sort of thing anymore, so I don’t know what you saw, but it wasn’t God. Somebody tricked you. Maybe the devil.” And when certain Pharisees claimed the very same thing about Jesus’s miracles, he warned ’em against blaspheming the Spirit Lk 12.10 because it’s precisely what they were doing. It’s precisely what most cessationists do.

So yeah, it’s a problem. Not for God, ’cause the Holy Spirit is hardly hindered by these people. Not for continuationists (well, most of the time) ’cause again, the Spirit will do his thing in spite of them. It’s for newbies and pagans who don’t know what to think… and for all these Spirit-denying Christians who clearly don’t know the Spirit, who likely aren’t following him, and who might have no real relationship with Jesus at all. Which is gonna suck at the End.

So let’s look at ’em in a little more depth.

The excuse of the false experience.

by K.W. Leslie, 11 June

One of the various blogs I read is by a cessationist, who insists God turned off his miracles after the bible was fully written. Y’know how sometimes names are changed to protect the innocent? I’ll change his to protect the foolish, and call him Wanjala.

Wanjala claims to love the scriptures. No doubt he’s sure he does! But he simply refuses to believe ’em when they state the Holy Spirit’s supernatural gifts are meant to be the normal, everyday practice of present-day Christians. Wanjala doesn’t believe he’s ever had a God-experience, and exactly like those people who can’t bring themselves to believe I met God, he trusts his personal experiences more than he does bible. As a theological conservative he would never, ever admit to doing any such thing. But it’s precisely what he’s doing. He’s the baseline. Not the scriptures.

So according to his firm belief, God Almighty is exactly like those mute idols the gentiles used to worship; 1Co 12.2 he’s not a speaking God. If we ever wanna “hear his voice,” we have the bible. That’s it. That’ll have to do us till Jesus returns. His bible does all his speaking for him.

I bring up Wanjala because some years ago, one of his continuationist friends challenged him to actually try to hear God. For once, could Wanjala just put his personal skepticism aside and simply ask God to speak with him? So Wanjala took him up on it: He asked God whether he had anything to say, and if so, please just say it.

That night, Wanjala had an unusually vivid dream: He dreamed his wife was cheating on him. He even got the man’s name. He didn’t say the name, but since I’m assigning pseudonyms anyway, let’s say it’s Artsiom.

So Wanjala hacked his wife’s Facebook account (as if a smart adulterer would communicate her affair over Facebook… but hey, there are plenty of stupid people out there) and couldn’t find any Artsiom among her contacts and direct messages. Then he asked his wife point-blank if she knew an Artsiom, and interpreted her blank response as if she’d never heard of such a man. I’ll optimistically presume, as did Wanjala, she’s not an exceptional actor. He concluded his wife is innocent… and how stupid it was for him to believe in prophetic dreams.

So that’s what he blogged: He should’ve never sought a personal, extra-biblical communication from God. His fertile imagination led him astray. And that’s what happens when you dare go outside the cessationist bunker: You go all sorts of wrong, dangerous, heretic directions. Because you think, without proof, God told you such-and-so.

Wanjala’s partly right. But mostly wrong.

Don’t exaggerate your testimony. Ever.

by K.W. Leslie, 10 June

It should go without saying that Christians shouldn’t lie. But we do, for various reasons, all bad. So stop. Wean yourself off exaggerating in order to make yourself look good. Wean yourself off dissembling to get yourself out of difficulty. Quit lying. Jesus is truth; Jn 14.6 stick to the truth. There y’go; your mini-sermon for the day.

It should also go without saying we shouldn’t lie when we share our testimonies, and talk about our encounters with God, what he’s told us, and how devoutly we follow him. But once again, we do. Way too many of us do.

It’s out of pure selfishness. We wish we had a really good God-encounter. We wish we witnessed something truly spectacular. And no I don’t mean “spectacular” as in neat; I mean in its original sense as a serious spectacle, something visible which really gets people’s attention. Like when Simon Peter raised Dorcas from the dead Ac 9.36-42 or something. We want these types of stories, because we wanna sound like we have more faith, or more divine favor.

And rather than act in faith, rather than develop our relationship with God so that he’ll grant us greater favors, we take the shortcut and lie. Much easier to be hypocrites than behave, obey, take the leaps of faith, or simply listen.

Hence lying testimonies happen all the time. I know, ’cause I’ve heard plenty. I grew up in church. If you have too, chances are you’ve heard dozens or hundreds of testimonies. Especially if you’re part of a church where sharing one’s testimony is a regular thing: “Anyone have a testimony this week?” and people will get up and share what God recently did for ’em. Some are profound and miraculous. Others are profound, but not all that miraculous—and don’t need to be, because they’re stories well-told, and point to God where appropriate.

But Christians tend to covet dramatic, miraculous stories. So if our stories aren’t miraculous enough… well, sometimes we exaggerate, and make ’em miraculous enough.

Here’s the problem: Embellishing our God-experiences, or telling fake miracle stories, gives people a false picture of who God is. Because we’re presenting a false witness. Remember there’s a commandment against bearing false witness? Ex 20.16, Lv 5.20 This is precisely what the LORD and Moses were talking about: Claiming somebody did what they haven’t done. When we claim God did something he didn’t—even if we imagine we have the best of intentions—it still slanders God. Or to use the old-timey word, it’s blasphemy.

“Don’t seek God-experiences!”

by K.W. Leslie, 09 June

When people wanna know whether God is real, I tell ’em to seek God-experiences. Watch him interact with people in our world, or hear him interact with you personally, and you’ll know for certain he’s real. Especially after you’ve had a whole bunch of these experiences.

New Christians tend to take this advice. Longtime Christians, not so much. Because when someone’s been Christian for a mighty long time, yet have no God-experiences at all, it actually means they’ve been going out of their way to avoid any such experiences. They’ve been intentionally, deliberately staying away from any Christians who dabble in miracles and the supernatural—whom they call continuationist, ’cause we claim miracles have continued from bible times to today, unlike those who say miracles ceased, i.e. cessationists.

Why do they stay away? ’Cause we freak ’em out a little.

Sometimes for totally understandable reasons. I gotta admit, some of us continuationists are straight-up freaks. They bug me too. I’d like to think I’m a pretty tolerant guy (’cause I’m trying to cultivate Jesus’s patience), but some of these freaks are using the Holy Spirit as an excuse for letting their freak flags fly, as if it’s his fault they behave this way. Instead of claiming, “The devil made me do it” (an excuse which works on no one, and shouldn’t), they insist, “The Spirit made me do it”—and no he didn’t. It’s not his fruit!

But more often it’s because the very idea of a present, immanent God, who isn’t way out there in outer space but right here right now, seriously creeps them out. They way prefer the idea of a distant God, who doesn’t intervene, doesn’t correct, and leaves them be. They don’t wanna personally interact with God till they die, and he lets ’em into paradise. Or till the second coming, which they figure isn’t gonna happen for another seven years at least.

And lest they stumble into any continuationist ideas and behavior, their cessationist churches demand they stay away from us. Don’t seek out miracles! Don’t seek out prophecy! Don’t seek out revelation! Don’t. Jesus said not to.

Wait, Jesus said not to? The Jesus? Jesus the Nazarene? Yep. Here’s their proof text.

Mark 8.11-13 KJV
11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with [Jesus], seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. 13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

Luke presents Jesus’s public response with a little more detail.

Luke 11.29-32 KJV
29 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. 30 For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Therefore, cessationists conclude, don’t seek signs from heaven. Don’t seek miracles. If you do, you’re a wicked, evil, condemned generation. Those Christians who seek miracles, and claim to perform them: They’re wicked, evil, and condemned. And all their so-called “miracles” are performed by Beelzebub anyway.

Yep, that’s how cessationists keep Christians away from God-experiences: Call ’em devilish. Blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Claim we’re wrong, not they; that God doesn’t want to interact with his people, and speak to us, cure our diseases, and draw us close; he wants to remain distant. Probably ’cause he can’t abide sin or something.

It’s a profoundly f---ed up view of God, and it’s no wonder more and more people are abandoning those churches for continuationist ones. Rightly so.

Your testimony.

by K.W. Leslie, 08 June
TESTIMONY 'tɛst.ə.moʊ.ni noun. Formal evidence or proof of the existence or appearance of something. (Particularly a statement provided in court.)
2. A public statement, or retelling, of a religious conversion or experience.
[Testify 'tɛs.tə.faɪ verb, witness 'wɪt.nəs noun, verb.]

In the scriptures a testimony or witness refers to, duh, something you personally saw. Something you could make a formal statement about before a judge. Something that was a big, big deal if you presented a false testimony; one of the 10 commandments forbids it.

For the ancient Christians, when they talked about one’s testimony, they meant what we personally saw of Jesus.

1 John 1.1-4 NIV
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

John saw Jesus, learned what he taught, watched what he did, and shared what he knew. That’s his testimony. It could hold up in court. It was kinda meant to, because ancient Christians were hauled into court and had to explain themselves, and that’s exactly what their testimonies did.

Acts 26.1 NIV
Then [King Agrippa Herod 3] said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense…

Paul presented a testimony twice in Acts: Once in temple before a mob, Ac 22 and once on trial before his king. Ac 26 It’s largely the same story—it’s about how Paul used to persecute Christians, but then Jesus personally appeared to him and flipped him. Ac 9.1-22 The point of this story is Paul obviously had a God-experience, because there’s no other reasonable explanation for such a radical change. Yeah, skeptics might insist there has to be another, better explanation; or they’ll just insist he’s nuts, as did Porcius Festus at his trial. Ac 26.24-26 But it’s not about presenting a believable story; it’s about telling the truth as best we can, and if people refuse to believe it, that’s on them.

Anyway that’s what testify, witness, and testimony refer to throughout the scriptures: People saw God do stuff. People have proof God did stuff: A signifiant historical change, a transformed life, miracles, hope, and good fruit.

And if you had a God-experience, you saw something. You’re a witness. You have a testimony. You have something you can share with others. You’re meant to, ’cause sometimes people need or want to know about God, and you saw stuff. Great! Now share what you saw.

“How do you know there’s a God?”

by K.W. Leslie, 07 June

Every so often I’m asked, “How do you know there’s a God?”

No, they’re not asking, “How can we, as humanity, verify the existence of God?” They don’t wanna go over Christian apologists’ various proofs for God’s existence. Sometimes they’ve already heard a few; sometimes they even found them reasonable. But they also found them unconvicting. They couldn’t make the leap from, “I think there’s a God out there” to “So now I’m gonna become Christian.”

In fact if I started listing the proofs of God’s existence, it’d be the fastest way to annoy them. “Well y’see, I know there’s a God because the universe works on cause and effect. So if we trace all the causes back to a first cause…” Yeah, yeah, they didn’t ask for a philosophy lesson. Most folks have heard the “unmoved mover” idea before, and nontheists are pretty sure that unmoved mover is the Horrendous Space Kablooie. They don’t care about that.

What they wanna know is how I, me, K.W. Leslie, the guy who talks about God as if he’s a real guy, the guy who talks about God as if I’ve met him personally, know God exists.

Well that’s easy. I’ve met him personally.

No, really.