A Biblical response to

“What If I’m Wrong?”, a chapter from
From Minister To Honest Doubter: Why I Changed My Mind

 

 

John W. Loftus, carpet cleaner and pool player from Angola, Indiana, claims to be “fully informed” about the Christian faith, and was a former “strong apologist.”  In his book, Loftus fails to answer the questions he raises.  His own words reveal a shocking degree of ignorance about the Bible and Christian doctrine.  Most of his questions can be, in fact, answered from the Bible, indicated as follows.

 

John Loftus’ text is in red.

 


What if I’m wrong about traditional Christianity?

 

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

 

What then?

 

Mark 16:16
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

 

Well, then I will go to hell, however conceived, when I die. And what did I do to deserve to go to hell?

 

John 3:17-18

17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

 

 

I sinned and I didn’t believe in Jesus’ atonement, however conceived, and in his bodily resurrection from the grave.

 

 

Job 9:1-2

    1 Then Job replied:

    2 “Indeed, I know that this is true.
       But how can a mortal be righteous before God?

 

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in [ Or through] Christ Jesus our Lord.

 


John 5:24
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”


Whose fault would this be? Mine?

 

Romans 8:6-8

6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

 

Isaiah 64:6
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

 

Psalm 14:1-3

    1 The fool [a] says in his heart,
       “There is no God.”
       They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
       there is no one who does good.

    2 The LORD looks down from heaven
       on the sons of men
       to see if there are any who understand,
       any who seek God.

    3 All have turned aside,
       they have together become corrupt;
       there is no one who does good,
       not even one.

John 3:19
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

 

Romans 5:12-21

    12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

    15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

    18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

    20The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

I have honest doubts.

 

Romans 3:3-8

   3What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? 4Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written:
   ”So that you may be proved right when you speak
      and prevail when you judge.”
[a]

    5But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—”Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved.

 

Am I to be blamed because I couldn’t understand traditional Christianity?

 

John 3:36

36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.”

 

Romans 2:8
But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

 

 Psalm 101:7

   7 No one who practices deceit
       will dwell in my house;
       no one who speaks falsely
       will stand in my presence.

 

 

I tried with everything in me. I even spent several years earning three master’s degrees and studies in a Ph.D. program to figure my faith out.

 

Mark 10:15
I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

 

Luke 18:17
I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

 

Matthew 11:25

    25At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

 

Acts 4:13

    13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

 

 

 

 If I tried to figure it out and I wasn’t supposed to try then maybe educated people don’t have a chance to be saved?

 

1 Corinthians 1:17-31

      17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

    18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
   ”I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
      the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

    20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

    26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”[d]

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, [ Or his only begotten Son] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

1 John 1:5-7

    5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

 

 

If, however, I’m just not smart enough to figure it out, then only intelligent people who study it out have a chance to be saved.

 

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

 

1 Corinthians 2:12-14

12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.[a] 14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

 

 

Maybe the only people who have a chance to be saved are those who aren’t educated or who aren’t very intelligent?

 

Matthew 22:37
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

 

Mark 12:30
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

 

Luke 10:27
He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind

 

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

 

 But who gave us our mental equipment in the first place? Didn’t God create us? Does this mean that when we’re born some of us are condemned from the start because of our mental equipment leading us to believe, or not?

 

Romans 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 

And if God gave it to us, and if only unintelligent people can be saved, then it’s set in stone the day we’re born what the possibilities for each one of us are.

 

1 John 5:9-11

9We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.



What if I’m simply deceiving myself about my doubts? What if they aren’t honest at all, and my claim that they are is disingenuous? Perhaps unconsciously I’m rebelling against God. Well, I’m simply not consciously aware of any attempt to rebel against God, nor am I consciously aware of any attempt to deceive myself at all. I have been a counselor in churches where I served and I know how to dig into my own unconscious mind enough to know that my doubts are honest ones. That’s all I can say.

 

 

Mark 4:1-20

    1Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. 2He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3”Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”

    9Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    10When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12so that,
   ” 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
      and ever hearing but never understanding;
   otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'[a]

    13Then Jesus said to them, “Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14The farmer sows the word. 15Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”



But what if I’m being deceived by the traditional devil to have these doubts?

 

1 John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

 

Maybe he is playing tricks on me, making me think my doubts are honest ones, when they are not? Well, if that’s so then I have no chance to win a debate with him.

 

1 John 4:4

   4Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

 

 

 According to the traditional faith he’s much too intelligent and powerful for me to overcome.

 

James 4:7
6But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
   ”God opposes the proud
      but gives grace to the humble.”[a]

    7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

1 Peter 5:7-11

   “God opposes the proud
      but gives grace to the humble.”[a] 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

    8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

    10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 6:10-18

    10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

 

 

 If he deceives me, then I am deceived. The question is why an all-powerful God didn’t help me. The devil wouldn’t have a chance against God, but why does God do nothing to help me overcome my doubts?

 

James 1:2-8

   2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a doubleminded man, unstable in all he does.

 

 

While I was beginning to doubt I would pray regularly to God to help me overcome my doubts. Then as my doubts were gaining a foothold on me I was praying that God would help me know the truth. Now I pray that I’m not being deceived.

 

1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

 

Romans 10:9-11

9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”[a]

 Proverbs 3:5-6

   5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;

    6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will make your paths straight.

Philippians 4

    4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

    10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.



Maybe I was being tested with several experiences like Job but I simply failed the test?

 

James 5:11
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

 

 

 So my doubts are now my condemnation, and because of them I’m going to hell when I die. If I failed the test, then I failed the test, and that’s all I can say about it. But didn’t God know in advance that if certain things would happen in my life that I would indeed fail the test? Then why test me like that?

 

Romans 5:3-5

3Not only so, but we[a] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

 

2 Peter 1: 1-11

    1Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
      To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

    2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

    3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

    5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

    10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Why let the devil do what he did, if in fact it was a test?

 

Deuteronomy 13

    1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

 

James 1:4
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

 

If it was a test then it makes me feel like a pawn in a cosmic game of chess. Is this really what happened? God was playing with my life just to win a challenge with the devil?

 

 

Isaiah 29:16
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”?

 

James 1:12-15

    12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

    13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

 

 That’s disgustingly like experimenting on captive prisoners with new drugs and surgical procedures so that the science of medicine can advance.

Isaiah 45:9
“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?

Job 38

The LORD Speaks

    1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:

    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
       with words without knowledge?

    3 Brace yourself like a man;
       I will question you,
       and you shall answer me.

    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
       Tell me, if you understand.

    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
       Who stretched a measuring line across it?

    6 On what were its footings set,
       or who laid its cornerstone-

    7 while the morning stars sang together
       and all the angels [a] shouted for joy?

    8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
       when it burst forth from the womb,

    9 when I made the clouds its garment
       and wrapped it in thick darkness,

    10 when I fixed limits for it
       and set its doors and bars in place,

    11 when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther;
       here is where your proud waves halt'?

    12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
       or shown the dawn its place,

    13 that it might take the earth by the edges
       and shake the wicked out of it?

    14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
       its features stand out like those of a garment.

    15 The wicked are denied their light,
       and their upraised arm is broken.

    16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
       or walked in the recesses of the deep?

    17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
       Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death [b] ?

    18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
       Tell me, if you know all this.

    19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
       And where does darkness reside?

    20 Can you take them to their places?
       Do you know the paths to their dwellings?

    21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
       You have lived so many years!

    22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
       or seen the storehouses of the hail,

    23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
       for days of war and battle?

    24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
       or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?

    25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
       and a path for the thunderstorm,

    26 to water a land where no man lives,
       a desert with no one in it,

    27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
       and make it sprout with grass?

    28 Does the rain have a father?
       Who fathers the drops of dew?

    29 From whose womb comes the ice?
       Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens

    30 when the waters become hard as stone,
       when the surface of the deep is frozen?

    31 “Can you bind the beautiful [c] Pleiades?
       Can you loose the cords of Orion?

    32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons [d]
       or lead out the Bear [e] with its cubs?

    33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
       Can you set up God's [f] dominion over the earth?

    34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
       and cover yourself with a flood of water?

    35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
       Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?

    36 Who endowed the heart [g] with wisdom
       or gave understanding to the mind [h] ?

    37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
       Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens

    38 when the dust becomes hard
       and the clods of earth stick together?

    39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
       and satisfy the hunger of the lions

    40 when they crouch in their dens
       or lie in wait in a thicket?

    41 Who provides food for the raven
       when its young cry out to God
       and wander about for lack of food?

Job 39

    1 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
       Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

    2 Do you count the months till they bear?
       Do you know the time they give birth?

    3 They crouch down and bring forth their young;
       their labor pains are ended.

    4 Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;
       they leave and do not return.

    5 “Who let the wild donkey go free?
       Who untied his ropes?

    6 I gave him the wasteland as his home,
       the salt flats as his habitat.

    7 He laughs at the commotion in the town;
       he does not hear a driver's shout.

    8 He ranges the hills for his pasture
       and searches for any green thing.

    9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you?
       Will he stay by your manger at night?

    10 Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness?
       Will he till the valleys behind you?

    11 Will you rely on him for his great strength?
       Will you leave your heavy work to him?

    12 Can you trust him to bring in your grain
       and gather it to your threshing floor?

    13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
       but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork.

    14 She lays her eggs on the ground
       and lets them warm in the sand,

    15 unmindful that a foot may crush them,
       that some wild animal may trample them.

    16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;
       she cares not that her labor was in vain,

    17 for God did not endow her with wisdom
       or give her a share of good sense.

    18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,
       she laughs at horse and rider.

    19 “Do you give the horse his strength
       or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?

    20 Do you make him leap like a locust,
       striking terror with his proud snorting?

    21 He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength,
       and charges into the fray.

    22 He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
       he does not shy away from the sword.

    23 The quiver rattles against his side,
       along with the flashing spear and lance.

    24 In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground;
       he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.

    25 At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, 'Aha!'
       He catches the scent of battle from afar,
       the shout of commanders and the battle cry.

    26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
       and spread his wings toward the south?

    27 Does the eagle soar at your command
       and build his nest on high?

    28 He dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
       a rocky crag is his stronghold.

    29 From there he seeks out his food;
       his eyes detect it from afar.

    30 His young ones feast on blood,
       and where the slain are, there is he.”

Job 40

    1 The LORD said to Job:

    2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
       Let him who accuses God answer him!”


…We humans disagree about all things that can be disagreed about. Some things are much more important than other things. … Political issues, security issues, economical issues, family issues, health issues, moral issues, and religious issues are considered by all of us to have greater or lesser importance for each of us given our own particular situation in life.

No wonder there are so many different religions, and so many splinter groups of each religion, or no religion at all!

Romans 3:29-31

29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

 

Ephesians 4:4-6

4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

 

John 7:17

17If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

 

1 John 4:1-6

    1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

    4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

 

 According to religious people, whether God is pleased with us and where we will spend eternity are the most important issues of all.

Romans 8: 1-17

    1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in sinful man,[d] 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

    5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

    9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

    12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.[g] And by him we cry, “Abba,[h] Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:4
On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 4:1
Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

 

 And it’s no surprise we disagree. But if we cannot agree on lesser important issues, then why is it that we should be any more logical when it comes to religious issues? The more important the issue is to us, the more we cling to it and the more our emotions run wild while we try to defend our viewpoint. It would certainly seem to me that the more important the issue is to us, the less rational we are with regard to it, and the less likely we’re going to give it up.

James 1:19-25

    19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

    22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.



If this is all the case, then it is simply impossible for God to judge anyone based upon what they believe.

Romans 3:9-26

    9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better[b]? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written:
   ”There is no one righteous, not even one;
       11there is no one who understands,
      no one who seeks God.
    12All have turned away,
      they have together become worthless;
   there is no one who does good,
      not even one.”[c]
    13”Their throats are open graves;
      their tongues practice deceit.”[d]
   ”The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[e]
       14”Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[f]
    15”Their feet are swift to shed blood;
       16ruin and misery mark their ways,
    17and the way of peace they do not know.”[g]
       18”There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[h]

    19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

    21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

 

God cannot judge anyone for not holding to the correct set of beliefs.

Matthew 7:15-23

    15”Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

    21”Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Whether one believes the Koran or the Bible, whether they are Mormon or Jew, whether they are Catholic or Protestant, there is simply no way God could condemn someone for not believing the correct things about religious issues. Period.

Acts 4:8-12

    8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is
   ” 'the stone you builders rejected,
      which has become the capstone.[a]'[b] 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

1 Timothy 2

    1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

 

Why? Because I’m pretty sure most all of us are wrong about some crucial religious issues. I’m probably wrong too. So why should God condemn us for being wrong, when the odds are very high that we are wrong?

Romans 9:14-21

    14What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15For he says to Moses,
   ”I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
      and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[f] 16It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

    19One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' “[h] 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Romans 10: 1-13 

    1Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

    5Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”[a] 6But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'[b]” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7”or 'Who will descend into the deep?'[c]” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]


God cannot even judge us for how we behave, because how we behave flows out of that which we believe, and that which we believe flows from the sum total of experiences and thoughts that we have encountered for as long as we have been alive. I believe all of us—every single one of us—does the best we can given our gray brain matter, along with our life experiences.

 

Psalms 14:2-3

    2 The LORD looks down from heaven
       on the sons of men
       to see if there are any who understand,
       any who seek God.

    3 All have turned aside,
       they have together become corrupt;
       there is no one who does good,
       not even one.

Romans 8:6-8

6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

 

Isaiah 64:6
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

 

 

There can be no harsh judgment from God.

 

Jeremiah 17

       5 This is what the LORD says:
       “Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
       who depends on flesh for his strength
       and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

    6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
       he will not see prosperity when it comes.
       He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
       in a salt land where no one lives.

    7 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
       whose confidence is in him.

    8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
       that sends out its roots by the stream.
       It does not fear when heat comes;
       its leaves are always green.
       It has no worries in a year of drought
       and never fails to bear fruit.”

    9 The heart is deceitful above all things
       and beyond cure.
       Who can understand it?

    10 “I the LORD search the heart
       and examine the mind,
       to reward a man according to his conduct,
       according to what his deeds deserve.”



If I am wrong about anything I have written in this book, then I am wrong.

 

Romans 3:3-5

    3What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? 4Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written:
   ”So that you may be proved right when you speak
      and prevail when you judge.”[a]

    5But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)

 

 

And I probably am wrong about some things, and maybe about many things. I know this. But it doesn’t stop me from doing the best that I can with this religiously ambiguous universe.

 

John 14:6
Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

Luke 10:22
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

 

1 John 5:1-15

    1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

    6This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

    13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

 

 

 For me it is an intellectual matter.

 

1 Corinthians 1:17-31

17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

    18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
   ”I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
      the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

    20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

    26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”[d]

 

I think I am right about what I believe, and I think I’m right about what I don’t believe. I could be wrong, but I think I’m right. I am an honest doubter, a sincere doubter, and yes, even a believing doubter.


May God be pleased with me for doing the best that I can.

 

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

 

Romans 14:11-12

11It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;
      every tongue will confess to God.’ “[a] 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

 

John 3

   16”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.[g] 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”[h]

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.