Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog

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  • Corey P

    Why Is It Ok For God To Take People’s Lives But Not Ous? And If God Created You Does That Make Him Your Father? But I Thought That God Only Has One Son As the Bible Said. And Can God Make You Great At A Sport?

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Corey,
    God can bring people back to to life and humans cannot do that, so it is OK for him to take people’s lives. As our Creator, our lives belong to him. He is certainly our heavenly father, but he is not our physical, earthly father. Every person has an earthly father, and once they accept Jesus as their Savior, they have a heavenly father in God. Jesus is very special to God, and is therefore a different kind of son than the rest of us. Jesus has always existed along with God the Father and has always been his Son, but we are adopted into God’s family when we believe in Jesus.

    Can God make you great at a sport? Yes, he can, but he is much more interested in whether you believe that Jesus died for your sins and was resurrected from the dead. He wants you to live a holy life and become more like Jesus, because Jesus lived a perfect moral life.

    I hope these answers helped,
    Bill

  • Frank Paris

    Those are two different convents, given at two different times and to two different people :D in fact plural marriage can be found in the bible under the old testament even Abraham hard more then one wife.

    But about the testament perhaps the problem is the word “another”

    http://www.answers.com/another

    If you ask Mormons they will tell you that it is another another in the sense and lets make a new covenant but as An additional one made to other people not of the same fold and he will gather them and they will have one pasture.

    Hope that helps, cya. Best just to ask them instead of making our own conclusions.

  • Frank Paris

    Opps sorry for typo I was in a hurry.

    If you ask Mormons they will tell you that it is not another testament as in a new testament but as an additional one made to other people not of the same fold as the script says: he will gather them and they will have one shepherd.

    John 10:16

  • http://aerialflights.com Donovan

    Why is it that the church is so hung up on gay this and gay that. Aren’t we supposed to follow JESUS. So what did Jesus say in the bible about Gays?

    NOTHING! What is wrong with the church. OH yeah, well the church also voted for BUSH and as DR. Phil would say, “Howd that work out for you LOL. So much for Bush having the mind of Christ, lmao.

    WAKE UP, the christian church today in America has NOTHING to do with JESUS>. Time to start over.

  • Bill Pratt

    Donovan,
    Jesus never speaks out against rape either. Should we also not concern ourselves with that topic? He doesn’t talk about child pornograpy. Shold we ignore that topic?

    There are many things that Jesus did not talk about, but are covered in other parts of the Bible. As Christians we do not just read the words of Jesus when he was on earth. We read the entire Word of God.

    BP

  • colemanford

    Good word concerning Christ’s divinity. Precise and to the point. Thanks!

  • abebrarub

    Sorry for commenting OFFTOPIC … what WordPress template do you use? It looks awesome!

  • Bill Pratt

    Vermilion

  • http://www.mutuelle-sante-fsp.com Mutuelle santé

    very useful post, especially for people like me who are new to blogging. Thanks.

  • http://www.biblesforsale.net Kitty Kofford

    God is great praise him!

  • http://www.truefreethinker.com Mariano Grinbank

    Please pardon if this email is uncontextual to this email address as I was not sure exactly where to send it.

    My name is Mariano Grinbank and I am an amateur Christian apologist.

    I simply wanted to make you aware of a viewable online video of my debate with an atheist on the issue of morality.

    If you are so inclined to view it, please do so at my website found at this link:
    http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/atheist-vs-christian-debate-morality-natural-or-supernatural

    I would appreciate any comments, criticisms (as this was my first public debate) or to have you pass it along to others.

    I believe that it is a good resource for Christians who want to learn how to defend the Triune God of the Bible and not a generic “g” “o” “d” and also great for seeing how the Darwinian/evolutionary/atheistic worldview has consequences as my opponent seeks (rather desperately) to a argue for absolute/objective morals yet, argues—both—that morality is and also is not based on majority opinion.

    Keep up the good work and the God work,
    Mariano

  • Bill Pratt

    Mariano,
    Thanks for the comment. When I get a chance, I will take a look at the debate. I poked around your website and it looks like there are a lot of good articles there. I am always pleased to find other Christian apologists on the internet, and I certainly hope to see your continued success. Feel free to join in any of the discussions we have here at TQA. I would welcome your participation.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Doubting T

    Hi Bill,

    Just want to give you a “thumbs up” over the “Books We’re Reading”. Donald R. Prothero’s “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” is one of his many books that clearly state the case for evolution. I have to assume that to realize that many theists accept the scientific position on evolution. So, IMHO, I wonder why an educated and thoughtful person like you would conflate the ID movement with legitimate science.

  • Bill Pratt

    Thom,
    In a nutshell, I have read numerous ID books from a wide range of authors, I have listened to them make their case, and I find their case to be worthy of further research. Their ideas make a lot of sense to me, and I have found that in about 95% of the cases where I read criticisms of their work, the critics do not understand the central claims of ID. Until I see critics actually take on the central claims of ID proponents, and knock them out convincingly, I will continue to support ID theory and hope that progress is made.

    By the way, I have changed my mind on biological origins when presented with good evidence. When I knew very little about evolution, I was a young earth creationist. As I learned more about the astronomical and geological evidence for dating the earth and universe, I abandoned that position.

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    Do you have an explanation for why science has not accepted ID? I have given you my thoughts on the matter. Please do not repeat any vague conspiracy theory. By the way, you never answered my question: If science does not accept ID, why should I?

    I would think that if ID was a scientifically valid theory able to be tested SOMEONE would have done so. Just think of the publicity that would generate. Why has it not been done?

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    You mentioned “— the critics do not understand the central claims of ID”. Please concisely state them for me, if you will, and tell me how to formulate a scientifically theory for such that can be tested objectively.

  • Bill Pratt

    ID posits that complex and specified information (CSI) exists within certain biological structures (such as DNA). It also claims that the only known source for CSI is intelligent agency. It seems to me all you have to do to disprove these claims is show that CSI does not exist in biological structures (like DNA) or show that CSI can be generated from non-intelligent sources. I have not seen either of these two done.

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    ID makes the claim that the only known source for CSI is intelligent agency and you want others to disprove this claim. You know that the one making the positive assertion had the obligation to prove it.

    If you look back at at least one of my posts in the thread “Is ID Creationism?” you will find sources that show CSI CAN be generated from non-intelligent sources.

    By the way, the term CSI is not accepted by the scientific community, as it is solely used by the ID movement.

  • Bill Pratt

    ID is an inference to the best explanation. It posits the source of complex specified information in biological organisms. ID is saying that at some point in biological history an intelligent agent acted to input information into organisms, but this may have been a one-time occurrence, and cannot be tested in a lab. This is no different from evolutionary science which posits numerous genetic mutations which, acting with natural selection, generated massive body plan changes in the animal kingdom over millions of years. There is no way to test these claims in a lab as it all happened in the distant past. This is the way historical science is done.

    Why does the scientific community largely dismiss ID? A couple reasons. One: the vast majority of scientists haven’t taken the time to even look at the theory and have just accepted the opinions of the small group of scientists who have looked at it. Two: ID, like all new scientific paradigms, will take time to be accepted because it challenges too many deep-seated philosophical prejudices in the scientific community. Let’s admit that offering an intelligent agent as the source of information in living organisms goes against a lot of entrenched scientific ideas. The concepts of Darwinian evolution have dominated biology for decades, so why should we think that they will fall in a day?

    No new theory of science will win massive numbers of converts if it is attacking some of the fundamental beliefs of the current scientific community. This has been well documented by philosophers of science. These things take time.

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    If you feel that our conversation would be better handled through email rather than your blog, just email me and we can proceed.

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    “ID is an inference to the best explanation —” Again, an unsupported inference gives me no reason to accept it. You may be correct, but I have no obligation to accept it until ID goes through the rigors of the scientific method and is shown to be probably correct.

    The fundamental difference between us is that you accept ID before it is accepted by science and I await for scientific acceptance. You still give me no reason to accept ID before science does.

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    “This is no different from evolutionary science which posits numerous genetic mutations which, acting with natural selection, generated massive body plan changes in the animal kingdom over millions of years. There is no way to test these claims in a lab as it all happened in the distant past.”

    Several scientific disciplines support evolution through natural selection as the best explanation for the functions of life. As I have stated, the pharma, agricultural and biotech industries use the theory of evolution daily to advance our knowledge and standard of living. To my way of thinking, this is testing the claims of evolution in the lab setting.

  • Doubting T

    Bill,

    “ID, like all new scientific paradigms, will take time to be accepted because it challenges too many deep-seated philosophical prejudices in the scientific community.”

    Just what are the “deep-seated philosophical prejudices in the scientific community”? I hope you are not referring to the principle of Methodological Naturalism that science has to assume. If you challenge this core principle, what do you put in its place and what do you call it? Faith?

    “Let’s admit that offering an intelligent agent as the source of information in living organisms goes against a lot of entrenched scientific ideas.”

    Again, how do we test for this intelligent agent?

  • Bill Pratt

    Thom,
    You are confusing two different kinds of science. Historical sciences look at events that occurred in the past, but are not occurring repeatedly today. Operational sciences study events that are occurring every day. There is no ability to test in the lab the conclusions of historical sciences, because we don’t have time machines. How can you directly test something in a lab when it occurred 50 million years ago? You can’t. So asking ID proponents to produce an intelligent agent who is injecting information into biological organisms today is silly. They are not claiming that the process is occurring today; they are claiming it occurred in the past.

    What evolutionary scientists are testing in the lab are small-scale genetic changes and their effects on organisms (microevolution). They have no way to test the extrapolation of these changes over millions of years. The isolated genetic events which caused fish to become amphibians, and amphibians to become reptiles, and so forth, cannot be repeated in a lab.

  • http://ratioprimoris.blogspot.com/ Doubting T

    Bill,

    I am not confusing historical and operational science. I certainly understand the differences.

    I am only trying to make the point that ID theory does not measure up to the standards of science. You continue to dance around this point. If by faith you believe in ID, fine. Just do not call it science.

    Please focus on answering at least some of the questions I have asked you:

    Why should I accept ID if it is not science? (Please do not, once again, call it science. It may one day be science, but presently it is a postulation unable to be tested)

    Why are you not addressing the sourced comments I have made that “CSI” CAN be generated from non-intelligent sources?

    What are the “deep-seated philosophical prejudices in the scientific community”?

  • Bill Pratt

    Thom,
    What is science? I obviously don’t understand what you mean by the word.

  • http://ratioprimoris.blogspot.com/ Doubting T

    Science is the systematic gathering of knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories. It is based on methodological naturalism, which “maintains that scientific investigation must adhere to empirical study and independent verification as a process for properly developing and evaluating natural explanations for phenomena” (Brugger, E. Christian (2004). “Casebeer, William D. Natural Ethical Facts: Evolution, Connectionism, and Moral Cognition”. The Review of Metaphysics 58 (2))

    Methodological naturalism rejects supernatural explanations, as by definition such explanations cannot be tested. If supernatural effects could be tested, then they would be natural.

    If you disagree with methodological naturalism being the basis of science, please explain the alternative.

  • Bill Pratt

    OK, so why doesn’t ID fit that definition? It looks to me like it does, in the same way that evolutionary theory about the origin of species does. There is no difference between the two.

  • http://ratioprimoris.blogspot.com/ Doubting T

    ID is not accepted by science because it has not met the standards needed to be studied, whereas evolutionary theory has done so. And you believe evolutionary theory and ID are no different? Wow.

    I know the ID proponents avoid talking about “the designer”. Without defining who or what the designer is, how can you establish a scientific hypothesis? How can you predict, measure and quantify whether the designer is supernatural or an alien?

    Questions that evolution answers are as firmly rooted in empirical evidence and methodological naturalism as any other science. ID does not have a testable hypothesis. ID does not answer scientific questions.

  • Bill Pratt

    ID doesn’t care who the designer is. It is establishing that a designer exists. When archaeologists find a crude painting in a cave, do they say, “Gee. We’ll never know who painted this, so we cannot posit that a painter exists.” No. They know that paintings come from painters because we see that all the time in our uniform experience. We also know from our uniform experience that CSI comes from minds, not mindless natural laws.

    Thom, I still don’t think you understand historical science. Tell me how evolutionists will empirically test the hypothesis that at some point hundreds of millions of years ago a particular fish was born with a particular set of genetic mutations that caused it to gain some of the capabilities of an amphibian. How do you empirically test this hypothesis?

  • http://ratioprimoris.blogspot.com/ Doubting T

    “We also know from our uniform experience that CSI comes from minds, not mindless natural laws.”

    Note my previous posts:

    The following websites show evidence of evolutionary “spontaneous generation”:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6816666?dopt=Abstract

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nylon-eating_bacteria

    Evolution through selection is frequently used to design certain electronic, aeronautic and automotive systems which are considered problems too complex for human “intelligent designers”.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19526146.000-evolutionary-algorithms-now-surpass-human-designers.html

    Artificial life researchers regularly find their simulations of evolution producing novelties and increased complexity.

    http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit/nflr3.txt

    In summary, evolutionary theory involves both experiments and observations. Your focus on “historical science” is frankly a weak attempt to obfuscate this topic and create a red herring. You continue to avoid answering my direct questions.

    I used to think you were an honest person who was allowing confirmation bias to cloud your beliefs. My opinion has changed over our recent interactions. I now believe that you are consciously aware of my points but are refusing to address them because they are not in keeping with your beliefs. In my last post on the “Is ID creationism” I stated that I am “out of here” because of your refusal to answer my direct questions. Noting your reading of a truly scientific book on evolution, I thought I would compliment you on such. Unfortunately for me, this just lead to more of the same from you.

    I have done my best to enlighten you regarding the reality of true science.

    Peace and good bye.

    Tom

  • Bill Pratt

    Thom,
    Not sure why you started resorting to personal attacks. I’ll be generous and assume you’re having a bad day. :)

    I don’t have time to go off and read all the articles you’re sending my way right now. Could you summarize each one of them so that I can get the gist of what they’re saying? Or maybe we can make a deal. I’ll read all of these articles if you’ll read Signature in the Cell.

    Also, you’ve inspired me to write a post on how historical science is different from experimental or operational science. This issue has us hung up, and I think it confuses many other people as well.

  • http://ratioprimoris.blogspot.com/ Doubting T

    Bill,

    Sorry for the ad hominem. I got carried away with my frustration over you not answering my questions.

    At this point I think it best for us to agree to disagree. You have your worldview base and so do I. I know I will not be persuaded by anything you may say at this point, as I have studied all the issues involved with theism and science and have done an 180 degree turn several years ago based on this LONG process. I feel very comfortable with my worldview presently.

    I would ask you to at least answer my main question of why I should accept ID if science does not. If you do not want to answer, that’s fine and I will respect your decision. However, being a Christian/theist does not necessarily mean you reject evolution. So I’m really wondering why you are so committed to this movement, especially with your professional and educational background.

    I wish you well.

    Tom

  • Bill Pratt

    Thom,
    Until you read one of the books written by ID proponents, like Signature in the Cell, I would not expect you to accept ID. I believe that the ideas in ID will keep winning more and more adherents in the scientific community, but this may take decades. Every radical new scientific idea goes through this slow process of the mainstream scientific community rejecting it, and then eventually, if the idea proves fruitful, the mainstream comes around. You are saying that you will wait until the mainstream comes around, and that’s fine. That’s what most people will do.

    Bye for now,
    Bill

  • http://ratioprimoris.blogspot.com/ Doubting T

    Bill,

    I have read summaries and critiques of Signature in the Cell. I don’t expect you to accept my response but I will make it anyway —- it has been soundly refuted by the scientific community.

    Since you have not answered my questions, I will just state some thoughts and be on my way.

    I have been fighting pseudoscience in the form of alternative medicine for decades. I find much of your phraseology in support of ID similar to the statements of alternative medicine practitioners. You may want to check out quackwatch.org to see for yourself.

    There are some commonalities among ID and Alternative Medicine (AM), for example:

    Both ID and AM embody the concept of Pseudoscience:

    Pseudoscience is a methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not adhere to an appropriate scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, or otherwise lacks scientific status. (Oxford English Dictionary; Hansson, Sven Ove (1996)

    ID presents an unverifiable “Intelligent Designer” and AM talks about an unverifiable “energy field” to fill supposed “gaps” in knowledge.

    Both ID and AM complain about an organized science conspiracy against them.

    Proponents of ID generally are willing to accept “microevolution” but not “macroevolution”. However, biologists do not see a relevant difference between microevolution and macroevolution. Both happen in the same way and for the same reasons, so there is no real reason to differentiate between them. There is no magic line between microevolution and macroevolution as far as science is concerned. Macroevolution is merely the result of alot of microevolution over a long period of time. Another problem with differentiating these terms is that the definition of what constitutes a species is not consistently defined.

    “Proponents of ID generally attempt to contrast historical origins science with experimental empirical science. This is wrong because historical origins science is based on observations so it is empirical.” (http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/histsci.htm) — Of note, this statement is from the American Scientific Affiliation, which is an organization of scientists – and engineers, and scholars in fields related to science, such as philosophy of science, history of science, and science education — who are Christians.

    Bill, you mentioned that you were a YEC at one time. Frankly, I find that INCREDIBLE for an educated and thoughtful person like you. I see in you someone who, for whatever reason, has bought into the fundamentalist/Evangelical worldview and is VERY GRADUALLY picking up alternative views. I encourage you to continue to open your mind to the beauty of reality.

    Really and for the last time, I am out of here!

    Tom

  • Bill Pratt

    Thom,
    Please just pick up Signature in the Cell and read it for yourself. Stop reading other people’s reviews of it. Until you do, you really won’t know much about ID, which is strange for a person that prides himself on investigating things for himself. You’ve spent an incredible amount of time on the blog criticizing ID theory, but you’ve never read a book by a proponent. I encourage you to open your mind, just as you’ve encouraged me. I have never stopped reading books by authors with whom I disagree, but you cannot say the same.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • http://www.monergismo.com Marcelo Herberts

    My dear brother

    about your article:
    http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2009/11/30/what-do-god-and-science-have-to-do-with-each-other/

    “Science offers a method for observing and then explaining facts about the natural world, so science is the study of God’s general revelation. Christians that forsake science are, in effect, dismissing God’s general revelation.”

    Science is absolutely irrational. It is helpful, but this is very different to say it can provide rational knowledge about anything.

    Please, read what Vincent Cheung has to say about this all.
    http://www.vincentcheung.com
    Read his Presuppositional Confrontations:
    http://www.vincentcheung.com/books/presupp2010.pdf

    In Christ

    marcelo h.

  • THIEN C. LE

    Is speaking in tongues right or wrong?
    Why?

    Thien

  • http://www.cifdn.org Victor Bitar

    12/05/10
    I love what you do, and would like to connect by phone to explore how I may be able to contribute to your wonderful efforts.
    I have been blessed as ONLY VERY FEW can claim. My genuine Christian roots go back to the early church; have been born and raised in an Evangelical family in northwetern Syria (2 days by mule from the Antioch), and have committed my life to The Lord at age 11.
    Would love to share more. Vic http://www.naturestorer.com

  • Theodore A. Jones

    I was reading a book the other day by a fellow who claims to be a Christian and knows all about God who said that we have to obey a law to be saved. Do you think this person is wrong and maybe he is a false teacher?

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Theodore,
    I’m afraid I need more detail about what the author said before I can say anything intelligent in response. Can you provide some quotes or more detail?

  • Theodore A. Jones

    “It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13

  • Bill Pratt

    Theodore,
    I would keep reading through the end of chapter 3 in Romans. I’m reminded of a saying: “A text without context is merely a prooftext.”

  • Theodore A. Jones

    Well now that’s highly assumptive that I haven’t read Romans and the rest of the Bible too. Is the question too tough or are you having an intelligence failure? Which reminds me of something else this author wrote in another one of his books “confound the intelligence of the intelligent”. I don’t think an equivocation is quite up to the par of Yes or No and I also think Yes or No is commanded isn’t it?

  • Theodore A. Jones

    Whatsamatter Pratt cat got your tongue or something? I thought the rule is always be ready to give an answer about your hope. I think always is a constant isn’t it? Who knows the whole world maybe here watching for what you are gonna do.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Makes sense about being always “ready to give an answer about your hope” as you quote it.
    The injunction does not read “always be ready to enter into combat with those who wish to pick a fight.”

    Not much point in that, as I am slow to learn.

  • perplexed_indian

    What is the problem in that Romans 2:13 verse ?

  • Theodore A. Jones

    Rom. 2:13 is not the problem. But by being stated it reveals the problem that it is a false assumption to believe that your salvation from the penalty of sin is not predicated upon the faith to obey a law. No matter what you think or have been taught no person is going get a ride into God’s kingdom on the back of the sin of murder caused by bloodshed. Therefore the assumption that Jesus died in anyone’s place is entirely false.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Perplexed, at least the way I understand Paul, is that in Romans 2:13, he was In the process of stating the problem, not in proclaiming the solution.

    As he explores the state of different peoples, he first talks about those who have deceived themselves and abandoned God. He then contrasts them with Israel, who know the law, and have both Moses and the Prophets. But he says that knowing the law will not bring reconciliation with God, you have to actually DO it, obey the law to righteousness. But as he continues, he points out the real problem starting in Romans 3:9

    What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both kJews and lGreeks, are under sin, as it is written:
    n“None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”

    The problem is that there is no one; Pagan, Jew, Christian, me or you who have actually been able to fulfill that standard in Romans 2:13

    Humans, if we see at all that we are separated by God (and that issue is taken up in Chapter 1) often tend to say “Just tell us the rules! God needs to be clear!” we want to know “the rules” by which we can be restored to God, to be saved. And when we think we have found them, we want to proclaim them.

    But the problem is that, no matter who clear, profound or reasonable a set of rules is, no one has been able to consistently follow them. If following “the Rules” is the key to restoration, and it is as 2:13 proclaims, then we are without hope, God’s plan in creation has come to naught and heaven is un-peopled —“none is righteous.”

    Paul, having demonstrated why the law, or “the rules” will not work to produce righteousness, but only reveal that we all are unrighteous, goes on to show what God has done about that. And that is where Grace and the the work of Jesus enters.

    It’s not that Law doesn’t matter –it is that Law cannot produce the results it wants. Righteousness must precede Law (and works of righteousness must follow righteousness).

    Please excuse me for saying a great many things that I expect you already know. But I think it likely that people of all sorts of levels may raise the same question.

  • Theodore A. Jones

    See Rom. 5:20 a law has been added to the law to fulfill it after Jesus’ crucifixion and it is this law that MUST be obeyed or not be declared righteous by God. I am well aware of what you think, but no man is transformed by not renewing his mind.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    How do you understand that law has been added to the law? Romans 5:20 does not suggest that.
    The rest of the chapter makes it pretty plain that Paul was refering to the oringinal giving of the Law, and that Law having been given so that our sin is plain to see.

    no person is going get a ride into God’s kingdom on the back of the sin of murder caused by bloodshed. Therefore the assumption that Jesus died in anyone’s place is entirely false

    From reading this, and the other strings you have been involved with, I have a hard time understanding what you are saying in any way that does not violate Romans 5:9,10 , esp. that we have “been justivfied by His blood, that we will be saved from the wrath of God through Him, and that we were reconcilled to God through the death of His Son”

    How can you support the assertion that Jesus did not die on anyone’s place considering such passages as Romans 4:25 and Romnas 5:6 (just to stay in Romans)

    I can understand that the idea of Jesus being tortured and murdered is heinous. The idea that such a crime should lay to my gain sees very wrong. But did Jesus Hmself not say that no one had the authority to take His life, save such authority had been given that man? Or did He not say that His life was not “taken” but that He lay it down, and would therefore take it up again?

    You are of course right that we, both you and I, must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Often when I here this quote in argument, the person using it is telling me that I must humble myself and accept his position. They fail to realize that the argument cuts both ways.

    Again, after reading your other conversations via googling on your name in quotation marks, then looking for references that corrospond thematically, I do not expect much thoughtful exchange. But I am curious as to how you understand verses such as I mentioned in light of your central assertions.

    Indeed, I would be interested in reading a short summary of what you understand by “The Gospel” Sometimes that can reveal unity where other words seem to be about division.
    Of course, the converse is also true.

  • Theodore A. Jones

    “And for Your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.” Do you happen to fall within the classification of EACH man, Too?

    The short summary of the gospel of God is “It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who OBEY the law who will be declared righteous.”

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Thank you for your response. Mine will be somewhat direct, and I hope clear. 

    The simple and straightforward response to your question is Yes.

    As your quote from Genesis 9 calls, I too face a judgment and accounting that on my own I am utterly incapable of meeting. I am strictly a garden variety sinner, totally unfit for the company of Heaven and my creator’s approval. Even when I am perfectly successful for a all too brief time in following the law, my obedience is often by willpower, and is not the desire of my heart. I obey because I am supposed to, not because it is who I am. I often do not wish to do right, to love God with ALL my heart…, or to love my neighbor as myself. I often commit the work required, but inwardly wish it were not required. On my own, the best I can do is the equivalence of the whitewashed tombs of which my Lord spoke. 

    As Romans 3, and indeed the entire book makes abundantly clear, I am not unique. Mine is the condition of all humanity. I assume you also are among this number, or are you able to come to judgment based on your own perfection?  

    That is where Christianity starts. Unable to escape sin on my own, and yet saved by grace. As in Romans 3:23-28. 

    ==========

    Now, I have read that question from you before, and have yet to see you reconcile your point with the questions I have asked; maybe I missed your answer elsewhere, but you certainly declined to answer here. My assumption is that you decline because it is not reconcilable.  If I am in error, I stand ready to hear.

     I do thank you for your short summary of what you declare as the gospel, Romans 2:13.
    That verse, though true, is not “good news” It, coupled with Romans 3:23 is the despairing truth of our (yours and mine) failure. The Gospel is God’s response to that. 

    You of course are free to reject this foundational Christian teaching, in favor of what Paul called in Galatians “another gospel” But unless you profess that you are able yourself to walk in the perfection required, it would probably be best to not advocate that which you cannot do.
    Both Jesus and Paul were rather harsh on that.

  • Theodore A. Jones

    Who is the man in the phrase “your fellow man” to whom this promise was stated? Noah? But Noah did not loose his life by bloodshed did he? And this small narrow gate into God’s kingdom that has been perfected by Jesus’ crucifixion didn’t he say “Make every effort to use it”? It is not escaping sin that is the issue it is escaping sin’s penalty. “Make every effort to use it” is a required action on your part it is not something done for you. Your salvation from sin’s penalty is predicated upon your obedience relative to God’s demand of you by Jesus’ crucifixion.

    As for me being perfect! Since the apostle Paul made the claim Chief of Sinners and has gone to his reward and he did say before passing on “Be like me” the title Chief of Sinners is a mantel of inheritance. Any sin you wish to accuse me of, Yeah I done it, even if you make one up.

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Since you wisely acknowledge your own sin (although with perhaps a bit more pride than is entirely safe) it may be that I have misunderstood you.

    I have, even with a good bit of looking, been unable to find any hint of your having reconciled your reading of Romans 2:13 with the other passages I have mentioned, or similar questions from posters on other blogs. I have heard somewhat difficult references that may refer to points made so many times by you that it is easy to forget that some of us don’t have a clue what you mean, and that you are “skimming over” material that feels redundant or elementary to you.

    But in the absence of the clarification I asked for, namely, how are we to understand the whole of Romans (especially chapters 1-5) in light of your assertion that Romans 2:13 is the heart of the Gospel, I am left with the unshakable impression that you do not know a way in which they can be reconciled, and therefore dodge the question. I don’t blame you. If my impression is accurate, I believe you choose the only escape imaginable.

    The church has traditionally understood that, as Paul claimed, “all scripture is written by inspiration of God…” and therefore tells one consistent story, end to end. Such is befitting a work by one single author. In recognition of this, Romans 2:13 can never be interpreted in a way that simply negates Romans 5: 20-26 among other places. If there is a seeming contradiction, then we have not yet understood what God is saying.

    You may of course simply excise the verses that do not fit your vision. That has been done by notables from Marcion to Thomas Jefferson, and on to today; but it does not make you a doer if the word, or of the law which flows from it, but a judge.

    Mr. Jones, all the thoughts you have proposed here, through your seeming reluctance to answer my question and through the clarity provided by your assertion of Romans 2:13 as the heart of the Gospel suggest that you are outside the understanding of the Christian Church, Catholic and Protestant, and outside the faith “once delivered to the Saints”
    Again, if I fail to understand you, I would enjoy being delivered of my error.

    On final question:
    as I noted in my first sentence, you have spoken well in your acknowledgement of your own sinful state. Given your understanding that reconciliation with God is based on accurately performing the demands of the Law, on what do you place your hope for reconcilement with Him? In you understanding, is it possible for sinful man (which is EACH MAN from Genesis, or “none righteous” from Romans) to have hope and not despair? If so, how?

  • Theodore A. Jones

    As Peter said about Paul’s letters “He’s hard to understand”. The word ‘reconciliation’ is probably not the best English word. Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion Jesus explains his father’s intent in regard to Jesus’ crucifixion. Simply he teaches that his father is going to come and kill everyone because of Jesus’ crucifixion. So the world has been reconciled to God, but it is not positive. If your assumption that the crucifixion of Jesus is a direct positive benefit for you simply because you think it is, they too thought they were doing God a favor, but it did not turn out that way. Neither does it turn out to be positive for you. You are still owning God a direct account, an apology, in regard to at least one man’s life that has been taken by bloodshed. That’s a debt isn’t it? Jesus crucifixion did not pay for this debt and if you don’t comply with God’s set purpose for you God will most certainly kill your a….. too since he is already reconciled to do so.
    Got it?

  • http://www.rericsawyer.wordpress.com R. Eric Sawyer

    Even when Peter said Paul was hard to understand, I don’t think Peter meant it as a good thing! Being obtuse does not imply validity.

    Please forgive me for poor memory, but please help we with
    “Simply he teaches that his father is going to come and kill everyone because of Jesus’ crucifixion”

    My “assumption” that I derive a direct positive benefit from the crucifixion is not based on “simply because I think it so” Unless I were not compelled to accept it by passage such as I pointed out in Romans, as well as Galatians and others, I would have abandoned it 35 years ago. I am only beginning after all this time to see a glimmer of “how can these things be?” to quote the Blessed mother. This doctrine is the farthest thing from my own construction you can imagine. I do find it interesting though, that your newest attempt to get around these thoughts is to ignore the words of Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and instead attribute the m to me. That is a false notion, but very instructive, considering how much darkness you have to accept to propose it.

    The fact that Jesus was crucified for my sin is without controversy between us. I do not here see a causal difference between “died FOR my sin, and died BECAUSE OF my sin
    My sin crucified Him as clearly as if I had washed my hands of Him, yelled from the crowd to “Crucify Him!” or wielded the hammer and held the nail against his flesh.

    I am indeed guilty of this innocent man’s death. I must, and have acknowledged that guilt with gratitude for His forgiveness. Forgiveness for that sin, and all the others’ is only a part of what I understand by “Grace”
    The other part is that through that death, and the accompanying resurrection and ascension, He is making it possible for me to lose the bondage that prevented me from desiring righteousness in the first place. Than process is slow, but I am promised that “He who has begun a good work … is able to complete it.”

    Again I point out that, although it does not ease my culpability one iota, the crucifixion is not God’s “plan B” He knew it, foresaw it, planned for it as the only way to accomplish that which He is pleased to accomplish. “No one takes my life from me…” John 10:18

    It sounds to me like one of the more questionable ideas to you is that of “forensic atonement.” Is that true? If so, you have a lot of company from me. I more accept it than believe it. It is only beginning to compel itself into my thinking. And I will leave it to wiser heads to defend it more thoroughly.

    BTW, I don’t suppose it has escaped you that Jesus did say what the “Work of God” is?
    John 6:29
    Of course, all sorts of the fruit of obedience would naturally follow this work, but Jesus was clear. If we can’t believe His direct answer to a direct question (and He did not always give direct answers), then why should we concern ourselves much about any of this, and especially, with what Paul said?

  • D

    Emotional attachment to an idea leads rational men to take up arm against rationality.

  • Christine

    Bill, I have been reading comments from this blog for hours. I am very happy for people like you who enjoy debating about the Bible with others. I certainly would not. I found the blog very hard to understand because I am just a normal person who lives by faith, and have never attended seminary school.
    My story is one that is quite simple and has worked for me for 25 yrs. now. I am quite happy being a child of God, and follower of Jesus, His son, and living by faith in Him alone. I believe that is what is required. I don’t understand everything but I don’t understand how a car works either. I do know if I put a key in it, and turn it, it starts and I can drive off. I have a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I have numerous miracles I’ve encountered and that is all the proof I need.
    My story starts with as a child, I attended church but didn’t learn much, thought if I did enough good things, I could HOPE to go to Heaven. I married at 22, and was verbally and physically abused. I left, and 2 weeks later, received a phone call from husband saying he was cured. I laughed and thought NO WAY, you need about a yr. of therapy before I would believe you to be cured. He explained that he was going to commit suicide and heard a name in his head. A man who tried to share Jesus many times in his younger yrs. He looked up the person, called and went to his home. He spent many hrs. explaining his life, his want for suicide and the person shared how Jesus could and would change his life. I noticed a voice change from gruff to soft, appologetic, and exceptance of responsibility on his part, and was convinced this was a real change. I went back to him and saw a different man. After observing him for months, I finally saw my sins, thats something that had never happened before. Thought I was nearly perfect. Then I wanted to be saved, and be like him. He lead me to the Lord, the minute I told him, I wanted to be like him, now that I see my sin. Like I said earlier, that short prayer that day, has changed my life ever since. I saw the reality of God through a changed husband and myself being changed. Some changes instantly some in a constant walk, growing in knowledge of Bible, seeing miracles and prayer answered, Him speaking to me in my mind, and truth of the Bible in my life. I feel people make it so complicated, and it is not. We walk by faith not by sight, and in His mercy, He shows himself to us, if we seek His truth. No one could ever talk me out of my belief, because of my experiences with Him. Just wanted you to know. Thanks for listening. Keep up the good work, and may God Bless You mightily for your long hrs. on here.

  • nancy whittemore

    Footnote from Transformation Study Bible, notes by Dr. Warren Wiersbe–civilization in Canaan was unspeakably wicked and God didn’t want His holy people contaminated.(7:1-11). The people had been given plenty of opportunity to repent and turn to God. God is telling us He will tolerate no compromise with sin in the lives of His people. (Just one more possibllity.)

  • Sara Harnetty

    I’ve long thought of the baptism debate. Growing up a Catholic and now going to a Pentecostal church, I’ve often wondered about how to look at verses that seem to support the absolute necessity of baptism.

    This guy is spot on. My personal take is that the “baptism:” takes place when the conversion happens and one receives Christ while at the same time, receives the Holy Spirit. The “water baptism” is metaphorical. The true baptism of the Holy Spirit is what matterrs. I

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  • Ventresca54

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  • Len Thies

    While I have great respect for John Hannuh as a historian, I cannot find the source of the quotes used by Bill Pratt in his post, “What Were the Reformers’ Views on Infant Baptism? – Post #6 of 2010″.

    I would appreciate it very much to use information from Hannuh, also.

    Thanks.

    Len Thies
    Springfield, MO

  • Milton Almeida – USA-Brazil

    Great Answer on the Jesus’ lying question. However a FAR MORE SERIOUS question in my humble opinion is, Did God lie or CAUSED sin and lying on 1 Kings 22:23 (and related scriptures). As a staunched Reformed doctrine proponent, with a strong belief in the Sovereignty of God, I don’t have to mince words or practice “eisogeses” to answer YES to that question. The Bible also says that He created “evil” (in whatever form you want to translate the Hebrew word for “evil) in Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6 and a few other scriptures. God does not have “gods” to answer to! He is GOD and does whatever He deems necessary to fulfill His eternal decrees and STILL NOT BE THE AUTHOR of sin.

  • M Hafner

    I would like to quote your blog site. I’m not sure if there are copyrights to what you post. May I use your CoExist comments in a booklet I’m preparing? Coexist theology permeates this area of Vermont. I will gladly point people to your blog. I’ve tried to locate contact information, and hope you can respond to this promptly. This area birthed Joseph Smith and the JW’s are strong here, too. We welcome your prayer support.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    As you long as you point people to the blog, I’m happy to be quoted. I wish you all the best in your efforts.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Ray ivey

    Hi, tried to subscribe to Tough Questions but the processed seemed aborted or reassigned to another Google sight that didn’t make sense or seem easy. will this be fixed soon? I’d like to join. Ray

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Hi Ray,
    If you have a google account and your internet browser is currently logged into that account, then that may cause the problem you are describing. If that is the case, then open another internet browser, navigate to the blog, and try to subscribe by email again. If you are using Firefox, then you may need to open IE or Chrome, and vice versa.

    I hope this works for you,
    Bill

  • Johnfras46

    If you had the ability to easily prevent a fatal accident but did nothing to help, you would have committed both a sin in the eyes of God and a crime according to the law of man. God does this every day. I know because he let my son die.

    Don’t tell me about never being able to understand the will of God and to pray for His peace. I prayed over my son’s broken body for twelve hours in the hospital. I guess God was just too busy sending all of people from the “wrong” religious groups and atheists to hell to care my son and the devastation of my family.

    Sorry guys, your god isn’t there and if he is, he doesn’t care.

  • mb

    Sometimes I have problems reconciling the personalities of God the Father and God the Son. Jesus said that they are one in the same. I know that there are differences in the Old and New Testaments, and that we are living in period of grace, not under the law. I think of how merciful Christ was towards sinners, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, etc. I think about Him scolding the Pharisees in Mark 2, telling them that “the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” But then I look back in Numbers 15:32-36 when God tells Moses to stone a man to death because he was picking up sticks on the sabbath. Can you shed some light on this for me? Thanks.

  • Ggodat

    Bob,

    you must be new to the english language because no where in any of Bill’s posts does he claim to be mormon or infer likewise. I’m really not sure how you came to this conclusion. Darrell was a part of the mormon church but left it many years ago for Christianity.

    Also, you say that when dealing with immeasurable data you cannot have an answer, especially when the data doesn’t exist… DO YOU HAVE ANY DATA TO SUPPORT THIS??? Probably not, therefore I and everyone else in the world should clearly discount anything you say.

    Ps. only BAD science is a nemesis to Christianity. Actual science is a great prover of it.

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  • Frank keefe

    What amazes me are the atheists who attack God for all the suffering in the world when atheists don’t even believe He exists.

  • marie

    when Jesus spoke of James and John being “sons of thunder” what does that mean?

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  • http://twitter.com/socratricknight Khaldoun A Sweis

    Hi Brad,

    You wrote ” If there were two infinite beings, then neither would really be infinite because they would each be limited by the other. But an infinite being has no limits, so they can’t both be infinite.”
    Remember, on Christian theism, God is three independent persons but One God.

    So you have three infinite beings do you not?

    Khaldoun

  • rericsawyer

    Khaldoun, that is actually one of the arguments FOR the Christian understanding of Trinity.
    There are arguments elswhere on this site which suggest there must be some sort of plurality in the ultimate being, but that runs into your objection. The Trinity asserts that this plurality must not be such as to violate the essential unity; hence the formula “Three in one”

    again there has been much written on this topic, on this site and elswhere. I am convinced that it is the only formulation of the Absolute that covers the ground.

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  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    You’ve clearly never read the Gospels or the rest of the New Testament. There are more than 100 verses that speak to the issue of Jesus’s divinity. You may also want to read this blog post series on the topic:

    http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/category/jesus-as-god/

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