Alistair Begg interviewed by unbelievers…

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Watch this interview of one of my favorite preachers answering the questions the culture is asking.

Listen to Alistair Begg’s interview on his local TV channel (5).

He answers questions about life after death, is Jesus the only way, what happens to people who don’t hear about Jesus, does he ever doubt Christianity, how do you pray, what’s the mission of his private life and how is that greater than his ministry, how does one go to heaven, the centrality of the gospel, and how do you pray.

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About pjtibayan

I love Jesus Christ and live to share life and share Jesus together with First Southern Baptist Church of Bellflower primarily to Southeast Los Angeles County.
This entry was posted in Audio/Video Recommendations, Christian living, church, Evangelicalism. Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to Alistair Begg interviewed by unbelievers…

  1. Andrew Callaway says:

    Pj,
    I recently watched the video interview with Alistair Begg (whom I appreciate), and was caught off guard with some of his answers. He said some things that I have trouble with.

    The interviewer very tactfully asks him where he stands on Jesus as being the only way to God; a truth which Alistair Begg immediately affirms. That leads the interviewer to the next question, where he asks Alistair about the destiny of the billions in China who have never heard the name of Jesus. Here is where I disagree.

    His reply was, “Their destiny [people who have never heard the gospel] is directly tied to the light that they’ve received. They will not be judged for not believing in a Jesus of whom they have never heard.”
    He then speaks to the awareness of God in Rom. 1 that, “the awareness of God is an awareness that is known to everyone by creation. We will be judged in light of our own response to God’s revelation of himself both creation and in terms of our moral conscience and our awareness of right and wrong”

    I disagree with his response as to the destiny of those who never hear of Christ. I believe that the Bible teaches that an adult human is a sinner and has an awareness of right and wrong and has committed wrong and since they have never heard of Jesus Christ will not be forgiven for their sins and therefore suffer eternity in hell. Because no one get to the Father “but by me [Jesus]” John 14:6. “Salvation is found in no one else, there is on other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

    I believe the bible teaches that revelation of God in creation is sufficient for condemnation but knowledge of a Creator in not sufficient for salvation. Without a knowledge of Christ and a repentance of sin, no one will be justified.

    What do you think of all this?
    Is there a different standard for island peoples who never hear of Christ?
    How does Old Testament faith factor in to this?
    What impetus does his conclusion have for world missions?

    Rom 10:14-15
    How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

    In Christ,
    Andrew

    • c craig says:

      ALISTER DID NOT SAY THAT THE UNINFORMED WOULD GO TO HEAVEN HE JUST SAID THEY WOULD BE JUDGED BASED ON THIER KNOWLEDGE.

      • Dave says:

        Numbers 8:17 Every firstborn male in Israel, whether human or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself.

        This OT text seems to lend credibility to what Begg is talking about. Even though the Egyptians were the “slave holders” and clearly opposed to God’s people, it appears these firstborn found some sort of grace.

        BTW- The Exodus is not an obscure event for God’s people.

    • R.Smith says:

      I know this is an old blog, but I still wanted to comment. There is one point not mentioned here. The age of grace closes when the gospel is preached to all the world. So the word clearly says at some point in their life all ment will have a chance to except or reject the gospel. Then they will be judged on that choice. The other points are also true however are additions to this fact.
      Blessing in Christ
      R.Smith
      Louisville, Ky.

    • Andy franks says:

      Andrew, Alistair was correct in his response regarding the millions of people who have never heard of Jesus, they will be held accountable for the revelation that God has already given to them. This revelation of the creation has been made evident to them concerning God. Paul says in Romans 1 that all men willfully reject and suppress this truth and are without excuse. God is under no obligation to give more revelation of Himself to those (all men without exception) who reject the plain revelation and evidence of His existence, evidence He has already given. He does not have to “present the gospel” to anyone or even make it available. All men without exception are guilty and rightfully condemned before Him because we all have, apart from His sovereign work of regeneration, rejected that evidence. That is why salvation is of the Lord, He has mercy on whom He has mercy and has compassion on whom He has compassion.

      • Mike says:

        On ya Andy. Thats what I thought. A bit lol because there is no disagreement really but heaps good to be thinking about stuff. Thanks for your faith y’all. It is encouraging.

    • jared says:

      mr andrew if you think for one second that you can comprehend the love of god in your mind sir then you have greatly misjudged our lord and furthermore if they have not known of jesus how do you know they are not given that option of choice after they die because when christ died on the cross he preached the gospel to the peaple of the old testament in hell and they had no knowledge of christ either so stop judging anyone to hell that is not your place but gods alone people should be aware of hell but you have no right to condem!

      • Mark Stivers says:

        Actually, you misunderstand the Scriptures in Peter. Christ did not go to hell to preach the gospel to those in the place of torment. Actually, the word “preach” means “to make a proclamation”. The Scriptures specifically make a distinction between the 8 saved on the ark as “souls”, and those he was speaking to in Hades as “spirits”. If you will do a word study, you will find that the majority of references to “spirits” refer to spirit beings. In both Peter and Jude, we find that there are spirit beings (demons) currently in Hades awaiting judgment. It was to these that Christ was “preaching” to – not unsaved men. And He was not giving them a “second chance”, but was rather proclaiming to them the fact that He had come and had accomplished the perfect will of the Father in spite of all that they had attempted to do to keep Him from accomplishing His mission.

        Also, Hebrews 9:27 says that “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment”. It says nothing about a second chance. Matter of fact, there is no place in the Bible where God ever mentions a “second chance”.

        Men do not go to hell because they never trusted in Christ. They go to hell because they are wicked rebels against a holy God.

        Mark

    • shirley says:

      Continue Romans 10:16-21;Matthew 28:17-20 JESUS speaks;John 16:5-11 Jesus speaking;Read the book of Acts(8:4) ; Revelations 5:9;15:6.

      • walt johnson says:

        Everyone is so quick to say this person goes to hell and that one? How are any of us different,have we earned our salvation,are we able to say this one will go to hell and that one to heaven. Do we have no grace in our own hearts or have we learned nothing? I do not condemn another but to see a self professed christian claim one for hell makes me sorrowful. And I’m sure those of you who do not hear will attempt a debate with this but it is not to be debated,the fact is we all have been given a gift that we will have never earned nor deserve so let us not argue over the law but proclaim what we know to be true,that’s Gods love is unbound without explanation completely selfless and deserved by none,the extent of His love knows no bounds. Amen

      • pjtibayan says:

        We should certainly grieve at the thought of anyone going to hell. And God’s love is amazing. It’s infinite in Christ! But the Bible does say how to get to heaven and why those who won’t go will not. We must not say more than God reveals, but neither must we say less. I think the Bible says more than you think it does and we can say that non-Christians go to hell.

  2. pjtibayan says:

    Andy,

    I agree with you and with Alistair. I think you misunderstood parts of what he is saying. Those who have the revelation of God in creation but not through Christ will be condemned for their misuse and sinning against God with their knowledge of him through creation. That is what Alistair is saying. They will be condemned and cannot go to heaven apart from Christ, but they are not condemned for rejecting Christ but for exactly what Alistair says:

    “Their destiny [people who have never heard the gospel] is directly tied to the light that they’ve received. They will not be judged for not believing in a Jesus of whom they have never heard.”
    He then speaks to the awareness of God in Rom. 1 that, “the awareness of God is an awareness that is known to everyone by creation. We will be judged in light of our own response to God’s revelation of himself both creation and in terms of our moral conscience and our awareness of right and wrong”

    So he is not saying they go to heaven apart from Christ, but that they are judged on the revelation they received (and are thus condemned), not for rejecting a Messiah they have no knowledge of.

    Does that help?

  3. Paul Wilson says:

    What about the people of the Old Testament who have never heard of Jesus? I.E. David, Moses etc. They are presumably in Heaven but did not see Jesus. I agree with what Alistair says : We will be judged according to what we personally have heard about Jesus and His death for us.

  4. pjtibayan says:

    Paul,

    Thanks for the question.

    The Old Testament (OT) believers were saved by faith in God who would later reveal himself in Jesus. The OT shadows of sacrifice was to be received by faith, which was connected to the substance, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Read Hebrews 9-10.

  5. Thomas says:

    You wrote: “They will be condemned and cannot go to heaven apart from Christ, but they are not condemned for rejecting Christ but for exactly what Alistair says: “Their destiny [people who have never heard the gospel] is directly tied to the light that they’ve received. They will not be judged for not believing in a Jesus of whom they have never heard.””

    I say: “What a beautiful sentiment from a loving God – as long as by “beautiful” you mean disgusting and “loving” you mean cruelly arbitrary.

    I think I’m starting to understand how this religious thing works. First you betray your mind then you corrupt your vocabulary. Next thing you know, Bob’s your Uncle and Jihads seem reasonable. Hell, you can even call yurself smart-like once the standard of measurement is an Iron-Age book. By Iron Age standards you can call yourself a brilliant doctor, lawyer and scientist too.

    Must feel good to have an answer for everything. The wrong answer, but an answer. Nice crutch you have there Mister.

  6. pjtibayan says:

    Thomas,

    Thanks for the comment and for your straightforwardness. I have a question for you, does it feel good to not have an answer for anything (like who we are, where we came from, where we’re going, why people die, does God exist, etc.)? Does it feel reassuring to have no answer and from that non-answer assert with such confidence that others have the wrong answer, though I myself have no answer?

    I’m really curious what you, Thomas, personally believe or think about these things and why you have such certainty…

    Thanks again for the comment. I hope you respond.

  7. Thomas says:

    Peter,

    Thanks for the question. I love philosophy and the like. I’ll try and make this brief.

    I do not know what is on the dark side of the moon.

    I know that I do not know.

    If somebody says that the dark side of the moon is made from cheese (because he really, really wants it to be) I feel certain that, even not knowing what it is made of, that I can say that he is wrong with certainty.

    How does it make me feel know knowing the answer to this (and many of the great questions in life as well) are currently outside of the reach of my understanding or knowledge? Well, I wish I knew, and I still investigate these issues (the serious ones, not the cheese one) rigorously, but like a thinking adult I live with and accept the current state of my knowledge.

    To make an analogy, if it was really, really important for me to fly like a bird (and I mean like a bird not a plane, perhaps like Superman), as an adult I would accept that fact that I can’t and muddle on as best I can.

    What I can’t accept is a false answer that is transparently untrue. There may be a God, but the God of Abraham is transparently untrue to anyone reading the bible with half an ounce of critical-thinking. This I am certain of. How does this make me feel? Sad for those too young to know better or too old and heavily invested to understand this; and angry at those who should know better and still foist it upon and at others (especially in public life – like at the poor gays and pregnant woman) who suffer for the delusions of others. I won’t even go into the horrible mental damage inflicted on the young by the nasty model of an all powerful judge watching them 27/7.

    And its not even a nice delusion as the email I was responding to demonstrates.

    You want peace – think like a man, live like a man. There is more truth on 5 paragraphs of Buddhism (and I do not mean the Christian stereotype of Buddhism) than the entire OT & NT & Quran put together.

    Thomas

    PS – And no I am not angry. I am simply passionate about the truth.

    • Aaron David says:

      Forgive me if I am wrong but I believe you have erred in your supposition, not knowing scripture.
      In that men are deluded and cannot impart an understanding of God you are absolutely correct. But it is for that reason that God did choose to manifest himself to whomever would receive Him. It is my own experience that this is true. I will not bore you with a lengthy testimony that you will not believe but I will state what I know; I was once like you seeking spiritual truth from flesh but I recieved The Holy Spirit two years ago and He did write His Word in my heart. I can also say with confidence that if what you say is true, that you are passionate for truth, then your will certainly find Christ Jesus waiting patiently for you accept His eternal gift of life.
      As far as “critical thinking” goes, such is irrellevent in spiritual matters unless you already know Christ. Firstly, a spiritual veil separates all scoffers from understanding God’s Word, for it is written; “God will not be mocked.” Secondly, it is also written that; “The foolisness of God is better than the wisdom of men.”
      In truth no aspect of God is debatable, one either knows Him or one does not.
      You are also gravely mistaken that God is constantly judging you, for it is written that; “Men are appointed once to die and then comes judgment” & “God sent His Son not to condemn the world but that through Him all might be saved.” Especially pregnant women and those in any bondage of lusts. Christ saoid he came for the sinners, not the rightous. It is the very essence of Christ to cover sin, not to expose it. Those in the churches who cast thier own strife upon others through carnal judgment will also answer to God. God is about love and freedom not wrath and chains. This is difficult to understand if one does not know Him but I assure you I speak truth.
      You have also erred in that you think Christians desire to foist anything upon anyone. The truth is that, according to Scripture, the sign of false teachers is that they desire to place thier own yoke upon you. (Ezekiel 14) Sadly such apostasy is rampant in the churches. The truth is that Christ’s Spirit compels Christians to share His free gift of salvation with all mankind out of love. Properly this is done with few words and much private prayer.
      Christians have a relationship with a living and loving God, as such we are priviliged to plant seeds of truth but it is God who tends the fields.
      If you want to debate, I really do understand. Such is the limit of our own selves to attempt to touch upon the divine. To ponder and meditate upon our experiences and the related experiences of others are the only tools we have in the shed. That is why God chooses to bend down to us, because we have no other hope of reaching Him.
      But ask yourself this, if the God of Abraham is truly folly to you then, why is there such a contention in your spirit over Him that you were compelled to post here? My friend, the truth is bared in your own hand that you are even now seeking Him. I commend you, it is very hard to reach out to God in any manner with all that is set against such in this age. It takes great courage. That is why it is written that; “Many of the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Because it is far more difficult to seek God than in ages past.
      As far as Buddism goes, I’m unaware of any stereotype, being so young in Christ. I do know this from my own pre-saved seekings, the ultimate buddhist doctrine is that suffering is bad, desire causes all suffering, therefore desire must be eliminated so that suffering will cease. Sounds good until you realize that there is not one solitary living thing anywhere that has no desires. Not one. Buddihsm is ultimately suicide at it’s end. With all it’s poetry and intellectual gymnastics it all boils down to a shallow doctrine of death. But what of the universal mind? Also death. In fact Scripture is right on about all religions. All of them are pointless mazes which lead to death. Don’t you ever wonder about the holographic nature of the worlds religions? Ponder this, why is the holographic nature of the worlds religions given to bear so many faces but the one book claiming to be written by God exhibits that very quality within it’s pages? Pages divided into 66 books and penned by 40 different men over a period of 3,600 years?
      Aside from some poor translations I personally have found not one flaw in the Scriptures and I know of no one that ever has. Many claim to have but I have found them all to be either mistaken or liars. I would not serve an inept God, I assure you. I don’t know of any two authors in all of history who could write in perfect agreement upon any subject and yet in one volume some 40 who were stretched across time managed it. So much for reason, so much for critical thinking. If there is any other explination for the fact that the Bible exists as it does beside that God wrote it through the hands of men, I would be astounded to hear it.
      My friend, spiritual truth is simply not reasonable and knowledge of God is not an intellectual pursuit. It is revealed to those who seek it diligently and has never been nor will ever be found any other way.
      But I do not write to you alone nor do I write to defend God in any way. He can take care of Himself just fine. I write because God moved me to write and because I love to do His will.
      In closing I will say that my knowledge of scripture is supernatural, a gift from God. I, knowing God, am not amazed by this or any other so-called miracles such as abound in my life. That I walk though my back was broken, that I am delivered from such long drug abuse that I could not form a coherhent thought, let alone record one, that I was long considered to be a hopeless schizophrenic, which malady I know know to have been purely demonic, and all within two short years, no doctors, no counseling, just God with me. I never studied God’s Word. I never graduated Highschool. The fact is that no secular reasoning can explain my life. Even if any could explain these few examples there are dozens more not listed.
      Lastly, the reason God hates sin is simply that it separates us from Him. Not because of any ptty and arbitrary decree. He is a Father, not a task master. A creator, not a spoiler. Ask to know Him and you will. You will always have the freedom to reject Him any time you want. But what if, just what if, what if you have been deceived about Him? What if there really is a God who loves you and wants you to experience a life more fulfilling than you can imagine, growing in glory to glory for ever as His beloved son? Don’t listen to me or any other flesh. There are no intermediaries between you and God, only intercessors. God delights in revealing Himself to us. In the quiet of your room, call on Him.
      I write not only because God’s Word never fails to begin a work where it is planted but also to edify the faithful. Time is life and life is purpose in Christ. So my own is His gift to you.

      Peace to you, Thomas. I find it no small irony that you were so named.

      • Jessica Bean says:

        Thank you Aaron. I didn’t read everything on this page of responses, but your words I know came from the Holy Spirit. It took no effort to read and I didn’t have to use any critical thinking to absorb what you wrote. As I read this I could feel the power of my faith, and God’s grace all around me. And I’m pretty sure that couldn’t be explained by logic or critical thinking, just faith and a desire to be closer to my Maker. Thanks again, please keep it up. Not everybody has been given that gift, and some of us need to hear it often.

        I did, however, find it interesting that so many just went along responding with more fact-based data, reference, and explaination of our God, who we’ve already agreed cannot be put into a category, explained, or even understood. This is not a test this is a Spiritual battle for our lives. We all know right from wrong, good and bad, etc. Why shouldn’t we be held accountable for what we do? If you understood the magnatude the grace, mercy and forgiveness our God has for us, you wouldn’t be afraid nor feel like your being watched 24/7. Besides, it is we who are flawed not our Heavenly Father. He wants us only to have all the best, He never said it would be easy. I Love you Lord! Thank you for Your Son, Jesus! He’s my Lord and King.

  8. Thomas says:

    Here is a good example of a high level debate about the rationality of the bible. In my humble opinion Harris cleans the clock of Sullivan (and Sullivan (a gay man) is defending a very mild form of the god delusion as you might imagine given the fact that he is in fact a gay man and not desirous of burning forever because of his biological predilections)

    http://www.beliefnet.com/story/209/story_20904_4.html

    This BTY is a great website for Theists in general, at least for those of the milder variety.

    Thomas

  9. Thomas says:

    Peter,

    This was hard work.

    I said: There is more truth [i]n 5 paragraphs of Buddhism (and I do not mean the Christian stereotype of Buddhism) than the entire OT & NT & Quran put together.

    You asked: What criteria do you use to know that Budd[h]ism has more truth than the OT and NT?

    I will highlight this in the body of my response and explain if you have any questions. (Note: All my highlighting was lost when I posted this! Well, you’ll just have to decipher the epistimological parts out as you go.)

    My reply:

    Christianity is concerned with salvation. How are humans saved?
    Buddhism is concerned with ending suffering. How do humans end suffering?
    Both of these are foundational statements, mission statements if you will, and both questions assume something in their very framing.

    Christianity assumes that salvation exists. In other words it assumes the very object of contention, that very wonderful thing we all want. It then makes the issue, which is really another assumption, that humans can be saved. Is this a rational or legitimate way to approach a quest for the truth? I don’t think so, but let’s ask my Chrystal Ball (See any assumption here?)

    Buddhism assumes that suffering exists. In other words it assumes that there is a problem (suffering) and then makes the issue, which is also a further assumption, of if this suffering can be cured or at least ameliorated. Is this a rational or legitimate way to approach a quest for the truth? I do think so as I personal witness suffering all around me. I know of no one who denies this as far as it goes. In terms of can it be ended or lessened Buddhism stakes it claim on being put to the test here and now, not in an afterlife. It does this by putting forth a program in great detail.

    So the unwanting soul sees what’s hidden,
    and the ever-wanting soul sees only what it wants.

    A succinct restating of my original point. Understand this and so much wishful thinking is understood.

    With this as a context let me provide 5 paragraphs chosen quickly from my readings as promised.

    One: Peter you asked how I felt about not knowing if there is an afterlife. In this story the Buddha makes an analogy:

    The Buddha says: “Suppose Malunkyaputta, a man were wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and companions brought a surgeon to treat him. The man would say, ‘I will not let the surgeon pull out the arrow until I know the name and clan of the man who wounded me; whether the bow that wounded me was a long bow or a cross bow; whether the arrow that wounded me was hoof-tipped or curved or barbed.’ All this would still not be known to that man, and meanwhile he would die. So too, Malunkyaputta, if anyone should say, ‘I will not lead the noble life under the Buddha until the Buddha declares to me whether the world is eternal or not eternal; finite or infinite; whether the soul is the same as or different from the body; whether or not an awakened one continues or ceases to exist after death,’ that would still remain undeclared by the Buddha, and meanwhile that person would die.”

    Here Buddha is saying that all our concerns about an afterlife actually retard our attempts at attempting to achieve his mission statement.

    Two:

    The Buddha is speaking to non-Buddhists (the Kalama People) here, so he does not presuppose a Buddhist worldview. Do our actions bear fruit in a hereafter? For the sake of argument, at least, the Buddha adopts an agnostic view in this sutra. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. In either case, a purified mind finds solace by cherishing good deeds and avoiding bad ones.

    In this passage, as in many others, the Buddha’s lack of dogmatism shines forth clearly. We can understand his words as a skillful means for speaking with the Kalamas, who are weary of doctrinaire spiritual assertions.

    The Buddha emphasized the importance of intelligent, probing doubt. We should not believe in something until we know its truth for ourselves. This is not to deny the possibility of a truth that we cannot confirm. The point is that our modern ways of knowing offer no support for those teachings, and given a healthy skepticism about the Iron Age belief systems of the Buddha’s time, we should hesitate before making such a leap of faith. After emphasizing the importance of evaluating for oneself the spiritual claims of others, the Buddha finishes his talk by describing someone who has a truly purified mind:

    “‘Suppose there is a hereafter and there is a fruit, result, of deeds done well or ill. Then it is possible that at the dissolution of the body after death, I shall arise in the heavenly world, which is possessed of the state of bliss.’ This is the first solace found by him.

    “‘Suppose there is no hereafter and there is no fruit, no result, of deeds done well or ill. Yet in this world, here and now, free from hatred, free from malice, safe and sound, and happy, I keep myself.’ This is the second solace found by him.

    “‘Suppose evil (results) befall an evil-doer. I, however, think of doing evil to no one. Then, how can ill (results) affect me who do no evil deed?’ This is the third solace found by him.

    “‘Suppose evil (results) do not befall an evil-doer. Then I see myself purified in any case.’ This is the fourth solace found by him.”

    Here the Buddha says be good for its own sake, without fear of hope of reward. Compare this with Pascal’s wager argument and the superiority of this sentiment is apparent.

    Three:

    Motivation is very important, and thus my simple religion is love, respect for others, honesty: teachings that cover not only religion but also the fields of politics, economics, business, science, law, medicine-everywhere. With proper motivation these can help humanity…

    I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with belief in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another–an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of meta-physical or philosophical reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or hell. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayers and so on. Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit–such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, which bring happiness to both self and others.

    -His Holiness the Dalai Lama

    Four:

    The Buddha’s maps for the journey to wisdom and happiness are attractive to many people because they are so simple. Essentially, he taught that it doesn’t make sense to upset ourselves about what is beyond our control. We don’t get a choice about what hand we are dealt in this life. The only choice we have is our attitude about the cards we hold and the finesse with which we play our hand.

    Five:

    Kutadanta accused the Buddha: “I am told that you teach the law of life and the way, yet you tear down religion. Your followers despise rituals and abandon sacrifices. But reverence for the gods can only be shown through sacrifices. The very nature of religion is that of worship and sacrifice.”

    The Buddha replied: “Greater than the massacring of bullocks is the sacrifice of self. He who offers up his evil desires will see the uselessness of slaughtering animals at the altar. Blood has no power to cleanse, but the giving up of harmful actions will make the heart whole. Better than worshiping gods is following the ways of goodness.”

    Here the Buddha says be good for its own sake, without fear of hope of reward.

    So here are 5 paragraphs of Buddhism that have more truth than the entire OT & NT & Quran put together.

    Highlighted are my criteria as to know that Buddhism has more truth than the OT and NT, but I will also summarize.

    Buddhism is a philosophy of experience here and now. You see it, you feel it. You understand it now. Not dependent on a supernatural force with proof to be provide after you die.

    Again look at the way the Buddha asked the people to think for themselves and reject so much of what passes for tests of the truth.

    “It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain;
    uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come,
    Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated
    hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a
    scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious
    reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered
    over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the
    consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you
    yourselves know: ‘These things are bad; these things are blamable;
    these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed,
    these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them.

    “Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by
    repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon
    what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor
    upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has
    been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon
    the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you
    yourselves know: ‘These things are good; these things are not
    blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and
    observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on
    and abide in them.

    I see no genocide here, no blood sacrifices, no slavery, hatred and threats. A man could live profitably and with nobility by the few words and ideas I have cobbled together her at your request. Need I quote where the bible approves, nay, mandates these things?

    Here is just one. Read Mark 4:11-13

    Peter, I say to you, you know these things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them.

    Compare that with a test that is tangible, here and now, not promised as pie in the sky in the great bye and bye. Lastly, it is done without regard to reward or punishment. How noble is that?

    Peter, I hope this answers your question.

    OK, I’m tired. Bed time.

    I look forward to your response on this issue and, of course, the Harris/Sullivan debate I reference earlier.

    What an adventure we are on!

  10. Thomas says:

    Peter,

    I promise not to be a cyber-stalker, but I wanted to answer both of your questions.

    This is your question: If you can help me, I’d appreciate it. I do think the Bible is God’s word and is true. Can you help me see why, with critical and honest thinking the OT or NT cannot be true? In other words, can you show me some evidence that has convinced you so that I may consider it and either agree or disagree with it? Maybe I’m too immature to think clearly on these issues and need you to help me learn truth. Or maybe the Bible is true and your limited grasp of what you think you do know is actually also uncertain and false. Either way, I think a continuing conversation would clarify these matters.

    Peter, I find this short article below a pretty short and basis basic summary of my position, but having read the Bible I have several other issued tied to specific moral, ethical and factual objections. Specifically, I list ethical objections highest as while factual issues are outside of our experience so to speak as we have no direct access to the facts of the Bible, but we all of us have direct asscess to what we find ethical behavior. So starting with this I listed two passages with which I have high ethical objections.
    They are Number One:
    A friend of mine, who is Jewish, and I were discussing the Old Testament/Torah. In discussing the attributes one would expect of a divinely inspired work, I opined that acts that one considers clearly unethical or even immoral would render that book incapable of being described as either inerrant or divine. I raised a few points but in particular was struck by the acts described in Numbers 31. My point was that if any portion of the any book is wrong then it is human in composition (rather than divine). If any portion is human then the whole work becomes in effect human and should not then be arbitrarily privileged over any other human composition (say the works for Shakespeare), but rather should be judges on its inherent merits. Below is a description of the massacre of the Midianites. Basically, while I can understand why people kill each other, I cannot understand why an entity claiming to be infallible could (not so much continence) but actually direct this specific act. Am I missing something or does God directly the murder of defenseless children (except the virgins)? Does His order make the action acceptable? If not, doesn’t that de-privilege the book? If yes, doesn’t that make God unworthy of being admired? – as I have never been a fan or the might makes right argument. Thank you for any insight you may have.

    Numbers 31 31:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, > saying, 31:2 Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward > shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. 31:3 And Moses spake unto the > people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go > against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian. 31:4 Of every > tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to > the war. 31:5 So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a > thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. 31:6 And Moses > sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son > of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the > trumpets to blow in his hand. 31:7 And they warred against the > Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. > 31:8 And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were > slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of > Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword. 31:9 And > the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their > little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, > and all their goods. 31:10 And they burnt all their cities wherein they > dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire. 31:11 And they took all > the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts. 31:12 And they > brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar > the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the > camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho. 31:13 And > Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, > went forth to meet them without the camp. 31:14 And Moses was wroth > with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and > captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. 31:15 And Moses > said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 31:16 Behold, these > caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit > trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague > among the congregation of the LORD. 31:17 Now therefore kill every male > among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying > with him. 31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man > by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    Number Two:

    Mark 4-12 – Jesus’s desire that people go to Hell. I see no reasonable or innocent use or intent of the word “lest” here:
    1. NASB: so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.” (
    NASB ©1995)

    GWT: ‘They see clearly but don’t perceive. They hear clearly but don’t understand. They never return to me and are never forgiven.'” (GOD’S WORD®)

    KJV: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

    ASV: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest haply they should turn again, and it should be forgiven them.

    BBE: So that seeing they may see, and it will not be clear to them; and hearing it, they will not get the sense; for fear that they may be turned again to me and have forgiveness.

    DBY: that beholding they may behold and not see, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest it may be, they should be converted and they should be forgiven.

    WEY: that “‘They may look and look but not see, and listen and listen but not understand, lest perchance they should return and be pardoned.'”

    WBS: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

    WEB: that’seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest perhaps they should turn again, and their sins should be forgiven them.'”

    YLT: that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest they may turn, and the sins may be forgiven them.’

    My challenge is this: Search the literature of the worlds Religions for a more ugly sentiment than this, lest perhaps you do and this pale by comparison. You will fail.

    Article

    Since the publication of my first book, The End of Faith, I have received thousands of letters and e-mails from religious believers insisting that I am wrong not to believe in God. Invariably, the most unpleasant of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally believe that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. Please accept this for what it is: the testimony of a man who is in a position to observe how people behave when their faith is challenged. Many who claim to have been transformed by Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While you may ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that the hatred these people feel comes directly from the Bible. How do I know this? Because the most deranged of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.
    Before I present some of my reasons for rejecting your faith-which are also my reasons for believing that you, too, should reject it-I want to acknowledge that there are a few things that you and I agree about. We agree that, if one of us is right, then the other is wrong. The Bible either is the word of God, or it isn’t. Either Jesus offers humanity the one, true path to salvation (John 14:6), or he does not. We agree that to be a real Christian is to believe that all other faiths are in error and profoundly so. If Christianity is correct, and I persist in my unbelief, I should expect to suffer the torments of hell. Worse still, I have persuaded others, many close to me, to persist in a state of unbelief. They, too, will languish in “everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41). If the claims of Christianity are true, I will have realized the worst possible outcome of a human life. The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me should suggest to you just how unsatisfactory I think your reasons for being a Christian are.
    You believe that the Bible is the literal (or inspired) word of God and that Jesus is the Son of God-and you believe these propositions because you think they are true, not merely because they make you feel good. You may wonder how it is possible for a person like myself to find these sorts of assertions ridiculous. While it is famously difficult for atheists and believers to communicate about these matters, I am confident that I can give you a very clear sense of what it feels like to be an atheist.Consider: every devout Muslim has the same reasons for being a Muslim that you now have for being a Christian. And yet, you know exactly what it is like not to find these reasons compelling. On virtually every page, the Qur’an declares that it is the perfect word of the Creator of the universe. Muslims believe this as fully as you believe the Bible’s account of itself. There is a vast literature describing the life of Muhammad that, from the Muslim point of view, proves his unique status as the Prophet of God. While Muhammad did not claim to be divine, he claimed to offer the most perfect revelation of God’s will. He also assured his followers that Jesus was not divine (Qur’an 5:71-75; 19:30-38) and that anyone who believed otherwise would spend eternity in hell. Muslims are convinced that Muhammad’s pronouncements on these subjects, as on all others, are infallible.
    Why don’t you find these claims convincing? Why don’t you lose any sleep over whether or not you should convert to Islam? Please take a moment to reflect on this. You know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to Islam. Isn’t it obvious that Muslims are not being honest in their evaluation of the evidence? Isn’t it obvious that anyone who thinks that the Qur’an is the perfect word of the Creator of the universe has not read the book very critically? Isn’t it obvious that Muslims have developed a mode of discourse that seeks to preserve dogma, generation after generation, rather than question it? Yes, these things are obvious. Understand that the way you view Islam is precisely the way every Muslim views Christianity. And it is the way I view all religions.
    Christians regularly assert that the Bible predicts future historical events. For instance, Deuteronomy 28:64 says, “The Lord will scatter you among the nations from one end of the earth to the other.” Jesus says, in Luke 19:43-44, “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” We are meant to believe that these utterances predict the subsequent history of the Jews with such uncanny specificity so as to admit of only a supernatural explanation. It is on the basis of such reasoning that 44 percent of the American population now believes that Jesus will return to earth to judge the living and the dead sometime in the next fifty years.
    But just imagine how breathtakingly specific a work of prophecy could be if it were actually the product of omniscience. If the Bible were such a book, it would make specific, falsifiable predictions about human events. You would expect it to contain a passage like, “In the latter half of the twentieth century, humankind will develop a globally linked system of computers-the principles of which I set forth in Leviticus-and this system shall be called the Internet.” The Bible contains nothing remotely like this. In fact, it does not contain a single sentence that could not have been written by a man or woman living in the first century.
    Take a moment to imagine how good a book could be if it were written by the Creator of the universe. Such a book could contain a chapter on mathematics that, after two thousand years of continuous use, would still be the richest source of mathematical insight the earth has ever seen. Instead, the Bible contains some very obvious mathematical errors. In two places, for instance, the Good Book gives the ratio of a circumference of a circle to its diameter as simply 3 (1 Kings 7: 23-26 and 2 Chronicles 4: 2-5). We now refer to this constant relation with the Greek letter p. While the decimal expansion of p runs to infinity-3.1415926535 . . .-we can calculate it to any degree of accuracy we like. Centuries before the oldest books of the Bible were written, both the Egyptians and Babylonians approximated p to a few decimal places. And yet the Bible-whether inerrant or divinely inspired-offers us an approximation that is terrible even by the standards of the ancient world. Needless to say, many religious people have found ingenious ways of rationalizing this. And yet, these rationalizations cannot conceal the obvious deficiency of the Bible as a source of mathematical insight. It is absolutely true to say that, if Archimedes had written a chapter of the Bible, the text would bear much greater evidence of the author’s “omniscience.”
    Why doesn’t the Bible say anything about electricity, about DNA, or about the actual age and size of the universe? What about a cure for cancer? Millions of people are dying horribly from cancer at this very moment, many of them children. When we fully understand the biology of cancer, this understanding will surely be reducible to a few pages of text. Why aren’t these pages, or anything remotely like them, found in the Bible? The Bible is a very big book. There was room for God to instruct us on how to keep slaves and sacrifice a wide variety of animals. Please appreciate how this looks to one who stands outside the Christian faith. It is genuinely amazing how ordinary a book can be and still be thought the product of omniscience.
    Of course, your reasons for believing in God may be more personal than those I have discussed above. I have no doubt that your acceptance of Christ coincided with some very positive changes in your life. Perhaps you regularly feel rapture or bliss while in prayer. I do not wish to denigrate any of these experiences. I would point out, however, that billions of other human beings, in every time and place, have had similar experiences-but they had them while thinking about Krishna, or Allah, or the Buddha, while making art or music, or while contemplating the sheer beauty of nature. There is no question that it is possible for us to have profoundly transformative experiences. And there is no question that it is possible for us to misinterpret these experiences and to further delude ourselves about the nature of the universe.
    If you have read my letter this far, one of two things has happened. Either you have perceived some error that is genuinely fatal to my argument, or you have ceased to be a Christian. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any errors you may have found. You could yet save me the torments of hell.

    Peter if indeed my grasp of the Bible is limited grasp or what I know is false please help me understand. I more then welcome be corrected as Socrates is my greatest hero. I search his statements for nasty things as well and really can’t find any.

    Thomas

  11. pjtibayan says:

    Thomas, thanks for your effort and willingness to talk and dialogue about these things… I’m preparing to go out of the country for two weeks and so I’ll print out your comments and read over it and respond when I come back to the U. S. Thanks again for your comments.

  12. There is a major error that is genuinely fatal to Harris’ argument. The Bible is not a book. Sam refers to the Bible as a book several times. It is a library of 66 ancient Jewish scrolls that claim to be of divine origin. It was written by human beings. Approximately 40 different authors over a period of more than a thousand years wrote it. Many of them never even met one another. Some books are historical literature, some are poetry, some are epistles and some are of the genre called Jewish Apocalyptic literature. None of them are math books. None of them are science books. By Sam evaluating the Bible as a book, and comparing the Author to other books and their authors is like standing point blank in front of a Redwood and judging what you see as a forest of Redwoods. I can hear Sam now, and his pet Peter, criticizing the bark of the one Redwood as they stand point blank in fron of it. They would be saying “This is not at all a forest indeed! Yosemitie is better. It has places to hike, trails to walk and streams to fish. All that this forest offers is this crusty old bark.” I’m not sure I’ll save anyone from the torments of hell, since it is up to God whom He will save, but I can tell you about the serious categorical error of calling the Bible a book!

    I do agree with Sam about the silly arguments for the inspiration of Scripture such as the two he pointed out in his article regarding the future. I think they are stupid arguments and that there are much better arguments. The cannonical argument for the inspiration of Scripture is very convincing. The impossibilty of the contrary / presuppositional argument is pretty neat. But the transcendental method, if applied by the serious seeker of truth, for me, works the best. This is the “what must be in order for what is to be what it is?” Like Dr. Robert Morey states in his book: The Trinity – Evidence and Issues “If it is 30 degrees outside a house and 80 degrees inside the house, then what must be in order for what is to be what it is?” The answer: There MUST be a source of heat on the inside of the house. There must be an inside source of heat in order for the indoor temperature to be almost 3 times warmer than the outdoor temperature. Well, when we apply this same type of method towards determining the origin of the Scriptures, whether human or divine, we most certainly find what must be in order for what is to be what it is. I put forth the position that authentic Biblical Christianity is a valid worldview and is tenable. Only God Himself can take what I put into someones head and drop it down to his or her heart. So, I’m not asking you to believe the truth claims of the Bible. The Bible says that if I preach about Jesus to you, you will think it’s foolishness, which apparantly you do. That proves the Bible’s divine origin even more so! So, when I see a nonbeliever such as yourself mocking and taunting our religeon, it reassures my faith because you’re doing exactly what the Bible said you would do. By the way, it also says that unless you repent, you’ll perish! Jesus and His Righteousness is the only basis on which fallen men will be aceptable before God. Even if you don’t make it, when you’re shaking your fist at God and cursing Him for eternity, you won’t even be able to say to God “at least I declined your offer for salvation. You wanted me but I didn’t want you! I have the last word ha ha haaaaaaa!” He can respond to your eternally perishing and tormented soul by saying “you THINK you got me, but you were damned from all eternity, predestined for eternal punishment, you never even had a chance!” And at that moment, you may recall PJ’s blog and the crap you wrote about the Holy Scriptures and begin to feel the additional wrath that you stored up for yourself by blaspheming God as He pours it afresh onto your burning soul, like lemon and salt into a deep wound, and since you like math, times ten thousand thousands!!! The wrath of God is certain. It is eternal. It is escapable. Call on the name of Jesus for forgiveness. Cry out to Him to have mercy on you, a sinner. If He turns His ear toward you, a worm, you shall be saved. If you have ears to hear, you’ll hear. Jesus says His sheep hear his voice. You may not hear, but that’s only because you may not be His sheep. If this is foolishness to you, then please let me know. I love to have my faith strengthened! If you hear the Master’s call, give Him the glory alone.

  13. OOps, I accidentally wrote “Peter”. I meant Thomas. Just caught that. Sorry, not you Peter, I believe we’ll be kicking it on the new earth! Thomas is who I was responding to.

  14. Jess says:

    I don’t agree with Alister, I agree with his knowledge of what the Word of God says. All of us can learn things from men of God, but it is our obligation to OURSELVES to search the scriptures to see if what they say is TRUTH. People make their biggest mistake reading the Bible like a “rule book” or a book to “validate” things they wish to say and do. We in “The Church” have been guity of this, some of the biggest violators; taking scripture out of context, using it as a means to subjugate, lure and even entice the most base nature of man. This is the difference between religion and the LIFE that Jesus came to bring. That is why a relationship with Christ is vitally necessary to the understanding of God’s Word. The Word is something Living, because God is Living, Jesus is Living. It is the discerner of TRUTH and error. Heck, the devil qoutes scripture, you can read accounts of that in the Bible. The one important thing to realize is this – It is a compilation of 66 accounts (we call them books) to not only revive a man’s mind, but his heart and soul as well. The heart, or spirit of a man, is his core. If the spirit is dead and you attempt to give it something living. It is like trying to feed a dead man a meal to revive him. That’s why Jesus said you had to be “born again”. What God’s objective is, is to infuse us once again, with HIS LIFE, through a living relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. Then our spirits will be alive and able to receive the meal (understand even if people like Alister are interpreting scripture correctly). And we will be back in fellowship with God. What is so hard to believe about one man giving the whole ball of wax away and one man redeeming it back. I use to be real religious, a (sickening to me) real “goody two shoes”. Hey, a long while back…I use to say, “Jesus who saves?, get outta here! Yeah Jesus saves s & h green and blue chip stamps”. That is until He overwhelmed me with His Love and great offer. No more WORK…all I did was come.

  15. Julie Paschall says:

    Regarding Alistair Begg’s comment on the spiritual condition of those who have never heard of Christ, I have a story that might illustrate what I believe he meant:
    A missionary was working with a group of people who had never heard the gospel. One of the men was very receptive, and told the missionary that he had been waiting for someone to come and teach him about the God of his hands. The missionary asked him to explain. The man said that he was the idol maker in the tribe. One day he wondered why he would worship something that he had made with his own hands. Since he made the idol, surely he was greater than the idol. So the man decided to worship his hands. But then he realized that he did not make his hands, something else did. So he began worshiping the God that made his hands.
    At this point, the man had responded to the light that had been revealed to him. I believe that if that man had died before the missionary had showed up, that he would be with the God that made his hands.

  16. pjtibayan says:

    Julie,

    Thanks for the story. It shows the man saw the illogical nature of idolatry. Paul does say that they need to hear about Christ before they can believe in him, call on him to save them, and then be saved. That’s the nature of the argument of Romans 10:13-17. So I’d have to disagree with you that he would have been with God if he died before the missionary showed up. I think that the missionary showed up before he died proved that he would have believed in the message when it came and so when it came, he did. God not only predestines who would be saved, but the means. If God gave him a heart to see the illogical nature of idolatry, God can keep him alive until the missionary gets there. In fact, I’m assuming that’s what he did in the story you told. I think a good parallel to your story is the story of the salvation of the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts chapter 10.

    Julie, feel free to follow up on this.

  17. pjtibayan says:

    Thomas,

    I’m sorry for taking so long to reply. I forgot to type up my thoughts on your two comments and so I ask you to please forgive me for not keeping my word of replying to them when I got back from the Philippines. Please forgive me Tom.

    I appreciate your care in asking me or saying to me, “abandon Christianity.” I don’t appreciate it because I agree, I appreciate it because you do care and show it in taking the time to write to me and in teaching me some of the concepts of Buddhism that you found helpful, true, and convincing. I see your care, and for that, I am truly grateful. I have also learned a lot about Buddhism as you’ve presented it. Now my response to your comment #9, written on my blog 2/2/07 at 2:18PM.

    You said regarding Buddhism: “I do think so as I personal witness suffering all around me. I know of no one who denies this as far as it goes.”
    My reply: I see from this the epistemological basis of personal witness and the fact that no one denies this. I don’t think that is a completely reliable basis, though I do agree that suffering exists.

    You said regarding Christianity: “Christianity assumes that salvation exists. In other words it assumes the very object of contention, that very wonderful thing we all want. It then makes the issue, which is really another assumption, that humans can be saved. Is this a rational or legitimate way to approach a quest for the truth? I don’t think so, but let’s ask my Chrystal Ball (See any assumption here?)”

    My reply: What do you think Christianity says we are saved from?

    You said: The Buddha says: “Suppose Malunkyaputta, a man were wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and companions brought a surgeon to treat him. The man would say, ‘I will not let the surgeon pull out the arrow until I know the name and clan of the man who wounded me; whether the bow that wounded me was a long bow or a cross bow; whether the arrow that wounded me was hoof-tipped or curved or barbed.’ All this would still not be known to that man, and meanwhile he would die. So too, Malunkyaputta, if anyone should say, ‘I will not lead the noble life under the Buddha until the Buddha declares to me whether the world is eternal or not eternal; finite or infinite; whether the soul is the same as or different from the body; whether or not an awakened one continues or ceases to exist after death,’ that would still remain undeclared by the Buddha, and meanwhile that person would die.”
    “Here Buddha is saying that all our concerns about an afterlife actually retard our attempts at attempting to achieve his mission statement.”

    My reply: I think your conclusion is wrong. I think you’re making Buddha say more than he is saying. He’s saying that if you needed to know what would happen after death before you do good then you might end up wasting time/opportunity to good because you may die before finding out. Or he may be saying you can never know until after you die (which I, as a Christian, disagree with). But to say that “all concerns about an afterlife actually retard our attempts” is not true. I don’t feel retarded in my attempts of living a life that is good in the sight of the God and Father of Jesus Christ though I have a major concern and confidence in the afterlife. Actually, in Christianity, the reality of the afterlife and the hope of God making all wrong things right is the foundation for Christian love and sacrifice.

    You said in part two of Buddha’s words: “Here the Buddha says be good for its own sake, without fear of hope of reward. Compare this with Pascal’s wager argument and the superiority of this sentiment is apparent.”

    My reply: Buddha’s words to be good for its own sake and not to seek reward does not make sense because to Buddha, the reward is solace, freedom from hatred, malice, etc. I’m not saying those are bad things, I’m saying that it is inaccurate to say there is no reward. If I were a thief, I see having possessions I didn’t work for ethically as more rewarding than working hard, earning money, and getting a little bit. If someone told me to not steal because it was a reward to have the solace of not doing evil, I might say who’s to say that stealing is wrong/evil (I know that pushes back to the necessary question of the standard of right/wrong and good/evil)?

    You said: “I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with belief in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another–an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of meta-physical or philosophical reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or hell. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayers and so on. Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit–such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, which bring happiness to both self and others.”

    My reply: I think the concerns of spirituality you mentioned are concerns of Christianity also. I also think the things you say spirituality is concerned with must take place in reality and are always placed in a philosophical framework to be intelligible and orderly, it’s just that some admit they have a philosophical framework while others don’t (though they still have one since all of us do). In other words, the distinction you make between spirituality and religion is arbitrary and artificial. Maybe “religion” is more institutionalized, but it is not more philosophical and it is not less concerned with love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, etc.

    You said in four: “The Buddha’s maps for the journey to wisdom and happiness are attractive to many people because they are so simple. Essentially, he taught that it doesn’t make sense to upset ourselves about what is beyond our control. We don’t get a choice about what hand we are dealt in this life. The only choice we have is our attitude about the cards we hold and the finesse with which we play our hand.”

    My reply: The Bible also gives a proper sense of responsibility and what is beyond our responsibility. I like Buddha’s concept here.
    You said in five: The Buddha replied: “Greater than the massacring of bullocks is the sacrifice of self. He who offers up his evil desires will see the uselessness of slaughtering animals at the altar. Blood has no power to cleanse, but the giving up of harmful actions will make the heart whole. Better than worshiping gods is following the ways of goodness.”

    My reply: Offering up evil desires and sacrificing them in the way of goodness doesn’t fix the evil committed. If a child molester rapes a young girl for 3 years and damages her for life with his evil, him then sacrificing his evil and self does not bring healing, meaning, purpose, a sense of harmony, or happiness and peace to the molester or the victim. I think this shows a huge weakness with this way of thinking/living, these “ways of goodness.”

    You said: “Buddhism is a philosophy of experience here and now. You see it, you feel it. You understand it now. Not dependent on a supernatural force with proof to be provide after you die.”

    My reply: So your basis is experience here and now. What you feel and what you see and understand now. I don’t want to stake my life and decisions ultimately on my experience and sights and understanding now. I’m still learning so much. There is infinitely more I do not know compared to the infinitely small portion of reality that I do know or understand. I’m still under 30, but even if I was 90 and seen 3 times what I’ve seen to this day, I still wouldn’t have “seen,” “understood,” or “experienced” enough to dismiss the claims of Jesus Christ and Christianity. My sight would still have been so limited. My understanding will still be in many ways flawed and imperfect. My experience would have been so minute compared to the 6 billion plus experiences that are happening every moment as I type this sentence. Why stake my life/philosophy ultimately on what I’ve seen, understood, or experienced? Can I really believe that my experiences, sights, and understandings are worthy of my faith? I’m not saying Christianity is invisible, illogical, incomprehensible, or inexperiential, but I am saying that for those personal sights/understandings/experiences to be ultimate is unwise and presumptuous.

    You said: I see no genocide here, no blood sacrifices, no slavery, hatred and threats. A man could live profitably and with nobility by the few words and ideas I have cobbled together her at your request. Need I quote where the bible approves, nay, mandates these things?

    Here is just one. Read Mark 4:11-13

    Peter, I say to you, you know these things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them.

    My reply: Again, thank you for encouraging me to abandon Christianity based on your beliefs. I do really appreciate your care, though I still disagree with your philosophy and conclusions about Jesus Christ.

    You point out another epistemological basis or standard here – no genocide, blood sacrifices, hatred, slavery, threats. I can’t comment on them all right here but I will say that if you (not necessarily you personally) do not hate what is truly worthy of hate then you are not good. If you do not hate evil then you are not good. If you do not hate murder then you are not good. If you do not hate injustice then you are not good. If you do not hate evil than you are not good. The hatred of evil and what goes along with that explain your hang-ups with Christianity in this most recent quote, but before you understand why Christianity and God reveals himself in these ways you have to see that to not hate evil is itself evil.

    You said: “Compare that with a test that is tangible, here and now, not promised as pie in the sky in the great bye and bye. Lastly, it is done without regard to reward or punishment. How noble is that?”

    My reply: There are tangible tests like the ones you’ve named that Christianity can be tested with. It is logically coherent (as I’ll discuss in response to your other comment #10), it is historically grounded, it is (to use your 3 earlier grounds for trusting Buddhism) experienced by Christians, it is understood by Christians, and sight does play a part in Christian faith.

    Again, nothing is done without reward if you understand that the doing of the good is a reward to some. I pointed out where Buddha finds reward in “solace” earlier. That is a reward. And I don’t think that makes it lose its nobility to seek reward, granted the reward is not self-centered/self-exalting (unless you are God himself according to the Bible and the Christian faith).

  18. Lorenzo says:

    If the other answer is true, and alistair is right, then that raised another question…
    If all those people could leave from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, without coming to a knowledge of Christ…then why was the apostle Paul so eager to get the gospel to all people. And why are the people that God has called as missionaries and evangelists so eager of the task. Why did Paul say “therefore knowing the terror of the Lord, we pursuade men.”

  19. Mike says:

    First, I find it interesting that no one has fallen prey to the temptation to identify the atheist posts here with the doubts that the disciple Thomas experiences in the Bible.

    After watching the interview, I think – much like the dangers in misinterpreting the Bible itself – that the comments Pastor Begg made with regard to life after death for unknowing non-believers have been taken out of context. It’s seductively easy to take a single Bible verse or passage and build a mini-theology. That’s why a good pastor/teacher undergoes so much training and study – because they are expositing, or more simply, talking about a passage in the Bible and how it relates to the overall message we should be receiving from God through His Holy Word.

    A couple of things jumped out at me:

    1. Pastor Begg’s comment that in order to get to Hell, people needed to “step over” Jesus. This is a tremendous illustration of the inclusiveness of salvation. So many people try to portray Christianity as an exclusive religion that seeks to bar people from Heaven. Pastor Begg’s comment refutes this fallacy beautifully.

    2. More specifically, concerning the belief – or not – that people who have not heard of Jesus will be excluded – or not – from Heaven: Matthew 28:19-20 state things pretty clearly, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
    and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [NIV]

    There are also qualifying passages such as in the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 7:7-8, ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. [NIV]

    Take these verses and put them together and you have Jesus’ command to His disciples (all believers) to go and make disciples, etc. coupled with His clear statement that there is also a responsibility for the listener to receive the gift of salvation. Add this to all the other passages in the Gospels where Jesus lays out what our responsibilities are concerning the advancement of His Kingdom and finally: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 [NIV]

    All of these things together tell me that no one will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven except by their own choice – as Pastor Begg puts it, “Stepping over Jesus to get to Hell.”

  20. William says:

    Thomas, et al,

    I am sorry if I missed it, but no one seems to have commented on the Sovereignty of God or the condescension of God. The discussion so far has focused on human choice. In that regard, the population of hell will be all volunteer, in that all will have willfully chosen to reject the only “way” (Jesus), the only “door” (Jesus), to heaven (where Jesus will be), trying to impose their “way”, their “door”, their “heaven” on God.

    Talk about a crazy line of thought, Thomas, thinking God must abide by our “truth”. Heaven is His and He can do with it as He pleases. It has pleased Him to tell us that it pleases Him to only let in those who dependently trust (“believe”) on His Son. And it has pleased Him to reveal Himself and His Son only by His Spirit and only through His Bible. He will not let us do it “our way” according to our own thoughts. It will be His way or no way.

    For God to be “God”, not just “a god”, He would have to have absolute authority over all things, including authority to set the rules for who He chooses to permit to be with Him in His heaven. Taking the Bible seriously, as Alistair said in the video clip, then the root of human misery and destruction is in 1) our determination to have our own way even in the face of God’s warnings it will lead to death and 2) our determination to NOT follow God’s way in the face of God’s promise that there He will grant life. From the beginning it was His way or no way. He has not changed His mind, nor will He — it is His way or no way.

    This is made clear from the history of Genesis 1-11 (as well as the rest of the Bible and human history). God makes this world perfect. He gave Adam and Eve complete access to life. Adam and Eve choose death. Eve’s excuse is the serpent. Adam’s excuse is Eve. Each was free to make their own choice. Each could choose to love and trust the God who made them. Both chose to believe He wasn’t worth it and His words and works were unworthy and undependable. They didn’t want God to be God. They wanted to be God. And it cost them their lives.

    But even in that, God gave them a promise that He would make a way to come back home, through the “seed” of the woman (Jesus) who would make all things new again. And ever since, God has reaching out and reconciling (“saving”) people to Himself.

    Thomas, if you are still out there, it does seem that God is still reaching out to you to reconcile you to Himself. There are many “reasons” to believe the good news of the Bible is foolish. Many of your intellectual questions can be answered directly.

    Let us consider your skepticism regarding pi in I Kings 7. Perhaps my history is weak, but decimals were not a part of Hebrew writings c, 700-500 B.C., as they used their alphabet for numbers. There was no convention (or need, really) for the precision that we now consider “required”. The Hebrew(s) writing/editing I Kings 7 and the Hebrews to whom I Kings 7 originally was written would have found no error or deception in a 10 cubit diameter and 30 cubit circumference. Within the context of the times and the culture, it was sufficiently accurate (“truthful”).

    Thomas, consider this: where does the sun rise? We still continue to use our limited human reference points in describing reality even though it was long ago discovered that the sun “stays still”; it is actually the earth that is moving (rotating). If your child tape recorded you answering his question with “in the east” when he was 5, would it been reasonable for him, when he was 20, to replay the recording and say “you were obviously in error, how can I believe anything you’ve said?” Of course not. You communicated clearly and truthfully with him at his level at the time in question. And you would see no reason to rerecord your answer, knowing he would now know that you always did know better, knowing that you were communicating with him as a 5 year old (not some future grown up), and knowing that your being “more true” would have been useless to him back then. “In the east” was appropriate.

    Just as God revealed Himself in human flesh (as Jesus) so that we could comprehend Him from our vantage point, so He had His words written down from our vantage point. Too much mysticism strips the Bible of the truth that the indescribably big, powerful, intelligent, sovereign God reveals Himself through the “baby talk” of that Bible. The fact that we have grown from “3” to “pi” does not negate the fact that at one time “3” was what we understood. Even at “pi” we still baby talk compared to the infinite precision of the One Who created our time-space-matter universe with its mathematical coherence (remember that your “pi” still had … — how can we ever fully numeralize this irrational number?; isn’t “pi” to a million decimal places an “obvious error” also? — doesn’t it all come down to, humanly speaking, arbitrary vantage points and levels of precision?).

    Anyone wanting to argue away the truth of the exclusive, exhaustive claims of the God-man Jesus Christ can chase circles around even the most effective apologist in the same way that the endless sequence “why?” from a child can never reach a conclusion. The conclusion only comes when either the questioner is satisfied that everything will be OK without knowing why, or the answerer says “enough”.

    To understand the good news of the Bible requires believing that knowing the Answerer is the only real answer to “why”. God puts it this way in Isaiah 55:9 – “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” He does give many answers to soothe our souls and satisfy our minds, but in the end He is a Father to His children who says “Hush child, that is enough questions for now” [my human summary; a Bible verse would be the start of Psalms 46:10 “”Be still, and know that I am God”].

    I would love to be able to give intellectually satisfying answers to every question every Thomas has, but in the end it is the Sovereign Lord who must “turn on the lights” to God’s mercy and kindness in Jesus Christ. Otherwise every Thomas’s last “why?” will be followed with “Oh, my” as Thomas realizes he is without excuse from the fiery judgment of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Who Personally offered Thomas the gift of life, as He burns away the smoke and mirrors of each “why?” with which Thomas tried to hide his stubborn refusal to believe, and thus keeps His word to send Thomas to his everlasting doom.

    The “bad news” (that God in His Sovereignty will enforce justice on rebellious traitors by providing eternal suffering) is the backdrop that makes the “good news” (that God in His Sovereignty He has condescended to save us from the punishment we deserve as rebellious traitors by instead punishing His Son Jesus in our place) so good.

    From our “thrones” here on earth, we judge the God of the Bible to be a cruel despot who denies us what we want and lets evil happen to good people like us. From His Throne in heaven He offers us forgiveness for our evil judgments of Him which are the fruit of our evil rebellion against Him.

    Thomas, one last thing. While we try to be all intelligent and reasonable, our ultimate positions come down to “faith”. When you regressively analyse anything called “truth” you always reach a starting axiom or axioms which must be accepted “as is”, or you have no starting point at all. That initial acceptance of the starting axiom(s) is called “faith”. The real question regarding intelligence and reason is this “Which ‘faith’ best explains experiential reality?”

    Until you are ready to sincerely evaluate your axioms the Christian faith will never make sense to you, because your axioms presuppose that the Bible does not reveal God. If you begin to sincerely say “God, if what the Bible says about You is true, please show me” then you at least have opened the door to intellectual honesty. Until then you will never be persuaded of God’s goodness to humanity through Jesus Christ, you will only have one more “why?” and one more “why?” and yet another “why?”

    Thomas, may our hearts (yes, mine too) find no rest until we abandon our personal axiom thrones and bow in submission before the Throne of the One Who is THE AXIOM, The Sovereign Lord God of heaven AND earth, Jesus Christ.

  21. Thomas says:

    Well, I just found this link again in my saved file and read some of the arguments. I’ll post a response shortly after separating the wheat from the chaff. No easy task that.

  22. john says:

    i don’t think that there is any debate that Christianity says some very uncomfortable things or that it seems harsh at times. i still don’t see how that would refute its validity…

    i know buddism is more “happy” and everyone hold hands but that doesn’t make it any more valid than Christianity. all one could say is they chose it because you could never know such truths so you might as well pick one that is easy.

  23. Lisa says:

    God said that His gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth. Therefore, the end of the earth will not occur until His gospel has reached every nook and cranny. Now, if one chooses not to believe then that’s another story.

  24. Harriet says:

    If the Buddhists are so interested in suffering why don’t they build hospitals the way Christians do? Their traditions do not speak to helping those who are suffering the way Christian traditions do. I know Christians have been the cause of a lot of suffering too, but we aren’t perfect, just forgiven.

  25. Ann Tuttle says:

    I have read the comments that people have made about Alistair Beggs comment. Interestingly, it was through Alistair Begg’s preaching that I became a Christian 28 years ago in Scotland. I asked him this same question and he answered it in exactly the same way. I believe that Alistair is right and that we will judged on what we know and have accepted about Christ. I cannot believe that we have a loving God who has created people in his image knowing that they will never hear the Word of God thus condemming them to eternal hell. That is not the God that I believe in and if that is the God that you believe in that is very concerning. I do not know what Bible you people are reading.

    Are all the people that have responded to this comment from America? Because if that is the case you all have a very skewed and unhealthy view of Christianity.

    The Bible and Jesus’s teaching tells us about God’s love and also tells us that we cannot know who will be with Him in heaven so stop trying to guess.

    Ann

  26. Martha says:

    I just caught the Thomas thread, with all the typical lack of cogency that a westerner puts forth when trying to explain the convolution of Eastern mysticism. I was a Buddhist — a chanting one at the soka gakkai (I forgot how to spell it). . .this sect was filled with irrational, supernatural teachings — ghosts, evil spirits and the like. The folks chanted for material wealth. There were the stories of Buddha’s wisdom, which were as homespun as any folklore. I practiced Kundalini yoga. What I found was a denial of rational experience to the extreme. We are all powerful because of some unseen “serpent” energy in our spines. Christianity was a breath of rationality. It presented the most comprehensible system of thought of all the smorgasbord of spirituality I endured. Americans want novelty. Americans like the exotic. The eastern mystics have marketed a circus of spirituality for American consumption.

  27. Jim says:

    Ann, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man shall come unto the Father but by me” Christ is the savior, and this is what He said about how to be saved. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. That’s it. It is terrible that someone who is on an Island and never heard the gospel will go to hell, I agree. But the truth can be terrible, but that doesn’t make it untrue. These “islanders” will not suffer to the same degree as someone who has heard the gospel and denied it. I think that is what Alistair was driving at. They didn’t reject Christ because they never heard of Him. But they did sin, and sin is what separates us from God. Unfortunately, they are or were not in a place to hear the gospel and accept Christ as the perfect sacrifice for their sins. God does not owe any of us salvation, or even a shot at it by hearing the gospel. It is by His grace that any of us have heard the gospel or that there even is a gospel to be heard, if you follow me. God is just and He is HOLY. God does not tolerate sin in His presence. A person who has not accepted Christ as his/her savior, is not washed in the blood of the lamb and made sinless in the eyes of God. But you are inferring that this is not so. Sister, you are on dangerous ground.

    Jim

  28. John says:

    Ann Tuttle thanks for the breath of fresh air. As I read through the comment I was beginning to wonder myself. I’ve lived in the Southern USA most of my life. Born in the Midwest as most of my family was. Up their God is more menevolent which I think matches the Gospels much better and also his actions.

    Jim,

    I’m a Christian and I’m so tired of hearing the same verse used to justify this theology when that is not what it says.

    “I am the way the truth and the life, no man shall come unto the Father but by me.”, Jesus.

    You then insert after this that the ONLY WAY to eternal life with God is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And if you’ve never heard of his name you will be eternally seperated from God, tough luck. The word ONLY is not in there. Jesus will judge yet your theology strips him of his sovereignty to judge and replaces it with law (which Paul argues Christ freed us from). According to your theology we wouldn’t have a need for a judge. It would be just as automatic as pre-christianity. Not having the oppurtunity to hear the gospel is equivalent to breaking an unbendable law. One sin and you go to hell. Don’t know your version of theology go to hell.

    Read these passages please…..you too Sam Harris the athiest cause you do the same thing but even worse. Also (perhaps I’m wrong) but I do not recall reading any verse where Jesus addresses specifically those who have never heard the gospel. Yes the gospel must be spread but for more reasons than just salvation. “For he who seeks to save his life will lose it”. We must do more than believe a God exists or follow a formula for salvation. We must put our trust in him…this is what eating the bread of life is all about. Love is an action.

    Concerning judgement
    John 5:16-30
    John 10:1-21 specifically John 10:16
    John 14: 1-14 ….”through me” NIV version

    We must trust in God, know God, love God and if we do we will obey his commands. Faith in action. Love in action. From what I’ve read Jesus will sit at the right hand of God and will come to judge the quick and the dead… He will judge not you or me.

    No offense but you are probably Southern baptist or reside somewhere in the South as I do. I love the South, I attend a Baptist church, I love Baptist. My critism here is that too often Church teaching is like a never ending introduction to Christianity 101 that we teach to kids. Here are the basis tenants of our faith memorize them and repeat. Rarely does anyone ever dig deeper because simple is easy and simple is great because all you have to to is believe….which is not true.

    I don’t even like some of Franklin Graham’s presentations cause it seems to me like he believes the ends will justify the means so he over simplifies. Certainly we should be very very fearful and mindful of our sin and its consequences. If we really believe we will of course practice our faith and spread the word of our faith and repent. However to put a human limit on God is not wise in my book and I would argue God’s book too.

    Spreading the Gospel is all about “Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

    I urge everyone to reaccess this all too typical church belief. Christianity if not a 10 step program. It is much much deeper and complex.

  29. SinnerRedeemed says:

    I just wanted to say I really enjoy Pastor Begg’s work. That bieng said If in doubt about an issue go to the Bible itself and seek the truth on your own. Thomas I understand your thirst for truth I similarly dabbled in many philosophies and religions before I found the truth in Jesus. I found there are many valuable ideas in Buddhism as a philosophy. Just a caution, sometimes you can be to intelligent for your own good. As much as you want to you cant rationalize everything. There are things that wont make sense to you because you havent trusted Christ. Your reading the Bible like a textbook. Your not objective and niether am I. All I can say is I lived a long time without him not many things made any sense. His suffering makes my suffering mean something. Not because I am great but because he is. You sound like an awesome person I just pray that God will continue to speak to your heart as I can see he has. Dont give up he loves you very much as do I.

  30. Theodore A. Jones says:

    This is a good conversation. Poor Thomas is getting beat up but is Begg actually telling you the truth?

    “I am, the Way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the father but BY me.” There is a small narrow gate to God, but this gate is only located by a few according to Jesus. Begg is not one of these few. The base assumptive of Begg’s belief system is that the crucifixion of Jesus is the resolution of ALL issues between God and mankind. This assumptive has been codified into the doctrine identified as “substitutionary atonement” and is explained that Jesus’ crucifixion was in place of yours. This is the idea that Begg and the other leaders of contemporary Christian churches term as the “gospel of God.” But the term “gospel of God” is a discriptive. And relative to the fact that Jesus said that his enemy was going to sow bad seed, i.e. a false explaination about Jesus’ crucifixion, does the common “gospel of God” not have a counter relative to only a few? Selah.

    Thomas’ ideas we dismiss but is Begg’s idea of repenting of being a sinner the Way the Acts 2:38 command is obeyed? It was many years ago, 8 or 10, I wrote to Begg and asked. What is the sin that was repented of in Acts 2 to obey the command Repent? Believe it or not Begg replyed and I still have his note that states “It would take too much of my time to answer this question.” Hummmmmmm……!

    The crucifixion of Jesus is the sin of murder caused by bloodshed according to God’s set purpose that:

    “and from EACH man too
    I will demand an accounting
    for the life of your fellow man.”
    Gen. 9:5b

    For it is by the crucifixion of Jesus regarding the fact that his life has been taken by bloodshed that the sufficent base was established to make a change to the law of God,Heb. 7:12, by adding the word Repent. The only Way the Acts 2:38 command can be obeyed is by the faith to confess directly to God that you are sorry Jesus was crucified in order to be forgiven of ALL sins. This is the only small narrow gate into the kingdom of God for no other Way is perfectable. Do you have the faith to obey Jesus this Way in order to save yourself

  31. pjtibayan says:

    Theodore,

    I’m with Alistair Begg on this one. I’m sorry he never replied to your inquiry. I don’t think the sin we need to repent of is exclusively the sin of putting Jesus on the cross. You said it this way: The only Way the Acts 2:38 command can be obeyed is by the faith to confess directly to God that you are sorry Jesus was crucified in order to be forgiven of ALL sins. This is the only small narrow gate into the kingdom of God for no other Way is perfectable.

    I disagree. The Jesus died for our sins in our place. See this article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/may/9.29.html

  32. Theodore A. Jones says:

    RE. pjyibayan. I did not say that Begg did not respond. Indeed he did, but his response was a violation of the command “Give to the one who asks you”, which I assumed he would violate before I asked the question. If you are a spokes person for Begg maybe it is needful for you to remind him for there has not been any further response from him. Never mind that Jesus commands “first be reconsiled to your brother’s mind then go about the public business of honoring God.” There are two things common to all comtemporary churches that are built on the foundation of “Jesus died in our place.” One is the fully lacking operation of teaching people to obey what Jesus commands and the other is that pastors of these types of churches will not obey him either. In my surveys of the churches built on the foundation of “Jesus died in our place” I’ve not found one that even has a “Jesus commandment” class. Neither do you ever find a “Jesus commandment” class in any Bible school or seminary. Prehaps it is needful to read what Jesus says “The student is not above his teacher. For when he is fully trained he is like his teacher. They are both alike.”, and i’sn’t it by their fruit that you know them? Also I am fully aware of what “Christianity Today” states but nothing trumps the Scripture. That only a very few ever find what the small narrow gate into the kingdom of God truthfully is is not an understatement! Recently I heard Begg preach that the Acts 2:38 command can be obeyed by confessing to God that you are a sinner. However according to God not any man’s life can be taken by bloodshed and the result NOT be having to give God the accounting he commands. What you are failing to grasp is that that a sin in order to be accountable must first be committed,see Rom.5. Then the law is given to make that sin accountable, but only to God. Since it is only through “their message” that one might become one with God and the question is asked “Brothers! What shall we do?”
    You with the greatest imperitive is the need to ask “What shall we do about what sin.”? For what happended to Jesus on the cross is an offense,a sin Gal. 5:11. Jesus testifies that guilt relative to sin remains for you as the outstanding issue and since this is the truthful fact AFTER his crucifixion, is it wise to follow Begg and the majority who teaches “Jesus died in your place”?
    “The law, Repent, has been
    added so the the trespass of
    Jesus’ crucifixion might
    increase.” a paraphrase of Rom. 5:20
    By the way to defend your position “Do not go beyond what is written.” in the Scriptures. I think anything written in “Christianity Today” is a bit beyond the command “If you continue in My words” don’t you? For the truth is that by the sin of taking a man’s life by the fact of bloodshed God holds EACH man accountable for this sin. Jesus has not died in anyone’s place for he has become the sin we all must repent of to be saved.
    “For God is not slack concerning his promise
    as men count slackness. The guilty shall not
    go unpunished. But He has been patient and
    longsuffering not wiling that anyone should
    perish but that ALL should come to Repentance
    regarding the sin of crucifying his only
    begotten son Jesus.”
    God makes it very plain that he loves obedience rather than sacrifice. Your and Begg’s idea of salvation is exactly opposite.

    • joshuajrosen says:

      it is possible that nobody will read this as it is a few years late. but I wanted to reply anyway.

      Theodore.
      maybe you should have told Alistair the answer and asked the question true or false. two things may have happened. either he would have used a moment to reply, “false,” or due to the utter inanity of your position he may have felt great pity for you. and having pricked his heart to have mercy on you, he may have given you a lesson on the person of Jesus; who He is and has always been and who He will always be, for you, should you acknowledge that He did it all because you could do nothing, outside of or in addition to, His work. if Jesus had wanted, let alone mandated, you be sorry for His death (that being your “work” unto salvation) He would never have said, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It seems that Jesus even did that work for you, and what’s more, whilst also upon the cross where he did all the other work necessary to bridge the gap between you and the Father and to cast His image upon you.

      i write this affectionately, somewhat satirically and also for the purpose of illuminating a bit of hypocrisy, combined with legalism, in your offense to and condemnation of mr. begg’s short reply. I do not condemn you. it is easy to feel rejected or hurt by people in high positions, especially if you have experienced some rejection in your earlier life. there is healing and restoration for that.

      As for Thomas. Faith in and restoration of relationship with the almighty creator is the whole story of Judeo-Christian scripture. Logic will not get you there. In fact, only the Spirit of God can bring you to a place of understanding. And when you understand, you will hold onto that understanding by faith as well. It’s not a crutch my secular friend — it’s the whole forest. Who knows, maybe by this time you have already been called, the veil lifted from your eyes. If not, may it be so quickly.

  33. TracyJayne says:

    This is all very interesting but has made me very tired. Its so simple. He is the alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end. He created us to fellowship with Him. He allows Satan to be the God of this world so that we have a choice to make and because of that…good suffers as well as bad. God even gives each of us the faith we need to choose a relationship with HIm. He even paid the debt of sin for us by dying on the cross for us….and not only that He provides us with His holy Spirit to help us maintain a relationship with Him along the way through all the good and bad. And in the end we are greatly rewarded by hanging in there with all the unknowns by eternity with Him. Now that is one unknown I can’t wait to experience. In a nutshell God is Love. He is not safe but He is good and just. I can only testify to these things after walking in a relationship with Him for the last years. Take the faith He has given you and jump in with everything. Its the wildest ride you will ever take…indeed a great adventure!

  34. Jack says:

    I agree with Alistair Begg on this one. I will not waste any effort in converting anyone’s thinking simply because it seems to me this discussion has slipped into foolish, vain , worldly wisdom and could spin on for decades.

  35. Will says:

    As it relates to those who have not heard. Martin Luther King indirectly adds to this argument. He stated pertaining to peoples belief or non-belief in God during the Civil Rights movement “even if people do not believe in a personal God, they believe the universe is on the side of justice.” God is just in all His ways and that includes His justice as it relates to sinners whether they heard the gospel or not. It is amazing how many people become evangelists i.e. their concern when thinking of the non-Christian peoples of the world, while at the same time they reject Jesus!

  36. Scott S di Vincenzo says:

    ARE THERE TWO JUDGMENTS ?

    So am I to understand two separate & distinct versions of biblical condemnation ?

    One version for “ignoring creation’ and one version for “rejecting Christ?”

    This is very confusing.
    * scottidee[at]gmail

  37. Jen says:

    I agree TracyJayne. It IS so simple….. CHRISTIANITY IS THE only religion in which GOD SEEKS a relationship WITH MAN. By providing man with a Savior (Jesus). HE loves us and desires us to love and seek HIM in kind. He has made the road to salvation easy, by just having faith and believing in Jesus. I know what He has done in my life and it is amazing. I was not raised in the church and came to Jesus within the last 5 years, so I know the other side of the coin…I understand the doubters. I have had the same thoughts before. But what God has done in my life, there is no doubt about. When you do not know God, you cannot see Him. Once He softens your heart and you become saved by accepting Jesus, you get your “God Goggles” and your eyes are open and you can’t help but see Him! I am so sad for the lost who are writing in this blog. You gotta believe in something….why not something that WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE!!! (THOMAS) You are worthy…no matter what you have done, thought or otherwise. Salvation is not based on what you do or have done..it is just based on faith! There is and will never be a perfect human, except for Jesus. Check out the story of David…”a man after God’s own heart” He had quite a rocky life….God forgives. Also, we can believe that Christianity is the right religion because, Jesus beat death…that is why we will have eternal life. Our savior arose! It is documented…people DIED because they would not deny they saw Him dead one day and alive days later. Would you DIE for a LIE????

  38. Gordon says:

    Simple distinction, Christianity is the only religion WERE GOD DIES FOR YOU….

  39. Gordon says:

    I John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

  40. Tod Panama says:

    I Will have to come back again when my course load lets up – nevertheless I am taking your RSS feed so I can read your site offline. Thanks.

  41. Norberto says:

    16But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[h] 17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
    “Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.”[i] 19Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
    “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
    I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”[j] 20And Isaiah boldly says,
    “I was found by those who did not seek me;
    I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”[k] 21But concerning Israel he says,
    “All day long I have held out my hands
    to a disobedient and obstinate people.”[l]

    Christ is the Word of God. Wherever the Word is, there Christ is. And what is the Word? Is it not the deep truths of life that live within each of us? People can respond in a righteous way to God’s truth, without ever having contact with a Missionary.

  42. Marty says:

    If I am given a speeding ticket, that ticket must be paid. If the law is broken it has to be paid. I can pay it or someone else can pay it for me, but it must be paid. We have all sinned and the “ticket” we must pay is death. We are all in the same boat. I can do it my way and die for myself and live in eternity away from God, or I can accept the gift of the sinless son of God (Jesus Christ) who in love for all mankind paid the penalty by His death on the cross that we could live with Him and each other for eternity. The gift is for everyone but it has to be accepted and acted upon. It has nothing to do with what I must “do” but what Christ has done.

    It seems to me that all beliefs except christianity have to do with one doing something, either to gain solace, happiness or salvation.
    How much would I have to do? Would I ever know if I’ve done enough? No, I can do nothing. Jesus paid the penalty for my sin and I have been set free from the penalty of sin. I’m forgiven and if His gift is truly accepted on my part I will see a change in my life for the better. If I don’t wish to accept His gift, that’s ok, but I’ll be on my own
    to do it my own way and accept whatever that may bring.

  43. mv says:

    I am sorry I read this blog. I am completely confused now.

  44. Doug P says:

    I’d like to add a very small idea for the consideration of my fellow Christians here.  

    I think there is a way to approach a generous view of salvation, that includes those living today who have never heard of Jesus as well as the Old Testament saints and others.  Perhaps I am putting too much weight on the meaning of a single preposition, but where the scripture refers to the name of Jesus BY which we are saved, it seems to me to be pointing more to God’s provision than to our required action.  Yes, when we hear the gospel, we accept it, or not, and are saved by grace through faith, or not.  But when we have not heard, the provision is still available.  If you will, a deposit has already been made to our account, as a gift, even though we may have not yet met our benefactor.  It is simply not clear to me, based on anything I have read here or elsewhere that there is no plan of salvation for those whose hearts are inclined toward God, but have not heard of Jesus of Nazareth.  To be clear, I do not for a moment dispute the exclusive claims of Christ.  It just seems possible to me that a loving and merciful God could choose, as a matter of sovereignty, to apply the provision even for some who have no knowledge of it.  If we know that we cannot be saved by our works, how much knowledge of the details of God’s plan is required before we may be saved?  

  45. John Dodson says:

    First of all let’s set this down…ALL will have a chance to hear the Gospel of Christ Jesus…

    When His disciples came to Him asking;

    And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? ~ Matthew 24:3

    He replied with the many signs that they would see that would be indicative of the end of these times, the last absolute sign being;

    “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) ” ~Matthew 24:15

    As we most certainly understand from the Book of Matthew and right from the Jesus Himself that this will be the very last and most sure sign we are to witness before the end of these times and His second coming, just before this last item, Jesus affirms what is pursuant to this whole discussion;

    “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. ..” ~Matthew 24:14

    Thus, Pastor Allistair Begg’s comment of ;

    “Their destiny [people who have never heard the gospel] is directly tied to the light that they’ve received. They will not be judged for not believing in a Jesus of whom they have never heard.”

    …Seems very appropriate. Jesus very clearly articulates that “all the world for a witness…and unto all nations” …indicating beyond any doubts I have, that EVERYONE will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether then, at that time, they choose to accept The Way, The Truth, and The Life” will be the delineating factor for their salvation….their reaction to the “light that they’ve received…” as Allistair most certainly states…It seems to me that Pastor Beggs knows the Book of Matthew very well, and therein is the end of the lesson.

    Even as a child, I was concerned about others whom live in countries that are not known as Christian by definition and why they did not believe about Our Lord, and as well, what would happen to them due to this.

    According to Jesus everyone will get their opportunity. In this day and age, wherein we all know that the gospel of Jesus is far reaching due to the many and extensive outreach, television, radio, and missionary efforts…it seems that Jesus not only knew that all would hear the gospel, but most probably even HOW they would be able to hear it….

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father.” ~John 14:12

    Love and Prayers and May God Bless ALL!

    -john

  46. Granny Franny says:

    I just found this site because I listen to Alistair Begg, an articulate and intelligent voice in a pretty messed up post modern world where all truth is arguable and for sale. Apologists like Begg and Ravi Zacharias, like C.S. Lewis, are called to present the “good news” of the Lord Jesus to a starving planet, not with fast junk food or easy answers but with the Word of God, whom John happens to identify as Jesus. All of you have contributed to a lively discussion, but after a time, it’s like discussing the age old question of “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” The arguments about Christianity vs Buddhism vs other religions vs paganism and becoming saved can go on for decades. As a matter of fact, they’ve gone on for centuries.

    The only question which really matters is this in two parts: Do I believe in God who is Holy and who asks us to be holy even as He is, that is to become like Him in character? And am I willing to admit I am in de facto a sinner in this world? (not just excusing myself that I’m only a person who makes mistakes or has defects of character or in denial of who I am at my worst. ) The Scriptures and the world answer both of these questions, over and over. God is holy , history proves we are a fallen people and my own life testifies that I am capable of almost anything. How then, do we get out of the reality of being sinners and somehow still hope to be reconciled to the Holy One in this life and in the next?

    Almost every religion claims that God is love or God is just. Christianity claims God is both/ and – not either/or – and it also claims that God is relational. Since humans of themselves can’t do away with their own sinful natures, (try breaking even one bad habit) the forgiveness offered by the Person of Jesus, brings together divine Love and Justice as the gift of salvation for all who will receive it.

    John 3:14-17
    …so must the son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

    It is all gift. And like a gift, it has to be accepted.

    So what of those who’ve never heard the Gospel which is what these posts talk about?
    Again John 12:32
    Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
    It’s a prophecy and a promise, folks. I don’t know about anyone else, but if He said it, I believe it for the Lord Jesus has never, ever failed to be faithful to His Word. He was lifted up and He will draw all peoples to Himself. How? That’s up to God. The opportunity will be presented, according to this Scripture and is even now being fulfilled, in these very commentaries! Quite miraculous, actually.

    This is for Thomas, if he still reads these posts. I respect your beliefs and appreciate your shared posting. Suffering is part of being human until the day we die. As a Buddhist, you try to transcend it, to experience it and move past some how, right? I’m a Christian and a grandmother and if one of my children or grandchildren was suffering from cancer or anything else, what would that suffering child need? Someone to help, comfort and be with them. A living person to cling to when it becomes unbearable. Jesus offers the same because physically and spiritually we are but suffering infants.
    John 16: 33
    “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
    Not many people are taken out of trials or suffering, but I know of many people who come through dreadful trials because of their faith in Christ, including this writer who was given the gift of a personal relationship with Jesus quite late in life.

    Granny Franny

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