New Testament record is thoroughly reliable

Truly, I feel sorry for those correspondents (Letters, April 19) who do not feel able to believe that Jesus Christ really died and rose from the dead.

If Jesus did NOT rise from the dead and ascend into heaven then none of us has any hope for the future (1 Corinthians 15:19).

But the truth of the New Testament record is thoroughly reliable, as countless millions of believers can testify, who have really experienced what it means to be born again (born of God's Spirit - John 3) and have Christ dwelling in their hearts.

When God-given faith takes a hold in the heart of a believer, he cannot doubt the Bible record because that same Spirit of God witnesses to our spirit that we are the sons of God; and we enjoy a daily relationship with God through Jesus Christ - the most joyous privilege imaginable. But it is not imaginary - it is as real as our relationship with our family and friends.

Of course these things sound incredible to the unbeliever. The atheist and the agnostic have no experience of this wonderful privilege of sonship. Consequently true Christians are despised and, in some parts of the world, persecuted disgracefully. It has always been so. (1 John 3:13) Jesus Christ often said: "He that has ears to hear, let him hear", clearly indicating that many people would never listen to the Gospel and put their trust in Him.

But those who have spiritual hearing and understanding do hear God's word and are required by Christ to witness to the truth. Even the Psalmist said: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so". (Psalm 107:2).

This newspaper should be deluged with letters from Christians declaring their faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. We should always be ready to give an account of our reasons for believing, and not dismayed by those who claim that "scholars" have disputed these things. The unbelieving scholars of Jesus' day (Scribes and Pharisees) were the very people who sought to kill Him. (Read Matthew chapters 23 and 26).

The life, death and resurrection of Christ were all planned by God Himself. And the glorious work of atonement was completed when, on the cross, Jesus cried out: "It is finished".

We should rejoice in these facts and strengthen our faith by daily study of the scriptures, never forgetting that the Jesus whom we worship is both Creator of the universe (John 1:3) and the One who "upholds all things by the word of His power". (Epistle to the Hebrews, ch.1, vv. 1-3).

Michael J. Salts

Coniston

Comments (11)

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9:41pm Mon 30 Apr 12

Soren says...

Michael.

Have you written the above to try to convince yourself? If it was designed to try to convince others, read it again. It's a cyclical argument, capable of convincing no-one but the hardwired or desperate.

Your argument runs like this. “God is great. How do we know this? God told us so in the Bible.”

If you accept the consensus view of our great scientists who now see no need to invoke God as an explanation of anything, you should then be able to see the bible for what it is, a highly suspect collection of myths, fabrication, mistranslations and downright gobbledegook, designed to control and comfort in varying measure.

The truth is out there as bright as can be. You just need to remove your blinkers.

Your comments suggest you're very dismissive of atheism. Perhaps you haven't given it enough thought. I don't like the word 'atheism' because it is negative, it means a non-theist. No-one feels the need to describe me as a non-alchemist, or a non-astrologer, so quite why I have to be defined as a non-theist is beyond me. As someone said, “Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”

Nonetheless, atheism is a very fruitful constructive life path. It causes, indeed requires the individual to consider their responsibilities and duties to others and to the future existence of this planet much more than religionists, who have a tendency to devolve all the big issues to an imaginary friend. Atheism instils a vitality for the ‘here and now’ and a different view and understanding of the marvels and threats of nature.

I believe that a religious worldview is potentially the greatest force for harm in this world, because the followers content themselves in the extremely dubious notion that there is a better place beyond death. This mindset stymies scientific progress, by placing pseudo-ethical religious barriers at the boundaries of science, following the numb philosophy that, because we can’t ever know how the Universe was created, we shouldn’t bother trying to find out.
Michael. Have you written the above to try to convince yourself? If it was designed to try to convince others, read it again. It's a cyclical argument, capable of convincing no-one but the hardwired or desperate. Your argument runs like this. “God is great. How do we know this? God told us so in the Bible.” If you accept the consensus view of our great scientists who now see no need to invoke God as an explanation of anything, you should then be able to see the bible for what it is, a highly suspect collection of myths, fabrication, mistranslations and downright gobbledegook, designed to control and comfort in varying measure. The truth is out there as bright as can be. You just need to remove your blinkers. Your comments suggest you're very dismissive of atheism. Perhaps you haven't given it enough thought. I don't like the word 'atheism' because it is negative, it means a non-theist. No-one feels the need to describe me as a non-alchemist, or a non-astrologer, so quite why I have to be defined as a non-theist is beyond me. As someone said, “Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.” Nonetheless, atheism is a very fruitful constructive life path. It causes, indeed requires the individual to consider their responsibilities and duties to others and to the future existence of this planet much more than religionists, who have a tendency to devolve all the big issues to an imaginary friend. Atheism instils a vitality for the ‘here and now’ and a different view and understanding of the marvels and threats of nature. I believe that a religious worldview is potentially the greatest force for harm in this world, because the followers content themselves in the extremely dubious notion that there is a better place beyond death. This mindset stymies scientific progress, by placing pseudo-ethical religious barriers at the boundaries of science, following the numb philosophy that, because we can’t ever know how the Universe was created, we shouldn’t bother trying to find out. Soren
  • Score: 0

3:27pm Mon 7 May 12

KendalSmithy says...

“If you accept the consensus view of our great scientists who now see no need to invoke God as an explanation of anything, you should then be able to see the bible for what it is ...”

It all depends which scientists' 'consensus' view you choose to accept. The fact is that no scientist has yet found the ultimate explanation of everything. Theories abound but none can be proved. I'm amazed at how much faith atheists are willing to place in science, because it cannot - and never will - answer life's ultimate questions. As far as I can see the atheist is merely someone who blinkers himself to the invisible God who is powerfully and wonderfully portrayed in the universe, the Bible and the risen Christ.
“If you accept the consensus view of our great scientists who now see no need to invoke God as an explanation of anything, you should then be able to see the bible for what it is ...” It all depends which scientists' 'consensus' view you choose to accept. The fact is that no scientist has yet found the ultimate explanation of everything. Theories abound but none can be proved. I'm amazed at how much faith atheists are willing to place in science, because it cannot - and never will - answer life's ultimate questions. As far as I can see the atheist is merely someone who blinkers himself to the invisible God who is powerfully and wonderfully portrayed in the universe, the Bible and the risen Christ. KendalSmithy
  • Score: 0

11:33pm Mon 7 May 12

Soren says...

Kendal Smithy wrote "As far as I can see..."

It's part of the religious condition not to look too far.
Kendal Smithy wrote "As far as I can see..." It's part of the religious condition not to look too far. Soren
  • Score: 0

11:57pm Mon 7 May 12

KendalSmithy says...

Soren wrote: “It's part of the religious condition not to look too far.”
That's odd; does that apply to the thousands of highly intelligent scientists around the world who are also Christians and who believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Soren wrote: “It's part of the religious condition not to look too far.” That's odd; does that apply to the thousands of highly intelligent scientists around the world who are also Christians and who believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ? KendalSmithy
  • Score: 0

9:43am Tue 8 May 12

Soren says...

Hmmm...

I've made a point of trying to identify these scientists, and listen to or read the reasoning for their favourable juxtapositioning of science and religion. What you tend to find is that almost all of them keep their science and religion compartmentalised and don't allow one to interfere with the other. Many scientists are not relevant scientists in the field of life and earth sciences, and are therefore not any more qualified than you or I to make judgements based on relevant scientific knowledge. Most Christian scientists will not argue their faith on rational scientific grounds, because they know there is no cogent defence. They tend to stick on the ‘why’ question, and muse on philosophical grounds. Others are scientific conservatives who have some difficulty making the leap demanded to rationalise and make sense of the anthropic principle.

The only scientist I’ve heard who tries to make a brave stab of using his science to advance his Christian faith is Dr John Lennox. However, when you listen to and analyse his arguments, he’s still a scientist when it comes to science, and a preacher when it comes to religion. He is a scientific conservative who very unscientifically dismisses new theories. He actually doesn’t mix science and religion, other than stating that they are not incompatible, and that religion cannot be disproved. As we know, the flying spaghetti monster cannot be disproved either, but because it is so unlikely and pointless, both Dr Lennox and I confidently don’t believe in it.

A survey in 1998 in USA found that only 7% of the widest spectrum of American scientists believed in a personal God. This compares to 92% of all Americans. Similar surveys showed that 40% of Americans were still strict believers in the Genesis account of creation, while only 0.15% of scientists shared this view.

Those statistics tell us a lot. No scientist will completely dismiss a notion if it cannot be disproved. However if the notion explains nothing, and if the accumulation of circumstantial evidence weighs very heavily against this notion, they will give it little credence. That’s’ why 93% of American scientists will not stake a claim in a personal God, and why 99.85% believe that creationists are wrong.
Hmmm... I've made a point of trying to identify these scientists, and listen to or read the reasoning for their favourable juxtapositioning of science and religion. What you tend to find is that almost all of them keep their science and religion compartmentalised and don't allow one to interfere with the other. Many scientists are not relevant scientists in the field of life and earth sciences, and are therefore not any more qualified than you or I to make judgements based on relevant scientific knowledge. Most Christian scientists will not argue their faith on rational scientific grounds, because they know there is no cogent defence. They tend to stick on the ‘why’ question, and muse on philosophical grounds. Others are scientific conservatives who have some difficulty making the leap demanded to rationalise and make sense of the anthropic principle. The only scientist I’ve heard who tries to make a brave stab of using his science to advance his Christian faith is Dr John Lennox. However, when you listen to and analyse his arguments, he’s still a scientist when it comes to science, and a preacher when it comes to religion. He is a scientific conservative who very unscientifically dismisses new theories. He actually doesn’t mix science and religion, other than stating that they are not incompatible, and that religion cannot be disproved. As we know, the flying spaghetti monster cannot be disproved either, but because it is so unlikely and pointless, both Dr Lennox and I confidently don’t believe in it. A survey in 1998 in USA found that only 7% of the widest spectrum of American scientists believed in a personal God. This compares to 92% of all Americans. Similar surveys showed that 40% of Americans were still strict believers in the Genesis account of creation, while only 0.15% of scientists shared this view. Those statistics tell us a lot. No scientist will completely dismiss a notion if it cannot be disproved. However if the notion explains nothing, and if the accumulation of circumstantial evidence weighs very heavily against this notion, they will give it little credence. That’s’ why 93% of American scientists will not stake a claim in a personal God, and why 99.85% believe that creationists are wrong. Soren
  • Score: 0

10:05am Tue 8 May 12

KendalSmithy says...

I've seen a lot of these statistics bandied around, and am in no position to argue with them, although I would guess they generally come from the sceptic community. I'm a great admirer of John Lennox, as you would expect, and his logical thinking has me confused sometimes. Whether or not God exists, and whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, is for every individual to decide in their own heart. One thing is for sure; if God does exist and wants to be invisible (which He must if we are to remain freethinkers) He WILL be invisible, and when/if He ultimately and finally reveals Himself to mankind not one human will be in any doubt as to who He is.
I've seen a lot of these statistics bandied around, and am in no position to argue with them, although I would guess they generally come from the sceptic community. I'm a great admirer of John Lennox, as you would expect, and his logical thinking has me confused sometimes. Whether or not God exists, and whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, is for every individual to decide in their own heart. One thing is for sure; if God does exist and wants to be invisible (which He must if we are to remain freethinkers) He WILL be invisible, and when/if He ultimately and finally reveals Himself to mankind not one human will be in any doubt as to who He is. KendalSmithy
  • Score: 0

10:58am Tue 8 May 12

Soren says...

As you have already stated elsewhere KS, you would dismiss the notion of a resurrected Jesus outright had you had the 'misfortune' to be born in Turkey. So your ‘certainty’ that Christianity is the only true way must be understood within that fickle context.

So religion is a 'heart' rather than a 'head' thing. The heart needs an answer to the 'why' question and needs a method of comfort for the anguish of approaching death or the death of friends or family. The head needs no such answer, which is why religion is an almost totally disregarded concept for most rational thinkers, especially scientists.

Simply because the 'heart' needs an answer doesn't mean there is one. It does however mean that some kind of answer will be created. And those answers are the multitude of different religions that have taken hold over the last 10% of human existence. All different, all exclusive – all making different demands for your soul.

As you say KS, your god is indeed invisible, but you also have to accept that if he does exist, you also have to recognise that there’s no need for him to flex his omnipotent muscles in such a vindictively malevolent manner. If he does exist, who the hell should ever want to know such a thug?
As you have already stated elsewhere KS, you would dismiss the notion of a resurrected Jesus outright had you had the 'misfortune' to be born in Turkey. So your ‘certainty’ that Christianity is the only true way must be understood within that fickle context. So religion is a 'heart' rather than a 'head' thing. The heart needs an answer to the 'why' question and needs a method of comfort for the anguish of approaching death or the death of friends or family. The head needs no such answer, which is why religion is an almost totally disregarded concept for most rational thinkers, especially scientists. Simply because the 'heart' needs an answer doesn't mean there is one. It does however mean that some kind of answer will be created. And those answers are the multitude of different religions that have taken hold over the last 10% of human existence. All different, all exclusive – all making different demands for your soul. As you say KS, your god is indeed invisible, but you also have to accept that if he does exist, you also have to recognise that there’s no need for him to flex his omnipotent muscles in such a vindictively malevolent manner. If he does exist, who the hell should ever want to know such a thug? Soren
  • Score: 0

1:32pm Tue 8 May 12

KendalSmithy says...

God has promised in the Bible that He will put all wrongs right and destroy evil. So all the so-called ‘thuggery’ you accuse Him of will also be vindicated and put right. If you check the Book carefully you’ll see there was always a reason for His vindictiveness, and in one instance it was to stop an entire nation abusing and murdering its own children. What would have been a better solution to a problem like that? Earthquakes, tsunamis, despot dictators, deformity of newborn babies ... ad infinitum ... are all part of His curse on an evil and rebellious world but they are also under His control and will be dealt with justly as and when He decides.

The God you refuse to believe in is just so small, Soren. Look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ and you’ll see that He IS capable of putting the worst wrongs right and reversing death itself. Forget all that stuff about what I would be like if I was born a Hindu as it proves nothing. Look at who Jesus claimed to be, look at what He did and how He proved it, and you will see the real and complete nature of the God of the Bible. Philosophy will then be an interest, not an obsession; and science will be a revelation of how God works rather than a means to try to prove His absence.
God has promised in the Bible that He will put all wrongs right and destroy evil. So all the so-called ‘thuggery’ you accuse Him of will also be vindicated and put right. If you check the Book carefully you’ll see there was always a reason for His vindictiveness, and in one instance it was to stop an entire nation abusing and murdering its own children. What would have been a better solution to a problem like that? Earthquakes, tsunamis, despot dictators, deformity of newborn babies ... ad infinitum ... are all part of His curse on an evil and rebellious world but they are also under His control and will be dealt with justly as and when He decides. The God you refuse to believe in is just so small, Soren. Look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ and you’ll see that He IS capable of putting the worst wrongs right and reversing death itself. Forget all that stuff about what I would be like if I was born a Hindu as it proves nothing. Look at who Jesus claimed to be, look at what He did and how He proved it, and you will see the real and complete nature of the God of the Bible. Philosophy will then be an interest, not an obsession; and science will be a revelation of how God works rather than a means to try to prove His absence. KendalSmithy
  • Score: 0

8:07pm Tue 8 May 12

Soren says...

Ha! You would love me to let you forget how fickle your faith is KS.

You say that your faith being a direct consequence of your place of birth proves nothing. Were you just born lucky!?
What it proves is that faith IS a product of one’s mindset. The nature and nurture that has made you what you are is responsible for your need to believe in a religion.
As you have correctly recognised, the detail and substance of the particular religion that you fell into is much less important than the comfort or life plan it offers.
I’m sure your desperation to retain Christianity as an intellectual personal choice will prevent you from agreeing with me.

I on the other hand am made slightly differently. I do not have the capacity to recognise god, because after much learning and thought and bible study in my youth and early adulthood, my heart and head tells me that he is no more than a figment of the imagination. I can see no need for him, nor can I see anything that needs to be attributed to him. As you very well know, I have tried to find him, and failed. The belief and almost certain knowledge that he doesn't exist has been one of the the most fulfilling realisations of my life thus far.

The god of the bible IS small, exasperated, angry and vindictive, capricious and gratuitously violent. He or she is often at a loss to know what to do with his creation, despite the christian assertion that he knows everything and can do anything. He is exactly the kind of god that a group of bronze-age illiterate nomads and their masters would have made up.

You can make up all sorts of excuses for him KS, but when a God who proclaims himself as the great omnipotent omniscient creator of the universe and humankind can't even get his sorry little book written without getting his creation completely wrong, even the most ardent Christian needs to start asking questions. He's included made up stories about floods, great fishes and lion's dens. He doesn't even seem to know who he asked to write the books, because most of them are authored incorrectly. His bible timeline doesn't remotely fit with archaeology and science.

Contrary to what you believe KS, I would love a god to exist, that we could believe and follow and trust our failing planet to.
If he was just invisible, that would be a start. That would mean that I would have no specific reasons not to believe in him. But he is way past invisible. He is such a bad fit in a world he ‘so loves’ that he loses yet another portion of plausibility at every turn. He either toys with his earth like a cat plays with a mouse in a conscious effort to make himself undiscoverable to the rational mind; or else he doesn't exist.

As we know from surveys, 93% of our cleverest scientific minds accept that he is a fictitious hanger-around from bronze age mythology.
Can you tell me what your god has got against all these nice scientists, and all those poor Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists living their lives, trying to do their best, but unable to find your god because he's stuck himself so far down a fox-hole he can't be heard?
Ha! You would love me to let you forget how fickle your faith is KS. You say that your faith being a direct consequence of your place of birth proves nothing. Were you just born lucky!? What it proves is that faith IS a product of one’s mindset. The nature and nurture that has made you what you are is responsible for your need to believe in a religion. As you have correctly recognised, the detail and substance of the particular religion that you fell into is much less important than the comfort or life plan it offers. I’m sure your desperation to retain Christianity as an intellectual personal choice will prevent you from agreeing with me. I on the other hand am made slightly differently. I do not have the capacity to recognise god, because after much learning and thought and bible study in my youth and early adulthood, my heart and head tells me that he is no more than a figment of the imagination. I can see no need for him, nor can I see anything that needs to be attributed to him. As you very well know, I have tried to find him, and failed. The belief and almost certain knowledge that he doesn't exist has been one of the the most fulfilling realisations of my life thus far. The god of the bible IS small, exasperated, angry and vindictive, capricious and gratuitously violent. He or she is often at a loss to know what to do with his creation, despite the christian assertion that he knows everything and can do anything. He is exactly the kind of god that a group of bronze-age illiterate nomads and their masters would have made up. You can make up all sorts of excuses for him KS, but when a God who proclaims himself as the great omnipotent omniscient creator of the universe and humankind can't even get his sorry little book written without getting his creation completely wrong, even the most ardent Christian needs to start asking questions. He's included made up stories about floods, great fishes and lion's dens. He doesn't even seem to know who he asked to write the books, because most of them are authored incorrectly. His bible timeline doesn't remotely fit with archaeology and science. Contrary to what you believe KS, I would love a god to exist, that we could believe and follow and trust our failing planet to. If he was just invisible, that would be a start. That would mean that I would have no specific reasons not to believe in him. But he is way past invisible. He is such a bad fit in a world he ‘so loves’ that he loses yet another portion of plausibility at every turn. He either toys with his earth like a cat plays with a mouse in a conscious effort to make himself undiscoverable to the rational mind; or else he doesn't exist. As we know from surveys, 93% of our cleverest scientific minds accept that he is a fictitious hanger-around from bronze age mythology. Can you tell me what your god has got against all these nice scientists, and all those poor Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists living their lives, trying to do their best, but unable to find your god because he's stuck himself so far down a fox-hole he can't be heard? Soren
  • Score: 0

8:24pm Tue 8 May 12

KendalSmithy says...

Ooops, I think I hit a nerve!
Ooops, I think I hit a nerve! KendalSmithy
  • Score: 0

12:25am Wed 9 May 12

Soren says...

Ah, sorry about that. Trust it wasn't too painful!
Ah, sorry about that. Trust it wasn't too painful! Soren
  • Score: 0

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