Category: Christian Theology

Debate with a Pluralist

Below is an email discussion I had with my dear friend whom I’ll call “Conversant” who was an atheist a few years ago, but now is a self-avowed Pluralist. He wanted to debate politics…

Don’t know if you were joking around last night, but debating politics is too much on the fringe of importance to risk bad emotions.

But I am interested to know, however: disregarding what the the skeptics say, and un-Christlike behavior of so-called Christians, why do you reject Jesus?

I don’t reject Jesus. I believe that Jesus lived in a time of many men teaching different parables at that time. I believe that the Christian faith grew from that and used his teachings as a foundation to grow a religion in order to inspire or control (depending on your point of view if you follow this theory) the population at that time in history. What I do reject is the notion that if I don’t accept Jesus as my personal savior I (and all other persons on this earth who are non-believers or of another faith are damned to Hell).
As far as us debating politics and having ill feelings towards each other……I would hope that our friendship would trump that from ever happening. I enjoy our debates and find them a good exercise in voicing and reflecting on what I believe (something I rarely did when I was using and boozing). What I am learning to do is to respect all peoples faith and learn a little bit about them so that I may grow spiritually. What I feel inside is that life lived through the positivity of love and tolerance is an indescribable force and that when I operate in that manner I feel that I am on a good spiritual path.
Thanks for the question….and perhaps you would like to answer this. Does your belief in Jesus preclude any other faiths beliefs in your spiritual quiver.

In short, yes. Because Jesus was not a mere man — he was God came down to Earth in human form.

A good man or teacher would not claim to be God unless it were true. Otherwise he was a maniac (how many people have been put in insane asylums claiming to be God – but Jesus was not – in fact time itself is divided by the (albeit miscalculated) date of his birth) or he was completely evil. There can be no middle ground.

I can find at least 5-10 places where He claimed to be God without even trying. That is why he was crucified.

Therefore, if God says the only way to heaven is through Him, He must know what he is talking about!

Admission to Heaven is not based upon being good. Otherwise Heaven would be completely devoid of humans.

Well, I’m grateful we don’t live in another place or during another time period where we would feel compelled to kill each other.


You didn’t get it, did you?
Sigh. Yeah, glad I don’t have to burn you at the stake… 🙂

get what?

Multiple choice…

Was Jesus:

  • A. Lunatic
  • B. Liar
  • C. Lord

You forgot
D. None of the above

None of the above is not possible. He could not be an ordinary man and claim to be God unless he was a liar or a lunatic.

He claimed to be God, and every time He claimed it, the Jews wanted him dead.

Below are just a few.


Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am”. At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. John 8:58

Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly… Jesus answered them, “I told you, and ye believed not… I and my Father are one…
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. John 10:24-31

Jesus saith unto him… Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Matthew 26:64-66


The apostle Paul confirms:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:5-7

And the apostle John confirms:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14

I don’t think that in this instance that you can change my belief by stating yours. I respect your interpretation of scripture as one of absolute truth. I do not share this belief. Therefore; while D. None of the above is impossible for you to consider, it is the choice for me.
Consider the existence of the color red. Consider your perception of the color red. Can you say with certainty that what your human brain has processed and is replicating in your image-sensory world….. that it is the same as another persons perception of the color red. Could you prove it?


It’s not a subjective issue. Just because someone thinks the world is flat does not make it true.

You don’t have to believe the Bible is infallible. There is tons of historical, archaeological, and forensic evidence to back it up.

Have no fear. You don’t have to change your life, become “good”, start going to chuch, or anything except believe to get to heaven.

I thought that if you want to get to heaven…… got to raise a little hell.

Obviously end of discussion.
I pray at least a seed was planted.
I stand on the statement that God’s word will not return to Him void.

The Law vs. Grace

My First Sermon!

Tony got my names transposed. All three of my names can be first or last names, so after 51 years, I’m used to it. 🙂

Note that if you download it, it registers as being about 44 minutes long, but it is only 27. I used the RealPlayer trimmer. Tried it twice. It is just mis-marked on the file. I may try to trim it with another piece of software.

Player may not work on Firefox browsers? If player doesn’t work, you can download by right-clicking the link, below and choose “Save Target As”.

Right-click here to Download

Exodus 20

Rabbi Simlai 3rd century AD says there are 613 laws in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.


A bunch of rabbis over the centuries had put together an enormous library of
interpretations of these laws. There were laws telling you how far you could
walk on a Sabbath day, and how much weight you could carry without breaking the
Sabbath, and numerous others. These are the kinds of things that the Pharisees
went by that Jesus complained about.

Law is necessary for an eternal society

Sin is destructive.

Housebreaking a puppy

During the World War

a luxurious French villa lay in the path of the oncoming armies. Although
deserted, it was shelled and left with great gaping holes in its stone sides. A
few swine, which had somehow escaped extermination, rooted their way into the
magnificently furnished drawing room. Over the rich, velvet carpet they tracked
their muddy feet, overturned the upholstered furniture, tore the expensive
draperies and chewed whatever gave any promise of satisfying their hunger. The
beauty, the elegance, the cultural characteristics of the place meant nothing to
the beast nature. They were not partakers of the intellectual or spiritual
qualities of the owner.

To the unregenerated millions of earth, the glories of Heaven would be like
the French villa was to the swine. They are not partakers of the Divine nature
and would have no capacity for enjoying the holy atmosphere of the Glory Land.

I’m sure the pigs were “good” as far as pigs go. But they did not belong in a
French villa.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your
ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Jesus will bring you peace, joy, love, lasting happiness…

A lot of people try to entice people into the Kingdom: “Jesus loves you! He
will make your life better” Which is true, but not true from a fleshly
standpoint. Jesus promised tribulation (John 16:33). He did not promise a bed of
roses. People who are told, “Seek Jesus, he will make your life better” will be
disillusioned when life happens. “I thought you told me…!”

Gal. 3:21b (NIV)

the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by

How should Christians deal with the law?

We obviously cannot go around killing people and committing

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. ……I
have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with
as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle,
for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be
an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however,
regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

  1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
    pleasing odor for the Lord as written in Leviticus.1:9. The problem is my
    neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite

  2. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2
    clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him
    myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

  3. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
    abomination, Leviticus. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality?
    I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

  4. Leviticus. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have
    a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my
    vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

  5. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around
    their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus. 19:27.
    How should they die?

  6. I know from Leviticus. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes
    me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

  7. My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus.19:19 by planting two different
    crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two
    different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and
    blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of
    getting the whole town together to stone them? Leviticus.24:10-16. Couldn’t we
    just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who
    sleep with their in-laws? (Leviticus. 20:14)

We’ll see if we can go back and answer these later.

“There are lots of people worse than me. It’s not like I killed

Try saying that to a judge.

Law is a schoolmaster (Gal. 3:19-25)

Law was not meant to save.

Galatians 2:16

know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus
Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified
by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no
one will be justified.

Adam was not promised damnation.

The Ten Commandments never offered eternal life.

The Jews had only a vague understanding of the concept of hell

Judaism 101

Torah emphasizes immediate, concrete, physical rewards and punishments rather
than abstract future ones…


Abraham’s bosom

The law cannot be kept

See how successful the Hebrews were

James 2:10

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is
guilty of all.”

Romans 3:20 (NIV)

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the
law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Grace has superceded Law

Matthew 5:17

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not
come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Fulfilled the sacrificial law and holidays

(except the ones that are future)

Jesus said he did not do away with the law. But Paul said we are not under
the law!

Confused? Me, too…

The concept of laws being superceded is not foreign to the Jews:

Exodus 20 vs. Jeremiah 31:29-30

… visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and
fourth generation…

‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on
edge.’ Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes–his
own teeth will be set on edge.

The book of Galatians

Circumcision on the 8th day

Galatians 3:10

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse

Romans 10:4

Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone
who believes.

I Corinthians 15:56-57 (NIV)

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks
be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14 (NIV)

God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled
the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood
opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:16-17 (NIV)

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with
regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These
are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in

Hebrews 9:9b-10

the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience
of the worshiper.

Matthew Henry wrote:

So Christ made an improvement of the law and the prophets by his additions
and [clarifications]… the Christian institutes … promote [the law] to the
highest degree. The gospel is the time of reformation, not the repeal of the
law, but the amendment of it, and, consequently, its establishment.

Love thy neighbor vs. Ten Commandments

(Which were divided in two: Love the Lord thy God 1-4 and Love they neighbor

The law won’t save you, but we are expected to act like the
King’s kids

Jesus’ first sermon

Some behavior will keep you out of heaven:

1 Corinthians. 6:9-11

God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7)

We will be Judged according to our works (Rev. 20:13 )

Don’t use grace for an occasion of the flesh (Gal 5:13)

Galatians 4:4-7 (Abba)

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the
Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

2 Peter 1:5-8

(These things do not save us, they keep us from being unproductive.)

Answer the Leviticus questions.

Get on the Ark

Secular Humanism vs. Christianity

The Secular Humanist Worldview



The secular humanists believe that the entire universe and life are simply an
incredible coincidence. They believe that the universe created itself 4.5
billion years ago, and lucky for us, some combination of chemicals combined to
make a single-celled life form that mutated over billions of years into the
incredible array of life we see today on planet earth.


To the secularist, we are nothing more than an advanced animal (Weider
& Gutierrez, 2011, p. 57), or a bunch of cells and atoms.

Meaning/ Purpose

I would venture to say that for most unbelievers in the western world,
their main purpose is to the pursuit of some sort of temporal happiness.
Everyone has a different idea about happiness. Some try drugs, others pursue
money, some it’s a misguided concept of love. The list is virtually endless. In
the inner cities, some people’s purposes may be mere survival.

Life can not possibly have any deep meaning to a pure secularist since life
is “just an accident”. When taken to extremes by those who don’t believe in God,
on one hand life can either be considered cheap (for instance Communist purges)
or if taken to the other extreme, all life is considered precious and humans are
no more value than other animals (Weider & Gutierrez, 2011, p. 57). In an
astonishing dichotomy, the same groups of people who vote for a candidate who
promotes abortion are also the most vocal environmentalists. And they obviously
cannot see any problem with this.


The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) bylaws assert that
humanists want to build “a more humane society through an ethics based on human
and other natural values…”and they reject “supernatural views of reality” (IHEU,
2009). But there are no genuine natural values. Only someone from a western
culture could come up with an idea like that. A real unbeliever raised in a
third-world country with no Western values would laugh at such a “wimpy”
concept. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” (Commonly
attributed to Josef Stalin). Without a moral God, there is no reason why Stalin
would not be able to send the entire IHEU to the firing squad if they complained
about his morality.


Though they may try to leave an earthly legacy behind, the only thing a
true atheist can look forward to after death is annihilation.

The Secular Worldview vs. the Christian Worldview


In contrast to the Secularist’s view that everything was an accident, the
Christian believes that God created the universe and all life. The Christian
believes in “microevolution” or adaptation. This is where an animal will undergo
slight changes in order to adapt to changing conditions, but no new species is
formed. For instance the beaks of Darwin’s finches change with the environment,
but the finch will never evolve into, for instance, an eagle. There is no
scientific evidence that any life form has transitioned into another life form.
And God was careful to make note that this would not happen (Genesis 1:11-12,


In contrast to the secularist idea that we are but mere animals, the Bible
tells us that we were a special creation, formed in God’s image. The animals
were spoken into existence in groups, but Adam was made from the dust into a
living soul (Genesis 2:7). We were to be caretakers of, and have dominion over
the earth (Genesis 1:28). Adam changed the whole thing when he disobeyed God,
and we were cast out of paradise. But God sent us a Savior; and under the new
covenant, we are now to be conformed to Christ’s image (Romans 8:29). He was our
perfect example, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can grow to become
more and more Christ-like (2 Peter 1:5-8).

Meaning/ Purpose

In contrast to the vain and empty pursuits of the unbeliever, the
Christian’s purposes are to know God (Weider & Gutierrez, 2011, p. 61); to
love one another (John 13:35); and to serve each other (Matthew 25:34-40). There
is no higher calling, no occupation so satisfying. Anybody who has ever given a
gift to a child and watched them excitedly open it knows first-hand that it is
more blessed to give than to receive.


Without God, morals have no real clout. The IHEU (above) wants to build a
utopian society based on “natural values”. Which is an exercise in futility
because there is no such thing. The strong arm of God backs the Christian moral
code. But happily, we do not live by the letter of the law under the New
Covenant. God writes His laws in our hearts. In my experience, I don’t
want to sin. This is in stark contrast to before I believed! Before God
found me, I vigorously pursued nearly every form of carnal pleasure I could
think of. God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7); we cannot use grace for an occasion
to sin (Galatians 5:13); but God knows we are weak and we will stumble (2
Corinthians 12:9).


In contrast to the Secularists’ bleak hope of annihilation, the believer
has the hope of eternal joy. The hope of being welcomed into the eternal Kingdom
of God (Matthew 25:23). Some of us will even be kings and priests (Revelation
… And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be
no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
(Revelation 21:4)

IHEU (2009). IHEU Bylaws. Retrieved July 31, 2011 from




Weider, L., & Gutierrez, B. (2011). Consider. Virginia Beach,
VA: Academx Publishing Services, Inc.

Judaizers – The Law vs. Grace

The Judaizers

The entire book of Galatians is Paul’s effort to correct the heresy of Judaizers who were trying to tell people that they had to be circumcised and follow Jewish law to be saved. Paul explains at length that we are not saved by law or ritual (i.e. Galatians 4:4-5). In Chapter 5, he is talking about circumcision: how if a person trusts in circumcision to save them, then Christ is of no value (5:2). Paul was furious! He even went so far to say that he wished the people who were trying to convince the Galatian believers to be circumcised (Judaizers) would emasculate themselves!

How Paul deals with the Judaizers

In Galatians 5:19-25, Paul helps distinguish what proceeds from the Spirit, and what proceeds from the flesh. He describes the evidences of living by the flesh (sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc.) and then he proceeds to describe the results (fruits) of walking in the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, etc.) and encourages us to continue to walk in the Spirit.

Judaizers were telling people that they had to follow Jewish law to be saved. If they had succeeded, Christianity would have become just another Jewish sect (Barclay, 1976). In the preceding verses, Paul is talking about how if a person trusts in circumcision to save them, then Christ is of no value (Gal 5:2). Paul was furious! He even went so far to say that he wished the Judaizers would emasculate themselves! In verse 13, he warns the church not to use our Christian freedoms to indulge the flesh. Verses 5:16-18 may have been seen by the 1st century church as a “how-to” guide for living in grace instead of under the law. Paul explains that if we live by the Spirit, we will not satisfy our fleshly nature. It’s not going to be easy! Our flesh and spirit are at war, and this conflict does not allow us to do what we want (cf. Romans 7:14-25). And that if we walk in the Spirit we are not under the law. The verses that follow (vv. 19-26) are indications of a life of walking in the flesh contrasted to those of walking in the Spirit. Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

How might the Galatian people perceive Paul’s letter?

The poor Galatian people had to be so confused! Judaizers were telling people that they had to follow Jewish law to be saved (Barclay, 1976). Paul was furious! (Gal 5:12) If they had succeeded, Christianity would have become just another Jewish sect (Barclay, 1976, p. 3). Paul devotes most of this letter to answering the judaizers. Chapter 5 is the peroration (summary) of his argument (Fausset, 1871). In the preceding verses, Paul tells us we are called to freedom but warns us not to use our Christian freedoms to indulge the flesh (v.13). The poor Galatian people might see vv. 5:16-18 as a “quick-start” guide for living under grace: Live by the Spirit, and we will not satisfy our fleshly nature. But it’s not going to be easy! Our flesh and spirit are at war; we are never free from this conflict (Gl 5:17b NLT). Verse 18 reminds us that if we walk in the Spirit, we are not under the law. The verses that follow (vv. 19-26) describe the fruits of a life of walking in the flesh vs. those of walking in the Spirit.

We could relate to the Galatian people!

We in the Western World could easily relate to the Galatian people. The Galatians, as a part of the Roman Empire, would have been bombarded on all sides by a myriad of religions competing for their attentions just as we are today. And I dare say the subtleties of law vs. grace would easily be lost on the average new believer in America. A new believer in America (and many “old” believers) would be easy prey for a slick-talking judaizer.

The Theology of Galatians 5:16-18

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The theological principles of Galatians 5:16-18 are: 1.) How to live a clean life – to keep from following through with our carnal desires with the help of the Holy Spirit (v. 16); 2.) The ongoing war between our flesh and spirit (v. 17) and; 3.) Christian liberty – living by grace rather than under the law (v.18).

How can we apply God’s Grace to our lives?

1.) In the year 1531 AD, Martin Luther wrote: “When I was a monk I thought I was lost forever whenever I felt an evil emotion, carnal lust, wrath, hatred, or envy. I tried to quiet my conscience in many ways, but it did not work, because lust would always come back and give me no rest…” You don’t have to be a monk to feel this way. I also tend to be a “perfectionist” and have a very hard time dealing with any shortcomings. It is comforting to know that we are not under the law. And as I walk in the Spirit, though I feel unholy desires at times, when I walk with God, I need not carry them out.

Today I am free of the obsession to drink by the grace of God. When I first got sober, I tried everything I could think of to be at peace when not drinking – to no avail. Today, I am doing what is suggested in the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 steps are a “spiritual program” based on Christian principles. It is not about being “good”, it is about getting rid of the garbage in our mind that is blocking God, then improving our relationship with God and helping others. Today though once in a while, a drink sounds tempting, it is no longer a losing battle because I walk in the Spirit. I quit trying to cure myself long enough to let God in to do His work.


Barclay, W. (1976) The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians Revised Edition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Fausset, A.R. (1871) A. R. Fausset commentary on Galatians: The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Luther, M. (1531) Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians

Wikipedia (2011) Retrieved April 3, 2011 from

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