University of Pretoria – The Died-Again Christian Syndrome
The Died-Again Christian Syndrome By the University of Pretoria
I have nothing to say about this article written by a post-doctoral student of the University of Pretoria. It’s pretty self explanatory. The absolute hatred for born again Christians is extremely evident. This is what Jesus Christ said would happen in the last days. They will choose a false Christ, doctrines of demons, and wickedness over the Truth.
I will always stand true in my faith for Jesus Christ, Gericke. There is nothing you can say or do for that matter that can change my beliefs and love for Jesus Christ. Don’t make your insecurities and problems mine because you just don’t get it.
Jesus said in Luke 23:34; “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Faculty of Theology should be called the Faculty of Occultism. Their main aim is to study the Bible and then tear it apart.
by Gericke, JW – University of Pretoria
The ‘died-again Christian’ syndrome – Its etiology as manifested among fundamentalist students of the Old Testament in South AfricaJohnny is the chemist’s son but Johnny is no more What Johnny thought was H2O was H2SO4 (lyrics from: ‘Acid Head’ by Tourniquet) ABSTRACT
Many Old Testament students (and subsequent scholars) come to the subject as eager fundamentalist Christians hoping to one day join the ministry. It is therefore not surprising that an exposure to the findings of biblical criticism and its exposure of the all-too-human, pre-Christian and alien nature of the Hebrew Bible has not infrequently contributes to a crisis of belief and, not uncommonly, a complete loss of faith (be it temporary or permanent). The cognitive dissonance involved in the rethinking of one’s childhood faith, the disorientation of having one’s consciousness transformed and the doubting engendered by insights that contradict the dogmas of one’s own Church traditions can be experienced as a shattering of reality – an inversion of the process of being born-again. This paper aims take a closer look at the etiology of the ‘died-again Christian syndrome’ as it is manifested among Old Testament students in the contemporary South African context.
In Kerkbode (16 November, 2001:6), the official newspaper of the Dutch Reformed Church, published a letter, part of which reads in translation:
I am a student at one of the Dutch Reformed Church’s theological faculties. I am worried about the training those of us preparing for the ministry receive. It feels like we are being thrown to the lions. It is shocking to have to hear from first year students that a lecturer told them already in their first module of Old Testament studies that Abraham is just a story. I know students who have lost their faith as a result.
———1. This article was written as part of a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department Old Testament Studies in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria. It is dedicated to all those who have eaten from the tree of knowledge, realised that they were naked, and now live as best they can east of Eden. Those who know that the only ‘sage’ you can believe in, is the herb that goes into your cooking pot. Those who can tell you that you will find the meaning of ‘life’ only in a dictionary. 2. Amuch more illustrated version of this article was read as a paper entitled ‘Old Testament studies as a recipe for losing faith? A social-psychological perspective on the South African scenario’ at the 2005 conference on The Bible in Africa, at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg (the annual OTSSA meeting). It was classified as belonging under the rubric of South African Issues and Teaching the Old Testament in Africa. As noted there, the humour featured in this article is not meant to make light of a serious subject but, paradoxically, to emphasise the very complex and problematic nature of the issues involved.
In the subsequent edition of the paper (16 December 2001:8), the author of another letter wrote in response:
The letter about theology students who lose their faith was one of the most shocking letters I have ever read in this paper. Since then I have made an effort to speak to other former and current students and was devastated by what some have had to say. At the University of Pretoria a lecturer apparently began his very first lecture to these students by telling then that the stories in Genesis are fiction and did not literally happen.
In the same edition, the author of another letter wanted to know what the Church planned to do with the lecturer and asked:
‘… does he really belong in a faculty for the training of future ministers in the Church. Just think about it: if Jonah and the fish is (just) a story, if Abraham’s history is also only just a tale, how many more ‘stories’ might there be?
These abstracts represent but the tip of the iceberg of a debate about the nature of the Bible which, though it has been with us for centuries, has particularly intensified over the past decade in the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa with ever-increasing mutual hostility between those one might label ‘fundamentalist’ and those often referred to as being of a ‘liberal’ or ‘critical’ disposition.3 In both Church and public media, within the Dutch Reformed Church and in its Synods, in local congregations and in the three theological faculties involved in the training of ministers, something ominous is brewing. This year alone, renewed and more serious efforts have been launched by students of a fundamentalist disposition at the University of Pretoria to have lecturers indicted for what is alleged to be their denial of the literal historicity of certain events depicted in the Bible. Apparently then, it seems that teaching the Old Testament in the new South Africa has become a dangerous and controversial business, potentially hazardous to the mental health of both students and lecturers alike. Studying the Old Testament, so it seems, has become for some a recipe for losing faith.
3. It is interesting in this regard that in the official statements of the Dutch Reformed Church during the last decade (and especially following the assemblies of the General Synods in 1998 and 2002) regarding the nature of the Bible, both fundamentalist and liberalist approaches to the text were rejected as extremes. In this regard, the Church appears to have opt for something in between these two opposites yet, among the laity, the entire spectrum of views still survives with a predominate tendency towards the fundamentalist pole. Several books on the nature of the Bible appeared that were written by Dutch Reformed scholars, including those of Deist (1986), Spangenberg (1998), Van der Watt (2000), Nicol (2002), KÃ¶nig (2002) and others. The need for renewed formulation came about particularly as a result about the debates concerning the nature and authority of Scripture as these crystallised out of the discussions in the public media around topics like the Historical Jesus, The ’new Reformation’, Gay rights, etc. In some way, what is now happening here is similar to the debates in the Anglican Church in Britain during the 60’s (Bishop JAT Robinson who in the infamous ‘Honest- to-God’ debate also talked about the ’new Reformation’ and called for a new understanding of God and Christ as a result of the contributions by Tillich and Bultmann) (Robinson 1963). During the 1980’s, there was again heated debate, this time involving the Sea of Faith Movement spearheaded by the non-realist philosopher of religion, Don Cupitt, who called for a completely post-modern and naturalist approach to faith (Cupitt 1980, 1984)
But why should this be the case? After all, are students not supposed to grow in their faith when they learn about the nature and origin of the biblical texts? In a perfect world, yes. In our world, apparently not. And it’s not difficult to see why. For we are living in the turbulence of a paradigm shift in South African culture, not only politically and socially but also religiously and intellectually. It should therefore not be too difficult to see why someone who has for his or her entire life known only a fundamentalist view of the Bible, experiences severe cognitive dissonance when intellectuals of the same spiritual and religious tradition seem to be implying that everything learnt thus far, everything that gave joy, security, and consolation, everything taught as capital Truth, normative, unquestionable and untouchable – that all this is actually mistaken and based on outdated all-too-human opinions.
In this paper I aim to provide a social-psychological perspective on the typical experience of students from fundamentalist backgrounds as they attempt to reconcile their childhood faith with what they learn in biblical criticism of the Old Testament. The social matrix itself is derived mostly from the scenario at the University of Pretoria among students of the Dutch Reformed Church between 1994, when I was a first year student, and 2004, a decade later (i.e. Old Testament studies in the New South Africa). The students concerned are those of ‘generation-X’ and their lecturers are the first generation of Old Testament scholars in South Africa who are all comfortable with and at home in critical scholarship. Such is the current status quo, notwithstanding the fact that both the students and the professors come from the same fundamentalist background in the Church. As a result, both students who have studied since 1994 in post-Apartheid South Africa and the professors who lectured them will find something familiar in what follows below.
Given the current situation in both the Church and academic contexts, the research of this paper should be relevant for the foreseeable future although the issues merit more elaborate and in-depth inquiry. Whether, however, my findings are representative, and of value in elucidating what is the case at other Universities and among those of other Christian Church backgrounds, I leave for those who are more familiar than me with the particular scenarios to decide.
B THE ETIOLOGY OF THE ‘DIED-AGAIN CHRISTIAN SYNDROME’
It is somewhat surprising to find that, though there are many studies of the fundamentalist phenomenon and many on psychological aspects of Old Testament biblical criticism, there is no bulk of research literature in psychology of religion or Old Testament scholarship dealing with the loss of faith among fundamentalist students of biblical criticism. Thus when in 1977, Old Testament scholar James Barr included a section containing psychological perspectives on fundamentalism in his seminal study on the fundamentalist phenomenon, the focus was almost completely on the psychological profiles of fundamentalists-in-action. As such, preciously little was said about the psychological dimension involved when those from a fundamentalist background have to deal with incorporating the findings of Old Testament biblical criticism into their cognitive frame of reference. The same scenario is also the case in subsequent related literature (cf. Teeple 1982, Barr 1984, Barton 1988, Hanson & Hanson 1989, Boone 1989, Carroll 1991, Armstrong 2001, et al.)
Of course, one of the reasons for the paucity of research data on losing faith, at least as far as Old Testament scholarship is concerned, may be the fact that ‘autobiographical criticism’ in biblical scholarship in a very novel post-modern innovation that has only begun to make an impact with the rise of reader-response and ideological critical perspectives, e.g. various forms of liberation theology, feminist criticism, etc. For how many prominent Old Testament theologians can you name from the modernist era who have made an effort to inform their readers as part of their research of the trials and tribulations of their own journey from Sunday School childlike faith to Faculty-of-Theology critical belief. Not many, for such were taboo in the context of objective depersonalised scientific research. At best such information is restricted to a moment of boldness in the preface of some publications on the nature of the Bible and its interpretation.
As far as the gap in the research in psychology of religion itself – which can be confirmed just by a quick peek at the table of contents or the subject index in any standard textbook on the subject – this may be due to several factors. Prominent psychologists of religion from yesteryear (e.g. James, Freud, Jung, Adler, Ericksen, Maslow, Allport, Fromm and others) – despite a few of them even being Old Testament commentators of sorts themselves, and at times touching on issues related to the present concern, were for the most part simply not interested in what concerns us here. None of them published an exhaustive study written for the sole purpose of describing in detail the dynamics and mechanics of the kind of crisis of belief so many students from conservative backgrounds over the course of the past two centuries studying the Old Testament have had to pass through.
Not, of course, that they should done so to be great scientists. It’s just that there’s not much from their writings to work with here.4 Or from the writings of contemporary psychologists of religion for that matter, since the currently popular concern among most psychologists of religion when it comes to religious doubt5 and losing faith in fundamentalism lies primarily with the deconversion experiences of ex-cult members. Mind you, a closer look at the challenges a deprogramming therapy involves and the psychological trauma that ensues is, however, quite revealing of something very analogous to what critical Old Testament scholars are up against when they attempt to help fundamentalist students make sense of biblical criticism.
One article from psychology of religion that was, however, closer to what I had in mind was that of Yao (1987), who discussed what he calls ‘the shattered faith syndrome’. The author himself played a pioneering role in founding what is aptly called ‘fundamentalists anonymous’, a not so secret society based in the United States which, it would seem, has thus far posed no known threat to George W Bush’s antics in favour of homeland security – unless of course national intelligence remains true to form. Anyway, it is unfortunate that Yao’s study is particularly linked to the context of American fundamentalism and then concerned only with deconversion in the most general sense and therefore only of relative elucidative value in the context of Old Testament studies in South Africa.
As for publications in the field of psychology of religion on the local scene, I have scanned the available literature for potential dialogue partners and after compiling an initial list of what appeared to be promising suspects the only progress I made was by narrowing it down to nothing.
Eventually, I had to fall back on years of both personal experience with shattered faith (cf. Gericke 2003:487-520), compliments of my addiction to reading anything and everything on the Bible, and on numerous discussions with other students and lecturers and professors who had suffered the same fate or knew the story of someone who did. At last I came up with my own reconstruction of what I have chosen to call, in my own moment of boldness, ‘the died-again Christian syndrome.’ The motivation for this Evangelical/Gospel-of-John type of designation for the condition will become crystal clear as we go along.
————–4. William James’s ‘Varieties of Religious Experience’ written at the beginning of the twentieth century contains some related material but there is no in-depth consideration and discussion involved (James 1902). Leon Festinger’s 1957 publication ‘A theory of cognitive dissonance’ mostly tells us why most fundamentalists remain such in spite of the evidence and deals only in passing with the crises of belief. The popular ‘Stages of faith’ by James Fowler (1981) is hopelessly idealistic, teleological, ideological and stereotypical in its liberalist evolutionary linear delineation of bourgeoisie age-related growth in personal faith. It trivialises the loss of fundamentalist beliefs as a mere phase in the movement from one stage to another. The same is the case with the role of doubt in the study of Allport (cf. Donahue 1985). 5. Various interesting studies on religious doubt have been undertaken (e.g. Thouless, Allport , Batson, et al.). Jung’s infamous insistence that he had no patient over 35 whose problem did not have something to do with finding a religious outlook on life, and the references to the struggles of his own pastor father may be included here. These tend to focus on religious doubt in the context of stages in life, e.g. High-School, University, through midlife, etc. but none is exclusively devoted to a descriptive etiological analysis of the experience of doubt in the context of Old Testament studies
1. The ingredients
So how is studying the Old Testament a recipe for losing faith? What is involved in the making of this dish? Linking up with my cooking or baking metaphor, let me begin by discussing the list of ingredients involved in the recipe.
1.1 The first ingredient: A fundamentalist background
Of course, there are many students who have no problem dealing with biblical criticism. Many who were not raised in fundamentalist spirituality will find studying the Bible in a nonfundamentalist manner spiritually interesting, liberating and, yes, sometimes even boring. My concern in this paper is not with these lucky devils but with those poor souls for whom biblical criticism takes the ‘fun’ out of fun-damentalism leaving only the part that sounds something like ‘dementia’.
In this paper I assume as operative James Barr’s understanding of the fundamentalist view of the Bible. According to Barr (1977, 1984), ‘fundamentalism’ is not, as popular belief would have it, a consistently literal interpretation of the text but rather the belief that the Bible is inerrant in all matters referred and alluded to therein. For fundamentalists can themselves often be found resorting to non-literal modes of reading when the literal sense seems factually erroneous (e.g. reinterpreting the ‘days’ as ‘ages’ in Genesis 1). Conversely, my references to a ‘critical’ perspective is simply a way of referring to any non-fundamentalist type of scholarship which does not assume or conclude that the Bible is factually inerrant in every possible sense of the word. The student at risk of falling prey to the ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’ is typically one who, apart from believing the Bible to be inerrant, exhibits a background profile that also meets the following criteria:
- The student comes from a religious tradition where the Bible is believed to be the Word of God in the sense described in a plenary verbal theory of inspiration.
- The student views the ideal belief system as one which is ‘biblical’, thus assuming that the Bible is a uniform and coherent body of discourse and that only ‘biblical’ Christians are ‘true’ Christians.
- The student believes that the Bible’s message transcends culture and history and that it is unique, special and quite different from the mythologies and superstitions of pagan cultures. In short, it communicates absolute, eternal, normative, dogmatic, propositional truths.
- The student has internalised everything he or she has learned in Sunday School and has a theological background prior to studying biblical criticism derived mainly from reading and enjoying popular fundamentalist (often evangelical and pietist) devotional religious literature.
As should be apparent here, the majority of students and their lecturers have come from such a background, which was and still is thoroughly fundamentalist. On its own, however, fundamentalism as an ingredient in a recipe for losing faith is not enough to initiate a crisis of belief. For what is needed to complete the process is some ‘anti-matter’, or in this case, Old Testament studies.
1.2 The second ingredient: Old Testament studies
In general, if you’re a believer then studying the Old Testament is like they say on the Outsurance ad: ‘you always get something out’. However, studying the Old Testament in this day and age is even more like Forest Gump’s momma’s ‘life-is-like-a-box-o’-choc’lates: ya never know whatcha gonna get.’ And, if you engage in Old Testament studies as a fundamentalist, the endeavour soon becomes something analogous to playing hopscotch in a minefield: any jump in any direction – or, in this case, learning the philosophical implications of various critical approaches to the text – has the potential to amputate your faith (at best) and blow it to kingdom come (at worst). No one whose religious ideological profile corresponds even roughly to the one outlined above can, therefore, on entering a class in Old Testaments studies, be prepared for some of the horrors that will be in store for them there. For, in retrospect, they will come to think that they have been tricked into entering a citadel of chaos, the dungeons of which conceal the curse of eternal damnation. For consider the components of this ingredient in the recipe:
- From Old Testament hermeneutics they will soon learn that their own interpretation of the text during devotional bible reading has been an exercise in dogmatic eisegesis. What they thought had been infallible one-on-one guidance from the Holy Spirit turns out to be nothing of the sort and for the first time the domesticated text loses the status of a talisman or fetish.
- From the study of ancient Near Eastern culture they will learn that Israel was not after all so different from their pagan neighbours as they assumed and that the fundamental assumptions and structure of the Israelite faith was at times even derived from those religions the ancients saints so often hypocritically ridiculed.
- From historical criticism they will learn that traditional views about authorship are OUT and that Jesus was wrong to think that Moses wrote the Pentateuch and David the Psalms. Moreover, the critical reconstruction of the history of Israel shows that much of what supposedly happened in the actual past never actually did or at least not in the way the events are described. There never was any literal theophany: YHWH did not really appear and speak to people. Much of what used to be considered salvation history has turned out to be myth and, so the argument goes, if the Old Testament Fall is mythical then so is the New Testament Redemption.
- From narrative criticism they will learn that YHWH is a character in a story-world and his acts and words are literary constructs, created by the narrator in order to promote a particular evaluative point of view. So are all their favourite Old Testament ‘saints’ who, if they existed as historical persons at all, were probably not as pious or heroic as they appear in the biblical stories for their characters and actions have been reconstructed in the texts to conform to the value system of later theo-political ideology.
- From Old Testament theology they will learn that the text contains many mutually incompatible and, from a modern Christian perspective, unorthodox ideas about God. They soon realise that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent ‘Lord’ they have worshipped all their lives is not so ‘biblical’ after all but an updated and domesticated version of YHWH, the all-too-human ancient tribal deity who, at least in this testament, is himself the cause of much evil and has the Satan as an employee rather than an enemy. Also, unlike the Lord, YHWH knows nothing of heavenly rewards or hellish punishments and the only meaning in life seems to be in resolving oneself to be and beget and be and beget until your one-way ticket to Sheol arrives. Horrifically then, on their own terms, the fundamentalists realise that they have been worshipping an idol of their own making since their theology is not as ‘biblical’ as they were led to believe. And now it seems that it can never be, given the pluralism in the theologies of the Old Testament which imply selection and rejection come what may. Moreover, reading the so-called messianic prophecies and any other Old Testament text in context seem to suggest that even though the New Testament authors can be forgiven for being children of their time with regard to exegetical methodology and hermeneutic assumptions, it still does not make a whit of difference to the fact that the Old Testament texts had nothing at all to say with reference to Jesus of Nazareth. 6
There is no more time at this point to look at how fundamentalist students conceive of the implications of other critical approaches like tradition criticism, redaction criticism, socialscientific criticism, feminist criticism, deconstructive criticism, etc. – all of which, from the fundamentalist perspective, are immensely unsettling in their own way. This apart from the draining effect an overview of the reception history of particular texts has on the student. Suffice it to say that once you observe how all readers of bygone days have tended to project their own preferences onto the text and then claimed that the texts backed them up you can no longer do it for yourself. It is always amusing to see how people naively recreate the text in their own image until you realise like David did in response to Nathan’s story that ‘you’re the man!’
Of course, lecturers seldom if ever bother to spell out these shattering implications and no lecturer ever tried to deliberately shock anyone when I was a student. Moreover, it is a fallacy to think that a lecturer can ever make anyone lose faith. For to lose it is an act of will, only possible if you are yourself convinced by a particular critical perspective and have made a conscious decision against your own previously held convictions. There is always the option of simply rejecting a critical view if it is not to your liking – and this is what most fundamentalists do anyway. But anyone who reads more than just the prescribed materials, which seldom if ever contain anything radical enough to destroy one’s faith, and reads between the lines of international critical scholarship, as opposed to limiting oneself to the reactive devotional and apologetic rhetoric of conservative scholarly literature, the thrust of the anti-fundamentalist implications will become readily apparent.
Of course there are many students who just don’t get it. However, if you’re a fundamentalist, God help you if you ever do! For let’s be crude here – students from fundamentalist backgrounds will, after thinking about the discoveries as outlined above, say to themselves that if what critical scholarship has to say is true, who can believe anything anymore? For now theology becomes mythology, salvation history becomes pious fiction, the biblical books the result of pious fraud, the biblical God becomes an ancient Israelite projection, divine commands become all-too-human conventions, the spiritual realm becomes an ideological social construct, the Church a oversized cult, biblically-derived dogmas datable cultural products, and so on ad nauseam. The dogmaticians of their own Church, it seems, have practised wayward exegesis even as they said it must not be so.
Also, now the students themselves realise that they are not the graciously elect and had never really been privileged to being privy to the deepest truths of the universe as their Calvinistic background had led them to believe. Mortifyingly, they now seem to have been just as superstitious and out of touch with actual and ultimate reality as any myth-saturated pagan barbarian from yesteryear. For in the Christian tradition it has always been taken for granted that the Bible is the epistemological source to consult for knowledge of God. It was supposed to be inerrant divine revelation. But now it seems to be nothing but the all-too-human words of scribes, priests, and other assorted riff-raff who wouldn’t recognise a god if they met one.
———-6. This is the gist of the arguments in Brueggemann (1997) whose Theology of the Old Testament is the prescribed textbook for the subject. All the old problems facing Old Testament theology as outline by Hasel (1972) resurfaces in Brueggemann who acknowledges them, radicalises them and, in his own selfrefuting post-modern way, relatives them. These include, inter alia, the problems of history, theological pluralism, the relation between the Testaments, the question of method, the relation to Church theology (dogmatics/systematic theology), etc. Gerstenberger (2002) also takes up the strain.
2. The result?
Now mix together the first and second ingredients – the fundamentalist mentality on the one hand and Old Testament studies on the other. Place them together in the ‘oven’ of the mind, turn the dial up to exactly 180 degrees opposite of room temperature and bake the concoction for whatever time it takes until you smell something burning. And then what happens? In the vulgar jargon of today’s generation – what you find between ‘shish-kebab’ and ‘shiver’ in a typical English dictionary – that’s what ‘happens’! For when someone has spent his or her entire life as a character in the world derived from the Biblical story, has established social relations on the basis of fundamentalist beliefs, has made a public commitment to them, has his or her existential anxiety dulled as a result of it, has meaning in life derived from it and, lest we forget, has a financial and even a career investment riding on the maintenance of it, the prospect of losing and having to reconstruct one’s childhood faith is probably not exactly a reason to drool in anticipation and jump for joy.
3. Having your faith and eating it too: popular strategies for survival
Not surprisingly therefore, several strategies for survival have been followed by students from fundamentalist backgrounds in the past (including those who subsequently became ministers or professors) to alleviate some of the cognitive dissonance experienced as a result of the new perspective on the texts:
- The most popular strategy of survival is to ignore and repress the problem and just try to get through the course with as little in-depth reading as possible so as to obtain the qualification you need to return in the role of a minister to the context of the Church. Here amiable and ignorant company and the passage of time will eventually dull whatever cognitive dissonance was introduced.
- Another not infrequently encountered way of coping for some involves quitting your studies altogether and retreating back into the socio-religious world of blissful ignorance concerning any challenge the critical study of the Bible might hold for your faith
- A third option is available to you if you find biblical criticism offensive and cannot conceive of a spirituality inspired by it but still wish to obtain post-graduate qualifications and academic respectability as a platform for propagating fundamentalist beliefs with sophistication. In this case, the strategy is to stay in the game and pretend to take biblical criticism seriously but to remain seeking solace in conservative apologetic scholarship. Consequently those following this strategy can be found chronically polemising and complaining about what they perceive to be the demonic threat of liberal theology.
- The fourth strategy, also popular but distinctly different from the three fundamentalist options that preceded it, is the one in which you realise that to continue in fundamentalism is to opt for a spiritual lobotomy and committing intellectual suicide. You realise that critical perspectives have a point and so, after a few moments of disorientation and confusion, you experience your exit from fundamentalism as ‘liberating’ after realising its constrictive nature. Soon you see less and less conflict between faith and reason and have little trouble becoming more critical before attaining a second naivetÃ© and feeling completely at home in a wholly critical approach to the biblical text. People who take this option can typically be very critical in their approach to the text but this capacity held in conjunction with peace of mind is often made possible because specialisation in biblical studies seldom requires one to think through the philosophical and theological implications of the research.
- Finally, you might, on the one hand, have in common with the previous group the realisation that to continue in fundamentalism is out of the question as its assumptions and ideas have been thoroughly discredited beyond revival. Yet for you , the liberal or critical option is not particularly inviting since even here there appear to be equally repressive and fallacious types of arguments in favour of what seems simply a more sophisticated and eclectic form of fundamentalism. However, for you the realisation of the bankruptcy of all available religious options is not liberating but – excuse the language – absolutely bloody terrifying. You were happy in your fundamentalism but cannot bear living in self-deception no matter how strong the temptation to repress. Ergo, you become an agnostic or atheist.
But what happens from a physiological (metaphorically speaking) perspective when the recipe is sampled?
4. Eat your heart out: phases of the ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’
Given these strategies of survival, evasion, and apostasy, those fated to become victims of the eating process – i.e. the ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’ itself – will find themselves on a journey which, in its totality may be seen as typically passing through three distinct phases. These are:
- The tasting, or constructive phase: the student constructs the meaning, significance and implications of the critical data for the personal fundamentalist belief system
- The chewing or deconstructive phase: the student deconstructs his reality and spiritual identity by juxtaposing as binary oppositions the now-discredited fundamentalist beliefs with what is implied as viable based on the acceptance of the critical perspective constructed in the first phase.
- The swallowing or reconstructive phase: the student attempts to reconstruct a new personal perspective on religious phenomena and an identity that takes cognisance of what is demanded in the aftermath of phases one and two.
Kindly note that if you make a break for it after the constructive phase, as most fundamentalists will want to do, you will avoid, for the most part, running face first into the negative symptoms this damned little dish of destruction has in store for you. If, however, you manage to pass beyond the first phase and enter the deconstructive phase, the negative symptoms will start to manifest themselves and the sight will be neither simply pretty nor simply ugly but rather a bit of both, really – in other words: pretty ugly! The paw-paw will strike the fan at the end of the deconstructive phase when the kitchen lies in ruins, dinnertime is approaching and there isn’t a crumb in sight. Should you manage to avoid this by immediately moseying ever-so-doggedly onto the reconstructive phase to find a new home in liberal or critical theology, the severity of the negative symptoms of the ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’ will be unpleasant but not impossibly so. Their duration will also be of a relatively short nature. If, however, no religious option somehow related to the former spirituality is found (i.e. you end up in atheism or agnosticism, after liberalism and radicalism are found to be as problematic as fundamentalism itself) the severity and duration of the negative symptoms of the syndrome can be intensified and prolonged beyond what is humanly possible to endure without being psychologically scarred for life.
5. The feeling of warmth deep down inside and the joys of heartburn: symptoms of the ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’
So what does the concoction derived from the recipe for losing faith tastes like? More literally,what is it like for someone from a fundamentalist background to experience the kind of cognitive dissonance that occurs when one discovers that the Old Testament (and therefore the Bible) is not the kind of book one had always believed it to be? What is it like to lose faith? What is it like psychologically when, as someone once wrote, your God is dead and, come to think of it, you’re not feeling so good yourself? Just what are these negative symptoms associated with the ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’? They are the following and, as suggested, will be manifested variably among individuals in terms of type, duration, frequency, intensity and quantity, depending on which phase of the syndrome one is in and what happens during that particular phase.
- Specific psychological symptoms: Reactive depression, identity confusion, existential anxiety, cognitive dissonance, feelings of sadness, spiritual disorientation, feelings of loneliness, a recurring nostalgia for former certainties, disillusionment, loss of selfconfidence and self-respect, a loss of zest for life and former mental vitality, cynicism, feelings of nihilism and the loss of meaning and purpose, indecisiveness, repression, obsessive compulsive negative self-talk, apathy, anger and frustration, entertaining a death wish and thoughts of suicide, self-loathing, endless reconstruction of the self-image, analysis paralysis, a feeling of fear, horror and revulsion at life and reality, etc.
- Specific physical and behavioural changes: Extreme passiveness or hyperactivity, social isolation, anti-social behaviour, restlessness, changes in appetite and possible eating disorders, chronic fatigue, insomnia or narcolepsy, self-destructive behaviour, impulsive and compulsive activity patterns, inability to commit or trust, etc.
These symptoms can, in both theory and practice, last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of decades. Their nature merits their unification in the concept of the ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’ for, as should be apparent, the syndrome basically amounts to and involves an inversion of positive symptoms like joy, meaning, security, warmth, comfort, euphoria and general feelings of happiness and well-being typically associated with the ‘born-again’ experience. And if you cannot possibly relate to the combination of negative emotions listed above I suggest that you make a point of renting a video or DVD of the films The Matrix (part 1) and The Truman Show to get only an inkling of an idea of what the feeling is like. In the plot of both these films the main characters eventually stumble across the horrible fact that reality is not what they, all their lives, believed it to be. ‘Reality’, in fact, turns out to be no more than a technologically simulated social construct. Such a discovery, believe me, is far worse a fate than the lesser evil of finding out that there is a reason why Santa Claus looks suspiciously like ‘dad’ or that of learning for the first time where meat comes from. For in this case, it’s not just the feeling that all the magic has gone – apparently there never was any magic to begin with.
6. Conclusion: recovering from the mess in the kitchen and preparing for the next one: prognosis and preventative measures
The ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’ can be excruciatingly painful but it need not be terminal. There is, however, no quick and easy recipe to follow for dealing with it since, as far as treatment is concerned, not every form of therapy on the market may be suited to everyone given the uniqueness of individual personality and circumstance. Consequently, treatment is symptomatic and individual and preferably always holistic. Unfortunately, as far as an offensive pro-active approach as opposed to a defensive re-active solution to the problematic is considered, as long as fundamentalist spirituality remains the order of the day in the Church and its popular media, teachers of the Old Testament will always be fighting against the odds and we can prepare ourselves for an epidemic in the years to come.
But when we do encounter fundamentalist students in our classes, which is 90% of the people 90% of the time, there are better and worse ways of dealing with the situation. Critical perspectives, though they should without question be taught, should never be used as a kind of shock treatment for the ripping apart, the belittling or ridiculing of, or the laughing at any student’s beliefs about the Bible and what he or she might think counts as inspiring ideas about it. I am not saying that lecturers do this deliberately but sometimes we forget what it was like being a student. Distance lends enchantment – you forget how hard it was. So we must be careful in how we communicate. No matter how naive, wayward, pathetic, clichÃ©, sugar-coated, misguided or outdated their cherished beliefs may seem to be from our perspectives, you don’t mess with people’s personal faith. It’s ‘just not done in Israel’.
So when, due to particular circumstances, one of our student’s reality is shattered as paradigms clash, the least we can do is to help them pick up the pieces and let them know that we are there for them. We can also relativise the crisis itself by pointing out that, even though a critical mindset is inextricably part of all scientific endeavours, any particular critical view or theory can be taken with a pinch of salt. For though from the outside and for undergraduates it may look like Old Testament biblical criticism is hardcore science dealing in objectivity and capital-T Truth, ‘there ain’t no such animal’. Such notions are only appropriate for quiz shows and pocket encyclopaedias. At the forefront of research where all the action is, what counts as fact and truth is nothing but a running debate.
Of course, if it isn’t one thing it’s another, since our students tend also to be modernists, naive realists and positivists. Thus appreciating this thoroughly post-modern vision of what goes on in Old Testament scholarship may be unsettling in itself – and, God help us, lead to another horrible syndrome of its own. But it may also help many students to relax and spare them the disillusionment that comes from the equally futile and desperate strategy of trying to find security after fundamentalism by naively put all your faith eggs in the basket of any particular and currently popular critical theory. Also, we should not try to make our students copies of our own selves. Instead, we should allow them to seek out their own identity by providing them with disinterested non-partisan descriptive and evaluative overviews of the contents and pros and cons of all viewpoints on a particular matter, whether conservative or critical. This strategy will not only prove to be a more balanced approach but will lessen the stress also on ourselves when we have to ‘please explain’ regarding why our own favourite ideas seem from some perspectives to be unorthodox or outdated, as they must.
Finally, those of us who have had the syndrome and lived to talk about it, would do well to show our fellow travellers the highways and byways we and others have followed to cope with the cognitive dissonance that shatters the reality of everyone afflicted with the horrors of the ‘Died-Again Christian Syndrome’. We should show them that we too can and have cried and are not and will never be ‘big boys’ with ‘hard facts’. Come to think about it, establishing a local chapter of ‘fundamentalists anonymous’ may not be a bad idea. It may make the difference between our students dealing with the condition or becoming individuals who, if they do not retreat back into fundamentalism out of sheer nostalgia for consolation, will probably be scarred for life and end up contemplating ending their own. Nobody deserves such a fate. Nobody. For no one’s system is immune to the recipe for losing faith, which, in its current format, has more than once become a recipe for disaster.BIBLIOGRAPHY Armstrong, K 2001. The battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity & Islam: London: Harper/Collins. Barr, J 1977. Fundamentalism. London: Oxford University Press. Barr, 1984. Beyond Fundamentalism. London: Oxford University Press. Barton, J 1988. People of the Book? The authority of the Bible in Christianity. London: SPCK. Brueggemann, W 1997. Theology of the Old Testament. Testimony, dispute, advocacy. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Boone K 1989. The Bible tells them so. The discourse of Protestant fundamentalism. London: Hutchinson. Carroll, R P 1991. Wolf in the Sheepfold: the Bible as problem for Christianity. London: SPCK. Cupitt, D 1980. Taking leave of God. London: SCM Press. Cupitt, D1984. The Sea of Faith. London: SCM Press. Deist, F 1986. Kan ons die Bybel dan nog glo? Onderweg na _ Gereformeerde Skrifbeskouing. Pretoria: Van Schaik. Die Kerkbode. 16 November 2001. p 6. Die Kerkbode, 14 Desember 2001. p 8. Donahue, JM 1985. ‘Intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness: Review and meta-analysis’, in: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Festinger, L 1957. A theory of cognitive dissonance. Evanston: Row, Peterson. Fowler, JW 1981. Stages of Faith. The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco: Harper & Row. Gericke, JW 2003. Does Yahweh exist? A philosophical-critical reconstruction of the case against realism in Old Testament theology. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Pretoria. Gerstenberger, ES 2002. Theologies of the Old Testament. London: Continuum Books. Hasel, GF 1972. Old Testament theology: basic issues in the current debate. Grand Rapids: Gracewing. Hanson, RPC & Hanson AT 1989. The Bible without illusions. London: SCM Press. James, W 1902. Varieties of religious experience. A study in human nature. New York: Collier & Macmillan. KÃ¶nig, A 2002. Ek glo die Bybel – ondanks al die vrae. Vaste bakens vir _ tyd waarin die Bybel in gedrang is. Wellington: Lux Verbi. Nicol W 2001. Godsdiens wat werk. Ontdek die soort Godsdiens wat vir jou die beste werk. Wellington: Lux Verbi. Spangenberg, IJJ 1998. Perspektiewe op die Bybel. God se woord in mensetaal. Pretoria: Van Schaik. Teeple, HM 1982. The historical approach to the Bible. San Francisco: Foundation for religious humanism. Van der Watt, J 2000. Die Christen, die Bybel en die toekoms. Dis wat ek glo. Vereniging: Christelike Uitgewers Maatskappy. Wulff, DM 1997. Psychology of Religion. Classic and Contemporary (second edtiton). Massachusetts: John Wiley & Sons. Yao, R 1987. An Introduction to Fundamentalists Anonymous. New York: Fundamentalists Anonymous.
TREFWOORDEOu Testament Geloofskrisis Fundementalisme Wedergestorwe Christen sindroom Godsdienspsigologie Teologiese opleiding
KEY WORDSOld Testament Crisis of belief Fundamentalism Died-again Christian syndrome Psychology of religion Theological education
Jaco Gericke, post-doctoral fellow and research associate in the Department Old Testament Science, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria.
Picture: Album Cover from Thrash Heavy Metal Band Toruniquet – Collected Works (contains the song: Acid Head)
I have email Jaco to find out if he indeed is the author of this article.
Can you please confirm if you are the author of the following article:
The died-again Christian syndrome1Its etiology as manifested among fundamentalist students of the Old Testament in South Africa2
I have attached the file.
Let’s see if I get a reply.
“The absolute hatred for born again Christians is extremely evident.”
You have completely misinterpreted the paper. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any sort of “hatred” for born-again christians. Quite the contrary, in fact: I wrote it to bring attention to the plight of students who went through hell by losing their faith. Students like me.
I thought by way of this paper I could create awareness of the need for sensitivity – you don’t mess with believers worldviews without any concern for how they will cope when reality shatters. Reality like mine.
Your malevolent distortion of my intentions and eagerly reading into the paper whatever you like is rather sad to say the least. For me it is simply a reminder of how many believers read the Bible and of why I should be thankful not to be that kind of person anymore.
That being said, I apologise if the paper offended you and I forgive you for your judgmentalism – the fact is, you know not what you do.
Perhaps someday you’ll understand.
Apologies Jaco, I understand now how the article was written – I did not actually realise you were one of the shattered ones.
Would you mind as to answer a few questons for me please….
>> you dont mess with believers worldviews without any concern for how they will cope when reality shatters.
WHY were believers worldviews been messed with?
IS the UP teaching anti-Christianity to the students in stead?
>> Reality like mine
ARE you now an unbeliever because you were shattered by what they taught you?
What I meant was that the scientific study of one’s own religion and the history of one’s beliefs and the nature and origin of the Bible tend to shatter the fundamentalist illusions one has been brought up with.
So you can drop your conspiracy-theory agenda – the only guilty parties in the messing with people’s worldviews are the facts themselves. It is hard to discover that what one honestly believed to be the fixed truth has an all-too-human history within religious thought.
I can therefore assure you UP is NOT teaching anti-christianity. Quite the contrary – members of the faculty are all devout christians and they simply do their job of educating students about what is going on in the world of research on the Bible, the church, etc.
Those students and people on the outside who moan and bitch about the liberalism there are simply dissatisfied with the fact that the latest findings in the research on the Bible simply do not support what they themselves happen to believe and would like everybody else to believe.
My only concern was with HOW the facts are taught, not with the fact of them being taught. And you have to remember, no lecturer there has any delight in seeing students struggling to deal with the facts. And no lecture ever made anyone lose their faith. You cannot actually lose faith unless you really believe the arguments that imply its negation.
The lecturers never present their own views and command students to believe it. They simply inform them about what is happening at the forefront of research and the students are free to do with the facts what they like. One is perfectly free to reject what one does not like.
So as for me, I do not blame any lecturer at UP for being the cause of me losing my faith. No – the fact, they were far too considerate and orthodox for that. I lost my faith as a result of my own affinity to read more than the prescribed materials. I lost it while I was reading up on Christian apologetics and the problems it dealt with, and by coming to terms with what fundamentalism is really all about.
See the book by James Barr – “Beyond Fundamentalism”
I lost my faith not because I discovered that liberalism or atheism was right. Rather, I lost it when I discovered why fundamentalism is WRONG. To be honest – it was discovering the truth about the Bible that caused the crisis in belief.
Up to then I had so many nice ideas ABOUT the Bible and had read so many sound books ON the Bible so that when I actually began to study the Bible I discovered that my orthodox ideas, comforting as they were – had little if any relation to the realities within the text in their own contexts.
So kindly refrain from seeking to blame somebody. There is no scapegoat in this story. There are only the explosions that occur when cherished ignorance meets head on with hard-found enlightenment.
>> I can therefore assure you UP is NOT teaching anti-christianity. Quite the contrary members of the faculty are all devout christians and they simply do their job of educating students about what is going on in the world of research on the Bible, the church, etc.
Unfortunately there is hard core evidence that this is not true, a 1 hour DVD nogal that showa quite a few of the faculty are not devout Christians at all – the things they say prove this without a shadow of a doubt.
>> Those students and people on the outside who moan and bitch about the liberalism there are simply dissatisfied with the fact that the latest findings in the research on the Bible simply do not support what they themselves happen to believe and would like everybody else to believe.
So what you’re saying is that the new research shows that the Bible is just a ‘story’ per se. And this of course would upset most people who believed it to be true. Now if the new research shows the bible to a fallacy and the faculty remain devout Christian and teach this new info to the students then…well…that makes the faculty non-Christian for no genuine Christian would in anyway teach a false teaching there by denying Jesus Christ.
>> My only concern was with HOW the facts are taught, not with the fact of them being taught. And you have to remember, no lecturer there has any delight in seeing students struggling to deal with the facts.
I see your point, as you said in your article it is devistating for some of the students. And I am sure that no-one even the lecturers take delight in seeing students struggle after having their faith challenged over and over again. I definitely think there should be a support group for these students, we can call it the BACA (Born Again Christian’s Anonymous).
>> And no lecturer ever made anyone lose their faith. You cannot actually lose faith unless you really believe the arguments that imply its negation.
Totally agree!!! We are all held accountable for our own choices, it’s free-will.
>> The lecturers never present their own views and command students to believe it. They simply inform them about what is happening at the forefront of research and the students are free to do with the facts what they like. One is perfectly free to reject what one does not like.
If the students are free to do with the ‘facts’ what they like, how then do they pass their exams, if they don’t answer with the ‘facts’? Surely this technically forces them to answer with the new ‘findings’ because the old ‘truth’ is actually false. I’m confused in this instance (not ignorant), it’s just that with all my studying in other fields there is only 1 answer.
Do you know the story about Ferdie Mulder?
>> So as for me, I do not blame any lecturer at UP for being the cause of me losing my faith. No the fact, they were far too considerate and orthodox for that. I lost my faith as a result of my own affinity to read more than the prescribed materials. I lost it while I was reading up on Christian apologetics and the problems it dealt with, and by coming to terms with what fundamentalism is really all about.
I know you do not blame any lecturer. As I agreed above that no one can make one lose theit faith. Question though; do you think there is fundamentalism on both sides, or just one side? 1) Those that want to hold onto the truth for dear life (Christians) and 2) those who want to change the truth no matter what it takes?
>> To be honest it was discovering the truth about the Bible that caused the crisis in belief.
Why did you not leave UP Theology dept if you realised that what was being taught there is false?
>> Up to then I had so many nice ideas ABOUT the Bible and had read so many sound books ON the Bible so that when I actually began to study the Bible I discovered that my orthodox ideas, comforting as they were had little if any relation to the realities within the text in their own contexts.
Where one is truly born again (you have the Spirit of God in you, i.e., the Holy Spirit) He leads us into all undestanding of the Bible. You do know that the Bible can’t be understood by those who are not genuinely saved. So even though the Bible felt comforting to you, this comfort was easily broken by reading books by other people who themselves did not have the Holy Spirit in their lives and therefore do not understand.
This is another reason why I question the so called devout Christian lecturers at UP becuase if they were genuinely saved they would in no way tolerate any form of ‘new’ revelations and research on scripture, let alone teach it to others. Just because the new research appears to be true, if there was no Holy Spirit in the researcher then he would not understand. And around and around they go.
>> So kindly refrain from seeking to blame somebody. There is no scapegoat in this story.
Unfortunately there is always someone to blame, and these people are not scapegoats as though they would love us all to believe. And I’m not speak about you, for you are honest about what you believe. But there are those who sit on the fence and bend whichever way the wind blows to save face. I mean it’s not like they are going to get kicked out if they come clean; cos the Theology dept accepts these new teachings with open arms.
>> There are only the explosions that occur when cherished ignorance meets head on with hard-found enlightenment
So hard-found ‘ignorant’ genuine born again Christians vs hard-found ‘ignorant’ New Age Agers.
PS, the best Tournique album was Stop the Bleeding, but that was only when I was full on into metal and an occultist for 17 years. Jesus Christ the Son of God saved me from all the darkness that surrounds and showed me the way, the truth and the life, for this is who Jesus is – the way, the truth and the life. And that reminds me, if Tourniquet was really a Christian band would you really enjoy their music? But that’s another conversation all on it’s own.
Would you agree that it makes no sense at all for Christians to send their sons to that institute?
I am sorry. Let me try again.
Would you agree that it makes no sense at all for Christians to send their sons to that institute to study theology in order to become ministers?
Not sure if you are gonna reply, but I’ll comment never the less.
Well I do love you Jaco, this is what a genuine Christian does, but just as you try desperately hard to convince me I am in wonderland (because you love), I try just as hard to convince you that you are in wonderland (because I love).
Last but not least: >> And it is only once you realise that contrary to what you have been indoctrinated to believe…
I was the other way around, I had not been indoctrinated, I chose Jesus Christ because I originally chose the otherside, the other ‘truth’ (the one those books don’t really tell you about) hence I know what the word ‘lie’ really means.
Oh this is the last: >> Also students are unique and only 1% end up atheist. 98% stay believers and simply become aware that life is more complex than you could ever imagine
Those 98% you speak of; would you say they remain believers BUT at the same time include new truths they have been taught into their current belief system? So it’s kinda the best of both worlds?
Anyhow I don’t think of athiests as being immoral, lying and crude satanists, just unbelievers, for it’s true, you don’t believe. Also just a note, Satanists are not atheistic because they believe in Satan.
Listen guys (gals)
I am really sorry but I have had exactly this kind of conversation a billion times before and know its going nowhere. I also know that invitations to debate from believers like yourselves are not really open in as much as there is nothing you will accept as proof that you might be mistaken.
I can try to convince you I was a true born-again christian but the fact that I lost the faith will make the facts seem as impossible to you as it did to me when I was still a believer. Because your theory cannot cope with the loss of belief, you will never believe that I was really born-again. Here there is nothing more to say – I know I myself never believed loss of faith is possible, which is one of the reasons why it is so traumatic.
You mention your DVD and the Ferdi Mulder story. I know both inside out – and I know Ferdi personally. I consider him a nice person and I consider the faculty nice people. I can see where everyone is coming from and all I can tell you is that there are no simple answers.
If you ask me about how one can pass exams without excepting the radical findings of research the solution is quite simple really. You simply report what the different scholars have thought on a given matter and no professor ever expects you to simply accept this uncritically. In fact, one is taught to criticise the critics as well – this is science as it should be.
Should you send your kids to UP? Sure, it is internationally up to standard in its Theological education. That is, if you are serious about learning about the Bible and the history and nature of your religion, its beliefs and its institutions. What you have to realise is that studying Theology and the Bible at University is not advanced Sunday School – you don’t go there to hear an extended version of a sermon.
You go there to learn – period. To be sure, chances are that what you learn will contain ideas and perspectives you might consider unchristian. If, however, you learn well what you will eventually come to realise is not so much that the Bible isn’t true – rather you will learn that your VIEW of the Bible and God has a history and that there are elements in the text and in the history of ideas about God (and Christ and just about anything else) that show fundamentalism to be based on an utter lack of historical consciousness.
You will learn what you consider to be Christianity is but what your tradition and contemporary popular powerplays would make it out to be. Sure, you have your proof-texts, but that’s rather naive. One, its YOUR interpretation and two, what about other biblical texts that imply something else.
I’m almost certain you will not grasp the full meaning of what I am trying to say here. I never could when I was told similar things when I was still a fundamentalist. And I know one cannot beat the system (of fundamentalism) – it has everything covered (thank God for apologetics) and tries to convince people the particular brand of Christianity is the only one possible. And yes, when you’re in it is certainly seems to go without saying.
Then you learn about the history of Bible, the Church, ideas of God, and also all the current theological trends. You learn how to read the Bible in context, about philosophical problems and solutions pertaining to religious issues, about the psychology and sociology of religious phenomena, and in the end some studebts realise the impossible – that we live in a dreamworld conjured for us by the culture we live in.
Some accept it and move on, others cannot face having to learn to cope with not possessing absolute truths and retreat into fundamentalism. Those who escape from fundamentalism are not the ones who fell in love with lies – they are the ones who made the pains to ask themselves whether their own tradition might not be as blind to its own misconceptions and prejudices as it accuses others as being.
In a sense you learn to be humble. What will become problematic if you go to university as an average christian kid fresh from school is not so much the Bible or God but rather your views about the two. Not that you will be taught that you are wrong or told to accept any liberal or radical or other point of view – in becoming aware of the history of your own beliefs on the one hand and of the Bible and the god-idea on the other you will simply realise that you have been a child of your time – as we all are.
So what is taught is neither truth or lie. It’s the facts – for now. And in the end you have to decide whether you are willing to follow the facts whereever they may lead (after all, you admit you’re not perfect) or you can decide to ignore anything that happen to clash with what you happen to believe about religious issues.
The trouble is, if theology is your job then even if you opt for the letter you will still encounter other views which you will not doubt wish to refute. But in doing so you have to try and understand these views, and in doing so, even without you ever dreaming of changing your mind, exposure to new perspectives will lead any self-critical and honest person to recognise that a) there is more than one side to every story; b) that all stories are stories of other stories, c) that all stories have human histories and d) that the world is made of stories, not atoms.
But don’t take my word for it. I’m an atheist now and consider people at the UP faculty theologically somewhat conservative. Moreover, there is not such thing as the UP-view on a matter as the professors differ in perspectives and agree to differ – that is scientific etiquette.
Also students are unique and only 1% end up atheist. 98% stay believers and simply become aware that life is more complex than you could ever imagine. The other 1% revert to radical fundamentalism and, like Ferdi Mulder, would have us burn heretics.
This has been a long post. I am sorry but I do not really have the time or desire to continue a discussion which I know from personal experience always ends up going in circles. There is nothing I can say or do to make you understand where I am coming from (even though you think you do) – either you will one day see it for yourself, or you will stay in Wonderland.
For now, at least try to appreciate that no-one is willingly being obstinate – everyone has a story that explains why they think like they do. As for me, once I discovered how everyone comes to the faith they happen to come to, project it onto a god and then claim it to be the only truth – in utter ignorance of the intellectual history and psychological variables of how that truth came to be believed as such, you can no longer take yourself seriously.
It took me years to learn how to come to terms with a reality without God. I could not believe it was all just a combination of stories and imagination. I only got over it once I realised that what I was taught about life outside the faith is simply not true and that one does not really have to believe in something (religious) to experience life as meaningful or to behave. While you are a believer you imagine atheists to be immoral, lying, scheme and crude satanists and, to be sure, some people who deconvert become like that because that is what christianity convinced them they will become.
The rest of us know that one does not need incentives to be happy, moral or find life interesting. And it is only once you realise that contrary to what you have been indoctrinated to believe, you don’t need any certainties, identities, final truths and objective rules to live life meaningfully and morally. All you need is love.
In the book of Jude we read of those who are ‘twice dead’…In some way by your own warped way you have proven the scriptures correct, by being a self-fulfillment of God’s word.
You are ‘twice dead’ but there is grace……
My heart feels for “Jaco”! My twin-brother studied Theology (NGK)In his class were more than 20 students (last year) and only 7 did the course because they wanted to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ 2 people; the rest of the class was in it for the monthly pay-check and pensioner’s packet. He was ordained “dominee”, was that 7 yrs,then his eyes were opened (long story), the Afrikaans churches closed their doors 2 him; the Right-wing Afrikaners got a hold of him 2 preach to their favor (he saw thro that in about 2 yrs time); then the CG-church asked him 2 take up the dominee-post there (won’t mention the city); he saw what was going on in that system; was asked by English AGS church 2 b a pastor (his eyes were opened as to what was going on in that system); the CG-Church asked him back; he went there on condition that he can be a missionary; so that he is to 2day; he says he is on his own; no church-politics or teachings; he learns from the Bible and wait on the Lord 2 hear what he must do in all circumstances. The whole family were baptised one after the other, in water, because this is what he discovered in Scripture. Every time he left a position because God showed him what was wrong, he lost everything. Today LordGod supply all their needs every day, no paycheck, no real stability 4 2morow, but a deep faith and love in the one who saved them, the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray Jaco, God’s grace abounds 2 u even more than ur hurt and unbelief. cecilia
As I said… you can go to your college and you can go to your school.. but if you aint got Jesus you’s an educated fool.
I will not understand the motives or intentions of “Christians” that enroll as a theological students, and then looses the faith they never had? Was it the money that drew them in the first place? Was it a Godly calling or just a worldly calling? (beroep of roeping)
Woe to those Dominees (tsk!… I meant Pharisees)that are in it for the money…
By the way, i can think many reverend who might as well go and claim their money back from the kweekskool…
One of our local ones claims the Muslims and Christians pray to the same god…. the god of Isaac and Abraham.
“You can go to your college and your school….” actually Buddy green sings it
Didn’t Jaco continue the conversation. I’m trying to make sense about what he is saying. Until now it seems that he got a bit confused by the claims made by text deconstruction and so-called history of the bible. Both are uncertain foundations. Perhaps what he perceived to be “fundamentalism” had also it’s problems. But I’m still making sense about this.
No he didn’t unfortunately.
ON THE EXISTENCE OF YAHWEH (GOD)and A BRIEF EVALUATION OF THE CASE OF A DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
I juust read Jaco’s insightful article. I was raised in a fundamental evangelical church all my life. I experienced a crisis of faith at age 38 not because I was a theology student but simply because my theology clashed with the law ( and reality). It was one of the most horrific periods of my life, discovering that my faith was not a personal relationship with God but merely religious social constructs of truth by well meaning but delusional Christians. Unfortunately,I am not proud of this fact. I attempted suicide to help alleviate the tremendous cogitative dissonance and emotional anguish that ensued.Now I have spend the past decade trying to understand what lead me to such a profound despair. Reading this article has been very therapeutic. Jaco articulated so well the conflicts encountered by fundamental Christians when they attend a bible college outside of their own christian denomination and are exposed to liberal views that are not consistent with their indoctrination.
When I was a in high school, I recall my pastor claiming that he knew that when he died that he was going to go to heaven simple because he said ” I know that I know that I know.” I have since have gone grad school. My old pastor’s proof may have evoke a few amens from the congregation but no this reasoning and ignorance is now simply embarrassing. I understand what Jaco is trying to say through his article, It was not written out of spite but simply an admonition to fundamentalist of the mental anguish that may await them if believers seriously employ critical thinking skills. I was impressed with his article, yet I must say that I was even more stuck with Jaco’s humble tone in his responses in this blog to your incredulous commentaries. Unlike Jaco,I am not an atheist but more so an agnostic, but Much like Jaco, I know that we can talk until we are blue in the face but nothing we say will be accepted by you, if it does not line up with your religious constructs.
It sounds as you have been indoctrinated by the post-modernist since you speak their language. I would not get too exited about Jaco’s story if I were you. Maybe you missed the momentous debate held at the University of Pretoria that exposed their “critical thinking skills”. Here is what happened:
See also Debate with Spangenberg and Wolmarans.
I would encourage you to browse around at Dr. Craig’s website. You might find his religious constructs to be quite robust and compelling. The DVD of the debate and the conference can be ordered at the AntWoord website. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that Christianity is in fact a “reasonable faith”.
I do hope you will avail yourself of these powerful resources, because God will hold you accountable for breaking His Laws whether you believe in Him or not. And that is not my religious construct, but from the Word of God. Only Christianity has Good News to offer you, that Jesus Christ died for your sins so that you do not have to face the wrath of your Creator.
This is a heart breaking story and I’m filled with sorrow by reading it. Dear people please allow me to tell you something and forgive me for referring to myself but may this serve as a testimony.
In my Christian walk as a believer I went back reading very dangerous books on Eastern philosophies and conspiracy theories. I’ll name the authors [DTW please feel free to edit them out should you wish, for I do not want to draw attention to them] The first author: (1)Jiddu Krishnamurti and the other (2)David Icke. I was kind of obsessed with the information these books contained. There is also a lot of information on them on the internet.
From (1): This person was groomed for the role of World Teacher (not exactly a lightweight) in the Theosophical Society under the leadership of Annie Besant. The underlying theme of this book is basically that we do not know what love is and it is something that brings with it its own intelligence and once it touches you you’ll never be the same again. The first step is the last step…The reading is riveting and deep and brilliant, so much so that it makes philosophers look like nuns in comparison. It is truly inspired by something beyond human comprehension and I was taken in by it. Through this knowledge I became ‘enlightened’ and realized especially the role the ego plays and found this in agreement with the author to be the reason for the world problem. In the mean time I also read the Bible and the confusion this caused was, I don’t know, beyond reproach. Because the Bible teaches about love and this extra biblical book does the same…the confusion I went through was horrible to say the least. No one could help me, no one knew what I was really going through, no one understood and just gave short little answers like ‘pie in the sky’ etc… To cut to the chase, I realized that what I was busy with was nothing else than believing that I (or we) can save this world by our own love or this higher love if we just let go of sorrow “for the end of sorrow is love” according to the author. Somehow I still clinged to it and read more of it on the internet.
With (2): The conspiracy stuff. It’s not really all about exposing Freemasonry and the Illuminati and shadow governments, it also entails a solution to these problems. In these books (I read all of them, and they’re not cheap) a lot of mention is made of Bible stories and how it actually originated prior to the advent of Jesus. Lots of references against the Bible which I really do not even want to or can remember now, lest even mention here. What these books did was breaking down my faith on the inerrancy of Biblical truth. The doubts that came to my mind were in league with those I experienced from book (1). What they do is they make you feel so superior but humble at the same time, a kind of negative humility if I may want to describe the feeling…euphoric. You look down on your past and literally see what illusion life was and even then in the present. It’s just this matrix that we are trapped in and of course the New Age solution to escape this entrapment. From these books I started seeing the Bible as not being a reference to reality but an illusion or part of a grand illusion.
I saw fantasic connections and correlations between them [ (1) and (2)] to such an extent that because of the relevancy it surely must be truth and reality. It was of course not easy to live by it because no one is really interested in discussing these ‘odd’ subjects. So in a way I became estranged from friends and family members because just mentioning anything of the content sounds crazy to the ‘average’ person. So I started seeing others as uninformed or lacklustre and shyed away from Christian friends. By this time I knew what false prophets were in Christendom and could easily relate with fellow Christians on such issues but further I just kept quiet on other spiritual issues not involving myself with stuff I thought is a waste of time in any case.
In the mean time there was always this little doubt in these superior knowledge. This little doubt was actually the little faith still intact and on a somewhat weird way I happened to lodge with someone who at that time was saved from Satanism, a very zealous character at that time and quite bold in his approach. He took me on in a strange uncouth kind of manner regarding my twisted views and believe it or not, he asked to read a book, a book I would never ever recommend anyone should read but I’ll mention it here. DTW please don’t take offence. It was Rebecca Brown’s “He Came To Set The Captives Free”. How I wish I never read it, but it had some effect on me and awakened in me the reality that the adversary, Satan is well and truly active because there’s so much emphasis in her books on Satan that it can’t be overlooked. Please don’t get me wrong, this book didn’t save me or pointed me in any direction neither did it resore my faith either. At this time I had profound knowledge of the Bible, I just didn’t believe the whole of it. This guy was some kind of a fan of Rebecca Brown so when I returned the book I just said yes, thanks, marvellous, not to grieve him to much of what I really thought. We exchanged a few ideas on it and so on and I don’t know he kept going on with me on other scriptures and at some stage looked me in the eye and said that he think I’m actually blessed in a way because of the way I see and interpret scripture. It reminded me of my good Christian upbringing and how I drifted off in a sense.
I moved from there and never saw the guy again. It was months later, maybe over a year or so that I finally got fed up with these books I was reading, they just started to not count anything for me anymore so I just threw them away, done. That was not the end of it, the confusion was still there although not that severe but still there. To ‘come off of it’ I dabbled a bit in Rudolf Steiner [DTW feel free to edit this name out] but found it too intellectual and cumbersome to integrate into biblical perspectives. And this was the last of it. I would’t want to become another Aristotle or Maimonides or Church father to mix in extra-biblical philosophies with what I knew and half believing to be Truth.
I realized that all this time God was pulling me back but like Jonah I preferred to look the other way. Stubborn as a mule!
People, God does not give up on what is His. Why do we so easily give up on people? I realised too that there were people praying for me and later enquired if this was so from certain individuals and I’ve found that to be the case. Why did people pray for me? Who put it on their hearts to pray for me? I’m sure you’d be able to figure it out. I thank God for his grace and mercy and the fact that He’ll never forget or forsake you, never!
To highlight on this twice dead topic, let’s have a look at what it means.
3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about[b] long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord[c] delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
8In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. 9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.
11Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
12These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
14Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage
Pardon me for perhaps trying to read something into this profound scripture but I do not find that these men spoken of here, even though bereaved of any form of Godly inspired faith have the ability to totally deprive you of your faith. These are worshipers of self. They don’t deny self but deny Christ. They are only interested in themselves and would welcome and appreciate anyone to cling to their lips and their blind and pride ridden ways. They never started out with any faith whatsoever except faith in themselves. They won’t mention to want disciples following them but covertly desire to have followers. Someone who started out with true faith cannot follow these twice dead individuals for long. On the other side, yes I do see the resemblace drawn icw the Israelites being saved from Egypt and were disobedient and unfaithful.
Dear friends, please let’s not give up on anyone. It is not my intention to start a praying campaign for those who profess to have lost their faith, not at all. Should you feel pressed to pray for them then do so in earnestness and honesty.
DTW, please pardon me for this lengthy post, I really tried to make it as concise as possible but really, my heart goes out to the lost. I am open to correction where I’m wrong and will humbly accept to be reproved on details.
Go do a study, most born-again Christians become what they are out of fear, they don’t know what comes after death and so choose to believe out of fear. And that’s not being a Christian.
Fear doesn’t give people a choice what to believe in and God gave us free will. And no, not to test our faith! He gave us free will because he loves us and wants us to live in our own way.
And this article was NOT written out of hatred! It’s an article written because of a study. You assuming it’s written out of hate is YOU JUDGING. As far as I know only God is allowed to judge, so what does that say about you?
Besides you can’t deny how many times the bible has been changed either due to translations or just because the old churches decided to remove or change parts in it. So there is good reason for articles like these.
And there are very few true Christians left in the world.
The ones who call themselves Christians don’t act like it, that’s like saying you’re a world class peace activist but you do absolutely nothing to help or maybe even do the opposite and help wars along.
Look at yourself before you start to look at others and if you see articles like these and it bothers you, either do something about it in a positive way or ignore it, but don’t judge others and moan about it.
Everyone is entitled to their own views as God wanted it to be, so you can not say this person was wrong to write this, nor can you make comments when it clearly states what the aim of this article was!
You don’t know the difference between a FAKE Christian and a GENUINE Christian. You’ve obviously never been a GENUINE born again Christian to speak on our behalf and say we follow God out of fear – what nonsense.
This article was written out of hatred for JESUS CHRIST because of someone who had NO LOVE FOR GOD.
Genuine Christians are NOT people who do GOOD WORKS. There are a billion unbelievers who act good but who hate God.
Before you comment, make sure you understand EXACTLY what you are talking about first. You say everyone is entitled to their own views, but you stifle mine? Pfff, hypocrite.
You have no love for God just as this author has no love for God otherwise you would NEVER support a person who insults Jesus Christ.
Sadly there seems to be a paradox when an intelligent man like Jaco studies the scriptures from the interlectia approach and the repetition of the original sin (which is the exceptional deep and hard to recognise sin that is dormant and cleverly disguised in all of us and especially the very high principaled and intelligent…pride). It is “the snake in the grass”…no pun intended…so difficult to discern especially in ourselves…this is what makes it so deadly and it is no surprise that God forbade this fruit to be eaten.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance, however, Christ warned to fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell!
8 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29
Matt 10:28-29 (KJV)
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance
Romans 2:4 (KJV)
Deborah you are very emotional. You sound like my wife. You sound like a fanatic. You believe like a fanatic. Are you one? Jaco,s testimony of losing his faith was unbelievable and very moving. I have also lost mine. Born again, baptised in water and the holy ghost and a part time missionary and preacher. Fundamentalist, pentecostal and now an atheist.
Your belief, if it is true should with stand intense scrutiny. What are you afraid of? The truth always hurts.
>> Deborah you are very emotional. You sound like my wife. You sound like a fanatic. You believe like a fanatic. Are you one?
You sound like such a nice person; a woman abuser (psychological). Someone with no disregard for women. Are you one?
I would say you were never truly saved to start with dude if you lost your faith. If you read your bible correctly (or at all) when you are saved and GENUINELY have the Holy Spirit abiding in you you are SEALED and the Bible says the Holy Spirit will be with you forever.
John 14:16 “16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever”
Ephesians 1:13-14 “13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory”
2 Corinthians 1:22 “22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. ”
Ephesians 4:30 “30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
You were someone who had a form of godliness, you appeared to be Christian, but you were not.
2 Timothy 3:1-2,5 ” 1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,…..5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
>> Your belief, if it is true should with stand intense scrutiny. What are you afraid of? The truth always hurts.
I stand intense scrutiny each day on this blog by commenters (hence I have the guts to keep the comments section open) for chops like you to come and give me a hard time (or so you think). Give it your best buddy ol’ pal -but refrain for calling me names mkay? Can you do that?
Arthur, any man who would degrade his wife like you did should be ashamed. Your comments smack of pride and the Bible makes it clear how much God hates pride. Perhaps some soul-searching on your part would be in order.
Arthur, I would like to add that as you describe your background that you were taught in a legalistic experience-oriented manner and never came to a saving knowledge and surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. You have become bitter for some reason and you do not realize how much the Lord Jesus loves you. I pray you will humble yourself and turn to the only Hope you have and not believe the lies of Satan.
When i mentioned my wife it was in the context of her being a devout born again Christian. Bible puncher par excellence. We don,t discuss Bible or Christian issues any more. She speaks the same way as you do Deborah. She also points out the obvious off pat answers Christians dish out to ex Christians. Now that i have been set free from religious indoctrination and bigotry i actually accept all people of all faiths and life styles.
I feel sorry for your wife.
I find it funny that as an atheist you now accept other people of ALL FAITHS – errr, ok then. You sound like a confused atheist. Or are you saying that you are only anesthetist regarding the Christian God and his people, but other gods of other faiths and their followers you can accept 😉 If that’s the case you prove that GOD exists.
Sorry for pointing out the obvious. You should tell your wife to come read my blog, least she will have some friends here that she can talk too.
Arthur, I agree w/Deborah – your poor wife must be heart-broken and suffering as you have forsaken your former beliefs. I am sure that she has callouses on her knees from praying on your behalf.
Sounds like you had tons of “head knowledge” that never made it to your heart. Arthur, you are toying with your eternal destiny which if you are not saved will be torment forever and ever. The enemy of our souls has blinded you and you are in grave danger. Fall on your knees and seek your Savior – forget your pride and may the shackles fall from your eyes!
In the aftermath of ‘losing my religion’ (sounds like a nice name for a song, doesn’t it). I have realized that in the same way the fundamentalists are proselytizing I have the right to do the same. Does their Bible not tell them; “do unto other’s what you want done unto you”? Maybe I am paraphrasing but everyone will know what I’m referring to.
I’ll be praying to my gnostic god for some real inspiration to all fundamentals making un-researched comments that lies deeply rooted in the fallacy of contextomy!
Excellent Article Jaco, I could not have described it better.
One cannot lose what you’ve never had in the first place. Allow me to quote Scripture as you have already taken the liberty to do so yourself.
There is no such thing as a “wedergestorwe Christen” (died-again Christian). You have never been made alive. You have been dead all along because you want to be dead (You want to worship your repugnant and false gnostic god. In fact, you can’t wait to go to hell).
You have a choice. Either bury yourself among the carcases the vultures at the University of Pretoria are devouring (which is a veritable cesspool of vipers), or repent and believe the Gospel and go and preach it to those wolves in sheep’s clothing so that they may be saved. The only reason why God has not as yet stopped your mouth and those of the professors at the Pretoria University for all eternity is that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Thamas, you keep on insisting on a meaning of scripture that does not exist.
From G3326 and G3539; to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): – repent.
From G3563; to exercise the mind (observe), that is, (figuratively) to comprehend, heed: – consider, perceive, think, understand.
Repentance is derived from the word repent. Is repentance a once off occasion, or is it an on going principle? If repentance is a once off occasion, and you can not stray from what you have repented of, why does God tell His CHURCH to repent? (Rev 2.5) I see repentance as an on going principle and that is called sanctification. Repentance has the meaning of a change in your way of thinking, a change in the way you look at and understand things. Godly sorrow works this change of thinking that leads to salvation and once your way of thinking has changed, it can never be undone. Once you know the truth, nothing can change that, even if you would want to kick against it with all your might. 2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. Once you have seen thetruth, it can never be erased as if you have never seen the truth. You can not repent from repentance but you can most surely deviate from what you have repented of. If you can not deviate, you will be without sin once you have repented. If the Holy Spirit completely takes control of your life once you have repented, then it would mean that it is the Holy Spirit that sins and not you, and that is impossible. The Holy Spirit guides you and teaches you, but you yourself still have the choice of free will. To know the truth and to live by the truth is two different things. Luk 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. Using this scripture (2Co 7:10) to assume that salvation can never be lost is not correct. Repentance to salvation is an ongoing action. Jesus Christ, the Spirit of Jesus Christ is the grace of God extended to us, and if we (love) believe in Him, and keep on (loving) believing in Him, proven by our actions, we will be saved. Even if we should at times fail, due to the flesh, God knows the truth of everything in us, if we really love Him. The truth of our (love) faith is the barometer of where we would end.
Either you believe this or you don’t. The truly saved will never regret their salvation and turn their back on God never to return to Him. Do you believe that you (Hans) can lose your salvation or is it always the other scoundrel who loses his salvation and not you?
Repentance (repent and believe the Gospel in order to be saved) is NOT an ongoing action. You cannot be born again today and again tomorrow and the day thereafter. That’s nonsense. Sanctification is an ongoing action. Once you have repented and believed the Gospel for your salvation you are IN Christ and from that moment there is NO condemnation whatsoever for all eternity. Unless Jesus was lying when He said:
What kind of eternal life is it when you have it today and lose it tomorrow?
Thomas, could you please define eternal life. What does scripture speak about when it refers to eternal life? How can we define true faith in God. What does God “look” like? I am asking this question because there are many that believe in a God that doesn’t “look” like the God of the bible.
Tom, you quoted:For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death].Either you believe this or you don’t. The truly saved will never regret their salvation and turn their back on God never to return to Him.>> Do not read into the scripture what is not there. The core message is: Godly grief produce repentance. Repentance LEADS AND CONTRIBUTES to salvation. Godly grief never brings regret. I believe this.>> Do you believe that you (Hans) can lose your salvation or is it always the other scoundrel who loses his salvation and not you? >> Yes, I can lose my salvation, should I stop loving God.>> Repentance (repent and believe the Gospel in order to be saved) is NOT an ongoing action. You cannot be born again today and again tomorrow and the day thereafter. That’s nonsense.>> I never said that you can be born again twice. >>Sanctification is an ongoing action. Once you have repented and believed the Gospel for your salvation you are IN Christ and from that moment there is NO condemnation whatsoever for all eternity. >> Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. The branch has to abide in the vine.>> Unless Jesus was lying when He said:John 10:28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.>> God can never lie. Have you ever tried to express your love for someone in words? The things of the Spirit, when written about, might seem at odds, but it is written for our understanding. For complete understanding we can not hold onto a single scripture and neglect the others. What does the previous verse state? Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: The word follow has a continues action, and as long as the sheep follow they can never perish or be plucked out of the hand of God. God wants our continues sincere love, not an once off declaration of love.>>
What kind of eternal life is it when you have it today and lose it tomorrow?>> The kind God gives, the life in the Spirit of God. If you love the Spirit of God, you are in eternal life, for eternal life is in Him.
Isn’t it the saddest thing? The article too. How could we ever make sense of God or the Bible through academic studies (in institutions where faith cannot have a place, in the words of a Dean of one such Faculty)? Oh, I can go on and on. It was my theology-studying friends that led my to doubt the Old Testament. The church added the letters in the NT (not applicable anymore), which left me with only the epistles – and they, by themselves, are the most unbelievable of them all! So I ended up a few microns shy of agnosticism.
When I was literally pulled out of this deception (and the organised church) a few years back, I left with a fair amount of anger and bitterness. That, incidentally, was the first thing God dealt with in my life. By His miraculous grace, He also pulled all that out of me and left me with such gratitude (because He removed the veil from my eyes, 2 Cor 3), that I can only weep for all the mislead young people who go to seminaries (often well meaning, but out of a works-based upbringing, I believe) to be led even further away from the truth at the very place they had hoped to find it.
BTW, when I (still angry and bitter) asked God to talk to me about the “dominees”, He spoke through 2 Cor:18. It took me two weeks to realize that He was (as He usually does) speaking to ms about me … since then, seeing people who cannot see His stretched out hand of grace because they are veiled, has become one of the hardest burdens to bear. I have to keep reminding myself that I can not convince them, that the business of convincing is the work of the Holy Spirit. It would be far easier to talk and scream than to live a life poured out (also in prayer) as Christ did …
“My sheep follow me” is an emphatic statement and not a conditional statement. Your salvation and its continuation to the end of your earthly life does not depend on you following Him or your love for Him because it will always be lacking in some way or other. It will never be perfect. You are proclaiming a works-based salvation. Only someone who is perfect in every way can see you through to glory and guess who’s that?
Paul was confident that Jesus will get the job done. You are mot! That is NOT real faith.
Hans, please do me a favour when you write your comments. Use some well spaced paragraphs.
If you don’t know what “eternal life,” is then you must have heard and believed another Gospel.
“What does God look like?” You must be joking. Like Joe you are beginning to ask the silliest questions imaginable. You don’t even know what you look like (Jer 17:9). How can you know what God looks like?
I can, however say one thing. If you believe that God gives eternal life today and takes it away the next day, you definitely don’t know the God of the Bible. It is another god, another Jesus and another gospel.
Tom, It wasn’t my intention to ask “silly” questions for the sake of asking silly questions. I suppose you are drawing me out to answer it myself, may-be for lack of time in your hectic schedule. I oblige with the greatest of pleasure. What does God “look” like. God is a Spirit. Joh 4:24 God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.” To be able to know what God “look” like, we have to see what God said, what God said about Himself, and what God desires. That is the only way we can know God, the only way to know his Spirit, for no-one has ever seen God except His Son. We can also see from the written word of God, the bible, that Jesus Christ is the express image of the Father. Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; It is not the body/flesh of Jesus Christ that is the express image of God, but the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Therefore we may even look at Jesus Christ to know what God “look” like. To know God is to know the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of his Son, the very same Spirit, revealed by the word of God. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law, He did not abolish the law, but fulfilled it, by executing the law as it should be executed in the Spirit of the One who gave the law, in truth. Throughout the bible(the written word of God) we see a lot of things that God love and a lot of things that God hate, and from this we can see what the Spirit of God is like, we can see what God “looks” like. God also gave a lot of information about Himself. I will name but a few. God is love. 1Jn 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. God is faithfull and just. 1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God is pure. 1Jn 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. God is a God of truth. Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Remember Jesus Christ has the very same Spirit as his Father. It can also be verified in the following scripture. Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. We are able to know God by His own attributes, by everything God attributes to Himself, and by everything God said of Himself and what God desires. Jesus Christ is the door to knowledge of God, and not only mere knowledge but also knowledge in truth, knowledge in the Spirit of truth. This knowledge in the Spirit of truth can only be obtained by love for God, by love for the Spirit of God, love for the Spirit of God in Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the ability to change every person on this planet, for Jesus Christ, the embodiment of the word of God and the Spirit of God has shown/proven God’s love to us. A Spirit like this is worthy of Honour, and Glory, and Praise in Truth. We can only worship God in this very same Spirit, the Spirit of truth. We can only receive this Spirit from God as a free gift, if we love Jesus Christ, if we love the Spirit of God in Jesus Christ. We will only receive grace if this Spirit of grace, this Spirit of truth, this pure and Holy Spirit, this Spirit of love and righteousness dwell in us. We will only inherit eternal life if the Spirit of God dwell in us. Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. It is the Spirit of God that possesses eternal life, that shall also quicken us, in Him dwells eternal life. The gift of the Spirit of God is the gift of eternal life. The gift of the Spirit of God is the gift of grace. Without Him there is no grace or eternal life. In Him we are already in eternal life, not a life without the death of our body. This body will die but we have eternal life in the Spirit of God. Mat 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. It is the soul that inherit eternal life, the soul that has the Spirit of God dwelling in him. The meaning of,the Spirit of God dwelling in us is: We exercise the same Spirit in our conduct and words in this world. 1Jn 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 1Jn 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. The words eternal life refers to a life without ending, but also a life in the Spirit of God, for if we do not live our lives in the Spirit of God, there will not be a life without ending.
So it seems as if we are all doomed for hell. That which is impossible to man, God made possible. Love for the gospel of truth, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the Spirit of God in Jesus Christ, works faith in the Spirit of God in Jesus Christ, faith in the Spirit of God’s word. I want to declare it a bit more. Love for righteousness (found in the Spirit of God and in the word of God), works faith in righteousness, and if you believe in righteousness why would you act unrighteous. All our actions are done in accordance to what we belief, or what we attempt to achieve. If we love righteousness, we most certainly would want to achieve righteousness and live in righteousness. We found this love for righteousness through the gospel, and this love worked faith, for with righteousness there are many other gifts of the Spirit of God, even eternal life, and the promise to, one day, see this Mighty, Glorious God, and to dwell in the ultimate fullness of God. Love for the Spirit of God works this faith in the Spirit of God, and because of this true faith, God gives unto us his Spirit to dwell in us, to teach us and to guide us in the things pertaining to God. Love as we all know, can achieve many almost impossible things, ad faith to it and it becomes stronger. From this love and faith in the Spirit of God,we receive the Spirit of God, the Creator of the universe and this Spirit can not be compared to our love and faith. The power of our love and faith is but a vapour in comparison to the power of the Spirit of God. Nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible for God. We can be absolutely sure of the powerful teaching and guidance of the Spirit of God. We can not have faith in God without love for God, without love for the Spirit of God. We can not receive the Spirit of God without faith in God, without love for the Spirit of God. The big question is: Can our love for God fade, resulting in our faith fading, and if our faith could fade, could we still be children of God? Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. This verse came to my mind, when thinking about what I have just written, and I know that what I am about to describe might not be perfectly worded, but the message is. The church is the bride of Christ. If we have a look at marriage we might have insight into what relationship God wants with us. The day of marriage the young couple only have eyes for each other and their hearts want to burst with the joy and love they found in each other. They declare their love over and over in words and little actions. When the honeymoon is over after a couple of years, these actions, and declarations of love might become lesser, although the love might even become deeper as it matures. If the wife should falter, the husband will overlook that faltering, because of his love. If the faltering becomes habitual, the husband will start addressing the issue, and even pour out more love on his wife, but there comes a time when the husband questions the love of his bride, and question it greatly should she commit fornication. Why did the wife commit fornication? Was it because she never loved her husband, or could it be that she fell in love with another? We know what will happen to fornicators. Is there any scripture that warns us that we may falter in our love for God and fall in love with another. 1Jn 2:14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1Jn 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. >Here we read of fathers that know God, and young men in which the word of God abideth, who overcame the wicked one, and yet they are addressed, they are warned not to love the world, neither the things that are in the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him and if the love of the Father is not in him then also can the Spirit of God not be in him, and if the Spirit of God are not in him, he does not have eternal life. If they could never love another and stray from God, if they could never lose their eternal life in the Spirit of God, why is this written, why are they warned? They overcame the wicked one. We could say they are saved, but the message clearly state that they could lose that salvation should they come to love another. Is it impossible, then why is it written? Why, why, why? Why should a Christian put on the armour of God? Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; Eph 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; >We should put on the whole armour of God that we might be able to stand. Stand in what? Stand in truth, righteousness, peace and faith. If we don’t stand we fall, and are no longer in truth, righteousness, peace and faith, we are no longer walking in the Spirit of God, we are not saved. Why is God telling us these things if God Himself will protect us from falling, if God will make sure that those who once believed will always believe. Why would God tell me to do something that I, as a Christian is unable to do. Is God telling this to those who never believed, for it will have no purpose to them. It is not rewards that are at stake but our eternal life. Our efforts are not dead works, but love and faith in action, faith in everything God said, faith in the very Spirit of God’s word. We dare not make our own assumptions. We dare not think out our own hypothesises. Let the word of God declare the word of God. Truth, and only truth will be our judge. Truth, and only truth can set us free. The Spirit of truth knows what is the truth in every one of us. May God open this to you.
When the disciples presented the Gospel none of them asked what God looks like. What you said in your very lengthy dissertation I already know. I know it from the Word of God. So what’s your point? Are you trying to educate me? The bottom line is: Saints cannot lose their salvation. You quoted many passages from Scripture but you don’t seem to know what they mean. In any case, none of them prove that a saint can lose his salvation.
Tom, you might know what Jesus look like, and I might know it now, but I did not know why I first believed. I only later discovered, by considering the word of God, what it was that drew me to God, the Spirit of God in Jesus Christ. There are many people out there that say they serve God and do not know what God looks like and for that reason they serve other gods. I even saw a picture of “Jesus Christ on the cross ” projected on a screen in a “church” even in two “churches” I have visited. (Two golden calves)I had no formal education in the word of God, but asked God to teach me. If I don’t know what the scriptures mean, it would mean that God have failed me, and I seriously doubt that. You just keep on insisting that a saint can’t lose his salvation. Answer me this one question. If God warns you against something, let’s say if God warns you against the possibility of a lion eating you on a journey, to what conclusion would you come? That God would protect you from the beast or I have to be on the look out and have a plan of action against it?
God never warns his children that they could or would lose their salvation. He warns them that they would lose their reward/s should they not live according to his will on earth. You are following a works-based salvation and that’s dangerous.
What’s your point in knowing what Jesus looks like? In any case, the saints are not only going to look like Him in spirit when He returns at the Rapture. They are going to look like Him in his bodily resurrection as well. And even Paul admitted that he did not know what that means precisely.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
(1 Jn 3:2)
Yes, you may know that God is a spirit but what does his spirit look like, Hans? Do you know?
You know that God is love; He is righteous etc, but does that tell us what He looks like?
Read if you will:
Do you ever confess your sins to Jesus? Did you know that sinning is of the devil (1 John 3:8). Well, it seems to me that when you side with the devil instead of with Jesus, you have already turned your back on Him and lost your salvation. How many times have you lost and been saved again in your life of sinning? Remember Hebrews 6 says it is impossible to gain your salvation again after you’ve lost is.
Tom, It is as if you wilfully misunderstand everything I say. I am not referring to what God looks like in a bodily form, when I asked what God “looks” like. I made it clear from the very start that God is a Spirit. What I am trying to say is that most so-called Christians have a faith in a god that has nothing to do with the Spirit of God, a god that is made up from scripture but has no resemblance to the Spirit of God. One thing is sure and not debatable, God is a God of truth. If we don’t walk in truth, we don’t belong to him.
You said:God never warns his children that they could or would lose their salvation. He warns them that they would lose their reward/s should they not live according to his will on earth. You are following a works-based salvation and that’s dangerous.
What does scripture say about not living according to the will of God? 1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: The will of God is our sanctification, that we should abstain from fornication. Should we not live according to God’s will and commit fornication, what will happen to us? Eph 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger (fornicator), nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. It is not a case of losing rewards, it is a case of not inheriting the kingdom of God, of losing our salvation. I can assure you that I am not following a works based salvation. I am following what God is working in me, and when a red light should flash, because of the selfish and sinful nature of the flesh, I run to God who is able to keep me standing. It sounds good when I say it that way, but what does it boil down to. Psa 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. I recall what God said, and the Spirit of the word of God works that in my heart that I can not work, and compels me to do the works God want me to do.
Exactly! If God is a spirit, and indeed He is, then your question “What does God look like?” is superfluous. If you say “God is a spirit” you are not telling people what He looks like. You are telling them what He IS. So rather ask people “Who or what is God?” but never “What does God look like?” When you present the Gospel, and I assume you do, do you ask unbelievers “What does God look like?”
Where does it say in Scripture “if you don’t walk in truth, we don’t belong to Him?” The fact that you make up your own truth, of which none of it is in Scripture, proves that you are NOT walking in the truth. Are you saved?
Was King David a fornicator? Was his son Solomon a fornicator? Are they in hell? 1 Thess 4:3 does not say a saint can lose his salvation. It merely warns against sexual immorality such as adultery, premarital and extramarital intercourse, homosexuality and other perversions. Paul is admonishing us to live holy lives. Have you never read the part in Scripture where Paul admonishes the Corinthian Christians because they tolerated a man who slept with his own mother (or was it his stepmother?) and later told them to receive him into their church again because he had remorse for his sins? Is he in hell? ( 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Corinthians 2:7).
I commend you for you holy living but beware of this.
You say you run to God which is the right thing to do. Who then is the one who is maintaining your salvation – you yourself or God?
Verse please! God compels no one to do anything. Yes, He commands, but He never compels (forces) you.
Have you ever lost your salvation and if so why? Do you think you will ever loose your salvation and if so why? Please bear in mind, I did not ask whether you can lose your salvation. I asked, whether you think you WILL ever loose your salvation?
Please do me a favour. Whenever you write a comment again, use paragraphs.
Tom you asked: Where does it say in Scripture “if you don’t walk in truth, we don’t belong to Him?”
The Spirit of God, is also the Spirit of truth, and if we don’t walk in truth, it would mean that the Spirit of God is not in us, and the word of God tells us that if we do not have the Spirit of God we are none of His. 1Jn 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because AS HE IS , SO ARE WE IN THIS WORLD (own emphasis) By making this statement, I do not say that we might not stray from the truth due to our inherited sinful fleshly nature, but there is a difference from straying from truth and living a life of lies. This is not my own truth. King David sinned, but he also repented and the word of God also tells us: 1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
There are many people, who claim to be saved, but do not do the will of God, because they do not know who God is.(do not know what God “looks” like). I want to ask them and you this questions, something I see everyday. Can we drive on our roads and perpetually not adhere to the laws of the country, and say we are saved?. (I know the bible says nothing about driving.) Can women dress sensually, like they do, also a perpetual thing, and claim to be saved? Can we live in our world of pride and flaunting of riches, the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life, and claim to be saved? They might even have the intention to repent someday like king David did. What is the truth of the matter. They lie to themselves and do not have the Spirit of God abiding in them. The example of king David, and the man who committed fornication might not apply to every person on earth, it depends if they will repent and if they will have a chance to repent.
Tom you said: 1 Thess 4:3 does not say a saint can lose his salvation. It merely warns against sexual immorality such as adultery, premarital and extramarital intercourse, homosexuality and other perversions. Paul is admonishing us to live holy lives.
1 Thess 4:3 does not say a saint can lose his salvation? A warning with the purpose of admonishing us to live holy lives? Yes a warning would be given for a purpose, but a warning will have consequences, for the very reason of obtaining the purpose.(loosing rewards?) What is the end of a person living in perpetual sexual immorality? Eternal hell. Why would Paul warn the BRETHEREN, against sexual immorality, if he knew that God would put a stop to it Himself, should that be the case that God would put a stop to it, or even if God would save them anyway, because they once believed. That is preposterous. Even if it is only rewards they are losing, why would God let them lose rewards? So what you are saying is that God is able to keep you from losing your salvation, but God is not able to keep you from losing your rewards. Your argument that a person who is truly saved COULD never again live in perpetual sin does not make sense.
Tom you quoted me saying: You say you run to God which is the right thing to do. Who then is the one who is maintaining your salvation – you yourself or God?
It is God who is maintaining my salvation, but if I do not run to God, because I chose to love another, God will not interfere with my decision. Faith in God, worked by love for God is not something that happened only once. Continuous love for God, love for the Spirit of God, ensures continues faith and without continues faith no-one can please God. Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Tom you quoted me saying: You said,I recall what God said, and the Spirit of the word of God works that in my heart that I can not work, and compels me to do the works God want me to do.Verse please!
Psa 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
See the continues faith.
Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (Faith once) Heb 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (continuing faith)
Heb 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, (Still continuing faith)
Act 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
1Th 3:5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. (Sent to know your faith?)
1Ti 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 1Ti 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (Depart from the faith?)
1Ti 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (Erred from the faith?) 1Ti 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
2Ti 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (kept the faith?)
Tom you said: I commend you for you holy living but beware of this.Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Co 10:12)
I can assure you that I know that God has every right to throw me in hell, and I am not trying to be modest, only by His grace will I be saved. (only by His grace am I already saved, should I continue till the end) God is the One with the foreknowledge, not me.
Knowledge of if we are saved, don’t secure our eternal life. Truth, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of truth in our conduct, received by faith, worked by love for the Truth, ensures our eternal life.
I tried to put everything in proper collums, but the moment I paste it, it seems my pc has a mind of its own.
I am not going to read or respond to any of your comments again because you are ignoriong my civil request to space them in paragraphs. YOur comments are exceptionally difficult to read.
Your very first statement debunks your entire comment.
First of all Romans 8:9 does NOT say that if we do not walk in the spirit, we do not belong to Him. It distinctively says that if you do not have the Spirit of God in you, you not belong to Him. Paul is merely drawing a distinction between believers and unbelievers and therefore is not referring to believers who can or can not lose their salvation. You even conceded that because we are also flesh that we often do not walk in the truth. I agree. The church at Corinth attests to this very clearly. And indeed, you admitted what I wanted you to admit and deliberately drew you into such an admittance in my previous post. And that is that a saint can always ask for forgiveness for his sins to and restore his relationship with God. That’s a far cry from losing your salvation. You admitted that King David asked for forgiveness but you said nothing about his son, Solomon. Is he in hell?
If we are prone to straying from the truth, how far must we stray from it before we lose our salvation?
The apostle Peter often did not walk in the spirit of truth. Dit he not have the spirit of truth in Him and did he lose his salvation?
I have dealt with most of the verses you mention in your post in my series on “Eternal Security.” I am not going to deal with them here again. Read my posts, if you will.
When making paragraphs, press the enter key twice and copy and paste it then.
Tom, you said:First of all Romans 8:9 does NOT say that if we do not walk in the spirit, we do not belong to Him. It distinctively says that if you do not have the Spirit of God in you, you not belong to Him.
If you do not walk in the Spirit of God, you do not have the Spirit of God. What else does it mean to have the Spirit of God. It means to live in the very same Spirit. The Spirit of God is not something that sits hidden in one of the cupboards of your heart. You live in the Spirit of God as a way of living, and should you default, as we all do, we can repent and be forgiven. Should we continuously stray from a life in the Spirit of God, due to love for something else, we no longer walk in the Spirit as evident by our way of life. God knows what the true condition of our faith is. Even we can know it. Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
I asked you a question which you did not answer. Did the apostle Peter always walk in the Spirit of Truth?
The fact that one can repent and be forgiven is proof that a truly saved saint can never lose his salvation.
It is not only God who knows what the true condition of your faith is. You too must know it and if you don’t you ought to do the following.
Tom, yes the apostle Peter always walked in the Spirit. What you don’t seem to understand is: A person walking in the Spirit do so as a way of life. Even if you momentarily falter, it doesn’t mean you no longer have the Spirit of God. The truth of the matter is you have not turned your back on God, your love for God have not diminished, your flesh got the upper hand. Should you however continue on this road of sin, because you came to love this sin, the Spirit of God will reprimand you, and should you persist in sin, then He will withdraw from you, and you will be lost forever.
You said:It is not only God who knows what the true condition of your faith is. You too must know it and if you don’t you ought to do the following. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Co 13:5)
I totally agree. I did say we can know. Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Heb. 6:4-6) (Heb 12:14-17)
The facts are that a truly saved person will never regret his salvation and turn his back on God (2 Corinthians 7:10). Are you planning to turn your back on God and lose your salvation? No, of course not because it is always the ohter guy who does something so horrendous as that and never you. It reminds me of the Pharisee who prayed, “I thank thee, that I am not as other men are.” You are never like other men.” It is always the other guy who leads an habitual sinful life and never you.
What about Solomon? You haven’t answered my question on him yet.
If you believe that the Spirit bears witness to your salvation, why do you doubt his ability to see you through to glory? Or is it you on whom the onus rests to see yourself through to glory?
I can assure you that the Spirit of God will never withdraw from you and be lost forever. How do I know? Jesus promised, ” I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
To believe that you can lose your salvation is unbelief and unbelief is a sin which you need to confess to the Lord.
Tom, so I marry my wife. I love her and she loves me. Somehow after a few years, she come to love another. Will I force her to love me? Never. Why do you think that God will force me or you? Faith in God is not faith that you will not lose your salvation. Faith in God is derived from love for who He is.
I have not made a careful study of Solomon, but as far as I can recall he will open his eyes in hell. I did not see that he repented after his wives drew him away from God.
I have answered you on numerous occasions that only if I love God till the end I will be saved. Not by works, that I might boast, but by love/faith and from that the gift of grace that do the work in me. God already knows if I am saved, for He knows my end.
There is nothing God’s Spirit can not do, but most certainly He will definitely not force me to do anything against my own free will.
The onus lies with me to love God, and keep on loving God or not.
To believe that a saint can lose his salvation is biblical. Heb. 6:4-6 and Heb 12:14-17 sais it directly and there are many, many, other scriptures that sais it indirectly.
Ah, so now you are comparing Almighty God to sinful man to prove your non-biblical doctrine. God will never divorce any of his saints because He fell in love with another. That’s preposterous. It is heinously inappropriate of you to even contemplate something like that.
Solomon is in heaven. I can guarantee that.
How do you know that you are going to love God to the end? To love God means to obey and trust Him and his doctrines. The doctrine that a saint can lose his salvation is not of God and therefore you cannot say that you love Him. You are not loving Him but distrusting Him.
Of course God will never force you to do anything against your will. But 2 Corinthians 7:10 is not talking about His will but the saint’s will. It says the saint WILL never regret his salvation and turn his back on God.
Hebrews 6:4-6 and 12:14-17 do NOT teach that a saint can lose his salvation. On the contrary Hebrews 6:4-6 teaches that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a saint to lose his salvation. Verse 6 says “If (NOT WHEN) shall fall away.” It sketches an hypothetical case that IF it were possible for a saint to lose his salvation, it would mean that Jesus would have had to be crucified again and THAT is IMPOSSIBLE. So, what he is saying is that just as impossible as it is for Jesus Christ to be crucified again, so impossible it is for a saint to lose his salvation again.
Was Esau saved and then he lost his salvation?
There are no Scriptures that say directly of indirectly that a saint can lose his salvation. In fact Jesus said directly that a saint CANNOT lose his salvation.
If you say or believe that a saint can wrench open God’s hands and walk away never to return again, you are in effect saying that you are greater than God and that is idolatry. You are making yourself God.
You still haven’t read my series on Eternal Security. There I deal with most of the verses you mention. So please, read it. if you will. I am not going to waste my time with you . If you deliberately and rebelliously refuse to believe Jesus, then I cannot debate you any longer.
Tom, You are twisting everything I say, willingly or subconsciously.
God will never divorce any of his saints because He fell in love with another.
Did I say the husband fell in love with another? No. I said the wife fell in love with another. Is it unbiblical to compare marriage to the relationship between Christ an His church?
Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
You are also twisting the word of God by your hipothesises.
You wrote:How do you know that you are going to love God to the end? To love God means to obey and trust Him and his doctrines.
Tom you said:If you say or believe that a saint can wrench open God’s hands and walk away never to return again, you are in effect saying that you are greater than God and that is idolatry. You are making yourself God.
No, I am saying that I will always have a free will, and God in His omnipotence decided that, not me. God did not forsake Israel, but Israel forsook Him. They had the free will to do so.Isa 50:1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye SOLD YOURSELVES, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. (emphasis added)
I have read your series on eternal security, I have studied your series forwards and backwards, to ensure that I am not may-be somehow misguided in my way of thinking on this subject.
Is it always the woman who falls in love with another man and never the husband who falls in love with another woman? Shame on you.
Let’s look at the marriage as a metaphor of God’s relationship with his people.
Here God says He had given a bill of divorce. And yet in verse 14 God says “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you.”
If God’s relationship with his saints is likened to a martial relationship between a man and a woman, and indeed it is as you so rightly pointed out, and if it’s always the wife (the believer) and never the husband (Jesus Christ) who orchestrates the divorce, then it proves without a shadow of doubt that the saint can never lose his salvation because you have conceded that the husband (Jesus Christ) will never leave his wife (the believer).
The question is not whether you have a free-will. That’s a given fact. The question is will you ever want to exercise your free-will and decide of your own volition to turn your back on God never to return again?
Tom, May be enough is said. Thanks for your time. At least people can read our conversation and make up their own minds. If God wills we will converse again.
As you wish.
Matt 11 v 25 At that time יהושע responding, said, “I thank You, Father, Master of the heavens and earth, because You have hidden these matters from clever and learned ones and have revealed them to babes.c Footnote: c Luk_10:21.
Miskien bedoel hy maar net dat hy sy kinderlewe lank geleer was in die NG kerk se fondamentele riglyne. Maar toe hy uiteindelik die Bybel bestudeer, toe is dit heel teenstrydig met wat hy as kind geleer was deur kerklike dogma en verdraaiings. Daar is tog hoop vir hom want baie mense lees die Bybel en verstaan dit en is wedergebore. Wat hy nou deurgaan is niks nuuts nie, this too shall pass. Dit is net n trial, hoop hy kom deur dit, klomp ware Christene staan en cheer vir hom (verlore skapie) om weer die pad te kry. :clap: hou uit en aan tot die einde toe Jaco.
Volgens Pilgrims Progress is Jaco nou in ‘Doubting castle” daar waar die reus jou met n plank slaan en jou toesluit in n donker kasteel. Maar kort voor lank onthou jy van die sleutel wat jy in jou sak dra. Jaco kan kies of hy op die spul dooie geraamtes gaan bly le, en of hy gaan ontsnap. Ek hoop hy oorkom dit en bly glo.