Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Leaving the Faith – Really?

Question MarkWhat’s up with so many people ‘leaving the faith’? Why are they doing it?

First, we need to define two terms:

What does it mean to ‘leave’ something or someone?

What does it mean to leave ‘the faith?’

I understand walking away from a weak belief in something, but ‘leaving the faith?’ That’s hard to fathom for several reasons.

 

Leaving

Primary definitions for the word ‘leave’ include: ‘go away from; to go out of or away from, as a place; to depart from permanently; quit.’

In each of these primary definitions we see the idea of leaving a place where we had been. If someone told you that they had ‘left’ Philadelphia this morning, you would understand them to mean that they had been in Philadelphia for some period of time before leaving the city to travel to another place. By definition, a person who ‘leaves’ something or somewhere has to have physically had something or been present somewhere before they would be able ‘leave’ that something or somewhere.

What people are claiming to be leaving in our context is both a something and a Someone. By definition they would be claiming to leave something they had been present in for some time and Someone they had known personally.

The Faith

Primary definitions for ‘the faith’ include: ‘complete trust or confidence in someone or something; belief in God or in a set of religious doctrines.”

The ‘faith’ that many people are claiming to ‘leave’ is known as the ‘Christian faith.’ That’s the complete trust or confidence in Jesus Christ and the claims He has made about Himself.

People who follow the ‘Christian faith’ are known as ‘disciples’ or ‘followers’ of Jesus Christ. Claiming to have been a member of the Christian ‘faith’ would imply they had joined according to membership guidelines determined by the Founder.

First, let’s learn something about the Founder of the Christian ‘faith.’

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-3, 14

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:13-20

Based on who the Founder is, let’s hear what He said about people becoming His followers:

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

The Founder of the Christian ‘faith’ personally called more than a dozen men to become leaders of ‘the faith’ and to teach people how to follow the Founder and what guidelines would be necessary to following Him. Here are a few of the guidelines for becoming a ‘follower’ of Jesus Christ.

1. Agreeing with God about who we are without Christ.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Ephesians 2:1-3

2. Understanding that our spiritual salvation is totally dependent on God’s love, grace, mercy and kindness.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9

3. Repenting before God judges the world.

Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:29-31

4. Trusting in Christ alone knowing your life depends on it.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’ Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” Acts 16:25-34

Being a ‘follower’ of Jesus Christ brings about a radical change in the life of a human being.

 “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:40-47

Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” Acts 26:19-20

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24

Really?

Given all that the New Testament teaches about what it means to be a true ‘follower’ of Jesus Christ, I need to ask a question: REALLY?  True followers of Jesus Christ are ‘leaving the faith?’ People who have bowed their knee to the Lord Jesus Christ in true humility and repentance are ‘leaving the faith?’ People who have known the depth of God’s love and mercy for their soul and had full confidence in the truth of God’s Word are ‘leaving the faith?’ People who have seen the life-changing power of the Gospel in their own lives are ‘leaving the faith? People who have been involved in sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others and have seen the Holy Spirit change lives through the power of the Gospel of Christ are ‘leaving the faith?’ Really?

A Personal Story

I was once accused of ‘leaving the faith.’ I went forward during a church service at the age of ten and said I wanted to ‘join the church.’ That meant attending several classes, praying a prayer and being baptized. I did those things and become a young member of our church. I was allowed to attend ‘church meetings’ at the age of 12. That’s where I started learning about the underbelly of the church and I didn’t like what I saw.

Something else I did at the age of 12 was begin studying yoga and martial arts. In addition to learning about stretching and self defense, I also learned about world views other than Christianity. I went on to study Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. I especially liked Buddhism and Taoism because they were related to my martial arts training. I also loved to read and spent a lot of time at the library. I came upon the writings of David Hume and Bertrand Russell and read everything by them that I could find. I identified with what they wrote about religion.

Interestingly, at the same time I was finding great agreement with ancient Eastern mysticism and with agnosticism and atheism, I was still very involved at my church. I often won contests about Bible knowledge, sang in the choir and was a leader in the youth group. You might imagine what people thought and some said when I became an atheist in my late teens. Some accused me of ‘leaving the faith.’

Question: was I ever ‘in’ the faith so that I could ‘leave’ the faith? I know I wasn’t because of what I learned it meant to be a Christ follower. (See above) I became a Christian after investigating the claims of the Bible (see here for current study) and determining that the evidence for the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ outweighed the arguments against it – arguments that I had strongly presented as an atheist radio talk show host. I learned what it means to have a ‘personal relationship’ with God after I repented of my sins and asked His forgiveness and His Holy Spirit cleansed me from all unrighteousness. Everything changed on the day I was ‘saved’ and ‘sealed’ for God’s service.

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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Conclusion

I seriously question how many of the people claiming to ‘leave the faith’ today were actually ‘in the faith.’ Most of the ‘former Christians’ I’ve talked to and those whose stories I’ve read, talk about Christianity in an ‘experiential’ way. I’ve heard stories about how they began attending churches or youth groups or campus groups because of friendships with people in those groups or because they were attracted to someone in a group. When relationships changed or when they were challenged about what they believed, they ‘left.’ Even more young people ‘leaving’ the faith grew up in churches and, like me,  stop attending church during or after high school. Many, like me, were never really ‘in’ the faith, so their leaving the church doesn’t seem to apply to the meaning atheists and other non-Christians are giving to people leaving churches. Leaving a church or youth group is NOT the same thing as ‘leaving the faith.’

So, what do we do about this? I suggest we do everything we can to help people who claim to have ‘left’ the faith. Love them and offer to discuss their reasons for leaving with ‘truth and reason’ (Acts 26:25) and “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

We also need to do a better job of preparing children and teens in our churches to face the challenges from unbelievers they will meet during their lifetime. If a child trained in a martial arts class for 18 years, I would expect them to have a Black Belt and be able to defend themselves and others against personal attack. If they couldn’t, I would seriously question the teaching abilities of the instructors in that class. If a child trained in a church for 18 years, I would expect them to be a strong follower of Jesus Christ and be able to defend themselves and others against spiritual attack. If they couldn’t, I would seriously question the teaching abilities of the instructors in that church. Does that sound reasonable?

[Added 9/2/17 — “Belief in” and “faith” (trust) leading to eternal life depend on the decision of the gift giver to give the gift. If the gift giver does not give the gift, the gift cannot be received. That’s why it’s so important to understand what God says about how someone receives His gift. If someone says God gave them the gift of “eternal life” but they later disbelieve in His existence, could they have received an “eternal” gift? I don’t think they could or did because God is eternal and omniscient and wouldn’t give them His gift of “eternal” life knowing they would stop believing. Eternal life includes eternal belief. That’s why I question whether people who say they were true Christians but later said God doesn’t exist were ever true Christians.]

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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272 thoughts on “Leaving the Faith – Really?

  1. Sorry, I’m still not understanding how it makes your point. Correct me if I wrong, It appears you were asking questions more then making a point? Questions because you are having difficulty accepting the fact someone could be a devoted Christian and the leave the faith?
    Do you think they are lying?

    • Hi, Ax. I don’t think they are lying about their experience. I believe they believe they were Christians within their understanding of Christianity. There is the problem. They believed they were Christians based on their understanding of Christianity and then had a “crisis of faith” and left it. Why did they leave their belief in the supernatural God? Lots of different reasons, so I like to hear people’s stories. What I hear a lot is a misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian, a misunderstanding of the Bible, incorrect expectations of what they thought Christianity would be that didn’t materialize. Most of the excuses I hear are poor excuses, but I don’t think they are lying.

      People can be “devoted” to that which is true and they can be devoted to that which is not true. I was a devoted atheist until I learned atheism was not true and theism was true. Devotion is not the test of truth. If it was, then every belief would be true since many people are devoted to it. I think people can believe they were devoted Christians and stop believing. I think people can believe they were devoted atheists and stop believing God does not exist. I don’t think they were lying.

    • Let me recap…
      They believed they were Christians and now the believe they were wrong and now believe they are not Christian anymore.
      So you believe they are wrong.

      Are you saying that someone could be wrong about what they believe?

    • I’m saying that people can believe things that are wrong. It happens every day all around the world. That goes to the importance of having evidence for what is true. God exists or He doesn’t. Jesus rose from the dead or He didn’t. Coming to a knowledge of the truth is a process of searching through the evidence. What I often see and hear from people who say they left Christianity is that their knowledge about Christianity was not correct. What they thought was Christianity was not what was taught in the Bible. That includes clergy quoted in the Clergy Project. No wonder they had problems with their Christianity “not working” for them.

    • If people can believe things that are wrong,
      could you be wrong about your belief in Christianity?

    • If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then my “faith” is empty and useless. If the resurrection of Christ is not true, then my belief about Christianity would be wrong. Therefore, we return to the definition of faith – having confidence in evidence.

      In the context of my article about “Leaving the Faith – Really?”, most people’s stories I’ve read and most people’s testimonies I’ve heard where they claim to have been Christians and left because they no longer believe in the supernatural “rarely” have to do with the evidence of Christ’s resurrection. So many of the reasons people give for “leaving” Christianity are about unanswered prayer, hypocrisy among Christians in their church, bad things happening in their lives, deaths of people they loved, etc.

      Here are a several quotes from the Clergy Project from people who said they were Christian ministers. They are similar to the reasons I’ve heard for many years. You can read the contexts here – http://clergyproject.org/stories/

      “But the hypocrisy, dishonesty, naiveté, and general lack of compassion of many missionaries caused me to begin doubting the point of missionary work. After three years of work overseas, I decided to return stateside and I knew I wouldn’t be continuing in the ministry.”

      “But when you live this kind of life for a few years, you start noticing that more often than not, these promises fail to materialize. You begin collecting answered prayers, because they are so rare. You notice that bad things happen to you as frequently as to your non-believing friends. You make bad decisions thinking that God told you to make them, only to realize that you must have heard him wrong. You cannot turn a blind eye anymore to prophecies that failed to become fulfilled, to miraculous healings that were promised but never happened, to people for whom you prayed so hard but were never “saved”, and dozens of other situations where the Bible promises you something but you never get it. What do you do then? You start building excuses, the fine print of your Pentecostal personal theology.”

      “In time I got married to a non-Catholic and had two children. I began practicing the Church’s method of birth control (rhythm) and got pregnant immediately. I tried again and got pregnant just as quickly. I was told that I couldn’t pick and choose which rules of the Church I wanted to follow. I decided that no god would ever expect a woman to leave herself open to having a baby every time she had sex. The Catholic Church and I eventually parted ways. Since my husband wasn’t Catholic he didn’t mind.”

      “Finally I graduated from seminary and served the church in its publishing house working with educational material for churches and then with church missions. During this period I had several ethical and moral crises. The moral and Christian / biblical ethics were very confusing and contradictory to me. All this mixed with a fanatical Calvinism left me extremely confused. Finally, I realized I could not continue in the church as a pastor and decided that I would live my life outside the church until I had found the answers I was seeking. It was not that difficult, except for the fact that a degree in theology means nothing for jobs.”

      “I wish I had seen the whole pitiful truth all at once a long time ago. It would have saved me from a lot of bad decisions. But the process was incremental, epiphanies gathering, gathering, until their weight was undeniable. It was the accumulation of immoral behaviors by “the elect,” from old-fashioned Southern racism to the callous dealings with loved ones who “fell into sin.” It was the accumulation of scriptural discrepancies and horrors, the mismatched accounts and genealogies, the brazen endorsements of genocide, human sacrifice, and slavery. It was the accumulation of prayers that never got answered, of times in need when Heaven’s best and only help was indistinguishable from the work of family, friends, and neighbors. It was an accumulation of knowledge of “the world” (a negative term in the UPC) through my education, exposure to history, to philosophy, to the power and limitations of language, and to beautiful, genuine nonbelievers who behaved more “heavenly” than any zealot.”

    • That’s very interesting. However that didn’t really answer my question. I’ll rephrase it slightly.
      Is it possible you be wrong about your belief in Christianity?

    • I, like you and other human beings, can be wrong about beliefs. We are fallible. That’s why investigating truth claims methodically is so important. Is it possible you can be wrong about your belief about Christianity?

    • On a scale from 0 to 100, 0 being no confidence and 100 being absolutely confident, where would you fall on that scale in your belief?

    • Hi, Ax. I’m glad you asked. Your question comes straight out of the Street Epistemology tactical playbook and is something which Christians should beware.

      “Ask your interlocutor how confident they are that their claim or belief is true. If possible, have them put a number on it. If they are not willing or able to quantify it, accept whatever they give you and note that as their “initial confidence level”. For example, “How confident are you that this God is real on a scale of 0 to 100?”

      Note: The confidence scale is just a way of judging for yourself how much effect your efforts are having. It is optional and not an integral part of SE. Don’t persist, as doing so may annoy your interlocutor and be counterproductive.”

      https://streetepistemology.com/publications/street_epistemology_the_basics

      The idea of “faith” or “belief” in something is not based on a mathematical formula. That’s not how people usually discuss issues of the mind and heart. I am fully persuaded by the evidence for the existence of God. I believe.

    • Ok, so how confident are you?

    • I am confident. “Confident” means “full of conviction, having strong belief or full assurance.” Based on the definition, I don’t see how a qualifier would work with it. Can you be “more confident,” “less confident,” “sort of confident”? I am confident.

    • Ok, I can go with that. Confident enough to be a voice on a Christian website. I don’t know your exact role, but it’s not necessary.

      Has there ever been a time in your life when you were confident in something only to discover you were mistaken?

    • Yes. When I was an atheist. How about you?

    • All the time.

      How could you determine if you were wrong about your Christian belief?

    • Hi, Ax. If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then I would be wrong about Christianity. If Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, then atheism is wrong. How could you determine if you are wrong about your atheism belief? I ask because the answer has eternal ramifications. thanks

    • How could you determine if Jesus rose from the dead or not?

    • Research the available evidence and conclude based on findings from that research. That’s what I did as an atheist. Have you researched the evidence? If so, what did you conclude?

    • Hypothetically, and I’m not saying this is the case, if someone came up to you tomorrow and showed you irrefutable evidence that everything you used to conclude Jesus was real was in error, would you still believe?

    • Hi, Ax. You wrote –

      “Hypothetically, and I’m not saying this is the case, if someone came up to you tomorrow and showed you irrefutable evidence that everything you used to conclude Jesus was real was in error, would you still believe?”

      Something that is irrefutable is something “not capable of being refuted, not able to be proved wrong.” If that kind of evidence existed about the reality of Jesus Christ, I would not continue believing in something that wasn’t real.

      I’m assuming you would agree and that irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ is real would lead you to believe in Him and no longer be an atheist.

    • If that were the case, yes.

  2. In response to your comment “I seriously question how many of the people claiming to ‘leave the faith’ today were actually ‘in the faith.'”

    http://clergyproject.org/

    • Hi, Ax. I’m familiar with the clergy project and believe it supports my point. Thanks

    • First, what is your definition of faith so I can work within it?

    • Hi, Ax. Working with “my” definition is not necessary. Look at the definition of “faith” in English, Greek and Hebrew and we’ll work with those. Thanks!

    • Would you agree that the evidence for the unseen from the Bible is the same as belief without evidence?

    • No, I don’t agree. “Evidence” for the unseen from the Bible was “seen” by many of the people in the Bible. Hebrews 11:1 reads – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Several things we see here: “substance” and “evidence.” The Greek word translated “substance” is ὑπόστασις. It means “assurance, confidence, guarantee, reality.” The Greek word translated “evidence” is ἔλεγχος. It means “proof, persuasion, evidence.” Hebrews 11:2 reads – “For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.” The Greek word translated “testimony” is μαρτυρέω. It is a verb that means “give evidence, bear witness, give a good report.” The following verses list specific elders who encountered the invisible God in a variety of situations.

      Another point about Hebrews 11 is to note that it is toward the end of a long letter. That means there is a context that comes prior to chapter 11 and knowing the context would help greatly in understanding chapter 11. So, we go back to the beginning of the letter and read in its context. The first verses of Hebrews read – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” The letter of Hebrews begins with a context of God speaking to His people by the prophets and by His Son, Jesus Christ. That’s Hebrews 1:1-2, which is a long way from Hebrews 11:1-2 that we looked at in the previous paragraph. There is a LOT of evidence between that should be examined and understood to come to a correct interpretation of how the “unseen” has “seen” evidence.

      That’s why I don’t agree with you “that the evidence for the unseen from the Bible is the same as belief without evidence.” God has given us a wealth of evidence, but we need to “see” it to believe it.

    • Ok, since you don’t agree with my definition, let’s go back to my original question so I have something to work with. I’m trying to understand, so I need to work within your frame of mine. What is your definition of faith?

    • As I mentioned earlier, the definitions for “faith” found in English, Greek and Hebrew dictionaries are helpful in understanding how people today and in Bible times understood “faith.”

      English:

      Oxford Dictionary – “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”

      Cambridge Dictionary – “a high degree of trust or confidence in something or someone.”

      Dictionary.com – “confidence or trust in a person or thing.”

      Koine Greek:

      πίστις – “faith, belief, trust, confidence, guarantee”

      πιστεύω – “believe, have faith in, trust in”

      πείθω (root word) – “confident, assured, convinced, persuaded by what is trustworthy”

      Hebrew:

      Verb form (believe) אָמַן – “to confirm, support”

      Noun, adverb form (faith) אֱמֶת – “truth”

      Noun (faith) אֲמָנָה – “support, fixed provision”

      I don’t think it’s helpful to, as you wrote, “work within your frame of mind.” The term “frame of mind” comes from the idea of a “mood, mental attitude or outlook.” Working within a person’s “frame of mind” is not a good place to begin in determining whether a belief is true or not. Moods, mental attitudes and outlooks can change from day to day, even hour to hour. That is a slippery place to determine what is true and what is false. Wouldn’t it be better to look at facts, evidence, and determine truth from that perspective?

    • Since you won’t give me your definition of faith, can I propose this one taken from one of your sources?

      “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”

    • Why do you say that I “won’t give” you my definition of faith? I’ve written hundreds of articles about faith where I share my views. In fact, the statement of purpose under my website title is “Building Confidence Through Evidence.” In the article, “Short Post About Defining Faith” (https://faithandselfdefense.com/2015/01/13/short-post-about-defining-faith/), I wrote that the “Christian faith is ‘confidence based on evidence.” That’s based on the meaning of the Greek words in Hebrews 11:1.

      Faith is confidence based on evidence. That is my preferred definition based on the Greek language. The English definition leaves out trusting someone or something based on evidence.

    • Ok, thank you for that.
      So to you is faith is confidence based on evidence.

      Is there anything that couldn’t be taken on faith?

    • Based on my definition, the question would be – “Is there anything that couldn’t be taken ‘on confidence based on evidence?'” Am I correct that what you mean by “taken” is believed?

    • Is there anything I could not believe in based on faith?

    • If you have faith in something, you believe it. If you believe in something, you have faith in it. Would you rephrase your question?

    • Name one thing that I couldn’t use faith to believe it.

    • Hi, Ax. You wrote –

      “Name one thing that I couldn’t use faith to believe it.”

      If I am understanding your question correctly, using English definitions of the words, you are asking me to name one thing that I couldn’t use “strong belief or trust” “to have confidence in the truth.” Is that correct or do you mean something else?

    • Not going to answer my question?

    • Hi, Ax. I looked back through our conversation and didn’t see a question I had not answered. Since we have a couple of conversation strings, please ask again so I’m addressing the one you have in mind. Thanks.

    • “Christian faith is ‘confidence based on evidence.”

      Hebrews 1:11
      Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

      Do you think these two statements are the same?

    • Yes, based on the Greek – εστιν δε πιστις ελπιζομενων υποστασις πραγματων ελεγχος ου βλεπομενων

      The word for “faith” is πιστις. In secular antiquity it referred to a guarantee, a warranty, from someone else.

      The word for “substance” is υποστασις. Ancient Greeks used the word for something in which they had “confidence, assurance, reality.”

      The word for “evidence” is ελεγχοs. Greeks used the word for “proof, tested, persuasion, evidence.”

      The writer of Hebrews used a strong declaration of the evidentiary properties of the truth claims of Christianity. We can trust them. We can be confident in them based on the evidence.

    • So in the context of Hebrews 1:11, faith…, the evidence…, faith is not used as the actual evidence? To me it’s very clear “the evidence” means faith is the evidence. That contrasts yours were you say faith is based on evidence.
      I still don’t understand how you think these two are the same?
      Can you explain in a different way?

    • Correct. Believing something to be true does not make something true. Something is true because it is true. Believing it is true is based on that something being true.

      Hebrews 11:1 follows hundreds of words that make up the majority of the letter. The evidence about the reality of Christ fills the first ten chapters of Hebrews. When the writer reached the point in his letter that we know as 11:1, he wrote about the confidence we can have in the evidence for the reality of Christ.

      The verses following Hebrews 11:1 remind us of the many people who had personal encounters with God and trusted what He told them. Their trust and confidence in what God promised was supportive of the truth claim of 11:1. None of the people mentioned believed something to be true just because they believed it to be true. They believed it to be true because God had spoken to them and made specific promises. They had evidence for their belief.

      Does that help?

    • No, I’m still confused. You wrote…

      When the writer reached the point in his letter that we know as 11:1, he wrote about the confidence we can have in the evidence for the reality of Christ.

      But according to Hebrews 1:11, faith is the evidence.
      How can faith be evidence for something?

    • Hi, Ax. Let’s look at this in another way.

      The concept of believing what is true without seeing it is presented well in John 20. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Christ, said he would not believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead until he saw him unless he saw in His hands the print of the nails, had placed his finger into the print of the nails, and placed his hand into Jesus’ side. Jesus appeared to Thomas about a week later and invited him to do just that. When Thomas saw Jesus alive in the flesh he said, “My Lord and my God!” The way Jesus responded to Thomas is helpful in understanding how faith works – “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus was looking forward to the millions of people who would believe the apostles’ preaching and writing for centuries to come.

      We believe in something that we cannot see with our eyes because it was a past event. How do you trust the truth of past events? You trust the information shared from trustworthy people who lived in the past. You look at all the evidence from the past and determine whether you will trust it or not.

      The Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament begins with these words – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” We look to the words of the prophets in the Old Testament and the words of Jesus Christ and His apostles in the New Testament to learn what God has said. Our faith/trust/confidence is in what trustworthy people have said about their encounters with God. Our faith is not in faith but in evidence that leads to faith.

      Does that help?

    • You said:
      “The concept of believing what is true without seeing it is presented well in John 20.”

      Do you think believing in things without seeing them is a good thing?

    • Hi, Ax. How do you believe anything that happened in the past, especially things you were not present to see when they happened? You rely on trustworthy sources. Correct?

      Jesus died and rose from the dead almost 2,000 years ago. That’s an event from history. Jesus was saying to Thomas that he believed in Christ’s resurrection because he saw Him. Jesus said that those who have not seen and yet believe are blessed.

      How does that work? While many people saw Jesus after He rose from the dead and believed He was alive, more people did not see Jesus alive after He rose from the dead and yet believe He is alive. Those people relied on the testimony of trustworthy sources – people who saw the risen Jesus and told others and wrote about what they saw.

      Christians trust the early testimony of trustworthy sources – including Old Testament prophets and the words of Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament. We believe the events recorded in the Bible are true and that obedience to what God has told us to do will result in pleasing and glorifying Him. That is the purpose for which He created humans.

      You wrote – “Do you think believing in things without seeing them is a good thing?” I think it depends on what things you are believing. Are you believing in something that has sufficient evidence to believe that something to be true? If so, then believing something without seeing it can be a good thing. I believe in many past events because that faith/trust is based on reasonable evidence. Hope that helps.

    • Hi, Ax. How do you believe anything that happened in the past, especially things you were not present to see when they happened?

      Suppose you mopped your kitchen floor around 8:00 am, then went off to do something else around the house for a few hours and came back around 11:00 am. When you step into your kitchen, you see muddy little foot prints coming from the back to to one of your kids room.

      Do you believe on faith someone walked through your kitchen sometime in the past?

    • Hi, Ax. Investigating events from recent history and ancient history are similar in some ways, though the time to investigate will take longer with antiquity. I trust what the evidence reveals. That’s evidence-based faith. If the muddy little footprints are human and not animal, then they could belong to my children or friends of my children. I would need to follow the trail of footprints into my child’s bedroom to see what other evidence might be available to help me determine who had walked on the kitchen floor while I was gone. That’s a good example of an evidence-based investigation.

      What are you doing with the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

    • I don’t understand. What makes the scenario I described faith based evidence?

    • People can see evidence but not believe it or act on it. You could see the muddy footprints on the kitchen floor leading to your child’s bedroom but not believe it means anything or act on it to investigate further. You could even go into your child’s room and see your child sitting on the bed with muddy feet but not believe he/she walked on your kitchen floor. Believing something to be true based on evidence should be followed by action. If Jesus Christ predicted His own death at the hands of gentiles and Jews and His own resurrection from the dead and died at the hands of gentiles and Jews and rose from the dead, then belief in Christ should lead to action. Faith-based evidence is the process of believing something is true based on evidence and acting on that belief.

      Why is this important? Because of a statement the writer of Hebrews made a few sentences after 11:1 –

      “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

      The writer made this point in the middle of telling the stories of people who believed God and acted on their belief. God established the way He works with humans. God gives humans evidence of His existence and His claims on their lives and calls on them to believe Him. God is not hiding. He makes Himself known.

      Hope this helps!

    • “You could see the muddy footprints on the kitchen floor leading to your child’s bedroom but not believe it means anything or act on it to investigate further.”

      I wasn’t asking what you thought other people would think or do, I’m interested in your thought processes. That will help me understand your position.
      You called muddy footprints on the kitchen floor faith based evidence.
      I would call this empirical evidence to establish a fact that someone or something walked through the kitchen at some point in the past.
      Who or what is debatable. It’s possible to examine the footprints closer to narrow down who or what it was. If you have one or more children or pets, for example, we could pin point the culprit based off of a single print and a little more investigation. We could even narrow down the time the event occurred, plus or minus a slim margin of error. That’s pretty strong evidence. Would you agree?

      That’s why I’m confused.
      Would you have to take it on faith someone or something walked through your kitchen?
      Can you elaborate on what you mean by faith based evidence?

    • Empirical evidence is information acquired by observation or experimentation (Oxford dictionary – “Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”). Seeing muddy footprints is something you observe. It is both real-time and historical. Real-time is the mud you see on your kitchen floor that someone should clean up. Historical is that someone walked on your previously clean floor with muddy feet. Two things going on at the same time: real-time and history.

      You can believe or disbelieve this evidence. You believe there’s mud on your floor or you don’t believe it. The fact that mud is on your floor is reality, but you may not believe it for some reason. You believe someone walked on your clean floor with muddy feet or you don’t believe it. The fact that muddy foot-prints exist on your floor is reality, but you may not believe it for some reason. Your own thought process determines what you believe about the evidence and what you do with it.

      The same is true about the resurrection of Christ. It is both real-time and historical. Real-time is that Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven. Historical is that Jesus rose from the dead almost 2,000 years ago. You can believe or disbelieve the evidence for it. The fact that Jesus rose from the grave is reality, but you may not believe it for some reason. Your own thought process determines what you believe about the evidence and what you do with it.

      Faith-based evidence is that evidence that we believe to be true. Christians are not told to believe something that is not true or something that has no evidence to its truthfulness. Christians are told to believe what is true based on the evidence of its truthfulness. Hope that helps.

    • “Faith-based evidence is that evidence that we believe to be true.”

      Could you choose to believe it’s true those footprints are not on the floor?

    • Yes. I know that may sound strange even though a sighted person looking at the muddy footprints should both believe and acknowledge that what they were looking at were muddy footprints, many people look at evidence of the existence of God every day and still choose to believe He doesn’t exist.

    • “Yes. I know that may sound strange even though a sighted person looking at the muddy footprints should both believe and acknowledge that what they were looking at were muddy footprints,”

      Yes, very strange. Could you choose to believe gravity was not real and walk off the side of the Grand Canyon and not fall to you death?

    • If that was your choice, you would most certainly fall to your death unless there was something below that stopped your fall (e.g. tree branch, hidden cliff, etc).

      Could you choose to believe God was not real and live your life denying His existence and not be forever separated from Him after your death? The answer is also no. Many people choose to believe God is not real and live their lives denying His existence, but they will be forever separated from Him after their deaths. Now is the time to make a decision about your eternal future. If you would like to know more about that future, I would love to talk with you about it.

    • “If that was your choice, you would most certainly fall to your death unless there was something below that stopped your fall (e.g. tree branch, hidden cliff, etc).”

      That’s not what I asked. Again, I’m only concerned with what you think. Trying to second guess what you think somebody else thinks or what I think, doesn’t get me closer to understand what you think. Which is the whole crux of this discussion.

      Could you choose to believe gravity was not real and walk off the side of the Grand Canyon and not fall to your death?

    • Hi, Ax. You asked – “Could you choose to believe gravity was not real and walk off the side of the Grand Canyon and not fall to you death?”

      I answered – “If that was your choice, you would most certainly fall to your death unless there was something below that stopped your fall (e.g. tree branch, hidden cliff, etc).”

      How do you see that as a non-answer to your question? Someone who walks off the side of the Grand Canyon will most likely die unless something intervenes.

      As for your comment that what you want to know about what I think is the “whole crux of this discussion,” I don’t agree. A “discussion” is a conversation, an exchange of ideas. It’s not just what one party wants to know. What you propose seems to be more of an interrogation than discussion. I recently asked you a question that you have not answered yet – “What are you doing with the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” That question arises naturally from the article I wrote that you have been asking me about, so it seems germane to our discussion. I’m glad to answer your questions and would ask that you answer mine. If you are not comfortable answering my questions or prefer not to answer them, let me know.

      You wrote – “I’m only concerned with what you think.” I looked through our conversation and noted that I have told you what I think multiple times. What is it that I’m not telling you? Thanks!

    • I answered – “If that was your choice, you would most certainly fall to your death unless there was something below that stopped your fall (e.g. tree branch, hidden cliff, etc).”

      You still didn’t answer the question. I keep asking what you would think and you keep replying with “you” and not “I” Look at the question again.

      Could you choose to believe gravity was not real and walk off the side of the Grand Canyon and not fall to you death?

      Notice I asked “you” and you keep answering with “someone” or “you”. That doesn’t answer the question.

      Could you, not “me” or “someone”, choose to believe gravity was not real and walk off the side of the Grand Canyon and not fall to your, not “me” or “someone”, death?

    • Hi, Ax. I have answered your question, but will rephrase it to see if that helps.

      You asked – “Could you, not “me” or “someone”, choose to believe gravity was not real and walk off the side of the Grand Canyon and not fall to your, not “me” or “someone”, death?”

      My answer – “No.”

    • My answer – “No.”

      Thank you. The next question would be why? Why couldn’t you do it?

    • Hi, Ax. You wrote – “The next question would be why? Why couldn’t you do it?”

      Answer – because gravity is real.

    • “Answer – because gravity is real.”

      Did you choose to believe gravity is real?

    • I knew gravity was real before I knew what it was called. I experienced gravity as part of my life every day. One day I learned what it was called. I did not “choose” to believe in the reality of gravity, it was a reality that impacted my life and I chose to believe what was true about the reality I experienced.

    • “I did not “choose” to believe in the reality of gravity, it was a reality that impacted my life and I chose to believe what was true about the reality I experienced.”

      Thus based off of what you just said, would you agree belief is not a choice?

    • Hi, Ax. You wrote – “Thus based off of what you just said, would you agree belief is not a choice?”

      My answer would depend on the situation. A young child who does not know about the reality of gravity is still affected by it even though he/she did not “choose” to believe it. That same child who later learned about gravity could “choose” to suppress the truth of the reality of gravity and jump from heights that a parent had warned them was too high to jump from safely. They made a “choice” based on a belief that gravity would not impact them in the way a parent had warned. They made a choice that was an alternative to what their parent told them. Choices are made between or among alternative options.

      The same is true with the young child who does not know about the reality of God’s existence. They are still affected by God’s existence even though they did not “choose” to believe it. That same child who later learned about God could “choose” to suppress the truth of the reality of God’s existence and not worship and serve Him as God.

      Suppression of the truth of reality is a choice. It is an alternative option. Would you agree?

    • “My answer would depend on the situation. A young child who does not know about the reality of gravity is still affected by it even though he/she did not “choose” to believe it.”

      I didn’t ask about some child, I asked about you. Would you agree belief is not a choice?

    • Hi, Ax. Please read my response to you again. I said that my answer would depend on the situation, then gave you an example so you might understand my answer.

      Here’s another way I can answer your question – Yes and no, depending on the situation.

    • “Here’s another way I can answer your question – Yes and no, depending on the situation.”

      Can you give a example where you choose to believe something?

    • I was an investigative reporter for many years and choosing to believe things was an important part of the process.

    • “I was an investigative reporter for many years and choosing to believe things was an important part of the process.”

      Such as…?

    • Looking at hundreds of documents and talking with dozens of people during an investigation leads to many decisions about what’s true and what’s not true. It’s a process of using investigative techniques to determine which documents and witnesses can be trusted. The time comes to produce the investigative series based on the findings. The reporter and producer have to ‘believe” their findings.

    • I think I understand. There is some evidence that is so strong you have no choice but to believe something is true, such as gravity. Then there is some evidence that is not so strong that leds you to reasonably conclude something may be true?

    • I think we’re saying about the same thing. I have “no doubt” about the fact that people and things don’t float off the surface of the earth into space. Scientists call it “gravity” and explain it as “the force by which a planet or other body draws objects toward its center.” (NASA.gov)

      My investigations included evidence strong enough to take me to the point of being sure enough about findings and conclusions to publish.

    • Would you agree that there is at least two types of evidence and all of that evidence is what can be seen?

    • I agree that there are at least two types of evidence. Which two did you have in mind? That would help me answer the second part of your question.

    • “I agree that there are at least two types of evidence. Which two did you have in mind? That would help me answer the second part of your question.”

      The only one that really matters to me for important things in my life is empirical evidence. Others may be circumstantial, hearsay, anecdotal, but these are very weak forms of evidence.
      Is there evidence that cannot be seen?

    • Hi, Ax. It appears you have loaded your question in a way that you will accept only one answer. So, I’ll answer your question in a way that will meet your criteria.

      There is no empirical evidence which cannot be verified or disproved by observation or experiment.

    • “I’ll answer your question in a way that will meet your criteria.

      There is no empirical evidence which cannot be verified or disproved by observation or experiment.”

      I don’t want you to answer it to meet my criteria. I want to know what you think. That helps me understand your position. Sorry, your answer doesn’t really answer my question.

      Is there evidence that cannot be seen?

    • I think there may be hidden evidence for many things in our world and universe that can’t be seen yet, but may be seen in the future. Many of the things we know about life now was hidden until discovered. The evidence existed but could not be seen until someone uncovered it.

    • “I think there may be hidden evidence for many things in our world and universe that can’t be seen yet, but may be seen in the future. Many of the things we know about life now was hidden until discovered. The evidence existed but could not be seen until someone uncovered it.”

      Sure, I agree with you there, however I’m not talking about evidence that we might or might not discover some time in the future. That doesn’t help us today. I’m talking about evidence that we (mankind) have already discovered. Is any of the known evidence that cannot be seen?

    • I would think that most of the known evidence can be seen, especially the empirical evidence you said is the only one that really matters to you. Assuming you are referring to direct, material evidence?

    • “I would think that most of the known evidence can be seen,”

      Most?
      Is there evidence we can’t see?

      “especially the empirical evidence you said is the only one that really matters to you. Assuming you are referring to direct, material evidence?”

      For me to understand your position, I need to know how you view it.

    • Hi, Ax. I have answered your question multiple times in a variety of ways to help you understand how I view it. Are you asking again because you don’t understand what I’m saying or because I haven’t answered in a way that fits some agenda you may have? Not saying you have an agenda, but I find this discussion unusual in that none of my responses are helping you understand my viewpoint.

      I use many types of evidence during an investigation. Direct evidence is the most powerful because it usually does not require an inference. Eyewitness testimony is also strong evidence as is physical, forensic and documentary evidence. Character, anecdotal, and analogical evidence can be helpful during an investigation, but not as strong as direct evidence. Hearsay evidence, though not admissible, can be helpful when corroborated with stronger types of evidence.

      Because of my investigative background I am hesitant to say there is no evidence we cannot see. If we knew everything and could see everything, there would be no need for investigation. Hope that helps you understand my viewpoint.

    • “Are you asking again because you don’t understand what I’m saying or because I haven’t answered in a way that fits some agenda you may have?”

      I’m trying to understand. If I have an agenda, it’s to understand your position.

      You said “I would think that most of the known evidence can be seen,”

      That leads me to think that you believe most of the known evidence, but not all, can be seen, and the remaining known evidence, you cannot see and I was just trying to clarify.
      Am I correct?
      If so, can you give me an example of evidence you cannot see?

    • Glad to hear your agenda is just to understand my position. Some evidence that cannot be seen includes what a person is really thinking about a matter, what’s in their heart of hearts, what’s their true intent, what’s their real purpose. People sometimes say things that are not true. They give verbal and even written evidence, but what’s unseen is the truth behind what they are saying. A trained investigator can sense that and ask probing questions to get to the truth. A person who lies often presents a “tell” in their voice or mannerism that is evidence of something unseen. Probing questions can sometimes lead to the truth which then becomes “seen.”

    • “People sometimes say things that are not true. They give verbal and even written evidence, but what’s unseen is the truth behind what they are saying.”

      I’m not sure I’m following.
      If the truth is unseen and behind their misinformation, how do you even determine that what they are telling you is misinformation in the first place?

      Also, if people can sometime say things that are not true and sometime say things that are true, doesn’t that mean eyewitness accounts are unreliable and is not on the same level as direct evidence?

    • That’s where careful and systematic investigation works well. Eyewitness testimony is accepted as direct evidence, but can be challenged on cross examination during initial interviews, depositions, court cases, etc. Other types of direct evidence (e.g. other eyewitnesses, documents, forensic, digital) can be used to challenge direct evidence leading to possible refutation or clarification of testimony. Eyewitness testimony continues to be viewed as reliable until proven otherwise.

    • “Eyewitness testimony continues to be viewed as reliable until proven otherwise.”

      I don’t understand, if people can sometimes tell you things that are false and sometimes tell you things that are true, how is that not unreliable?

    • Good question. I don’t know where you live, but the U.S. legal system functions on “presumption of innocence” in criminal cases. With that presumption is the belief that people tell the truth – “the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.” A person is presumed to be telling the truth until someone proves they are telling a lie. That means the legal system, and society for that matter, takes people at their word until there is proof they are not being truthful. Thus, eyewitness testimony is received as direct evidence.

      Have you ever told someone about something you saw that they had not seen? What was their reaction? Was their tendency to believe you were telling the truth about what you saw as an eyewitness or was their tendency to believe you were not telling the truth? Would you prefer that people believed you told the truth? Most people do, so we live in a social system that believes people are telling the truth until they are proven to be lying.

      The process of determining whether someone is telling the truth or telling a lie becomes part of an investigation when there is reason to doubt. Thus, a jury of a person’s peers in a criminal case are called on to determine whether that person is telling the truth or not telling the truth “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

      Hope that helps.

    • “Good question. I don’t know”

      Suppose we are going to flip a coin, heads is true, tails is false, is this a reliable way to discover what true?

      “but in the U.S. legal system functions on “presumption of innocence” in criminal cases. With that presumption is the belief that people tell the truth”

      Does being presumed innocent tell us anything about whether a person is being truthful?
      Could a pathological liar be innocent of a crime?

    • Here is what I wrote – “Good question. I don’t know where you live, but the U.S. legal system functions on “presumption of innocence” in criminal cases.”

      Here is how you quoted me – “Good question. I don’t know”

      I thought you wanted to have an honest conversation. Misquoting someone to make it appear that their answer is “I don’t know” is not how one has an honest conversation. This is an example of evidence of intention.

    • Again I apologize for misrepresenting you. That wasn’t my intention. Thank you for correcting me, that helps me to better understand you.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, you introduced a new concept that I’m not familiar with and trying to understand. That concept is the presumption of innocence and being truthful are synonymous.
      Or because I’m a court of law, someone that is presumed innocent they are also being truthful?

      Does being presumed innocent tell us anything about whether a person is being truthful?

      Is it possible for someone to swear to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth” and lie?

    • Presumption of innocence is a foundation of the American criminal justice system. It holds that someone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. The state (prosecution) has to prove each essential element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The doctrine of presumption of innocence is a bedrock of our legal culture. It does not, however, tell us for certain whether a person is being truthful. The presumption of innocence and being truthful are not synonymous. A defendant in a criminal case is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, but they can be proven guilty in a court of law.

      Yes, it is possible for someone to swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and lie. Why do you ask?

    • “Yes, it is possible for someone to swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and lie. Why do you ask?”

      Then wouldn’t that suggest that eyewitness testimony is unreliable?

    • I don’t see how that would “suggest that eyewitness testimony is unreliable.” Should I believe or disbelieve your testimony as an eyewitness? Which do you believe is the default? If you see all eyewitness testimony as unreliable, then wouldn’t you be saying that no one, including yourself, can be trusted to give reliable testimony? If you believe no eyewitness testimony is reliable, then how do you function in relationship to other people? If your own eyewitness testimony is unreliable, then how can you believe your own eyes?

    • “I don’t see how that would “suggest that eyewitness testimony is unreliable.” Should I believe or disbelieve your testimony as an eyewitness? Which do you believe is the default? If you see all eyewitness testimony as unreliable, then wouldn’t you be saying that no one, including yourself, can be trusted to give reliable testimony? If you believe no eyewitness testimony is reliable, then how do you function in relationship to other people? If your own eyewitness testimony is unreliable, then how can you believe your own eyes?”

      How do we determine if an eyewitness is telling the truth?

    • Through the investigative process.

      Now, to my questions. I would like to know your thoughts.

    • “Through the investigative process.”

      Can you describe the investigative process? Can you give me an example?

    • I arrived at the scene of murder and began interviewing witnesses. They all told a similar story – they saw two men arguing in the parking lot of a liquor store, then saw one of the men walk to his car, pull a rifle from the back seat, point it at the other man and shoot him. The man who was shot fell in the parking lot. The man with the rifle got in his car and sped away. That’s where all the stories were similar.

      The testimony diverged a bit with questions about specifics: how long ago did this happen (e.g. 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, etc)? how long did the men argue before one of the men walked to his car and get the rifle? did the man with the rifle say anything to the other man before shooting him? how many times did he fire his rifle? did the man say anything after shooting? did the man who was shot say anything after he was shot? what did the shooter look like (e.g. height, weight, facial features)? what model car did he drive? 2-door? 4-door? model year? license plate number? any other distinguishing features of the man or car that would help police find him? have you ever seen the shooter before? do you know if he and the victim knew each other before the shooting? did you know the victim?

      I asked lots of other questions of witnesses, then talked with first police officers who had arrived on the scene, talked with detectives, etc. Arrest was made later that day and I asked more questions about the suspect.

      That’s one example.

    • “I asked lots of other questions of witnesses, then talked with first police officers who had arrived on the scene, talked with detectives, etc. Arrest was made later that day and I asked more questions about the suspect.”

      When discovering if someone is being truthful, is there anything else used to aid in this discovery?

    • Yes. Comparing testimony to other testimonies (looking for corroborating testimony), direct evidence, digital evidence, etc. If eyewitness testimony is tested against other evidence and confirmed, then testimony is usually accepted as truthful.

    • “Now, to my questions. I would like to know your thoughts.”

      How are my thoughts relative to understanding your position?

    • I thought we were having a conversation. I’m answering your questions, but you’re not answering mine – even when knowing those answers would help me answer you better. I think I have answered enough of your questions for you to have an excellent insight into how I think. Would you agree?

    • “I thought we were having a conversation. I’m answering your questions, but you’re not answering mine – even when knowing those answers would help me answer you better. I think I have answered enough of your questions for you to have an excellent insight into how I think. Would you agree?”

      I would be more than happy to answer your questions, however I did answer one or yours and your next answer was you trying to second guess me and reply with what you thought I was looking. It tainted your answer. Then I had to ask a couple follow up question to clear things up.
      Could we at least wait until I get an understanding of your position?

    • I’ll save my questions until you get an understanding of my position. Thanks

    • “The presumption of innocence and being truthful are not synonymous.”

      Thanks for that, I was confused.
      So if the presumption of innocence and being truthful are two separate issues and to be evaluated separately, then how did you determine that if someone is presumed innocent they are automatically presumed to be telling the truth?
      If as you say the burden of proof lies with the one making the claim, shouldn’t the default position be neutral and not presume they are telling the truth while simultaneously not presuming they are lying?

    • Presumption of innocence is a legal position that guides both law enforcement and the court system. That doesn’t mean a person has to accept that legal position in their relationship with others. You may believe everyone is lying to you and guilty of everything you think they did. That doesn’t mean they are lying or are guilty, but you can think that. It’s your personal prerogative. However, the enforcement of laws and determination of guilt or innocence is based on the basic principle of presumption of innocence.

      The legal concept of “the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies” means that the burden of proof is on the person who declares someone else is guilty of a crime. The burden of proof is not on the person charged with the crime. The person charged with a crime is presumed innocent, so the person making the declaration of guilt has to prove that guilt in a court of law.

      Does that help?

    • “The legal concept of “the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies””

      The onus is on the claimant?

      Do you believe all claims of an eyewitness are true until they are proven false?

    • You asked – “The onus is on the claimant?” My answer – Yes. That’s based on law.

      You asked – “Do you believe all claims of an eyewitness are true until they are proven false?” My answer – No. That’s based on the law as well. Eyewitnesses do not have the same legal position as a defendant.

    • “You asked – “Do you believe all claims of an eyewitness are true until they are proven false?” My answer – No. That’s based on the law as well. Eyewitnesses do not have the same legal position as a defendant.”

      Do you believe they are lying?

    • Not necessarily, but my investigative experience has taught me that there are people who are truthful and there are people who are not truthful. I make observations, ask questions, receive answers, check out the answers, ask more questions, get more answers, and finally reach a conclusion based on the evidence.

    • “Not necessarily, but my investigative experience has taught me that there are people who are truthful and there are people who are not truthful. I make observations, ask questions, receive answers, check out the answers, ask more questions, get more answers, and finally reach a conclusion based on the evidence.”

      So if you don’t think they are telling the truth and you don’t think they are lying, then were is your position on them?

    • I’m looking for the truth, so I don’t have a position about eyewitnesses at the beginning of an investigation. I ask questions, hear their answers and check out their answers to see whether they are telling me the truth.

    • “I’m looking for the truth, so I don’t have a position about eyewitnesses at the beginning of an investigation.”

      It sounds like you take a neutral position at first, neither concluding what they say as true or false. Am I correct?

    • “I’m looking for the truth, so I don’t have a position about eyewitnesses at the beginning of an investigation. I ask questions, hear their answers and check out their answers to see whether they are telling me the truth.”

      Throughout our discussion, it also sounds like people can be telling the truth, lying, telling the truth but facially incorrect.
      That would eliminate the 50/50 I proposed and were you were correct. Am I correct?

    • “I ask questions, hear their answers and check out their answers to see whether they are telling me the truth.”

      Upon hearing their answers, how would you determine if they were telling the truth?

    • I would check their answers against other evidence. For example, someone might say they witnessed a crime on a certain day and certain time. However, other people interviewed said the person was not at that location but was at another location. Checking available street and business cameras (digital evidence) confirmed that the person could not have been an eyewitness to the crime because they were several miles away at the time of the crime. I would confront the alleged eyewitness with the digital evidence and ask them why they lied.

      There are many ways investigators check witness statements. Digital evidence is one way.

    • It sounds like what you are saying is that you find direct evidence that corroborates with the eyewitness.
      Is it possible that direct evidence is all that is needed to convict someone, eliminating the need for eyewitness?

    • Eyewitness testimony is viewed legally as direct evidence.

    • “Eyewitness testimony is viewed legally as direct evidence.”

      Ok, now let’s move out of a courtroom.
      Now your talking to some random person that you just happened to strike up a conversation with. During the conversation, this anonymous person tells you he was abducted by aliens. Is his eyewitness testimony strong enough to believe he is telling the truth?

    • No. However, if he seemed like a “credible” individual I would follow up with many questions to learn more about his alleged experience. I used the term “credible” because the people I’ve met through the years that claimed alien abduction were not credible.

    • “No. However, if he seemed like a “credible” individual I would follow up with many questions to learn more about his alleged experience. I used the term “credible” because the people I’ve met through the years that claimed alien abduction were not credible.”

      Has there ever been a credible one?

    • I haven’t met one.

    • “I haven’t met one.”

      I think I’m getting a clearer picture.
      Ok, what if this person in this conversation told you he always carries $100.00 bill in case of an emergency, do you believe him?

    • The same person who said he saw an alien?

    • “The same person who said he saw an alien?”

      Yes. Or it could be a different person. Would it matter?

    • It might. Depends on how credible they were in answering my questions about seeing the aliens. Whether someone carried $100 in emergency cash is not something an investigative reporter would care about unless the story was about people carrying emergency cash. Otherwise, it’s small talk.

    • “It might. Depends on how credible they were in answering my questions about seeing the aliens. Whether someone carried $100 in emergency cash is not something an investigative reporter would care about unless the story was about people carrying emergency cash. Otherwise, it’s small talk.”

      Ok, correct me if I’m wrong, it sounds like you are saying that you would take eyewitness testimony as true if it were in a courtroom and take eyewitness testimony as neutral if outside a courtroom and some claims are more ordinary then others such as $100 in someone pocket?

    • There is no difference in how I would think of eyewitness testimony whether inside or outside the courtroom. Eyewitness testimony is either true or false. It doesn’t matter where the eyewitness talks about it.

      Some claims are ordinary and some are not ordinary or even extraordinary. For example, a man who says he has $100 in his pocket would be an ordinary claim for most people. However, a child dressed in tattered clothing begging for food on a street corner who claimed to have $100 in his or her pocket would not be an ordinary claim. Why, if they had $100 in their pocket and told people about it, would the child need to beg for food?

    • “Some claims are ordinary and some are not ordinary or even extraordinary. For example, a man who says he has $100 in his pocket would be an ordinary claim for most people.”

      Would it take faith to believe an ordinary person had a $100.00 in their pocket?

    • If you mean by the word faith “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something” (Oxford Dictionary), I would need to know the person and something about their character to believe them. I don’t have complete trust or confidence in people I don’t know. A person’s character, previous behaviors like telling the truth, become part of the evidence that would lead me to believe a person who said they had $100 in their pocket.

    • “If you mean by the word faith “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something” (Oxford Dictionary), I would need to know the person and something about their character to believe them. I don’t have complete trust or confidence in people I don’t know. A person’s character, previous behaviors like telling the truth, become part of the evidence that would lead me to believe a person who said they had $100 in their pocket.”

      I guess we have come full circle. Back to why I was trying to get your definition of faith. “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something” is not a way that I would use faith, and from my understanding of Hebrews 11:1 it doesn’t either. That is the crux of why I’m having difficulty wrapping my head around it.
      Let’s try this, instead of defining the definition of faith, let’s discuss the concept faith.

      In the scenario of someone carrying $100.00 bill for emergencies, what if it was just $20.00 and they have it just because they want to carry money on them?
      Would it change how you look at their claim and would that require faith to believe it?
      If faith is used can you describe why it was required?
      If faith isn’t required, why not?

    • I use word definitions that are accepted within academic and social constructs, plus how words were used and understood in ancient societies. I believe my use of the word faith throughout our conversation has been consistent with that understanding. Since you have asked me not to ask you questions until you understand how I think, I’ll move on.

      You wrote – “In the scenario of someone carrying $100.00 bill for emergencies, what if it was just $20.00 and they have it just because they want to carry money on them?
      Would it change how you look at their claim and would that require faith to believe it?
      If faith is used can you describe why it was required?
      If faith isn’t required, why not?”

      My thought – There is a process of trusting that someone is telling the truth about any truth claim, but I don’t put every piece of information through that trust filter. I hear words – “I have $100 in my pocket” – and think something about the statement. Wondering whether they are telling the truth may not enter into my thought process. We hear and see words all day, every day. I receive information and process it in a variety of ways. Someone telling me they are carrying a certain amount of money in their pocket is a truth claim that may or may not interest me enough to wonder whether they are telling the truth. However, if I am investigating someone or something and how much money a person is carrying in their pocket is important to the investigation, then I move that truth claim through a filter that may consider the trustworthiness of the claim. Otherwise, it’s just information.

    • “My thought – There is a process of trusting that someone is telling the truth about any truth claim, but I don’t put every piece of information through that trust filter. I hear words – “I have $100 in my pocket” – and think something about the statement. Wondering whether they are telling the truth may not enter into my thought process. We hear and see words all day, every day. I receive information and process it in a variety of ways. Someone telling me they are carrying a certain amount of money in their pocket is a truth claim that may or may not interest me enough to wonder whether they are telling the truth. However, if I am investigating someone or something and how much money a person is carrying in their pocket is important to the investigation, then I move that truth claim through a filter that may consider the trustworthiness of the claim. Otherwise, it’s just information.”

      Based on what you said, may I assume you are answering “no” it does not take faith to believe someone has $20 in their pocket?

    • Trusting what someone says can be as easy as just taking them at their word without probing for evidence and as hard as asking for evidence to prove a claim.

    • “Trusting what someone says can be as easy as just taking them at their word without probing for evidence and as hard as asking for evidence to prove a claim.”

      Isn’t trusting someone and taking their word one in the same?
      If you take someone’s word, aren’t you trusting them on some level?
      Couldn’t you even say you have some level of confidence, albeit very low, they are telling you the truth?

    • Not necessarily in the context of my example. I don’t have “complete trust or confidence” in a stranger. I don’t know them. There’s been no history of developing trust or confidence that what they say is true. If a stranger told me they have $20 in their pocket and I have no reason to doubt what they told me, I would “take them at their word.” However, that’s not the same as complete trust or confidence.

    • “Not necessarily in the context of my example. I don’t have “complete trust or confidence” in a stranger. I don’t know them. There’s been no history of developing trust or confidence that what they say is true. If a stranger told me they have $20 in their pocket and I have no reason to doubt what they told me, I would “take them at their word.” However, that’s not the same as complete trust or confidence.”

      I didn’t say complete trust, I said trust. Are you saying there is a difference between the two?

    • I was using the English definition of the word “faith,” which is “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” (Oxford)

      The definition for “trust” is “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.” (Oxford)

    • “I was using the English definition of the word “faith,” which is “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” (Oxford)

      The definition for “trust” is “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.” (Oxford)”

      We could go down the seemingly endless road of definitions. If you look up the definition for faith in other dictionaries, you will get different ideas about the concepts behind the was the word is used. Not only will you get different definitions from different dictionaries, you will get different usages of the same word in the same dictionary. The most common usage used at the time of the publication will be #1, then there will be subsequent usages starting with #2 and so on.

      So it’s important that we not get too hung up over set definitions listed in dictionaries. If we did, then I would generally use #2 in dictionary.com for the definition of faith. But dictionaries are not authorities on words, they only describe common usages. And my usage of faith is irrelevant to understanding your position.

      What I’m trying understand is how you are using them to better understand your position, and from my perspective it appears your usage of faith and how it it defined in the Bible is inconsistent, hence the reason for so many questions. I apologize, so please bear with me.

      Would you agree John 20:29 affirms Hebrew 11:1 of what faith is in the Bible?

      As for the definition of trust you’re using, “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.” To back up faith with truth only begs more questions such as, just because you have a firm belief in something, does it automatically make it true? If by “true” you mean by what purports to reality, then if you trust faith is the “truth”, than how can we determine if what you have faith in actually purports to reality?

      Sorry for the long winded response.

    • Yes, when understood within context. Both John 20:29 and Hebrews 11:1 are in a clear context of trust in evidence.

      My thought process is based on discovering the truth within reality. My believing something does not automatically make it true. What makes something true is that it is true.

    • “Yes, when understood within context. Both John 20:29 and Hebrews 11:1 are in a clear context of trust in evidence.
      My thought process is based on discovering the truth within reality. My believing something does not automatically make it true. What makes something true is that it is true.”

      And that’s part of where I think I’m not understanding you.

      Both John and Hebrews talk about the unseen. “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” “the evidence of things not seen.”

      How can you have “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” If there is nothing to see, to examine that corroborates with the claim? Wouldn’t that be taking them on their word?

      If someone made a claim and had nothing to back the claim up with, if you were to believe them, wouldn’t you have to believe them on faith?

    • Something that is “not seen” by me does not mean it was “not seen” by people who were in a position to “see” it. That’s why I mentioned trusting in “evidence.” Thomas and the other apostles “saw” Jesus after His resurrection. Moses and other Hebrew prophets “heard” the voice of God and “saw” what He accomplished. They were in a position to “see” and “hear.” I am not in a position to “see” and “hear,” but I believe that what the prophets and apostles wrote about God are true because of evidence. That’s what Jesus meant by what He said to Thomas and what the writer of Hebrews meant in what he wrote.

      If you are not able to understand how I think at this point, I’m not sure you will. How would you like to proceed?

    • “Something that is “not seen” by me does not mean it was “not seen” by people who were in a position to “see” it. That’s why I mentioned trusting in “evidence.” Thomas and the other apostles “saw” Jesus after His resurrection. Moses and other Hebrew prophets “heard” the voice of God and “saw” what He accomplished. They were in a position to “see” and “hear.” I am not in a position to “see” and “hear,” but I believe that what the prophets and apostles wrote about God are true because of evidence. That’s what Jesus meant by what He said to Thomas and what the writer of Hebrews meant in what he wrote.”

      So let me see if I have this correct. Correct me if I’m wrong because I don’t want to misrepresent you by putting words in your mouth.

      According to your answers from my questions. In a courtroom setting a complete stranger could give their eyewitness testimony (alien abduction) and you would presume the story was true and believe their claim true even though you couldn’t see any of their evidence (their experience) that supports their claim.

      Outside a courtroom a complete stranger could give their eyewitness testimony and if their claim was extraordinary (alien abduction) you wouldn’t believe them regardless of any evidence (their experience) they claim they have because you couldn’t see the evidence. However if their claim was ordinary ($20 in their pocket) you would believe them anyway even though you couldn’t see any evidence to their claim because the claim is so ordinary it’s highly plausible it’s true.

      Outside a courtroom a complete stranger (Paul) could give their eyewitness testimony (Damascus road experience) (extraordinary claim) and you presume the story was true and believe their claim true even though you couldn’t see any of their evidence (their experience) that supports their claim.

      In all the example the evidence they claim they saw or had, but you did not see. Wouldn’t that be (you) believing without seeing (their evidence)? Or taking them on their word? The very way that Jesus said you are blessed?

      With the people in the clergy project, they are making a claims (they no longer believe God) and they give their eyewitness testimony (their evidence) and you are disbelieving their claim. Not only are you disbelieving their claim, you are going a step further and claiming their stories are not true. That they weren’t “true Christians” to begin with. (Implying they are being dishonest aka lying)

      Do you not see the inconsistency?

      That is why I am confused.

      ” I am not in a position to “see” and “hear,” but I believe that what the prophets and apostles wrote about God are true because of evidence.”

      The question would be why?

      Isn’t that the very definition of faith, belief without evidence you can see?

    • Hi, Ax. You wrote – “So let me see if I have this correct. Correct me if I’m wrong because I don’t want to misrepresent you by putting words in your mouth.”

      Mark – Thank you.

      You wrote – “According to your answers from my questions. In a courtroom setting a complete stranger could give their eyewitness testimony (alien abduction) and you would presume the story was true and believe their claim true even though you couldn’t see any of their evidence (their experience) that supports their claim.”

      Mark – Not correct. I sat in hundreds of courtrooms and covered trials and hearings where eyewitness testimony was given on a variety of topics. I never “presumed” their testimony was true. The testimony was challenged on cross examine. It was that process of testimony and cross examine that the jury (or judges in some cases) used for a decision.

      You wrote – “Outside a courtroom a complete stranger could give their eyewitness testimony and if their claim was extraordinary (alien abduction) you wouldn’t believe them regardless of any evidence (their experience) they claim they have because you couldn’t see the evidence. However if their claim was ordinary ($20 in their pocket) you would believe them anyway even though you couldn’t see any evidence to their claim because the claim is so ordinary it’s highly plausible it’s true.”

      Mark – I would do what I have always done as an investigative journalist. If someone’s claims rose to the level of interest in learning more for a possible story, I would ask questions to determine if their claims had merit. That would include requests for other direct evidence that would support their claims. If they had no evidence to support their claims and no one else came along side them to corroborate their claims, I would politely move on to another story until such time as other evidence would present itself and lead me to reopen my investigation.

      You wrote – “Outside a courtroom a complete stranger (Paul) could give their eyewitness testimony (Damascus road experience) (extraordinary claim) and you presume the story was true and believe their claim true even though you couldn’t see any of their evidence (their experience) that supports their claim.”

      Mark – Not correct. I would not presume Paul was telling the truth. I would ask questions to determine if his claims had merit. That would include requests for other direct evidence that would support his claims. Here is a link to an Ebook I wrote answering questions about Paul’s testimony – https://gracelifethoughts.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/paul-e28093-apostle-orc2a0fraud.pdf

      You wrote – “In all the example the evidence they claim they saw or had, but you did not see. Wouldn’t that be (you) believing without seeing (their evidence)? Or taking them on their word? The very way that Jesus said you are blessed?”

      Mark – Not correct. Read above.

      You wrote – “With the people in the clergy project, they are making a claims (they no longer believe God) and they give their eyewitness testimony (their evidence) and you are disbelieving their claim. Not only are you disbelieving their claim, you are going a step further and claiming their stories are not true. That they weren’t “true Christians” to begin with. (Implying they are being dishonest aka lying).”

      Mark – I disbelieve many of the claims based on what I read about their prior experience as a theist. People can believe in God and think they are a Christian, but not be a true Christian. I believe that based on talking with many people who say they left Christianity and theism. Many people “leave” Christianity but were not in fact real Christians. My belief is based on what Jesus and His apostles taught about being a Christian.

      You wrote – “Do you not see the inconsistency?”

      Mark – No. I see nothing inconsistent about what I have written in answer to your questions.

      You wrote – “That is why I am confused.”

      Mark – I accept your testimony that you are confused, but believe I have answered your questions sufficiently and consistently so that understanding is possible.

      You wrote – ””I am not in a position to “see” and “hear,” but I believe that what the prophets and apostles wrote about God are true because of evidence.” The question would be why? Isn’t that the very definition of faith, belief without evidence you can see?”

      Mark – Not correct. You define faith as “belief without evidence you can see,” but I do not not. Faith, trust and confidence in evidence, is not a blind faith. It is a confident faith; confidence in the evidence we have.

      I hope this helps you understand how I think. My thought process is based on observing available evidence, asking questions about the available evidence using as many sources as possible, getting answers about the available evidence, comparing evidence to evidence from multiple sources, asking more questions where necessary or helpful, and finally reaching a conclusion based on the findings of the investigation. That is the thought process I went through as part of my change from atheist to theist to Christian theist. That is the thought process I have gone through every day since that happened 46 years ago. No blind faith.

    • You wrote on 8/11/2017…
      “A person is presumed to be telling the truth until someone proves they are telling a lie. That means the legal system, and society for that matter, takes people at their word until there is proof they are not being truthful. Thus, eyewitness testimony is received as direct evidence.”

      Today you wrote…
      “Mark – Not correct. I sat in hundreds of courtrooms and covered trials and hearings where eyewitness testimony was given on a variety of topics. I never “presumed” their testimony was true. The testimony was challenged on cross examine. It was that process of testimony and cross examine that the jury (or judges in some cases) used for a decision”

      First you say that you take them at their word as true until it is proven false. However, when I gave a you scenario in a courtroom with the claim of alien abduction, now you don’t take it as true. Has the claim of alien abduction been proven false? I’m confused. Can you elaborate?

    • If you will acknowledge the context of each of the quotes, you will see that the first context concerns how the American legal system views a defendant in a trial. Presumption of innocence. An eyewitness who is not a defendant does not have the same legal standing during a trial. Thus, cross examination. A defendant cannot be forced to testify in a trial, so we often do not hear the defendant’s eyewitness testimony.

      In today’s quote, I was answering your question about an eyewitness who I assumed was not also a defendant. Is that correct? When I say I never “presumed” their testimony was true, I was referring to your use of the term “presume.” I don’t “presume” someone is telling the truth or lying. I hear what they have to say and ask questions to determine what evidence they have for a truth claim.

      Is that clear?

    • “If you will acknowledge the context of each of the quotes, you will see that the first context concerns how the American legal system views a defendant in a trial. Presumption of innocence. An eyewitness who is not a defendant does not have the same legal standing during a trial. Thus, cross examination. A defendant cannot be forced to testify in a trial, so we often do not hear the defendant’s eyewitness testimony.
      In today’s quote, I was answering your question about an eyewitness who I assumed was not also a defendant. Is that correct? When I say I never “presumed” their testimony was true, I was referring to your use of the term “presume.” I don’t “presume” someone is telling the truth or lying. I hear what they have to say and ask questions to determine what evidence they have for a truth claim.
      Is that clear?”

      This is why it is so important that when I ask you a question about what you think that you answer what you think and not give general answers or put the focus on what other may think. I really wasn’t concerned about how our legal system works; I was concerned about what you thought. I had to ask many questions to try and parse what you are actually thinking. Do you see how that derailed our discussion and led me to conclude something that wasn’t true? Can we now leave the legal system out of the equation and you only tell me what you think? I apologize; I’m really trying to understand your position.
      Even though you say the legal system views an eyewitness as telling the truth, you don’t follow that same rule of thumb?

    • I strongly disagree with your analysis. I also remind you that you are the one who continues to bring out quotes from answers I gave to your questions weeks ago. As long as you reach back and use an old quote, especially when you use it out of context, I will respond by including the context. Your use of answers I gave to your questions about the legal system days or weeks ago will by the nature of the original discussion include comments about the legal system. If you leave the legal system out of the equation, then it will not be part of the equation. You said long ago that you didn’t want a conversation – you only want to know how I think. I’m responding to your questions. If you don’t bring up the legal system by including quotes from the past where the legal system was what you were asking about, then there will be no need to mention it again.

      You then asked – “Even though you say the legal system views an eyewitness as telling the truth, you don’t follow that same rule of thumb?”

      WHAT?? You just asked me – “Can we now leave the legal system out of the equation and you only tell me what you think?” Then, you ask me about the legal system. Which is it? Please be consistent in your expectations and directives. Do you want me to address your question about the legal system or do you want me to obey your directive to leave the legal system out of the equation? Your directives are at odds. I will be glad to do one or the other, but cannot do both since that is not logical.

    • “God has given us guidance about how to determine what is true and what is not true. I make determinations based on that guidance.”

      Does the method you are using in this example adhere to the definitions that you gave me and outlined by Oxford for Direct evidence or Empirical Evidence?

      Direct evidence is “Evidence which proves a fact without inference or presumption. Evidence in the form of a statement made by a witness in court that he or she perceived a fact in issue with one of his or her five senses, or in the form of an item or document produced in court.” (Oxford)

      Empirical evidence is “Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.” (Oxford)

    • You wrote – “Does the method you are using in this example adhere to the definitions that you gave me and outlined by Oxford for Direct evidence or Empirical Evidence?”

      Which example?

    • “God has given us guidance about how to determine what is true and what is not true. I make determinations based on that guidance.”

      Ax – “Does the method you are using in this example adhere to the definitions that you gave me and outlined by Oxford for Direct evidence or Empirical Evidence?”

      “Which example?”

      The claim you made that God is giving you guidance. Is it possible to demonstrate that God is giving you guidance based on your definition of direct evidence or empirical evidence?

    • Yes .. it comes from a best-selling book (billions sold) called the Bible. I have several copies which I can touch and see (empirical).

    • “Mark – Not correct. I would not presume Paul was telling the truth. I would ask questions to determine if his claims had merit. That would include requests for other direct evidence that would support his claims.”

      Can you give me an example of direct evidence that you saw that confirms Paul was telling the truth?

    • Yes. I outlined the direct evidence in the book I linked to in the earlier response. Have you read it yet? https://gracelifethoughts.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/paul-e28093-apostle-orc2a0fraud.pdf

    • “Yes. I outlined the direct evidence in the book I linked to in the earlier response.”

      I noticed you use direct evidence a lot in our discussions; do you consider direct evidence and imperical evidence one in the same?

    • Direct evidence is “Evidence which proves a fact without inference or presumption. Evidence in the form of a statement made by a witness in court that he or she perceived a fact in issue with one of his or her five senses, or in the form of an item or document produced in court.” (Oxford)

      Empirical evidence is “Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.” (Oxford)

      I use the term historical empirical evidence because we look at the observances and experiences of people who lived in the past (historical). I do not want to theorize about what may have happened in the past – I want historical evidence that can be tested empirically (e.g. testing documents, writing instruments, pottery, steles, monuments, tombs, etc).

    • “Yes. I outlined the direct evidence in the book I linked to in the earlier response. Have you read it yet? https://gracelifethoughts.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/paul-e28093-apostle-orc2a0fraud.pdf”

      Can you give me the best example you have from this PDF that falls under the definition you provided for direct evidence? One that does not fall under the courtroom scenario since it’s not relative to our discussion.

      Direct evidence is “Evidence which proves a fact without inference or presumption. Evidence in the form of a statement made by a witness in court that he or she perceived a fact in issue with one of his or her five senses, or in the form of an item or document produced in court.” (Oxford)

    • “When we last saw Saul he was preaching in synagogues in Damascus that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He “confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 9:22). The Jews were confused by this for a short time because they recognized that Saul was the same man who the chief priests had sent from Jerusalem for the express purpose of arresting followers of Christ to take them back to Jerusalem for trial.

      It wasn’t long before the Jews in Damascus had enough of Saul’s preaching and plotted to kill him. However, Saul found out about the plot and the Lord’s disciples took Saul by night “and let him down through the wall in a large basket” (Acts 9:25).

      Saul headed back to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples there, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe that Saul was a disciple of Christ. “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9:27). The evidence for Paul’s apostleship is about to gain more strength. So, let’s review a little history to see the impact of what just happened.

      As a former investigative journalist it was important for me to discover connections and corroborations. What connected to what, who connected to who, what and who corroborated what and who. Investigating a news story is often like putting together the pieces of a big puzzle, but eventually the pieces come together and the picture is clear.

      We’ve already seen how Jesus connected to Paul, Jesus connected to Ananias, and Ananias connected to Paul. Then Ananias, who was connected to the other disciples in Damascus, connected Paul to the disciples in Damascus.

      The fact that Jesus spoke to Ananias and told him about speaking with Paul was corroboration for Ananias speaking with Paul about what Jesus had told him about Paul and his future as an apostle of Christ. The puzzle pieces are coming together.

      Saul leaves Damascus and heads back to Jerusalem. He wants to talk with the apostles and disciples there. However, they want no part of Saul. That’s what I would expect to find. Why would the apostles and disciples in Jerusalem, who knew Saul and the terror of his persecution of Christ followers, want to meet with him? I would be suspicious of the accuracy of the story in Acts if they had acted differently.

      Enter Barnabas. We first meet him in Acts 4:36-37 – “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

      Anyone who shows up in the first four chapters of Acts is one of the early disciples of Christ. Barnabas is mentioned right after the first arrest of the apostles as being someone the apostles knew well enough to give him a special name, Barnabas – Son of Encouragement. That means Barnabas (Joses) had been a disciple of Christ long enough to have earned that reputation with the apostles. That also means Barnabas would have been close to the apostles and deacons when Stephen was arrested and killed (Acts 7). Barnabas would have experienced some of Saul’s persecution and would have known how dangerous Saul was to followers of Jesus Christ.
      Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus and also a land owner. He sold his land and gave the money to the apostles. That’s what the disciples did in those early days of being a Christ follower.

      “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” Acts 4:32-35

      It’s important in our investigation of Paul’s credibility to witness the strong and enduring credibility of Barnabas with the 12 Apostles. They trusted Barnabas and appreciated his love for Christ and those who were following Christ. It is Barnabas’ love for Christ and His followers that leads us into this exciting new chapter about Saul (Paul).

      All of the disciples in Jerusalem were afraid of Saul and did not believe he was a disciple of Christ. Barnabas would have understood that because he had also felt the sting of Saul’s earlier persecution of the disciples. So, what was it that changed Barnabas’ thinking about Saul?

      “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” Acts 9:27

      What could have changed Barnabas’ thinking about Saul? Why would Barnabas trust Saul enough to want to take him to meet with the apostles? One possibility is that Ananias introduced them. Ananias would have understood how difficult it would be for the disciples and apostles in Jerusalem to just take Saul at his word about his conversion. Ananias may have traveled to Jerusalem with Saul and sought out Barnabas, knowing his spiritual giftedness as an encourager and how the apostles trusted him. Barnabas probably knew or knew about Ananias and would have accepted his word as true. Another possibility might be that Ananias sent one or more trusted disciples from Damascus with Saul carrying a personal letter of introduction from Ananias to Barnabas or the apostles corroborating Saul’s story about the Lord speaking to him, and his preaching boldly about the name of Jesus in Damascus. Yet another possibility is that Jesus or the Holy Spirit revealed Saul’s conversion directly to Barnabas in a vision or dream, though I think Luke would have included that fact in his record.

      Let’s add more connections and corroborations to our investigation. Barnabas was an early disciple of Christ in Jerusalem and knew the 12 Apostles well. More importantly, they knew Barnabas well and included him as an important part of the Jerusalem congregation. Barnabas meets with Saul, is convinced of his true conversion, and takes Saul to meet with the apostles in Jerusalem.

      Barnabas —> Apostles —> Barnabas —> Saul —> Apostles —> Christ Jesus —> Saul —> Ananias —> Christ —> Apostles

      The connections and corroborations just keep getting stronger and the evidence is mounting.

      Saul ran into major problems in Jerusalem. He spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the disciples found out, they took Saul to Caesarea and sent him to Tarsus. Interestingly, the disciples throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. They walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit and multiplied (Acts 9:28-31).

      Why was that? Saul was the chief priests’ top prosecutor and enforcer. What happened to the persecution of Christ followers when the chief persecutor became a follower of Jesus Christ and removed from the area? Apparently, a brief period of peace for believers while the priests came up with another plan of attack.

      While Saul was back home in Tarsus receiving multiple visions from God about the ministry to which he was being called (2 Corinthians 12), Jesus moved forward with His bold, new plan to open the door for Gentiles to come to faith in an unexpected and previously hidden way. What the Lord did through Peter would also prepare the way for Saul to accomplish the goals Jesus revealed to him in Damascus.

      Luke, the human author of Acts, turned his attention to the ministry of the Apostle Peter. Most of the people I’ve spoken with who believe Paul was a fraud look to Peter as one of the true apostles of Christ. That’s helpful to know because God used Peter in a special way to prepare the apostles and Jewish disciples to acknowledge and accept the special call Jesus had for the ministry of Paul.

      “Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.” (Acts 9:32) Lydda is a town about 30 miles northwest of Jerusalem and about 11 miles southeast of Tel Aviv. It was known in ancient times as Lod, reportedly built by men from the tribe of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 8:12). Following the exile to Babylon in the early part of the 6th century BC, some of the Jews who returned to land in many years later settled in Lod (Ezra 2:33). By the time we get to the 1st century AD the town is known as Lydda. It was near the Plain of Sharon and Christianity had a strong presence in Lydda and Sharon by the 2nd century AD, most likely because of Peter’s ministry.

      When Peter arrived in Lydda he found a man named Aeneas who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. Peter spoke to Aeneas and said, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” (Acts 9:34) Aeneas got up immediately and walked. Many in Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas, heard how he was healed and turned to the Lord Jesus.

      Peter moved on from Lydda to Joppa (now the southern part of the city of Tel Aviv). Joppa, located on the Mediterranean coast, became an important city for Israel. It became the property of the Tribe of Dan after Joshua and the army of Israel conquered the land of Canaan. King Solomon used Joppa as a port to bring giant cedars logs from Lebanon to Jerusalem to build the first Temple.

      The reason Peter traveled from Lydda to Joppa was because some disciples of Christ in Joppa heard that Peter was in Lydda. They knew his reputation for healing people, so they traveled to Lydda to get him and bring him to Joppa. A disciple named Tabitha (translated Dorcas), who was well known for her good works and charitable deeds, became sick and died. The disciples took Peter to the upper room where the body of Tabitha lay. The people who were in the room mourning the death of Tabitha showed Peter the tunics and garments she had made while she was alive. Peter asked them all to leave the upper room so he could be alone with the dead woman. Peter knelt down, prayed, turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.” (Acts 9:40- 41) You can imagine the people’s reaction to this miracle. “And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.” (Acts 9:42) Peter stayed in Joppa with Simon, a tanner, for many days.

      Everything was in place for God to reveal something He had kept hidden from the apostles. An angel of God visited a Roman centurion named Cornelius in a vision. Cornelius served in Caesarea, almost 40 miles north of Joppa. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household. Cornelius gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God often.

      The angel in the vision called to Cornelius and said, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” (Acts 10:4-6) After the angel departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, told them about the vision, and sent them to Joppa to find Peter.

      The next day, while the servants and soldiers from Cornelius were making their trip to Joppa, Peter went up on the housetop to pray. He became very hungry and wanted to eat, but fell into a trance first. Peter saw heaven opened “and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it
      were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.’ And a voice spoke to him again the second time, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.” (Acts 10:11-16)

      Keep in mind that this was something new to Peter. He had never had a vision like this before. In fact, Peter refused to do it based on the Levitical Law concerning clean and unclean animals. Interestingly, the angel explained this to Peter three times (three seems to have been a number of importance in Peter’s life). After the third time, the object was taken up into Heaven again.

      Peter woke up and while he was considering what the vision meant, the men from Cornelius arrived at Simon’s house and asked to see Peter. The Holy Spirit spoke to Peter and said, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” (Acts 10:19-20)

      Peter went down to meet with the men from Cornelius. They told him about the vision Cornelius had from the angel. “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” (Acts 10:22) Peter invited them to lodge with him for the night, then they headed off to Caesarea the next day, along with some of the disciples from Joppa.

      They arrived in Caesarea the following day and Cornelius was waiting for them. He had already called together his relatives and close friends. Cornelius was so taken with Peter’s presence that he fell down at the apostle’s feet and worshiped him. Peter quickly lifted him up and said, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” (Acts 10:26)
      This next part is VERY important to understand because it became a major shift in how God dealt with Gentiles. Theological aspects of preaching the Gospel began to change right there. Watch how Peter dealt with this as he spoke to Cornelius and his family and friends. You might also compare Peter’s first message to Jews in Acts 2 and his first message to Gentiles in Acts 10. There are some big differences.

      “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?’ So Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.’Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by Godto be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:28-43

      One of the first things to notice here is that Peter addressed the issue of how it was against Jewish law for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to someone from another nation. Peter is aware of the law. He was also aware that God had shown him something new — that he should not call any man common or unclean. Because of that, Peter said he came without objection as soon as he was asked. It’s clear from the context of Peter’s response to the angel that he would have objected if God had not given him the vision. It was the vision and the direction of the Holy Spirit that changed Peter’s view concerning preaching the Gospel to Gentiles.

      One of the major differences between his first sermon to Gentiles in Acts 10 and first sermon to Jews in Acts 2 is that Peter didn’t blame the Gentiles for the crucifixion of Christ, but did blame the Jews. ”And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.” Compare that with what Peter preached to Jews in Acts 2: “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death … Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:23, 36)

      Another difference is that the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles before Peter finished speaking, possibly a sign from God that He approved of Gentiles coming to faith. That would be important in the future as Peter explained to the other apostles what happened in Caesarea.

      “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.” Acts 10:44-48

      Peter was convinced. He saw the vision with the angel about the animals, heard the words of the Holy Spirit telling him to go and meet with Cornelius, then saw the evidences of the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles. The Jewish disciples from Joppa who were with Peter were astonished, but Peter asked if anyone could forbid water baptism for the Gentiles seeing clearly that the Holy Spirit had chosen to fall on the Gentiles.

      Question now is this: how would the rest of the apostles react to what Peter had done preaching to Gentiles and baptizing them?

      “Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, ‘You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Acts 11:1-3

      Uh-oh, Peter’s in trouble. The other apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard what had happened in Caesarea. Those of the circumcision (Jews) “contended” with Peter about his going into the home of uncircumcised men (Gentiles) and eating with them.

      Watch what happens next because it sets the stage for what God is going to do through Paul (Saul).

      “But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me,‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’But the voice answered me again from heaven,‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ Now this was done three times, and all were drawn
      up again into heaven. At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?’ When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:4- 17

      Many things to see here, but let’s look at two specifics that will relate later to Paul.

      • Peter knew nothing about God’s plan to save Gentiles and would have opposed it if he had not experienced the vision of the sheet and heard the Holy Spirit tell him to go with the Gentile men to preach the Gospel of Christ to Cornelius and his family
      • The other apostles and brethren in Jerusalem knew nothing about God’s plan to save Gentiles and would have opposed it if Peter had not confirmed that God told him to do it and the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles while he was still speaking

      Think back to what Jesus told His disciple Ananias about Saul – “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16) Jesus chose Saul separately from Peter and the other apostles to be a “chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” Why? Why did Jesus choose Saul separately and much later than the Jewish apostles?

      Jesus spent months training Peter, James, John and the other apostles for the work He had for them to do after He returned to Heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to empower them. The Lord spent 40 days after His resurrection “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3) The Holy Spirit filled all of them on the Day of Pentecost and Peter preached boldly in the streets of Jerusalem to every Jew who would listen to him. The thousands of Jews who became followers of Christ “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42) Do you find it a little unusual that with the years of personal training with Jesus Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit and taught by Him what they would teach the disciples, that none of them had any idea Jesus planned to save Gentiles without them first converting to Judaism and that the Holy Spirit would fill them even as He did the Jewish disciples? Gentiles were unclean. How could this be?

      We don’t have to go far to find out what God was doing. The very next verses in Acts 11 begin the unfolding of the Lord’s plan for Paul and the Gentiles, immediately following the salvation of Cornelius and his family and friends and Peter rehearsing what happened to the other Jewish apostles who were upset by what he had done. It was apparently vital to God’s plan that Peter be the apostle to preach to the Gentiles and for the other apostles to accept that it was the work of the Holy Spirit.

      “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” Acts 11:19-30

      Remember Barnabas? He had a direct connection to the apostles in Jerusalem and Saul (Paul). God used Barnabas to introduce Saul to Peter and the other apostles years before and God used Barnabas again to introduce Saul to the church in Antioch Syria. More corroboration and confirmation of Saul having a direct connection to the apostles.

      So far in the historical account in Acts we have seen Jesus speak with Saul, Jesus speak with Ananias, Ananias speak with Saul, Saul speak with Barnabas, Barnabas introduce Saul to Peter and other apostles, the apostles send Barnabas to Antioch of Syria to find out what was happening there, Barnabas saw what God was going in Antioch and encouraged the new believers, Barnabas went to Tarsus to find Saul and bring him back to Antioch, Barnabas and Saul taught “a great many people” in Antioch and that’s where the disciples “were first called Christians,” and Barnabas and Saul took a relief donation from Antioch to the elders in Jerusalem. I must say, that’s a pretty impressive list of connections for Saul so far, but we’re not done.

      “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark. Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.” Acts 12:25-13:4

      The Holy Spirit told the prophets and teachers in Antioch (Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul) to “separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” The Christians at Antioch fasted and prayed and laid hands on them and sent them away, but who really sent them? “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit.”
      God the Spirit joined God the Son in choosing Saul for a special ministry to Gentiles. (It’s important to remember that Jesus did His Father’s Will, so we can easily see that God the Father is involved in the selection of Saul for this special ministry.) Jesus said that Saul was His “chosen vessel” to bear His name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. The Holy Spirit told the prophets at Antioch to separate Barnabas and Saul to Him for the work He had called them to do. The next verses are crucial to see the connection between what Jesus called Saul to do and what the Holy Spirit called Saul to do. Would it be the same or different?

      “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”

      Jesus said Paul would bear His name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel and the Holy Spirit sent Paul to Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. That’s what I would expect to happen “if” Paul was really called by God to be an apostle. God is not divided. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not going to have different ideas about where to send Paul. Jesus called Paul to bear His name primarily to Gentiles and the Holy Spirit sent Paul to bear the name of Jesus primarily to Gentiles.
      As we follow Paul and Barnabas during their first missionary journey we find them starting by preaching in Jewish synagogues about Jesus as Messiah, but it wasn’t long before Paul announced his special calling from God.

      “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’ Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:44-47

      Paul’s famous words, “behold, we turn to the Gentiles,” ring true because of his special calling by Jesus and the Holy Spirit. However, just because Jesus and the Holy Spirit called Paul to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles did not mean the apostles and other leaders in Jerusalem were in agreement with what he and Barnabas did.

      “Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. So they stayed there a long time with the disciples.” Acts 14:27-28

      Saul (Paul) and Barnabas returned to Antioch of Syria after many months on a journey that began with the Holy Spirt saying, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) That “work” included preaching the Gospel in several countries and opening “the door of faith to the Gentiles.” This was something that “both” Barnabas and Saul did, so again we see a powerful connection back to the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem who sent Barnabas from Jerusalem to Antioch as their representative.

      It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who saw what God was doing in Antioch and traveled to Tarsus to find Saul. It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who brought Saul back to the Antioch Church to minister to the congregation of Gentiles and Jews. It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who the Holy Spirit sent with Saul to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who returned to Antioch with Saul to tell the church congregation all that God had “done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” It was Barnabas, representative of the Jewish apostles in Jerusalem, who traveled with Saul to Jerusalem to face those same apostles about what they had done in opening the door of faith to the Gentiles.

      Was Paul an apostle or a fraud? Let’s see what happened when he and Barnabas met with the apostles in Jerusalem. If they thought Paul was a fraud, this would be their opportunity to call him out and set the record straight forever.

      Even though the Holy Spirit sent Peter to preach the Gospel to Cornelius and other Gentiles in his family, and even though the Holy Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas to open the door of faith to the Gentiles, that didn’t convince everyone in Jerusalem that what was going on was of God.

      “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. ” Acts 15:1-2

      Some men from Judea traveled to Antioch and taught Gentiles in the church that unless they were circumcised according to the custom of Moses, they could not be saved. The Jews from Judea were not just talking about issues of fellowship or leadership. They were saying that the Gentiles could not be “saved” unless they were circumcised. Here you have Paul and Barnabas telling the Gentiles that Jesus was their salvation, not obedience to Mosaic Law or the “custom of Moses” — “through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)
      Did Paul and Barnabas have any problems with the men from Judea teaching the Gentiles in Antioch that they had to be “circumcised according to the custom of Moses” or they couldn’t be saved? You bet they did — “Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them.” Paul and Barnabas knew God’s message to the Gentiles and they were not about to let these men from Judea preach anything different without opposing them.

      That dissension and dispute led to a remarkable meeting in Jerusalem with Paul and Barnabas on one side, the men from Judea on the other side and the Jewish apostles trying to decide what to do. Here’s what happened between Antioch and Jerusalem.

      “So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” Acts 15:3-5
      The Christians in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas told believers along the way about the “conversion of the Gentiles.” That caused great joy to all the brethren. Paul and Barnabas met with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem and “reported all things that God had done with them.”

      “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up.” It’s interesting to see that the congregation of believers in Jerusalem included members of the Pharisees. Enough years had gone by since the Holy Spirit came on disciples at Pentecost that even some members of the Pharisee sect that opposed Christ and the apostles had become followers of Christ. However, they still believed that Gentiles had to be circumcised and commanded to “keep the law of Moses.”

      So, what will the apostles and elders do about this dispute? On one side are the Pharisees who believe Gentiles can be followers of Christ only by being circumcised and keeping the Mosaic Law. On the other side are Paul and Barnabas who the Holy Spirit used to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas do not believe that Gentiles have to be circumcised or keep the Mosaic Law to become legitimate followers of Christ. What will they do?

      Remember Peter? Remember his experience with the sheet and the Gentile men who came from Cornelius? Remember that Peter saw the Holy Spirit fall on the Gentiles in the same way He had fallen on Jews at Pentecost? Will Peter say anything? If he does, what will he say?

      “And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: ‘Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Acts 15:6-11

      Barnabas to share their hearts in a calmer atmosphere. ”Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.” (Acts 15:12) When Barnabas and Paul were finished talking, James, the half-brother of Jesus, spoke to everyone, saying:
      “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’ Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

      Following speeches by Peter, Paul, Barnabas and James, all of the apostles and elders, “with the whole church,” decided to send a group of chosen men of their own company (Judas-Barsabas and Silas) to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They took with them a letter from the apostles, elders and brethren in Jerusalem. Here’s what they wrote in the letter:

      “To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment—it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:23- 29

      Paul, Barnabas, Judas and Silas traveled together to Antioch. They gathered the church members together and read the letter to them. Church members in Antioch “rejoiced over its encouragement.” Judas and Silas, who were both prophets, exhorted and strengthened the Christians in Antioch with many words. They stayed in Antioch for a time, but Judas eventually returned to Jerusalem with greetings from the believers to the apostles. Silas remained in Antioch.

      What we see in this amazing exchange is more evidence that the Lord’s apostles in Jerusalem accepted the apostleship and ministry of Paul. If Peter wanted to expose Paul as a fraud, he missed his opportunity to do that. Instead, Peter stood up in support for what God was doing through the ministry of Paul and Barnabas. If James wanted to expose Paul as a fraud, he also missed his opportunity to do that. Instead, James agreed that what Paul and Barnabas had done in opening the door of faith to the Gentiles was of God. In the letter James wrote to the Gentile believers in Antioch, he called Paul “beloved.” James also wrote that Barnabas and Paul had “risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is an extremely STRONG endorsement by James and the Lord’s apostles for the apostolic ministry of Paul and Barnabas to the Gentiles.

      This face-to-face meeting between Paul and the Jewish apostles should CRUSH any argument that Paul was fraudulent in his claim to be an apostle. However, that has not been the case during almost 2,000 years of Church history.

    • “When we last saw Saul he was preaching in synagogues in Damascus that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He “confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ”

      This best example you mention, where did it come from?

    • A best-selling book called the Bible.

    • “When we last saw Saul he was preaching in synagogues in Damascus that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He “confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ”

      Ax- This best example you mention, where did it come from?

      “A best-selling book called the Bible.”

      Sorry, I’m confused. I not understanding how Saul preaching in Damascus meets a fact without inference, presumption, is verifiable and observable.
      Does something written in a book automatically make it true?

      Direct evidence is “Evidence which proves a fact without inference or presumption. Evidence in the form of a statement made by a witness in court that he or she perceived a fact in issue with one of his or her five senses, or in the form of an item or document produced in court.” (Oxford)

      Empirical evidence is “Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.” (Oxford)

    • Did you read my lengthy answer to your question about the evidence for Saul of Tarsus? The evidence was direct and empirical during Paul’s lifetime. It was recorded and preserved for reading by generations of people who lived after his lifetime.

    • “Did you read my lengthy answer to your question about the evidence for Saul of Tarsus? The evidence was direct and empirical during Paul’s lifetime. It was recorded and preserved for reading by generations of people who lived after his lifetime.”

      Can direct and empirical evidence change over time?
      If it was direct empirical evidence in Paul’s lifetime; is it still direct, empirical evidence today?

    • I wish you would have answered my question about reading my long answer so I would know if you had that as background to the discussion. You said you wanted to know how I think and that long answer would give you some good insight to how I think.

      You wrote – “Can direct and empirical evidence change over time? If it was direct empirical evidence in Paul’s lifetime; is it still direct, empirical evidence today?”

      Whatever was direct empirical evidence during a particular time frame in the past would continue to be direct empirical evidence today. Something that is direct empirical evidence today would continue to be direct empirical evidence centuries from now. It’s true today and evidence of that truth wouldn’t change just because time moves forward.

    • “Whatever was direct empirical evidence during a particular time frame in the past would continue to be direct empirical evidence today. Something that is direct empirical evidence today would continue to be direct empirical evidence centuries from now. It’s true today and evidence of that truth wouldn’t change just because time moves forward.”

      I just found it puzzling when you said this “The evidence was direct and empirical during Paul’s lifetime”. When you used the word ‘was’ that suggests that it somehow changed.

      Wouldn’t Paul’s ‘revelation’ be his claim that needs to be supported by evidence before it’s believed to be true? What evidence do you have that supports his claim of revelation? I am very interested to know what it is.

    • Not sure why you’re puzzled, so let me see if I can help.

      I used the word “was” because Paul lived almost 2,000 years ago. That’s why I added the words “during Paul’s lifetime” to “The evidence was direct and empirical” so my use of the word “was” would be clear. Using the word “was” for a past event does not mean that anything has changed. It just means that the event is historical, in the past.

      The evidence that supports Paul’s claim of revelation is in the lengthy response I sent you a few days ago. You asked me to give you the best example I had from the PDF I linked to for you. I shared the examples with you and asked if you had read them, but you have not responded about that. Please read the answer I have already provided for you and let me know if you have any follow-up questions.

    • “The evidence that supports Paul’s claim of revelation is in the lengthy response I sent you a few days ago. You asked me to give you the best example I had from the PDF I linked to for you. I shared the examples with you and asked if you had read them, but you have not responded about that. Please read the answer I have already provided for you and let me know if you have any follow-up questions.”

      I have, and it was very lengthy and many. What is the best one you have?

    • I shared with you what I believe to be the best answer to your question. The answer may be longer than you prefer, but it is my answer.

    • “I shared with you what I believe to be the best answer to your question. The answer may be longer than you prefer, but it is my answer.”

      I don’t understand how the evidence for Paul’s revelation fits into the definition you proved for direct and empirical evidence. I’m trying to understand how. That’s why I’m asking you for the best example you have. That way you can elaborate how it fits the definition and I can examine it to try and understand.
      For example; going back to the muddy foot prints. We could examine the foot prints then examine shoes that are the same size, look if there is mud on it and/or at the design of the sole to see if it matches with the muddy prints. That would link the two together. Would you agree this example I gave demonstrates direct and empirical evidence?

    • I agree that the muddy prints, shoe size, design of sole, etc. is direct and empirical evidence.

      Saul of Tarsus was the most feared enemy of the early Church. He had authority from the Jewish leaders to arrest followers of Christ and was accompanied by soldiers who had the physical ability to arrest anyone Saul told them to arrest. Saul and the soldiers saw a bright light. Saul fell off his horse and heard a voice saying – “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Saul replied – “Who are You, Lord?” He then heard the voice reply – ““I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Saul replied – “Lord, what do You want me to do?” The voice replied – “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

      The soldiers who were with Saul heard a voice but didn’t see anyone. Saul was blinded by the light, so the soldiers took him into Damascus where he stayed for three days. He couldn’t see and he didn’t eat or drink.

      What the soldiers saw and heard was direct and empirical to them.

      A follower of Christ by the name of Ananias lived in Damascus and had a vision where Jesus spoke to him and told him to find Saul. Ananias knew Saul’s reputation for arresting and harming followers of Christ, so he was afraid to go. Jesus told Ananias that He had chosen Saul to take the Gospel to gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. Ananias went to the house where Saul was staying, laid hands on Saul and Saul received his sight.

      What Ananias saw and heard was direct and empirical to him.

      The greatest enemy of the early followers of Jesus Christ became one of the greatest leaders of early Christianity. What Paul (Saul) did and said was seen and heard by thousands of people over a period of three decades. What those people saw and heard was direct and empirical to them.

    • “Mark – I disbelieve many of the claims based on what I read about their prior experience as a theist. People can believe in God and think they are a Christian, but not be a true Christian. I believe that based on talking with many people who say they left Christianity and theism. Many people “leave” Christianity but were not in fact real Christians. My belief is based on what Jesus and His apostles taught about being a Christian.”

      You wrote on 8/11/2017…
      “A person is presumed to be telling the truth until someone proves they are telling a lie. That means the legal system, and society for that matter, takes people at their word until there is proof they are not being truthful. Thus, eyewitness testimony is received as direct evidence.”

      Have they been proven they are lying and not being truthful?

    • If you will acknowledge the context for each quote, you will see that what I addressed on 8/11 was about how the American legal system views a defendant – presumption of innocence. An eyewitness who is not a defendant does not have the same legal standing during a trial.

      My quote from today concerns people who say they “left” Christianity. Only God knows for sure whether someone is saved. The “proof” will come at His Judgment.

    • “My quote from today concerns people who say they “left” Christianity. Only God knows for sure whether someone is saved.”

      If God only knows why someone left Christianity, how did you determine the reason why they left was they were not True Christians?

    • God has given us guidance about how to determine what is true and what is not true. I make determinations based on that guidance.

    • “Mark – I disbelieve many of the claims based on what I read about their prior experience as a theist. People can believe in God and think they are a Christian, but not be a true Christian. I believe that based on talking with many people who say they left Christianity and theism. Many people “leave” Christianity but were not in fact real Christians. My belief is based on what Jesus and His apostles taught about being a Christian.”

      What is a true Christian?

    • A true Christian is someone who has received the gift of “eternal life” from God. The New Testament gives a lot of direction about what it means to have eternal life. Jesus said that a person had to be “born again” to “enter” the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3). Jesus said that He would have to be “lifted up” (killed on the Cross) so that anyone who believed in Him “should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus said that God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus to die on the Cross “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus also said that the way that leads to eternal life is narrow and few people find it (Matthew 7). Jesus said that being His disciple included denial of self, taking up “his cross” and following Him (Mark 8). Paul wrote that a person would be saved if they confessed with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believed in their heart that God had raised Him from the dead. “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10)

      Many people who believe they are Christians are what I call “cultural Christians.” They are raised in a Christian culture and believe they are Christian even though they may not have done what Jesus and His apostles declared was necessary to be a true Christian. Based on what I see in the New Testament about what it means to be a true Christian, I question whether many of the people who say they left Christianity were actually Christians. I “left” Christianity as a teenager and became an atheist, but I know I was never a true Christian. I was a cultural Christian because my parents were Christians and took me to church regularly. I even made a “profession of faith” at the age of ten, but knew then it wasn’t real. It was something I was expected to do at that age. I became a true Christian in my 20’s based on evidence and an understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

      Does that help?

    • “A true Christian is someone who has received the gift of “eternal life” from God.”

      How do you they didn’t receive the gift of “eternal life” from God? Did you ask anyone from the clergy project if they had?

    • I have read what you have read from the Clergy Project. Is there one story you are interested in discussing? I have talked with former clergy who say they left Christianity for atheism or agnosticism and what I heard from them led me to a conclusion about whether they were true Christians. What is most important to me is that they look at the evidence for theism and Christianity and make their ultimate decision on that and not former beliefs and experiences that may not have been true.

      I believe that God will treat every true Christian as a child. Part of being a father is disciplining his children. That’s giving them guidance and wisdom along with correction. Here’s what the author of Hebrews wrote about that – ‘For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:6-8). God will deal with His children as His children. Christians can “wander” from their faith in Christ, but I don’t believe they can “leave” their faith in Christ.

    • “I became a true Christian in my 20’s based on evidence and an understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.”

      Is it possible another person who claims to be a Christian to look at you and say you are not a true Christian?

    • “I became a true Christian in my 20’s based on evidence and an understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.”

      Ax- Is it possible another person who claims to be a Christian to look at you and say you are not a true Christian?

      “Yes.”

      You say you are a true Christian, somebody else can say you are not. That sounds a lot like an option.
      How we determine who is a true Christian and who is not if it’s just an opinion?
      if it’s just an opinion, wouldn’t that mean you saying those people on the clergy project is just an opinion?

    • Mine is an “informed opinion.”

    • Mine is an “informed opinion.”

      Does that make it true?

    • No, but an informed opinion is more likely to be true than an uninformed opinion. Expert opinion is even better.

    • Mine is an “informed opinion.”

      Ax – Does that make it true?

      “No, but an informed opinion is more likely to be true than an uninformed opinion. Expert opinion is even better.”

      How many people in the Clergy Project have you talked to and got the reason for why they left straight from them?

    • I have talked with many clergy who became atheists, but don’t know whether they were members of the Clergy Project. The Stories section of the Clergy Project website includes explanations from the former clergy about why they left.

    • “I have talked with many clergy who became atheists, but don’t know whether they were members of the Clergy Project. The Stories section of the Clergy Project website includes explanations from the former clergy about why they left.”

      Have you ever ask them if at one time they truly believed they were a “True Christian”?

    • I did and most of them answered “yes.” I would expect that most would answer yes since they had gone to college/seminary for the purpose of becoming professional clergy.

    • “I did and most of them answered “yes.” I would expect that most would answer yes since they had gone to college/seminary for the purpose of becoming professional clergy.”

      If someone were standing in Church with you one Sunday morning and they told you they were a “true Christians” would you believe them?

    • I would enjoy talking with them about what they meant by using the term “true Christian.” My believing them would come from our discussion.

    • “I would enjoy talking with them about what they meant by using the term “true Christian.” My believing them would come from our discussion.”

      So you are holding a neutral position.
      How does that differ from the people on the Clergy project? From my perspective, instead of holding a neutral position, you are concluding they were not a “true Christian” and wrote a whole article about it and from your own admission, you haven’t talked to one of them from the Clergy Project. It seems to me you are holding them to a different standard, I’m I wrong?

    • No, I am not “holding a neutral position.” You asked – “If someone were standing in Church with you one Sunday morning and they told you they were a “true Christians” would you believe them?” I said that I would enjoy talking with them about what they meant by using the term “true Christian.” I have a strong position about what it means to be a “true Christian.” If someone tells me they are a “true Christian,” I want to know why they identify themselves in that way, which includes learning how they became a “true Christian” and how they are living out the “true Christian” life.

      You may remember that I didn’t mention the Clergy Project in my article. You asked me about the Clergy Project in the comments section. If I had written an article about the Clergy Project, I would have contacted the Clergy Project for information and responses to my questions. As I have answered previously, I have talked with former clergy who walked away from their profession and their belief in God. However, you may notice that my article does not mention clergy at all. You brought up the subject in your comments and questions. Why would you accuse me of writing a “whole article” about clergy and not talking “to one of them from the Clergy Project” when I never mentioned clergy or the Clergy Project in my article? You wrote – “It seems to me you are holding them to a different standard, I’m I wrong?” Yes, you are wrong because the Clery Project was not part of my article. How could I hold a group to a “different standard” when I didn’t write about them?

      Are you running out of new questions to ask? It seems that you are asking the same old questions over and over again and even making up things to ask about that were not part of my article. I asked you almost two weeks ago if you were asking questions because you didn’t understand what I was saying or because I hadn’t answered in a way that fit some agenda you had and you answered that you were “trying to understand” and “If I have an agenda, it’s to understand your position.” I have answered your questions, many of them again and again, so you should understand my position by now.

      Based on my article and answers to your questions, what do you understand my position to be?

    • “No, I am not “holding a neutral position.” You asked – “If someone were standing in Church with you one Sunday morning and they told you they were a “true Christians” would you believe them?” I said that I would enjoy talking with them about what they meant by using the term “true Christian.” I have a strong position about what it means to be a “true Christian.” If someone tells me they are a “true Christian,” I want to know why they identify themselves in that way, which includes learning how they became a “true Christian” and how they are living out the “true Christian” life.”

      Do you take them at their word they said they were a “true Christian”?

    • I take them at their word that “they said” they were a true Christian. Talking with them about their belief can lead to a deeper understanding.

    • “You may remember that I didn’t mention the Clergy Project in my article. You asked me about the Clergy Project in the comments section. If I had written an article about the Clergy Project, I would have contacted the Clergy Project for information and responses to my questions. As I have answered previously, I have talked with former clergy who walked away from their profession and their belief in God. However, you may notice that my article does not mention clergy at all. You brought up the subject in your comments and questions. Why would you accuse me of writing a “whole article” about clergy and not talking “to one of them from the Clergy Project” when I never mentioned clergy or the Clergy Project in my article? You wrote – “It seems to me you are holding them to a different standard, I’m I wrong?” Yes, you are wrong because the Clery Project was not part of my article. How could I hold a group to a “different standard” when I didn’t write about them? ”

      I apologize I wasn’t trying to accuse you of anything. It was poorly written on my part. I’m trying to understand how you came to your conclusion in your article. In your conclusion it sounds like you disbelieve them. Am I wrong?

    • The conclusion I reached in my article concerns all people who say they were Christians and “left” the faith.

      Here’s the first sentence from my “conclusion” — “I seriously question how many of the people claiming to ‘leave the faith’ today were actually ‘in the faith.'”

      I seriously question people who say they were true followers of Jesus Christ but no longer believe in Him. I begin with serious questions.

    • “No, I am not “holding a neutral position.” You asked – “If someone were standing in Church with you one Sunday morning and they told you they were a “true Christians” would you believe them?” I said that I would enjoy talking with them about what they meant by using the term “true Christian.” I have a strong position about what it means to be a “true Christian.” If someone tells me they are a “true Christian,” I want to know why they identify themselves in that way, which includes learning how they became a “true Christian” and how they are living out the “true Christian” life.”

      Ax – Do you take them at their word they said they were a “true Christian”?

      “I take them at their word that “they said” they were a true Christian. Talking with them about their belief can lead to a deeper understanding.”

      Above you said that if anyone said they were a “True Christian” you would take them at their word they were being truthful.
      However, here…

      “The conclusion I reached in my article concerns all people who say they were Christians and “left” the faith.

      Here’s the first sentence from my “conclusion” — “I seriously question how many of the people claiming to ‘leave the faith’ today were actually ‘in the faith.’”

      I seriously question people who say they were true followers of Jesus Christ but no longer believe in Him. I begin with serious questions.”

      When anyone tells you they are no longer a “Christian” you don’t take them at their word and seriously doubt them. Why the different standards when this sounds like it includes all people?

    • You wrote – “When anyone tells you they are no longer a “Christian” you don’t take them at their word and seriously doubt them. Why the different standards when this sounds like it includes all people?”

      I don’t know why you think my standards are different. Let’s look at our discussion again – pulling the quote as you sent it to me:

      “No, I am not “holding a neutral position.” You asked – “If someone were standing in Church with you one Sunday morning and they told you they were a “true Christians” would you believe them?” I said that I would enjoy talking with them about what they meant by using the term “true Christian.” I have a strong position about what it means to be a “true Christian.” If someone tells me they are a “true Christian,” I want to know why they identify themselves in that way, which includes learning how they became a “true Christian” and how they are living out the “true Christian” life.”

      Ax – Do you take them at their word they said they were a “true Christian”?

      “I take them at their word that “they said” they were a true Christian. Talking with them about their belief can lead to a deeper understanding.”

      Above you said that if anyone said they were a “True Christian” you would take them at their word they were being truthful.”

      Please take careful note of what I have answered previously. I did not say I would take a person who claimed to be a true Christian “at their word they were being truthful.” Those are your words, not mine. I wrote – “I said that I would enjoy talking with them about what they meant by using the term “true Christian.” I have a strong position about what it means to be a “true Christian.” If someone tells me they are a “true Christian,” I want to know why they identify themselves in that way, which includes learning how they became a “true Christian” and how they are living out the “true Christian” life.” AND “I take them at their word that “they said” they were a true Christian. Talking with them about their belief can lead to a deeper understanding.”

      Both of those statements are different than what you said I said. I do NOT take someone at their word when they say they are a “true”Christian. I reserve opinion on that claim until after we talk about what they think it means to be a true Christian.

      Someone making a “truth” claim, like being a “true” Christian, should be able to explain why they believe what they believe. My response to someone making that truth claim is to question them about what they believe and why their believe it.

      Does this clarify for you what I mean?

    • Now I’m really confused. When you said…

      “I take them at their word that “they said” they were a true Christian.”

      What do you mean?

      Is there a difference between “I take them at their word that “they said” they were a true Christian.” and “I take them at their word that “they said” they were a true Christian they were being trueful”?

    • If someone said to me, “I am a true Christian,” I would receive that as an invitation to talk about what they just said. I would ask questions to learn more about what they meant by what they said and why they said it to me. Their answers might lead me to more questions. Eventually, I would reach a conclusion about whether they understood what it means to be a true Christian.

      1. Their answers to my questions might demonstrate that they both believe they are a true Christian and are in fact a true Christian (based on guidance from the Bible about the identity of a true Christian).

      2. Their answers might also demonstrate that they believe they are a true Christian, but are not in fact a true Christian (based on guidance from the Bible about the identity of a true Christian).

      3. Their answers could also demonstrate that they do not believe they are a true Christian and are not in fact a true Christian (based on guidance from the Bible about the identity of a true Christian).

      Those are the three options I can see coming from such a discussion.

    • “I seriously question people who say they were true followers of Jesus Christ but no longer believe in Him. I begin with serious questions.”

      Do you take them at their word?

    • Please see previous responses to similar questions.

    • Mark – Not correct. You define faith as “belief without evidence you can see,” but I do not not. Faith, trust and confidence in evidence, is not a blind faith. It is a confident faith; confidence in the evidence we have.

      On 7/22/2017 you wrote…
      “Christian faith is ‘confidence based on evidence.”

      To me this sounds like two different types of faith.
      One being “confedence in evidence” the other “confidence based on evidence”.
      Is there a difference between Christian faith and the faith above?

    • Here is the context of my quote from 7/22 – “Why do you say that I “won’t give” you my definition of faith? I’ve written hundreds of articles about faith where I share my views. In fact, the statement of purpose under my website title is “Building Confidence Through Evidence.” In the article, “Short Post About Defining Faith” (https://faithandselfdefense.com/2015/01/13/short-post-about-defining-faith/), I wrote that the “Christian faith is ‘confidence based on evidence.” That’s based on the meaning of the Greek words in Hebrews 11:1. Faith is confidence based on evidence. That is my preferred definition based on the Greek language. The English definition leaves out trusting someone or something based on evidence.”

      You asked – “To me this sounds like two different types of faith. One being “confedence in evidence” the other “confidence based on evidence”. Is there a difference between Christian faith and the faith above?”

      They are the same.

    • Mark – Not correct. You define faith as “belief without evidence you can see,” but I do not not. Faith, trust and confidence in evidence, is not a blind faith. It is a confident faith; confidence in the evidence we have.

      on 8/3/2017 you wrote…
      “Empirical evidence is information acquired by observation or experimentation (Oxford dictionary – “Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”).”

      Can you give me an example of some empirical evidence that you have when you believe something on faith?

    • Here is the context of my comment on 8/3. I listed some empirical evidence in my answer from that date.

      “Empirical evidence is information acquired by observation or experimentation (Oxford dictionary – “Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”). Seeing muddy footprints is something you observe. It is both real-time and historical. Real-time is the mud you see on your kitchen floor that someone should clean up. Historical is that someone walked on your previously clean floor with muddy feet. Two things going on at the same time: real-time and history.

      You can believe or disbelieve this evidence. You believe there’s mud on your floor or you don’t believe it. The fact that mud is on your floor is reality, but you may not believe it for some reason. You believe someone walked on your clean floor with muddy feet or you don’t believe it. The fact that muddy foot-prints exist on your floor is reality, but you may not believe it for some reason. Your own thought process determines what you believe about the evidence and what you do with it.

      The same is true about the resurrection of Christ. It is both real-time and historical. Real-time is that Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven. Historical is that Jesus rose from the dead almost 2,000 years ago. You can believe or disbelieve the evidence for it. The fact that Jesus rose from the grave is reality, but you may not believe it for some reason. Your own thought process determines what you believe about the evidence and what you do with it.

      Faith-based evidence is that evidence that we believe to be true. Christians are not told to believe something that is not true or something that has no evidence to its truthfulness. Christians are told to believe what is true based on the evidence of its truthfulness. Hope that helps.”

      Empirical evidence is defined as “Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.” (Oxford) What I use as empirical evidence for historical events (historical empirical evidence) include documents (e.g. written texts, scrolls, financial records, written eyewitness testimony), archaeological items (e.g. pottery, monuments, tablets, tombs, artifacts), etc.

    • “Faith-based evidence is that evidence that we believe to be true. Christians are not told to believe something that is not true or something that has no evidence to its truthfulness. Christians are told to believe what is true based on the evidence of its truthfulness. Hope that helps.””

      I’m sorry, I still don’t understand. Let’s try this, instead of diving into the definitions of the words. Is faith a reliable method for discovering what’s true?

    • I don’t know why you would want to move away from defining words. Knowing the meaning of words is foundational to understanding how someone thinks. Isn’t that what you said you wanted to know about me? I look at your questions and see words that need to be defined in order for me to understand your question and for you to understand my answer. Would you agree?

    • I don’t know why you would want to move away from defining words. Knowing the meaning of words is foundational to understanding how someone thinks. Isn’t that what you said you wanted to know about me? I look at your questions and see words that need to be defined in order for me to understand your question and for you to understand my answer. Would you agree?

      No, I said dictionaries are not an authority on words, they only describe usages of those words. What I am trying determine is how you are using the words especially since our discussion got bogged down on definitions.
      That being said, Is faith a reliable method for discovering what’s true?

    • Yes .. read my previous answers for reasons why I believe faith is a reliable method for discovering what’s true.

    • “Yes .. read my previous answers for reasons why I believe faith is a reliable method for discovering what’s true.”

      Could someone use faith to believe in Vishnu and Krishna?

    • I believed in Vishnu and Krishna as a teenager because a yoga teacher told me they existed. I trusted the teacher. I learned later that there was no evidence for the existence of Vishnu and Krishna. I’ve talked with many people who believed in Vishnu and Krishna to see how they arrived at their belief and their experience was similar. They trusted a teacher, a parent, a guru, etc. A person can use faith to trust what someone says about something.

    • “I believed in Vishnu and Krishna as a teenager because a yoga teacher told me they existed. I trusted the teacher. I learned later that there was no evidence for the existence of Vishnu and Krishna. I’ve talked with many people who believed in Vishnu and Krishna to see how they arrived at their belief and their experience was similar. They trusted a teacher, a parent, a guru, etc. A person can use faith to trust what someone says about something.”

      If faith can lead you to something true and faith can lead you to something false, how can that be a reliable method for discovering was is true?

    • Trusting that something is true should be based on something being true, so evidence becomes the key to determining the right thing to trust. Trusting the wrong evidence would most likely lead to being wrong. Trusting the right evidence would most likely lead to being right.

    • “Trusting that something is true should be based on something being true, so evidence becomes the key to determining the right thing to trust. Trusting the wrong evidence would most likely lead to being wrong. Trusting the right evidence would most likely lead to being right.”

      I didn’t ask you about trust, I asked you about faith.
      Let me ask you this, when you believed in Vishnu and Krishna, did you do so using faith?

    • You wrote – “I didn’t ask you about trust, I asked you about faith.”

      They are the same thing. That’s according to the meaning of the word “faith.” May I ask how you define the word “faith” so I can respond to it?

      You wrote – “Let me ask you this, when you believed in Vishnu and Krishna, did you do so using faith?”

      I believed what my yoga teacher said about Vishnu and Krishna. I trusted their word about it.

    • “I believed what my yoga teacher said about Vishnu and Krishna. I trusted their word about it.”

      That turned out to be wrong, correct?

    • It did. I moved from Hinduism to Buddhism, then to atheism. I discovered over time that all of they were wrong.

    • “It did. I moved from Hinduism to Buddhism, then to atheism. I discovered over time that all of they were wrong.”

      So the trust/faith that you had in the them was reliable?

    • The trust/faith I had in Hinduism, Buddhism and atheism was not based on reliable evidence .. hence my becoming a theist and Christian.

    • “The trust/faith I had in Hinduism, Buddhism and atheism was not based on reliable evidence .. hence my becoming a theist and Christian.”

      Thus the faith you had was unreliable, correct?

    • The evidence was unreliable. Trusting in unreliable evidence leads to unreliable faith. Trusting in reliable evidence leads to reliable faith.

    • “The evidence was unreliable. Trusting in unreliable evidence leads to unreliable faith. Trusting in reliable evidence leads to reliable faith.”

      But didn’t you trust in the evidence that proved Vishnu was real at the time?

    • I didn’t trust in evidence about Vishnu. I trusted what the teacher said about Vishnu. When I later looked into evidence for Vishnu, I found it (evidence) unreliable.

    • “I didn’t trust in evidence about Vishnu. I trusted what the teacher said about Vishnu. When I later looked into evidence for Vishnu, I found it (evidence) unreliable.”

      You also said…

      “I didn’t trust in evidence about Vishnu. I trusted what the teacher said about Vishnu. When I later looked into evidence for Vishnu, I found it (evidence) unreliable.”

      How much time was there between the time you trusted what the teacher said about Vishnu and the time you discovered the evidence was unreliable?

    • “I didn’t trust in evidence about Vishnu. I trusted what the teacher said about Vishnu. When I later looked into evidence for Vishnu, I found it (evidence) unreliable.”

      How much time was there between the time you trusted what the teacher said about Vishnu and the time you discovered the evidence was unreliable?

      “Two years.”

      So for two years you trusted what the teacher said?
      Here you use faith and trust interchangeably…

      “I believe in many past events because that faith/trust is based on reasonable evidence.”
      “Faith/trust in the evidence made the war tangible to me.”
      “If you have done some family genealogy, you understand the process of having faith/trust in what the evidence (e.g. records, artifacts, tombstones, letters, DNA testing, etc) shows you about your family.”
      “We have faith/trust in the truth claims of Christianity because of the evidence for it.”

      Would it be unreasonable to say you had faith in the teacher?

    • I was a child at the time, so my trusting what the yoga teacher said was similar to how I responded to other teachers and coaches. I believed what she said about yoga and Hinduism. Yoga is a spiritual practice in Hinduism. I didn’t have “faith in the teacher,” but I believed what she told me about yoga and Hinduism.

    • “I was a child at the time, so my trusting what the yoga teacher said was similar to how I responded to other teachers and coaches. I believed what she said about yoga and Hinduism. Yoga is a spiritual practice in Hinduism. I didn’t have “faith in the teacher,” but I believed what she told me about yoga and Hinduism.”

      Your definition of faith you provided me with…
      “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”

      I don’t understand. How does you trusting your teacher and trusting for two years not fall under the definition of faith you gave me?

    • Faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” Believing what someone says about something does not mean you have “complete trust or confidence” in them. If you shop for a new car and the salesman tells you that he can get you a great deal on the car and you believe what he says about getting you a great deal on the car, are you having “complete trust or confidence” in him? You barely know him. You are trusting that what he told you about the deal on the new car is true, but you haven’t placed your complete trust or confidence in him.

      Think about the many times a week that you believe what someone tells you about something. Do you place your “complete trust or confidence” in everyone who tells you something you believe? I would hope not.

      My believing what my yoga teacher said about yoga and Hinduism was not my having “complete trust or confidence” in her.

    • “Faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” Believing what someone says about something does not mean you have “complete trust or confidence” in them. If you shop for a new car and the salesman tells you that he can get you a great deal on the car and you believe what he says about getting you a great deal on the car, are you having “complete trust or confidence” in him? You barely know him. You are trusting that what he told you about the deal on the new car is true, but you haven’t placed your complete trust or confidence in him.

      Think about the many times a week that you believe what someone tells you about something. Do you place your “complete trust or confidence” in everyone who tells you something you believe? I would hope not.

      My believing what my yoga teacher said about yoga and Hinduism was not my having “complete trust or confidence” in her.”

      There is a difference between trust and complete trust?

    • I think using the word “trust” says enough about what the word means, but the Oxford Dictionary definition I used adds the word “complete” to the word trust in its definition of the word “faith.” Oxford uses this definition for trust – “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.”

    • “I think using the word “trust” says enough about what the word means, but the Oxford Dictionary definition I used adds the word “complete” to the word trust in its definition of the word “faith.” Oxford uses this definition for trust – ‘Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.'”

      Sorry, I’m confused. Your reply doesn’t really discribe the difference between trust and complete trust. You give the Oxford definition of “trust” but nothing about “complete trust”. Again I’m not so much interested in definitions, I’m more interested in concepts.
      What do mean when you say you have “trust” in something vs when you say you have “complete trust” in something?

    • I don’t use the words “complete trust.” I just say I trust. Oxford Dictionary added the words “complete trust” when defining the word “faith.”

    • “I don’t use the words “complete trust.” I just say I trust. Oxford Dictionary added the words ‘complete trust’ when defining the word ‘faith.'”

      Yes, however you are clearly distinguishing a difference between the two. Let me rephrase.
      What do mean when you say you have “trust” in something vs what is “complete trust”?

    • Hi, Ax. Your questions continue to be strangely repetitive to the point that continuing this “conversation” online is no longer helpful to people who read this blog. I find it difficult to understand after weeks of answering your questions that you still do not understand how I think. I’ll contact you privately via email to continue if you wish. Mark

    • “WHAT?? You just asked me – “Can we now leave the legal system out of the equation and you only tell me what you think?” Then, you ask me about the legal system. Which is it? Please be consistent in your expectations and directives. Do you want me to address your question about the legal system or do you want me to obey your directive to leave the legal system out of the equation? Your directives are at odds. I will be glad to do one or the other, but cannot do both since that is not logical.”

      What I’m trying to figure out is that even though you brought up the legal system when I was asking what you believed earlier, is are you in fact using a method independent of the legal system. Is this the case?

    • “No. However, if he seemed like a “credible” individual I would follow up with many questions to learn more about his alleged experience. I used the term “credible” because the people I’ve met through the years that claimed alien abduction were not credible.”

      What if he was in a court room telling the same story, would you believe him?

    • Not without corroborating evidence.

    • “I thought you wanted to have an honest conversation. Misquoting someone to make it appear that their answer is “I don’t know” is not how one has an honest conversation. This is an example of evidence of intention.”

      I thought we were having an honest conversation. I didn’t quote you to misrepresent you, if I did, I apologize. I thought your answer was about as honest as one can get and I applaud you for it.
      I was trying to rephrase the question with a different analogy.

      Do you think flipping a coin is a reliable way to discover what is true?

    • Hi, Ax. I still don’t understand why you quoted me as you did, but let’s move on.

      You asked – “Do you think flipping a coin is a reliable way to discover what is true?”

      No. Flipping a coin is not a reliable way to discover what is true.

    • “No. Flipping a coin is not a reliable way to discover what is true.”

      Ok, so if flipping a coin is an unreliable way to discover the truth, because heads could lead you to the truth and tails could lead you to what is not true, then could we not replace coin with eyewitness/person testimony, because they can lead you to what is true and what is not true?

    • How is the random action of flipping a coin similar to eyewitness testimony? How can you “replace” a coin with human testimony?

    • “How is the random action of flipping a coin similar to eyewitness testimony? How can you “replace” a coin with human testimony?”

      If flipping coin can lead you to a true thing and a false thing and an eyewitness can lead to to a true and a false thing, aren’t they both unreliable in the same way? Both 50/50?

    • Flipping a coin is random. There is no “mind” behind it. A person flips the coin and it lands. How can a random flipping of a coin lead you to a true thing and a false thing? It’s random. There is no “true” or “false” to the flip. It’s just a physical flipping. The random chance of 50/50 (or close to that) is just that, random.

      An eyewitness has a “mind” that thinks, considers, decides, etc. While people can do random things, giving eyewitness testimony is rarely a random event. Do you believe all eyewitnesses can be both reliable and unreliable or that 50% of eyewitnesses are reliable and 50% are unreliable? If the latter, are reliable eyewitnesses reliable 100% of the time and unreliable eyewitnesses unreliable 100% of the time?

    • “Do you believe all eyewitnesses can be both reliable and unreliable or that 50% of eyewitnesses are reliable and 50% are unreliable? If the latter, are reliable eyewitnesses reliable 100% of the time and unreliable eyewitnesses unreliable 100% of the time?”

      Wouldn’t that depend on who it is and what they are talking about?

    • I was responding to your question and asked you questions that would help me better answer your question. However, you asked another question instead of answering my question. So, I’ll move forward without knowing your answers to my questions.

      Yes, it does depend on who it is and what they’re talking about. That’s the difference between flipping a coin (random chance) and eyewitness testimony (thoughtful choice).

    • If you go back through our conversation and look, you will see every time I asked a question about you, you always reply with you or someone disconnecting yourself from questions which defeats the purpose. Every time you do that you avoid the question and doesn’t get me any closer to understanding your position. Because of that, I’m not any closer to understanding why you think my response about people leaving the faith supports your conclusion. If I’m wrong and it actually does support your conclusion, I want to know about it so I can correct my mistake and/or side with you. However, with you avoiding my questions, it just sends us off on a wild goose chase and is very unproductive.
      Do you really want me to understand your position or not?

    • I do want you to understand.

    • “Ax, how are truth and faith in opposition to each other? Do you not believe what is true?”

      Are you equating faith with truth?

    • Faith has a relationship with truth when you trust evidence of that which is true.

    • But according to Hebrews 1:11, faith is the evidence.
      Is faith tangible?

    • The word tangible means “a thing that is perceptible by touch.” Since we can’t “touch” history in the sense of returning to an historic event and touching something in that event, we must look to other ways to make history “tangible.” Trusting evidence of past events that can be perceived by touch would be tangible.

      I was born after the end of World War II. Both of my parents served in the military during the war. They told me many stories about what it was like to serve in the military during the war. They told me personal stories mentioning the places they served, the people they knew, the events of the war that helped shape them as people. They showed me photos of them serving overseas, where they went, what they did, who they knew. They showed me personal letters they wrote and received during the war. They showed me military letters and documents they received during the war. Even though I was born after the war, World War II became tangible to me through the evidence my parents, grandparents and others in my family shared with me. Could I physically touch World War II? No, but I could touch those photos, letters and documents. I could touch and talk to my parents and others who lived during the war. I also read many books about the war and found that what others wrote about the war supported what my parents had told me. Faith/trust in the evidence made the war tangible to me.

      This question was a big sticking point for me when I was an atheist. How could I investigate history in such a way to determine whether something was true. I was an investigative journalist, so I used those skills to see what I could learn about the reliability of written testimony about God. I didn’t believe in the supernatural, so I began by looking at what the Bible recorded about past peoples and civilizations and was surprised by its accuracy. Up until that time I had thought of the Bible as legend and fairy tales with no grounding in anything real. Archaeological finds, artifacts, manuscripts, texts, etc. demonstrated that the Bible was an accurate recording of history. That process showed me the “tangible” side of belief in God. Trusting the evidence should lead to seeing the belief as tangible.

      If you have done some family genealogy, you understand the process of having faith/trust in what the evidence (e.g. records, artifacts, tombstones, letters, DNA testing, etc) shows you about your family. The same is true for Christians. We have faith/trust in the truth claims of Christianity because of the evidence for it. Does that help?

    • In which way do you think it supports your comment?

    • Hi, Ax. The Clergy Project home page begins with this question – “Are you a religious professional who no longer believes in the supernatural?” Religious “professionals” no longer believing in the supernatural, or behaving as if they don’t believe, is nothing new. The Old Testament prophets addressed the religious professionals of their day, even as Jesus Christ addressed the religious professionals of His day.

      How does someone become a religious professional who no longer believes in the supernatural? It begins in the home, in the church, in the seminary, in the denomination. As the Apostle John wrote – “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” (1 John 2:18-19) The Apostle Paul wrote – “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29-30)

      So many of the stories I’ve heard from people who say they “left the faith” are told by people who were not told the truth about what it means to be a Christian.

      As I wrote in my article –

      “People who have bowed their knee to the Lord Jesus Christ in true humility and repentance are ‘leaving the faith?’ People who have known the depth of God’s love and mercy for their soul and had full confidence in the truth of God’s Word are ‘leaving the faith?’ People who have seen the life-changing power of the Gospel in their own lives are ‘leaving the faith? People who have been involved in sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others and have seen the Holy Spirit change lives through the power of the Gospel of Christ are ‘leaving the faith?’ Really?”

  3. Simple. If you want to know as many true things as possible, then you have to cast faith aside. Why?
    Is there anything that someone couldn’t take on faith?

  4. I have lived most of my life “in the faith” but I sincerely cannot say I am still in the faith, but rather changing my faith. I no longer can believe what today’s church says about hell, holy trinity, “salvation” and the virgin birth/divinity of Jesus. There are so many ways to interpret the Bible. And so many books that the ancient church excluded from the Bible, it makes me wonder. And what makes me truly sad is the claim that many believers make that implies that people like me “were never truly believers ” , or true Christians. It is the person’s fault that the religion they believed in for so many years no longer makes sense . I have been blind by faith but now I can see more.

    • Hi, Noel. If you are interested in exchanging ideas about ‘faith’ (trust), I’d be glad to share some ideas with you. Here are some areas we could discuss:

      1. ‘I have lived most of my life ‘in the faith.’ How do you define ‘faith’ and living in that faith?
      2. ‘I sincerely cannot say I am still in the faith, but rather changing my faith.’ How do you see yourself changing your faith? Is it something you’re doing or is something else changing your faith? How will you know when you arrive at the ‘true faith’?
      3. ‘I no longer can believe what today’s church says …’ Which ‘church’ is today’s church? Is it the one in the Bible or a denominational version?
      4. ‘about hell, holy trinity, ‘salvation’ and the virgin birth/divinity of Jesus.’ What is ‘today’s church’ saying about these Bible doctrines and what about their teaching can you no longer believe?
      5. ‘There are so many ways to interpret the Bible.’ How many ways? Which ways do you find true and which ways not? What is the proper way to ‘interpret’ any writing? Would that apply to the Bible?
      6. ‘so many books that the ancient church excluded from the Bible.’ When did the ‘ancient church’ exist? What books did that church exclude from the Bible? Did the ancient church have any good reasons to exclude some writings from the Bible? If so, do you agree with their reasons? If not, why not?
      7. ‘what makes me truly sad is the claim that many believers make that implies that people like me ‘were never truly believers,’ or true Christians?’ Do you think it makes believers said when people who claimed to be believers no longer believe? If so, what might be their reason? If not, why do you think that?
      8. ‘It is the person’s fault that the religion they believed in for so many years no longer makes sense.’ What reasons can you think of for why a religion no longer makes sense to someone who once believed the tenets of that religion? Is it the person’s fault? How so?
      9. ‘I have been blind by faith but now I can see more.’ How did ‘faith’ blind you? What is it that you can see now that you couldn’t see before?

      I look forward to continuing the discussion.

      Mark

    • Mark, I appreciate the challenging questions. I will do my best to answer each one, but keep in mind I am not a scholar, journalist, or scientist; but I do think things through.

    • ooops… I accidentally clicked enter before completing my comment…
      anyways…
      1. I define faith in believing in Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God, the Bible as the perfect and complete word of God, believing in the power of Jesus’ blood to “wash away the sins of the world” , the Holy Trinity, the Second Coming, and living life based on these beliefs by reading and attending religious events (mass as a Catholic and services as Pentecostal).
      2. Changing faith means that I am continuously evolving (you can read more in my post https://livingthekingdom.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/spiritual-roller-coaster/ ) and not stagnated in simply believing Jesus is the only way to God and that I must confess my sins in order to be “saved.” from eternal damnation (by a loving God). I may never know the “true faith.” (if there is one)
      3. Today’s church is a denominational version. Here is a post about my views on today’s church https://livingthekingdom.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/church-help-jesus-instead/
      4. The denominational version (Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, etc) teaches that hell is a real place reserved for Lucifer, fallen angels, and all the souls that do not accept Jesus as their personal savior. The Holy Trinity is the teaching that God is three persons (which many say is implied in the Bible although not directly stated), Salvation is taught as escaping eternal damnation through belief in Jesus’ atonement, and his virgin birth and divinity is explained as Jesus being equal to God. I am not 100% sure what all of these teachings really mean, except that they sound more and more like mythical . I have read of many ancient stories with similar themes and plots (i.e. Mithras).
      5. There are too many ways to interpret the Bible that I cannot count. I truly don’t know how to interpret it, except to try to follow what applies to my current life (loving my enemies, helping the poor, forgiving, etc.), I also don’t know for sure how to interpret any book, except through my own personal experience, NOT only on how others tell me to interpret simply because “God told them so.”
      6. I presume the “early church” existed from the time of Constantine (who made Christianity to official religion of Rome for political reasons), to maybe the Renaissance , again I don’t know all the historical evidence at the moment, I apologize. These books would include the gospel of Peter, Judas, Mary Magdalene, and The Epistles of Ignatius. I don’t know why they were excluded except that they did not conform to the teachings of ancient church. (i.e. the divinity of Jesus)
      7. I don’t know if believers feel sad when other people claim they no longer believe.
      8. I meant that some believers think it is the person’s fault for thinking that their faith no longer makes sense, which explains the notion that the person “was never a true believer.” In my own personal life, I was taught that my doubts were the works of the devil and that I could not please God if I doubted. It makes no sense that an all powerful and loving God could put conditions upon me. Is He gracious or Judging? Can he be both? I am a finite, imperfect, doubtful human being, why am I being labeled as “not a true Christian or believer” if I express my increasing lack of faith? Could God accept me and love me regardless of my lack of faith? If so, I have not felt that love through a “true believer” yet.
      9. The faith in Jesus alone would not let me consider other ways to live , such as doing yoga and meditation, accepting gays, using reason to understand God, accepting other religions, etc. God has been limited to the God of the Bible.
      But again, I don’t claim to know all the answers. I don’t think anybody really can. I am continuously learning and growing. Which is why I am having this conversation with you. Thanks again for the discussion.

    • Hi, Noel. I’ll read through your posts and get back to you. Thanks!

    • Hi, Noel. I read your posts and find your love for God and others stimulating and refreshing. I also have problems with churches and denominations and how they present themselves as representatives of God. Christians are confused today because they hear so many different voices and don’t know which is true.

      You mentioned that some of the primary teachings of the Bible “sound more and more like mythical” and gave examples of ancient stories with similar themes and plots (e.g. Mithras). Many scholars disagree that the stories about Jesus are mythical or attached to ancient myths. I’m a journalist by trade, which means I’m curious and skeptical. I checked into many of the myth claims years ago and continue to keep up with what’s coming out and haven’t seen anything yet that supports those claims with evidence. You might find these websites helpful – http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-myth.htmlhttp://www.reasonablefaith.org/jesus-and-pagan-mythology .

      Studying the Bible is similar to studying other books to understand the author’s intent. The method is important to understand and follow. I wrote a little about my experience studying the Bible methodically here – https://gracelifethoughts.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/rightly-dividing-the-word-of-truth.pdf . I’ve used this method for 40 years and have found it helpful in determining the Holy Spirit’s purpose for inspiring prophets and apostles to write what we have in the Bible.

      From what I’ve investigated about the ‘early church,’ it has existed since the 1st century AD. Reading 1st, 2nd and 3rd century documents demonstrates that the church and its New Testament teachings existed long before the time of Constantine. These early Christians believed they were to follow the teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:42), so they compared writings purporting to be Christian to see if they met the apostolic test. Were they written by Christ’s apostles (e.g. Matthew, John, Paul, Peter) or known associates of the apostles (e.g. Mark, Luke)? If not, the early church leaders did not include them in their readings or the Canon of Scripture.

      You mentioned that ‘it makes no sense that an all powerful and loving God could put conditions upon me.’ Why not? Would you agree that loving parents would put conditions on their children to guide them and ensure their safety? God is our Creator and knows best how our lives can be lived to the fullest. Conditions that He places on His creation are there for our good. As Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

      Jesus also said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ He presented Himself as the only Way to God. I don’t believe you’ll find God through other means.

      Thanks for writing and I look forward to hearing from you again!

      Mark

    • Well said.

  5. Truth2Freedom on said:

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  6. Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:
    Excellent piece with a lot of thought provoking realities to consider!

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