Category Archives: Christianity

Scholars Discuss What Is The Origin Of Sin

sin-crouches-wood

Christian’s teach original sin, that sin which permeated all of humanity as a result of the Fall. Jews talk about “The evil inclination” that part of human nature that was present in Eve when she chose to eat the forbidden fruit. Where did these concepts come from and what is the answer to the question, “What is the origin of sin?”

Do we sin because we have a nature inclined towards sin or do we sin because demons are influencing us to do so?

This enlightening interview between scholars, Nehemia Gordon and Miryam Brand, author of Evil Within and Without, The Source of Sin and It’s Nature As Portrayed In Second Temple Literature, will demonstrate to the listener the complexities of understanding such a topic that on the surface may not seem so complex.

Some of the topics they discuss in this 32 minute interview are:

  • Passages from Tanakh, Dead Sea Scrolls, book of Romans and more
  • Jewish and Christian concepts of demons including possession
  • Prayers for dealing with demons

Click here to listen now.

 

 

Clearing The Emotional Wall To Find Truth

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A blog I follow, DeceptionUnraveled posted to their FB page recently the following…

Emotions can run high when it challenges our beliefs. Galileo was charged as a heretic and Bruno was killed for his belief that the earth rotated around the sun. However, that did not change the fact that it was truth. Ever more so with Christianity. A dear friends husband used to say “you have to get over that emotional wall”. I am learning, especially from Rabbi Skobac, I need to change my way of thinking when talking with Christians. For instance, instead of asking show me where Jesus in the Tanak, I should ask questions like show me in plain scriptures where in the Tanak it describes what the Messiah is supposed to do.

 

So this got me thinking about two things…

The first is…

Many people think they stand for truth, when they merely stand for a religious or political position. When people make defending a religion, a political party, a fill-in-the-blank, more important than the truth the resulting fruit serves to promote defensiveness, the propagation of lies, setting roots for power and control, which ultimately leads to wars – big and small and ultimately all manner of crimes committed often in the name of one’s religion.

The second is…

What is my goal in discussing with others about their religious, political or other beliefs?

1. As DeceptionUnraveled pointed out, using phrases like “show me in plain scripture … what Messiah is suppose to do?” puts the onus of providing the burden of proof on the other person. This will promote all willing parties in the discussion to stay focused on the facts, the scripture – as it is plainly stated.

2. Is the goal to “win” or to “prove my point”?  It’s easy to get on the defensive when emotions run high. Seems like human nature to want to be right. But Tanakh teaches us humility and has many proverbs that teach us to use our tongues with intentionality because the power of life and death is in the tongue and it can be a fountain of life to those who we speak wisely to.

3. Emotions are deceptive. Recognizing and getting a hold of my emotions will always serve me well as I strive to serve YHVH. If I can recognize my emotions, especially frustration or defensiveness I can internally make an adjustment and reframe my inner thoughts to “what is important about this conversation? What is the goal of my communication?”

These are just a few quick ramblings for what they are worth…but here is something always worth remembering…

Truth is found on the other side of the emotional wall.

Do We Need A Mediator?

drill-bits

It’s been drilled into our proverbial heads as Christians that we need a mediator…we need the blood and we need the great high priest Jesus to intercede on our behalf. Of course Catholics, we are taught have a false doctrine, because they teach that they need the priest to intercede for the people. But as a Christian, I honestly never stopped to think, at least very hard, about how that same concept might apply to Jesus.

Questions are the answers: Did God every say that a sinful person cannot come into His presence to ask for forgiveness or that we need a mediator in order to come before Him? Watch as Deception Unraveled takes us verse by verse through some of the scriptures that address this issue. After searching the scriptures, let us know what do you think God’s opinion is on the subject ? Do we need a mediator? Leave your comments below.

Leave your comments below.

Leaving Christianity in 10 Questions


It has been on my heart for a while now to document my leaving Christianity. Hopefully this will help others to understand how this could happen to a person with a reputation as a serious student of the Bible. Spiritual Babies.net had has asked their listeners to submit videos where they addressed 10 questions about leaving Jesus, so it seemed like a good idea to follow this format…so here we go:

1. When did you loose your faith in the New Testament? It was in 2014 that I came to terms with where my studies had brought me, but it was a long journey of several years.

2. When you began your journey out of Christianity what was your faith? I spent 20 years in a reformed protestant church (aka Calvinism) and considered myself rather well versed in reformed theology. As a counselor and teacher I was very committed to growing in my faith and understanding..

First step on the journey out was over the past several years I took an interest in:

  • Church history
  • The canon of the NT
  • The church fathers
  • Jewish history – First century BC/AD
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • And other topics like textual criticism, inerrancy and inspiration
  • Biblical Hebrew

Second step on the journey was leaving our church of over 20 years due to a number of reasons: Primarily doctrinal differences so that we felt we could not uphold our membership vows any more:

  • The Sabbath and the Feasts
  • The Lords Supper as a communal meal
  • Malachi 3:10 on tithing taken out of context.
  • We stopped entering into Christmas and Easter due to it’s pagan roots years ago

We began to feel that there were some real problems with how the church had evolved in its theology and not even keeping in tune with what was plain in the NT.

3. How did it make you feel when you questioned the NT? So once we left the church we were members of, things progressed very quickly. I think the reason was because I was no longer counseling and teaching or bound by membership vows and that brought a freedom to “question” the new testament where I saw problems rather than continue to adhere to the circular thinking – if there appears to be a contradiction, its only because the truth has not yet been revealed.

  1. One of the topics I had been studying was inerrancy and inspiration what i discovered helped me to be confident that I was not alone in asking the hard questions and also I began to see that much christian doctrine is based on opinion and not on truth or fact. I kept asking myself the question, “Who gets to decide if …”
  • Jesus is God
  • That these letters are inspired
  • That the feasts are no longer applicable
  • Whether I’ll go to hell if I don’t believe in Jesus
  • Whether I need to be perfect to have a relationship with God
  • Whether God really gave His name to Jesus
  • Whether there is a trinity

4. Did you lose faith in Jesus at the same time? What events led you to question the New Testament? No, I did not lose faith in JC at the same time.  Some of the specific things that began to trouble me about the NT were:

  • Seeing the misquotes by Paul
  • The proof texting prophecies of Jesus
  • The Christian IMO, misinterpretation of some of Paul’s writings…like Col 2
  • Don’t let anyone judge you concerning the feasts
  • The matter of authority – who has the authority to change God’s word

5. What effect did leaving Jesus have on your relationships? In my case my leaving JC has improved many of my relationships. Why, because:

  • I am free to be me with out the pressure of evangelizing people
  • Free not to feel like I have to correct people’s bad theology
  • I am less judgmental and I hope more humble
  • And awakened me to the gross deception of Christian doctrine
  • Christian friends who know me intimately and love me have remained
  • We still talk about God and understand He is central to our lives

One more thing I want to convey about “leaving Jesus” is that in my case, I did not really leave Jesus, he just faded away as I read Torah and looked to my heavenly Father, HaShem, and embraced all the Torah says about Him – it was like one day I realized, Jesus was far away and I did not see my need for him any more. I have since repented of idolatry and turned completely away to worship YHVH alone.

6. Is Your understanding of a relationship with God different now than before? This question makes me laugh because there is such a simplicity and peace that I did not have before and did not realize was missing. That’s because I had suspended my logical rational side and simply relied on faith…Christian definition of faith that has little basis in understanding Hebrews 11:3. As I have journeyed out of Christianity I realized 2 things:

  1. You can’t know, what you don’t know. All I knew was what I had been taught. I had never really allowed myself to consider any other interpretation.
  2. That when I became a Christian, it was based on 2 things: a.) experiences: my life was changed for the better and I had a lot of unusual spiritual experiences. b.) I never did my due diligence with the scriptures. I accepted what i was told about Christian doctrines. Now That I’ve reckoned with the scriptures I’ve determined that the tenets of Christianity are contradictory to what I see in the Hebrew scriptures

7. What would you say to someone who has questions about the New testament? I would say:

  • Read the Torah (first 5 books). Get very familiar with Torah it’s the plumb line.
  • Read the Torah with the restored name of YHVH
  • Then read the NT in chronological order.
  • Watch for how the theology about Jesus evolves.
  • Next take every prophecy of Jesus from the NT and read it in its context

8. Were there people who helped you on your journey at any point? Help comes in all different forms. There are several people whose work I studied along the way

  • Michael Heiser. Though a Christian and trinitarian…I have a great respect for Dr. Heiser because IMO he was one of the first intellectually honest scholars I studied with.
  • Dr. Robert Eisenman who helped me to see the history of Christianity through a more historical lens and as he has done a good job in my opinion of blending all the NT and extra biblical historical sources together so one can see more clearly what the Jewish/christian mind set was in the first century.
  • Bart Ehrman’s work has been instrumental in providing a understanding of textual criticism.
  • Rabbi’s Michael Skobac and Tovia Singer whose teaching so resonated with what I was beginning to see for myself in the Tanakh…their teaching felt like a home coming. Water to my soul.

One does not always have to be on the same page faith wise with others, what I am looking for is to learn from intellectually honest people.

9. What is the best thing about being where you are now and what is the most challenging? I love where I am at: I have a peace and freedom, a love and joy that I just did not have previously – though I thought I did. I feel free to simply love God and others and appreciate the differences without feeling the responsibility to correct anyone’s theology. Truly God has His hand on His people and draws them with cords of loving kindness.

10. If I could go back and change one thing what would it be? That would be to reckon with the scriptures (Hebrew and Christian) and not just take someone’s word for what it means. To not feel like I’m just not smart enough or in the know enough to “get it”. That God requires us to have “spiritual eyes” to understand His word. No actually it is plain and written down in a way anyone can understand.

I now realize that Christianity has a lot of emotion wrapped up in it. Jesus evokes a lot of emotion in people and therefore people are quite attached to this figure/phantom who they believe has given them everything they need for righteousness and salvation by sacrificing his life. When the reality is YHVH is all we need -  He set His affection on us, He forgives the repentant sinner, He moves us to walk in paths of righteousness for His names sake. He is God and there is no other: He ordained the end form the beginning: He is Savior, Redeemer, Father, friend – He is echad – He is One.

 

Mind Control And Manipulation In The Church

 

mother-mary-1

I recently came across this article by Albert Mohler on Ligonier Ministries site: Must Christians believe in the virgin birth? As a baby Christian (I have since left Christianity after 23+ years) I cut my reformed teeth on RC Sproul and his Ligionier conferences. If RC said it, I thought I could believe it. However, over the years, preferring not to continue with spoon feeding, I began studying the Bible for myself. In doing this I began to notice some repeating patterns of manipulation used in christian teachings.

7 Manipulation Techniques Identified

Let’s take a look at 7 of these common patterns of manipulation as illustrated in this Ligonier article…

1. The “them against us” defensive argument

Mohler writes that this article he wrote in the Christmas season is a response to the…

weekly news magazines and various editorialists engage in a collective gasp that so many Americans could believe such an unscientific, supernatural doctrine. For some, the belief that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin is nothing less than evidence of intellectual dimness.

It seems the author wants to reassure any Christians who may be reading these articles at Christmas time that they should not be concerned that their faith in the virgin birth somehow makes them “less intellectual” lest they be swayed by any of them. Essentially, this argument serves to inform the reader that anything written in secular news about Christianity lacks substance and would best be ignored. It begins to plant a mental boundary in the mind of the reader that there are “Christians” and then there are “people who write and edit media” who see their beliefs in the supernatural as being “less intellectual.” This creates a “them against us” mentality and likely an aversion to even considering any opposing view points on the virgin birth.

2. The “you are not good enough” argument

Next Mohler adds to his argument, a 2nd proposition that makes the stakes much higher than just being “less intellectual.”

The proposition now becomes something much more crucial, Mohler writes…

Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth, or is the doctrine an essential component of the Gospel revealed to us in Scripture? (emphasis added)

If I were a christian reading that article, I would no longer be worried about whether I’m simply “less intellectual” than the average secularist. Now I would become hyper-focused on this new proposition conveyed in the hidden message which is: to be a “true” christian, to be accepted by God, you have to believe in the virgin birth.

Mohler’s supposition, that a true Christian must believe in the virgin birth, is just a more palatable way of saying that, if you doubt or do not understand the doctrine of the virgin birth, just suspend your intellect and simply accept it “as gospel.” So what this argument at its root is saying is, that unless you think the right thoughts about the virgin birth you are not good enough to be a Christian, not good enough to be accepted by God.

3. The Christian pitted against Christian technique

Please take a moment to consider: Does the author define what it means to be a “true Christian” according to the Christian scriptures?  His terminology alerts the reader that there may be people out there who think they are “true” Christians, but they are actually just deceived. Naturally, the reader should wonder, “Am I one of the deceived?” But the author never explains explicitly what he means by “true Christian” except to equate it with having to believe in the virgin birth.

Through this writing style, the author not only pits the Christian against the secularists, using the “them against us” defensive argument, he takes it a step further by effectively pitting the so called true Christians, i.e. those who believe in the virgin birth, against false Christians, i.e. those who do not believe in the virgin birth.

Remember, the author still has not defined his terms about what the Christian scriptures constitute is a true Christian – other than to suggest that one mark of a true christian is thinking that Mary the mother of Jesus was a virgin when she conceived him.

4.  The “take it on my authority” technique

The author now explains some of the history behind the doctrine of the virgin birth writing:

The doctrine of the virgin birth was among the first to be questioned and then rejected after the rise of historical criticism and the undermining of biblical authority that inevitably followed. Critics claimed that since the doctrine is taught in “only” two of the four Gospels, it must be optional. The apostle Paul, they argued, did not mention it in his sermons in Acts, so he must not have believed it.

The author shares a few general facts about the doctrine of the virgin birth. This “intellectualizing” on the authors part serves to make the “less intellectual” lay person feel that they are being given the straight scoop, and quite possibly, because they inherently trust the authority of the author, they believe he has given them all they need to know about the history of this doctrine.

Again, please take note, that up until this point in the article very little is actually being written that “educates” or “elucidates” the readers mind about the topic at hand. Those topics being:

  • Does belief in the virgin birth make Christians “less intellectual”
  • Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth, or is the doctrine an essential component of the Gospel expressed in Christian scripture?

The author makes bold statements, which sound like fact, but really to this point only serve to pique the readers interest in whether being a “true christian” is somehow inextricably tied to “believing the virgin birth.”

5. The “ad hominem” defense

Now the author moves into one of the most over used, yet still exceptionally effective forms of manipulation. This defense actually serves to remove the readers attention from the meat of the argument itself and focuses the attention on real or imagined negative characteristics of the opponent.

Please note that an ad hominem is about the “least intellectual” argument a writer could impose. An ad hominem argument appeals not to the intellect, but to the emotions. This is highly significant because the writer now uses an emotional argument to bolster his case that the “true” christian who believes by faith in the virgin birth is not “less intellectual.” Thus continuing to appeal to the emotional side of the reader in what appears on the surface to be an intellectual argument from a man who drips with Christian authority.

In this case the writer now introduces his ad hominum attack against retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong about whom he states:

Modern heretics like retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong argue the doctrine was just evidence of the early church’s over-claiming of Christ’s deity. It is, Spong tells us, the “entrance myth” to go with the resurrection, the “exit myth.” If only Spong were a myth.

6. the coup de grace, “the heretic”argument

Rather than stick to history, scripture, scholarly arguments and such to prove his points Dr. Mohler introduces the red herring of not only sharing a very brief proof texting of what Spong says about the virgin birth, but the author punctuates his argument saying Spong is a “heretic” and uses sarcasm to further lower the reader’s opinion of Spong thus rendering him completely impotent as a source of any kind of serious christian theological ideas.

The use of the word heretic here further serves to lead the reader away from any “intellectual” arguments for the author’s proposition that to be a “true Christian” one has to believe in the virgin birth and now uses fear to control the reader. How, so you say?

Now that the word “heretic” is associated with discussing the veracity of the virgin birth, there are 4 not so subtle messages to the reader that filter into his consciousness and colors his ability to reason and think critically:

  • First, it is not ok to question the doctrine of the virgin birth
  • Second, if I were to see it differently, I would be considered a heretic
  • Third, I would no longer belong to the in-crowd – the true Christians
  • Fourth, I would go to Hell, because that’s where heretics and unbelievers go

Let’s face it there is no nastier label that a “true” Christian would want to be associated with than heretic. Well, because that would make them not a “true” christian…right. They might join the ranks of heretics like, you know, Joan of Arc, William Tyndale, Thomas Crammer, Michael Servatus and so many more.

7. The “you can’t be one of us” – or the “ultimate rejection”technique

Further the author makes it clear that, if one were even found to be among the ranks of the so called “revisionist evangelicals” they could not possibly be a “true” Christian if they denied the virgin birth.

Now, even some revisionist evangelicals claim that belief in the virgin birth is unnecessary. The meaning of the miracle is enduring, they argue, but the historical truth of the doctrine is not important…The real question is this: Can a Christian, once aware of the Bible’s teaching, reject the virgin birth? The answer must be no.

Webster’s dictionary defines heretic as “a dissenter from established religious dogma.” This obviously would only apply to people already within the religious system in question. People who dare to challenge the doctrines and dogma of the system to which they belong.

Salvation By What You Think

As pointed out above, there is very little teaching in this article, but there is a lot of “telling”. Telling the reader “what” they must think in order to belong to the one true group of Christians. The message the author makes in the excerpt below may seem to have some validity, but it comes with many, many assumptions…and one assumption is clear…you, lay person, do not have the intellect to read the Bible and reckon with the word yourself and decide what it means. But, thankfully, us scholars here at Ligonier (in this case) have your back, we will tell you what you should believe and it goes like this…

Even if the virgin birth was taught by only one biblical passage, that would be sufficient to obligate all Christians to the belief. We have no right to weigh the truthfulness of biblical teachings by their repetition in Scripture. We cannot claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God and then turn around and cast suspicion on its teaching.

The authors circular thinking is revealed by the last sentence above:

We cannot claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God and then turn around and cast suspicion on its teaching.

Let’s unravel this last sentence just a little bit before we wrap up. This statement is full of assumptions:

  • The Bible is the Word of God – the problem with this argument is at least 2 fold: 1. this assumes the reader must accept, without any or very little information about the Christian scriptures themselves, it’s history, the letters and books that make it up, how other groups have understood these letters through out the ages, the literary devices used, the language of the manuscripts etc. etc. that somehow this group of Christians that Albert Mohler belongs to has the correct and only interpretation and understanding of the text and all others are invalid. And if they do not accept what this authority says, they cannot be a member and worse they very likely are going to hell.
  • Secondly, it assumes that “believing the Bible is the word of God” is necessary for having a relationship with God, aka in Christian-ease salvation. Again, without defining what the “word of God” means or arguing from the scriptures.
  • Believing the “Bible is the word of God” leaves no room for discussing any “non orthodox” doctrines of the faith. This binds the hands of the lay persons’ mind so to speak from being free to reckon with the bible, it’s history, contextual setting, language, meaning etc and come to one’s own intellectual conclusions without fear that they will go to Hell if they do not get it right.
Weighing men down with burdens hard to bear

In this way the church has become a master manipulator, choosing to bind the minds of men from learning and reckoning for themselves, i.e. encouraging the process of real intellectual study, arguing, struggling, researching, questioning, dialoguing, examining and most of all God leading and convicting. The fear in the church is too great…after all, some members of the flock might come to different conclusions, then what…well we’ll tell them all that if they don’t believe like we do, they are going to hell, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, you cannot belong to the group anymore and you are not good enough to be accepted by God.

Like Jesus, who accused the experts of the law “For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear…” many a church has done much the same to its members.

By tying the intellectual hands of the mind, placing fear of heresy into the hearts of vulnerable sheep, by threatening to expunge, i.e. reject those who will not affirm the same doctrines of the faith in many denominations Christianity has been reduced to a religion of salvation by thought. The conclusion of the matter becomes:

  • The sheep are instructed what they are to believe
  • The sheep are instructed that if they do not believe the right things they will be rejected by God
  • Intellectually, the church is asking the sheep to accept the conclusions their particular denomination has come to
  • The sheep do very little reckoning and drawing their own conclusions based on true study (i.e. not just listening to sermons or reading the most popular pastor/teachers books)
  • The average person does not have the means or inclination to reckon with all that it means to “believe” in certain doctrines thus placing a heavy burden on the person who in reality has placed his faith in the authority of the church not in God Himself.
  • Most doctrines of the church are empirically unprovable, yet, the sheep are told they must believe these things like the virgin birth to be a “true” christian.
Friend, Set Yourself Free – Learn To Think For Yourself

Sadly, my impression of many Christian teachers of our day is that they may be wonderful orators, but they do little true teaching. Lacking in critical thinking and majoring in mind manipulation and clever arguments…they rarely get to a systematic, historical, cultural and intellectually honest approach to the scriptures. Because after all we all know, as Millard Erikson wrote:

If we do not hold to the virgin birth despite the fact that the Bible asserts it, then we have compromised the authority of the Bible and there is in principle no reason why we should hold to its other teachings. Thus, rejecting the virgin birth has implications reaching far beyond the doctrine itself.”

And that my friend is the bottom line…start pulling the thread of doctrine and sooner or later the entire tapestry unravels…

Rest in the words of Psalm 25 and Proverbs 2

Oh YHVH, let me know Your ways; teach me Your paths. Direct me with Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; I hope for You all day long.

 

Have you felt manipulated by religious teachers and teachings? What techniques have you identified? Leave your comments below.

Disclaimer: I have left Christianity to embrace the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. My purpose in publishing this article which I began while I was still teetering on the edge of Christianity is to help my dear brothers and sisters to see the manipulation and mind control that is happening right before their very eyes.Very little real teaching is happening in the church, mostly people are being told what to believe. Praying for many to be released from the fowler’s snare.

The Religious Elephant in the Room – What Is Truth

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Sometimes friendly discussions take a turn toward debate when discussing such emotional topics as faith and religion. In one recent dialogue, when one person was challenged about their knowing who the authors of the NT are, she replied…

What difference does it make…if the authors (of the NT) were anonymous or if theologians debated over who actually wrote them? It doesn’t negate the truth of them. 

Well, she hit the proverbial nail on the head…the elephant in the room is, “what is truth?” Afterall, there are various traditions that claim to “have the truth”. My question is “Who ya gonna believe and why?”  You owe it to yourself to search out the answer to that question…your eternity may depend on it.

On the contrary, do each of us have the right to choose the path that makes the most sense or will God condemn us to eternity in Hell for our misunderstanding? Perhaps, one day we will all stand before God and explain our reasoning…who knows.

Where I diverge with Christianity is I choose to use Torah as the plumbline for determining what is truth in my world as it pertains to knowing and worshiping God. Why? because by tradition God spoke it on Mount Sinai and Moses recorded it. (most Jews and Christians believe this to be so). If it does not line up with what’s in the first 5 books (Torah) then I have to seriously question it. That is the path I have chosen and it makes most sense to me….blessed be His holy Name.

What makes sense to you and how have you determined the answer to “who ya gonna believe and why?” as far as it pertains to worshiping God. Leave your comments below.

 

Share Your Best Questions that Challenge Religious Dogma

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Joel 2:32 says “Whoever calls upon the name of YHVH will be saved…” In Isaiah 45 it is written that YHVH says, “There is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me…”

It was grappling with the question…

“what if a real person in the 21st century hears or reads these passages and take them to heart and embraces YHVH as God and Savior alone. What if they never hear about Jesus, but serve and love YHVH with all their heart, soul and mind. Are they saved?”

That question made me realize that Christian dogma and doctrine was seriously in error. It doesn’t work in the real world so to speak where real flesh and blood people are moved to simply repent of their sins and turn their hearts to YHVH as He admonished people everywhere to do throughout the Hebrew scriptures.

I asked a number of Christians the above question and few gave me a straight forward answer as I am assuming they had to perform theological gymnastics in their mind to make the passage fit with their Christological doctrinal beliefs – and it just doesn’t. The square peg does not fit into the round hole.

The remainder who answered the question straightforwardly, were people of strong faith but lite on the understanding of Christian doctrine.

The obvious answer to this question, is of course…Yes! That is what YHVH said to do. That is Who YHVH said He is. If we cannot take Him at His word and at face value, how can we trust Him at all?

I firmly believe that answers are found in the questions we ask…being led out of the bondage and brainwashing of our minds requires us to search out the questions that are begging to be asked, but to which we are all too often blinded.

What questions have you searched out for yourself that have helped to lead you out of the snare? Please leave your questions and comments below.

The Road Less Traveled – Worshiping YHVH Alone

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It is time to put the rumors to rest…about where I’ve come to spiritually and how I got here. A concerned friend messaged my husband the other day after hearing through the grapevine about my leaving Christianity, “how does this happen?” she wrote.

That is a good question. How does a person get anywhere in life? Some say life is a journey… Some start out on a journey and go where their heart leads them. Others set a specific goal and a purpose. Still others allow themselves to be swept up in the winds of change and various doctrine. Some start out on a path and then come to a fork in the road that leads them off the well worn trail…Like Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken … I relate to having taken the Road less traveled.

For inquiring minds, I thought it might be helpful to share THE WHAT, WHY, HOW AND WHEN of my journey… so let’s begin with “THE WHAT“…

THE WHAT is, in short, after 23+ years of being part of the Christian church and “walking” with Jesus, I, simply put…

  • Left Christianity to worship YHVH, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob
  • No longer believe that Jesus is Savior or Messiah
  • No longer embrace the so called New Testament as inspired or inerrant (hope to write more about “why” in a dedicated post to that topic.) in short because, most of the prophecies that allegedly point to Jesus are grossly taken out of context plus many of “Paul’s” quotes from the Hebrew scriptures/Tanakh are misquotes or proof texts and when read in context do not support his arguments. For an example click here.
  • And oh by the way, no, I am not Jewish

Before we get to the why, how and when, here are some common questions that have been asked me (or others about me) concerning this change in faith …

1. What about Jesus?

  • Jesus slowly faded away, as I turned my attention to YHVH and the Torah/Hebrew Scriptures where I found a clear and unambiguous path of forgiveness of sin and relationship with YHVH.
  • Further I reject the gnostic/mystical arguments that Jesus is in the Hebrew Scriptures by way of “types and shadows” that only the Holy Spirit can reveal. To accept Jesus at this point would require me to believe that the God who does not change and cannot lie, tricked the children of Israel into thinking that salvation was found in YHVH when YHVH really meant it was found in “Jesus“. It would require me to believe that God uses slight of hand when communicating with us. If that is the case, how could anyone trust the “New Testament”? How would one know or have confidence that Jesus is God’s final word to mankind, when God obviously did not say what he meant in the Tanakh.

2. What about the Holy Spirit – Where is the power in just following God?

  • Simply put, it’s not something I give a second thought to. I rely on God (especially through His Torah which instructs us in all wisdom) to live a life pleasing to Him. After all, it was YHVH that said, “What I am commanding you today is not to hard for you or beyond your reach.” Deut 30:11. Secondly, not that this point had anything to do with my leaving Christianity, but it is worth an honorable mention, the anecdotal evidence for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is rather flimsy. But, more about that in another post.
  • Further, the Hebrew scriptures in no way point us to worshiping the Holy Spirit, nor does it elaborate much about the Holy Spirit. Therein lies another serious conundrum between the “Old” and the “New”.

3. How are your sins forgiven without a blood sacrifice?

  • Read Psalm 51, Is 1, 2 Chronicles 7, Psalm 103 just for starters – and answer the question for yourself. Now, how do YOU think your sins are forgiven?

4. But what about the “fact” that Jesus is the Messiah and did miracles and rose from the dead and ascended to heaven?

  • The Hebrew scriptures are pretty clear about how to identify the Messiah (Zechariah 14, Ezekiel 34 – read LORD: YHVH ). Plain and simple, Jesus does not fit the profile. Dying and being raised from the dead, as impressive as that might be, is not one of those criteria for identifying the Messiah. Again I ask, “Did YHVH trick the children of Israel, telling them to look for certain criteria and hiding the most important from them?” Furthermore, saying or writing that one day Jesus will reign the world in peace and every enemy will be put under his feet when he returns in the future in no way proves he is messiah right now.

5. Who are your mentors? What curriculum are you following?

  • I find this question somewhat interesting and curious at the same time. On the one hand I understand that some people are very baffled at what has happened to me (and others from the fold i once belonged to.) By the same token it seems that people have a hard time accepting that this happen to me independent of following any particular person or curriculum. I simply believed that the Bible (Old and New) were the most important vehicle through which I could know God and Jesus. Therefore I have devoted much of my life to studying it. My studies in the last few years veered off into the study of the history of the Bible itself, 1st century (BC and AD) history, ecclesiastical history, textual criticism, inerrancy, the church fathers, and the dead sea scrolls. Also, as a hobby I enjoy writing and researched and wrote a number of topical papers from a biblical perspective on: Reproduction/birth control, the Sabbath, the Feasts, Salvation as well as numerous other smaller articles. Most of my studies were supported by the resources of Christian authors and theologians. In the last year I’ve enjoyed the teachings of a few Jewish scholars and Rabbi’s. Again, I hope to do a more comprehensive post on the specific resources, Christian and non Christian, in the future.

6. Are you Jewish?

  • Worshiping the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob alone and embracing the Tanakh does not make a person Jewish or make them a follower of Judaism. Let me ask the reader, does a person have to have a religion? Religions are part and parcel derived from traditions of man…and yes, Christianity is a religion derived from the traditions of man. I do not currently identify with any specific religion or sect.

7. What is your goal?

  • I have heard through the grapevine that there may be some people who are concerned that I may be proselytizing others to leave the Christian faith. My goal is what it has always been, to use my interests, desires and gifts to help people find truth and freedom and to honor God. People who know me, know I am passionate about sharing what I know: whether it’s about the Bible and Christianity or whether it is about health and nutrition. That is just me and always will be I suppose. However, one huge difference in the before and after: Previously when I was in Christianity I was compelled to share the gospel so that people could be “saved” and not go to Hell. Now I have the freedom to love and enjoy people just for who they are and to agree to disagree and respect and learn from others as well. I have no need to convince anyone anymore that I am right and they are wrong. For those who ask, I enjoy sharing. If you ask me or talk to me about the Bible, you will likely receive a very passionate discourse about what I think. If you don’t want to know or want to avoid the topic, that is perfectly fine as well. Some relationships I have with people have not skipped a beat because those relationships are not based on whether we agree on theological issues or not. We love and enjoy each other and have a God given connection – end of story.
  • Also, there is likely a misconception among some folks who know me and a few of my spiritual sisters who have also left Christianity. Some likely believe that I was instrumental in somehow convincing or deceiving these ladies into leaving Christianity. All I can say to that is, you likely do not know the story nor took the time to find out. And you do these godly women a great disservice by assuming they cannot think and decide for themselves what they believe. And just to inject a bit of logic into the matter, why would anyone forsake the church and all the relationships and support they had within the church to maintain a relationship with little ole me.

8. What about your husband – has he left Christianity?

  • Please, have the courtesy of asking him and letting him answer for himself.

Ok, back to the WHY, HOW AND WHEN

THE WHY...

First of all because, as I became more and more acquainted with the Torah, I saw that…

  • YHVH said He was God and Savior and there is no other. (Deut 32:39, Isaiah 45)
  • YHVH forgives sin and calls us to walk in His ways (Ez 18, Psalm 103).
  • Those who follow YHVH will be accepted and blessed by Him. (Deut 30, Ez 18)

Second, I saw that there are serious problems with the New Testament…

  • The Christian sacred writings were often in direct contradiction with Torah compare: Deut 30:11-14 with Romans 10:5-9 (just for starters)
  • God commanded us against idolatry (Deut 4:16) and explicitly said, “I am not a man” (Numbers 23:19) and further declared human sacrifice an abomination. (Deut 12:31). IMO, as I understand the text, Jesus worship is both idolatry and human sacrifice.
  • Most, if not all of the prophecies about Jesus in the “NT” are not prophecies at all and are often taken out of context. A favorite of mine is the alleged quote by Jesus about “striking the Shepherd of the Sheep”. Compare Mark 14 and Zechariah 13 – (read a few chapters in Zechariah to get the context right and always use God’s name YHVH rather than LORD as to be clear who the text is referring to).

Third, I began asking other questions like…

THE HOW did this happen – I took off my “Jesus glasses” and began reading the texts for what they are not what I had been been told they are by Christian sources – For example the conveniently placed capitalization’s in the “Old testament” suggesting or plainly stating that certain passages referred to Jesus or the Messiah. I read and reread the Torah (first 5 books) itself and compared the message to what was taught by Jesus, Paul and others. Besides the serious contradictions between Torah and the Christian writings which became more and more evident, I realized that when I became a Christian it was largely an emotional subjective experience…Let me explain…

  • It was a difficult time in my life and I was searching for God
  • I had a “born again” experience in conjunction with reading/hearing some teachings from the Bible
  • I accepted that what I was begin told and was reading about Jesus was true
  • Therefore I attributed my changed life to him

THE WHEN happened slowly over the last few years…Now I have personally reckoned with these sacred writings rather than just accept what I had been told they meant:

  • This lead me to see things differently and come to different conclusions
  • I also began to notice how many well known and respected Bible teachers use a lot of emotional arguments in their preaching/teaching, thus using a powerful form of manipulation rather than simply let the text stand on it’s own. For an example read about 7 forms of manipulation used by a prominent Christian teacher in one particular article.
  • I also had an epiphany, which was, that I could submit to God and trust Him to lead me to the right conclusions as I reckoned with the scriptures and drew my own conclusions without fear of going to hell for “getting it wrong” or worried that “my heart just wasn’t in the right place” or “I was being too intellectual instead of faithfilled” or that “I was being deceived.”

A few other questions and line of thinking that propelled me down the path of reckoning with the NT writings were: I began to ask myself questions and notice things like…

Some more red flags that concerned me along the way were…

  • God’s personal name replaced with LORD over 6,000 times
  • Gods personal name never showing up in NT
  • God’s personal name which is to be exalted replaced by the name “Jesus”
  • Christianity abandoning God’s appointed feasts in lieu of non appointed feasts that are often rooted in paganism (Christmas and Easter)
  • Christian teachers twisting Paul’s words in Colossians to mean no one should observe God’s feasts any more, rather than as it is written suggesting, “observe them but don’t let any one judge you as to how you observe them.”
  • Christianity breaking Bible interpretation rule #1 letting the clear scripture interpret the unclear, not vice versa. For example in coming to the conclusion that the 7th day Sabbath has been made null and void or replaced by the 8th day or the Lord’s Day. This IMO, is an example of the unclear reinterpreting the clear.
  • Lacking intellectual honesty – i.e. picking and choosing church father and other quotes that fit the Jesus agenda, and abandoning the the quotes and teachings that do not.
  • An example would be excusing the vitriolic hatred Martin Luther had for the Jews when the number one sign of being a “true Christian” is love, especially love for one’s enemies.
  • Assuming that anywhere one reads LORD in Hebrew scriptures it is fine to substitute the name “Jesus”.
  • Coming to understand that Joshua is just as good, maybe even better translation for the name Iesus (Jesus’ Greek name)
  • Noticing that James, the brother of Jesus plays a very small part in Christian writings, yet he was head of the Jerusalem church and clearly was at theological odds with Paul.
  • Wondering, “who” get’s to decide what is the “correct” translation/doctrinal understanding of Christology.
  • If the apostles, especially Paul who claimed to have direct teaching from the risen Jesus, were receiving divine revelation, why was there confusion on Paul’s part about when Jesus was returning?
  • Realizing that much of the way church is done today is simply “tradition” not truth. Nothing wrong with tradition, just don’t happen to believe that one religion’s tradition is more valid than an others…I need something more solid called truth to stake my eternity on.

So there you have it dear friends…hopefully you have some answers to, “How did this happen?” No body could be more surprised than me…but in my quest for knowing God and His truth this is the road that makes the most sense as a result of 23 plus years of studying the Bible….to stay in touch with where this road takes me please follow me on my Out Of The Snare Facebook Page.

Jewish Lawyer Converts to Christianity – What’s Missing in this Testimony?

Supreme Court Building

When I saw this woman’s testimony I was compelled to respond for a couple reasons:

  • A. It represents so much about what is wrong with Christianity – i.e. so much of Christianity is grounded in emotions rather than scripture.
  • B. My Christian testimony was marked with these kinds of “visceral” spiritual and providential experiences.

First, let me be clear, this article is not about questioning her experience. That is a very personal and subjective thing (which she has opted to make public).

But, do these subjective experiences serve as the plumb line for validating the nature and character of the God of the Bible? For the fact is that people throughout the world, religious and nonreligious, have these types of experiences.

I do not doubt that this woman seems to have had some kind of powerful, visceral experience, and that she is sincere in her belief of what they meant to her. What I do doubt is her interpretation of those subjective experiences… Why? Because subjective experience does not determine objective truth.

Her story begins while in an airport bookstore one day. She sees and purchases the book Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton, takes it onto her flight and as she begins reading it a lady sitting near her strikes up a conversation asking her about the book.

Now, here’s where the story get’s very compelling. Because several providential experiences happen to her:

  • The lady who strikes up a conversation with her is an author and a Christian
  • In a dream she hears part of a Zeph passage “He will delight with you in song”
  • She receives a book and note from the author she met on the plane
  • The note references the same scripture, Zephaniah 3:17
  • She calls her sister who just happen to be reading a review on same book
  • She gets invited to church…has more feel good experiences
  • She is shocked at how beautiful the service and music is
  • She meets the pastors, who are both Jewish
  • She has a strong emotional response to this encounter
  • A woman asks if she can pray for her
  • During the prayer she has a feeling of electricity running through her
  • As a result she felt a strong sense of truth of who Jesus is

The speaker explains in her testimony that she is going through an especially emotionally painful period in her life and suddenly these things start happening to her. Could it be that with the attention that is directed towards her by the Christians, she feels and receives their compassion, concern and simple kindnesses colors her interpretation of her visceral and providential experiences.

Let us examine some of her statements from the video and in the light of common sense, objective reasoning and of course scripture:

“I felt goosebumps…it was like electricity…. I’m having this visceral feeling…”

What do goosebumps mean? Whenever a person feels goosebumps or electricity is this a sign that they are encountering truth?

 The Hebrew scriptures tell us that God’s word is life and truth (Deuteronomy 4:1, Psalm 119:142).

“I’m Jewish. My family is Jewish. Everyone I know in the family is Jewish.”

Notice that she mentions being Jewish and also being a member of a synagogue, but never mentions any scripture, nothing about God, nothing about what she believed about God and His Messiah from the Hebrew Scriptures. The point here being that just because she and her family members are “Jewish” in no way suggests she know and understood the Hebrew scriptures. Thus, what is compelling about a Jew coming to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, if they cannot reason from the scripture in the first place about the biblical criteria for the Messiah.

Could it be that these emotionally charged experiences in a time of grief and emotional pain paved the way for her to “experience Jesus”. She explains that when the lady prayed for her

“I just felt this huge sense of truth of who Jesus is, I felt it, I could feel it”
and she was asked, “Will you accept Jesus as your messiah.”

Her position and reputation in her synagogue was compromised when she explained “I believe in Yeshua now” and she was asked “What happened to you?”

She explains…

“The beauty of how this happened to me, is that I was so hit with the truth of it, at such a deep level, that all I could answer was, with great conviction, ‘I can’t explain why, but it is true. I know it is true. I know it is true in my heart. And I have the rest of my life to read scripture and understand the why – but I know it is – it is the truth.’ ”

 

 

She can’t explain why it’s true, she just knows it is true. Keep in mind, this is an attorney speaking — Read that statement again. Is that how you would want your attorney to defend you before the court of justice?

“Well your honor, I know my client is innocent, I can not explain why, I just feel it deep within my heart. I have no evidence, except for my feelings and what I know to be true, based on, well my feelings and you should believe me because, i know it is true…I’ll research it and tell you why it’s true later. But for now, I just know it’s true.”

 

How do you know Jesus is who you think he is? Is he God, messiah, son of God, torah teacher etc? Can you concisely explain why what you believe is actually true? Do you see a difference between what Jesus taught and what is taught about him? By addressing any of these questions, you will begin to scratch the surface of discovering for yourself what you believe and why. Also, consider whether you are you free to come to your own conclusion about who Jesus is without fear of hell fire and damnation?

Remember, test everything against the light and lens of Torah.

Call Upon The Name Of The LORD And Be Saved?

man-praying.jpg

Through out my Christian walk I loved studying theology and learning the doctrines of the faith…however I also was aware that sometimes, many times, Christian doctrine and theology just couldn’t pass muster…when it came to what I call “where the rubber meets the road test” that’s where all sorts of circular thinking and hoop jumping seemed to happen. The cliched answers to the doctrinal conundrums always seemed to center around the “just have faith” or “God can do what ever He wants, after all no one deserves God’s favor” line of reasoning.

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Christianity teaches that forgiveness and a relationship with God are only possible through Jesus Christ. Simplistically, that requires an individual to “turn from their sin and accept Jesus into their heart.”

Now let’s look at a possible real life scenario

Person A just happens to hear or read chapter 45 of Isaiah. They only have the Hebrew scriptures and have heard no other teachings. They embrace with all their heart what Isaiah 45 says about who God is – His name is YHVH, He is creator, He is redeemer, He is Savior etc. They are convicted, repent and respond and follow God’s ways.

Person A essentially calls upon the name of YHVH in the spirit of Joel 2 for his salvation – trusting that what he is reading is true.

Person A has never heard about Jesus and if he has, it never even dawns on him that YHVH and Jesus are the same people.

Does person A…

  • Have a genuine relationship with God?
  • Have salvation from Hell fire?
  • Have forgiveness of sins?

I have asked several Christians (all the way from doctors of theology to seminary students to lay teachers in the “church”) not one christian has been able (or perhaps willing) to give me an answer.

Christian please consider the following…

  • If Person A can enter into a relationship with God this way, that means there is another way of salvation other than Jesus
  • If even one person has salvation through YHVH and not Jesus that means he did not really have to die
  • If you think Person A cannot have salvation through believing in YHVH and repenting of their sin and following Him, what is your reasoning?
  • If you think Person A cannot be saved by calling upon YHVH how complicated is it to attain salvation? Does one need to know theology and doctrine are they saved by their knowledge or are they saved by God who simply calls us to humble ourselves before Him and walk in all His ways.


Let me hear your thoughts. Please leave your comments below.

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