Religion vs. following Jesus

Religion is about us inviting God into our life; following Jesus is about Him inviting us into His life.

I don’t believe in religion.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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145 Responses to Religion vs. following Jesus

  1. Can I get a big hallelujah and a bigger AMEN!!

  2. Arkenaten says:

    As it was the Roman Catholic Church that first canonized the New Testament, and bearing in mind how much of it is now known to be somewhat spurious, how can you trust the doctrine derived from the text that you are following?
    Also, how can you be sure there is any serious degree of veracity regarding the supposed things the character Jesus of Nazareth is claimed to have said?

    • Mel Wild says:

      First of all, Ark, there’s nothing “spurious” about how the Bible was canonized. You are believing atheist urban legends. It’s well documented. Second, there was no such thing as the “Roman Catholic” church in the fourth century. It was just the church until the twelfth century, and the leaders were mostly from the East (Africa, modern day Turkey), and the Council was in Laodicea (Turkey), so there was nothing “Roman” about it.

      Nonetheless, the first century Christians already regarded many of the letters we know today as Scripture. There’s an unbroken chain of authority from the first century to the fourth.

      But I’ll let a deconvert from atheism, J Warner Wallace, answer the “veracity” question for you. He was an LA homicide detective specializing in cold-case forensics. He used his forensic skills to inspect the gospels (trying to disprove them) which led him to believe that they were legitimate and that Jesus was who He said He was.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Btw, here’s a video about a Gospel fragments of John that dates somewhere between 100-150 AD that makes a boatload of higher criticism argumentation obsolete.
        Also, there was a copy of Mark found on a mummy mask recently that puts Mark’s gospel before 80 AD (Even Erhman admitted this discovery). Kind of shoots the whole Q theory in the foot, too. I included the CNN article on that find. Enjoy. 🙂
        http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/21/living/gospel-mummy-mask/index.html

        • Arkenaten says:

          Yes, I was aware of the mask discovery and read about it when it was first announced, a couple of years ago.
          Marvelous stuff and fascinating, isn’t it?
          Although I am not quite sure what point you are making regarding any dispute over gospel dates?

          I have never been a fan of Q to be honest and reckon whoever wrote the gospels simple copied from the first one and added their own stuff; the nonsense of the virgin birth narrative and such like allowing the story to develop through accretion over time.

          As the link you supplied is from 2015, and the most recent is one from August 1st last year (quick Google), and is obvious a Christian site as the article erroneously says; ”It is known that Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome, while accompanying Peter.”, nice bit of christian poetic licence there!
          Anyway, essentially, the article tells us nothing new. Are you perhaps aware if anything else has been revealed as I have not found anything and it would be fascinating if there was more to this story. Confirmation of authenticity, Carbon dating perhaps?

          • Mel Wild says:

            It tells us a lot of things wrongly assumed by the higher criticism. It also tells us that the gospels were written within the lifetime of the original writers and eyewitnesses, since the copies are within a generation.

            Of course you would dismiss anything miraculous, like the virgin birth. Your naturalistic a priori bias doesn’t allow you to accept it.

            • Arkenaten says:

              But we have no idea who the original writers were.
              There is no evidence whatsoever they were recording actual historical events either.
              All we really now is that whoever wrote Mark did so around 70 and Matt and Luke were copied from it. John falls outside the synptic tradition and is a totally different kettle of fish

              Of course you would dismiss anything miraculous, like the virgin birth.

              It may comes as a surprise to you but in this particular case no, in actual fact. I dismiss it because the story is a complete crock; a hijacked prophecy from Isaiah that referred to King Ahaz as well you know!

              • Mel Wild says:

                Ark, there you go again parroting your conspiracy theories! No, your historical criticism is a crock and bankrupt! There is NO record anywhere in history where ANYONE says that someone other than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote their gospels. None, Ark. All you have is useless speculation based on dubious motives.

                And I know about the Ahaz story; again, it shows that you know nothing about proper Bible hermeneutics. Of course, he hijacked the prophecy! That’s how they used most prophetic Scripture. First, the natural, then the supernatural. Prophecy is multi-dimensional this way. But, anyway, the context of the Gospel was clearly applying it to Jesus’ birth.

              • Scottie says:

                Hello Ark. Aron Ra and Matt Dillahunty claim there were earlier religions that also had the savior or god figure happening with a virgin birth. Why do so many religions think sex is icky? I think it grand and fun. Hugs

                • Arkenaten says:

                  Yes,I know. Have you read Mel’s last reply regarding the anonymity of the gospels and the virgin birth!
                  Then gods, the man is so far out there my head nearly went Pop!

                • Scottie says:

                  🙂 I am trying to follow it. I just threw my hat in on the virgin birth as I did watch a thing on that which explained it. Most of what you guys are talking about is above my level. I think from what I have heard in talks, the gospels are the written version of oral stories passed from person to person in groups. Well if that is the case it has to have additions and errors. We can’t do that today orally without that. Unless they were written at the time of the events, even a decades later memories could be wrong. How many times will a man and woman recall an important event differently. Songs played at a wedding or something. So I doubt the gospels could have survived without being greatly altered in some ways. I have heard people describe a movie I seen and wonder if we are talking the same movie. Thanks . Hugs

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Ark, with all due respect, of all the critical arguments by skeptics, this is probably the stupidest one. The New Testament authors repeatedly referred to themselves as eyewitnesses, even if they did not make overt statements including their names. They would often slip into first person language. In the last chapter of John’s Gospel, the author tells us he is testifying and his testimony is true. Language such as this presumes the author has seen something he can describe as eyewitness testimony. In addition, the authors of 1 John and 2 Peter identify themselves as eyewitnesses who directly observed Jesus, and were not inventing clever stories (1 John 1:1,3 and 2 Peter 1:16).

                  And besides, why in the world would they use Mark and Luke if they were just making stuff up? Luke and Mark weren’t one of the twelve. Why not say it was Peter or Andrew? The whole thing just sounds silly and irrational. And, again, there is NO evidence whatsoever that anyone ever thought someone else wrote the gospels except Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Everyone knew who they were. This is more recent fiction.

                • Scottie says:

                  Hi Mel. I do not know enough about grammar to know about 1st person stuff. I wanted to add I think that there might have been a backstory to the oral traditions being spread. I was not saying it is all just made up. It may have been based on the actions of a group or one man. I simply said if It was oral, then I can’t see how it did not get some adaptations, changes, and exciting things added. But the base I have no clue about. Be well. Hugs

                • Nan says:

                  From the NRSV, Luke 1-4 …

                  Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you …

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Right, Luke was getting his account from eyewitnesses, just like Mark. But this is not true with Matthew or John.

                • Nan says:

                  My point in quoting this scripture is to contest your earlier comment, i.e., The New Testament authors repeatedly referred to themselves as eyewitnesses…. It seems rather clear to me that Luke did not claim to be an eyewitness. Further, from the research I did for my book, it wasn’t until the late second century that people began referring to the various writings by saying, “the gospel according to …”

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Thanks for the clarification, Nan. I meant Matthew and John as direct eyewitnesses. Clearly, no one thinks that Luke and Mark were giving eyewitness testimony.

                  Yes, the “according to…” part came later, but it was common knowledge from the beginning. We have references, by the direct disciples of the writers, who attribute them as the authors, going back to early second century (Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement, etc.). .

                  And I could also ask, why do the names even matter if they’re giving direct or indirect eyewitness testimony? But, again, there is no record whatsoever in history that says anybody else wrote them. It just gets to the point of absurdity when they refuse to believe what we have because of their bias, not because it’s beyond a reasonable doubt that these are the authors.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  Well, I am afraid you will have to take your case to the qualified archaeologists and genuine biblical scholars.
                  Maybe they have the right terminology to address an evangelical fundamentalist such as you you?
                  I’ll quit at this point before you start trying to tell me Noah’s Flood was an historical reality and Adam and Eve were real people.
                  Unfortunately, in my limited lexicon, the only the words that come to my mind for one such as you is bloody idiot.
                  Try to stay away from kids, Mel, please. They really do not deserve to be exposed to the toxic shit you effuse.
                  What your mental problem was before you found Jesus it sure as Gehenna hasn’t gotten any better.

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Ark, this is why you are moderated here. It seems that whenever you’re seriously challenged, you go off on a childish rant.

                  And qualified archeologists and genuine scholars? Here we go again. I suppose they are totally unbiased, too. Haha… whatever. Please let it be anybody but Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John! So, should we just name the gospels after John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead?

                  And trying to dismiss me by calling me a Fundamentalist won’t work either. I am not, but I do know that the New Testament is reliable and the gospels are either directly or indirectly written by eyewitnesses.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  No, not seriously challenged at all, trust me.
                  What is the scholarly consensus regarding gospel authorship, Mel?

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Okay, you’re not challenged. Whatever….

                • Arkenaten says:

                  And the scholarly consensus Mel?
                  Surely you’re not challenged, are you?
                  Or maybe a little … afraid to put your faith on the line?
                  Well, Mel?

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Ha ha…here we go again pulling out the trump card…which consensus of scholars, Ark? Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Fundamentalist, conservative, liberal professors, agnostic, Greek New Testament, Bible translators, modern, dead…? Your question is meaningless.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  Really? Not which consensus, Mel, The consensus.
                  You are in pursuit of the truth, yes?
                  So, come on on , Mel don’t be shy. We all want to know …

                • Mel Wild says:

                  No, Ark, you have to qualify your statement. Because people use this kind of hyperbole all the time to try and trump the argument. Most Bible translators, who actually look at all the manuscripts, would disagree with you.

                  And why don’t you produce hard historical evidence where the four gospels are attributed to ANYONE else besides Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? We have proof they were written before the end of the first century, so if they didn’t write them, who did? And I want proof, not your wild speculations.

                  Are YOU in pursuit of the truth?

                • Arkenaten says:

                  Most Bible translators, who actually look at all the manuscripts, would disagree with you.

                  False.
                  It is against your belief to lie is it not?

                  http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_New_Testament

                  Figuring out the authorship of the four Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke and John) stands to be nearly impossible, because they are anonymous.
                  The Gospels as some finalized collection of the Story of Jesus aren’t mentioned in Paul’s Epistles. This means that they didn’t exist at all while he was still alive; that is, until his death, which occurred approximately in 64-65 CE, to be more precise.[3]
                  What was to become the Catholic Church does not mention the Gospels by name or content until roughly 150 CE, when Justin Martyr mentions several unnamed writings on the life of Jesus, in his First Apology. The Gospels are not mentioned by name until 180 CE in Irenaeus of Lyons’s book On Heresies.

                  An overview of the majority opinion about the Gospels, the Oxford Annotated Bible (a compilation of multiple scholars summarizing dominant scholarly trends for the last 150 years) states (pg. 1744):

                  Neither the evangelists nor their first readers engaged in historical analysis. Their aim was to confirm Christian faith (Lk. 1.4; Jn. 20.31). Scholars generally agree that the Gospels were written forty to sixty years after the death of Jesus. They thus do not present eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings.

                  That was simply two picked a random.
                  They are not attributed to anyone else because the authors are unknown.

                  Choose ten of the top recognised biblical New Testament scholars in the world and tell me what their opinion is based upon evidence.

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Ark, we can play the opinion game all day. Give me evidence that someone in that timeframe thought some else wrote the gospels

                • Mel Wild says:

                  And why in the world would they say Mark wrote one the gospels if it wasn’t true. He was a nobody. They would’ve said Peter. Makes no rational sense.

            • Scottie says:

              Hello Mel. I have a question I hope you have a second to answer. Do you believe a virgin birth really happened? A little girl got pregnant and bore a baby without the sperm? Because if you do it doesn’t have to break the laws of physics. I listened to a biology expert say how it could be done. Hugs

              • Scottie says:

                I shouldn’t have said sperm, I should have said sex act. Sorry. Hugs

              • Mel Wild says:

                Hi Scottie. To quickly answer your question, I have no reason not believe the virgin birth. I don’t have a naturalist bias that prevents me. And, yes, absolutely, it has to break the law of natural physics! That would be the definition of something supernatural.

                Any claim from a biologist would simply be like Hamlet taking a microscope to his castle to disprove the existence of Shakespeare. It proves nothing.

                btw, sperm is okay. We’re not prudes here. Just no crude language. 🙂

                • Scottie says:

                  No but you miss the point. A lot of girls get pregnant while claiming the did not have sex, and they are correct. Apparently a teen boy or young man has a lot of “pre-cum” which they ooze when they get really excited. So they tested that ( do not ask me how as I don’t know and assume it was definitely consensual ) and they found it has a lot of sperm cells. the swimmers are hiding in that pre stuff. So if a boy and girl are playing around yet don’t do the full act, but they are touching genitals the liquid from him gets into her. SO no need to supernatural and not need to violate the laws of physics and the girl is telling the truth, there was no penetration. So she is a virgin. Hugs

                • Mel Wild says:

                  That’s true, Scottie. But the gospel accounts say that Joseph did not “know” Mary before Jesus. The Greek word for “know” in this context would mean sexual intercourse.

                • Scottie says:

                  OK, was he the only boy in the village? I am just saying that part of the story could be true in the part that she did not have sex but felt she was still a virgin and her parents would also demand she still be a virgin or she would be in big trouble. In fact it is in everyone’s best interest that everyone agree she is still a virgin , even those who wrote the story later. But I heard, and this may not be true, that there as a group that lived in caves that did not agree that Jesus was born of a virgin. They were treated like a cult and wiped out I think. Anyway, just saying it is possible, I was not there and do not have secret knowledge so can’t say for sure, but it makes sense. Hugs

                • Nan says:

                  I think the “cult” you’re referring to, Scottie, were the Gnostics. They were an interesting people … and many of their beliefs actually made more sense than what has been carried over into the “formal” Christian religion. And it’s interesting that you used the term “secret knowledge” because that’s exactly what the Gnostics claimed to have. You should read up on them.

                • Scottie says:

                  Cool. Thanks Nan. I love to learn about histories and science. Hugs

                • Mel Wild says:

                  @Nan. It’s true about the Gnostics. They had a dubious relationship with the church for centuries.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Ark you asked the following (quote below) in a previous comment. I finally have a little time to briefly answer this. I put it here so the thread doesn’t get ridiculously narrow.
      You said:

      And you are still seeming to hand-wave away the rank forgeries ; some of Paul’s Epistles and the long-ending of Mark. These examples are hardly ”straining gnats”

      Okay, I understand the argument. Ehrman’s main contention is that the writing style changes, but this can be easily answered by the internal statements that Paul often used secretaries (more like book editors today). Even Ehrman admits that if this is the case, then Paul is the author. I have included a short video from Ehrman’s debating friend, Mike Licona. He answers this critique pretty well.

      • Arkenaten says:

        It is not only Ehrman. These forgeries have been known and documented for a long time.
        Their authenticity is even questioned in my old encyclopedias.

        I

        • Mel Wild says:

          Of course, the argument is as old as higher criticism. And Licona answers the critics. It’s just another classic attempt to undermine the letters. Nothing new.

      • Arkenaten says:

        I saw the debate between Licona and Ehrman. Unfortunately for Mike, Bart took him to the cleaners. Though you will never see it this way, as I am sure you probably think Bart was never a proper Christian in the first place, right?
        Furthermore, I am sure you are well aware of the debacle between Licona and Geisler and the whole Dead Saints Rising from the graves nonsense that forced Licona out of a job? Or was it two jobs? I can’t remember.
        When someone like Licona wants to show how the writer of the gMatthew is pretty much writing in analogy and poor old Norm and his buddies get seriously pissed off to the point he is dragged over the hot coal and left unemployed one has to wonder just how much doubt Mike is harboring and how much cherry picking he is prepared to indulge in?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Of course, you would see the debate differently. Donald Trump thought he won every debate, too. It means nothing.

          Geisler’s problem is that he’s forced to defend evangelical’s statement of Bible inerrancy, which wasn’t even an articulated doctrine until the 19th century. Licona has no such problem. Of course, that got him kicked out of all his SBC affiliations.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Exactly! So who is to say that Geisler is wrong?
            He is not forced about anything. He believes it!
            And where is it stated that the Raising of the Saints is analogous?
            Plenty of people are recorded as having come back from the dead in the bible.
            So tell me what is so shocking about the gMatthew account, and why are you suggesting it didn’t happen, and what evidence do you have to refute Geisler’s assertion?

            • Mel Wild says:

              I don’t have a problem either way. It changes nothing for me. I’m just saying that holding to inerrancy doctrine forces scholars like Geisler into a corner on debatable passages like this. It’s not a problem for people like Licona and many others. And I have no doubt Geisler believes this, But regardless, he IS forced to contest Licona on this because of his stance on Bible inerrancy. Otherwise, he will find himself losing support.

  3. Arkenaten says:

    Here is a fascinating video. Mel. I would be interested in your response to the claims made by those in the video.
    Thanks.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Ark, all these claims do is prove the innate human desire for something bigger than ourselves. It shows the intuitive desire for the spiritual, and our need to know we’re more than just a bag of chemicals destined for worm food; that there’s more to life than this life. How so? Because you don’t counterfeit something that’s not real or worthless (You don’t counterfeit three dollar bills; they’re not real. You counterfeit $100 bills; they are both real and valuable.) The counterfeit always shows us that there’s something real and valuable to be counterfeited. In the same way, these people are just showing this need, regardless of whether what they think they’re hearing is misguided or if they’ve actually found the truth. How do we know we have the truth?
      Again, I’ll the former atheist forensic homicide detective respond to your video with why we can stop our search with Jesus.

      • Arkenaten says:

        What the video I posted shows is that everyone’s claim of the one true religion being right is flat out delusion.
        And I have already commented on Wallace.
        Please, if we are looking for positive interaction and a genuine search for evidence then stop using people like Wallace. He has no credibility among genuine scholars and I am, quite frankly, surprised you are taken in by his blathering.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark, I can say the same to you. Please don’t insult me with your typical atheist tripe. And with all due respect, I doubt you’re looking for an actual honest conversation. You prove that by dismissing any source I give that is not naturalistic. Talk about biased! It goes both ways.

          I used Wallace because he was a hardened atheist! He is exactly what you think is impossible. Coming to Christ based on the evidence. He was trying to disprove the gospel, not prove it.

          And let’s talk credibility. “Genuine scholars? Haha…right. You mean like Bart Erhman? Or your atheist propagators like Hitchens and Dawkins? Now we’ve entered into the twilight zone of myopic atheist apologetics and their atheist brand of mythology!

          And why should we trust anyone who is a naturalist or skeptic? I don’t care if they’re a scientist or a scholar. They are biased against the supernatural (anything other than naturalism) before they even begin the investigation. So they make up stuff to discredit Jesus and create their own myths! It’s a bit like 19th century doctors arguing against germs because they can’t see them. Your atheist sources have no credibility, Ark, and their critical “blatherings” have been found bankrupt. So, please don’t try to go down this broken road with me. It doesn’t work here. And your dismissive tactics don’t work either. I’m not some neophyte you can manipulate with your propaganda.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Wallace is a fundamentalist and believes the gospels were written by Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. There is not a single credible biblical scholar who believes this and for good reason. Evidence….
            There is no reason to accept Wallace as credible, and I am surprised you do. He is simply a poster boy for Christian fundamentalism.
            I am looking for establishing truth based on accepted historical evidence from reputable scholars…
            The current unbiased consensus among historians and secular New Testament scholars with verified, reputable and relevant qualifications….
            [Edited for length and relevance]

            • Mel Wild says:

              Okay, I edited your comments for length and relevance.

              First, I like how you dismiss Wallace because he’s a Fundamentalist. So, I should do this with all liberal apologists and skeptics? His points are valid, Ark. If you ever cared to honestly look at his evidence, you would admit this. I don’t have to agree with all of his theology in order to validate what he says.

              Second, “no credible biblical scholars”? Are you kidding me? What planet do you live on? Bart Ehrman is considered FRINGE in his theology. Certainly not orthodox.

              Third, historical evidence? You mean the stuff skeptics make up because of the lack of evidence. I could give you LOTS of fabrications of the evidence. And how do you prove the supernatural aspects of the Bible historically? You don’t. This is just another straw man constructed by naturalists who deny anything that is non-material.

              Finally, unbiased consensus among historians? Haha! How naïve do you think I am? There’s no such thing in any world.

              Since you don’t like Wallace, I will give you well-respected New Testament Greek scholar and translator, Bill Mounce, to talk about the manuscript evidence.

              • Arkenaten says:

                [Edited for length and relevance]

                1st. Wallace believes the gospels were written by Mark Matthew etc. This is a ridiculous claim and well you should know, and for this and other reasons he can, and is dismissed by all genuine scholars….

                2. Fringe? Ehrman is not considered fringe. He is agnostic if anything. And why would you think I would believe he was orthodox?

                This is the point. I do not expect you to prove them as you can’t . Thus your claims are all based on faith, and it is a gross misrepresentation for you to tout any such beliefs as truth. And certainly where is involves any form of instruction of children.

                What else can anyone say about Jesus of Nazareth and back any assertion with evidence?

              • Scottie says:

                Hello Mel. I really am disappointed. This is my first time to visit your blog. I was hoping to talk with you about your post and how it blended with the questions I asked on Nan’s blog. But with you just changing people’s comments how can any carry on a conversation? I mean how can I trust that is what a person said or meant to say? The other blogs I have talked with you on did not do that to you, or I couldn’t have been sure that was what you said back to me. I know this is your blog and you have the admin rights, but this is disappointing from you. You gave the impression to me that you had all these years of research, practice, and teaching so you could handle any direction the questions went. Sad hugs. Scottie

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Hi Scottie. Just to clarify. If I do edit (which I rarely have to do), I always say that it’s edited. And with Ark, I had to moderate him because of his combative remarks and repetitiveness. And besides, he posts so many comments that I would be doing nothing but answering him all day.
                  When it’s clear that someone is not honestly asking a question, or making irrelevant comments, or they are just propagating their agenda, I will moderate. I will also moderate any attacks on other people who comment here.

                  You have always been gracious to me, Scottie, and I appreciate that. I would probably not moderate your comments, however, understand that I don’t have a lot of time for these kinds of discussions. My blog is not about apologetics, although I understand the arguments. But because of this, I may not be able to answer your questions to your satisfaction. Maybe over time. 🙂

                • Scottie says:

                  I won’t argue your policy because it is your blog and your home, to do so would be rude. I will say that most of us do the second one, if someone makes a personal attack, but the first one I would think you could just skip it or short answer it if it bothered you or you were short of time.
                  Anyway what is your blog for? If you’re busy I can talk with you another time? Hugs

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Most of the time my edits are to shorten because my blog setup get impossible to read after the thread gets elongated.

            • Mel Wild says:

              1st. Wallace believes the gospels were written by Mark Matthew etc. This is a ridiculous claim and well you should know, and for this and other reasons he can, and is dismissed by all genuine scholars….

              You’re just parroting your agnostic mythology here. We can prove these were written by cross examination. We have unbroken evidence from the late first century on, where the writer’s disciples quoted extensively from the gospels and epistles. To say they were written later is a dishonest fabrication of the evidence.

              2. Fringe? Ehrman is not considered fringe. He is agnostic if anything.

              Yes, fringe, Ark. Ehrman is an agnostic naturalist, not a believer. He is biased, deceptive, and dishonest. Scholars have noted that he regularly overstates his case by assuming that his view is certainly correct (sounds familiar!) He calls his agnostic speculations truths, which they are not. And because of his a priori bias against anything outside of the natural realm, he moves the dating of the letters to centuries later and makes up all kinds of other “facts” to discredit the letters. Why? Not because of actual hard evidence, but because he doesn’t believe in miracles! Do you call this honest scholarship? Hardly! No, Ehrman is just one of your poster boys.

              This is the point. I do not expect you to prove them as you can’t . Thus your claims are all based on faith, and it is a gross misrepresentation for you to tout any such beliefs as truth.

              This is my point. If you dismiss the possibility of miracles (even though those hostile to Christianity in the first two centuries reluctantly admitted Jesus performed wonders), your findings CANNOT be trusted! You are purposely discarding a major piece of the testimony. Why? Because you are naturalists! Talk about circular reasoning! But the Bible is not a naturalist work. You are like C.S Lewis’s analogy: like Hamlet meticulously searching his castle to prove that there’s no Shakespeare! Now, THAT’S daft!

              We will need to leave this discussion at that. I don’t have the time to go round and round with you on this. We obviously disagree. Good luck in your small world of time and space.

              • Arkenaten says:

                Well, it is your blog and I sincerely hope you leave this thread up.
                If I suggest to others to pop over and read our dialogue will you moderate or do you welcome the interaction?
                Perhaps others maybe able to offer more in depth evidence that you might accept?

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Ark. I moderated you because it’s clear you don’t want to talk about my actual post but simply want a place to disseminate your atheist dogma and argue with Christians. I approved the salient points. But what would be the point of continuing this conversation? You, or others from your group, would just dismiss any of my “in depth evidence” with your ad hominem attacks on anyone who is not a naturalist? I really don’t care to play this game.

                  People like Ehrman are history revisionists because they don’t believe in miracles. It’s that simple. I included the Mounce video because he’s making the case that the manuscripts are reliable. But we’ll just have to leave it at that.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  There is no evidence of miracles. What is there to discuss?
                  It is simply blind faith based on an erroneous text.

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Of course, as you define evidence. But, yes, there is with the eye-witness testimonies that you and Erhman deny because you don’t believe in miracles!

                  Again, it’s like Hamlet denying Shakespeare because he searched his whole castle and couldn’t find him. Either you don’t get this or don’t want to get this. Either way, there’s no point in continuing.

          • Nan says:

            Mel, you wrote: They are biased against the supernatural … as regards Ehrman, Hitchens, Dawkins, et al. But what’s the difference between them and the Christian apologists? Whatever side we are on, are we not biased against the other side? IMO, it simply boils down to what makes sense to “you” (speaking generally).

            You say that Ark’s sources have no credibility, but who is to judge? As a non-believer, I cannot put any credibility into the bible, but you as a Christian feel it is divinely inspired and thus is totally valid.

            It really all boils down to what side of the fence you are on.

            • Mel Wild says:

              Fair enough, Nan. I would agree with you in principle. It does depend on what side of the fence you’re on. And that’s my point, there is no such thing as “conclusive unbiased facts.” So when Ark makes these sweeping generalities, that there is no evidence and “all reputable scholars agree”…that is just pure fiction. The truth is, there is wide disagreement with the likes of Ehrman. He and others make their conclusions based on their a priori bias against anything supernatural, not based on the testimonies that we have. And rather than starting by allowing the testimony as evidence, they start by dismissing it, attacking the witnesses, and then they find loopholes and technicalities to revise the dating of the gospels to discredit the text itself. There is nothing unbiased about this. So, it’s dishonest to say that these are proven facts. They are not.

              You can make a case for the evidence in other ways, like Wallace did, using cross-examination of the witnesses, abductive reasoning, etc., which is his professional expertise (and he came at it as a hardened atheist, which is why I brought him up). But if you’re not open to it and anyone I bring up is just going to be attacked, it does no good to talk about it. And I really don’t have the time to go over it again and again.

              • Scottie says:

                Mel is this like political news where each side claims fake news when the story is one they don’t like or agree with. At some point we have to have facts, accepted ways of determining facts. If we don’t then no one learns anything and we are left with everyone’s fantasy and conspiracy theories as truth. Hugs

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Scottie. I think the problem is whenever we think we somehow don’t affect the data we’re looking at. This is a fallacy. There is no such thing as “unbiased.” This was the failed supposition of earlier higher criticism. So both sides have to take this into consideration. The other thing is that with historical issues, we have very little hard evidence on anything in antiquity, let alone the claims of the Bible. Most “history” is pieced together from a very small percentage all evidence possible. Historians often interpolate and fill in the gaps, which introduces possible bias and even error. Add to that, it doesn’t take into consideration the narrative and other forms of evidence. It’s really a faith issue on both sides. One side has faith that the natural world is all there is; the other side says there is a reality outside of time and space.
                  Hugs back at you! 🙂

                • Scottie says:

                  If we can’t test the other side, how do we know the reality outside of time and space is not also what the pagans believed or other groups into that thing? I have two conversations going with you and that confuses me so I will talk on the other one and you can answer there if you want. Hugs

                • Mel Wild says:

                  I think you can test the other side, but not the way naturalists do. Also, we have advances in quantum physics that have proven there’s something outside of time and space. Maybe I will post something on this when I get time.
                  Blessings to you.

                • Scottie says:

                  I am slightly confused. I thought the natural way, the scientific methods were the only way to really test anything accurately. Hugs

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Traditional scientific method, of course. But what about testing outside of time and space, like with Quantum physics? There is nothing material in these types of tests. We know there are at least 8-10 dimensions that are not material and cannot be observed by traditional methods.
                  We can also test non-scientifically by abductive reasoning.

                  The point is, you cannot test for something non-material by material means (except by inference). They don’t exist in the same dimensional plane, if you will.

                • Scottie says:

                  I don’t think we can test anything at the quantum level without a lab. We can do mathematical equations to describe things at that level though. I have neither the math skills nor a good enough understanding of both regular physics and quantum physics to make predictions or talk intelligently on the subject. Sorry. I did read that the dimensions predicted by string theory are now in doubt as that theory is in low standing. However the theories of cosmos now show a multiverse situation. Is that equal to the dimensions you are talking about?

                  I looked up abductive reasoning. That is a sword that cuts both ways. It has to start with an observation and then look for the simplest explanation. So when we talk about feeling the holy spirit and emotionally about god coming into us, or in my friend’s case of feeling the energy of the earth coming into them, I have heard Matt Dillahunty and Aron Ra say that science has explained that with medical scans to say it is things caused naturally in the brain and can be duplicated without the religious component. Again I do not read those deep science journals so I take their word for it. People like Nan, Victoria, Ark, Professor Taboo and Peter to name a few can give studies and histories to the testing and such. Don’t over work wherever you are traveling. Hugs

  4. Wally Fry says:

    Mel

    I liked this.

    But, keep your hands of those kids LOL.

  5. Scottie says:

    I have a definition of religion that Tildeb took a real issue with yesterday and today. I was going to ask you your view. You have given me the impression you are not with one of the main offshoot in Christianity. Also your blog post is sort about this subject. Let me know if you have time, if not I will get with you another time. Hugs

    • Mel Wild says:

      I would love to hear your definition of religion, and it is relevant. 🙂
      Btw, if I don’t answer for awhile it’s because I’m travelling or have other projects I’m working on. I will do my best to respond when I can.

      • Scottie says:

        You have a wordpress blog so if you do not have anyone to help you I can try to help you get a theme that gives you a wider typing area.

        OK I think religions are behavior control / modification devices. They are designed to move power and money from the lower levels to the top level. The effect of this is to give control over the lives of the populous to the upper echelon of the religion. It also allows the upper echelon to get wealthy off the base.

        What is your take on what religions are or how they operate? Hugs

        • Mel Wild says:

          Scottie, I will briefly respond to your comments and question about religion.

          First, I don’t know if it’s quite fair to say it’s all about money, although there are cases we can point to where it is. But I think most religious leaders have a genuine motivation to help people. I know that very few church leaders are paid at the level of other professions. I personally took a 40% cut in salary to become a full-time pastor 12 years ago.
          And I would agree there are also some power issues, but that’s more a function of the institutional structure than conspiracy to “fleece the flock.” Of course, cults are pretty much known for doing all these things.

          I think you’re right about behavior control/ modification devices. And I’ve been as much against this as any skeptic. There has been a history of manipulation and fearmongering in Christianity that, IMO, has greatly hurt the name of Jesus Christ and turned people away from Him.

          If you read my posts on the subject, you’ll find that I agree with Robert Capon who said “Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.” I know that sounds like I’m trying to be clever, but there’s a significant difference between “Christianity” as it’s been traditionally practiced and actually following Jesus. I have written a lot on this and I can point you to those posts if you’re interested.
          Blessings.

          • Scottie says:

            I know you are short of time so I will just ask if you base your faith on the bible? I ask because I think if you just cherry pick parts of it to agree with, and you add attributes that are not in the bible to your deity then you are not really christians but more starting your own faith, the church of Mel , or Wilding followers. Hugs

            • Mel Wild says:

              “The church of Mel” and the “Wilding followers” LOL! I don’t think I would want to be part of that church! Sounds like a cult. 🙂

              I base my faith on the revelation of Jesus Christ, as declared in Scripture, the overwhelming circumstantial evidence, and based on my own personal experience. I don’t cherry-pick Scriptures, I interpret them through the “lens” of Jesus Christ.

              The truth of what I believe has also been proven by the fruit in my life, the inner transformation of my soul, and the radical change in my former character. You may not think it conclusive by taking one of these points separately, but adding them together does do so for me. It’s beyond a reasonable doubt, based on abductive reasoning. If I’m deluded, it’s a very effective one! 🙂

              And this not a novel view, it’s just not the traditional Western view. I’m in line with the earliest Church fathers, especially the Eastern fathers from the first three centuries, and many more contemporary theologians much smarter than I. But I do also agree with much of Western theology. To go any deeper with my explanation would require more time. Maybe later.

              • Scottie says:

                OK I know you are busy as you said. And so you know I not trying to insult you or your faith. It makes no sense for me to say your wrong on your personal belief just because I don’t believe it myself. The only time I stick my nose in where it is not wanted is if other people are being hurt and harmed by a person in the name of their faith. In that case I might argue they are wrong, as I suspect many do. So what I am trying hard to say is that it doesn’t matter if I think the evidence is conclusive as long as you do. To me it is a big difference. Hope I said it clearly as it seems muddled reading this back. I had another analogy but you are busy so I am keeping these short. Hugs

          • Scottie says:

            The reason I say this is as your faith / religion ( are the words interchangeable ? I always thought faith was a belief and religion a business. ) is not part of an organization offshoot then using your situation , which is unique in the field you are in, is not a good example is it? Hugs

            • Mel Wild says:

              I can see how you would connect them this way, Scottie. But I think you can have faith that differs from the business of religion, and should be seek as separate things. That’s why I’m using the term, “following Jesus.” We will often say it’s about a relationship rather than religion. I would define that “relationship” as I did in previous comments.

              • Scottie says:

                OK that is basicly what I thought and was trying to say, faith and religion are different things people mix up. So my question that your personal example, while admirable as you are following your faith, is not a good example of the general way I described the business part in my definition I gave? Where are you traveling if you don’t mind don’t mind saying? Hugs

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Travelling back and forth locally between office and home. Also working on other projects. Answering a lot of comments right now would take up all my free time. I can give quick replies but not thorough ones right now. Blessings.

                • Scottie says:

                  I understand what it is like to do both projects that keep me from the internet and being overwhelmed by comments. That is why I don’t like to have too many threats going on with the same person on the same post as I get confused as what question / answer / point we were at. or often we cross answer each other, which again confuses me. SO you can always let my comments wait with no problem, I don’t get upset or pout if you need time. I also know that the others on the comments talking with you are talking on a level much more indepth and detailed than my questions, which are mostly about reason and inference. It is OK, as I enjoy reading and learning from the stuff people have studied and know. Hugs

        • Mel Wild says:

          You have a wordpress blog so if you do not have anyone to help you I can try to help you get a theme that gives you a wider typing area.

          Thanks for the offer, Scottie. I really appreciate that. I’m a bit of a blogging luddite when it comes to formatting and setup (or just lazy). 🙂 I probably do need to do something. I don’t like the way the threads are set up. Unfortunately, a better theme still won’t help with my lack of time.

          • Scottie says:

            Let me know when you have time, lots of free themes out there. You can just pick one , preview it, if you like it just accept it. If you see a page on a blog you like, at the bottom of the page will be the theme. Click on that and it will take you to a theme page with that one and you can try it. Some people change their themes often, I never do unless it is a problem. I look for a theme that has wide almost full page writing space and a right hand column for my side bar stuff. Hope this helps. Let me know when you need help with it. Hugs

      • Scottie says:

        We can talk later or another time on the supernatural if you want. I am interested in how you would test to see if your “entity space” is the same as my “entity space” and as they are not the same entities is there more than one entity space in the supernatural? Hugs

      • Scottie says:

        You must have gotten busy or confused when I said I would talk to you on the other one, I meant this question, I had two questions going at once. Hard to follow that way. Below is my question. Hugs

  6. Argus says:

    For myself I state that ‘religion is all about the acquisition of wealth and power‘. To date, no takers … perhaps you?

    Religion is simply Big business—no?

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your comments, Argus. We could honestly say that state religions, like we saw with Christendom of Medieval Europe, was about the acquisition of wealth and power. And, as I told Scottie, we can certainly point to contemporary examples. And I’m sure there’s other examples in other religions but the Christian version is what I’m most familiar with. This version began when Constantine declared Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. And that totally changed how Christianity was practiced up until that time. It became a world religion instead of following Jesus.

      But I would also want to be fair and say that religion is not all about wealth and power. There are honest seekers of the faith who use religion as a means to have a relationship with God. But institutional religion will have this challenge because wealth and power are inherent problems with institutions, whether it be religion, government, big business, media, etc.

      The real problem with religion (versus following Christ) is that it’s man-centered and transactional rather than God-centered and relational. (I’m not using the word “Christian” because there are Christian versions of religion.) But consider that the only times Jesus ever got angry was with the religious power base of this day—the scribes and Pharisees. In every case, it would be against the religious structure based on what you’re talking about (power and wealth, etc.)

      But, to my point, following Jesus is organic and dynamic. It’s a counter-cultural society organized around other-centered, self-giving love (Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:35). It’s held together by our intimate union with Christ (John 17:23). If we actually follow Jesus’ teachings, like His so-called “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5 -7), our need for power and wealth, and all our relational issues like anger, revenge, lust, treachery, manipulation and control, hatred, greed, worry, judgmentalism…are all dealt with at a deep heart level.

      Religion is about outward conformity and ritual obedience; following Jesus is about participating in the divine nature (2 Pet.1:4), a cooperative process that results in the inward transformation of the soul and renewal of the mind.

      • Arkenaten says:

        The root problem is, as it always has been, that one’s only point of reference for the character Jesus of Nazareth is the bible.

        The bible we have nowadays is not the same as the one in the past and it continues to evolve.

        However,the main problem with not following religion is it was Religion – in the form of Constantine – that ordered the first official collection of Scripture that was to become the first bible (If we are prepared to exclude Marcion’s version of course).

        It was priests or church fathers etc within the Roman Catholic Church that decided on which books were to be included and which were not. And this selection changed also as the years passed.
        Although the canon was pretty much settled by the 5th century it was later thrown into dispute when Luther appeared on the scene and even more so when the first draft of the King James Version was commissioned.

        As one cannot separate the Old Testament from the New, it seems impossible to separate Following Jesus from Religion, and all attempts to do so simply result in yet another schism and another sect or denomination springing up.

        So how is one to follow Jesus with any degree of certainty as to what he preached when the only source material was compiled by the organisation/s you eschew?
        In fact, how is one to determine that the words attributed to Jesus of Nazareth were, actually spoken by him?

        Ark

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark, while some of your historical references are accurate, I would disagree with your conclusions about them.

          First, we need to understand that Constantine CHANGED the nature of Christianity and made it the state religion of Rome. The religion of Constantine and the early church bear almost no resemblance.

          Second, there is extra-biblical evidence of Jesus, including those hostile to Christianity, contrary to your Jesus-myth people like Ehrman. We also have an unbroken chain of evidence from the first century onward from the followers of Jesus. To say that the New Testament was made up centuries later is a myth.

          Third, the bible was canonized at the Council of Laodicea in 363 AD (in its final form by the fifth century), but the gospels and letters were referenced by the church fathers from the late first century on. I have many of the writings from this period. They were used and circulated extensively and considered Scripture. Even, as internal evidence, Peter considered Paul’s writings “scripture.”

          Finally, we can trust the internal evidence because we can use abductive reasoning to place the accounts in the first century, test the veracity of the eyewitness accounts, and compare the language, cultural names, places, etc. We can prove it the other way, too. For instance, the fact that the later church left all the mistakes in the letters points to authenticity and not conspiracy, as your agnostic “scholars” want us to believe. If there were no mistakes we would suspect collusion and conspiracy, but what we do have fits the profile of authentic eyewitness testimony.

          There is nothing more documented in works of antiquity than the New Testament. No other work is even close by comparison. There are over 25,000 fragments and manuscript copies, in various languages, going back to the late first century. None of the discrepancies or scribal errors affect any important doctrine of Christianity,

          • Arkenaten says:

            Yes, Constantine did quite likely change the nature of Christianity as he helped established a state religion that was eventually decreed the only permissible religion permissible by Theodosius.
            I am aware of the history.
            The point you seem to be misunderstanding is this:
            As your only source of reference for the character Jesus of Nazareth is the bible and as you are obliged to accept what it contains regarding the words of Jesus how can you know that there is a high degree of veracity especially in light of the nature of the person in conjunction with the church who ordered the compilation of the first bibles.
            Thus while you claim to be divorced from religion it was religion in the form of the Church – and the supposed divine inspiration – that determined the outcome of the bible.

            Second, there is extra-biblical evidence of Jesus, including those hostile to Christianity, contrary to your Jesus-myth people like Ehrman.

            Ehrman is not a Jesus Myther. Not by a long shot and I am quite surprised you would even suggest this. In fact, Ehrman has a book out that tears to pieces the Jesus Myth notion and those that beleive it.
            While this is strictly not relevant to my comment, as we are discussing your rejection of religion but still claiming to be a follower of the character Jesus of Nazareth, could you list the verified, extra-biblical evidence, please.
            For the sake of accuracy and so we don’t argue about another one of contention please omit obvious hearsay.
            Thanks.

            Ehrman is not consider Jesus was a myth.

            • Mel Wild says:

              You’re right, Ehrman is not a Jesus-myth proponent himself, so that would be an unfair description of his position. I was lumping him in with the “mythers” in a generic sense. While he believes Jesus was a real person, he says that the New Testament is a forgery written centuries later. He also believes anything miraculous, like the resurrection, was a myth. But I will put Ehrman in a different category in the future for clarification.

              As for external evidence, I will supply that but I don’t have the time to do so right now.

              • Arkenaten says:

                I note your reply did not make any attempt whatsoever to address the main thrust of my comment regarding divorcing religion, the compilation of the bible by the Roman Church and Constantine and being a Jesus follower.
                Could you at least make an answer?

                I have never heard or read Ehrman say the New Testament is a forgery. Certainly not in those words
                He does state that it contains forgery and interpolation: the long ending to Mark, the story of the Adulteress and several of Paul’s epistles etc. are a few examples. These are generally agreed upon by many biblical scholars, even though some also find a way to justify their inclusion.

                Re: verified external evidence.
                No probs. In your own time.

                But please, no hearsay ( Tacitus, Josephus Seutonius etc) if you can possibly avoid it.
                Please respect that I am very familiar with all the ”usual suspects”, okay?
                Thanks.

                • Mel Wild says:

                  I disagree with your premise so it’s hard to comment on divorcing religion from following Jesus. Following Jesus (original Christianity) is not a religion.

                  Ehrman contends that at least 11 of the 27 New Testament books are forgeries. That’s not minor discrepancies! He also contends that the New Testament books attributed to Jesus’ disciples could not have been written by them because they were illiterate (which is total speculation not based on actual evidence). He also said that many of the New Testament’s forgeries were manufactured by early Christian leaders trying to settle theological feuds. ( in his works, “Forged” and “Forgery and Counterforgery”) He’s pretty much undermined the New Testament (except for what agrees with his a priori conclusions). Most, if not all, of his suppositions can be refuted.

                  The usual suspects? Ha… I’m also familiar with your usual denials and dismissals of anything you disagree with.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  The thread is getting narrow … I’ll start a new one.

          • Scottie says:

            Hello Mel & Ark. I know you guys are having a conversation here but do you mind if I ask a couple questions? I enjoy reading the exchanges because I learn things. But Mel you replied something that is got me wondering. You wrote …” Constantine CHANGED the nature of Christianity …” So does that mean the original was not correct or the change was not correct. What I am trying to say is people take this faith based on these writings seriously. IF it was changed then is the change the one that is true, if so doesn’t mean that the original was somehow wrong. IF the opposite is true, then that means what people are doing now is not accurate? You said the two have almost no resemblance which means the change was radical. Again I hope you guys don’t mind and anything you want to share with me is grand. Hugs

            • Mel Wild says:

              Scottie, sorry I didn’t see this comment before. I would contend that the change is not correct. We have boatloads of pre-Constantinian documents, along with Jesus’ teachings, that bear this out. We can also judge Constantinian “Christianity” based on the fruit. While it wasn’t all bad, the state institution bears little resemblance to Jesus’ teachings. On the other hand, there were always sects of Christianity that did bear good fruit in spite of the damage done by Constantine.

              • Scottie says:

                Hello Mel. It is ok, we have lots of threats going, you more than I , and you are working on other things. So how do we know which religions are pre-change and after-change? Not to say none of them did good works, just to say the changes distorted the religion or whatever the change did. It probably doesn’t mean much in current worship except to say that some people have not know they are worshiping something changed. It is a distinction for mostly arguing if a religion if following Jesus as he was depicted in one standard or the other one. IMO. I just want to know so I understand, the debate over if someone is following the right God or has the right faith is silly for me to engage in. First because I don’t care about a person’s relationship to their god if it is not involving me or hurting others. And second because I don’t believe in a deity , they are all sort of made up based on myths to me. Not to insult believers doing their own thing hurting no one or involved in government, which you already told me you don’t believe faiths should do, so I have no business injecting myself in their personal stuff. Did I say that in a way you can understand or did I get my typing all mixed up again? Hugs

    • Scottie says:

      Hello Argus. That is what I said about religion. I was trying to separate it from personal faith if possible? But it does seem to me if you look at the vatican or the temples in Utah, or the compulsory service in the Scientologists and the Jehovah witnesses, what they all have in common is the control of behavior and money of the people. Hugs

      • Mel Wild says:

        @Scottie. let me insert here that I would generally agree with your assessment. When it’s about compulsion, behavior control, fearmongering, that’s religion in its worst form. Personal faith is very different in that regard. And authentic Christianity (following Jesus) is compelled by other-centered, self-giving love.

        • Scottie says:

          Thank you Mel, for answering and helping me sort the different meanings. Hugs

        • Argus says:

          What need, then, has ‘personal faith’ of priests (and all other vampiric blights on the Holy Word)?

          Every layer of parasitic priesthood (think ‘interpretation’) merely comes between man and God(s), no?

          You keep offering the ‘Bible’ as authority*.
          But your authority has a mongrel conception, infinite modification, vicious history, multiple interpretation … and is in fact absolutely no (r) no guide to decent moral behaviour.

          The appeal is to frightened people desperately seeking refuge— and there’s no shortage of parasites selling such refuge. Which one of the thousands is The One True Path, then?

          * Which? There’s oooodles of them …

      • Argus says:

        Bingo~!

        Old Zen, perhaps were the only exception? (Not (eeek!) the modern commercialised forms. Yeuch …)

  7. ColorStorm says:

    Mel-

    We need not fear the word ‘religion,’ even though it has been abused. Religion, as a river of zeal, can be a very good thing if it is contained in the banks of truth. People can be religious also as to avocations such as honing carpentry skills or pottery, etc.

    But as scripture defines ‘pure religion,’ as in visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world…….. I dare say I wish I were more religious.

    So while your premise is good regarding the life of Christ in a believer, there is no harm in ‘liking’ religion, or believing in it either. I’m sure you know this, but fresh readers or new believers may not.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks ColorStorm. You’re right, we don’t need to fear the word. And perhaps I need to expound on this (for fresh readers and new believers). The problem is, the word has been so abused and misunderstood, it’s practically is a useless word today. I could say the same for the words “Christian” or “Christianity.” For instance, I have Messianic Jewish friends who would never call themselves “Christians” because of all the anti-Semitic baggage, even though they love and follow Jesus. Just like using the word “Crusade” has connotations of evil atrocities done in the name of Christ. I shutter whenever I hear people saying their going on a missionary crusade. You might as well say you’re going on a “Jihad” in the Middle East!

      I don’t believe in religion because it’s associated with world religions, which Christianity became when Constantine totally changed it and made it the official state religion of the Roman Empire. Add to that, all the abuses done in the name of religion, The word is damaged beyond repair.

      And I don’t like the word definitively because, technically speaking, Christianity is not a religion, as practiced by other world religions. As Robert Capon said Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was the announcement of the end of religion. It’s repenting from religion (Mark 1:15).

      As I told Argus, religion is about outward conformity and ritual obedience; following Jesus is about participating in the divine nature (2 Pet.1:4); a cooperative process that results in the inward transformation of the soul and renewal of the mind. And when we are transformed, we will practice what James talked about. But it doesn’t work the other way around.

  8. Arkenaten says:

    Most, if not all, of his suppositions can be refuted.

    Would you then please refute ( with citations)
    1) the long ending to Mark
    2) the claim that that the gospels were not written by, M,M,L,J

    • Mel Wild says:

      I’m not refuting the issue with the long ending of Mark. I think I answered this criticism by providing the Bill Mounce video. He is a New Testament Greek scholar and Bible translator.
      Answering #2 will need to wait.

      • Arkenaten says:

        Mounce mentions it then brushes it off without so much as an explanation!
        How is this ”….answering this criticism”?
        It is as clear an example of interpolation as you can get, which is merely a polite way of saying fraud, or forgery.
        Most modern bibles even add a footnote alerting the reader that the long ending is a later addition.

        And you seem to be – again – avoiding responding to my comment asking how you discern the veracity of the supposed sayings etc of Jesus in the gospels when the sole arbiter of the bible was the Roman Church.
        It is still in moderation.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I was answering your question about the long ending of Mark. Mounce directly answers that in the video, Ark. I don’t know what else to say. None of these errors in transmission affect any major doctrine of Christianity.

          • Arkenaten says:

            I must have missed where he explained the long ending.
            Can you please direct to to the time where he explains why this fraudulent ending was added?
            Thanks.

            • Mel Wild says:

              He starts with Bart Ehrman in 0:32, mentions John 8 and long ending of Mark shortly after that…then around 3:21-6:00 he includes the longer Mark with commenting on the errors in general.
              Bottom line: “Not one of these discrepancies any major doctrine, or even minor doctrine of the New Testament. “

              • Arkenaten says:

                Yes, but he doesn’t explain it, merely acknowledges it is the long ending and moves right along.
                It is fraudulent. How can this not be a major issue?
                So, how do you explain the spurious long ending?

                • Mel Wild says:

                  What don’t you get? He said it was probably a scribal addition. How does it change any Christian doctrine? Does John 8 and the longer Mark contradict other passages we know for certain are original? No, they don’t.

                  And your “fraudulent” charge is pure baloney. There were other manuscripts that didn’t have this addition, so it has no bearing on the original veracity of Scripture. It’s not a major issue because we have the science of textual criticism. And we have 25,000 copies for our samples. You can’t say that with any other work of antiquity.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  It doesn’t change christian doctrine
                  other than the fact that Christians have accepted this fraudulent passage which does not appear in the oldest manuscripts. I
                  But most have always been ignorant of its spurious nature.
                  Calling it a scribal addition does not ”explain” it, this is merely an admission that is is an interpolation which means it is fraudulent and did not come from the hand of the original author and certainly not from anyone called ”Mark”.

                  And it matters not how many scraps of manuscripts we have, This does not detract from the spurious nature of this passage and other attested interpolations.

                  This is why most modern bibles point out this fact in the footnotes to ” Mark”.

                  This ending is not found in our earliest and most reliable Greek copies of Mark.
                  In A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Bruce Metzger writes: “Clement of Alexandria and Origen [early third century] show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; furthermore Eusebius and Jerome attest that the passage was absent from almost all Greek copies of Mark known to them. (James Tabor)

                • Mel Wild says:

                  The longer Mark is left in and footnoted because there isn’t conclusive proof that this wasn’t original. The textual criticism we got from 19th century (Westcott & Hort) assumes that when something is omitted in older texts it must not be original. But that copy could’ve deleted a text from something older.
                  And we keep finding more scraps and documents all the time, some that are older than what we currently have, so it’s left in and footnoted for full disclosure. Scholars still have open questions about these passages. It allows us to see the variations and come up with the best understanding of the text. And it’s also left in because it doesn’t change anything that matters. I appreciate seeing all the variations. It gives me a more fully orbed view.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  Yet as Metzer notes,it is absent from the earliest most reliable manuscripts. As the long ending is also considered to be textually different,ad apparently not Markan in style It can therefore, be regarded as an interpolation; a forgery in other words.
                  This is the same position held by Ehrman
                  and presumably numerous other scholars, hence the current inclusion of the footnote.
                  Something that was not included in days past. Not in my copy of the KJV

                  I appreciate seeing all the variations. It gives me a more fully orbed view

                  .

                  Perhaps you do, but it certainly brings into question the notion of divinely inspired for one thing and has opened the door regarding the veracity of the other gospels that cite post resurrection appearances etc.
                  But that’s a whole new ball game.

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Perhaps you do, but it certainly brings into question the notion of divinely inspired for one thing…

                  No, it changes nothing. There’s a difference between scribal errors in the copies and divine inspiration of the original text. And we have over 25,000 samples to get an extremely accurate view of the original. But the only point that matters is, do the discrepancies change anything? The answer is no they don’t.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  Correct. It does not change anything as far as Christianity are concerned, but this does not obviate the fact that they are fraudulent entries and thus fall foul of innerancy and ”god breathed”.
                  All it means is that Christians who were by and large ignorant of these forgeries are now prepared to hand wave them away and merely shrug them off and carry on regardless, and example of what millennia of cultural indoctrination has achieved.
                  The long ending in Mark is the most glaring forgery. (And even here I’ll bet a great many Chriatians are still unaware of thbis fact.

                  There are a number of prominent examples, not least several of the epistles of Paul.

                • Mel Wild says:

                  You’re straining gnats here, Ark. Again, we are talking about minor differences between the copies of manuscripts, which unless you’re a KJV-only Fundamentalist, you’re aware of them. Most modern Bibles explain them and annotate them. Any Bible student would know about them and take them into account.

                  And you are not understanding the nature of inspiration. The inspiration of Scripture does not depend on verbatim copies of the text. The inspiration is not in the text itself; it’s in what it reveals. Jesus Christ Himself is the word of God. This Word becomes living by how it’s “breathed” into open hearts. Conversely, the same text does nothing for a closed heart. The Pharisees were a classic example.

                • Arkenaten says:

                  I am fully aware of the nature of supposed divine inspiration which is why prior to the official stamp of approval from the church many texts were deemed inspired and the church on the whole seemed okay with it.
                  I do tire of you patronizing tine, Mel, and I wish you at least have the courtesy of allowing that I am aware of much of church history and the development of your religion and the main players, thanks.

                • Mel Wild says:

                  I do tire of you patronizing tine, Mel…

                  Nice try but no cigar. I’m not patronizing. You may know church history but it’s obvious to me that you don’t understand the nature of inspiration by the questions you’re asking. Either that or you’re just being deceptive in order to somehow create doubt in those who have not been exposed to this type of criticism. Regardless, all you do is attack the worst parts of church history in an attempt to delegitimize the whole thing. I’m sorry but you’re argument is straining at gnats and not relevant to what matters about biblical inspiration.

                • Nan says:

                  Mel, in response to this comment: Any Bible student would know about them and take them into account. — I think you will agree that most Christians are not bible students. They sit in their favorite pews each week, occasionally pray (unless there’s an emergency), and even less occasionally read their bible. These, I believe, are the folks that Ark is referring to when he asserts that by and large Christians are unaware of the forgeries.

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Nan, the possibility that believers don’t know the Bible is not a problem of Bible authority or inspiration, but one of biblical ignorance. And if a alleged “believer” is this ignorant of well-known facts, plainly annotated in the Bible they’re not reading, then they probably don’t care about the intellectual arguments of higher criticism either.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I have no idea what your point is about ” the sole arbiter of the bible was the Roman Church.”
          There was only ONE church until the twelfth century (East and West). Who do you think should be the arbiter of the Bible, trained seals?

          • Arkenaten says:

            but in spite of the attacks launched by skeptics, I have confidence in the testimony of Jesus beyond a reasonable doubt.

            Of course there was only ”one church’.
            Your ”trained seals” jibe is completely unnecessary.
            And this is the crux of what I am getting at. HOW do know the testimony is true when the final arbiters of the biblical canon were the Roman Catholic Church.
            You flatly reject the Catholic Church and its doctrine (as you claim you do of all other formal christian religions ) but it was the Catholic Church under the stewardship of Constantine and Eusebius who helped put together the bible, including the fraudulent long ending of ”Mark”.

            So, how can you claim to be non-religious and only a follower of Jesus when what you follow is the biblical text – put together by a brutal patriarchal religious organisation – the Church?

            • Mel Wild says:

              But this is what you don’t seem to be getting. My point is that the Constantinian Catholic Church were not the ones who decided on their authority as Scripture. These letters were widely used and their authority was common knowledge by the fourth century. Early church fathers, from the early second century onward, quote from them and recognized them as Scripture. They were only CANONIZED in the fourth century. Your conspiracy theory is erroneous.

  9. Nan says:

    Ya’ know, Mel, I do see where you’re coming from related to being a “Jesus Follower” as opposed to being “religious.” The thing is … in order to be a Follower, you are still basing your beliefs, your actions, your thinking, your faith on what has been written in the bible … and this is what so many non-believers reject. There are too many loopholes … too many passages that cannot be taken any way but as fantasy … and most importantly as related to the New Testament, no guarantees that any of it was written by the actual followers of Yeshua.

    Christianity, as defined by the world-at-large, most definitely has its problems. A big one is that the millions who say they “follow Jesus” are simply unable to agree on the best way to do that. As a pastor, I’m sure you’re teaching the way you feel is genuine, but it really boils down to your personal outlook on what the bible teaches … and how much authenticity you give to its contents.

    I think the question no one can avoid is this … if there truly is a god, why hasn’t this entity made it crystal clear exactly what is expected from those who choose to believe /follow it? You feel you have the “answers,” but someone who lives down the street or across town may see it from an entirely different perspective. I guess that’s why so many of us non-believers continue to question, debate, and/or wonder about the reality of this phenomenon.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Fair enough. But I have no reason not to base my beliefs on a proper understanding of the Bible, especially the New Testament. And there certainly is doctrinal disagreement and differences of opinion within the body of Christ. But, keep in mind, Jesus didn’t say we would be in union because of doctrinal agreement, but by His love and unity of the Spirit. So I can have very different opinions and views about doctrine with other believers and still be in union with them in Christ. Christianity is primarily relational. Of course, there are Christians who believe otherwise, but then they’re not actually following Jesus (John 13:35; 17:23). They are following other things they think are more important.

      When you say there are Scriptures that have to be taken as “fantasy” you are giving a biased judgment based on your naturalistic prejudice. But I would argue that this is a very narrow-minded worldview, especially in light of the non-material reality already discovered through quantum physics, and other non-material, not spatial realities that cannot be answered by biology or material physics (like why we have a mind and consciousness versus just having a brain if it’s just about neurons and chemicals).

      Your view also does not answer the ontological questions nor can it, and there are many other issues I could bring up. So, if science is discovering reality outside of the material world, how then can we dismiss the possibility of miracles and the “other-worldly,” or a creator for that matter. I would say that’s irrational. So, a lot of this comes down to a matter of faith for both the believer and the skeptic.

      • Nan says:

        You wrote … Jesus didn’t say … . This is exactly my point. If it weren’t for the bible, you wouldn’t even know what “Jesus” said, did, or believed. All this other “ontological” stuff you refer to is just icing on the cake to further justify your belief in a ethereal being.

        But that’s OK. I’m not trying to “deconvert” you … 😀 … just offering another viewpoint. After all, isn’t that what makes blogging so much fun?

        • Mel Wild says:

          No problem. And I appreciate the way you comment on your viewpoint, btw. 🙂

          I understand what you’re saying, but in spite of the attacks launched by skeptics, I have confidence in the testimony of Jesus beyond a reasonable doubt. More than I can say for any other work of antiquity. And what He says in the text works effectively in my life and answers all the questions about the relational issues plaguing humankind. So, either it was Jesus, or someone just a brilliant and life-changing as Jesus. 🙂

          • Argus says:

            Awwww … shucks …

            • Mel Wild says:

              Argus, this blog is for grownups who can converse respectfully. Goodbye…

              • Argus says:

                By their deeds shall ye know them.

                No offence intended—but I do tend to underestimate the sensitivities of some. My apologies, I’ll stay away 🙂

                • Mel Wild says:

                  Apology accepted. It’s not about me being sensitive. It’s about respecting others. We can have differing views without belittling people we disagree with. You only lose credibility when you stoop to that level. I would say the same thing to my Christian friends.

  10. This is the difference between being a Christian and being Christ-like.

  11. Scottie says:

    Hi Mel. I know you and Ark are talking about documents, but do you have time for another question? I finally read all the comments and what you guys are talking about is out of my league.
    Hugs

  12. Pingback: The nature of biblical inspiration | In My Father's House

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