2. Tough Questions for the Christian Church by James BucknerThrough years of participation in the life andculture of evangelicalChristianity, a number of "difficult to understand"issues came to myattention. The approach to these problemsendorsed by evangelical Christianleaders is for thoughtful Christians to accept the"difficulties" asinscrutable but nevertheless true, and toendeavor to strengthen ones faith inother areas where "difficulties" are not ahindrance. I acquiesced to thisapproach while I lived my busy life, until suchtime as I should be able tosearch out the solid answers that evangelicaltheologians had undoubtedlyderived from their more thorough andsophisticated study of scripture.After years of studying the Bible as an individualand in groups, listening tosermons, attending Christian conferences,
3. leading a small group Bible study,reading evangelicalisms best apologists, andeven preaching from the pulpitonce, I was dismayed to discover that the churchcannot answer the toughquestions about Christianity. And I washeartbroken when I finally recognized,quite contrary to my own wish, that thecumulative force of the so-called"difficulties" thoroughly and unquestionablydiscredits Christianity.Anticipating that many Christians will not acceptmy conclusion, and that theywill urge me to come back to church and continue"searching," because ofJesuss promise that those who search will find, Ihave listed some questionsthe church must answer if it hopes to regain myattention.The questions that follow have been organizedloosely into categories to aid inreferencing them. Many questions couldlegitimately be placed in othercategories. Their current placement reflects myown judgment of where theweight of the questions carries the most force.The list is not exhaustive. There are innumerableserious issues withChristianity laid out in the existing body ofskeptical literature. The list
4. that follows is a sampling from a variety ofsources. Not a few wereindependently discovered by myself before Ilearned of the existence of seriousskeptical literature, a few are original withmyself, and a few actually comefrom Christian sources.Some biblical references are given, but all arenot. I am assuming that anyChristian knowledgeable enough to addressthese questions intelligently willnot have trouble finding the biblical passages atissue. In addition, somequestions assume a general familiarity withcertain biblical and extra-biblicalsubjects which are not practical to referencebecause the relevant knowledge iswidely dispersed through a large body ofliterature; for unreferenced items, aChristian who does not understand the issueprobably is not well-read enough toattempt an answer.Problems with the Integrity of the Bible- ----------------------------------------Biblical Inconsistencies1. Why does the evangelical church say there areno contradictions in the Bible
5. when they are plainly there for anyone to see?(These are too numerous even tolist a representative sample here. There are manybooks and monographs on thistopic in the skeptical literature.1)2. Why does the Old Testament teach that thereis no hell, while the NewTestament teaches that there is? The idea of"progressive revelation" does notexplain the conflicts in the biblical texts.3. Why does most of the Old Testament teachthat there is no afterlife (seeEcclesiastes 9:5-6, for example), while later OldTestament writings and theNew Testament do?4. Why does the church say that God is not theauthor of confusion (1Corinthians 14:33), when many biblical passagesflatly contradict this?25. Was God known by the name Yahweh prior toMoses (Exodus 6:3), or was he not(Genesis 4:26, 5:29, 9:24, 22:14, 27:20, 27:27,28:20-21)?6. Which "Ten Commandments" are *the* TenCommandments - the ones listed atExodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, or the ones listedat Exodus 34? Only the list atExodus 34 is explicitly called the "Ten
6. Commandments" in the biblical text.7. Was the Law given by Yahweh perfect (Psalm19:7), or wasnt it (Hebrews8:6-8)?8. Why cant the six accounts of the resurrectionbe reconciled?3 Paul saysthat without the resurrection, the Christian faithis in vain (1 Cor 15:14).How could the biblical accounts possibly disagreeon such an importantnarrative?9. Why were the disciples surprised by Jesussresurrection after Jesus hadtold them repeatedly to expect it?4 An angeleven reminded the women thatJesus had told them of his impendingresurrection (Luke 24:6-7). How is itthat the women remembered his words (Luke24:8), but the disciples didnt (John20:9, Luke 24:12)? Even Jesuss enemiesremembered that he had foretold thathe would rise again (Matthew 27:63).Biblical Ambiguities and Omissions1. Why is the Bible unclear about how to besaved? Is there anything moreimportant that the Bible could communicate?Why is it ambiguous and
7. contradictory on this subject?2. Why does Jesus teach salvation by works inthe synoptic gospels, but Johnportrays him teaching salvation by faith?3. Why does John not teach in his gospel that it isnecessary to repent of oursins, since he states that his gospel was writtenspecifically for the purposeof showing people how to be saved (John 20:31)?4. Why is the nature and practice of the twosacraments - baptism and theLords Supper - left ambiguous in the Bible, and acause of discord amongchurches?5. Why is the book of Revelationincomprehensible if it is really "not sealed"(Rev 22:10)? Why are the prophecies in the bookof Daniel actually easier tounderstand, if they *are* sealed (Daniel 12:9)?6. Why doesnt the Bible provide unambiguousanswers for major divisivedoctrines like efficacy of baptism, paedobaptism,mode of adult baptism,soteriology, Christology, trinitarianism,satanology, angelology, nature of theafterlife, eschatology, fundamentals of the faith,the standing of Jewishbelievers in relation to the Law, the standing of
8. Gentile believers in relationto the Law?Misinterpretation of Scripture by New TestamentFigures1. Why did the writers of the New Testament feelfree to misquote andmisinterpret the Old Testament and conflateverses?52. Why did the gospel writers use the Septuagint,an inferior translation ofthe Old Testament?6 Did the Holy Spirit fail toinspire them with the moreaccurate Hebrew text, the one accepted today?3. Why did Matthew and Peter take OldTestament passages out of context to makethem into prophecies, when they were neverindicated to be prophetic by the OldTestament author (Acts 1:20 versus Psalm 69:25,for example)?4. Why did Mark misreference an Old Testamentprophet (Mark 1:2)?7 How can werely on Mark to explain Old Testamentprophecies to us if he is even mistakenabout the source?5. Why does Jude quote the non-canonical Bookof Enoch as prophecy (Jude
9. 14-15)? Did the Holy Spirit fail to inspire Judewith the fact that the Bookof Enoch would not be accepted into the canon?6. Why does Matthew quote a non-existent OldTestament prophecy (Matthew 2:23)?Was he using non-canonical writings, too?7. Why does Matthew attribute a quote about thepotters field to Jeremiah,when Jeremiah has no such passage, and theclosest one in the Old Testament isZechariah (Matt 27:9-10; Zechariah 11:12)?8. Why doesnt Paul ever quote Jesus from thegospel accounts, or show that heknew anything at all about Jesuss teachings andlife as portrayed in thegospels?9. Why is no single hermeneutic adequate forinterpretation of scripture? Whywere the New Testament authors so free andloose in their hermeneutics? Howcould it be that the meanings of some words andphrases have been lost? Howcould it be that some cultural references havebeen lost? How can it be thatmany books and passages admit of multipleinterpretations? Doesnt God want usto understand his Word enough to protect theknowledge of its referents and useunambiguous diction and phraseology?
10. Failed Biblical Promises1. Why doesnt prayer work, when the Biblepromises that it will (John 14:14,for example)?See also below under Absurd Doctrines, items 4and 9.-CK2. Why arent Christians doing greater worksthan Jesus did, since he himselfsaid they would (John 14:12)? The context isclearly referring to miracles.Failed Prophecies1. Why have no prophecies been demonstratedto have been fulfilled? Why aremany Old Testament prophecies too vague to betested? Why are many OldTestament prophecies "yet to be" fulfilled? Whyhas it been impossible todemonstrate that the Old Testament prophecieswere written prior to the eventsforecasted?2. Why wasnt Tyre destroyed byNebuchadnezzar as prophesied by Ezekiel(Ezekiel 26)? When it was destroyed byAlexander the Great, why didnt it
11. remain desolate as prophesied by Ezekiel?83. How can it be that Isaiah prophesied atemporary destruction of Tyre, whileEzekiel prophesied a permanent destruction(Ezekiel 26:14,21; 27:36; 28:19versus Isaiah 23:13-18)?4. Why wasnt there a 40-year period in Egyptshistory when the whole land wasdevoid of people and animals, as prophesied byEzekiel (Ezekiel 29:11-12)?5. Why is so much of New Testament prophecyincomprehensible? Why produce aprophecy at all if it cannot be understood?Problems with Miracles1. Why havent any of the miracles recorded inthe Bible been independentlyconfirmed?2. Why dont verifiable miracles happen today?What better way is there toconvince people of the Christian message, andisnt that the commission givento the church by Jesus?3. Why dont evangelical Christians acceptmiracle stories recorded in ancientnon-biblical works? Isnt it the case that
12. evangelical Christians have decideda priori to accept biblical miracles and reject allothers? Arent theapologists "objective standards" for accepting orrejecting extra-biblicalmiracles post hoc?Origin and Transmission of the Scriptures1. Why is the authorship of most books of theBible disputed? Why do manybooks of the Bible have no statement ofauthorship? Why are some books in thecanon pseudepigraphical (lie about authorship)?2. Why did the early church not revere thescriptures as Christians do today,so that they added interpolations and madeemendations?3. Why hasnt the Bible been transmitted to us inperfect condition if it is soimportant and if God had his supernatural handin it? Why did both Israel andthe church add interpolations, emend, andconflate the texts?The Canon1. Why is the Mosaic injunction against falseprophets ignored in the canon?
13. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 should disqualify Isaiah,Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel,Jonah, Jesus, and Paul.2. Why is the canon disputed by the church? IsGod content to let uninspiredwritings falsely be proclaimed as his Word?Furthermore, how do we know thecanon is complete?3. Why has no one been able to describe aconsistent objective basis forestablishing the canon? Why was the canonestablished by vote instead of onobjective principles? Why was the canon notdirectly revealed by God?4. Why is so much of New Testament doctrinerevealed through the use ofoccasional letters instead of in systematic bookswritten, authorized, andcanonized specifically to define Christiandoctrine? Why didnt God deliverthese himself, as he did the Law to Moses?Maybe this explains why the OldTestament Law has more clarity than the NewTestament doctrines. Why did Godleave the writing of systematic theologies tomodern, uninspired writers, whocannot agree with one another?Biblical Values
14. 1. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit,why did God lie about what theoutcome would be (Genesis 2:17),9 while theserpent told the truth (Genesis3:5,22)?2. Why are women treated as chattel and inferiorto men throughout the Bible?103. Why is the Old Testament and most of the NewTestament addressed only tofree men, and not to women or slaves? Does Goddeal only with free males?114. Why does the Bible condone slavery?125. Why does Yahweh command genocide,13including the killing of infants? Whydoes he command that all women who have"known a man" be slaughtered, but thesoldiers are to keep the young virgins for theirown use (Numbers 31:14-18)?Why does the Bible portray Yahweh as worsethan Hitler (Deuteronomy 20:16-17)?Isnt it blasphemous to call the Bible "GodsWord," when it libels him so?6. Why doesnt the Bible condemn polygamy? Isit not really a sin? In fact,the Bible seems to condone polygamy throughexamples of God blessingpolygamists and by its explicit statements
15. regarding David.7. Why wasnt Lot condemned for giving hisdaughters to be abused by the men ofSodom (Genesis 19:8)? The Bible actually callshim righteous (2 Peter 2:7)!8. How can Christians say that the FirstAmendment guarantee of freedom ofreligion is based on Judeo-Christian ethics whenDeuteronomy 13:6-10 and 17:2-7flatly contradict this?9. How can being mauled by a bear possibly be ajust punishment forname-calling (2 Kings 2:23-24)? Doesnt thiscontradict Gods own edict of "aneye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth?"10. Why is faith - believing something for whichthere is no evidence - avirtue?11. Why is rational skepticism a vice? IfChristianity is true, wont thetruth hold up under scrutiny? Shouldnt thechurch welcome and promoterational skepticism as a way of confirming andspreading the faith when peoplesee that it fails to undermine Christianity? Whyisnt skeptical literaturestudied and refuted in Sunday School classes?
16. Biblical Guidance1. Why do Moses, Ezra, Jesus, and Paul alldisagree on marriage and divorce?Moses allowed divorce, Jesus disallowed it andalso allowed it, Paul allowedit, and Ezra actually commanded it to appeaseGod (Ezra 10). How is an honestChristian supposed to know what to do in thisarea?2. Why does the New Testament teach byexample that major decisions should bedecided by lot (in Acts chapter 1 when Matthiasis chosen)?3. Why doesnt the Bible provide unambiguousguidance for major divisive issueslike abortion, divorce, war, church discipline,lending and borrowing money,etc.? Doesnt God want the church to be united?Doesnt God want individualChristians to know how they should live?Conflicts with Science1. Why does the Bible teach that the sky is a soliddome of transparentmaterial with water above it?14 (The waterpoured through the "windows ofheaven" to cause Noahs flood, and then
17. presumably poured off the edge of thedisk-shaped earth into the abyss.)2. Why does the Bible teach that goats will havestriped offspring if they seestripes when they drink at the watering trough,when this has been discreditedby modern genetics?3. Why does the Bible record scientificallyimpossible events as factual? Forexample, the creation narrative, Noahs deluge, asolid dome over the sky,Earth supported by a foundation. Why has theevangelical church produced"Creation Science" explanations that arecomplete nonsense? Why is it thatnone of the more rational reconciliations ofscience and the Bible survivesscrutiny?4. How can it be that Psalm 16 and Romans 1teach that the creation is areliable means of knowing God ("naturaltheology"), but the scientific study ofbiological and geological origins contradicts thecreation narrative inGenesis? Why does "natural theology" contradict"revealed theology" (theBible)? Is the creation bearing false witness? Isthe Bible bearing falsewitness?
18. Absurd Doctrines- ----------------1. Where is the justice in punishing us for Adamssin? The Bible itself saysthat children will not be punished for theparents sins (Deuteronomy 24:16).Furthermore, if God really created Adam notknowing either good or evil(Genesis 3:22), how could such a harsh andenduring punishment as death forAdam and all his descendants possibly be just?Our secular courts are morejust than God when they show mercy on peoplewho cannot distinguish betweenright and wrong, such as children and thementally handicapped. And why isntthis doctrine of original sin found anywhere inthe Bible except in Paulswritings?2. Where is the justice in punishing Jesus for oursins? If our courts of lawwere to accept the punishment of someone elsein the place of the criminal, wewould not say that justice has been done, butthat injustice has been added toinjustice. Would the church have me believe thattwo wrongs make a right?3. How can sacrificing Jesus on behalf of thesinner atone for anothers sin?This would be like killing my child to reconcile for
19. the misbehavior of myneighbors child. I have the capacity simply toforgive and forget withoutdemanding compensation for small offenses.Why cant God do this? Does hesimply want blood?4. Why pray? If it changes Gods mind then he isnot sovereign. If it doesnot change Gods mind then it is superfluous.5. How can the doctrine of the Trinity possibly betrue? Any attempt to makesense of it leads to contradictions. If it is soimportant, why isnt itclearly taught in the Bible? Why shouldnt anobjective student of thedoctrine conclude that it was created by thechurch to hide biblicalinconsistencies about the nature of Christ behinda shroud of mystery?See my note at the bottom of this document. - CK.6. Why is God concerned about humans at all?We are less than a speck in theuniverse. Christianity has the hallmarks of beinga religion made by humansfor humans.7. Why have all the rational arguments for theexistence of God beensuccessfully refuted? If God exists, is itunreasonable to suppose that there
20. would be at least one irrefutable proof of hisexistence?8. Why havent the existing proofs of Gods non-existence been refuted? Surelybelievers, who have the advantage of anindwelling Holy Spirit with an"infinite mind," cannot be stumped by "finiteminds" of unbelievers workingwithin the confining limitations of reason, canthey?9. Why is it that some teachings are convenientlytautological (i.e.,circular)? For example, you must pray the will ofGod in order for prayer tobe answered; you must believe the Bible in orderto understand the Bible; andthe Bible is the Word of God, therefore it is true.10. How exactly does "loving God and enjoyinghim forever" give meaning tolife? Any satisfying secular activity can givemeaning to life. Why does theChristian assume that a metaphysical meaningfor life is necessary? Isnt itthe Christian who imposes meaninglessness onthis present life, declaring thatmeaning depends for its existence on the life tocome? And if Christians didnot believe they will live forever, would theycontinue to love and serve God?Isnt it really eternal life that the Christian loves,
21. and not God? If purposein this present life is really derived from lovingand serving God, then whatsense does it make for Christians to makemeaning dependent upon a future life?11. Where is objective, verifiable evidence that asoul or spirit exists andsurvives the body after death? Why does the OldTestament deny such an ideauntil the later writings, which show the influenceof Greek ideas? The idea of"progressive revelation" does not explain this.Intractable Theological Problems- --------------------------------1. How could Adam and Eve ever have sinned ifGod had actually created themperfect, even if they did have free will? If Godcreated them imperfect, howcould a perfect omnipotent being createanything imperfect?2. How can evil exist in the world if God issimultaneously good, omnipotent,and loving? Why is it that no theodicy stands upunder rational scrutiny?3. Why does the church say God did not createevil, when he himself claims that
22. he did in Isaiah 45:7, Lamentations 3:38, andAmos 3:6?154. Why does God expressly take credit forcreating disabilities (Exodus 4:11)?If these are Gods doing, then why does theevangelical church insist thatdisabilities are the result of the fall, or of Satanswork?5. Why would a loving, omnipotent, benevolentgod cause people to believefalsehoods so that he can condemn them (2Thessalonians 2:11-12)?6. Why is the Bible inconsistent on majortheological issues such as the natureand existence of an afterlife, the efficacy ofworks of the Law with regard tosalvation, and the distinction between soul andspirit?7. Why does the evangelical church speak ofabsolute values when the Bibleteaches situational ethics?168. Why is it not possible to formulate a systematictheology that agrees withthe Bible in all points? Roman Catholic theologyintroduces unbiblical andirrational ideas; Calvinistic reformed theologystumbles at the existence ofevil; covenantal theology muddles the biblical
23. distinctions between Israel andthe church; dispensational theology is toohopelessly complex to be crediblebecause every major inconsistency is explainedaway by spuriously introducing anew "dispensation;" and Arminianism destroysthe sovereignty of God.9. Why doesnt the Bible itself present its own"revealed" systematic theology.Doesnt God want us to have a consistent andcomplete framework of theology tosupport right decision making and teachingothers?Blemishes on the Church- -----------------------Unbiblical and Inconsistent Practices of theChurch1. Why does the church worship on Sunday,when the seventh day was establishedforever? There is no biblical support for Sundayworship; it is a tradition ofthe Catholic Church which Protestants accept.2. Why do many evangelical churches deny thatbaptism is essential forsalvation, when the New Testament clearlyteaches that it is?17
24. 3. Why do some churches object to wine since theBible indicates that it is agift from God (Psalm 104:14-15)?18 How canthey continue to object even whenthey acknowledge that Jesus turned water intowine? Is this anything more thana holdover from prohibition? In fact, the Biblepromotes drunkenness inProverbs 31:6-7.4. Why does the modern evangelical churchembrace the extra-biblical doctrinesof "having a personal relationship with Christ,"having a "quiet time,""journaling," and the necessity of belonging to an"accountability group?"Doesnt the church understand its own religion?Why is it caught up inpop-religion? If these are not really doctrines ofthe church, then why isthere social pressure to conform?5. Why does the church teach tithing forChristians, when it is only commandedof Old Testament Israel? Why didnt Paul teachtithing to the New Testamentchurch when he had the opportunity to (2Corinthians 9)?6. Why do some churches ignore controversialteachings in the Bible, such asspeaking in tongues, baptism for the dead, the
25. requirement for women to wearhead coverings and to remain silent, theidentification of the "sons of God" inGenesis 6, the necessity of poverty in order tofollow Jesus (Luke 14:33), etc?Doesnt the Holy Spirit reveal the true meaning ofthese passages to believers?If so, why do sincere believers come to oppositeconclusions on their own, andwhy arent they able to come to agreement whenthey dialog with each other?Surely, Jesus is with them to guide them whentwo or three are gatheredtogether in his name, isnt he, even if theymisapprehended the Spiritsguidance when they were on their own?7. Why must Christians resort to divination(looking for "guidance," lookingfor "doors of circumstance to open or close," etc.)if the Holy Spirit dwellswithin them? What is the benefit of anindwelling Holy Spirit if it doesntmanifest itself in day-to-day living, and it has tobe coaxed into revealingGods will in major decisions?8. Why do Christians pray about whether tomarry someone, when Paul says thatif they want to get married they should just do it(1 Corinthians 7)?9. Why does the evangelical church rail against
26. one-world government, sincethey say it is Gods plan as revealed inRevelation? How can they justifyspeaking and acting against Gods revealed plan?The Headless Church1. Why is the evangelical church subject to thesame social movements as therest of society? If the church is headed by theliving Christ, shouldnt theinstitution be a steady keel in a stormy sea?2. Why does the church trail rather than lead insocial reforms? (For example:the rise of capitalism, rise of the scientific methodand critical thinking,abolition of slavery, eradication of Nazism,womens suffrage, civil rights ofAfrican Americans after the abolition of slavery.)And why does the churchdishonestly claim leadership in these reformsafter the fact?3. Why are the churchs day-to-day practicesguided by cultural norms ratherthan by the perfect, absolute, unchangeablenorms of God and the Bible? Forexample, why do churches separate children fromtheir families and age-gradethem like the schools, why does the churchpropagate self-help ideology when
27. the message of the Bible is dependence uponGod, why does the church accept andparticipate in competition where it has rejected itin the past,19 why has theservice of women in the church been addressedonly after secular culture hasaddressed womens issues, why does the style ofmusic in the church and churcharchitecture follow cultural patterns instead ofdefining cultural patterns?4. Why doesnt the church understand Jesussteachings? Why are most preachersafraid to preach straight through a gospel frombeginning to end? Why do theyskip over Jesuss "difficult" sayings and theenigmatic passages?Character of the Church1. Why has the church done so little good and somuch harm in 2000 years, whilescience has demonstrated remarkable progress inonly 500 years? Why is theperiod when the church dominated westernhistory universally referred to as theDark Ages, while the period of breaking awayfrom church dogma is called theEnlightenment?2. Why are the Crusades and the Inquisition andother church-sponsored
28. atrocities politely ignored in many churcheducation programs, leaving churchmembers to learn of these in other venues, or,more likely, to remain ignorantof the heritage of the institution to which theybelong and contribute.3. Why does the church conceal and ignore andmisrepresent legitimatecriticisms and critics? If Christianity isundoubtedly true, why doesnt thechurch demonstrate it by refuting the wholebody of skeptical literature inSunday School classes? The church isnt trying tohide something is it? Howcan the church possibly maintain credibility whenit is so blatantly partisanon the side of dogma, and obviously notdispassionately seeking truth whereverthe evidence may lead.4. Why do so many members of the churchdismiss the veracity of unbeliefwithout even giving it a fair hearing, especially inlight of biblicalcondemnations of this behavior, such as "He whoanswers before listening - thatis his folly and his shame," (Proverbs 18:13, NIV),and "The first to presenthis case seems right, till another comes forwardand questions him," (Proverbs18:17, NIV), for example.
29. Problems with Jesuss Credentials and Character- -----------------------------------------------1. Why are many Old Testament propheciesabout Jesus referenced in the NewTestament taken out of context, not beingmessianic prophecies at all?20 Whywould Jesuss disciples, and Jesus himself inMatthew 4:13-16, misrepresent theOld Testament text? Surely the Son of God wouldnot allow a disciple topersist in distorted understanding of thescriptures, nor teach a synagogueclass an unjustified misinterpretation ofscripture?2. Why doesnt Jesus fit the real, clearlyidentifiable, messianic prophesiesof the Old Testament? Why do the gospel writersignore these prophecies? Whydoes the church condemn first century Jews forrejecting Jesus as the Messiah,when he clearly does not fulfill the OldTestament prophecies of Messiah? Whymust we wait until Jesus second coming to seethe clearest propheciesfulfilled?3. Why do the two genealogies of Jesus inMatthew and Luke disagree? Ifsomeone is declared to be the son of God, surely
30. his credentials must beimpeccable, mustnt they? Two variantgenealogies cast suspicion on the trueorigin of this man, dont they?4. Why does the genealogy in Matthew 1 showthat Jesus descended through acursed line?21 Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and hisfather Jehoiakim were both cursedby God himself, who said that neither of thesemen would have any descendent onthe throne of David. How could Jesus possibly bethe Messiah, destined to ruleforever on the throne of David, if he descendedthrough either of these men?5. If the genealogy in Luke is that of Mary andnot Joseph, then why does itlist Joseph in the line rather than Mary? Why isno other genealogy of a womanrecorded anywhere else in scripture? And if thisis Marys genealogy, thenJesus descended through Nathan, not Solomon,making the prophecies in 2 Samuel7:12-16 and 1 Chronicles 22:10 false.6. If, using the genealogy in Luke, Jesuss claim todescent from David, of thetribe of Judah, is through Mary rather thanJoseph then how can it be thatMarys cousin, Elizabeth, was descended from thehouse of Aaron, of the tribeof Levi (Luke 1:5)?
31. 7. Why does Jesus misquote the OldTestament?228. Why does Jesus refer to the writings of Moses(Mark 12:26), when it is clearthat Moses could not possibly have written thePentateuch?23 Surely the son ofGod would know more about the Word of Godthan anyone else, wouldnt he?9. How can it be that Jesus contradicts the OldTestament (1 Samuel 21-22),saying that Abiathar gave David the showbreadinstead of Ahimelech, and sayingthat David had men with him, when he wasactually alone (Mark 2:25-26)? Doesthe church expect me to rely upon the teachingsof a "son of God" who isdemonstrably mistaken about what Gods Wordsays?10. Why does Jesus quote a non-existent verse ofOld Testament scripture (John7:38)? Is it possible that he considered other non-canonical writings also tobe Gods Word?11. Why would Jesus deliberately obscure thegospel by speaking in parables sothat people would not understand, turn, and beforgiven (Mark 4:11-12)? Did henot come that all men might be saved?
32. 12. Why was Jesus in the tomb for only two and ahalf days at the most, when hesaid he would be there three days and threenights (Matthew 12:40)? Surely theson of God would say precisely what he means,wouldnt he?13. Why would Jesus prophesy that his kingdomwould come in glory before someof those listening to him died, but the kingdomstill has not come (Matt 16:18,Matt 10:23, Mark 9:1, Luke 21:31-32)? Surely theson of God could not havespoken a false prophecy, could he?14. Why did Jesus say his followers must hatetheir families? Surely, when theson of God said "hate" he meant "hate," didnthe? Why would the son of Godconfuse us by using hyperbole? How could theexamples of Luke 9:59-62, even ifallegorical, be hyperbole anyway? Jesus clearlycalled a man to theirresponsible, disrespectful action of leaving hisfather, implying that he wasnot even to attend his funeral, and he calledanother to leave his familywithout even saying farewell or letting themknow he was deserting them.15. Why was Jesus disrespectful of hismother?24 In John 2:4, Jesus uses the
33. same words with his mother that demons usewhen they meet Jesus.25 Surely theson of God knew that Mary had the blessing ofthe Father, didnt he, not tomention that the son of God would never berude?16. Why did Jesus lie to his brothers about goingto Jerusalem (John 7:8-10)?26Did God the Father send a lying spirit, as he did in1 Kings? Like Father,like Son?17. Why did Jesus, by his own admission, breakthe Sabbath law (John5:16-18)?27 This puts the lie to the Christian ideathat the perfect Jesusfulfilled the whole Law, and therefore was asuitable unblemished sacrifice forour sins.18. Why did Jesus say the rulers daughter wasnot dead? (Matt 9:18-25; Luke8:41-56) Either Jesus lied, or he performed nomiracle, but the contextclearly shows that it was understood to be amiracle.Evolution of Religion by Naturalistic SocialProcesses- ------------------------------------------------------
34. 1. If Christian theology and the church have asupernatural origin in anomnipotent God, then why has theology and thechurch evolved throughnaturalistic social processes over time?2. Why does theology change from the beginningof the Bible to the end? Whyare the later writings influenced by Greekthought (for example, immortality)?Why is there such a large theological gapbetween the Old and New Testaments?The changes are not explainable by the idea of"progressive revelation," or byany systematic theology.3. Why was the doctrine of the Trinity unknownto the church until the fourthcentury? Why was the doctrine established byvote instead of by revelation?Why was the membership of the voting councilloaded with Athanasians? Why wasbelief in this then-new doctrine made a conditionfor membership in the church?Why were Arians exiled and executed?4. Why is Jesus so similar to the other 15suffering saviors of mythology? Whydont Christians believe any of the other virginbirths and savior storiesrecorded in ancient literature? How is it that theritual of Christian
35. communion existed in the prior paganceremonies of eating the body and drinkingthe blood of their gods? How is it that theChristian ritual of baptism alsoexisted in the prior pagan cults? Werent thevery defining doctrines ofChristianity actually assimilated from theendemic pagan cults? Likewise, whyare Easter, Christmas, the Lenten season,rogation days, and others, derivedfrom pagan holidays. Didnt Christianity haveany legitimate calendar ofcommemorations of its own?5. How did liberal churches come to exist? If theyare inclined to believe,why did they not continue to believe the"fundamentals?" Could it be becausethe fundamentals have insurmountable problemsthat discredit them?Conclusion- ----------1. Why hasnt the church answered any of thesequestions in the 23 years I havebeen a part of it?2. Why hasnt the church answered any of thesequestions in 2000 years?
36. I can only conclude that it is because the churchhas no answers.(c) Copyright 1997, James Buckner. Permission ishereby given to reproduce anddistribute this material in whole or in part in anymedium, on condition thatthe reproductions not be sold for any form ofconsideration, and on conditionthat the author is duly cited as the source.End Notes- ---------1 See, for example, the works of Thomas Paine,Robert Ingersoll, JosephWheless, Dennis McKinsey, Farrell Till, andothers. Many of these writings canbe found on the Secular Web atwww.infidels.org.2 Genesis 11:9; Exodus 14:24 and 23:27;Deuteronomy 7:23 and 28:20,28; Joshua10:10.3 Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21,Acts 1:3-12, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.4 Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19, Mark 9:31,10:34, Luke 9:22, 18:33.
37. 5 Matthew 3:3 versus Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 12:17-21 versus Isaiah 42:1-4;Matthew 13:35 versus Psalm 78:1-3; Acts 2:16-21versus Joel 2:28-32; Acts 7:43versus Amos 5:25-27; Romans 3:4 versus Psalm51:4; Romans 9:33 versus Isaiah28:16 and 8:14; Romans 10:6-8 versusDeuteronomy 30:12-14; Romans 11:9-10versus Psalm 69:22-23; Romans 11:26-27 versusIsaiah 59:20-21; 1 Corinthians2:9 versus Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 3:20 versusPsalm 94:11; 1 Corinthians15:54-55 versus Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14.6 Matthew 3:3; Luke 4:17-21; Acts 7:43; Acts15:17; Romans 10:11.7 This misreference is found in the critical text,but not in the TextusReceptus, illustrating that the early church waswilling to emend the holyscriptures to remove difficulties.8 Ezekiel 26:14, 27:36, 28:19; Wallace B. Fleming,The History of Tyre,Columbia University Press, 1915, p. 64.9 Some modern translations soften Yahwehsstatement that Adam would die "inthat day," and so disguise the problem.10 The evidence is too overwhelming to cite evena representative portion of
38. the relevant scriptures, but a few of the moreexplicit examples areDeuteronomy 21:10-14, 24:1-4; Leviticus 12:2,5; 1Corinthians 11:3,9; Ephesians5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:12-14. A good source ofadditional information on thistopic is the Freedom From Religion Foundation,PO Box 750, Madison, Wisconsin53701.11 The fact that God dealt with Israel duringtheir slavery does not weaken theforce of this question. Israels slavery was atemporary condition designed tounderline Israels dependence on Yahweh.Yahweh began to deal with Israel whenhe was a free man.12 See, for example, Exodus 21:20-21,Deuteronomy 15:17, Leviticus 25:44-46,Ephesians 6:5-7, 1 Timothy 6:1, Colossians 3:22,Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18,21.13 Number 21:34-35, Joshua 10:40, 1 Samuel15:3,18, Jeremiah 50:21 for example.14 Paul H. Seely, "The Firmament and the WaterAbove: Part I: The Meaning ofraqiaà in Gen 1:6-8," Westminster TheologicalJournal 53:241-261 (Fall 1991),and "...Part II: The Meaning of "The Water abovethe Firmament" in Gen 1:6-8,"94:47-63 (1992).
39. 15 Despite the renderings in the moderntranslations, this is the same Hebrewword translated "evil" in numerous otherpassages. However, even with themodern renderings, how can the Christianexplain Gods taking credit for"calamity" (NASB) or "woe" (NRSV) or "disaster"(NIV)?16 Davids eating the showbread, for example,and Jesuss Golden Rule.17 Mark 16:16; Acts 2:28; Acts 2:41; Acts 22:10 +Acts 9:6 + Acts 22:16; 2Corinthians 5:17 + Romans 6:3-618 See also, for example, Jeremiah 13:12, Joel2:19, Deuteronomy 14:25-26,Isaiah 25:6, Deuteronomy 7:13.19 The ancient Olympics were outlawed by thechurch through direct governmentalinfluence, and the modern Olympics were notrevived until the church lost itshold on secular government.20 Matthew 3:3 versus Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 4:13-16 versus Isaiah 9:1-2; John19:36 versus Psalm 34:20; John 19:37 versusZechariah 12:10.21 Matthew 1:11-12 + Jeremiah 22:28-30 and 1
40. Chronicles 3:16 + Jeremiah 36:30versus Luke 1:32.22 Matthew 4:10 versus Deuteronomy 6:13;Matthew 11:10 versus Malachi 3:1;Matthew 21:16 versus Psalm 8:2; Luke 4:17-21versus Isaiah 61:1-2.23 This is firmly established by pentateuchalanachronisms detailed in numerouscritical sources.24 Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21, John 2:4.25 Compare John 2:4 with Matthew 8:29, Mark5:7, Luke 4:34, and Luke 8:28 inliteral translation26 The "yet" inserted in some moderntranslations is not found in the earliestextant manuscripts. This is an example ofmodern emendation of holy scripture.The more honest translations, like the KingJames Version, print "yet" initalics, indicating that the word has been addedin translation. The NewAmerican Standard Bible does not insert theword, remaining true to thecritical Greek text. But the New InternationalVersion inserts "yet" in normaltypeset, relegating the explanation of its dubiouscharacter to a footnote,
41. where many uncritical readers will miss it.27 The point of this reference is that Jesus plainlysaid that he was working,in violation of the Sabbath law. If he was notreally working, then he lied.I appreciate immensely James Buckners post oftough questions. A few comments: One thing Idlike to add, based on my current reading in thenew book "Who Wrote the Gospels?" by RandelHelms, on the differences between Marcan andMatthean theologies, is: Why did Jesus family,on hearing of Jesus commission, go "out to layhold on him: for they said, He is beside himself"(Mark 3:21), even though Mary knew her son wason a divine mission, from the annunciation andfrom Josephs dream?As a theist, however, I do find one itemparticularly poor: If God exists, is it unreasonableto suppose that there would be at least oneirrefutable proof of his existence. One could justas easily justify solipsism to oneself (who else isthere?) by saying that if other people reallyexisted (as first-person, feeling beings ratherthan as automatons or figments of myimagination), then there would be at least oneirrefutable proof of their existence. PerhapsJames is more concerned with the Biblical God,but one need not be a Christian to believe in God(not the biblical imitation).
42. On a similar question, while I find the doctrine ofthe trinity ridiculous, I dont think it could notpossibly be true (just that there is no reason tothink it true). A better refutation of the trinitywould be twofold: 1. Even if the Bible claimed itto be true, that wouldnt make it so. 2. The Bibledoesnt even claim it. i.e., in the synoptic GospelsJesus is the son of God, not God, so we havedisagreement among the evangelists over thisperson being part of the godhead, and there isnothing in references to the "holy spirit" thatindicates this is a person covalent with God. TheHoly Spirit could be just another angel, likeGabriel, or maybe another name for the wholeheavenly host of all angels, or who knows what?BTW, I dont find the concept impossible, becauseGod is indeed beyond comprehension (thats areason why no possible Bible could ever allow usto comprehend God), and an analogy would bethat if we tried to explain three-dimensionalspace to a person living,somehow, in a one-dimensional universe, would result in the samebewilderment we feel at the other type of trinity.Space? Dimension? whats the difference hewould say. But I repeat, I see no need for thehypothesis of a trinity.But let me again thank James for the list, addingmy name to the chorus of praise.Charlie Kluepfel
43. Sharing Means Caring.http://www.beconvinced.comBe part of conveying the true message of Islam.