Import jQuery

God is X, or He Doesn't Exist

I spent about 3 or 4 hours out on a boat earlier this week, discussing God and religion with a Christian friend.

An issue that the Christian guy iteratively raised was that for the things he didn't agree with in the Bible -- maybe it was violence, or God's commanded obedience to Torah, or God commanding Israelites to kill other peoples -- maybe, just maybe, these Scriptures weren't inspired. Maybe the guy who wrote it down got it wrong or just misunderstood God.

This phenomenon can be observed often when folks want to believe A, but reality shows B. Instead of accepting B, they continue to believe A and fudge B.

A concrete example: God is love and peace.

That's a nice theology. It's probably good theology. It's easy to wrap your head around, and it's politically correct to boot. The world won't persecute you for this theology. A lot of people subscribe to it.

Now you're confronted with the idea that God can do and has done violent things:
  • God killed everyone in the cities of S'dom and G'morah. 
  • God commanded the Israelites to destroy all cultures and peoples occupying the land of Israel. 
  • God rewarded an Israelite king who killed the members of another religion.
  • Messiah, in anger and violence, destroyed people's markets, called them names, and threw them out of God's house.
We can list many more.

So here you are with your good, easy-to-think-about theology, and you're confronted with something that seems to conflict; here it seems God is not all love and peace. Do you:

a) Change your theology: God isn't all love and peace.
b) Concede your understanding of love and peace is incomplete.
c) Dismiss evidence contrary to your theology that God is all love and peace.

Too often, we chose option C. My Christian friend did.

His dismissal was this: Those parts of Scripture may not be inspired.

His play here fell in line with something I described in Taboo Facts from Scripture,

God's ways are different than this world's.


Think about that for a minute -- different than this world's.

So different, in fact, by the end of this blog post, I guarantee many of my secular readers will be saying, "That God of the Bible that Judah's talking about can't be God, because that God doesn't fit my understanding of what God should be!"

And for you religious folks who already believe God, you might be in for a little shock too. What I present here will go against some of your doctrines. You might question whether all of Scripture really is from God, because you too have been influenced by our pluralistic, secular western culture, and have your own ideas about who God is.

Yes, you will be determining whether God is real by what you want God to be. And because you will find out that God is not who you wish him to be, you will question whether he's God.

You start getting into dangerous territory when we say, "Well, I disagree with that theology. Therefore, I propose Scriptures supporting that theology are not inspired."

It's like a child who cheats at a game to win. When confronted, instead of stopping his cheating, he instead changes the rules so that his cheating is no longer cheating. It's quite childish.

When theology, rather than Scripture, is the driver of your faith, you get into man's ideas of religion and his own flawed ideas of who God is.

This isn't a new phenomenon. One early Church father was so convinced his theology was right, he forced it to work by creating his own version of the Bible, containing Paul's letters and nothing more. (Yes, he threw out Torah, the prophets, the Psalms and writings, the gospels.)

(With modern Christianity's magnifying-glass-emphasis on Paul's letters, I'm surprised no one has tried this again!)

We all have faulty theology at some point or another. Got that? If you're reading these words, you have faulty theology somewhere. So why fret about it? If you're confronted with evidence that your theology may be off, consider it. Don't retreat into a hole and assure yourself you can't be wrong.

2000 years ago, there was a big theology debate about how and where to worship God: the Jews in Jerusalem doing it right? The Samaritans on Mt. Gerizim doing it right?

Messiah's answer to this theology problem transcended both sides of the argument:
A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
I suspect that many of our theologies will be blown away when God's kingdom comes to fruition. Until then, be correctable and teachable in accordance with Scripture.


  1. Judah,

    It is certainly true that there are quite a large number of believers who spend a good portion of their time and energy trying to figure out a way to get YHVH to accommodate them and the life they have chosen to live rather than changing their lives to be more like Him.

    That reality is partly due to the weakness of our fallen, fleshly nature and partly to our desperate need to be right at any cost. That old pride thing Adam passed on to us.

    It is also true that those of the Father's children who have decided to pursue truth and nothing else are a bother to those who have decided to stop their pursuit and sell what they have acquired. Mostly because the ones who continue on in their desire to know the truth will not stop and buy from those who sell their beliefs to anyone who will pay.

    This is not just a Christian phenomenon. It is true in all religions of the world. Christians get most of the bad press though because they tend to make most of the profits.

    I have to admit that there are times when I am very sure that I do not know our heavenly Father as well as I thought I did.

    It is so tempting to believe in a benevolent Creator Person who is on my side no matter what I do. One that will always pick me up and carry me to some wonderful ending.

    But if that were true, why does scripture mention that all believers will face a coming judgement? One that will address what we have done, not who we think we are. And why was Sha'ul concerned about being cast away after preaching the good news? Why are there verses that bring up the idea of being able to fall from grace?

    Anyway, the point being this:

    when someone sets themselves to know what is true, without any pre-conditions or qualifications, that person will begin a journey. A journey that will soon let them know that are on that narrow path that leads to life everlasting. And as the truth becomes clearer, the deceptions are much easier to spot.

    And just as any reasonable person would not judge a blind person for not being able to see the sunset, we would not judge someone who has been deceived. For whatever reason. But helping that person recover from that deception is our responsibility. A very real and serious one.

    When Yeshua said that the fields were ready for harvest, He was talking about those who already believed in YHVH. Whether they knew Him as they should was another matter. For He came to seek and save that which was lost. Not that which was never His in the first place.

    Well, I suppose that's enough rambling for one day.

    Shalom B'nai Yisrael


  2. The point you make about people dismissing the evidence of the Bible when they disagree with it is very good.

    I think most religious people have a hard time believing the Bible. Most have been taught a body of beliefs as they grew up and it is very hard for them to change those beliefs. When they read something different in the Bible, they tend to twist the scripture and "interpret" it to fit what they already believe.

    Yet believing what God says in the Bible rather than what we want to believe is very important. A major scripture that teaches us about faith is Genesis 15:4-6 where Abraham believed God and God counted it as righteousness. This is quoted by both Paul (Romans 4:1-4) and James (James 2:18-24) in their discussion of faith.

    So there is a direct connection between believing the Bible (which is the word of God) more than our own preferences and opinions, and faith. And the importance of faith is shown by the scriptures that say that without faith no one can please God (Hebrews 11:5-6) and Jesus's statement that faith is one of the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23).

    When someone chooses to change their belief system to believe what the Bible actually says, no matter how difficult that may seem, they are following in the footsteps of Abraham who believed God when God told him his descendants would be numerous like the stars of heaven, when Abraham was old and childless. That is faith.

  3. Judah,

    In my view, options “a” and “c” are equally untenable. God is love! To deny that is to deny the Word of God. Furthermore, spiritually speaking, peace isn't a state of being; it is a state of mind. A man whose trust is in the Lord will be at peace no matter how difficult his circumstances are.

    Also, to deny the inspiration of any part of the Bible is a dangerous thing. It is also dangerous to, as you say, to put more emphasis on what Paul wrote than the words of Jesus. I would also submit that it is equally dangerous to place more emphasis on the words of Jesus than the writings of Paul. The Bible, being, in its entirety, the inspired word of God, is woven together into a beautiful tapestry that tells the story God wanted us to know, it is the story of Jesus. To say that one part is more important than the other show a lack of understanding of God's plan and how all the pieces fit together.

    Not to say that I understand it all. Because of that, I would have option “b” is the only option. When, as a new Christian, I would study the Bible and would come across something I didn't understand, I would get out a bunch of books and look at all the differing opinions on what a passage meant. I would then choose the explanation that seemed the most reasonable. I don't do that anymore. Now, when I come across something that I don't understand; when the pieces don't seem to fit, I tell God that I don't understand it and ask Him to reveal it to me in His time. Then I move on! And, at some time later (when I am ready to receive it), He has revealed the meaning of passages to me.

    You are right, people often do have a skewed notion of who God is and how He expresses his love. This skewed ness isn't, however, just reserved for Gentile believers. I think if you took a cross-section of believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, you will find a wide variance in how God is perceived. It will range from seeing Him as a grumpy old tyrant ready to smite you for every little thing you do, to the peacenik (as you call him) all roses and no thorns never get angry God-of-your-dreams. In each case, I think, we are judging God. We are making judgments on who He is, how he deals with us, and what motivates Him to do so. If God gets angry we judge Him as to whether His action was “loving” or “unloving.” But there is no contradiction with God, for He is love. If He gets angry, then it is an expression of that love. We may not understand it or even chose to like it, but we must never deny it.

    In Christ,

  4. A couple of comments.

    One, we must always seek to be lead by Holy Spirit. Intimacy is key.

    Two, I would disagree, politely, on the weight of Yeshua’s words. Only He could give us the pure light of God. Only He could not sin. Only He could give us the pure Torah. Everything in scripture points to Him. He is found in the feasts, He is found in the types. He is found in every object and every shadow of things to come. If all things point to Him, I think what He had to say is pretty important.

    Three, scripture is not ONLY the 66 books of the Protestant canon.

    Four, we must always be in the place of humility. Otherwise we are in danger of worshipping an idol. When we box God in and say “that can’t be God” we make an idol.

    Blessing in Messiah,

  5. Wow, such great comments.

    Let me reply to each individually, so to make it easier on the eyes. :-)


    Yes, there is pride involved. People don't like to admit they're wrong. It's not limited to Christianity, or gentiles, or even religion!

  6. PGTAuthor,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    I see a lot of people twisting Scripture to fit their lifestyle. For example, in the church today, many people are trying to normalize homosexuality. So they skip, reinterpret, or otherwise dismiss God's clear and succinct ruling on the matter.

  7. Hi Gary.

    What you say is good. :-)

    I prayed some time ago about the Scriptures. The thing bothering me was, "How can I know the 'canon' is what God intended?" After all, many of the canon's yea and nay folks were anti-Jewish church fathers. Ugh!

    I prayed and the answer I got was, "What has become the Scriptures today is by My doing."

    Since that time, I don't fret about whether book A or B is canon, whether it's inspired. Today's Scriptures are here by God's doing. That's enough.

    Regarding your statement about our notions of who God is, I tend to agree. We all have our own ideas. And I think Messiah will blow them away, many of them, when he shows up. :-)

  8. Lou,

    I agree folks must be led by God's spirit. I would add that God's spirit does not conflict with Torah. (I say this as some people claim to be led by the Spirit, but end up doing lawlessness.)

    That is an interesting thought about Yeshua's words having more weight than the rest of Scripture. I don't know what to believe there. Perhaps God will reveal it to me in time.

    Regarding the canon, God gave me some rest in this area. He told me the Scriptures that are here today are here by his own doing. I take some comfort in that.

    I am certain there are other writings that are inspired by God, but for whatever reason, didn't make it into the Scriptures.


  9. Agreed, the Spirit and the Word (Torah) are always in unity. If you say you are “being led by the Spirit” but are in conflict with Torah, you are in deception. Did not Yeshua say, “when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”? John 4:23

    As for the canon, I don’t deny the inspiration of the current canon. And I love the acronym “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. It holds so true, all we need for salvation is in the current canon. However, to deny that all else is somehow not inspired goes down the road of boxing God in.

    His word is living and active, God never stops speaking. Rev 4:5

    If you search church history, you’ll find some pretty disturbing reasons why books were left out. Basically anti-semitism and to comform to certain doctines, e.g. “the pope”. As a matter of a fact I have some real problems with the English translations. I find John the worst as far as being anti-semitic in the references to Hebrews.

    One example that stood out to me at first was this one…

    John 11:19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

    Why is the translator using “the Jews” here? Martha and Mary are Jews themselves? Why did they not just use the word “people”? The inference is that Martha and Mary are not Jews.


  10. Yep, you're right, there are some anti-semitic reasons for exclusion of certain books from the canon.

    And I'm aware of translator error and insertions in some areas, even in the Tenakh. I've got an English translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls -- did you know Goliath wasn't really a giant? :-) He stood about 4 cubits, or 6 feet, according to the oldest known transcript Scripture.

    It's OK. God's controlled the whole thing and given us what we have today. I suppose I should be thankful some of the vitriolic hatred of the Jews by certain early church fathers, or even Constantine's sun worship, didn't make it into the New Testament!

    (Now there's a miracle, hahah! ;-))

  11. In regard to the so-called anti-Semitism in John's Gospel, hasn't anyone ever taken into account the time it was written and its intended audience? John is widely agreed to have been the last Gospel written, sometime in the late 80s. Furthermore, according to early tradition, John the Apostle spent the remaining years of his life in the vicinity of Ephesus.

    The reference to "the Jews" seen in John's Gospel need not be the result of any kind of anti-Semitism. Place yourself into the position of a non-Jewish person living in Asia Minor hearing about Yeshua for the first time. Is John's reference to "the Passover of the Jews" anti-Semitic? Of course not! It is a reference to something that the Jews did--that's all!

  12. There is a big difference between saying “Passover was at hand” and “Passover of the Jews was at hand”. It’s akin to saying, “Christmas of the Christians”. Redundant at best, sarcastic at the least.

    Also, it’s not just one reference. The whole book has this edge to it.

    Hope this helps.

  13. Anon,

    I understand how John's gospel could have been affected by his choice of target audience, so to speak.

    That is, if he's talking to non-Jews, or even folks who don't know who the Jews are, you might say, "the Passover of the Jews...".

    I can see that as a possibility.

    Lou, what's your thought about John - bad translation? Bad author? :-)

  14. Short answer bad translation.

    Crude long answer.
    Originally thoughts came thru a Hebrew mind. (Jewish believers)
    Surviving originals in Greek/Latin.
    May have been originally/concurrently written in Hebrew, but lost. Probably with the temple and diaspora.
    Translated to Anglo/Saxon.
    Then translated to English. (Current day, 2000 years removed.)
    Each current day translation is NOT based in a Hebrew mind, therefore original thought patterns are not honored.

    Possible exception is the CJB, but it doesn’t go far enough. Based on NIV (horrible translation. messes up doctrine big time.)

    Also, in keeping with scripture, I have some strong convictions that the original audience was to be to the Jewish people, “to the Jew first”.

    Still enough comes thru. You hear over and over again today when a non-believing Jewish person first reads the Gospels they are amazed that it is such a Jewish book.

    Q. Any thoughts on the Dead Sea stone? Specifically the fact that the sect was looking for a Messiah that would rise after 3 days.

  15. Hey Lou.

    Yeah, that is a possibility. Bad translators over time, through many languages and through many different cultures, things get lost.

    Either way, I have some rest in trusting that what we have today is here by God's doing.

    Intellectually, I'd love to see earlier scripts, especially Hebrew or Aramaic. We are quite certain, for example, Matthew was written in Hebrew originally, but even that original script is lost. (We're left with transcripts, possibly from the original, such as Shem Tov's Hebrew Matthew and others.)

    I read a little about the Dead Sea discovery, but haven't looked much into it. I'd like to see a translation of it and read it for myself.

  16. Hey, there are plenty of Jewish scholars that are absolutely confident that the Torah was not written until after the Babylonian exile. There are plenty of place names and references here and there in the Torah that Moses could not have known about that date from the Fifth or Sixth Century B.C.E. It must mean that it was all written after the fact! (so they say)

    I don't hear many Messianics talking about this. They are more keen on ripping apart the New Testament--when ripping apart the Tanach would be so much easier!

    The Messianic world has no idea what doors it has opened it is frequently led by a bunch of naive and stupid people.

  17. To Anonymous,

    I really sorry you feel this way. I have great respect for the NT and for Jesus Himself. He is God you know. However, any lack of respect for Torah is really a disrespect of Christ Himself. Read Matt 5,6,7. They are basically the poor man’s Torah or Jesus’ “fence laws”. He was basically saying, “Follow these and you will not break Torah” or “This is the heart of Torah”. Yeshua never removed or replaced ANY of Torah, so in essence He validated it all. Matt 5:17-18

    Remember, it is the root that you come from, NOT the other way around. Read Rom 11

    The root is our belief in the promises that God gave to Abraham. The branches are the Jewish people. The Grafts are the Gentiles. So in essence what you have said is “I do not respect the root promises of God.” By your logic then all promises can become null and void.

  18. Isquez did not read any of the comments that were posted on the reliability of the Tanach. He believes there is anti-Semitism in the Gospel of John. That is his opinion, but it is an opinion that much scholarship has thoroughly examined and refuted. It primarily regards the audience and timing of the composition of the text.

    Using his same logic, though, we could more easily question the reliability of the Old Testament--and this has already been done by many people. Messianic Jews, often in seeking to restore the Jewishness of the New Testament, do seriously question its itegrity from time to time--using the same methods that are used to attack the itegrity of the Old Testament.

  19. To Anonymous,

    Without a firm foundation a building eventually falls down. Christianity today is built upon a flawed foundation which is why it is failing. Without the firm foundation of Torah everything falls apart, scripture doesn’t make sense and the unavoidable outcome is replacement theology. Anyway you cut it, if you don’t honor the foundation you replace it with something else. Do we serve God or another God? (Echad or Echar, Matt 5:18)

    Ask yourself this question, what is the role of Jewish people today? If your answer is anything less then the role of “the priests of the earth”, then you have some form of replacement theology.

    Torah came thru the Jews, Messiah came thru the Jews and Messiah will return thru the Jews. Period.

  20. Well then, I guess we had better figure out just who those "Jews" might be, don't you think?

  21. There are some clear giveaways that Torah was written before the Babylonian exile. One thing that comes to mind is how books written after the exile (e.g. Nehemiah) use the Babylonian month names. The Torah does not.

    I suspect that folks who subscribe to this idea are the folks who either wish to see the Scriptures discredited. (Anti-Judaic and anti-Christian scholars especially.)

  22. For all those interested in thinking Biblically (Hebraic), start here...

    MP3 Dr. Howard Morgan – Thinking like a Hebrew

  23. No argument was being made in favor of the Torah being written before the Babylonian exile. BUT, if we wanted to apply Mr. Isquez' logic in discrediting the Gospel of John to other Scriptures, especially those of the Tanach--it can be more easily done--and it has been done already. Just get a copy of the Jewish Study Bible.

  24. Let me clarify, I don’t discredited the inspiration of the book of John, I just said that I feel the translations have an anti-semitic tone. Look at the period that the first translations were made into English. ~1400 Replacement theology was rampant then. It just shows in this book. If you were Hebrew or had a Hebrew mindset you’d understand.

    Also if you want to talk about inspiration, it is clear from NT scripture that the disciples only gave credit to the “OT” as scripture at that time. So if they put emphasis on them, I think we should also. See 2 Tim 3:16, it’s only talking about the OT and other Hebrew writings, it’s written BEFORE the NT was recognized as scripture.

  25. Interesting, Dr. Michael Brown says the same thing about the removal of scripture from its roots. Watch the video here…


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