Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'YouVersion,' Doubt and Belief


An interesting article from about atheists and the bible. This follows this post about negotiations with Iran. For a free magazine subscription or to get the book shown for free click HERE! or call 1-888-886- 8632.

'YouVersion,' Doubt and Belief

by Amanda Stiver

I recently read an article about atheists using a digital bible called YouVersion to debate against belief in God and religion. One user even explained that she deployed certain passages to prove to Christian friends that what they hear in church isn’t true (Billy Hallowell, “Atheists Are Also Using The Wildly Popular YouVersion Bible App – But For A Very Different Reason,”, November 7, 2013).

The thing is, maybe she’s right… almost.

Many interpretations of scripture, as filtered through various denominations of traditional Christianity, aren’t really based in the Bible. Indeed, some of these popularly held doctrines come from far outside the Biblical tradition and many years after the time of Jesus Christ, even after the time of the last of his immediate disciples, the twelve apostles.

I never read that!

Among them is belief in a triune God, which is a product of the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. (for reference Jesus Christ died in 31 A.D. and the apostle John died in 100 A.D.). Another non-Biblical celebration is Christmas, which originated from several threads, but mostly from the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia and the winter solstice observance of Mithraism (a Persian sun-worship cult), and was officially adopted into traditional Christian doctrine sometime in the 300’s A.D.

Finally, the prominent celebration of Easter, the supposed festival of the resurrection of Jesus Christ originated out of the celebrations of the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians who worshipped a goddess named Ishtar with various fertility rites at the spring equinox, and wasn’t officially adopted into the Christian tradition until 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea. Almost 300 years after the death of Jesus Christ!

There are many other examples of “extra-Biblical” observances and beliefs that made their way into the Christian tradition (to learn more please read Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? ). However, it’s important to remember that Jesus Christ and the earliest of His followers kept none of these observances, but instead observed the weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days as outlined in the Bible.

Suspending disbelief

But, I digress. What does all this have to do with atheists using the YouVersion digital edition of the Bible to condemn it? Answer: If you take the Bible out of context—with either the best or the worst of intentions—you still end up with the wrong conclusions. You have to have some basics in place to truly appreciate, understand, and respect God’s Word:

1 – You have to believe that the Bible is the word of God, not just a bunch of loosely connected stories. If you have trouble believing in God, then you need the intellectual discipline to suspend your disbelief in order to give it the benefit of the doubt. This is standard procedure in literature classes, surely we can give the oldest book in the world just as much respect as The Iliad ?

2 – You have to believe that God means what he says, and not add to or take away from the Bible.

3 – You have to understand that the Bible interprets itself. You can’t pick and choose various scriptures to justify or nullify what you personally intend to believe or not believe.

With these preliminaries in place you need just one final thing, an appeal to God for understanding (in prayer, an earnest, respectful request to God). This takes a humble attitude, admitting to ourselves that there is a greater intellect out there than our own.

Now go enjoy your exploration of the word of God, it is a well of wisdom without measure.


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