In Response to Some of the Comments from the Previous Post…

If you haven’t read the previous posts and the subsequent comments, this will probably make no sense. You’ve been warned! 🙂

I’m not sure if my Dad’s going to comment again or not, since it’s been several days now. And I haven’t come across any other members of the Church of Christ that want to comment either. So as an ex-member, I’ll try to stand in a little and give you an idea of where they’re coming from.

As has been mentioned already, much of the teaching on withdrawal comes from 1 Cor 5 and 2 Thess 3. There are some ancillary passages as well, but these two are the main ones. To be clear, a strict reading of these passages does teach the idea of withdrawing from members who have stepped beyond the way a Christian should live and behave. And as my Dad’s already pointed out, there are at least 3 reasons for doing this: 1) the Bible commands it, 2) it removes a “bad apple” from the congregation, and 3) it should show the erring member where he’s wrong so he can repent.

So I do want to be clear that I don’t think my Dad is completely off the mark. In his defense, most times I’ve seen withdrawal implemented, it’s been toward people who still considered themselves Christians to some degree or another. In other words, withdrawal actually had a chance of working in those situations.

However, the situation with me and my wife is different in that we stopped believing Christianity altogether, and the Bible simply doesn’t give instruction for those kinds of situations. And when it does talk about those who are non-believers, it says NOT to withdraw from them. So that’s the point that I hope he’ll address. Again, people (at least in my area of the world) don’t typically leave Christianity completely, so this is uncharted territory for my family — I’m not surprised that they thought withdrawal was the proper response. But I think a closer examination of the New Testament shows that it’s been misapplied, and I really hope they’ll consider that.

I’m not naive enough to think this would solve all our problems — being around one another would still be tense at times. After all, we no longer share what used to be the most important thing in our lives. But I do think we could get back to a good relationship that we’d all enjoy, even if it’s tempered by some bittersweet nostalgia.

Thanks again to all of you for your comments and your interest. I hope these posts haven’t gotten you down! My wife and I (and our kids) are truly in a great place right now. 🙂

53 thoughts on “In Response to Some of the Comments from the Previous Post…”

  1. Nate, I have actually been infuriated through this entire series. Not at you and not at your family but at the entire system of fundamental Christianity. These churches raise their children in the belief that the bible is infallible, ergo: the bible is God. So once those children start finding discrepancies in the book, there must not be a God. I have no problem with a man being an atheist. I have a huge problem with a man having been raised in an environment where his atheism is a forgone conclusion.

    Now that I have that off my chest, I am afraid you should not expect too much from your family. They sound like good people, but they have been raised in an environment of fear. If they give any credence to what you think, then they will burn in hell. If they disagree with the C of C in anyway then they are not true Christians and will burn in hell. This is why you shouldn’t mix your paganism with your Judaism, it just confuses everything.

    If you were a Christian or a traditional Jew, I would council you to pray for them. Ask God to bless and keep them. To grant them peace and joy.

    BUT, since you are an atheist I have to change this completely to “Wish them. a blessed life and that they should have peace and joy. That is the only way ‘you’ will keep your peace.and joy. And THAT is actually what life is all about.

    God bless you brother.


  2. Thanks, Hayden. I actually think you’re exactly right in your assessment of the situation. I wish things were different, and hope that they will be one day, but I’m not holding my breath for it. Fear is definitely the most prominent element in their belief system, and that’s why my wife and I decided it would stop here. Our children will not be hampered with it.

    Thank you so much for the great comment.


  3. Nate, Hayden’s comments hits it on the nail. Unfortunately, what drives most of the Christians’ faith is fear. When people start to question and honestly start looking for answers beyond what the church teaches, then true freedom and salvation is experienced. I would not go as far as atheism myself, but I have explored other avenues and prefer to practice a more inclusive approach in my spiritual journey. If you find peace where you are, amen. I would only suggest that it is important to keep traveling in your spiritual journey and not be stagnated in one place, because that is what most believers do anyways and keeps them from experiencing true love. Anyways, thanks for sharing your experience. Peace.


  4. As a christian, I think the main problem is a legalistic approach to christian faith. By that I mean thinking that the Bible is a clear and unambiguous statement of rules which we absolutely need to follow. There are many problems with this view:

    1. There are cases of apparent conflict which require churches and theological systems to take one side or the other and then find a theological argument why the contrary verses can be re-interpreted. For example, both sides on the debate about the roles of women in churches do this. Rather, I believe, we should see the Bible as giving principles and examples, rarely hard and fast rules.

    2. There is clear progression in the revelation in the Bible, and so we have to be wary of taking a teaching out of its context.

    3. The New Testament clearly teaches we are to be led by Spirit and not by Law, again emphasising the freedom we have and the need to pray and be “led by the Spirit” rather than allow others to make rules we feel we must obey.

    Unless your friends and family can see the New Testament in this way, and allow the Spirit to guide their interpretation rather than rigid church rules, I don’t think they will be able to break free. For my part, I will continue to pray for the situation. I know you don’t believe there’s anyone listening, but perhaps you can think a positive vibe can help in some way.


  5. I’ve never understood Christianity. It is far easier to get a handle on Zeus that the ‘god’ created by ‘Christians’.
    That Jesus may have been a real historical person is still in the balance – no matter what Unklee and his ‘consensus’ will have us believe -LOL!! 😉

    And all this fertilizer over church dogma is really quiet bewildering.
    What is funny (sic) is the sympathy you are receiving from Christians!. Mind blowing.
    They cannot really understand what’s been going on with your church and your folks yet they all have an ‘OPINION’ along the lines of….
    “I’m a believer but…er…, well, this doesn’t sound very Christian/Christlike to ME,because in OUR church……”, (yawn) quite conveniently forgetting that as per the basic tenets of their very own doctrine – irrespective which christian CHURCH they attend, you, Nate (and me of course) are bound for the ‘PIT’ my man.
    So why all the platitudes? After all the cr** you’ve been through do they TRULY believe that you and you missus are suddenly going to wake up and say (in the immortal words of Sheldon Cooper) Bazinga! Fooled you!

    What you SHOULD do is write a book. Set the record straight – officially- and I am damn sure there would be several publishers who would queue to get you signed on the dotted line.

    If the mainstream publishers can put out some the utter garbage Christians write then they should jump at the chance to hear your story, which is not atheist or mythic but a real tale.
    MIght help a lot of people, believe me, and you just might make some ‘filthy lucre’ on the side!

    Book title?

    Is there Hell? Been there, and got the T-shirt.
    -A Christian deconversion tale to open your eyes.-

    Have a great Christimas, Nate 😉


  6. @Noel,
    Thanks for the great comment!

    If you find peace where you are, amen. I would only suggest that it is important to keep traveling in your spiritual journey and not be stagnated in one place, because that is what most believers do anyways and keeps them from experiencing true love.

    Yeah, I completely agree with you.

    Thanks for comment. I definitely welcome the prayers, and I appreciate all the points you’ve made throughout this series of posts.

    Thanks for the comment! And I absolutely loved this:

    Is there Hell? Been there, and got the T-shirt.
    -A Christian deconversion tale to open your eyes.-

    Hope you have a great Christmas too! 😀


  7. @arkenaten,

    Some of us may have a better handle on the situation than you believe. Also I don’t understand why you would feel confusion at our concern over Nate’s eternity.

    Nate’s a big boy, he has made his choices on his own while meeting friction from just about every person in his life. I hope that one day his mind will be changed, it can and does happen. Just take a look at this blog say 4 years ago and where Nathan was spiritually, to say that there is no chance he could change his mind in another four years isn’t that safe of a bet.


  8. @Matt.
    Smile…I am afraid you still do not understand. It is not that Nate, his wife and every other deconvertee has missunderstood scritpture and may indeed change their minds and return to the fold. This is NOT the case at all.
    The journey to deconversion is all about understanding, not MISSUNDERSTANDING. It is coming to grips with the inculcation that was foistered upon them since birth.
    It is applying the intelligence they were born with to see through the murkey veil of subterfuge and often, downright lies, to reach a spiritual place where one is capable of standing on one’s own two feet without fear of being damned to hell by a ‘god’ (sic) and worse, one’s fellow man.
    Christians stubbonly refuse to acknowledge that their religion – ALL religion- offers nothing, but demands everything, including one’s ‘soul’.
    Almost every modern scholar acknowledges that Moses is a fictional character and the tale of the Exodus and establishment of the ancient Jewish homeland is pure, unadulterated fiction.
    As the New Testament is supposedly the fulfillment of prophecy who then, was Jesus talking about when he mentions Moses?
    As an omnipotent god, he MUST have known the truth about Moses.
    So either he was delusional, genuinely mistaken, or he was also a character of fiction.
    You choose, Matt and once you are able to answer that simple question with absolute honesty then you will be on your way to truly see the light.


  9. I do agree with ark’s statement. I feel like I have a better understanding of Christianity now than I did when I was a Christian — I certainly know more about it. In fact, I know myself well enough to realize that if I had known this stuff a decade ago, I would have stopped believing then. And had I known it when I was 9 years old, I never would have become a Christian at all.

    However, I also realize that Christians feel that they have the truth and understand these things better than those of us who don’t believe. But it’s normal for all of us to feel that way — we naturally think our own opinions are true.

    So all that being said, I do appreciate the sympathy that I’ve received from believers on this blog. I really enjoy the relationships that I’ve developed with many of them over the months and years. And I’m thankful that moderate and thoughtful versions of Christianity (and atheism) exist that allow us all to live in tolerance of one another.

    When I was a fundamentalist Christian, I believed it was my duty to try to convert the world. Now, I’m perfectly content to put aside evangelism and just enjoy people for who they are, regardless of their beliefs. I still like to talk about religion, but I don’t feel a need to convert (or de-convert) anyone.


  10. Yes, but they still want to reconvent YOU, and don’t you find at get -togethers and such that Christians who you ‘knelt’ alongside for years” now…
    a) think you must be smoking something – its legal in Washington now, apparantly…;))
    b) Been attending too many Metallica concerts and have been infected by Satan. -Don’t talk to that man, Honey…you don’t know where he’s been…
    c) Are expecting you to slap them on the back and say, “Just kidding”.
    d) How many conversations do you have with Christians where they begin every line with, “Yes, Nate, we understand, BUT…”
    ë) Consider you are now Living in Sin’ and are now not really married.

    Proof of how much a Heathen you really are, Nate, will be evidenced by the fact that because you don’t believe in Santa either he has decided not to bring you any pressies.

    Rather you than me, Nate 🙂


  11. Yeah, you bring up some good points. Most of the Christians I know fall into 3 groups right now: those who don’t know I’m no longer a Christian, those (like my parents) who know it and have closed off virtually all social contact because of it, and those who know it but haven’t treated me any differently because of it. And I’d say that most Christians I know fall into that last category, so I don’t have any problems with them.

    But yes, on the rare occasion that I come into contact with someone from my old congregation, things are much more like what you describe in your comment. I think they imagine all kinds of horrible things about us now. Some of them are so certain that a person can’t be morally good without religion, that they’ve created a fantasy version of us to fit their expectations.

    It’s similar to how some Christians will say that a person that leaves the church was never a true Christian to begin with. Regardless of how many of us assure them that we were once true believers, they can’t accept it because it doesn’t fit with their previously established narrative.

    Proof of how much a Heathen you really are, Nate, will be evidenced by the fact that because you don’t believe in Santa either he has decided not to bring you any pressies.



  12. @haydenmiller. RFLOL Sorry to dissapoint you my friend, but i was never really among the ‘faithful’
    Brought up in a very laisez faire Christian environment and only became marginally interested when I began doing some research for a piece I was writing on Moses. In fact , what I was writing was a comic fantasy novel and merely needed a little historical background.
    One thing led to another and suddenly I find out the whole lot is hogwash. Only later, did I come across this world of wackadoodle- weirdness among reborns and fundamentalists. I was not even aware of Young Earth Creationists until I began blogging.
    I just thought it was Jesus, his dad)god) and the bible – that, like mnost of us, had never read.
    But what a surprise is in store for anyone who DOES read it.

    Angry? No, not really. Merely mystified and somewhat saddened that parents can brainwash kids with this garbage.
    Go research a guy called Professor Ze’ev Herzog. Read his thesis on the Exodus. And while you are at it, try Israel Finklestein…supposedly THE authority on OT archaeology etc.
    Might open your eyes…..

    Have fun. And remember, Jesus is watching you, so be good now, y’hear?


  13. @Haydendlinder.
    Of course, Arkenaten sucks and naturally you don’t want to trust Herzog’s data, because if you afford it any credence at all it blows your crappy christianity out the water .
    And of course, Jesus won’t be happy about that now will he?
    But merely for arguments sake, try to do the math. I know they still do mathematics where you come from.
    Imagine an estmated 1-2 million people (slaves to boot) upping and leaving Egypt which had at that time a total population of around 4 mil. Can you try to think what such a drastic depletion of population would do to the country? And these slaves were the workforce as well, remember?
    Now try to imagine the ecological impact of such a huge movement of people over a period of 40 years.

    Now try to think of the impression such a human Leviathan would leave on the landscape over such an extended period.
    Now, oddly enough, there is no evidence. Isn’t that weird”
    Not a bowl, bone, or ‘fozzilized’ donkey dropping. Not a coin, not a piece of jewellery. Nor a grave – and surely over 40 years thousands upon thousands would have died. But yet again, zip.
    Now, compare this with the village of Nazareth, where archaeologists are CONVINCED that this village/farm existed at the time of Jesus and all they have are a few tiny lamps of uncertain origin, some coins , not first century – and a few pottery shards. And consensus is that the place was a one family farm. And the ‘experts’ “Yup, this is probably where Jesus lived” NO Sh**!

    So, meanwhile, back in the Sinai….

    Of course you could research ancient Egypt if you are not happy with Herzog and his pals.
    Let me know if you come up with ANYTHING non biblical.
    (Besides the Merneptah Stele, of course.)

    Bye Bye…Don;t fret, Jesus still loves you..


  14. I ‘think’ you’re assuming I’m a certain kind of Christian.
    Whether the Jews were slaves, David never existed, all of the Bible is crap and so on, doesn’t matter to Yeshua. It’s NEVER been about being accurate in your dogma.

    As for my statement, Very literally, they are not digging deep enough. That is my suspicion.

    ANNNnnnnnd Arkenaten is a poo poo britches too. So there.


  15. @haydendlinder.
    “I ‘think’ you’re assuming I’m a certain kind of Christian.”

    Sorry, lost me there. What’s a certain kind of Christian, please?
    You abide by the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed so therefore you are a Christian as per the generally recognised version that’s been around since the Church, declared Marcion a heretic, made up..oops sorry, I mean compiled,the bible and set about liquidating all dissent.
    What other doctrines you may follow is your business, be they Protestant Catholic, Fundimentalist, or whatever. I could really care less.
    Re: Herzog
    You have to read between the lines. Those scholars who are opposed to what Herzog’s thesis propounds are, in the main, not denying what he states, merely saying that this info, in one form or another, has been known for around fifty years.
    What they ARE saying is that while they acknowledge the bible cannot be regarded as a historical document it is intrinsically linked to the culture of the Israelite/Jewish people and to dimiss it would seriously jeapordize the politics of the region.
    Albright started it, in the 20’s trying to disprove the theories of Welhausen. And he came short…well short.
    Your, ‘not digging deep enough’ statement gives the impression that there are one or two archaeologists out on a Sunday dig.
    Some of the best archaeologists in the world have been excavating all over Palestine for the better part of a century and the concesus is as Herzog and Finklestein describe.

    While there is genuine concern that any major Public/National admission in this regard will have serious conseqquences within Arab/Israeli relations I am not aware of any statements from Arab nations for a full Israeli disclosure either, which would soon lead to questions about Jewish monotheism and inevitablly similar questions about Islam.

    And of course once the monotheistic boat is rocked everyone’s religion begins to take on water and will go down faster than the Titanic. Many may not like the Jews/Israelis but they sure as heck aren’t going to call the out on their bible, are they? LOL
    One reason why no one is making too much of a fuss – even though they know that Herzog is, in the main, spot on.

    Which would be very tough for Christianity. But who’s going to say anything? Difficult to disillusion so many millions with the truth, right?
    Too much at stake – power , money

    Oh, and it doesn’t matter to Yeshua, you say?
    I beg to differ. The New Testament is basically fullfilmnt of prophecy – supposedly, anyway, and without the Old Testament the New is little more than toilet paper.


  16. @Arkenaten
    Man you love the sound of your own typing.
    OK. ““I ‘think’ you’re assuming I’m a certain kind of Christian.”
    Sorry, lost me there. … Fundimentalist, or whatever.”
    Umm no. God is God and he doesn’t need a book. Also after all the changes to the new testament and the old over the last couple of thousand years, I don’t depend on anything in either part of the bible.

    As for the scientists. My concerns for accuracy began when they came to a consensus on when Abraham left Egypt. Which is what Prof. Herzog said they did back in the 50’s I think. Them coming to a consensus is my problem. Because I know a ton of Christians who have “come to a consensus” that there is a hell for sinners. Which is blasphemous crap! The archaeologists deciding when Abraham left Egypt sets the depth of how deep to dig and I don’t trust people motivated by money to bother with digging deeper if they get published and paid for finding controversial information.

    So by now, you should know I don;t care what they find so long as they are doing it scientifically. Which I don’t think they are.


  17. I believe you have misread and misunderstood the articles by a long shot. Maybe you should read them again?
    Especially about Abraham? Have no clue where you are coming from here….

    As for archaeologisrs not being trust worthy because of money…
    Well, they do have to eat, like the rest of us I guess. However, consider Albright. He was a devout Christian and he certainly was not motivated by money, rather a desire to prove the archaeological innerancy of the Bible; and he failed spectacularly.

    It is of no mind to me whether you care or not. You are perfectly entitled to your own opinion. Unfortunately you are not entitled to your own facts.

    “Umm no. God is God and he doesn’t need a book.”

    Actually he does, as this is where you derive your knowledge of your god.
    But the real question is which god are you referring to? There are literally thousands. And if you wish to argue this point , please don;t do so with me but rather take it up with someone of a different faith to your own, who will no doubt have a better argument for you that any that I can provide, okay?

    I am amenable to continuing this discussion on an intellectual level…if you can manage it. If not…well, what can one say?


  18. Sigh. “Solomon built the Temple 480 years after the exodus from Egypt (1 Kings 6:1). To that we have to add 430 years of the stay in Egypt (Exodus 12:40) and the vast lifetimes of the patriarchs, producing a date in the 21st century BCE for Abraham’s move to Canaan.” “…• The Exodus from Egypt, the wanderings in the desert and Mount Sinai: The many Egyptian documents that we have make no mention of the Israelites’ presence in Egypt and are also silent about the events of the Exodus.”

    So how did they get the dates? They guessed? Did they guess wrong? How do I know the Proffessors guessed right?

    Also, I’m sorry you’re so gifted at using the Bible to crush the beliefes of Bible thumpers. And I’m sorry I get to ruin that for you by saying God doesn’t need a book. But you don;t get to tell me my God needs a book any more than I get to tell you “You can’t be an Atheist.”

    May the God of Abraham bless you.


  19. “So how did they get the dates? They guessed? Did they guess wrong? How do I know the Proffessors guessed right?”

    Guess? No, I’m pretty sure it’s not done like that. They use archaeology in such cases, especially where there is not reliable written record or contemorary account to provide other evidence.
    However; there is no archaeological record whatsoever of the events described in the bible.

    Hertzog and co. treat the bible as any other book and subject it to the critical rigours it deserves. And so should you. Why do you believe it deserves special treatment ? If it has some factual historical account of the Exodus etc then let it stand or fall on its merits.
    It doesn’t require a degree in ancient history or even one in literature to realise it is nothing more than a story.

    “But you don;t get to tell me my God needs a book…”
    This is true, it was/is men that need the Book to remind themselves that they invented their god.

    “May the God of Abraham bless you”.

    And Yahweh’s consort, Asherah?
    😉 Yahweh couldn’t do it all by himself, right? Didn’t want to risk going blind or anything.


  20. So I’ve been following the discussion over the last several days. I think you guys are just playfully poking at each other — at least, I’m going to choose to take it that way. But just in case I’ve misread things, we usually manage to keep the discussions friendly here, and I don’t want to get away from that. Just a friendly reminder. 🙂

    But as far as the Bible’s archaeology goes, I grew up being told that archaeology had never contradicted anything in the Bible — in fact, some apologists still claim this. But it’s simply not true. The Exodus is interesting because the things we’ve discovered from what should be the time frame of the Exodus give no indication that one ever happened. There’s evidence showing that Jericho had been long uninhabited during the period that Joshua supposedly took it. Also, the artifacts we’ve uncovered from the time period of David and Solomon show a civilization that was much more primitive than the one the Bible describes. It’s a pretty fascinating study for those who are interested.

    But ultimately, if your beliefs aren’t anchored in the Bible, then I can see how these points don’t mean too much.

    Hayden, I can see why some people believe in God based on the complexity of the universe, or maybe even based on some general feelings of spirituality. If those are some of your reasons, why do you view yourself as a Christian instead of something more general, like a deist? To me, the specifics of Christianity come from the Bible, but I know not everyone feels that way. I’d like to understand why.



  21. “But ultimately, if your beliefs aren’t anchored in the Bible, then I can see how these points don’t mean too much.”

    Excellent point. And this is what caused the initial furore over Herzog’s thesis as it was basically denying the Jewish/Israeli right over the land as promised by ‘God’, and thus was bound to cause a storm of internal protest.
    Yet, as has has been pointed out, this issue is so deeply entrenched in religion as well as culture that neither Muslims or Christians are going to pay it too much attention as even a cursory enquiry immediately lays their own faith wide open to some very, very awkward questions.

    The Ark shrugs and thinks, “Thank god I’m an atheist.” 😉


  22. Nate, you’ve heard from me before on this, but I hope you don’t mind my having a brief attempt to answer the questions you ask Hayden.

    “There’s evidence showing that Jericho had been long uninhabited during the period that Joshua supposedly took it. “
    I haven’t taken the time to read up on OT history, but I think one difficulty is that prior to David & Solomon, I don’t think anyone can establish the dating of the OT “history” with any certainty, so it is hard to say exactly when the Joshua vs Jericho story should be dated – certainly I have seen different dates. But I have long taken the view, which I found in CS Lewis almost half a century ago, that early OT is myth, which gradually becomes more historical. Understood this way, it makes little difference to one’s reading of the NT which parts are myth, which are “fictionalised history” and which parts literal history.

    “why do you view yourself as a Christian instead of something more general, like a deist?”
    Obviously I can’t speak for Hayden, but I have friends (a couple) I have met on the internet who are Quakers. He grew up as a non-believer in a substantially non-christian culture, she as a non-believer in the US. Both are very intelligent, he with a Masters degree in science if I recall correctly. After they were married they had a series of experiences where it seemed “God” was communicating with them. They finally came to this conclusion and decided to look at all the religions to see which God it was, and decided christianity fit best with what they had experienced. They joined the Quakers because they stress inner conviction and experience over the written Bible.

    But it is different to me, as you know. But my belief in Jesus comes from the NT, not the OT. If one understand OT prophecy and how the NT writers reference it (which I have studied), then, like I said, it matters little whether the OT stories and predictions are literal or not.

    So I could not say many of the things that Hayden has said, but I can agree with some of them. So that’s one view of it. Hope that helps. Best wishes.


  23. Man! You can’t get to a PC for one freakin day and EVERYBODY chimes in. To begin, I’d just like to say, Arkenaten has pee pee fingers.

    @Nate – I’ll keep it simple. I believe Yeshua is the Messiah because my God told me he was. I hope that serves to confuse you.

    @Arekenaten – I do appreciate the link. I honestly do, that’s not sarcasm. But it’s not telling me anything I didn’t already know. The argument you and I are having has NEVER been about the Bible being a good source of information. It’s not. My issue is with the scientists is, IF, and that is a freaking big IF. IF the Jews were slaves in Egypt and left 1000 years before we think they did, then we are not digging deep enough into the soil to find the evidence. And digs are expensive. If these guys find a site that goat herders used at the depth that matches the date from what they “think” was the time of Jericho, then that is what they go with. They do not have the time, the money or the inclination to dig another 500 feet to see if there is anything underneath it. Now, do I believe there is something there? I don’t know. God hasn’t told me jack about it.

    @Unklee – How you doin man? I appreciate you helping out. Also, WHAT THE HECK DOES YOUR SCREEN NAME MEAN!? It’s killin me!

    God bless everybody.
    Arkenaten smells of mildew. 🙂


  24. “@Unklee – How you doin man? I appreciate you helping out. Also, WHAT THE HECK DOES YOUR SCREEN NAME MEAN!? It’s killin me!”
    Hi Haydn, I’m doing well, but whether I’m helping or hindering is not clear! : ) Are you asking about the unkleE name?? My name is Eric, I really am an uncle, I used to sign my memos at work “Uncle E” just to make them less formal, and when I started doing stuff online, I thought using a ‘k’ in unkle was sort of kooler, you cnow what I mean??


  25. @ Unklee.
    “After they were married they had a series of experiences where it seemed “God” was communicating with them. They finally came to this conclusion and decided to look at all the religions to see which God it was, and decided christianity fit best with what they had experienced. ”

    This link should pretty much clear up the God experience, and it applies to Hayden’s experience as well.
    All very scientific and straight down the line.

    “I haven’t taken the time to read up on OT history, but I think one difficulty is that prior to David & Solomon, I don’t think anyone can establish the dating of the OT “history” with any certainty, so it is hard to say exactly when the Joshua vs Jericho story should be dated – certainly I have seen different dates. But I have long taken the view, which I found in CS Lewis almost half a century ago, that early OT is myth, which gradually becomes more historical. Understood this way, it makes little difference to one’s reading of the NT which parts are myth, which are “fictionalised history” and which parts literal history.”

    You have championed the consensus of qualified scholars since I first came across your site – in fact it has been the single, over riding element in every arguement you have put forward to defend your position. When all else fails, you will side with consensus, be it theological or secular.
    So, the (Expert)consensus regarding the Exodus, the conquest of the Promised Land,Jericho, David and Solomon etc etc is that it is fiction. Thus, if the Old Testament is regarded as little more than myth or a story then it must impact on the New Testament which is claimed to be fullfilment of Prophecy – an erroneous belief, thus bringing into serious questioin every facet of the NT.


  26. @Hayden
    “My issue is with the scientists is, IF, and that is a freaking big IF. IF the Jews were slaves in Egypt and left 1000 years before we think they did, then we are not digging deep enough into the soil to find the evidence. And digs are expensive. If these guys find a site that goat herders used at the depth that matches the date from what they “think” was the time of Jericho, then that is what they go with. They do not have the time, the money or the inclination to dig another 500 feet to see if there is anything underneath it. Now, do I believe there is something there? I don’t know.

    Egyptologists have no records of the Israelites in Egypt under ANY Pharoah.
    If the Exodus happened as described then there would be archaeological remains, if not in the Sinai, then certainly once such a mass of humanity entered the ‘Promised Land’

    Jericho was NEVER the fortified city as claimed in the bible.
    The Old Testaments is myth, pure and simple, likely written during the Babylonian Captivity, probably as an attempt to prevent the eradication of their culture – just a theory, don’t shoot me.

    Scientists can dig as far down as they like., the evidence is what it is.
    Where are they going to find this city of Jericho that matches the bible?

    “God hasn’t told me jack about it.”
    If he does, you will be lined up for a nobel prize and be first in line for consideration as the new Messiah. You’ll probably get yourself crucified as well.
    Meantime, why not write to these scientists and ask them why they haven’t found evidence of your Lost Jewish Slaves.


  27. unkleE and Hayden,
    Thanks for explaining the reasons for your faith. I personally haven’t had those kinds of experiences, which is why I don’t believe.

    Thanks for the links and points you’ve been making.

    In fact, I’d say on the subject of the OT, we’re pretty much all in agreement that it was most likely fiction / legend / allegory. That fits into both of our respective worldviews, so it’s not a reason for any of us to change our positions. But maybe this conversation will be helpful to some of those who take a more literal view and encourage them to look into it a bit more.


  28. @ Nate.
    Fiction it is, but Christians seem unwiilling to recognise that ,without the Old Testament the New is rendered meaningless.
    This is what baffles me, especially in discussion with an apparantly intelligent and reasonable bloke like Unklee.

    It is like reading a novel and then the sequel and afterwards dismissing the first novel as nonsense but accepting the sequel as mostly fact, based on what was written’ that all these prophecies would come ‘true’ and especially the part where the hero (God) appears in one of the most backward illiterate areas on earth, keeps an almost invisible profile until 12 months before he is going to die, then sets out to ‘Save the World’. To this end the hero, allows himself to be crucified and is then resurrected (or resurrects Himself), walks around a bit and is then raised up into the sky and dissapears, leaving behind a small, confused group who are now supposed to do what He, the Hero, utterly failed to do.
    To this end, and on the back of the promise from Jesus/God/the Hero that he’s coming back soon they set out to spread the Gospel as quick as possible before His return,trying desperately to save as much of humanity as possible and for their trouble are brutally tortured and murdered and the sod never turned up. And STILL hasn’t had the decency to make an appearance.

    The END Copyright King James. circa 1647

    Publishers note: Because of the dismal failure of the objectives of this novel OT and the sequel, NT, no further publications are due for release.
    You are on your own.

    No matter how the story is written it still defies all commonsense that any rational thinking human would believe it actually happened. And on the hearsay of a bunch of ignorant,supersticious mysogenists who put together a collection of ridiculous ‘books’, claiming divine inspiration that was foistered onto the world , via sword, torture, war etc and called Salvation.

    And if you didn’t follow it you were/ARE damned to Hell.

    Does this seem the right thing to tell our children?
    Well, yes, as it is the Christian thing to do, ist it not?

    Athesim’s looking pretty good now, hey?


  29. Nate, I think you have jumped a little too far in the worthy aim of finding agreement when you say “on the subject of the OT, we’re pretty much all in agreement that it was most likely fiction / legend / allegory”.

    The OT contains a lot of writings from over a long period of time, and I don’t believe a simple statement can summarise its historicity. I have said I agreed in general with the CS Lewis view of it starting in Genesis 1-11 as myth, and slowly coming into focus as history. (You can check out one person’s summary of Lewis in this reference). I haven’t done enough reading on this to say much more, but it means broadly that from Genesis to about Saul, we have fact and legend mixed in various proportions, and from about David onwards it is mostly historical. That is some way from your statement.

    So unfortunately we are only partially in agreement, but that is better than nothing, and at least we can understand each other and discuss amicably!


  30. “I haven’t done enough reading on this to say much more…”,

    Then, with all due respect, Unklee, as your own faith is largely based on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, (brought on in part because of the Church’s insistance on accepting the Old Testament as divinely inspired and its rejection of Marcion’s gospel) and ESPECIALLY the prophecy surrounding the ridiculous and erroneous belief that Jesus was born of a virgin, impregnated by a supernatural being , that it is encumbent on you, and every other Christian, to fully appraise themselves of the facts?
    After all, the virgin birth is part of the bedrock of Christianity and has been exported across the globe, as part of the promise of salvation.

    If you are not prepared to fully investigate the Old Testament , and dont know enough about it, then how do you feel confident and competant enough to pass any sort of judgment on Nate’s view of its contents?


  31. @Unklee Very cool reason for a name. Thank you for sharing that. Much cooler than mine:)

    @Nate I’d have to side with Unklee on this one. Personally I don’t care if it is all BS or not. It’s the lessons that you get from it that matter, not whether it was true or not. Still, I’ll need a heck of a lot more than some scientists telling me I should trust them because they’re experts. I’ve just known too many scientists for that. But if you think it’s all BS and want to trust these guys it’s not the end of the world or anything. Stay groovy guys.


  32. haydendlinder, I dont think that it’s either faith in scientists or faith in god with nate – although could be wrong.

    I think nate, and others like him, including myself, see errors within the bible (God’s Book) and therefore dont believe the unsubstantiated claims of the biblical authors.

    I am unwilling to stake my life on the points that scientists make, either, but then, no one has to in order to avoid punishment. We do see tangible benefits that science has offered in everyone’s life. We all see the things we’ve learned and gained from it. I will think about any potential explanation that someone has to offer, weigh it, and really try to understand it. If it has merit, or seems to hold water under scrutiny, then i’ll entertain it.

    and while you may be wary of Scientists, how are you willing to believe the claims of random superstitious writers who can be shown to be very flawed in what they claim?


  33. Unklee,

    How are you?

    “David onwards it is mostly historical.”

    This is not correct. (I am not questioning the historicity of David or Solomon, but only the extent and splendor of their realms.) The archeological finds originally attributed to David and Solomon were misdated by a full century–the result of taking the historical narratives of the Bible at face value. The new dates place the appearance of monumental structures and fortifications precisely at the time of their appearance in the rest of the Levant, and these new dates are supported by pottery sherds found at Jezreel after the invasion of Hazael, ceramic evidence, architectural parallels, C14 dates, and non-biblical sources.

    Additionally, the material culture of the highlands in the time of David remained simple. The land was rural with no trace of written documents, inscriptions, or even signs of a requisite literacy that would be necessary to maintain a properly functioning monarchy like that described in the OT.

    Also, at the time of David, the population of Israel was hardly homogenous–Judah was pastoral, marginally agricultural, isolated, and a small, scattered population of maybe five thousand. While their northern counterparts possessed orchards, vineyards, natural overland routes to neighboring territories, and a moderately-sized, crowded population of maybe 40 thousand–and Jerusalem was no more than a typical highland village. These were not the ingredients for maintaining or creating a powerful monarchy or a unified culture. David and Solomon were more chieftains than monarchs.

    Succinctly, there was not a big empire, there were no monuments, and there was no magnificent capital.

    One would look to the Omrides for Israelite splendor if history was fair, but the writer of the books of Kings only wanted to belittle, denigrate, and lie about them.

    The Deuteronomistic History was political propaganda and theological hopes. It was a seventh century vision of national revival “that sought to bring scattered, war weary people together, to prove to them that they had experienced a stirring history under the direct intervention of God.”



  34. Hi Persto, I’m fine.

    Thanks for your comments. I don’t see any major disagreement here. I haven’t read anything much on OT history and archaeology, so I wouldn’t contest anything you say, except to comment that I know enough to doubt any single statement of “facts” as being the “answer” accepted by all. There is still a wide range of views from minimalists to maximalists (or whatever they’re called).

    For example, I don’t see any big deal about whether David and Solomon were chieftains or monarchs, whether the splendours of their reign were a bit less than we imagine today – these things are somewhat relative, and the detailed descriptions of the temple show that it wasn’t all that large.

    My statement about historicity was very general, and made in response to Nate’s statement “we’re pretty much all in agreement that it was most likely fiction / legend / allegory”.” I simply wanted to point out gradual progression from myth to fact, and your comments support that as far as I can tell – you just shift the date from c1000 BCE to c700 BCE or something like that.

    Best wishes.


  35. @William
    Hi William, I didn’t say you had to do one or the other. I said I don;t trust the data collection of these professionals. That does not mean I take the BIble as “Gospel.”


  36. Unklee,

    I am glad to hear it.

    Yes, I realized after I posted my comment that maybe it would not be overwhelmingly relevant to your comment lol. Although, it still has substance, and it certainly calls into question the historical precision of the bible–what in the OT is myth and what is fact–and highlights the propagandist and theological attitude of the Deuteronomistic historian.

    I will agree that the OT becomes more historical as it progresses, but I am less certain that it ever becomes fully historical. Even though, this may not be an accurate representation of your opinion.

    “I know enough to doubt any single statement of “facts” as being the “answer” accepted by all.”

    On this we are in wholehearted agreement.



  37. @ unklee and Persto:
    I just wanted to say that I agree with you both. I didn’t intend for my earlier statement to apply to the entire OT; I really just wrote it that way for brevity’s sake and didn’t think about how it would sound. I agree that from the time of the Divided Kingdom on, the narratives in the Bible tend to match more closely to the things we’ve been able to determine from history and archaeology.


  38. Nate,

    No worries. I just assumed you meant the earlier portions of the OT. Although, I think you may have had a point in that, yes, the Exilic and post-exilic writers were tolerable contemporary historians, but they certainly edited, revised, and embellished certain aspects of the Deuteronomistic history. So, while their history moves closer to historical reliability. They moved the preceding generations history further away from historical reliability.



  39. “what in the OT is myth and what is fact”

    Persto, the key to my view is that this is less important than many think. I have long since decided, on New Testament grounds, that the OT is not very important for my day-to-day faith, though it gives essential background. So it is good to see so much sweetness, light and agreement among us (on this one matter at least)!


  40. @ Unklee,Presto Nate
    “what in the OT is myth and what is fact”

    I believe the question mark should be inserted at the end of this sentence so it reads,
    “What in the OT is Myth and what is fact?”

    If there is reasonable doubt regarding anything then it should be consigned to myth.

    The Exodus, for example, is plainly fiction.
    Establishing what is real is only unimportant if there is nothing to lose.
    The bedrock of the Judaeo/Christian faith lies in the Old Testament.
    To state that this is “less important than many think” suggests that faith is sitting on very shakey grounds indeed and would only require a little push to see it topple like a house of cards.
    The vast majority of Christians have little knowledge of the history of their faith. Christian authorities and Christian scholars have traditionally preferred it this way. Best not to rock the analogous boat.
    But education brings enlightenment and although the more ground monotheism loses the more it will dismiss claims against it by building bulwarks of bullshit, and to ridicule any dissent it cannot maintain this stance in the face of the ever-growing evidence.

    The consensus of Jewish scholarship already KNOWS the archaeological truth concerning their history.

    It wont take much more than a goat herder to discover another cache of first century papyrus docs to onset the consignment of Christianty to the theological scrapheap.
    Humans have had many silly religions. There’s not much to suggest that Montheism will survive in the long run.


  41. Unklee and Ark,

    Unklee, I understand that approach and it is not at all novel or radical. In fact, I doubt the faith of the early Christians would have been very much affected by the knowledge that the OT was mostly fiction combined with metaphor and allegory. For example, the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas preferred an allegorical approach to the OT–the Church of the Middle Ages took a similar spiritual interpretation approach with the NT, at least to a certain extent–and the writer of the Epistle of Diognetus highlighted the ‘follies of Judaism’ as ‘too nonsensical to be worth discussing.’ Even Paul, while a proponent of Scripture, was integral in separating Christianity from Judaism, as was Peter, James, John, Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, and Paul self-identified as ‘the apostle to the gentiles.’ Hardly, a person overly concerned with the law of Moses. Of course, Paul needed the OT to make theological points, but I can’t see the historicity of the OT having a very great influence on what he believed or didn’t believe about Jesus and the Faith. For Paul, the Gospel was entirely indifferent towards the historical reliability of the OT. What mattered was that Judaism was rejected and Christianity was accepted.

    The early Church did not need the OT to be historical because they had Jesus. They could always create whatever theological or prophetic point was needed by interpreting the OT in light of the NT. The early Church would have welcomed the knowledge that the Exodus was false, since that would have proven that Judaism was corrupt and fraudulent and that God needed to establish a new or first Law through Jesus. I am not saying that the early Church believed the Exodus narrative to be false. Only that they would have structured the Gospel around whatever material was available to them. And the structure of this material would have effectively divorced Christianity from Judaism and did, in fact, effectively divorce Christianity from Judaism.

    The result was that the early Church and the early Fathers created a theological system that placed the Gospel ahead of the Creation, the Exodus, and the Ten Commandents. And this theological system was the cornerstone of past evangelism and is the cornerstone of present evangelism. Jesus comes before everything else. Paul, Ignatius, Peter, Jonathan Edwards, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, and Francis Chan did not and do not preach about the Exodus or Solomon, but about Jesus. Maybe you don’t get Jesus without all the rest of it, but in the minds of many Christians you don’t get all the rest of it without Jesus.

    Ark, you are right that Christianity’s foundation is the old Law, but proving that circumstances surrounding the old Law are fiction is not the same as proving the new Law is fiction. Because even Christian interpretations of the OT in the first and second-century were less about fact and more about Jesus. And there were and are a number of inventive interpretations of the OT that can manufacture Jesus.

    Now, I do not believe these interpretation are correct, but Christianity cannot be easily dismissed because the Exodus and Creation narratives are fiction. In truth, the only Christians this would have an impact on are believers in biblical inerrancy or, as they are more commonly known, fundamentalists.

    In a word, the OT, however one feels about the it, is viewed by Christians from the standpoint of the NT; from the framework of the gospels, which some may argue was the goal of the OT. So, it does not at all appear obvious to me that the non-historicity of the OT terminates Christianity, particularly since, for the preponderance of the Christians and their religious ancestors, the NT presupposes the OT.



  42. If we accept this premise,then it leaves the door wide open to completely reinterpret the character of Christ, and probably even dismiss claims of an historical Jesus. Certainly the claims of his divinity and including claims that he knew he was god.
    Christians claim the NT is fulfillmen of OT prophecy. All crap, of course, but If there was no OT it would leave a vaccuum and the NT’s reason for being would dissapear- the virgin birth is one glaring example.
    To illustrate the point further, the Christians HAD the chance to wipe the slate clean and start again with their own version with Marcion’s gospel, and for a while it gained a fair amount of ground, but in the end, the Church declared it heresy, pewrsecuted them to ‘hell’ and opted to go with the full-length ”director’s cut.”

    And all things considered, theyve been screwing it up ever since; which only goes to show that Marcion was a much underrated editor.


  43. G’day Persto, thanks for your comments, with which I mostly agree. This is encouraging, for I think the first goal of discussion should be gaining understanding – convincing the other person is a longer term goal but far less achievable in reality.

    “the OT, however one feels about the it, is viewed by Christians from the standpoint of the NT”

    This is the key. Most christians choose to believe on the basis of the NT, plus (perhaps) personal experience, the philosophical arguments or the internal work of the Holy Spirit (I know you don’t believe in that, but that is what christians believe). The OT is rarely part of that. They come to the OT later, and decide what they think of it – it may help their faith or hinder it, or make little difference.

    “the OT was mostly fiction combined with metaphor and allegory”

    But I think this overstates the historical evidence, and certainly my own conclusions. Ancient history is not black and white – either what we have is true or not. There are in fact large slabs of writings in the OT, and in all ancient history, whose historicity is uncertain. Biblical scholars tend to demand higher standards of historicity, so there is even more uncertainty in the OT. So I would prefer to say that it is a mixture of history, non-history and uncertainty, and leave it at that.

    But that is a small point, on the main matters, we are agreed. Thanks, and best wishes.


  44. Ark,

    Yes, but Marcion not only wanted to wipe out the Hebrew Bible, but demote the Hebrew God as well. That would have made very little sense to the early Christian Apostles and Fathers for two reasons: much of the OT was useful material that could be manipulated to serve their own ends and why demote one god in order to create another. It was just overly complicated or, better yet, overly Greek.

    For the early Church, Marcion’s beliefs were just too close to Gnosticism–for which they possessed a deep-seated aversion–and Marcion just denied too much of what the early Church wanted to be true about Christ–that he was fully human and fully God. Maybe they would have sided with him if he had given them their fully human Jesus, the bodily Resurrection, and didn’t demote the Hebrew God. Perhaps, if Polycarp and Iranaeus had not denounced him as a heretic that would have been helpful, as well.

    In truth, Gnosticism, Marcionism, Valentinianism forced the Church to separate themselves from the heretics–Docetists, Gnostics, and even Iranaeus’s friend, Justin–because they would not submit to Church authority. But they were all highly influential in the development and formation of the canon.

    This only brings me back to my earlier point, which was not intended to suggest that the early Church wanted a clean OT slate, but that they would have used whatever OT slate was available to support the Gospel as long as it was their version of the Gospel. Their version included a human Christ and bodily Resurrection. For the early Christians a fictitious Exodus or an incorrect attribution of the destruction of Jezreel to Shishak, instead of Hazael would have been irrelevant to the theological validity and the historical authenticity of the Gospels. The early Church’s doctrinal and theological disputes were, primarily, about Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels; not about the OT or even, to a certain extent, the Hebrew God, as Iranaeus and Tertullian indicate. Jesus not being human or God or differing interpretations of Paul were more dangerous to early Christianity than OT prophecy or, as Justin believed, the god of Plato being the same as the god of the Bible was less dangerous than the Resurrection being a merely spiritual occurrence. The Gospel was always at the forefront with everything else playing a secondary role to the Gospel’s conversion power and credibility. And this Gospel-driven mindset survives to the present day.

    I think this point is worth making: Christians do not look to OT prophecy then Jesus, but to Jesus then OT prophecy. The prophecy is not the bedrock of Christian faith. Yes, the OT comes before the NT chronologically, but in the eyes of Christians the NT precedes the OT. Prophecy is only one of the evidences for faith. It is not the sole or the primary reason for becoming or remaining a Christian. For many Christians, the OT was a trial run; a failed experiment. The OT necessitated Jesus’ coming, even if it did prophesy it as well. It is the NT that is important to Christians–it has been from the first–and it is the NT that you will have to undermine if you want to undermine Christianity.


  45. Unklee,

    Yes, I will agree and while the OT has a good deal of history it also has a great deal of myth. More than myth than history, in my opinion lol. But you are right the line between myth and fact is not always clear in ancient writings, as reading Herodotus or Homer or Thucydides demonstrates. It is no different with the Bible, but there is a considerable deal more riding on historical reliability in the Bible than in other ancient works. Whether this is fair or not I am unsure but it is the unequivocal truth.



  46. @Persto

    We are talking all ends up here.
    The reason the OT is crucial to the whole Christian story is not so much the prophecy angle ( which can quite easily be dismissed as fallacy) but rather that Jesus references the Old Testament: the Law, Moses, etc
    If we are to assume that Christians don’t need the OT to justify their faith and belief in Jesus’ divinty then how do we account for Jesus, a Jew, using the authority of the OT to explain/justify himself?
    This would now requie some VERY creative redaction on the part of Biblical scholars.
    There was NO ‘christianity’ at the time of Jesus death, merely a small group of Jews who had been left confused and with little direction.

    For the beginnings of Christianity as it was to become merely look to Paul. He had no interest in anythng but spreading an ideologfy, a doctrine, that left the Jews who were supposedly Jesus followers out in the cold – and he references the Old Testament – he had to, other wise those he preached to would have had no idea what he was talkng about.
    Christians don’t need the OT with all it’s barbarism and nonsense and ridiculous food klaws etc – and they have Pal to thank for putting on its own unique track – but while they cliam it is not important, without it, their religion would have no history to base itself and would be rendered meaningless and without context.

    Islam is no different. I just wish the Jews would hurry up and come out of the closet and admit it is all a crock…:)


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