The Confusion of Religion

Contrary to the popular teaching of value relativism, right and wrong do exist — even fake TV Characters know it.

Right and wrong do exist. Just because you don’t know what the right answer is—maybe there’s even no way you could know what the right answer is—doesn’t make your answer right or even okay. It’s much simpler than that. It’s just plain wrong. (“House” — the TV Show Season One, Episode 121 “Three Stories”)

This article available in PDF Format. It’s nice to have around when people knock on your door - even to use as a handout.

In medicine, you’re either right or wrong. Heal the patient or kill him. There’s no middle ground, no passing the buck, no value relativism. Similarly in the game of Blackjack, for any given situation exactly one correct move exists. Other possibilities may work out once in a while, but that’s just luck, not sound analysis.

So what absolute standard exists for the questions of life?

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • Where am I going?
  • How did I get here?

If you’re looking at any candidate solution, it must provide answers to all these questions. Atheists point to evolution — a subject we’ve been over before as lacking any proof — we won’t cover it more.

You must look for a religion which can answer all the basic questions, while remaining internally consistent. If a god exists, and if he’s all-powerful, and if he transmitted a message to us, it must be consistent, must it not? Thus if a candidate religion contains obvious falsehoods it must be eliminated from contention.

The question is always Who is Jesus? That question always divides — it’s acceptable to discuss god, religion and virtually any other topic, but ask about Jesus and people get uneasy. It’s also where religions diverge; both Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses (among others) reject the deity of Jesus (He’s not God). That’s a position you’re free to accept or reject as you wish, but you’ll quickly find it causes problems with other positions those groups claim to hold (and opposing claims can’t all be correct).

First off, let’s find out who God is. Consider the following passage, and ask yourself who Isaiah speaks about.

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:1-5 KJV)

Well, that’s Jehovah God they’ll say. Right? Right! No disagreement exists on that passage — it’s the Lord (Jehovah, God) Isaiah sees. Now consider a passage in John:

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him; That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him. (John 12:37-41 KJV)

Pronouns fill this passage, so do a little digging for yourself and determine who they all refer to (we’ll wait). OK, you’re back. Notice the “he” refers to Jesus — no disagreement should exist here either. The context of the passage is clear “though he had done so many miracles before them” — the “he” is Jesus. Right? Right!

Some groups state Jesus isn’t God — a perfectly reasonable hypothesis requiring further analysis. The truth or falsity of that statement isn’t important (and we’re not going to enter the discussion here), because for our purposes it doesn’t matter. What does matter is Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and other groups, while claiming Jesus isn’t God, do claim to accept the Bible as the authoritative Word of God.

And that’s when the problems start.

Your bible likely notes John chapter 12 verse 41 alludes to Isaiah 6 — “These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him” (replacing the pronouns, “These things said Isaiah, when Isaiah saw Jehovah’s glory, and spoke of Jehovah”). And who (we’ve already agreed) does Isaiah speak of in chapter six? Jehovah God! Now wait a minute, John (we’ve also already agreed) discusses Jesus, so Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus and that was God (Jehovah, Father God). So … wait for it … Jesus is God.

Okay, maybe you don’t like that example or somehow rationalize it away (Chuck Missler says never underestimate a humans ability to rationalize). Let’s look at some other famous passages.

Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he. (Isaiah 41:4 KJV)

Who is the first and last? Jehovah God, right? Right!

Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (Isaiah 4:6 KJV)

Who is the first and last? Jehovah God, right? Right!

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,” saith the Lord, “which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8 KJV)

Who is the Alpha and Omega, first and last, beginning and end? Jehovah God, right? Right!

Saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:11 KJV)

Who is the Alpha and Omega, first and last, beginning and end? Jehovah God, right? Right! Are we beginning to see a pattern here? God is the first and last, beginning and end, alpha and omega — all express the same idea. It’s Jehovah God, the Father, the eternal God, or however you want to express it. We’ll just look at one more verse.

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, “Fear not; I am the first and the last:” “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Revelation 1:17-18 KJV)

Who is the first and last? Jehovah God! But wait, he was living, then dead, now alive for evermore? That only fits Jesus. Again Jesus is God. Period. If you want to dig into this more yourself, look at verse 5 of Revelation chapter one where the later pronouns refer back to — it’s specifically Jesus Christ. Mentioned in chapter one are John, Jesus, and God. So even in verses 8 and 11, the pronoun refers back to Jesus, and in red-letter Bibles appears in Red to indicate it’s words of Jesus.

The Bible makes it clear. Once again, you’re free to disagree Jesus is God if you wish, you’re free to reject the Bible, you’re free to believe the moon is made of cheese, you’re free to believe anything you want; none of that is in jeopardy here, and we’re not in any way telling you to believe one way or the other — believe as you will — we’re just giving you something to think about in the spirit of open discussion (more on that later).

However, if you state Jesus isn’t God, and claim you accept the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, you’ve got trouble. To escape this paradox all you have to do is state the Bible isn’t authoritative, and not all of it is true. Otherwise you’ve got big problems in river city — something doesn’t fit as two contradictory positions can’t both be correct. Which is it? Is the Bible correct, or extra-Biblical teaching? It’s your choice, but consider what Paul said in Galatians.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9 KJV)

When some groups disagree with the Bible (Jesus is not God) you’ve got a choice — either they’re right, or the Bible is. We’re not even entering into a discussion of which is correct, as for this point it doesn’t matter — only one can be correct, so you’ve got a problem illustrated by the following. Suppose person “A” says the sky is orange, while person “B” says the sky is purple. What possibilities exist?

  • “A” is right and “B” is wrong.
  • “A is wrong and “B” is right.
  • Both “A” and “B” are wrong.

But note, they can’t both be right. Thus, if the Bible states Jesus is God, and yet a group maintains Jesus isn’t God while accepting the authority of the Bible, that makes no sense as both “A” and “B” can not be right — it’s just not possible (at most one is correct, or they’re both wrong). You can choose which you wish to believe, but you’ve got a hopeless paradox attempting to force contradictory ideas into agreement.

But another issue presents itself best illustrated by a Jon Courson story. Suppose you’re in church minding your own business. Suddenly a person comes in wearing a long trench-coat, and acting quite suspicious. He opens up his coat, tosses in a grenade, and walks out. Everyone freezes. But one person springs into action, grabbing the little old lady sitting next to him, throws her on the grenade before it explodes, saving everyone.

What would you think? Sure, he saved everyone, but why did he force someone else to do something he himself was unwilling to do? That’s not fair!

Exactly. And yet if Jesus isn’t God, the same situation exists — God created something to do the job He was unwilling to do. What kind of God is that?

Too much confusion and hostility exists over religion — you’re free to believe whatever you want, and should be respectful of other opinions differing from yours. Tolerance doesn’t mean you won’t be exposed to different views, but it does mean civilized debate and discussion should ensue as civilized discussion is the hallmark of true tolerance, not the shouting down and silencing of people holding different views.

You can believe the Bible is the Word of God or not. Your choice. You can believe Jesus is God or not. Your choice. But know what you believe, and why.

If you disagree with this article, please leave a comment explaining your position (keep it civilized — read the comment policy before posting), as true freedom means freedom to discuss, freedom to differ, and freedom to allow divergent viewpoints. Do your homework and come to your own conclusions, and don’t let anyone think for you. It’s your choice, after all — be sure to get it right.

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