Guide Modern Disciples: Volume 2 (Modern Disciples (norse mythology))

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Furthermore, length of a being's stay in a Naraka is not eternal, though it is usually very long and measured in billions of years. A soul is born into a Naraka as a direct result of his or her previous karma actions of body, speech and mind , and resides there for a finite length of time until his karma has achieved its full result. After his karma is used up, he may be reborn in one of the higher worlds as the result of an earlier karma that had not yet ripened. The Hells are situated in the seven grounds at the lower part of the universe. The seven grounds are:. The hellish beings are a type of souls which are residing in these various hells.

They are born in hells by sudden manifestation. They have a fixed life span ranging from ten thousand to billions of years in the respective hells where they reside. According to Jain scripture, Tattvarthasutra , following are the causes for birth in hell: []. In Sikh thought, Hell and Heaven are not places for living hereafter, they are part of spiritual topography of man and do not exist otherwise.

They refer to good and evil stages of life respectively and can be lived now and here during our earthly existence. So many are being drowned in emotional attachment and doubt; they dwell in the most horrible hell. Ancient Taoism had no concept of Hell, as morality was seen to be a man-made distinction and there was no concept of an immaterial soul. In its home country China , where Taoism adopted tenets of other religions, popular belief endows Taoist Hell with many deities and spirits who punish sin in a variety of horrible ways. Diyu is the realm of the dead in Chinese mythology.

It is very loosely based upon the Buddhist concept of Naraka combined with traditional Chinese afterlife beliefs and a variety of popular expansions and re-interpretations of these two traditions. Ruled by Yanluo Wang , the King of Hell, Diyu is a maze of underground levels and chambers where souls are taken to atone for their earthly sins.

Incorporating ideas from Taoism and Buddhism as well as traditional Chinese folk religion, Diyu is a kind of purgatory place which serves not only to punish but also to renew spirits ready for their next incarnation. There are many deities associated with the place, whose names and purposes are the subject of much conflicting information.

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The exact number of levels in Chinese Hell - and their associated deities - differs according to the Buddhist or Taoist perception. Some speak of three to four 'Courts', other as many as ten. The ten judges are also known as the 10 Kings of Yama. Each Court deals with a different aspect of atonement. For example, murder is punished in one Court, adultery in another.

According to some Chinese legends, there are eighteen levels in Hell. Punishment also varies according to belief, but most legends speak of highly imaginative chambers where wrong-doers are sawn in half, beheaded, thrown into pits of filth or forced to climb trees adorned with sharp blades. However, most legends agree that once a soul usually referred to as a 'ghost' has atoned for their deeds and repented, he or she is given the Drink of Forgetfulness by Meng Po and sent back into the world to be reborn, possibly as an animal or a poor or sick person, for further punishment.

Zoroastrianism has historically suggested several possible fates for the wicked, including annihilation, purgation in molten metal, and eternal punishment, all of which have standing in Zoroaster's writings. Zoroastrian eschatology includes the belief that wicked souls will remain in hell until, following the arrival of three saviors at thousand-year intervals, Ahura Mazda reconciles the world, destroying evil and resurrecting tormented souls to perfection.

Those laws state that wiccan souls are privileged with reincarnation, but that the souls of wiccans who break the wiccan laws are sent by the goddess to the fiery christian hell. The influential wiccan author Raymond Buckland wrote that the wiccan laws are unimportant. Solitary neo-wiccans, who originated in the s, do not include the wiccan laws in their doctrine. In his Divina commedia Divine Comedy , set in the year , Dante Alighieri employed the concept of taking Virgil as his guide through Inferno and then, in the second canticle, up the mountain of Purgatorio. Virgil himself is not condemned to Hell proper in Dante's poem but is rather, as a virtuous pagan, confined to Limbo just at the edge of Hell.

The geography of Hell is very elaborately laid out in this work, with nine concentric rings leading deeper into Earth, and deeper into the various punishments of Hell, until, at the center of the world, Dante finds Satan himself trapped in the frozen lake of Cocytus. A small tunnel leads past Satan and out to the other side of the world, at the base of the Mount of Purgatory.

John Milton 's Paradise Lost opens with the fallen angels , including their leader Satan , waking up in Hell after having been defeated in the war in heaven and the action returns there at several points throughout the poem. Milton portrays Hell as the abode of the demons, and the passive prison from which they plot their revenge upon Heaven through the corruption of the human race. Rimbaud's poetry portrays his own suffering in a poetic form as well as other themes. Many of the great epics of European literature include episodes that occur in Hell.

In the Roman poet Virgil 's Latin epic, the Aeneid , Aeneas descends into Dis the underworld to visit his father's spirit. The underworld is only vaguely described, with one unexplored path leading to the punishments of Tartarus, while the other leads through Erebus and the Elysian Fields. The idea of Hell was highly influential to writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre who authored the play No Exit about the idea that "Hell is other people".

Although not a religious man, Sartre was fascinated by his interpretation of a Hellish state of suffering. Hell is portrayed here as an endless, desolate twilight city upon which night is imperceptibly sinking. The night is actually the Apocalypse , and it heralds the arrival of the demons after their judgment. Before the night comes, anyone can escape Hell if they leave behind their former selves and accept Heaven's offer, and a journey to Heaven reveals that Hell is infinitely small; it is nothing more or less than what happens to a soul that turns away from God and into itself.

Robert A. Heinlein offers a yin-yang version of Hell where there is still some good within; most evident in his book Job: A Comedy of Justice. Michael Moorcock is one of many who offer Chaos-Evil- Hell and Uniformity-Good- Heaven as equally unacceptable extremes which must be held in balance; in particular in the Elric and Eternal Champion series. Fredric Brown wrote a number of fantasy short stories about Satan 's activities in Hell.

Cartoonist Jimmy Hatlo created a series of cartoons about life in Hell called The Hatlo Inferno , which ran from to From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Afterlife location in which souls are subjected to punitive suffering, often torture. This article is about the abode of the dead in various cultures and religious traditions around the world. For other uses, see Hell disambiguation. Main article: Ancient Mesopotamian underworld. Main article: Tartarus. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Learn how and when to remove this template message. See also: Gehenna and Sheol. Main articles: Christian views on hell and Christian views on Hades. Main article: Jahannam. Main article: Naraka Buddhism. Main article: Naraka Hinduism. Main article: Naraka Jainism. Main article: Diyu. Main article: Zoroastrian eschatology. Main article: Hell in popular culture. Accessed 7 February John Ciardi 2 ed.

New York : Penguin. The British Museum Press. Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions. Archived from the original on 26 September Retrieved 18 August Griffith to The Independent , 32 [ clarification needed ] December "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 September Retrieved 28 October Archived from the original on 5 November Simon and Schuster.

Retrieved 5 August Boustan, Ra'anan S. Reed, Annette Yoshiko. Cambridge University Press, Studies on Biblical Studies, No. Clarence Larkin. The Spirit World. Philadelphia, PA. Edinburgh, Scotland. Clark; pg. Edward Bouverie Pusey. Traditional Aspects of Hell: Ancient and Modern. The Ascension of Isaiah. Black, Signification of the Proper Names, Etc. The Bible and the Future. Grand Rapids: Wm. Blue Letter Bible. BLB Institute. Archived from the original on 23 December Retrieved 26 February Apostle Beloved disciple Evangelist Patmos Presbyter.

Apocryphon Acts Signs Gospel. Main article: Authorship of the Johannine works. Further information: Development of the New Testament canon. After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John, concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These then belong among the accepted writings [Homologoumena]. Among the rejected [Kirsopp. Lake translation: "not genuine"] writings must be reckoned, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books.

Main article: Events of Revelation. See also: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Contrasting beliefs. The Millennium. Biblical texts. Key terms. Main article: Historicist interpretations of the Book of Revelation. Christianity portal. An Introduction to the New Testament 2nd ed.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. In Esler, Philip F. The Early Christian World. Routledge Worlds. Routledge published Retrieved 28 December Retrieved 17 October Retrieved 15 October Catechetical Lecture 4 Chapter Retrieved 12 October Church Fathers: Letter 39 Athanasius. Retrieved 14 October Commentary on the Apostles' Creed Synod of Laodicea Canon Greek xxvii. The Apostolic Canons. Canon In Glasson, T. The Revelation of John.

Cambridge Bible Commentaries on the New Testament.

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Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 29 June Eugene []. To this day, Catholic and Protestant lectionaries have only minimal readings from Revelation, and the Greek Orthodox lectionary omits it altogether. Word Biblical Commentary 52A: Revelation 1—5. Archived from the original on 14 April Retrieved 14 April Karris ed. New York: Doubleday, Archived from the original on 5 October Retrieved 25 April Seraphim Rose ed. Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood.

Ministry, International Journal for Pastors. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Logos Research Systems. Ellen G. White Writings. White Estate. Retrieved 5 October Retrieved 28 October Retrieved 20 April Pryse Apocalypse Unsealed London: Watkins Orbis Books. Fortress Press. Exeter: Imprint Academic. Christopher R. However, Christopher North goes on to cite Torrey on 20 major occasions and many more minor ones in the course of his book.

So, Torrey must have had some influence and poetry is the key. She quoted 1 John "He abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us" to show that when John says, "I was in the Spirit" it is not exceptional. He noted the difference meant that the John who wrote a gospel could not be the same John that wrote Revelation. Lawrence Apocalypse and the Writings on Revelation.

Penguin Books. Apocalyptic and Accommodation" on YouTube. Yale University. Accessed July 22, CosmoLearning Religious Studies. Ehrman 9 June Barnes ed. Lorton, Virginia: Kim Mark Lewis. Ammannati, Renato Rivelazione e Storia. Ermeneutica dell'Apocalisse. Bass, Ralph E. Bauckham, Richard The Theology of the Book of Revelation. Cambridge University Press. Beale, G. In Beale, G. Baker Academic. Beale G.

Boxall, Ian, Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible. Burkett, Delbert Collins, Adela Yarbro Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse. Westminster John Knox Press. Couch, Mal, ed. A Bible Handbook to Revelation. Kregel Academic. Cross, F. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 3 rev. Oxford University Press. Crutchfield, Larry V. My mother passed away at the age of 63 while we were en route. The pain of her loss was tempered by the knowledge that her suffering was over and that she was in the presence of her creator. I do not recall being angry at God, nor did I question his sovereignty at that point, even though I missed her greatly.

For most of our yearlong furlough we pursued further linguistic training in North Dakota and Dallas. From the time of my crisis, I had managed to avoid serious doubt and remained confident in the truth of the gospel. However, my faith was again shaken in the spring of during a linguistics course taught by a Wycliffe member. One assignment was to read George Lakoff's Women, Fire and Dangerous Things Lakoff , primarily a treatise on linguistic categories. Somewhat tangentially, Lakoff mentioned so-called "ring species" as an example of the difficulty of making objective linguistic references to reality.

Pacific coast. Traditionally a species is defined as a population that can interbreed and produce healthy, fertile offspring. In the case of this salamander, however, it is difficult to determine the species boundaries. If there are ten varieties surrounding the valley, variety one can interbreed with neighboring variety two, and two with three, and so forth, but where the circle is completed with variety one adjacent to variety ten, the two do not interbreed successfully. This called to mind a problem that Bible translators face when attempting to determine what constitutes a language.

In a prior language survey class, I had learned of dialect chains where speakers of dialect A could understand speakers of neighboring dialect B; dialect B was mutually intelligible with dialect C; C with D; and so forth to F; but speakers of A could not understand speakers of F. So how many languages are there, and which dialect should be the target of a new Bible translation?

I had no trouble believing that language dialects evolved from a parent stock, so it seemed that something comparable could have happened with biological species, which disturbed my notion of the fixity of species. I realize that many creationists accept limited evolution even outside the species level, but for some reason I was shaken by the parallels between linguistic and biological evolution, to the point that I began to suspect evolution might be true.

Almost out of the blue, I began to doubt the very existence of God. I recall attending a triumphal Easter service while weeping internally at my inability to connect with the enthusiasm of the believers surrounding me. Wishing to resolve my doubts, I wrote a letter explaining my thoughts to the professor of my linguistics class. When I subsequently met with him, he helped me see that a number of my difficulties stemmed from an overly rigid conception of inerrancy and a limited human view of God's purposes. One rhetorical question he posed stuck with me and helped me see the narrowness of my thinking: "Why is it that just Westerners doubt God's existence?

This bout with doubt ended after only a month. Just three months later we were back for our second term in Niger. In July we moved to our allocation in N'Guigmi, a town of about 10, on the edge of the Sahara. We had three children in cloth diapers at the same time, and running water was unavailable during the daytime.

However, the perseverance of our closest colleagues and their six children, not to mention the hardships of the people of Niger, helped keep our situation in perspective. One of our most persistent challenges was to discern who was truly in need and how to meet those needs. Our initial task in N'Guigmi was to learn Dazaga, the language of the Daza people.

Though some previous linguistic work had been done in the language, there was no standardized writing system. During the year we were involved in the Dazaga project, we hired a language associate to help us learn some of the basics of the language. We used French as a common language to discuss Dazaga and elicit recordings. It was gratifying to play a role, along with several Dazaga speakers and another missionary, in developing a government-recognized orthography standard writing system for Dazaga. While in N'Guigmi there was plenty of time to read in the evenings.

I was greatly encouraged to read Darwin's Black Box by biochemist Michael Behe, who offered extraordinary and seemingly undeniable proof of the irreducible complexity of nature's wonders at the microscopic level. Any lingering doubts about God's role in creation were swept away. This portion of my prayer from January 23, , captures my mood at the time:. Father God, thank you for continuing to reveal yourself to me and for reaffirming my confidence that you indeed designed all of creation.

How could I ever have doubted a year ago that you exist? What got into me? How did I presume to account for the existence of matter and all the interacting physical laws without recourse to Someone outside of matter, time and the physical laws? Given that I can be assured of your existence and interest in my life, why do I ever go through a day without giving you my best, without praising you with all my soul, without confiding in you all my dreams and fears, without invoking your aid on behalf of family, friends, and those who are serving you around the world?

In March we traveled to the neighboring country of Burkina Faso to attend a phonology workshop. It was during our month there that my doubts again came to a head, setting in motion our return from the mission field. Charlene and I had decided in January to read through a chronological one-year Bible together.

As we read through the Pentateuch, I began recalling all the reasons for my earlier doubts. Again, many of my concerns were related to ethics, though I also noted what seemed to be pagan understandings of God and culturally conditioned modes of worship, as well as a few anachronisms that pointed to post-Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Often when I had been tempted to doubt earlier, I would remind myself of the many fulfilled prophecies of the Bible outlined in Evidence that Demands a Verdict McDowell and other apologetic works.

But I was confused as to why on the one hand the Old Testament seemed so ugly while at the same time it seemed to have amazing predictive ability. The prophecy of the 70 weeks of Daniel particularly impressed me because of its accuracy in predicting the time of the messiah's coming. Subsequently I found arguments on both sides of the issue on the Internet, but the skeptical explanations began to look increasingly plausible. Not wanting to give up the faith that had been so dear to me for so long, I searched the Internet for some helpful apologetic articles.

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I had heard that Clark Pinnock was an apologist of a more scholarly caliber than Josh McDowell, so I searched for his name. Price Price Price spent his youth as a fundamentalist, attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary as an evangelical, transitioned to liberal Christianity, then went on to earn two doctorates in New Testament studies.

He was still a liberal believer when he wrote this book, but he later became a humanist after some 20 years as a liberal Christian. In any case, his was the first book I had read specifically attacking evangelicalism, and it was compelling, throwing my already fragile faith into a tailspin. I don't believe I would have been willing to listen to anything he had to say had it not been for my prior misgivings about the Old Testament.

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Having devoted my life to the calling of Bible translation, it was devastating to realize that the Bible probably is not God's word after all. You can only imagine the knot in my stomach and the beating of my heart with every new discovery I made confirming my suspicions that the Bible is man-made from start to finish. Following is a prayer from April 7, , shortly after our return to the mission center in Niamey, Niger:. Father God, God of all creation, the one who made me, the one who loves me more than anyone else, the one who desires my well-being, I come to you today with a very heavy heart.

Or more precisely, a knot in my stomach. Once again, it appears to me that all I have been taught about the inspiration of the Bible is false. Deep down inside me, I have a very, very strong suspicion that the Bible is human and not divine through and through. You know the passages I struggle with. I can't seem to reconcile my conception of your nature with the way your character is portrayed in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. Where do I get this sense of moral injustice when I read about how a master is not to be punished for beating his slave as long as the slave doesn't die, because the slave is his property [Exodus ]?

There seems to be within me a moral law that stands in judgment of the Bible. Is this internal moral law a product of my culture that is to be submitted to the higher moral law of the Bible, or vice versa? Why does the Old Testament incessantly violate my idea of right and wrong? Why does it regard women in such a poor light? Why are the people of Yahweh supposed to wipe out men, women and children but are allowed to take the virgins for themselves [Deuteronomy ; Numbers ]? Why are the sacrifices offered in the tabernacle called food for Yahweh [Leviticus ]? Why does Yahweh need sacrifices anyway?

Can't he simply forgive those who ask for his forgiveness, just as we humans forgive each other? Why do some people get zapped instantly for touching the ark inadvertently [2 Samuel ] while Aaron, Moses' brother, gets off scot-free after making a golden calf for the people to worship [Exodus 32], and then he becomes the leader of the priesthood and the recipient of the best of all the offerings of the people? Why do women suspected of adultery have to go through some bizarre ordeal of drinking bitter water and seeing their womb swell and thigh waste away, while no provision is made for women to test their husbands for the same offense [Numbers ]?

God, the weight of all these troublesome passages, and many more, add up in my mind to foolishness. Or at least an attribution of ancient cultural ideas on the God of all creation. How much of this am I expected to absorb and put into the filing cabinet labeled "troublesome, contradictory or unjust but accept it by faith anyway"? How much tension can a soul take? Why does it seem like I'm just about the only one in my circle of friends that struggles with these issues as deeply as I do?

Am I warped, proud, or rebellious? Are you blinding my eyes because I haven't spent enough time with you in prayer lately? Or are the things I'm beginning to suspect—that the Bible is not divinely inspired—true after all? This is not just an academic exercise. The direction of the rest of my life, if not eternity, depends on it.

I know that even if the Bible is true, you don't mind my bringing these questions before you, since the Psalms record similarly piercing doubts that David experienced. Father God, take me in your arms just as I would take [our children] in my arms in a time of trouble, and comfort me with words of assurance and love and healing. I know you are my creator.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you made me and love me. I ask you to have compassion on me and lead me to the truth. I ask you to search my heart and reveal to me anything that displeases you and that stands in the way of my finding the truth about the Bible. Open up my eyes so I can see my sin as you see it, and give me the courage and strength to put it away.

I confess that I have been detached from you and my family and friends. I have been living in a world of my own mind, excluding those who are dearest to me. I have been objecting to the inequality of men and women expressed in the Bible, yet I've effectively been reinforcing it in my own marriage by leaving Charlene to do all the household work. Forgive me, I pray, and help me to get back on the right footing. Father, if I could only sit before you and talk with you as a man talks with another man, if only I could ask you what you had in mind when you made humanity and allowed so many different religions to take root and lead to so many confusing, contradictory and sometimes harmful paths.

Why are people so gullible to believe so many contradictory things? Muslims believe what they do because they've been exposed to Islamic teachings and social influences, and it seems no different from why Christians are Christians. If no one major religion is the truth, then what is? Do I have to make up a minor religion to get at the truth?

Heaven forbid! In my opinion there are already too many religions. Oh, Father, I don't want to be impertinent. But if he isn't the Son of God, then I don't want to spend my life in Africa proclaiming he is. What do I do, Lord, what do I do? Comfort my soul, Father. Thank you. Thank you for coming over me with your presence and that indescribable peace that assures me of your care for me. You have answered my prayer to take me in your arms and comfort me. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Thank you for my loving wife with whom I can discuss freely so many things. Thank you, thank you, thank you that I didn't marry [my former girlfriend]. There's no way I could have discussed any of this with her without being stonewalled. I believe you truly did bring us together, that you meant for me to have her and vice versa. Thank you for our three precious little children. How they bring joy to my life! You are truly an incredible genius to have conceived of the idea of babies and little children.

Thank you for keeping them alive and in relatively good health to this point. Even if you decide someday to take them away, I pray that I would be able to join with Job in saying, "The Lord gives and takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. If my unbelief is unsubstantiated, help me in my unbelief, and may I be convinced that the Bible is indeed your word.

If my unbelief is merited, I pray you'll help me know how to proceed from here. In either case, I pray you'll take away the blinders from my eyes that stem from my self, my sin, my culture, my religion or Satan, whatever the case may be. It seems that there are very few who manage to rise above the beliefs of their own culture.

It's usually the intellectuals. I have a hard time believing that you would set things up in such a way that only intellectuals find the truth. But I see how grotesque the fruits of anti-intellectualism have been in so many societies, and I don't want to have part in that either. How do I find truth, Father? I pray as I come to you in prayer during this special time of seeking that you will reveal yourself to me in such a way that I can be assured of the truth. I certainly can't find it out on my own or exclusively through intellectual evaluation.

I want to seek truth in the way that you want me to go about it, whether it means accepting the Bible by faith, reading philosophy, praying until you reveal yourself to me, going to seminary, meditating, reflecting, talking with others, or any combination of the above. My problem is that I really don't know how to go about it. I need your hand to guide me. At this point I contacted an old friend from seminary who was also working in Niger.

He was understanding and reasonable and was able to help somewhat by reading Robert Price and pointing out some inconsistencies, even while acknowledging that Price's chapter on Jesus' Resurrection was "devastating" Price , ch. He did not take the same approach as some other well-meaning evangelicals with whom I shared my struggles. Many reminded me we were in a spiritual battle and the enemy was trying to get the best of me because he didn't want me translating the scriptures for an unreached people. I grant that this is probably the case if the Bible really is true, but not so if it is not.

Others surmised my disbelief was due to some sin in my life. Still others suggested it didn't matter how many logical arguments could be brought to bear against the Bible; I just needed to accept it by faith. Another took the arguments seriously but interpreted the Bible in such a literal way advocating a young earth, head coverings for women, and rigid submission of women to men as to make it hard for me to listen to much else of what he said.

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I appreciate my friend from seminary for being a friend and honestly helping me confront some of the arguments without judging me. I considered that if I were ever to come back to the faith, it would be through his kind of approach. Life had been very busy for us with a lot of moving around, and I had not been especially consistent in daily setting aside time alone for personal prayer for some time, apart from my daily devotional Bible reading and prayer with Charlene.

I suppose some could argue that my struggle was a result of this lapse though the first time I had doubts 12 years earlier was during a period in which my devotional life was very consistent and meaningful. I talked to our Niger mission director about my problems and obtained permission for a two-week vacation, during which time I prayed and read intensively, seeking God and worshiping him more earnestly than I had done in months. Here was a German scholar of the first order, who, though not perhaps an evangelical by the American definition and certainly not a young-earth creationist or inerrantist , believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who bodily rose from the dead.

Somehow I had failed to realize that there really are serious scholars who believe the essential message of the Bible. Though an evangelical, he recognized many of the problems I had noticed in the Pentateuch without facilely brushing them aside. I appreciated his forthrightness in contrast to those who glibly offered strained harmonizations of difficult problems.

In reflecting on Thielicke's book during a prayer time one morning, I broke down and confessed my unbelief in Jesus as God's son, and I felt a warm presence that convinced me I was back onto the right track. I was still not persuaded that the Bible was without discrepancies, but soon it occurred to me that, just as God creates handicapped people with defects or blemishes Lev. This allowed me to consider myself a Biblical inerrantist in conformity with the Wycliffe doctrinal standard while still honestly acknowledging that it contains discrepancies.

This breakthrough occurred in Niamey in April, about a month after reading Robert Price. We were now free to go back to our assigned location to continue language learning. Meanwhile, I had ordered from Amazon. I spent every moment I could spare devouring these books, feeling an insatiable hunger to know the truth. It was particularly The Bible and the Ancient Near East Gordon and Rendsburg that plunged me back into a state of doubt from which I could see little hope of escape.

Though these authors are certainly not the most liberal in their field, they made it clear to me that the Bible contains errors and that not all the Old Testament stories are historical. Here is but one example of many troubling observations I came across in the book:. The Goliath episode, which is part of David's history in the mind of posterity, may well have been attached to him wrongly. The Bible gives us contradictory evidence concerning it. According to the main narrative, David killed Goliath. But this account occasions quite a bit of difficulty in that after the reputed episode is over, Saul and Abner forget completely who David is, whereas he is supposed to have been on the court staff for quite some time.

Aside from this and other contradictions, the Bible itself contains a more plausible variant tradition: In 2 Samuel it is the hero Elhanan who slays Goliath at the town of Gob. Furthermore, the name of Elhanan's father is obviously connected with the weapon used the weaver's beam , whereas the latter is inappropriate in the case of the account whereby David is credited with the slaying of Goliath. The author of the Books of Chronicles had before him the Books of Samuel with both variants, which he tried to harmonize.

Thus 1 Chronicles makes Elhanan the killer of Goliath's brother.

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Since it is much more natural for a heroic event to be transferred from a minor personage to a great hero, than vice versa, the situation may be summed up as follows: Elhanan slew Goliath but the victory was popularly transferred to David. Both the true and the transformed versions appear in Samuel. The Chronicler, seeing the discrepancy, tried to harmonize them Gordon and Rendsburg , I could not adopt the position of these authors and remain in good standing with Wycliffe, since all its members are required to assent to biblical inerrancy.

Father God, Creator of all things, lover of my soul, have mercy on me, a sinner. How I learn more and more each day of my inadequacy to discern truth by myself! I don't know whether it's because of pride or because for some other reason you've chosen not to reveal yourself to me, at least to the extent I would like. All I know is that I do not have full assurance of the truth, and I submit myself before you now, asking that you will somehow reveal the truth to me and give me confidence that it is indeed the truth.

The Bible seems so conditioned by the ideas of the times in which it was written and to me bears no evidence of divine authorship. Must I be eternally damned because I can't believe that Samson, under the influence of your Spirit, avenged himself on his personal enemies by killing 1, of them with the jawbone of a donkey?

Or because I see inconsistencies in the accounts and viewpoints of the biblical authors, such as whether Jehu was justified in killing the household of Ahab Kings or not Hosea? Or because I see many of the ethics of the Bible for example, polygamy, taking virgins as war captives and slaughtering the rest, and slavery as objectionable? Or because I see innumerable parallels between the myths of the Ancient Near East and those of the Bible, leading me to believe that they are in fact mere myths? Or that I can't see why you couldn't just forgive truly penitent people for their sins without requiring a blood sacrifice, just as humans forgive each other?

Or that I can't see any fundamental reason to choose Christianity over Islam except for evangelical Christianity's emphasis on a personal relationship with you but there are sects within Islam and other religions that do emphasize such a relationship? In short, it seems quite clear to me that Christianity is just another religion like the others, perhaps a little more advanced than others, but a human creation nonetheless.

Would it be wrong for me to seek the illumination of your Spirit and ask you to reveal to me the essentials of belief and practice so that I can live a life that pleases you? If that should entail leading me back to the Christian faith, then so be it! In fact, I would love to remain a part of the fold. But at this point it all seems so misguided.

If I am being led to the truth in leaving Christianity and accepting a simple theism, then it cannot certainly be because I am a person who is more pleasing in your sight than all other Christians who failed to grasp the insights you've given me. That would certainly be delusional. I am a selfish, lazy, proud and unloving person who finds it hard to improve. Perhaps it is precisely because of these faults and sins of mine that I am being prevented from seeing the truth of Christianity. But why am I so rare among Christians? Very few seem to struggle with their faith to the extent that I do, and yet it doesn't seem though I could be deluded that I am among the most sinful of Christians, if there even exists a scale of sinfulness among believers.

Perhaps you see my pride as more evil than the adultery committed by Christians who seem to have no trouble believing despite their ongoing sin. If so, then it is my pride that needs to be dealt with. God of all creation, who has the power to call the worlds into existence, I entreat you to use your power to excise my pride and to reveal to me my utter dependence on you.

I cannot plumb the depths of the motivations, desires and interests of my soul. It's so easy to deceive myself. Reveal to me where I err and spur me on to repentance and good deeds and right belief. Father, I do know two commandments that I have no inclination to question: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.

And I can agree with Micah, who enjoins us to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. Perhaps my job description at the moment should be to implement these in my own life, rather than trying to determine metaphysical truth through an intellectual pursuit. It is only those who obey who can believe, and those who believe obey. Help me to obey the light you have given me and to wait on you to reveal the truth to me.

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You have showered my life with such privilege and opportunity, and I have been so miserly with it, keeping most of it to myself. I am not an island; there are people around me with needs, even my own wife. May I not spend my time selfishly but seek to love, to pour out myself, to get up and do what I should do, even when I'd rather remain in bed. I have to face it, Lord: I'm lazy. Continue to reveal that to me until I've dealt with it sufficiently in my life.

I love you and am hopeful you'll lead me where you want me to go. I felt I could not in good conscience continue actively serving with Wycliffe while entertaining these persistent doubts about the Bible, so I wrote to our mission director in Niamey, and he suggested returning to the USA for counseling. During the week we were awaiting our airline tickets, I recorded my doubts in a document so my designated counselor would know the background of my struggles. I wrote the following on July 1, , in an e-mail message to many of our financial supporters and friends explaining our situation:.

Dear Friends, Most of you have received our April newsletter in which we mentioned that it was a difficult one to write. Unfortunately, this one is even more difficult. Though for a few weeks I had dealt with my doubts so that I could believe the Bible again after questioning its inspiration, I find myself doubting the Bible now more than ever. I cannot begin to communicate the inward struggle I feel. But we are encouraged by the many of you who have written saying you are praying for us. And I am comforted in my prayer times by God's presence.

My greatest prayer is that He will lead me to the truth and to a life that pleases Him. Two weeks ago in N'Guigmi we decided we could not continue business as usual. Everyone we contacted agreed it would be best to return to Dallas for counseling with a seasoned, well-respected leader in Wycliffe. If you are interested in reading the document and offering feedback, I would be glad to send it to you Keep in mind that it does not reflect Wycliffe doctrine, just my musings as a troubled seeker. We have not sold our belongings and hope to come back in a few months if my doubts can be resolved.

Charlene is taking it as well as can be expected, though of course it is not easy for her. Our marriage remains strong. We continue to depend on your prayers. We welcome your feedback, but do not be concerned if we do not respond to you until after we've settled in Dallas. It's a busy, difficult time. Over thirty individuals requested to read my document, entitled "Why I doubt the Bible.

The responses to my announcement and the document were mixed. A number of people assured us of their understanding and prayers, as in the following message:. Just one overall comment before I make individual comments, page by page. As I started out, I thought I would be able to comment on specific points fairly adequately. As I got further on and especially near the end, I grew more and more frustrated. At the end I didn't know whether you needed more love and sympathy and patience and a "handle with care" approach, or whether you needed a good kick in the pants!

Cyrus Gordon: Just what kind of outstanding evangelical was he? What was his theological outlook and his set of biases? Are YOU telling God what he can and cannot say thru his prophets? Really, just who do you think you are, telling God how to run his business? And what are his biases? Man, in this day and age, if you are looking for any sort of trash of any kind to feed your mind, you'll find it on the internet.

I don't determine my theology by looking at the internet. This has become absolutely ridiculous. Frankly, Ken, at this point you don't deserve loving help if this is where you are going to go to determine your outlook on Scripture. I mean it. So I say here, all right, if you want to sit in judgment on Scripture and listen to all the critics uncritically, instead of letting the record and its defenders speak, go ahead and do so, at your eternal risk. But I ask, is this a wise course? Again, read Proverbs After returning to Dallas, I began meeting with my designated counselor.

He was wise, charitable, gentle, and willing to listen. He admitted he did not have answers to all my concerns. Though I was ready to leave the mission, Wycliffe decided to grant me a three-month probationary period during which I was to limit myself exclusively to the reading of Christian books. At first I chafed at the thought, but I realized it would not be prudent to give up so quickly seven years of training and service with the mission, not to mention a lifetime of devotion to Christ, so I agreed to the conditions.

During the ensuing three months I read a number of apologetics books by authors like C. Lewis, Lee Strobel, and Greg Boyd. By two months into this period, I felt my faith had been substantially restored and was able to write the following to our supporters on September 11, Dear Friends, Thanks so much for your continued messages of encouragement and for your prayers. I've answered a number of your messages but am still working on the rest.

Your prayers have indeed been effective as I have traveled through the long, dark tunnel of deep doubt. Though many questions remain, I made the decision about three weeks ago to continue in the faith.