FAQs

Why isn't Good Friday called "Bad Friday"?

In Jesus, God enters fully into human life. In the death of Jesus on the cross, God shares our suffering and death. So we will know we are loved and never alone.

Why is Easter called "Easter"?

The word probably comes from "Eostre," the Saxon spring goddess. 

What do eggs have to do with Easter?

The egg is a pagan symbol of rebirth. In the Middle Ages people were not not allowed to eat eggs during Lent, so they began to bring eggs to church on Easter to have them blessed. 

What is sin?

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Sin is falling short of being the person we are meant to be and can become.

What is faith?

Faith is trust. Christian faith is trust in the love of God we know in Jesus Christ.

What is the promise of eternal life?

That the death of our physical existence on earth is not the end of our life within God’s creation.

Doesn't the Bible say all scripture is inspired?

Paul's letters and the gospels were not read as "scripture" in churches until the middle of the second century, and their status as scripture was only authorized in the 4th century. Moreover, scripture always requires interpretation. 


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The Bible says we are not supposed to judge, so how can you say that the Bible is not infallible?

The Bible does not use the word “infallible." It does use the phrase "word of God." The church for centuries has taken upon itself the responsibility of interpreting the word of God. Not long ago many Christians read the Bible to justify slavery, even as "God's word"! So, history shows how easy it is to read into the Bible our desires and temptations.  

Are you saying that the gospel authors lied about Jesus?

The authors of the four gospels of the New Testament are telling the truth as they understood it. Yet, they differ in their stories. 

If we suspect any one part of the Bible, does not the the whole become suspect?

God isn't the author of the Bible. God is the main character in the Bible. Understanding the word of God requires sorting out the testimony of the witnesses who wrote the Bible.

Doesn't the Bible say that the Sabbath is Saturday?

Scripture doesn't say the "seventh day" was “Saturday." Genesis and Exodus were written before the Greek and Roman Empires—abd thus before these calendars (and "Saturday") even existed.  

Wasn't the Bible written by the Holy Spirit?

In Galatians 2:9 Paul refers to James (the brother of Jesus), Cephas (Peter) and John as those "who were reputed to be pillars" (of the church). Is this sarcastic remark the "word of God" or "the words of God"? I think that these are only Paul's words. 

Isn't the word of God unchanging?

If God's holy word is unchanging, then Christians should keep all the commandments of the Jewish law that are in the Old Testament. The New Testament is a new interpretation of God's word, as presented in the Hebrew scriptures. Scripture is writing, and writing is human. Words have meaning to human minds. What could the word of God mean apart from human understanding of that word? 

Doesn't the Bible predict the end of the world shortly after the death of Jesus?

Statements attributed to Jesus (Mk. 13:30, Mt. 24:34, Lk. 21:32) about the world passing away in the life time of those listening to him were clearly mistaken. Were these the words of Jesus, or the author who wrote the gospels?  We cannot know, but we do know these predictions were wrong.

If the Bible isn't infallible, what proof do we have of salvation through Christ?

Paul's life was changed by an encounter with Christ. That is the "proof" he used to preach the gospel. There is no other evidence of the saving love of God in Christ other than the saving love of God in Christians with faith. 

How can there be inconsistencies in the Bible?

The Bible contains inconsistencies, because its books were written at different times for different communities of faith. In the New Testament, for instance, Jesus is reported in Mt. 5:17-20 as saying the (Jewish) law will apply until heaven and earth pass away. But Paul says in Romans 10:4 that "Christ is the end of the law." In the gospel of Mark the narrator says Jesus set aside the dietary laws of "scripture". (Mk. 7:19) The passages from Romans and the gospel of Mark are consistent with each other, but each differs from the gospel of Matthew.

Aren't the New Testament gospels biographies of Jesus?

The gospels in the New Testament are not biographies of Jesus, but narrative sermons that express the faith of the church in Jesus. The gospel of John reports that Jesus was arrested before Passover, but the other three gospels report that Jesus ate the Passover meal before he was arrested. The gospel of John places the cleansing of the temple at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, whereas the other three gospels place it at the end. For more examples, read the New Testament more carefully.

Why do you say there was conflict among the apostles?

Paul teaches that the risen Christ revealed to him it was no longer necessary for Jews to keep Jewish law in order to be faithful to God.  Moreover, he argued that it certainly was not required that Gentile converts be circumcised or keep kosher dietary rules.  The apostles in the church of Jerusalem, who were the disciples of Jesus before his crucifixion, do not agree with Paul. They do not cite teachings by Jesus in defense of their position, but they knew Jesus and apparently did not recall any teaching by him that would justify Paul's position.  Paul does not claim that the historical Jesus rejected the Jewish law, but only that the risen Christ revealed this "new covenant" to him. You can see this for yourself by reading Acts and the letters of Paul. 

Paul teaches as though he knows almost nothing of the life and ministry of Jesus, because he is converted by the risen Christ and not by Jesus of Nazareth. He affirms that Christ is Jesus of Nazareth, raised from the dead.  But it seems that the life and teachings of Jesus, an Aramaic-speaking Jew who taught primarily in the villages of Galilee, are of little help to him in preaching the gospel of the risen Christ to Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles in cities of the Roman Empire.  

All the apostles including Paul and the former disciples are preaching salvation through Christ, who was crucified and rose from the dead.  They agree that this is the good news.  But Paul does not agree with the former disciples of Jesus about the place of Jewish law in the life of the church.  Read Galatians 2 and then Acts 15. The author of Acts thinks the conflict was resolved during the life of Paul, but Paul's letters do not say that.  And Paul is arrested in Jerusalem because of his teachings about Jewish law.  For more details about this conflict please see the commentaries on Galatians 2 and Acts 15 on this web site. 

Didn't Protestants have good reasons for editing the Catholic Bible?

The Protestant Bible was created partly to protest against the Catholic Bible. Protestants decided that the canon of the Hebrew Bible agreed on by the rabbis about 100 CE should be the basis for translations of the Old Testament, which meant omitting some of the books of the Septuagint.  (The rabbis excluded from their canon some of the books of the Septuagint, because they felt these books were written after the time of God's revelation.)  But Paul and the other apostles to the Gentiles were reading the Septuagint as their "scripture." In fact, the Greek-speaking church, which came to dominate in the West, began with the Septuagint as its only scripture. The Christian Bible used for more than a thousand years by all Christians and still used by Catholics has books in it that were excluded from the Protestant Bible. This makes all talk about "the Bible" (which one?) as the literal, inerrant and infallible word of God seem rather silly.

What does it take for a person to get to heaven?

The Christian Bible uses the word "heaven" to refer to the place where God is. The New Testament proclaims that those with faith may enter the "kingdom of God," which the gospel of Matthew calls the "kingdom of heaven." What is faith? Not just having the beliefs that a church says are saving. In the New Testament faith is trusting in God by loving God and our neighbors, even when they become our enemies. Christian faith affirms that everyone is "with God" in life and after death, no matter how they live. Those who love God (and their neighbors) experience heaven every day. 

 Bob@rtraer.com © Robert Traer 2016