Things I Think…

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199 Responses

  1. Em says:

    Don’t want to hex these good observations by affirming them……
    God keep

  2. Captain Kevin says:

    Wow, did I need to read this!!!

  3. Linnea says:

    Thanks, Michael–a great exhortation for the new year that we all need to hear.

  4. Michael says:

    Linnea, CK, Em…thanks.
    I hope it’s helpful…

  5. bob1 says:

    Great stuff, Michael. I’m tracking.

    Especially number 5.

    It’s hard being a creature! We want to know a lot more than we can know.

  6. Dan from Georgia says:

    Very good wisdom and thoughts here Michael. Much appreciated!

  7. Michael says:

    Thanks bob1…thanks Dan…

  8. Em says:

    Just came from listening to some old hymns….. I think I feel sorry for seekers who only know how to listen to so called praise music
    “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”… ” Blessed Assurance”…. “My Jesus I Love Thee”…. And so on…. Levitating as I type… 😇
    But then I AM old…. LOL

  9. Linn says:

    Michael, thank you for the good word! I came to school today wondering about being in the giant Petri dish, but the kids have been great! The school is doing the best it can to mitigate the circumstances, and I know God has me here for a reason. I do love my students!

  10. Officerhoppy says:

    My wife is a teacher and she feels the same way too that her class room is a giant Petrie dish. We’re both vaccinated but apparently that is no assurance.

  11. Linn says:

    Officer Hoppy,

    We’re already in notice that we may go online if too many staff are out Ill. At least there is a backup plan.

  12. Dan from Georgia says:

    I was just using the same phrase about my workplace a few days ago…petri dish. Air is stale in my workplace and tends to kinda smell by midday.

  13. pslady says:

    Thank you for your 10 thoughts Michael. Really needed these this morning.

  14. Dave says:


    Wow – thanks for sharing what I think we all need to hear. Your words have me singing an old chorus from Lamentations 3:22-23

    The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 
    they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 

    Hear it at:


  15. Babylon's Dread says:

    I suspect…

    1. The demise of evangelicalism may be more of a bane than a blessing and its contribution to the health and well-being of America may exceed our recent memory.
    2. The apostasy that is currently underway is a repetitive history in our nation in the effort to cast off all restraint…thus to undo us more than we can bear
    3. The relative love affair between evangelicalism and nationalism may be a feature but is best treated as a bug.
    4. The current narrative about racism in America flies in the face of a deeper history in which evangelicalism was a friend though not without exception.
    5. And this is an ongoing concern with me that I shall continue to raise… the danger of the left is far more embedded and dangerous than that on the right and yet neither are the friend of the pure faith of Jesus that concerns us most deeply.

    Babylonian captivity is never far away… Dread

  16. Dread says:

    Of course I know the Things I Think … is not about this directly. Tangentially I think this is about loving our neighbor well… and I think it is all stated without contention or rancor.

  17. Duane Arnold says:

    1. “America”
    2. “our nation”
    3. “nationalism”
    4. “racism in America”
    5. “…the danger of the left is far more embedded and dangerous than that on the right”

    This is simply culture wars… again. At least when Luther spoke of the Babylonian captivity, it concerned the Church.

  18. Michael says:

    My position of the last few years has been to completely separate faith and country.

    My concern has been wholly about the church as I suspect that America is just another beast empire.

    I think both entities are in deep trouble and keeping them connected is a grave error.

    However…they are connected at the hip in the American psyche.

    How do we discuss this without rancor?

    Can we?

  19. Michael says:


    1. I think the patina of Christian morality has helped glue us together, but that patina had little to do with the Gospel…and in any case it has been exposed as civil religion and mainly discarded.

    2. The current apostasy is simply the growth of heresy that has always been at our core…

    3. Nationalism is the heresy that has always been at the core…

    4. You read different history books than I do…Frederick Douglass has a lot to say on this matter…

    5. Measuring the approximate risks of the left and right is like measuring the survival risks of two virulent cancers and declaring one better to have…

  20. Michael says:

    Having said all that…I’m wondering these days about whether I am too disconnected from politics to see the value of a free democratic Republic in potentially serving human flourishing…

  21. josh hamrick says:

    Governments only use religion to control people. “Christian morals” only mattered in so far as it made the people do what they wanted them to do. Never had anything to do with death to self, loving your neighbor, and certainly not loving God. I will continue to shout from the rooftops, I am glad that kind of religion is dying.

    Apostasy usually entails a falling away from the one true religion. This “apostasy” is people leaving the false behind. Maybe we should call it a revival instead.

    On the history of race and evangelicalism, I’ll simply present Richard Furman and rest my case.

    “Left and Right” are made up teams that we use to divide ourselves. Both terms are meaningless, simply gang colors with no conviction backing them. This should have been obvious to all when Donald Trump became the leader of the “right”.

  22. Michael says:

    “Maybe we should call it a revival instead.”

    Maybe the prelude to a new outpouring of the Spirit?


  23. josh hamrick says:

    Maybe this apostasy is the spirit of John the Baptist.

  24. Em says:

    Read Psalm 96 this morning…
    I think it speaks to the quandary the true Church is dealing with now.
    Sadly, too many, not of the Church, see no reaason to honor an unseen God.
    Time to sing, “How Great Thou art?”. Maybe….

  25. Em says:

    Hmmm….. “gang colors”. .. good observation as it seems to me – dunno – that we are living in a gang mentality now

  26. Dread says:


    It is not culture wars. It is theology in the context that I live. Were I European I would be talking about the strange death of the church in those nations and its relationship to their colonial history.

    I am raising issues of how the church, the American church, has lived within this nation and how it has been salt, light or wood hay and stubble.

    Luther was the beneficiary of secular powers in a unique way… and he did not reject it.

    Why can’t we have discussions of these things without you dismissing it in condescending ways? Why are you so allergic to conversations unless you set the parameters? We can do better. I am willing to be ignored and to ignore you as I have demonstrated. These issues I raise are significant.

  27. Michael says:


    Help me understand where you’re coming from.

    Why is this connection between church and state of importance today?

    Here is my perception…or maybe misperception.

    People have conflated the Gospel and political ethos…to the whole detriment of the church.

    If we are to recover the true church, this connection must be dissolved.

    Where am I wrong?

  28. Em says:

    A fear of God and the hereafter has vanished from the population/culture of the human race….
    Hard for me to grasp, but then I do see some things now from God’s perspective…..
    Yes, yes, yes pray for a Spiritual wake up

  29. Michael says:

    “A fear of God and the hereafter has vanished from the population/culture of the human race”

    I don’t remember a time when there was a fear of God…

  30. Em says:

    Michael, in my lifetime I have watched respect for Christianity turn to disgust for our Faith. It used to be that the best thing you could say about a person was that he/she was a good Christian…..
    Has the Faith been sullied by posers, not really of the Faith? I think so — dunno, but it seems that way…!
    God keep

  31. Dread says:


    I wrote about the church, the evangelical church.

    Number 5 could be tossed to another discussion but my writing was about Christianity … in our nation.

    I live here… the American dance of faith and nation is unique… it is also my milieu.

    Evangelicalism is being rejected and I think there is more peril than blessing for our common life in that outcome. I could be wrong.

    I also think the church behaves variously… it was evangelical faith that fathered abolition in America, it was the evangelical faith that fathered inoculation medicine in America, it is the revival of evangelical faith that has at least 4 times renewed our nation when we were in deep perils… see for an interesting survey…of the idea… authored by a Jewish scholar who found to his amazement that evangelicalism was central to the death of slavery in America

    As for church and state… I am basically a historic Baptist… I eschew state religion and I think I have been consistent on that over the years

  32. josh hamrick says:

    Dread, do you think the evangelicalism that gave rise to abolition is the same evangelicalism people are rejecting today?

  33. Michael says:

    “it was evangelical faith that fathered abolition in America, ”

    It was also evangelical faith that opposed abolition and kept fighting …maybe to this day…against racial equality.

    I think the death of evangelicalism has been overstated…it has taken on nationalism and populism as a host to a parasites and flourishes in the marriage.

    There are still many solid evangelical churches that have declined betrothal…

    I think it possible to be concerned over the future of both the country and the nation…but all empires die and the church will not.

    Conflating the two only defiles one.

  34. Babylon's Dread says:


    Good question… nothing is that static. Even in Edwards day it was not static. He was a slave holder but his sons participated in abolition. There was no need to abandon their faith but to amend their practice. Which they did

  35. josh hamrick says:

    Right. And I’ve already mentioned Furman. Evangelical ministers in the south were much more likely to use the bible to mandate slavery rather than to oppose it. When the law changed, the practice amended, but the heart did not, as seen OFFICIALLY all the way through the 1960s.
    So southerners (probably you included, definitely me) grew up with the kernel of evangelical truth but mired in the social religion that was really just hatred.
    What you are calling apostasy is probably people want to do away with everything that is false and rediscover that one tiny kernel of truth. For many of them, the kernel was never there, only the false hate religion. So yes, they are dumping the whole thing, and that is good.

    So in modern terms, you have a group of “christians” who are militantly against the covid vaccine, many even calling it the mark of the beast. I reject that evangelicalism, and I am happy if many more choose to do the same.

    Getting rid of the baloney that we have stapled to the truth of the Gospel is not a bad thing. Truth is not dying. It will not go away. Let the false perish. This frankenstein monster we call American Christianity has killed too many already.

  36. Dread says:


    Dispensational theology has fostered conspiratorial impulses. Ridding ourselves of the former will help.

  37. josh hamrick says:

    OK, there’s a start. So you are fine with some evangelicals going away. We’ll find more 🙂

  38. Dread says:


    University of Chicago Nobel laureate Robert W. Fogel, in his The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism … fostered the idea that evangelical christianity has always been in the vanguard of social renewal. He literally credited it with making slavery impossible to sustain.

    If his thesis is true then we want another impulse of evangelical fire to press us into greater egalitarianism.

    Renewal and advance of the kingdom is always my interest.

    There is also a thesis pressed forward by Joshua Mitchell of Georgetown that the current American Awakening is an antichrist (my word) awakening… thus the evangelical fervor without the evangelical gospel.

    I get in the weeds pretty quickly and I know I won’t be understood well by doing that.

  39. Michael says:


    I would have to read Vogel’s book…I know his book on the economics of slavery was not well received by some of my favorite historians.

    I would be interested in hearing Mitchell…because I think this is an anti-Christ awakening as well.

    Personally, I think the history of the American church since 1900 in regard to politics has been negligible in terms of biblical ethics and mostly a net negative in terms of actual results .

  40. Duane Arnold says:


    “Why are you so allergic to conversations unless you set the parameters?”

    No, I simply question the premise. If you wish to be a cultural historian, well and good. You say, however, that “I am raising issues of how the church, the American church, has lived within this nation and how it has been salt, light or wood hay and stubble.” Sorry, but I’ve not seen that. I have, however, seen you act as an apologist for a cultural evangelicalism that tends to align itself with one side of the political/cultural spectrum.

    For myself, I see the whole mix of faith, politics and culture to be a toxic brew…

  41. Em says:

    Faith, culture and politics a toxic brew? Hmmmm
    From what is described when our King [Jesus] reigns the day will come when they mix perfectly, but not now – under the Evil One’s influence, I guess.

  42. Linnea says:

    I do believe, as Christians, we need to be wholly aware of the political and national environment in which we operate if nothing more than to guide our prayer life.

    But, there is a battle going on now for the soul of this nation and the tendency is to throw the baby out with the bathwater, meaning to throw out the folks who don’t subscribe to the dominant paradigm.

    I don’t care what your position is on COVID vaccination, but the policy coming out of DC is totalitarianism, pure and simple. We have a divided nation and divided over what? A shot? Heck, we had more divisions before that– protestant denominations/non-denominations, racial divides, class divides, pro-pot/anti-pot divides, immigration divides, etc… Do we really need more divides? Is that the answer? Where can we find commonality and prevention from sinking into a tyrannical state which will restrain all forms of Christianity.

    Surely we can come to some points of agreement as Christians without sticking our heads in the sand.

  43. josh hamrick says:

    ” soul of this nation ”

    What is that?

  44. Dread says:

    “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.”‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭

  45. Linnea says:

    Josh…everything we have known to be true is being upended. Are we sure the new “truth” is truth? How about the old truth? When did it last change? Why did it change? How did it change? Nations go through “redistricting” regularly–why? A knowledge of history would be beneficial.

    When people start redefining definitions, watch out. It’s the way arguments are framed to benefit the arguer’s position. Words are being redefined. Mores are being redefined. Why? What’s the agenda? Are we to assume it is all beneficial? Isn’t it ok to question?

    One cannot dispute our nation’s checkered history. Who’s to say that those redefining definitions are right or wrong? Is that wholly dependent on one’s paradigm?

    Do we all weigh each and every verse in the Bible the same way? I suspect not. Do some verses support our understanding and others not? Research shows we tend to believe that which supports out own beliefs.

    It’s our job as Christians to not defend our position, but to dig in and ask the Lord what is His will. That’s the hard part. That’s where the word rightly divides. In my experience, it’s often painful, but we dare not turn from it.

  46. Em says:

    Lines @1:45
    “…the policy coming out of DC is totalitarianism, pure and simple.” AMEN
    I saw a cartoon depicting a worker hauling a slacker sitting in an essay chair. The caption had the slacker saying of the worker, “I don’t know what that guy is complaining about!”

  47. bob1 says:

    The reality for 1/6 insurrectionists and others?


    We’re a nation of laws — always have been, always will — and consequences await those who break them.

    Bobby Fuller sang it 55+ years ago.

  48. Michael says:

    I don’t think any kind of political unity is possible at this juncture.

    Just on this site we have wildly different ideas about the history and character of America…and different histories that we claim as truth.

    I have minimized theological differences here for the sake of unity around Christ…with differing measures of success.

  49. bob1 says:

    I agree.
    Agree to disagree.

  50. josh hamrick says:

    “everything we have known to be true is being upended.”

    Be specific. Which changing “truth” are you concerned about?

  51. Linnea says:

    Michael- I agree with your 4:03 pm. It’s a sad day that we can’t have a civil discourse as Christians.

    Josh- I’d prefer you give your definition of truth first. I’ve witnessed your MO before and it goes on, bit by bit, until you wear down your debate colleague and never really establish any common ground. Interested in establishing some common ground.

  52. josh hamrick says:

    Eh, nevermind. I was just trying to figure out what you were talking about.

  53. Michael says:


    Look at the language and you’ll see an impediment to civil discourse.

    What you describe as “totalitarian” is to someone else “necessary for public safety”

    There are legitimate arguments to be made on both sides…but the language barrier is real.

    I think both sides welcome tyranny…as long as they are the tyrants.

    Finally, there is a fundamental difference in how people understand what “America” means …and that is the unbridgeable gap.
    I will stick to theology…

  54. Dread says:

    What was uncivil here today?

    And how can you assert that theological language is unpolitical. It is not.

  55. Michael says:


    “And how can you assert that theological language is unpolitical.”

    In a general sense the declaration that Jesus is Lord is a political statement.

    To conflate that in any way with American politics is nonsense bordering on heresy.

  56. Dread says:

    To raise theological issues and relate them to the body politic in America is NOT heresy and to refuse to do it is it’s own form of denying the faith

    I sure as hell have not transgressed your standard here today

  57. Michael says:

    “I sure as hell have not transgressed your standard here today”

    I looked again…and I still can’t find where I said or even implied that you did.

    I have no idea what gets you so worked up…and I don’t see any theology to speak of on this thread…maybe because the right terrifies me as much as the left when I start thinking outside the kingdom…

  58. Michael says:

    I guess my political theology would be limited to believing that America is a beast empire and echoing an angel that told us to “come out of her’…

    To my knowledge becoming a beast is not reversible…

  59. Dread says:

    “To conflate that in any way with American politics is nonsense bordering on heresy.“

    I was addressing you when you responded with this

    That was pretty direct

  60. Dread says:

    @6:30 we can agree there

  61. Michael says:

    It is pretty direct and it was aimed right at the heart of anyone espousing Christian nationalism or the notion that this is somehow a Christian nation.

    If you hold to that, then continue in your offense and multiply it.

    Otherwise…it wasn’t directed at you.

  62. Dread says:

    You know well that I vehemently and articulately oppose Christian nationalism.

    But you plead for dialogue but none is wanted when attempted

    I attempted a dialogue about spiritual awakening and egalitarian progress – what was read into it was Christian nationalism.

    I can easily clarify myself and my tone was entreaty.

  63. Michael says:

    The church is a people in exile…aliens and sojourners.
    I guess exile is a political category too…but it means you are a separate nation within a nation…not a voting bloc.

    If we truly lived as kingdom people inside the nation we might make a difference…

  64. Dread says:

    We do make a difference.

    And we make a mess and we do it simultaneously.

  65. Michael says:

    “I attempted a dialogue about spiritual awakening and egalitarian progress – ”

    That is worth discussing…I haven’t had time to give it much thought or look at other sources…I brought the matter up when I was referencing a history class.

    My first thought is that the thesis is flawed…the after effects of the first Great Awakening was a “burned over” territory that is resistant to the Gospel to this day…I would have to be persuaded by history…

  66. Dread says:

    Well it’s a worthwhile discussion.

  67. Officerhoppy says:

    Does the sovereignty of God trump the scriptures?

    For instance, James 5.14-15 says “… Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up”

    This passage seems to be in the definitive, “he will( not may) make the sick person well. Can’t say that any of my prayers offered in faith, have have cured anyone except for a head ache or a common cold.

    So, God’s sovereign will, seems to trump even his word.

    Any thoughts?

  68. Michael says:


    For me, the question itself suggests an issue with ones view of the Scriptures and ones view of God.

    There are a number of Scriptures you can make the same argument over…and my best guess is that they were true at the time and place they were written, but not meant for universal application for all time.

    The question about the sovereignty of God suggests meticulous providence…and I’m not so sure that is how He works.

    In any case, the question is good and all the answers problematic to rigid interpretation…

  69. Michael says:


    For another perspective, Kate Bowlers “Everything Happens For a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved” is helpful…

  70. Michael says:

    “To finish this letter, then, with a call to prayer, though perhaps unexpected, is quite appropriate. Prayer must surround everything else that we do, whether sad or happy, suffering or cheerful. The Psalms are there, to this day, as the natural prayer book of Jesus’ followers (verse 13), even though many Christians today seem to ignore them altogether. Anointing with oil is there, to this day, as a very simple yet profound and effective sign of God’s longing to heal people. Like prayer itself, such an act is mysterious; yet, for those who take what James says seriously, it is full of meaning and power. And forgiveness is there, to this day, as the great open door, the fresh possibility, the chance of a new start, for all who will confess the sin which is dragging them down, and will join in prayer for healing.

    James seems, again like Jesus himself, to have seen a connection between sin and ill-health. Jesus warned (in John 9) against making too close a link, but at other times, for instance in Mark 2:1–12, it seems that forgiveness and healing went hand in hand. Maybe these are the two things which push to the fore when we take our stand in the place where prayer makes sense, at the place where heaven and earth overlap, and at the place where our own present time and God’s future time overlap.

    That is, after all, what Christian prayer, and for that matter Christian sacraments, are all about. Prayer isn’t just me calling out in the dark to a distant or unknown God. It means what it means and does what it does because God is, as James promised, very near to those who draw near to him. Heaven and earth meet when, in the spirit, someone calls on the name of the Lord. And it means what it means and does what it does because God’s new time has broken into the continuing time of this sad old world, so that the person praying stands with one foot in the place of trouble, sickness and sin and with the other foot in the place of healing, forgiveness and hope. Prayer then brings the latter to bear on the former.
    To understand all this may require some effort of the imagination. But once you’ve grasped it, prayer, like that puzzling musical instrument, can begin to play the tune it was designed to play. Suddenly it all makes sense.

    That is why James alerts us to the great example of prayer, the archetypal prophet Elijah. There are many lessons one might draw from the story in 1 Kings chapters 17 and 18, but we might not have grasped the point that James is making: that the drought which came as judgment on the people of Israel, and the rain which came when they returned to the Lord and abandoned their idols, all happened in the context of Elijah’s prayer. And prayer, of course, is not only a task for the ‘professionals’, the clergy and Christian leaders. Every Christian has not only the right but the vocation to engage in prayer like that, prayer for one another, prayer for the sick, prayer for the sinners, prayer for the nation and the world. If everyone who reads these words were to determine to devote half an hour every day to this task, the effect could be incalculable.

    As ever, James brings things right down to the practical level as he finishes. Once the lesson has been grasped, that in prayer the Christian stands at the overlap-point of heaven and earth, of the present and the future, there is pastoral work to be done. To see someone wandering off in a dangerous direction and do nothing about it is a tragic dereliction of duty. It may be hard to turn them back—they may insist that they are right and we are wrong!—but the effort must be made, precisely in the humility and patience which James has been urging all through. When that is done, a bit of heaven arrives on earth; a bit of God’s future becomes real in the present. New life and forgiveness are there in person.”

    Wright, T. (2011). Early Christian Letters for Everyone: James, Peter, John and Judah (pp. 41–43). SPCK; Westminster John Knox Press.

  71. Michael says:

    ‘But what about the healing that does not come? Have sins been unforgiven? Comparison with other New Testament texts reveals that in this life the Lord’s primary work is the forgiveness of sins. James, however, stated confidently that God will heal through the prayer of faith. He made no comment, however, about a prayer that does not result in healing. With a text like this interpreters ought not read into it any conclusions that are not explicitly stated.
    The straightforward teaching then is confidence in the efficacy of prayer. The result of prayer is always dependent on the will of God to heal in a particular case. Such healing points to resurrection and reconciliation with God and is never an end in itself. Healing then is a sign of the complete saving work of God: the demise of sin and death and the restoration of the body on the last day. Of course, not every believer receives the healing requested, and not every believer is healed in the same way as another. But all healing stimulates hope in the God who will one day remove all causes of sickness and death”

    Richardson, K. A. (1997). James (Vol. 36, p. 236). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

  72. Officerhoppy says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post the reference. Not to argue, but hopefully, to seek under understanding )which is why I ask questions) Richardson said. “ The result of prayer is always dependent on the will of God to heal in a particular case.”

    So James was incorrect when he said the prayer of faith will cause healing. And the answer to my question then, is God’s sovereign will does trump the scriptures.

    Wright said “ Anointing with oil is there, to this day, as a very simple yet profound and effective sign of God’s longing to heal people.”
    If oil is a sign of His desire to heal people, then why doesn’t he heal them? And why oil? I don’t think it has any more power than a symbol?

    He also said, “ for those who take what James says seriously, it is full of meaning and power.” I think I take Jame’s seriously. But my chances of winning the lottery are greater than seeing the power of God used to heal a person of a serious illness or injury…at least that’s been my experience.

    Again, I appreciate you taking the time and effort to post these. And I am not arguing for the sake of arguing. But much of Christianity is based upon symbol and not necessarily reality i.e anointing with oil, the Eucharist, etc. They are strong symbols but weak in actual power. Kinda like rock climbing. The rope, is my faith. But unless the rope is anchored to something substantial I’m gonna go splat.

    If I pray in faith for healing as James says, and the one I’m praying for isn’t healed, as it seems to say will happen, then is all that prayer accomplishes just nearness to God? What real help is that?

    Am I making any sense at all?

    Thanks for your patience

  73. Steve says:

    Officerhopper, this is from a different perspective so take it for what it’s worth.. I took this verse in James very seriously when I was sick but the elders refused to annoint me with oil since there was sin in my life at the time and I wasn’t a member of the church so they thought they didn’t have any responsibility to me and washed their hands clean from me. The back story is Calvary Chapel brain washed me in the non member member ideology and then going to a more traditional church this was a huge problem for me at first.. It’s kind of ironic because sin is the root cause ultimately of all disease and sickness not that I would come right out and say that with anyone that is sick. I still wish the elders would have annointed me oil and prayed over me because I believe that would have given glory to God but they assumed I was using the scriptures as a magic wand and oil as a potion.. I basically told them if you refuse to use oil than use water because I was baptized with water as a baby and you didn’t have a problem then. At this point I was basically accused of being a heretic and unbeliever. Ultimately God healed me though many years later and I strongly believe it has a lot to do with faith that God gave me to even ask the elders to pray over me anointing me with oil siting this verse in James. Of course the elders didn’t have faith but I did. I believe this verse and our experiences shows you that there is a crisis in our churches. There is so much sin clouding the truth of God’s word. Very few that call themselves elders I feel are even biblically qualified to be elders. There is also very little love in churches today. This is not Gods fault. His sovereignty doesn’t trump his word in my opinion. It’s our unbelieving calous hearts and unrepentant sin and ultimately lack of love for the brethren that is everywhere that is trumping everything.

  74. josh hamrick says:

    Hoppy is asking a good question there. If we are to take a more literal view of the bible, then we have to formulate a reason to explain why the oil and prayers are ineffective. I’ve followed the formula many times and never seen a healing that couldn’t be explained in natural terms. I have seen many of them get worse and die. I would garner to guess that the efficacy rate of anointing with oil is exactly the same as the recovery rate of those not anointed with oil.
    Thus, I have to do some dance to allow James to still be inerrant, even though what he prescribed clearly isn’t working.

  75. Linnea says:

    Ok, I’ve slept on this and owe Josh an apology. Please forgive me for being accusative of you. That wasn’t necessary and I apologize.

    Michael- you are correct in pointing out my use of language. I’m disgusted by what I see around me (not PP, but overall).

    I’ve arrived at my conclusions because I engage with the culture around me via work, via church, and via primary research. For example, I examine raw data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS):, which shows, among other things, a higher adverse event rate (up to and including death) for the COVID vaccines when compared with other vaccines over the last 21 years. Other vaccines were stopped when 9 or fewer people died. According to VAERS, which most agree under-reports adverse events by 80-90% (the system is famously difficult for health care professionals to use, which costs hospitals time and money, and reporting of adverse events is not required), as of Dec. 31, 2021, in the US 9623 deaths are directly attributable to one of the 3 vaccines available. There have ben 709,084 adverse reactions, 10,952 of which are life threatening. There have been 45,960 hospitalizations and 11, 255 permanent disabilities. This data comes from this website:

    Look, I had COVID, and I have several co-morbidities. It was 14 days of illness, high fevers, and a temporary loss of taste and smell. But, God prevailed and I survived, I quarantined, and amazingly, except for 1 day, worked from home the entire time.

    I bring up this topic because you won’t get that story from public officials or from television news, but only from primary research or direct observation. Most of us are ill-informed at best on a variety of topics and don’t take the time to examine what’s happening in the world around us. I realize it takes time to do that, but it’s important that someone does. We tend to make cursory observations but don’t delve deeply into what drives the effects we observe.

    Michael, I know you’ve delved into immigration policy and have become passionate about that topic. There are so many more policy areas that should be researched because we’re not getting the whole story.

    Now, what does that have to do with my Christian faith? Well, it informs me of what to pray about. Because I love the people around me, I try my best to help them prepare for or respond to things I saw coming. The same holds true in sharing the gospel with those around me. If I have the ability to influence policy, I will. While we are citizens of heaven, we do spend some time on this earth, and we have different ways of expressing love to others. I think God created us this way because He loves us.

  76. Steve says:

    Josh, could the problem be us and not the Word of God? I’m convinced the church in America is so saturated with sin, that of course we come to the conclusion that the Word doesnt work. First, the Word is not an incantation but rather is a sword that is living and active and judges the intentions of the heart. If it can’t do this, it certainly won’t be able to physically heal. But Jesus is the ultimate doctor and he said what is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or to get up and walk? It can be trusted when appropriately interpreted and applied. We seem to do neither.

  77. josh hamrick says:

    I mean, yeah, that is the explanation I would give for why it doesn’t work. But I am still having to give an explanation because it doesn’t work.

  78. Steve says:

    Josh, but it does work. I don’t try to defend God’s word like it needs me to defend it. It stands on its own. Putting the anointing with oil by elders aside I have the same concern with how church discipline is applied always quoting the Matthew 18 process. This process has been so perverted by American thought and American jurisprudence and other factors that I scarcely know where to start. I’ve come to the conclusion to start with ourselves and pull the plank out of our own eye. I have to admit, I’ve never seen church discipline done right even one time in church.

  79. josh hamrick says:

    Maybe it works. The dozens of times I’ve been involved, there has been no miraculous healing. My experience has not matched the plain meaning of what is said in James.

    I don’t think Matthew 18 is talking about church discipline. It is a good guide for settling disputes with anyone in any organization, but couldn’t possibly have been intended to apply to New Testament churches for the first people who heard it.

  80. josh hamrick says:

    But I don’t want to shake anyone’s faith. Just processing my experience, and admittedly, my journey is a bit off the rails.

  81. Michael says:

    The reality is that it usually doesn’t work, which leaves us either having to question “inerrancy” or finding a way to weasel explanations that explain the failure in other ways.

    Richardson is using the prevailing method, which is to say that the people prayed for are saved by the praying and will be healed eventually.

    God does heal at times…but not always the way he did for James.

  82. Michael says:

    If you look at the early creeds and confessions…there is no mention of anything approximating inerrancy…

  83. LInn says:

    Great explanation. Thank you!
    We always have the opportunity to pray for healing. James 5 does address illness that is directly caused by sin, but I have never seen a blanket promise in Scripture to heal all illness on this earth. Otherwise, we would never die! But, in heaven, there will be no illness (I’ll be the one playing with the cats without a walker 🙂 ). My kitty who passed two years ago used to ride around the house on my walker. Current kitty does not do that yet.

  84. Michael says:


    I would caution you that anyone can post anything to VAERS.

    I will be posting there myself.

    Having said that, the pandemic has been terribly mishandled at every level…but not necessarily for evil reasons.
    I think the motivations were good in the beginning…I hope.

  85. Michael says:

    “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”

    (James 5:13–18 ESV)

  86. Michael says:

    If you take James literally, people will not only get healed, but be able to have the power of Elijah.

    I no longer take James literally…

  87. Steve says:

    Michael, I take it literally. But I also have no expectations for God to do as I please and have never met a righteous man on the par of Elijah. Again, could this be because there is so much sin inside the American church today, that we are experiencing the very impotence we aspire to?

  88. Michael says:


    Your assumption is that the people in James time were holier than the current church.
    Read 1st Corinthians and get back to me.

  89. Chris Long says:

    “I no longer take James literally…”

    We’ve all probably either said or been tempted to say things like this about some Scripture or another, BUT If my understandings cause me to even question whether direct and very clear Scripture is meant to be taken as such, then perhaps it is wise to assume that my understandings may be at fault, not the Scripture. The second one starts explaining away clear NT Scripture because it doesn’t fit with their personal experience or idealogy, that should be a sign…

  90. Everstudy says:

    “I’ve followed the formula many times and never seen a healing that couldn’t be explained in natural terms.”

    I have once.

    I used to work at a grocery store, and one Friday night threw my back out so bad that it seized up noticeably enough to scare the assistant manager. She sent me to the ER where all they did was give me Motrin, and gave me the next day off after filling out some paperwork. Sunday morning came and I was still in pain and still couldn’t stand straight. After the Sunday morning service, I grabbed the assistant pastor, Doug, and asked him to anoint me with oil and to pray for me. He was a little surprised that I asked him, but was super excited at the same time. He put a little oil on my forehead, and as he prayed, I could literally feel my back loosening up, and by the time Doug said ‘Amen’, I was standing straight and pain free. I went to work that afternoon, and was initially assigned light duty, but after a half hour was doing my normal job. Totally freaked out my manager who was blown away when I told her what happened.

  91. Steve says:

    Michael, why were so many getting sick in 1st Corinthians? Did it have anything to do with discerning the body of Christ? How Many churches today discern the body of Christ? I would say almost 99% did communion virtually during the pandemic. That should tell you something of where we have gone off the rails. This would be unthinkable in James time. Would it not be better to not have any communion at all than to abuse it this way?

  92. Michael says:

    Chris Long,

    You have put Scripture…which at best is a translation of a translation…in the place of God.
    My experience is the experience of anyone honest who has ever pastored a church…that verse is simply not a universal promise…or God is a liar.
    He’s not…

  93. Michael says:


    People in the time of James were sinners just like us.

    People who receive communion properly still get sick, get prayed for, and die.

    Sometimes…they get healed.

    Only God knows why…

  94. Michael says:


    I once had a man request prayer for his grandma who had been rushed to the hospital with a heart attack.

    He went on to tell me that she was in her mid 70’s, over 400 pounds, and had a plethora of co-morbidities.

    I prayed with him believing she’d be dead by the amen…

    She fully and miraculously recovered.

    In the meantime, my fervent prayers for a mentally ill family member have gone without answer for almost twenty years and my mom is dying of dementia.

    God is good…and we keep praying.

  95. Duane Arnold says:

    “My experience is the experience of anyone honest who has ever pastored a church…”

    After 50 years in ministry, I can merely affirm this… there is no rhyme or reason.

  96. Chris Long says:

    Michael, as you know, I take issue with your entire underlying premise. I understand it and sympathize with how one gets to that position, I just don’t agree with it at all. I wrestled with all those same thoughts and questions when I was dying and I am 100% positive that were it not for the things God showed me in this area, I would be dead multiple times over. I’m convinced the reason the Church doesn’t see much more of what the Bible says is precisely because much of this stuff has been taught wrong or explained away or glossed over in most churches and there’s very little faith in this area. I absolutely will take the Scripture over experience and if I didn’t I wouldn’t be here now. When I was sick and dying, I was hard pressed to find ANY church in my area of thousands of churches that actually practiced James’ instructions here the way it is actually taught. I can get dunked and fried in oil and take all the communion in the world, but if I’m doing that in doubt (“maybe this will work if it’s God’s will” is a place of double-minded doubt, not faith) then I probably shouldn’t expect much. The issue is faith and we’ve all been taught to doubt including by the church – largely because of experiences we have seen or experienced ourselves. By the way, I address that James passage in Chapter 11 of my book and chapters 3-6 & 9-11 specifically address a lot of this and is largely why I felt God had for me to write it. This “Only God knows why” stuff is a cop-out to maintain sanity because we don’t understand how things could be as they could be and Scripture be true. I do not believe God is NEARLY as mysterious in these things as many make Him out to be…

  97. Michael says:

    Chris Long,

    Your personal experience doesn’t validate your position anymore than mine does.

    The idea that a lack of faith is to blame for continuous sickness or death is a heinous lie from the pit of hell that has been used to terrorize sick believers since the early 1900’s.

    I have physically removed “clergy” from hospital rooms who spewed that garbage to a sick person…

  98. josh hamrick says:

    I refuse to heap guilt on a dying person by telling them the lack of healing is beacuse they don’t have enough faith. That’s abusive.

  99. Steve says:

    Michael, I only mentioned communion because it was a big theme in 1 Corinthians that you asked me to read. It was pretty clear from the scripture this is why many were sick to begin with. I think the problem is even bigger today. I think it’s good advice for those stuck in quarantine at home to not take communion over zoom which is extremely prevalent. I think another theme in 1st Corinthians was the sin of sexual immorality. It’s hard for me to compare, but again I would say many modern churches take the cake in regards to celebrating their sin to a level the Corinthians wouldn’t even recognize. Could this also explain the impotence we see today? And finally my favorite is all the abuse that is so well documented on this site, is also an indicator that our love of the brethren has gone cold. In fact, the accumulation of your work in documenting abuse in the church to me is the most compelling. I don’t see this kind of abuse anywhere in the NT. So yes, it does seem like the level of sin has gotten worse.. Now of course there are lots of other scriptures to consider. One differentiation between the early church and the modern church is that we have no apostles like Paul living. The entire new apostolic reformation movement is built of lies and has caused many to stumble. Again, this is another example of rampant sin. I can go on and on but I don’t see the church becoming more Holy, I see the opposite.

  100. josh hamrick says:

    Michael and I posted our disgust at the same time 🙂

  101. Xenia says:

    If it depended on the sick person mustering up enough faith on their faith-o-meter, then it’s them doing the healing and not the Lord.

  102. Officerhoppy says:

    Guys and Gals
    This is a great discussion…at least for me. I process things thru dialogue…and maybe you do too.

    Our brother Chris said, “BUT If my understandings cause me to even question whether direct and very clear Scripture is meant to be taken as such, then perhaps it is wise to assume that my understandings may be at fault, not the Scripture.“

    Thanks for that Chris. But God chose to communicate with words and words have meaning. And I think the meaning of James 5 is clear: the sick will recover. So if our understanding of the passage is incorrect, then God must have done a poor job of communicating.

    The only caveat to that would be that what was inspired is not the Bible we read today. The original autographs were what was inspired. What we read is a translation of the original (and we don’t even have those).So the problem could be in the translation of James 5. But is the James passage is mistranslate, can we rely on any of scripture? Now I don’t want to shake anyone’s faith either.But this is how my mind works. Jung t thinking it thru.

    Dr. Duane you said, “ After 50 years in ministry, I can merely affirm this… there is no rhyme or reason.”—I agree. My question to you is as a scholar and a pastor, you’re ok with that? Serious question from another pastor who, like you, seeks truth.

  103. Officerhoppy says:


  104. Xenia says:

    I wouldn’t just narrow in on healing miracles being somewhat absent today. We don’t have many of the signs and wonders of the very early church: tongues are very rare, no one gets raised from the dead too often, “prophecies” are common but mostly bogus, etc. These miracles do occasionally happen and it’s not wrong to pray for healings, etc. But God knows the Plan, and this is where He put us in the timeline of Christian history, so I just go with it.

  105. Michael says:

    I don’t believe in inerrancy…I believe in Jesus.

    The Bible is a wonderful meta-narrative of the work of God…but how and if it’s “inspired” is beyond my pay grade…

  106. Michael says:

    God doesn’t just communicate through words…

  107. Xenia says:

    I am just not a very deep thinker. I just look around and think “Oh well, this is just how things are now” and scarcely give it another thought.

  108. Chris Long says:


    To deny that faith has to do with healing (or lack of faith as a cause or factor in sickness or death) is to deny a whole bunch of the NT including a whole lot of what Jesus said and did… I have seen abuses where people are so “faith heavy” that they are heartless and and compassionless in their approach with people and I’ve experienced that and it makes me angry and I would never support that. But faith absolutely is a key component… And most of the church Body doesn’t have much faith in this area…

    I’ve been here at PP for over 12 years and I’ve seen the evolution questioning through a lot of things to embracing more and more this “mystery God” concept and this theology of suffering, I believe as more and more you’ve been beaten down by life and experiences. I totally understand that and sympathize with it and think most of the Body agrees with you, but my Bible teaches me that I can absolutely know God through Jesus and it teaches me that Jesus came to bring me abundant life and that Jesus is IN me and I’m IN Him and I’m actually seated with Christ in the heavenlies right now. I used to be in the other camp and it was a gloomy and defeatist place where we all just had to take the beatdowns of life and hobble along trying to make it to Heaven… I reached a place where I was sick of hobbling and God started revealing truths I had managed to gloss over for years or had outright taught wrong to me for years. The Christian life is supposed to be one of victory and abundance and life in every respect, not being under sin and sickness and all that. Persecution is a different matter – if we’re doing Christianity right, we’ll be persecuted, but that’s a different notion then one thinking that they have cancer because God wants to teach them something and the like. The devil has duped the Body good and even gotten most Christians to blame God (or ascribe to God) that which is not God at all… If I think God is just a God of mystery and maybe He’ll heal if he wants to or maybe He won’t if He doesn’t want to, then I’m going to be very passive and not operating with any sense of my true identity as One that has the dead-raising power of God dwelling within me and seated in the place of authority and power at God’s right hand…

    Probably about all I can say on this front in this forum here. I’ve resisted saying such here for years because it really takes much more than just a few blurbs on a website to convince one of any of this. It took me quite some time of really intense studying all this stuff and God revealing things to me before I was able to shift my position, so I don’t expect I’m changing any positions with what I’ve written above. (that is however why I wrote the book though to systematically make some of this case in a much more methodical Scriptural way). Anyway, Blessings to you and all here! I’ll leave it here. 🙂

  109. Officerhoppy says:

    You said, “ I don’t believe in inerrancy…I believe in Jesus.”

    You given me some very good things to think about in previous posts but, respectfully, I have to challenge that statement.

    Isn’t that circular reasoning? The Jesus you and I both worship is an historical figure to be sure. But his resurrection and purpose for giving his life, his teaching etc. is all explained in the Bible.

    I’ve said this before and my next statement is by no means a direct challenge to you but for the entire church—if not the Jesus of the Bible, which one do we believe in? The one of our own making? In the beginning did man simply make God after his own image?

    Secondly, if not thru words, how else does God communicate clearly and accurately to people?

  110. Michael says:

    “The Christian life is supposed to be one of victory and abundance and life in every respect, not being under sin and sickness and all that. ‘

    Scripture, history, and tradition disagree.

  111. Nathan Priddis says:

    Michael said.. “If you look at the early creeds and confessions…there is no mention of anything approximating inerrancy…”

    This is what I kept harping on in the past. Inerrancy was fraudulently created in the latter 1800’s- early 1900’s. I don’t believe the word Inerrancy appears in the English language prior to the 1830’s. It’s a trick.

  112. Michael says:


    I don’t mind being challenged.
    Neither do I have all the answers.

    I think the narrative of the Bible concerning creation, sin, fall, and re-creation through Christ is absolutely true.
    The book of James does not have to be accurate for today in every place to make that so…nor do I have to reject the Scriptures as a whole or holy because of differences in doctrine or interpretation.

    I think the Jesus of the Bible is the real Jesus…and there is great clarity given in Scripture about Him and His mission.

    I do not have a “doctrine of Scripture” that I can articulate today in airtight fashion…nor does that bother me much.

    I do have more faith in Jesus than I’ve ever had…He is the only person that makes life here make sense.

  113. bob1 says:

    Lots of false characterizations here.

    So, I guess if a believer comes down with cancer, well, God is unable to utilize that affliction for His glory, huh?

    “The Christian life is supposed to be one of victory and abundance and life in every respect, not being under sin and sickness and all that”

    Tell that to the beloved apostle Paul — just one example. Tell that to the beloved Joni Eareckson Tada — or has she been lacking in faith all these years? Please.

    “I used to be in the other camp and it was a gloomy and defeatist place where we all just had to take the beatdowns of life and hobble along trying to make it to Heaven.”

    Another caricature.

    I could go on, but I won’t.

    For someone who says we need to follow Scripture alone, it seems to me that you’ve shoehorned your personal experience into the equivalent of Scripture.

  114. Duane Arnold says:


    “My question to you is as a scholar and a pastor, you’re ok with that?”

    Simple answer, Yes. God is God, and it’s above my pay grade to know the “why” or “why not”. The Bible is not a collection of magic formulae…

  115. Michael says:

    Inerrancy was created as a certain response to uncertain times and competing worldviews to Christianity.

    It was highly effective in calming the stress of believers worried about a changing world and different ideas.

    There will always be mystery in the faith…but to embrace it you have to loosen your grip on certainty…

  116. Chris Long says:

    Xenia “We don’t have many of the signs and wonders of the very early church:”

    This is true in most churches, but not all…. I don’t believe this is because it is supposed to be this way, I believe it is because it just is this way due to tradition and faith issues. If a Body doesn’t have faith to see these things or actively teaches against them (i.e. the power gifts went away with the Apostles), they probably won’t see them much in their midst.

    I attend a church that does believe and flow in the gifts of the Spirit and we see miracles and healings all the time… I’ve personally myself seen an arm and a leg grow out before my eyes, blind eye opened, hearing restored, and just recently had a woman paralyzed on one side start moving her leg after praying over her and using my authority (another entirely mistaught and misunderstood topic in most of the Body) to command such.

    We also regularly flow in words of knowledge, wisdom, prophecy, and the bulk of our church (myself included) speak in tongues.

    Just last night our youth group (the teens) were giving words of knowledge and sharing visions from the Lord and it was awesome and encouraging!

    And all that I just said will be criticized or questioned by 95% of the American Church and based on my reading here over the years, probably most everyone that posts here…

    Anyway, I’ve gotta run, but blessings to all! 🙂

  117. Xenia says:

    I remember the days when I would get shaky if I found a verse that I couldn’t reconcile with another verse. For me, and many like me, the Bible was a big puzzle and every piece had to fit perfectly or else I would begin to fret that maybe the Bible isn’t inerrant or else all the pieces would fit perfectly. I had been taught the first 50 years of my life that if you had the right theology, the right system, all the pieces would fit perfectly and if you doubted this, you didn’t believe the Bible and were therefore not a genuine Christian and it’s Hell and damnation for you, sister.

    This way of thinking has caused many people’s faith to shipwreck, and it puts God above His Scriptures, which is bibliolatry. It results in the horrible spectacle of people like James White on Twitter faulting damning people for some intricacy of Scripture interpretation that is utterly irrelevant to living one’s life in Christ.

    I believe the Bible is true. I personally believe the Orthodox Church’s explanation makes the most sense. As I said, I am not a deep thinker.

  118. Xenia says:

    I’ve personally myself seen an arm and a leg grow out before my eyes, blind eye opened, hearing restored, and just recently had a woman paralyzed on one side start moving her leg <<<

    If all this really happened, all I can say is Glory to God!

  119. Officerhoppy says:

    Good words.

    While my faith may not have shipwrecked, I am navigating some pretty stormy watchers…for the same reasons you mentioned. My confidence in God is wavering…just being honest.

    As i said before so much of christianity is based on symbol, metaphor and types. If not the scriptures what is the foundation of my faith?

    I dunno.

  120. josh hamrick says:

    The “arm and leg growth miracle” is a very simple trick of perspective. Anytime you see this act, run far away. Its a con. Chris, I’m sorry you’ve been taken in by this. At some point you, or someone you love, will actually get sick and tugging on your arm or ankle won’t help a bit. At that point, your faith will be shaken, and I hate you’ll have to go through that. What you are peddling is 100% baloney. I don’t blame you. I see that you have been deceived.

  121. Xenia says:

    I remember hearing sermons where the pastor comes upon a verse that seemed to contradict another verse, or maybe contradicted the church’s system of theology, and the tortuous attempts the poor pastor, using Greek dictionaries, made in an attempt to make it all fit.

  122. Michael says:

    “If not the scriptures what is the foundation of my faith?”

    Christ and Him crucified.

    That’s why in my tradition, the Eucharist is the center of worship, not the sermon…

  123. Officerhoppy says:

    You’ve found a home in the Orthodox Church. I guess that’s good. But to me, and I hope you hear my tone, when it comes to Christianity, rather than shop for a view that fits, it seems to me that one size should fit akk.

    I know my ideology is not very realistic but it’s kinda what I think. There’s too much at stake.

    Working thru it.

  124. Michael says:


    If you’ve raised kids, you know that one size does not fit all…except in general terms.

    Xenia has found her home, I’ve found mine…and you are on a highly personal journey of discovery that will not look like ours except in broad contours.

  125. Em says:

    We are using star link and it has a warmer in the dish, but can t keep up with what we being inundated with now. Hence no TV
    I will try to lurk here reading these interesting threads without pontificating….. just read….
    God keep

  126. Em says:

    Officerhoppy, amen
    My thoughts, too

  127. Officerhoppy says:


  128. Nathan Priddis says:

    I have seen one ( a number less then two ) situations where a person was healed. It contradicted everything taught in healing doctrines.

    A second situation involved a jobsite accident where a person should have been injured or killed. The foreman took the individual to a doctor, but he had no signs of serious injury. Again, a contradiction.

    BTW. The accident occurred when the employee fell off a bulkhead due to beer bonging White Port the previous evening. Yes he was hung over, but likely suffering effects of alcohol poisoning when he lost his balance. I saw him injured, but he suffered no signs of injury other then pain of impact. Something odd happened that morning.

  129. Dread says:

    Sat this one out

  130. Steve says:

    If you look at the early creeds and confessions…there is no mention of anything approximating inerrancy.

    Michael, this is fascinating to me. We follow the Westminster confession and I thought for sure it makes a strong case for innerancy. The confession itself elevates the Word above the confession. Why would any confession be of much use if it puts itself above the scripture? Surely the confessions can not claim innerency.

  131. Michael says:


    Westminster was written 1300 years after the early creeds and confessions of the church…

  132. josh hamrick says:

    Westminster is 1646. That ain’t early.

  133. josh hamrick says:

    Again, Michael and I crossed streams. He always gets to it first. I think he’s cheating with his mod privileges to make me look like I’m copying him 🙂

  134. Michael says:

    I should just start letting you handle this stuff and rest… 🙂

  135. josh hamrick says:

    I’m not usually as kind to your guests as you would be. Keep beating me to the punch. It gives me confidence when I see we are on the same page 🙂

  136. Steve says:

    Thanks Michael and Josh. I know the creeds are early but what confessions are you referring to that are early?

  137. Michael says:

    Apostles, Nicene Chalcedon, Athanasian…

  138. Nathan Priddis says:

    Innerency contradicts the Westminster Confession, by a mile.

  139. josh hamrick says:

    I don’t think so. While Westminister doesn’t rise to the level of the 1978 Chicago Statement, it presents a very high view of Scripture, inspiration, and something quite similar to the modern doctrine of innerancy on the oriignal manuscripts.

  140. Nathan Priddis says:

    Josh. It ( Innerency ) is a bait and switch.
    Look closely at WC ch. 1 par. 8-10.

    8. ..”..The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God,..”..


    ..”and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; “..

    At this point the WC discusses the need to translate the Word of God into the vulgar language of all nations. But at no time is such translation surrendered by God to the authority of man.

    Innerency denies the continuance of the Scriptures. This is due to the Scriptures being Innerent in the original autographs, and original only.

    Westminster? The Word is authentical and kept God.

    How does God keep his Word pure?

    par. 10. None other than the work of the Holy Spirit.

    The closest word to Innerent in the WC, is par.9. “Infallible”. However, this paragraph is not in reference to the Scripures themselves, but rather a restatement of Agustine’s rule of interpretation. That which is less plain, is to be interpreted that which is more.

    As I mentioned before, I don’t believe Innerency occurs in the English language for several hundred more years.

  141. josh hamrick says:

    Maybe the word inerrancy, but yeah, Westminister is fairly similar to Chicago in meaning.

  142. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    I was just reading Crawford Gribben on how fans of Westminster Confession tend to ignore how much it fudged on eschatology to avoid committing firmly to millennarian schemas on the one hand and, on the other, how vividly informed it was by the political revolutionary contexts within which different groups of churches and theological thinkers were attempting to navigate common grounds–i.e. I’m still working through Gribben’s updated edition of The Puritan Millennium.

  143. Dread says:

    Nice story about Charlie… no one here will be moved much by it.

    The Chicago Statement has always intrigued me 19 affirmations and denials and 25 hermeneutical qualifications. In debate that’s called death by a thousand cuts.

    Authority is not inerrancy. Authority is the presence of God by the Spirit. “This man speaks with authority not like our teachers …”

    Inerrancy has driven more away than it’s kept. Doesn’t matter.

    When we read the text our hearts burn…

    When we set out to prove the details our hearts fail.

    Jesus himself is the reason … he’s every reason… his life keeps us

  144. josh hamrick says:

    Uggghhhh, I HATE what Sproul did there. He took his pet doctrine and made it equal to Jesus himself. That kind of guilt trip is useless.

    That said, I can still affirm the Chicago statement, but like Dread said, it has a lot of built in qualifications. People like the word “Inerrancy” but haven’t really though much about what it means as a doctrine.

    “When we set out to prove the details our hearts fail.”
    Man, that rings true to me. I was thinking about that recently with the Ken Ham types in regard to creation. If you just take the words on the page on Genesis 1, it is beautiful, true, and says what needed to be said. But when you start adding to it by insisting that your understanding of it is the only valid understanding, and you can “scientifically” prove it, it just kills the whole thing. I end up siding with the scripture-deniers in those arguments.

  145. Steve says:

    Josh,. The creation account is so simple that children get it no problem. The only reason folks like Ken Ham have a platform is the very fact that folks are trying to harmonize science with the bible in particular with evolution. (I.e. biologos). I’ll take Ken Ham over Francis Collins any day.

  146. Michael says:


    The creation narrative has been debated for decades…it’s simple, but not the way you think…

  147. Em says:

    Creation Research has contributed much to understanding this subject, I think.
    Of course there is an orderly progression – our God is not the author of confusion….
    Seeing an orderly progression does not preclude a seven day creation…. IMHO. 😇

  148. Nathan Priddis says:

    “Uggghhhh, I HATE what Sproul did there. He took his pet doctrine and made it equal to Jesus himself. That kind of guilt trip is useless.”..

    I didn’t even reach the bottom of the article and Sproul’s position was obvious.
    Inerrancy is not the determining factor of salvation, but it is.

    Some years back, CSN Radio carried a Sunday program that once mentioned dinos on the ark. Ark dinos where not a doctrine essential to salvation, he assured us. But…questioning ark dinos would deny the perfect authority of Scripture. In this situation, the surety of the Virgin Birth, was undermined. Rejection of dinos riding the waves, was a rejection of all later doctrines, due to chronological progression of revelation.

    Dinos therefore where an element necessary for salvation.

  149. Em says:

    Could the dinosaurs have been a pre Garden of Eden Satanic creation??? Just a ponder….

  150. Nathan Priddis says:

    What is the separation of Light from Darkness referring to? How can light be separated? What examples of separation can be seen today?

  151. Steve says:

    Nathan,. I read this like my 5 year old daughter. Light is referring to the day, dark is the night. How they became distinct in creation, honestly I never pondered before but this is exactly what I observe today a day with light and a night with darkness.

  152. Steve says:

    Could the dinosaurs have been a pre Garden of Eden Satanic creation??? Just a ponder….”

    Em, the short answer if you trust the bible is NO. Check out Colossians 1:16. All things were created by Him and For Him. Satan has no power to create anything.

  153. Steve says:

    Speaking of dinosaurs, I’m convinced Job writes about them. They are obviously pretty impressive creatures he describes with Behemoth and Leviathan.

  154. Em says:

    Thank you, Steve, for your answer…..
    I’ll have to go back and find the why of Satan’s statement that he could be like the most high God…..

  155. josh hamrick says:

    If I had to listen to Ken Ham it would kill my faith.

  156. Steve says:

    Josh,. If I had to listen to Francis Collins, it would kill my faith. Both these guys doing the same things on polar opposite sides. I’m not a big fan of either but I wouldn’t mind taking my daughter to the creation museum. I think she would enjoy it.

  157. josh hamrick says:

    I don’t really know who Francis Collins is. Never comes up in my circles.

  158. Steve says:

    Josh,. He is/was Fauci’s boss. Surely you know who Fauci is? Collins started the Biologos website which articles from that appear pretty regularly on the linkathons here. He is committed to advocating that God used evolution in creation.

  159. josh hamrick says:

    Of course I know Fauci. I remember biologos. Didn’t realize there was a connection. Interesting!

  160. bob1 says:

    Ken Ham is to Francis Collins

    as Barry Manilow is to Bach.

    Try cracking one of his books before bloviating about him.

  161. Steve says:

    Actually I like Manilow and Bach.

  162. bob1 says:

    I trust you’re saying that tongue in cheek.

    Otherwise, an excellent example of missing the point…

  163. Steve says:

    Nope, I honestly like these two different genres of music. But I do try to use a bit of humor especially with you. I hope you can appreciate that?

  164. Nathan Priddis says:

    Steve. Here is the problem I point out. A problem that frustrates me personally since childhood in it’s difficulty, and the lack of answers I find in the Church.
    The problem is, the details.

    Job never mentioned either. God did, and he gives these descriptions: -beast/made/eat/grass/ox-

    My guess. An animal that eats like a bovine, because, he is bovine. Behemoth is Auroch, a gigantic form of wild cattle common in ancient times.

    Leviathan does not live on Earth. It would literally be beneath him to do so. He is a person, not animal. As it says..

    “Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
    He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.

    This connstrast with the previous chapter, in which behemoth lies down in the shade. Why? He gets hot in the mid-day sun. He’s bovine.

    Leviathan, on the other hand, is king. He is the seeing one.

    God describes him in parable, in which he is attacked, but invincible. Job is asked a series of yes or no questions about Leviathan. They where not answered.

  165. Steve says:

    Nathan, I completely understand. I’m not forcing this belief on anyone. It’s my own conviction that dinosaurs and man lived at the same time. Whether Job is talking about dinosaurs or not, I can not be for certain. For me it fits into my framework and I have much fewer theological hoops to jump through to synthesize a comprehensive biblical narrative. For me personally, I can not synthesize millions of years of evolution with the biblical narrative and this goes way beyond the first 2 chapters in Genesis. If others can do it that’s amazing to me but who am I to judge?

  166. bob1 says:


    Yes, I do appreciate that.

    That’s why I asked for clarification.

  167. bob1 says:

    Speaking of Francis Collins…

    He edited a book called “Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith.”

    It’s a great book. Chapters by NT Wright and John Stott, among others.

    A really good book to give to a skeptic and isn’t afraid to use their mind.

    Not a very well known book — less than 100 Amazon reviews (compared with
    2,200+ for his more famous book, “Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.”)

  168. Steve says:

    bob1, thanks, I’ll check them out.. Speaking of Collins and N.T. Wright, you should see these two singing the “Genesis” Song – NT Wright and Francis Collins
    YouTube · BioLogos
    Jul 14, 2020.

    Evolution is super important to these dudes,, that they wrote their own song.. All the talk about church history on this blog I take with a grain of salt, because no where in ancient church is there ever anybody embracing evolution with such vigor. It seems like a worship song speaking of evolution written to the tune of a Beatles hit. I honestly don’t know what to say. To me it’s impossible to fit 14 billion years into a Bible narrative. Listen to their song. Evolution in their heads is so ingrained, so trusted and completely integrated into their biblical understanding that it basically leaves no biblical room for dissent yet the Bible speaks nothing of evolution. It’s bizarre.

  169. Dread says:


    I wouldn’t throw away Collins and Wright too hastily… Steven Meyer, John Walton, Michael Heiser, or the venerable John Lennox might also help with some of your questions.

    I won’t go deep into the weeds with Ken Ham but I understand his appeal as a lifelong pastor. People want certainty. Even though we walk by faith.

    Collins gives me some headaches with his actions as a public health official. Hopefully his departure is an escape from its corruption. I fear he may be part of it. We humans are utterly corruptible.

  170. bob1 says:

    I did read Walton’s book on Genesis 1 — fascinating.

    I’m not a church history expert — but I do believe that way too often in church history, the Church has fought imaginary, reactionary POVs and come out the loser (remember Gailileo?) and its witness has been marginalized .

    I think Collins et al probably see evolution as a mechanism the Lord God has deigned o work through.

    I have read that Augustine believed that God worked through the evolutionary process to help humankind and even with human flourishing. He was also opposed to reading Gen. 1 as mainly propositional, according to my understanding. It’s more like Hebrew poetry.

    As much as I’d like to put the creation genie back in the bottle and read it like a a “Dick and Jane” primer, can’t do that.

    Also, I have to wonder whether the early church gave a tinker’s dam about the whole subject. They were a bit preoccupied avoiding being eaten by the lions! to worry about it!

  171. Duane Arnold says:


    Ambrose was allegorical in his interpretation of the creation account. Augustine was, by turns, literal, allegorical and literal again. That is to say, there is not a settled Augustinian position…

  172. bob1 says:

    And instead of lobbing spitballs from the peanut gallery, let’s look at what Francis Collins’s peers say about the great man:

    “But in early June 2017, relief came when the White House announced that Collins would remain NIH director. Two years later, biomedical scientists are counting themselves lucky.”

    Of course he’s made mistakes — he’s only human (no different from you and me),. Yet I believe he’ll go down in history as a truly great leader who steered NIH through the most polarized era in our history.

  173. bob1 says:

    Thanks, Duane. The truth was a lot more complex than what I said.

  174. Duane Arnold says:


    I wish he would’ve given us a definitive view in ‘The Retractions’!

  175. Duane Arnold says:

    BTW, Robert Alter is pretty convincing in his translation and commentary on Genesis that what we are dealing with is Hebrew poetry…

  176. Dread says:


    What’s the ‘therefore’ of Alter’s assessment? If it’s poetry what is it’s veracity and application? Isn’t that the seminal matter? Shall we treat it similar to psalms. We live in deconstruction. That process is having life altering effect.

  177. Michael says:

    I just can’t take this anymore.

    The Bible is not a science text…Genesis 1 is not about how , it’s about Who.

    The late, great J.I. Packer (who literally wrote the book on inerrancy) agrees with Alter that the creation myth is a form of Hebrew poetry.

    So much missing the point here…Leviathan is a metaphor for Satan…and trying to make him into a freaking dinosaur is an exercise in completely missing the point.

    “Evolution is super important to these dudes,, that they wrote their own song.. ”

    God have mercy…they are both musicians and theologians and when musicians get together they often write songs…Genesis 1 was meant to create worship…not hillbilly amusement parks and bad theology.

  178. bob1 says:

    The Bible is not a science text…Genesis 1 is not about how , it’s about Who.

    Exactly. And when the church misses the point it looks foolish. Yes, it’s complicated…but let’s not make it more complicated than it need be!

  179. Michael says:

    Packer and Alter are not “deconstructing”.
    They are using a hermeneutic appropriate to the type of writing.

    “Genesis 1-11 is the scene-setting, frame-fixing, view­ finding, God-focusing prologue to the Pentateuch, which is the relatively detailed story of the flawed MidEast family, clan Abraham as we may call it, that God chose to be his people, rescued from Egyptian captivity, covenanted with, and led to the promised land. It is as the prologue to that history, and to the rest of Bible history fol­lowing it, that the canonical expositor must deal with this introductory material.

    So it is not for him to dwell on questions that go beyond the text, such as the distancing, satiriz­ing, censuring, and correcting relationship in which the pro­logue’s account of creation, paradise, the flood, and the building of cities seems to stand to their polytheistic counterparts found in various MidEastern mythologies. Similarly, his business is not to trawl for the sources that Moses evi­dently used; his job, rather, is to open up the coherent, flowing narrative that this prologue actually gives us. Nor is he required to speculate about the biology of Eve’s forma­tion, or the identity of Cain’s wife, or the botanical classifi­cation of the trees of life and of knowledge, or to square Genesis 1 with any form of science.

    It belongs to the poeti­cal-prose style in which Moses wrote this prologue to be historically and scientifically non-specific; the planned reso­nance within the readers is partly secured, as in poetry gen­erally, by omitting everything that might trigger cognitive detachment from the imaginative sense of involvement that the pictorial language is intended to generate. Legends and fairy stories also work this way (think of the overtones of the words “once upon a time”), but what we have in Genesis 1-11is matters not of fantasy but of fact, historical realities shaped by the living God, space-time persons and events from the past now brought before us in order to give us a perspective for understanding God and man in the rest of the Bible, and thus ourselves in our own life-situations.

    The poetical-prose manner is what makes the stories haunt the imagination and stick in the memory as they do, but the matter is factual, and the stories are there to explain to us what sort of world we now live in, what sort of people we now are, and what sort of God we have to relate to. We must learn to expound accordingly.”

  180. Em says:

    Is it the consensus here that the 6 day creation story is myth? ? ?

  181. bob1 says:

    Define “myth.” Can be a loaded term that doesn’t necessarily foster understanding.

  182. Michael says:


    In the classical sense a myth is a story meant to communicate truths.
    Packer didn’t like the word…he described his view above:

    “Legends and fairy stories also work this way (think of the overtones of the words “once upon a time”), but what we have in Genesis 1-11is matters not of fantasy but of fact, historical realities shaped by the living God, space-time persons and events from the past now brought before us in order to give us a perspective for understanding God and man in the rest of the Bible, and thus ourselves in our own life-situations.”

  183. Michael says:

    Is Genesis 1 a historical and scientific account of how the earth and man was created?
    Absolutely not…but it’s still “true”.

  184. Duane Arnold says:


    “We live in deconstruction.”

    Well, I don’t. Part of understanding the biblical narrative is knowing what sort of literature you are reading – poetry, history, chronology, etc. In Hebrew, the language used allows that determination. (Hence the Hebrew alliteration used in the opening chapters of Genesis.) Now one asks, what is the theme or purpose of the poetry. It is describing the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of creation, not the ‘how’. This is proper to its literary form…

  185. Michael says:

    Packer explaining this matter succinctly and more graciously than I am….

  186. Duane Arnold says:

    A very good review of Alter’s work by Jaroslav Pelikan…

  187. Dread says:


    It’s still ok to say with Jesus “ in the beginning God made them male and female…” none of what is being said here alters that.

    Deconstruction is when someone comes to a pastor and says something like …”I no longer believe in the binaries of Genesis.” They are prepping you for why their family is exploding in gender confusion.

    These kind of pastoral concerns is why I ask questions. I think people need answers that are not filled with the ambiguities od the age.

    The good thing about this community is they still want us to be tethered to local church concerns.

  188. bob1 says:

    I thought the discussion was about creation and Gen. 1

  189. Michael says:


    The primary defense of biblical teaching on gender issues is as part of the creation narrative.

  190. Nathan Priddis says:

    Steve. Your position is logical and is consistent with a particular era in Church history..latter 1800’s- present. This is the exact view I was raised and educated in a post war Fundamentalist community.

    If it makes you feel better, I have rejected evolution since childhood. It is illogical because genetic evolution always involves corruption of genetic information. Cancer cells and birth defects, would be visible forms of evolution. It’s also commonly seen in horticulture. The result is plant tissue, and or varieties, needing human intervention ( cloning/ asexual reproduction ) to stay alive.

    Natural Selection as proposed by Darwin is certainly true, just in reverse of his proposal. Genetic variation within species, can be lost. Whole species can, and will, be exterminated, as is happening now.

  191. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    finally got around to Pelikan’s The Vindication of Tradition. Read it in basically a day. Fun read. Will have to try for Bach among the Theologians next for what, for me, are obvious reasons.

  192. Nathan Priddis says:

    Sadly..both Darwin enthusiasts, and his detractors have overlooked an Infallible Rule of Nature.

    -With great beards..comes great responsibility.-

    Darwin had a beard problem. Later in life, Chuck would attempt to correct his beard inadequacy…with volume. Incorrectly applying a separate Rule…regarding the importance of size…to his latter years beard. Subsequently, this resulted in an end of life grooming issue.

    Science has yet to recover.

  193. Steve says:

    Nathan, I appreciate your comment. However, the late Dr.A.E Wilder Smith had a comparable beard. I was influenced by him and he was one of the last great scientists.

  194. josh hamrick says:

    AS far as theological beards go, I’ll take Nicholas of Myra.

  195. Dan from Georgia says:

    James Clerk Maxwell is one of my science heroes, but not a fan of a beard that appears to be diverging from his chin…maybe a practical display of the Divergence Theorem? I like Ernst Mach’s beard though, like the lower half of his face is drifting downward.

  196. Duane Arnold says:


    As a contemporary Christian musician, John Michael Talbot’s beard should be your standard…😁

  197. Nathan Priddis says:

    If Freud had the pleasure of meeting me..he might have labeled me a beard enviest.

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