Why People Believe.

From my previous post it is pretty much obvious that everyone believes things because that is what they want to believe. No one believes for any definitive reason… it simply feels right, or it seems reasonable, or simply personal experience, but let’s use their own words…

I believe because that is my inclination.

I usually find my way back to a place of understanding and faith in God — even if I can’t prove God exists.

I believe because in my heart I know it to be true.

I believe because I have personal experience of God that has transformed my life…

I also believe based on the ontological argument – God exists because we have a need for Him.

I believe what I believe. Anything, anyone says to me will never get me to change what I believe.

I believe because I am a part of the elect. I did nothing and deserve nothing but was given everything.

I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob revealed in Jesus who lived, died and rose again and presence is here for all who believe today…. You cannot put faith or God under a microscope.

I believe in God because I know Him personally. I talk to Him and He talks to me back.

You can read the rest of the comments but from where I sit there is no definitive reason to believe based on any of the Christian testimonies below. What do Christians believe and why do they believe it? All the Christians seem pretty damned confused from where I sit…

Stupid Church People.

But let me just say this… I believe in Santa Claus. Why? Because my parents told me he is real, he brings me presents and he makes me happy… it’s hard to explain but Santa makes my life better.

43 thoughts on “Why People Believe.”

  1. Non-belief is the epitome of rationality.Faith is the antithesis of rationality.Rational faith is the retarded child of both faith and rationality.

  2. LOLI am a stupid church person. I confess it. I don’t have all the answers and I can’t prove there is a God or not. I’m actually pissed off at other stupid church people because they remind me of me. I admit I am both saint and a proud damn good sinner.Regardless I believe in Jesus…some may think it’s no different than believing in Santa Claus but I will disagree. oh yeah Jesus does not make my life better.He makes me mad at hell at fundamentalists and those who use religion to club someone to death with or make them plastic middle class pollyannas.

  3. Dufflehead says:i think almost everyone is missing what the question was. it wasn’t what but WHY you believe. as in, what CAUSED you to believe in God (or not)? what CAUSED you to pick Christianity (or not) or whatever it is yo picked (or not)?from dictionary.com:why – for what reason, cause or purpose?I was raised in a Baptist-fundamentalist home so I was brought up to believe in Christ , Bible, etc. I did question everything but eventually ended up in the Lutheran Church primarily because of their emphasis on God’s grace and because they were not fundamentalist.I believe what kept me or caused me to believe was God. I don’t believe I was forced to believe but I had a strong pull toward God. I don’t know why this doesn’t happen to everybody because there are many who don’t believe or fall away from belief. I can only tell you of my experience.Why I pick Christianity? Well I was raised on it but many people who are raised in Christian homes still reject it. I am attracted to the person of Jesus Christ. I believe he is who he says he is.

  4. Marie: <>If God is so big, then why does he allow himself to be so easily misunderstood? Why does he allow slavery, war, rape, any suffering? And don’t tell me “free will.” <>So you know the answer but you don’t want to hear it, because that answer would make you responsible for your life. No, you ask for another explanation, so you can live free from responsibility, and play the blame game with God.God sets before every man life & death. Then He is kind enough to supply the correct answer: “Choose Life”. But you cannot explain Him, so you choose not to believe.Well, explain evolution. Explain the universe. Explain a quark. Explain any scientific theory. You can’t (Scientists can’t either. They can only guess). Yet you still believe in them. Why? Because they help you reason away God. They absolve you of responsibility for your existence.That’s not freedom. That’s denial. And it’s a prison.

  5. I love Star Trek, and if you have the same interest, this might be useful. The concept of “free will” based on the individual liberty we are endowed by our Creator with, does indeed make things very messy. Remember the Borg. They experienced no free will and they sought perfection via assimilation of knowledge. Their example is one that shows the price we’d pay if we were God’s robots, and he eliminated all suffering and death and pain. But, we must accept that we are human, all of us, which means we must choose to exercise our free will to do what is right. That is the purpose of God seeking to relate to us, all of us, that is the only way we can be enabled to do what is right. But, things are still messy, no doubt about that, there is a long way to go.

  6. Belief lyrics by John Mayer.Is there anyone whoEver remembers changing there mind fromThe paint on a sign?Is there anyone who really recallsEver breaking rank at allFor something someone yelled real loud one timeEveryone believesIn how they think it ought to beEveryone believesAnd they’re not going easilyBelief is a beautiful armorBut makes for the heaviest swordLike punching under waterYou never can hit who you’re trying forSome need the exhibitionAnd some have to know they triedIt’s the chemical weaponFor the war that’s raging on insideEveryone believesFrom emptiness to everythingEveryone believesAnd no ones going quietlyWe’re never gonna win the worldWe’re never gonna stop the warWe’re never gonna beat thisIf belief is what we’re fighting forWhat puts a hundred thousand children in the sandBelief canBelief canWhat puts the folded flag inside his mother’s handBelief canBelief can

  7. My parents told me about Santa Claus too. My mother, though, also told me about Jesus in her Sunday School class. I was – I don’t know, maybe 5 or 6 – and I remember getting into my pyjamas one night and having this incredible feeling that if I died that night in my sleep I wanted to go to heaven and be with Jesus. So I ran down the hall and told my mother. We prayed and I’d have to say that from that moment on I’ve believed in Jesus. Haven’t always lived the church people life, but have, nonetheless, believed.There’s a lot of explanations for that belief – at that age – some of them simple, some of them not so. But still, there’s that…feeling… and the same feeling that sent me down the hall has drawn me back to God over and over again throughout my life. One possible explanation might be that I wanted to be with Jesus because Jesus wanted to be with me, because he loved me and just wanted us to be together, and because deep within my heart, he told me so… And in pyjamas and bare feet I ran down the hall and said, “Me too”, and I’ve been saying it ever since.I’m 46, and it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve realized that faith might be characterized as my response to God. I’m beginning to think it’s like He says, “I love you” and I say, “I love you back”… and here we are.

  8. Marie saysI dont have many words, just to say that I am increasingly happy in being a non-christian–that is where true freedom is.Then why attack us Christians who are happy in being a Christian? Which I believe true freedom is.I can understand you attacking narrow-minded and judgmental Christians or those who try to shove religion down your throats but why lump us all in the same boat?Why shove your unbelief down ours?

  9. Marie says:You are right, I cannot explain a lot of things…but christians can really explain nothing–I know–I was a Christian for 20 years. I want to believe, but can’t. Christians have to realize that non-christians are not demons chasing sinful lives, we can desire a God too, but we are not willing to settle for a God who is so hard to find and so badly represented in this world.Marie that is a real honest answer and thank you for sharing your doubts with us. I do not consider you a demon.

  10. Dufflehead,The point is often and correctly raised that had we been born in another culture, we’d likely adopt the predominant religion of that culture. Dependant where and when I was born, I could have been a Muslim, Hindu, Druid, or a worshipper of Odin or Zeus. This also raises a nasty question about the eternal souls of people raised in a non-Christian culture. I take the liberal approach here. I like to think of Jesus’s propitiationary death as securing the eternity of all.Unrelated to the above statements, I found this cool quote on my Google home page:If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get very far in our understanding of the physical world. One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability. – Vannevar Bush

  11. Can I just say real quick that those John Mayer lyrics are probably the stupidest thing ever! Don’t get me wrong, I have the hugest respect for his music, but what is he saying? We should all stop believing…in everything? Maybe a few less hits off the old vapo-weed for you my freind!!2 parts stupid and 1 part interresting makes for a great SCP discussion.I know marie is standing up as minority in this forum, but in general, I think (as hakohen pointed out) there is far to much “talking about relationships” and not enough “doing relationships”. Time and time again the bible compares christianity to the example of marriage. A healthy marriage stands the test of time.It’s interesting to me that you don’t hear about “non-christians” proclaimnig a real alternative to God (excluding other religions), it’s usually just an attempt to be “away” or “free” from God, but then what is it they DO have? Is simply not having God better than choosing to love him? To me it sounds like they are proving the very existance of God, but then are choosing to pout in the corner in rebelious defiance.I really love my wife, but I’m barely four years into this relationship, and do not pretend to truely “understand” her. Does that mean I should give up on her? I BELIEVE that she loves me as much as I love her, and WE are choosing to explore the deapths and rewards that this marriage has to offer. That’s all this God thing is really about.

  12. Is there rational basis for either belief or non-belief? In one case, you assume that there is some kind of intelligence beyond that which we perceive, and you can name is ‘supernatural’. In the other, you assume that there is nothing beyond our rational understanding. Yet both these are merely assumptions based upon experience. Some people claim to experience the supernatural (in whatever religious or non-religious form), and others perceive all experience as limited to our senses. From my experience, belief or non-belief makes little difference to moral excellence. I was glad to walk away from my conservative evangelical tradition simply because it merely sustained in me a continual sense of guilt. I don’t live a whole lot differently now, and my ethical standards are still developing just as they were before. I don’t know how to define God, but I strongly suspect a divine influence that runs through the world and is manifested in all religious traditions – yes, flawed as they are through imperfect expression of the great Mystery.

  13. I know it’s a tangent… but I have to say it:“I believe this because the documentational evidence says that a guy called Jesus believed that he was the son of God, and died because he believed that. I don’t think he lied because people don’t tend to die horrible and painful deaths for a lie. I don’t think he was mad, because he didn’t act like he was mad.”I’m sorry Edward, but I can’t let the Josh McDowell thing go. His works are another example of how Christianity took a wrong turn when it let reason and the tenants of modernity into the realm of mystery and religion. McDowell is not a scholar, philosopher, or theologian. He is a fundamentalist best-seller who has attempted to defend Christianity with poor philosophical reasoning and biased “evidence that demands a verdict.” His deductive reasoning has so many holes in it that his works should never be allowed to be called apologetics. The tripartite argument of Jesus was a liar, lord, or lunatic is bullshit. C.S. Lewis tried to use it; it was embarrassing then, and it’s embarrassing that people try to use it now. That entire argument is dependent on the validity of the Bible as a credible historical witness to Jesus and his message. The Gospels cannot be read as historical fact.Jesus likely did not claim to be divine and was not interested in starting a new religion. The Gospels are examples of an evolving myth changed over time. The main character who died in 33AD was Jesus of Nazareth (a human being). The first Jesus movements viewed their leader as a teacher, not god. The Christology found in the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John is much evolved than the primitive Jesus Movements. The Christology in Mark, for example, wascreated as a result of the cultural and political events surrounding the turn of the first century. New Judeo-apocalyptic ideologies stemming from the destruction of the second temple in 73AD were mixing with Hellenistic mystery cults and various other traditions and ideas. The environment was right for religious syncretism and social experimentation. New movements started and after several decades a new Christ cult emerged.

  14. recovering, that was actually a quote from Mark Twain. My counselor was the one that helped me to see that Richard Dawkins and Jerry Falwell are two sides of the same fundamentalist coin.

  15. i think almost everyone is missing what the question was. it wasn’t <>what<> but <>WHY<> you believe. as in, what CAUSED you to believe in God (or not)? what CAUSED you to pick Christianity (or not) or whatever it is yo picked (or not)?from dictionary.com:why – for what reason, cause or purpose?

  16. <>Bob: The Gospels cannot be read as historical fact.<>References?Seriously. I didn’t become a Christian for the warm fuzzies, I became a Christian because I believed it to be true. If you’ve got some good references to back up that statement, I’ll have a good and careful read.<>ha kohen: Edward, Go buy any book you can find my Brevard Childs (A Yale Conservative that is still very much an intellectual).<>I’ll have a look then. I’m about to do my annual CD order from Amazon (I’m in NZ), so any reccomendations?

  17. Drunk, yes. But still coherent enough to outwit us at poker and leave with all the F-ing money. The wife was pissed, HK. Why can’t you play cards like you post?

  18. Heather and all you other Arminians (who were condemned at the Council of Dort) it seems that you still haven’t managed to use that amazing free will of yours to read the book the Romans! JJBob, I know what you are saying and I just about had to chain myself down in the other room not to respond to that McDowell thing mixed with Mere Christianity. But just because his process is flawed this does not negate the validity of his conclusions. Sorry Edward, Josh McDowell is terrible pop-theology. It is also important to note that the modern idea of history (being objective) is a relatively new development. This means that “history” as we see it now… is very different than the way it was seen in biblical times. Pseudopigraphy for instance (attributing a letter of similar thought to another) was fully acceptable; as was pushing opinions into narratives, even if it meant using the voice of God to do so). However, contrary to what my dear friend Bob has said (and I will take all of your money away at cards tonight Bob!), that does not mean that it is not still truthful. It is more a question of context (mixed with genre). For example: I recently read the words, “all the world cried” in a poem about 9/11. Was this a lie simply because not every single person cried or is it still true because the number of people who wept is actually inconsequential? Bob to you I would pose this question: For a people that already believe in the divine, is it really that big a stretch for them also to believe that this same God worked though the later traditions and redactors to reveal the true picture that had gone previously unnoticed?(And might I point out that this mental gymnastic is only necessary if we all buy all of the other foundations you’ve built this house upon such as the dates of the letters or your understanding of early Christ cult formation – I’m sure you know that Meeks who is far greater an expert than you or I would disagree with your assessment on both of these counts). Smart you are Bob… but correct, you are not. Edward, Go buy any book you can find my Brevard Childs (A Yale Conservative that is still very much an intellectual).

  19. “What do Christians believe and why do they believe it? All the Christians seem pretty damned confused from where I sit…” (Steve)Nothing wrong with trying to figure out why we believe what we believe. I think this a lifetime of am endeavor to be honest – and we all are at various places about our belief systems. It is confusing – and should be – there is like 40 odd people commenting on their experiences and that’s a personality clash if I ever saw one. That being said, the idea we become the faith we know has some legitimacy but not altogether. I know Christians in Muslim arenas of the world, Muslims in Christian arenas of the world, and there is likely Catholics in all parts of societies planet-wide…this list can go on and on. However, I was not raised in the faith I now accept – Christian. I saw good things from people in this faith and that convinced me to check it out. Once I learned what they believed I saw that it was a hell of a lot better than what I previously had known – which was based looslely on premises were destroying my own society/community/myself. I made a very logical decision to follow Jesus on this basis – I felt freed from ideas that bound me – and I am thankful to have learned a better way of thinking. This continues to change over time but one thing has remained a constant – my faith is good and produces good things in society. I am still challenging my values by the words of Jesus and see great things still happening (ie: seeking to make up for my wrongs with those I wronged, honoring people in my life that helped me become who I am, working in my community to develop ideas that make life bigger and better, etc). I think this is what attracts me to this faith – also the focus on helping people that suffer. I think this faith is extraordinarily good at this focus – and it does help the hopeless in my community (and myself). We need more done but this faith is quite open to the idea. I choose this faith on quite a simple basis – on the way it helped me to treat others – and I still look to continue trying to treat others with the greatest of respect and love they can handle. I am always learning.

  20. Why do I believe? I don’t know. And I don’t think the average person can express the experience, sensation, and emotion that God invokes in each of us in order to inspire anyone else. That’s why intellectual articles are great for me because they tax my brain and I just reply to others, “read that article, it’s great.” Easy out? yes, because I don’t know why I believe, but I do.“Darwin’s God” posted in the NY Tiimes in March ’07http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/magazine/04evolution.t.html?ex=1330837200&en=be2b80235e0bbc91&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

  21. Hrm. Senor Jefe. Dog. Guy. Aren’t you the one that keeps rebooting his blog? Maybe not. Anyway. Yes. Love.…interesting that you would bring up your own relationship and the relationships of others. See, love in this instance is a dynamic process between two people: they change and adapt to each other because they’re both real, they’re dealing with each other on a day to day basis. They make compromises for each other because of this love. Maybe one shaves more often. Maybe the other wears shorter or longer skirts. Whatever, you get the picture.Love between Man and God, on the other hand, is a bit one-sided. If we’re sticking to the Judeo-Christian variety, then we have an ancient text that we’re told dates back 4,000 some odd years and countless translations to go by(someone help me, I don’t do proper theology). And from this ancient text, the inerrancy of which most can’t even decide on, we’re supposed to try and love an intangible yet perfect being who, being perfect, can’t be expected to change yet can’t be bothered to leave definitive proof of his existence…Do you see where the problem with the one-sidedness comes in?So

  22. People have been searching for definitive proof of God for years. There is no proof. There never will be proof of the existence of any God, regardless of which God it is you’re seeking.The only thing people can do is rely on experience, feeling, teaching – ultimately a personal belief. To ask anybody to provide proof of their belief in any God is futile.I believe. That’s all that matters to me. If you believe in something different, that’s your prerogative. Whether you believe that freewill is God-ordained or not, it still exists. I have the freedom to believe or not to believe, the same as anybody else on the planet. I choose to believe. That’s me. I think judging somebody – anybody – for their beliefs or lack thereof goes agains thte law of freewill. And whether you believe or not, that is not fair or right.Just don’t start asking for proof. There is no proof either way, and I don’t think there ever will be.

  23. …attention whore? that’s harsh, marshall. While I concede that SCP has a larger audience, I was responding to your comment in an effort to add to the discussion at large. Your blog post seems merely to be a rehashing; moreover, the points in the comment I responded to are nowhere to be seen in the alleged post.So there. Nyah. :pI can’t speak for Steve, but seeing how Steve doesn’t comment (not complaining just stating; besides, it messes with his policy, I think), I’m forced to speculate:Jeff’s tone seems to regard the post and comments as an attack, Stupid Church People as an insult. To me, it seems a sign of resignation, a dead end in an argument, the blogpost equivalent of a sigh, a sort of “where do we go from here?” Replace “Santa” with just about anything and you see the absurdity of it. Replace “Santa” with “Jesus,” and you see why that absurdity is a problem for us.…and I was merely talking abstract and hypothetical. I wasn’t factoring in my personal relationship…or at least, I don’t think I was…I think dufflehead’s got something. But bottom line, in my opinion: How do we own up to the fact that to outsiders we very possibly sound crazy and/or stupid and/or willfully ignorant?as for the rest…the benefit of skepticism is you get to disregard historical arguments with a pseudo-intellectual “hrmph”…so yeah. Rock on with your bad selves. I’ll be over here.

  24. Hey HaKohen…now that’s just obnoxious…. maybe a couple of references, but dude…c’mon… seriously?Yeah… don’t forget everybody.. pick up a copy of <>Strecker’s “Biblische Theologie? Kritische Bemerkung zu den Entwurfen von Hartmut Gese und Peter Stuhlmacher.<> and while you are at it become fluent in German.I used to think you were smart HaKohen… but now…not so much.

  25. The proof for Christianity being true relies upon eyewitness testimony. This isn’t exactly the best evidence to use when trying to prove something to be true to another person. I believe there is a creator because I look out my window and see a creation. I believe that creator to be God. I don’t understand how to create something by just speaking it into existence, but just because I don’t understand it, doesn’t make it impossible.I have examined myself against the laws of God and found myself to be in violation of those laws as the Bible declares I am. I believe the eyewitness testimony of the disciples and their testimony is solidifed by the fact that almost all of them defended the truth of their statements with their own blood. Who do you know that would knowingly tell al ie and then be willing to die for that lie? To me that’s good evidence for this thing called Christianity to be true. Who do you know that is willing to lay down their life for Santa Claus?

  26. “why?” is only a loaded question if you don’t like the answer you’re going to give. i think “why?” is a perfectly valid question because you have to think about the answer. i can’t say that i wouldn’t be dismissive of someone’s why any more or less than anyone else would.the question could just as easily have been “why or why don’t you believe in muhammed and islam?” or “why or why don’t you believe in space aliens?”i think the “why do you believe in the Christian God?” for a lot of people is because we were “raised to believe” or because someone convinced us. it’s not a pretty answer. some people have really cool “why” answers (extraordinary events that bring about a sudden paradigm shift).how many here have actually been in a religion other than Christianity (being in something is to be a part of it, not to just read about it)? that includes being a part of the society of the religion.

  27. Steve,I was talking with my counselor about this whole thing today. One of the things that popped into my head is that there’s little difference between a Richard Dawkins and a Jerry Falwell. Both seek objective truth. Their faith lies in diametrically opposed directions, but both are fundamentalists.Like Mark Twain said, perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle.

  28. Not Smart… just smarter than you Steve. JJVery Sorry, I had some beers first and it was late. Now that I see it in clear view… That is way to big!

  29. Oh, and now I see that I didn’t need to post anything because Ha Kohen beat me to it and gave a whole bibliography. jerk.

  30. Interesting take, Steve.Personally, I think that the sheer diversity of all these floundering attempts to explain faith reinforce the notion that God is bigger than our feeble brains want to make him. God is certainly more inclusive and more independent than the evangelicals make Him out to be. I think He’s less angry than Roman Catholics want to make Him. The reformed guys, well, I’m not sure God’s going to be righteous nor sovereign enough for them. lol.So what is it you’re looking for? Proof? I wish I could help you (I mean that. Proof would be awesome.). Aside from experience (which counts for something, I think), I’m only able to follow the peace in my inner…whatever (I used to use the word spirit there). I read Job 38 this morning. When God speaks out of the storm to Job and puts him in his place with “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, since you know so much!”, I can live with that, because, truthfully, there are many other things that need my attention today. I’m content to live with the things that don’t make sense to me, because I’m not convinced that it’s my job to figure everything out. There’s not much rational about it outside of its own paradigm. But that same paradigm involves foolishness upsetting conventional wisdom, too.

  31. Smarter than me! No doubt that is true… but then again…that ain’t sayin’ much.This whole post was started with a little too much too drink…so welcome to the club.Never drink and post is my axiom (oops, sorry for the big word HaKohen – you might need to look that up). But I don’t always live by it.

  32. Steve/Dorsey – I’ve never met either of you but I love you guys…I agree with about everything you’ve said here and I appreciate your points of view.Bruce Almighty – fire your counselor…the “truth is somewhere in the middle” comment was intellectually bankrupt.Steve – I really appreciate your willingness to be honest and keep this conversation going but I am very curious where you are at and whether you have somewhere you are going with this whole conversation…what’s your spiritual disposition?P.S. – I never comment without beer. 🙂

  33. Edward – This is the book you want. http://www.amazon.com/First-Urban-Christians-Social-Apostle/dp/0300098618/ref=sr_1_2/103-3808588-5603063?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1178348364&sr=1-Other than that I am much more of an OT guy but here are some great books to look into.(I tried to organize them but got bored so… sorry it is not quite perfect.) Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997.Birch, Bruce C. et. al. A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville: Abingdon, 1999.Childs, B. S. Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986.__________. Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.Kaiser, Walter C. Toward an Old Testament Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978. Knight, George A. F. A Christian Theology of the Old Testament. Richmond: John Knox, 1959. Smart, James D. The Past, the Present, and Future of Biblical Theology. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1979. Terrien, Samuel. The Elusive Presence: Toward a New Biblical Theology. New York: Harper & Row, 1978. Vos, Geerhardus. Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948.Westermann, C. Elements of Old Testament Theology. Translated by D.W. Scott. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982. Barr, James. The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspective. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999.Brueggemann, W. “A Convergence in Recent Old Testament Theologies.” JSOT 18 (1980) 2-18. Hasel, Gerhard F. Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate. 4th ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.Childs, Brevard. Review of Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. In Scottish Journal of Theology 53/2 (2000) 228-233.________________. “The Future of Biblical Theology.” In Perspectives on Evangelical Theology, ed. K. S. Kantzer and S. N. Gundry, 179-94. Grand Rapids, 1979._______________. “A Decade of Old Testament Theology: Retrospect and Prospect.” ZAW 93 (1981) 165-84. _______________. “Biblical Theology: Then, Now and Tomorrow.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 4 (1982) 61-93. _______________. “Major Recent Issues in Old Testament Theology 1978-1983.” JSOT 31 (1985) 31-53. ________________. “Old Testament Theology from 1978-1987.” AUSS 26 (1988) 133-157.Barr, James. “Story and History in Biblical Theology.” JR 56 (1976) 1-17. Bruce, F. F. “The Theology and Interpretation of the Old Testament.” In Tradition and Interpretation: Essays by Members of the Society for Old Testament Study, ed. G. W. Anderson, 385-416. Oxford, 1979. Vaux, Roland de. “Is it Possible to Write a ‘Theology of the Old Testament’?” In The Bible and the Ancient Near East, 49-62.Garden City, N.Y., 1971. Interpretation and Canonical Authority Barr, James. Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983. Barr, James. “Child’s Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture.” JSOT 16 (1980) 12-23. ___________. The Semantics of Biblical Language. Oxford, 1961. ___________. Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament. Oxford, 1968.___________. “The Literal, the Allegorical, and Modern Biblical Scholarship.” JSOT 44 (1989) 3-17. Barton, J. Reading the Old Testament. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984. Birch, Bruce C. “Tradition, Canon and Biblical Theology.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 2 (1980) 113-149. Brueggemann, Dale. “Brevard Childs’ Canon Criticism: An Example of Post-Critical Naivete.” JETS 32 (1989) 311-26. Childs, B. S. Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986.___________. “A Response.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 2 (1980) 199-211. ___________. Review of Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism, by James Barr, Int 38 (84) 66-70. ___________. “Some Reflections on the Search for a Biblical Theology.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 4 (1982) 1-12. ___________. “Critical Reflections on James Barr’s Understanding of the Literal and the Allegorical.” JSOT 46 (1990) 3-9. Davies, Margaret. Review of Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context by B. S. Childs. JTS 37 (1986) 442-445. Dunn, James D. G. “Levels of Canonical Authority.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 4 1982) 13-60.Janzen, W. “A Canonical Rethinking of the Anabaptist Mennonite New Testament Orientation.” Unpublished Paper, Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Winnipeg, Canada, 1989.Mays, James L. “What is Written: A Response to Brevard Childs’ Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 2 (1980) 51-171.Moberly, R. W. L. “The Church’s Use of the Bible: The Work of Brevard Childs.” Exp Tim 99/4 (1988) 104-109.Sanders, James A. “Canonical Context and Canonical Criticism.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 2 (1980) 173-197. Fuller, Daniel P. Gospel and Law: Contrast or Continuum? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980.McComiskey, Thomas E. The Covenants of Promise: A Theology of the Old Testament Covenants. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985.Ryrie, Charles E. Dispensationalism Today. Chicago: Moody Press, 1965.Hoekema, Anthony A. Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1986.Dillard, R. B. “The Reign of Asa: An Example of the Chronicler’s Theological Method.” JETS 3 (1980) 207-18. Janzen, Gerald. “Yahweh Our God, Yahweh is One.” Encounter 48 (1987) 51-60. Kline, M. Kingdom Prologue. Unpublished classroom syllabus, Westminster Seminary, 1981. Strecker, G. “‘Biblische Theologie’? Kritische Bemerkung zu den Entwurfen von Hartmut Gese und Peter Stuhlmacher.” In Kirche. Festschrift fur Gunther Bornkamm zum 75. Geburtstag, ed. D. Luhrmann und G. Strecker, 425-45. Tubingen, 1980.

  34. Ha Kohen,Yes, Meeks would disagree with my ideas regarding early Christ cult formation. So would R. Wilken and Howard C. Kee. And yes, I admit that they are all smarter than me. But there are few early Christian historians who take the evolution of Christology idea as a plausible theory (even though I’ve over-simplified it). And not all of these guys are way left field Jesus Seminar or Guttenheim fellows I might add. Edward,Sorry about the Josh McDowell attack. I didn’t mean to suggest you became a Christian because of of warm fuzzies. McDowell’s style of apologetics just rubs me the wrong way. I become enraged. As Ha Kohen said, Brevard Childs is a brilliant conservative theologian. I would also suggest Tillich’s Systematic Theology (his early stuff is less universalistic). In terms of references for the gospels and early Christianity I would suggest reading any book by Burton L. Mack, Ferguson’s Background of Early Christianity, A credible Jesus by Funk (ahhh Jesus Seminar), or even Spong’s treatment of the gospels as midrash in his book on the resurrection (although Spong’s not necessarily a scholar or theologian). Email me or visit H.K.at the onlinerealist if you need more details.

  35. But how do you know that God loves you? I hear people say all the time, well, Jesus loves me because the Bible tells me so. But is that enough? If I wrote on my blog that I love Steve, is that enough for him to know that I love him (and for the record, I’ve never met him, just commented here from time to time) and for him to base his life on what I write in my blog?Not trying to be argumentative, just curious. I have family members who say they love me unconditionally, but honestly, I am not sure what that really means, in absence of actual proof beyond words.

  36. I’ll bite.<>What do Christians believe and why do they believe it?<>I believe that Jesus is the son of God, who died for our sins.I believe this because the documentational evidence says that a guy called Jesus believed that he was the son of God, and died because he believed that. I don’t think he lied because people don’t tend to die horrible and painful deaths for a lie. I don’t think he was mad, because he didn’t act like he was mad.A book that sums this up properly, with the apropriate references and so on in an easy to read way is ‘More Than a Carpenter’ by Josh McDowell. I think it’s all of $5 on Amazon.That’s what I believe.

  37. I have already said in a previous post that “evidence” is unnecessary. It is a false question to ask the faithful for evidence when “faith” by its very definition is “belief that is not based upon proof”. It can’t be proven either way and it doesn’t need to be. Simply having no proof of God does not then make God non-existent. It is utterly foolish to think that the unseen cannot exist simply because it is unseen. By the same token it is equally foolish to assume that our own inclinations of the divine make it so. Belief is simply that… belief. Still I did feel a need to make a comment on this Santa Clause thing because I personally believe this to be a poor analogy. No one has ever come down stairs to find their parents creating a universe under the tree. Explaining how a shinny new bike ends up in ones possession is one thing, but explaining the inner working of the universe is another. Noticing the word “Mettle” on the box your new Barbie came in when elves are supposed to have made it out of wood is one thing, but explaining how matter came into being a different story all together.

  38. So what’s the “right” answer Steve? What would be the piece of evidence that clinched it?Got to say I’m a little disappointed in you – the Santa Claus argument is soooooooo old & trite. For me the testimony of the man in John 9 is as good as it gets, “One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see”. Stupid ex-Blind Person.

  39. To tag along on dorseys observations…I think the less we are able to “explain” or “understand” God, the closer we are to actually knowing him.Why do you love your wife, kids, friends ect.? What compels you to preserve that relational bond? Do you sit around and think about why you love your wife (wait…on second thought, don’t answer that!)?It seems to me that the more eloquent we become in “defining” the “what’s” and “why’s” of God, the further away we are from his presence. He never said: “Understand me.” His only foundational and profound command/wish (with serious eternal implications) is: “Love me.” That’s it.So why? Because he loves us. Because he IS love.

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