Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [Introduction]

atheistBack in 2006, during my first full year of blogging, I interacted with an online pamphlet written by an atheist anarchist by the name of Chaz Bufe.

Twenty Reasons to Abandon Christianity

My primary objective was to locate apologetic blog fodder for my new blogging project. That was just around the time when the “new” atheists were beginning to make their presence known on the internet, and Chaz certainly delivered the goods for me. When he wasn’t playing blues guitar at weekend music festivals around Tucson, AZ, he had devoted himself to spreading anarchist propaganda and subversive counter-culture philosophy, which of course is atheistic.

He also fancied himself a “free thinker” and regularly utilized words like “logic” and “reason” despite the fact his atheism can’t really provide a coherent, rational framework to answer life’s big questions like, “where did we come from?” and “where are we going?” as well as explain reality in a meaningful fashion.  God-fearing people like me, on the other hand, he labeled with derisive descriptions such as “superstitious” and “illogical.” The religious folks in the world are the shacklers of good, free-thinking thoughts.

As an aside, if we ponder the term free thinker for a moment, do those folks genuinely believe because they are haters of religion they are more “free” in their thinking? If you hear anyone describe himself as being a “free thinker” don’t let him fool you into believing he is a serious minded intellectual just because he rejects God and never goes to Church. Free thinking is just code word for a philosophy whose adherence reject any societal authorities. They delight in moral idiocy and the male variety want total freedom to engage in any sexual vice with impunity.  In short, a free thinker is just a pompous little geeky pervert at heart. But I digress.

nunsThe primary religious targets in Mr. Bufe’s anti-Christian screeds were mostly nuns and Roman Catholics. Now admittedly, Roman Catholicism is easy to pick on seeing it has a dismal track record over the centuries of being the main example of apostate Christianity.

However, like most atheist critics who perhaps have only read selectively from secondhand sources critical of the historic, Christian faith, Chaz lumps ALL Christians together with the Catholics as one and the same. Moreover, it is clear after a surface reading of his material that he hasn’t read any genuine responses to his various complaints. His knowledge of Christianity is severely limited at best and seems to be gleaned from other anti-Christian resources whose authors also are just as limited.

So what’s the point in interacting with a scruffy atheist who presents himself as an idjit when it comes to Christianity? I mean, folks like Chaz generally could care less if they are misrepresenting Christians or if there are genuine responses to their contorted perspective. It’s not like the guy genuinely wants to know, right?

Well, revisiting my old posts on Chaz not only helps me to punch up the material a bit, as well as strengthen my arguments, but also will  help readers realize they can get answers so as to respond to the Chazes in their own lives.  In spite of the fact Chaz is not giving us anything original as far as argumentation, he does represent the typical anti-Christian we occasionally encounter.  Whether it be the scowling uncle who likes to pick religious debates on Thanksgiving while everyone is lounging around the living room watching football, or the homeschooled cousin who became an “atheist” during her first semester at the local community college, all of us has an acquaintance or two like Chaz.   

Now let me run down the reasons for abandoning Christianity that Chaz provides:

He claims Christianity is…

  1. Based on Fear
  2. Preys on the innocent
  3. Based on dishonesty
  4. Extremely egocentric
  5. Breeds arrogance, a chosen people mentality
  6. Breeds authoritarianism
  7. Is cruel
  8. Anti-intellectual, anti-scientific
  9. Has a morbid unhealthy preoccupation with sex
  10. Produces sexual misery
  11. Has an exceedingly narrow, legalistic view of morality
  12. Encourages acceptance of real evils while focusing on imaginary evils
  13. depreciates the natural world
  14. Models hierarchical, authoritarian organization
  15. Sanctions slavery
  16. Misogynistic
  17. Homophobic
  18. The Bible is not a reliable guide to Christ’s teachings
  19. The Bible is riddled with contradictions
  20. Christianity borrowed its central myths and ceremonies from other ancient religions

That sure is a lot of hating on Christians. But as we move along on my remasters of those old posts, we’ll see if old Chaz’s arguments hold any water.

The Anderson-White Discussion

Last year, October 2013 or so, I received an email from a guy named Steve Anderson who asked me if I would be interested in being interviewed for a documentary he was making on the King James Bible. He told me up front that he was a King James onlyist and wanted to find individuals who were in the opposite camp so he can represent their position fairly and accurately by letting them speak for themselves.

The name Steve Anderson didn’t really click with me at first. I had to Google him, and when I saw who it was, everything came together in my mind: Steve Anderson! The pissing pastor!

For those of you who may be new to Steve Anderson, he is something of a IFB KJVO wonder kid sensation. A few years ago, he posted a video snippet of one of his sermons in which he goes on a rant regarding the text from 1 Samuel 15:22 about cutting off all the males who “pisseth against the wall” as the Hebrew idiom is translated in the KJV.  It was spectacular. It launched Steve’s career as a go to Youtube viral fundy crackpot for all the wrong reasons. I wrote about the pissing sermon if anyone cares to read it.

The KJV-only He-Man Woman Haters Club

Needless to say, once I found out who the Steve Anderson was who was making the documentary, I wasn’t too keen on participating with its production. My fear was that I would get railroaded and made to look like a fool at the backend of the editing process. So I declined the invitation.

But I did ask him why he hadn’t asked James White. Both of them live in the Phoenix metro area, and James wrote probably the definitive book on the subject of KJV onlyism. Steve replied that James was gone for a few months out of country.  A few months? He was like in South Africa for a couple weeks. I corrected Steve’s misconceptions about James’s travel schedule and told him to at least give it a shot.

A few days later, when I listened to the Dividing Line radio program, James announced that he was going to be doing an interview with Steve Anderson on a documentary about the King James.  I thought wow! My suggestion worked.

They met, and the discussion lasted for almost three hours. Just small sections of it made it into the finished documentary. At the behest of James, Steve released the entire raw discussion. I have only heard snippets, but it provides us a great opportunity to learn how to interact with KJV only apologetics,

The Full Anderson and White Interview

 

Answers KJV Onlyists are Afraid You will Provide [3]

thehaterI have been providing responses to the KJV onlyist challenge:

See parts one and two.

Moving along to final questions,

22). Do you know – for a fact – what the requirements of the American Bible society are, for a person to participate as a translator – in a Modern Version?

Okay, what exactly are the requirements? I would be curious if our KJVO advocate here really knows for himself.  I went to the American Bible Society website and hunted all over the place to find an “official” list of requirements to be a translator, but apparently they are either hidden in the darkest corners in the underground vaults of their building in New York City, or they have found out that a league of KJV onlyists are out to expose their New Age agenda, because they don’t list the requirements for a person to be a translator. I am guessing that either a KJVO advocate knows something we modern Bible version (MBV) folks don’t, or he is exaggerating the nature of these so-called requirements.

The next question has 3 or so extra questions woven in to one. I will look at them in turn:

23). Do you know – for a fact – what the requirements of the German Bible Society are, for a person to participate as a translator – in a Modern Version?

I figure that if our KJV onlyists can’t produce a “requirement list” for the American version, he is going to be even more hard pressed to find one for the German group, it being in a foreign language and all that I am sure our KJVO apologist here doesn’t have a clue how to either speak or read.

Do you know that the United Bible Societies, the UBS Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament – used in 95% of the seminaries today – is essentially the product of the German Society and that they retain the Copyright on the Nestle-Aland Greek Text?

Okay? So what? Oh, I am confident our KJV onlyists will insist there is some conspiracy to be exposed, but I have yet to see any serious evidence for one. At least evidence for one that should strike fear in my heart. By the way, most KJV onlyists carry on about how the KJV is a non-copyrighted work, but in reality, Oxford and Cambridge presses hold the copyright on the KJV. See an extended study on the KJV and copyrights.

Do you realize that the Beliefs, Teachings, Ideology and Methods of Translation of the German Bible Society will therefore be evidence on every page of the Greek Text that Modern Versions use (since modern versions rely almost exclusively on the Nestle-Aland bad Greek Text)?

translatorsFirst off, it would be helpful if our MBV accuser provided some documentation, or any evidence for that matter, explaining the “Beliefs, Teachings, Ideology and Methods of Translation” by this black-hooded German Bible Society. All we have from him are baseless accusations. Secondly, how is he defining “bad.” I have an idea, but in order for him to establish some credibility for his conspiratorial delusions, I would like to have something more substantial.

His next question, question 24, is fairly lengthy, so I will not quote it in its entirety.

24). Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, if the Germans Bible Society was around in the Time of Hitler, (which it was), and if the German Bible Society operated during the time of Hitler’s Third Reich in Germany (which it did), and if it needed a Nazi “certificate of good standing” (which it did), then what would this mean…for your modern Bible Version?

I guess it would mean that anyone who uses a MBV is a goose-stepping, SS, Brown shirt wearing, Jew-hater. Seems to me that is what he is implying anyways. Again, our author suffers from a lack of substantive footnoting. I would like to see a bit of documentation demonstrating a tight connection between the German Bible Society, the Nazis, and my ESV.

Furthermore, as the question charges, I want to see where the “Nazis” corrupted the OT. Apparently they did, right? The older Hebrew texts are still in print. If it is true that the Nazis made and approved the OT text from which the MBV are translated, then our KJV apologist should be able to give us clear examples where the Nazis changed the OT.

Additionally, the charge against the German Bible Society is a tad misinformed, because they did not officially organize until 1981, thirty-six years after WWII. There was a group of Protestant societies called the German Bible foundation, but they were established as early as 1710.  Certainly there had to have been some semi-organized group of Christians around when the Nazi took over Germany, but it is factually mistaken – and slanderously so – to charge the official German Bible Society with collaborating with Hitler.

Oh, but there is more.

The author goes on in his question to assert that the Nazis hired OT theologians to revise the OT in order to promote their antisemitic views.  He then implicates a Hebrew scholar he names as “Kittel.” He has to have in mind German Hebrew scholar Rudolf Kittel, who published three editions of the Hebrew OT, as one of the Bible-changing, Jew-haters hired by the Nazi party. The major problem with that charge, however, is that Rudolf Kittel died in 1929. That happens to be just a few years before the Nazi party came into power.

kittelMore than likely, our KJV onlyist is confusing Rudolf with his son Gerhard, who is usually the one accused of Nazi collaboration. Of course, KJVO apologists rarely care about such sniggling details. Gerhard was a New Testament scholar, not an Old Testament scholar, like his father. He edited the famous Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the NT that is still in use today in many seminaries and is quoted as an authority in defining NT words.

Though it is true Gerhard was named as an “official” theologian by the Nazi party and the Nazi’s often appealed to some of his works as an excuse for their antisemitic eugenic policies, the KJV onlyists who attempt a connection of modern Bible versions to Gerhard Kittel via the Nazi party are straining at some serious gnats. Moreover, they have to demonstrate where in Gerhard’s NT dictionary does he promote Nazi antisemitic ideas as well as how it impacted Bible translations to favor Nazism.

25). IF all of these concerns were valid, legitimate and provable, then do you still think that we should thoughtlessly chose and decide that Modern Versions of the Bible are somehow superior to the Historic Bibles that have been used around the world for thousands of years?

That is a mighty big “IF.” So far, none of the accusations leveled here against MBV have even come close to being established as legitimate. They all bubble up from the fever swamps of KJVO imaginations.

I could ask a similar question of our KJV apologist: IF all of those concerns were shown to be invalid, illegitimate, and outright contrived, then do you think you should apologize for leading young, unwitting Christians astray by confusing them with such baseless accusations and stupid nonsense?

26). Just how happy do you think that God will be, when you get up to Heaven in a few years, and they you can explain this yourself to HIM???

Well, what about you Mr. KJVO apologist? How happy do you think God will be when everything you wrote here is revealed to be foolish and nothing by wood, hay, and stubble and all of your dishonest misinformation is burned up before the Lord?

27). If you are a Pastor, is it true that you should already have these answers, Is it true that you should already have done this research, Is it True that you should already be ready to give an answer of him that asketh you – of the reason(s) and the hope that you have within you…???

I believe I have demonstrated to my readers, and I will to any congregation God is pleased to send me to pastor, that I have done sufficient research into this area. Moreover, I believe I have shown that the KJVO questions are easily answerable and refutable and when hard pressed with counter-questions, the KJVO apologist cannot adequately defend his world view.

28). We can certainly afford to be wrong ! The question is: Before God (and James 3) can you afford for us to be right ???

I am not sure what this question is asking, but lets turn it back on the KJVer. Before God, are you absolutely certain you are right about your history of Bible translations? Are you willing to repent of KJV onlyism if it can be shown to you that the belief is utterly unsupportable?

29). So, to continue…sharing truth here….Would you be surprised to learn that the German Bible Society does not follow Protestant Theology ? Would you be surprised to learn that the German Bible Society despises Martin Luther, His Bible and the Textus Receptus, and instead seems committed to promoting Bible Texts that (a) were rejected by the Christian Church for thousands of Years and (b) that “coincidentally” seem to greatly favor Roman Catholic Theology?

Again, I don’t believe you have established your conspiracy about the German Bible Society. But let’s say they are all devil worshipers and don’t care a lick about Martin Luther and Protestants. With all the mounds of manuscript evidence we have on hand to compare to their work, where exactly did they depart from the Bible?

Even more to the point, where exactly does the Received Text maintain orthodoxy where the MBV texts don’t? In other words, is there any orthodox Christian doctrine that is ONLY found in the Received Text? How exactly is the so-called modern Greek text corrupted from the original? That is what you haven’t shown. Like I have said before: heretics don’t intentionally corrupt texts as KJV onlyists claim. They have corrupted interpretations that they bring to the text so as to twist the text to fit those interpretations.

30). Would it surprise you to learn that for the Greek New Testament used by the German Bible Society/UBS, that they (UBS) hired the head of Theology of the Roman Catholic Church, the head of the Pontifical Institute in Rome (which trains the best of the Roman Catholic Theologians and Priests)…who is Archbishop Carlo Maria Martini of Milan ? And they hired him to be one of the main overseers of the Greek Text that is being used by almost all Protestant Seminaries in the USA today ? What should we do when we find this out ? Should we ignore it ? Should we pretend this practice does not take place, and maybe it will go away ? Do we keep smiling and say nothing ? Or do we decide to seek Truth, Love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength, and start asking the questions that others have been afraid to ask ? Do we finally decide that we will stand for something, take a risk and ask some very hard questions ???

attackI have already mentioned this before, but let me ask one more time just in case our KJVer skipped quickly over my question: What do you do when you find out Erasmus, the man who gave us the Received Text, the text KJV onlyists insist is the pure Word of God, was a life long Mary-worshiping, Eucharist-taking, infused-grace believing, celibate priest who never recanted his Catholicism?

Do you keep smiling and say nothing? Or will you recognize your hypocrisy of accusing MBV folks of collusion with Catholics even though the very Bible you claim is straight from heaven was edited in its original by a Catholic who didn’t care for Protestants? Will you finally decide to stand for the truth and answer some hard questions, even if it leads to abandoning your KJV onlyism and in spite of being named an apostate by Peter Ruckman?

31). Keeping in mind that the corrupt Greek Text of Westcott & Hort are used for a great deal of the UBS/Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament Text, How much research have you personally done on the Occultic Practices of Westcott & Hort, or do you wish instead to email us, and we can share with you some of the details of this, from their own writings ???

I have actually done quite a bit and if you will read my testimonial on leaving KJV onlyism, you will note how it was my research into the lives of Westcott and Hort, sparked by Gail Riplinger’s asinine book, New Age Bible Versions, that placed me on the path of leaving KJV onlyism once and for all.

How about you? Have you personally done any research into what Westcott and Hort REALLY believed? Or do you choose to only believe second and third hand misinformation published by KJVO  apologists who have distorted the lives of those men to make them out to be virgin slaying Satan worshipers? Have you taken the time to read the research of James May, who has read through nearly all of Dr. Westcott’s printed works and has shown that KJV onlyists totally manufacture the bulk of their libelous citations against him?

32). Would you be surprised to learn that many of the translators of the modern versions of the Bible state in their own writings that they do NOT believe in the literal Bible ? Have you personally done research on this topic yourself ? Have you read 3 books on this specific subject ? Have you even read one?

I want to see some documentation to the first question, and then I want to see him make a direct connection between their so-called unorthodox belief about the Bible and how that belief has corrupted their translation.

As for doing research on this topic: I have read at least 50 books on the subject, many of which are KJVO publication I still own to this day. How’s them apples? Additionally, I have read hundreds of web articles from KJVO publications and I once participated on at least two KJVO web board discussion groups and interacted personally with a few aggressive KJVO apologists for nearly a year or more until I was dismissed from their groups for being a “troublemaker.”

I will say that after spending that time with those self-taught “experts,” maybe except for two or three, none of them had any solid grasp on textual criticism, let alone proper translation technique. A good portion of them were not even familiar with the original biblical languages except for use of a Strong’s concordance or an online Bible search program. And all of them were prone to fits of conspiratorial nonsense and contrived historical revisionism in order to lend support to their KJVO worldview.

Let me ask you: Have you read at least 3 books that critically evaluate the claims set forth by KJVO apologists? How about one? And I mean you truly read it, not thumb through it to find more selective grist for your KJVO mill. I mean truly read it and pondered what the author was saying against KJV onlyism?

33). Don’t feel so good if you have read the “King James Only debate” by James White. Are you even aware of how much re-writing there was, between the First Edition of this book, and all of the Editions that came after ? Have you also gone on the internet to see, learn, read or study the answers that Gail Riplinger gave ? (We are simply trying to help you assess – for yourself – just how thorough and truth-seeking your research, which you have personally done, has been)

Okay, so the accusation is that James White, a scholarly critic of KJV onlyism, re-wrote his book, The King James Only Controversy, several times, thus producing several editions. The implication of this question is that James has been deceptive about his multiple editions and that they were necessary because he had so much difficulty dealing with KJVO argumentation, or he distorted the truth about the credibility of the KJVO apologists he was criticizing.

Seeing that I happen to know James just a bit, and seeing that I know many men who are much closer to James than I am and can vouch for the integrity of his character, I find the accusation posed in this question to be… well … trashy. So, I personally emailed James White through his ministry, Alpha and Omega Ministries, and presented to him this question. This is what he wrote back to me:

There has been only one edition of the book to begin with. While I would like to do a new edition, it would be hard, since I did the original typesetting myself! So I have no idea where these folks are coming from or what they are referring to. I shall look into their charge.

 

In other words, our KJVO apologist has either been misinformed as to the nature of Mr. White’s book, or he is making that lie up. I know James, and I do not believe he is lying to me. (BTW, Since I originally wrote this post, there has been a second, updated edition that expands on the original work including interaction with the claims of Bart Ehrman and Muslim apologists against the Bible – Fred).

So which is it Bible Discernment guy? Are you intentionally making that charge up or have you bought into the distortions of fact? I notice that you got the title of his book wrong when you wrote out the question, so maybe you are a dupe depending upon 2nd or 3rd hand information. Additionally, you seem to think that Mrs. Gail Riplinger is a credible apologist for your cause even though she has been debunked by even individuals within KJV onlyism. See for example David Cloud’s two articles I found easily after a quick search here and here.

So there we go. I answered everyone of those 33 questions. If anyone were to take just the least amount of time to study outside the KJVO bubble, they will find the questions are not at all frightening.  They can be answered, even if they are too heavy for Satan.

defeat

Answers KJV Onlyists are Afraid You will Provide [2]

whatI have undertaken a response to the 33 Questions that modern Bible version advocates are afraid they will be asked. The author of those questions has deluded himself into believing they are debunkers designed to shut down anyone who dares to raise an objection against King James onlyism.

See Part 1 for a brief intro and my response to the first set of questions.

Moving along to the next set:

Number 11 is a long one that contains some sub-questions, so I will not cite it in its entirety.

11) Are you aware that if you reject the Greek Text which underlies the King James Version, that you are rejecting the Bible and the Validity [sic] of the Bibles, and undermining the credibility and witness not only of the historic christian [sic] martyrs who were English, but also those from Spain, and From [sic] Holland, and from France, and from Germany and from Switzerland, and from Italy, since they all also rely on the Greek Textus Receptus that the King James uses?

The question suggests that if you are reading a modern Bible version (MBV) instead of the King James, then you are choosing a translation that stands opposed to the historical translations from the period of the Reformation. Because those versions were translated from the Textus Receptus, or the Received Text, and the King James was one of the final English translations based upon the Received Text, to use a MBV instead of the King James means you are rejecting ALL of those other historic translations as well as the ones favored by the Christians who died for their faith during the period of the Reformation.

The author then goes on to list some of those translations even including the Geneva Bible in among the list of the other foreign language translations based upon the Received Text and tying it to the American Pilgrims and Puritans.

We need to place some important historical facts into context.

Keep in mind that when Erasmus first published his Greek text that would eventually be called the “Received Text,” textual criticism of any serious nature was still in its infancy. Principles of textual criticism were still being hashed out by scholars and it wasn’t an exact science just yet.

Additionally, Christians were also recovering their knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages. Any serious study of the ancient biblical languages was primarily limited to the professional clergy and even then the languages were not necessarily studied with any depth, especially to uncover meaningful exegesis of the biblical text.

Furthermore, the collection, collation, and editing of Greek manuscripts into one textual apparatus from which a person could translate was also severely limited. Erasmus only had less than a dozen or so manuscripts to start with and even those were incomplete. As the Reformation expanded across Europe, so also did the knowledge of Christian scholarship with regards to textual criticism.

Thus, for our questioner to suggest that the only viable Greek text is to be found in the Received Text alone and the only viable translation is the King James alone is not being honest with the historical facts of how textual criticism developed.

Moreover, there is a reasonable explanation for why only the Received Text was utilized in the translation of those other foreign language Bibles:

Putting together a textual apparatus from which to translate is just plain hard.

Once the work had been accomplished by Erasmus and others, no one else necessarily had the “know-how” or the resources to compile an alternate text. For the growing Protestant Reformation all that the Christians cared about was getting the Word of God into the hands of the people. The Received Text was used, not because it was considered orthodox and the pure Word of God over other rival texts, but because it was the only one really accessible to the general public for use in translating.

As for the claim about the Geneva Bible being used by Puritans and Pilgrims, they rejected the KJV because it was in their minds a Conformist Anglican produced Bible. They choose the Geneva, not because it was based upon the Received Text, but because it had strong ties to the Protestant Reformation and because it wasn’t the KJV.

A couple of excellent questions to pose to our KJV onlyist in return would be:

Which edition of the Received Text do you have in mind? You do know there are nearly 25 editions/revisions of the Received Text? And, Are you a King James Onlyists or a Received Text Onlyist? If you only care about the Received Text being preserved, would you favor an up-dated English translation based upon the Received Text to replace the aged KJV?

Let me treat these next 4 questions together because they address similar things:

12). Do you know (a) the life, (b) the character, and (c) the teachings & (d) beliefs of the Bible translators of the Modern Versions that you are defending? Do you know – for example – what they believed about Jesus Christ?

AND

13). Do you know – for a fact – what they believed about the Deity of Jesus Christ?

AND

14). Do you know – for a fact – whether or not they believed that Mary should be worshiped?

AND

15). Do you know – for a fact – what they believed about the Trinity?

[how would you prove or demonstrate your answers to others ... like us?]

nivThe series of questions implies those scholars who were involved in the textual criticism that produced the Hebrew and Greek texts used to translate our MBV like the NASB and the ESV, were really heretical in their theology and their work cannot be trusted. Generally, questions like those are aimed at Westcott and Hort who are considered by KJV onlyists to be the arch-heretics who displaced the Received Text.

Heretics, however, rarely corrupted the physical text of either the OT or the NT. What they did do is to keep the text intact, but pour their heretical teaching onto the Bible. They twist the Scriptures, as Peter says, to their own destruction.

So, how exactly do I go about proving or demonstrating what it was those individuals believed? Well, probably the easiest way to “prove” or “demonstrate” what any group of individuals say about doctrine is to actually read their works where they have written about Christ’s Deity, Mary worship and the Trinity.

Sadly, KJV onlyists rarely do that type of leg work or they do lazy research just reading selected citations. None the less, they still offer their personal attacks against the textual critics who have provided so much excellent historical work for the Church at large in the area of our Bible. Even if citations can be provided that do prove the person was orthodox in all of those areas of theology, the KJV onlyists rarely accept the citations as convincing.

I, in turn, would asked the KJV onlyist if he was aware that Erasmus, who gave us the Received Text, was a staunch Roman Catholic priest who did believe in the power of the Eucharist and worshiped Mary. I would further ask him if he was aware of the fact that the KJV translators were staunch Anglicans who believed in infant baptismal regeneration.

16). Do you know – for a fact – WHY they rejected the Textus Receptus, that underlies the King James?

It is dishonest to suggest those textual scholars rejected the Received Text. What they did was to improve NT textual scholarship and part of that was laying aside the Received Text as the most accurate NT text. Scholars have clearly documented the problems found in the Received Text, the key one being that it was based upon inferior textual witnesses to the original autographs. That doesn’t mean they were bad witnesses, but that there are better ones.

What the question implies is that scholars rejected the Received Text because it was “orthodox” and they were liberal heretics who couldn’t stand for God’s Word. Nothing is further from the truth.

17). Do you know who their professors were in their colleges & universities were, and how those college professors influenced them?

AND

18). Do you know who their professors were in their colleges & universities were, and what the Biases of those colleges professors was [sic] – in terms of being in favor of (a) God, (b) Christianity, and (c) the Bible?

My first challenge back to any KJV apologist who asked me either one of those two questions would be simply: Do you?

I would be willing to wager some Chic-Fil-A waffle fries that he would be clueless as to who the professors were who taught those suspect NT scholars and what biases they had against the faith, if any at all.

The only real point with even asking those two questions is to increase the severity of those scholars’ heresy. Not only were they personally heretical in their beliefs, but they also learned from heretics!

Of course, the burden is upon the KJV onlyists leveling the charges to demonstrate the heresy of the professors and universities in question, and then to demonstrate that if any heresy did exist how if at all did it impact the scholars who handled the NT documents in question.

19). Do you know – for a fact – whether or not those translators even believed that the real and true Word of God (the Bible) could be found within the manuscripts either (a) that they used or (b) that the Historic Christian Church has used for 1900 years?

AND

20). Do you know – for a fact – whether or not those translators – of the modern versions you rely on for your spiritual growth and communion with God – believe in the fall of mankind (Genesis 1-3) and the Biblical Doctrine of Original Sin?

AND

21). Do you know – for a fact – whether or not those translators – of the modern versions you rely on for your spiritual growth and communion with God – believe in the same historic Christian teachings that you believe in? Do they even claim to believe in the historic Christian teachings?

Again, my first challenge back to the KJV onlyist would be the same as above: Do you?

Notice the dishonest slight of hand here. The inquisitor has switched from bashing the scholars who put together the Greek text to bashing the translators. The reader may not catch the switch, but the NT textual scholars are not necessarily the same as the NT translators. There have been translators who have translated MBVs that even I would say are unorthodox and liberal. However, those liberal translators did not tamper with the physical Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.  They merely translated their work to reflect their bias.

Moreover, the translations usually targeted by KJV onlyists are conservative and were translated by conservative, God-fearing and Bible-believing men.  I happen to personally know some of the translators involved with the production of the NASB and they most certainly do believe in the historic Christian teachings of the Church, contrary to what our author suggests with his questions.

Additionally, the ESV was translated by many godly men, including Wayne Grudem, who has been a strong apologist for the biblical perspective on manhood and womanhood. I would encourage our author to visit a wonderful little website called the Bible Researcher that traces the historical development of many of our English versions. He will discover that most of them do not have the sinister background that he believes they have.

I will finish up my responses with the next post.

The Printed NT Greek Text at 500

In the latest edition of As I See It (a monthly email news letter worth your time dear Christian if you are not receiving it), Doug Kutilek writes about the 500th anniversary of the first printed Greek NT and it’s lasting impact in Christian history. Because the first Greek text has such a profound relevance when refuting KJV onlyists, I thought I would reproduce Doug’s article for a broader audience. Taken from the July, 2014 AISI, volume 17, number 7 edition.

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erasmusThe most important book in the world is the Greek New Testament. A. T. Robertson well said, “There is nothing like the Greek New Testament to rejuvenate the world, which came out of the Dark Ages with the Greek Testament in its hand,” (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, 4th edition, p. xix)

When the subject of the printed Greek New Testament comes up, it is all but invariably Roman Catholic priest and classical scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam [1466-1536] (and his Basil printer, John Froben) who gets credit for being the pioneer in putting the Greek New Testament into print, with his first edition in 1516. But in truth, Froben’s suggestion to Erasmus that they get out a printed edition of the Greek NT posthaste was a reaction to news coming out of Spain that someone else had in fact already printed up an edition of the NT in Greek–as early as 1514–, and was soon to make it available.

To beat the competition into the lucrative book market, Froben, with Erasmus as editor, rushed an edition of the Greek NT into print in about nine months time (and the edition is marred by many printer’s errors as a consequence). They need not have been in such a hurry; the competition’s edition didn’t make it into the marketplace until 1522, after Erasmus had produced a second edition, and shortly before his third (1522).

(We must of course take note of the technical difference between printing a book and publishing it, the former meaning the physical process of putting ink to paper, the latter making said printed book available for distribution to the public. While these two commonly occur in close chronological order, this is not always the case–publishing can be delayed for days, weeks, even years, sometimes by threats of lawsuits over allegations of plagiarism or libel, for example. With modern e-books, it is even possible for a book to be published but never be printed.)

It is to be noted that in comparison with the Latin Vulgate Bible and the Hebrew OT, the printing and publishing of the Greek NT was remarkably delayed. Gutenberg’s famous Bible–a Latin Vulgate edition–was printed around 1453. Jerome’s Latin translation was the standard and authoritative Bible of Western European Christianity at the time, and had been for nearly a millennium. A hundred or so additional printings of the Vulgate occurred in the next 60 years before anyone printed up the Greek NT. ‘What need is there for the Greek if one has the Latin Bible?’ many no doubt reasoned. The Jews put the entire Hebrew OT in print in 1488, some 35 years after Gutenberg, but still more than a quarter century before the Greek NT was first printed in 1514. And even Bible versions in Bohemian, German, French and Italian (all based on the Vulgate) were printed and circulated before the original Greek NT was.

But who and where and when and how was the first printed Greek NT produced? And what influence did it have?

With its more than well-deserved reputation as a hot-bed of anti-Bible zealotry in the Reformation and post-Reformation eras (no modern language Bible of any kind was permitted to be printed there until 1793–almost three centuries after the Reformation), Spain seems to be a most unlikely place for the printing of the first Greek NT, but it nevertheless was the place. To be more specific, the location was Alcala (a.k.a. Complutum in Roman times), a city 40 miles or so east of Madrid; it was later the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes.

ximinesThe first printed Greek NT occupied one column per page in one volume of a six-volume multi-language Bible edition, now commonly known as The Complutensian Polyglot. The sponsor who conceived (as early as 1502), bankrolled (at a cost in the millions of dollars, modern equivalent) and guided this project was Cardinal Francisco Ximenes [pronounced like “Jimenez”] de Cisneros (1436-1517). He assembled a team of scholars and editors (including three converted Jews who worked on the OT part, and a native Greek) and employed numerous students and clerics in the work.

This work, which contained the first printed Greek NT, was completed in six volumes, the NT with parallel Greek and Latin (Vulgate) texts and a Greek vocabulary list comprising volume V, said volume being completed first (January 10, 1514). Volumes I-IV made up the OT (with the apocrypha interspersed among the canonical books), the text containing the Hebrew original, Latin Vulgate and Septuagint Greek in parallel columns, with the Aramaic Targum of Onkelos (Pentateuch only) and accompanying Latin translation at the foot of the page (the apocrypha was printed in Greek and Latin only). These were printed last (vol. IV is dated July 10, 1517). Volume VI contained, among other things, Hebrew and Chaldee vocabulary lists.

The manuscripts used in making this edition were partly purchased by Cardinal Ximenes and partly borrowed from the Vatican library in Rome (those purchased are extant and are currently housed in a library in Madrid, there being no Greek NT manuscripts among them; those borrowed–including whatever Greek NT manuscripts were used–were no doubt returned to Rome, but precisely which manuscripts they were is not certainly known).

Ximenes lived to see the completion of the printing of this great work, but died (November 1517) before Papal sanction from Pope Leo X was received for its publication (1520; Erasmus, too, sought and received Leo X’s sanction for the publication of his Greek NT in 1516). Some 600 sets of this publication were originally made, with nearly 100 of them still in existence. Because of its size, cost and the relative fewness of its copies, the Greek text as printed in the Complutensian polyglot had much less influence than did Erasmus’ texts (which were issued in the thousands of copies, all told).

polygotWhen it became available to Erasmus, the Complutensian Greek text was used by him in the fourth and fifth revisions of his text (he consequently made a reported 90 changes in the text of Revelation alone). Though a close comparison of the Complutensian Greek text and those of Erasmus would reveal hundreds, likely many hundreds, of specific though mostly minor differences between them, they are nevertheless merely varieties of the same numerically dominant-in-the-manuscripts Byzantine text type. The Complutensian Greek NT was the first of more than 2,000 printed editions of the NT in Greek that have appeared in the last 500 years.

It is an interesting chronological coincidence that the year of the completion of the printing of the Complutensian polyglot–1517–was also the year that Martin Luther boldly challenged the practice and doctrine of the dominant and domineering Roman Catholic Church with his posting on October 31 his “Ninety-five theses.” The foundational premise (at least in theory though not entirely in practice) of the Reformers and the Reformation was “Sola Scriptura,” rightly exalting Scripture, especially in the original languages, as the final, or rather, sole arbiter of theological truth and practice. Cardinal Ximenes’ polyglot, with its printing of the Hebrew and Greek originals in a single work, was very much of the spirit (whether intentional or coincidental) of the Reformation that would soon follow.

The printing and publishing of the Greek NT in the 16th century was essential to the success of the Reformation, and the Greek NT remains our greatest spiritual treasure. And yet, there is at present (and has been for some time past) a very serious decline in American conservative Bible colleges and seminaries in the study of Greek. In earlier days, one could not even get into seminary without a competence in Greek (and Latin); later, the typical three-year M. Div. or Th. M. course was at least marked by a strong Greek requirement–three full years of it, totaling 18 semester hours or more. Now a couple years at most is required, if that, and many students opt for MRE, Ed.D., M.Min. and D.Min. degrees because they do not have even the relatively modest language requirements of modern M. Div. and Th.M., and Ph.D. / Th.D. degrees at many institutions.

Though I have said it in these pages more than once, I will repeat it: the single most valuable tool I have for my study and exposition of the NT is the 20 hours of Greek, including a year of classical Greek, that I had in college and seminary. I only regret that I did not have more (especially in classical and ecclesiastical Greek). Nothing, not even a broad knowledge of commentaries and theologies, can substitute for a first hand knowledge of Greek. Three well-taught and well-learned years of Greek along with a good course on hermeneutics (Bible interpretation) are of greater value than everything else in a typical three-year M.Div. or four-year Th.M. program combined (Hebrew only excepted). The greatest dis-service that can be done to Bible college and seminary students, and to those that they in the future will minister to, is to de-emphasize, down-play and neglect the instruction in Greek.

 

Answers KJV Onlyists are Afraid You will Provide [1]

screamingBack when I started blogging on a regular basis, I was directed to a KJV onlyist website called, Bible Discernment. The inappropriately named website is crudely designed with seizure inducing flash animation and neither teaches the Bible nor discernment in any meaningful fashion. In fact, it really hasn’t changed much, if at all, since encountering it back in the mid-2000s.

The owner, who remains pretty much anonymous, which is typical of a lot of those sites, compiled a list of questions to ask those who read modern Bible versions. (That’d be me.)

33 questions that modern Bible version advocates are afraid they will be asked

Our “Bible Discerner” believes he has put together a list of silver bullet questions that will just shut the mouths of non-KJV onlyists and if they are asked any one of those 33 questions, they will close their modern Bible version, bow their heads, and with proverbial tail stuck between their legs, make a hasty retreat for the nearest exit.

Never being one who ignores a thrown gauntlet, I answered every one of our challenger’s questions. Along with providing my answers, I will also take the opportunity to ask our KJV onlyist questions he is afraid I will ask in response.

Let’s begin, shall we?

1) Have you done research on the KJV/other version controversies yourself?

Yes I have. I would further add, probably more so than the average KJV onlyists who tend to only read literature published from within their own circles, just as I did when I was a practicing KJVer.The question is meant to “expose” some alleged fatal-flaw in the arguments of the non-KJV onlyist. It is suggested that a person reads and uses a modern Bible version (MBV) because he or she doesn’t know any better and is blindly following a favored teacher or what was taught at the Bible college where the person attended. Many KJV onlyists believe this about the non-KJV onlyists. It is assumed they are ignorant, but this is merely a strawman objection. I would throw back a question to our KJV onlyist:

Have you done research on the KJV-MBV controversy in sources OTHER THAN KJV publications? Have you read, for instance. the research found at such sites as The King James Resource Center?

I would venture a guess that you have not, or only selectively.

2) If you are not in favor of using the KJV, and if you are in favor of using Modern Bible Versions, are you sure you understand the major points about the philosophical/theological position you are advocating?

Well, if I have done my own research as I acknowledged under the first question, then yes, I am quite aware of the philosophical-theological position I am advocating. It is called biblical Christianity.

You see: It is being suggested by the question that if a person reads from and recommends study in a MBV, then that person is advocating some alternative Christian faith or a devil inspired philosophy. Moreover, it is implied with the little phrase are you sure that if I am using a MBV, then I may be ignorant that I am using a new age Bible version. However, if we were to dig a bit under the revisionist top soil the KJV onlyist has laid down as the “fact” of how our English Bibles came about, it will reveal that much of it is contrived and has nothing to do with the facts.

A question in response: If you are not in favor of using any MBV and will ONLY use the KJV, are you aware of the Anglican theology that lies behind its production and the church-state politics that forced its translation?

3) Have you thought through the premise that – if you insist on using Modern Versions only – you must accept to go against 95% of the Bible Manuscripts that have been used by the Christian Church throughout the centuries (until 1904) ?

AND

4) Are you aware that the KJV is still supported by 95% of the Bible Parchments and Manuscripts which exist all over the world?

sabotageLet me treat those two questions together. They both address a common KJV myth about the biblical texts that allegedly support the KJV and how KJV onlyists understand textual criticism.

When you read their apologetics, KJV onlyists will present the idea that the KJV is translated from a biblical text that is supported by 95% of the evidence. The claim suggests, particularly to those uninitiated in the subject of textual criticism, that the MVs are translated from entirely different manuscripts that present an entirely different Bible.

A few things are important to note.

First, when he makes that claim, what is in view here is the New Testament documents, not the Old Testament documents. That is because we have more copies of the NT documents than we have of the OT.  The NT is different in that the manuscripts are many and wide spread from many areas of Asia Minor and North Africa.

Secondly, the “95%” figure is never clarified. It is cited rather blindly, because KJV apologists assumes the priority of the manuscripts that circulated in and around the Byzantine empire.  Those manuscripts share many similar characteristics and are called the Byzantine family, because the Byzantine Christians did such an excellent job of copying and maintaining them. They produced so many of them that it became the dominant family of manuscripts in numerical quantity, and the ones from which the Reformers did much of the earlier translating work into English. Hence, that family has the nickname of the Majority Text. But the title of “majority,” contrary to what the KJV onlyists claim, does not equate the best.

Third, later manuscript finds in the 1700 and 1800s of older biblical texts helped to revolutionize the textual criticism of the NT. One of the things those new finds did was to push back the original reading of the NT in the Greek language to the 2nd century, nearly 200 years after the first NT documents were written. Those new finds also uncovered some different readings than what was in the current textual apparatus of the day, the Received Text from which the KJV was translated.

Those different readings, however, didn’t alter the message of the Bible, nor did they take away or weaken any key doctrines of Scripture as KJV onlyists would have people to believe. Thus, when textual critics of the NT  wanted to provide a new translation of the NT, they determined to use some of the different readings because they were considered closer to the originals.

King James only apologists will often confuse the Received Text with the Majority Text as being one and the same. They are not. The Received Text is a working translational apparatus that was edited from manuscripts in the Majority Text family. The Received Text also has gone through at least 26 revisions since it was first published in the early 1500s by Erasmus.

When Erasmus edited his first Greek text that became known as the Received Text, he used just a handful of incomplete manuscripts for his work. Many KJV onlyists are unaware of that fact. Additionally, the KJV translators used a variety of other sources for their translation work, which was really a revisionist work of the former Bishop’s Bible. That included the Latin Vulgate, the Septuagint, and other ancient translations of the Old and New Testaments.

Hence, a couple of questions a person can ask a KJV advocates is: Do you know the difference between the Majority Text and the Received Text? Do you know the first handful of Received Text editions were based upon just a small amount of manuscripts? Did you know that the KJV translators did not use the Received Text exclusively, but used many other textual sources for their translation work?

5) It is true that the KJV translators relied on the manuscripts that were available in their own day and time. And it is also true that more Bible manuscripts were found since the early 1900s, than in all of the other centuries combined. Here is the key question: Are you aware that almost all these ancient manuscripts – those found in the 1900s – have accomplished, is to support, authenticate and validate the King James Version of the Bible?

AND

6) In other words, despite finding many more manuscripts of the Bible since the KJV was translated, more than 95% [sic] the new manuscripts found in the 1900s continue to support the King James Version, and disagree with the Modern Version. Are you aware of this?

truebibleI’ll treat these two questions together as well.

First of all, I am not sure what the author has in mind when he writes about ancient manuscripts found in the 1900s. The bulk of the ancient manuscripts in question that are the focus of so much KJV only scorn were discovered in the 1800s, not the 1900s. To give the author the benefit of the doubt, he may have in mind the “19th century,” not the 1900s, but I could be wrong about that.

Anyhow, he makes the claim that all of those manuscripts supposedly support the Received Text that underlies the KJV, but that is not entirely accurate. Again, his claim suggests that the MBVs present an entirely different NT than what is found in the KJV, but that is only wildly inaccurate, if not outright dishonest.

The manuscripts on which the MBVs are based are almost identical in content as those manuscripts that were used to put together the Received Text. However, there are maybe 10% where the modern texts dissent in reading the same. What textual critics have done, and with good reason, is to side with those dissenting readings that differ with the Received Text in a variety of places because those manuscripts are hundreds of years older and closer to the original writings than those that were used to translate the KJV. King James apologist make a big deal over those dissenting readings by asserting that they introduce heresy or take away important biblical doctrine. But that is exaggerating the facts.

What’s more, most KJV advocates ignore the fact that the Received Text has unique readings in the book of Revelation that are not found in any other NT manuscripts, even within the Majority Text. The main reason for that anomaly is when Erasmus edited his Greek apparatus, he had only a few incomplete manuscripts to utilize. He did not have a complete copy of Revelation and had to translate the last six verses from the Latin Vulgate into Greek in order to complete the book. Many of those unique readings stayed within the Received Text and were even translated into the King James. A key instance is Revelation 22:19 which reads “book of life” rather than what is found in the original Greek, “the tree of life.”

7) Are you aware that Modern Versions Reject the Greek Text which underlies the English King James Version, and that this is really what the crux of the matter is – about the King James Version Debate?

That is not true. Those who translated what became the modern versions did not reject the Received Text just because it was orthodox and they were sinister heretics wishing to corrupt the Christian faith as is suggested by the question. They chose to edit a newer apparatus that utilized the readings they believed better reflected what was originally written by the biblical authors. The issue for them was purity to the original text, not corrupting the Bible or throwing away the King James.

8) Do you realize that the Protestant Greek New Testament Textus Receptus, was used not only by the English speaking world in the KJV, but also by almost all other countries in the spread and propagation of the Bible – until 1904?

I personally would like to see his documentation on the Received Text holding sway until 1904. Westcott and Hort’s text was published in the mid-1800s and began to be used in the translation of the Revised Version in the 1880s. Before then, several other textual scholars like Johann Bengel, began editing his own NT text as an alternative to the Received Text.

The author also fails to take into consideration the popularity of the Latin Vulgate, which was used by many Protestants, like John Wycliffe and his Lollard friends, as a base text for their translations.

9) Do you therefore understand that to disagree with the Textus Receptus, is to place yourself against the true history of the Protestant Historical Teaching (in the choice of the Bible Versions that they recommended)???

Our author must believe that is a vital question because he places three question marks at the end. At any rate, he is selective in his history regarding English translations, because before the King James was translated the number one preferred translation for Protestants was the Geneva Bible. All the Protestants preferred it because it had been translated in Geneva, the heart of the Protestant Reformation and was the first true study Bible with Reformational footnotes.

When King James authorized the publication of the new Bible that would carry his name, he specifically ordered that it not have footnotes and that it reflect no Reformed theology. In a manner of speaking, it was a counter-Reformation Bible. I wonder if our KJV proponent is aware of this fact?

10) Have you really stopped to think about the Motives WHY someone might [from a spiritual point of view] have an interest in getting modern Christians to reject the Bibles that upheld their Churches and their Doctrines for nearly 2000 years?

There are a number of statements of misinformation with this question.

First is the idea of questioning someone’s motives from a spiritual point of view. Why is it automatically assumed that there are diabolical motives behind anyone who wants to update and revise the Bible based upon the latest finds and textual criticism? Their motives could be for the sake of purity and integrity in maintaining God’s Word.

It is also speculative to claim those nameless “someones” want to get modern Christians to reject the KJV. That borders on being conspiratorial in nature and wrongfully equates the KJV as being the only Bible that upholds the doctrine in the church.

Moreover, by asserting that the KJV is the one doctrinally pure Bible, the author has erroneously made the claim that the Received Text has always been in existence since the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Does he really believe it has been around for 2000 years? Basically he is saying that if you refuse to use the King James Bible, you are rejecting the Bible in whole. Never mind the fact that there were numerous other foreign language translations for the first 1500 years of the Church, then Erasmus edited his NT, and then that NT edition went through numerous revisions and wasn’t even called the “Received Text” until 1633, nearly 20 years after the KJV was first published. This question places the author in the precarious position of defending a falsehood and making his faith look foolish.

Those are the first 10. I’ll tackle the next group coming up soon.

Our Dinner with the Mormons

I have had a handful of interesting encounters with Mormon missionaries ever since I became a Christian.

The first time I encountered them was the first week of my college sophomore year during a campus organization fair. I was a brand new believer, maybe just a few months old in the Lord, and I happened to walk by a booth and noticed a big painting of Jesus with angels descending from the clouds to earth. I said to one of the gals standing there, “That’s a cool picture,” to which one of them replied, “Oh, do you know much about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

I have to confess I was taken aback because all I knew was that Mormons were a non-Christian cult, and without hesitation I bluntly told the two girl missionaries they were a cult. Tactful, I know. That led to a spirited exchange between us as we debated whether or not Joseph Smith was a con-man or a true prophet. The conversation ended with me condemning their religion and telling them to repent. I think they said something like “God bless you” as I walked away.

The second encounter happened a year or so later.  A friend of mine saw a TV ad for a free video about Jesus. He called the number and was surprised to learn it was a Mormon produced video. The operator asked if some missionaries could drop it by his apartment rather than mailing it. He said sure and gave them MY contact information. He then calls me and tells me to be on the look out for these missionaries. They eventually called me and because I had a misunderstanding of the warning in 2 John 9-11, I arranged to have a meeting with them at our college library.

I took my friend Johnny along and we debated with these two guys for about an hour. This time, I was a bit more knowledgeable about Mormonism than I had previously been. Johnny and I challenged the legitimacy of Joseph Smith being a prophet of God, the historical accuracy of the Book of Mormon, and the whole idea of men becoming gods. The encounter was again spirited for me, and interestingly, the one guy who did all the talking tells us, “You probably know my uncle.” I said, “Really, who’s that?” “Robert Schuller.” I still chuckle about that.

third encounter happened shortly after I was married. One afternoon while I was taking a walk out on the pedestrian path that ran along side our condo complex, I saw four young men approaching me. I immediately recognized the white shirts, black pants, and name badges.

mormonsOne of the guys stopped me and asks, “Hey, have you ever talked with someone dressed like me?” I quipped, “You mean an insurance salesman?”

I then told him I knew what he was all about and like the previous times I had spoken with Mormons, we had a spirited exchange. I questioned Joseph Smith as a prophet and the validity of the Book of Mormon. By this time I was fully immersed in studying Calvinism comprehensively and I turned the conversation to the doctrines of total inability and sovereign election. All of the four guys expressed to me their hearty disdain for any notion of total inability and sovereign election and they made up an excuse to beat a quick retreat.

Now with those stories in mind, let me share a fourth, much more personal encounter I had with Mormon missionaries.

A few years ago, I come home from work and my wife greets me with a smile and a kiss and then says to me, “Guess who I spoke with today at the park?” She then proceeds to tell me how she and our kids were playing at our local park when a pair of Mormon missionaries stopped by where she was sitting and began chatting with her about their church. I replied, “Really? So how was the discussion?”

“Oh, we talked a bit,” she said, “But I invited them to eat dinner with us this weekend.” She then added, “You have a few days to prepare.”

My immediate reaction was to review all the resources I have on hand discussing Mormon history and theology. But as I pondered my previous encounters with Mormon missionaries, I wanted to take a more fruitful approach with any discussion that may occur.  My thoughts turned to what I had been learning about evangelism and  apologetics and how I have been sharpening my methodology and delivery.

I told my wife I would email a couple of individuals I knew who have a direct ministry with the Mormon people so as to get some advice, but rather than haggling with these two missionaries about Joseph Smith’s shady character and the quirky beliefs of Mormon theology, I would take a renewed approach.

Instead, my main objective will be four-fold:

- To listen respectfully to their presentation,

- Contrast and defend biblical doctrine against any contrary beliefs they will present,

- Emphasize the key points of the Gospel: man’s sin and inability to save himself, God’s just wrath against sinners, Christ’s wrath appeasing death in place of sinners, and His imputed righteousness to our account,

- And trust the Holy Spirit to use my efforts regardless of how eloquent a presentation I may or may not give.

I think I read a couple of articles from the Mormon Research Ministries, but most of my preparation was looking over important passages that speak of God’s eternality and singularity (being the only true God), and reviewing important passages on the inability of man to earn his own righteousness and Christ’s righteousness being imputed to us.

The dinner was scheduled to start at 6 PM on a Saturday evening. Fifteen minutes past the hour the two guys show up. I went down to invite them in. I introduced myself with my first and last name, and they introduced themselves as elder so-and-so. I asked them for their first names, but they insisted I call them elder so-and-so. My wife told me after they left that when she was at the park they told her their names were Rick and Roberto.

At the time when we lived at our condo, when you came through our front door, you would had been greeted with a gigantic book case filled with just some of my books. Roberto saw it and says, “Wow, you must like to read.” I said, “Oh yes, I sure do.”  When you got to the top of our stairs that led into our living room, there were two other large shelves filled with even more books. Again Roberto says, “Wow. You have a lot of books.” I then told them I was a seminary graduate and I planned to pastor in the future. I could tell they were both a bit awed by my library as they browsed the titles, so I took that as a positive in my favor.

We all sat down for a nice spaghetti meal my wife prepared and I asked them where they were from. Roberto was from El Salvador and Rick was from the Kansas City Missouri area. Roberto was on his 3rd month as a missionary and Rick was finishing up his 17th month. Both of them had parents who converted to Mormonism.

Dinner was mainly chit-chat stuff. We talked about how to keep food from getting on our ties, and Rick was bold enough to ask me about the scar on my neck from my surgery when I had a tumor removed. I told him the entire story.

After we finished up dinner, it was down to brass tacks. They began by telling us they were Christians like us and that they believed Jesus died for their sins. My wife stopped them and asked them to define who they think Jesus is. Both of them claimed He was the Son of God and even affirmed the virgin birth.

onewayI then asked them to give me their testimony as to how they became Mormon. Though each of them gave a little more detail to their family up bringing, neither one of them really got around to explaining under what circumstances they were brought to a place to confirm Mormonism as being true. Both of them claimed they took the Mormon test at some point during their early life. That is, prayerfully reading through the Book of Mormon and asking God to confirm whether the book was true or not. Both of them spoke of experiencing a spiritual enlightenment, or what is known as the “burning bosom” sensation after they tested the Book of Mormon with prayer.

I then recounted to them the Joseph Smith story and asked if he had a similar experience, to which they replied yes, he had. I then asked if Smith believed he was restoring the true Church of Jesus Christ, to which they said yes. But then I asked about the other sects of Mormonism that have splintered off the main group due to various disagreements. I asked if whether or not their members had the same experience with the Book of Mormon as they did, and if they did, how then could you call them apostate or in error if the “Holy Spirit” was allegedly confirming the correctness of their beliefs with the “burning bosom” experience. In other words, if there are two hundred different sects of Mormonism all claiming to be the true representatives because they had an alleged experience with the Holy Spirit, how could anyone ever claim they were mistaken or in error? Their affirmation for what is true is based upon purely speculative and subjective means.

I am not sure either one of those guys had ever been challenged with that question, because both of them seemed a bit perplexed with what I asked. They had to ask me to clarify what I meant. At first I thought their hesitancy was due in part to my inability to ask my question coherently, so I rephrased and repeated it several different ways. However, in spite of my efforts, they didn’t seem to have an answer to what is really a fundamental understanding as to how a person determines the Book of Mormon as being true.

Rick eventually went to Matthew 7 where Jesus talks about a good tree producing only good fruit and tried to explain that any Mormon who claims to have the “burning bosom” experience will also be a faithful Mormon. But I tried to explain that the truthfulness of what the Book of Mormon teaches is still in the realm of the subjective if the person you say is not bearing good fruit insists he or she is certain of their experience. There has to be an objective standard by which we can judge the validity of the person’s so-called experience.

That was a good lead into my two objections to Joseph Smith being a prophet. I again repeated the Smith story and asked them to correct and clarify anything I might have gotten wrong. After I explained the Smith story, they both affirmed I had the details correct, so I told them I have two troubling problems with what Smith claimed:

First, he claimed he was restoring the true Church of Jesus Christ which allegedly had gone into apostasy only a few hundred years after the time of the apostles. I told them Jesus specifically said that He would build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18-20).

Additionally, Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20,21 that God’s Spirit will always be operative in the hearts of God’s people so that He will be glorified in the Church to all generations. That implies an uninterrupted Church. Though those who claim to be Christians may slide into error and fall away as the NT affirms in a variety of places, there will always be a faithful, redeemed remnant on the earth standing firm in the Faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Smith, I said, is contradicting that teaching by claiming God told him no denominations are correct and he was chosen to restore the true church. Essentially, Smith is claiming with his vision that Christ failed in his promise as described in Matthew 16.

Second, I pointed out that the Bible presents some important marks identifying a prophet of God. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 says that any person who claims to be a prophet by seeing visions and giving signs, BUT presents new revelation about God that contradicts the previous revelation and leads people away from the true worship of God, is not only to be rejected as a false prophet, but killed. I told them that from what I know of Mormon theology, Joseph Smith taught doctrine that runs the direct opposite from biblical Christianity, especially the notion that God was once a man who became a god.

Both of those guys, particularly Rick, affirmed that is what Mormonism teaches, and Roberto was insistent this is what the Bible teaches also. He took me to the classic passage in Psalms 82:6 where the text says, I said “you are gods,” and all of you are children of the Most High, and then he related it to Jesus’ words in John 10:34. I then backed up and read the entire Psalm and when we came to verse 7 which reads, But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes, I asked them, “So if this passage is affirming the Mormon doctrine that men can become gods, does this mean once you become a god you can do something to die? What is it that can cause a god to die and what happens when a god does die? What sort of death” is in mind here?”

Stone silence. I began hearing creaking sounds as they shifted in their chairs.

It was at this point Roberto started to wrap the discussion up by telling us they were not here to convert us, that we could talk all night about these things, and that they only want to encourage us to take up the Book of Mormon and prayerfully ask God to show us that it is true. He further stated that neither one of them wanted to condemn any other church or denomination, and as far as they were concerned, God is blessing all of those churches and using them.

I then asked Roberto, “In light of that last comment, I need to know if there is anything of eternal value at stake here? Both of us cannot be right in our understanding of the Christian faith. Either I am correct and you are wrong, or you are correct and I am wrong.”

He repeated his exhortation for me to take up the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and then asked me how I personally knew the Bible was true. I responded by saying that the Holy Spirit does affirm its truth to me in my heart, but my faith is also set upon the historical reality of the Old and New Testament. The Book of Mormon does not have this historical reality.

That is when I recounted the gospel message. I told them about man’s sinfulness and being separated from God, how God in His grace provided a substitute to satisfy His wrath against sinners and how God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us on account of our faith alone. My wife added a passioned plea for them to repent, because, as she told them, they are in a false religion that will only lead to hell. “The works of Mormonism cannot save you,” she concluded.

Both of them ended the night by thanking us for our hospitality and our spiritual concern and we walked them to the door. My wife’s final comment to them was outstanding. She said, “Guys, if you are correct, we have nothing to fear and lose. However, if we are correct, you have your soul’s to lose for all eternity. I pray that God will open your eyes to see the truth. Don’t blind yourself to the lies of the Mormon Church.” And with that, they thanked us again and left.

We went up stairs and prayed for God to use the words we spoke to work in the hearts of Rick and Roberto. Who knows what will happen, but over all, I was thankful for the time was much more profitable on my account than my previous experiences with Mormon missionaries. Perhaps we will encounter them again, and maybe we will have further opportunity to bring them the truth of scripture.

The Providence of Moving

houseThis month of July, my family and I celebrate our first year of living in our new house. Folks reading that may think, “Oh, congrats and all, but, so what?”

I meant to document our moving adventures last year for my readers, but, well… unpacking and getting settled prevented that. Unlike our previous moving experience in 2009, this one was filled with remarkable displays of God’s providence that played themselves out in our encounters with both good and bad forces.

Back in 2009, our family of 6 had outgrown our 2 bedroom condo, and because gubermint was offering to let me keep more of my hard earned money via tax returns if we became new home owners, we decided to move into a new place.

Our options were limited. Everything we could afford was a fixer-upper. They were houses that had been foreclosed on, and before the banks repossessed them, the owners had stripped out all the plumbing, wire, and other fixtures. Many of those homes had un-permitted additions that would only be a legal and financial headache if we bought them.

After a few months of looking at a pathetic inventory of housing, we turned to looking at mobile homes, or what we call in the South, double-wide trailers. (Ours had a deck). The more gentrified term is “coach.” “How old is your ‘coach’?” a person would ask, “Oh, it’s a 2007,” we’d respond.  We lived in our mobile home (coach) community for at least 3 years, the minimum time gubermint required us to stay at the same residence without being forced to return my money they so generously allowed me to keep.

Though our experience was positive living there, it was not without its drawbacks. Nearly every one of our immediate neighbors smoked, and because they were either retired or had an exaggerated “disability” that allowed them to stay home all day with a paycheck from gubermint, they sat out on their porches smoking morning, noon, and night. They lived literally one carport width away from our windows, so their smoking made it hard on my homeschooling family. They had to stay shut up in our house (coach) all day with the windows closed.  And don’t get me started on the busybody spirit of our coach community. People think that because they live 15 feet from you, they are privileged to know everything that is happening in your personal life. Plus, how can I not mention the intrusive, nanny-state “rules enforcing” manager hacks who thrived on monetary bribes.

In essence, we had bought a massive used car (maybe that is why they call them “coaches”), and we knew we needed to find something a bit more permanent because our house (coach) was only depreciating in value every year.

coachesAt the end of 2012, we faced a similar problem we had in 2009: there really weren’t that many homes available to buy; but added to that was the fact there weren’t many people wanting to buy coaches, either. In order for our move to work we had to find a decent home in our price range that would meet our needs, as well as sell our house (coach) at the price we were asking.

The world of “coach” selling is a dark and sinister realm. There are entirely different sets of rules governing their sale and purchase, so no serious realtor truly wants to mess with them.  Hence, those who make a living at selling them are what you call “shady.” Our first order of business was finding a realtor who could transcend both the coach selling world and the real house buying world.

We thought we would talk with the bubbly gal who sold us our coach back in 2009. She told us she only sells coaches, but she had a friend she worked with who bought and sold real homes. When we met with them, my wife and I knew something was up when the two gals got all weird after we asked simple questions like how much commission they were expecting to make. We further explained our needs and the various areas of the city we were wanting to look into settling, and immediately the two start giving each other sideways glances.  As we ended our meeting, they claimed they would begin looking into our list immediately. After two or three weeks of not returning our calls and absolutely no communication we knew something odd was going on.

Well, my wife, being one of those Proverb 31 gals the ex-fundy types like Rachel Held Evans despise so vigorously, took the initiative to start looking into new homes on her own. It just so happened one day, while standing outside a house for sale in a neighborhood we were interested in that she ran into a real estate lady who was coming out. My wife and her started talking, and my wife tells her our saga with trying to sell our “coach.”  When she asks her what sort of commission she would expect to make if she were to sell our house (coach), she told her on the spot.

Impressed, my wife set up a meeting with her and she came prepared with a full packet, including a detailed, personal resume that answered all the questions the previous two gals dodged and ignored. No weasel worded nonsense. We immediately made her our realtor.

Our first order of business was to find someone to buy our house (coach). When we originally bought it, we did so at a tremendously reduced, foreclosed price. We determined to sell it at its true value, which was at least 15,000 more than what we paid for it. All our neighbors scoffed and said we would never get that price. It was just an unspoken “fact” that no one ever sells their “coach” more than what was paid for it, ever; even if it was bought at a reduced price. Ah. But we have a God of providence.

conmenThe one coach salesman that came to us happened to be a notorious grifter type. He reminded me of Joe Biden for some reason. Neither my wife, nor I, nor our realtor gal, liked him at all because he just exuded a televangelist like slime. He had a reputation of smooth talking little old ladies into selling him their coaches when they were in a tough, financial jam and had to move out in a hurry and into a retirement facility. He would buy them for like half of what they were truly worth and once the little old lady was gone, would turn them around and make a profit.

He would always bring to us some clueless individuals who didn’t even look like they could make house (coach) payments. He and his “marks” would walk through the place, but none of them would commit or they would offer us a significantly lower price.

Finally, he brought us one gal who wanted to move closer to her work. She already lived in a mobile home, so the concept wasn’t necessarily new to her. She would just upgrade from a coach 12 years older than ours. But again, she needed to sell hers so as to buy ours. We needed her to buy ours at the price we were asking, or we couldn’t move. We in turn had to find a house we could afford that would meet our needs. That was proving just as difficult to find.

So while our coach selling saga was going on, my wife and realtor friend were feverish looking for homes for us to check out and tour. All of them, except for maybe one, were dogs. The one exception was way out in the country, though still close to my work. The folks selling it, however, didn’t take our offer. Crunch time was squeezing us, because the grifter was able to sell his mark’s mobile home AND, she agreed to buy our place at our asking price, which aggravated our frowning neighbors when they learned that bit of news.

We were now required to get out at a specific time, and if we couldn’t, we’d really be up the creek. (Believe it or not, the slimy grifter coach salesman wanted us out by two weeks, but we thwarted that attempt. That’s another story in itself).

My wife, by this time, had resorted to looking at homes that were in the process of being “flipped.” She’d find out who was flipping the place and inquire as to whether or not we could make an offer. It just so happened that she found such a house. It was 200 sq. feet smaller than our coach, but had a big garage and an enormous back yard. Plus, it was in a neighborhood we were interested in and it fell into our price range. Amazing, I know.

But the place had a sordid history. First, back in the mid-2000s, it was a notorious clown house. Meaning, when coyote’s brought illegal aliens across the border to work, this house was one of the thousands of places where the “undocumented” individual would get dumped. We were told there were at least 15 or more all living in this 3 bed room, 2 bath house at once.  After the complaints by law abiding citizens in the neighborhood, the city was finally forced to evict the criminal illegal invasion.

Things apparently quieted down and the new “renter” was a well-groomed Chinese guy who – I am told – would stop by the house once or twice a week, warmly greet people with a wave hello, disappear into the house, emerge a few hours later, wave good bye and not return for a few more days.

After a while, folks began noticing that he left the air conditioning running 24 hours a day, and it was during the winter months. Moreover, a strange odor began lofting from the house. Finally, the sheriff was called about the odor, and the deputy discovered that the house had a half million dollar pot grow inside. See pics,

pot growpot grow 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was soon discovered that this Chinese guy had 5 homes in the Santa Clarita Valley he had converted into pot grows valuing at 2 million. He disappeared and his whereabouts are unknown.

The house was seized and red tagged because of all the illegal modifications it received to be transformed into a pot grow. That means city gubermint was involved in the remodel and flipping process. The current owner, according to the listing agent for the place, was on the verge of finishing up the flip and agreed to sell the finished product to us.

So, we have our coach sold, the new house is supposed to be ready by the first of June, and we need to be out of our place by the middle of May. There was two weeks of limbo as to where we would stay as we waited to move into our new place. Praise the Lord our gracious friends let us stay with them.  We had to rent some containers to store our stuff, along with storing some of our larger items in the back yard with a tarp covering them. I was extremely grateful to live in Southern California where the rain is primarily concentrated during the winter months. At this point, it looked like everything was turning up roses for us.

Then the unexpected happened and we thought the whole thing would fall apart, but it was merely another move of providence.

The contractor folks remodeling the place were found to be cutting corners on important features. You know, important stuff like the plumbing. In fact, a local plumber guy was the one who discovered and reported the corner-cutting. That alerted the city management folks who put a halt on the remodel until the inspectors could look things over. They did a walk around and determined there were significant issues that needed to be fixed, including rewiring, replumping, and they wanted them to put on a new roof. Those were all items I was anticipating having to replace in time that was being taken care of now. Essentially, our old, 40 year plus house would be practically brand new.

We were elated with the fixes, but that only delayed our time moving in. (Sad trombone sound inserted here). What we thought would be a 2 week stay with our friends turned into almost an entire 2 months. But in spite of the extended stay that bounced around on everyone’s nerves, they are still one of our bestest friends. We still eat thanksgiving and Easter dinner with them.

One other wonderful blessing was the help we received from friends who offered their services with moving.  We did two moves really. One that moved our stuff out of our old place and onto our property, and then a second move that emptied out the storage containers and brought our stuff into our actual home. I even learned the importance of spending that extra 15 bucks for insurance when renting that moving truck. Something I never do, by the way, but for this time, I was compelled to get it. Go figure.

uhaultruck

BTW, They have those upside down U shaped metal bars at gas stations for a reason.

The last cool thing about our move was the help I got from a sweet gentleman who volunteers at Grace to You.  We needed a storage shed built in our backyard. I thought about getting a prefabricated kit, but they were expensive and looked cheap for the price. There was an entire website I found that talked about shed building philosophy and one article warned against purchasing shed kits because they charge you extra for what is called optional add-ons which are necessary components for basic shed construction. For instance, a floor.

I was telling my volunteer friend about my shed research and he offered to look over the plans I had found and even to help me build it. Just so happens, the guy built houses in the Lake Tahoe area for 30 plus years! It was an unexpected providence.  We built it from scratch using raw materials. Took us a month of weekends, but now we have a solid, well constructed shed for our lawn mower and other storage items that cost less than what I would have paid for a prefabricated one without the “necessary” components falsely called “add-ons.”

This is maybe one of my longer, rambling personal posts, but I thought folks would be encouraged to see how the practical workings of providence play out in one’s daily life. Even in things as aggravating and mundane as moving, God’s sovereignty is on display.

Me and the UFO Guy

Opportunities to evangelize can unexpectedly occur for the Christian all the time, but  those opportunity are sometimes not only unexpected, but also unusual.One Saturday in the late afternoon a few years ago, I was finishing cleaning up our mini-van. I had removed all of the interior seats, vacuumed the floor as best as I could, and I was in the process of vacuuming the seats and wrestling them back into the van.

While I was cleaning up the van, I was reviewing one of my Bible talk lectures I had given on the subject of evolution on the CD stereo. As I was fiddling with one of my kid’s car seat, movement caught the corner of my eye and I turned to see a guy riding up on his bicycle next to my van. I became a tad apprehensive, because he rode right up to my van and was just sitting there on his bicycle. I began to think about those crime documentaries on A&E and how many of those unsolved murders probably began with someone strolling up to a guy vacuuming a van.

That was just for a split second and I nodded to the guy a friendly “hey,” and he motioned to me that he was listening to the CD. He then asked me who it was and I said, “me.” He looked surprised and said, “really?” I explained to him how I worked at a radio ministry connected to my church and because I direct about 100 volunteers a week who come to help package tapes and CDs to our donors, I have the privilege of teaching them for about 30 minutes or so. I went on to explain how the talk was part of a series of lectures I gave on the subject of evolution and ID.

As I was explaining all this, he swings his leg over his bike and reaches into his pocket. Of course, I begin to eye-ball him to watch what it was he was going to pull out of there. He retrieves a cell phone and says, “Tell me what you think of this.” He proceeds to show me a video image of a round light glowing in the sky over some trees.

I asked, “What is it?” He looks around and lowers his voice a bit and says, “Every night this past week, around 2 AM or thereafter, this light hovers over the wash (big, dried-up river bed that runs through town). It’s not a plane, turns at sharp angles, turns color; my friend has a 45 minute video of the thing. There’s no doubt it’s a saucer.” There was a ominous tone in his voice when he said “saucer.” Like we aren’t talking about drinking tea, if you know what I mean.

I replied, “You mean this thing flies over the wash right over here behind our place?”
He responds, “Listen man, I’m not crazy, I don’t drink, and I don’t do drugs. I’m telling you, it has been there every night this past week and I bet it will be there again tonight.”

I replied again pointing, “This wash right over there?”

“Yes,” he affirms.

farsideI, of course, began wondering why beings who have the technological know-how to transverse interstellar space with great speeds or travel through wormholes to our planet, would spend their time hovering over the wash in Santa Clarita at 2 in the morning.

Moreover, if they were being all stealthy about it, why would they fly saucer ships that are lit up so bright so as to be seen for miles? And why do they fly their saucers at 2:30 AM, because I never get to see these things when they make their appearance?

Anyhow, I say to the guy, “Welp, I don’t believe you are crazy. In fact, I believe you are certainly seeing something fly over the wash, but why do you assume it is a flying saucer from another planet or inter-dimensional beings?”

He paused for a moment, I think because I told him he wasn’t “crazy,” and then says rather breathlessly, “Because it flies like no airplane I have seen before.”

I say to him, “I happen to know a few people who worked at Skunk Works, Lockheed’s division that develops top-secret aircraft. They tell me there’s a lot of stuff the public doesn’t know about that could easily be mistaken as an other world spaceship that is really just an experimental prototype airplane.”

With out even acknowledging my comment, the fellow says,

“Do you really believe we are the only life in the universe? The universe is huge, we can’t be the only life.”

That tends to be the big argument in favor of extra-terrestrial life: The universe is so vast, with millions upon millions of galaxies, let alone stars, that there has to be others planets out there like ours sustaining super-intelligent life, or at least really fun aliens like Dr. Who. Of course, I have always wondered why these super-intelligent beings want to come to our planet and probe New Agers and lumberjacks in the middle of the night. I mean, if they are here to harvest human DNA to create human/alien hybrids, why not use the better DNA? Surely Richard Dawkins would be preferable to, let’s say, a trailer park manager in Sedona, Arizona.

Then I replied with a transitional comment to steer the conversation toward the Gospel. I believe he was stunned to hear it coming from anyone, let alone a Christian:

“Yes, I do believe there are extra-terrestrials and inter-dimensional beings, but as a Bible-believing Christian, I believe God has revealed to us what they are in His Word. They’re fallen angels or demons. They have the ability to move in and out of our space, can travel at high speeds, and they can and do possess the bodies of human beings.”

He had a blank stare on his face, as if he had never thought of this before. He responded, “Why would the devil impersonate UFOs? What purpose is there to that?”

“Quite simple,” I replied, “They wish to deceive sinful men as to the truth of their creator and the salvation he offers through His Son, Jesus Christ.”

He wasn’t sure what to say to that. He then says, “I go to church sometimes,” and then he indicated to me he had been raised in church and even made the claim he was a Christian.

I tried to keep the conversation on the Lord, but he says again, “I am telling you, my friend has a video of this thing.” I say, “Okay. So why don’t you guys put it up on Youtube or Google video for all the world to see? I certainly would like to see it.”

He became adamant, “Oh man, I can’t do that, the government will find out about it and come and get me.”

I thought a second, “Why would the government come and get you? Why would they even care? Are you telling me the government, that is ran for the most part by flabby, cubicle dwelling bureaucrats, can trace Youtube videos back to the source so that they can arrest you for posting a video of a light hovering over the wash?”

He wasn’t sure what to make of that one.

I jokingly said, “You ought to get a deer rifle and take a shot at it.” “No way man,” he exclaims, “I’m too afraid to do that. It would shoot back with a laser gun or something.” (When I recounted this story later for Officer Pecadillo, he said, “Nah, Fred, you don’t want to encourage a person like that to pick up fire arms.” There certainly is wisdom in those words).

By this time, it was getting dark and I had to help good wife Butler put the children into bed. The fellow jumped back on his bike and says, “Well, I am not sure what it is, maybe it’s not a UFO from another planet, maybe it is a demon, but there is something certainly there.” Then he asks, “Do you think you will go out to see it?” I paused a moment and said, “Probably not, but maybe I will look out the window.”

Believe me, for a brief second, when I turned over that night and saw the clock say 2:30 AM, I thought about putting on a pair of short pants and going outside. Then good sense and sleep overwhelmed me. I didn’t even look out the window.

This is certainly an odd and humorous story to retell, but believe me, in our day and age of sci-fi culture, coupled with Darwinian evolution, Christians ought to be ready to engage individuals like this who seriously believe life exists on other planets and is regularly visiting Earth to capture humans; that is, if they don’t crash their saucers in the desert. I hope my encounter helped with some starting points to engage such a person in conversation.