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u/GunnerMcGrath · 3 pointsr/Christianity

First of all, I applaud your courage to seek the truth even if it leads you to a place that requires humility. God loves you and is clearly drawing you to himself! The word "faith" in the New Testament means "to be pursuaded by God." He is the one creating the desire and belief in you even as it develops, how cool is that?

Now, in reply to your comment, a lot of people have differing opinions of exactly what a "literal" interpretation even means. My best explanation would be to say that everything that the Bible says happened, actually happened, exactly as it says... regardless of whether the author of the passage actually meant for it to be taken literally.

A simple example:

Most of Jesus' teaching is through parables, or stories that have representative meaning. Sometimes he begins them "Suppose a woman has ten silver coins..." but sometimes he begins them like "There was a man who had two sons." Now, in my view, a literal interpretation of Jesus' teaching would be that this man and his sons actually existed, because of how he phrases it. But there is good reason to believe Jesus is making up this story to illustrate a point, and this would be generally understood by his audience, much like beginning a story "once upon a time" indicates that this is fiction, even though your literal words are saying that this story happened. Think about most fiction you read; rarely if ever does it explicitly state that it is fiction -- usually it just says this stuff happened and you are supposed to understand that it didn't.

So... there are parts of the Bible that are believed by many Bible scholars to have been written with the intent of teaching a principle but not to be a literal, historical record of fact. There are MORE parts of the Bible that are certainly standard written histories, and many of these stories have fantastic and miraculous elements. So I am not saying that you can't take the Bible at face value, because most of it is absolutely meant to be read that way.

But there are parts that are written about the beginning of the world, and for reasons I won't get into explaining here (you can research if you're interested), many who know this stuff better than you or I ever will are convinced that they were written to illustrate the truth that God is the creator of everything, but not written to describe exactly what his specific method and timeline was for creating. Similarly, there are visions people have of their future which are written in an extremely metaphorical way, much like dreams represent true ideas but not literal ones. When I dream of my teeth falling out, it means I'm stressed about something, but not specifically about my teeth falling out. So many of these predictions were not thought to be literal representations even by the people who had the visions or made the predictions.

The good news for you, as a person investigating faith, is that these interpretations do not really have to have significant impact on your journey at the moment. Your focus should be on the love of God for humanity, and the (historically factual/literal) accounts of Jesus' life in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Get to know God and spend time reading the Bible, with the Holy Spirit guiding you, before you draw your line in the sand about what kind of interpretation you insist on being correct. That would be like me placing a million dollar bet on a baseball team to win the world series before I'd ever even seen a baseball game.

You have been given some good book recommendations already. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is an extraordinary book that spends a fair amount of time just pondering logically the likelihood that God exists at all. It gets more specifically into Christianity later in the book.

There are also two books by pastor Timothy Keller that you may enjoy: Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical and The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. These again are more about the arguments for and against God's existence which you may or may not need at this point in your journey.

But of course, the most important of all is simply the Bible. The Gospel of Mark may be a good place to start because it is a historical record of Jesus' life written for the Romans, and therefore explains a lot about the Jewish customs that they would not have understood. But any of the four gospels are a wonderful place to begin.

Enjoy your journey, and I encourage you to take that leap of faith and ask God to show you the truth, even if you are not yet sure he even exists. I would pray such a prayer every day, or every time you begin reading anything about God. He is already drawing you to himself but prayer is a practice that brings our wills into alignment with his, and so when we pray for things that he already wants to do, he tends to show up even more significantly so your faith will grow.

u/spike00 · 2 pointsr/Christianity

Hello Aeronautico! I'll answer as best as I can.

1.) I believe my faith comes from God. He is the one who has softened my heart towards the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the reason I believe. When did I start believing? It wasnt because I was raised to believe. I made the conscious choice to believe as a teenager. This started with a blind leap of faith, to pray to God, and to follow Jesus, despite my own desire to remain sinful and disconnected to God. The good reasons for my belief came later, as I learned more about God and Jesus. I discovered that there are many good reasons to believe in God and Jesus, and my blind leap of faith was later vindicated.

2.) Only God himself can change my mind now. Nothing else. No argument, or piece of evidence will convince me that God does not exists or that Jesus is not his only son.

3.) You're not a good person, sorry to burst your bubble. You may do good things from time to time, but you are not good. Even one minor sin is enough to seperate you from God, and put you in Jeopardy of hell. No amount of alms giving and good deeds can ever reconcile you to God. For this is why he sent is Son, not to condemn us but through him we might be saved.

4.) Science and the bible rarely conflict. It is only when we talk about evolution versus creation that conflict arises. As far as I'm concerned, there are many problems with evolutionary theory, and the bible is my authority on creation. I wont get into it here, but there are lots of books and material covering just why evolution is wrong and creationism is the more sound doctrine. I'm reading one right now, although I havent gotten very far yet. Its called "the greatest hoax on earth? Refuting dawkins on evolution" by Jonathan Sarfati.

4.) The old testament relies heavily on Gods law, because the Christ had not yet come. I wont debate old testament morality here, because it is a big topic and I'm no expert, but as far as the 10 commandments go...well, its easy to see why thou shalt not steal or murder. If you will recall, Jesus, when asked which of the commandments were the greatest, said to love God above all else, and to love your neighbor as yourself. For if you keep these two commandments, you keep them all.

5.) The holy spirit allows us to know with confidence that Christianity is right and true. Imagine you are stuck with the problem of what does 2+2 equal? You have an infinite number of numbers to choose from for the answer, but only one of them can be right.

In truth, part of knowing that Jesus is truly the son of God is a leap of faith. I wont know 100% for sure that Christianity is true until I die, or Jesus comes. But there are good reasons to believe what we Christians believe. If you are looking for reasons to believe Christianity over some other religion, you should look into some Christian apologetics. William Lane Craig covers this in detail in his book "Reasonable Faith"

6.) Death is antithetical to life. Your question begs another question. If heaven is so great, why dont all Christians kill themselves? The answer is, to the best of my knowledge, that we are put on this earth for a reason. We are put on this earth, if nothing else, to tell others about Jesus so that they might be saved. Now if we welcomed death, we wouldnt be able to do our duty as Christians here on earth, and our reward would be little in heaven.

7.) Neither. I would vote for someone like Ron Paul, who is a Christian, yet does not believe in forcing others to be Christian by law. I believe in the constitutional freedom of religion.

8.) Assuming the God of the bible exists, he would be the ultimate source of all the talent that allows surgeons and doctors to perform their duties. God is the source of all life. Without him, no one would live. And God is the source of all wealth and resources. Without God, how could one pay their astronomical health care bill? Indeed, if the God of the bible exists, he is most certainly due all the thanks when someone is healed, by miracle, or by doctor.

9.) It is my belief that all changes and alterations made to the documents of the bible have been ordained by God, to arrive at what we know today as the holy bible. Its not as though we dont have many original ancient manuscripts still preserved to this day that confirm and corroborate much of the bible. Take the dead sea scrolls for example. I'm not saying all translations are good. I personally prefer the KJV as a foundation and the ESV as a companion translation. But the holy bible is unique. There is a whole field of research dedicated to the accurate translation and maintenance of the bible, that has existed for as long as the bible itself has. Think of the scrutiny placed on the bible throughout history. Any major changes in translation can be traced and verified through objective historical research. If some major change was made to the bible, I would have to appeal to the Christian authorities and bible scholars to know what to believe.

u/[deleted] · 1 pointr/Christianity

I'm glad to hear that you're growing in your new faith! I was an atheist up until 3 years ago when I discovered 'Mere Christianity', so I feel like I'm on a very similar path

>How should I read the bible everyday? I have just been picking it up and opening to a page, but I am sure there is a better way.

There are a number of plans that people suggest. One popular plan involved a daily reading of 1 New Testament chapter, 1 Old chapter, and 1 from Proverbs.

Honestly, I've found it better to just read 1-3 chapters of the same book and plow through it so you get a better flow. For example, I just started reading Acts because I have an intense love of the early Church. I also love Luke, since he approaches the story of Jesus as somewhat of a historian/investigative reporter - all facts. You should find something that you like - preferably New Testament at first - and go through it.

I highly recommend getting a study bible. I love my ESV study Bible which you can get here.

As a new Christian, it's important to put things into context. You may read something and say "huh?" or "what?!?! I can't believe that God said that!". The study Bible has commentary on each verse and puts things into context. There are also great introductions to each chapter which tells you about the author, date of writings, theme, etc. Plus, the maps and additional essays are FANTASTIC.

>How do I stay strong in the face of setbacks?

If you truly are trying to follow God, then you will want to challenge your faith by asking the tough questions. I've seen so many Christians lose their faith because they blindly accepted the Bible...then they were questioned on it by an atheist, couldn't answer, and lost their faith. You should ask the tough questions and then look for the answers. There are tons of apologetics (defense of Christianity) resources out there.

Of course, if you have any confusion over something, please ask us here or search of google. If anything is really bothering you, feel free to message me if you want

>Anything else you would tell a new Christian?

Faith is worthless if you do not apply it to your own life. Let your light shine before all people by being truly loving, kind, and compassionate to all those around you. Spend a few hours at the soup kitchen. Look for an open, thriving church to join. When you wake up in the morning, take a few minutes to say thanks for your material and spiritual blessings and recognize that we deserve none of it but by His grace and love for you, he has provided you a second chance to wipe yourself clean of all sins

u/demilobotomy · 1 pointr/Christianity

>I'm open to both the idea that god exists and that the bible is true. I am open to it.
But there is not sufficient evidence, and so I do not believe either of those two things.

I understand this completely, trust me. I was raised in a secular household and was an atheist most of my life (most of my comments on reddit are discussing religion so I feel like I mention this in every comment, haha).

I think the biggest thing for me is defining sufficient evidence. It's not a question that lends itself to unquestionable, empirical evidence. On top of that, some answers to the question require not just acknowledging the answer but living it (religious piety and devotion). It's not an easy problem to solve (if it can be solved at all).


>I've done just that, and now I am an atheist.

One thing I've realized about atheism is that it's pretty easy to align with, since it doesn't make any bold claims. I'm not saying belief systems need to make bold claims to be valid - that would be ridiculous. I'm saying atheism basically says "We know how works, and we don't know how works, so we'll keep trying to figure it out and see where it goes." There's nothing wrong with that (and in no way should we ever discourage research and the pursuit of knowledge, regardless of religious affiliation).

But, at the same time, I think that when atheists are looking at the questions that religion tries to answer, the evidence used isn't right for the problem. Knowing how the universe works doesn't contrast or disprove a designer of the universe, or a metaphysical realm. The fact that the universe exists means that a metaphysical realm is very likely - it just might be "empty" nothingness. An atheist looks at scientific discoveries as a replacement for god(s), but a religious person looks at these discoveries as an explanation of how god(s) did it. My point is that the truth that is resonating for atheists (or at least most of it) also resonates for religious folks, including Christians. We just have our own spiritual, metaphysical aspect in the picture as well.


>Who says I need to get far? Who says I haven't? And what do you mean by getting far?

When I say "getting far" I just mean exploring religion beyond lightly reading the texts while constantly fighting rolling your eyes. I meant actually giving them a chance, even if you end up deciding they're all nonsense. With a question like this, "getting far" is extremely subjective and all I can do is give you my own take on it.


>Let's say we didn't know what 2+2 evaluated to. If one religion gave the answer 72, another 42, another 620, is that in any way valid? No, just because we might not have a naturalistic answer to some questions doesn't mean that religion is valid.

I think understand what you're saying, but math isn't necessarily good example. Math is a constructed language to describe its real physical counterparts. We defined what "2" is and have thus defined what "4" is, in the sense that it is "2 + 2" or "1 + 1 + 1 + 1." The system very accurately describes the mathematical components of the universe, but the actual language of math is arbitrary. It is metaphysical in a sense, but it is mapped to a physical reality.

In the case of religion, the physical mapping is literally the universe. At least, it is in a way (and it depends on which religion you're talking about). Religion doesn't try to provide a language to discuss an existing system inside of the universe, it tries to explain the universe itself and the context of humanity and life within it. On the other hand, in a similar way to math - it explains self-aware humans as having souls and our gifts that put us above other animals as gifts from God. We are self-aware with intelligence and morality either way, regardless of whether or not you view them as God-given or as a result of pure natural evolution. In the case of religion, though, these aren't necessarily just arbitrary man-made ideas to explain physical realities. There is a potential that they
are the system. Does that make sense? This particular answer was a little stream-of-consciousness-esque.


> Could you provide a demonstration? I do not believe this to be the case.

This is an answer that has been written as books for a reason - it's long. I have a blog and am planning on writing a page on this eventually, but in the meantime I don't want to look like I'm dodging your question. So here's something I wrote in another comment:

>Here are some of the examples of questions that, when I approached them with an open mind to the possibility (however small it was to me at the time) of a supernatural or external being, they made sense in that context.

>* Why are we so far above animals in terms of intelligence and self-awareness?

  • Why did life appear in the first place? The amount of chance chemical combinations required for an amino acid alone is pretty impressive. I understand given an arbitrarily long amount of time it's possible. It just doesn't give a stronger (or weaker) answer than religion, to me. I'm not denying evolution, I'm just skeptical about it happening on its own from the point of no life to life.
  • Why do we have altruistic tendencies and a moral system? We know what we should do even if nobody is actually doing that. This awareness is another thing that separates us from other animals.
  • How is the universe such a fine-tuned system containing (IMO) irreducible complexity? The fact that there are observable and repeatable laws that govern the universe is pretty impressive. That it would happen by chance seems implausible to me.
    If there is a Creator, what kind of Creator would that be based on observing the universe that it created? This question is more for addressing current world religions or attempting to connect (or recognize the inability to connect) to a Creator. I think the universe has elements that point to design, and I think the Creator would need to be a personal God based on how human beings (and other social animals to an extent) interact and function psychologically.

    If you're interested in how I came to faith through reasoning it out, I highly suggest
    [The Reason for God](
    Version=1&entries*=0) by Timothy Keller. Another great book that helped me and that also discusses the perception of science and faith being at war is The Language of God* by Francis Collins. He's the leader of the Human Genome Project and has some good input for questions like Christianity and evolution.


    One final thing I feel the need to say is that you're not going to wake up one morning and be 100% sure of God's existence, or any god's existence. It's called a "walk of faith" for a reason, and it's a complex answer to a very complex question. But just because it's not "easy" to believe doesn't mean it directly contradicts scientific evidence or all forms of logic, it's just that once you honestly don't believe in the supernatural it's hard to wrap your head around it. But that particular aspect doesn't reflect the validity of the supernatural answers, it's a result of our limited perception confined to the physical universe.

    Regardless of what you land on or if you even take any of this to heart, I wish you the best of luck with this journey (or, if you don't budge, I wish you luck with your life as it already is). :) If you want to talk to me more about it, you're welcome to do it via commenting or personal message if you'd prefer.
u/mrdaneeyul · 7 pointsr/Christianity

Hey, welcome to the sub. :)

First off, you have the right attitude (more than many churchgoers, it seems). You want to understand and wrestle and have it be real. Good news: you're on the right track. Faith is hard, at least most of the time. I'm sorry others looked down on you for asking questions and trying to figure things out; they were wrong to do so.

I agree with what others here are saying: Genesis is probably not the easiest place to start, and you'll get even more bogged down in Numbers or in Chronicles. Start in one of the Gospels. I saw Luke suggested, and I'll throw in John. Luke's writing has more details, and John's might be easier to read.

Starting in the Gospels has a purpose: Jesus is really the major focus. There's a lot to gain from reading his words firsthand, and seeing his actions. You might find it a lot different from what the culture says about him. Take your time and soak it in, and I think you'll find him pretty compelling.

After that, Paul's letters are pretty great. Philippians might be a good one to read first, though they're all really short and won't take long.

I might also suggest reading a different version of the Bible. The NRSV is accurate, but can also be archaic and difficult to understand. There are a lot of debates over Bible versions, but don't sweat them for now; I'd suggest the ESV or the CEB (if you want to study deeper later, the NRSV might be better then).

You'll probably want to find a church. This can be hit-and-miss, depending on so many factors. You won't and shouldn't fit into a church that looks down on you for struggling with faith. To start, even though it might feel silly, talk to God about it. Doesn't have to be fancy, just a conversation asking him to help you find a good church. Visit a couple, and see if they try to follow the Jesus you read about in the Bible.

(And if you're in the Dallas area, let me know... you can visit ours! :D I know a couple other great churches in the area too.)

If you're looking for more resources, it depends on what you're interested in.

  • if you want to read the Bible online. Tons of versions (again, I'd go with CEB or ESV). I find it harder to read online, but it's good to have on-hand anyhow.
  • I second Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. It's a great read with some heavy concepts explained simply (Lewis was fantastic at this).
  • For the Resurrection (central to Christianity), check out Willaim Lane Craig's books, The Son Rises and Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, and, for a debate, Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?
  • For the creation story, Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation is a must, as there are several viewpoints on Creation (another reason starting with Genesis might be difficult).
  • For doubt, I recommend Disappointment with God.
  • How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth is a good one for... well, pretty much what the title says it's for.
  • Along the lines of Mere Christianity, try G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. It's free, but might be a bit harder to read.

    BUT... don't go crazy. Start with the Gospels and maybe Mere Christianity, and go from there.

    If you have questions about what you're reading, feel free to come to this sub or /r/TrueChristian and ask. To be fair, there will be several opposing opinions on more controversial issues, which is a double-edged sword sometimes. But most everyone is welcoming, kind, and happy to discuss anything.
u/tonytwobits · 3 pointsr/Christianity

I am at 3 years and counting. I am now 24. I am in the same boat as you in some ways. I NEVER thought that I could be an atheist and was incredibly involved in the church. I fully believed it and VERY much enjoyed it. Youth group, men's group, worship team, mission trips the whole works. But now, like you it is hard for me to imagine being swayed back.

For a while I wanted it to be true. After a while that began to fade as I realized how much bigger the world is without the god of the Bible. I am so much happier now. I guess a better way to describe it is I am much more satisfied and feel much more fulfilled about my life. I know it is a bit cheesy and dramatic, but this video had a big effect on me as I became an atheist. One line in particular addressed this feeling of wanting god to be true:
> Could it be that someone promised us something so beautiful that our universe seems dull, empty, even frightening by comparison?

At first that is kind of how I felt. I was promised heaven. I was promised that I was going to live forever with the creator. However, another part of the video addressed this and is one of my favorite lines:

>We were told long ago and for a long time that there was only the Earth—that we were the center of everything. That turned out to be wrong. We still haven’t fully adjusted. We’re still in shock. The universe is not what we expected it to be. It’s not what they told us it would be. This cosmic understanding is all new to us. But there’s nothing to fear. We’re still special. We’re still blessed. And there might yet be a heaven, but it isn’t going to be perfect. And we’re going to have to build it ourselves.

I know that I will never be as sure about my atheism as I was about my Christianity. But I have learned that is a good thing. It was un-healthy how sure I was in Christianity. Nobody can honestly be a true gnostic atheist and that is ok.

I will say however that I can be pretty sure that the god of the Bible is not god, but to say that I am 100% sure that there is no god is a irrational statement to say.

I did a lot of studying as I was becoming an atheist. Honestly I know the Bible better now that I ever did as a Christian. The more I learned the more unsure I was about Christianity.

There is a book you might like. It is called a A History of God. I am reading it right now and it is very good and I recommend it.

How do you feel now as a atheist? About life? About yourself? I am just wondering because I wonder if it was some of the same things I felt. I like talking to people as they are changing their world view in one way or another :)

u/lexnaturalis · 2 pointsr/Christianity

A lot depends upon the resources that you have at your disposal. If you don't have any physical resources (books, commentaries, etc) then you can find most of what you need online. So let's start with resources and then go on to techniques. I'm going to assume that you don't know things, so please don't be offended if I explain something that you already know.

There's a great program available for PC called e-Sword and it allows you to have access to a ton of different Bible translations, commentaries, word studies, and other resources all for free. You also have the option of purchasing additional study material from within the program, but I've found that the free options are quite extensive.

I highly recommend buying at least one study Bible if you don't already have one. The one that I currently use is the ESV Study Bible. There's a Kindle version if you don't want a physical copy, but I prefer a physical copy.

I used to have a hard-copy concordance, but I actually got rid of it because I found myself using electronic versions more. If you don't already know, a concordance is just a giant index. It lets you look up a word (baptism, salvation, propitiation, whatever...) and it gives you a list of all the verses in the Bible that use that word. It can be very useful if you're doing a word study (more on that later). You can find them online or download them (like e-Sword or any other similar tool), so a physical copy isn't necessary.

Once you have those, you're ready to start. So now what?

Well, there are several different ways to study the Bible. If you don't already have a copy, I highly recommend Rick Warren's Bible Study Methods. Regardless of what you think about Rick Warren, that book is a very practical hands-on discussion of different methods of studying the Bible. If memory serves, he covers most (if not all) of the methods I'll talk about.

Now, onward!

  • Word study - This is basically taking a word and seeing how it's used in the Bible. Suppose you're studying baptism. You get a concordance (as discussed above) and look up "Baptism" and it'll give you a giant list of verses. Then you'll probably want "Baptize", "Baptizing", etc. Take all of the verses and start going. If you want to take it a step further, start to look at the underlying Greek/Hebrew words. That's where tools like e-Sword come in handy. You can find a Bible that lets you click the English word and it'll tell you the Greek word. So then you can search the Bible for all other times that the same Greek word is used. That can be useful because the same Greek word can be translated several different ways.
  • Personal Application - This is a quasi-study method. It's basically what the Life Journal uses. You do a series of readings and, using the SOAP acronym, find personal application. I say quasi-study because you're not really using tools to "study", per se. It's extremely useful, though, because if you're journaling every day you'll start to see themes emerge. That's where the study comes from. You can see how God has been guiding you and how God is speaking. At any rate, SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. So you find a scripture and write about it (i.e. provide context, what it's saying, etc) and then how you can personally apply it to your life (not "I believe it means X" but "I ought to do X as a result of this") and then a prayer (obviously related to the scripture/application). It's also nice because you end up reading a lot of Scripture and the Bible is its own best commentary.
  • Book study - This is where you read an entire book and then study that book. Let's choose Ephesians. You read the entire book in one sitting. You then outline the book. It's an epistle (fancy word for letter) so who wrote it? Who was it written to? What are the themes? After you do that, then you read it again and start to pull out verses/passages that apply directly to your life. If you have access to commentaries/tools then you'd also use them to read about the history of Ephesus, the context of the letter, and other background information.
  • Theme study - This requires a bit more work because you need access to a lot of tools. You'll be studying something like "reconciliation" or "salvation" and then doing A LOT of reading. Unless you have the entire Bible memorized you'll need to find tools that will give you passages to read based upon that theme. A lot of study Bibles will have a theme index that will help you. At this point you'll also find commentaries useful because they'll frequently reference other passages and then you'll find yourself bouncing all over the Bible. Taking good notes is required for this, because otherwise you can forgot where you were or why you ended up in Ecclesiastes.

    There are other methods, of course, but that should give you a good start. Hopefully this is helpful.
u/Naugrith · 4 pointsr/Christianity

The Bible is a collection of different texts, each one written by different people at different times for different reasons. The concept of "history" wasn't even invented for much of the period of writing, and our modern understanding of genres is only loosely connected to the genres present and recognised at the time. Much of the Bible was never written to be interpreted literally in the first place, it is intended to be read as allegorical, theological, poetry, apocalyptic, prophetic, metaphorical, or parables.

In addition much of scripture was written in one way by the author and later interpreted by the community of the faithful in another sense as well, as people saw that while the writer couldn't have known the deeper meaning of his words, the Holy Spirit can use those words to show later readers a more profound truth. In interpreting the texts, historically the Western Church has considered four general 'Senses' in which any passage can be read. This is an artificial division, but still helpful. These senses are: Literal, Allegorical, Moral, and Anagogical.

The literal sense is not just a 'plain reading' as some conservative evangelicals would understand it, but covers the sense of the text after being interpreted according to sound, consistent rules, called 'exegesis'.

The Moral sense involves the moral lessons that can be derived from the text, that interpretation which leads us to act justly.

The Allegorical sense is when we look at the text and derive a more profound understanding of how it points us towards Christ, and towards God.

The Anagogical sense (from the Greek: anagoge, “leading”) is the sense of the text that points to realities and events in terms of their eternal significance.

For example, the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea can be interpreted Literally, as a story of God's rescuing of His People in the past, it can be interpreted Morally as an instruction to us today to trust in God's provision during times of trouble. It can be interpreted Allegorically as a sign or type of Christ's salvation and of Baptism, and it can be interpreted Anagogically as pointing towards our final rescue and God's leading us out of this world into the Promised Land of the New Heaven and the New Earth. All four senses can be used on the same passage, though not every passage can be interpreted in all four senses.

This is all to say that the Bible cannot be taken at 'face value' but must always be interpreted. A book I always recommend as an essential starter book is How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, by Gordon Fee. It gives a good summary of the different genres present in the Bible and how to read them to get the most out of them.

However this is only a starter text. Some would say the bible is so complicated and based on such ancient ideas that are so difficult for modern readers to understand that only certain people are qualified to interpret them, and we must submit our own understanding to that of the Church. Others would say individual 'lay' Christians are capable of interpreting the scriptures correctly but such interpretation requires much serious study, understanding of context and secondary books to guide us. Others would say that all any reader needs is the Holy Spirit and God will ensure our understanding is correct, so we don't need to study at all.

Personally I think both the former and latter extreme positions are flawed, and I think with long study, willingness to learn, serious discussion with other Christians, humbleness, and faith any individual can interpret the scriptures correctly. However we should never be so arrogant as to think that our own understanding is always correct, or that there is not something we can learn from the wider Church and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Nor should we be worried when we don't understand something. While full and accurate understanding of scripture is helpful, it is not essential for salvation, only faith in Christ. A full understanding of the deeper lessons of scripture will often come later, after many years living in faith. If you can't understand something now, just put it to one side, and have faith in God that he will help you to understand it when you're ready to do so.

u/PhilthePenguin · 7 pointsr/Christianity

>Where do you draw the line between religion and superstitious nonsense? Frankly, I'm having a difficult time separating them at all. Too many people say, "I don't understand how that works, therefore God."

There are principles for reasonable belief. The three I can think of are:

  1. Faith must not conflict with what you know. Faith exceeds knowledge, but it cannot bypass it.
  2. Make sure your beliefs are internally consistent (you'd be surprised how many Christians ignore this principle)
  3. Your faith must be living: transforming you into a better person. A faith that makes you into a worse person is a bad faith.

    >Assuming that Christianity is correct, how can one know with a little more certainty? I'm willing to make a leap of faith, but without some credible evidence, it's like trying to ford the Mississippi river. Can we bring it a little closer to "caulk the wagon and float it across?"

    Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes, but it's going to require some research on your part, and by research I don't mean a few google searches. Books can be a good friend. Some others here may be able to recommend good books about the historicity of Jesus and the church, but I tend to favor the philosophical and metaphysical.

    >Assuming there exists some evidence sufficient to convince me of Christianity's veracity, which version is correct and how can one know? Or does it really matter, since every Christian church agrees on the most important points?

    It's incredible unlikely that any given church is correct on every single point of doctrine. The best you can do is take up the protestant ethic by studying for yourself to see which doctrines appear to be the most reasonable. Looking for the "correct" church is a red herring, in my opinion.

    Examining your faith can be a very rewarding experience, even if you end up becoming atheist/agnostic. Just don't take in more than you think you are ready for.
u/The_New_34 · 31 pointsr/Christianity

As a Catholic, I can assure you Catholics ARE Christians. Mel Gibson is a Catholic... sort of. He's a Sedevacantist.

Man, call yourself a Christian! I would also recommend looking into the Roman Catholic faith or the Eastern Orthdox faith (we're the OG Christians, lol).

Yes, get a Bible, but DON'T read it cover-to-cover. Once you get to Leviticus, you'll be like, "What the actual f--- is going ON here?" Start with the New Testament, specifically one of the Gospels. I personally love the Gospel of Luke because of how it portrays Mary, but the Gospel of John is quite good, too. It's very symbolic and is perhaps the one you could study the deepest.

if you're finding it hard to understand some of the New Testament of the Bible (the part with Jesus, the letters of Paul, and the Book of Revelation,) I would recommend buying the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. It's an actual, readable Bible that contains commentary throughout. The version I linked is only for the New Testament. The Old Testament analysis is still being compiled, but it's almost done.

Also, listen to Scott Hahn's podcast where he breaks down various sections of the Bible.

As for reading materials outside the Bible, I can highly recommend Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis, Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, and Chesterton's other work The Everlasting Man.

Oh yeah, PRAY! Just have a conversation with God! Talk to him about anything you want! Pray to God, ask the Blessed Mother for intercession, or any of the saints

If you're confused about the various denominations of Christianity, Here's a basic flow chart.

Here's the Nicene Creed, which is a mash-up of what (most) Christians believe

Also, I highly recommend the Podcast Pints with Aquians! It's an analysis of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, who's life mission was to combine faith with human reason and prove that it was not unreasonable to believe in God, but perhaps it is unreasonable to not believe in God.

I, along with everyone on this sub, will be praying for you! Good luck on your faith journey!

u/rabidmonkey1 · 8 pointsr/Christianity

I think I first have to shatter a paradigm in your thinking.

Christianity isn't about getting into Heaven. Yes, a lot of churches in the West sell it as a "get out of Hell free" card. Yes, Jesus is "sold" to a lot of people that way. But that's not what the Bible really says, at least, not fully. It's a partial picture, at best, and a misguided one at worst.

Christianity, is first and foremost about God's work to lovingly restore mankind and creation to full life. Relationships are about distance, and it's about God closing that gap between us and Him.

What do I mean by, full life? The idea starts with us realizing that there is something deeply wrong and broken in the world, and in each of us, as individuals. We come from broken homes, warring countries, feuding families, a world of scarcity, pain, and death. We all feel inadequate in some way; there are these fault lines in our souls that we attempt to spackle over with things like relationships, hobbies, aspirations, occupations, other people's approval, etc.

We are literally slaves to death, in this paradigm. We strategize how to spend our remaining time, maximizing our comfort and happiness, and if we can, helping those we like along the way (often because they provide us with a kind of identification that makes us feel less precarious).

Christ (and the Law) were given to us to break us out from under that slavery.

The Bible tells us the Law came first to make us aware that we were even under slavery in the first place. Oftentimes, we're so broken, we actually prefer being in slavery. We can't see, hear, touch, taste, feel our enslavement - or if we can, we're so accustomed to it that we stick with it. Addicts are an extreme example of this, but there are manifestations of this in all our lives.

The Exodus story provides an early example of this. The Bible tells us it took the Israelites 40 years as they were guided by God to get from Egypt to Israel. Well, look on a map; they're not that far away. What took them so long? Was God, who was guiding them, lost?

The Rabbinic scholars basically sum it up thusly: God could take the Israelites out of Egypt in a heartbeat, but He also needed to take Egypt out of the Israelites.

When you're a slave for 400 years, you get accustomed to it. You move like a slave, you think like a slave, you sleep like a slave, you generally act like a slave. Your parents were slaves, and you will be too, so you don't even expect right from life any more.

But imagine, then God suddenly comes in and tells you, no, you're my child (aka, divine royalty) - and, all of the sudden, these former slaves are supposed to know how to act like royalty?

God made them stop many places along the way; taught them what victory looked and felt like, taught them to be conformed to His ways (literally, to begin moving like the King), and provided food, water, and everything they needed along the way during those 40 years of reconditioning.

(As a sidenote, I often hear critics of the Law approach the Law as a negative thing on the face of it. I want to challenge them to approach it as a good thing designed to give wisdom and life. Often times the amount of laws (613) is listed as this staggering amount that no man could keep. Well, yeah, God knows that. That's why no human being is supposed to keep all the Law. Certain Laws are only for men, or only for women, or only for priests, or only for subsets of priests, or only for certain occasions; etc. When someone lists the amount of Laws as their chief objections, I immediately say in my head, "Okay, this person doesn't know much about Torah law." But this may be neither here nor there in terms of chief objections).

So then, we have the Law and that that "Old Testament" stuff, and then Christ enters the picture and says things like:

>You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

What was Jesus getting at with things like this? He was pointing to a deeper reality that the Law can't serve as something that will bind up your cracks and make you presentable to God (much in the same way we use relationships, hobbies, aspirations, occupations, etc.) The people who were following the Law that way had missed the point! The Law highlights our absolute need for restoration (and a restorer!) by showing us exactly how we are broken.

This is where the Resurrection comes into play, because the ultimate reality of Jesus' work isn't to funnel souls into Heaven, but to prepare them for their own resurrection. There will be a day when God will restore the Earth (namely, by bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to it), establishing his rule, and bringing it back to the Paradisical, Edenic state.

I mean, this might be a big concept to wrap your mind around now, but if you want to see the Biblical basis for this, check out N.T. Wright's Suprised by Hope. Jews always believed in the Resurrection and the world to come (aka, Tikkun Olam). The Orthodox Church has always preached the doctrine of the Resurrection. And it's in all the creeds. (Yes, Western Christianity has misunderstood and misrepresented it for ages).

So in a sense, you're kind of right about morality. Jesus isn't so concerned about morality as much as he is about relational distance. God wants to be close to you, to see your wounds, heal and restore them, and then use you to help restore others and all of creation (sidenote: this is why the Orthodox are particularly "green"). That's the fundamental nature of Grace, and truly, we are under Grace.

I mean, Paul practically wrote Romans 6 in response to your blog:

Seriously. Take a moment. Read the chapter. It answers just about every objection you raised, though I think in a way you wouldn't expect (because you set it up as a dichotomy, and really, there's a third way).

C.S. Lewis once said:

>We are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. “How he’s grown!” we exclaim, “How time flies!” as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.

Deep inside, even if we had the best life we could imagine for ourselves, we'd still know that something is seriously wrong in the world. This is because God didn't design us for sin and death, yet we experience it's effects on a daily basis.

In the end of the chapter, Paul talks about us being slaves to either sin, or slaves to righteousness. Being a slave to sin leads to death, because the wages of sin are death. Being a slave to righteousness leads to life, because it is close to God, the author of life.

Christianity isn't about "being good." It's not about getting all your holy ducks in a row and hoping it'll appease an angry God who wants to burn you forever and ever and ever.

It's all about relational proximity. God is drawing close to us, particularly through the advent, death, and resurrection of Christ, and yes, thank God He's more interested in restoring everything than he is in destroying it.

u/LurkingSoul · 3 pointsr/Christianity

Seems to me you are already at step 1: desiring a relationship with God. Prayer is a great place to go next. Praying can be as simple as talking to God. Reading the Bible can also be a form of prayer! Want a place to start? Look up what today's readings are in a church calendar, and pray about them.

You may feel more comfortable following a more structured style of meditation, such as praying the Rosary to meditate on the life of Jesus.

Also, I don't know if it is Sunday where you are or if there is a church near you with a mass today, but I recommend making one if you can. There may be one in your area you can make weekdays in addition to Sundays, or you can try to go next Sunday and the following Sundays.

Read about the lives of the Saints! Some of them have gone through a great deal, you are not alone. Their lives are full of inspiration and demonstrate how the Holy Spirit works through us. I recommend the Laudate and IBreviary apps. (Former has many things including saint of the day and interactive Rosary, later has the Liturgy of the Hours.)

There is a wealth of Christian philosophy and in general philosophy is interesting and useful so I will also recommend a bunch of philosophy. I also recommend this introductory guide to Aquinas. Lastly, I will pray for you. I hope this was useful to you. God Bless!

u/God_loves_redditors · 2 pointsr/Christianity

Part 1 of 2

Wrote a really long reply and had to break it up. Sorry :/

>First off... I'm sorry I came off so upset before.

And I will be more careful going forward on reddit with my posts so as not to offend :) I could have taken more time with the post in question to strip away the implications that I thought you had moral similarities to those groups.

>Morals are personal feelings of what is right or wrong.

This is true in that it describes that individuals hold morals themselves but they can also have absolute truth values depending on whether or not objective morality is a 'thing'. "Murdering humans is wrong" has a truth value of 'T' or 'true' if the Christian God exists. Just like "The holocaust was good" has a truth value of 'F' or 'false' if the Christian God exists. Both of these moral statements have a NULL truth value in a world where morality ebbs and flows with human opinion. The Christian God isn't necessarily the only possible grounds for objective morality but I think he is the most likely, thus me being Christian and not of some other religion.

>I do believe that morals change based on when/where you live. This doesn't bother me.

Maybe you're right and this doesn't bother you, but it bothers me. And I would say 99% of the world at least LIVES as though morals were absolute. I'm sure it would bother you had lived as a Jew in 1930s/40s Europe and been thrown in a concentration camp with your family. There would be little comfort to take in reminding yourself the Nazi morality is 'different' than yours but not objectively 'wrong'. A world where the bodies can be stacked in concentration camps and where child-rape happens and where chemical weapons can be released on villages AND where none of this is objectively 'wrong', is a troubling reality.

>I have no problem and do not judge based on the Christian ideals. I understand it's not wrong in Christian society or they wouldn't be doing it.

In your post, you mention that you are passionate about gay rights. In your morality, I'm assuming that you believe that homosexuals should be allowed to marry and that this is good. Following from this, I'm assuming you believe that religious efforts to keep marriage between heterosexual partners only, to be wrong. Also you say you have no issue with the fact that morality is subjective from one group of individuals to the other. Basically, that morals do not have absolute truth values one way or another since there is no objective standard. From this you can see that allowing homosexuals to marry is neither right nor wrong. You can campaign for their right to marry if you want, that's your choice, but it is not 'right' to do so, anymore than it is 'wrong'.

>Interpretations of the bible have changed drastically over the years.

I'm not arguing that followers of God are always moral in an objective sense. It is pretty obvious from history that this is not the case. What I'm saying is that God's changelessness provides truth values to morality. Jews and Christians may believe their actions are moral but the real truth value of that moral action is determined by God. So if you see a Christian or Jew who acts immorally, that is not proof that objective morality does not exist. It is merely proof that that individual person does not act morally 100% of the time.

>Even if you attempt to take the Bible at face value it's still difficult to understand fully.

Amen. But the worthwhile things are never easy. Jews and Christians believe we are called to 'study' God's word, not to skim it or to read once and put down. There's a lot of depth and nuance to it, along with contextual and historical factors that need to be taken into account. It's true that different interpretations arise, but most are in full agreement about the fundamental teachings of scripture, the most important being who Christ was (God incarnate, come to earth) and what he did for us (freed us from slavery to sin, immorality, and death).
I'm sure, if you've read part or all of the Bible before that many of the Old Testament sections offended your sense of morality. Old Testament morality is not an easy subject and can often be a class or two of its own in a seminary or religion program. There are few key things to keep in mind when reading the Old Testament

  • The bible records what human beings did, not necessarily what God commanded them to do. Read the full context to see which cases belong in this category.
  • God didn't drop the full morality bomb on early humans. He is constantly working in humanity to set them on an upward moral trajectory. I.e. He is 'steadily' making them better rather than asking them to completely change everything about their life at once.
    If God himself does something you perceive to be immoral, remember to analyze the passage based on the unique circumstances surrounding moral decisions of an omniscient and omnipotent being. Also remember that death in the physical temporal world is one thing, and eternity after judgement at the end of the world is another.
  • In Old Testament laws, Christians generally recognize 3 different categories: Moral laws, Ceremonial/purity laws, and Civil laws. Moral laws would be timeless moral values, ceremonial laws would be special laws that set Israel apart as God's special priestly nation, and civil laws would be like our legal code, that is, laws for the Jewish nation to deal with crime. When you read one of these laws, it becomes obvious which category it should fall under. These categories are generally how Christians choose which apply today (namely, only the moral laws since the rest were for the Jews in that time and place).

    For a much better exposition of Old Testament ethics (while still being at the popular level) I highly recommend the following book by Paul Copan who is a Biblical ethicist: Is God a Moral Monster?

    >And yet if they removed every written record of this objective morality and killed off every person with a memory of it... what?

    As a Christian, I have faith that God has a vested interest in preventing this reality from happening. But let's say that it did. In that case, the existence of the Bible shows me that God desires humans to be aware of his plans and intentions so he would speak to humanity again as he did in the Bible. Perhaps the stories would be different and the books would be different, but the same moral and loving God would shine through all the same. If God is real, then his ultimate plans for the universe cannot be thwarted by ours.

    >Would everyone go to hell?

    I think the Bible is clear that, at final judgement, God will not hold anyone accountable for what they didn't know. If a little girl is raped by her Bible-thumping religious father, was she actually shown the real Jesus? No. God would expect her to be angry at religion and would provide a way for her that is fair. The Bible is crystal that God is completely just and aware of every secret thought and deed. We don't have to worry about him being fair.
u/AdmiralAardvark · 5 pointsr/Christianity

I've posted about it before, but an accompanying book I really enjoyed and found helpful was How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. It goes through and explains the different types of genres of literature found in the Bible, and the different ways to understand them. From the back of the book it says,
>"In clear, simple language, it helps you accurately understand the different parts of the Bible - their meaning for ancient audiences and their implications for you today."

I found it to be really helpful and an easy read, I would definitely recommend checking it out!

edit: The authors of this book really like the TNIV translation of the Bible, probably because they helped with that translation, but, like a lot of people in this thread are recommending, the ESV is really a great translation and the ESV Study Bible is awesome! I like this book for the descriptions of the genres, but the translation recommendation is definitely a little biased and not why I am recommending the book.

u/FaxRahCozy · 1 pointr/Christianity

Tl;dr: pastor, bible, catechism, mere Christianity and other books, the bible project, and other podcasts.

You should really consider talking to your pastor or a pastor at your church. Either go up to one and ask for a meeting, or go through the church email address or whatever contact method you have. Many protestant churches have membership or intro classes that explain these difficult,but important topics, and the Catholic church and orthodox church have formal classes. Reading the bible is Great, it is the most important thing to have besides a saving relationship with Christ. but having someone mature who can help you and lead you is immensely helpful,it's why they're there. A lot of these things are difficult to understand, and reading the bible often leads to more questions before it answers them. Find a teacher (or a few) that you trust to help explain them,then see of they line up with scripture as you grow more acquainted with it.

Catechisms are also helpful. They cover the basics in a question and answer format. There are also lots of podcasts that talk about this stuff as well. Books, videos, everything. C.S. Lewis is famous for explaining faith well, mere christianity is a great start. I have found the bible project youtube channel to be particularly helpful when reading and trying to understand the bible. It gives outlines of the books and helps frame the confusing language in an understandable way. John piper has a podcast "ask pastor john", but these are from one very specific view on Christianity called Calvinism and are very specific. Keep that one in your back pocket for now. Hope that helps supplement the answers here and give you direction. I've definitely had the confusing times where I don't know where to begin,I hope this makes that a smaller period of time for you. Pm me as well if you want additional resources.

u/SonOfShem · 2 pointsr/Christianity

I apologize in advance if this seems preachy or me trying to influence you, that's not my intention. I just want to help you understand what Christianity really is. There's lots of confusion.


First, you don't have to be baptized to get saved, or go to heaven (Jesus told one of the criminals on the cross that "today you will be with me in paradise.", and he didn't get baptized). Baptism is a demonstration of your faith, but not a prerequisite to salvation.

Second, be careful any time you start adding/removing parts of the Bible, that you aren't doing so just because you don't like it. Because if that's the case, you will end up worshiping a god of your own creation, rather than the God of all Creation. (not saying that there are no transcription/translation errors in the Bible, but just be careful, and make sure you have substantial evidence [not just the opinions of random guys on the internet] supporting your decision).


But to address your worry about not being a "true Christian" for a while: Christianity is not about following rules, going to church, or trying to do good. These are all byproducts of Christianity, but if you try to just go after these, you WILL fail (1). Being a Christian is just about making a decision that you will give the creator of the universe complete and total control of your life (2).

The benefits of this, is that when we seek after God (try to get to know him better through prayer and reading the Bible), all those things people think are Christianity will start to show up in your life. You don't have to stop drinking, but you'll want to at some point once you have spent time with God.


And as far as finding a denomination, I'd suggest a careful, methodical approach: be incredibly suspicious of anything the pastor says, and do your own research. Pastor says healing is not for today? Go up to him after service and ask him (politely) where you can find more reading about how he came to that opinion. Pastor says healing is for today, but not for everyone? Same thing. Pastor says healing is for today, but and is for everyone? Ditto.

Combine that with constant prayer asking God to show you the right church for you, and you should find the right one in God's time. (I personally had to do this, since I grew up non-denominational, and then moved out of state to a small-ish city for work, and had to find a new church to go to). You may not find a church you 100% agree with, but before leaving after a small disagreement, ask yourself how important your disagreement is. Is the pastor saying Jesus wasn't actually the Christ? Probably time to find a new church (is that even a church at that point?). Does the pastor say God's favorite color is red? Maybe not a big deal.

Another thing to look at is the results of the ministry. (3) If the church is changing peoples lives for the better, then it's probably a good church (maybe not your church, but a good church none the less).

Make sure you take time observing any church you go to though. You can't tell how good or bad a car is in a glance. Sure you can notice if something's really bad, but some problems don't show up unless you take your time to really examine the car, and/or give them time to exasperate.


Bottom line is, think analytically about scripture, compare that to what's being preached, and judge (examine) the ministry by the effects they have on those around them.


P.S. Strong's Concordance, and a good study Bible (4) are essential tools to study and understand the original text, to check for translation errors. I prefer physical copies, but you can find Strong's and plenty of free study bibles here. The Strong's is like a Dictionary for Greek and Hebrew words, so if aren't sure of the meaning of a word, you can look it up there. Study Bibles are great resources for looking up if a verse or group of verses mean what you think they mean (obviously this one is more subject to the author's opinion).



(1) "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God", Rom 3:23. The Greek word translated sin means continuous, habitual, intentional disobedience to God.

(2) The Greek word translated "Lord" in Romans 10:9 is the same word used to describe slave-masters. So we should consider God in this way. We submit our lives to him, not on a case-by-case basis, but overall, in every area. Note that this does not become a reality immediately, but is instead a continuous process of change.

(3) "You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. [...] A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit." Matt 7:16-17.

(4) the link is to my favorite (and a theologically neutral) study bible. It puts things into context, giving you insight into the culture of the time, and scholar's notes on events and their significance. Obviously remember that the study texts are the opinions of a man, or group of men, and are not infallible.

u/rtsDie · 4 pointsr/Christianity

You should definitely stay in the faith. From what you've said you're the ideal person to be a Christian. Jesus came to save sinners, not the perfect. If you feel like you don't pray enough, remind yourself that there's no gold star for praying, and that God never says he'll punish anyone for not praying enough. You're right that being a Christian isn't always easy, but it really is worth it. And yes, it can be difficult, but it's also freedom and true life. I know personally that feeling like a hypocrite sucks, but it's worth staying with it. I went through about 5 years of flirting with atheism and feeling trapped but I'm so glad I stayed. There are answers to your doubts, very good ones. But it can take a bit of searching to find good ones.

Re. Reading the Bible, I think your instinct to be careful in your interpretation is really helpful, but that doesn't mean the only options you have is reading everything as 100% literal (as in, this is what I would've seen if someone was there with a camera) on the one hand, and 100% allegorical (as in, this is kind of like Lord of the Rings in that it makes a nice point but is really just fantasy) on the other.

If you're thinking of Genesis in particular, there's a long history of reading it as not necessarily referring to 6 literal 24hr days (for example St Augustine). [The lost world of Genesis 1] ( by John Walton is a good place to start if you want to understand the way in which Genesis fits its Ancient Near Eastern context.

On the bigger topic of archaeology, slavery, what's the point of Genesis, why is the OT so wierd, is there a way between literalism and allegoricalism? etc. Inspiration and Incarnation
by Peter Enns is by far the most helpful thing I've read.

Keep going! Read Atheist Delusions, The Lost world of Genesis 1 and, Inspiration and Incarnation. Don't give up, there's plenty of really good answers out there. Christianity is life and freedom. You may not feel it now but the more you look into it, the more you'll see it. At least, that's my experience.

u/discipulus_eius · 7 pointsr/Christianity

God bless you! :) I love how you have shared your testimony.
I'm a young Christian guy and, unfortunately, struggle with porn and masturbation as well. So I do relate to your troubles there.

As someone who is new to the Christian faith, you might find this book REALLY helpful:

It is called "Mere Christianity" by C.S Lewis, who, fun fact, is also the auther of the "Chronicals of Narnia" fiction series.

C.S Lewis was a devout Christian and has wrote many great books on the Christian faith. I would also reccomend his book "the Screwtape Letters" which is a book about demons. And it might help you with temptation, as you shall realise the spiritual reality of what happens whan you go through that tempation.

You also mentioned that your parents are Catholic, so they might appreciate that you learn Theology from the renowned Theologian,
Thomas Aquinas:

Thomos Aquinas is not only one of the greatest philosophers of Christianity, but one of the greatest philosophers PERIOD.

Just by reading, you can really learn a lot about the nature of God, what it means to
pray, how to properly interpret Scripture, understanding your
sexuality, the proper use of meditation etc.

Just reading one book can inform you a LOT.

I say this because, a lot of times, new Christians ask how or where
they can learn more about Christianity. Which is funny because the
answer is right in front of them. :) You learn more about religion
just as you learn more about everything else iln life. Through books.

Anyways. God bless you in your newfound relationship with Him.
May you grow in faith and find righteous abstinence from sin.
Pray for me as I shall pray for you.

Deo Gratias! +++

u/EbonShadow · 1 pointr/Christianity

>1)I'm going to paraphrase here a little bit, but you can get the idea. It says in the bible that god created a rainbow after the flood to signify to Noah that he would never flood the world again. How can this be? That is like saying the refraction of light had never occurred before that point. I understand the idea that god can overcome science, but come on that is a little far fetched.

You find this the far fetched part of the Ark story? With the lack of geological evidence for a world-wide flood, or the accounting for Kangaroo's in Australia which are shown to diverge from their mammalian ancestries a few million years ago? I guess my question is why aren't you applying the breath of your scientific knowledge to the whole of the book? Perhaps Physics was your area of focus?

>2)It says in Revelations that a 7 headed beast would rise out of the sea when the end times arrive. Now, I know that a lot of people take the bible very literally, such as my family. How can this be interpreted because I know for a fact that this will not happen. This doesn't mean that what is described is incorrect, but simply miss interpreted.

Another option is it simply is a story written by people for people.

>5)According to Genesis the earth was formed before the sun. Is this something that people truly believe? Please, someone with a scientific education explain this to me. All I have heard is, God can over come universal laws no matter what they may be.

Most Christians I know tend to take it metaphorically vs literally as clearly by the Bibles account it doesn't match with modern astrophysics.

>6)The new testament was compiled by the Roman's and it is well known that books were left out of it. Man is flawed inherently, was something missed. Was god directing these actions? Can god really speak through people? Now, many people, such as my family, will tell me yes. Now, here is my problem with that. I have listened to sermons at church heard inconsistencies and scientifically incorrect interpretations be made by the minister. With that in mind, how can you gauge whether or not anything you hear "preached" to you is god speaking through someone?

The entire Bible has been edited many times.

>1) God is not some bearded guy in the sky. God is infinite, we are finite, we will never understand something as powerful and as awesome as "him".

Have you spent much time researching what some of the leading scientists say about the Universe? You don't need to insert a god into it.. Especially the Christian one which has enormous logical inconsistencies/paradox when you describe him as the omni-deity.

>2) God is all seeing all knowing. I believe this "being" has transcended us and is in vast complexity to the things we know. He has manipulated the universe, through science, to create us.

The god you are describing is what scientists refer to as the 'god of the gaps' IE as science learns more about reality the deities influence continues to shrink into the gaps of our ignorance.

>My goal here is not to offend anyone. I search and search around the christian community for a better revelation of who and why we are here. I just need something more then, just have faith. I don't feel that things are that simple. How can they be?

My suggestion for you is to read a bit on the history of the abrahamic deity and one of the most influencial skeptics of the 1900's.

u/keatsandyeats · 8 pointsr/Christianity

Sure. Well, let me make a couple suggestions:

  • My personal favorite not-an-apologetic is GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy (the link includes a free online version). That book sums up, paradoxically and romantically, Chesterton's views on God. It doesn't go out of its way to be convincing and doesn't take itself too seriously, which I love about it.

  • If you're looking for convincing yet personal (and not too lofty) accounts of a couple of scientists who are believers, I recommend theoretical physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne's Exploring Reality or geneticist Francis Collins' The Language of God.

  • The best logical arguments for God that have been around for centuries (and have been pretty well defended by the likes of men like Victor Reppert and William Lane Craig) were developed by Aquinas in his Summa Theologica. I suggest reading Peter Kreeft's easier-to-swallow shorter version.

  • I believe that Craig's Reasonable Faith does a very admirable and scholarly work of defending the faith philosophically.

  • William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience have nothing to do with apologetics, but have affirmed my faith in God personally. I add it here just to demonstrate, I suppose, that faith is highly personal and that God is revealed as well in the beauty and mystery of the poetic and artistic as He is in nature.
u/AgentSmithRadio · 2 pointsr/Christianity

For the most part, Christians are confused as to why the apostles made such a big deal about the resurrection beyond that of Christ's. They weren't talking about "going to Heaven when you die," which is partially true but it sells us short on what we've been promised. If you want to read into this subject, I highly recommend reading Surprised by Hope by NT Wright.

In terms of our cosmology, those who have been saved do enter Heaven (often called Paradise for the sake of clarity) to join God and the saints. We will not have bodies but our person will survive through death in the Lord's presence. After the Lord's Coming, the universe will experience the resurrection and we will be subject to the final judgement, at which point the saints will live in the resurrected Heaven and Earth with God.

The idea of us being asleep is generally held to refer to our bodies being dead, while our person remains alive. Essentially, a conscious disembodiment, with a dream being the closest real analogy that we have to that image. This period ends with the resurrection, when our person is reunited with our bodies, and we get to experience God's glory in full.

There's theological nuance here (and to be fair, a lot of heresy) but that's basically how it's expected to play out.

u/MetaphoricallyHitler · 3 pointsr/Christianity

It's an excellent choice. Like others have said, reading more than one book with different viewpoints on Christian fundamentals is a good idea, which is why I love threads like this, so thanks for posting.

Here are some suggestions from my own explorations in the last few years.


Mere Christianity

What Christians Believe by the venerable Bishop Ken Myers (im_just_throwing_this_out_there)

Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul, for more of a basic Reformed theology perspective

Dogmatics in Outline by Karl Barth, for a Reformed-ish (emphasis on the "ish") perspective sometimes called "neo orthodoxy". It's a summary of a much (much) larger work, and it's probably the toughest read out of the other books I'm recommending, because it encapsulates quite a bit of his very complex thought in a pretty short space.

The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware for an eye-opening perspective and well-written about a tradition I knew nothing about from my American, Baptist/evangelical upbringing.

The Catholic Religion by Vernon Staley, which is actually about the Anglican church. This was recommended to me by an Anglican redditor.

Someone already recommended Simply Christian by N.T. Wright. I'm about halfway through this right now. Being a regular on this sub, where his theology is pretty popular, I wouldn't say it's mind-blowing to me, but your mileage may vary. It's certainly a good read so far; his writing style is clear and easy to read (I think even easier than Lewis), and it seems like a good jumping off point for further exploration (he has other books I want to read, and I figured I'd start with his introductory book first).

u/ComeHereOften7 · 1 pointr/Christianity

First off, I'd say do not be ashamed for asking questions like these. They shouldn't be viewed like a curse or an outrage. It just means your using a different lens to understand the methods/functionality of the universe.

Science, is one of these methods. I see it as a rational lens that uncovers the mechanism of how God allots the universe and life to exist/function.

I've found the difficulty can arise when the findings of the "lens" seemingly conflict with the indications given by the map. It becomes necessary then to have a reliable and accurate compass. This compass I've found is a relationship with the God of the Universe, from which come all methods of discerning right and wrong. It helps me to understand where I am in relation to my observations.

(Essentially, indicating that God is the source of all things and that, "all truth is God's truth". Meaning my observations, if they are true, ultimately trace back to the ultimate source.)

So then how do you know if this compass is an accurate one? Well, I believe the God of the Universe deeply wants us to unravel that question and ultimately to have a relationship with us. He makes this known through a myriad of different ways. The most prominent will be those written down in an old book you'll find pretty much all over the place, mainly hotels. Furthermore, He demonstrates (perhaps explains) His power/existence through the love from friends, Chemistry, So's, Biology, courage from loved ones, Physics (had to throw in Physics). Traits of His existence are all around us.

To answer your question, yes I ask questions like that everyday. But my direction has changed, thanks to my compass. I realize that whatever truth/dilemma I'm analyzing is somehow, somewhere routed in the complexity and framework that is God. And that people far smarter than I have uncovered solutions through the lenses of their lifetimes.

Also, Mere Christianity is a book I highly reccommend. It has helped guide me through many different facets.

And additionally, here's some vids of Jesus' teachings that I really enjoy:

Sermon on the Mount

Light of the World

Keep asking questions man, keep digging. The truth is out there.

u/davidjricardo · 1 pointr/Christianity

The Jesus Storybook Bible is my favorite. My church gives it out at every new birth. It would be great for age five, age 8 probably too. It's focus is on putting the entire Bible in the context of the gospel.

The Story Bible is another really great option. It has many more stories than the Jesus Storybook Bible (130 vs. 40) and has gorgeous illustrations. Your kids are right at the best age for it too.

I also highly recommend the What's in the Bible video series. It does a fantastic job of putting the different parts of the Bible in context. It's aimed at kids (there's puppets) but most grownups would benefit a great deal from watching it too. You can buy DVDs or an online streaming subscription.

>Also, while we're at it, any recommendations for study bibles for teen girls (13 and 16) as well as my wife and I?

The ESV Study Bible is pretty good. Most study Bibles aimed specifically at teenagers aren't very good in my opinion. I think they can handle a "grown-up" study Bible. If they need a specific teenager resource, my favorite is Deep Down Faith, a 24-week devotional by Cornelius Plantinga.

u/rainer511 · 4 pointsr/Christianity

The heaven of popular culture is not the heaven of the Bible. For one, Jesus taught of a heaven that is present now. He often said things like, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" and he told his followers to tell people, "The Kingdom of Heaven has come near to you". The Kingdom of Heaven is a present reality for those in Christ.

Also, the floating in the clouds with gold harps as a final destination is also off. The clearest picture of eternity in the Bible is Revelation 21-22, and even that you can't read too literally. The Christian hope isn't to escape from earth to heaven, but rather for heaven to come to earth in the resurrection. For a better picture of new creation, the resurrection, and the hope of Christians see N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope.

If at any point you'd like to join us, you're welcome. The gates will always be open.

u/mistiklest · 15 pointsr/Christianity

> I come from a very rural area of England but in my town alone we have an Anglican (High Church) church, a Catholic church, a Methodist church, a Baptist church, an Eastern Orthodox church, potentially some others I do not know about, and also there is a society of friends here.

Why not visit them all?

> However Works of Mercy are also an important part of the Catholic Church, so that point alone doesn't really help me decide, even though to me it's important that I am involved with a church which values Works of Mercy.

Works of Mercy should be something all Christians agree is important!

> The biggest issue in choosing which church to go to is that because I was not brought up religious at all and my family are so anti-religious I really don't know much about it, and have not explored my faith at all with anyone else so don't really know how I stand on a lot of the important divides between the denominations.

I suppose step one is learning what all these different groups teach, then. This is a surprisingly good introduction. For something more in depth, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years is very good. If you really want to go in depth, A History of Doctrine (this is volume one of five) is pretty much comprehensive.

Of course, you shouldn't just sit in your house reading books. Get up and go visit all those churches you've mentioned. Speak with the priest/pastor/minister and ask them your questions about their church and it's teachings!

u/Frankfusion · 5 pointsr/Christianity

If I can let you know, you're not alone. I'm 32 and hopefully next year my gf of 4 years and I are planning on getting married. It isn't easy, but waiting is possible. Being with likeminded friends helps. And perspective takes time. In the bubble of school a lot of things look fun. But in the real world, with real consequences, not so much. These things do have emotional and psychological consequences that you will take with you into your future relationships. Waiting is a means of protecting those future relationships.

Now for those questions, yes they can get annoying. But you don't have to reinvent the wheel. There have been many smart Christian writers, theologians, artists, philosophers, apologists, etc... who have given these issues a lot of thought and you would do well to get acquainted with them. I'd recommend something like Grudem's Systematic Theology for basic doctrine. For specific questions, Tim Keller's The Reason For God is pretty popular, and I'm liking philosopher Douglas Groothuis's Christian Apologetics.

u/NotADialogist · 1 pointr/Christianity
  1. Read Matthew and Luke through three times.

  2. Then read all four Gospels.

  3. Then re-read all four Gospels in parallel with the Praxapostolos (Acts/Epistles/Revelation). However many chapters of the Gospels you read, read the same number of Praxapostolos chapters.

  4. When you finish #3, start #3 again, but now add a Psalm a day. Maybe break up Psalm 117 into 3 pieces.

  5. In parallel with #4, you might add a chapter or two from the Wisdom Books each day. Make sure your Bible has the Deuterocanonical books Wisdom of Solomon and Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus). These books were included in the Bible canon by all Church councils in the first millennium and are very valuable. I recommend the Orthodox Study Bible or Oxford Annotated RSV (not the NRSV) with "Apocrypha". The Wisdom Books are Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach.

  6. Then, in parallel again, you might add a chapter or two of the remaining books of the Old Testament, starting with Genesis and reading through all of the prophets.

    I would also recommend you get some first millennium commentaries. For the Gospels you might get the set of Theophylact's commentaries, or consult the commentaries of John Chrysostom (Matthew, John) or Cyril of Alexandria (Luke) online.

    I recommend first millennium commentaries because (1) you will find that they are the source of many of the key ideas expressed in later commentaries; and (2) they come from a time before there was a separate "Roman Catholic Church" or "Orthodox Church" or various Protestant churches, all with conflicting interpretations of the Bible.
u/effinmike12 · 1 pointr/Christianity

Book recommendations? I don't know what you mean exactly. A supplement or resource? The following resources can probably be found in your church, public, university libraries. Often, you CANNOT check out these types of resources, so you may want to consider investing in a few books. Until then, check out It is a little odd to navigate, but it is FREE!

Resource Standards (A serious must)

  1. The Commentary Why you need these explained here

    A single edition condensed commentary as well as a set of solid commentaries such as The NAC and HarperCollins. There are several solid choices.

  2. Systematic Theology Explained here

    I HIGHLY recommend one of the following: Christian Theology(used in many seminaries/MDiv OR Intro to Christian Doctrine

    3.Biblical Dictionary

    Holman's and Unger's are two well received one volume editions.

    The three aforementioned tools are in the libraries of every single minister I know. The names do matter, but there are plenty of fine, scholarly companies that produce up-to-date, relevant versions of very similar, but not identical, resources. Above is a minimal (and I mean minimal) list for putting together a 4-10 lesson study of Job. If you would like to learn more about hermeneutics, you should read How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth as a primer. There are several other required resources to add to your library if proper exegesis is something you are passionate about. I taught/lectured on systematic theology, intensive studies, and church history to a well-educated group of adults (some of which were my professors). Even so, remember this always-

    >HEB 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

    Job: Interesting observations/thoughts to consider

  3. Regarding the person of Job, the author, the date (probably 1st penned book), history, etc HERE IS THIS

  4. Was Job a parable (mythology)? Research this point.

  5. Was Satan trying to tempt God anywhere in Job, and if so why?
u/pseudokapi · 2 pointsr/Christianity

I think Pope Francis is sincere, but I also think that it is more complicated than merely "doing what is needed to heal the breach." The Schism is as much about people as it is about theology. Human beings and the relationships between them are complicated at the best of times. The self-understanding of these two communities has been distinct for so long that it is easier to argue than to find common ground. There are currently "Byzantine" Churches in communion with Rome and it hasn't worked out terribly well for a lot of them (though there have been bright spots).

If I might be so bold, the "liberal" people (I don't like that word, but I don't have another one) in both camps can hardly see the point in being separate, though they would like to change things in both their Churches in other ways that would make them unrecognizable. The challenge is to have the "conservative" people satisfied with the process and expected result of re-approachment, enough to establish common cause between them. A traditional Catholic has to see that the Orthodox showing up won't force them to budge on things that they are fighting with progressives in their own Church about. The same with the Orthodox. The famous resistor of "false union" Bishop Mark of Ephesus doesn't just appeal to those seeking to preserve the Orthodox faith, but also traditionally committed Catholics.

And what happens if the Catholics are willing to compromise on a great many things, but the Orthodox get difficult on some point? Would not the Catholics feel abused? "We've come all this way and it hurts us and you still won't give up on point 9?" This has been the problem with the Miaphysites. It looks like all the theological issues have been resolved, but we seem to be left with Saints and Anathemas on both sides that have rooted the problem beyond reconciliation. We seem to be "right there" except we have beloved saints on both sides that effectively said, "you can never go there." What do we do with these saints? How do we understand them?

As for something to read. There are several books depending on your interest in using big words. :)

Lossky would be the heavy weight:

Though I much prefer Zizioulas, more approachable and puts apophatic theology in balance:

Of course Bishop Timothy Ware's book is the usual "internet standard recommendation:

If you want something very approachable (almost no technical terms) and a little more "what does this mean" you might try an introduction to sacramental theology in general:

And probably the least "theological" but I think this is both my wife and my favorite:

u/ldpreload · 3 pointsr/Christianity

There's an excellent view of world to come in NT Wright's book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. In short, the angels-playing-harps-on-clouds view of heaven is completely unsupported by the Bible, and there's a world of things to do and make better, absolutely well-suited to our being human.

We will be praising God in our work, just as we praise God in our work on Earth. And there will be amazingly awesome choirs and things for standing around and going "Great is our God," just as we have pretty good choirs for that on Earth. But it's absolutely not all we're doing.

u/B0BtheDestroyer · 1 pointr/Christianity

That's fair. I can't say I believe in the Christianity I was raised in either. I was raised in a more fundamentalist atmosphere and have become more of an academic Christian.

I'm not sure if I think morality is relative, but I am pretty sure our understanding of it is relative. Maybe there is some morality that exists outside of context, but once we start applying it wholesale everything gets hazier. Nothing can be applied wholesale; we can only understand things in context because we only exist in context. But this may be my love for postmodern philosophy talking.

If you are still interested in studying the Bible, I would encourage looking at modern academic commentaries/articles (getting suggestions from a professor or pastor that you trust might be helpful) as well as exploring other more foreign Christian theologies, such as Eastern Orthodoxy. Some places to start might be a basic book on exegesis such as The Bible Doesn't Have to Be Hard to Read and good article on the JEDP theory. On the subject of Eastern Orthodoxy, some good accessible books are The Orthodox Way and For the Life of the World.

u/at1stsite · 1 pointr/Christianity

I'd be happy to suggest some titles. (And I hope my comment didn't seem to insinuate that I thought you had unrealistic expectations about a spiritual moment of awakening or anything. I don't think that at all.) I understand what you mean about feeling that God might be hiding from you if He exists given that you've made some sincere attempts to know Him via the Bible, church, etc.

John Polkinghorne might be a good author to check out. He's a physicist who writes a lot about science & theology. (I suggest him b/c some of your authors you listed lead me to believe you're very confident in science and not sure how religion still has a place or provides evidence for God? Maybe?) Here's a good book of his that could get you started.

Have you read any C.S. Lewis? I personally found his arguments to be fairly compelling, but understand he's not compelling for everyone. Mere Christianity is his best known work, but all of his stuff is pretty great.

In any case, I do hope that these suggestions are in some way helpful in how your journey of wrestling with God's potential existence.

u/Ask_Seek_Knock · 11 pointsr/Christianity

First, no one can convince you of God's existence except Him. I know, I was not raised Christian, not even close. I came to Christ as an adult, much to the amazement of my Christian friends and much to the horror of my secular friends and family. Ask, seek, knock Matt 7:7, it sounds like an easy solution but it isn't. If following God were simple then Jesus' death would have been unnecessary. If following Jesus were easy in a fallen world, then there would be no apostasy, there would be no need for caution, there would be no hypocrisy; but in reality there is.

Second, God calls us to love him with all that we are. Our hearts, mind and soul. God does not want mindless zombies. [Luke 10:27 & Deut 6:5] If you know a Christian who isn't thoughtful, then you probably know one who is deceived. In fact, throughout history you will find that many of the best educated people were Christians. All but one of the first universities in the fledgling US were Christian schools. Why? Because God warns us to be discerning so that we will not be deceived by lies, well told lies but lies all the same.

Third, read the Bible and study its' history. There is a lot of information available on these topics. Also study prophecy. Prophecy is given to the Church for several reasons, one of which is to testify to God's nature, the nature that allows him to lay out history before it happens.

Give God a chance and HE will show you his character and nature, but you do have to seek Him out. I'm sorry if that's not what you want to hear but it is true.

Resources, by far a drop in the bucket of the preponderance of information:

Is Jesus Real? Non-biblical evidence Short video, that goes over some of the information for a historical Jesus. Much is taken from the next link, The Divine Evidence.

The Divine Evidence Article Index Tons of articles to go through here.

Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul

Christian Martyrs Several part series, from Foxe's book Christian Martyrs of the world. This is an important part of Church history, it's good to see where the Church has been.

Mere Christianity Someone else suggested this and it's a good read. Some people have a negative view of Lewis, but I think his story and published writings are pretty inline with the Bible. At least the ones I have read.

u/saved_son · 1 pointr/Christianity

It's a sign of my seminary training that my first instinct when asked about reading the Bible is to recommend reading a different book - but How to read the Bible for all it's worth can give you an overview that might be good.

Another option is to read the Bible in a regular version like the NIV, but also have a more dynamic translation like the New Living Translation, which will put them into more understandable language on hand for the difficult verses.

Protip - the book is 'Revelation' singular - and getting that right is more important than you think, as soon as I see someone in film or literature calling it Revelations I know they haven't done their research.

I hope that you get something out of your time in the Word and that God speaks to your heart as well while you research !

u/themagicman1986 · 1 pointr/Christianity

In addition to Mere Christianity here are a few more worth checking out. Despite the need for faith there is far more evidence for Christianity then I ever knew until recently. These are just a few of the resource that have helped me.


I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist

Stealing from God

The Language of God

The Fingerprint of God

I have put them in the order I would recommend reading but they are all great resources.

Another good resource for spiritual journeys are church small groups. A number of larger churches often have weekly groups or 6-8 week meetings geared for new believers and seekers. All the resources in the world are great by my journey was more shaped by talking through these things then anything else.

Glad to hear where your journey has brought you. I will be praying that God helps you find the resource and people you need to fill in the gaps.

u/ThaneToblerone · 3 pointsr/Christianity

I've been reading Dr. William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith and finding it to be pretty stimulating so if you want something on the more academic end then that could be good.

CS Lewis's The Great Divorce is a good, quick read with an interesting take on the natures of Heaven and Hell.

Rev. Dr. Mary Kathleen Cunningham is a very good scholar who I studied under during undergrad and who has put together a very nice reader which surveys the spectrum of belief in the creationism/evolution debate called God and Evolution which is good if you're interested in that kind of thing.

Dr. Craig Keener has a good, cohesive commentary on the New Testament which you can buy as a single volume called The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.

So there's a few to start out with. Let me know if you're looking for anything more specific and I can try to help (I have a budding theological library in my apartment).

u/GiantManbat · 1 pointr/Christianity

Sure. The idea that we go to another space called "Heaven" as spirits for all eternity is a very modern one. It's not what is taught in the Bible, and it has never been an orthodox Christian belief.

Heaven is the space where God resides, like another dimension. God created the earth in such a way that it kind of "overlapped" with God's space. Because of human rebellion (i.e. "sin"), we've lost the ability to be in full communion with God in that space. While heaven is still there and can interact with us, we cannot interact with it (at least not in the way we were meant to).

God's goal is to fully restore the relationship between our world and heaven. Revelation describes heaven coming down to earth, not us going up to heaven. God intends to make creation like new, restoring the heaven/earth relationship and wiping away the effects of human sin.

There's still a belief that the human soul is in some way protected by God after death, and that we exist in some kind of unembodied state, but that's not the end goal. If that's "life after death", then the real hope of the Christian faith is "life after life after death".

That's a super simplified version. If you want to know more, check out this video from the Bible Project, or read "Surprised by Hope" by N.T. Wright.

u/rapscalian · 4 pointsr/Christianity

I haven't read it, but I've only heard great things about How to Read the Bible for All it's Worth, for Gorden Fee and Doug Stuart.

Also, The Last Word, by NT Wright is excellent. It's not necessarily a book strictly about interpreting the bible, but more of a theology of the bible, so to speak. Reading Wright's work has given me a lot more appreciation for what the bible is, which helps a lot with interpreting it.

Are there any particular issues you're interested in, or any books you'd specifically like guidance with? I've got a final suggestion, that deals with making sense of some of the commandments in the old testament. It's called Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis, by William Webb. It's an excellent approach to the old testament that reads it in light of the New Testament and is able to make sense of the hard commandments without pretending that they don't exist.

u/thephotoman · 2 pointsr/Christianity

I am a consensus reader across text traditions. Therefore, one Bible doesn't cut it for me.

  • My own Church publishes the Orthodox Study Bible ($50), but Amazon has it for cheaper. What's unique about it is that it is a mostly Septuagint translation. The psalms follow our numbering instead of Vulgate numbering (and you get Psalm 151).
  • I would recommend a more purely Vulgate translation--New Jerusalem ($30, typically available from Catholic bookstores, as it is their translation) is actually pretty solid in that regard.
  • And then, I'd recommend something out of the Masoretic Text tradition: This one, specifically. While I have problems with the NRSV (and its psalter in particular), this particular publication of it is quite fair. The price has come down since I bought my copy, too.
  • Get yourself a King James (not NKJV, just KJV) for the purposes of literary study. There are places that distribute them for free. Ask at church. (This is perhaps the best Bible for your phone or e-reader: it can be had in digital format for less than $1.)
  • A paraphrase can be helpful when you need a fresh look at the Scriptures, or if you're new to them. My mom really liked The Message (depending on the publication, it runs in the $15-$30 range) as a paraphrase, but I'll be frank: I've not used paraphrases for my own purposes. I tend to be good with written languages.

    If you're really apathetic about which version you get, as long as you get a Bible, ask at church. They will have Bibles for the asking.

    No, there are no referrer tags in my Amazon links. I do not do that.
u/Fuzzpufflez · 2 pointsr/Christianity

What you are seeking I think would in my opinion be found in Orthodox Christianity.

  1. We Orthodox call them Spiritual Fathers. These can be your priest, your confessor or a monk. Usually it is your priest or confessor as they will get to know you very well. The job of a spiritual Father is to help instruct and guide you on your spiritual path towards salvation. He will answer questions, offer advice with life problems and is the person you can talk to when you are troubled.
  2. We have hesychasm and prayer rules. They help bring spiritual order into our lives so that we can better live out the faith.
  3. The Orthodox teaching of hell is that at the judgement all souls (saved and unsaved) will experience God's love. A soul which has rejected God will experience God in a dreadful way entirely as a result of his own choice. God will show him his love but because he has cut off himself from him and rejected him he will not welcome that presence.
  4. The term denominations refers to all the protestant splinter groups which were created by Martin Luther 1500 years after Christ. Apart from those Christianity has many sects such as Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Copts etc. The way you would discover which is the true one is through research. Look at the Church history, which one teaches and practices the same things as the early Church? Paul told us to hold fast to the traditions we have been given. I can only instruct point you towards the Orthodox Church as we were founded by the Apostles and have kept the teachings and traditions they gave us.
  5. Prayers to saints is not a necessity, we pray to them to ask them to pray for us just like we would other Christians because God is not the god of the dead and of the living. Christ showed us that they are alive at his transfiguration.
  6. The attitude towards the different sects changes between churches. Some believe anything flies as long as your praise Jesus. Some, like us, believe that there is only one faith that we were instructed to keep, and to change it is to depart from the church.
  7. With regards to tradition, you will find its fullness in the Orthodox Church. We were instructed to keep it, and so we did.
  8. KJV is a good translation, but you can also google about which one is the best. Being translations, they all have issues. We Orthodox believe scripture should not be read alone because the reader will come to his own conclusions rather than what was given to us. Scripture is not just the written word but the overall context and teaching.
  9. At the end of all this, this is but what our church claims. You can only get to the bottom of it through research. I can point you to the Orthodox Church.

    A good book to read is this.
u/GregoryNonDiologist · 4 pointsr/Christianity

We do not have any complete manuscripts of the "original" Hebrew. The vast majority of English translations of the "Hebrew" Old Testament are not translations of the original Hebrew, but rather a translation of a form of Hebrew that was invented in the Middle Ages by a sect (largely anti-Christian) of Jews called the Masoretes.

So for the Old Testament your choices are to defer to translations of a post-Christian Hebrew text or to translations of the Old Testament in another language. The oldest complete version of the Old Testament in any language is the Greek Septuagint, which dates to the 2nd century BC.

In my opinion, the best place to go for a translation of the medieval Masoretic Hebrew text is probably the Oxford Jewish Study Bible, translated by and commented on by Jewish scholars.

The best place to go for a translation of the Greek Septuagint is probably the Orthodox Study Bible.

The advantage of a translation of the Septuagint is that it includes the entire Old Testament. Modern Jewish and Protestant translations omit a number of books.

In my opinion, the best English translation of the New Testament is the 2-volume Orthodox New Testament, but it's not terribly readable.

I agree with another suggestion that the RSV is perhaps the best overall version. If you opt for this, be sure to purchase a version with the so-called "Apocrypha" (actually called the Deuterocanon by the Church Fathers). The New Oxford Annotated Bible is a good choice. Definitely AVOID the NRSV - Get the RSV.

u/Ibrey · 3 pointsr/Christianity

Aquinas' Summa Theologiae is written in a format where he starts by listing arguments against his position, then refutes them. So it's helpful in understanding the five ways to bear in mind that Aquinas presents them as a rebuttal to this argument for agnosticism:

> Objection 2. Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.

Aquinas is going to show that there are things in the world that cannot be accounted for by nature or by human will. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange writes in Dieu : son existence et sa nature that the principle that underpins all the Five Ways is: the greater is not explained by the lesser.

In each of these arguments, Aquinas is going to say, in essence, "there are things in the world which have some quality x; x needs an explanation; any explanation which is x must itself have an explanation; therefore, there is some ultimate explanation which is not x." What it is that is "not x", however, is ultimately a mystery: as Aquinas will say in the prologue to question 3, "we cannot know what God is, but only what He is not."

This is the key insight of classical theism: the world has an explanation, and we do not know what it is. When Aquinas says, "and this all men call God," he is not, as he sometimes seems to be to modern people, saying there must be an explanation and then arbitrarily assigning it to a very powerful old bearded man who lives in the sky. He is saying there is some explanation who surpasses all human knowledge, but who whatever He may be is not composed of potency and act like a creature is, and is not contingent like a creature is, etc.; and this is what people mean when they say "God."

Now, briefly, Aquinas' first three arguments rely on a common argument that an "essentially ordered" series of causes cannot regress to infinity. A causal series is essentially ordered when earlier members cause later members to cause the yet later members. An example of an "accidentally ordered" causes is a series of fathers and sons: I was caused to exist by my father, but his continued existence has no bearing on my own ability to have a son. Aquinas invokes as a classic example of an essentially ordered series a man pushing a rock with a stick, so imagine that I go golfing. When I swing a club and the club moves the ball, this is not something the club could do even if I weren't there; I cause the club to cause the ball to move. In the first three ways, Aquinas names three kinds of series that he says cannot proceed to infinity: movers and things moved, efficient causes, and necessary beings that receive their necessity from another.

The fourth way relies on the traditional metaphysical notion of transcendental attributes. Transcendentals are qualities that can be predicated of every being insofar as it is a being, and include being (i.e., existence), unity, truth, and goodness. The transcendentals are convertible with one another; they are all really the same thing looked at in different ways. Aquinas holds due to other metaphysical commitments that there must be a maximally existent and one and true and good being which is the cause of all being, unity, truth, and goodness. This is probably bound to be the most foreign and challenging of the five ways for modern people.

The fifth way is a teleological argument. Things in nature are oriented towards ends as an irreducible feature of reality; massive objects tend to exert gravitational attraction, seeds tend to grow into trees, animals tend to breathe eat and reproduce, the purpose of the heart is to pump blood. Aquinas says unintelligent things must be directed to an end by a being endowed with knowledge and intelligence, therefore there is an intelligent being by whom all things are directed to their end.

This is far from all Aquinas has to say about these arguments (which are not things he came up with, but developed based on arguments from writers like Aristotle, Gregory the Theologian, Augustine, and Anselm). Further comments that shed light on them are found throughout his other writings, and he goes on in First Part of the Summa Theologiae to make arguments that the five ways show the existence of one and the same being, and that this being has attributes such as omnipotence, omniscience, etc. One good detailed exposition and defence of the arguments is Edward Feser's book Aquinas.

u/eternityisreal · 1 pointr/Christianity

Not to worry, there is a reasonable, rational foundation for the Christian faith! I strongly encourage you to check out the following resources:

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

7 Days that Divide the World by John Lennox
Video lecture version of book:

Cold Case Christianity by J Warner Wallace

There is also a free pdf of the entire book floating around online :)

They've made a huge difference for me in helping me keep my belief in the bible as the word of God despite coming to embrace scientific fact.

Be encouraged friend, God wants us to love him with our whole self: body, spirit, and MIND. The evidence is there!

u/civilized_gent · 1 pointr/Christianity

>You cannot separate the old and new testament as the word of God. If you believe one, you believe the other, and one is so full of death, destruction, anger, hate, and just plain vile stories that it simply cannot be divinely inspired.

I agree with you in that they are the exact same God. The God of the new testament and the God of the old testament, so if you believe in one, you believe in the other because they are one in the same. I'm not going to try to explain it, because it's such a broad topic, and I don't feel I have a good enough command of the english language to get my point across, but I can believe the actions of God in the old testament can be fairly easily rectified. This book helped to reconcile my beliefs when I needed answers about the very same topic. And after a quick google search, I found this a youtube video of a radio interview with Paul Copan, the author of that book.

As far as being good without God, from a worldy view, this is definitely possible, but not so much from a Christian view. There is nothing good in me. On my own, I am capable of no good need. I am human, I am corrupt, and evil by nature. God is the only thing in me that is good, and every time I complete a good action, it is solely because of Him. In a secular sense, you can be good without God, because even though you may not believe in God, you still live in His world. There is still an ultimate moral standard, that everyone agrees upon, yet has no natural explanation. You can most certainly have more 'goodness' than a christian from the perspective of completing more 'good' acts.

I don't believe God stacked the evidence against Himself when he created the universe. There is just as much scientific evidence for biblical creation, as there is for a natural creation. In fact, it's the exact same evidence! The evidence that atheists use to proclaim the nonexistence of God, is used by Theists to proclaim His existence! The same evidence is just interpreted differently by two different groups of people. The problem is, everyone has a world view, so it's impossible to look at the evidence and be completely neutral. If you begin examining the evidence believing one thing, you will most likely draw a conclusion similar to your prior beliefs. A world view is like a colored lens. If you wore green glasses everywhere, you might suspect everything is green. Not because it is, but because the glasses make it seem so. So really the proof in whether or not there is a God, comes down to determining which world view is correct. Fortunately, all world views separate from Christianity conflict themselves somewhere, thus proving they can't be the 'correct' view. Most of them lead to the conclusion that we shouldn't be able to know anything about the universe that we live in, or that day to day actions of anyone without God, are completely unexplainable. This is because Christianity is the only world view that can accurately account for the preconditions of intelligibility, or the conditions that must exist before we can know anything. Atheists cannot account for these conditions, and have to actually rely on the Bible, before they can argue against it. I'm not going to give a super thorough explanation here, but I would suggest looking into Presuppositional apologetics, and the preconditions of intelligibility.

u/FA1R_ENOUGH · 1 pointr/Christianity

>To me, the most obvious explanation for why you don't think Genesis should be taken literally is that you understand that it can't be literally true and so you conclude that it wasn't intended to be so. On the other hand, you want to believe in Jesus and the gospels, so you believe that they're true, and then decide that they must have been written as truth. If this isn't the reason for your position, then please tell me what your actual reason is.

Could you be a little more condescending here? How is this the "most obvious explanation"? This is the most obvious explanation if you take me to be an idiot or intellectually dishonest; I do not appreciate those implications. Charity will ensure that our discussions are fruitful.

If we are going to interpret the Bible, then we must discern how different genres should be interpreted. The Bible has a plethora of different genres: narrative, poetry, song, genealogy, letters, apocalypse, law, prophecy, etc. We need to understand the nature of these genres so we can read them right. Otherwise, we are going to produce absurd ideas. For example, if we read the newspaper thinking that it's a love poem, we will probably become frustrated.

Genesis 1 has a lot of poetic elements to it. It is a story of how God created the universe and assigned function to everything. It should not be difficult to see the poetic nature of this chapter. For example, Days 1-3 depict God creating various containers; Days 4-6 depict God filling the containers. On Day 4, he creates sun, moon, and stars, which corresponds to Day 1 - light and dark. Day 5 has fish and birds which fill the sky and sea (Day 2). Day 6 is plant and animal life and humans, which fills the land made on Day 3.

Anyway, the story is much more a story about God than about the mechanics of creation. It is not a historical narrative. Thus, trying to interpret this like we would a historical narrative is an unfortunate category mistake. I've found John Walton's The Lost World of Genesis One to be a helpful deconstruction of this chapter.

Now, the Gospels are a different genre. They are biographies of Jesus Christ, and they focus on what he did. These are quite similar to other, secular biographies that we have from the same time period. Furthermore, fiction from that time is not written like the Gospels. The Gospels demonstrate eyewitness sources. To say that they were not to be intended as actual history is to say that the writers effectively invented a brand-new genre of realistic fiction. Mythic writings in this time were not like the Gospels. For example, contrast the Revelation or 1 Enoch (apocalyptic literature) with the Gospels. One should easily be able to tell the difference.

The point is, we should realize that the Bible has different genres, was written over the course of hundreds of years, and is a diverse document. As it sounds silly to question if the epistles were written to actual people because the Psalms are worship music, the idea that Genesis 1 is not intended to be historical implies nothing about the historicity of the Gospels. If you are interesting in a full understanding of the different texts, I would recommend Fee/Stuart's How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, and How to Read the Bible Book by Book. They are helpful introductions to the topic of Biblical Intepretation.

u/CalvinLawson · 1 pointr/Christianity

You should read this book:

Spong is a bishop, and also very atheist friendly. He might help you reconcile your desire for a rational explanation with your desire to explore the dominant faith tradition of your culture.

I can also recommend this book, and this book. The first two are written by Christians, the last by a lapsed nun (but is both historically accurate and neutrally respectful of faith).

I will tell you one thing. If there is a god, you'd better hope he is worthy of worship, one who isn't a religious bigot. If god turns out to be one it's doubtful he'd pick the particular religion you settle on anyway.

So remember: atheist, Christian, or whatever, don't be a dick. The rest is explanation, go and learn.

u/rafaelsanp · 1 pointr/Christianity

If your looking for good philosophical and logical arguments for the existence of God that might get him thinking, then you might want to pick up Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig.

I think someone up higher was correct when they said that only God changes hearts, but I found this book very thought provoking. Even if it doesn't convince him it might produce some very good and thoughtful discussions.

And cheers to you for wanting to share the joy! It's the best basis for a relationship that I can imagine.

u/jimforge · 2 pointsr/Christianity

It's a complex question with a complex answer. If we take our sources seriously, then our first clue lies in the Ascension in Acts 1. After Jesus moves up into the clouds, two angels appear and tell the Eleven that Jesus will return in the same way he left. So, we either take this that he will descend back down, or it will be a shocking event that we don't expect.

Acts 2 includes the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, which could be construed as the return, but that requires a reading of John, which Luke would not have and thus likely should not be considered an interpretation of the text.

Okay, but what about what Jesus said, because that's what really matters, right? Well, we have only a few bits of text outside of the Olivet discourses. As for those, Matt 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21, they are a bit crazy. You have what appear to be clear allusions to the sack of Jerusalem, which make sense in regards to the prompt for the whole discussion regarding the stones of the Temple. But then comes the more abstract notions of things passing away or the goats and the sheep, so how literal do we need to be regarding all of this?

Honestly, allegorize it, because Paul does with the Thessalonians in his second letter. Heck, that's what the Church historically has done with this material. The key is not how Jesus returns, but that he will return.

So, how come Jesus never came back? Because it isn't the time to come back. We're almost done getting his name to every language on this planet, and we may have other people among the stars to tell as well. I mean, Christianity grew silently for the first three hundred years, spurted out for a century in the Roman Empire, silently again until 1500 with colonialism, though I would contend that the true growth in that regard, much like in Rome, came also silently through the true-hearted missionaries and Christians who lived the faith.

Here's an excellent book that I think really encapsulates eschatology and the mission of the church. I know I used quite a few odd words, so if you have questions, I'd be happy to clarify or expound a bit more.

u/trexinanf14 · 1 pointr/Christianity

I would absolutely agree on the NIV as a good general purpose bible, however there are some alternatives out there depending on what you are looking for. I would highly recommend either The Book of God by Walter Wangerin or The Message by Eugene Peterson, both of which are a re-imagining (read: they should not be used as a reference!) of the biblical stories, the former as a novel and the latter as a bible where the stories are told using language you or I would.

I also greatly support using a study bible, the good ones will give helpful context or reference to the stories you read, or you can just go all the way academic and grab a copy of the Oxford Annotated Bible (but from the sounds of it you wouldn't want that).

Although workingmouse, I would disagree that the KJV is the go-to bible these days for protestants, largely for the reasons you gave. Speaking of definitely not kosher, has anyone read the book Lamb? It's a pretty humorous read, but you really need to be ready to hold nothing sacred for a few hundred pages. =)

Good luck in your search OP!

u/SK2018 · -1 pointsr/Christianity

I can recommend some books.

For general theology:

u/moreLytes · 3 pointsr/Christianity

Ah! I think I can help! The trick is that intellectuals who think about God tend to dismiss the possibility of Him fitting into a scientific theory. But they don't dismiss the idea as false on these grounds - they believe the world to contain things that science cannot or has not discovered.

You might be interested in learning about natural theology (the study of God through secular means).

Some theologians for God argue for his existence on the basis of metaphysical models. For example, Thomas Aquinas in his Quinquae Via argues for God in this way. If you accept his very technical, specific, and interesting ways of thinking about the universe, then he can be very convincing.

Another group, more heavily favored by modern analytical philosophy, are led by a thinker named Alvin Plantinga. These people construct extremely technical arguments for God (see the modal ontological argument for an example), and also explain how they think God's existence explains certain facts that we all agree on.

For the former group, I'd recommend this book. For the latter, this one. Let me know if I can expand any point of this unfortunately-broad response.

u/Kidnapped_David_Bal4 · 3 pointsr/Christianity

Are some of your family members Christian? You could talk to them (certainly if it's your immediate family like mom and dad or siblings). It'd be harder if it's like a cousin or uncle or grandmother, but you probably want someone to talk to who you trust. Do you have friends who are Christian? Maybe just ask them- if this is a big decision in your life, they should hopefully have your back. You might find out that some of your friends are Christian and you didn't even know because they were too intimidated to tell you that and now you made the first move so it's find to talk about it.

If you really want to read something, you could try reading one of the gospels. Maybe Mark? I also think you'd benefit by reading something a little less formal, a little more geared right at you (the gospels have a lot of context and history and previous knowledge that they expect readers to be working with, so either accept that there's stuff that's going over your head and read them anyway or get a study Bible to help). A lot of people recommend Mere Christianity or The Reason for God or others by Tim Keller. I think that's the sort of thing you're looking for.

u/herman_the_vermin · 2 pointsr/Christianity

Orthodox Study Bible it has great commentary, with only like one spot I can remember where I was like "ehhh"

But it does explain the use of the Septuagint, and explain some theology, and a glossary to different commentary. It may be a little pricey, but I really enjoy the commentary and am on my 2nd read through. It also includes the lectionary, or rather what the Church has every one reading on the same day of through the year =) hope that helps!
Met. Kallistos Ware has a few books "The Orthodox Church" and "The Orthodox Way" which are good primers of theology, life in the church, and differences between East and West

u/Neuehaas · 2 pointsr/Christianity

You are so smart to do so my friend! You're probably a philosopher at heart, too inquisitive to "just believe." That's great, I wish more Christians were like that.

The fact is there's plenty plenty of evidence for the truth (both historical and philosophical) of Christianity though it just takes time to read through it all. It's something you kind of have to get a bug up your butt about, or in my case you get strong-armed into it mentally, in which case you become obsessed with it which is what happened to me.

For some lay-level reading I'd check out (in no particular order)

Cold Case Christianity

Reasonable Faith or really anything by William Lane Craig

Evidence for Christianity

There are a TON more...

Also, read the old Church fathers, really fun stuff.

Please feel free to PM me anytime, I will gladly talk to you about whatever you want.

u/kingnemo · 6 pointsr/Christianity

Although it may seem wild at first, I subscribe to John Walton's cosmic temple inauguration explanation. He looked closely at ancient Near Eastern literature and the Hebrew text with emphasis on the Hebrew word for "create" (bara). He discusses two types of ontologies, one material and one functional. Material creation would be what we're most familiar with, like creating a table. An example of functional ontology would be creating a meeting.

Walton makes a convincing argument that Genesis 1 is an account of God's functional creation. He took one week of 24 hour days to inaugurate his material creation, which we can observe components of scientifically but don't have a scriptural description.

I believe Adam and Eve existed but were not the first homosapiens. They were the first to be created in God's image. I also believe (not scripturally, but from our best scientific theories) in the big bang and evolution.

A good analogy would be the creation of a university. The building could take years to build. Faculty and staff would need to be interviewed and hired. Class schedules would need to be designed. The university is functionally created on the first day of class when everyone shows up and fulfills the design.

If you're interested, here is The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

u/IRedditbe4 · 2 pointsr/Christianity

We all have doubts. It's part of being human and being a Christian. As you mentioned you are still looking for truth and are open to the idea of theism. I would just recommend a few books for reading that are great intellectual reading about the subject. That being: The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism and The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus
as well as anything by CS Lewis notably [Mere Christianity] ( and Screwtape Letters.

All the best in finding truth friend, and although you may doubt Him (even as Apostles, greatest evangelists, martyrs, missionaries also did) I would not advise ruling out Christ just yet.

u/unsubinator · 6 pointsr/Christianity

A lot of responses I've seen aren't being particularly sensitive about this.

I think the best answer was by /u/Panta-rhei. (permalink)

But I'll just add a couple of good resources I think you should check out. Because if the Bible is true and the author of Genesis meant to relate a scientifically testable account of the origins of the material universe, we would have to be very, very cautious about accepting "evidence" that contradicted it.

But I really don't think that was the author's intent. The account of creation given in Genesis is the inspired word of God. It is therefore true. But it isn't meant to give us the kinds of answers to questions about how or when the world was created. That isn't its intent.

So what is it's intent.

Here are the resources:

"The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate" by John Walton

"The Survivor's Guide to Theology"
by M. James Sawyer

(This book gives an excellent account of the origins of Creation Science in the 20th Century with Henry Morris and all the rest -- the book is expensive but it's well worth the money.)

Finally, after you've become comfortable with the understanding of Genesis proposed by John Walton, I might recommend Peter Enns' blog.

These are all Protestant/Evangelical sources. If you're up for learning something about what the Church believes about Origins I could point you Joseph Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict XVI) book, "In the Beginning…': A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall" by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

I hope all this helps. God bless.

u/A_Wellesley · 3 pointsr/Christianity

In contrast, the Eastern Churches claim to maintain an unbroken, apostolic Faith that can be traced directly back to the Apostles and Early Church. As far as we're concerned, we don't come from the Early Church, we are the Early Church.

I've tried to find a comprehensive online source, but none of them explain it as well or as thoroughly as I'm sure you'd like. If you would like a comprehensive and thorough argument for the point I just made, I highly recommend that you find a copy of The Orthodox Church. It's inexpensive, especially on Kindle. It's not meant to convince or convert people, just to lay out our history and what we believe, so that others can form their own, more informed, opinions.

It's a fantastic read :)

u/blepocomics · 1 pointr/Christianity

There is scientific evidence that what I am saying is true. It's Historical in nature (and History is a science right?)

Christianity has been the seedbed for every Scientific revolution, Isaac Newton, Mendel, Copernicus, Bacon, Kepler, all believed in the Christian God and therefore found justification for their scientific pursuits in that belief.

Also, the kind of free Government we enjoy in western Nations was born after the Reformation under the watchful eyes of the Baptists, Anabaptists and the Puritans.

The ethic behind these movements was completely Christian, and religious freedom could only have been born under Christianity.

If you want to talk about the Old Testament and its laws, a simple way of seeing it is that Jesus fulfilled the law's demands as our the federal head of God's people. He purchased his children and redeemed them and so the Mosaic law now stands as a testimony to God's graceful forgiveness.

There's a whole lot written on the subject. If you like you can read this book to clarify some things for you. You can get a paperback or kindle version.

u/MMantis · 13 pointsr/Christianity

> Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

That book cherry-picks scientific facts when it serves its purposes and dismisses others when it does not. The author knows Creationism is indefensible so he settles for the middle ground, Intelligent Design. The scholars cited are at the fringe of their fields of study. There are medical doctors out there who are anti-vax, or who advocate homeopathy. Does that lead any credence to the anti-vax or homeopathic movements? No, it does not. So, the book you presented is a great example of alternative facts, and your sentence "The only alternative facts come from unbelievers who suppress the truth in exchange for a lie such as Dawkins, Harris, and others" is absurd, there are plenty of honest believers out there who spouse untruths regarding a wide range of topics due to ignorance. To be clear, I believe in the Creator, but His modus operandi, His method of creation, is imprinted upon the Earth itself and not to what Christian tradition thinks it should be. As Paul said, God's attributes are perfectly seen through the things that were created.

I in turn respectfully recommend you read The Language of God by evangelical author and one of the heads of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins.

u/Wisdom_Bodhisattva · 0 pointsr/Christianity

If that view helps to produce good fruit for you in your life, then power to you. My study of the history of religion, and the way the Bible was put together has led me to see it though a different paradigm. I must ask, have you ever read A History of God by Karen Armstrong? It need not necessarily change your view, but it could help you relate to other Christians better, and allow you to at least understand the reasons that have compelled them to take a historical / metaphorical / sacramental view of the Bible rather than a literal / factual view. Good day and God bless.

u/ransom00 · 3 pointsr/Christianity

I second /u/Frankfusion's recommendation to read How to Read the Bible for all It's Worth.

I would also add that maybe the most important thing that you do is to read the Bible with other Christians. If you have a group of friends that attends different kinds of churches, that would be even better, because that would give you some idea of the differing perspectives their traditions will bring to the table. Even if not, I would try to find some people to study it with together, because the Bible was always meant to be a book for the whole church.

As far as how to read it, there will be plenty of other suggestions, I'm sure. I would agree that you may want to start with one of the Gospels, since Jesus is the heart of the Christian faith. Personally I think some of better known Pauline epistles like Romans are really hard to understand until you've read quite a bit from the Law in the OT.

u/Repentant_Revenant · 1 pointr/Christianity

Plenty of Christian apologists were convinced by Christianity. What do you think would cause a staunch atheist to convert?

>Why do we distinguish between apologetics and philosophy?

Often we don't, and oftentimes a philosopher is an apologist and vice versa.

> Why are so few philosophers theists?

This wasn't the case for most of human history, and I don't think it's fair to draw the conclusion out of the current state of secularization in academia.

>If you think you've got something good then by all means share it, but I don't expect to be surprised.

Have you read the following?

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis - Lewis was an atheist for most of his life, but later became the most well-known Christian apologist. You might also want to read his autobiography, Surprised by Joy.

The Reason for God by Tim Keller.

The Language of God by Francis Collins -
This one is more about how science and religion relate, and it's written by one of the leading scientists of the modern day.

Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas This is the original apologetic. If you're alright with some more-serious reading, this would be a great book to have read, both from an intellectual and historical perspective.

Descartes' Meditations While I'm not really convinced by his arguments, Descartes is known as the "Father of Modern Philosophy" for popularizing rationalism, or the use of reason/logic as the chief source or test of knowledge.

Pascal's Pensees

The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant This is known as "one of the greatest works in the history of philosophy" Quite the opposite of Descartes, Kant actually argues against the notion that we can use reason alone to understand the universe.

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard - This is definitely not apologetics. However, he was an incredibly Christian philosopher, and is known as the Father of Existentialism (interesting that the founder of existentialism was a devout Christian, though now it is often associated with atheists such as Sarte and Nietzsche).

u/angami · 5 pointsr/Christianity

A friend of mine just recommended this book to me yesterday! This is the book's description on Amazon:

In this astute mix of cultural critique and biblical studies, John H. Walton presents and defends twenty propositions supporting a literary and theological understanding of Genesis 1 within the context of the ancient Near Eastern world and unpacks its implications for our modern scientific understanding of origins. Ideal for students, professors, pastors and lay readers with an interest in the intelligent design controversy and creation-evolution debates, Walton's thoughtful analysis unpacks seldom appreciated aspects of the biblical text and sets Bible-believing scientists free to investigate the question of origins.

It sounded quite interesting. Basically, the author compares the content from Genesis chapter one to other nations' writings on the origin of the world. He also writes that our modern thinking today views the creation story as the creation of the material world, but the original readers would have seen Genesis one as the creation of the functional world. More about organization and function of things, not origin of things.

Again, I have not read the book yet, but plan on it. It does use The Bible but compared with other theories and civilizations I believe. Just thought I'd share since I just found out about this book yesterday!

u/ITBG · 5 pointsr/Christianity

Short answer:
Buy one of the new ESV study bibles. It's very readable and has copious notes and references. If you ever want to use external references, a "King James Version", or "KJV" is very handy to have because so many reference works use it.

Less-short answer:
I am not an expert or a professional, but I am an interested amateur. I asked that same question myself a long time ago, and still years later learn more about the issues surrounding "bible versions" every month.

Different translations have different goals. Some are more literal and focus on translation of the words themselves. Some others are called dynamic and translate the intent of the words into modern equivalents. A common example would be the phrase "not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law", which really doesn't have experiential meaning to us today. A literal translation would keep "jot and tittle" (or iota and keraia in Greek, Yod and kots in Hebrew), whereas a dynamic translation might say "dot of an i, or cross of a t", which would have more meaning for us while keeping the spirit of the original and being close in the actual wording as well. Then you have the paraphrase bibles that just reword it into very readable form, but not necessarily keeping the words or structure of the original. In the same example, a paraphrase might say "not even the tinest part". Rather than giving specific examples of each version type, just know that the search phrases would be "dynamic", "literal", and "paraphrase".

Also, if we had a clear "original", there would be far fewer versions. Everything we have is a copy, and there are so many manuscripts and fragments with slightly different readings, and what weight the translators place on the different manuscripts and or manuscript heritage determines what they're translating from, much less how they choose to translate it to the target language. The existence of so many manuscripts with slightly different portions in them has made more than one christian lose his faith. However, once you remove obvious copying errors, like the easy-to-make error of dropping of the end of a sentence and continuing from that same word in a later sentence, the similarities in the manuscripts is far larger than the differences. I have heard 99% is the same, but I don't know for sure.

One thing I'd like to mention is that when asking this question, eventually a KJV-onlyist person will answer, and try to scare you away from any non-KJV versions. Since you're not christian, it probably won't matter to you, but should you ever become a believer, I want to say that many of their arguments for the superiority of the KJV are not good arguments, though I won't go into a big list here. While most (including me) think the KJV is a good translation, KJV-onlyists have the opinion that any versions other than the KJV are designed to fill your head with lies.

There are many books on this subject, and probably hundreds of Web sites.

u/uncovered-history · 6 pointsr/Christianity

Not a Christian, but I own a New Revised Standard edition that I bought during undergrad since I was studying the New Testament and it’s regarded as the best translation by pretty much every historian I had read.

Edit: this precise one to be exact. Super helpful for anyone wanting to take more of a historical rather than theological approach to the Bible.

u/CommandrKeen · 1 pointr/Christianity

I think you're being a little extreme about the Hitler idea, but in education it is important to have a good source and my source is good. Whereas your source doesn't state that the concept of mana was only used in the South Pacific. The idea of mana was in Sumerian culture too. We'll just have to agree to disagree. But, if you're interested my source is it's an interesting read. Cheers.

u/BoboBrizinski · 5 pointsr/Christianity

I dislike the ESV Study Bible - it obscures or dismisses the scholarly consensus on many books, which is academically dishonest.

I highly recommend the Access Bible. Its notes represent mainstream biblical scholarship. It uses the NRSV, which is a cousin of the ESV and is actually easier to read in my opinion (you can compare them on - the NRSV and the ESV are both revisions of the RSV.)

I would also recommend the New Oxford Annotated Bible.. It's a little more technical and meaty than the Access Bible. It also uses the NRSV. More importantly, its notes are excellent and represent mainstream biblical scholarship. It comes in an older edition (with shorter, more conservative notes) using the RSV (which is the basis for the ESV and very similar to it.)

Another study Bible I like is the Oxford Study Bible. This uses the REB (Revised English Bible) - this is a British translation that is not related to the RSV/NRSV/ESV family. It's a fresh, creative and easy to read translation that nicely complements the formal translations.

Finally, there is the Norton Critical Edition of the English Bible, KJV. It's very unique for a study Bible, because it focuses on how the KJV influenced English literature. Although the KJV is hard to read, the notes clarify some of the obscure English language.

So... I guess the lesson is that there are a lot of choices out there. But since you're a beginner, I'd highly recommend the Access Bible before you explore the other stuff.

u/nopaniers · 0 pointsr/Christianity

There's lots, on all different levels. So it depends what you're looking for and what questions are important to you. You might consider:

u/TooManyInLitter · 6 pointsr/Christianity

> Yahweh originated from a lower god among other competing Gods (Asherah, El, Baal), etc. ( I heard this on a few shows on the History Channel a few years ago)

[Copy and pasted from similar previous discussions.]

Pre-Torah narratives related to יהוה/YHWH/Yahweh, and YHWH worship, identify YHWH as the literal son of El in the El Polytheistic Pantheon. El, the Father God/God Most High, is said to have had 70 sons (including YHWH), and a wife/consort (Asherah, the Queen Mother. Asherah, as a consort, is also linked to YHWH).

An area that I am interested in (as a hobbyist) is the origin story of Yahweh and Yahweh worship that precedes, and leads to, the Torah. If you are interested some references on the growth of monotheistic Yahwehism from a historical polytheistic foundation to the development of the henotheism/monolatry, and then monotheism of early Biblical Israelites:

u/EACCES · 3 pointsr/Christianity

>Oh! So, Heaven is kind of like a neat place to hang out until we get a new body?

That's exactly it! The way Heaven is described in the Bible, it'll be some mix of rest, worship,and somehow relaying prayers for those still "in the body".

>What happens then? Will we return to Heaven with our bodies?

Nope, this is the weird bit - when we get our "new" bodies (better to call them "renewed", since they will be our old bodies, but repaired and transformed), we will stay on the Earth. But the Earth will also be renewed, and in some way, Heaven and Earth will merge. Or maybe not merge, but become very "near", and we'll in some way be in both places at once.

If you want to read about the resurrection, check out [1 cor 15 nrsv] and [1 thess 4 nrsv]. For this merge, or "marriage", check out [rev 21 nrsv] [rev 22 nrsv]. And if you want a good book to read, I'll recommend Surprised by Hope for the second time today.

u/infinitelight9001 · 1 pointr/Christianity

I would also recommend starting with Mark, I definitely found it the easiest to read when I was younger.

In terms of philosophy and theology, it really depends on how well read OP is and how long they've been interested in both subjects. I found McGrath's Christian Theology: An Introduction (there are cheaper editions) and Guthrie's Christian Doctrine to be good high school level theology intros.

For intermediate, maybe William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith?

If OP has a longstanding interest in and has studied philosophy—note "theology lately, and philosophy"—there's no reason not to start with advanced stuff like The City of God or parts of the Summa.

u/Raptor-Llama · -1 pointsr/Christianity

I am in such a relationship at the moment. My advice: make it clear that marriage is not an option if you don't reach an agreement in regards to this matter, and set some physical boundaries. I hope you really love this guy, because these relationships are not easy. The level of physical intimacy between Christians and non-christians is quite different and you'll probably have to figure that out. I'm still trying to do that.

It sounds like unfortunately he's got a bad case of New Atheism, which is philosophically bankrupt. The people he's reading are routinely mocked in all serious philosophical circles by philosophically inclined atheists and theists alike. The question of God is not one which even in principle could be proven with empirical evidence. It is a question squarely in the domain of philosophy. If you want to give him a good dispelling of that give him this. At the very least after reading that hopefully he can come up with some better arguments.

I don't know what sort of christian you are, though I'm assuming you're a protestant. I have had the honor of witnessing several non-religious people began converting to Christianity recently. In my experience at least they tend to go for more of the High Church, Eastern Orthodox, some Roman Catholic, perhaps even some Anglo-Catholics, though I personally don't know any. If he finds your version of Christianity lacking, and feels like he wants to delve into these things deeper, consider suggesting the resources of these churches.

I am not asking you to try to convert him, I don't think you should try to convert anyone. St. Seraphim of Sarov said "Acquire peace and thousands around you will be saved". But do not gloss over this issue. You don't want a marriage where you disagree on these things. Make finding agreement a necessity. That means either he converts or you apostatize. I wouldn't recommend the latter (unless it meant conversion to Orthodoxy!), but I don't know if you've changed your views in your past. My relationship exists in part because I did convert from something, namely Evangelical Protestantism to Holy Orthodoxy, and so I knew my worldview was subject to change, and my girlfriend also has had her views changed before. We are also both philosophy majors so we can pretend we're equipped to deal with these things. I do not know your situation, your grounding in theology, or your philosophical or theological background, nor his. If you are not well grounded this might be a great opportunity to learn more about your faith.

I wouldn't recommend sweeping it under the rug. You need to learn how to discuss this respectively (I've been trying to learn that myself), but this has to be a conversation you guys have. If you don't it's going to bottle up and lead to problems later. You don't have to talk about it all the time, and that's difficult to do, but don't totally avoid talking about your faith. It's a tough thing to do but it's necessary.

God bless, it's a difficult thing but speaking for my own case, it's worth it. You have to examine your case and see if it's worth it for you though. This is a very difficult situation. All I'd say is don't take it lightly.

u/concernedcitizen7 · 3 pointsr/Christianity

Praying With The One You Love

Surprised By Hope

The first one I am currently reading with my fiancee and I highly recommend to strengthen your relationship with your girlfriend and with God.

The second is one I just received yesterday in the mail. I know there's some debate on his New Perspective of Paul but from what I've read, one of his greatest works is Surprised By Hope and is something everyone can appreciate.

u/soulwinningstudents · 0 pointsr/Christianity

For me it comes down to the cumulative case for Christianity. I can imagine you must feel very hapy, joyful and open-minded. I would recommend a couple books to you:




    I think when you are done, that you will see that even with all of the legitimate questions and curiosities that Christianity has, it still is the most logical worldview out there. Also, I would encourage you to find churches outside of the Catholic church as the Catholic church keeps people in bondage. Try and find a solid baptist church. There is no perfect church, but we can find the perfection of love and holiness in Christ.

    Also, check out: This addresses many of the common questions and objections to Christianity from a very logical point of view.
u/BlueBird518 · 1 pointr/Christianity

I've always believed science proves God. People talk about nature like it's so chaotic and all by chance, when really it's too magnificent to have been an accident. The patterns in nature, the way everything has a purpose to keep the world turning, each animal and insect has its own place in the ecosystem. Circle of Life sort of thing, if that makes sense. Check out "The Language of God" by Francis Collins that pretty much shows what I mean. I've heard some people say "well why doesn't the Bible explain science then?" (I've heard this from both people who believe in science and not God and vice versa) And the answer is: try explaining Quantum Physics to early people. Damn near impossible. Anyways, someone else has recommended this book I just linked you as well, so you know it's a good one if multiple people suggest you read it. :)

u/RWeGreatYet · 3 pointsr/Christianity


u/DjTj81 · 5 pointsr/Christianity

I went through a similar phase in my life, and while I was worried about the fact that there wasn't enough scientific evidence for Christianity, I realized that I also didn't really have scientific evidence for most of anything I believed about morality or free will. And I didn't have a particularly good explanation for why the evidence points towards the universe having a moment of creation and why the universe appears to operate by a reliable set of rules. I realized that most of my life is not lived based on the confidence intervals required for scientific experiments, and I found I could very comfortably justify my faith based on my own life experiences, the testimony of others, and the historical evidence that does exist.

One book that helped me was [The Language of God] ( by Francis Collins (leader of the Human Genome Project and current director of the National Institutes of Health who became a Christian as an adult). Even if it doesn't convince you to become a Christian, it may help you better understand your girlfriend's faith and how it is compatible with science.

u/bottleofink · 1 pointr/Christianity

NRSV with apocrypha is the best all around.

You may want to pick up a study bible to at least help explain some of the cultural things going on in the text. I like the New Oxford Annotated Bible (which uses the NRSV) for that.

Note, the Christian Old Testament includes the Torah, but if you want to study it from a Jewish perspective, a Jewish translation might be better. I quite like the nJPS for that. Though I do think the NRSV is very faithful to the Hebrew text.

I've heard M. A. Abdel Haleem's translation of the Quran is the way to go, but I don't have a lot of experience there.

u/superherowithnopower · 8 pointsr/Christianity

For Orthodoxy, you could read Fr. Thomas Hopko's The Orthodox Faith (also called the "Rainbow Series" because the 4 books are published in differently-colored covers). You can buy them, but the text is also on the OCA website here: The Orthodox Faith

It's a general overview of the doctrine and life of the Orthodox Church.

There's also The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way by Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy) Ware. These are pretty commonly suggested to a person interested in learning about the Church.

In addition, though, to reading, I would suggest actually attending services at the various churches you're considering. Between the time I left the Southern Baptists and the time I joined the Eastern Orthodox Church, I visited around a number of places and did a good bit of reading and discussing.

In the end, though, I think experiencing Orthodox worship was at least as important to my decision to become Orthodox as my reading was. For me, Orthodoxy just seemed real; there was just something there in the Orthodox services that I didn't sense anywhere else.

u/MoonPoint · 1 pointr/Christianity

Theistic evolution.

Frances Collins who headed the Human Genome Project, described his beliefs this way in an interview when asked the question "In your book, you say religion and science can coexist in one person's mind. This has been a struggle for some people, especially in terms of evolution. How do you reconcile evolution and the Bible?" Note: he wrote The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

>As someone who's had the privilege of leading the human genome project, I've had the opportunity to study our own DNA instruction book at a level of detail that was never really possible before.
>It's also now been possible to compare our DNA with that of many other species. The evidence supporting the idea that all living things are descended from a common ancestor is truly overwhelming.
>I would not necessarily wish that to be so, as a Bible-believing Christian. But it is so. It does not serve faith well to try to deny that.
>But I have no difficulty putting that together with what I believe as a Christian because I believe that God had a plan to create creatures with whom he could have fellowship, in whom he could inspire [the] moral law, in whom he could infuse the soul, and who he would give free will as a gift for us to make decisions about our own behavior, a gift which we oftentimes utilize to do the wrong thing.
I believe God used the mechanism of evolution to achieve that goal. And while that may seem to us who are limited by this axis of time as a very long, drawn-out process, it wasn't long and drawn-out to God. And it wasn't random to God.

Reference: 'God Is Not Threatened by Our Scientific Adventures'

u/REVDR · 1 pointr/Christianity

I would highly recommend giving a fair reading to The Reason for God and Making Sense of God. Both books are written by author Timothy Keller.

The first half of The Reason for God addresses several of the most common critiques or "defeaters" of Christianity (i.e. "How can a good God allow suffering?"), and the second half goes into a more proactive presentation of Christian faith. I have found the book immensely helpful. I feel like Keller does a very fair-minded job of presenting the "other side of the argument" in a way that is not simplistic or based on straw-man argumentation. He also draws on a variety of literary and academic outside sources that make the book very engaging to read. The next book Making Sense of God was written a few years after The Reason for God, but in some ways it functions as an epistemological prequel that tackles more of the reasons why a faith-based worldview still has a place in contemporary society.

For extra measure here is a link that Tim Keller gave at Google over the his material in The Reason for God. The Q&A he does with the employees of Google at the end of the lecture is especially good.

u/JxE · 1 pointr/Christianity

It all depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a word for word translation go with the NASB. It uses a more recently found manuscript that is more accurate to the original text and it trumps the KJV and NKJV. If you're looking to have a better understanding of the text use the NIV or TNIV. They use a sentence by sentence translation and will bring things into context which makes it easier to read and understand.

As far as your question goes, off the top of my head that is literal. Why is that question throwing you off?

I recommend reading a book called How to Read the Bible for All its Worth as well. It's taught me a lot about interpreting scripture in context and how to make sense. The theme I took out of the book is "Scripture can never mean something to you that it didn't mean to the original hearers." It keeps you from stripping verses out of context. for instance 2 cor 6:14. (If you don't know many people apply that verse to marrying someone of a different faith, when there is no mention of marriage in the entire book)

u/RyanTDaniels · 0 pointsr/Christianity

I read your edit about becoming an evolutionary creationist. Welcome to the club! You should check out BioLogos, a friendly website for exploring the harmony of modern science and Christianity. I also recommend reading The Lost World of Genesis One, by John Walton, and The Language of God, by Francis Collins. They were super helpful for me when I started down the path you're on.

u/TheDavidKent · 1 pointr/Christianity

Ok that was longer than a few moments, but here we go!

Well, for one thing, we have to understand that there is a vast cultural rift between 2012 America/Canada/Europe/whatever and the 1500ish BC Middle East.

Some of Old Testament regulations regarding slavery, marriage, etc. may seem harsh to us, but compared to the brutal cultural norms of that era, they were actually quite liberating. For the Bible to say that women, children, slaves, and foreigners had any rights at all was a revolutionary idea.

Still, the Old Testament commandments were not necessarily intended to illustrate God's vision of a perfect society.

Rather, they were intended to restrict evil as much as was reasonably possible within a somewhat barbaric culture (though they might say the same of our culture in many ways!), and ultimately to show them that their own attempt to perfectly follow every part of the law was hopeless- that as lawbreakers they needed a righteousness that went beyond mere behavior modification. That's where Jesus comes in.

Here is a link multiple links to a talk by Dr. John Dickson (PhD in Ancient History) that touches on a lot of your concerns (specifically violence in the Old Testament):

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

And here is a gigantic unorganized pile of some other somewhat relevant links. I can't absolutely vouch for everything, but they should be generally helpful.

Also, here are a couple of books you might be interested in. I have not personally read them, but I've heard good things.

I hope that helps! Thanks for your honest and respectful questions. :)

u/Bilbo_Fraggins · 1 pointr/Christianity

IMNSHO that book sucks. ;-)

If you want something worth reading, go for The Existence of God by Swinburne or The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright.

The God Debates is written by an atheist but also does a good job being fair to the theist position.

If you're open to other ways of being Christian and have even a small degree of philosophic background, Paul Tillich's The Courage to Be is a must read. If you don't have a philosophic background, get one by listening to this podcast or this one or check out the easier to read Insurrection by Peter Rollins.

u/jared_dembrun · 5 pointsr/Christianity

So I only saw one other guy give you apologetics material, and another person made the point that life is pointless if there is no God (which I agree is true).

But you're asking for intellectual material.

I would start with Dr. Edward Feser's Aquinas (A Beginner's Guide). It's $12 paperback on Amazon, $5 on kindle if you have a kindle-enabled device.

After this, if you find yourself convinced, I would go with The Last Superstition by the same man, for $15 paperback on Amazon or $12 on kindle.

Next, you can read excepts from the Summa Theologiae at your leisure for free on

If you're very intellectual, Ed Feser's book Scholastic Metaphysics can really get you into Thomism after you've done the above, or you can pick up some MacIntyre.

u/NiceneNerd · 2 pointsr/Christianity

If you want something really good pertaining to the topic at hand, I recommend N. T. Wright's excellent book Surprised by Hope. It is the best articulation I've seen of a Biblical view of heaven and resurrection and whatnot (or, to use Wright's phrase, "life after death and life after life after death).

u/Nicolaus_ · 2 pointsr/Christianity

Two books that I can personally vouch for:

u/PatricioINTP · 4 pointsr/Christianity

While I am a Protestant, this book…

… does contain a good summary of the early years up to and including the Great Schism. Another book I recommend that is more recent and deals with the time the Catholic Church lost a great deal of political power is…

… though it is also focused on Italy Unification. Historically they are linked. Most of my other knowledge comes from general research study to (horribly condensed) films like Luther, so I am anxious to see what others might say.

u/MotherfuckingGandhi · 2 pointsr/Christianity

You might want to read more about Eastern Orthodoxy and the Middle Eastern traditions, especially their monastic traditions. I grew up among Baptists too, and also used to think of Christianity almost entirely in terms of the narrow worldview I was raised with, which was something along the lines of "Apostolic era, martyrs, evil Catholic church, yay Protestant Reformation hurray Baptists"...

If you're interested in more info about these churches, here are their Wikipedia articles:

Eastern Orthodox

Oriental Orthodox

Church of the East

Also, if you are still interested in learning more about Christian history, I'd really recommend picking up a copy of this book from Amazon. Even though I'm not really a believer anymore, I've gained tons of understanding and respect for the depth of Christian traditions, largely as a result of this book and research I've done online.

u/ljag4733 · 1 pointr/Christianity

You mentioned in this thread that you were interested in WLC. There are several works that might be helpful to you:

Reasonable Faith

and if you have a lot of time

Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Craig and Moreland, but includes a large collection of topics from many modern philosophers)

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Craig and Moreland)

Again, these last two are rather extensive, but you may find them to be useful if you're interested in the philosophical/scientific aspects of Christianity. Hope this helps!

u/HitchensNippleJuice · 2 pointsr/Christianity is a pretty good go-to site for specific topics from an Orthodox perspective. Wikipedia for that matter is excellent if you want a more secular perspective.

Also, this is a great pair of books (by the same author, incidentally) on both the history and practices of the Orthodox Church. Though keep in mind they're written by an Orthodox bishop, not a secular historian.

The Orthodox Church (this one's the history book)

The Orthodox Way

I was able to find a copy of The Orthodox Church at a local library.

Also, this is a great podcast about Byzantine history. It isn't really about the Church specifically, rather the Byzantine Empire, which was intimately tied to the Eastern Orthodox Church for many many years (history's kind of a side interest of mine).

u/cmanthony · 2 pointsr/Christianity

It depends on how you want to read it. Most (if not all) Christians read the old testament through the lens of Jesus, so it may be beneficial to read the new testament first. On the other hand Christianity comes out of Jewish tradition so it would also be good to read O.T. first.

Some people find bible study plans where you read a book of the O.T. then switch to a book of the N.T.

Any way you choose, I suggest getting a study bible. They are great for giving cultural context and background to what you are reading. Try the ESV (English Standard Version) Study bible.

u/tbown · 3 pointsr/Christianity

Henry Chadwick's The Early Church is very good, I think it's considered a classic.

Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years is very good, heavily footnoted with references on where to read more.

Frances M. Young's From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and Its Background I've heard is good, although it may be more geared more towards scholars than you'd like.

Also heard Ramsay MacMullen's Christianizing the Roman Empire: A.D. 100-400 is good.

u/mjxl47 · 0 pointsr/Christianity

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller is pretty great. [And it's crazy cheap in paperback on Amazon] (

Keller starts the book by describing 6 of the most common "God doesn't exist because..." claims and then refuting them. The last half of the book Keller makes the case for the Christian God of the bible. A great read, in my opinion.

u/S11008 · 2 pointsr/Christianity

A good start.

There's a free Summa Contra Gentiles, Summa Theologica, and Commentaries (on Aristotle, Job, etc.) online if you want.

Furthermore, none of this gets you "saved". These are for Generic God, or rather, the Generic God of classical theism, not specifically Jesus Christ. Although per the Catechism, simply seeking God/truth seems to be good enough to be saved.

u/jen4k2 · 5 pointsr/Christianity

Richard Dawkins is actually a very good writer and very challenging, but from a scientific point of view.

Christopher Hitchens is also very good, a very entertaining writer and speaker. He comes from a philosophical, historical and theological point of view.


Who you SHOULD be reading to counter their view is Hitchen's cancer doctor, Francis Collins. He wrote the book I'm reading on now, "The Language of God."


He's heard every scientific and philosophical argument against God, and writes about them here.

Collins is highly respected by the "New Atheists," and writes a really good book!

u/extispicy · 1 pointr/Christianity

Just to give you an idea of what you can expect from a study bible, here's what the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible has to say about the Genesis verse you asked about:

>Genesis 9:2-6 Here God revises the earlier command of vegetarianism. This is a partial concession to the "violence" observed prior to the flood and an extension of the human dominion over creation described in 1:26-28. At the same time, God regulates this violence through stipulating that humans may not eat the blood in which life resides and that humans as bearers of God's image may not be killed.

Please note, though, that the New Oxford is an academic text that approaches the bible from a scholarly (as opposed to devotional) perspective. As I notice you are using the HCSB, which is a 'literalist' bible, I'm wondering if something more like the IVP commentaries might be more to your liking (that link has a good preview feature).

u/love_unknown · 5 pointsr/Christianity

>Does anybody here have any insight? Suggestions on where I should start? I want to believe in Christ but I don't know how, and I'd very greatly appreciate any insight I could get.

Yes. Read The Resurrection of the Son of God by historian and New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, or watch this lecture summarizing the book's contents. In short: the basic historical facts which justify the inference to the Resurrection are all established by critical historical scholarship, and, in an attempt to explain the emergence of those historical events, the 'Resurrection hypothesis' has, by far, the greatest explanatory power.

u/dianthe · 2 pointsr/Christianity

I would highly recommend the ESV Study Bible, it's a pretty big Bible so not exactly a pocket version but it is packed full of great information to help in your Bible study!

u/EarBucket · 1 pointr/Christianity

Cool! On evolution, Pete Enns' The Evolution of Adam. He takes very seriously the theological implications of evolution, and makes a strong case for Christianity's ability to not only accept it but gain new insights from it. For more of a textual look at Genesis and why a literal reading isn't the best one, John Walton's The Lost World of Genesis One.

On both the non-historicity and cruelty of parts of the OT, check out Thom Stark's The Human Faces of God. This was a huge problem for me in accepting Christianity, probably the biggest hurdle I had to cross, and Stark's book did more than anything else to help me wrestle with it.

On miracles, I'm going to point you at a longer book, but it's well worth a read if you're interested in a strong case. Michael Licona's The Resurrection of Jesus argues that the hypothesis that Jesus rose from the dead should not only be considered, it's actually the strongest one that's been proposed from a historical standpoint, as long as you're not ruling out the possibility that the universe might surprise you sometimes.

And this book I recommend to anybody even remotely intrigued by Christianity: The King Jesus Gospel. It's like seeing the story with entirely new eyes, and it knocks down a lot of really harmful misunderstandings of what the gospel's actually about.

u/rhomphaia · 1 pointr/Christianity
  1. I like anchorsawash's answer.

  2. I think this is a misreading of "rested." The point isn't necessarily God was working and now He isn't doing anything. There's a good argument the creation narrative is describing the temple opening ceremony. If this is right, then God "rested" means God was done assigning functions in the temple and now comes to rest in the temple in the sense of sitting on His throne. For more on this reading, see: "The Lost World of Genesis 1"

  3. The creation narrative focuses on the assigning of functions as they function for humans. Read this way, it is not surprising to see a focus on the Earth. Again, the point of the narrative is not to give us a scientific understanding of cosmology. The point is to see God's opening of the temple, the place where He would live in relationship with humans.

  4. This can be answered in two different ways on the reading I've suggested above. A). Genesis describes only the assigning of functions and NOT material creation. Material creation occurred much further in the past. The temple opening ceremony occurred much more recently. If this is right, then the scientific evidence can be taken on face value and so can the text (properly understood in context). B). Alternatively, if we see both the assigning of functions AND material creation in Genesis 1, and we want to take the genealogies and such literally, then we have to account for the scientific evidence for the age of the cosmos as being apparent age. There is some textual evidence for this in that Adam and Eve are created as fully formed adults.

  5. I don't believe Mary was sinless.
u/X019 · 1 pointr/Christianity

>I tend to be a logic and reasoning type of person

You and the majority of us here

>I don't know very much at all about Christianity, and while I have read the books of John, Revelations, and Matthew, I find that I am still at a loss for understanding some things, and I would very much like to

I'd recommend picking up a study Bible. I have this one and really like it. It has the verses in about the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the page and then the rest of it is commentary on those verses as well as introduction to the whole book, it's audience and some history on it.

Talk to Brittany about her faith. This can be an opportunity for you to grow in your relationship with both her and Christ!

u/aletheia · 1 pointr/Christianity

First, Orthodox are not Roman Catholic and Roman Catholic are not Orthodox(see the Great Schism). We are similar in some ways, but as thephotoman said, the faith we hold to is also very different.

As far as links go, none of these will be a concise summary. The Orthodox faith is very large and woven together like a tapestry or mosaic. It's very difficult to pick out a single part without first trying to take in the whole.


A website from the Antiochian Archdiocese that has some pamphlets

And if you feel really ambitious: The Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

u/gragoon · 3 pointsr/Christianity

I would recommend Timothy Keller's "The Reason for God" as the author is very good at explaining how Christianity is not a pie in the sky thing. The book is geared to a public that likes logic and is very fact based as Timothy Keller started a rather successful church in NYC that seems to cater mostly to lawyers, doctors and finance people.

u/s_s · 4 pointsr/Christianity

I'd recommend reading How to Read the Bible for All its Worth by Fee and Stuart if you're not someone familiar with reading ancient texts.

It has a large section dedicated to explaining about how Bible translation works, which is probably more important than giving you a translation recommendation. With that information, you should be able to make your own informed choice.

The sections that introduce you to biblical literature are worth your time as well.

u/silouan · 3 pointsr/Christianity

The Orthodox Church by Oxford professor Timothy Ware (a.k.a. Orthodox Bishop Kallistos) is a good overview of history and belief.

In the west, if we're not careful, we fall into this narrative of "Rome fell, then it was the dark ages, then in 1520: Luther!" We tend to forget that outside of western Europe Rome was alive and well into the 16th century, never forgot the world was round, and never lost touch with its roots in Semitic culture and Christian readings of classical philosophy. Until the Islamic jihad, there were more Christians east of the Euphrates than west of it, in Christian cultures reaching across the 'Stans to Tibet and parts of China.

For a less history-and-doctrines view, The Orthodox Way is a good look at how OrthoFolks pray and live.

u/HarryHeine · 4 pointsr/Christianity

Our Bibles today are far better than the Bibles of Constantine.

You want one that has the Deuterocanon (or Apocrypha) in it. Like the original King James did. :)

This should be a fine choice for the Catholic 73 book version:

If you want some of the other Orthodox canons with >73 books you'll need to look for them more specifically.

u/P1Hornet · 2 pointsr/Christianity

I'm not a philosopher and I have aspergers so articulating thoughts is not my forte at all. The best thing I can do for you is point you to Edward Feser's blog and these two books Aquinas and The Last Superstition. I'm really sorry I can't personally explain it to you. I really wish I could. Also if you do end up buying the books then for the love of all that is Holy please do not buy the Kindle editions. You HAVE to reference the footnotes and it is really difficult to do so on a kindle. I'm probably going to end up buying the paperbacks here soon because of that. Again, I apologize for just throwing you to some books.

u/soliloquent · 2 pointsr/Christianity

Reading the whole Bible is a really admirable aim, and worthwhile. If you're wanting to get the most out of this, I would encourage you to consider reading a guide before you jump. Just as you'll get a lot more out of visiting a city if you've looked at a map or read a guidebook beforehand, a guide is a good way to get a sense of the unfamiliar genres that you'll be reading, and the structure of the whole collection.

Two good books to consider are:

Fee & Stuart, How to read the Bible for all its worth
Goheen & Bartholemew, The Drama of Scripture

u/Underthepun · 3 pointsr/Christianity

In brief? No. To really understand Aquinas and his arguments, you need to read a book-length treatment to understand the 1) underlying metaphysics, e.g. formal causes, efficient causes 2) what he actually means in his infamous "five ways," and 3) the connection between these items and the divine attributes.

I mentioned Edward Feser before, and he does this well in his book, Aquinas. I do have some links you can go through if you're interested. From the man himself, his work Summa Contra Gentiles goes through each of the arguments in a more presentable version than his more celebrated and thorough work, Summa Theologae. For short blog-sized bits of his philosophy, I recommend this blog. On a separate note, one thing I always recommend is Fides Et Ratio written by Pope St. John Paul II in 1995. It is an excellent treatment of the nature of faith and reason, which is terribly misunderstood these days.

u/FooFighterJL · 0 pointsr/Christianity

The reason for the OT God's brutality is rather more simple than one would think. The religion of the Hebrews was originally polytheistic (many gods) of which, the current Judeo-Christian god was one.

During the period between before and during the Babylonian exile of the Hebrews there was a strong devotion to the polytheistic god of war, Yahweh. The reasons for this are obvious. Babylon posed a threat to the Hebrew's land and thus a strong devotion to this god would increase the chances of victory over Babylon when they ultimately tried to take Jerusalem (which they did).

Karen Armstrong's History of God is a wonderful account of this.

If you're more lazy and want a brief video version this is a wonderfully articulate illustration.

Little doubt, the NT is far less brutal and barbaric than the OT, though one must be heinously selective to say that it is civil or moral. We need only look back a few centuries to see how the more barbaric verses of the NT were used. John 15:6 is a wonderful example, often overlooked.

The comparatively moderate Christian religion we see today is a result of centuries of change and edition.

Slightly off topic, but the power-triad alleged by the monotheism religions of their god is somewhat contradictory. For example, the omnipotent idea contradicts itself (see rock example).

Hope this helps, friend :)

u/IC_XC_NIKA_ · 2 pointsr/Christianity

Yes, a really good read is 'The Orthodox Church' by Kallistos Ware which gives you a great overview of the History of the early church before and after the schism, focusing primary on the Eastern Churches and what was going on there rather than West. It's not exhaustive but covers all the major events and key figures, as well some chapters on Orthodox theology and spirituality, which you will find interesting, especially if you come from another tradition.

u/jstalin_x · 2 pointsr/Christianity

Have you read a history of god? It's not exactly what you are looking for but it does a good job of chronicling the evolution of Mesopotamian myths, through Judaism, into Christianity, and then into Islam.

I would highly recommend reading books scholarly opposed to looking at websites. The amount of research and the quality of information is much higher in books on the subject. Just remember the more books you read on the same subject the more easily it will be to pick up on the bias. Here is a quick list of some books to try.

u/Bakeshot · 3 pointsr/Christianity

After reading your whole post, you seem to be doing the right thing by continuing to participate in a church community. We were created to live, share, love, and serve together and having that socially integrated approach to faith is a very good place to start.

That being said, and to answer your question as posted: to the library or bookstore. That is where you should go from here. Some recommendations if I may:

u/Im_just_saying · 2 pointsr/Christianity

Are you aware of LOTS of free Christian books for Kindle.

Also, if you are an Amazon Prime user, and interested in eschatology, my newest book, The End Is Near...Or Maybe Not! is available free.