Bible Contradicts Christian Theology

April 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm 15 comments

A central tenet of Christian theology is that everyone is a sinner.  Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.  Romans then says in 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  So, in a nutshell, since we are all sinners we are all going to die.  But, the believers will enjoy eternal life.

Against this we have the stories of Enoch and Elijah.  Enoch was the son of Cain, the grandson of Adam.  Enoch did not die.  Genesis 5:24 tells us that “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”  Elijah was a prophet.  He, too, did not die.  Second Kings 2:11 tells us that while Elijah was walking with Elisha, “…suddenly a chariot of  fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”  So both Enoch and Elijah were spared death because they found favor with God.

Were Enoch and Elijah sinners?  If so, then we have two men who sinned and did not die, contradicting Romans 6:23.  Therefore, Christ is not the only path to heaven.  Or, is it possible that one or both of these men were without sin?  That would clearly contradict Romans 3:23.

How do we square the accounts of these two men with the book of Romans?  We can’t.  Either Christian theology is wrong, or the book on which it is based is flawed.  There are no two ways about it.

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The United States is not the Land of the Free Fascination with Facts

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  • 1. Tim Farley  |  April 3, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    True, the Bible does say that all are sinners and the wages of sin is death. However, Romans 6:23 goes on to tell us “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    The entire story of the Bible is how God is saving people from their sin and the death it brings. Enoch and Elijah were both followers of God and were given eternal life. That God did not allow them to face physical death is not a contradiction of Christian theology. Their experience of being taken by God before facing physical death is not the norm, but it is not contradictory to any specific Christian doctrine or Bible text.

    Reply
  • 2. Sophia Marsden  |  April 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    The way I have been told is that the Jews were saved, through Christ, due to their anticipation of the coming of the Messiah, although He had not yet come, they having faith in His coming could participate in the salvation He offers.
    Most of them did die, and were saved from the ‘limbo of the ancients’ when Jesus went down there after His death, but I think its plausible enough that just as the saving power of Christ’s sacrifice preserved Mary from sin when she was conceived in the Immaculate Conception despite the Incarnation having not even yet happened and despite the fact a fetus can hardly understand the theological details of what is going on, so that same saving power could cleanse certain faithful Jews of antiquity even though they were not aware of Christ except in so far as they anticipate a Messiah.

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  • 3. The New Heretics  |  April 3, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Good points, I brought up these points in theology classes before and I got very little answers. The best lies they could do was suggest that they went into a “limbo” and not the actual heaven itself… which is one heck of a stretch.

    I also find the book of Job to be of interest, since he was not a Jew, predates the law of Moses, and he was found to be “righteous before God”. Wrap a Xian theology around that one if you can.

    Reply
  • 4. Sophia Marsden  |  April 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Interestingly Mary is supposed to have not needed to die due to being free of sin, but she died anyway in order to share more perfectly in the life of her Son (who of course died).

    Reply
  • 5. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  April 4, 2009 at 2:46 am

    Tim,

    You said, “[t]hat God did not allow them to face physical death is not a contradiction of Christian theology. Their experience of being taken by God before facing physical death is not the norm, but it is not contradictory to any specific Christian doctrine or Bible text.”

    How so? As I pointed out, Romans says that everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It also says that the wages of sin is death. The free gift of eternal life is a promise of an “afterlife”, meaning that it will come after death. This does contradict the notion that we all die because of sin.

    Reply
  • 6. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  April 4, 2009 at 2:53 am

    Sophia,

    I find your explanation to be confusing. If it were true, I would expect that all faithful Jews would be spared a physical death. Your explanation fails to account for this.

    I am also curious as to the ‘limbo of the ancients’. What is that? Is that where the non-believers went? Or where the ancient Jews went to? Is there anything biblical to support a limbo?

    Thanks for your comments.

    Reply
  • 7. Tim Farley  |  April 4, 2009 at 3:30 am

    “Romans says that everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It also says that the wages of sin is death. The free gift of eternal life is a promise of an “afterlife”, meaning that it will come after death. This does contradict the notion that we all die because of sin.”

    The passage you referenced, Romans 6:23, tells us the consequences of sin for those who are still slaves to sin. Romans 6:22-23 tells us that some have been set free from their slavery through the sacrificial death of Christ (Romans 3:21-23). They no longer fall under the consequences of sin, but instead have inherited eternal life.

    1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 tells us that there will be many others who will not face physical death. Those who are alive when Christ returns to this earth will be taken without facing physical death.

    Your thinking that the Bible and Christianity is primarily concerned with an “afterlife” seems to miss the point. Please read my post concerning the message of the Bible. I think it may be helpful. http://timothyfarley.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/the-gospel-its-bigger-than-us/

    Reply
  • 8. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  April 4, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Elijah and Enoch pre-date Christ’s sacrificial death. Romans 3:21-23 is describing things that supposedly changed after Christ died and rose again. I still see a contradiction.

    Reply
  • 9. Tim Farley  |  April 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

    True. Enoch and Elijah both pre-date Christ’s sacrificial death. However, both are dependent on that sacrifice for their salvation. Those who lived prior to the cross are just as dependent upon the cross as those who live after.

    The whole story of the Bible is about how God is intervening to rescue his creation from mankind’s sin, which brought decay and death. Since God’s revelation in Scripture is a historical narrative, not all of the details of how God was accomplishing his plan were available to those prior to Christ’s death and resurrection. The cross is the climax of the story! It reveals how God is going to fix a problem that seems unfixable. God, the Son, became man and died for all of mankind because there was no way humanity could ever save itself (because all are sinful).

    Those who lived prior to the cross were responsible to believe what had been revealed at the time. That is why Paul can say in Romans 4 that Abraham was saved by his faith, which God counted for righteousness. Hebrews 11 gives a whole list of Old Testament believers saved by their faith. However, they all required the sacrifice of Christ to pay for their sins even if they did not fully understand at the time. They simply trusted that God would save them and they demonstrated their trust by their actions.

    Keep in mind that God’s revelation is based in history and was revealed in more detail over time. The reason so many had a problem with Christ when he came on the scene is because they did not understand how he fit into God’s plan. They were expecting someone or something much different than a suffering servant to deliver them.

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  • 10. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  April 4, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    So even if Jews were credited with believing in Christ prior to his existence, which I doubt, what is the fate of the non-Jewish population? You are saying that everyone is saved by Christ…if they believe. But, what about those who never heard of Christ because he hadn’t arrived? Are they in hell?

    This is still an unfixable problem. Millions of people had no such knowledge. They weren’t born into the right families.

    This is one of my problems with Christianity. It isn’t available to everyone.

    Even as you say, some people had a problem with Christ when he came onto the scene because he didn’t fit their preconceived ideas. Are they to blame for that?

    Reply
  • 11. Tim Farley  |  April 4, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    “So even if Jews were credited with believing in Christ prior to his existence, which I doubt, what is the fate of the non-Jewish population?”

    Non-Jews were saved the same way Jews were saved. If you read Hebrews 11 it lists Rahab among those who were saved by their faith. She was not a Jew. The Old Testament speaks of others as well. Those who put their trust in God, as he revealed his will, were saved. It just happens that the Jews were the primary recipients of God’s revelation.

    “You are saying that everyone is saved by Christ…if they believe. But, what about those who never heard of Christ because he hadn’t arrived? Are they in hell?”

    Those who lived prior to Christ were not responsible to believe specifically in Christ. I never said that. They were responsible to believe what had been revealed and that progressed through time until it climaxed at the cross. The further revelation progressed, what one was required to believe in became more specific.

    Who is in hell? I am not God and cannot definitively answer that question for you. All I know is that those who trusted in God were saved and Jesus tells us in the New Testament that he is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). The rest of the New Testament restates over and over that those who place their faith (or believe) in the sacrifice of Christ for their sin will be saved.

    “Even as you say, some people had a problem with Christ when he came onto the scene because he didn’t fit their preconceived ideas. Are they to blame for that?”

    Who else would be to blame except those who rejected what God was revealing to them? Here is an example of God revealing more information that the people were responsible for accepting. Just like those who reject Christ today are accountable, so were those who rejected Christ when he appeared.

    “This is still an unfixable problem. Millions of people had no such knowledge. They weren’t born into the right families.

    This is one of my problems with Christianity. It isn’t available to everyone.”

    Have you read all of Romans? Paul deals with this question in chapters 1 and 2. You should really read and study the whole letter. It answers most of the questions you pose.

    This idea of progressive revelation is not new. Read any Christian book on biblical theology and it will state it in some way or another. I am just wondering if you are truly interested in learning how Romans 6:23 fits in with the story of Scripture since you felt it was a contradiction. Or if you are more interested in creating contradictions that do not actually exist…at least to those who have an understanding of biblical theology.

    Are you asking real questions or simply trying to make a point about something you have already arrived at a conclusion concerning?

    Reply
  • 12. Sophia Marsden  |  April 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Thaddeus,
    Well, God is a person, not a mechanism in Christian theology, so He is perfectly capable of having his favorites whom He spares in a special way.

    Limbo of the ancients is where everyone who would be saved before Christ went. Exactly who this includes is a matter of much debate. Some people think only Jews, some people think Plato was there etc.
    As for Biblicality, I am not sure, I only really know the Catholic position which does not depend absolutely on Scripture. I know in the Creed, which I assume is based on the Bible it says ‘He descended into hell’ and I am told that ‘hell’ here is the limbo of the ancients.
    Different forms of Christianity have very different takes on who ultimately can be saved, from strict 5 point Calvinism where salvation is only available to the predetermined elect and there is no such thing as genuine free will, to Catholicism which says that anyone who ‘sincerely seeks to do God’s will’ may be saved because God can extend His mercy to anyone He chooses, to very liberal forms of protestantism which say everyone is ultimately saved.
    They are also serious disagreements on proper exegesis and hermeneutics.

    Reply
  • 13. Jeremiah  |  April 4, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Thaddeus, in comment 10 I believe you’re asking, What happened to people before Christ? Not everyone of them is in Hell. The Bible says that when Christ was in the tomb He descended into Abrahams Bosom(pre-Christ paradise) and took them from there into Heaven. Those were the people who had given a sacrifice for their sins, and trusted in God(The Father) And then there are people who didn’t trust God, and were in Hell. Think of Lazerus, and the rich man. Lazerus went to Abraham’s Bosom, and the rich man the Bible says lifted up his eyes in Hell, and looked over to Abraham in Abrahams Bosom, and said Go tell my brothers of this place, so they will not come. So, yes, Hell was there before Christ.

    Reply
  • 14. Jeremiah  |  April 4, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Was on earth that is.

    Reply
  • 15. mcoville  |  July 22, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    The one fact you are missing is that the people of the old testament where saved from eternity in hell for their faith in the coming messiah, Emanuel (Jesus who is the Christ Savior).

    The two prophets you speak of where saved by faith in the coming messiah and did face death. Where does it say they did not die? If I am here one day and then am no more, sounds like I died. If I get caught up in a whirl wind of fire I would expect to die.

    Reply

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