Catholic vs. Protestant - 2019-03-12 - Steve Gregg

Author Recorded Tuesday March 12th, 2019

There are 31 episodes in the Versus:Protestant series.

I reached out to Steve Gregg on the advice of my friend Matthew Murdock. Steve is a gentle and very moderate Christian with a strong faith and a deep love of the Word. I enjoyed meeting him. See for more information. • Support the CVS Podcast: • Be a guest on a livestream:

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These YouTube transcripts are generated automatically and are therefore unformatted and replete with errors.
hey this is Steve Greg and you're listening to Catholic versus Protestant so tell us a little bit about yourself if you would please who you are what you believe and how you came to believe what you believe my name is Steve Gregg I live in Southern California I was born and raised here and I was part of the Baptist Church growing up my parents were Baptists and so I was raised in Protestant traditions in 1970 I was 16 years old and there was a big movement called the Jesus Movement that was actually it was international but it began in the region where I lived I had nothing to do with its beginning except I was fortunate enough to experience it it was sort of the hub of the movement was a church called Calvary Chapel which was only a few miles from where I was living and so I started going then I became part of that now I ceased to be a Baptist at that point because Calvary Chapel was non denominational it certainly had its own denominational like emphases and it had its own views and it was pretty much as in some ways as what should we say standardized as a denomination would be but basically I had been raised even before that time to believe in the Bible and to study the Bible and this church engaged in a lot of Bible studies almost every night there was a Bible study lots of people were coming it was a big event and I went through the entire Bible because the pastor taught verse by verse I was there for several years he eventually I was asked if I would teach not at the church but at my high school and some a bunch of kids who are part of the Jesus Movement and I would get together at lunchtime and just talk about the Bible and eventually they asked me if I would teach the bottle I didn't think of myself as a Bible teacher just as a Christian but they were all it's much shorter time than I was I had been a Christian all my life so I decided I would go ahead and give it a try and I so every day at lunchtime in my senior year of high school we had got together with about 30 kids out on the grass because here it's warm enough to do that pretty much year-round and and we had a Bible study which I conducted and by the time I got out of high school there were other people asking if I would come and teach a Bible studies in their venues because there were lots of young people becoming converted rapidly and they wanted to be taught and so there are lots of venues for Baathist home Bible studies Christian coffee houses churches youth groups and things like that and so I kept quite busy teaching in fact by the time I was 18 I was teaching about 9 times a week I did I didn't have any formal training but I I'm an autodidact I just studied so that I would know what I was talking about and fortunately I had a lot of access to theological books and lexical books and things like that to help understand difficult things in the Bible and eventually I was offered a place to run a Bible School which I had not planned on but if that we had about 25 kids come there and when I say kids I mean high school age and above and we had Bible studies all day long through the summer and that weird eventually I was offered another campus so we had a nine-month school where we taught through the entire Bible and I ran that school for us 16 years and during that time near the end of that time in 1997 I was invited to do a radio program daily which is a call-in radio program as people would call in and ask Bible questions so I would just show up for an hour and and they would call in with their questions I'd seek to answer them and as a result that became one of the main things I do I've been doing that now for 21 years I've been doing it I don't run the Bible school anymore because I got busy with other things I travel quite a bit internationally also teach but I do the radio show daily I've been doing it since 1997 so we're on 20-something stations which isn't really very many concerning how long I've been on the air but we are paying for the time on each station we don't raise money it's just as money accumulates unsolicited more or less we we buy more time on more stations so that's what I do and as far as my beliefs go I don't fall into any denominational category but I don't consider that to be important I considered Christianity as following Jesus and Jesus gave very adequate instructions to his disciples about how to follow him in his Sermon on the Mount and other places like that so it's always just been my aim to live as much as possible according to the instructions of Christ and the Apostles in Scripture and that's what I do I usually like my guests to talk a little bit about early childhood memories of God and religion the first sort of inkling that there's this thought out there and there's this thing called religion probably your first encounter with it would have been some form of Christianity can you just talk about early memories please well as I said my parents were Christians and so I was raised going to church so I don't remember a time that I didn't believe in God I did actually have an interesting experience when I was I think I must have been around 3 or 4 I'm not sure I remember where we lived and I remember that we moved we moved there sometimes while I was four years old so it was near the end of that time I had been diagnosed when I was 2 with a disease called cystic fibrosis which is ink and my parents were given no hope for my survival and my father at that time as I learned later prayed and asked God to heal me and to call me into the ministry and and this may have something to do with the experience I'm going to describe I don't know that it does and I'm not you know anybody who has doubts about this I have no interest in persuading them this is just my memory it was very vivid and when I was about three or four I was asleep one night in my room and my sister who was two years older was across the room in her bed and also we were not very wealthy so my sister and I shared a bedroom the first few years of my life and my I was lying on my stomach with my face toward the wall and I heard my name spoken by a man's voice which I took to be my father's voice and I responded verbally and didn't he get any further voice so I looked around and none was there so I turned my face back for the wall I went back to sleep and the same thing happened again and I looked around and there wasn't anyone but and the third time it happened again now I realize if I was making this up I'd be influenced by the story of Samuel when he was a boy although I would make it but I would embellish it much more if I was trying to copy that story because Samuel got a word from God I didn't I just I just heard my name spoken three times I responded and found no one there so it's not quite like that story but it's somewhat reminiscence but what's interesting is I didn't tell anyone about that but I remembered it fairly well because it was but just a little bit odd and and then when I was about 19 and my sister was 21 she's just out of nowhere she brought up they she remembered a time when we were little kids where at night there was a man standing by my bed and she didn't hear him speak but she heard me respond to him and she wondered why he didn't speak and she but she said it happened three times and then according to her he walked out of the room which is something I didn't witness I didn't see anyone but she said he walked out of the room and if I need to her childish mind it seemed that the light of the hallway can't be shown through him as he left our darkened bedroom and so she she just thought that was a strange memory of hers and of course it sounded very much like my memory which I remember different details but the same account apparently and that that always struck me that perhaps perhaps I'd had contact not not much information not much revelation but some contact with God on that occasion and I know that whether it's related to that or not I always was fascinated with the Bible my parents believed that the Bible was the Word of God that's what they told me and I I believe that if if God had spoken it would certainly be worthwhile to know what he had to say so I actually was very interested listening to sermons and so forth when I was a little kid and reading the Bible and I asked my dad Bible questions and he didn't know an awful lot he was not a man in the ministry or anything like that but he knew some answers and he had a lot of books a lot of theological books that he'd point me to and say maybe that you'd find some answer there so I grew up with that kind of environment and and then it was when I was 16 as I said that friends at high school asked me if I'd teach them the Bible so my my awareness of God as far as his existence I don't remember there being a ton I wasn't aware of God's existence and my my concept of God was very much you know from the Bible but I I'm not sure but I might have had I might have had contact with him that one night I'm not sure I don't know what to make of that but a one thing that's interesting is that cystic fibrosis diagnosis went away when I when I my parents had me checked later on in life they couldn't find any evidence of that disease and I don't I've wondered I don't I don't profess to know and I certainly wouldn't assert it but I've wondered if I was healed on that night not those are unanswered questions to my mind what is the absolute essential fundamental core the minimum requirements without which you cannot be a Christian can you just summarize that for me as briefly as possible sure well the word Christian is found three times in the Bible and the first time it's found it's defined in acts 11:26 as the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch so a Christian is a disciple of Jesus now Jesus talked a lot about disciples he said they had to be totally sold out to him they had to continue in his teachings in in the making of disciples he said you need to teach them to observe everything I have commanded so a disciple is one who's basically a follower of Jesus just like the Pharisees had followers and John the Baptist had followers and I you know Socrates had followers Jesus had followers but a follower of Jesus of course sees him much differently than the followers of John the Baptist saw him or Socrates father saw him because Jesus made claims unlike the claims of those men so a Christian is one who's committed to following Christ and and is as learning because they're because that commitment they're learning what he has to say and and embracing it when they hear it jesus said take my yoke upon you and learn from me and taking his yoke upon you simply means you you acknowledge him as your Lord and your master and you allow him to guide you and teach you and learn from me he said so the life of a Christian is the life of learning from Christ and I believe we learned from him through what he taught it's on record as well as what he his apostles taught in his name yeah which is on record also to a village well is the basic belief of a Christian the basic belief of a Christian is basically focused on who they believe Jesus is he's the son of God he is actually the incarnation of God in the flesh he is the Messiah these three things especially that he's the son of God nation Messiah are stated a number of times in the Bible as necessary to believe if you're going to be a Christian the belief that he is God incarnate is not ever given in the scripture as a as a doctrine that one someone must understand or believe in order to be a follower of his but I believe the doctrine is taught in Scripture and therefore as a person follows Christ they will come to embrace it the disciples in fact the Apostles didn't know that he was God when they first began to walk with him but they began to learn from him and eventually they recognized that he was God in the flesh Paul said in Romans 10:9 he said if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you'll be saved so confessing Christ as Lord of course means that you acknowledge and embrace his lordship and then of course you believe that he's alive that he though he died he rose again and he's those are the things Paul said you'll be saved if you believe those things and confess those things okay just listening to you reminds me of the sort of born-again Christian movement that I became familiar with in the 80s just sort of through reputation not through any involvement myself but is that a safe comparison or no yeah I mean the term born-again is a biblical term and and Jesus said unless you're born again you cannot see the kingdom of God so I obviously believe that all who are his followers are born again and and and that's what includes us in his kingdom so but I mean but the movement in the 80s that you encountered you know that may have been a moment that focused on that one metaphor of rebirth more than perhaps other metaphors but the idea being born again did not originate any later than the conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus in John chapter 3 yeah I consider myself born again through baptism which brings me to the question of sacraments are there zero one two three four how many I have seven right right I I don't believe there are any sacraments but I people who are not Catholics usually believe in what they call ordinances and Protestants usually acknowledged - that's baptism and the Lord's Supper and and I would certainly say I recognize those as biblical practices but a sacrament if we're using the term to mean an outward act that confers grace to the soul I don't think that there's any ritual act that confers grace to the soul I believe that were that grace comes through faith Paul said in in Romans 5 he said that through Christ we have access into this grace by faith wherein wherein we stand and of course Ephesians 2 he said by grace you've been saved through faith so grace comes through faith Paul made very clear and and even Jesus indicated something similar when he talked about the Pharisee and the publican and you know the tax collector the Pharisee who had done many ritual things that God in fact had commanded and more and the publican he just he hadn't done any of those things and he just said God be merciful to me a sinner and Jesus said that man went home justified rather than the other there's one time in the Old Testament three times in the New Testament that says God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud and I think all of those are sort of different ways of saying the same thing to be humble enough to put your trust in Christ instead of in yourself to know that you can't be trusted that you can't trust yourself is a humbling thing and it's a humble position but it's that casting oneself on the mercy of God that confers grace and trusting God confers grace according description now baptism and the Lord's Supper and maybe other things that you'd call sacraments marriage you know I don't know special orders or things like that people may find grace in those things in the sense that those things encourage their faith and grace comes through faith I think that you know if I read an inspiring Christian book it will elevate my faith and I'll receive more grace as a result of my faith increased but it I wouldn't say reading a book as a sacrament I would say there are lots of things in my life that encourage and elevate my faith and including prayer and Bible reading and a lot of other things and fellowship with other Christians if it's edifying which isn't always the case but you know my understanding is that we receive grace moment by moment day by day walking with God we live by grace and that grace comes to us in an unbroken stream as we trust Christ and you know keep our trust in him so you know there are things that you could do a church that as I say may improve your faith in which case if you have greater faith I believe you receive greater grace but I don't believe there are rituals that when you do them you get more grace from God because of them yeah in yourself in your family or in the people around you have you seen anti-catholicism in an ugly way in a way that was inordinate and sort of uncalled for no I I don't think I ever saw anti-catholicism in certainly not in the family I was raised in and I never encouraged it in the family that I'm the father and and I don't think any of my friends I don't I really I don't really associate on a you know friendly basis very much with people who are demeaning other other Christians so I don't I mean I know of I know of people who are anti-catholic I see their comments on you know Facebook and places like that but no I never have been in an environment where there was anti-catholicism fact I've had there's two Catholic apologist Tim staples and Jimmy akin that I have had long conversations with on my own radio show or on theirs and most recently Jimmy akin and then several years ago Tim staples and I had him on my show for the whole program it's an hour show and hello five five programs one week and then I was on a show with the Jimmy Aiken on Catholic Answers five times two and you know what people always say is it's they're so pleased to be able to hear such a congenial conversation between Catholics and non-catholics what about the whole political spectrum left right center and all that I think it's complete nonsense but people are really addicted to it can you talk a little bit about that how that spills over into your world in in terms of overlapping with your religious concerns and the communities that you have to deal with the place right well first the first point I guess I'd make about that is left and right our political ideological leanings and Jesus did not come with a political agenda I mean one could say that it was a political agenda in the sense that he was the king and he was calling subjects to be in his kingdom and that's an almost political thing but it was a spiritual Kingdom and therefore it did not come into direct conflict with you know the political interests of Rome until such a time as the Emperor wanted Christians to worship Him then of course there was a direct conflict of interest but for the most part I think Jesus taught that Christians can be followers of his and be agreeable even with the the with the living under the oppression of the Romans for example and he said if a man forces you go with him one mile which is what a Roman soldier was allowed to do he could he could compel a citizen to carry his gear for one mile but no more and she said well if he makes you go one go two I mean clearly many people would be resentful to an oppressive occupation occupying power in their country that where the soldiers can just grab you off the street and make you walk with them an hour and carry their baggage but Jesus didn't encourage the disciples to rise up against that kind but says that they could be they could exhibit the love of Christ even under that system Jesus didn't come to set up earthly kings and earth let the presidents and things like that nonetheless he knew that his disciples would live in countries that had such systems but he didn't tell them which system he would approve of more than another he just said render to Caesar what is his and render to God what is his as if for the most part you could kind of just stay within the boundaries that of Caesar's legals requirements what he requires of his citizens and still give God what God wants but if there's a conflict you've got to give God what he wants which is why there's many Christians we're fed to the Lions eventually because they wouldn't worship the Caesar but we live in a time now in a much freer time where we can live out our faith without very much interference from the government I think that's changing somewhat and that may lead us to the answer to what I think about left and right I I think that as a Christian I can I can thrive and flourish as a Christian under any system of government i I know of Christians who thrived in Nazi prison camps and and in the gulag in communist Russia and and in Romanian places like that and in China where the you know their political systems they lived under we're very oppressive but these Christians were not involved in trying to overthrow the government or even reform it they were just they were persecuted but they still remained faithful and they would not they would not compromise their Christianity that's how the early Christians were also as how Peter was and Paul and you know and other Christians who were who are martyred and I think that's the right way to be now I would say though that if we live in a a modern democratic society where the average citizen actually has some say about the policies of the government and that is the case for us it was not the case in biblical times under the Romans but where we are actually living in societies where we can vote leaders in and vote leaders out and and influence the legislators and so forth I think there is some duty incumbent on us to use that opportunity to steward that benefit in such a way as to benefit our fellow man because our main duty as Christians is not to seize political power but is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and therefore I would say that as my parents sought to to persuade to support whatever political candidates they thought would leave a better world for their children I would feel like I should do the same thing for my children and the children of my neighbors that is I should love do for them what I'd want done for me or what others in fact have done for me so I would like to see freedoms preserved if possible I believe if our freedoms are taken from us I think that's what the left does let me just tell me what I tell you what I think about the letter right I think the left and right are the are two poles in a political spectrum and the further you go to the right the more you are left to yourself to take care of yourself you're given more freedom but less security guaranteed by the government the more you go to the left the more security you offered and less freedom because you can't have complete freedom and complete security if the government's going to provide security for everyone they've got to they've got to know legislate you know higher taxes for example and rules I mean for example if if somebody feels if there's a transsexual who feels they they don't want to be called he or something like that and and they feel threatened well a government that's going to be far on the left and wants to provide total security from even being offended can make our law that says well you can't call this person D because that's that offends them now over on the right they'd say you know people should have the right to to say what they want to and people should buck up and and just grow up and and if they don't like it they can avoid the people who don't behave the way they they like but you can't be protected by the government from everything that might offend you or that might you know make you feel uncomfortable or insecure the more the government provides security the more it has to take away freedom of speech freedom of you know spending your own money and so forth this government has to levy your money from you to do what you know to provide for other people things they don't have and I think that while Christianity and a Christian can flourish and thrive under either system I believe that I would much rather be given freedom to carry out my faith to steward my resources my money in a way that pleases God rather than hand it over to a pagan government that that stewards them for me in in some ways I might not like I I think freedom is better than then government security for one thing the Bible warns us not to look to the government for security many times I mean in the old testament says you know a horse is a is a vain thing in battle it won't it won't save anyone it's our weaponry says cursed is he who puts his trust in man or in Princes you know princes kings governments they don't provide security they can but that's not what we're supposed to be looking to for security but to have freedom granted by the government we're not guaranteed it most Christians a history have not had the freedoms we've had but if that's one of the options available that's what I'm gonna try to leave for my children because someone was kind enough to leave that for me just really quickly can you talk about the other forms of monotheism Judaism and Islam can you just briefly outline your sort of perspective on them as these are the mainstream versions of them at least right well first of all I believe there's only one God that's also a belief of the Jews it's also beliefs of the Muslims it's the belief of the Catholics and if the Protestants and these are and I believe it's the Abrahamic God as they usually say which is also agreeable with the Muslims and the Jews and all Christians those three religions not only believe in one God but they believe in the Abrahamic God and essentially in the creation of Genesis and so forth and and that God is a covenant God who makes covenant with people now they do disagree on what God's most recent covenant has been because of course Christ made a new covenant with his disciples in the upper room when he passed around the cup he said this cup is the New Covenant in my blood which is shed for your sins and so the Jews don't recognize that they believe the Covenant that God made about Sinai is the most recent one and the Muslims believe there's something even more recent than Jesus and that is of course the prophet of Mohammed now I believe the Jews are mistaken and I think the Muslims are mistaken and I believe the Christians are correct of course because I'm a Christian and therefore I believe that even though Muslims and Jews recognize the one Abrahamic God the deity I don't believe that they know him well enough to serve Him in a way that he is that pleases him I don't think that the Jews by keeping the Torah are are pleasing God as much as if they were following his son the Messiah that he sent for them to follow I don't think the Muslims are pleasing God in following a man who I think is is not a true prophet and whose teaching is quite contrary to that of Jesus so I could say the God they worship may be the same God but they apparently don't know him well enough to know how to please him like it like a Christian can know you because we have Christ teachings in Christ example and therefore I think that they're in the dark now if someone wanted to ask me well what's God's going to do them at the judgement and what if they've never heard about Jesus or never heard a convincing presentation of Jesus what if Islam or Judaism zall they've ever heard or known well I believe God's are just God and he knows what to do about that I do believe that in the resurrection when Jesus comes back not everyone will be in exactly the same place and I think as Paul said that those who have suffered with Christ will reign with Christ he doesn't say who will reign over but I suspect it will be other people that God is accepted but who have never really served Christ people who didn't know Christ very well but may have known there was a God and made some effort to please him in a sincere way now in saying that I wouldn't be saying that Judaism or most or Islam as religions can save I don't think that any religion can save a man I think Jesus Saves I don't think I don't think the Christian religion or the Muslim religion or the Jewish religion save anyone I think it's Jesus himself who's the Savior not not a religion not a system and that being the case Jesus who died for all men would certainly be entitled if he wished to claim for himself individuals who may from from any religion frankly especially from a religion that had believed in in God the true God in some way even if they were very ignorant he can claim those that he sees have a heart for him again he resists the proud and gives grace to the humble and if there is in Islam or in Judaism and I know there are people who who humble themselves before God and they know they know less than we do about Jesus I think they'll be I think they'll be judged more leniently than somebody who actually does know about gee and rejects him so I leave the final outcome of these people in God's hands and I will not be disappointed if he saved them all I don't think you will I don't think even the Jews in Jesus time they had the right religion but the Pharisees who are the most fastidious in their religion Jesus said they're not gonna be able to escape the damnation of hell because of their hypocrisy and their pride and their and so forth so being part of a religion even if it's the right religion won't save you the Pharisees religion was the right one they but they weren't the kind of men that God sees as his own what about the age of the earth some people think it's only six or ten thousand years old others say it's millions of years old what does the Bible say and what do you believe in why well if the if Genesis chapter 1 and the end the genealogical chapters that follow it are taken literally then of course one would have to conclude that the earth was created only a few thousand years ago whether those chapters are supposed to be taken literally or not is a matter of reasonable dispute and even even in Augustine's day Augustine didn't believe they were literal he didn't believe the days of creation were literal 24-hour days and so the tradition of taking those chapters non literally goes back pretty far it may go back beyond Augustine for all we know so there's always been Christians who felt that Genesis 1 looked like something other than a literal historical narrative now maybe a poem maybe a parable of some kind I I tend to take it literally myself I say I tend to because I I can see some possibilities that it might not be intended that way but I guess I was raised taking it literally and I've heard arguments from both sides of course I'm not a scientist but the people I read are and I've heard scientists on both sides I've read scientists who present a case for the earth being young and I've of course obviously encountered the majority of scientists who believe it's not yeah I think I think there's merit in both arguments and I so I mean if I were if I were the the most knowledgeable astrophysicist in the world and I knew who was misunderstanding the universe and who was miss reading the evidence and who is getting it right then I could take a firm stand but I'm not I don't have that kind of expertise so if I'm going to make a decision it'll have to be on you know some other basis like what's the best way of reading Genesis chapter one in the absence of certainty from astrophysics and I think I think Genesis one sounds like it's it's giving a literal account but I don't have any emotion attached to that that position if if some1 proved tomorrow beyond the shadow of a doubt that Genesis one had to be taken non literally that the earth is billions of years old I wouldn't bat an eye you know it's never mattered to me I can't imagine it being important to know when God made things the important thing of Genesis one is that God is our Creator that he's the one who did it that we were made by his hand and for his purpose and for his glory that's what the Bible teaches about creation and whether it's intended that we should understand it taking place a few thousand or a few billion years ago it wouldn't change anything for me as far as my Christian life goes yeah I'm right there with you I do I do have a preference for the young earth but I don't actually believe that it's the case because my church encourages me to go with the latest scientific understanding which seems to be leaning heavily towards an Old Earth but I would rather have the more literal young earth sort of reality and I think it is possible still that the scientists just have either misunderstood or they maybe perhaps have a motive an anti-god motive for spinning the data in a certain way I do believe is an anti-god motive in many I don't think that that's the motive that caused people to first come up with the older I think I think it was actual evidence and interpretation of evidence that led people initially to to call the earth old in the early nineteenth century but I think in our day because there is such an anti-god motive I think a lot of people who are scientists they just approach science with those set of presuppositions and and don't give a consideration to the evidence for another I think that it is entirely possible for the evidence to be misread because scientists are assuming that all things have happened naturally and there's been no supernatural intervention and so if if that's true then the starlight from a star that's five billion light years from now must have been emanating from that star for five billion years for us to be able to see it today and therefore that star must be five billion years old and and and similar things about the the rate of decay of uranium into lead or thorium into letter potassium into argon any of these these dating methods they presuppose that the the rate of decay the speed of light whatever those things have been the same forever and and it's you know there's no there's never been anything different but if God had in fact created stars five billion light years away and done so only seven thousand years ago let us say he could easily have made the stream of light already reaching the earth and and so these kinds of things are not taken into consideration in fact they can't be by science because science can't test those questions yeah but oh yeah I wanted to ask you about atheism because there there are a lot of atheists that I encounter and they all tend to be natural ists and they all those who have thought about it agree with me that that implies that there is no free will but for some reason they don't admit that that necessarily implies that there is no morality in their worldview and they don't want to admit that if they're not free to weigh ideas in their mind then they cannot reason in a way that is meaningful so I I consider the atheist to have absolutely nothing there's no morality there's no freewill there's no reason there's no basis for science there's nothing just talk to me a little bit about atheism if you've encountered these people and how you deal with them I was a theist for 25 years so it's most of my entourage yesterday I've been a guest on many atheist podcasts and I debated a professor philosophy in Las Vegas who is a atheist publicly and and I've read the books by all the modern you know popular ate and it is true that people like Richard Dawkins and sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens they always want to say you know you don't have to believe in God to be moral well that's true you don't have to believe in God to be moral but you have to believe in God in order to believe that the morality that you accept is binding on you or anyone else because unless there is a God who is determined what is right and wrong any choices we make about it are preferences we have are simply subjective and you know if Adolf Hitler thinks it's a moral thing to enhance the human race by removing the gypsies and the and the metal mentally deficient in the Jews well I mean that's his impression of what's right and wrong is true but who's to say he's wrong just the people who have the biggest guns does might make right and the fact that we defeated him means he was wrong and we're right if there's no God to say what is right and wrong then it's every man for himself and true these atheists who are raised in Christendom that is raised in a Jew do they have it cut their teeth on judeo-christian ideas of the Golden Rule you know and things like that but really if there's no God the Golden Rule as pleasant as it may be to us and as reasonable as at the scene even as functional it doesn't it's not really truly a moral mandate that I would have to keep who can tell me that I should keep it well it can be imposed on me by governmental and law but that doesn't make it intrinsically right because not all laws are morally right it's the the fact is if you're going to have a philosophically sound Bay it's for a morality that really is binding on the human conscience you're gonna have to have somebody above the human race who decided what's right or wrong and who is basically imposing that on our system you know the the every atheist has a morality it's usually a little different than Christian morality because people like Christopher Hitchens for example the one of his main motives it would appear at least his brothers think so for being an atheist was that he wanted to live in a moral life and I wouldn't be surprised if that was a motivation with many atheists say you know I don't want to have to restrict myself from my my sex drives and so they they come up with a morality of their own that doesn't condemn that kind of behavior but they would still retain enough of Christianity to I guess I should say Christian morality to retain some kind of a civilized world but but they're picking and choosing what they want to believe what they don't want to believe and that's entirely subjective the question is is there an objective morality is there really a moral code that everyone really should observe is there are there some countries where it's really should be okay to murder babies and other societies where it shouldn't be because those societies feel differently about the subject or is there some universal and objective code that makes it wrong to murder babies no matter what you think about it if the latter then there's got to be God because somebody had to make that code who's above us because I can't be above you if I say it's okay to murder babies you say it's not well we differ but I can't make you I can't impose moral obligation on you to agree with me nor you on me well you know I think that you're right an atheist if he's gonna be consistent has got to say there is no actual reality and when he says there's no free will of course what he's saying is the brain there's no mind there's only a brain the brain is an organ like the liver or the heart and it just functions with these synopses taking place with the neurons and and therefore what I whatever I think it's just determined by my neurons but of course that would mean that what I think may not be in the least bit Vallot and that may mean that what they think is not the least bit valid I mean if if their atheism is simply a result of neurons triggering a certain way which they have no control or choice about then they may be atheists living in a delusion because their brain just you know typed out that information for them to believe whereas somebody else has different information you can't really have anyone saying they know the truth if there's if the brain is simply dictating thought if there's not something if there's not a mind a soul that's controlling the brain as a the brain is a machine that can be run by a ghost and the question is is there a ghost in there and of course all people except atheists say yes all religions believe there's a soul atheists are very odd aberration from the way that almost all intelligent people believed until you know a few centuries ago really everybody has essentially believed there's a soul because you have to explain for personal responsibility if if my brain just makes me want to murder people and I've got nothing to say about no free will then you can't condemn me for murdering people or for raping people or for doing anything like that I mean I have choice and that's why I have accountability without choice the only accountability would be an imposed artificial one that the society says we don't like that behavior so we're gonna put you in jail for that or kill you but that doesn't mean it was really wrong it just means they didn't like it might makes right yeah a lot of atheists critique the Bible as you know they say that God's a big bully in the sky and he's mean and he endorses slavery in the Old Testament and it's not the other thing and some even go so far as to say that Jesus Christ endorses slavery so how do you deal with that well I think the only contradictions alleged to be in the Bible well no these aren't the only ones but these would be the most the ones most often brought up are those where under the Old Covenant there were certain requirements that differ from those under the New Covenant for example I mean poly was practiced in the old cabin even by some of those Saints none of the New Testament authors believed in polygamy and they taught that the marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ in the church in Christ only has one church so you know you can't have one one wife slavery was something that the old has been tolerated and and the New Testament does not abolish but partly because the New Testament writers weren't in a position to abolish it it was a universal practiced in every society but it was the teaching of Paul that a master who happened as slaves should treat them with respect as brothers which would transform that relationship entirely could actually make it a very pleasant one for the slave in a way you know we we are very intolerant of slavery because we're post-enlightenment Westerners slavery still practiced widely in the Muslim world and in parts of Africa and Asia I mean it's it's like we were post-enlightenment Westerners who have decided that slavery is always wrong and it will certainly was wrong the way we practiced it we were always thinking about what we call Atlantic slavery where people were kidnapped from their homes in Africa and brought across the ocean against their will and treated like nonhumans and sold his property and and then treated like you know animals yeah that's that's a horrendous thing the Bible would never approve of that the Old Testament would have had slave traders of modern times executed because to kidnap somebody was a a capital crime under the Old Testament law but the slaves in the Old Testament were virtually voluntary slaves in most cases they sold themselves into slavery because of debts that they couldn't pay off themselves there was the easiest way to provide security for themselves and their families economically when they or else to go on the street and live in the gutter to sell yourself to a master who would treat you well and all you had to do is work for him that's kind of like what people do for a living now and leave the difference is we can change jobs if we don't like our job man a slave wasn't in that position but a slave who had a decent master and certainly the Bible commands people to be decent masters as their slaves was in not much of a different position than that of a an employee today who makes minimum wage except a slave at least had his medical and clothing and food and housing guaranteed a guy today who works for minimum wage may not be able to cover those costs and he may end up homeless so in a sense slavery as an economic institution was desirable for some people I admit some people were taking as slaves as prisoners of war also and I'm not sure what we would have done with them in our modern world if we took you know these prisoners we don't have slavery today in the Western world so we wouldn't make slaves of them but even if they were made slaves of in the biblical times they were not to be treated like animals if a man would kill his slave deliberately he'd be executed for it that's not true in the Roman world or the Greek world or you know in Muslim world I mean slaves are channeled in most nations but while the Bible you know it would have been very unkind in a way for God to say okay all these slaves have to let go because some of them had put themselves in that position because that was their economic security they wouldn't be there if they were able to pay their bills and and you know if they can if they have to go out on the street a lot of them were in a secure place you know the Old Testament law actually makes this law says after seven years you have to give your slave the right to leave but if he says I don't want to leave I like it here well then then he could stay for the rest of his life I mean it we can't even imagine somebody's saying they'd rather be a slave but we are we've we have grown up with these modern ideas of the rights of man and freedom and things like that that would slavery be intolerable for us and for just like polygamy would be intolerable for any modern Western woman it's not intolerable for Muslim women they don't probably like it but they they live in it modern women in the West wouldn't live with it but in other cultures sometimes it's sudden they accept it I think polygamy was allowed me Old Testament largely because in the days when Awards were happening so much the the male population was decimated in war and leaving a lot of widows or maidens who didn't ever have a chance of marrying unless they shared a man with somebody and that's how they would survive is having a man to take care of them they didn't have you know jobs for women other than prostitution and begging so I mean in a society where there's not enough men to go around because the wars are you know tearing up the population and the women are vulnerable without a man you know we just don't we judge we judge biblical culture as if they're supposed to know everything we know and have everything going and they might say well God knew these things God knew he also knew what the consequences would be if he abolished those things right off you can't just you can't just you know let these slaves go if they don't know how to support themselves and there's no jobs from today and they're in slavery in the first place because they couldn't have could have helped them so they it was voluntary in many cases when Jesus ascended into heaven he said it's better if I go cuz if I don't go I won't send the Holy Spirit right the help will not come if I don't go right this is referring to the upcoming event of Pentecost is that how you read that yes I believe so and so what is the church today is it strictly invisible or is there a visible part to it or how do you explain the Holy Spirit and what emphasis do you place on the Holy Spirit and God the Father as opposed to just placing all your eggs in one basket on the second person of the Trinity yeah I I don't I don't try to explain the Trinity very often just because it's mysterious and the Bible doesn't really give us an explanation I believe the Trinity doctrine is a biblical doctrine but it's a it's one that we arrive at by synthesizing data from all over the scripture not from some passage that actually describes it anywhere so you know because the Bible doesn't go out of its it doesn't take the effort to explain it I often don't either but I the father is Jesus came to restore our relationship with the father that's what he said he said when you pray say our Father he said no one comes to the Father but through me he said the father is greater than I so Jesus Jesus though he is God in the flesh he came as flesh in order to reintroduce us to our Father and so that we can come to the Father and so in the in the Bible all prayers are offered to the father essentially and as Jesus taught us to pray to the Father and if that's because the our relationship as God's children was broken until Christ came to pay the price of our Redemption and to atone for our sins and make it possible first half as it says in Hebrews chapter 10 and a new and living way into the presence of God himself so our relationship with God the Father is really what the what the coming of Christ was all about now of course Jesus has been one of us a human being and therefore we can relate to him considerably more than we can to a disembodied spiritual omnipresent being but nonetheless the barriers that existed between us and that father and he came to atone you know for the differences we had with him we have both we have we can kind of see what the father's like by Jesus because he actually lived among us he said if you've seen me you've seen the father and the only spirit I believe is the spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Christ now living in us and uniting us into the body of Christ Christ in his presence on earth was one human body and the Spirit of God dwelt in him without measure the Bible says completely well when he went away he sent the spirit to live in each of us so that we collectively are his body now you asked about a visible appearance of the church I believe that when Jesus set up the church it was very much a visible thing I mean there was a community in Jerusalem headed up by the Apostles that was the church now there were it began to kind of grow without their oversight because of the persecution that arose over Stephen people like Philip went off and evangelize without authorization and started a movement of believers in Samaria and the Apostles had to go and see if that's part of their movement or not and they did Peter and John yeah Peter and John went to Samaria to to check out this movement that Philip had started spontaneously and to see if it really belonged to the same movement that they were part of in Jerusalem and it was so they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit so we have you know we have the church kind of spreading kind of spontaneously and and yet it was all connected to the Mother Church which was in Jerusalem and so yet yet they didn't always have direct communication with her I mean international communication wasn't as easy back then as it is now and so the church in Corinth over in Greece or even eventually you know in Rome you know those they probably didn't have a whole lot of communication with the church in Jerusalem they had some because of people traveling like Paul but they they operated fairly independently of the church in Jerusalem but when there were conflicts they could go to the Apostles in Jerusalem and have those resolve like the circumcision counseling but I think that wherever there's a gathering of Christians as Jesus said wherever two or more gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them so whatever Christians are gathered to worship and and minister and and represent Christ as a group that's a small microcosm a local microcosm of the of the macrocosm Church I think the macrocosm is the global fellowship of all all Christians where they are they're all part of one body there's only one church but I don't don't believe they're all part of one organization yeah i think san agustin famously said that we'll be surprised when we see who was in and who is out because some we thought were in were out in some we thought were out we're in right but you know at the end of my interviews I do ask my guests to give a little closing thought something positive something nice so just to wrap up the show what could you say to anyone that might be out there listening now well the most hopeful thing that Jesus said is that God is our Father and that he does care about us and if yeah you know Christopher Hitchens didn't like God checking in on him watching him all the time he felt uncomfortable with that but that's largely because Christopher Hitchens didn't want to please him if you want to please God the fact that he's watching you is very comforting