Summary: A weekly podcast featuring conversation in which biblical topics are investigated openly with rigor. The show seeks to demythologize Christianity of erroneous traditions in an ongoing quest to repeat the Berean exercise and seek truth fearlessly. Truth Matters is hosted by Sean Finnegan who has a different guest on each week. Topics to be discussed include the kingdom of God, the afterlife, the sleep of the dead, resurrection, salvation and perseverance, the Trinity, and radical obedience to Jesus as Lord.
David Burge is the pastor of the Takanini Church of Christ in Auckland, New Zealand. He also leads the Advent Christian Conference of New Zealand and the Conditional Immortality Association of New Zealand (www.afterlife.co.nz). He has researched, written, and spoken extensively on the topic of conditional immortality (the belief that dead people are asleep until the resurrection at the return of Christ). Conditional immortality has already been discussed in these previous shows: * The Truth about Heaven with Steve Taylor * The Truth about Hell with John Cortright * The History of Hell with John Roller * Resurrection with Joe Martin In this episode, rather than asking David to present a positive case for this doctrine, I pummeled him with difficult verses for him to explain. Amazingly, time after time, he was able to show where the misunderstanding was, and how to interpret each sensibly. Verses discussed include: 1. Luke 16.19-31 2. Luke 23.43 3. 2 Corinthians 5.8 4. Philippians 1.23 5. Revelation 6.9-11 6. Revelation 14.11 7. Revelation 20.10 Also, as of right now David is fighting for his life against acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Please pray for him, his wife, and their eight children. Updates about him can be found at www.davidburge.wordpress.com.
Sir Anthony Buzzard was born in Surrey, England and educated at Oxford University and later at Bethany Theological Seminary in Chicago. He holds Master's degrees in languages and theology. He came to the USA with his wife and daughters in 1981 and has taught Bible at Atlanta Bible College since then. He is the author of numerous books including The Law, the Sabbath, and New Covenant Christianity (other books and articles are available at restorationfellowship.org). Do Christians need to keep the Law of Moses? Is it wrong to work on Saturday? Should the people of God avoid pork and shellfish? Questions like these may seem obvious to many of us but there are several groups of Christians who insist that unless one keeps the Law he or she will be condemned on the day of judgment. Amazingly, this same Judaizing tendency was rampant in the first century church as well. Listen in to the discussion to find out more about this as well as hear first-hand what it was like for Anthony when he came to these conclusions after observing Torah for fourteen years.
"Servetus the Evangelical" is the pseudonym for an evangelical scholar who recently published a book called The Restitution of Jesus Christ in which he describes who God and Jesus are from a biblical unitarian perspective including exegesis of several texts typically used to teach that Jesus is God (i.e. John 1.1; 20.28; etc.). Though he has been a Bible-believing evangelical all his adult life he began to question the doctrine of the Trinity when he couldn't make sense of certain Scriptures within a trinitarian mindset. In particular Matthew 24.36 (also Mark 13.32) convinced him that Jesus was not omniscient since he confessed that he did not know when he would return. Texts like this began "Servetus" on a quest for truth which ended in his confession of the historic creed of the people of God that Yahweh alone is God (Deut. 6.4; Mark 12.29) and that Jesus is the human Messiah divinely begotten by God via the Holy Spirit. "Servetus" has a website at which many articles are free for download including this tract which describes in a couple of pages what his research on God and Jesus has revealed. Furthermore, there is a contest on www.servetustheevangelical.com to guess his identity. Since 2008 he has revealed a clue each month. He will continue to do this until 2011 (the 500th birthday of Michael Servetus) when he will reveal his identity and publish a new book about his personal journey. Listen in to this conversation to hear the mysterious "Servetus the Evangelical" describe why he changed his views on these critical matters. (Thanks to JP Smajda--audio engineer extraordinaire--for his help in disguising Servetus' voice).
George Littler has been leading a home Bible fellowship for the past 30 years in Poughkeepsie, New York. As a child he attended the local Catholic church but never really connected with God so that by the age of 13 he quit going. Subsequent to this and throughout his troubled twenties he considered himself an anti-theist (someone who believed in God but was mad at him). Not until a Christian shared the faith with him in an apartment bathroom during a party did George finally come to the place of accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Listen in to this conversation to hear not only a riveting story of how God in his love pursued George throughout his early tumultuous years, but also how he was saved apart from believing in the Trinity or other complex doctrines which made little sense to a street-smart New Yorker. His engaging tone, sense of humor, and poignant ability to state the logical make for an insightful and memorable discussion.
Danny André Dixon is a graduate of Abilene Christian University (1981: B.A. In Biblical Studies, New Testament emphasis; 1984: M.A. in Bible and Related Studies, stressing New Testament text). He has served churches as a Youth Minister in Nevada, Kansas, and California. He has also served as a Campus Evangelist with churches in discipleship ministries with students at Virginia Tech, UCLA, and USC in Los Angeles. In May of 2009 he graduated with a Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. As a pastor Danny was sent a copy of Anthony Buzzard's The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound and as a result began to question whether or not the doctrine of the Trinity was biblical. He was surprised when two of the elders at the church where he served adamantly discouraged him from even investigating this subject. Nevertheless, the other two elders supported him and Danny pressed on to unravel the mind-numbing nuanced distinctions endemic to the doctrine of the Trinity. After some time, he found the texts which support the ancient Jewish-Christian belief that God is strictly one individual to vastly outweigh the handful of trinitarian proof-texts he used to cling to and he found himself changing his position on the issue. In our conversation, Danny describes what this process was like and also how shifting from complex "monotheism" to simple monotheism has aided him in following Jesus more closely. If this show interests you, feel free to visit Danny's online discussion forum 4OneGod.net, watch the documentary The Human Jesus, or check out his free downloads from christianmonotheism.com.
Patrick Navas has been a Bible student for the last fourteen years--ever since one of the Gideons handed him a free pocket New Testament and he was gripped by John 3.16. In his quest to understand Christianity he quickly learned that there were quite a few differences between various groups which all claimed to have THE truth. This propelled Patrick into long years of study as he researched the biggest question of all--who is God? The result of that work was his 2006 book titled Divine Truth or Human Tradition?: A Reconsideration of the Roman Catholic-Protestant Doctrine of the Trinity in Light of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. His book not only lays out the clear biblical teaching about God, but it also interacts with top trinitarian defenders such as Dr. James R. White, John MacArthur, Dr. Wayne Grudem, Robert Bowman Jr., Dr. Robert Morey, Dr. R. C. Sproul, and others. Patrick defends his position with cogency and humility as he enumerates the reasons why the Trinity is not a biblical doctrine.
Nathan Crowder of Schenectady, NY, has bachelor degrees from the University of Florida in Political Science and Zion Bible Institute in Theology and Pastoral Ministry. Throughout his Christian life he has diligently searched to discover biblical truth. This quest began when he discovered that the Bible taught that the destination of the redeemed was the kingdom of God on earth in fulfillment of the promises made by God to Abraham and David. He was surprised to learn while at Bible College that they did not teach this simple truth but instead ascribed to the mythological view that at death righteous souls escape the body to go to heaven. This first discovery prompted more investigation and more skepticism in regard to other teachings commonly accepted in mainstream Christianity. As time went on, Nathan came to see that the phrase "Son of God" in the Bible did not in any way imply deity, but rather this was a title for the Messiah. He learned that the Hebrew concept of Messiah was that a human being would be divinely empowered by God to rule the world on his behalf. As time went on he increasingly came to question the traditional doctrine of the Trinity and found himself reading books by biblical unitarians like Anthony Buzzard, which made more sense of the biblical data. Listen in to this show to hear Nathan's journey of faith. Also, if you would like to listen to or read his paper entitled Christ the Firstborn Head of the Universe, stop by www.christianmonotheism.com where it can be downloaded for free.
During over three decades of ministry, Tennessee pastor J. Dan Gill has observed a tendency within evangelicalism to preach the gospel without telling people about the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, large crusades that Billy Graham preaches at do not inform people about these matters at all. Is this modern tendency good news or bad news? Some, in their zeal to uphold their church's traditions have declared that those who do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity or the dual natures of Christ are not Christians. Who is right? In his authentic and endearing southern style, pastor Gill brings us to the Scriptures, especially the book of Acts, in order to decipher an answer based on the evangelism of the first Christians. In the end, Dan assures us that we are not stuck between loosing our mind or loosing our soul as the famous quip has it: If you try to understand the Trinity, you lose your mind If you don't believe in it, you lose your soul
Alex Hall of London tells the story of how the church vacillated between Arius and Athanasius during the fourth century. By focusing on the dueling councils during that period (a.d. 318-381) Alex paints a picture, which, although disturbing to those of us who would like to think that such matters as the deity of Christ were always clear, accurately describes how politics heavily influenced the development of theology during that time. A good deal of Alex's work was influenced by "When Jesus Became God" by Richard Rubenstein. If this conversation has piqued your interest in this subject I highly recommend reading Rubenstein's book as it fills out the details in a readable manner. Alex's conclusion is that we should not trust either side since both used ungodly means to achieve their goal of winning the debate, rather, we should practice the Berean exercise of searching the Scriptures to see whether these things are so (Acts 17.11).
Alex Hall of London, UK, describes with gusto and detail how the early Christian movement shifted away from the Hebrew mindset as it was persecuted in its native land and driven out into the Greco-Roman world. Alex basis his commentary on volume one of the German church historian Adolf Harnack's tome called History of Dogma. (Accessible online at ccel.org) Listen in as Alex discusses the major reasons why Christianity began to shift its thinking towards Greek philosophy and how important it is that we be informed about this great shift.
Brian Kelly has been studying the Bible for over three decades and leads a home fellowship in Syracuse, NY. On this show he talks about the importance of the core creed of the Bible: the Shema. The word "Shema" means "Hear" or "Listen up" and it is the shorthand way of referring to Deuteronomy 6.4-5. Deuteronomy 6.4-5 4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. When a Jewish scribe asked Jesus what the foremost commandment was, Jesus immediately quoted this text. This tells us that the God Jesus worshiped is the same as the God of Moses and the Old Testament. In this show, Brian leads us to consider the two parts to the Shema. (1) To recognize that Yahweh alone is our single God (2) to love this God with everything (holding nothing back). Download this file to learn more about biblical monotheism and how to avoid the pitfalls of ancient Israel's idolatry.
On our last show called Leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses with Ray Faircloth we have had a good deal of interest and comments. Surprisingly there were quite a few negative statements made towards Ray's courageous step out of the invisible prison of the Watch Tower Society. I thought it would be appropriate for Ray to have an opportunity to respond to some of the criticisms leveled against him. Furthermore, our local radio broadcast is a week behind the website which means I need to delay the website for one week anyhow. Thus, we present to you an informal and unedited conversation between myself and Ray Faircloth, the ex-JW, who shares with us a bit more about the contrast between the extreme JW doctrine of shunning and the biblical instruction about disfellowshipping. We will have a new show next Sunday (May 24) so stay tuned.
Ray Faircloth was a Jehovah's Witness (JW) for 36 years and served as both a ministerial servant and as an elder. Over his lengthy sojourn among the JWs, he sometimes came across doctrinal issues which he quietly logged in the back of his mind. He also noticed that the Watchtower Society (the organization name of the JWs) was increasing its control over the people. He observed that more and more in meetings loyalty to God's organization was being emphasized whereas loyalty to Jesus was not really talked about. Listen in to this show to hear the insider perspective of a committed Jehovah's Witness, who never wanted to leave the fold, but who God led to see that the most fundamental doctrine of the Watchtower--that it was God's one true organization--was baseless. Ray has suffered greatly, and two of his three daughters no longer speak to him (JWs practice an extreme form of shunning). If you would like to contact Ray, especially if you have questions related to JWs, please email him: email@example.com.
Dr. Joe Martin earned his MA in sociology from Arizona State University, a second MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from Columbia Theological Seminary. He is the academic dean of the Atlanta Bible College and has been professor of Old Testament for almost twenty years. The subject focused on the resurrection of Jesus as well as the coming resurrection of the people of God. Dr. Martin explains the Old Testament underpinnings of the idea of resurrection and demonstrates conclusively that the biblical idea is incompatible with the pagan notion of the immortal soul. By comparing Jesus' death with that of Socrates, we are able to see that, for Christians, death is not a friend to be greeted with kindness, but the bitterest of enemies. Furthermore, Dr. Martin points out that a good deal of modern scholarship is moving in this direction, which means that people are coming to understand with more clarity that God is not planning on destroying the earth, rather his goal is to redeem it at the return of Christ. Therefore, as Christians, believers in the resurrection of Jesus and the future resurrection of the righteous, what sort of people are we to be?
Richard Elton converted to Christianity from atheism more than thirty years ago. He led a home fellowship for decades and now is active in prison ministry. Furthermore, he recently made a trip to Israel with another of our guests, John Cortright, and therefore he brings a fresh Hebraic perspective to our topic for this show--Jesus the Messiah. Though many may not realize it, Christ is not Jesus' last name. Rather, the word simply means Messiah--one who is anointed to rule God's people on his behalf. From the birth narratives to his triumphal entry and beyond, the humble recognized that Jesus was the Messiah. But, sadly, today many of us who confess the words, "Jesus is the Christ," do not even know what they mean. Download this show to learn the biblical meaning of Jesus as Messiah.