Mark's blog space
Conversations with God about Christianity's toughest questions
Slow down, Mark. With a headline like that, you’re threatening a whole bunch of sacred cows. Do you really want to do this?
I do. Us Christians think we know the answers to those questions without ever asking you personally.
But what, Mark?
But, God, I don’t like that idea! Surely we can’t just take what we think the Bible says, and not ask you personally?? So I’m asking you! What do you really think about Gays, God? And what about the Bible, how important is it – the early church didn’t have it and they got on fine. And one more question – were you honestly so intent on torturing me in hell for my sins, that Jesus had to be crucified in my place?
God, I used to think I knew the answers to all these questions, but I’m starting to wonder. You don’t seem as harsh as you used to, maybe I had the wrong idea about you? Lots of us are starting to wonder. But it’s stuff we daren’t ask about – stuff like the Gay question, the importance of the Bible and what the cross was about etc.
More than lots, Mark.
Ok, more than lots of us Christians are not so sure any more about some of that stuff, but don’t want to admit it in case we get shot down. The Religious will quote verses like ‘the love of many will grow cold’, but right now I’m not that interested in what they think – I want to know what you think, God! Lots of us do.
So why are you asking, Mark?
Because I’m past caring. I’m like bring it on, try and shoot me down if you want. I didn’t start these conversations with you to cause any trouble, but now that I’ve stirred up Religion and he’s screaming at me, I’ll admit I’m enjoying his pain. And anything that forces Satan to show his hand is good in my books, because God I’m going to get that Son of a #*@!! if it’s the last thing I do!
Because his servant Religion has stolen your people’s freedom, their families, their wealth and their health and all the while, pretended your voice. He’s twisted scripture, and confused your message. I want my foot on his neck, God, and that’s just the start of it.
He’s my son remember, Mark. I created him.
Ok well, sorry (confused). Do you want me to stop?
Do you want to?
No! Of course not, I want to do him serious harm, but…
It’s unfortunate, but necessary, Mark – this will make a lot of people unhappy. But it will also set a lot of people free. The two always go hand in hand. Saying the same old accepted things gives people comfort, but if you want to set people free, you need to break down walls. People go on and on about revival, but they’ll never see it if they keep doing and thinking the same things. Long before revival, there’s going to be a reformation. Just saying.
Alright, well God, lots of popular Bible interpretation doesn’t make sense to lots of us.
More than lots, Mark.
Ok fine, and God, I don’t think many Christians realise that for 2000 years the Church fathers have changed their minds back and forth about what key scriptures actually mean. What mainstream Christianity thinks about them now, wasn’t always what mainstream Christianity thought.
No. So which generation has been right, Mark?
I don’t know, God. That’s why I’m asking.
Mark, each new generation believes it has the truth. Christian missionaries once fervently believed that European culture was inherently Godly and that the ‘savages’ they were ‘called to’ needed to give up their culture, and their land, to make way for European ‘progress’.
Ok that’s fine, God, they were wrong, but today I want to ask you about other stuff like Gays and Lesbians, the Bible and whether you really did punish your son. Like, you know, let’s live dangerously and find out what you actually think.
Why have you left it till now to ask?
I discovered by accident how to have these conversations with you, that you will actually answer my questions instantly and in a way I can understand. The Bible says your thoughts are not our thoughts which is why I want to ask you these tough questions. I’m sick of hearing our thoughts on these matters, God, I want to know yours.
And God, the Bible also says ‘come let us reason together’. So I’m here to do that. I want to know the real truth about the Gay question, about where the Bible fits in your plan, and whether you really punished your son.
Heaps God, but that can all wait till another conversation. Stuff like tithing, our whole focus on heaven and getting saved to avoid hell.
You’ll make yourself very unpopular, Mark.
And God, that’s a pity because I’d love to be popular.
Well, you’re not going to be. Those in power and those who think it’s wrong to question this, will be on your case.
Ok, but what about you, will I be unpopular with you, God? Plenty of people already say that I am.
Mark, I love it when people believe I exist enough to actually ask questions, reason with me. That’s the whole foundation of Hebrews 11.
Alright cool. Because God, one day soon I’m going to ask you about spiritual warfare and whether we can swear at the devil, or whether that means we’re naughty and he doesn’t have to obey us. But not today. Right now it’s the Gay thing, the Bible and the idea that you punished Jesus in my place. A more careful read of the Bible and the Greek suggests that the common understandings aren’t necessarily true.
Mark, some men spend their lives searching the answers to those questions.
Ok fine, but I’m not them God, I’m not that patient, religious or nice. I want answers today if that’s alright.
Of course it is, Mark. I love it when people come expecting answers. If people reading this have trouble with your approach, they will find some comfort in these three passages of scripture. They’ll need to read them carefully, then look at the Greek, and hunt for the hidden but obvious correlations between all three passages. John 16:7-13, Hebrews 11:6 and Matthew 7:7. But Mark, before I answer your questions tell me where have you been?
You know exactly where I’ve been, God!
Yes. I’m making conversation Mark.
Ok God, I’ve been doing some research on the whole God/Gay question.
And which side are you on?
Well, God, I used to be fiercely anti-Gay and homophobic and always condemned them as wrong, but I’m starting to wonder…
That’s a dangerous position to take, Mark.
Well yes, around Christians it certainly is.
Mark, you’ll be accused of deception and leading people astray if you don’t condemn Gays and Lesbians. You know what it says in the Bible and what all the popular preachers and authors say.
Well, actually I don’t know so much about what the Bible says anymore God.
Mark, that’s even more dangerous.
Yes I know, and God, I suspect that those Christian leaders who trumpet loudest against Gays, don’t actually know what the Bible says either.
Now you’re really getting yourself in trouble Mark, putting your finger on the ‘holy ones’.
Actually God, I’m past caring.
So are you on the Gay side, Mark?
I don’t know any more to tell you the truth. The way we Christians have condemned Gays and Lesbians, we’re bordering on hypocrisy, and it’s because we have overlooked what the scriptures are really saying. The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination but it also says a huge list of other stuff is an abomination too – stuff that most Christians do all the time.
For instance, stirring up strife between brothers is also called an abomination – that’s pretty much an official past time in a lot of Churches, let’s be honest. But the final straw God, was when I got told of a very unkind comment from a Christian uncle to his Gay nephew and I was like what the heck?!?!
I realised that although the uncle was convinced he knew what the Bible says, he actually doesn’t. He was just parroting popular Christian thinking, and doing a lot of harm to his family. Stirring up strife among brothers. And God, I’ve been wondering if most of the Christian bigwigs, the ones who love the lime light…
Ease up, Mark, you love the lime light too.
Ok true, God. Sorry. (Feeling embarrassed).
Not an issue, Mark, it’s the way I made you and them, carry on with your story.
Ok, those Christian bigwigs get a lot of stage time attacking Gays, but I’m wondering if they’ve done their homework. Their comments make it pretty obvious they haven’t really spent any time studying what Paul wrote to the Romans, Corinthians and Timothy, or what Jude and the old testament say about all this. They sound wise, but they’re just trotting out the standard interpretation which has some gaping holes.
Hang on, God, I’m on a roll here. I know it’s dangerous, but I want some straight up answers from you on all this.
That’s great, Mark. But it is dangerous.
Ok, well God, I wonder if they even know what the Greek says about Paul’s comments about homosexuality, or why the early church fathers were not in agreement with each other about what Paul meant. It’s not just the present day radicals as they call them, the early church fathers were questioning some of this.
Well God, I’d put money on it, I bet they’ve never studied it carefully enough, never asked you personally if the popular interpretation is really true before they get on their platforms and start condemning people.
Because if you poke and prod them they’ll poke and prod you.
I’m looking forward to it, God. Bring it on! I reckon a good scrap would do us all good. We’re so blimmen sanctimonious, us Christians. No wonder the rest of the world finds us so painful. We think our… well we think it doesn’t stink is all I’m saying.
A bit of public disagreement might bring us all, me included, down a notch. Do us good. There were important arguments in the early church, that suggest that modern Christianity might have it wrong about homosexuality.
What does the Bible say?
Well, it uses the word abomination, but there are big questions around what Paul was actually talking about. And I’m not sure that Christians realise that, or even want to know.
Mark, it’s not a problem unique to you Christians, it’s part of being human. Fear of being wrong drives all humans to block out arguments to the beliefs they hold dear. Some call it the ‘Ostrich Syndrome’.
Well God, right from the early church writers, there’s been disagreement about what Paul was talking about – did he mean homosexuality or did he mean the practise of temple prostitution, guys having sex with castrated priests. And that’s not the only question. In fact, almost none of the modern Bible scholars believe that Paul, even though he mentions women, was talking about Lesbians. It was definitely a male thing. So how does that fit??
There’s a lot of disagreement, God, a lot of wrestling over what it means, even among the real Bible scholars - but the rest of us never bother to question it. In truth, we have very little knowledge about what the Bible is really saying, and everyone knows a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Alright, but slow down, Mark. If you put aside all those disagreements and differences in translation, - even if you ignore that a significant number of the true scholars agree that what Paul wrote to Timothy about homosexuality, was some other writer, and not Paul at all…
See what I mean God! If we’re wrong about who wrote it, what else have we got wrong?? I mean we all think we know exactly what the bible says, but actually we don’t. Far from it.
But what about Sodom and Gomorrah Mark?
God that’s not even an argument. You said in Ezekiel that the real sin of Sodom was that she was ‘arrogant, overfed and unconcerned and did not help the poor and needy’ – sounds a lot like us selfish western Christians, me included to be honest.
Mark, slow down, all of that aside, what’s the other significant problem with what mainstream Christianity thinks I say about Gays?
Well, there are at least two gaping holes that anyone who knows even a wee bit of Bible can see… First up there’s the small matter…
Big matter, Mark.
Ok, big matter - when Paul talked about homosexuality, he also talked about adulterers and fornicators and liars in the very same verses. He doesn’t single homosexuals out as any different, he just lumps everyone in to the same boat.
Mark Gays and Lesbians would be understandably offended if you compared them with liars.
Well yes, but God, we all lie. Gay or straight, it doesn’t seem to matter. The Christian uncle who condemned his Gay nephew, I bet you he’s had problems with being truthful, we all have – well I have that’s for sure. But let’s put the liars like me aside, let’s just stick with us fornicators and adulterers - I think it’s time us Christians got real.
Research shows that between 70% and 80% of us Christian men look at pornography. You said if we lust in our hearts, we’ve committed adultery. When Paul talks about homosexuality being an abomination, he also says adultery is too.
What are you saying, Mark?
That 80% of us Christian men better think twice, look at the log in our own eye before we condemn someone who is Gay, because actually, as far as the Bible is concerned, we’re exactly the same in your eyes. We’re hypocrites if we condemn Gays. We need to condemn ourselves too.
We publically state that Gays and Lesbians are bad, going to hell, causing earthquakes and a whole bunch of other bull##&! We think we have scripture on our side, but the fact is, we’re so dumb we never bother to study it and find out what it all means.
And because the vast majority of Christians seldom hear you speak in full sentences or paragraphs, we only have a little bit of knowledge, which makes us dangerous, like a lynch mob. Us Christians aren’t allowed to burn or skin alive those we disagree with anymore, but we’re still very dangerous and damaging.
You can be fairly hypocritical yourself, Mark.
I know. I hate that! Us blimmen Christians have so buggered up the world with our hypocrisy and ‘Angry-God’ nonsense that no one knows what to think about you anymore.
No one, Mark?
Well, no one except kids, God. The younger the better. They seem to see past all the religious garbage and somehow know intuitively that you’re on their side and not cross at all. But us Christians portray you as a harsh judge. If we’re going to condemn Gays, I think we’d better first condemn ourselves.
No what, God??
No, I don’t want you condemning yourselves, or Gays and Lesbians, or anyone else. Why must you Christians always focus our relationship on right and wrong, salvation and condemnation? Is your relationship with your own children about those things? Can you just relate to them, or is it all about rules?
Don’t start me, God. I always thought you were a loving Father, that’s how I described you anyway, but I also thought you punished your one true Son in my place. It sounded good, sounded like love, but I never really properly thought it through. But God, it doesn’t really add up does it? Let’s be honest.
Explain what you mean, Mark.
Well God, let’s say one of our kids, when they were young, had done something wrong and I was planning to punish them, and Miriam, wanting to spare them the pain, offered that I punish her instead.
That’s pretty much the story, Mark.
So it’s the truth, God?
I didn’t say that. Let’s take this slowly. It’s the way you Christians have come to understand the story.
Ok well, if Miriam offered to take the punishment in our child’s place, that would show that the child was loved, definitely by Miriam, but…
But what, Mark.
But if I agreed to Miriam’s offer and punished her in my child’s place, it would show that I was so intent on punishment, that I needed a victim, someone to vent my anger on. A court of law would call me a tyrant for that sort of behaviour and they’d be right! I don’t think you’re a tyrant, God, so there must be something wrong with the way we understand the story. It makes you look amazingly loving Jesus, but Father, it doesn’t put you in a very good light at all.
Mark, there are people who can no longer read this, they are incensed that you would question what they believe. They believe that the cross is the truth, and that’s that!
But God, I think the cross is the truth too. It’s clearly central to everything…
Well what are you saying then, Mark?
God why does your voice sound like our own thoughts when we have a conversation with you?
God it makes it hard for people to have a conversation with you when your voice sounds a lot like their own thoughts. Why do you do that??
You already know the answers Mark.
You do. You’ve struggled with the same problem and demanded I explain it to you. Often. It’s a regular issue for you, just as it is for everyone else, so we’ve spoken of it often.
Ok true. But I thought you wanted to have a conversation about this, in writing, so others could read it and be helped by it.
Many will what?
Be helped by it. It’s conversation-with-God 101. Everyone needs to know it. My voice sounds like your own thoughts at first because it’s meant to. Like a car is meant to start when you turn the key.
Really God? It’s very satisfying when a car starts at the first turn of the key, but very frustrating when having a conversation with you and realising that your answers might not be your answers after all because they sound like my own thoughts.
Yes. But there’s a reason for that, an important God-designed reason that is even more satisfying once you understand it. It’s like solving a mystery Mark, because it is a mystery this talking back and forth with me. A mystery that was designed to intrigue you in a way that compels you to solve it. It’s not hard but it is.
Yes well let’s not get into that God. You say stuff like that with so much meaning…
Intrigue Mark. So much intrigue.
Ok you say stuff like that, “It’s hard, but it’s not”, with so much ‘intrigue’ behind it…
And meaning too Mark. I just wanted you to realise that I make statements like that, “It’s hard but it’s not”, because yes they contain deep meaning, but I also wanted you to see they are laced with intrigue to entice you to solve and understand them. I gave you a brain and I love it when you use it, in conversation with me, to solve life’s eternal, yet right-now mysteries.
Man God! I hope people can understand this. I can because I’m the one interpreting what you’re saying, but I’m not so sure anyone else will know what on earth you’re talking about.
Why are you able to understand it?
Because as I type the words I hear you speak, I’m also reading them as they hit the screen. And I recognise them, they’re my own words for what you’ve said. I’m the interpreter in this conversation, so I’m using my own way of speaking to interpret your voice.
Why do you use your own way of speaking when interpreting my voice?
Two reasons God. The first it’s the one I’m familiar with, every interpreter does that, if someone is interpreting a foreign speaker, no matter how much they try to interpret in a more universal language, their own ways of speaking come through.
Yes, what’s the other reason?
Well because I hate the silly ‘Christianese’ language that us Christians seem to have developed, it makes you sound distant and imperious and us pompous and just plain weird. And because I hate it I’m determined to interpret your voice in everyday language, the way I speak to anyone else. I can’t stand the horrible “Thus sayeth the Lords” and “The Lord would say unto this people”…
Why horrible Mark?
I don’t know God, it just makes my skin crawl. I suppose that’s not very spiritual of me to think like that, but it makes us Christians sound like a bunch of blimmen loonies – I mean what’s wrong with us, are we so removed from the real world that we have to speak this special language?? And frankly it makes you sound so distant too God.
Mark here’s the thing. Two things. I have made myself servant to you humans, it’s not a chore, I love it, I make myself a servant so that you can decide if you hear my voice and if you want to hear it; a servant so that you can dig up my voice and interpret it, or leave it sitting on the table.
Part of that dynamic, of allowing you to decide whether you’ll listen to my voice or not, of allowing you the right to interpret it rather than forcing you to listen to it; part of that is you get to interpret my voice in any language you want. So when you Christians decide to use your imperious prophetic sounding language – “The Lord would say unto you this day…” I allow that. I’m your servant. I submit my voice to your interpretation and if you want to speak it in your special Christian language then you can. It’s not my first choice, but I fit with it because it’s your choice.
That’s two things God, it sounded like about fifteen?!?
Actually it was just one. Here’s the second, I’ll fit with whatever language you want to interpret my voice in. I’m your servant remember. That’s a hard concept for you Christians to get your head around. But if you ask me what sort of language to interpret my voice in, then I’ll tell you to do it in the language of the people.
If you’re not sure about that then look at my life. My whole life from birth to death was lived in the language of the people. I was born, like so many, an illegitimate child. Actually in worse conditions than most. I died a death no more glamorous than anyone else’s, in fact worst that most. My very life was lived in ‘your language’. I got down to your level. And when I spoke to humans I spoke the way they spoke, not imperious, just the way they spoke.
If you speak in imperious Christianese you can still speak my words. That’s your choice, but you create distance between me and the people I am speaking to. You make me sound high and away and not like them – hard to fathom, impossible to get to know on a true friendship basis. But I am exactly like them. I’m a man. I made myself a man in order to prove my love for you.
And Mark before you point it out, this conversation hasn’t been about your original question – ‘why does my voice sound like your thoughts when we have a conversation?’
Well God in a funny sort of way I’m thinking it has.
Aaah, now you’re beginning to get good at this. Tell me why you think it has.
Well because you’re talking all about how in a conversation with you it’s us interpreting your voice.
And when we interpret your voice we do it in our own words.
And that means your words, as they arrive in our minds, because you speak to our thoughts, your words sound… well they sound like our thoughts?
When a man interprets a foreign speaker, he is familiar with that foreign language, but doesn’t speak it every day.
And so Mark?
Well it means his own words spoken in interpretation are clearer to him than the words the foreigner spoke. His own words are clearer because they are not only the interpretation, but they are his own words.
Hah! That’s what you’re saying isn’t it!! When I interpret your voice, your words sound like mine because having heard your words in my mind I’m articulating them into my own written words, or speaking them out loud in my own spoken words?!?
Yes. And there’s another important reason I speak in a way that sounds like your own voice.
So that you can become used to it, familiar with it, and not have to take any notice of it if you don’t want.
Don’t sound so surprised Mark, we’ve gone over this principle together many times.
Ok true, but it does still sound very unlike the God that Religion has taught us about.
Yes that god is not me Mark. That god is the one the bible calls “The accuser”. That god demands all kinds of obedience and servitude, in the name of love. That god punished his son in your place because he needed a victim for his anger at sin. That’s not love, that’s menace and domination Mark. It’s time you all saw through it. You want revival? Forget about it while you’re trying to foist an angry vindictive behaviour-focused God on the world. It won’t work with this generation, they know more about me than you do quite often. And they know that I’m not that angry grumpy god that Religion teaches you about.
Alright, so why do you want us to be able to be familiar with, used to, not have to take any notice of your voice?
You know that too Mark. You tell me.
Ok because it means we only respond to your voice if we want to. We don’t end up forced to have a conversation with you like we would if you spoke in a loud thundering audible voice. If you did that we’d all be flat on our faces. There’d be no point God.
Why would there be no point Mark? The god who accuses you says that if you are compelled to relationship, if you feel the pressure from him to pray and read your bibles and rid your lives of sin that you’ll be able to avoid hell and enter everlasting life. What is it that makes his lie so devastating? Why is there no point in being compelled to conversation with me?
Because you’re not trying to save us from hell, you’re trying to have a relationship with us. A friendship. You can’t have a relationship by force. That god, the god of religion is the god of force and domination. He wants us on our knees for hours pouring out our hearts, you want us having a conversation, a friendship, a back and forth conversation where we enjoy you, and you us. And if there’s anything that needs sorting out, fixing up, that’ll sort of just happen as part of the process – your Holy Spirit will help with that.
Quite right. Good conversation Mark. Well worthwhile.
The bible’s a funny book Mark.
Go away God! I don't find it amusing when you say things like that. The moment I let you open up on stuff like that it’s me that gets in the gun. In the old days they’d burn you at the stake for disagreeing with their perspective on the bible.
These days they blithely call you a heretic and start ranting to others that you’re deceived, evil blah blah blah. So go away please God I don’t want to know – “the bible’s a funny book”. I mean seriously!!
But I do want to talk about this.
God!! NO!!! I don’t want this discussion.
I just told you.
Actually Mark, shall I explain something?
Well alright, obviously you’re going to anyway. So be my guest.
I won’t if you don’t want Mark.
Oh whatever God. Go for it. Spill the beans.
If you’re sure.
Ok. This is from the one who sees the heart. I know the real reasons you do things.
But I’m always gentle about what I expose Mark. The real reason you don’t like me talking about things that challenge popular Christian teaching is not the controversy it causes. Be honest, you love controversy, anything for a reaction.
You could have fooled me God, the constant accusations that I’m a heretic and deceived wear me down.
Actually they don’t, they invigorate you, they bring the problem out in the open, expose the attitudes that Religion has slipped unnoticed into organised Christianity. Once seen you can attack and decimate them, you like that Mark. You’ve sworn an oath before me to destroy Religion, to make him cower. You know that. I know that.
Ok. Alright I admit it. So if that’s not the reason then tell me what is? Why don’t I like you dropping stuff like that on me? Because God one thing’s for sure, I don’t. I do not like it when you drop subjects on me like “The bible’s a funny book.” That just doesn’t sound like you God.
Exactly and there lies the problem. It’s not what others think, it’s what you think Mark. This whole idea, conversation like this with me, defies everything you’ve ever been taught about God, Jesus, Christianity, heaven and hell. It’s not everyone else’s religion that you’re worried about, it’s your own. You are still, after all these years and three books about it, still uncomfortable about this idea of talking back and forth with me.
Well God it’s so weird, you have to admit that! It’s not just the naysayers this sounds weird to, it sounds weird to me too!!
Alright good. Now you’re being honest. No it’s not weird at all Mark, just not taught. Not known. Unfamiliar. Like a toddler learning to walk. Something in that child tells them they were born for this, that walking is just the beginning of what they were born for – but something else screams “be careful you might fall.” When we speak like this your problem is you’re hearing the “be careful you might fall” voice.
So Mark shall we continue? I want to talk about the bible, it’s a funny book.
Do I have a choice?
Not really God. Not if I don’t want to upset you.
Mark I’m very difficult to upset. If your kids won’t talk about what you want to, how upset are you really?
Well sometimes, quite a lot. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but sometimes I get a bit shitty when they don’t want to talk about what I want to.
Exactly again Mark, but me, I’m not like that. I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I don’t get…
NO! Don’t say that word God. If I write that word as coming out of your mouth I’ll get excommunicated.
No you won’t. You’re not ‘communicated’ to anything anyway Mark, but you’d be surprised how hungry people are for the God that speaks like them, the God who’s not prissy, not a prude. The real God. Humans are screaming out for the real God, and religious people like you are putting them off.
Religious?? Man God that’s a bit blimmen hurtful.
Well Mark you are. The reason you don’t like me startling you with conversations about the bible being a funny book, or the racial strife between Pakeha and Maori, is that those subjects challenge your real perspective on me. You’re nailed hard to that god you think crucified his own son in your place. That god who’s focused on your sin, focused on getting you ‘pure’ to keep you out of hell.
Yes I knew you would crucify my son, but no I didn’t crucify him, didn’t need to punish someone. Yes I used the cross to defeat your enemy but not in the way you think I did. If you all listened to me instead of spending your lives telling me, you’d understand Mark.
Man God, you just stir this stuff up on purpose don’t you (smiling). If it was someone else you were talking to I’d laugh, think it funny, but somehow it’s not when you talk to me.
Yes it is. Very funny. You’re wanting to laugh right now. You love that I’m a God with a brain, a God who doesn’t buy Religion’s lies.
Ok fine. That’s what I love. Are you going to talk about why the bible’s a funny book or not??
I’ll take that as permission (smiling).
You said you were smiling?
Of course. You’re created in my image. You smile, which means I do too.
Ok, carry on God.
Mark the bible’s a funny book.
Alright I’ll humour you God, why is the bible a funny book?
Because it’s true, yet what so many people think it says is a lie. Because it’s not a riddle, the truth is there in plain sight, but it’s presented as though it was a riddle. Some things are not fully stated, others are stated in one way, and then later in the opposite.
Alright, ok God. Give me some examples. But before you do, you know this is a problem right? People think the bible is sacred, almost as though they think the pages themselves are somehow holy or something, so writing down these words of yours will have them up in arms.
As we’ve already discussed Mark, that’s not your problem so drop it. Your problem is that you yourself are incredulous that I’d say such a thing about the bible. It challenges your thinking.
Alright true God.
And Mark that’s the devil’s trick. He makes you think of the bible as some sacred document, a book to be careful of, a book to tread gently around, a book that can be offended in some mystic way. He lies. The bible is a bunch of stories about people and the way they spoke to me and I spoke back. Me. God. Not some lofty God, but me. Jesus. I’m the one who turned up the illegitimate child of a girl from Nazereth, the wrong side of the tracks. I’m not prissy, not precious, I invented the birth process, the bloody mess that leads to life. I’m a realist Mark. I have to be, I invented reality.
Your point God?
That the bible, if it really is documented history about humans and me, and it is, then it’s not to be treated religiously or carefully. It’s a book to be challenged and dug into.
Really. If I invite you to challenge me personally…
Isaiah 1:18: “Come let us reason together [‘yakach’: to decide, adjudge, prove, reprove]
If I invite you to reprove me, while I do the same to you, then obviously, without question I’m inviting you to do the same to the book that includes human’s words to me and mine back to them.
God that’s not how the bigwigs like to think of the bible. They don’t call it “human’s words to you and yours back to them.” They say in hallowed tones that it’s ‘your word’. Obviously saying it that way makes them sound important to themselves.
Mark they’re not alone. You like to sound important to yourself too.
Smiling. Ok true God. Point taken.
Mark the bible is not ‘my word’, it contains some of my words. Comparatively very few given that the heavens pour forth speech. I speak more words in a single day, every day Mark, than those recorded in the bible.
Oh no. You didn’t just say that God!!
I did Mark. Get over yourself. The bible isn’t ‘my word’, it’s some of my words along with a lot of human history. My ‘word’ is Jesus. My ‘words’ are the words that proceed from my mouth. Some of which are recorded in the bible, most of which are not.
Oh dear dear dear dear dear!
Yes. The problem is serious.
That’s not what I meant God!! You know that.
Yes. Just being clever Mark. Shall we continue?
You’re going to anyway, so yes let me have it, both barrels.
Ok Mark here’s the point. This conversation is just the introduction. The bible is a funny book. What you think it means it doesn’t. You think it’s incredibly important for religious reasons. You’re wrong. It’s important, actually far more important than any of you realises, but for reasons you don’t even understand. The bible contains truths, just inside the door of the book, that none of you ever get to. You’re too busy dissecting the passages in the door way of the book to get any further.
Whatever happened to the idea that listening to me led you to things you’d never heard before Mark? You’re all so busy trying to hear, and hear again all the things you already know. And yet you don’t know those things at all. Ask your friends who’ve given their lives to studying the bible, people like Mark Virkler, or Charity, or Baxter Kruger, Mark Keown, Bryden Black or Geoff Woodcock, they’ll tell you that the more one learns about the bible, the more one learns that you know almost nothing.
Even those popular passages, the ones you’re all fixated on, are largely misunderstood by almost all of Christendom. Including you. Especially including you.
You said that last bit God. Especially including me?
Of course. When you decide like you have to spend your life listening to me you quickly discover that actually you know nothing. Or like your great buddy Geoff Hill says, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.
Ok. As usual God, you start out talking about something simple – “the bible’s a funny book”, and suddenly we’re all over the blimmen planet of truth.
Stick with me Mark we’re going somewhere. The bible’s a funny book - it’s not about what you all think it’s about.
Oh lovely God.
Mark steady on… remember “Call to me and I will show you things you know nothing about.”
Ok, so explain why it’s a funny book God.
Two very simple examples Mark. We’ve talked about them both before but in a different context. But I’ll stick with them to make this easy for you. First is the Abraham story. People, well-meaning people, make the ridiculous assumption that the number of times I spoke to Abraham in the bible is the total number of times I spoke to Abraham. Honestly? You Christians need to recognise the bible is a brainy book and can’t be understood unless you use your brains when you read it. What have I told you about that topic Mark?
That the times you spoke to Abraham recorded in the bible, are simply the ones recorded in the bible?
Yes. That’s my point. You Christians make ridiculous assumptions about the bible, you included. You read something and you decide what it means and then deify what you think. You forget to ask me, you don’t know how because you think I’m confined to having to speak through scripture. Of course I speak through scripture. But Mark, sorry to offend you, I speak through Beatles songs and Harry Potter Novels too. I’ll speak through whatever I have to, I’m not precious remember.
What about you Mark? Can you only talk to your kids by txt, or are you happy to phone them, skype them and even just sit and talk with them?
Mark my second point, another bible story, is this. The bible makes it clear that arch angels, when speaking to the devil, in one situation at least, rather than rebuke him direct, called on me to rebuke him.
And yet in another passage the bible makes it clear that archangels wrestle with the prince of darkness themselves, with no mention of deferring the battle to me.
It’s a funny book Mark. It says one thing, and then another. You can’t build a doctrine on a passage. Why am I telling you this?
Because we need to listen to you speak direct to our spirits to explain what the bible does and doesn’t mean.
Exactly. How long before I can speak with you like friends, and not my religious servants? I spilled a lot of blood for the right Mark, as did the prophets. Will this be the generation that learns at last to hear me speak direct?
(The importance of getting it right when you ask the tough questions.)
God I’ve got a difficult subject to discuss with you. People aren’t going to like it.
Welcome to the club. Anyone who tries to hear my voice, I mean hear it so clearly they could run their lives by it – they get in trouble.
Because hearing me that clearly threatens those who don’t.
God even that will get people’s backs up, make them think I’m saying that about myself.
Mark anyone can hear me as clearly as you, clearer if they want. It’s up to them. You’re nothing special in that regard. The other problem with listening to me is that I will tell you things no one’s ever heard before, and before you get too excited, that’s in the bible. I said it to Jeremiah – ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and mighty things that you don’t know anything about.’
That will worry people too God. Actually it will reeaally worry them. Us Christians like to stick with what we already know, we don’t like you saying stuff that doesn’t fit with what we already know.
Yes that’s what you Christians are like. But of course that’s not what the bible teaches. Read Paul’s letters and you’ll see that the things he heard from me were new to him. Although a great authority on scripture, I kept telling him things he knew nothing about.
Ok well I have a subject I need to ask you about God. Christians won’t like it, it’s tabu, they’ll think it’s not something one should ever ask you.
Mark every subject is one that you should ask me. The bible calls me ‘Mighty Counsellor’. So ask your question.
You already know what I’m going to ask God.
Yes, but I still ask Mark, it shows respect, starts a conversation. Remember what I said to Elijah when he ran from Jezebel; “What are you doing here Elijah?” I knew exactly what he was doing there, but I wanted to talk to him at his level.
God can you stop changing the subject, it’s as though you don’t want to discuss this.
Of course I do, but there’s time Mark. I love these conversations. I like poking subjects in the gaps when you take a breath, but fire away, ask your question.
(Smiling to myself) Man, I gotta like you God. OK here’s my question: I heard about a lady who came to hear Miriam and I teach at a church, we taught them how to have a conversation with you, and when she tried hers she thought she heard you say to leave her husband. So she did.
What’s the problem Mark?
GOD!!! You know what the problem is.
Yes of course, it’s a big problem, but I want to see if you know.
Well it’s huge God, I’m guessing her husband’s life has been completely destroyed, he’s probably even considered suicide, and I don’t know if there are any kids, but they’ll be scarred forever too.
God the wife will probably say the kids are happier now there’s no strife in the home, but that’s a cop out, any counsellor can tell you that. Everyone suffers huge damage in a marriage split. And then of course the Christians will say there is no way that you would ever tell someone to leave their husband. It’ll be a big mess. Although I imagine the wife is very happy, she’s out of a hurtful situation and probably telling herself you said she could.
And what do you say Mark?
Well I think it would be rare for you do so, that’s just me. The situation would have to be pretty terrible I think, but I’ve learned it’s dangerous to say “God would never say”…
I learned that years ago when a Pastor’s advisor told me I didn’t hear from God.
What happened to you is common Mark. Write it down. I want it recognised for what it is. It cripples you Christians. You live by rules and assumptions and forget to ask me.
Ok well our church had a big conference and the pastor urged us all to attend. So I planned to go, and as the conference approached I asked you if I should, and you said I should attend the first meeting…
Yes I did.
Ok good, but you said I should spend the rest of that weekend doing other things.
Ok well the pastor’s advisor said that proved I didn’t hear from God. He said the pastor is God’s voice to the church – so if the Pastor says go to conference, then that’s what God is saying, no questions asked.
Yes exactly what God??
Yes you were right to be horrified at such a comment.
Ok so God this lady thought you said to leave her husband – did you…actually no I don’t want to know!
Good. That’s not your place to ask, it’s her place to challenge me, to demand again and again to know whether she heard me right. And the longer she leaves it to do that, the more damage she will do.
But will she want to God?
That’s not your business either Mark. That’s between her and me too.
But God I feel like I need to explain a bit to people about how to hear you on tricky subjects like this. The potential to get it wrong is high if they’re in a marriage that’s hurting them and they feel they can’t go on.
It’s not your place to explain Mark, it’s mine.
Ok, well are you going to??
Here? Like right now??
Right now. Here’s how it works Mark. All those subjects – a woman who’s under pressure to abort her baby, a man who feels unloved by his wife and wants out, a teenager who wants to leave home, an old person who sees no hope and wants to end it all, a woman who thinks she’s gay and thinks I hate her.
No matter how difficult your situation, you can talk to me about it without fear of reprimand, or accusation. Don’t come to me and apologise, come and tell me how you feel. ‘No condemnation to those in Christ Jesus’ does NOT require sinless behaviour. If you’re in me, you’re in me, no matter what you just did or are planning to do. I talked to Cain before and after what he did.
So we just do whatever we like and you don’t mind??
Of course not Mark. I worry for you when you do things that harm you.
Will all those things you just listed harm a person?
Not all of them will harm, but all of them can.
God you’re supposed to be mad as hell about sin and operating a no-tolerance policy toward it. I’m at the top of the cult watch site in NZ because they say Miriam and I are heretics. Their blood boils when they hear the way you seem lenient when you talk to me.
What sort of God would I be if I couldn’t talk to people about those things? What sort of father would I be if I didn’t crouch down at their level, look them in the eye and ask how they were feeling - not tell them off, just put my arm around them and ask how they were feeling?
You Christians won’t let me be like that, you want me to be mad. Some of you even think I’ll send someone to hell if they take their own life. But if one of your kids were in any of those situations, you’d just want to sit with them. Maybe cry with them, maybe offer suggestions.
I wouldn’t be critical??
Not of your own kids no.
But I am of others God. Let’s be honest.
Yes. But with me there are no ‘others’ Mark. Everyone is my kid. So when they are in those situations I’m not that God you all want me to be. I’m not the judge. I’m the servant God.
So God are you saying if a person feels like you say to leave their partner, they should do it?
What then God?
If a woman thinks I’m saying to leave her husband she can just leave - or she can do something else.
What’s that God?
She can challenge me on it. Ask and ask. Like you teach people to do. It’s what the bible says in Matthew 7:7. She needs to test the spirits – what she’s hearing is either my Spirit or the enemy’s and she needs to test that – vigorously. She needs to have the wisdom to realise that the stakes are so high, the potential damage so vicious, that it’s critical she spend the time required to get this right.
She doesn’t have to. She can just fly the coup the moment she thinks I say to do so, or she can test the spirits. Ask, ask and ask again. It depends how serious she is about hearing my voice. Does she want to hear my voice, or is she just looking for an out and ready to jump the moment she thinks she has one?
But what do most do Mark?
Well the moment you say ‘they can’, they run with that. That’s all they wanted from you, permission. They don’t really want to know what you think.
So why would I say ‘they can’?
Because they can, Moses made that clear. And you never force your will on them. So they can, and you’ll tell them that if they ask, but that doesn’t mean you want them to. What you want is a conversation. You want them to ask. You want them to say “Yes, but shall I God?”
What did you do when Miriam left and you thought I said she’d be back?
I asked again and again to make sure.
About twice an hour. Sorry but I did.
No sorries Mark, I loved it. You know that already.
Ok so that’s about 32 times a day God. And I did it for five years before she came back, which is 58,400 times. It was a serious situation God, I wanted to be sure I’d heard you, it would hurt too many people if I got it wrong.
I wrote down the question and wrote back your answer in faith every time, and I could never get you to say anything else but that she would come back. It was driving me mad.
What else did I say?
That our separation was my doing and that I needed a whole lot of time to change and Miriam needed a whole bunch of time to heal from the damage I had done to her.
Mark the woman who thinks I say to leave, and the husband whose life is destroyed when she does, both need to hear this conversation you’re having with me. In a situation like this everyone is to blame. They both need to accept that.
Ok well the other thing you told me was that Miriam would come back, but that you weren’t going to make her.
How did you know for sure I had said those things Mark?
Well at first I wasn’t sure.
So how did you get sure?
I asked. Again and again and again. And then all over again. Eventually I realised that either I was totally deceived or you really had said that.
How long did that take?
Maybe the first three years God, of asking at least 32 times a day, probably more. And also, because the subject was such a biggie, I showed my conversations with you to others and asked their opinion. I wanted to hear you clearly on the subject.
So God are you saying that someone who thinks you’re saying to leave their husband or wife should ask you 36 times a day for three years?
No. I’m saying they should ask me until they could look me in the eye and say they are confident I am saying to do it, even with the damage their choice will do.
There aren’t any rules Mark. But if you wanted to make a rule for yourself it would be listen to me. If you want to live your life listening to me you’d better be prepared to ask and ask and ask until you know what I’ve said. Otherwise you should just get on with normal Christianity and only hear me from time to time in nudges and impressions.
My marriage came crashing down and me with it. The devastation began sinking in and me with it. Nothing I knew was the same anymore. It was horrible and I was terrified. I threw my pride to the wind and screamed (literally) to God.