Ask Your Preacher
Does the Bible condemn alchemy?
Alchemy is defined by most encyclopedias as a mixture between science and religion. The science part of alchemy involves working with various metals and other inorganic substances in order to create new substances (like turning copper to gold) – this has absolutely nothing to do with religion and is often referred to as ‘practical alchemy’… which is a tad ironic because there isn’t anything practical about trying to turn copper to gold!
However, alchemy also involved a philosophical and religious desire to find a way to cheat death and create an elixir that would allow you to live forever. Several of the early alchemists are recorded as viewing alchemy as a spiritual discipline. This aspect of alchemy is immoral – and there is a decent argument that the two sides (practical and spiritual alchemy) are inextricably tied together. The Bible says that there is only one true path to eternal life – Jesus Christ (Jhn 14:6). Anything else is of the devil.
I work with a co-worker who claims to be an atheist. There are a myriad of apologetic books that speak to these types of people and their claims. However, I would like to seek your insights on how to best reason with this person. In the process of talking with him, he has actually asked me to share Scriptures of encouragement that he could share with his girlfriend. I have bought him his first Bible, Bible Dictionary, and a pamphlet on how to study the Bible, which he was moved by and gladly received. I also offered to study with him, but he has not yet accepted my offer. Still, he needs to be convinced that God is real and that we did not get here by accident. Is there a simple format or practical approach I can use?
Ironically, one of the best places to start with an atheist is to discuss their faith. The relationship you mentioned sounds like it is a “talk when we can” sort of situation, and so it can be hard to cover anything in a systematic, step-by-step way. Lord willing, you will eventually be able to have a sit-down class with this individual, but until then, you are really just trying to get him thinking about how important this issue is.
In the past, we have talked with our atheist friends about their faith, and it can really jar their eyes open. Most atheists believe they don’t have faith, but this simply isn’t true. An atheist cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God any more than you or I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is. At some point, both the atheist and the theist have faith. Faith is an inevitable element of life. Anytime you trust something you can’t see, it is an act of faith (Heb 11:1). When we take an aspirin, we have faith that it isn’t laced with arsenic. When we drive, we have faith that the traffic light is telling the other lanes to stop when it tells us to go. We visit restaurants because we have faith in the recommendation our friend gave us, and we buy houses based on our faith in the home inspector’s report. Everyone lives by faith – this is an important aspect of life. If your atheist friend had no faith, he couldn’t function in life.
This is a great place to start because when an atheist realizes that they already live by faith, you can begin to discuss the fact that faith is based off of evidence. We believe in God because we have been given enough evidence that we can reasonably believe in His existence. Read “Is God Real?” for a basic list of evidences. When an atheist begins to view their life as a life of faith, it changes the discussion from “science vs. religion” to “which faith do I choose?”. In our humble opinion, this is a good, practical place to start.
My question is how do we know God personally, and what is it like to know Him personally?
Seeking To Understand
Dear Seeking To Understand,
We know God through the Bible. The Bible tells us about God, and it tells us about His Son. The Word of God is so close an embodiment of God’s ideals that Jesus was called ‘the Word’ (Jhn 1:1-4). It is through the Word that we learn to trust God and place our faith in Him (Rom 10:17). When we read Jesus’ Word, we see the mind of the Father and the Son (Jhn 12:49-50).
Is it a sin for a christian to marry a Muslim?
Dear Inter-Faith Marriage,
‘Inter-faith’ marriages have disastrous results, an awful track record, and God warns against them. The Bible’s most notorious example of this is Solomon. Solomon’s idolatrous wives turned the heart of the wisest man on the planet away from God (1 Kgs 11:4). If Solomon in all of his wisdom couldn’t resist the pull of a false religion, we should consider ourselves just as vulnerable. There is too much at stake. If your heart is turned away from God, your soul will be eternally destroyed (Heb 3:12).
No matter how much they love each other, there are only four possible outcomes for an inter-faith marriage, and only one of them is good:
- The Muslim eventually converts and obeys the gospel, becomes a christian, and is saved (GOOD).
- The christian eventually converts and becomes a Muslim, and they are both lost (BAD).
- They both make compromises in their beliefs, and the christian no longer fully serve the Lord (BAD).
- They both eventually renounce both of their belief systems, and are both lost (BAD).
The only positive outcome is the first one, and that isn’t any more likely to happen after you are married than before. Either the Muslim will eventually convert, or they won’t – getting married won’t increase the odds.
God warns against being ‘unequally yoked’ to someone with different values than you (2 Cor 6:14-16). Once you get married, you are ‘yoked’ to that person with a lifetime agreement. A godly marriage is designed around unity (Gen 2:24). If you aren’t unified on your core belief system, then everything else will be affected. Where will your children go to church/mosque? How much money will you contribute to Islam vs. God’s church? What happens when the Muslim wants to put up Koran writings around the house? These are just a few of the thousands of day-to-day problems you would run into. God tells us that a christian should marry someone ‘in the Lord’ (1 Cor 7:39).
My question pertains to one omitted book of the Bible, in particular, the book of Enoch. I have learned that certain religions have omitted certain books, mainly the Gnostic gospels. I have found adequate reasons for these New Testament scriptures to be omitted in certain cultures, but what about the book of Enoch? I have recently purchased a book containing the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it includes the book of Enoch! I was SOOO excited because I had previously purchased a single copy of this book, but couldn't find any evidence of it containing any truth. The Dead Sea Scrolls and my purchased book of Enoch are in correlation. Also, in the book of Jude 1:6, there are references made to the fallen angels which are made known in the book of Enoch! What is this mystery all about? Did they omit it because people were somehow calling upon fallen angels (or their offspring) by name (demonic worship)? Is this book valid?
Dear Connecting Dots,
There are many writings that were included with the Dead Sea Scrolls that have non-biblical origins. There are non-biblical writings that include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and wisdom writings. Just because the book of Enoch was included in the Dead Sea Scrolls doesn't mean that it ought to be included in the Bible.
The question of what books to include in the Bible and what books to exclude as false is a major issue – and it is an issue that the early christians had to face. Twenty-seven books are included in the New Testament canon (the word ‘canon’, when applied to Scripture, means ‘the officially accepted list of books’), and each one of these books is documented by early christians as being a divinely-inspired piece of literature. In other words, the early christians believed that God wrote it.
The key to understanding why some books are included in the Bible and other books (even books from the same time period) are excluded is to remember that the Bible claims to be God’s Book (2 Pet 1:19-21). The early christians (or Jews in the case of the Old Testament) lived during the time when these books were being written, and they were fully aware of who was doing the writing. Today, we can’t tell which religious documents were written by apostles and which documents were written by heretics… but the early christians certainly could! If someone claimed that a letter was written by the apostle Paul, all they had to do to verify the authenticity of the letter was to ask Paul for themselves. The early christians were in the best position to differentiate between authentic apostolic writings and manmade documents. This is exactly why the early church quickly adopted the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, and they have been almost universally accepted as the only New Testament books ever since. Numerous historical documents verify that the New Testament canon that we use today was accepted, read, collected, distributed, and used by the early christians from very early on. People who seek to say that they have “found” some new Bible books that have been missing from the canon have to prove that their books were accepted by christians (or Jews if discussing Old Testament canon) from the beginning – no one has been able to do that.