When a Christian discovers that my current interpretations of Scripture aren’t the same as the interpretations they hold to, on most occasions they feel compelled to tell me I’m wrong and that I need to stop interpreting Scripture that way. The problem is, nearly every Christian who has condemned my beliefs will try to convince me I’m wrong without ever even trying to find out not only the details of what it is I actually believe Scripture teaches (leading most of them to jump to conclusions and assume that I believe things I don’t actually believe at all, demonstrating just how little they even know about the very subject they’re claiming I’m wrong about to begin with), but why I believe Scripture means what I believe it does as well (and yet somehow believing that their displays of ignorance about the subject are supposed to convince me that they’re right and I’m wrong). They appear to think that, simply because they’re telling me my interpretations are incorrect (even though the majority of the time they don’t know what my interpretations even really are, much less the basis for them), I should just take their word for it and start believing as they do for no reason other than the fact that they’re telling me I should. My decades of intense study of the Scriptures are meaningless to them, because they can’t imagine the possibility that their religious leaders could ever misinterpret Scripture, and so there’s just no way their religious leaders’ teachings that they’re parroting to me could possibly ever be wrong. Regardless of how I came to the theological conclusions I have, in their minds, there’s no chance that I could be correct, simply because my beliefs no longer line up with what they’ve been taught to believe.
That said, how it is that they appear to think I came to the conclusions I’ve come to is interesting. Based on things Christians have said to me over the last couple decades, it really seems that most, if not all, of them assume I decided to just believe random “heretical” things one day, and then tried to find Bible verses to back up my beliefs, and when I presumably couldn’t find any passages that actually taught the “errors” I now believe (as they must assume to be the case), I had to have then picked random Bible verses and misinterpreted them into meaning what I wanted them to mean, at least in my deceived mind. Many also seem to assume that I don’t believe the whole Bible, but that I actually reject parts that I don’t like. What they don’t appear to realize is that, A) I believe every word in Scripture, and B) while I actually grew up believing very strongly in most of the doctrines they hold to (depending on their denomination, of course), I’d been challenged by different people at various points in my life to consider whether the doctrines my religious leaders had told me are true actually lined up with what Scripture taught or not, and that my response to these challenges are the real reason I now interpret Scripture the way I do.
The truth is, there was never a case where I first chose a new doctrine to believe on my own, and then went looking for scriptural backing to support it. In literally every single instance that my doctrinal beliefs changed, the reason I began considering the accuracy of specific doctrines in the first place was because I was challenged by someone else to consider the possibility that I might be wrong about something I still believed to be true. And while I did dig into Scripture with an open mind, accepting that I could theoretically be wrong about something, I never once went into a study beginning with the assumption that the doctrines I’d grown up with, and still held to at the time I began digging to confirm whether they were true or not, were incorrect. Neither was I looking for “an excuse to sin,” as some Christians like to accuse me of. The only ”sin” I was guilty of here was not simply accepting that my religious leaders couldn’t possibly be wrong, and going ahead in searching the Scriptures for myself to confirm that I’d been taught the truth.
Because of these facts I can honestly say that, even if the conclusion I’ve come to is incorrect (and if all the scriptural interpretations I now hold to are mistaken), my conclusion that nearly everything I learned at church was wrong is 100% based on a deep analysis of — and respect for — the Word of God rather than on me simply trying to find reasons to reject what I’d been taught (because not only was I really not looking for any reason to reject what I’d been taught, I even fought hard against changing my mind on certain things, at least until I ran out of arguments to support the doctrines I grew up with). This is why, when Christians accuse me of trying to cherry-pick Scripture, or of deciding to make up my own doctrines and then reading them back into Scripture, I can say with 100% sincerity that their accusations hold absolutely zero water. (And also that I’m actually not the one who is guilty of doing the cherry-picking or eisegesis, since the theological perspective I now hold to is far more coherent and internally consistent with Scripture as a whole than anything I’d previously been taught to believe by my religious leaders ever was.)
Which brings me to my challenge to any Christians who are reading this. You presumably want me to change my mind and go back to believing most (if not all) of the doctrines I’ve since rejected as unscriptural. Well, in order to convince me to do so, based on the fact that I came to believe every doctrine I hold to now through serious study of the Scriptures, you’re going to have to show me exactly where it is you believe I went wrong in my exegesis. Now, I’ve made this very easy for you (even if it might be a little time consuming). You see, as of the time I wrote this, I’ve published over 14 years worth of articles on this website (including a comprehensive study that covers most of my doctrines, which I’ve also made available in this article), all of which go into immense detail on the reasons I interpret Scripture the way I now do. And so, if you ever want to convince me that I’ve misinterpreted Scripture, all you have to do (and this is something you will have to do if you do want to convince me I’m wrong) is review my writings throughout this site, and spell out exactly where I did go wrong when it comes to each argument I make.
That might seem like a lot, but considering the fact that I’ve spent over two decades studying these matters in depth so far, and recording the reasons I’ve come to believe what I now do in those articles, it should be obvious that it’s going to take some serious study on your part, as well as some extremely strong arguments, to convince me of why you think I’m wrong. If you believe just quoting various Bible verses to me which you think contradict what I now believe — as if I’m not already familiar with them and don’t already agree with what those passages actually mean, not to mention as if I haven’t spent far more time studying each of those passages than you likely have, in order to confirm whether the doctrines I now believe are correct or not (and that’s not me bragging; that’s just a statement of fact) — or just telling me I’m wrong without explaining exactly how I’ve erred, is something that will convince me, well, you’re going to need to rethink a few things about how it is you’ve concluded that one is supposed to convince someone else to change their mind about something they believe. Of course, if you don’t actually care about saving me from the error of my ways, that’s between you and God. But since I am firmly convinced that what I now believe is what Scripture actually teaches, you will have to actually take the time to do the work if you’re ever going to convince me to return to believing doctrines that I’m now 100% certain are entirely unscriptural. But, at the end of the day, you get to decide how you proceed (from a relative perspective, anyway; from an absolute perspective, of course, God will decide).
That said, I already know what’s likely to happen when it comes to the Christians who read this challenge. As far as most of them are concerned, I’ve just written far too much on this website, and most Christians won’t want to take the time to go through it all, or more likely just don’t actually care enough about making sure I see the error of my ways to bother.
For another group of Christians who may have the time, they might actually accept the challenge (perhaps even publicly, as some have done in the past) and start reading some of it, but shortly thereafter they’ll either claim that the Holy Spirit told them not to continue and they’ll cease reading anything I wrote, or they’ll just silently stop without ever saying another word to me (both of these scenarios have occurred multiple times now; apparently the Holy Spirit really doesn’t want people to read my writings, if some Christians are to be believed). These are the Christians who realize too late (sometimes even after publicly promising that they’ll refute my interpretations) that they can’t actually argue against what I’ve written, but they really want to continue believing what they’ve been taught by their religious leaders, so they’re forced to stop reading rather than risk coming to believe these heresies themselves.
There’s also a third group of Christians who will take the time to skim through a few of the articles on my website. However, partly because they don’t take the time to actually do anything more than give my writings a cursory glance, although even more so because of spiritual blindness (“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”), they remain unconvinced that I could possibly be right, and they simply continue to tell me I’m wrong (although few ever attempt to show me where I went wrong, of course, because they haven’t studied enough to be able to fully learn what it is I actually believe, much less why I believe it; and the few who do try to correct me simply end up tearing down straw-men rather than my actual arguments, because they still aren’t familiar with enough of my theology to be able to do so, due to only giving a few of my explanations a quick once-over).
However, there’s a fourth group of Christians who sometimes take up my challenge to consider my arguments, and they’re the ones who later report back to me that they couldn’t find anything wrong with most of what I’ve written (I say “most of” because there are cases where they might have disagreed on certain details, and sometimes even convinced me to change my mind on certain things, leading me to have to update some of the things I’ve written), and that they’ve ended up believing Paul’s Gospel and getting saved, and have now joined the body of Christ. And if that’s you, welcome to the family.
And so, if you are a Christian who disagrees with my theology and has made it to the end of this article, which of those four categories are you going to fall into? Because, at least based on what’s happened thus far, it will be one of those four (nobody has demonstrated any other options, anyway, but perhaps you’ll be the first). If it turns out you’re one of the Christians in the first three groups, though, don’t worry, you’ll still experience salvation yourselves one day, even if not as soon as the Christians in the fourth group (and the rest of us in the body of Christ) will. But if you are able to find the time and will to “study to shew thyself approved,” you might just find yourself in the (actual) body of Christ someday as well (which includes additional wonderful benefits on top of salvation). And I pray that you do.