I don’t know about “was”; people don’t change, really; and God’s word is a Rock, unmovable, unshakable. Times, circumstances, and cultures, however, do change. One of the great things about the Christian faith is that it transcends all of those things, and even penetrates them. The reality is that the more comfortable a people’s existence, the more difficult it is to remain true to the ideals of the faith. The Christians of the early church were united by a very strong, common bond: the threat of persecution and death. Up until the 1800s, virtually every Christian community on earth lived and worshiped under some kind of authoritarian rule, quite often lives that were in direct conflict with their leaders. The founder of the faith suffered the ultimate penalty for what he taught; such was the norm for the next 1800 years or so, and still is in much of the world. When your pastor or deacon is being beaten to death or your family is about to be burned alive, everlasting love may be the only thing that sees you through.

The church in the west hasn’t the “luxury” of persecution; thus, our comfort has become paramount, not the spreading of the gospel, not living lives worthy to be called “Christian.” We are often at each others’ throats for trivial matters, issues that will have no lasting value beyond the grave…or even the next election cycle. I recently read a newsletter by a minister friend in which he describes a fellow pastor who told his congregation, “Virginity is not the gospel.” A man in the congregation immediately stood and directed his family to leave, “That’s it,” he said, “We’ve had enough.” The pastor’s point was that we tend to focus on peripheral things, things that may be important*, but not Gospel, to the exclusion of the more important ones. Jesus made this point in his denunciations of the Pharisees, among which was the one where he criticized them for emphasizing tithing at the expense of the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness. “You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former,” he told them. The pastor was right; keeping one’s self sexually pure is important, but it is not the gospel. Guess what? Patriotism isn’t the gospel, either.

Our church experiences today are divided by class, economics, race (less now than in the past, thanks be to God!), politics, even age. I have been to secular events, like rock concerts, where young people thought it was “cool” that an “old dude” like me would be in attendance. Talk my ears off! At a church gathering, though, like a college cook out, I’m a “creepy old guy,” avoided like the plague. Every age group in most churches is partitioned off into their own compartments, and they dare not “mix.”

All that said, the church has always had to deal with divisions, gossip, infighting, backbiting, etc. Jesus warned of this from the beginning (parable of the wheat and the tares) and Paul spent more than a little time addressing it. What is the standard, though? What is the requirement when it comes to love to which Christians are supposed to aspire? Well, Read 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

It is not just hard to live up to this standard, it is impossible, which is why, of all the Christian virtues, humility should be the one that sets us apart most  noticeably. WE cannot do it, but Christ can, through us: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

* I believe and counsel virginity, chastity, celibacy if a Christian is not married, but I am not against providing kids with potentially life saving options if they, to me foolishly, choose sexual activity. Anthony Bourdain, who committed suicide June 9, 2018, once said, “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” He ended his amusement ride, and he was wrong, at least in the case of Christians. Our bodies ARE temples, and they are not ours to do with whatever we want. Still, if kids choose to act foolishly, immorally, they should still be protested from any avoidable consequences.

Often; less now than in my younger years. I also see times in my past more clearly, times when I felt I was upholding the truths of the gospel, but in fact, I was denying them, hindering them. I wanted prayers of “accepting Jesus” from “converts” rather than genuine repentance. I often played the “Jesus didn’t really mean______” game, with his teachings on wealth, violence, self-defense, poverty, denying oneself, just like the Serpent in the Garden to Eve. “Did God really say…..?” I see now how wrong I was, how Jesus never said a word he didn’t mean, exactly the way he said it. He didn’t die so we wouldn’t have to; he died to show us how it’s done. What he wants…is repentance.

In my 58 years, I have allowed my eyes to see and hands to do things that I am terribly ashamed of, that still rear their foul heads and condemn me, snap at me, gnash their teeth at my mind, my soul, my emotions. I have hurt people in ways subtle and obvious, and while I never “denied God” outright, I lived for years a hedonistic life of practical godlessness. I have caused great sorrow. But I can humbly pray…

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do: and I ask…you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

HOWEVER, whether anyone else forgives me or respects my conversion, I am, and shall forever be, so very grateful for a God, my Lord Jesus Christ, who, by his Holy Spirit, has forgiven me completely and brought me, welcomed me, like Peter, back.Image result for prodigal son

The Prodigal Son. Painting by Geliy Korzhev

Rather than engage in any argument over the use of the words Hell, Sheol, Hades, etc., or termes like “eternal torment”, let’s just address the question:

First, the Christians. Yes, several of the early 1st-2nd century Christians (which appellation, according to Acts, was first applied to the disciples around 37–40 CE) taught an “afterlife” both for the wicked and the righteous:

From “The Epistle of Barnabas” (70-130AD)
The author of the Epistle of Barnabas is unknown, but many consider him to simply be who he said he was, Barnabas, the associate of Paul who is mentioned in the Book of Acts. The letter was written to new converts to Christianity:

The way of darkness is crooked, and it is full of cursing. It is the way of eternal death with punishment. (“Epistle of Barnabas”)

From Ignatius of Antioch (110AD)
Ignatius was a student of the Apostle John, and succeeded the Apostle Peter as the Bishop of Antioch. He wrote a number of important letters to believers in churches in the area:

Corrupters of families will not inherit the kingdom of God. And if they who do these things according to the flesh suffer death. how much more if a man corrupt by evil reaching the faith of God. for the sake of which Jesus Christ was crucified? A man become so foul will depart into unquenchable fire: and so will anyone who listens to him. (Letter to the Ephesians 16:1-2)Image result for ignatius of antioch

From Clement of Rome (150AD)
Clement was Bishop of Rome from 88 to 98AD, and his teaching reflects the early traditions of the Church. “Second Clement” reportedly a recorded sermon, and Clement discusses the nature of Hell:

If we do the will of Christ, we shall obtain rest; but if not, if we neglect his commandments, nothing will rescue us from eternal punishment (“Second Clement” 5:5)

But when they see how those who have sinned and who have denied Jesus by their words or by their deeds are punished with terrible torture in unquenchable fire, the righteous, who have done good, and who have endured tortures and have hated the luxuries of life, will give glory to their God saying, ‘There shall be hope for him that has served God with all his heart!’ (“Second Clement” 17:7)Image result for clement of rome

From “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” (155AD)
This work was written by an Early Church Father (unknown author) and is dated very early in the history of Christianity. It describes the death of Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, and also describes early teachings of the church:

Fixing their minds on the grace of Christ, [the martyrs] despised worldly tortures and purchased eternal life with but a single hour. To them, the fire of their cruel torturers was cold. They kept before their eyes their escape from the eternal and unquenchable fire (“Martyrdom of Polycarp” 2:3)Image result for polycarp

What Did Early Christians Believe About Hell? | Cold Case Christianity

Other writers were not so inclined and even some of the writings of the above are not as clear. Hell, annihilation, eternal torment…whatever, to paraphrase “When the Saints Go Marching In”, I do NOT want to be in that number. I have a friend who is an avowed atheist. His views on the “afterdeath” are not mere beliefs, to him they are absolute knowledge, and He KNOWS that when he dies, he will simply cease to exist. I asked him how he felt about it, and he said, “It scares the sh*t out of me.”

Judaism is similar, actually, to teachings all throughout Christendom:

Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. It is possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes, or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah, when they will be resurrected. Likewise, Orthodox Jews can believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented by demons of their own creation, or that wicked souls are simply destroyed at death, ceasing to exist.

Olam Ha-Ba: The Afterlife

While the Mishnah doesn’t elaborate on the afterlife, the Talmud (redacted in 500 CE) gives us a glimpse into the rabbis’ view of life after death.

In Eruvin 19b, we are told that all but the most wicked are sent to Gehenom (a fiery place, according to Berakhot 57b), but their stay in the flames is temporary. After being purged of their sins, they are ushered to Heaven by Abraham.

Elsewhere (Rosh Hashanah 17a), the torments of Hell are said to be temporary for most sinners – but instead of ending in Heaven, they end in nonexistence.

Some references to the World to Come in the Talmud seem to refer to Gan Eden; others clearly refer to a time after the dead come back to life, such as this section in Berakhot 17a: “In the World to Come there is no eating, or drinking nor procreation or commerce, nor jealousy, or enmity, or rivalry – but the righteous sit with crowns on their head and enjoy the radiance of the Divine Presence.”

What is the Jewish afterlife like? This article briefly introduces the notion that 1st century Jewish concepts of the afterlife influenced the budding Christian teachings.

Jewish conceptions of heaven and hell — Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) and Gehinnom — are associated with the belief in immortality and/or the World to Come, and were also developed independent of these concepts.

Most Jewish ideas about the afterlife developed in post-biblical times.

What the Bible Says

The Bible itself has very few references to life after death. Sheol, the bowels of the earth, is portrayed as the place of the dead, but in most instances Sheol seems to be more a metaphor for oblivion than an actual place where the dead “live” and retain consciousness.

The notion of resurrection appears in two late biblical sources, Daniel 12 and Isaiah 25-26.

Daniel 12:2 — “Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, others to reproaches, to everlasting abhorrence” — implies that resurrection will be followed by a day of judgment. Those judged favorably will live forever and those judged to be wicked will be punished.

Is There a Jewish Afterlife? | My Jewish Learning

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[b] a slave to the law of sin.

For the past three years, I have been tutoring/mentoring a Russian student in Moscow via Messenger. I had only talked about my faith at his direction, whenever he had questions about it. I knew, for instance, that he had read some “Christian” books, but also Buddhist, New Age, etc. as well. Last fall, he became a Christian. One day, a few weeks after his conversion, I got a message from him: “I commit a sin.” Uh-oh! What has he done?! After correcting his grammar(!), I inquired as to what sin he had committed. “I cheated on a test.” I breathed a sigh of relief, glad to know he had not killed someone or slept with another student! But I was intrigued. I kind of knew that cheating in the Russian university system was common. He told of a common expression professors would use: “Thank yous do not fill my pockets.” But we had talked about it only very tangentially and I had never expressed any concern about it or offered any opinion, certainly not of a “Christian” point of view: “You know, you shouldn’t do that! It’s a sin!” I later learned that it was not just university, but even middle school students would bribe teachers and cheat on assignments. He admitted to cheating since junior high!

So I had to ask him: “Who told you it was wrong? The cheating?” He couldn’t answer. No one had. In fact, it seemed to surprise him that he now felt any guilt over it! The answer was clear: the Holy Spirit had convicted him.* Was he, then, “set free” from the sin of cheating. Yes. And no. He knew it was wrong, repented of it, but was still faced with situations in which he was tempted to. I have read that the graduation rate of students in his school (engineering) is only 20%! They turn out the best engineers, but even potentially really good ones never make it. “Really good” is not good enough. so the temptation to cheat is incredible, especially when everyone really is doing it!

So, to take the passage and apply it here:

‘I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, be honest, I do not do, but what I hate I do, I cheat. And if I do what I do not want to do by cheating, I agree that the law that says “no cheating allowed” is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who cheats, but it is sin living in me. For I know that being honest itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to be honest, but I cannot carry it out. For I am not honest when I want to be, but the cheating I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, cheat, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

‘So I find this law at work: Although I want to be honest, the desire to cheat is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law to be honest, trustworthy; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the desire to cheat at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

‘So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, which says to be honest, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin, which says to cheat.’

There is deliverance of sin through Jesus Christ, but there is no real “resolution”, because we will always, while alive on this earth in these corrupt, corporeal bodies, be “earth-bound.” BUT! Praise be to God! The 7th chapter, an artificial division, ends here. It is the next passage, though, in chapter 8, that is so awesome:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Want to know a secret? A scandalous secret? Only those who have been set free from the law of sin and death have true free will. The lost person is bound, chained to sin. He cannot help it. In fact, because nothing he does is “of faith”, it is sin: “…everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23) Proverbs says that even the good deeds of the wicked (the lost) are detestable to God (Proverbs 21:27). It is only when we are set free of those chains that we are really able to choose between doing things God’s way and sin. You will fight, because you can truly choose. What Paul is saying bottom line is, “Sometimes, I want to do bad, but Jesus makes me want to be better than I am. So I will fight to be better.” Be thankful for that. Only runners stumble.

Know what? You’re forgiven. There is now NO condemnation. When you’re good, Jesus loves you. When you sin, Jesus loves you, and you’re forgiven.

“Killed by extreme Christians” is a bit of an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. I’m going to catch holy hell (no pun intended!) from those who love to blast me for committing the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, but they never seem to realize that it just doesn’t apply here. The fallacy as defined by Wikipedia is: “No true Scotsman or appeal to purity is an informal fallacy in which one attempts to protect a universal generalization from counterexamples by changing the definition in an ad hoc fashion to exclude the counterexample.” (No true Scotsman – Wikipedia) The key phrase is the Latin one, ad hoc

It is similar to asking if there are “killer pacifists” or “meat-eating vegans”; I guess there might be pacifists who are driven to rage or vegans who “cheat”, but that would really disqualify them from their professed beliefs. Furthermore, I think the founder of the faith has the right to set the rules for what constitutes a true follower, just like the creator of a game has the right to make the rules. If a basketball player wants to run with the ball, James Naismith has the right to cry out from his grave, “Not a true basketball player!” The author of this article, The No True Scotsman Fallacy Fallacy Fallacy, does a pretty good job of refuting what he would say I am guilty of, which is the “no true Scotsman fallacy fallacy”, except for two things: he says, “It is a straw man to say that atheists regard anyone a Christian who claims to be a Christian. I have yet to see an atheist who holds that position.” What? I see that all the time! In fact, it is the single most used argument against my position. His second error is when he says, “The Webster Concise Dictionary, a Christian is ‘professing or following the religion of Christ’. I’ve searched in vain for a definition of ‘true Christian’. Who is a true Christian if not the person who reads and interprets the bible and tries his best to live his life accordingly?” Sorry, old boy, but Webster is not the one who defines a true Christian! Jesus is; and no, according to him, a true Christian is not someone who “reads and interprets the bible (sic) and tries his best to live his life accordingly”.

So what did Jesus say? A few things, but mainly:

Matthew 13:24–30; there are definitely false teachers, false Christians, if you will, even in the “church”.

Matthew 7:15–20; true Christians: bearers of good fruit (this can mean two things: the kind of people a teacher or prophet “wins over” and those who exhibit or bear the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians5:22–23); false Christians: those who bear bad fruit .

Matthew 7:21–23; true Christians: “…only the one(s) who do(es) the will of my Father who is in heaven.” “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

“Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Matthew 25:31–46; Sheep (true Christians): provide food for the hungry, water for the thirsty, comfort and shelter to the stranger, clothing for the unclothed, compassion for the prisoner. Goats (Chinos): do not do the above.

The Apostle Paul expounded on the Lord’s teachings in Romans 12:9–21:

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Now, take the long list of horrors perpetrated by “Christians”, from the wicked popes to the Inquisitors to Colonel Chivington’s (former Methodist pastor!) massacre of the Cheyenne at Sand Creek to lynchings to whatever, and ask, “Did those people follow Christ and engage in the Father’s will? Did they function like Paul said above?” No and no. They were basketball players who carried the ball…constantly and consistently, unrepentantly. Paul said of those people “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked person from among you.’” (1 Corinthians 5:11–13; emphasis mine) Sadly, even supposed evangelicals in America have reversed Paul’s injunction, judging the wicked outside the church, and having full fellowship with the wicked inside the church. I beg forgiveness for this.

“The evidence of a true Christian is displayed in both faith and action. ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). James says, ‘I will show you my faith by my works’ (James 2:18). Jesus put it this way: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). A true Christian will show his faith by how he lives.” What is a true Christian?

So, to answer your question (finally! I know…), there have been many horrible atrocities committed by people who have cried and will, on the Day of Judgment, cry, “Lord! Lord!” only for Jesus to tell them, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” and “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Does that answer your question?

Edit: I will answer the common complaint expressed so eloquently by Mr. Knight: “Your own holy book condones foul and immoral acts including genocide and child murder so just don’t launch into a diatribe of shit excusing Christianity just because it does fit how you’d like it to be.” The Bible says, “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 18:21) The italicized phrase is mentioned several times, and was considered a terrible sin. Why? The Canaanite god, Molech (Moloch, Milcom, or Malcam) was a hungry god, and very particular in his dietary needs: he required children, infants, babies. So, the Canaanite priests would heat the bronze hands of the hungry god until they glowed red hot, then they would place the children on them—alive—to be incinerated. That is what the phrase “passing through the fire” is referring to. It is said that the temple musicians would beat their drums and raise the other instruments to a loud crescendo in order to drown out the screams of the burning children. They also practiced temple prostitution, homosexuality, bestiality, and were a fierce, warlike people. “The Phoenicians were a loosely gathered group of people who inhabited Canaan (modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and Israel) between 1550 BC and 300 BC. In addition to sexual rituals, Moloch worship included child sacrifice, or ‘passing children through the fire.’ It is believed that idols of Moloch were giant metal statues of a man with a bull’s head. Each image had a hole in the abdomen and possibly outstretched forearms that made a kind of ramp to the hole. A fire was lit in or around the statue. Babies were placed in the statue’s arms or in the hole. When a couple sacrificed their firstborn, they believed that Moloch would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children.” Who was Moloch/Molech? “In 1921 the largest cemetery of sacrificed infants in the ancient Near East was discovered at Carthage. It is well established that this rite of child sacrifice originated in Phoenicia, ancient Israel’s northern neighbor, and was brought to Carthage by its Phoenician colonizers.[2] Hundreds of burial urns filled with the cremated bones of infants, mostly newborns but even some children up to age six years old, as well as animals have been uncovered at Carthage.

Image result for molech

Image result for molech

“They were buried there between the 8th century B.C. and the fall of Carthage during the third Punic War in 146 B.C. On the burial monuments that sometimes accompanied the urns, there was often inscribed the name or symbol of the goddess Tanit, the main Phoenician female deity, and her consort Ba’al Hammon. Infants and children were regularly sacrificed to this divine couple.” (Abortion and the Ancient Practice of Child Sacrifice) The Canaanites were also a Phoenician people.

In WWII, we fought against an equally reprehensible people: the Nazis and Axis powers. We bombed many of their cities back to the stone age. We firebombed Tokyo, and ultimately incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs. The victims included thousands of babies and children. Only die-hard pacifists ever decry this killing of innocent life. Why? Because the cause is seen as a just one, stopping an evil from growing, even cutting it off completely.

Here’s the greatest inconsistency, however, even hypocrisy: Critics like to howl and wail that no “loving God” would allow a horror like the Holocaust: “Why didn’t God do something?!” They also howl and wail with equal anguish over the “genocide” ( a spurious accusation if there ever was one*) of the Canaanites, who were as wicked as the Nazis. So, they complain when God doesn’t intervene when nations commit atrocities, and they complain when he does! Can’t win.

In reality, these people simply hate the idea of a God who commands obedience, for it is they who wish to be the “god” of their lives. It is the placement of MAN on the throne that decides right and wrong, moral and immoral, that breeds the very atrocities they “blame God” for. It is interesting in some of the comments I receive, how so many of them seethe with a hatred and a rage that is very much like…the people they hate.

*genocide: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. (genocide – Google Search) What the Israelites did was not genocide, for they did not kill them because of their ethnicity, but because of their detestable practices, including child sacrifice. The “good news” for the critics is that the Israelites never did annihilate the Canaanites; in fact at least one group made a treaty with them, and might have eventually assimilated. No, because they did not drive them out, those that remained were a “thorn in the flesh” of the Israelites, often causing them to stray and engage in the same detestable practices. Further, a careful reading of the text, beginning with the Exodus from Egypt, would reveal that God never intended for them to go to war with them anyway. God promised that if the Israelites remained faithful and didn’t whine and complain, that He himself would “drive them out”, not destroy them.

The Canaanites also had at least 40 years to either get out or repent, as twice, the text tells us that they KNEW the Israelites were coming, KNEW their intentions, and KNEW their greatness in battle and the greatness of their God. When the spies who were sent in to reconnoiter Jericho were taken in by Rahab, she told them: “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

“Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” (Joshua 2:9–13; emphasis mine) Rahab and her family lived, and she eventually married into what became the royal house of Judah, and was an ancestor of…Jesus Christ!

Similarly, a Canaanite people called the Gibeonites, who made the treaty with Israel told Joshua: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.” (Joshua 9:9–10) It was a trick, however, but because the Israelites made an oath to protect them and not fight them, they had to uphold that oath and let them live.

See also, Is God Immoral for Killing Innocent Children?

Yes, I have; and he always answers: the answer is either, “Yes”, “No”, or “Not now.” I have prayed for people to come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, and it has happened. I have prayed the same prayer and never seen the results. I have prayed for healing, my own and others’; I have seen it happen sometimes, others not. Skeptics claim “unanswered” prayer is somehow “proof” that Christianity is false, delusional. But they are the ones who have set up a straw man…or should I say, a straw God. They want scientific proof that prayer “works”, as if God is obligated to follow the laws he created in the first place, and that he created for us, not the other way around. We are not the ones who worship a “cosmic Santa Claus”; it is they who foist a cosmic Kris Kringle on us. They seem to think our God is like a supernatural gumball machine or genie in a bottle: put in a coin, get out a gumball, or, speak the right words, get your wish. This IS what prosperity preachers like Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis preach, but that’s nothing but witchcraft with a “Christian” facade. Speak the right spell or incantation, and magic can happen; you can even speak things into existence and control the weather! As I said, God always answers prayer, but like any earthly father, the answer is not always “yes”. No good father gives his children everything they ask for; that’s a sure-fire way to create a monster. No. Children must be told “No” and “Later” and “We’ll see”, and they probably are a lot more than they are told “Yes”! I know I was!

It must first be determined if “Christian” has an objective definition or can be applied to anyone who merely calls themselves one. I hear from anti-Christians all the time that the latter is enough, that if a person says they are a Christian, then they are. If such and such an act is done “in the name of Christ” or Christianity, then Christ or Christianity is responsible for it. This is patently absurd and a standard not applied to any other religion in the world. Even Islam escapes this tortured reasoning by many of the same people. “I slaughter these people in the name of Allah!” is excused as “not real Islam” and the perpetrators as “not true Muslims”!

Without going into all the New Testament passages which, collectively read, objectively define the true Christian, I think the answer can be found in the text and is quite simple: A Christian is a person who follows Christ. I will leave it to the reader to search the text for specifics, but here is a good place to start: What Does the Bible Say About You Are My Disciples If You Do What I Tell You To Do?

So, we then have to ask, “Does Donald Trump follow the teachings of Jesus Christ?”

You tell me.