Friday, August 18, 2023

Take the Christianity Quiz


Okay, I lied - it isn't actually a quiz. Just something to think about:

How do you define Christianity? There are small variations from one church to another, nit-picky things like different understandings of a particular verse; teachings about saints, candles, confession and indulgences. 

But most Christian religions, when painted in very broad strokes, have these beliefs in common:

·       Jesus is understood to be God.
·       Jesus’ main reason for coming to earth was to be a manifestation of God and to save all mankind.
·       You have an immortal soul that continues when you die.
·       At death your soul goes to heaven or hell. 
·       Hell is a horrible place, generally believed to be tortuously hot.
·       Virtually no one you know personally ever ends up in hell. They have some redeeming quality that will keep them out of that place.
·       Eventually, everyone will be reconciled to God - apparently even the ones who were consigned to burn in hell forever.
·       Sex outside marriage is sort of frowned upon, but teachings to that effect are not enforced. While marriage to one of the opposite sex is viewed positively, alternatives are no one's business.
·       Opinions condemning homosexual behavior should be kept to oneself.
·       The most Christian quality is judgment-free acceptance of virtually any behavior that doesn't explicitly hurt a child or an animal.
·       Good Christians celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and other holy days. Regardless of their well-known pagan roots, such beliefs are sanctified by  their acceptance into the church.
·       Good Christians reverence their country’s flag, serve in the military, vote, and run for office.
·       A Christian preacher is a paid professional.
·       A Christian preacher should have a special title, wear special articles of clothing, be given special reverence, seats and parking spaces in the church.
·       Christian preachers overseeing churches may be of either gender and any sexuality.
·       The laity’s duty is to be nice to their neighbors and attend church, or at least support the preacher financially.
·       A collection plate is passed at every service. Special services such as weddings are expected to be accompanied by special payments.  
·       The Bible is mysterious and contradictory. It is a wise old book but not the absolute truth.
·       Faith means accepting what can’t be satisfactorily explained.

Since no one seems to agree on anything anymore I don’t expect anyone to look at this list and say, ‘Yup, that’s exactly what my church teaches.’ But you could ask yourself or a friend whether some, many, or most of the items above loosely fit your church.

If the answer is yes, here’s a shocker for you:

Jesus said, very specifically, that there would end up being two kinds of Christianity. He referred to one as ‘a broad, wide road leading off to destruction, and many are on it.’ The other, he said, was narrow, cramped, difficult, and “few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14) 

Lest you think that he meant ‘Christianity’ was the narrow road and, I don’t know, anti-Christianity, Pagandom, Islam? – is the broad road, notice that a few verses on he says that the people on the broad road call HIM “Lord!” (Matthew 7:22) 

The people on both roads label themselves as Christians.

What do all the teachings in those bullet-points above have in common?

Most of them are held in common by the majority. Hence, the people who agree with most of that list are on the wrong road, the broad road.

Am I reading too much into this? No. Jesus repeated the same point in different words in different places.

In Matthew 13:36-43 he compared his preaching to a man sowing wheat in a field. An enemy then over-sowed weeds in that same field. Jesus, the owner of the field, acknowledged that it would be hard to tell the wheat from the weeds and commanded, ‘Let both grow together until harvest.’ Christianity would include both wheat - genuine Christians; and weeds - fake Christians, side-by-side, down through time until the end.

In another word picture he compared Christians to a flock of mixed sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31-46) In the illustration, both groups address him as “Lord”, so the entire flock are calling themselves Christians. But when tested, part of the flock fails. They are judged to be goats, weed-like, fake Christians; and they are destroyed. 

In the next column on this subject, we'll go through those bullet-points, one by one, and show from the Bible why real Christians don't agree with them.

Please feel free to copy the link to this column and share it with your friends. To jump to Part Two, click here.

Please leave a comment.

 Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Are you really "saved"? Is anyone?


A neighbor asked me the other day if I was saved. 

How do you respond when someone asks that? Do you know what they mean? Do they know what they mean?

According to Romans 5:18, depending on your translation,  “So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, ALL men were justified to life.”

Is this to be taken as strictly, literally true? If so, you can throw away your Bible and just get a button or a bumper sticker that says 'I'm Saved!' and get on your your life. Which some who call themselves Christians seem to do. Did Paul mean that ALL are saved? Are ALL who are saved permanently saved?

In Greek, the word "all" is often not modified. Consequently, the translator needs to figure out the actual meaning based on the context. For example, the original Greek of 1 Timothy 6:10 says, ‘The love of money is the root of ALL evil.' Good translators recognize that there are in fact evils that do not have anything to do with money, so they render it as “all kinds of evils,” “all sorts of evils,” “all manner of evil.”

 The Greek of Matthew 4:23 says Jesus healed, throughout Galilee, ‘ALL disease and ALL maladies.’ Careful translators render it ‘every sort of disease.' 

Matthew 10:1 says, in Greek, that the disciples cured ‘ALL disease and infirmity.’ If that was literally true, how were there still blind, lame, and lepers later on for Jesus to cure? So good translators render it "every sort of disease."

Luke 16:16 in Greek: “[Since John the Baptist] the kingdom of God is proclaimed as good news, and everyone doth press into it.” But there have always been and still are today some who have never heard of the kingdom! How could they possibly be ‘pressing into it’? Consequently, good translations read, ‘all manner of men’ or ‘men of all sorts’.

Those translators who claim ALL disease was eradicated, that ALL people press toward the kingdom, when they get to 1 Timothy 2:4, of course say that ‘God will have ALL men be saved,’ ‘God wills that everyone be saved,’ ‘God desires all to be saved.’ 

 People who don’t look too deeply into the Bible, then, assume they must be saved. Surely God is too nice to ever allow anyone to be destroyed, isn't He? At most, all they need to do is believe. After all, John 3:17 says, “God did not send his Son into the world to be judge of the world; he sent him so that the world might have salvation through him.” 

There you go! Saved – ‘God loves me as I am, I don’t need to change a thing.’

Some of those who have had an emotional experience they call ‘getting saved’ think a bit differently: their belief is that their salvation is the result of some act on their part: They accepted Christ. Consequently, they are also convinced that everyone else who has not had that ‘saved’ experience will go to hell. Their belief flies in the face of the ‘God will save everyone’ doctrine, but they don’t seem to care as long as they are saved. They base this on Romans 10:13, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,’ and they stop reading before they get to verse 14, which in most translations starts with “But…” or “However…”

 A doctrine that is contradicted by even one verse of the Bible is false. 

  • If ALL will be saved, why did Jesus say, “He that endures to the end will be saved”? (Matthew 24:13) 
  • If ALL will be saved, why did Jesus say, in Luke 13:24, "Strain every nerve to force your way in through the narrow gate, for multitudes, I tell you, will endeavor to find a way in and will not succeed.” 
  • If ALL will be saved, who are the “many” traveling on the broad way that leads to destruction? (Matthew 7:13, 14) 
  • If ALL will be saved, what did Jesus mean by the parable of the wheat and the weeds? (Matthew 13:37-43) Or the rejection of unsuitable fish? (Matthew 13:47-50) Or of the sheep and the goats? (Matthew 25:31-46)
  •  If ALL will be saved, why did Jesus say, “He who disobeys the son shall not see life”? (John 3:36)

If all will be saved, why did Jesus say IF? At John 15:13 he said his ransom was given for his friends, and then he followed it up in verse 14 by defining his friends: “You are my friends IF you do what I command.” So, if I don’t do what Jesus commands, I'm not his friend. If I'm not his friend, his ransom does NOT apply to me.

A corollary of ‘getting saved’ is the idea of ‘once saved, always saved.’ But if ALL, once saved, are saved for all time:

  • Why does Hebrews 10:26 warn that “if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins”? 
  • Why do we read in Philippians 2:12, “give yourselves to working out your salvation with fear in your hearts and trembling”? 
  • Why did Paul warn us to be careful not to “drift away”? (Hebrews 2:1) 
  •  Why did Jesus tell the Christian congregation at Sardis: “Call to mind, then, what you received and heard, and hold to it, and repent. Unless you are on the watch, I will come as a thief, and you will never know at what hour I am coming upon you.” (Revelation 3:3)

Salvation is a gift, it’s true. It cannot be bought or earned. It is certainly not deserved. But it is a gift given only to those who have consistently done their best to listen to Jesus commands, who have obeyed, and who continue to do so, enduring right down to the end. 

You might want to copy the link to this column and share it with your friends, particularly if they claim they are "saved."

Please leave a comment.

 Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.