Thomas Jefferson on Jesus vs. Calvin

The following is an excerpt of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Waterhouse, written June 26, 1822. In the excerpt, Jefferson contrasts the “simple” teachings of Jesus, which “tend all to the happiness of man”, with what Jefferson describes (rightly, in my opinion) as the “blasphemies”, “deliria”, “horrors” of John Calvin. Continue reading

Andrews Norton on Christianity

Below is what I regard a most apt description of what has happened to the doctrines of the Christian religion as taught by Jesus and those whom he designated his apostles. It comes from the unitarian Christian scholar Andrews Norton (1786 - 1853), one-time professor at Harvard University and author of several books including the classic A Statement of Reasons for Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians: Continue reading

Why Even Calvinists Resist Calvinism

I recently reached out to a Calvinist friend of mine imploring him to reconsider whether Calvinism is true or not. In reply my friend told me something interesting and significant. He told me he had become a Calvinist reluctantly, indeed that he had fought against it “tooth and nail,” that he had ultimately only converted to Calvinism because he believed he “saw it plainly in the scriptures.” Continue reading

John 6:64 and Judas’ Treachery

In John 6:64, it is reported that Jesus told his disciples,

“‘But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.”

The reference to the “one that would betray” Jesus is clearly Judas. And because the Gospel writer says Jesus knew “from the beginning” (Gk. ex arches) that Judas would betray him, this verse is all-too typically interpreted as evidence that God foreknows all things from eternity including free human decisions. In fact, it is even often interpreted as evidence that God has planned and ordained from eternity all things including human decisions, even sinful ones. But is this verse really evidence of any of this? Continue reading

Prayer and a Good God

Why does God usually not answer prayers for deliverance in direct, miraculous ways? Indeed why does he almost never do so? Does it mean he does not love us, that he is not concerned with us? These are difficult questions, but here are ten points I would say in response to these questions. They are born from reflecting upon my own experience with suffering and prayer, and I wrote them out recently in an email to a dear friend. Continue reading