God On The Net
Religious background of the web site's author.
This site started as a general introduction to apologetics, major Christian doctrines and teachings, etc. (and kinda got outta hand!) I have made it as "non-denominational" as possible; this site is not about promoting a particular denomination's view. However, no lawyer would seriously consider evidence from someone without learning something about the person's background, so I will briefly describe my religious background.
I belong to a Methodist denomination (CME) and I also attend weekly services at a Messianic Jewish congregation and a Reform Jewish synagogue. (Although I disagree with Reform theology on a number of key matters, the prayers, songs and rituals themselves do not contradict Christian/Messianic theology.)
Every Christian/Messianic denomination is basically either Arminian or Calvinist. It is not possible to be both, since they represent opposite sides of several theological issues. (Calvinist theology is also known as Reformed theology, because Calvinist principles were ratified by the Dutch Reformed Church at the Council of Dordt.)
Note that both the Arminian and Calvinist views believe in the core teachings of Protestantism and Messianic Judaism: the inerrancy of the Bible and that we are justified (saved from eternal punishment) by faith alone as the free gift of God through the atoning death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, not by works, lest any man boast, and prevenient (rhymes with "convenient", and means "comes before") grace, i.e., God attracts men to Him before they accept Him, and without prevenient grace no one could come to God. "Faith" doesn't mean just believing a set of factual statements, it means trusting in God and making a sincere effort to live the way the Bible says we should live.
Calvinist tenets (2-5 are rejected by Methodist denominations):
More on Calvinism and Arminianism.
I believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture and a Millennial Kingdom.
Like most theologians who have examined the scriptures, I believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture followed by a Millennial Kingdom and then eternal rule directly by God. . . . And, no, I'm not interested in debating it!
The apologetics materials are written to provide responsive information to sincere reasonable questions often asked by open-minded non-Christians, even skeptics, as well as Christians facing doubts, not to placate those believers who can't face having to substantiate their beliefs.
Unfortunately, many Christians try to evangelize others without adequate preparation. They read one or two articles or books about "how to evangelize" and go out trying to use a "one size fits all" approach.
For instance, an approach commonly taught is:
I'm sorry, but there's simply no logical connection directly from (2) to (3) !!! Why not repent to Allah, a Roman Catholic priest, a nature god, or to some other alleged god? Why will repentance even matter? Why not simply make up for past sins by doing good things in the future?
The error in this approach is in assuming that the Bible (including the New Testament) is true without providing any evidence, and insisting, however gently or politely, that the other person has to accept your view because you believe it. Lawyers would say step (3) "assumes facts not in evidence." The purpose of Christian Apologetics is to fill in the missing steps between (2) and (3).
The pages are generally written in a question and response format, and many of the questions are written from a skeptic's perspective. Many are phrased in the common condescending attitude towards Christianity. I want non-Christians, the curious, and skeptics to be able to look at the list and say "Yeah—that's exactly the same question I have."
GOODIES TO CHECK OUT:
I have gone out of my way to include the text of almost all Bible references, and NONE of the cites uses abbreviations. It is ridiculous to expect someone who is curious to start doing extensive research.
Like many people, especially on the Internet, I hate "string cites", i.e., a long list of "go look it up" citations. ("God hates sin." 1 John 3:2, Eccl 3:5, Ro 2:5, etc.) Most people don't follow up on string cites. (I have no idea what the preceding cites say, for example. I just pulled them out of the air.)
I have tried to minimize Christian and Bible jargon and cross-references. Therefore, in a number of cases the same point is made on several different pages, using the same text in different contexts. Also, I have deliberately kept the pages simple - plain background, no pictures, no forms, etc.
(Regarding Christian jargon, my favorite line is: "If you're born again, I hope your momma had an epidural !!!") (Guys—if you don't understand this, ask any woman who has had a baby in the last ten years.)
This site isn't just for Americans familiar with American history, American slang, etc. Therefore, occasionally I explain some terms or concepts that seem obvious to an American (e.g., "crackhead") but will probably make no sense to others without an explanation.
I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who turned 60 in 2010, with a background in foreign languages, linguistic science, accounting, computer programming, electronics, science, and genealogy. I became interested in theology and apologetics in my mid-40's, when I went through the typical 'mid-life crisis' and decided I should look into religion once again. In 1998, I completed the extension program of Interdenominational Theological Center and received a Certificate in Theological Studies. I have also studied Messianic and rabbinic (non-messianic) Jewish theology quite a bit—I have taken 8 college-level yeshiva courses at a Messianic synagogue and two eight-week college level courses on Introduction to Judaism at the Reform synagogue, as well as attending several multi-week seminars there.
I was raised Roman Catholic but stopped attending church in my early 20's because it made me so depressed. Around 1994 the Holy Spirit led me to a number of books on the Shroud of Turin, apologetics and theology, and I finally found that there were logical reasons to believe Christianity, and not to believe many Roman Catholic teachings.
In late 1995 God led me to evangelical, pentecostal Christian Methodist Episcopal Protestant church. In 1999 I launched their Christian Chapel Internet Outreach Ministry.
The Lord has also led me to learn about Messianic Judaism. I have also been attending Baruch HaShem Messianic Congregation weekly since December 1999. I know this sounds strange and contradictory, but as the senior rabbi there told me, "It shouldn't surprise you that the beliefs of Messianic Judaism and evangelical Protestantism are essentially the same—we attend the same seminaries, use the same Bible translations, believe in the same God and are led by the same Holy Spirit." In fact, Messianic Jews often serve, teach and preach in Protestant congregations, seminaries and Bible colleges, and Evangelical Protestants often serve, teach and preach in Messianic congregations and religious schools.
Since May 2003 I have also attended the maariv (Friday evening) service at Temple Emanu-El on a weekly basis, primarily to learn and practice some of the traditional Jewish liturgical songs and prayers not routinely sung or recited at BHS (solely due to time constraints). (Yes, that does mean I attend services at three different congregations on a weekly basis.) Another reason I attend is that Reform congregations in particular tend to have interfaith families, i.e., some members are Jewish and some are Christian. Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also." So if there is one other person there who believes in Jesus . . . I also go to pray for those in attendance, that they will come to know and accept Jesus.
I studied Biblical Hebrew from September 2000-December 2001. I have two things to say on that: (1) "Oy, vay!" Russian and Latin aren't that hard! and (2) Most popular translations are really accurate!
I realize that many of the answers are quite wordy and detailed.
Since I was 9 years old my primary interest has been science and technology. People like that don't accept things at face value and want details.
E-mailing me ...
This site is not about denominational debates. Do not e-mail me to debate whether baptism is necessary for salvation; my only response will be that the site accurately states the majority view, whether you agree or not. If a person does get baptized, what difference does it make whether he should or must do it? Similarly, I will not debate Calvinism versus Arminianism (predestination, possible loss of salvation, etc.) Nor will I debate the Rapture.
Rick Reinckens (pronounced RANK-inz)
(c) 1998-2011 by Rick Reinckens