The Gift of Faith

July 5, 2008

I recently wrote about a spiritual gift test I had taken online. Besides being amused that fundamentalist Christians seem to believe that ordinary talents that we all possess are somehow supernatural gifts, I was struck by one gift in particular: the gift of faith. I thought about this when J.D., another poster on this blog, took the test and came out with a score of 0 (that’s zero: zilch! nichts! nada! zippo!) for his gift-of-faith score. According to SpiritualGiftsTest.com, the saved receive their spiritual gifts, including the gift of faith, upon salvation. They justify their claim with the following verses:

1Co 12:4-10; Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit…
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Rom 12:3; …God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

But wait a minute – isn’t faith required for salvation? Then how is faith one of the gifts that one receives after salvation?

It gets worse. If our faith is a gift from God, and if salvation requires faith, then those who are saved were chosen by God to be saved (just as Calvin thought). Then those of us who do not believe were not meant to believe. If God created us and we were not meant to be saved, then it was clearly God’s plan to create us for the purpose of torturing us throughout eternity for our unbelief.

One popular (if inane) chorus that Christians often chant is that it takes too much faith to be an atheist. Rather than respond with reason which all to often falls on deaf ears and sluggish intellects, we should simply quote 1Co 12:4-10 and respond: “it’s a gift from God.”


Breaking News: Atheist with Spiritual Gifts

June 28, 2008

According to SpiritualGiftsTest.com,

A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to a person at the moment of his or her salvation.

The webmasters at SpiritualGiftsTest.com attend The Vine Church who are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Their site seems to reflect mainstream SBC theology. They provide the following list of gifts, as well as the biblical verses to support their list:

Administration/Ruling Giving Miracles
Apostleship Healing Pastor/Teacher
Discernment of Spirits Helps/Serving/Ministering Prophecy
Evangelism Interpretation of Tongues Teaching
Exhortation Knowledge Tongues
Faith Mercy Wisdom

I took the test myself (you can take it too, the test is here) and guess what! I’ve got spiritual gifts! I answered all of the questions as honestly as I could. I didn’t do it as a joke, I did it because I was genuinely curious about the test. I became curious about it because I’d seen Christians on other blogs claiming to have spiritual gifts and they cited various spiritual-gift test sites as evidence for their gifts; evidence that was accepted by other Christians on the blogs. Since the test results seemed to be an excepted way to know what spiritual gifts you had, I decided to see what the tests were like. I searched on Google.com using the search string “spiritual gifts test” and SpiritualGiftsTest.com was near the top of the list. I took the test.

It turns out that I have every one of the gifts that they test for. My top 4 (20 or more points) are the gifts of Teaching, Wisdom, Knowledge, and Administration/Ruling. SpiritualGiftTest.com says they don’t test for the gift of Tongues among a few others because those gifts are self-evidence – evidently, I have that gift too.

How can this be? According to the site, these gifts are spiritual and they are obtained at the moment of salvation. Possibly I’m actually saved even though I don’t believe that I am. Possibly the claim that spiritual gifts are only for the saved is false. Possibly the test isn’t reliable, and Christians that believe that they have spiritual gifts based on tests like these are being duped by their fellow Christians who run the spiritual-gift test sites. Of course it is also possible, as far as you the Reader knows, that I lied on the test or that I’m lying about my test results. But you can easily verity the plausibility of my claim by taking the test yourself (if you believe you are not saved) or asking an unsaved friend to take the test.

How do you explain my spiritual gifts?  What spiritual gifts do you have?


Got Faith?

June 21, 2008

Jesus is quoted in Matthew 17:20 as saying:

…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

In other words, with the tiniest amount of faith, you can move mountains. How much faith do you have? If it is even the tiniest amount, you can move a mountain! Wow! Care to give it a try?

Note that this is not testing God – certainly no one doubts that the creator of the universe would have trouble moving a mountain. This is a test for you and your faith. In 2 Corinthians 13:5-6, Paul suggests that you should indeed test your faith:

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.

If you don’t have the tiniest amount of faith (you’ll know this is the case if the mountain won’t budge), there’s a simple way you can get the faith you need. Here’s how according to Romans 10:17:

…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

If you don’t already have one, go out and pick up a Red-letter Bible to make it easier to locate the word of Christ. Have someone read his words to you – reading them for yourself might qualify but the scripture says hearing so we want to be on the safe side. It could be that any part of the Bible could technically be considered the word of Christ but I recommend you focus on the actual red-lettered words of Christ, again just to be on the safe side. OK, let’s give the “mountain test” another whirl. Any luck this time?

One problem, according to Luke 8:12, might be that:

…the devil comes and takes away the word from [your] hearts, so that [you] may not believe and be saved.

You may have to repeat the hearing-the-red-lettered-Bible step several times to replentish the word of Christ faster than the devil can take it away from your heart.

Why does it really matter if you can or can’t move the mountain? If you don’t have enough faith to move the mountain, how do you know that you have enough faith to be saved? Recall that it only takes faith as small as a mustard seed (i.e., the smallest amount) to move the mountain. How much faith did you really have that the mountain would move? I’m sure some of you actually thought that it might move, others didn’t even try because they knew that it would not.

Exactly how much faith is required for salvation?

For the record, I tried to move ant hill… it wouldn’t budge. Did anyone else have any better luck?


Jesus and the Adulteress

May 29, 2008

Remember the Woman at the Well story in John 8? The Pharisees bring a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. They tell Jesus that the Law says that she should be stoned to death, and they ask how he would handle it. Jesus says “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Then one by one, the Pharisees leave and Jesus says to the adulteress: “Then neither do I condemn you,…Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The adulteress was guilty; she was caught in the act and no one denies that she is guilty. When Jesus tells her not to do it any more, he implies that he knows she’s guilty. According to the Law, she should be stoned to death.

Note that Jesus never says that she should not be stoned because he forgave her of her sin. In fact he never said that she shouldn’t be stoned. Quite the opposite: he tacitly agrees that she should indeed be stone, but he stipulates that the first stone should be thrown by one without sin. The original Law never stipulates that the adulterer should be stoned only by those without sin – that is Jesus’ modification to the Law (or perhaps it is his supreme understanding of the law). But let’s accept that Jesus, being the Son of God and all, has the right to modify the Law (or is better qualified to interpret it than anyone else). Then according to the law as Jesus redefined it or reinterprets it, the adulteress should be stoned, but one without sin could cast the first stone.

Wasn’t Jesus without sin? Then by Jesus’ own words, he should have thrown the first stone. In fact, didn’t Jesus have an obligation to throw the first stone so that his Law would be upheld? By failing to throw the stone, Jesus violates a Law that he agrees should be upheld – which is a sin.

Here is the full dialog (NIV version):

Joh 8:3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group
Joh 8:4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.
Joh 8:5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
Joh 8:6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
Joh 8:7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Joh 8:8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Joh 8:9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
Joh 8:10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
Joh 8:11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”


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