What Christianity Is Not

What Christianity Is Not and What It Is

It is interesting to read atheist websites and realize the basis for their atheism. In many cases, atheists say the reasons they don’t believe in God are the same reasons I had when I was an atheist. If those reasons were valid, I would still be an atheist today. Let’s consider what Christianity is not:

JUDAIZED CHRISTIANITY: Many of us do not care for ritual or ceremony. We also have little or no use for those who claim their position in life makes them of greater importance than others. The biblical concept of Christianity also rejects those things. In Acts 15:5, some wanted to force religious rituals on the gentile Christians. Verse 10 tells us the leaders rejected that idea. In Matthew 15:1-9, Christ soundly rejected human caste systems and traditions. In 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, we read that God takes us wherever we are in life. Galatians 3:26-28 makes it clear that in authentic Christianity, everyone is equal no matter what their race, sex, or ethnicity.

LEGALIZED CHRISTIANITY: As an atheist, I saw Christianity as a long list of “don’ts.” Everything I wanted to do was a “no no,” and if you engaged in it, you had massive piles of guilt heaped upon you. It took me a long time to understand that you don’t earn salvation in the Christian system. It is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). In 1 Corinthians 13, we find that there are three things a Christian should have – “faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love.” Legalism is what Christianity is not.

LAWLESS CHRISTIANITY: Closely related to legalized Christianity is “lawless Christianity,” in which a person or a group of persons spell out what is okay and what is not okay. There is no written authority in lawless Christianity. Instead, the rules are laid down and interpreted by a religious leader. The “clergy/laity” system is not logical or biblical. Humans are not only selfish and ignorant, but they are prone to power struggles. In many cases, lawless Christianity has turned the Christian system into an entertainment business. I can get better entertainment in the secular world than any human or group of humans can produce in a church building.

Don’t reject God because of what Christianity is not. Read James 1:27, Matthew 25:31-40 ,and Acts 2:38-47. There you will see that Christianity changes people, makes the world a better place to live, and fulfills one of the most important needs we all have. That is the need for a reliable and functional spiritual experience, because we are created in the spiritual image of God.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Evolution Is Not Creation

Evolution Is Not Creation

An error shared by some creationists and some evolutionists is confusing evolution with creation. One problem is that the terms “creation” and “evolution” do not mean the same thing to different people. Regardless of how we use the terms, evolution is not creation. Evolution and creation are two completely different subjects that are only very remotely related.

We see the concept of creation in the very first verse of Genesis 1. “Reshith Elohim bara shamayim erets” is the Hebrew of this verse. Each of these words has great significance:

Reshith tells us that there was a beginning to time, space, and matter-energy. Our studies in quantum physics continue to support that statement.

Elohim is a plural word for God and conveys the power and nature of the agent that produced the beginning.

Barais a word used only in reference to God and implies a process beyond human capacity to reproduce.

Shamayim refers to “heaved up things,” meaning the expanding universe.

Erets refers to our functional planet. It is used 648 times in the Old Testament.

A person might deny God as the causal agent of time, space, and matter-energy. Nevertheless, the creation’s characteristics strongly suggest intelligence and wisdom. However, this entire subject has very little to do with evolution. “Evolution” means “unfolding change.” The evolutionist starts with the assumption that not only time, space, and matter-energy existed, but that they existed in a form that allowed change to take place.

Many evolutionary scientists bring into their thinking the question of God’s role in shaping what He had already created. The other option is naturalistic evolution which attributes all we see in the natural world to chance. But, regardless of how you define the terms, realize that evolution is not creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

For some interesting points on this topic from the perspective of a scientist who is a Christian, we suggest “How might God have Guided Evolution? Scientific and Theological Viewpoints” by Dr. Peter Bussey. It was published in the June 2021 issue of the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. Dr. Bussey is Emeritus Reader in Physics with the University of Glasgow in Scotland and works with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and its Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator.

The Big Bang and Creation

The Big Bang and Creation

We receive many interesting questions from our readers, and recently we received this one about the big bang and creation:

“Dr. John Mather, head of the new telescope project, explains that the ‘Big Bang’ is not correctly understood as the universe having one exact beginning point. Rather that its beginning was everywhere at once as evidenced by galaxies all moving away from each other, and residual heat of the “big bang” being somewhat uniform everywhere we look.”

We could blame this misunderstanding on Dr. Fred Hoyle, who coined the term “big bang,” but as teachers of physics and astronomy, we are probably guilty of contributing to it. When we hear the term “big bang,” we think of an explosion. An explosion assumes some material existed, and it blew up like a bomb. That is a mistaken perspective. The big bang didn’t start with a singularity that already existed. The modern understanding of the big bang is that space and time came into existence in a form we call “spacetime.”

We struggle with the concept of the big bang and creation because
we cannot envision a condition where neither space nor time existed. We live in a three-dimensional universe and are familiar with X, Y, and Z on a cartesian graph. We know that we can plot any of these dimensions against time. If we move along the ground in direction X at a certain speed, we can plot the distance moved against the elapsed time. When a rocket goes straight up, you can plot Y against time. There is a third direction at right angles to both X and Y that we call Z, and we can plot it against time. But what is time? It’s a fourth-dimensional quantity that you can’t define. You can say it is “what keeps everything from happening at once,” but that is not a definition but a consequence of time.

The big bang concept agrees with Genesis 1:1 that space and time began, but not as an explosion. If space was created, then everything embedded in space was also created. Only action from dimensions beyond our own (X, Y, Z, and time) could do that. So as we consider the big bang and creation, we must ask what could be the source of creation that existed outside of space and time?

You can argue that it wasn’t God, but that doesn’t hold much water. We must account for the design we see in the cosmos, and chance doesn’t even try to do it. The big bang is an excellent proof of creation by God. The Bible describes God as an intelligence outside of space and time who created space and time. We don’t need to understand everything about creation to have faith in God. However, science strongly reinforces the adage that “the more you know of the creation, the closer you get to God.” As science advances in its understanding of the design of the cosmos, the existence of God becomes more and more evident.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Christmas Facts and Fiction

Christmas Facts and Fiction
What’s wrong with this picture?

The “Does God Exist?” program is an effort to show that science and faith are friends and not enemies. At this time of year, atheists and skeptics criticize the celebration of Christmas and say the facts are not consistent with scientific evidence. Most of the complaints we see are about things that show up in TV shows and Christmas cards but are not actually in the Bible. The biblical account of the birth of Christ comes from two sources. They are the Jewish writer Matthew (Matthew 1:18-2:23) and the gentile writer Luke (Luke 1:26-2:20). Mark and John do not record the birth of Christ. We need to separate Christmas facts and fiction.

Many of the complaints about the Christmas story revolve around the star of Bethlehem. The shepherds of Luke 2:8-20 never saw a star, nor did Herod. Matthew 2:1-12 tells about the star and the “wise men from the east.” The “wise men,” or “magi” in the original language, were Persian astronomers or priests. Magi were present in Arabia, India, Assyria, and Persia, and they were most likely astrologers. We don’t know how many there were, nor do we know their names. They went first to Jerusalem, not Bethlehem. The Jewish priests knew from Micah 5:1-2 where the Messiah would be born, but they didn’t know when, nor did Herod.

In Matthew 2:9-10, the star led the magi to a house (verse 11), not a stable. A celestial star would not lead to a particular house, and the Christ child was no longer in a manger but a house. The Bible records several times when people were led by what the Bible calls a “Shekinah,” which was a pillar of fire or cloud. (See Exodus 13:21, 24:17, 40:38; Ezekiel 1:28,10:18-19, 11:23). This was a purposeful miracle of God, not a celestial event. In other words, the image on your Christmas card is almost certainly not accurate.

Separating Christmas facts and fiction, there are two uncontested facts in the biblical account. One is that Jesus Christ came to save all people, and the magi were Gentiles, so this was not just a Jewish event. The second is that Christ fulfilled prophecies written long before His birth. Isaiah 7:14 repeated in Matthew 1:23 and Micah 5:2 repeated in Matthew 2:6 are clear. The prophecy of Hosea 11:1 was repeated in Matthew 2:15. Jeremiah 31:15 was repeated in Matthew 2:18. Isaiah 40:3 was repeated in Matthew 3:3.

When we separate Christmas facts and fiction, it takes considerable faith to believe that the fulfillment of those Bible prophecies was just a hoax. Trying to find ways to reject what the Bible says and live in defiance of God offers no reward and no incentive to live constructively. However, believing in Jesus and acting on that faith can bring blessing and purpose to our lives.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Lost Loved Ones at Christmas

Lost Loved Ones at Christmas

Christmas should be a time of joy, love, celebration, and family. Unfortunately, for many of us, the glitz and color of Christmas are dimmed by the loss of a loved one during the previous year. The family traditions of the holiday season are painful reminders of lost loved ones at Christmas.

For me personally, this Christmas has an empty feeling. Christmas was my son Tim’s favorite time of year. He couldn’t see the decorations because of his blindness, but he enjoyed remembering the trees we had when he was a child and could see. He was in his fifties but still wanted to have his large stocking full of the usual Christmas foods and small toys like a squeeze ball or a bottle of perfume. He loved Christmas music and could sing all of the familiar songs. His sisters frequently sent him singing cards which he played until the batteries wore out.

I share that with you because I know that many of our “regulars” have had a tough year and are missing their lost loved ones at Christmas. Christmas will bring some pain for them, knowing that the usual things we did together can no longer happen. Someone who shared this experience was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote the words to a great Christmas song in 1863. Longfellow’s first wife died in childbirth in 1859. In 1861 his second wide died from burns. In 1863 his son joined the Union army and was very severely wounded and near death.

As Christmas approached in 1863, Longfellow composed the poem that is one of our Christmas standards:

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day. Their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on Earth, good will to men. And I thought how, as the day had come, the belfries of all Christendom, had rolled along the unbroken song of peace on earth good will to men. Still ringing, singing on its way, the world revolved from night to day, a voice, a chime, a chant sublime of peace on earth, good will to men. And in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said; for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men. Then peeled the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead, nor does He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth good will to men.”

If you, like me, are staring at an empty stocking this Christmas, stem the tears by remembering that the story of the baby in the manger ended with an empty tomb. So too will we one day be reunited with the lost loved ones at Christmas we miss so terribly now. With that in mind, have a great Christmas holiday.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Santa Claus and Jesus Christ

Santa Claus and Jesus Christ

In my radio debate with Jon Murray, he said that he didn’t believe in God for the same reason he didn’t believe in Santa Claus. I understand where he is coming from because many folks equate Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. The sad commentary is that many who claim to be Christians cannot tell you why they believe what they believe because they have only a shallow, inherited faith.

The Santa character originated from a 4th century Greek Catholic bishop in Lycia. He came into the western culture in 1823, and a 1930 Coca-Cola ad popularized him as a man in a red suit. Here are some contrasts between Santa Claus and Jesus Christ:

1) Santa lives at the North pole and Christ is omnipresent (Acts 17:24-28)
2) Santa rides in a sleigh, and Jesus walks on water.
3) Santa is oblivious to our problems, and Christ has lived them (Hebrews 4:15).
4) Santa comes once a year while Christ is with us 24/7/365 (Matthew 28:20).
5) Santa gives us stuff we don’t need. Christ gives us everything we really need (Matthew 7:7).
6) Santa invades while Jesus stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20).
7) You stand in line to see Santa. Jesus is always accessible (Acts 17:28).
8) Santa asks your name while Jesus knows your past (Psalms 139:15).
9) Santa chastises (better not cry) while Jesus offers help (Matthew 11:29).
10) Santa makes toys while Jesus makes new life (Romans 6).


This is not just a cute comparison. It is where we all live. Do we want new toys (a boat, car, TV, etc.), or do we need healing, an easier burden, and freedom from the problems our toys bring us? If you want an inflatable 15-foot Santa in your front yard, have at it, but remember, those are just toys.

The evidence for Jesus being the Son of God is massive, and you can see it especially in the effect it has had on the lives of men and women for many centuries. Santa is about physical things in a material universe. Jesus is about spiritual things in an eternal universe. Equating Santa Claus and Jesus Christ causes us to deny reality and miss a great answer to the real issues of life.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Joseph is the Unsung Hero of the Birth of Jesus

Joseph is the Unsung Hero of the Birth of Jesus

Mary receives most of the attention as the mother, but Joseph is the unsung hero of the birth of Jesus. Of course, the virgin birth was a miracle, but how would most men have responded to the situation in which Joseph found himself?

Mary and Joseph were Jews following Jewish complex and time-consuming protocol for marriage. In the presence of two witnesses, the groom would make a verbal declaration to the bride accompanied by a gift. The couple was then legally married, and to void the marriage required a divorce. However, the couple did not live together for a year as the bride continued living in her father’s house. When the year ended, the groom would take the bride to his family home, and the couple would live together as husband and wife. A rabbi told me the purpose of this procedure was to make sure the woman was not pregnant. Matthew 25:1-6 describes this wedding custom.

The problem, in this case, is that Mary fails the test. She was showing a baby bump and “found to be with child.” As a result, Jesus would be considered an illegitimate child, and that stigma would be used against him. In John 8:39-41, we see the enemies of Jesus protesting that they were not illegitimate. Joseph is between a rock and a hard place. He loves Mary, but Jewish law urges him to divorce her. Furthermore, the public disclosure of this situation could mean that she could be stoned.

At this point, Joseph has a dream (Matthew 1:20-25) in which an angel tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Afraid of what? Afraid of breaking the Jewish law. I think most men would have assumed it was something they ate and would not have been willing to subject themselves to the ridicule and abuse that would undoubtedly come from the situation. Interestingly, the angel addresses Joseph as “Joseph, son of David.” This is the only time that title is given to anyone in the New Testament except Jesus himself. Joseph is the unsung hero of the birth of Jesus.

After the birth of Jesus, Joseph has another dream in which an angel tells him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. He immediately does it in the middle of the night (Matthew 2:13-14). This poor carpenter is told to go to a foreign country with no support. (Perhaps this is where the gift of gold from the magi came in handy.) Joseph is a man of incredible faith and courage. He ends up in Nazareth because of another dream and fades into the background as Jesus and Mary take over the historical narrative.

Joseph is the unsung hero of the birth of Jesus because he sets an example for us all. His love for Mary, his obedience to God’s commands and leadership, and his willingness to serve sacrificially are frequently overlooked. He teaches us that we can serve God in many ways. Joseph’s humility, servant attitude, and obedience set a standard for us to follow.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Choose Wisely – It Matters

Choose Wisely – It Matters

Every parent knows that it is tough to release our children into the world, to allow them to do things and make their own decisions. We don’t want them to make bad choices, and we are afraid they will fail or get hurt. Every parent has to realize that there is a point where we have to let go of our children, but we just want them to choose wisely.

If we didn’t love them, it wouldn’t be so hard. But, we know that for our children to be truly human, they have to make choices, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. But, we ache for them when they choose wrongly.

Sometimes we let go too soon and sometimes too late. That’s because we are choosing when to let go, and sometimes our choices are wrong. We can all look at our lives and realize that we are guilty of sometimes making bad choices.

Imagine how God must feel. He created humans and let them go by giving them free will. He knew they would make bad choices, but the alternative would be to make them robots, not humans. Robots can’t love, and since God is love (1 John 4:8), He wants us to love Him.

God had no choice but to allow us to have free will because He created us to be persons who would freely choose to love Him. Therefore, it’s up to us to choose wisely.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Is Satan Real?

Is Satan Real?

Is Satan real? When you hear the name “Satan,” what do you visualize? Some people think of a man in a red bodysuit, with horns, and holding a pitchfork. Many years ago, the movie “Damn Yankees” presented Satan as a human who wore a three-piece suit and made deals with humans. Charlie Daniels had a hit song titled “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” in which he told of a fiddle contest between “Johnny” and the “Devil.” Great music, but very little theological credibility. The comic strip “Far Side” frequently had a picture of Satan and people in hell, making it a childish belief to ridicule.

The biblical concept is very different and very real. The Hebrew word “satan” comes from a word meaning adversary or accuser. First Chronicles 21:1 says, “Satan rose up against Israel and excited David to take a census of Israel.” This is clearly not a physical person but a spiritual being with a purpose to incite David to oppose God’s will. In Job 1 and 2, Satan afflicts Job not as a physical person but by causing natural forces to bring pain and misery.

In the New Testament, two Greek words in Greek become relevant.Diabolos” is translated as the devil. “Beelzebub” means “Lord of the flies” and is based on the name of a pagan Philistine deity. The Jews of Jesus’ day used it to refer to the chief among evil spirits. They accused Jesus of doing miracles by Beelzebub (See Matthew 12:24, 27). Ephesians 2:2 and 43 other passages, Satan is used to describe the sinful ways of the world. Is Satan real? The answer is YES, and here are five biblical concepts of Satan that we need to understand:

# 1. There is a war going on between good and evil. Atheists such as Ricard Dawkins deny that good and evil exist, but most of us have seen it first hand. Ephesians 3:10 and 6:12 tell us that God’s purpose for the Church is to join the spiritual conflict between good and evil.

#2. Angels are not a useful tool for this war. In 2 Peter 2:4, we find that some of them sinned, but they cannot repent since repentance needs time, and they don’t experience time.

#3. Satan’s attacks are primarily spiritual, not physical. Matthew 16:23 tells us that Satan entered Peter, and Luke 22:3 says the same about Judas. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 Satan masquerades as an “angel of light,” and his servants masquerade as “servants of righteousness.”

#4. Satans methods involve lying and sowing bad seeds.
(See Matthew 13:24-30.) He also imitates and twists God’s blessings – sex twisted to porn, faith twisted to politics, drink twisted to intoxication, etc. James 4:7 tells us resisting Satan makes him flee, and God promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that there will always be a way of escape for Christians.

#5. Is Satan real? Logic and common sense make it foolish to deny Satan. Good and evil do exist. There is a spiritual force in evil. However, God is also real. First Peter 5:6-9 tells us that we have a purpose for our existence. Atheistic denial of evil leaves no purpose for human existence. Revelation 21:3-5 describes the ultimate result of following Christ. For those who oppose God, there is no future beyond the present.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Halloween in History

Halloween in History

Have you ever taken the time to check out the history of Halloween? Halloween is not a satanic holiday, and witches or warlords did not invent it. The actual origins began in the Catholic Church in Ireland and Scotland, and it also has Celtic roots.

The original name was “All Hallows Day.” In Ireland and Scotland, it celebrated the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. The Celtics commemorated the holiday with a feast and with games based on food. In A.D. 606, Pope Boniface made it a celebration of the martyrs, and later, Pope Gregory IV initiated praying for the dead.

Over time, the Catholic Church brought “All Hallows Day” into their doctrine so that in 1200, churches rang bells to get people out of purgatory. In various western countries, people celebrated Halloween in unusual ways. In France. People prayed and left dishes of milk by graves. In Italy, people left a whole meal for the “spirits” of relatives. In Spain, people left pastries for dead relatives. None of these practices are biblical, nor are they connected to any satanic belief system.

By the end of the 19th century, people in Scotland and northern England began “guising” by wearing masks and disguises. For many, this involved wearing a costume to make fun of Satan. In 1911 this caught on in America, and by 1915, there was a combining of “guising” and providing pastries. By 1950, this had evolved into the familiar house-to-house trick-or-treat routine. For 90% of us, trick-or-treating was a fun time, and my children made it part of our family time. For my mentally challenged son, this was one of his favorite times because no one knew of his limitations, and he got the same treats as everyone else.

Satan has used Halloween as a time to bring bad things to people. A teacher friend had a very fair blond-haired daughter that Satanists tried to kidnap, allegedly for human sacrifice. We began to see stories of people putting anything from LSD to razor blades in the treats they gave to kids. The evil in the world has made Halloween suspect for many people.

Sorcery and witchcraft are as old as civilizations.
In Exodus 7, we see that Egypt had sorcerers and magicians, and Exodus 22:18 mentions witchcraft. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 describes horrible things that were happening in the countries which ancient Israel invaded. In Acts 8:9-10, Simon used sorcery to gain political power.

Christianity opposes evil and the power of Satan. We see that in 1 John 3:8, Colossians 2:15, and James 4:7. The Bible tells us that Satan cannot remove our freedom of choice. Hollywood and Disney World have given us ghost images that may terrify some, but death is a one-way street. No one comes back as a ghost, and we have nothing to fear on Halloween except what evil humans might do to us. However, that danger is always with us 24/7/365 – not just on Halloween.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The History of the Christian Church by Philip Schaff.