Issue #233 -------
February 3, 2006
The visible marks of extraordinary wisdom
and power appear so plainly in all the works
of the creation that a rational creature,
who will but seriously reflect on them,
cannot miss the discovery of a Deity.
John Locke (1632-1704)
During the past week I've been doing a bit of reflective "navel gazing" on the subject of ... well ... navel gazing. Hardly novel this pondering of the navel, especially for one who spent six years with our nation's naval forces. Whew! ... did I really just write all that?! Seriously, one might be somewhat surprised, if not stunned, to learn that the human navel, perhaps better known to most as the "belly button," has been the cause of tremendous theological debate for centuries. Specifically, the question that has led to such scholarly reflection is: Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons? I know, I know. It sounds crazy, doesn't it? It is almost as bad as the theologians of the Middle Ages arguing over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. And, yes, they did debate that point (pun intended). Although such debates sound frivolous at best, nevertheless there is some merit to several of these questions. The great belly button debate, in particular, is very much worthy of our attention and further reflection, as it raises some very serious questions that challenge a few of the very foundations of our faith. I assure you, it is far from frivolous. Indeed, how a person responds to this question -- "Did God create Adam and Eve with navels?" -- will have tremendous bearing on one's conclusions as to the nature of God Himself and this marvelous universe He has created for us to enjoy.
Before we get into the particulars of this debate, it behooves us to take note of the purpose of this mark on the human anatomy. The umbilicus (aka: belly button or navel) is the indention (often called an "innie") or protrusion (an "outie") that eventually forms as the result of the removal of the umbilical cord from a newborn child. As a fetus develops within the mother's womb, it is suspended in amniotic fluid and connected to the mother via a life-line known as the umbilical cord. This is a flexible tube that carries oxygen and nutrients to the growing fetus from the mother, and carries waste products away from the baby so that the mother's body might eliminate them. At birth, when the baby now assumes these functions for itself, the tube is removed. The belly button marks the spot where one was previously attached to one's mother, and is a visible testimony to the fact that one was a product of a natural birth. This is information with which we are all very familiar. The above is not a new revelation for anyone. However, before stating the nature of the debate before us, it was essential to restate the obvious.
Consider carefully the following -- Were Adam and Eve the products of natural childbirth? Were either of them conceived in the normal way? Were either of them carried for nine months in the womb of a woman, being nurtured during that time through an umbilical cord? Now, for the question -- Did either Adam or Eve have a belly button?! Well, how were they both created? This will help answer the question. "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (soul)" (Gen. 2:7). Woman had not even been created at this point in time, so it is obvious that Adam did not come from the womb of one. "For man does not originate from woman" (1 Cor. 11:8). This being true, then how could Adam have had an umbilicus?! The even greater question, of course, is this: would not the presence of an umbilicus be a visible testimony to a falsehood?! Such a physical mark would be a visible sign that Adam came through natural childbirth from a woman, when in fact he did NOT. Thus, if God had chosen to place such a distinguishing mark on Adam, it would have been a false witness, a testimony to a LIE. The apostle Paul wrote, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead" (1 Cor. 15:14-15). If testimony is made about something that did not occur, then that is "false witness." If testimony is made that Adam and Eve experienced a natural childbirth (evidenced by the presence of an umbilicus), and this couple did NOT originate via natural means, but rather supernatural means, then the testimony of the umbilicus is "false testimony," and the one proclaiming such (in this case God) would be a liar.
Lest one think this is all rather frivolous and trivial, and that nobody really ever gave this matter much serious thought, and that Al Maxey is getting desperate for topics for his Reflections articles, it should be noted that the question as to whether Adam and Eve ever possessed such a distinguishing mark has not only generated debate in the religious world for centuries, but has even reached into our own United States Congress! In 1944, a subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives Military Committee (chaired by Congressman Durham of the state of North Carolina) refused to authorize a little 30-page booklet titled "Races of Man," that was to be handed out to our soldiers, sailors and airmen fighting in World War II, because this little booklet had a drawing that depicted Adam and Eve with belly buttons! The members of this subcommittee ruled that showing Adam and Eve with navels "would be misleading to gullible American soldiers."
Some of the world's great artists also wrestled with this problem, as did the Roman Catholic Church. In 1646, Sir Thomas Browne, a doctor and philosopher from Norwich, published a work titled "Pseudodoxia Epidemica" in which he sought to expose some of the "vulgar errors" then present in society. He devoted an entire chapter to "Pictures of Adam and Eve with Navels." He points out that even such notables as Raphael and Michelangelo were guilty of such "vulgar errors." He declared that to paint Adam and Eve with belly buttons would be to suggest that "the Creator affected superfluities, or ordained parts without use or office." The Catholic Church, as a rule, seemed to be against artists depicting Adam and Eve with navels in their paintings, so this posed quite a problem for a number of these artists who didn't want to antagonize the church. A good many of them, therefore, chose to take the "safe path" and simply painted the couple with strategically placed foliage, long hair, or forearms blocking the abdomen. And yet Michelangelo dared to paint Adam with a navel, and to place it right there on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, for which he was accused of heresy by some theologians of his day.
At the other end of the theological spectrum, there were some who maintained that God did create Adam and Eve with navels, although there was considerable debate as to exactly when this mark was placed upon them. This is known as The Omphalos Argument, and it is sub-divided into three basic theories: Pre-, Post-, and Mid-Umbilicism. The word Omphalos is a Greek word meaning "knob," and was the word they typically employed to describe the navel. The Greeks had placed a "holy stone" in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi on the slope of Mt. Parnassus (near the Gulf of Corinth), and they called this rounded stone the Omphalos (the navel), since they believed this site marked the exact center of the universe, just as the navel is supposed to mark the center of the human body.
The man who is most often credited with being the primary promoter of this theory was the British naturalist and experimental zoologist, Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888). He was a strict biblical fundamentalist, but also an avid student of nature and a huge fan of Charles Darwin. Needless to say, he had some difficulty reconciling the two. How does one make the vast testimony of nature (the geological and biological evidence) compatible with the testimony of Scripture (which he took very, very literally)? He formulated what has come to be known as The Omphalos Argument in which he advocated the view that God created the universe, including man (Adam and Eve), with the appearance of prior history. In other words, God created trees with rings already inside the trunks that testified to years of growth, including dry and wet climate periods, all of which never actually happened. Adam and Eve were given navels to present the appearance of natural childbirth, even though such never happened. This was all advocated in 1857 in his book: "Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot."
Thus, the earth, and the entire universe, only had the appearance of an advanced age. In actuality, he declared, it was only a few thousand years old (following a very literal interpretation of the "days" of creation --- see my study of this in Reflections #56: The "Days" of Creation -- Literal or Figurative?). In essence, Gosse theorized, and many young earth creationists have taken the same view today, God created the illusion of advanced age for the purpose of making a very young earth and universe appear to be billions of years old. It was all a fabrication. Yes, the universe does indeed appear to be of ancient age, and the testimony of nature seems to uphold this, but it was simply created by God to look that way. Brethren, I completely reject this theory, as it portrays our God as the Grand Deceiver of mankind. And for what purpose? Why would He create the appearance of natural generation by giving Adam and Eve an umbilicus? Why would He lead mankind to think the universe was billions of years old (creating the illusion that this was so), when in fact it was just the opposite? Why did God fabricate fossil remains of non-existent creatures and place them into rocks simply to leave the impression of advanced geological age? Why the great deception? It is totally out of character with the revealed nature of our God.
Nevertheless, as previously noted, there are disciples of Christ who genuinely believe that Adam and Eve did possess navels, although there is some disagreement as to exactly when these were placed upon their bodies, and why. The three primary theories regarding this are as follows:
Although there are indeed a few people who embrace these views, they are not too vocal about their beliefs (as one can well imagine -- these views being extremely bizarre). These theorists rank right up there with those in the "Flat Earth Society," and other such unenlightened groups. It is my firm conviction that to suggest God created Adam and Eve with navels is to suggest He is the creator of a grand deception, and I simply am unwilling to make such an assertion about my God. The Scriptures inform us that the created universe declares the glory and majesty of our God; it is a powerful witness to who and what He is. But, if the testimony of most every aspect of our universe is a LIE, then what does that say about the One who created it?! An atheist in England wrote the following to a Christian who was advocating the "Appearance of History/Age" theory, "Would you really have us believe in an alleged divine being that behaves that way?!" This person has a very good point. Do we really want to proclaim such a God to unbelievers?! If He has intentionally deceived us in some areas, then why not in others?!
It is my conviction He has not deceived us at all. Did Adam and Eve have a navel? NO, they did not! I can say this confidently not because I have special knowledge of the nature of Adam and Eve, but because I have special knowledge of the One who created Adam and Eve. The inspired Scriptures have revealed our Creator to us, and He is not a God who sets out to create a deception, an illusion, an appearance which is completely contrary to the truth. One could never trust such a God.
The absence of navels on this first human couple would be a powerful, long-lasting witness to the creation itself, and to the power of our Creator God. Dr. Gary Parker, quoting from a study by Ken Ham, phrased it this way, and I would completely agree with this analysis: "Lack of a belly-button on Adam and Eve would be one of the biggest tourist attractions in the pre-Flood world, as the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren would come up and say, 'Why don't you have a belly-button?' And they could then recount again and again, to generation after generation, how God had created them special by completed supernatural acts" (Creation Magazine, June, 1996). The absence of a navel would testify to Truth, and our God would be glorified; the presence of a navel would testify to a Lie, and our God's glory would thereby be diminished.
From a Reader in Colorado:
Bro. Al, Thanks for another excellent, thought-provoking article. Interestingly, we just finished discussing the Lipscomb and Harding influence in the Church of Christ in our Wednesday evening class. The apocalyptic lifestyle, including pacifism, that they embraced through the influence of Stoneite preachers carried the day for many years. While I very much agree with your conclusions and politics, I wonder sometimes if when we "rid" ourselves of premillennialism and apocalyptic living, including pacifism, if we went too far and tossed the baby out with the bath water. Incidentally, the February edition of the Christian Chronicle has very good and hopeful coverage of efforts by some to re-kindle the spirit of love and unity, despite differences that marked the growth years of the Stone-Campbell Movement.
From a Minister in Oklahoma:
Bro. Al, "Christians Bearing Arms" was Excellent! I had a committed pacifist for a Bible teacher while attending a Christian college during the 50's. The only time I ever really saw him get angry was when he was asked what he would do if a bad guy was about to kill his family? He responded by saying, "I would call the police; that is what they are paid for." I asked him, "Do you mean you could ask a sinner to do for your family what you would not do for them?" Then the anger came out. Thank you for your faith and your patriotism.
From a Reader in Michigan:
Dear Al, You continue to amaze me with your insights and interesting way of presenting them! Your article "Christians Bearing Arms" is the best treatise I've ever seen on the subject. To paraphrase Nicodemus, I don't think you could write the way you do if God wasn't with you!
From a New Reader in (Unknown):
I have been sent your article concerning the question: to bear arms or not bear arms. I liked what I read. I went in as a CO, endured some abuse in basic training, and then went to Brook Army Field Hospital School. I wound up in Korea working in the Admissions & Disposition Department of the 101st Evac. Hosp., Taejon. My experiences in Korea changed my mind. I would like to be on your email list for your Reflections, please.
From a Minister in Arizona:
Bro. Al, Thank you for your thorough and excellent presentation on the issue of Christians bearing arms. The best I have ever read! I too am not a pacifist. I have carried a gun on many occasions. But, I have not served in the military for my country. On the other hand, I and my wife have served in Christian ministries with Bible colleges, as missionaries, within our Churches of Christ and Christian Churches for well over 50 years. Our children and their spouses continue to do the same in the USA and as missionaries in other countries. We also owe a big debt of gratitude to our parents who, though just farmers, lived out their Christian faith and served in their local Churches of Christ. We cannot end war, but we can do a lot more to reduce the necessity of physical conflict in our world by spreading the Word, the spiritual sword, wherever we are. This must begin with living out our faith in day to day living as He, our Lord and Commander-in-Chief, would have us to live. Then, we are also to carry the good news to the ends of the earth. These two things are not only our Commander-in-Chief's commands to each one of us, but the only long term way to reduce wars and abuses by those who know not the Christ of Calvary. Yes, short term, physical force is still going to be needed as long as we live on this earth.
From a Reader in Michigan:
Dear Al, I just finished skimming your Reflections on Bearing Arms. We can always count on you for a ton of information! Of course, I'll have to go back and spend a LONG time re-reading it. And I'm still immersed in the whole "Silence" discussion, which fascinates me. Your description of your return to this country after your tour in Vietnam brought tears to my eyes. All I can say at this point is what I tell every veteran I meet: Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice in service to our country. There was a purpose to it. I was in high school at the time, but I remember those days. I remember visiting wounded and crippled young men at the VA hospital -- kids not much older than I was. I want to believe that in the intervening years, perhaps those of us who remember what it was like for you to come home have grown a little wiser. Perhaps we understand a little better that it is essential to support our men and women in uniform regardless of how we feel about the politics of the conflict. Perhaps it's only because they've now become our sons and daughters, but I hope that no soldier ever has to hesitate to wear his or her uniform.
From a Minister/Author in Missouri:
Al, in your article you stated, "Jesus had no desire for His spiritual kingdom to be promoted at the 'pointy end of a spear.' The Crusades of the Middle Ages failed to perceive this point, and we all know the consequence of that failure." The crusaders of the Middle Ages recognized that their civilization was at risk from attacking followers of an ungodly religion which had already moved into Europe and taken parts of that continent "in the name of Allah." We hear of poor judgment by many crusaders. But overall the crusaders perceived that free civilizations were imperiled by armies intent on changing lands from free ownership to subjection to Allah. If the crusaders had not gone on the offensive, Europe would have been turned into the very same kind of countries we see now in Iran and in pre-war Iraq. We face the same dangers today as more and more followers of Islam are hospitably welcomed into our borders.
From a Reader in Texas:
Dear Al, As you know, I am a retired Colonel in the USAF. I flew fighters in WWII and also in Vietnam. At age 81, two things today bring tears to my eyes. One is the abuse of children, and that is in sorrow and anger that people do such things, or allow such things to happen. The other is Vietnam. I weep in frustrated memory. I had many friends go to Vietnam. Most came back. Some walked, some were on crutches, and some were in body bags. One is still there, I guess, as he has never been found. I am sick to death of political liberals who seem to want another Vietnam bug-out, and who are willing to let the troops get killed or wounded while they try to drive George Bush from office. What ever happened to true patriotism?! We did not "lose" the war in Vietnam. Our politicians with the backbone of a piece of soggy spaghetti refused to let us win it. I know of absolutely no professional officer who does not agree with me that we could have won that fracas. To our everlasting disgrace, by refusing to let us win, and forcing a pull-out, these politicians were responsible for the deaths of millions of people who had depended on us. Nationally, we let them down.
From a Minister in Texas:
Bro. Al, I just read and reread today's Reflections ---- Superb!! When traveling from K.C. to St. Joseph with three feet of snow on the ground and 28 degree weather, I stopped and picked up a hitchhiker who had no coat. In St. Joseph I stopped and bought him a cup of coffee, a big breakfast, and three hamburgers in a brown bag. I also gave him my coat and $20. He started to cry, then pulled out a large knife and said, "No one has ever extended such kindness to me. When you stopped to give me a lift I was going to kill you, take your coat, car and wallet, and then go on to Omaha. Thank you for your kindness." Several years later I stopped and picked up a hitchhiker standing in the rain behind a tree in 35 degree weather with no coat. Again I drove to the next town where I lived, took him into our home where my wife fixed him a plate of food and a sack of sandwiches. Again I gave him some money and a warm coat my father-in-law had given me for Christmas. Two days later a TV program, hosted by Alex Karris, about people who were wanted by the authorities, had a special report about a man who had recently killed a family and was being sought in a nation-wide manhunt. My wife called me to come look at the TV. There was the same hitchhiker I had brought home a few days earlier. That was ten years ago. Since that time I have never again stopped for another hitchhiker, have gotten a CWL (concealed weapon license), and purchased a .45 caliber pistol. I'll never allow my family to be exposed to such possibilities again. I spent two years in the Army and four years in the Air Force, and have understood the difference between murder, manslaughter, and self-defense for many years. But, I have just not been too bright, and have been much too trusting of my fellowman.
From a Reader in Hawaii:
Good Evening Al, I trust that this finds you well. I appreciated reading your thoughts about pacifism. I am a Naval officer and attend the Pearl Harbor Church of Christ. I think the corollary issue that troubles me most about fighting for one's country has little to do with the fighting or bearing of arms per se. It has much more to do with the apparent proclivity among our largely Republican, politically conservative fellowship to see the United States and God as being interchangeable, and nationalism as an outgrowth of spirituality. If our country represents God, then all wars we decide to embark upon are, by definition, just and in keeping with God's will, aren't they?! I am in the Navy. I love my country. But I do not equate the actions of the United States with the actions of God. I've seen too much. I guess as I am getting older and more experienced I am simply oozing over to the perspective that not too much of the worldly stuff we tend to worry about really matters in the long run, and that fearing God and keeping His commandments is all that is not vanity.
From a Reader in Florida:
Brother Al, I just finished reading your article on Christians bearing arms. I appreciate your approach to this controversial subject. Until recently no one in my immediate family had served in the military, but we have a son-in-law now serving in Iraq. He was deployed just days after the birth of their first child, a little girl, and I see first-hand the sacrifices he is making to put himself in danger for the sake of freedom. He and my daughter are both faithful Christians, so I can relate to this subject very well. Not only do I agree with you on Christians serving in the military and on police forces, but I firmly believe in the right of Christians to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm. I, along with several family members, have a concealed weapon permit, and carry a weapon. If my body is the temple of God, and I am charged with not destroying it myself, why would it be alright to allow someone else to destroy it? Living in a high crime area, with home invasions, car hijackings, rapes, and other types of personal attacks occurring on a daily basis, it seems to me it would be foolish not to protect one's own life and the lives of loved ones. I pray that I will never be in a situation where I would have to actually use such deadly force for protection, but I believe this is what God would want me to do if necessary. I believe I would react like the story I heard about the old Quaker who had an intruder break into his home threatening his family. The Quaker grabbed a shotgun, pointed it at the intruder and said, "My friend, I would do Thee no harm for all the world and everything that's in it. But, thou standest where I am about to shoot!" Keep up the good work, Al.
From a Reader in Oklahoma:
Al, I respect you and your writings and have always felt that you deal fairly with the topics that you address. However, in this article ("Christians Bearing Arms") you could not step away from your biases and presuppositions and deal fairly with the issue. I gave you a reasoned and logical case for my position, and yet you looked to those pacifists that you could disparage in order to try to make that position look weak. Just because the majority of American Christians believe something to be right does not always make it so. While in most articles of yours that I have read I would give a hearty "AMEN," in this one I must say that I do not believe your position to be in keeping with the teachings of the New Testament. Anyways, thanks for trying to address this issue, at least you admitted up front where your biases were regarding this issue. Whether we agree or not, Al, I still have nothing but respect for you simply because you were very honest in telling your readers what direction you were looking at the issue from. However, the ease with which you discount the pacifist position really bothers me, as if this position is somehow intellectually inferior to yours and therefore not worthy of proper respect and consideration. Nevertheless, we Baptists are known for our willingness to disagree on peripheral matters and still consider one another brothers in Christ. After all, we are called to be brothers in Christ, but not necessarily identical twins. Therefore, brother, I look forward to your next Reflections article, and again thanks for making me see the other side of the issue.
From a Reader in Texas:
Al, Just as I suspected, you did provide us with a "fair and balanced" analysis of the age old dilemma -- Flight or Fight. You covered all the basics and approached the issue from every degree on the compass. You supported and transported friends and foes to a conclusion only rational Christians can make. I would still defend with my life those who have chosen to think differently, because if they don't have their freedoms, then mine are worthless. May God continue to bless your work.
From a Reader in (Unknown):
Al, I have threatened several times to respond to your Reflections when one touches me (most do in one way or another), but I hesitate because I tend to ramble and end up making a fool out of myself. I, like so many of your other readers, was raised in "the church," baptized at the biblical age of 12, and so on. About five years ago, God lifted the scales from my eyes and He allowed me to really "see" for the first time. Your Reflections give me comfort in that we're not alone in this battle with Satan. The really sad part is, I'm now 63 years old and feel like I have wasted so many years of my Christian life. Fortunately, we go forward and not backward. You and I are not only brothers in the faith, but the world gets even smaller. I too was in Vietnam in 1969, and in the Mekong Delta. I had flown into Binh Thuy (where you were) a few times. I was an officer with the 121st AHC out of Soc Trang, and actually commanded the "Vikings" for a while, then moved up to the 4th Corps TOC at Can Tho. That was just across a couple of rice paddies from you. There will always be a close bond with anyone who flew or flew in an old "B" model Huey. I believe the Vikings and the Sea Wolves were the only two still flying them as gunships in '69. Many stories!!! I hope I haven't bored you, but just wanted to say I feel closer to you now than before your last Reflections. I pray you never loose strength in what you are doing. God has given you such a remarkable gift, and you are using it very well. When discouragement comes, and I know it has to at times, please know that you're not alone in this war. There are many soldiers fighting beside you. As long as the Lord remains our Commander, we'll win. God bless you, brother!
From a Reader in California:
Dear Brother Al, My husband was a California Highway Patrolman for 25 years. He also served in the US Army. His father was a guard in San Quentin for over 25 years, and his father's father was a minister for the Church of Christ. Omar Bradley, the 5 star General, was my husband's father's cousin. This issue has been one our family has often discussed. The next time someone suggests that Christians should not be in positions to make or enforce the laws or to execute judgment or to protect and defend the people, I suggest they contemplate what justice, punishment and even mercy would be like under the godless authority of ungodly men. "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn" (Prov. 29:2). Should the righteous serve in positions of authority? If righteous men do not lead our nation, how long before we turn against God and His ways?
As my husband performed his duties as a highway patrolman here in California, he had many opportunities to help others and prevent unnecessary deaths. He lived as a Christian both on the job and off the job. He also set an example for those officers who had no godly principles. He comforted the injured and dying. He protected the innocent from those in a position to hurt them. He prayed every day to be a good ambassador for God. He also prayed that he would never have to kill someone, but was prepared to do so. There are many evil men in the world. God recognized that fact. If good men are afraid to stand up for what is good and just, life would be terrible for those who are innocent and will become their victims. Al, you have always been so helpful to us. Thank you so much just for being there.
From an Elder in New Mexico:
Thank you, Al, for this Reflections on Christians bearing arms. I too have launched many an F-4 down the runway filled with bombs, rockets and guns. I sent many a pilot on a mission, and some didn't come back. I too wondered many a time about my actions. I agree with you on the biblical references given, nor would I not react if my family was being threatened.
From a Minister in Tennessee:
Dear Al, Amen and amen to a great article. I am challenged -- and blessed -- by your articles. Thanks so much for your labor of love.
From a Reader in Florida:
Hi Al, Enclosed is a check for the 2005 Reflections CD. Thanks so much! Your Reflections are a great blessing!
From an Elder in Texas:
Al, I appreciated your essay on war. I was registered for non-combatant service during the Korean action, since I did not feel justified in killing anyone. I had a brother who served four years during WWII; he felt it was entirely justified. I respected him and others, like yourself, who have thought through the issues and come to that conclusion. I was never convinced, though not entirely comfortable in letting others bear the brunt for my freedom. That is why I concluded that I could serve as a medic or cook or some other non-combatant position. As I recall, in Alexander Campbell's essay on this particular subject he supported capital punishment but opposed war. I agreed with him on the first issue, but was not entirely satisfied with his argument against a nation going into war. Thanks for airing the subject, and for offering a good survey of relevant positions.
From a New Reader in Ohio:
Al, I stumbled onto your web site this evening as I was trying to find out some information on Thessalonica, and what was so attractive about it that it would cause Demas to desert Paul. I have been lazy in my studies of the Word, and God led me to 2 Timothy tonight to read this, and your Reflections #229 ("Demas Hath Deserted Me"), and to ponder some of my own choices. I don't want the last words written about me to be contrary to what I have believed and lived for, and to be totally against my own desire to serve my Lord unwaveringly. Your Reflections article on Demas was perfect for my quest for more knowledge and godly wisdom. I perused a couple of other topics from your web site as well. I'm sure that I will be challenged by some of these articles, but I want to continue to "work out my own salvation," and to believe what I believe because it is substantiated in God's Truth, not because it was passed down from tradition, or because my Pastor told me. Everything that I have read on your web site so far, I have wrestled with God about at some point, and I am in agreement with your views. May God continue to use your writings for the encouragement and growth of others. I look forward to receiving them.
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