Religion, religious, spiritual, and philosophy

“Bible philosophy is not an abstract monologue but a Dialogue with God” (anonymous).

            Several terms are associated with religious topics in discussions and some terms overlap and some offer a distinct difference. Only the differences in meanings will be discussed here: religion, spirituality, religious, and philosophy.

            Religion is defined as the belief and worship of a superhuman with controlling powers, especially a personal God or gods. It involves a relationship with God; and further defined as a system of faith. In the worldly sense, it is a pursuit or interest which someone ascribes supreme importance such as “Consumerism is the new religion;” or “I religiously brush my teeth every morning.” The Dali Lama expresses his stance as “My religion is kindness.” Generally speaking, the consensus of most scholars is that to be a true religion, there must be a god. Belief in God is what determines a religion. Buddhists do not believe in a god, but instead, they believe that people can become godlike.

            Some people claim to be spiritualbut not religious; this stance is also known as “spiritual but not affiliated.” The basis for this terminology describes a group of people who take issue with organized religion’s claim to be the only or most important means of furthering spiritual growth. Being spiritual means that a person does not need a brick-and-mortar building or community. Furthermore, they do not believe they have to be involved with an organized church to live a life of faith.

            How many times have you heard someone say that they feel closer to God in the woods or other places in nature where they can find peace and meditate on Godly thoughts?  I have heard many testimonies about leaving a church. Some were about false teachings, the pastor acted like a dictator, women not respected, dogmatic doctrine was shoved down their throats that claimed that if you did not believe their way, you would go to hell and the worst of all the sexual harassment from clergy. Having suffered some of those experiences, I believe it’s no wonder that people embrace spirituality. However, not everyone having bad experiences abandons churches entirely. They try to find denominations that seriously and unbiased offer them fellowship and Bible teachings, not someone else’s made-up doctrine.

            Philosophyat its core questions the nature of the universe and existence that do not necessarily presume the reality of God. Generally, it is a rational investigation whereas religion often makes the same kind of truth claims but does not claim to base it on reason or rationality, but instead it is based on other things like faith. Philosophy of Religion is the branch of philosophy that is concerned with the philosophical study of religion, including arguments over the nature and existence of God, religious language, miracles, prayer, the problem of evil, and the relationship between religion and other value-systems such as science and ethics.

            In conclusion, each stance on religion, being religious, spiritual, or philosophical can overlap with each other to some extent, but they each can stand alone. Your personal experiences will determine your stance on a belief system. 

Pure, Less Pure, and False Churches

Pure, Less Pure, and False Churches

Note: I highly recommend that readers refer to the New Testament books of the Bible as a reference source. Church in the context of this article means a community of believers.

            Referencing the Christian groups that the Apostle Paul and other apostles oversaw, Paul was pleased with the progress and steadfastness of maintaining the correct and moral doctrine of the Philippian and Thessalonian churches. In comparison, Paul found serious doctrinal and moral problems at Corinth and Galatia. (Grudem, 1994). Here we see examples of more pure churches and two who are less pure and perhaps false churches. As a preventive measure, pure and very pure Christian groups, created in churches, are discouraged. Instead unity is encouraged and its degree of freedom from division among true Christians. The term, “true Christians,” is compared to Christians who claim the faith in name only. There is the concern that the latter group may put the unity of a church in question. However, we are encouraged to keep working for the unity of true believers (Bromiley in EDT, page 1127-28).

What is a church?

             In general consensus among Biblical scholars, the church is the community of all true believers for all time (Eph. 5:25; 1: 22-23; Matt. 16:18). Christ builds the churches according to the pattern set by God in the Old Testament. However, new privileges and blessings are given, by God, to the people of God in the New Testament (Grudem, 1994). George Ladd (1974) defined a church as the Kingdom, but not the Kingdom itself. Jesus’ disciples belong to the Kingdom as the Kingdom belongs to them, but they are not the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the rule of God; the church is a society of man.  

            McGrath (2011) reminds us that there us is a visible and in invisible church. The invisible church is as God sees it. We cannot see the spiritual condition of people’s heart. We see the visible church as its members come to worship and outward evidence of inward spiritual change (2Tim. 2:19; Heb. 12:23).

What makes a church more pure?

            Ephesians 5: 26-27 gives us one example to follow; other requirements in accordance are as follows:

Biblical doctrine [correct preaching of the Word]

Correct use of the sacraments

Correct use of church doctrine

Genuine heartfelt worship

Effective prayer [not for show]

Effective witness

Effective fellowship

Bible church government

Spiritual power in ministry

Personal holiness of the life among the congregation

Care for the poor

Love for Christ

(Grudem, 1994).

A word of caution

            Classical liberal Protestantism is humanistic and its approach for primarily human-centered dogma instead of God-centered doctrine. Signs to look for are basically as follows:

Shifting to impure doctrine, activities, preaching and counseling and the preacher becoming dictator-like. False teaching may begin with a certain verse that the preacher selects to prove a point without presenting other verses on the same topic. I have seen churches split over this conduct. In addition, look for a repeated emphasis in counseling for you to seek self-help articles in magazines or secular psychologists. Take note if there is a decrease in times of prayer and application of Scripture to daily situations. (Grudem, 1994; Berry, 2019).


            The Christian church is a group of Christ-loving, Bible believing people of all social levels. They meet in homes, large buildings, or the great outdoors to praise and worship God. Church groups are not perfect and are composed of the saved and sinners alike who want to hear the Word of God.  The church at large, no matter the denomination, to be as pure as possible.


Bromiley, G. W. In EDT, pp. 1127-28.

Grudem, W. (1994). Systematic theology: An  introduction to Bible doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI.        Zondervan.

Luther, M, (1539). On the Councils to the Church.

McGrath, A. (2011). Christian theology: An introduction (5th ed.). Malden MA. Wiley-Blackwell.

Scientific and Christian viewpoints

Copyright 2019 by Joan Berry

Scientific and Christian viewpoints may appear at first to be opposing, but a closer look will reveal that they are very much in agreement and that science is not the enemy of the Biblical account of the Creation. The Creation has always been a matter of great interest to Christians as well as to those in the various fields of science. Admittedly, neither the Bible nor the Creation account were written to be sources of scientific information, but they have had an intriguing attraction for scientific investigation that many times resulted in confirmation of what Christians have taken in faith all along. From a Christian’s perspective, the creation account was where God first revealed himself; the purpose of his creations; and a as a triune God who set a plan of salvation in place that led to the New Testament and Jesus Christ. This essay will not cover theories of evolution; the topics will be limited to the importance of Genesis, purpose of creation, comparison to a Mesopotamian creation myth, Biblical creation process, and examples of agreement between science and the Biblical account of Creation.

“In the beginning . . .,” the first words of Genesis set the stage to explain the origins of our planet, nature, mankind, and God’s purpose for us. God did not need humans for company or a new place to live, he created the Earth and its inhabitants as a means to have a relationship and dwell with mankind who was expected to worship him and take care of the paradise he created for them (Hill & Walton, 2009, pp. 23, 58). God showed his presence as he created the cosmos as a place he wanted to be, and then Adam and Eve lost this special presence of God when they sinned, and God again introduced his presence in the covenant with them as to what their lives would bring to them (Hill & Walton, 2009, pp. 77-78; Gen. 3 NIV).

God could have destroyed his creation of mankind for their disobedience, but in his mercy and grace spared their lives and banished them from the garden. In the New Testament Adam is referred to as a type of him who was to come (Rom. 5:14) indicating that in some way that Jesus is connected. According to the NKJV (2007), we should consider that both came into the world under unusual circumstances as sinless people: Adam as the head of the old creation and Jesus as the head of the new creation and as such God had planned for our salvation from the beginning (p.2). It should be mentioned here that God is a triune God (God, the father (Is. 40:28), Jesus, the son (Col. 1:16), and the Holy Spirit (Job 33:4).  There are many other references and these are but a few examples: Matt. 29:19 and II Cor. 13:14. During the creation process in Genesis 1:26, there is a reference … let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, which most Christians also take to mean a triune God head is involved. Some scholars think that the plural of god was often used during this epoch but meant one god, but the other verses throughout the Bible seem to refute that and Genesis implies that God being a spirit, was not talking about angels or other created beings.

Genesis has similarities to Sumerian and Mesopotamian creation myths and because these texts are older, some believe Genesis was developed from those sources, but there are major differences (Hill & Walton, 2009, p 81). The creation myths are the product of pagan societies that assigned gods to everything, but in Israelite religion there was the one and only God. For example, there was no moon god or goddess, God made the moon for light and a way to note the change of seasons – function. Mankind was created in the image of God and the world was created for them. In mythology, mankind was an afterthought and presented as a slave to the many pagan gods (Hill & Walton, 2009, p 83). Genesis presents mankind as very special: the crown of creation, made in the image of God, and granted a priestly identity at creation (Skillen, 2011, p 123).  Skillen (2011) posits that this was a revolutionary break with mythologies and the pagan bond was broken forever; mankind had, under God, dignity, purpose, and freedom and was empowered (p. 123).

Genesis  is literature and the record of the “beginnings” including the foundations  of Old Testament theology and was not meant to be a source of scientific information, however archaeologists use its content to locate ancient ruins  and scientist consult  it in their investigations of nature and the cosmos (Hill & Walton, 2009, p 78). It must be remembered that science uses methods to study material things (matter and energy) and expresses results in materialistic terminologies – the mechanics of how something works, but not the meaning and purpose (Lucas, 2005, p 140).  An example given by Lucas was that two people were standing on a beach; one was a scientist and the other was a Boy Scout. They both saw a bright light flashing at intervals at sea. The scientist was excited by the intensity and distance and wondered what its source could be. The Boy Scout saw it as an SOS signal and ran for help and saved many lives. The scientist could not get beyond the technical aspect of the light’s properties to wonder who was holding the light and why – the primary reason (p 140).  The point could be made that God gave us the capacity to understand that science is an acceptable and often necessary way to find the truth about nature. The Bible has its limitations  which does not include detailed information about scientific matters for example a course in astronomy, but we have been made in God’s likeness and are able to understand the truths in his created order which is something that modern scientists have come to realize (Lucas, 2005, pp. 143-145). 

Creations that scientists have pondered are many and several will be briefly discussed here as examples of their investigations including some that are a little controversial.  In the Bible firmament means heavens, and the root word refers to something hammered out as metal as a bracelet (NKJV, 2007, note p. 4). Using this as a background for Gen. 1:6, scientists believe the separation of the water above and below is a reference to the asteroid belt which separates the outer gaseous planets from the terrestrial planets (inside planets) and forms a circle as a bracelet. From 1974-1982, the  National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) probes, Voyagers and Pioneers, detected ice and water on Neptune and Uranus, Saturn’s moons and rings, and Venus. And we know from recent robot probes on Mars that there is water there, also (NASA Missions, 2012 updated).

            In Genesis 2:7, God made man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him. This is thought of as molding man from clay (NKJV, 2007, note p. 6). Beginning in the 1960s, scientists discovered that clay has the properties of being able to store and transfer energy and contains some of the building blocks of life. This was further confirmed in 1985 by the American Research Center (Klein, n.d.).

            Following are a few examples from a compiled list of scientific proofs of the Bible by J. N. Clayton (n.d.):

            A place in the north void of stars was found in the 19th century and the Earth is held in place by invisible forces was discovered in 1650 (Job 26:7NIV):He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. Arcturus and other stars move through space was discovered in the 19th century (Job 38:32 NIV).

Isaiah, in the 8th century BC, declared the earth was round, discovered in modern times in the 15th century (Isaiah 40:22): He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

Blood is necessary to life discovered in the 17th century (Lev. 17:11 NIV): For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Only three centuries ago the complete meaning of what blood meant to life was discovered by William Harvey (Merrill, 1991, pp. 35-36).

Psalms 8:8the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Oceans were discovered to have natural guided streams (or paths) in 1854.

Genesis 1:2 NIV: Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Earth was in nebular form initially, discovered in 1911.


Even though science confirms what we already have accepted as truth through God, we must remember that upon learning through science out of curiosity does not eliminate the revelation of the nature of God; and that science tried to explain things without God being involved. It is important to understand that God created (Hill & Walton, 2009, p 96).  The purposes of Genesis were to present God as the Creator of all, to give the account of origins of the cosmos, and proclaim the assumption that God existed and that he planned from the beginning to lead us to Christ and salvation (Lucas, 2005, p 151).


Book sources:

Hill, A. E., & Walton, J. H. (2009). A survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Life Application Study BibleNew International Version (NIV). (2005). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers

Merrill, E.H., (1991). An historical survey of the Old Testament (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic

New King James Version Study Bible (NKJV), (2nd ed.), (2007). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc

Electronic sources:

Clayton, J.N. (n.d.). Scientific proof of the Bible. Retrieved from http://www.kingjamesbible

Klein, D.R. (n.d.). Organic chemistry. Retrieved from

Lucas, E. (2005). Science and the Bible: are they incompatible? Science And Christian Belief, 17(2), 137-154. Retrieved from

NASA Missions. (2012 updated). Voyager and Pioneer missions chart. Retrieved from

Skillen, J. W. (2011). The seven days of creation. Calvin Theological Journal, 46(1), Retrieved from

Magog is not Russia

Read Japheth: Son of Noah to learn who Magog really is: Mistranslation of Hebrew words are not uncommon in the Old Testament. There were different versions of this ancient language due to distance between tribes and therefore hard to get the translations always correct. It has taken centuries to get it right. It is still the Word of God; it’s the translators believing they are correct are the problems, but overall, they have done their best and modern technology and finding the Dead Sea Scrolls have helped immensely. Always check the notes in your Bibles for clarification. The Torah commentary has great notes and you do not have to be Jewish to appreciate them. The new King James version study Bible is another good source. The NIV is also good. I do not use the paraphrased Bibles at all and I never recommend them. SEE the series on Noah and sons on pages 11 and 12. You might find an ancestor. Many biblical scholars jumped to the conclusion that Rosh meant Russia. This was improper research and nowhere else is it used – trying to find similar words in English. In its proper Hebrew language “rosh” means first, primary, and prominent. Magog is the most prominent son of Japheth, Magog, Tubal, and Mechech were first to settle Turkey.

Two Bethlems in the Holy Land: Comment

Two Bethlems in the Holy Land: Comment

Copyright 2019 by Joan Berry

It came to my attention lately about two communities in the Holy Land being named Bethlehem. It is not a secret by any means that both claim to be the birth place of Jesus. And just as we have cities throughout our country bearing the same name, so do other countries.  The Bethlehem we are most familiar with is the one about five miles south of Jerusalem on Israel’s West Bank; the other one is located about eight miles from Nazareth and about 100 miles north from the one near Jerusalem.  Bethlehem is mentioned in Joshua 19: 15 as Bethlehem of Zebulun (tribe allotted this land). In what we know as Judah, Bethlehem was formally known as Ephrath (Gen. 35: 16 and 19). Rachael gave birth to Benjamin near the Bethlehem near Nazareth where she died, but her shrine is located near Jerusalem

Argument #1: Because Jesus’ family was centered in Nazareth; many archeologists believe that he was born in the Bethlehem in Galilee. Also, the ministry of Jesus was mainly in Galilee and the Kineret (Aviram Oshri of the Israeli Antiquities Authority).

“Mary rode on top of the donkey at the end of her pregnancy – and I asked myself, what are the chances that the baby would still be alive if she rode all the way to Bethlehem in Judea ?” said Dr. Oshri. “Zero. Whereas the distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is possible.”
“If you ask me, Jesus was born in Nazareth,” said archaeologist Dr Uzi Dahari. “At that time in the Roman period, people didn’t move from place to place. All of his family is from Nazareth.”

Archaeologists also report that no archeology evidence has been found to prove that the Bethlehem in Judea was the birth place of Jesus. Where as the one in Galilee has produced finds from the time of Jesus as well as a fortified wall mentioned in ancient documents. Excavation of both Bethlehems is ongoing. (Dr Uzi Dahar).

There is an excellent report on this topic at that I highly recommend. (scroll down to Rachael’s tomb)

Argument #2

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times.”

Situated on the main highway to Egypt, it was known variously as Ephrath (Genesis 35:16), Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:2), Bethlehem-Judah (1 Samuel 17:12), and “the city of David” (Luke 2:4).

Argument #3

A general summary is that the birth of Jesus was written in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, well past anyone living at the time of Jesus. The Matthew 2: 6 verse does not occur in Old Testament prophesies as it is presented in Matthew. As to Rachael’s tomb, only a shrine to her is located seven miles south of Jerusalem. Her tomb is located near the Bethlehem in Galilee where she died. She died too far from family burial caves near Jerusalem to be interred there. At the time of Rachel, the main highway known as the Patriarch’s Thoroughfare went through the Nazareth area. Also, in Rachael’s time, the Bethlehem in Judea did not exist. The Bethlehem of Galilee was a thriving town in the 1st century (Oshri, 2012).

Further  information: The seven differences between Judea and Galilee M