Welcome to my Agape God’s Love blog. My name is Vic Magnet and I am a South African living in Poland. This is a brief description about my journey finding Faith. I am a non-denominational, non-ecumenical Christian. I believe that while no denomination is pure, within all Christian denominations there are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Although we do have different beliefs, Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, etc., I see the division in Christianity today as being primarily between the traditional/fundamental Christians and the Modernists. And when I mention fundamentalist Christians, I don’t mean the political fundamentalists, but those Christians who stand on the fundamentals of the Christian Faith.
This story will show why.
Long ago in the distant past when I was a young lad, my mother thought Sunday school would be a good experience for me. But apparently I was one of those kids who have to keep asking the question, “But why?” The Sunday school teachers didn’t answer my “But, why?” questions, and neither could my mother. So my mother thought life was simpler if I didn’t attend Sunday school.
He problem that started here was that mainline Protestants have a modernist view of God and the Bible. Evangelicals believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. Mainstream Protestants, like Presbyterians and Lutherans, view the Bible as an historical document. It contains God’s word as well as important truths, but the Bible needs to be interpreted in every culture and age by individuals of that time and that place.
When even Sunday school teachers tell a Bible story that does not line up with the Bible, and are unable to explain their contradiction, then even a little child can understand hypocrisy is at work.
I was baptized in a Lutheran church, by there was a problem when I was to be confirmed. I was still asking questions. As I understood it, confirmation was a traditional ceremony without and sincere faith attached to it. The priest asks a set of questions and the confirmands answer with answers they have memorized. The problem was that when I asked questions relating to the Lutheran faith, I got answers such as, “In Luther’s days they were superstitious, but now we have science!”
As a thinking teenager, I thought that if I am going to be led into the Kingdom of God, then it should at least be by someone from God’s kingdom. Not a hypocritical Pharisee. So I didn’t get confirmed in the Lutheran church.
I did read the Bible. Some years later I went to a youth meeting at the same Presbyterian church where I went to Sunday school. Actually I regularly attended the monthly discos the Presbyterians hosted in their church hall. But this particular Friday youth meeting was an outreach and I was invited. There I did ask the priest a few questions, and his answer stunned me. He spoke paternalistically “down” to me like you speak to an ignorant child. This priest explained to me, that the Bible was written 2,000 years ago and they had a different culture then. We have to interpret the Bible to fit our modern culture.
So I went back home and read Jesus’ words in the Bible. Either Jesus was God and His words were Truth, or, if as the experts say, this is to be interpreted according to the ever-changing fashions and whims of culture, the Bible was a book of fairy tales.
Jesus said, “Till heaven andearth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” The priest said we don’t even know if Jesus said those words. That is a very important point.
To solve this problem, I studied what these priests (Lutheran and Presbyterian) had studied about the Bible. I discovered that in the mid 1800s in German Lutheran seminaries something called “higher textual criticism” was developed. This spread to other denominations, e.g. the Presbyterians. In this textual criticism these “theologians” dissect the Bible “scientifically.”
What they worked out was that Moses never wrote the first five books of the Bible. They were written during the Babylonian exile. And there are different versions of Bible stories, like the Creation, Adam and Eve and Noah’s flood. This these “theologians” speculated, but stated in very authoritative ways, was due to multiple authors, called J,P,D,E etc., and these authors squabbled among themselves and finally compromised by putting different versions of these stories in the Bible.
The conclusion I drew was that Christians are hypocrites, and if they don’t believe in their own religion, then why should I? I started reading Eastern spiritual literature. It was the Hippie era and this fitted well in with the times. So it was books like the Bhagavad Gita, some Vedas and a lot of Buddhist philosophy.
I did read the Koran as well. However I didn’t find the Koran convincing. Mohamed received visions as new revelations, that told him what had been written in Christian Gnostic literature hundreds of years before Mohamed’s birth. Then there was this thing about mixing up events and people separated by thousands of years and placed in the same time. The Tower of Babel, Moses and the Pharaoh, and Haman and Esther placed in the same time frame. Different people, 1,400 years apart. These and other discrepancies turned me off taking the Koran seriously.
Coming to Christ
22 years after I had turned my back on Christianity, my wife met Jesus. At first I laughed it off, Christians don’t believe in the Christ of the Bible, they believe in some “Historical Jesus,” so this “Christianity thing” will wear off. Or so I thought. After 6 months I realized that my wife’s faith was real.
I understood enough spiritual and metaphysical philosophy that a simple prayer, inviting Jesus into my heart, does not constitute real faith. Finding proof first, and then forming belief around the proof, is the way to go in science. But science is about the physical material universe, not the spiritual. Science deals with physics, not metaphysics. Nothing outside of our 4 dimensional time-space universe can possibly be studied and verified by science.
There is an important concept regarding the limits of science:
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
I understood that the only way I could test if God does interact with us on a personal level, was to interact with God on God’s conditions. So while my wife, the pastor and many of the congregation were praying the “sinner’s prayer” over me, I was praying”God, if you do have a personal relationship with us, please show me in a way I cannot deny.”
I was aware that interacting in the spiritual world means that there are not only good spirit influences, but bad ones as well. So my testing God was not only to be aware of my own inclination to imagine something that is not real, but also being deceived by bad spirits.
Over the next 6 months I had 2 occasions when I thought that I was aware of something supernatural. Both times I analyzed my thinking and how I experienced those incidences. I questioned myself, thinking if there was anything I had read or heard before that could have influenced my imagination? There could have been other events that I don’t remember as they were less intense.
Then after 6 months of praying, several times a day, for God to reveal His personal interaction with us, that it happened. It was intense and clear. It was as if I drove into a physical wall of evil. I felt it in my soul. I stopped my car in the middle of the road (it was a quiet road) and wondered, “What was that?”
I looked around and saw that I had stopped in front of a temple. I had never been along that road before. I had no knowledge of that temple’s existence. I could not have seen it out of the corner of my eye. That experience could not have come from inside me, my subconscious, or my imagination. At that point I prayed, thanking God for showing me so clearly that He does interact actively and dynamically with us.
The scripture that my first 6 months were based on Hebrews 11:6 “For he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” This experience was a clear confirmation of that.
Believing the Bible
Now my problem was trusting the Bible to be the true word of God. Mainline Protestants and liberal evangelicals had convinced me that the Old Testament was a collection of Jewish myths cobbled together by squabbling Pharisees. The New Testament was no better as the gospels were likewise a copy and paste type exercise from some unknown source documents.
Jesus said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Either the Bible is true and Jesus is God, Or the Bible is a collection of myths, half-truths and, yes, some truths.
have a different perspective. They have a more modernist theology. So, for instance, they would read the Bible, not as the inerrant word of God, but as a historical document, which has God’s word in it and a lot of very important truths, but that needs to be interpreted in every age by individuals of that time and that place.
Mainline Protestants tend to also believe that Jesus is the way to salvation. But many mainline Protestants would believe that perhaps there are other ways to salvation as well. People in other religious traditions, even outside of Christianity, may have access to God’s grace and to salvation as well, on their own terms, and through their own means.
That may be a layman’s definition. But I think there’s one way to understand the evangelical view of the Bible. It is viewed as the objective authoritative word of God, as opposed to the mainline Protestant view called neo-orthodoxy which holds, you see, that the Bible becomes the word of God in a kind of existential encounter with it.
So that’s the distinction. It doesn’t just become the word of God when you have an experience with God or an experience with the Word. It is objectively, authoritatively the word of God. That’s what distinguishes evangelicals from, say, mainline Protestants. …
Catholicism doctrines based on scripture, but also on traditions and the magisterium of Popes’ proclamations. The magisterium of the Catholic Church is the Pope’s authority to give the reliable interpretation of the Word of God, “whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition. This, popes was a huge problem.
It was at about the same time as the Protestant Priests convinced me that they were hypocrites that the Catholic Church gave up their traditions. This happened at the Vatican II Council. After Vatican II, Pope John VI issued an encyclical, Lumen Gentium (Light to the World). This was clear manipulation and lies, or a confusion and delusion.
In Section 16 of Lumen Gentium there is an unbelievable statement for the Catholic Church. One of the core beliefs of the Catholic Church was that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. But here in Section 16 Pope John VI wrote, “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.”
Could this be true? The Catholic Church worships the same God as the Muslims? This goes against the traditions of the Catholic Church for nigh on 2,000 years.
But in Section 25 the authority of that statement in Section 16 is defined. There it states: “And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith.”
Catholic traditions defined as infallibly received by the Holy Spirit, and irreformable, can be changed to suit the attitude of the culture at the time. This is exactly what the Protestants told me.
So I read the Koran. This was very contradictory. Mohammad apparently received divine inspiration to suit his political aims as they changed. The Medina text are different in character to the Mecca texts. So the Koran, the Protestant priests’ and the Pope’s interpretations of the Bible are all temporary. There are no absolutes. Whatever is convenient at any time is the going interpretation.
Worst of all, what the Koran says about Jesus is blasphemy.
So they apparently, don’t listen to Jesus, “For truly I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in not pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Instead they are listening to Pontius Pilot mocking Jesus with, “What is truth?”
22 year Break from Christianity
Since Christian leaders don’t believe in the basic tenets of their faith, I looked to Africa and Asia to broaden my metaphysical and spiritual mind.
Africa accepts that there is a reality beyond this physical, material existence.
Carlos Castaneda showed this existence in America.
Buddhism and Hinduism show two aspects of an existence beyond the material.
Novels by authors such as Hermann Hesse were inspiring, as were philosophy beyond the hum-drum dreary humanism, and narcissistic existentialism. Judaeo-Christian and even Islamic thought went into storage, it was Bhagavad Gita and, Zen, the Mahabharata, and Indaba My Children, by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa.
I met my wife, we married and had children. Then one day my wife turned to Christ. I thought it was a passing phase, but it was genuine.
During these years I never stopped believing that God existed. But my belief was deistic a non-interventionist creator God who set the universe to run itself according to natural laws. After all there was then, and is so still today, no evidence based explanation of the “Big Bang” that does not violate the fundamental laws of thermodynamics/physics.
I had learned enough about physics and metaphysics to know that faith cannot be tested scientifically. It had to be experienced. If we set up a test to see if the faith is real, we deny the existence of the faith being tested, and so it is no longer there.
One night at an outreach at my wife’s church, I felt it was time to take the step. I went up at the invitation, and while my wife, the pastor and members of the congregation prayed the sinner’s prayer, I prayed my own private prayer: “God if you really are a personal God and interact with us, please show me in a way I cannot doubt.”
This church was a Charismatic church. They seemed to genuinely believe the Bible, unlike the Protestants mentioned earlier. I trusted they would lead me to Christ. I started living my life outwardly as a sincere Christian, while praying my private prayer many times a day. I had taken a Kierkegaardian leap of faith.
During the next six months I experienced what could be termed supernatural experiences. I questioned whether it was my imagination or really God intervening personally. The third time it was without any doubt. I became aware of something I could not possibly have foreseen or imagined. That was when my faith in God was set.
Trusting the Bible as God’s true word took another four and a half years of study.
Believing the Bible as God’s Word
I started taking notes during the church service. Then I would go over these note on Tuesday or Wednesday evening. I would read the Scripture verses in context, and try to find verses that contradicted the preacher’s interpretation if the verses he quoted. At first most sermons were fine, but a few had unreliable interpretations. But as I read the Bible more, I became critical and skeptical of the preachers.
The many versions of the Bible were confusing as well. I was back at Luke 16:17: And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. This was where I was 23 years earlier. I was discussing certain doctrines with the pastor an we had differing views, yet we were both referring to the same passage in the Bible. At home I dug deeper into the subject, and found that the pastor was correct with his version of the Bible, yet I was correct with the Bible version I was referring to. Obviously Bible versions matter.
Since I didn’t get much help on this issue in the church, I looked outside for help. Once again I did not trust Christians. So I turned to Orthodox Jews and bought their Bible. Comparing the Orthodox Jewish Bible with the seven translations of my Christian Bible, I found the King James version was the version most in agreement. This set me on the path to find why the different Christian Bible translations differed so much. To my horror I discovered that all the modern Bible translations were based on very dubious theological reasoning.
Instead of looking at the majority of existent manuscripts, the modern versions are based on a couple of well preserved manuscripts. One, the Alexandrian came from a place known for Christian heresy. The other one, Siniaticus, was found on an old rubbish dump outside a monastery. A Bible thrown on a monastery’s rubbish dump should beg the question: “Why?”
The next few years were spent trying to find out if the Bible is truly God’s Word. After studying many apparent contradictions and learning that wrong interpretations were the cause of misunderstanding the verses in question. Finally I decided if I could resolve the difference in the years of reign of the kings of Judah and Israel mentioned in the books of Kings and Chronicles, I would stop looking for contradictions. These are numbers and not subject to interpretation.
Both these manuscripts have Gnostic influences. Irenaeus and Tertullian writing in the 2nd century saw Gnosticism as the greatest threat to the Christian faith. This made me a King James only Christian, well not really, there is also the Geneva Bible, as well as the Orthodox Jewish Jerusalem Bible for the Old Testament.
This was in the time before there was an Internet, and back in those days we relied on something called books. This Kings/Chronicles contradiction had been solved in a doctoral thesis by Edwin Thiele in 1951. Unfortunately I was unable to get a copy. That was until I was browsing in a Christian bookshop one afternoon. There in front of my eyes was a single copy of The mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings by Edwin R. Theile.
I couldn’t wait to get home with my treasure. After an intense study with Edwin Thiele’s book as my base, and having reread the book a number of times, I could finally close the book and say, “Now I believe the Bible is God’s Word.”
There was one more study to make. From Jewish sources I learned about the Bible Code. There is coded into passages the subject or connections verifying the passage. God’s watermark if you will. What the old sages found was there. What I wanted to know was if Jesus was coded into the old testament. I did find Jesus name coded into messianic passages in the Old Testament. This sealed for me that the Bible is truly God’s Holy Word.
These passages will be explained in another part of this site, especially where the term Jesus is My Name, Yeshua Shmi is encoded.