The Notre Dame Fire reveals how we find “the truth”

Fire destroys. But when a building burns, the fire also reveals: old art, former paint jobs, things hidden for centuries.

And the most striking thing the flames revealed was how we interpret events. It turns out that we are hardwired away from objectivity in our interpretations, that we will make snap judgments about who did what, who started the fight, who lied, based on what we already “know to be true.” I wrote about how the flood of social media in this century has made the situation incredibly worse, so that one despairs of finding the truth:

We are attracted to headlines that fit into our “confirmation bias”; that is, we tend to believe what they say if they confirm what we already believe, but reject them if they run contrary to our beliefs.

And so even while Notre Dame was in flames, people rushed to social media to interpret its meaning. As I said, while the firefighters were still hosing it down. That is – and let’s underscore this – before a single investigator was able to open the case.

The assumption is: “I know what I know, and therefore I am more capable than some so-called “expert” in fires to tell you what’s what.”

I was on a break from social media at the time, but “dipped in” a bit and found these theories that purported to reveal the truth behind the fire:

  • Notre Dame burned, because it was a place where people worshiped Mary.
  • Notre Dame burned, because Muslims terrorists ignited it.
  • Notre Dame burned, because ecumenists want to unite Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants (against a common enemy, the Muslims)
  • Notre Dame burned, because gays are angry at the Catholic church
  • Notre Dame burned, because it was a Masonic Fire Ritual or done by the New World Order
  • Notre Dame burned, but only Alt Right conspiracy theorists imagine it might be arson
  • The Government of France will lie about it, because governments always lie.
  • According to one source, Pat Robertson blamed it on the “Gay Illuminati” (!); people who are inclined to think Robertson is a crank (and I count myself one of them) will probable take that report at face value. But it seems to be fake news, I cannot find Robertson saying this anywhere.
  • Of course, as always happens in such events, some blamed the “Zionists” or “the Jews” or the Rothschilds
  • One rabbi called it divine judgment for a book burning in Paris. In the 13th century.
  • God torched Notre Dame because it was named for “Our Lady” Mary. This from the article “What Holy Spirit Told Me About Notre Dame Burning” (in Charisma News from yesterday, which is the site of many such revelations)
  • And finally: “There Is No Profound Meaning to the Notre Dame Fire” runs a New Republic headline yesterday

SO: Read any event, any day, through your own glasses, and the right answer will pop out! At least, the answer that fits in with your cognitive bias and thus feels right to you. And we tend to charge those with other lenses with being sheeple or naïve.

Before closing, let me point out that some are being deceptive about the fire. A (now former) FB friend of mine posted an article from the Telegraph on his page while the fire was still burning:

The problem? This is an article, headline, and picture from 2016, not 2019! When I criticized him for his “deception” he told me No, no deception! When I pointed out that, when a building is burning and you post that, gasoline and Arabic books were found on the site, and don’t bother to mention that the dates were off by three years, then it’s deception. He disagreed, mainly because he “knew” the Muslims torched Notre Dame this week, and so, apparently, posting the article without any qualification was “the truth”.

So, maybe Muslim terrorists will be found to be the culprits, who knows at this stage (I’ll update this article later when the facts come in). But just as an exercise, what if I posted a picture of Notre Dame with a headline that goes like this?

In fact, my caption is as “true” as the Express one that others are posting from 2016, true in the US at least: White Nationalist “Christians” are the culprits of the great majority of church (and mosque, and synagogue) attacks. But people will find that such a post was shockingly unfair and deceptive! And of course, I agree. But, isn’t it also true that loving our neighbor means that we don’t do to them, what we don’t want done to us? So let’s none of us do it!

The Bible tells us to believe the truth, not what we feel sounds like the truth.

Also just in: the chatter that Muslims where screaming “Alluhu Akbar!” while watching fire raging in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris is still unfounded rumor, as is the one about the Muslim standing in the steeping and shouting “Alluhu Akbar” during the fire.

“The Notre Dame Fire reveals how we find ‘the truth’”, by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica

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Don’t Doubt That Jesus Can Forgive You

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Jesus showed by the works that He did that He can forgive sins. If you want to be saved, you must not doubt that Jesus has the power to forgive sins; more particularly, you must not doubt that He can forgive YOUR sins.

Christ Will Not Cast Out Any Who Come To Him

God the Father gave every single Christian to Jesus, and there’s absolutely nothing that will cause Christ to get rid of any of His people who the Father gave to Him.

John 6:37 – All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.


View full sermon, “Everyone and No One“.

Why Do People Reject Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ was rejected by the Jews as their Messiah when He walked on this earth. But people are still rejecting Him today, and not only rejecting Him but rejecting Him for the very same reason the Jews rejected Him. Why would people reject Jesus Christ?

Do You Really Need a Church? (Part 1)

We are living in the digital age and can access so many sermons from the internet. Is it really still necessary and vital to be a participating member who shows up in person at a local church?


Those who were interviewed:
Mack Tomlinson
Jesse Barrington
Clint Leiter
Kevin Williams
Don Johnson (footage is from 10 years ago)
Tim Conway (clip is taken from a sermon)

When Should You Leave a Church? (Part 2)

When should Christians leave a church? Sadly many Christians are willing to leave sound, biblical churches just over preferences. What are the issues that are worth leaving for?


Those who were interviewed:
Mack Tomlinson
Jesse Barrington
Kevin Williams


Mack: How do I know when it’s time to leave a church? People will come and say: “I’m really struggling because this is the situation with our church.” They’ll give me the specifics. And sometimes I’ll think: Well, now that’s not a good enough reason to leave a church – what you just said there. Maybe the couple’s highly critical. “Well, our pastor doesn’t do evangelism like ‘Way of the Master’.” Well, that’s not a basis to leave a church, you know. “Well, I don’t like just singing hymns. I want them to get some praise music in there. So I’m going to go to the church that has great worship.” Well, that’s an immature view.

Jesse: I don’t know that you should leave your present church. Let me say this clearly. You should not compare the pastor that God has given to you to your favorite Internet pastor. So, we don’t play the comparison game. So should they leave their local church? I don’t know that they should leave their local church. You need to be careful and prayerful about that. Often, people are leaving churches over preferences, over byproducts of Christ and the Gospel and they’re making those primary rather than secondary. So I don’t know that they should leave their local church.

Mack: The heart of it is if someone is in a church and they see that a true and accurate Gospel is being preached, they see true pastors that are caring for the people, and they see an atmosphere of godliness where the people do love the Lord and they can grow, then it’s hard for me to ever affirm somebody leaving such a church. Now they may say: “Well, I don’t agree – I’m an amillenialist. My pastor’s a historic premillenialist. I think I’m leaving.” I don’t think that’s a good enough reason. If the true Gospel’s being preached, and the Word of God’s being honored, secondary things shouldn’t drive us away from a church. So that brings me to say it this way: I think only compromise on the essentials should cause us to say we need to leave this church; not accuracy on the Gospel or some major clear doctrinal issue. You see that they’re teaching false doctrine.

Kevin: Often when people are dissatisfied where they are or when they’re looking for a church for a long time, but can’t find one, they can latch on to some Internet ministries which can agree with them that what they view as false is false, but these can tend to be overcritical. And they can get into that overcritical spirit. So then they start to look for the new church and they’re overcritical about something else that doesn’t matter. An overcritical spirit – there’s something wrong there. I’ll give you an example in our own lives. When we were looking for a good church, we found a Presbyterian church in Blackburn. It was a 40 minute drive from where we lived so we’d do it twice on a Sunday for morning and evening service. Forty minutes there, forty back. And we didn’t go in there thinking: this is wrong, this is wrong. We were just so glad to hear the preaching of the true Gospel there; be true believers, the singing of hymns. If you really are looking for a true church with true believers, you tend to be uncritical and overlooking things. Because we often find when people come to our church from other churches – even if they’re really bad, they don’t tend to be trouble causers in there. The trouble causers tend to just take the trouble somewhere else. So when someone comes to me making trouble about everywhere else, you tend to think they’re probably going to be talking like that about us in six months time. So not that overcritical spirit.

Jesse: If they are in a church that does not preach the Gospel – it doesn’t mean they preach it the way my favorite pastor preaches it – but are they biblical in the proclamation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? I think Mark Dever’s done a great service to us in this in his book “Nine Marks”. He talks about the expositional preaching of the Word which probably should be a whole other question. What does it mean to have expositional preaching? But he talks about the right view of God. And I think in each of those areas he gives, I think we need to be mindful that no church is going to be perfected in those. So if you say, well, he doesn’t hold to a high view of God like this pastor or this church, therefore I can’t be a part of it. Well, you have to remember, all the churches are growing. So the question is is there a commitment to the Word? To the sufficiency of Scripture? To look to that? And are they growing towards those things? Very often I find people struggling with their current church because they want it to go faster. And I mentioned this last year in the conference. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, “Fellowship Together” – he speaks about this notion of people basically wanting to find this perfect church. They want their church to be all that it could be. And I think we all want that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But they begin to struggle with what their local church is. So they love the idea of what their church could be, rather than the reality of what the local church is. The inevitability there is two issues: Number one is this, you’ve removed yourself from being part of the problem, and you’re saying it’s these people or this pastor keeping me from what I could experience. And if I had the right pastor or the right people, then we could experience this idea of the church that I’d like to experience. Well, the problem with that is you’ve removed yourself from the equation as part of the problem, and the inevitability there is spiritual pride which leads to criticalness. The moment you begin to think like that, you become critical of everything because you’re not part of the equation and you want the church to be at a certain place. Well, oftentimes it’s the maturing of the church to get there. And people want it here. They want it now. They want it today and they’re unwilling to wait. And so yes, a right view of Scripture, a right view of the Gospel, a right view of God, that practices church discipline – these are essential things in the church, but at the same time you have to allow some room for growth in all of those things as well.

Mack: So, that couple or that individual may say: I see that I cannot keep myself under this teaching anymore. Whether the denial of Jesus’ Lordship as being essential to salvation, or repentance as non-essential, or the Gospel itself – what is the Gospel. So when a person sees that essentials are compromised, and they actually know it will be spiritually detrimental for them to stay there, they’re probably going to have to leave. But it’s very important how they leave – not with a critical heart. Leave properly. Because it’s not their job to disrupt the church or create disunity or criticism. They have to let Christ take care of that. They’re job is to maintain their own spiritual health. So, when your spiritual health is at stake because essentials of the faith are being compromised, it’s probably time to leave.

Should You Move to Join a Church? (Part 3)

Some Christians see their great need to be part of a biblical church, but as far as they can discern, there’s no biblical church near where they live. When (and should) a Christian pack up and move to join a local church?


Those who were interviewed:
Mack Tomlinson
Jesse Barrington
Clint Leiter
Kevin Williams
Justin Trevino
Don Johnson (footage is from 10 years ago)

Remarrying Someone You Had Previously Married?

If a man and woman get divorced, the woman gets saved, and neither of them has remarried, would it be ok if they got married again? Or, does the Lord even recognize their divorce to begin with? Are they fornicating if they are intimate with each other prior to being remarried?

The original question, “I became a born again Christian about two months ago on June 30th! I have repented and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior! I have a question on whether something in my life is a sin or not? I truly want to live my life for God and I know I will never be perfect and make mistakes from time to time, however, I don’t want to openly and knowingly live in sin! So I really need your honest opinion so that I can live worthily before Gods eyes! Anyways I am divorced and have been legal for several years. However, my ex-husband and I have recently reconciled. We are not remarried yet though! We have a past and we obviously want to be intimate with each other! But my question is are we committing the sin of fornication? Neither of us has ever remarried anybody else. Please help and thank you in advance!”

Is It Acceptable and God’s Will?

If a decision you make is truly acceptable and God’s will, then it will not contradict what is in the Bible. You don’t have to violate God’s will in order to carry out His will.


Excerpt from the full sermon, “Romans 12:2: Renew Your Mind” preached on 2/03/2019. View here.

How Far Can a Person Go As a False Convert?

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False conversion is a major and sobering theme in the Bible. How much of a true Christian can a person seem to look like, and in the end turn out to be deceived?