The "inerrant" Bible is contradictory on the very important matter of whether its god wants everyone saved or not. Farrell Till responds to a Christian in the May-June, 2002, mailbag section of *The Skeptical Review* concerning this confusing biblical issue:
Editor’s note: Oh, boy, just what I need-another Christian praying for the salvation of my soul. In the Spring 1995 issue of TSR, Judith Hayes exposed the absurdity of the belief in the efficacy of prayer, so I have sent a reprinted copy of this issue to Mr. England for his consideration. Somewhere else in the back issues of TSR is a logical argument that I presented to show the folly of the notion that praying for the salvation of another person will bring the desired results. The argument is simple enough that I'm going to present it here rather than search through the archives to find the article.
Showing that prayer for the salvation of others is illogical, all one needs to do is look at what the New Testament teaches about prayer and then apply common sense to it. First John 5:14-15 says, "And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him." If Mr. England is praying for the salvation of my soul--as hundreds before him have told me they are doing--the only reason I won’t be saved would have to be that my salvation either is not the will of God or else Mr. England doesn’t believe in what he is praying for, because Jesus promised elsewhere in the New Testament that whatever one prays for believing it will happen he will receive it: "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive" (Matt. 21: 21-22). I’m not trying to be facetious about Mr. England’s incarceration, but I have to wonder why, if he really believes what Jesus said here, he doesn’t pray for the prison doors to swing open (as they sometimes did in biblical times) so that he can walk out a free man. Perhaps he doesn’t believe that it would happen if he did pray for this, so in that case the fault would lie in his lack of faith. If he isn’t willing to accept that conclusion, then about the only alternative left to him is to accept that what the Bible teaches about prayer isn’t necessarily true.
If we put together everything claimed in the verses I quoted above, we see that the New Testament claims that (1) if one believes in what he is praying for, (2) God will hear the prayer, and (3) he will receive it, (4) if what he is asking for is in accordance with God’s will.
If Mr. England is praying for my "salvation" and if he believes that what he is asking for will be granted, the only thing that could keep me from being saved--if what the New Testament teaches is true--would be that a prayer for my salvation is not a request in accordance with God’s will. However, if my salvation is not God’s will, then the Bible is not inerrant, because the apostle Paul said, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3).
With all this information about the New Testament’s doctrines on prayer now before us, I can show Mr. England just how illogical his belief in prayer is: (1) It is the will of God to have all men be saved. (2) Farrell Till is a man. (3) Therefore, it is the will of God that Farrell Till be saved. (4) Hundreds of Christians have told Farrell Till that they are praying for his salvation. (5) Whatever--anything--that a believer asks for with faith that it will happen will be granted.
I abandoned biblical nonsense 37 years ago after having spent 12 years "preaching the gospel" and doing foreign missionary work. In those 37 years, I’m sure hundreds of "believers" have told me that they are praying for my salvation, so why am I still publishing this paper and engaging in internet discussions to try to convince people that the Bible is a crock of you know what? One of three things must logically follow: (1) What the New Testament teaches about prayer is untrue. (2) There is no god to hear all of those prayers on my behalf. (3) Those "believers" praying for me don’t really believe that my salvation is going to happen.
When I presented this argument to someone concerned about my "soul," he said, "Well, you aren't dead yet." In other words, he meant that there is still time for it to happen. If this is the way out that Mr. England tries to make, I’ll inform him that I will be 69 by the time he receives this paper, so I’ll ask him to try to keep a close eye on me to find out if I make any deathbed repentance. I can assure him that it just ain’t going to happen, because I am as convinced as anyone could possibly be on any issue that the Bible is--well, that crock of you know what that I mentioned above.
One other point is in order. Mr. England says that he is praying for my salvation, but I have to wonder why he doesn’t just simplify matters and pray for all men to be saved. After all, the text quoted above clearly said that it was the will of God for all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so why doesn’t Mr. England make this a much better world by just praying for all men to be saved? It must be that he doesn’t believe it would happen if he did pray for this, and if the Bible is truly inerrant, he would be right. All men cannot be saved without making the Bible wrong in what it teaches, because it clearly teaches that not just some but most people will be lost in hell (Matt. 7:13-14, 21-22; Rev. 21:8 14:11). I guess that it just isn’t God's will for all men to be saved, but wait. That guess can’t be right, because if it is not God’s will for all men to be saved, the Bible is again wrong in what it teaches, because it says that it is God’s will that all men be saved. Ah, the burden of trying to find consistency and inerrancy in the Bible!