If Christians are wrong, they have everything to lose!

April 3, 2007 at 11:21 pm 44 comments

I’ve heard or read statements similar to what is commonly referred to as Pascal’s wager many times from my Christian friends -

“If Christians are wrong, they have nothing to lose, but if an atheist or non-believer is wrong, they have everything to lose.”

Implying, of course, the possibility of non-Christians spending an eternity of torture in the fires of hell. I disagree with the disimpassioned attitude of this statement. If Christians are wrong, there are many actions over the past 2000 years that could have been done differently to promote unity in the world.

The CrusadesChristians have conducted crusades, fought wars, carried out witch-hunts, damned people to hell, labeled most other religions “of the devil”, and a host of other actions that have served to be divisive instead of being a unifying force. Christians need to remember that their history is no different than what is seen in radical Islam today. Islam is just a few centuries younger than Christianity, but they are on the same evolutionary path.

However, it’s not just about history. Fundamental Christianity continues to be a dividing force in society. They do not have tolerance for those who do not subscribe to their moral code, and they even attempt to legislate against what many Christians may consider immoral (such as homosexuality and abortion).

They spread this intolerance, condemnation and hate instead promoting love, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and tolerance. Unfortunately, most fundamental Christians have been taught that tolerance is compromise.

So next time you hear this statement from a Christian, be sure to let them know that life is just not that simple, get on a soap-box and preach this sermon!

- The de-Convert

p.s. In response to Pascal’s wager, here’s the de-conversion wager (originally referred to as the Agnostic Atheism wager from our previous site):

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God, you will be judged on your merits and not just on whether or not you ignored the lack of evidence of his/her existence and blindly believed.

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

The Circular Reasoning of Christian Apologetics Why should we be good?

44 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Wolterkabolter  |  April 4, 2007 at 2:16 am

    The big question is: why should you, as an agnostic atheist, try to live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy, and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place?
    As a christian I find a good reason to follow that goal. You are absolutely right that a christian has something to loose in that respect! Especially when they spread this intolerance, condemnation, and hate instead promoting love, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and tolerance.
    Nevertheless, I think Pascal used his wager in a different respect. It is a bit easy to identify christians with some outrageous of their history. Furthermore, it is an endless discussion if religion in the end does promote more good or evil or less…

  • 2. marymyk  |  April 4, 2007 at 4:42 am

    My problem with Pacal’s wager is that Christians believe in an omniscient God, surely such a God would know that you choose the Christian religion over atheism as ‘insurance’, and if he knows that, I would be suprised if he looks favourably upon you on judgement day. So really Pascal’s wager has no use to theists or atheists. The theists would believe in God anyway because they believe that it’s the right thing to do and there’s no point in even agnostic atheists to decide it’s safer to become Christian as if in our hearts, we do not believe, God would know and treat us if we had lived as atheists all our lives.

    I agree that if God is truely omnibenevolent, he would look at our good deeds during our lives and not whether we worshipped him because to me that would suggest a selfish/egotisical side to God which would be impossible if he is completely omnibenevolent.

  • 3. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 4, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Wolterkabolter,
    Why do Christians always assume that without Christianity, no one would be able to live with kindness, compassion, et al? That is such a specious argument. These are not strictly Christian virtues. These are humanistic values that promote the welfare of humankind and have been in existence long before Jesus came. People live this way naturally because it promotes community and cooperation, without which a just society could not exist. That’s the motive, not some God who’s going to punish you if you don’t do those things. The question for Christians is why should YOU try to live compassionately, justly, et al if this world is going to pass away anyway? It would seem you have less of a motive than the humanist/atheist/agnostic does!

  • 4. agnosticatheist  |  April 4, 2007 at 6:27 am

    MOI,

    The question for Christians is why should YOU try to live compassionately

    Here’s a quote from the Seekism blog Is the doctrine of ’salvation by faith only’ hurting Christianity?:

    I believe the concept of works being irrelevant in a Christian’s “salvation” has had a negative impact on Christianity. This belief many times results in Christian passivity or even an unsympathetic attitude towards how our actions may negatively impact others. After all, it is our “faith in Christ” that is important, so why should we worry about our deeds?

    Many other religions focus on “good works” and, as a result, their followers demonstrate acts of kindness. A Christian will be quick to denounce those “good works” as irrelevant and damn them to hell anyway. In the typical Christian view, a person like Bob Tilton ,who has stood on television and milked the masses out of their money BUT trusts in Christ for salvation, is bound for heaven. However, Ghandi, who gave his life in service of his people, is bound for hell. Does this make sense?

    In essence, it’s irrelevant if a Christian is compassionate. After all, their “salvation” is already secured.

    aA

  • 5. Why should we be good? « Agnostic Atheism  |  April 4, 2007 at 6:47 am

    [...] 4th, 2007 This blog is partly in response to a comment I read asking why agnostic atheists should aim to love, be compassionate and what you might call general [...]

  • 6. Doris Tracey  |  April 4, 2007 at 7:10 am

    If everyone lived compassionatly words of aheism and words of god wouldn’t exhist only the experience of God would exhist.

  • 7. Wolterkabolter  |  April 4, 2007 at 11:58 am

    “Why do Christians always assume that without Christianity, no one would be able to live with kindness, compassion, et al?”

    I did not suggest that. I just ask which reasons motivates atheists to act morally and what validates their demand to others to do the same?

    “In essence, it’s irrelevant if a Christian is compassionate. After all, their “salvation” is already secured.”

    In some circles the salvation by faith through grace is somewhat overaccentuated. But it is clear that good works and faith cohere. I think authenticity is a very important virtue especially Jesus really emphasized.

  • 8. Tim  |  April 6, 2007 at 7:42 am

    The de-Convert,

    Interesting post, which has certainly stirred up some discussion. :)

    In reference to your sense of lack of compassion from Christians because salvation is “already secured,” I think you’ve laid the hammer squarely on a nail that Christians would prefer to not notice. We do use salvation by faith as an excuse for not doing good things, in spite of Biblical instruction otherwise. A missionary friend of mine says it’s because we want to heed the evangelistic mandate (“Go ye into all the world…”) but not the social mandate (“Love your neighbor as yourself”).

    As for Pascal’s wager, I’ve generally looked at it from the other perspective. It’s not a reason for faith (do we really think we could “pull a fast one” over an omniscient being?), but is more likely (for some) a reason to not step away from their faith. – Tim

  • 9. Matthew Tenney  |  April 15, 2007 at 5:56 am

    Pascals wager was published from his incomplete notes found in his home after his death. Almost certainly, he never thought that one could just believe only on the basis of possible gain. In my estimation, Pascal would have elaborated about hope and not belief. If we think there may possibly be something valuable tg find, we would naturally hope that it exists and that we can find it, even while being skeptical that it even exists. I have no way to calculate the probability that my Creator exists but it is reasonable that it is not zero.

    The other major criticism of Pascals wager is the “Homer Simpson objection”: “But Marge, what if we chose the wrong religion? Each week we just make God madder and madder.”

    The answer is that we would hope to find the One who created us irrespective of religion. I find I have this desire to know my Creator even while not being certain that my Creator even exists because I have hope that He does exist. If He does exist, then it is reasonable that He put that desire within me. If He exists and is a good and just Creator, then I reason that He will forgive honest mistakes that I may make as I seek Him.

  • 10. agnosticatheist  |  April 15, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Matthew,

    The answer is that we would hope to find the One who created us irrespective of religion. I find I have this desire to know my Creator even while not being certain that my Creator even exists because I have hope that He does exist. If He does exist, then it is reasonable that He put that desire within me. If He exists and is a good and just Creator, then I reason that He will forgive honest mistakes that I may make as I seek Him.

    In my opinion, this is a great approach to have for those who choose to believe in God. I came to this place and continued to follow the basic teachings of Christ (hence considered myself a CHRISTian).

    Personally, I made the flip to CHOOSE not to believe in God simply because I thought if God exist, why doesn’t he/she/it make an effort to be a part of the lives of their creation today. Following ancient texts of superstitious people isn’t exactly a great device for God to use to communicate with modern man.

    If I had children out there who didn’t know me, I would make an effort to see them today not hope they depend on a letter I wrote when they were 5 (at a kindergarten level) for a relationship with me.

    aA

  • 11. Matthew Tenney  |  April 15, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Hi aA,

    I did not mention ancient texts nor Christianity.

    I am certain that it is only because God has allowed us to disbelieve in Him, that we can enter into a voluntary communion with Him. We can easily disbelieve and therefore easily choose not to seek Him if that is what we truly want.

  • 12. MIke  |  May 3, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    I would say that it is true that Christians have nothing to lose. If God exists and Jesus is God than Cristians go to hevean but if not the they nolonger exist when they die. A non christian can live there life than die then the they either no longer exist or go to hell. A christians worst outcome is a non christians best out come. But living your life to Glorify God should not be about a saftly net from hell but rather to true live life the way it was meant from the beging. Also I know that you CAN NOT get into heavan on good deeds alone, it says it in the Bible lots of times. To get into hevean you need to admit that you are a sinner, ask for forgivness and surrender you life to Jesus and truely mean it too.
    One more thing, it is true that the crusader were wrong in what they did. Jesus said over and over in the Bible not to do what they did. But howerver keep in mind that the crusaders were only human and not perfect and that goes the same for christians all over the world you should not expect them to be pefect becasue no of them are. We are all humans who sin.
    I am personaly thankful that God came ito my life and forgiave my sins and I love him so much. Eventhough I’m a christian and I try to live my life like Jesu I do far short of it and I do sinnful things but I’m truely am sorry forit. What my point is is that Christians are not perfect.

  • 13. Dan  |  March 3, 2008 at 5:12 am

    I don’t agree that Islam is where Christianity was ~400 years ago. They are both equally violent religions, it’s just that the “Christian” nations tend to win the wars due to superior weaponry, and therefore end up writing the history. Number of people killed in 9/11=3000. Number of people killed in Iraq=? Hundreds of thousands at a minimum. They are all as bad as each other.

  • 14. Peter G Moore  |  April 16, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Hi
    Sadly, there are a number of ideas concerning all sorts of subjects that are not or only partially true. I would like to make a few comments regarding Christianity.

    Christianity is the only religion that says that there is nothing that a person can do to deserve or earn salvation. Christian salvation is and has always been according to the free grace of God, unmerited and undeserved. So what place does works have? Well, works are the glad response of the Christian. Works are done out of gratitude to God for the free grace and forgiveness that has come to the individual entering into a real and loving relationship with God through the perfect life and work of Christ in His life death, resurrection and ascension to heaven.

    I will state this in a somewhat more technical way, below, to provide greater precision and understanding, though this will not be all that could be said on the issue.

    Justification is a word that needs to be introduced. Justification is a pardoning act of God. It’s a legal term. It is not that God overlooks the sinner’s sin, for all sin must be punished, for God is totally righteous. God would not be God if He overlooked sin.
    Rather, the sin of the sinner is transferred or imputed to Christ and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the sinner.

    This imputation of sin to Christ is done in such a way that it doesn’t mar the perfect sinlessness of Christ. Nor does it mean that the Christian is now sinless in life! It’s true that when God looks upon the Christian He sees the righteousness of Christ covering that individual.

    Justification is a once only event done to the individual. It brings about the beginning of a life long process known as sanctification. Sanctification is done in the Christian, is not optional but is the progress of the Christian becoming more and more Christ like.

    Yet, having said all of this, Christian’s do sin.
    They are not perfect in thought, word or deed. The difference is that they are forgiven and made right with God and continue to seek God’s forgiveness in their daily lives. Whereas before they lived for themselves, now, their desire is to live for God. They do not trust in what they can do for God. They are not attempting to earn favour with God. God’s favour has been given to them not according to their righteousness, for their own native righteousness was unrighteousness or filthy rags.

    It is for this reason that the Christian will echo words such as these: Oh the wonders of God’s amazing love and goodness to me a sinner, now saved by the righteousness of another, even the righteousness of Christ.” He died that I might live, blessed be His name.

    All are commanded to seek the Lord while He may be found. Pretending that God does not exist and calling oneself an atheist is only to store up greater and greater degrees of wrath on the day of wrath. O taste and see that the Lord is good. Away with every God denying concept. Your life is in His hands. If you are outside of Christ your situation is dangerous and perilous. You have no goodness to plead and will have no excuse on the terror filled day when Christ returns. It is only in the life that sins can be forgiven. Having come to experience the free grace of God in my own heart, I implore you to seek reconciliation with God. It’s His gift to give. Pray that He would be gracious to you.

    Sincere regards

    Peter G Moore

    Footnote: It’s true that these thing s I’ve written don’t always come through clearly in churches and ‘Christian’ material. However, the Bible is not unclear on these issues. I urge you to search the Scriptures and the God of the Scriptures.

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  April 17, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Peter:

    You are speaking from the particular sub-branch of Christianity that you belong to. There are many other sub-branches that take a very different view from yours. They also trot out Bible “proof texts” to support their position.

    Fact is that the Bible is not so clear on these matters. Unless of course you carefully select your verses. Which is just what everyone does.

    Reading through your sermon, I see all those buzz words and neat, tidy concepts that I was exposed to for many years. I thoroughly believed them too. But their came a point where I began to study Church history. And I learned from other Christians who weren’t fundy’s or even necessarily Protestants. You’d be hard pressed to believe it I’m sure, but some of those non-Protestants take the Bible more literally than any fundy.

    Anyway, while your sermon is very nice and tight according to your presuppositions and the viewpoint you’ve been exposed to, it doesn’t hold up well once you step away from them.

    Try reading the Ante-Nicene Fathers.

  • 16. Gregg  |  April 17, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Hi Peter and Leo,

    Hmmn. I want to agree with Leo. Yet I think, Leo, that Peter’s views (backed by Luther and Calvin’s fine-tuning of Augustine) represent a very large portion of the evangelical church.

    So I want to propose another way of looking at this. I propose biblical exegesis. And since I am no full-fledged exegete, in my corner I’ll have E. P. Saunders, refined and enhanced by N. T. Wright: a veritable cage-match.

    The issue I take (following Saunders and Wright—both Christians & evangelicals, I believe) is that the notion of justification evoked by Peter (à la Calvin) is actually inaccurate. Exegetically inaccurate, that is. To wit, in an informative and readable little book (What Saint Paul Really Said), Wright builds a formidable case against the traditional understanding of dikaiosune theou (the “righteousness of God”) based on readings of key passages in Romans, Galatians, etc. (see Chpt 7, pp. 95-111).

    Identifying dikaiosune theou as the lynchpin issue for understanding notions of gospel, grace, and justification (rather titanic notions in the Christian faith), Wright lists the numerous interpretive options open to us (depending, too, on whether one uses the [rather flawed] Latin vulgate [Augustine] or our newer translations).

    He concludes, contra 1700 years of church tradition, that dikaiosune theou is not the imputed righteousness (or moral status) given to Christians (following Luther), but that dikaiosune theou means “God’s faithfulness to [God’s] promises,” (102) or better, “God’s covenant faithfulness, both as a quality in God and as active power which goes out in expression of that faithfulness” (103).

    The result is that “justification is not how someone becomes a Christian. It is the declaration that they have become a Christian.” (125, his italics). Thus “the ‘gospel’ is the announcement of Jesus’ lordship [not a formula to get saved],” while “justification is the doctrine which insists that all those who have this faith belong as full members of this family.” (133).

    And here’s the kicker: “When we explore God’s righteousness to the very end, it reveals (as we saw) the love of God.” (164). This is a huge blow to the Augustinian/ Calvinistic emphasis on sovereignty. Further, cutting the legs out from under Calvin’s (double) predestination: “it makes nonsense of the Pauline gospel to imagine that the be-all and end-all of this operation is so that God can have another [i.e., the predestined], merely different [i.e., as opposed to Israel], private little group of people who are saved while the world is consigned to the cosmic waste-paper basket.” (163).

    Too long has Christianity been defined by the power of Augustine’s authority. Finally, now, Christians are starting to come up with better answers about, and especially from, the Bible.

  • 17. LeoPardus  |  April 17, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Gregg:

    I think, Leo, that Peter’s views (backed by Luther and Calvin’s fine-tuning of Augustine) represent a very large portion of the evangelical church.

    I certainly agree with you there. You are aware of course that “a very large portion of the evangelical church” still only represents a minority of all of Christianity. And a rather lately arrived minority at that. There are still a lot of Protestants to think of, and then there are the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglicans, plus some assorted others.

    Your summary of Saunders vs Wright is interesting. To add a real heavyweight to the contest though, permit me to suggest that you try Kallistos Ware. His book “The Orthodox Way” touches on this matter.

    Really, the view that Peter is (and many of us were) indoctrinated in, is quite foreign to the overwhelming majority of Christian tradition and history. The only reason such teachings thrive so well is that Protestants think there was no church from about 300-1500 AD, and they can’t tell you what was going on in the Church before that.

  • 18. Anonymous  |  April 17, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Peter, do you even know what sin is? Not many people do. Sin is somehting we created. There is an acronym for sin, and it is Self Inflicted Nonsense. You say that God is unconditionally loving, but why must we have a condition (i.e Jesus Christ) in order for God to even notice us, let alone invite us to heaven. Don’t try to explain this because you can’t. You’ll only look stupid for explaining something that’s wrong. Jesus didn’t come to earth for the reasons that you think. He came to teach about the oneness between God and man. And if you believe in Jesus, you must admit that his very existence embodied that truth, him being part man, part God.

  • 19. Peter Moore  |  April 18, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Hi
    A book that is well worth reading regarding N.T.Wright is The future of justification by John Piper. I think you’l find, if you look closely, that Wright’s altered position from that in his earlier book: the Grace of God in the Gospel, published in 1972 does serious damage to the teaching of justification. Though it may sound all very fine that justification is about the fact that one is saved yet in reality, Wright’s view of justification removes real substance from biblical salvation. For Wright, there are two justifications. Essentially, the first ‘justification’, so called, doesn’t deal to the issue of sin as there is no imputation either way, sinner to Christ, nor Christ to sinner. One must hope that one’s works are going to suffice when one finally makes it to the judgement day, and if acceptable, the second justification occurs. But this is pretty brief. As i

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  April 18, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Peter:

    You’re having trouble getting some things through your skull here.

    First off, you’re stuck in the church subculture and subteaching that you’ve been exposed to. It is NOT all there is to Christianity. Get the blinders off and learn about something outside your little corner of the world.

    Secondly, you seem to think this is a blog for hammering out doctrine. WRONG. It’s a place for those who are doubting the Christian faith or the existence of God/gods, for those who are in the process of leaving their faith, or for those who have left their faith. Most of us are atheists or leaning toward atheism.

    So coming in here to debate the fine points of some silly ass doctrine, from a religion most of us don’t believe, about a deity most of us don’t believe in either is idiotic.

    Now if you want to know what we’re about, feel free to ask. If you want to dither about meaningless doctrines, go find a Reformed blog.

  • 21. Peter Moore  |  April 18, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Hi
    A book that is well worth reading regarding N.T.Wright is The future of justification by John Piper. I think you’l find, if you look closely, that Wright’s altered position from that in his earlier book: the Grace of God in the Gospel, published in 1972 does serious damage to the teaching of justification. Though it may sound all very fine that justification is about the fact that one is
    saved, yet in reality, Wright’s view of justification removes real substance from biblical salvation. For Wright, there are two justifications. Essentially, the first ‘justification’, so called, doesn’t deal to the issue of sin as there is no imputation either way, sinner to Christ, nor Christ to sinner. One must hope that one’s works are going to suffice when one finally makes it to the judgement day, and if acceptable, the second justification occurs. This amounts to salvation by works. But this is pretty brief. As I say, you may want to read the book.

    Greg says:
    “When we explore God’s righteousness to the very end, it reveals (as we saw) the love of God.” (164). This is a huge blow to the Augustinian/ Calvinistic emphasis on sovereignty.

    God’s righteousness. Yes He is absolutely righteous. Man’s righteousness is unrighteousness. The peril is, that there is nothing that anyone can do to turn away God’s wrath. God’s righteousness can only be met with His own righteousness, hence the perfect life and substitutionary death of the sinless, eternal son of God, dying and rising from the dead. Nothing else can do it. This is love, the righteous eternal son of God dying for undeserving sinners at the hand of sinners, yet according to the sovereign will of God.

    God’s love is manifested by the righteous requirements of God fully being met, past tense, by the foreign or alien righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is love. There is no blow to the doctrines of God’s rich grace which are beautifully expressed in both Old and New Testaments.

    The truth of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility have long been under attack but when grasped are of great beauty for we see that the problem of sin, far from being imaginary, can only be dealt with by the sovereign and almighty creator, sustainer and redeemer. Though man is spiritually dead the gospel is to be preached to all for the scripture, when owned by the Holy Spirit of God is the sword of the Spirit to pierce the hardest heart. God does what man could never ever do for himself. For of Him and through Him and unto Him belongs all glory and honour and praise.

    My desire in life is to praise Him for His glorious redemption which I came to know apart from any church affiliation. I knew at once that it was God who had had mercy on me and forgiven me and made me new. I don’t say this to suggest that people shouldn’t go to a Bible believing church. Quite the contrary.

    May the God of mercy richly bless all who read this posting.

    Sincerely

    Peter G.Moore

  • 22. Peter Moore  |  April 18, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Hi

    Sorry that there were two postings, the first was incomplete and accidently sent.

    I read your posting after I had sent the second one LeoPardus.

    That’s fine. I’ll make no further posts to the site.

    Wishing you the very best.

    Sincerely

    Peter G. Moore

  • 23. Cthulhu  |  April 18, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Peter,

    Uh, read # 20 from LeoPardus…you are growing a bit tiresome.

  • 24. Gregg  |  April 19, 2008 at 1:55 am

    I think that we need to get Peter and George, say comment #83, inter alia, together. (Just kidding).

    Seriously, I think it is valuable to reply to Peter, just as to George. Let me give this a shot.

    First, Peter, I appreciate your view of “Scripture,” I think. That is, I think that you believe that you’re expressing an exegetical point. But what I read is theology. And to be expressing a view of on a particular point of Scripture (like justification in Romans or Galatians), you’d have to be working with exegesis, not theology. (see Catholic theologian Karl Rahner’s “Exegesis and Dogmatic Theology” in Theological Investigations V).

    Or as evangelical theologian Kevin Vanhoozer put it, one must “express one’s allegiance to the text rather than to the tradition of one’s interpretation of it.” (Disciplining Hermeneutics, 149). So if one is a “Calvinite” (or more accurately, an Augustinianite), then one must fight for a conception of justification, grosso modo, as you’ve sketched it. But if one is a Christian, then one must align one’s definition of justification (and one’s entire theology) with the best understandings coming from the best exegesis that one can marshal. And I don’t read any exegesis in what your saying (compare my comments, following Wright, on dikaiosune theou).

    Second, your comments that “God’s rich grace which are beautifully expressed in both Old and New Testaments,” are problematic regarding Augustine (or those leveraging his views). For Augustine’s exegesis has been criticized for not sufficiently considering the greater context of the Bible in forming his theology, which of course includes his views on justification. (Prosper Grech, in his introduction to De Doctrina Christiana, p 86, writes that for Augustine “ ‘context’ means only proximate context. He seems to neglect the remote context, whether historical or theological.”).

    Lastly, remember that Augustine’s thought came by a heavy reliance on Plotinus, himself a follower of Plato. Thus the emphasis on “essence” was crucial. From essence comes the question of “how” or “what,” and so the centrality of the tetragammaton (Exdous 3:14’s “I am”) in Augustine’s view of Genesis (I’m thinking of Confessions Book XII, particularly). Thus for Augustine, God created ex nihilo.

    Yet this very perspective neglects the more remote (but essential) context of 1 John 4:8 and 4:16: “God is love.” Whence Augustine misses the right question to ask—not “how” God created, but “why” God created—and therefore the right answer: it is ex amore, from love, not ex nihilo, which makes the most sense of the exegetical information (for regardless of how God’s is experienced, God is preeminently construed as “loving”). (I’m not so much disputing ex nihilo but putting in its proper place—subordinate to ex amore).

    I realize this may appear a bit overwhelming, Peter, and I’m not trying to shut down conversation with you. But I think that we all need to agree that this subject matter is tough, and simply galvanizing our opinions without argumentation (and the right type of argumentation) will NOT promote dialogue. It only creates a “club-house” mentality where one is “in” or “out.” So while I appreciate your reliance on Piper, you’re going to have to do more than that (and I reckon, if you stop thinking theology and start thinking exegesis, that you may be surprised by N. T. Wright—assuming you allow yourself to see what can be seen).

  • 25. Gregg  |  April 19, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Problems with my italics at the end there–it’s late.

  • 26. Tim  |  April 19, 2008 at 8:12 am

    Gregg, I’m sure you realize that this entire discussion is far more interesting than any discussion that I might have on the subject with “church friends.” To even engage in this kind of discussion, instead of being perceived as “digging for truth and understanding,” is dismissed as flatly heretical.

    My childhood best friend, now a missionary on another continent, said recently, “Tim, with all the isogesis, exegesis, I’m-a-Jesus, you’re-a-Jesus… I think most of the time we’re just really looking for a way to exclude, and not really looking for understanding.” For a whole range of reasons, your posts here remind me of that.

    (We now return to our regularly scheduled programming) – Tim

  • 27. Tim  |  April 19, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Leo,

    I also wanted to mention here that reading your thoughts brings ab out echoes of various things that I have thought, and frequently continue to consider. Clearly, I’m not “deconverted” or immersed (could I say “baptised”? ;) ) in the deconversion process. At the same time, my father’s constant reminder to me to always be searching for truth comes back to me again and again.

    Thanks for forcing me to dust off my thinking cap, and examine and re-examine not just what it is that I believe, but why I believe it. – Tim

    P.S. On the odd chance that I ever happen to stumble upon absolute truth, I’ll do my best to stop by and drop it off for everyone’s benefit. :D Until then, I’m more likely to ask more questions and read more from others than to try to teach anyone here anything about a theological position.

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  April 19, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Tim:

    “with all the isogesis, exegesis, I’m-a-Jesus, you’re-a-Jesus…”

    Love that. I’ve got the Dr Pepper tune in my head now.

    Glad that my output is resonating with you, and giving you things to think about. That is, more than anything, what I want to happen. I’m not looking to convert anyone to/from anything. And I’m very happy if anyone stays in the faith, albeit with a better grounding for having questioned it deeply.

    If you do happen on absolute truth, do share. Meanwhile, keep up the inquiries.

  • 29. Dave  |  July 30, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    My response to Christians is:.

    If there is a God, and I dont beleve, then this is the way he made me, who are you to change his plans for me?

    Nothing like bible logic to fight bible logic.

    It’s not that I deny god, I just havent accepted any of them. -me.

  • 30. Jay Henderson  |  August 21, 2008 at 12:45 am

    “Christians need to remember that their history is no different than what is seen in radical Islam today.”

    This is untrue. You should be more intellectually honest when posting such slander on other people’s beliefs, etc.
    Not very nice.

    Also more murder and human suffering has resulted in the past 100 years from atheistic totalitarian regimes than in the past 2000 years of Christendom.

    p.s.
    the salem witch trials were horrible, but involved only about 20 people killed by loonies calling themselves Christens. The crusades were horrible but went on for countless years and involved only a few thousand people killed by various loonies calling themselves Christian.
    Compare that to the countless millions upon millions of people systematically murdered and tortured under Stalin, Mao and Hitler, and I’ll take religion any day.

  • 31. pete  |  August 21, 2008 at 4:34 am

    “Christians need to remember that their history is no different than what is seen in radical Islam today.”

    I think the comparison is somewhat true. In our history, namely in the Conquest of Canaan, the Israelites were repeatedly ordered by God to kill every man, woman, child, and infant of entire people groups. So its not like we are a religion of peace that is against genocide, its just that God hasn’t asked us to do it recently.

  • 32. Obi  |  August 21, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Jay Henderson —

    Hitler was a Catholic, not an atheist. I suggest reading Mein Kampf, where he speaks on how God had commanded him to do what he did. Also, while you accuse someone else of intellectual dishonesty, you seem to be falling into that trap yourself. You estimate that the Crusaders killed “only” a few thousand people, and continue on to say that these people were simply “calling” themselves Christians, which smells to me of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. However…

    http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat0.htm#European

    According to that link, the estimates of the number of people killed in the Crusades is in the millions, not the “few thousands”. Not only that, but Stalin and especially Mao didn’t “systematically murder and torture” as Hitler did, deaths on their parts, especially under Mao, where due to starvation. Not to “soften up” these deaths, but those are the facts.

    Oh, and keep in mind that you have to add the millions of Native Americans, Asians and Africans that were killed by Christians in their process of “Christianizing” the entire world. It was either “convert or die”, and you can rest assured that the numbers who did the later reside in the millions, as European colonialization went on for a period of about 400 years.

  • 33. Infect1truth  |  April 15, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    “christianity” is a disease; a mind virus. Upon infections, the result is delusion of the natural world.

    Infect1truth

    If there is a “god,” then the christian / judeo / islam “god” loves you with …

    abscesses, acne, addictions, adenitis, adenoids, AIDS, albinism, allergies, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia, anemia, aneurysms, angina, anorexia nervosa, anthrax, anxiety attacks, aphasia, appendicitis, apoplexy, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, asphyxia, asthma, astigmatism, athlete’s foot, attention deficit disorder (ADD), autism, avalanches, back aches, bedsores, Bell’s palsy, beriberi, bipolar disorder (manic-depression), birth defects, blackouts, bladder infections, blemishes, blindness, blisters, blizzards, bloating, boils, bone cancer, bone spurs, botulism, bowlegs, breast cancer, brain cancer, breech presentations, Bright’s disease, brittle bone disease, broken bones, bronchitis, bruises, bulimia, bunions, bursitis, calcinosis, canker sores, cardiac dysrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, cataracts, cellulitis, cerebral palsy, cervical cancer, cervicitis, chapped lips, chickenpox, chlamydia, choking, cholera, cleft lips and palates, clubfoot (talipes), cold sores, colic, colitis, colon cancer, color blindness, comas, common cold, concussions, congestion, congestive heart failure, conjunctivitis, constipation, convulsions, coronary occlusions, coughs, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, cyclones, cystic fibrosis, cystitis, cysts, dandruff, dangerous plants and animals, deafness, deformities, dehydration, delirium, delirium tremens, delusions, dementia, dental problems, depression, dermatitis, detached retinas, deviated septums, diabetes, diaper rash, diarrhea, diphtheria, dislocated joints, dizziness, Down’s syndrome, droughts, dysentery, dyslexia, dysphagia, dysphasia, dysuria, ear infections, earthquakes, Ebola virus, ectopic pregnancies, eczema, edema, elephantiasis, embolisms, emphysema, encephalitis, endocarditis, endometriosis, enteritis, epidemics, epididymitis, epilepsy, Epstein-Barr virus, erectile dysfunction (ED), excessive ear wax, fainting, fallen arches (flat foot), farsightedness (hyperopia), fevers, fibrillation, fibromyalgia, fibrosis, fistulas, flatulence, floods, frostbite, gallstones, ganglions, gangrene, gastrinomas, gastritis, gastroenteritis, germs, gingivitis, glaucoma, goiter, gonorrhea, gout, granuloma, Graves’ disease, halitosis, hallucinations, hay fever, headaches, heart attacks, heartburn, heart murmurs, hematomas, hemiplegia, hemophilia, hemorrhages, hemorrhagic fever, hemorrhoids, hepatitis (A,B&C), hernias, herniated and slipped disks, herpes, hiccups, high blood pressure (hypertension), HIV, hives, Hodgkin’s disease, humpbacks (kyphosis), Huntington’s chorea, hurricanes, hydrocephalus, hyperactivity, hypercholesterolemia, hyperemia, hyperglycemia, hyperthermia, hyperthyroidism, hypertonicity, hyperuricemia, hypochondria, hypoglycemia, hypothermia, hypothyroidism, impacted teeth, incontinence, indigestion (dyspepsia), infarctions, infections, infertility, infestations, inflammations, influenza, insanity, insomnia, iritis, irritable bowels, ischemia, itches, jaundice, Karposi’s sarcoma, keratitis, keratosis, kidney failure, kidney stones, knock-knees, labor pains, laryngitis, Legionnaires’ disease, leprosy, lesions, lethargy, leukemia, lice, lipidosis, lipomas, liposarcoma, liver cancer, lockjaw/tetanus, lordosis, low blood pressure (hypotension), lumbago, lung cancer, lupus, Lyme disease, lymphangitis, lymphedema, lymphocytosis, lymphomas, macular degeneration, malaria, malocclusions, manias, mastitis, measles, melancholia, melanomas, meningitis, menorrhagia, menstrual cramps, mental illnesses, mental retardation, migraines, miscarriages (spontaneous abortions), mononucleosis, monsoons, morning sickness, multiple personality disorder, multiple sclerosis, multiple system atrophy, mumps, muscle cramps and spasms, muscular dystrophy, myalgia, myasthenia gravis, myelitis, narcolepsy, nausea, nearsightedness (myopia), necrosis, nephritis, nephrosis, nervous breakdowns, nervous tics, neuralgia, neuritis, neuroses, night blindness, nosebleeds, obesity, osteitis, osteodystrophy, osteoporosis, otitis, ovarian cancer, Paget’s disease, pain, palsy, pancreatic cancer, paralysis, paranoia, parasitosis, Parkinson’s disease, pericarditis, periodontitis, peritonitis, phantom pain, pharyngitis, phlebitis, phobias, pimples, pinched nerves, plagues, pleurisy, pneumonia, poisons, polio, Pott’s disease, premature births, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), prions, prostate cancer, psoriasis, psychoses, psychosomatic illnesses, ptomaine poisoning, pulled muscles, quicksand, rabies, rashes, Raynaud’s disease, resistance to curative drugs, retinitis, retinitis pigmentosa, retroviruses, Reye’s syndrome, Rh incompatibility, rheumatic fever, rheumatism, rhinoviruses, rickets, riptides, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, rubella, ruptures, salmonella poisoning, sandstorms, sarcomas, scabies, scarlet fever, schizophrenia, sclerosis, scoliosis, scurvy, seizures, senility, septicemia, severe thunder storms, shingles, shock, sickle-cell anemia, skin cancer, sleep apnea, smallpox, sneezes, sore throats, sores, spastic colons, speech disorders, spina bifida, sprains, stillbirths, stomach cancer, strep throats, strokes, styes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), sunburn, sunstroke, swelling, syphilis, tabes, tardive dyskinesia, Tay-Sachs disease, teething pains, temper tantrums, tartar, tendinitis, testicular cancer, thrombosis, tidal waves, tinnitus, TMJ, tonsillitis, tooth decay, torn cartilage, tornadoes, Tourette’s syndrome, toxemia, toxic shock syndrome, transplant rejection, trauma, tremors, trench foot, trichinosis, tropical storms, tuberculosis, tumors, tunnel vision, typhoid fever, typhoons, typhus, ulcers, uremia, urethritis, uterine cancer, vaginitis, varicose veins, vertigo, viruses, vomiting, warts, whooping cough, wounds, yeast infections, yellow fever…

  • 34. Not a Church Goer anymore  |  April 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    The only reason most Christians so call follow moral code is becuase of their fear of the pits of Hell!!!take Hell out of the equation, and see how many Christian folks “act” Christian…this is an observed opinion. Not all Christians have this motivation, but you’ll be suprised how fear can motivate one’s action.

  • 35. Joe  |  April 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Infect1truth—

    Looks like your a “glass is half empty” kind of person eh? When you make a list of things to be thankful/unthankful for, the negative side must be huge. :>)

  • 36. Ash  |  May 18, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Infect1thruth’s argument is a perfect example of blaming God for all our problems. I imagine for most people it’s easier put the blame on God rather than on themselves, or even on other people. They ask, “God, why have you forsaken me?”

    We humans chose sin over God. God gave Adam and Eve the choice between eternal life with Him, and knowledge born out of disobedience (forbidden fruit). In the beginning, man had God by his side, and sin (the world as we know it; the world Adam and Eve chose to enter) was beyond our grasp- at least, that’s how it was supposed to be. God told us not to do it and we did it anyway.

    Now you can say that a truly benevolent God would not have created man in this way. He would not have given man curiosity, desire, the capacity to be disobedient, etc. But can any of us imagine ourselves without that power of choice?

    I am aware that it sounds like I’m claiming that knowledge is sin. That’s not what I’m trying to say. I like knowledge. But our desire for knowledge BEYOND God separated us from God. The more we know, the more choices we get to make in life, and the easier it is to grow more and more distant from God.

    God forgives us for that distance. When Jesus was raised on the cross he cried out, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” He felt the pain of our sinful world- not just one person’s sin, but EVERYONE’S sin. In essence, he became sin. He bore the cry of everyone’s heart, everyone who ever asked, “why have you forsaken me?” It killed him- he died for our sins.

    As a Christian, I sin against God everyday. When I’m around non-Christian friends I very rarely have the courage to bring up the subject of God. Even deciding to make this post was a difficult decision for me, because I’m a very shy, not-confident person. But the indescribable joy of following Christ, which all true Christians experience, gives me the courage to speak up about my beliefs.

    “If there is a God, and I dont beleve, then this is the way he made me, who are you to change his plans for me?”

    Something many people tend to forget is the fact that this is not a one-way relationship. God loves us, and if we want to experience his love, we have to try our best to love him back. The bible tells us to put God over everything in our lives. Christianity as a whole is obviously failing in that. It’s so easy to fall in this world, to trust finances and ambition over God’s plan, to focus on doubt instead of faith. If we stray too far we forget what it’s like to live by God’s word.

    But the joy of God’s grace keeps us strong. It gives Christians capacity for faith, something that completely defies the logic and science that we’re all so attached to. It gives them the courage to enter non-Christian communities such as this one, just for the opportunity to try to express our feelings.

    God created us to be by His side. Humanity chose to leave it, but he’s giving us a second chance. The role of the Christian is not to change anyone’s path, but to encourage them to seek God’s path on their own. It’s completely up to the individual to take that leap of faith, just as it was completely up to the first man to defy God. Choice! It’s a bitch, but we can’t live without it.

  • 37. anonymous  |  August 7, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    As God is omniscient and omnipresent, He know what was, is and will be. So, what does that leave for us to do? If He damns us, there’s nothing to do. If He doesn’t, then, well…there’s nothing to do. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to live our life according to the moral code Jesus spoke of. If we don’t, we’re free to do so, what does that mean concerning judgement before. No one knows. However, we all live in a world in which there is cause and effect. Live selfishly, greedily, taking from people and being a person who doesn’t really care. Okay, look at Bernie Madoff and others who thought they could get away with it. Cause and effect. If you live by the sword, you will die by it.

    Either way, though, it doesn’t matter, because it is a mystery of which you will not have the answer until what you have done, how you have lived, is past. So, it seems like you would be wasting your time worrying.

    If you choose to try to live as you believe Jesus wants you to, do it with all your heart. If not, so be it. I personally don’t worry about how anyone lives their lives, so long as they don’t try to tell me what to do, to say, or what to think, or try to hurt me. I don’t judge, I don’t hate, but also I don’t turn the other cheek. I love all for their humanity and by the fact that they exist, but I don’t really concern myself with them. Nor should I. But, to keep the peace, the only way to do it is to be peaceful.

    Finally, we’re all equal in the end. What’s all the fuss about trying to force people to believe (or not believe) in what you believe (or don’t believe)? Don’t worry, like the lilies in the field.

  • 38. Joshua  |  August 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    “As God is omniscient and omnipresent, He know what was, is and will be.”

    How do you know this?

  • 39. Joshua  |  August 7, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Or rather I should say: how COULD we know this.

    “What’s all the fuss about trying to force people to believe (or not believe) in what you believe (or don’t believe)?”

    It matters to me right now because the beliefs of my parents are teaching my little sister that I am going to hell. I’m not forcing them to do anything, but it does matter. I’m not “worried” either, except that I don’t want my little sister to go to bed with nightmares about me.

  • 40. Anonymous  |  October 30, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    anyone have any bible verses to support this??

  • 41. Quester  |  October 30, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    *looks at #40*

    *falls down laughing*

    Some things are just too precious.

  • 42. johnstevencurry2012  |  May 6, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Christian or not. Murdering babies shouldn’t be allowed. End of argument.

  • 43. johnstevencurry2012  |  May 6, 2013 at 2:22 am

    On a side note. I think it is contradicting to ban abortion and then look down on teen parenting. Instead, ban abortion, and give full support and be enthusiastic towards people who decide to keep their children. Also encouraging adoption. If we could get rid of the “shame” accompanied with an unexpected pregnancy there would be no need for abortion.

  • 44. cag  |  May 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    johnstevencurry2012, inflammatory rhetoric does not solve social issues. In the case of abortion, the answer is not to ban abortion but to educate people and provide birth control without the shaming that religion demands. If pregnancy is chosen rather than accidental then the only need for abortion is for the health of the mother or some fetal defect.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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