My Miraculous Hangup

June 5, 2007 at 6:53 pm 48 comments

Man and Wheelchair Is anything too hard for the LORD? – Gen 18:14

Generally, when Christians pray to God for the healing of a sick friend or loved one, they do not ask for a miraculous healing. Christians usually ask God for a quick recovery or for God to guide the hands and skill of the surgeon, in the case of a serious illness. They rarely ever pray for an actual miraculous intervention of the supernatural.

However, all the healing miracles recorded in the Bible were instantaneous healings with the exception of only one that I can think of – where Jesus needed two tries to fully heal a blind man. There is no prayer in Scripture, that I know of, that asks to help the faithful do well on tests, help with a speedy recovery from a broken bone, or healing of a bad head cold. No, prayer in Scripture is almost always answered by Miraculous Divine Intervention. And Jesus promised his disciples that God would heal through them, and perform any number of miracles. Consider these words of Jesus:

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. – Matt 17:20 (NKJV)

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. – Mark 11:23 (NKJV)

This is just a sampling from the top of my head. There are many other examples, especially from Jesus’ Great Commission and the Book of Acts. Christians, as true believers in Jesus Christ, if they have sufficient faith, are promised miracles from God. Instantaneous healing of the sick was the most common type of miracle performed by Jesus and his disciples. Peter and Paul performed about 30 miraculous healings in the Book of Acts, everything form raising the dead, curing people with the touch of a handkerchief, or merely passing over the sick with their shadow.

And yet, in most churches, bible studies, prayer meetings and home devotional groups, Christian believers rarely ever ask for miraculous healing. In my old home study, we had a couple with a teenage boy who was mildly autistic. Even though they loved their boy, he was a real strain on them emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. And while we prayed for guidance with dealing with this boy, we never once asked God to heal him. When was the last time you heard your church prayer leader ask God for a healing of a girl with Down syndrome, a young sufferer of cystic fibrosis or any other devastating genetic disorder? Why not use mustard seed faith for the healing of any form of severe mental retardation? We never once asked God to remove the horrific effects of Alzheimer’s disease, so our elderly loved ones can die in peace.

I type this knowing full well I may be offending many Christians out there. These terrible disorders are not at all uncommon, we all know people who suffer, and I have no doubt that they have received prayer. I mean no offense, but I am just writing what I observe and what I have lived through.

If we continually and fervently ask God for a truly miraculous healing in our prayer meetings, we know deep down that God will not answer these types of prayers, and God and our faith will be put up for ridicule. I suspect that Christians rarely ask God to perform the miraculous because, deep down, even though they are afraid to admit it, they know that the miraculous, supernatural healing of God never occurs. As a result, Christians pray only for those things that require absolutely no faith in to be answered.

Here is an experiment. The next time your church congregation is asked to report some answered prayers, listen to the responses. They usually include things like, “I managed to get a new job” or “my mother is recovering slowly – keep praying”. These are all well and good. However, when your turn comes up, tell the congregation that an amputee that you met at the VA hospital desperately asked for prayer. His arm had been blown off while in combat. So you prayed with great faith and fervor, and what do you know, his arm grew back!! Right there in front of your eyes, a true miracle from God! He stood up, thanked God, the doctors were aghast with wonder and amazement because no natural cause could be found for this divine intervention, and many came to Jesus Christ that day. Hallelujah!

Guess what? No one in the congregation will believe you. Why not? We are talking about GOD here, aren’t we? However, they still would not believe you.

I know because that very thing happened to me once at Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque. I was at a Thursday night service some 15 years ago, and Pastor Skip asked the congregation for Praise Reports. A man stood up and said that exact thing. He watched, with his very eyes, a man’s amputated forearm grow back. After his testimony, I politely said “praise God”, but I have to admit, I did not believe him, and a few around me were a little uncomfortable and a little embarrassed. Even Pastor Skip chuckled a little, humored him, and he abruptly ceased asking for Praise Reports.

Why did nobody believe him? Because deep down, I think Christians know even though are afraid to admit, miracles do not happen. Christians have demoted God to be the omnipotent healer of common colds and runny noses. If you start telling people that you saw an amputee grow his arm back then people, even believing Christians, will think you are a bit nuts. So instead of believing in the truly miraculous, Chrisitans are willing to accept God granting people jobs and slowly recovering from illnesses that happen at the same rate as the heathen who never acknowledge God for anything.

The other day I was listening to a woman praying on our local Christian radio station. She asked God to ease the suffering of her radio audience. “O God, we know you are the great healer! O God, you are the one who heals headaches and backaches.” Headaches and backaches? Is God Almighty, He who called Heaven and Earth into existence, now no better than a pair of aspirin? Why are Christians willing to excuse their God of this kind of divine impotence? Why continue to fear this transcendent being who pales in comparison to mere antibiotics?

The truly faithful will remind me that God will only answer prayer when it falls into accord to his Divine Will. Taking the Biblical texts as strictly as I can, the above passages never reference the Will of God. They are practically carte blanche statements. But on a more practical level, if God never performs miracles, then healing people of truly horrific illnesses must never be in his Will. Can you imagine the uproar in a hospital ward if a patient slowly dying of AIDS suddenly leapt from bed, instantaneously and unquestionably healed of all illness after prayer in the name of Jesus Christ? How many in that hospital ward who witnessed the event do you think would come to Jesus after a true healing like that described in the Book of Acts? And coming to Jesus, well, I thought ultimately that was God’s Will.

How much harder is it for God to heal a sufferer of multiple sclerosis than for him to heal a sufferer of a common cold? Is it really more of a challenge for God to separate co-joined twins than it is for him to find you a job? A believing Christian will readily assert that nothing is too hard for God. However, we all know he never performs anything requiring the truly miraculous, so how do we know he is actually healing that simple common cold? If God will not heal the amputee, why do we think he actually heals anyone of any disease? For that matter, what reason is there to think God answers any prayer, of any kind, from anyone at all?

In over 35 years lived as a Christian, I have never seen a miracle. I also do not know anyone who has seen a miracle. Chances are, if you are honest, you have never seen one miracle even if you are a Christian, nor have any of your Christian friends. If God exists, what objective reason is there for not believing God/Jesus ignores each and every one of the Christians’ faithful prayers? And why continue to make excuses for God/Jesus when his promises never materialize?

- HeIsSailing

[ More posts by HeIsSailing ]

Entry filed under: HeIsSailing. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

What’s the Point with Prayer? Does God deserve the credit he gets?

48 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Karen  |  June 5, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    Headaches and backaches? Is God Almighty, He who called Heaven and Earth into existence, now no better than a pair of aspirin?

    Hee, hee – that cracks me up!

    In over 35 years lived as a Christian, I have never seen a miracle.

    Ditto for me. I had one thing happen to me that I suspected could be a miracle, but it was ambiguous enough not to really pass the “smell test” of authenticity.

    Like you, I knew some people who claimed to have seen a miracle. They were affiliated with John Wimber in the early Vineyard days and they said they had seen an abnormally short leg “grow” several inches during a healing service. They were honest, sincere folks, so I don’t think they would knowingly lie about it.

    I have since seen James Randi do a demonstration of how a charlatan “faith healer” can make it look like a limb is growing out, however, so that may very well have been what my friends saw.

    You might already know of it, but this Website is a great resource:

    http://www.whydoesgodhateamputees.com/

  • 2. agnosticatheist  |  June 5, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    HIS,

    I came out of a camp that constantly prayed for miracles IN SPITE of the frustration of never seeing them. They just figured out a way to blame the recipient for the failed prayer. There was sin or rebellion towards God or lack of faith. Since most people sin (by their definition of sin) or lack faith (by their definition of faith), it’s never God’s fault. However, if we just could create the right circumstance, God would heal.

    A favorite scripture was the one on Jesus not being able to do miracles in a particular town because of their unbelief.

    aA

  • 3. HeIsSailing  |  June 6, 2007 at 6:42 am

    Karen sez:
    “Like you, I knew some people who claimed to have seen a miracle. They were affiliated with John Wimber in the early Vineyard days and they said they had seen an abnormally short leg “grow” several inches during a healing service. ”

    My mom swore to me in amazement that she saw a leg lengthen to form even legs in a crippled man at a Kathryn Kuhlman healing crusade. Of course, that was many years ago, and we have both since learned that the lengthening leg is the favorite miracle of the travelling faith healer. To me it is no different than attending a magic show ala Harry Blackstone or David Copperfield. It is just that we *know* that stuff is slight of hand. The travelling faith healer does ‘miracles’ in the name of God, so the Christian just *knows* it is from God by the power of suggestion.

  • 4. HeIsSailing  |  June 6, 2007 at 6:53 am

    Aa sez:

    A favorite scripture was the one on Jesus not being able to do miracles in a particular town because of their unbelief.
    In a sense, I guess that can be true. Like I argue, I don’t think Christians really do believe in miracles.

    But in another sense, I can’t buy that excuse. You cannot tell me that the hundreds of crippled men and women turned away at a typical Benny Hinn crusade do not *believe*. The terminally ill who flock to Lourdes and wait for some miracle like the modern Pool of Bethesda would not be there if they did not *believe*. Yet with all this belief, it seems the best Jesus can do these days is make a few statues cry, or put signs of the crucifixion on a few stigmatics. Who needs miracles like that!?

    I tell you, if this is the best Jesus can do, why does anyone think he answers anything? I used to worry since I never saw evidence of his answering prayers of healing, why should I expect him to answer my prayers of forgiveness and salvation?

  • 5. Epiphanist  |  June 6, 2007 at 6:57 am

    There are plenty of good biblical scholars posting on this site who should be able to quote the correct verses for these difficulties!
    Matthew 16
    1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came and, to test him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven.
    2 He said to them in reply, “(In the evening you say, ‘Tomorrow will be fair, for the sky is red';
    3 and, in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you cannot judge the signs of the times.)
    Atheist or theist, the signs of the times are obvious – greed and apathy. Penicillin might do for the miracle, peace would also be welcome

  • 6. astudent  |  June 6, 2007 at 7:10 am

    Well, if we followed the example of Jesus and went off and prayed alone, we would not have this discussion. Jesus healed the physically ill and raised the dead so that everyone could see that He had the power to do so, and the Apostles did so to demonstrate that Jesus had given them the same power. All mankind die whether their arms grow back or not. It is not physically healing that we should be praying for, but spiritual healing. Who really is sick and dieing? The person that is running a marathon and doesn’t know Jesus, or the person who is lying in a hospital bed with cancer? The Bible does say you can throw mountains into the sea. Have you ever had to duck one? Have you ever heard of it? If the Bible says it is possible then it is and if you have never heard of it then it must be spiritual in nature. The truth (as I see it) is God already knows who is physically ill and it just might be for their own good. God might have let something bad happen to them to shock them into awareness, or for some other good reason.
    “How many in that hospital ward who witnessed the event do you think would come to Jesus after a true healing like that described in the Book of Acts?”
    Every one of them, for physical healing, but that is not the goal of a Christian.
    We use the term “save a life”, but phyisical life can not be saved: only prolonged. The only way to save a life is through Jesus.
    I still pray for physical healing, but I want God’s will to be done and I don’t really know what is best. If God knows the number of hairs on our heads then He already knows what we need, so praying for physical healing is not that important.

  • 7. HeIsSailing  |  June 6, 2007 at 7:10 am

    Epiphanist sez:
    “Atheist or theist, the signs of the times are obvious – greed and apathy. ”

    When has greed and apathy *not* be signs of the times (or wars and rumors of wars, for that matter)?

    “Penicillin might do for the miracle”

    That is medicine, not a miracle.

    “peace would also be welcome”

    Yes it would. But look at the news headlines and tell me centuries of prayers for peace from people, of all faiths, from all over the globe, done any good at all.

  • 8. HeIsSailing  |  June 6, 2007 at 7:20 am

    astudent sez:
    “The truth (as I see it) is God already knows who is physically ill and it just might be for their own good. God might have let something bad happen to them to shock them into awareness, or for some other good reason.”

    Take a look at this and tell me that this is for their own good:

    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=birth+defects&gbv=2

    Well, I don’t know if having this happen to you would drive you to God – I mean it *might*, but I can certainly think of better ways to bring people to God than inflict this kind of stuff on them.

  • 9. John Morales  |  June 6, 2007 at 7:25 am

    I consider this an excellent post – you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  • 10. Heather  |  June 6, 2007 at 8:54 am

    ** The Pharisees and Sadducees came and, to test him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven.** The problem with that verses is the people who are doing the asking. Heissailing was a devout Christian for many years who wasn’t asking in the manner of the Pharisees, but rather seeing how biblical statements apply — Jesus did do lots of healings, as did the Apostles and those they trained. Jesus also said that those that believed could do the same signs, so it’s not a matter of pride in asking why the signs aren’t available today. Heissailing wasn’t saying “Prove you’re who you say you are,” but rather, “You say in the Bible that these events will occur — but they aren’t.”

    **It is not physically healing that we should be praying for, but spiritual healing. Who really is sick and dieing? ** BUt even James said that if there is one who is sick, that person should go to the elders for healing. Physical healing was a huge aspect of early Christianity.

    ** The Bible does say you can throw mountains into the sea. Have you ever had to duck one? Have you ever heard of it? If the Bible says it is possible then it is and if you have never heard of it then it must be spiritual in nature. ** This doesn’t work either, because Jesus said that one could move mountains right after Jesus physically withered a fig tree. Saying that it must be spiritual in nature doesn’t work given the context of the verse.

  • 11. Radec  |  June 6, 2007 at 10:03 am

    “God might have let something bad happen to them to shock them into awareness, or for some other good reason.”

    I can’t decide which bothers me more–the idea that that someone can say and believe such a thing today or the fact that I myself believed and said this for 20 years.

  • 12. astudent  |  June 6, 2007 at 10:44 am

    HelSailing,
    I have no idea if these pictures are real, or PotoShop. Some do look real, but we have no idea what the background, or story is about any of them.

    “Well, I don’t know if having this happen to you would drive you to God – I mean it *might*, but I can certainly think of better ways to bring people to God than inflict this kind of stuff on them. ”
    Well perhaps you should tell God, so He knows as much as you. I don’t mean to belittle you, but it is only logical that if you know more than God you should tell Him. Wait a minute you can’t, because you don’t believe He exists! Have you ever wondered why you blame someone that you don’t believe exists?
    It could be for some other reason that God let this happen. Some of the deformed babes are because of mans mistakes. We really don’t know. Do we?

    Heather,
    “Heissailing wasn’t saying “Prove you’re who you say you are,” but rather, “You say in the Bible that these events will occur — but they aren’t.”
    Just because Heissailing says they aren’t doesn’t make it so. If you have no faith you will not see it even if it happens.

    “BUt even James said that if there is one who is sick, that person should go to the elders for healing.”
    Not for physical healing, but spiritual healing. Not physically ill, but spiritually sick.

    “This doesn’t work either, because Jesus said that one could move mountains right after Jesus physically withered a fig tree. Saying that it must be spiritual in nature doesn’t work given the context of the verse.”
    You don’t understand the context of the verse. When Jesus withered the fig tree it was a sign that Israel did not produce fruit and it would be punished for this. It was also spiritual in nature. Jesus used physical illustrations because mortals only know physical things and would not understand things spiritual. Most of what Jesus did was parallelism of one kind, or other.

  • 13. Radec  |  June 6, 2007 at 10:51 am

    “Jesus used physical illustrations because mortals only know physical things and would not understand things spiritual. Most of what Jesus did was parallelism of one kind, or other.”

    Then how come we as mortals don’t get the same benefit that the 1st century Christians got? Kinda unfair if you ask me.

  • 14. Agnostic  |  June 6, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Great post HIS.

    And Radec, me too. :(

  • 15. Agnostic  |  June 6, 2007 at 11:07 am

    My last comment Radec was to your comment #11. :)

  • 16. Heather  |  June 6, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Astudent,

    HIS believed in God for a very long time. I want to say at least 20 years.

    **Just because Heissailing says they aren’t doesn’t make it so. **

    What about drinking deadly things and having them not affect him? Or taking up serpents? (Mark 16). Those are signs that are obvious when they don’t occur.

    **Not for physical healing, but spiritual healing. Not physically ill, but spiritually sick.**

    No, it was for physical healing. James 5:14 — if there are any sick/diseased, let them call the elders, and the Lord shall raise the sick up. The context in any other setting would mean physically ill. The ’spiritually sick’ would be those afflicted, mentioned in an earlier sentence.

    **You don’t understand the context of the verse. When Jesus withered the fig tree it was a sign that Israel did not produce fruit and it would be punished for this.**

    No. In Matthew 21: 10-21, Jesus curses the fig tree and it immediatly withers. The disicples ask how that occured so quickly, and Jesus says if one has faith and doesn’t doubt, not only can people do what was done to the fig tree, but they can say to a mountain that it should go throw itself in the sea, and it will happen. The sign element you’re referring to is in Mark. In Matthew, the context makes it a physical action. Jesus physically withered the fig tree, and then said that others could do the same and more.

  • 17. Karen  |  June 6, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    “God might have let something bad happen to them to shock them into awareness, or for some other good reason.”

    I can’t decide which bothers me more–the idea that that someone can say and believe such a thing today or the fact that I myself believed and said this for 20 years.

    Ditto, except in my case it was 30 years. :-(

    We would occasionally hear about some nonbeliever’s misfortune and pray, “Lord, if it’s your will, use this tragic circumstance to allow this person to hit rock bottom, and use that to bring this person to salvation.”

    It makes me so ashamed to think about that now. Not that I actually believe there’s a god who brings good or bad fortune on anyone, but that my evangelical motivation was SO strong that I was willing to see someone “brought low” in service of that motivation, and that I believed in a god who would do such a thing. That just makes me sick now.

  • 18. astudent  |  June 6, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Heather,
    “What about drinking deadly things and having them not affect him? Or taking up serpents? (Mark 16). Those are signs that are obvious when they don’t occur.”
    (Mark 16:17-18 NIV) And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” These verses are only about spiritual matters. Driving out demons, speaking in tongues, picking up serpents (Satan is a serpent), drinking deadly poison (think about Romans 3:13 & James 3:8 to understand spiritual poison), and I have already covered sick people.

    “Not for physical healing, but spiritual healing. Not physically ill, but spiritually sick. No, it was for physical healing. James 5:14 — if there are any sick/diseased, let them call the elders, and the Lord shall raise the sick up. The context in any other setting would mean physically ill. The ’spiritually sick’ would be those afflicted, mentioned in an earlier sentence.”
    I went all the way back to James 1:1 and I could not find the earlier sentence you referred to. Could you enlighten me? The verse does not say sick/diseased. It just says sick so it could mean either. The context is set in verse 15 where it says, “the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.”

    “The sign element you’re referring to is in Mark. In Matthew, the context makes it a physical action. Jesus physically withered the fig tree, and then said that others could do the same and more.”
    It was a physical action, with a spiritual meaning. It is the same action spoken of in both Matthew and Mark. If Jesus would have said that He could cause the fig tree to wither, with out actually doing it, no one would have believed Him. You didn’t see it and you don’t believe it.

  • 19. HeIsSailing  |  June 6, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    astudent sez:
    “I have no idea if these pictures are real, or PotoShop. Some do look real, but we have no idea what the background, or story is about any of them.”

    The whole point is that gruesome birth defects are a reality, and not an uncommon one either. Like Agnostic and Karen have already confessed, I too used to say like you did, that this kind of stuff is inflicted on humanity to do some good. Namely to bring us to Jesus Christ.

    astudent:
    “Have you ever wondered why you blame someone that you don’t believe exists?”

    I am not blaming anyone for anything. My asking if God really heals is a rhetorical device for the sake of argument. This article is intentionally absurd to hopefully show the fallacy of believing God answers prayers.

    The whole point of this article is asking, is if God’s ultimate will is to bring humanity to repentence in Jesus Christ, (2Peter 3:9), wouldn’t a few first class healing miracles do the trick? Especially since they are promised in Scripture? I think they would do the job nicely. It would make God’s awesome transcendance evident to humanity a lot better than inflicting illnesses on them “for their own good”.

    astudent:
    ““BUt even James said that if there is one who is sick, that person should go to the elders for healing.”
    Not for physical healing, but spiritual healing. Not physically ill, but spiritually sick.”

    I have noticed that you arbitrarily assign spiritual and allegorical meanings to pretty straightforward passages of scripture when they prove troublesome to Christian faith. You interpret the poisons that Christians can drink are really spiritual poisons, we can pick up serpents, but it really means Satan, etc…

    I can’t blame you for doing this, because a straighforward, literal interpretation of the Biblical texts like these obviously do not work in our world. So you are forced to spiritualize, or allegorize things that do not fit your experience. You know you cannot drink poisons, even if the Bible says that you can. So it MUST mean something else, in order to keep the Bible inerrant. So poison must mean.. .. um… *spiritual* poison! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

    In other words, you are interpreting the Bible based on your own experiences and forcing it to fit your own worldview. Nowhere in these passages is it even hinted at that these are spiritual analogies, but in order to give them any authority, you have no choice but to make them so.

    But that is a shell game, astudent. That is nothing more than redefining words because you don’t like what they really mean. That is arguing what the meaning of “is” is. That logic gets you nowhere, and you really learn nothing from it.

  • 20. Heather  |  June 6, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Astudent,

    I have to agree with HIS on this one. The passages I used are all straightforward, and yet you are redefining them because they don’t work in a straightforward fashion. Take the fig tree example — in a straightforward fashion, it does mean that others could wither fig trees and literally move actual mountains. But since we don’t see these happening, you seem to be re-interpreting them to fit that world view.

    **These verses are only about spiritual matters. Driving out demons, speaking in tongues, picking up serpents (Satan is a serpent), drinking deadly poison (think about Romans 3:13 & James 3:8 to understand spiritual poison** Why would it be expected to only be about spiritual matters? Jesus had performed countless miracles, and others had performed them, even people who didn’t follow him — when the disicples saw strange people healing in Jesus’s name. The logical inference is that it refers to physical healings here as well. And people who believed later did these things, such as Paul shrugging off the serpent that bit him.

    **The verse does not say sick/diseased. It just says sick so it could mean either. ** I was going off the Greek word, which does mean both sick/diseased and has been translated as ‘ill.’ The verse of afflicted is from James 5:13. The problem with using ‘sin’ is that the verse reads as seperating the two. The sick will be cured, and if any sins were committed, they’ll be forgiven. The other problem with that verse is that it says if someone is ill, he should send for the elders, they’ll pray and the God will raise the sick man from his bed. The passage is set up to demonstrate a physical healing.

  • 21. Justin  |  June 6, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    HIS says, “I can’t blame you for doing this, because a straighforward, literal interpretation of the Biblical texts like these obviously do not work in our world.”

    As I have said before, this is not a problem in the least. If I remember correctly HIS, you are a former fundamentalist Christian, which (I think) would imply literal interpretation of Biblical texts. Literal is not the only way to read them, and if someone does not read them from that angle does not make them less or more right/wrong.

    For instance, let’s consider Genesis.

    In what way is it the word of God? I think it was written by human beings who described the world based on what they knew, using their categories. Maybe they didn’t get it “right” about the seven days of creation, or how old Noah was when he died. But can we affirm that they wrote true things about God? Like, that the universe has its origin with God; that God is pretty big and powerful; that God is well-disposed towards creation; that God makes rules and we break them. Did God inspire them to get this stuff right?

    If we believe that the Bible is God’s word, it seems to me that at the very least we have to agree that he did.

    I digress a bit, and I don’t want to take away from the message of your well written post nor the exchanging of thoughts between you and astudent.

    astudent, do you have a blog?

    -Justin

  • 22. Heather  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    Justin,

    Out of curiousity, how would you interpret the texts I mentioned? I agree with you that a literal reading doesn’t always work, such as Genesis, given what we know in science. But with those other verses, they seem ‘simple’ and straightforward. Much along the lines of a verse like ‘God is love.’

  • 23. HeIsSailing  |  June 6, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Justin asks:
    “Maybe they didn’t get it “right” about the seven days of creation, or how old Noah was when he died. But can we affirm that they wrote true things about God?”

    Justin, I tried that approach for a very long time, but ultimately I could not rationalize it that way. I just figured if God could not reveal valid information regarding the natural world, what gives those same authors any authority when describing the supernatural world?

    You seem to take a similar approach as Raymond Brown, a catholic Bible scholar who I enjoy reading. He said there was no valid reason to believe anything in Scripture, except that which went against church teachings. I know there are other authors who say that the Bible is authoritative on Spiritual matters and is up for grabs anywhere else. That is a much more liberal view than I ever had as a Christian, I must admit.

    Justin confesses:
    “I digress a bit…”

    Hey, Jump right in! That’s what these blog sites are for!

  • 24. astudent  |  June 7, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Let’s both get on the same page. I do agree with everyone that God will not grow an arm back, or physically heal someone. God already knows the arm is gone and when someone is sick. If it were His will that they be healed He would heal them with, or without prayer. I have posted “Why God wants us to pray” on “Bible Study by a student”. It might help you to get an idea of where I am coming from.
    I don’t arbitrarily assign spiritual meanings to verses. You are correct they will not work with a literal interpretation. I am not forced to spiritualize anything.
    Think about it, why would God give me or anyone the power to cause a fig tree to wither? What possible use would that be to anyone? (By the way Jesus did not command the tree to wither, He said to it “May you never bear fruit again!” and then the tree withered (yes I know he said, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” in Mark).

    “You know you cannot drink poisons, even if the Bible says that you can. So it MUST mean something else, in order to keep the Bible inerrant. So poison must mean.. .. um… *spiritual* poison! Yeah, that’s the ticket!”
    (Rom 3:12-13 NIV) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” Would you agree that this poison is not a literal poison?
    (James 3:8 NIV) “but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” How about this one? Who really is forcing the word “poison” to fit what they want it to? The NIV uses the word poison three times. Two out of three you can not say are literal. Well, I don’t see how you can.

    “But that is a shell game, astudent. That is nothing more than redefining words because you don’t like what they really mean. That is arguing what the meaning of “is” is. That logic gets you nowhere, and you really learn nothing from it.”
    Well, you got me laughing now! Who as their hands on the shells and who is trying to guess where the pea is?

    Heather,
    “it does mean that others could wither fig trees and literally move actual mountains. But since we don’t see these happening, you seem to be re-interpreting them to fit that world view.”
    At the risk of repeating my self, Jesus did not command the tree to wither. I am not re-interpreting them. I am only interpreting them.

    Physical miracles were only used to demonstrate those who preformed them had the power to do so spiritually. We can now raise the dead by baptism, not physically raise the dead.

    “I was going off the Greek word, which does mean both sick/diseased and has been translated as ‘ill.’”
    That is a pet peeve of mine. I think it was over a hundred of the best scholars that translated the NIV and then someone comes along and says they made a mistake. Who do you think I believe?

    The verse of afflicted is from James 5:13.
    It’s the same sickness. Notice the word “and” in verse 14.

    “The passage is set up to demonstrate a physical healing.”
    Do you think we disagree on this?

    Justin,
    Yes, as I said “Bible study by a student”. You might be interested in what I have said about the seven days of creation. Bet you haven’t heard it that way.

  • 25. Heather  |  June 7, 2007 at 5:26 am

    Astudent,

    **How about this one? Who really is forcing the word “poison” to fit what they want it to? The NIV uses the word poison three times. Two out of three you can not say are literal. Well, I don’t see how you can.** The problem is still that the Mark passage uses the phrase in a physical way — if they drink any deadly thing. Those other verses are set up to be metaphors. And that’s reading the Epistles and such back into the Gospels. James and Paul meant it figuratively. That does not mean the writer of Matthew did the same. Besides, if this were read in any other book and in any other context, we’d take it literally. Why is the policy changed for the Bible?

    **That is a pet peeve of mine. I think it was over a hundred of the best scholars that translated the NIV and then someone comes along and says they made a mistake. Who do you think I believe?** I’m going off of Strong’s concordance, which is something that quite a few scholars have used. And I never said that they made a mistake, I’m saying that spiritualizing the passage doesn’t make sense, and I’m using what the Greek words mean and the variety of ways in which they were interpreted.

    **“The passage is set up to demonstrate a physical healing.”
    Do you think we disagree on this?** I would say yes, because you’re saying the passage refers to spiritual matters.

    **Physical miracles were only used to demonstrate those who preformed them had the power to do so spiritually. We can now raise the dead by baptism, not physically raise the dead. ** But even back then, they were raising the dead through baptisms *and* using physical miracles. Even saying that Jesus only did so to prove his divinity doesn’t work, because he had compassion forpeople trapped in illnesses or by demons. He comes across as wanting them free from both physical and spiritual matters.

    I tend to approach it this way — I think that if these verses were in the Koran, they would be used as justification for why Islam is a false religion because no one can heal like that anymore. Yet many Christians can’t say those verses are literally true, because they don’t happen today physically. They can’t be taken literally, because it would raise some serious questions about Christianity. So people must use their own experiences to interpret those verses — as in, we can’t heal like that anymore, so clearly the verses don’t mean what they say they mean — in order to keep the Bible as inerrant.

  • 26. HeIsSailing  |  June 7, 2007 at 7:43 am

    astudent sez:
    “God already knows the arm is gone and when someone is sick. If it were His will that they be healed He would heal them with, or without prayer. ”

    Haven’t you ever stopped and wondered why this kind of stuff is never in God’s Will then? I read your article, and despite your title “Why God wants us to pray”, you never really discuss that. Would you like to comment on Simen’s previous article on ‘What is the Point of Prayer’?

    astudent continues:
    “Physical miracles were only used to demonstrate those who preformed them had the power to do so spiritually. We can now raise the dead by baptism, not physically raise the dead. ”

    Where do you get this from? Jesus never said this. Paul never mentions any miracles of Jesus so you didn’t get it from there. However Paul did say that some members of the church would be able to perform miracles, among them miracles by the gift of healing. (1Cor 12:28-30).

    Eh, what’s the point? You will come back and say Paul wrote about the gift of healing, but what he *really* meant was that the Holy Spirit has dispensed the gift of *baptism* to the Church. Or maybe that this was written for the benefit of the apostles and does not apply to us in later generations.

    OK.

  • 27. notabarbie  |  June 7, 2007 at 9:01 am

    As I began reading this blog and all of the comments this morning, a horrible uneasiness began to creep over me. I couldn’t put my finger on it as first.

    When astudent said, “The truth (as I see it) is God already knows who is physically ill and it just might be for their own good. God might have let something bad happen to them to shock them into awareness, or for some other good reason”

    What immediately came to my mind were all the babies and very small children who are suffering through cancer. All the torture they go through everyday and the suffering of their parents and loved ones. What in god’s name could ever be the purpose for that? If god wanted to “shock someone into awareness” why cause the suffering of innocent young children? What could they have possibly done to deserve that? Huh? (By the way I already knew what astudent’s answers would be)

    As I continued reading, I finally was able to put my finger on why I felt so uncomfortable. I was experiencing guilt, regret and anger, but the anger was mostly directed at myself. I knew what astudent’s answers would be to those questions because they are the answers I would have given just a short time ago. I am thankful now, that I can put my arms around a suffering mother or child and have no agenda but to ease a bit of their suffering. I find that much more fulfilling than spending my time trying to make the square words of the Bible fit into the round realities of the world.

  • 28. astudent  |  June 7, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Heather,
    “The problem is still that the Mark passage uses the phrase in a physical way — if they drink any deadly thing. Those other verses are set up to be metaphors. And that’s reading the Epistles and such back into the Gospels. James and Paul meant it figuratively. That does not mean the writer of Matthew did the same.”
    I don’t think you see my point. Let me try again. God had to use physical phrases and physical actions in order to teach us about spiritual things. The only things we know are physical.

    “Those other verses are set up to be metaphors. And that’s reading the Epistles and such back into the Gospels. James and Paul meant it figuratively. That does not mean the writer of Matthew did the same.”
    All of the Bible must agree, or it is not absolutely true. If God wrote it (by using people like I would use my hand) then it is all true. Seems like the basic problem between us is I believe and you do not (yes I know you know).

    “Besides, if this were read in any other book and in any other context, we’d take it literally. Why is the policy changed for the Bible?”
    That is much too broad of a statement. I don’t think the policy is changed. The Bible is basically a book about spiritual things.

    “I’m saying that spiritualizing the passage doesn’t make sense, and I’m using what the Greek words mean and the variety of ways in which they were interpreted.”
    Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems as though you are mixing the definition with interpretation. 770. astheneo, as-then-eh’-o; from G772; to be feeble (in any sense):–be diseased, impotent folk (man), (be) sick, (be, be made) weak. These are posiable definitions, but the word is interpreted as sick.

    I tend to approach it this way — I think that if these verses were in the Koran, they would be used as justification for why Islam is a false religion because no one can heal like that anymore. Yet many Christians can’t say those verses are literally true, because they don’t happen today physically. They can’t be taken literally, because it would raise some serious questions about Christianity. So people must use their own experiences to interpret those verses — as in, we can’t heal like that anymore, so clearly the verses don’t mean what they say they mean — in order to keep the Bible as inerrant.

    Well, you’ve god me laughing also. Why is the Koran even mentioned? It might surprise you, but I agree with you until you say we must keep the Bible as inerrant. The Bible is inerrant no matter what we say or do. It has been said that I am interpreting the Bible based on my own experiences. Well what else could I base my interpretation on: someone else’s experiences? Should I listen to some preacher or someone who doesn’t even believe in God and base my understanding on their understanding?

    HelsSailing,
    “Haven’t you ever stopped and wondered why this kind of stuff is never in God’s Will then?”
    Tell me sense you know God’s will, how many times would someone have lost an arm, but God prevented it? Who knows the will of God?

    “I read your article, and despite your title “Why God wants us to pray”, you never really discuss that.”
    It is really funny that you could read the post and not see that God just likes us to talk to Him like an earthly father likes to hear his own son talk to him. Everything else is already taken care of.

    “We can now raise the dead by baptism, not physically raise the dead.”
    “Where do you get this from? Jesus never said this.”
    This is Jesus speaking (Mark 16:15-16 NIV) He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

  • 29. Agnostic  |  June 7, 2007 at 9:45 am

    I’ve been there too Notabarbie. I hear you.

    I like this: “I find that much more fulfilling than spending my time trying to make the square words of the Bible fit into the round realities of the world.”

  • 30. Heather  |  June 7, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Astudent,

    **Well, you’ve god me laughing also. Why is the Koran even mentioned? It might surprise you, but I agree with you until you say we must keep the Bible as inerrant. ** It’s coming across to me as though you have to read those verses from a purely spiritual perspective, or there will be complications. If those verses carry a physical meaning, then there’s a problem, because Christians do die if they drink a deadly thing, and elders of the church don’t heal those who are sick. But we all know that poison does kill people, so ‘clearly’ the drink a deadly thing must have a spiritual meaning only. That’s what I mean by using your own experences — you’re using them to determine that it can’t be physically true. The passages are no longer taken at face-value, but we’re told that we’re not reading them properly. Except to many, that comes across as re-interpreting the passage.

    However, if there was a verse that those who practice Islam can drink a deadly thing and not get sick, that would be used by non-Muslims as why Islam is a false religion — because they do get sick when they drink poison. It comes across as a double-standard.

    Notabarbie,

    **If god wanted to “shock someone into awareness” why cause the suffering of innocent young children? What could they have possibly done to deserve that?** I agree. If a person did that to someone, we’d have the person arrested so fast.

  • 31. Karen  |  June 7, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    As I continued reading, I finally was able to put my finger on why I felt so uncomfortable. I was experiencing guilt, regret and anger, but the anger was mostly directed at myself. I knew what astudent’s answers would be to those questions because they are the answers I would have given just a short time ago. I am thankful now, that I can put my arms around a suffering mother or child and have no agenda but to ease a bit of their suffering. I find that much more fulfilling than spending my time trying to make the square words of the Bible fit into the round realities of the world.

    Thanks for your honesty, notabarbie, and hang in there. This is part of the tough emotional work we former fundies have to do in deconverting. The shame is bad enough, but the self-anger is almost worse, “What the hell was I thinking!?! Oh yeah – I wasn’t thinking!”

    After some time passes, you’ll be more able to forgive yourself, find the good things that religion promulgated in your life (they’re there, I’m sure) and revel in the freedom that you’re now experiencing without having to bang that square peg into a round hole. :-)

  • 32. astudent  |  June 7, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Heather,
    “That’s what I mean by using your own experences — you’re using them to determine that it can’t be physically true. The passages are no longer taken at face-value, but we’re told that we’re not reading them properly. Except to many, that comes across as re-interpreting the passage.”
    Well, we have reached the crux of our disagreement and we have made a large circle to get here. I believe and you don’t. I hope that we are both still laughing. I think this whole thing started because HelsSaling said God did not always heal. Well, maybe he said God never heals. Anyway you are correct; the verses can not be taken at face value. Because I believe it is God’s Book when a verse can not be taken literally I think and believe that it is a spiritual message. If the verse is taken literally there is no need to interpret it, so I am not re-interpreting, but only interpreting it.

    Watch out for those who practice Islam. Their Holy Book says lie to us and kill us if we do not convert to their religion.
    While I’m still laughing, I saw a politician put his hand on the Koran and swear by it. How many times have you heard a politician swear to lie to us?

    It’s been fun and thanks for your patience.

  • 33. HeIsSailing  |  June 8, 2007 at 7:14 am

    Thus saith notabarbie:
    “I am thankful now, that I can put my arms around a suffering mother or child and have no agenda but to ease a bit of their suffering. I find that much more fulfilling than spending my time trying to make the square words of the Bible fit into the round realities of the world.”

    notabarbie, I confess I let astudent’s replies get the better of me also. I was not at all shocked or upset at his answers. I knew all along what his answers were going to be. It was predictable because I said those identical things as a Christian.

    I predicted astudent would say illnesses are for our own good, which by the way is Biblical (Rom 8:28). astudent was not pulling that out of thin air.

    After showing astudent pictures of awful birth defects and daring astudent to say it was for thier own good, I predicted he would say they were Photoshopped and avoid the topic all together.

    I pretty much predicted everything else, and so did you and so did Karen and Heather. If that does not show the kind of rank and file belief system that we had, and our loss of individual and original thoought while thinking in our “Purpose Driven” lives, I don’t know what does. I’m not upset at astudent – I am sure he or she is a fine human being. I just sometimes feel like I have been had, like I should have known better, like I am parroting morality based on ancient Mediteranian customs and superstitions and not on our own 21st century world.

    Karen is right when she says some good has come from our belief. But I am with you, notabarbie, when knowing I am not forced to imagine some spiritual warfare playing behind the scenes of every event in our lives.

    I can now talk to my Mormon dad without trying to steer the conversation to the Gospel message so he won’t spend eternity without Jesus. Same with my 92 year old Strict Catholic grandmother, my agnostic mother and her atheist husband. Same with all my “lost and dying” friends. I can now just talk to them, love them, and appreciate them for the wonderful people that they are, and leave the Spiritual, Gospel Driven agendas in the dustbin where they belong. How about you? Dosen’t it feel good? Halelujah!

  • 34. astudent  |  June 8, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    And you thought I went away.
    “After showing astudent pictures of awful birth defects and daring astudent to say it was for thier own good, I predicted he would say they were Photoshopped and avoid the topic all together.”
    Well, what could I say? They are awful pictures. The only thing I can say is I don’t know anything about them. (Neither do you)

    “I pretty much predicted everything else, and so did you and so did Karen and Heather. If that does not show the kind of rank and file belief system that we had, and our loss of individual and original thoought while thinking in our “Purpose Driven” lives, I don’t know what does.”
    You know, most of you people are really more intelligent than I am. No kidding! It doesn’t really matter if thoughts are individual or original. It only matters if they are correct. As for intelligence, it is a lot like wealth. One can waste it on themselves or use it for the good of others.

    “I’m not upset at astudent – I am sure he or she is a fine human being.”
    Even intelligent people make mistakes and mistakes are usually funny (Funnier if they are others). My picture is on every one of my comments. Ain’t I the ugliest woman you have ever seen!

    “I can now talk to my Mormon dad without trying to steer the conversation to the Gospel message so he won’t spend eternity without Jesus. Same with my 92 year old Strict Catholic grandmother, my agnostic mother and her atheist husband. Same with all my “lost and dying” friends. I can now just talk to them, love them, and appreciate them for the wonderful people that they are, and leave the Spiritual, Gospel Driven agendas in the dustbin where they belong. How about you? Doesn’t it feel good? Halelujah!”
    Maybe that is why you do not want to believe. Maybe you feel guilty that you can not change people. Well, I don’t know that, no one knows what another man really thinks: except the man and God (or just the man if there is no God). I know that I use to feel guilty, but as I studied I realized that I was only responsible for telling them. What they do with what I tell them is their responsibility. I am told that those who will be with God will have all their tears wiped away, so however God does it I will not feel bad because those whom I love did not turn to God. That was a big relief when I realized it. You really can just talk to them, love them, and appreciate them for the wonderful people that they are, and leave the Spiritual, Gospel Driven agendas in the dustbin, if that is where they want them. If this life is the only time they can be happy then by all means make them happy: if you can.

  • 35. HeIsSailing  |  June 9, 2007 at 1:24 am

    astudent sez:
    “Well, what could I say? They are awful pictures. The only thing I can say is I don’t know anything about them. (Neither do you)”

    Actually, I recognized a couple of those photos and can vouch for them as legit. One is actually quite famous. Whatever. But what you could do is awknowledge that birth defects are a reality, and instead of just brushing it off, just answer my original question. This is your original statement:

    ” The truth (as I see it) is God already knows who is physically ill and it just might be for their own good. God might have let something bad happen to them to shock them into awareness, or for some other good reason.” – astudent

    According to the Center for Disease Control, birth defects affect about one in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. They account for more than 20% of all infant deaths. They are not at all uncommon. Another fact is that we do not know the cause of most birth defects. Do you honestly think that this stuff is infliction by God to shock them into awareness? And what if the children who suffer along with their parents do come to Jesus because of the birth defect? Will God then heal that defect, now that they have learned their lesson? Answer – NO. If a girl of 10 develops cancer, and her parents are shocked into trusting Jesus, will the cancer go away? Answer – NO. But what possible function can the birth defect or disease serve after the repentant Christian has been shocked into awareness? It has served its purpose, now why must they continue to suffer? It does not matter, because God will ignore their illness regardless of who or what they worship. What about the Christians who have an autistic child, like some friends of mine do? What do they need to be shocked into? Draw closer to Jesus? Trust Jesus more? The whole thing just makes no sense when you start looking at it like that.

    I used to think God had it in for some of us. That all things worked together for those who believe, but thinking about childrens cancers, birth defects and other terrible things makes God into a malicious and evil monster! That every bad thing that happened in our lives was to be interpreted as an invisible god trying to give us a lesson. Would you let your children suffer unbelievable torment just because you wanted to teach them a lesson? Would you treat them like filth, beat them and torture them, if they did not trust daddy enough? Give me a break! They throw men like that into prison, but we worship God when he does the same thing! It just makes no sense!

    If you don’t see how absurd this whole way of thinking is, then maybe you should go to your nearest children’s hospital and preach the Gospel there. After all, God requires a messenger to help shake them into awareness. How else are they going to know? Go tell them that they need to trust Jesus to ease the pains of their infliction. Tell them that if they think their diseases are brutal now, wait until the afterlife without Jesus if they don’t turn to him now. That ought to shock them into awareness.

    Man, I cannot believe that I used to believe that stuff. It is not a matter of not wanting to believe. I don’t believe because the whole faith system of believing there is somebody out there somewhere who hurls lightning bolts our way if we stray off the path is absurd!

    astudent sez:
    “You know, most of you people are really more intelligent than I am. No kidding! It doesn’t really matter if thoughts are individual or original.”

    I did not predict what you would say based on my intelligence. I could easily predict it, because I once believed it. I parroted the same things you are saying, and justified everything I witnessed as an act of God for most of my life. There are only so many directions you can go in if you are forced to keep your faith intact.

    astudent sez:
    “I am told that those who will be with God will have all their tears wiped away, so however God does it I will not feel bad because those whom I love did not turn to God. ”

    We are told many things in the Bible that just are not true. The whole point of this article is asking if God obviously does not do A as promised, what makes you so sure he will do B?

    I will make this my last comment on this article by asking you this question: If God obviously does not answer requests for physical healing, what makes you so sure he will answer those ‘spiritual’ requests for things like salvation?

  • 36. astudent  |  June 9, 2007 at 7:47 am

    “Take a look at this and tell me that this is for their own good:”
    I believe that I answered the question from my point of view. You choose to ignore my answer and claim I did not answer. If you really did not understand let me say it in a slightly different way. I don’t know the particulars of the pictures. I don’t know who they are who their parents are, I don’t know any thing about them, and so my answer is a general answer from the Bible. God knows all about them. He knows more about them and there situation than even they do. He even knows the number of hairs on their heads. So when I say it might be for their own good, or it might be for the good of someone else, I am of course viewing it from a Biblical perspective. You are, I guess trying to get me to explain exactly how one situation is working for some one’s good. I can not and you can not say with certainty that any one situation is all bad. “O” you can say it, but not truthfully, it is only your opinion. Yes I know my answer is an opinion also.
    If you discount God, then you also discount Heaven and Hell, and if there is no God then this world and what happens here is the only thing that matters. That is your stand and you only consider what happens in this life as important. You claim you already know what I am going to say, so why do you comment at all?

    “I used to think God had it in for some of us. That all things worked together for those who believe, but thinking about children’s cancers, birth defects and other terrible things makes God into a malicious and evil monster!”
    Not if you really believe that all things work together for those who believe. You seem to want to understand or argue about a single situation and even if I could show you how that one situation worked for good wouldn’t you just cite another?

    From my perspective there is a God, a Heaven, and a Hell. That makes what happens here only important in how it effects our next life (eternity).

    “I don’t believe because the whole faith system of believing there is somebody out there somewhere who hurls lightning bolts our way if we stray off the path is absurd!”
    You say you were a Christian so you know that is not what we believe. We believe there is a God that made a whole universe, made us, put us on His earth, cares for us, and all He wants is for us to admit we sin and need a Savior. Is it too much to ask that we be baptized in His name after all God has done for us? We don’t believe there is someone out there hurling lightning bolts if we stray. If God would do so there would be no one left, because God would not miss and we all stray.

    “There are only so many directions you can go in if you are forced to keep your faith intact.”
    If you are second guessing God instead of trying to understand what He is doing.

    “We are told many things in the Bible that just are not true. The whole point of this article is asking if God obviously does not do A as promised, what makes you so sure he will do B?”
    Everything that we are told in the Bible is true and God always does as He promised. That is why I am sure He will do “B”.

    “If God obviously does not answer requests for physical healing, what makes you so sure he will answer those ’spiritual’ requests for things like salvation?”
    You are making statements of opinion as though they are statements of truth. The truth is you don’t know if God answers requests for physical healing. If some one would get well you would credit the doctor, or fate, anything but God and then dare me to prove it was God.
    Do you realize that salvation is a spiritual concept? There is no need for salvation if there is no God. If this life is all there is then who needs salvation? I believe God always keeps His word because the Bible says He does and you have no concrete evidence that He does not, yet you demand that I show you concrete evidence that He does.
    Because I don’t think you would hold me to a standard that you would not adhere to yourself, show me that those pictures were not for anyone’s ultimate good and that God does not answer prayer.

  • 37. marie  |  June 9, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    a couple years ago, my college pastor taught us about miracles and he spoke like he had seen them and believed. You could tell this because he would like run all over the stage and shout. He taught us to demand divine miracles for God and told us that if we truly believed they would happen, then they would. So we prayed for miracles almost every week–it was a big show, with him shouting, and other kids tearing up and us all touching the ailing person…we stood there for 20 minutes and there was no healing. Then later we went on the streets and prayed for the homeless. I held the hand of an AIDS patient and demanded God to give a miracle–nothing.
    The pastor told us that we didnt have enough faith to bring miracles into the people we prayed for. I felt horrible and cheated. I believed in miracles and they didnt exist. As for my pastor, he moved away to a church who slays people in the spirit. good riddance.

  • 38. Karen  |  June 9, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    You know, most of you people are really more intelligent than I am. No kidding!

    astudent, it has nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. It has to do with thinking for yourself versus indoctrination.

    I apologize for sounding harsh, but you have been indoctrinated to the point where you have blinders on. This translates into blind faith, which in turn is why you can say things like this:

    Everything that we are told in the Bible is true and God always does as He promised. That is why I am sure He will do “B”.

    You will believe despite evidence to the contrary because you have been taught that this kind of belief-despite-evidence is the highest calling for a Christian. Unfortunately, until and unless you are able to take the blinders off and start thinking for yourself, nothing anyone here says will make any sense to you. Your mind is totally closed to objective thinking, which is a terrible thing, in my opinion. It’s certainly done a lot of harm in this world.

  • 39. Karen  |  June 9, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    I can now just talk to them, love them, and appreciate them for the wonderful people that they are, and leave the Spiritual, Gospel Driven agendas in the dustbin where they belong. How about you? Dosen’t it feel good? Halelujah!

    HIS, your comment reminds me of something similar posted by a friend of mine on the CaTE blog recently. She is a former Christian involved in a newspaper dialog with a Luthern pastor in her community. Here’s her elucidation of the positive side of nonbelief:

    http://conversationattheedge.com/2007/05/23/the-heart-of-the-matter/

    I thought it was really quite beautiful.

  • 40. HeIsSailing  |  June 9, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Karen, thanks for the article. Yup, I understand how that feeling goes. Wow, that looks like an interesting website – thanks for sharing!

  • 41. agnosticatheist  |  June 9, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    HIS,

    My tithing post inspired me to browse Creflo Dollar’s website.

    Check this out:

    http://interactive.creflodollarministries.org/bible/bsc_rdead_t.asp

    aA

  • 42. astudent  |  June 9, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Marie,
    I’m sorry that you had such an experience and I’m sorry that this pastor is still at it.
    You said, “I held the hand of an AIDS patient and demanded God to give a miracle–nothing.”
    Don’t you see that if God gave you what you demanded you would be God and God would only be your lackey? Any time you thought someone should be healed you would just whistle and “the ah, sinner would ah, just ah, be ah, healed”. Then everyone one would praise you for healing the sick.
    I got the impression that the pastor prayed with you. Did anyone ask him why his faith was weak? Didn’t anyone ask him to demonstrate the proper way to pray to bring miracles into people? Was no one a Berean in your class? Don’t blame God for what man does.

    Karen,
    “astudent, it has nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. It has to do with thinking for yourself versus indoctrination.”
    You couldn’t have missed my character any farther. When I was young I use to admire eccentrics, because they thought for them selves and did not bow to the masses. Then one day I looked into a mirror and there was an eccentric looking right back at me.
    I was saved at a Church that was becoming a mega-church and I bugged the pastor with my input until the answers I received back were, shall we say , very short. However, no matter the work load that pastor always answered. I’ve always been a black sheep, rebel, pain the…… Well, you get my point. When I read that a Berean was nobler because they checked what was said I got even worse. Well, if you check my blog “Bible study by a student” you will see that I do not go along with the crowd at all.

    “your mind is totally closed to objective thinking, which is a terrible thing, in my opinion. It’s certainly done a lot of harm in this world.”
    Done harm? Read my latest post “Atheist, why do you do that”. Then test your own objective thinking.
    I totally agree with you that we should think for ourselves.

  • 43. neo2  |  June 13, 2007 at 12:26 am

    I have a couple of statements. First of all, Heather, if you believe that you can drink poison and live after being bite by a snake, then , why don’t you try it? All you have to do is prey.

    Secondly, I always hear about taking bible verses as either literaly or figuratively. My question is on what bases do you decide to take a pariticular verse? Are they based on the logic of whatever suites your needs at the time?

  • 44. neo2  |  June 14, 2007 at 6:58 am

    I apologize to Heather, I realize that I have taken your post way out of context. I have since gone to your blog spot and read more on your beliefs. I wish that the so called Christians that I have been around the last seven years were more like you, I may have remained in the faith.

    As I have stated before I am leaving the fundie Baptist church after 7 years due to many contradictions in behavior and the zest of taking the Bilbe to be a 100% correct and true.

    From what I have seen of my church brethern, they block out anyone that does not completely agree with them eventhough they publicly claim not to do so. If you ask to many of the “wrong type of questions” you can quickly be labeled as never saved, in sin or in the grasp of the devil.

    Secondly the messages often times contradict themselves. For example one Sunday the message was about how your relationship with God is not built upon how much money you give or the amount of ministries you are involved in. A month later the message is if you are not serving in ministries or giving enough money than you need to ask your self ” Are you right with God”? Please pick one, which one is it? I have been to 4 different Baptist churchs over 7 years and they are all the same.I refuse to ever step foot into another fundie church.

    Thirdly, I have seen to many people praise God because of an answer to prayer, that really is not an asnwer to prayer as is being discussed in this blog. We have even had people tell us that God has shown them through prayer that we are supposed to join their MLM selling club so we can be blessed. By the way that come from the wife of someone on the leadership board. These are just a few of the reasons as to why I left the church.

    Well, I don’t need to go into a rant but do I need to apologize to Heather. Heather I am sorry.

  • 45. HeIsSailing  |  June 14, 2007 at 10:51 am

    neo2 sez:
    ” Are you right with God”? Please pick one, which one is it? ”

    In other words, are we saved by faith, or by works as evidence of our faith? Most Protestants will insist we are saved by faith alone, but the Bible forces the issue to be unsolvable. For instance, James 2:21 says that Abraham was justified by his works in that he offered his son Isaac. But Romans 4:2-3 says the opposite – that Abraham was justified without works, but by faith alone.

    OK – which is it?

    Christians are forced to harmonize these two concepts together. As a result, church pastors can teach any position, even contradictory positions, and still be backed by Scripture.

    I noticed this a long time ago too, neo2. It drove me nuts.

    neo2 sez:
    “Thirdly, I have seen to many people praise God because of an answer to prayer, that really is not an asnwer to prayer as is being discussed in this blog.”

    People tend to remember prayers that seem to be answered, and forget all the prayers that go unanswered.

    It sounds like you and I may have similiar stories as to how we left the faith, neo2.

  • 46. Heather  |  June 14, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Neo2,

    Thank you. :) Although I doubt you’d see any fundamentalist Christians acting like me, for I’m rather heretical in my beliefs.

    I can understand why you’d be frustrated, though, and why you’re leaving. I hope you’ll still comment here, or at least find some enjoyment in the posts.

  • 47. Karen  |  June 14, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I totally agree with you that we should think for ourselves.

    Good! Keep thinking for yourself and keep thinking “outside the box” – that’s the only way to live, in my book.

  • 48. Karen  |  June 14, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Secondly the messages often times contradict themselves. For example one Sunday the message was about how your relationship with God is not built upon how much money you give or the amount of ministries you are involved in. A month later the message is if you are not serving in ministries or giving enough money than you need to ask your self ” Are you right with God”? Please pick one, which one is it?

    LOL! Oh boy, does that bring back memories. :-)

    That gets back to the most basic contradiction of all: When you first get saved you’re told that “all you have to do is believe” and accept god’s free gift of salvation and nothing else is required of you! The yoke is easy, and the burden is light – right?

    Then, as you get involved in the life of the church, you find – whoa! The burden is very heavy: Rules of behavior, events you must attend, limits on your speech and ideas, regulations about how you spend your own hard-earned money. It goes on and on, with the yoke getting more and more difficult and shaping more and more of how you live your life.

    Pretty far from the “free gift” you originally received.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


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.

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 2,009,939 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers