The call for miracles

December 13, 2007 at 6:56 pm 129 comments

LightsI wrote this just about a year ago when I was trying to explain my doubts and thoughts on another site. Some responses to the recent “slain the spirit” post brought it back to mind.

There are certain responses that I get to my rather simple idea that a God who wants people to believe in Him and worship Him, ought to give us clear proof of His existence. By clear proof, I mean things like supernatural events, visitations, visions, revelations, and so on. And of course, I also mean that they need to be things that we can be sure are real and not just illusions, delusions, wishful thinking, or what have you.

The two main types of responses that keep coming up are what I’m calling the “normal miracles” and the “you just won’t buy it” responses.

The first goes something like, “Just look around. There are miracles you’re missing every day.” This will usually be followed by examples of what they mean by miracles, which tend to include sunsets, babies being borne, life, stars, breathing, and so on. I call this the “normal miracles response”. This response is easy to dispense with so I’m dispensing with it first.

The problem with the “normal miracles response” is that the person giving it ignores what I’m talking about and ignores the accepted definition of “miracle”.

For the record, here are some definitions for miracle that should make the meaning clear:

  • An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.
  • An event that falls decidedly outside the realm of normal human experience and/or that contravenes universally known natural laws or processes.
  • A striking interposition of divine intervention in the universe, by which the ordinary course and operation of Nature is overruled, suspended, or modified.

From these we can see that “miracles are around you everyday” is a contradiction in terms. It’s like saying, “Tuesdays happen every day.” It’s nonsense. The same would hold true for the version of this response that says, “The sun coming up is a miracle. A new life being born is a miracle.” It’s nonsense.

The penultimate effect of this sort of response, if someone insists in saying it and ignoring the given meaning of the word “miracle”, is that communication breaks down. A meaningful conversation is impossible if someone insists on changing the meaning of words at their whim. For a fine example of this, consider the following sentence: “Or gotten mine dog leash, went haven kapow.” Make sense? Well it does if you know what new meanings I’ve given to those words. But how well would we communicate if I persisted in mauling the dictionary like that?

OK. Next.

The other main response that keeps popping up goes something like, “Even if God did give you a miracle, you might just choose not to believe anyway. Or you might explain it away, or start to doubt it over time.” I’ll call this the “you just won’t buy it” response.

Now there is some validity in this. Yes, I could just ignore it, and yes, I could come to doubt it over time. If I did either of the above though, I would be effectively admitting that I am dishonest in my whole approach to life, and that I won’t change even if given reason to.

My life so far says otherwise. I’ve changed my political views because I was provided good evidence and argumentation to demonstrate that I was wrong on some issues. I changed from a Protestant to an Eastern Orthodox because I saw serious faults in the Protestant position. Basically I know my own life pretty well and I can see plainly that I’ve followed the evidence before; that I’ve been honest before; that while I am reluctant change or admit I’m wrong, I will do it when shown good reasons.

So the first problem with the “you just won’t buy it” response is that its perpetrators are making the assessment that everyone who wants a miracle as evidence of God’s existence, are basically liars. Now to be sure, there are such liars. There are people who won’t change, and will just hide behind a “respectable” facade of skepticism. But to just dump everyone in the same bin is, well, it’s dishonest. It’s silly too. I mean come on now; when you dump whole populations into a single slot how often do they all really fit there? Some people just might be honest seekers. Maybe? Possibly? D’ya’think’huh?

Now here’s another problem with the “you just won’t buy it” response. Allowing for the moment that the stories in Acts and the Gospels are all true, then we’ve got a fair record of what happened when people were confronted by miracles. A bunch of them converted. To hear folks today, you’d think that no one would ever convert after seeing a miracle. They’d all set to making excuses or explanations to brush it off. But that’s just not what happens in the Bible. Yes, there are those who saw miracles and remained obstinately unconverted. But there were also many who saw miracles and converted post haste. And once again we see that everyone does not react the same way. Like I said above, you just can’t shove everyone in the same slot. Unless, of course, it helps to keep your beliefs tidy and intact.

So the “you just won’t buy it” response flies in the face of what the Bible and many ancient church writings present. If you really take the Bible as true, then you’re going to have to admit that miracles often worked very well in getting people to really believe in God. And if that’s not enough, you’ve got Jesus saying things like, “even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles” (John 10:38 ) or, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:11). Then you’ve got Paul; “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done, by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:18,19) or “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 2:3,4). There are other verses that could be cited. There are passages from ancient Church history too. It seems that those old timers didn’t think miracles were unconvincing.

One more problem with the “you just won’t buy it” response is that it’s a smoke screen. What is it covering? It’s covering the fact that Christians (and other theistic believers) are all too aware that they haven’t seen any bona fide miracles. And, unlike what one reads in Acts, or in ancient church writings, no one today can call for a miracle and have it happen. I think there’s a largely suppressed fear in the minds and souls of theists. A fear born of the fact that they don’t see visions, dream prophetic dreams, hear God, and so forth. In short they don’t see the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that Peter declared was fulfilled on Pentecost.

Maybe there’s even a dark suspicion that, if God did pour out His Spirit and power on the Church at Pentecost, He has retracted it since. Not like most folks would blame Him, given the Church’s march through history. [Oh no. Now the apologists will want to launch into an effort to defend the Church’s history. Please, no!]

Here’s yet one last problem with the “you just won’t buy it” response. It implies that an omniscient, omnipotent God can’t come up with something that will convince me! Really that doesn’t seem so hard a thing for such a being. BUT, here comes the follow-on objection. “If God did that He’d violate your free will.” To which I’ll just say, “Fine. He can violate it.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say God can’t, or shouldn’t, do that. And in places He clearly did do it. If you need a for instance, think Saul of Tarsus, or Jonah. Frankly this “God can’t violate our free will” silliness seems only to be found in the mouths of apologists trying to explain away the disturbing fact that they’ve got a totally absent, inactive deity.

There are other responses that I hear. Heck! I’ve used them myself many times trying to apologize (defend) for the Faith. But none are satisfactory. The only responses I would be interested in now are:

  • “Fine I’ll show you a miracle.”
  • “Fine. I know someone who can show you a miracle.”
  • “You’re right. I don’t see miracles and I don’t know anyone who does. I still choose to believe. But I can’t help you with what you seem to need.” (Not that this response does a lot for my need to be convinced, but at least it’s nakedly honest.)
  • “I believe in miracles. I’ve seen one or more (or know someone reliable who has). It’s enough for me, but I know it isn’t for you. I can’t call up a miracle for you. Still, I truly hope you get to see one.” (Again, this is at least nakedly honest, and I can accept that even if it does nothing for my doubts. It also tells me the person is sincere and cares.)

You know, after writing this, and reading back through it, I can see that parts of it sound bitter or angry. Truly though, I’m not bitter or angry. Maybe it would be understandable for me to feel that way about 25 “wasted” years. But I don’t see them as wasted at all. I learned a lot (history, philosophy, theology). I got to know some very good people. I know that the Church has a lot of terrific people in it. (Yeah, it’s got a lot of rotters too. Tell me what sizeable organization doesn’t.) I can value and respect the beliefs of Christians, even if I don’t share them, because I understand them well. And you never know; I may yet “return to the fold”.

I have no idea what the future holds. I never would have believed I’d be where I am today if someone had told me a decade ago. And hey! I’m not saying there is absolutely no God. I’m just saying I really don’t think so. Or if there is one, He’s totally non-responsive, and I sure won’t follow that. (Kinda hard to have a “personal relationship” with a totally non-responsive being.)

Still maybe there is a God. And maybe, someday, He’ll drop in and say “Howdy” to me. Frankly, I hope so. Because, odd as it sounds, I want there to be a God. I want there to be a Heaven and a Hell and an afterlife. I want there to be an eternity to live in, and ponder in, and yes, worship in. I want there to be something, someone far above and beyond us all, to whom we can look for ultimate answers or meaning.

That last may sound strange to some folks; particularly to some atheists. Hey it’s me. It’s who, how and what I am.

– LeoPardus

Entry filed under: LeoPardus. Tags: , , , , , .

How smart does one have to be to know Jesus? God is not Omnipotent

129 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Intergalactic Hussy  |  December 13, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Well put! I’ve written about the silly nature of “miracles” too, but not nearly this well thought out. I’ve always had an issue with the “miracle of childbirth”. It truly is amazing but does not fall into the “miracle” category. Even while speaking metaphorically, it can make sense but loses the actual definition. When people say things are miracles and they are not (used metaphorically), its fine but they should not be used to try to sway a non-believer. That’s ridiculous. Saying “It’s a miracle I got the job!” is fine to me ( I’ve studied my share of literature and writing), as long as said person is well aware that it wasn’t the hand of any god that did the trick.

    People just have a hard time taking credit for what they do. I’m as humble as the next person, but c’mon! Maybe it was the awesome resume (in the case of the job) or all that insane pushing and breathing (childbirth).

  • 2. Chris  |  December 13, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    You also forgot the third default Christian option: quote Scripture!

    Matthew 16:2-4
    He [Jesus] replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah [allusion to Jesus’ resurrection].” Jesus then left them and went away.

    also Mark 8:12, Luke 11:29.
    I guess the only miracle you’re gonna get is Jesus’ resurrection. I don’t get how God’s use of a miracle is going to override your free will. If anything, it’s going to validate it. You’re going to have evidence that a deity acted within the natural world. You’re going to choose to believe that evidence or not, and your actions will follow accordingly–following God or living in sin. Without a miracle, you’re just stuck with choosing whether to believe Christians thousands of years ago who wrote their religion.

  • 3. Thinking Ape  |  December 13, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    I guess the only miracle you’re gonna get is Jesus’ resurrection. I don’t get how God’s use of a miracle is going to override your free will.

    Good points, and definitely something I would say if I was still a Biblical theist. Only… what about heaven? What sort of “free will” will there be in heaven?

  • 4. Thinking Ape  |  December 13, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Chris also says,

    You’re going to choose to believe that evidence or not, and your actions will follow accordingly–following God or living in sin. Without

    Thats quite the either/or fallacy, which also seems to imply that those who do not follow god do not “live in sin.” Oh right, I forgot, Christians can sin all they want, but at least they are not “living in it.” Silly me.

  • 5. LeoPardus  |  December 14, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Chris:

    Are you coming from a Christian perspective or something else? Kind of makes a difference in how I understand your comments.

  • 6. TheDeeZone  |  December 14, 2007 at 1:58 am

    I believe in miracles because I have experienced 3 in my life. The miracles did not occur because I asked God for a miracle to prove his existeance. In fact, I never asked for any of them.

    Do I believe in God? Yes.

    Do those miracles have anything to do with my belief in God? No.

    Would anyone else consider these event miracles? Maybe. It really doesn’t matter to me. I was very sick as a baby. The doctors told my parents I wouldn’t survive the night & they couldn’t do any thing for me. In fact the doctors told my parents the only reason I survived was because a miracle and not anything they did for me. As for the other miracles in my life I do not care to share the details here.

  • 7. Chris  |  December 14, 2007 at 3:41 am

    Sorry that my comment was ambiguous– it’s because my beliefs are currently ambiguous. I was raised conservative Christian, but after seriously examining my beliefs, I’m starting to see more and more contradictions. So I’m currently in the middle ground–not ready to let go of Christianity for good, but finding the atheist argument much stronger.

    I was “arguing” in my previous comment from a Christian perspective. As a Christian, I would’ve believed that there is no free will in heaven; you only had free will on earth. That way, you’re in heaven for eternity.

    I always forget to watch for those either/or fallacies. Thanks for pointing it out. I think from the Christian worldview, it is an either/or. You’re either living for God under his Holy Spirit’s “direction” (read “influence over your free will”) or against God by directing your own life.

  • 8. strawdog  |  December 14, 2007 at 5:15 am

    Why does God NEVER heal amputees, even if those afflicted are Christians praying for a miracle?

    There are some animals who can grow back limbs, so why not humans?

  • 9. TheDeeZone  |  December 14, 2007 at 6:21 am

    Chris,

    What I didn’t say in my comment that as a Christian one of my frustrations about miracles and angels is that some people tend to put way to much emphasis on the mode that God works in their life rather than on God. They go on about God handing out a miracle like it he is some sort of vending machine in the sky but seem to miss the point. The Bible is clear that as a Christian one is to give God the glory.

    As for ordinary miracles, I thank there are some people that are just grateful by nature and for them just seeing another sunrise is a miracle. Or they prefer to attribute an achivement or accomplishment to a miracle rather than their own hard work.

    As for free will in heaven haven’t thought about that one. I do have a degree in theology but my empahsis was on ethics not esctology. I will read your post about free will.

  • […] So we would like again to appeal to one and all – consider a donation to a worthwhile cause, either locally or overseas. Every bit counts – it’s not too much to do, and we can all take responsibility and do our part instead of waiting on miracles. […]

  • 11. saintlewis  |  December 14, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Personally, I believe that concept of the miraculous can be a stumbling block for many. As a ‘Reformed’ Christian, seeing God’s hand ultimately all over EVERYTHING, including the very laws of nature (which are not laws unto themselves, but basically how God chooses to allow things to USUALLY operate), miracles – at best – are basically when God chooses to allow things to go differently than He normally alllows them to go. Of course, even these events could be explained naturally, as I believe – like John Polkinghorne – that God governs such events – or rather, all events – from the quantum level, where chance plays a factor and not simply deterministic laws.

  • 12. Schizm  |  December 14, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Here’s a miracle:

    An atheist with fucking morals.

    no I’m not even kidding, I don’t personally know any, does anyone know where I can find an atheist who gives a shit about other people? Besides the internet? Because I can’t seem to locate any within my mini-metropolis which is called CINCINNATI. Population over 2 million.. and where the fuck are they?

  • 13. Schizm  |  December 14, 2007 at 10:38 am

    i”d like to add, that I’m just frustrated because I would love to be personal friends with one, I would love to go somewhere and hang out with some atheists that aren’t into partying, drinking, swinging, etc. I KNOW they are out there, but I can’t seem to find them. Where do you find them?

  • 14. The Barefoot Bum  |  December 14, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Schizm: You’re going to have a tough time finding atheists who both conform to the ludicrous, arbitrary restrictions you call your “morality” and are interested any sort of friendship with a foul-mouthed, prejudiced ignoramus.

  • 15. The Barefoot Bum  |  December 14, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Personally, I believe that concept of the miraculous can be a stumbling block for many.

    Indeed.

    As a ‘Reformed’ Christian, seeing God’s hand ultimately all over EVERYTHING, including the very laws of nature (which are not laws unto themselves, but basically how God chooses to allow things to USUALLY operate), miracles – at best – are basically when God chooses to allow things to go differently than He normally alllows them to go.

    You understand that we conclude that some statement describes a law of nature if and only if there are no exceptions at all, if things never go differently. If we were to believe that some event contradicted the description, it would be the description that would have to give way.

    Of course, even these events could be explained naturally, as I believe…

    If the could, they would be explained in terms of laws of nature that were without exception. It’s typically unpersuasive to contradict yourself within the same paragraph: It indicates to the reader that you do not have a clear grasp on your own ideas.

    God governs such events – or rather, all events – from the quantum level, where chance plays a factor and not simply deterministic laws.

    You do understand that we can, using statistical analysis, tell the difference between truly chance events, and events that are governed in any meaningful way, not just by deterministic laws.

    You should understand that the statements “The world is precisely the way it is because God wanted it to be precisely the way it is” says only that “The world is precisely the way it is.”

    Read Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion for (among other things) an explanation of why such “mystical theism” is equivalent to atheism.

  • 16. Schizm  |  December 14, 2007 at 11:19 am

    barefoot bum, forgive me and my foul mouth :P actually I was venting, and I do apologize.

    I do not like drinking, I do not like partying like a frat boy. I dont mind dinner parties with wine in them as long as people aren’t making me drink.

    Anyway, I don’t care if you swing or not. As long as you dont make me do so.

    What I’m looking for, is for a local community of atheists who I could feel safe around. Hanging out and discussing philosophy, maybe group readings, maybe doing fun activities that do not involve heavy drinking, drugs, sex w/ strangersx. I don’t think I’m asking for something ludicrious. Are you saying there arent such a thing? I mean, there are plenty of christians who are into being fools and self-destructive.

  • 17. Schizm  |  December 14, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Ok, I just want to again, apologize for any offensive thing I’ve said. I really want to express my gratitude for what atheists are doing. I want to discuss who I am and where I’m at, if you have the time.

    I would like to explain me as short and best possible, to see if you can understand why I want to find atheists like me.

    I am a person who is fixated on personal development. I have acute interests in improving my life skills. This means I am interested in being physically fit, being emotionally healthy, being exceptional with finances, being good with self-control, and so on and so fourth. Also being good with music, since I like music. Being a good person, as in, helping others, maybe doing some volenteering, helping the human race become better. Enjoying life to the fullest, in many facets and having a clear understanding on these subjects.

    This is what has given me an interest in religion. because not only does religion try to answer questions like “why am I here in the first place?” but religion attempts to have answers on how to improve life skills (financially, physically, emotionally, etc)

    I have discovered more so that improving my life skills, will power, kindness, and so on, have came from using logic and reason, and not prayer, not praising, not worship.

    Furthermore, the God of the Bible seems to be a LOT different tehn the happy-buddy Jesus that many Christians like to say he is.

    I also find that superstitions CAN help people in personal development, but they also HINDER personal growth because they are TOO narrow-minded.

    At any rate, can anyone relate to this? I just signed up for an atheist meetup at a bookstore next tuesday, I am anxious and happy to meet other atheists. I want to see what they discuss, and I want to see if they are into the same things as I am (personal growth, enlightenment, volenteering, etc)

    I am thinking that my Emergent Church is helpful in personal growth but also due to superstitions it limits my maximum human potential. I still intend on going because I( enjoy the company of many people there, but at the same time the superstitious Jesus stuff is getting old.

  • 18. Thinking Ape  |  December 14, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Schizm,
    My advice: hang out at a coffee shop by any university. Stay away from [most] frat houses. Define what you believe to be “moral” as opposed to an “unhealthy” lifestyle. Myself, I like to drink socially – which means that I drink when the occasion calls and I rarely get drunk (and when I plan on getting drunk, I do so knowing my limits and the consequences). Drinking has little to do with morality/ethics until you hurt someone, or think you are capable of hurting someone – I am more capable of hurting myself when intoxicated. Same with smoking. Given the facts of second-hand smoke, it is unethical to do so, I don’t – except a cigar or two every once in awhile (like two a year). I remained sexually prudent until married, despite deconverting several years before hand.

    But then again, is this all a problem? Rather than judging people for being “immoral” or “unhealthy,” put yourself in their shoes. Why are they doing these things? Maybe you could help them out. The fact is, most people do not think about what they do to themselves, much less others, nor do they sit around and philosophize about the world – whether they believe in God or not. What you are looking for is a discussion table with people who are socially conscientious and philosophically astute. You won’t find this at work, the bar, or many places. Honestly, outside of a major university, you will be hard-pressed to find such gatherings anywhere. If you aren’t connected to a university, try looking up social activist groups with a mish-mash of people of all belief systems.

  • 19. Schizm  |  December 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Hey Thinking Ape:

    I do not believe that drinking is immoral or unhealthy for EVERYONE, but I think it is unhealthy for me because I have a history of alcohol abuse.

    I do not judge drinkers, as I have plenty of friends who drink, but I refuse to go with them to bars or other avenues where alcohol is served and is the main point in being there.

    Thankfully, they like other activities that don’t involve alcohol so I partake in those. Which would be hiking, hangign out at a coffee shop, playing chess, etc. stuff like that.

    I don’t want to judge others, so when I go to an atheist group I’m going to be quiet and just listen to what everyone talks about there. I’m sure it’ll be fun to meet them and I’m hoping somebody there will relate to me.

    Like I said, I am a “personal growth” person. I’m into finding otu ways to make life better, easier, for everyone. I’m into learning life-skills, etc.

    I’m also into philosophy and topics on religion. I get plenty of that at the emergent church I go to, but the Jesus stuff gets old.

    But what I’m hoping to get out of an atheist community, is real friendship with people who don’t believe in God, and who are good people. By good people I mean they hold steady jobs, don’t bigne drink, dont drinka nd drive, and don’t have one night stands. But that might be too judgemental, I mean, Christians do that too.

    I guess I just want to be around some atheists that can prove that they can live a life that is constructive, not destructive, to themselves or others.

    I have had atheist friends who were satanists, and they were very much into living extremely self-destructive lives. It created a false reality in me where atheists are morally depraved and that’s why they do’t want to be a christian.

    Truth is Christians can be worse, but are hypocritical about it.

    In the end, I would like to be around free-thinkers who like to do lots of different things, and aren’t close minded in their way of life.

    Someoen who is close-minded in their way of life would be a person who goes to church all the time, or a person who just goes to the gym all the time, or a person who just goes to bars all teh time.

    It’s really sad, and I jsut want to meet some people who are not only free in their thinking, but free in their way of life. Where they don’t always do the same things everyday, where they change it up.. Do different things.. ya know?

  • 20. Slapdash  |  December 14, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    “What you are looking for is a discussion table with people who are socially conscientious and philosophically astute. You won’t find this at work, the bar, or many places.”

    Oh, but you can find it in abundance in Cambridge, Massachusetts! That’s kind of far from Cincinatti, I grant you, but maybe you could plan a little road trip to New England sometime. Go play chess with the guys in front of Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square, and I have no doubt you’d find some socially conscientious and philosophically astute people to rub elbows with. ;-P

  • 21. Ryan  |  December 14, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    How about the UC skeptics or Cincinnati Skeptics?

  • 22. Ryan  |  December 14, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Sorry link didn’t work –

    http://www.ucskeptics.org/

    http://www.cincinnatiskeptics.org/

  • 23. Schizm  |  December 14, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Hey guys: check this active Cincinnati stuff:

    http://www.atheistsavior.com/search_for_the_holy_male.htm

    An atheist is going from church to church, looking for Jesus, getting kicked out, putting out atheist flyers. I’m meeting him tuesday, he runs an atheist group too. Might be fun.

  • 24. LeoPardus  |  December 14, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Chris:

    Thanks for clarifying your stance. Hope you like what you find here. You’re in a position many of us have been in. It’s not enviable. Take your time, don’t rush into, or out of, anything.

  • 25. LeoPardus  |  December 14, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Schizm:

    Thanks for the apology. I can understand your frustration.

    You ask a great question. Where does one go for “fellowship” as an atheist?

    Seems like you need to find an interest and look for a group that meets to share that interest. Some possibilities that occur to me are:

    Literary or book reading groups.
    Art or music appreciation groups
    Debate or speech groups (e.g. Toastmasters)
    Clubs that do a hobby (preferably one that allows you to talk at the same time) like hiking or climbing or biking. Maybe chess.

    I’m sure others will add to this list.

  • 26. Thinking Ape  |  December 15, 2007 at 12:18 am

    Schizm, awesome response. I think a lot of us struggle with the same thing. I honestly don’t care about a person’s religious or non-religious convictions, I just want a group of people that can talk reasonably about life, religion, society, etc.

    I have actually been thinking about this stuff for awhile now – especially when you here about church fundraisers for destitute people. We don’t have stuff like that. I mean, yes, there are different institutions, but we don’t have little “secular memberships” in which we take care of our own if someone gets sick like some denominations do (I come from a Mennonite background so this kind of stuff is very important to us).

  • 27. karen  |  December 15, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Schizm, I just read about a group called Cafe Scientifique that started in the UK and now has several U.S. branches.

    You gather in a coffee house or pub for a lecture about some new scientific development or discovery. I bet a lot of the folks there would be skeptics, freethinkers and atheists, though obviously not all would be non-religious.

    Looks like they have established in Dayton and Cleveland. Maybe you could help start one in Cincy?

    http://cafescientifique.org/north%20america-links.htm

  • 28. trendyhipster  |  December 15, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    I guess I just want to be around some atheists that can prove that they can live a life that is constructive, not destructive, to themselves or others.

    I have had atheist friends who were satanists, and they were very much into living extremely self-destructive lives. It created a false reality in me where atheists are morally depraved and that’s why they do’t want to be a christian.

    Seriously? If they were satanists, then by definition they aren’t atheists. It’s simply a contradiction of terms, in order to be one, you can’t be the other.

  • 29. awakened  |  December 15, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I just found this blog and I just wanted to say I really enjoy it. Especially the deconversion wager in the sidebar. I don’t care what beliefs you have (or don’t have), but if you advocate compassion, you’re A+!

    Cheers,
    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.

  • 30. loopyloo350  |  December 17, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    If God answered every prayer, what need would we have to learn, search, expand, grow. Why is it so important to have a miracle. I have had prayers answered, not quite in the way I wanted or expected, but they were answered. I have had an occasion to be a witness to what some Dr.s considered a miracle. I don’t have the explanation for it myself.But I don’t understand why anyone would think it necessary for God to prove that he exists. To me that would be like my husband saying “I love you” and me replying “prove it”.

  • 31. karen  |  December 17, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    But I don’t understand why anyone would think it necessary for God to prove that he exists.

    Why is it hard to understand that people want to see evidence before they commit to believing in something or someone? You probably ask for evidence all the time in the non-religious aspects of your life, right? If you don’t, I’m afraid you probably get ripped off and deceived left and right.

    For instance, if someone comes to you and offers you a “cure” that will change your life, would you ask for some evidence that it works before you plunk down your money, or ingest a substance that is unfamiliar to you? Or would you just “take it on faith” that this person’s claim is true?

    That’s all that we’re doing when we ask for some evidence of a theistic god before we will believe in his existence. We’re extending the reason and skepticism that has worked so well in the rest of our lives into the realm of religious beliefs.

  • 32. loopyloo350  |  December 17, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Karen: Dr.s give medicine all the time that we take on faith and trust that they know what they are doing. For the most part they are honest and trying to do their best. I, however, have seen very smart nurses go to Dr.s and take their families to them, when those same Dr.s have made major mistakes. When you choose your Dr., whose opinion do you take that they know what they are doing, and if you are ill, do you take the time to investigate every medicine that is prescribed to you? Or because you trust your Dr., do you have faith in him? My nursing instructor always made a point of telling us that no matter what worked for one person, it might not work for the next. In other words “the patient did not read the book”. When you need a cure, most people will take almost anything on faith. I am not saying that you shouldn’t search for answers, that is what everyone should do. What I am asking is why you think that having a miracle for everyone is necessary? And if you are happy with who you are why do you feel others should require one? When you die, does it rally matter? If you are right and there is nothing after, what difference will it have made that some people had faith and some did not? I understand you need to prove the fakirs wrong, most sane people do not like to see people deluded, but sometimes people need something more and they are willing to do anything in this world to get what they want. That is true with almost anything and not just God. Searching is built into our genes, I believe, and the answer that is right for me and the answer that is right for you are different. The truth is not always the same for each of us. A drug that might cure you, might kill me. If God gave us all the answers then what? If God showed himself to everyone, what need would there be to search? If God gave us all proof that he existed, what would we have the need of hope? And if we did not have hope, would we have the need to question? And if we don’t question, would we cease to learn? So, why should God prove himself? Shouldn’t it instead be up to us to disprove or prove his existence?

  • 33. karen  |  December 17, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Karen: Dr.s give medicine all the time that we take on faith and trust that they know what they are doing. For the most part they are honest and trying to do their best. I, however, have seen very smart nurses go to Dr.s and take their families to them, when those same Dr.s have made major mistakes. When you choose your Dr., whose opinion do you take that they know what they are doing, and if you are ill, do you take the time to investigate every medicine that is prescribed to you? Or because you trust your Dr., do you have faith in him?

    Loopy, you’ve been around here long enough to know that a doctor isn’t god. At least, I hope you know that! ;-)

    Also, you’re doing what’s being discussed on another thread: You’re using “faith” in a way that’s ill-defined and you’re mixing up “faith” and “trust.” Honestly, this is very frustrating but I’ll try to answer nonetheless:

    I can and do check out my doctors thoroughly (assuming I’m not brought into an emergency room on a gurney). Of course, I have the ability to investigate their professional (and sometimes personal) background online, I can talk to other patients (I usually get personal referrals, in fact) and I can interview them to find out what their experience has been and what their “bedside manner” is like.

    So no, I don’t have to have “faith” that my doctor is qualified and professional. I can verify this for myself in several ways. At that point, once a medication is prescribed by that doctor, I have a reasonable basis to “trust” that this medication is the proper treatment for my condition.

    Even so, I ask a lot of questions anytime I get a prescription, I often look up the medication online or in my medical books (written for non-physicians) and I ALWAYS verify the name of the medication and the dosage with the doctor and with my pharmacist because I know that everyone makes mistakes. (Except for god, apparently!)

    Do you see how being a skeptic is helpful, especially when it comes to one’s health? Now, once I have that skeptical mindset and I realize that it’s useful – even crucial – for my wellbeing, why would I abandon that mindset and accept religious claims on “faith”? That would be pretty silly, wouldn’t it?

    Galileo said it best:

    “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

    What I am asking is why you think that having a miracle for everyone is necessary? And if you are happy with who you are why do you feel others should require one? When you die, does it rally matter? If you are right and there is nothing after, what difference will it have made that some people had faith and some did not?

    Where in the world did I say that EVERYONE should require a miracle? You originally asked this:

    But I don’t understand why anyone would think it necessary for God to prove that he exists.

    You asked why ANYONE would want god to prove himself. My response to you was an attempt to explain that from my perspective. I never said (I don’t think) that everyone should conform to my level of skepticism.

    You want to believe something on faith, without any evidence, or despite contrary evidence – that’s just fine with me. Where I object is when this kind of blind faith causes people to believe things that are harmful to me and to others. Ideas like “kill the infidels” or “don’t take blood transfusions” or “pick up a poisonous snake.”

    These are hurtful beliefs propagated by blind faith and yes, I’d like to see everyone reject them. The only way to do that is to encourage skepticism and questioning and thoughtful reason.

  • 34. loopyloo350  |  December 17, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Karen: I guess what I am trying to say without much clarity, is that no matter how well informed about even a Dr. and no matter how well you can check them out, it still in the end comes down to a reasoned trust. I agree with the statement by Galileo that you quoted. I agree with your reasoning, questioning and skepticism. But where I disagree is your precept that all faith is blind and without evidence. Or even that all beliefs such as not taking blood transfusions are always hurtful. I left Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1979 before the birth of my youngest son. During labor I became eclamptic and afterward had major blood loss from hemmorhaging. I had blood transfusions at the time. This was just before the testing of the blood for aids. I went for many years living with uncertainity. If I hadn’t had the transfusions I might have died, but having them was hurtful too. Do you believe that it is necessary that God prove himself or do you want God to prove himself? Fanatics cause a lot of pain, no matter what principle they adhere to. Even those that are fanatic about a thing, such as gold or land can cause the same problems. Teaching children to ask questions and not just take what someone says is the truth is the real step to truth. Our schools have pushed children to conform and simply accept what they teach without question for so long that they often exile and outcast those that are different. If we want people to truly learn and not become simple sheep, we would much be better off to teach them to question everything. I don’t take anything on blind faith and always encourage people to question everything. You and I are not as far apart as you think. But some of the things that you feel are propagated by blind faith are not but are simplly used to have power over people.

  • 35. LeoPardus  |  December 18, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    if you are ill, do you take the time to investigate every medicine that is prescribed to you?

    Actually, yes I do.

    why you think that having a miracle for everyone is necessary?

    Not for everyone. Just for those of us who ask. It’s a mighty small thing for an omnipotent being to do. Especially if said being is supposed to love me so much that He wants me to know Him and not to go to hell.

    So, why should God prove himself?

    Because we are asking Him to do so. Not that He’s obligated, but neither am I obligated to believe in someone who chooses to remain invisible.

    Shouldn’t it instead be up to us to disprove or prove his existence?

    No. It’s impossible to do either. Disproving the existence of an all powerful being who hides, is certainly not possible. Proving the existence of such a being would likewise be impossible unless He chooses to come out of hiding.

  • 36. loopyloo350  |  December 18, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    If God answered you and proved that he existed, would you keep searching? Would you keep questioning? Would you then say, if that is all there is to it, why do we need a God? Do you really want answers or would you prefer to question? If you have the answers what need would there be for questions?

  • 37. loopyloo350  |  December 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I reread what I wrote and realized it could be taken in a way I did not mean. I am simply curious as to what you would do if God did answer you?

  • 38. LeoPardus  |  December 18, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    To be clear: God responding to me would involve Him providing some vision, revelation, miracle, manifestation, etc. that clearly showed me that in fact God exists.

    I’m not asking for a complete explanation of God, or an encyclopedia about God. Just something more to hang belief on than wishful thinking and apologetics.

    If God responded, I would then believe in Him, and would return to being a practicing, believing Orthodox Christian (unless He told me specifically to join some other religion).

  • 39. TheDeeZone  |  December 19, 2007 at 2:57 am

    LeoPardus: You have raised soem interesting points about not believing in God because he is invisible and needing more proof than wishful thinking.

    In my opinion that where faith must take over. While I was raised in a Christian home I went through a period of questioning God. Largely due to growing up in a minister’s home and seeing the “dirty” side of church. I reached a point where I realized that I had to either accept what the Bible said on faith or reject. I choose to accept it and learn more about what I believe & why I believe it.

    I realize that you may disagree with me that is your choice to make.

    So, my question is are able to explain or see everything that happens in around you and your life? Is there anything that you see as real that you can’t explain or understand?

  • 40. Atheist Revolution  |  December 19, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    What Happened To The Miracles?

    The Christian bible is filled with miracles, direct communication between god and man, and tales of god regularly intervening in human affairs…

  • 41. Asymptosis  |  December 19, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    trendyhipster said: Seriously? If they were satanists, then by definition they aren’t atheists. It’s simply a contradiction of terms, in order to be one, you can’t be the other.

    This is incorrect.

    “LaVeyan Satanism, wherein the Satanist plays the role of the adversary to spiritual creeds, [espouses] vehement social Darwinism, hedonism, objectivism, and atheism.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanism

    See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaVeyan_Satanism

    It is shameful to misrepresent religions or life-philosophies with which you are not familiar.

  • 42. Thinking Ape  |  December 20, 2007 at 12:38 am

    As a student of religion and someone who has done some brief work on Anton’s version of satanism, I have to agree with Asymptosis… for the record. For more, see Brad’s undergrad essay on LaVey’s Satanism.

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  December 20, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    DeeZone:

    I reached a point where I realized that I had to either accept what the Bible said on faith or reject.
    I realize that you may disagree with me that is your choice to make.

    Did that. Finally came to a point where too much evidence pointing the other way piled up. Faith in the absence of sufficient evidence is fine. Faith that tries to stand against evidence is unacceptable. I reached the latter situation.

    So, my question is are able to explain or see everything that happens in around you and your life? Is there anything that you see as real that you can’t explain or understand?

    [I’m assuming the word ‘you’ belongs between ‘are’ and ‘able’ above.]

    Answer to both questions = No. So why do you ask?

  • 44. TheDeeZone  |  December 20, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    LeoPardus,

    Sorry about the grammatically errors. Sometimes my dyslexia catches up with me.

    Since you answered no to both questions the reason for my question really doesn’t matter.

    Leo, I have read in several of you comments where it seems like at times you miss your days in the Orthodox faith. What elements do you miss?

  • 45. LeoPardus  |  December 20, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Dee:

    Actually I still go to the EOC because my family all believe. Of course the people there are really good folk, so being around them is enjoyable.

    I miss being part of the “family of believers”. Knowing that we all share a view of the world. That we were all on a similar “journey of faith”.

    Most of the people at the EOC I go to, are converts from something else (Protestantism, Catholicism, Agnosticism, etc.). But unlike them, my journey kept moving me right beyond the EOC and out of the faith all together. And THAT is not a journey the rest of them would want anything to do with.

    So there’s a loss of commonality, shared views, shared ideas of an ultimate future, shared ideas about where we came from and where we are.

    Then of course there’s the transcendental mysticism of the EOC. They are quite unique in Christendom with that. The rest of the Church seems to be struggling to keep up with a changing world while the EOC cares not a whit. They go on with their ancient faith, their mystic symbolism, their ways. The rest of the world can join them, or just move on.

    I’m beginning to ramble a bit. Honestly putting into words what Orthodoxy is all about is impossible. It must be experienced. —- I recall how my wife and I reacted the first time someone said that to us. We though it was bunk. Years later we found ourselves saying it. —–

    The EOC is more experiential, transcendental, mystic, spiritual, symbolic, rich, than any other expression of the Christian faith. And it was cool to be in that. That too I miss.

  • 46. BobL  |  December 20, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Have any of “those in need” tried The Brights ?

  • 47. Anonymous  |  December 20, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    I have a daughter. I like her a lot. You harm her and you die, and not suddenly either; you will scream your remorce to no avail.
    Religious falks and athiest falks alike have FUNDEMENTAL beliefs, They are protective of it as i am of my girl and some go as far as atacking others’ dearly held beliefs.They all become the same fundemantalists and screw up the world

  • 48. LeoPardus  |  December 20, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Anonymous:

    Well thank fate that we have people like you to keep us fundamentalists in line so we don’t screw everything up.

    It’s great to have our world held together, and without people like you – people who know us so well, who post their violent fantasies on random forums, who would never attack another’s beliefs, who can’t spell, or properly capitalize, or use good syntax – whatever would we do?

    Thanks for dropping by to shine the light of your glory upon us.

  • 49. karen  |  December 20, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks for dropping by to shine the light of your glory upon us.

    Snort … :-) Good thing I wasn’t drinking hot coffee when I read that.

    What is it with people anyway? Do they honestly think they can pull “drive-by postings” like that and have any real impact on the conversation, or are they just venting their spleens?

    When I think about how long I lurked and how tentatively and tremulously I first posted on an online group (a newsgroup back about 10 years ago), I just have to shake my head. People really come in all kinds!

  • 50. TheDeeZone  |  December 20, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    LeoPardus,

    I admit I don’t know much about the EOC. I remember learning about the EOC in Church History 1. Of course is all fuzzy now, mixed in with all the church councils, The Great Schism and other stuff.

    I am trying to understand how someone can move beyond genuine bliefs in God to athetist or agnostic. Personally, I am a believer and can never image God not a major part of my life. My beliefs are not based upon myths or “feelings”. It is something I have studied quit a bit, in fact I have an MDiv. To me God is real & I see evidence of his exsistance all around me. Yes, there are many things I do not understand.

    I find this blog intriguing in part because of the number or contributors who have studied theology from a Christian perspective. Also, I like how most of the converstation is polite. Ok, not indcluding that random #47. Funny the fundamentalist I know consider me liberal for some very amusing reasons: the music I listen to (Christian rap & rock. It seems that it is the devils music), my concentration for my MDiv was ethics, and the most condeming of all I am a female who has an MDiv.

    Please pardon any spelling errors or grammatical errors, as I have dylexia & this thing doesn’t have spell check.

  • 51. karen  |  December 20, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    I am trying to understand how someone can move beyond genuine bliefs in God to athetist or agnostic. Personally, I am a believer and can never image God not a major part of my life.

    Believe me, Dee, none of us could imagine ourselves without god belief at one time, too! It’s something you really have to go through yourself, I think, and though it is emotionally very painful and difficult I think for most of us it was an intellectual process of reading, research, study and the final realization that what we believed in had no real evidence for it and a whole lot of evidence against it.

    Yes, if you already believe in god, it’s very easy to look around and “see him everywhere.” But it’s very much a matter of perspective: where you see god, we see natural processes, nothing more.

  • 52. HeIsSailing  |  December 20, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    TheDeeZone:

    I am trying to understand how someone can move beyond genuine bliefs in God to athetist or agnostic. Personally, I am a believer and can never image God not a major part of my life.

    Dee, thank you thank you thank you for not condemning us by saying we were never Christians!! You have no idea what a relief it is for me to read this from you!!

    I have nothing different from what Karen says. The world made sense to me as a Christian. The world makes a whole lot more sense to me now that I am not. That is pretty much the bottom line for me.

  • 53. TheDeeZone  |  December 21, 2007 at 3:41 am

    Karen,

    My decision to “keep the faith” was based on an intellectual process as well. Even though I was raised in Christian home and attended a church sponsored college there was a period in my life when I was ready to walk away from faith. After a while I reached the conclusion that my problem wasn’t with God but rather Christians or maybe I should say church members. Not everyone who is church member is a Christian or at least their actions do not reflect it.

    HelsSailing, you are welcome. If you are do not believe in God does it really matter if you were a ever a Christian or not? An Armeinist (spelling) would say that it is possible to loose one’s salvation. A Calvinist would say that is impossible to loose one’s salvation. The only option would be that you were never a Christian.
    Another view point is that one can not loose one’s salvation. However one can choose to recant or give up one’s faith.

  • 54. qmonkey  |  December 21, 2007 at 8:04 am

    >>>Another view point is that one can not loose one’s salvation. However one can choose to recant or give up one’s faith.

    surely one can not ‘recant’ ones faith… surely you either believe or you dont… you have little control over that. the only control you have is SAYING you believe or not

  • 55. HeIsSailing  |  December 21, 2007 at 8:27 am

    TheDeeZone:

    If you are do not believe in God does it really matter if you were a ever a Christian or not?

    Of course it does. I am 44 years old, and spent the majority of that time as a Christian. I was raised that way. It shaped who I am.

    If you were married for 40 years, then got a divorce, would the fact that you were once married no longer matter to you? Of course it matters. I was once a Christian. I just cannot believe the claims of Christianity, nor the worldview it paints for the believer anymore.

    Plus, when total strangers come online and tell people like me what we did and did not believe, based on nothing but thier own understanding of Christianity, they are implying that we are just fools and liars. It is highly insulting.

  • 56. LeoPardus  |  December 21, 2007 at 11:40 am

    HIS:

    I think she meant “does it really matter what the answer to the theological conundrum is?” I don’t think she meant that it doesn’t matter that you went to church and learned and thought as a Christian.

    At least so it seems to me.

  • 57. TheDeeZone  |  December 21, 2007 at 11:46 am

    HelsSailing,

    Did not intend to offend you.I don’t know you so there is no way I can make a judgement as to whether you are either a fool or a liar.

    … based on nothing but thier own understanding of Christianity, they are implying that we are just fools and liars. It is highly insulting
    We all interpret things based on our on understanding.

    As for if you where ever a Christian that is a question I couldn’t answer even if I knew you. That is a question only you can answer. It isn’t really even my place to answser.

    Qmonkey,

    I was merely stating the 2 major beliefs about loosing one’s salvation or “security of the believer” as it is often called. Personally, I have never gotten into the Calvinism v Aremenism debate. I don’t totally agree with either side. On occassion I have argued one side or the other just to get a rise out of someone.

    I have known people who where once devout Christians that for various reasons have decided to leave their faith behind.

  • 58. LeoPardus  |  December 21, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Dee:

    Thanks for letting us know about the dyslexia. That way we know that you’re not lazy and inconsiderate. I can’t believe how many people think they have a god-given right to bad communication. …….. Careful, there or I’ll get into a rant.

    Karen put it well in saying that most of us could not have imagined ourselves not believing in our Christian years. I know that had you told me at the beginning of 2006 that I would end the year an unbeliever, I would have said you were insane. Now I actually have trouble understanding how I believed for so long.

    Also, as Karen said, when you believe, it’s easy to see God in things. I now see that a wish fulfillment, or self-fulfilling prophecy, or some such. Again, it’s so clear to me now, that I wonder how I did it to myself for so long.

    Though I never studied theology formally, I did study it a lot. As did many others around here. (By the way, thanks for noting that. A lot of folks come here and think we don’t even know the basic Gospel message.) Over the past year I’ve been able to see how much of what I studied (apologetics mostly) was comprised of presuppositional “logic”.

  • 59. LeoPardus  |  December 21, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Dee:

    You probably know as much or more about the EOC as most in the US. Kind of a sad commentary.

    The EOC is easily the sect of Christianity richest in preservation of history, tradition, practice, symbolism, and doctrine. I was amazed to find that there are aspects of church history that are widely considered “lost in the mists of antiquity” that the EOC not only preserves but considers “rather ordinary knowledge”.

    If you ever want to really dig into church history, go to an EOC priest or bishop.

  • 60. TheDeeZone  |  December 22, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    Leo,

    One of the first things I did was read the About & Contributors section. I want to the know the background of the authors of anything I’m reading. It helps me understand from what viewpoint the article is written.

    If remember correctly, wasn’t the EOC formed after a split with the “Western” or Roman Catholic Church; the Great Schism. I think it had something to do with use of Icon and maybe authority of the Pope. Of course, I could go get to the bookshelf and look it up but I guess it isn’t lazy.

    DH

  • 61. LeoPardus  |  December 23, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Dee:

    wasn’t the EOC formed after a split with the “Western” or Roman Catholic Church; the Great Schism.

    Hee hee. Pretty far wrong, but you still know than most.

    I think it had something to do with use of Icon and maybe authority of the Pope.

    The iconoclast controversy was settled back in the late 700’s (781 I believe). That was the issue in the 7th (and last) Ecumenical Council. The authority of the Pope did have something to do with it.

    Now for what Paul Harvey would call, “The rest of the story.”

    Ahem. *Arranges notes on lectern.* [If you’re not into history, note that the rest of this is a history lesson. Take action, or shelter, as you will.]

    Way back in the first century there arose the five patriarchates of the church. These were the 5 major sites of leadership and church growth. They were in Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, Rome, and Alexandria. Each was overseen by a patriarch, which you can think of like an archbishop or cardinal. Each patriarch was autonomous and considered equal in authority.

    The unity and equality of the pentarchy was in pretty good shape through the first five or six centuries. By the 7th century the relationships had begun to become strained as some patriarchates gained wealth and power. Rome and Constantinople were the ones that gained the most power and notoriety. Those two probably came most to loggerheads as well as their power grew.

    Around the same time the patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, and Alexandria began to suffer under the threat of Islam. This drove them more together, while Rome, not nearly so bothered by the Muslims, continued to grow in power and to grow further apart from the other patriarchates.

    With this background on the interpentarchal relationships we now turn to what is known as the “filioque”. This was the term put into the Nicene Creed that, in the end, became the lynchpin of the Great Schism.

    The Nicene Creed was developed and accepted by the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. It was an expansion of the older Apostles Creed, and was created to serve as the statement of the essential beliefs held by the Church. Because it was created by an Ecumenical Council (i.e. a council of the entire Church), only another Ecumenical Council could ever alter it. This is where the trouble later developed.

    Late in the 500’s, some churches in Spain began to say the Creed with an extra term, “filioque”, which is Latin for, “and the Son”. Thus changing the line, “I believe in the Holy Spirit. The Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.” (This is how it the Nicea Council set it.) The line now would read, “I believe in the Holy Spirit. The Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.”

    When word of this got out, all the patriarchs, including the Bishop of Rome (AKA the Pope) condemned the change and clearly stated that the Creed was not to be altered. They also all argued, in unison that the theology of the “filioque” was incorrect. For the next 300+ years, all five patriarchs staunchly maintained this stance.

    This unified stance came to an end during roughly the late 900’s and early 1000’s. Relatively weak, and politically embroiled Popes were pressured by descendants of Charlemagne to accept the “filioque”, which was by then commonly used in Frankish lands. The Pope caved in, and the Eastern Patriarchs protested. It didn’t take long for the matter to grow ugly.

    Probably the biggest contributor to the split (though there were many) was the Bishop of Rome’s defense of his action. He had become accustomed to being the ultimate authority on spiritual matters in the West, so no one there could argue his accepting the “filioque”. So, he asserted, he was really THE ultimate authority on matters spiritual for the whole Church. Needless to say, this did not sit well with his fellow patriarchs, and heretofore equals. They wanted an Ecumenical Council to settle the matter. (Interestingly there were some in the Eastern Church who were willing to consider the addition of the term.) But the Pope would not have it. He did not want his absolute power questioned. In the end he asserted his absolute power by sending a Bull of Excommunication to Constantinople. When this was delivered, the Bishop (Patriarch) of Constantinople returned the favor by excommunicating the Bishop of Rome. The other patriarchs joined Constantinople in this.

    Thus it was that in 1054 AD, the heretofore united Church was intractably split into the West (Roman Catholic) and the East (Orthodox).

  • 62. TheDeeZone  |  December 23, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Leo,

    Thanks for the refresher. That part of church history is a blur. The first section of Church History I covered from AD 33 up through the church councils.

    DH

  • 63. HeIsSailing  |  December 23, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Dee:

    Did not intend to offend you.

    No worries, Dee. No offense taken, and I know you did not mean any. I appreciate your mature attitude more than you know. I was just speaking about so many who have come in here before you and showed such arrogant presumption.

  • 64. TheDeeZone  |  December 25, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    I can relate to that. I have often been judged a liberal because of my desire to strive for academic excellence and my concentration I chose for my Masters degree.

  • 65. Freebeer42  |  December 31, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    This notion of having god in one’s life is quite beyond me. Don’t understand it. By the time I was 5 I had outgrown the notion of santa claus, the tooth fairy, easter bunny, etc. All of the imaginary concepts were lumped together and rejected. At the same time I was sent off to the penguins (Nuns-nasty creatures). The penguins and I did not see eye-to-eye on anything, constantly in trouble and at the age of 8 the penguins told my parents to take me away, they were done. The nice thing about public school is that it was not a daytime prison for children with penguin guards. When I was in Viet Nam (wonderful place to have a war) I found myself in the ocean, 5 miles from shore with no way to swim against the tide and current and my thought was “This is where people try to pray themselves out of a situation, well, that’s a waste of time and effort.” A short time later a boat picked me up as one of the three of us swimming made it back to shore. No prayer involved, no fractured fairy tales or superstious nonsense about an imaginary diety. So perhaps someone could explain this absurd belief in a “god”. Thanks for your time.

  • 66. TheDeeZone  |  December 31, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Freebeer,

    I actually grew up not believing in Santa Clause, tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, etc. My parents did tell me about St. Nicholas but my mom was opposed to anything that maybe children believe they should get something for nothing ie Trick-or-treating at Halloween, etc.

    For me God is not an absurd belief or fairy tale. I can see examples of his existence all around. However, you most likely do not. Yes, I am predisposed to see His exsitence.

    What could I say that would exlpain a belive that you consider absurd?

  • 67. Paul Rivas  |  March 28, 2008 at 1:23 am

    First, forgive me if I repeat something that someone else has said. I don’t feel like reading all the responses.
    I think the whole, “if God exists he would show me a miracle” is problematic. It presumes that God wants to prove something. It makes him seem pretty desperate, “Oh, please, please believe in me!” Why should God do anything to prove himself? He is God, not a trained dog waiting to jump through hoops, or a lonely teen hoping they get asked to the prom.
    Read some of Heidi and Roland Baker’s accounts of miracles that they have seen. http://www.irismin.org/wordpress/?p=26

  • 68. Quester  |  March 28, 2008 at 3:49 am

    Why is it appropriate for God to perform the miracles they have seen, but to ask for a miracle be treating God like a “trained dog”?

  • 69. Paul Rivas  |  March 28, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    “Why is it appropriate for God to perform the miracles they have seen, but to ask for a miracle be treating God like a ‘trained dog’?”
    Questor, do you really not see the difference?
    The difference is when God did the miracles I and others have seen, we were not demanding anything, nor were we setting an ultimatum before him.

  • 70. LeoPardus  |  March 28, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Paul Rivas:

    Why then did God use miracles to demonstrate and prove himself time and again in the Bible?
    Why does the Bible have so many passages of God or Jesus saying how strongly he loves us, how hard he works to save us, how much he doesn’t want us to go to hell?
    Why does the Bible have so many passages saying “believe in me because of miracles’?
    What are we to make of this God you propose, who takes an attitude of “Hey it’s your problem humans, i ain’t jumping through hoops for y’all” vs the God so many propose, who pursues the lost with vigor? (My take on this last is pretty simple. Both camps are just molding their idea of God to fit the moment.)

    Lastly: Why do you believe the miracle accounts of the Baker’s? Are you equally accepting of miracle accounts from New Agers, Buddhists, Muslims, or any other groups?

  • 71. Paul Rivas  |  March 29, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    LeoPardus
    There are conditions in which God did not perform miracles (lack of faith, sin, etc.) Could these same conditions apply to people today?
    Charles Finney attributed the lack of revival in the south to their slave ownership. My point is that miracles can be hindered.
    Truthfully, I do not know why God does miracles sometimes and not others.
    My point is that your not seeing a miracle does not prove God does not exist.
    What miracles did you ask for?
    As for the Bakers, whether I believe them or not is besides the point. You were asking for someone who could show you a miracle. I was merely supplying the someone. If you are serious in your pursuit, you can contact them and ask them for proof.
    As far as your claim that God is, “unresponsive” may I suggest you read Can You Hear Me by Brad Jersak?

  • 72. Quester  |  March 29, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Paul R,

    If God’s miracles can be hindered, God is not all-powerful. If God is not all-powerful, in what sense is He God?

    Not seeing a miracle does not prove God does not exist. Seeing a miracle would not prove God does exist. Seeing a miracle might actually provide some evidence God does exist, which is otherwise sorely lacking.

    I’m actually reading Jersak’s book. My dad got it for me for Christmas. I’ll be sure to post on my blog, and this blog, if it makes any difference in my life.

  • 73. LeoPardus  |  March 29, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Paul:

    miracles can be hindered

    So this god of yours is so badly limited that we mites can hinder him. I’ll take a bigger God thank you.

    I do not know why God does miracles sometimes and not others.

    I know why he never performs them. He’s just imaginary.

    My point is that your not seeing a miracle does not prove God does not exist.

    Nothing proves that in a absolute sense. I can only look for evidence for existence/non-existence. I’ve done that. It comes out to plenty of evidence that there is no god, and a powerful LACK of evidence that there is one.

    A miracle, visitation, vision, angel, revelation, etc would slam the scales the other way. Much as it did in the stories you read in the Bible.

    What miracles did you ask for?

    Anything at all. I figure if god is unlimited, let him pick the best supernatural event that would best register on me. My only condition was, “I’m not playing ‘Where’s Goddo?'” (Think of ‘Where’s Waldo’) Whatever a deity might do to get my attention, it needs to be obvious.

    As for the Bakers, whether I believe them or not is besides the point. You were asking for someone who could show you a miracle. I was merely supplying the someone.

    Hmmm…. you say it’s beside the point, then you say they can show me a miracle….. confusing.

    If you are serious in your pursuit, you can contact them and ask them for proof.

    Tell you what. You ask them. Or would it limit god if I don’t do it myself?

    As far as your claim that God is, “unresponsive” may I suggest you read Can You Hear Me by Brad Jersak?

    Another long apologetic for why god doesn’t respond. Uhm… no thanks. Besides, why would I bother with yet another modern, shallow, yahoo? Have you ever tried the Ante-Nicene Fathers? Those dudes were deep.

    Try to understand this: I was in the faith for 25 years. I believed. I’ve prayed, read the Bible, studied the Bible, read tons of books (including those ancients). I didn’t leave the faith on one bright and lazy Saturday. I fought it. I literally screamed for ANYTHING at all from this Father who was supposed to love me.

    I got dead silence.

    You want to tell me that a loving father ignores an anguished child of his when that child is crying in fear and isolation? BULL! In this world, that you think is filled with evil sinners, a father like that can be jailed, fined, have his kids taken away. If we being sinful, know how to treat our children, how much more should a Heavenly Father know how to do so?

  • 74. Paul Rivas  |  March 29, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    LeoPardus
    I’m limited on time, so I’ll just answer a couple things.
    “Hmmm…. you say it’s beside the point, then you say they can show me a miracle….. confusing.”
    My belief in the Bakers accounts of miracles is not going to convince you they are real, so even if I give my reasons for believing them, you will not be convinced, that is why it is pointless for me to share why I believe them.
    “Tell you what. You ask them. Or would it limit god if I don’t do it myself?”
    You said that one of the answers that would interest you is, “Fine. I know someone who can show you a miracle.” I guess you aren’t really serious about that. You’d rather complain that God doesn’t do miracles, than check the evidence out for yourself. God does miracles, i have pointed you to some people who can show them to you. A criteria you set up. If you are being honest in this blog, its up to you to check out the evidence, it is not up to me.
    “Another long apologetic for why god doesn’t respond. Uhm… no thanks. Besides, why would I bother with yet another modern, shallow, yahoo? Have you ever tried the Ante-Nicene Fathers? Those dudes were deep.”
    Wow, in the age of google and amazon, you can’t even bother to find out what the book is about? It’s not about why God doesn’t talk. It’s about the many ways he does and how we often do not recognize him. (I know this statement is going to cause you to make some comment, but if you want to know the reasons, read the book).
    I’m sorry that you felt abandoned by God, that you felt like he didn’t answer you. This obviously caused you a lot of pain. I am not trying to disregard it, or give you trite answers. I was merely trying to give you what you asked for, someone who could show you a miracle. Whether you choose to follow up on your own request is up to you. I cannot do it for you, nor should I.

  • 75. LeoPardus  |  March 30, 2008 at 2:05 am

    Paul:

    You said that one of the answers that would interest you is, “Fine. I know someone who can show you a miracle.”

    True enough. I will go back to their site and find their email address.

    in the age of google and amazon, you can’t even bother to find out what the book is about?

    I did look it up and your summary is about right. It is about “the many ways he does talk” in the author’s opinion. His categories are (Invitation, Scripture, Teachers, Worship, Conviction of Right & Wrong, A Burden for Others and Prompting). In other words he doesn’t talk. The best this all powerful being, whose supposed book (the Bible) is chock full of him actually talking, can do is vague feely stuff. After that he leaves it to apologists to explain to us that he really is communicating.

    I can just see Paul and Peter trying that. Can you see them telling lepers, “Well God could heal you but….” Pshah!

  • 76. LeoPardus  |  April 8, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    FYI

    I emailed the Bakers about a week ago. No response so far. I don’t know if they even got the email.

  • 77. George  |  April 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Hey Leo,

    I’ve personally witnessed a lot of miracles in my life (i.e. instant healings, demons manifesting, and cast out… one of those was rather interesting… the demon manifested and asked me directly if I knew what he was… I responded that yes, I’ve encountered his kind before and I was not impressed… then the demon proceeded to tell everyone present about some things I have done in the past which was rather interesting, considering I had only met the possessed guy about 10 minutes before… I told the demon I didn’t care about what he knew and asked him to leave, since I wanted to speak with the man… so the demon left… ). At another time, I was asking the Lord about something rather specific and personal, and I couldn’t find anything in the Word to answer me… So I went into a field and prayed for a while… all I got was silence… I got up and turned around… there was a perfectly formed rainbow right in front of me… now that in itself is nothing too extraordinary, except that it happened to be about 11:20 pm at night. That was rather out of the ordinary. I instantly knew that He wanted me to trust His promise to me. I have to admit, that it took about 9 years later until his promise to me came to pass, but pass it did, and beyond my wildest dreams… My question was about who my wife would be. About the only thing I haven’t witnessed is someone raised from the dead. However I have to say, miracles are truly irrelevant to my relationship with God. They should rather be a by-product of my relationship with Him.

    However, to answer your question, the single greatest miracle God ever did for me personally is change the way I think… maybe that’s why miracles are not such a big deal to me.

  • 78. LeoPardus  |  April 9, 2008 at 9:58 am

    George:

    I’ll put it simply and bluntly. Nice story, but adding lying to your already deplorable personality doesn’t help anyone.

    You know you’re making up a story, I know you’re lying, most folks here know it.

    Feel free to respond. I violated by “don’t talk to trolls policy” this once. I don’t intend to do so again.

  • 79. The Apostate  |  April 9, 2008 at 11:32 am

    George,
    I have yet to comment to your responses, but I feel I must at this point. As a child I had an over-active imagination, more than most children even, which was probably accentuated by the tales of the supernatural I grew up with (not to mention the sensationalist development of angels and demons over the course of Christendom’s history). Later in my teen years I was diagnosed with a mild (or early progression) form of schizophrenia. The truly awesome thing about my condition was that over 80% of those affected “grow out” of it by their early 20’s. It did.
    George I hope that you will, although because of your religious adherence I find it unlikely that you will, find some help. Hallucinations and the like are the first signs of mental illness (or drugs). If you are not sick, as I am sure you will say and you could be right, I hope you take a good critical look at yourself and ask if lying to yourself and others will achieve what you hope to achieve.

    Why is it that only Christians seem to be able to see and talk to demons?

  • 80. George  |  April 9, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Leo,

    For your sake, I wish I was lying, but I’m not. There is something in your life, a stronghold that is hindering your ability to think clearly, and it’s also hindering your ability to hear God speak. And you know what? I believe you know exactly what it is. Your specific problem is with your refusal to accept the Lordship of Jesus in your life. Your thinking is futile, as shown in your “testimonial” of how you ended up of all things in the EOC. Coincidentally, I grew up in the EOC. But you’ll probably tell me I’m lying as well. I could show you my birth certificate, and you’d know instantly that based on where I was born, that I was raised in the EOC, but you’d probably claim that I manufactured the birth certificate. If I trusted you enough to give you the cell #’s of the three people that witnessed the demonic manifestation (one of them was NOT a christian at that time), you would probably claim that’s fabricated as well. You are a weak man, one that avoids at all costs facing himself and will spare no ends to justify himself. I wish we could speak face to face, that I can have you meet all the people that were present when some were healed the very day, when demon’s manifested, I wish I could provide you with everything you need so that you can face your deception head on right now. I wish all that, simply because I know that what faces you is eternal separation from the one that created you. ‘There will be much gnashing of teeth and crying”… that is the sentence that best describes Hell. But now I know, you are not really an atheist or agnostic. You are one of the rebellious ones, one that KNOWS the truth,and that flat-out refuses to acknowledge and bow down to Jesus. I’ve done all I can to warn you of what is to come. You may not realize this, but this is God using me to speak to you… However that’s not good enough for you…

    Your call… enjoy the rest of your time here on earth.

  • 81. George  |  April 9, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    The Apostate,

    Thank you for your kind post. If I’m not mistaken, you might be in error, as you did once respond to one of my posts about the “litmus test” phrase. However it was an indirect response, so It might not “count”.

    Again, thank you for your civil response, and I’ll attempt to return the favor.

    TA, an overactive imagination in a child is actually indicative of a high degree of intelligence, and therefore requires a somewhat different parenting skill set. I understand exactly what you mean by that, as I was lucky enough to have as a first grade teacher someone who quickly realized that I needed to be challenged at a different level than my peers, even at 6 years old. The books I started reading at that age (chemistry, physics, geology, history, geography, etc) greatly affected my critical thinking skills, and allowed them to develop early on in my life. As a teenager, I had a hard time adjusting to my peers as I was not interested in the same things as they were, so I spent most of my time studying and reading. I was a rather strange teenager, however never destructive in my behavior (destructive or otherwise). I’ve dealt with enough teens to know that they are going through so many hormonal and identity changes, it’s only natural some are misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. All teens go through some rough stages, and their well being is highly dependent on their support group (their mother, father, friends etc.)

    I’m very glad that you came through it OK… Before you know it, my three children will be in their teens, and it will require everything at my disposal to help them make it through OK, especially considering how messed up our world is.

    I was never given to hallucinations, or irrational thinking. I got drunk a couple of times between the ages of 19 & 24, and smoked pot a few times. And I did inhale, however I didn’t really like the mind numbing effects they were having on me, so I did not pursue those “friends” anymore. So no comorbid condition present at any given time in my life.

    And lastly, I would like to ask you this…

    How do you know I’m lying?

  • 82. George  |  April 9, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    AT, sorry I misspoke in above post. It should read “I was never destructive (self or otherwise)” .

    Thank you for your time.

  • 83. LeoPardus  |  April 14, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Paul Rivas:

    FYI. It’s now close to 2 weeks since I emailed the Bakers. Still no reply.

  • 84. The Apostate  |  April 14, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    George, thank you for the reasonable response.
    I do not know that you are lying, but based on the tone of your previous response, I had little choice. The problem in my comment, as with the one of yours that I replied to, is that they are entirely anecdotal. Our stories require a level of trust that is impossible to hold, especially online – where most of these stories are actually told.

    You have no reason to believe me and I have no reason to believe you. I do, however, have a reason to doubt: you have a an emotional attachment to a religious adherence that you are trying to protect with your anecdotal evidence. This does not mean you are lying (I only suggested that as a possibility), it merely means that I take what you say with a grain of salt – especially considering the way you have been responding on this site.

    But back to the anecdotal evidence at hand: after everything that I have experienced in my past (very similar to your own story), I still can come to the conclusion that at one point in my life I so badly wanted to believe something and was so influenced with such a worldview that allowed such fantasies, that what I experienced was very real to me, but was little more, in actuality, than a delusion. It was not a drug-induced hallucination, it was a religiously-induced hallucination not unlike that experienced by peoples of many other religious systems (Tantric Buddhism, Hinduism, Tribal religions, Shamanism, Voodoo, etc.).

  • 85. TheDeeZone  |  April 15, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Accounts or stories about miracles do require a certain amount of trust. That is one of the reasons why I prefer not to share much about the miracles in my life. I believe that miracles can and do happen. From personal experience the ones that had the greatest impact on my life were when I was utterly helpless and couldn’t or didn’t know to ask for help. The times when I have been denied a miracle were when I had gotten myself into some sort of mess and wanted to be bailed out. Not being rescued from those messes probably taught me more than if I had received a miracle. I am not saying that any of this applies to anyone else but rather to me. For me the miracles that have happened in my life are very personnel. Maybe I have had more than 3 miracles in my life, maybe not. Those were the 3 big ones at least.

  • 86. TheDeeZone  |  April 15, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Oh, one last comment about miracles in my life. I know that they were not hallucinations or imagined. Two of them involved serious/critical medical situations. The doctors involved referred to them as miracles.

  • 87. HeIsSailing  |  April 15, 2008 at 8:37 am

    DeeZone,
    were these miracles in your life truly ‘miracles’ in the Biblical sense? In other words, was an intervention and breaking of the natural laws of physics involved? Were these miracles indistinquishable from magic?

  • 88. TheDeeZone  |  April 15, 2008 at 9:45 am

    HeIsSailing,

    Were they miracles in the Biblical sense?

    Both involved healing. In both cases the doctors described them as miracles. They had no explanation for my recovery. As for denying natural laws or magic? Not sure about natural laws. As for magic no incanations were done. In both cases, many people were praying for me or at least that is what I was told.

    As someone mentioned earlier it is just a my story so you don’t know if I am lying or tellin the truth. I agree and that is why I am hessiant to share details. I do not want it to become just a fantastic story for someone. For me it is very real, I do not want to cheapen what happened in anyway. As for the 3rd miracle, that happened I do not care to share any details. In my opinion it was a miracle. If others don’t agree that is fine.

  • 89. HeIsSailing  |  April 15, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Dee, I have no opinion on your experiences, or what you claim to be miraculous. I hope you understand, though, that upon hearing such claims, a healthy skepticism is justified.

    I have heard such claims, from Christian and non-Christian alike. I don’t necessarily think any of them were lying to me. But I don’t think it is wise or heathy for anybody to act or make decisions, or dare I say – place one’s faith, on the claims of somebody else’s supposed miraculous experienes (this includes Biblical claims, by the way).

  • 90. TheDeeZone  |  April 15, 2008 at 10:56 am

    HeIsSailing

    But I don’t think it is wise or healthy for anybody to act or make decisions, or dare I say – place one’s faith, on the claims of somebody else’s supposed miraculous experiences

    Amen! Preach it brother. Ok I couldn’t resist that one. I agree. There are some Christians who put too much emphasis on the “miraculous” that they forget who sent the miracle. Also, I do not share my experiences to change your mind but rather to support why I believe miracles can and do happen. Also, they are not the the basis for my faith. Ok maybe one of them was sort of because it was a life or death situation. If something medically unexplainable hadn’t happened I would have died. There are some who share miracles as a way of saying looking at me I’m special. I view my experiences with humility and gratitude.

    You are more than welcome to be skeptical, that is fine with me. In fact, I think a certain amount of skepticism is healthy. Of course my mom says that my first words were. “Why?” “Make me.” and “No”. So I guess I’m a bit of a skeptic as well.

  • 91. LeoPardus  |  April 15, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Dee:

    Obviously I agree with the skeptical approach. [I’m sure that confession made everyone fall off their chairs.]

    Because I work in the biomed research field, I know how often the unexplainable happens. Sometimes we get around to figuring out the ‘why’ later. Often we don’t. To actually get us to call it supernatural, we pretty much need to see a new kidney grow before our eyes though.

    I have noticed that some doctors and nurses use the term “miracle” too lightly.

  • 92. TheDeeZone  |  April 15, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Leo,

    Wasn’t aware that some medical professionals use the term lightly. In my case my parents were told by the doctors that if they believed in prayer that it would be a good time to pray because there was nothing that could be done to for me medically.

    DH

  • 93. bobbi jo  |  May 15, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Whew! These blogs take forever to read. Okay Leo, I read it. I supose I am this girl to you.

    ““I believe in miracles. I’ve seen one or more (or know someone reliable who has). It’s enough for me, but I know it isn’t for you. I can’t call up a miracle for you. Still, I truly hope you get to see one.” (Again, this is at least nakedly honest, and I can accept that even if it does nothing for my doubts. It also tells me the person is sincere and cares.) ”

    I think Dee may be as well. However, I was disapointed in you Leo. The first part of your post is bitter and made me not want to read the rest. The 2nd part was better, not cuz you apologized for being bitter, but because you seemed sincere in wanting to find an answer. You even posted what people could say to you. But then later, one person aparently cast out a demon and you consider him a lyer, no questions asked. that doesn’t seem fair, or reasonable of you. If I told you I saw Jesus today (in person), you would imediately dismiss me without questioning where I was coming from yet, you expect me to not call you a lyer and see where you’re coming from. right now I think you are too bitter to see jesus or a miricle or sign even if God slapped you with it. I don’t say this to be mean. I say this because it seems you will have to get over the phase of being bitter before God will give you a sign. I stand by what I said (and you’ve proved my point) that God may have already done this but your heart is closed and the holy spirit gone right now so you can’t see it.

    I still enjoy talking to you and everyone. I am on your side. I really hope you find what you seem to be searching for.

  • 94. TheDeeZone  |  May 15, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Bobbi Jo
    I think Dee may be as well.
    I might be what?

    . But then later, one person aparently cast out a demon and you consider him a lyer, no questions asked. that doesn’t seem fair, or reasonable of you.

    If you are referring to comment #77. Based upon that persons previous comments, comments left on my blog, etc I do not think he is credible. Not sure if he is lying but his responses have been extremely duplicitous.

  • 95. bobbi jo  |  May 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    The point isn’t that he might have been lying. the point is that Leo did not seem to want to question him at all. He also, at 1st, did not want to check out the baker story, even though that is another thing he had put in his original post. He did recant and email them, and I am saddened that they did not mail anything back. I don’t know the demon guy at all and have not read anything else by him, except what he posted here. But thank you for pointing out that Leo may have already known this guy from other blogs and if that is the case, Leo, I am sorry that I yelled at you without knowing all the facts. Thanks for setting me straight.

    also Dee, I meant that you may be like me in the fact that you’ve been through things that you consider miricles but can’t make one happen for Leo, but I think you hope he does see one as well. That is what I get from your posts here. Set me straight again if I am wrong. Thanks!

  • 96. LeoPardus  |  May 15, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    bobbi jo:

    Odd that you see bitterness in there. I reread it just to remember my mindset when I wrote it. I wasn’t bitter. A bit piqued at the kind of dismissals people came up with to explain an inactive deity, yes, but not bitter.

    Honestly I’ve not been bitter over my whole de-conversion process. Disappointed, upset, frightened, lonely, even desperate too, but bitter no.

    On St George and the demon: He is a pathological liar. I’ve met them before (in prison ministry).

    If you told me you’d seen Jesus today, I would think, “That may be, but I have no way of knowing.” You’ve shown yourself a decent, honest enough person so far, that I would not call you a liar flat out. I’m sure you could be deceived or deluded, but you don’t seem a liar.

    On the God can’t reach you through your bitterness, or hardness of heart, or skepticism: That’s not what the Bible says.
    -Saul or Tarsus was as hardened as they get. He was killing Christians. God blasted through all that in a moment.
    -Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail prints in his hands and place my finger in his side, I will not believe.” Jesus showed up and let Thomas see the nail holes and feel the would in his side.
    -Sergius Paulus believed immediately when his sorcerer was struck blind.

    There are other examples to cite. Then there are all the examples from church history, and all the people you hear giving their testimonies about how God did a miracle that pierced their hardened heart.

    And of course there’s the simple idea that the omnipotent, omniscient God can’t get through ????

    Sorry but the “God can’t get through” response flies in the face of scripture, experience, and logic.

    I’d be happy for God to get through to me. But He has to reach me, not you, and it has to be clear, not wishful thinking or interpretation. Any “god” who can’t manage something so straightforward is just too small.

  • 97. TheDeeZone  |  May 15, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Bobbi Jo,

    Leo is not the only one here who has had problems with the poster from #77. He is not a pleasant individual. He professes to be a Christian and to do things out of love. However he is extremely judgmental and just rude. He is quick to judge anyone posting here and enjoys verbally attacking women. He and his wife do not limit their attacks just to the blogs (this one, my own and her personal blog). I am reminded of the passage where Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are concerned with the speck in their neighbor’s eye but can’t see the plank in their own eye. From reading their comments and her blog I believe they may be a few fries short of a happy meal.

    Leo,

    If you told me you’d seen Jesus today, I would think, “That may be, but I have no way of knowing.”
    Well, today in the store I had someone come in who claimed to have seen Jesus. He said Jesus was short.

    Oh, I found a couple of books about the EOC on the shelf at work and have been reading some as I had time. Unfortunately, someone bought the better of the two.

    Dh

  • 98. bobbi jo  |  May 16, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Leo,

    “Odd that you see bitterness in there.”

    Funny, though, at the top YOU also wrote,

    “You know, after writing this, and reading back through it, I can see that parts of it sound bitter or angry”.

    is this a contradiction? no. I have been thinking of how you think the bible contradicts itself. Here’s my thoughts (you might not like it. it may be too “pat” for you. :) )My daughter is a free spirit, stubborn, and very opinionated. I love that about her! I don’t want her to lose that as she grows older. It will help her get ahead when she’s older. However, I also have to teach her how to respect others opionions, authority, ect if she is to do good in school, social groups, ect. This is hard to teach a 7 year old how to stand up for what she believes and yet submit to authority. It may seem to her that I am contradicting myself when I tell her those two things. But there has to be a balance. I think God did this when he put stuff in the bible. Unfortuanately, I agree with you that people don’t look at all the verses, the whole picture, the history of that time, or the context it was written in. I think, for me anyway, if I look at all of it together, it doesn’t contradict at all. Even God said there is a time for everything. Again, probably an opinionated (she gets that from me!) “pat” answer, but an answer nonetheless.

    “On the God can’t reach you through your bitterness, or hardness of heart, or skepticism:”

    I never said God Can’t reach you. I said you may not be seeing it or don’t want to. However, I do see your point that he should make it obviously clear. I don’t have an answer for that at this time, but I’ll keep searching, not just for you but for me as well. It’s causing doubt in me.

    I’ve also been thinking a lot about this. I am more like you than you think. My initial reaction is always doubt. Let me explain. I was reading in Mark and got to a spot where Jesus casts out a demon (through prayer). My first thought (because the demon was making the girl shake) was that maybe this was epilepsy and they didn’t actually know what it was called then. I only thought this because I just found out my daughter has epilepsy. The ironic thing is that this message was on doubt! The father says, “I do believe, help me believe more!”. anyway, I still have that hidden sceptic in me, maybe just a lot more cheerleader enthusiasm on top. I’m not trying to sugar-coat anything, I’ve prayed about this long and hard (hey it works for me). But even I would have a hard time believing that Jesus is sitting next to me in my honda (or Kia). so that is the reason that I think God may be trying to reach you and you’re not seeing it. Just thoughts at this point. I’m sure you’ll let me know what you think of my bubbly opinions….:)

  • 99. The Apostate  |  May 16, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    bobbi jo,

    It may seem to her that I am contradicting myself when I tell her those two things. But there has to be a balance. I think God did this when he put stuff in the bible.

    It may seem to her that I am contradicting myself when I tell her those two things. But there has to be a balance. I think God did this when he put stuff in the bible.
    Too bad he didn’t sign his name. Last time I checked, the Bible was written by many differeny men, not a god of any sort.
    No matter, even if a god did “inspire” such a work on such an intimate level, one would think to at least get basic facts straight (not to mention a consistent theology).

    We aren’t talking about “god of love” and “god of wrath” contradictions, which would be comparable whatever Dobsonesque parenting style you choose.
    How does one find a “balance”, as you put it, between Jesus two paternal grandfathers (Jacob according to Matthew, Heli according to Luke)?
    How does one find a “balance” between John’s Christology (10:30 or 14:28)?
    How does one find a “balance” between the promise not to punish the children because of the sins of fathers in Deuteronomy 24:16 and its exact opposite promise in Isaiah 14:21?
    How does one find a “balance” between the Satanic provocation of David in 1 Chronicles 21 and the divine wrath of God in the same instance in 2 Samuel 24?
    How does one find a “balance” between God being able to be physically seen (Ex. 24:9,10, Amos 9:1; Gen. 26:2, John 14:9, Ex. 33:23, Ex.33:11, Gen. 32:30) and unable to be seen (John 1:18, Ex. 33:20, 1 Tim 6:16)?
    How does one find a “balance” between the tempting God in the Abrahamic tradition and the admonition in James 1:13?
    How does one find a “balance” between John’s claim that no one but the Son of Man had ascended to heaven (3:13) and the experience of Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11?

    …and these are only the silly contradictions. It doesn’t take a literary master to figure out the profound theological differences between the gospels themselves, the works of Paul and pseudo-Pauline text and the horrendous Apocalypse of John. Perhaps instead of blaming our feeble human interpretations, perhaps it is innate in the “Good Book.”

  • 100. LeoPardus  |  May 16, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    bobbi jo:

    Good on ya seeing that contradiction. I posted this article about half a year ago, and wrote it about a year before that. Looking at it now, I just don’t see it as bitter or angry. (OK. The “keeping your beliefs tidy and intact” was a bit of a barb.)

    Guess I’m adjusting to this new life and my perspectives are changing. The whole post just looks like logic to me now.

    I think God did this when he put stuff in the bible. Unfortuanately, I agree with you that people don’t look at all the verses, the whole picture, the history of that time, or the context it was written in.

    This is something I used to say a lot as a Christian. You’ve got to look at all the context, etc. But there are giant problems with this.
    -You need a certain level of education and intelligence to do this. A HUGE percentage of people in the world today, and in the past, simply don’t/didn’t have the education or intelligence. Why would God put together His plan for everyone in a package that only the elite can decipher?
    -What did all those Christians do in the first few centuries? They didn’t have a Bible. Any given local church might have had almost any collection of writings. But there was no “authorized version” nor even an established canon. And most of those long ago Christians were illiterate anyway.
    -Why can’t an omniscient God come up with anything better than an old book that’s only been around for less than 1700 years as His way of “making clear” to everyone what He wants from them?

    It’s causing doubt in me.

    Hmmm. You might be surprised to hear this from me, but I don’t like the thought of de-converting anyone. I DID NOT enjoy the process at all. And I don’t really wish it on anyone else. Religion is fulfilling and comforting. It gives a sense of meaning and purpose to many people. Church provides friends and support. Losing any of that can be most “unfun” and I’m not keen on being the agent of it.

    Of course I’ll keep exchanging with you because truth means a lot of me.

  • 101. LeoPardus  |  May 16, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    TA:
    Just to add one more

    Malachi 3:10 “Test me in this” says the Lord
    Matt 4:7 “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”

    we could go on all day….

  • 102. bobbi jo  |  May 16, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    the Apostate and Leo,

    you’ve given me a lot to ponder. I am not as familiar with these passages so it will take me a while to read, research, pray (again, it’s my thing) to get back to your questions. Thank you both for keeping me challenged. I really do appriciate it. When I de-converted, fell away, (whatever you want to call it) the 1st time, it was more on experiences in my life that I was questioning, not nessesarily an itellectual reason. so coming back (to Christ), I still have so much to learn and I am just starting. Thank you for giving me a starting point and being kind and patient as I work through my thought process. ( For quite a while, I didn’t have a job that required me to think, just look pretty. :) ) So, with that said, Leo, I don’t intend on going through that process again, however, I do want to understand all my own reasoning behind what and why I say/think/believe things and to be able to defend those beliefs intellectually. (all though my spelling will always suck).

  • 103. bobbi jo  |  May 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Apostate,
    Where in Luke did you find Heli? Thanks.

  • 104. bobbi jo  |  May 16, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    nevermind, found it.

  • 105. The Apostate  |  May 17, 2008 at 2:35 am

    bobbi jo,

    When I de-converted, fell away, (whatever you want to call it) the 1st time, it was more on experiences in my life that I was questioning, not nessesarily an itellectual reason. so coming back (to Christ), I still have so much to learn and I am just starting

    I whole-heartedly commend you on your persistent search for truth. I know many “Christians” who fell away almost solely for emotional or circumstantial reasons. My guess is that these people are also those that converted in the first place through emotional or circumstantial means (a tought time in life or simply being born into a Christian family). For myself, I cannot relate. I became disenchanted with the institutional church in my late teens, but that only pushed me to want to be a church leader even more (delusions of grandeur about the next Reformation). My de-conversion was entirely intellectual, with my emotional state tagging along for the tumultuous and unnerving ride.

    I do want to understand all my own reasoning behind what and why I say/think/believe things and to be able to defend those beliefs intellectually. (all though my spelling will always suck).

    This is the best place to start any genuine search for truth, and is unfortunately something that very few people are willing to commit to. It really is easer said than done. My own de-conversion came from a passion for Christian apologetics, which was my focus at Bible college.
    As for your spelling – it is a learned skill like any other. Being conscious of it is the first step to correcting it.

  • 106. bobbi jo  |  May 17, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Apostate,

    The funny thing is that I was a year ahead in English and went to one of the best schools in this area. Sad….:)

    Still working on your questions. The interesting part is that (so far) I not finding too many issues in your questions, meaning that I can “explain” those questions that make sense to me and my version of truth (although I’m still hestitant to do that as I’m sure you’ve heard/researched it yourself). What I am finding is new questions in the process that I am having a harder time “explaining” and that is taking more research. The quest will never end….

  • 107. TheDeeZone  |  May 17, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Bobbi Jo & TA,

    It is possible to be very intelligent, well educated and otherwise articulate and have problems with spelling. For some practice will help but for most poor spellers above the 5th grade may never improve spelling skills. The computer or what I call the Great Equalizer can be very useful for those with poor spelling abilities. I have started using Foxfire instead of IE because spell check is built into the program. Misspelled words are underlined in red like in a word processor.

  • 108. The Apostate  |  May 17, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    bobbi jo,

    Still working on your questions….

    Trust me, the search probably won’t end anytime soon, nor should it. Part of being in apologetics is exactly to explain, or often to “explain away”, the inconsistencies in the Bible. The majority of the time, this honest inquiry will lead one away from fundamentalism or evangelicalism to a more moderate or progressive Christianity. The trouble, however, is when those explanations start losing the very ground they sit on. They should only be there as initial critiques or consciousness raisers. It is only then that you can start to intellectually look at what you call your faith.

  • 109. TheDeeZone  |  May 17, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    Bobbi Jo & TA
    Some of us make an honest inquiry of faith and remain conservative. For me my faith became stronger. I took ownership of my faith it was not just something I had been told but what I had reasoned out for myself.

  • 110. writerdd  |  May 18, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    My de-conversion was entirely intellectual, with my emotional state tagging along for the tumultuous and unnerving ride.

    Mine was the same.

    I think a lot of people become Christians for emotional reasons and leave Christianity for intellectual reasons, and their emotions have to catch up. That’s why the de-conversion process is not instant, the way conversion is, and why the process is usually painful.

  • 111. The Apostate  |  May 18, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    TDZ,
    Anyone who can reason, based on a obviously flawed and, at many times, immoral and unsophisticated ancient text, that someone was literally raised from the dead is not using their intellectual capacities (for better or worse). You may call it many things, including spiritual and mystical, but it is certainly not intellectual. Not to mention that nothing that Paul taught about Jesus’ death is found in Jesus’ own words – the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Paul have never been successfully reconciled – at least not without withholding one’s reasoning faculties.

  • 112. TheDeeZone  |  May 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    TA,

    Upon the matter of my faith we will never agree. I do not claim to understand everything. I disagree with your assessment of the Bible. Nothing you can say will change my position and I’m equally convinced that little I say will change yours. With that said at this time I do not feel like getting into a discussion about the issues you raise. It has been a long week, I have worked 6 straight days and don’t have the energy to think.

  • 113. LeoPardus  |  May 18, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    TA:

    nothing that Paul taught about Jesus’ death is found in Jesus’ own words – the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Paul have never been successfully reconciled

    I don’t know about that first part. Jesus said his death would happen, but he didn’t delve into the meaning or theology of it much if at all.

    Can you list the dichotomies you see between Paul and Jesus, whether it’s relative to JC’s death or other things?

  • 114. The Apostate  |  May 18, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    TDZ,
    I am not attempting to de-convert you. The fact of the matter is that I wouldn’t expect you to believe that some obscure Indian guru from the 4th century CE was raised from the dead because a an equally obscure Sanskrit text said this was the case. To do so would be, by definition, withholding your reasoning faculties. The problem is that today’s Christianity is so obsessed with literalism and pseudo-scientific fanaticism that it has lost the mystique of its original concept. I am calling a spade a spade, if you disagree, please, let me know what reason has to do with it all.

    Leo,
    True, according to the gospels, Jesus did say that he would die (as we all do), and he also apparently predicted his resurrection (depending on the gospel and the interpretation). Whether Jesus’ actually said that or not really is not much concern – we must assume, here anyway, that he did. What is far more important, as you see for yourself, that he does not give any significance to his death, apart from being a prophet-like martyr, or to his resurrection. Yet this is what Christianity, since Paul, has been completely based on (with Augustine’s perverted coupling of original sin). It is on the very foundation of what Jesus taught that differs from Paul.

    Jesus does not preach that he had come to save humanity from its sins, and yet this is the very essence of Pauline Christianity. Jesus soteriology is insanely obedience-centered (Mt. 19:29, Lk. 14:28ff), while Pauls depends on what mood he is in(well, to be fair, it actually depends on when his books were written because of the responses he received from certain churches, esp. Corinth). His famous treatise to the Romans (6:23) would never have come out the mouth of Jesus: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Jesus was more concerned with his teachings (John 5:24) as the way to salvation, whereas Paul’s obsession with Jesus’ death (Romans 5:21) became the mainstay of the Christian cult.

    Furthermore, look at how concerned Paul is with being accepted by people in general (or maybe specifically Roman or Jewish church leaders).
    In 1 Corinthian 10:33: “just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. ”
    In 2 Corinthians 8: “for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of men.”
    And In Romans 12:17 and then 14:18: “Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all men” and “he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.”
    While even the very “pro-Pauline” Lukan gospel states:
    “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (6:26) and
    “But he said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (16:15).
    Jesus obviously didn’t care much for the concerns of men – it was all about his Father’s will (which was simply a different interpretation for the Jewish law… and don’t even get me started on Paul’s perversion of Jesus’ teaching on that!).

    I could go on and on. I suggest an online book by Scott Nelson, who is a little bit of a fanatic himself, but makes some great points.

  • 115. TheDeeZone  |  May 19, 2008 at 12:21 am

    TA,

    Too tired to really formulate a good response but will respond to one comment.

    The problem is that today’s Christianity is so obsessed with literalism and pseudo-scientific fanaticism that it has lost the mystique of its original concept

    For the most I believe the Bible can and should be interpreted literally. There are many places where it may be interpreted literally or figuratively. As for pseudo-scientific — the Bible was never intended to be a scientific book. One problem that many Western Christians encounter is not understanding the culture of the AEN. While I believe the Bible supports fiat creation by God it does not explain the how. Could creation have taken place in 7 literal 24 hr days? Possibly. Could creation have taken place over thousands of years? Probably. Is some form of evolution involved in creation? Probably.

    At times your responses seem condescending to Christians. That is probably not be your intention at all but how I interpret it. Guess I wanted to bring up the point that many of us with Faith do not check our brains at the door.

    You raise many good points and cause me to think. That is a good thing. I will re-read this sometime next week after I have had time for more sleep and less work.

  • 116. The Apostate  |  May 19, 2008 at 11:57 am

    TDZ, it is not about checking your brains at the door – the problem I see is that I have been in whole three day conferences where a bunch of seminarians talk about how it is that the beings of the Trinity relate to each other, yet no one dares talk about the simple fact that there is little Biblical support for it. The problem I see is that the resurrection, no matter how you see it, is mystical in some way, yet within the Bible itself there is little evidence that the earliest Christians believed this was a literal, bodily resurrection. The problem I see is that if it is uncomfortable for your position, Christians will explain it away rather than entertain the obvious mythology.

    I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but I have not attacked you in any personal way. If you do not respond to my opinions in a direct way, but skirt the issue with an emotional retaliation, then possibly the infantile way I make certain sorts of Christianity out to be is well deserved. Christianity, as a whole, deserves patronizing due to its long history of corrupting a Jewish religion for its own purposes, if not for the religious narrow-mindedness of its fundamentalist followers.

  • 117. LeoPardus  |  May 19, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    TA:

    Feh! Now if I want to address that all, I’ll have to pull out a Bible and read some of it again. Not sure that will happen soon, if at all. I’ve got a lot of good books to read first.

  • 118. bobbi jo  |  May 19, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    TA,

    “Part of being in apologetics is exactly to explain, or often to “explain away”, the inconsistencies in the Bible.”

    I used “explain” in quotes for this reason. What seems reasonalble to me obviously is not to you. So you assume I am just explaining it away. I’m doing the same research you are, and I’m coming to a different conclusion. This is based on the same facts you have. That is why I wrote about it being my truth. Like Dee, I don’t have to energy to write about how your “interpretation” of Paul vs Christ is completely off to me. If I did waste that time (or time on your other questions), you would say I am an apologetic, fundamentalist, whatever. I’m not coming to my conclusions based on my emotions whatsoever. which leads me to the next part…

    “That’s why the de-conversion process is not instant, the way conversion is, and why the process is usually painful.”

    The conversion process isn’t instant. most churches play this up- that once you’re “saved”, your in. Most churches don’t take the time after that initial part to help christians lead out a “christ-centered” life. They think they are done. Yes, this is important (why Paul harped on it so much) But this is why communtiy is so important too. It doesn’t stop the minute I get saved. That is what Jesus was about. Showing how to live after that initial process. It transforms your life (or at least it should) and this takes time. oh, look at that, I did have some energy anyway.

    To me, it seems as if you are distorting facts to your benefit, and I understand that you see me as doing the same. I don’t know why they call it apologetics, I don’t remember apologizing for anything, do you? :)

    Let me know if you do want to hear my “explanations” for your other questions. I’m not done with all, I work and have a life beyond the internet, so it’s taking time. Thanks for listening.

  • 119. TheDeeZone  |  May 19, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    TA,

    You have not offended me. I respect how has been offended or has problems with something you say you are quick to apologize.

    As for the Trinity. That is very problematic. We spent hours discussing this in seminary classes. While it is implied it is not openly written in the Bible. If I remember correctly the term Trinity actually comes from the Latin. James Boice had a good discourse about the Trinity but I can’t remember which book.
    The problem I see is that if it is uncomfortable for your position, Christians will explain it away rather than entertain the obvious mythology.

    Not all of us. Some of us do more reading and thinking. There are several problematic passages for me. The ones that are problems for me are the narratives but other teachings. Also, I have some issues with Paul on the surface his wittings appear to be anti-women.

    if not for the religious narrow-mindedness of its fundamentalist followers.

    Oh don’t get me started on fundamentalist. For them religion is nothing more than a list of do’s & don’ts. In some cases it is a strange perversion of any form of true Christianity.

    Leo,

    As soon as things slow down here I’m going to read more from that book about the EOC.

    Bobbi Jo,

    TA does have a valid point about explaining away inconsistencies in the Bible. Understanding the historical context of the passage helps with some inconsistencies.

    Salvation is past, present and future. Moment of conversion — Past. Present in the ongoing process of becoming more Christ-like and in perseverance of our faith. Future — heaven.

    Got this from the preface of the Apologetics Study Bible:
    “Apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, meaning ‘defense’ or ‘answer’. Accordingly, Christian apologetics is the practice of giving reasons that support the Christian faith and responding to objections raised against it.”

  • 120. LeoPardus  |  May 19, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    That’s why the de-conversion process is not instant, the way conversion is, and why the process is usually painful.

    Hadn’t really registered this sentence before. [BTW bobbi jo, it’s from dd not TA]

    Again with the EOC perspective, it certainly is not instant. In joining the EOC, we had to take catechumen/inquirers classes and attend the church for one full year (to get through the whole liturgical calendar). After all that the priest still could decide you weren’t ready. I know one gal who waited a bit over 3 years. The EOC just isn’t ever in a hurry and they aren’t interested in “here today, gone next week” christians.

    And the EOC firmly believes you work lifelong on your salvation. It’s a process, not a one time event, in their view.

  • 121. bobbi jo  |  May 19, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Dee, thanks, I was being a bit facecious there. when communication gets tough (as debates usually do) I tend to want to lighten things up. Sorry if that made things worse. I think you would have to know how bubbly I am in person, to recognize the tone in which I write. That’s really hard to get across in a blog. (hence, all my smiley faces) :)

  • 122. TheDeeZone  |  May 19, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Bobbi Jo,

    No problem. Even TA’s comments were tame compared to others who have come here.

    Did the definition of Apologetics help you? Also, what about my statement on salvation?

  • 123. The Apostate  |  May 19, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    bobbi jo,

    . What seems reasonalble to me obviously is not to you. So you assume I am just explaining it away. I’m doing the same research you are, and I’m coming to a different conclusion.

    What research is this? How do you know what my research is? My thesis focuses on the similarities between historical gnosticism and the contemporary Pentecostal church – is that your research? Or do you mean that you study the Bible, as do I? How do you study it? What sort of method are you using? I am not saying this to be condescending, I am saying this because that is a very large assumption you just made.

    That is why I wrote about it being my truth.

    That is pretty subjective, but I don’t fall into the self-proclaimed postmodernists who make their own truth depending on what is the most comfortable for them.

    I don’t have to energy to write about how your “interpretation” of Paul vs Christ is completely off to me. If I did waste that time (or time on your other questions), you would say I am an apologetic, fundamentalist, whatever.

    Your right, I would probably assume, partially because of what you just said above, that this would be an extremely subjective truth, from which you would not be able to show me any research. What is the most frustrating is that you completely ignored anything I said by saying it was my “interpretation” – what interpretation?! I merely gave a bunch of straight-out-the-Holy-Bible examples of why the two do not agree. I know many staunch, but labeled heretical, Christians that agree with me.

    The conversion process isn’t instant.

    I don’t recall saying it is – was that me you were quoting (I may have, I just don’t think I did)? I think the conversion process on so-called “missions trips” (or vacation in third-world countries with an ulterior motive) are always “instant” and somewhat shallow, but I would never say all conversions are “instant”.

    ost churches don’t take the time after that initial part to help christians lead out a “christ-centered” life. They think they are done. Yes, this is important (why Paul harped on it so much)

    See, when I talk about Paul, I give lots of verses – here I am suppose to take yours, and Paul’s, word for it. The fact is, Paul never talks about Jesus’ teachings. Paul doesn’t know the first thing about the “christ-centered” life, that is, unless, it requires giving up your life, in a vague way, for some sort of divine being (nothing new here, this is how most religions work).

    But this is why communtiy is so important too. It doesn’t stop the minute I get saved. That is what Jesus was about. Showing how to live after that initial process. It transforms your life (or at least it should) and this takes time. oh, look at that, I did have some energy anyway.

    Instead of telling me that this is what Jesus was about, how about you tell me where Jesus says anything like that. When did Jesus talk about this good ol’ community and howing to live after the conversion process (I suppose you would need to tell me where Jesus talks about this conversion process).

    To me, it seems as if you are distorting facts to your benefit, and I understand that you see me as doing the same. I don’t know why they call it apologetics, I don’t remember apologizing for anything, do you?

    Due to the smiley face, I am going to assume this was humour. I don’t find the first part funny, however, especially considering I just threw passage after passage at anyone here to actually discuss and you retaliated with not one verse nor one argument. You, in essence, plugged your ears and stated you simply didn’t have the energy to engage in any dialogue.

    Let me know if you do want to hear my “explanations” for your other questions. I’m not done with all, I work and have a life beyond the internet, so it’s taking time.

    Now this is just silly – did I just waste an entire comment just for you to tell me this at the end? Isn’t this why you responded to me? Of course I want to read your explanations. I de-converted because my own explanations no longer could be held in critical light – I would love to see whether yours are better than that I have read of Augustine, Gregori, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Simons, Tozer, Schaeffer, Lewis, and the rest of the the theologians I have spent the majority of my young life studying.

    TDZ,

    You have not offended me. I respect how has been offended or has problems with something you say you are quick to apologize.

    Good, I know my tone may sometimes come across as harsh, especially when I’ve had a rough couple of days at home.

    As for the Trinity…

    I personally think it came out of a logical matter of convenience – the other models of the godhood simply did not work for other reasons (the theologians discussing them at the time were, of course, not Jewish nor were they even in the first two Christian centuries). I believe that out of anyone coming close to solving the philosophical problems of the Trinity it was the Cappadocian Fathers.

    Not all of us. Some of us do more reading and thinking.

    Of course not all – which is why there are so many “heretics” out there. When it comes to the Trinity, most people don’t give a second thought. Many who do, like most theologians who I speak of, simply realize the problems of the alternatives (son lesser than father, spirit a different being, etc.) and shrink away.

    Oh don’t get me started on fundamentalist. For them religion is nothing more than a list of do’s & don’ts. In some cases it is a strange perversion of any form of true Christianity.

    I don’t think it is this simple. The term fundamentalism, to beat a dead horse, means many different things to many different people. I believe the majority of “fundamentalists” (not the psychotic ones) believe in God’s grace and having compassion towards people, and believe themselves to be on equal terms as the worse of sinners like any other evangelical or moderate Christian. The question is, looking at the gospels, the stories of Jesus, and his teachings – would that law-like attitude be so far from the truth?

  • 124. TheDeeZone  |  May 19, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    TA,

    Your thesis sounds interesting.

    My concentration was ethics (character & moral development). I would see myself as a virtue ethicist. With that said I have often had runs in with fundamentalist because my studies were considered worthless & unnecessary. By your definition I would be a fundamentalist & I think your definition may actually be correct not what is associated with the wackos.

    One of my major problems with fundamentalist is in relation to the way teens in specially are instructed on moral issues. In many cases it has evolved in to a list of do not use drugs smoke, drinking, have sex, etc. Telling them it is a sin & they will go to hell has little effect. In many cases there is no discussion about the consequences or making responsible decisions. It always hard when I see a teen seriously mess up their life by making a bad decision or be hurt by someone else’s bad decision.

    The question is, looking at the gospels, the stories of Jesus, and his teachings – would that law-like attitude be so far from the truth?

    Please clarify what attitude to which you are referring.

    Sorry you have had a rough few days. Hope things get better.

  • 125. bobbi jo  |  May 20, 2008 at 11:41 am

    TA-

    Let me clarify…

    “is that your research? Or do you mean that you study the Bible, as do I? How do you study it? What sort of method are you using? I am not saying this to be condescending, I am saying this because that is a very large assumption you just made.”

    I’m not saying we do the exact same research. what I am saying is that I am looking into the verses that you gave me, granted, my research methods will be different than yours, but I am not seeing the inconsistancies that you do. But if I try to defend them, you would see it as apologetic and “plug your ears to it”. You and I can both read the same verse and get a completely different read on it. Or I can read two verses and see how they compliment each other, while you see it as an inconsistancy.

    “I just threw passage after passage at anyone here to actually discuss and you retaliated with not one verse nor one argument.”

    I can throw a hundred passages at you too, all about community (gen 2-It is not good for man to be alone, John 13:34,1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11,Romans 12:10 , Romans 12:16,Galations 5:13, Ephesians 4:32, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 peter 3:8, James 5:16, the list goes on) but after reading all my verses, I doubt it’s going to change your mind on how you view things in the bible. That is what I mean by “personal truth” although, I don’t like that word either, so I’ll just say opinion.

    “I don’t recall saying it is – was that me you were quoting (I may have, I just don’t think I did)? ”

    Yeah, sorry, that was writerdd, as Leo pointed out.

    “Now this is just silly – did I just waste an entire comment just for you to tell me this at the end? Isn’t this why you responded to me? Of course I want to read your explanations. I de-converted because my own explanations no longer could be held in critical light -”

    I’m still working on a few of them. Also, I am going on vacation, so I won’t be around for a while (i know it sounds like a cop-out, but I didn’t want you to think I’d just adbandoned this site cuz you all challanged me). It also takes me a while cuz I am not as good at articulating what I actually mean. Plus, I’ll be the first to admit that you all are way more versed in the bible than I, but hey, it’s making me read it more. :) I read Leo’s post on “you might be a fundy” and I can definately (sadly) relate to the fact that you all kick my butt on knowing the bible. Jesus actually does this a lot when the pharasees tested him, he is like “well, what does it (the old test) say about it?” They knew the old test inside and out and he was always challanging them to look deeper at it. What is it really saying? I’m hoping to get to that point, where I know the bible that well. (like Jesus, not like the pharasees)

    Again, thank you for challanging me and keeping me on my toes. :) I am also sorry you had a rough few days.

  • 126. TheDeeZone  |  May 20, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Bobbi Jo.

    But if I try to defend them, you would see it as apologetic and “plug your ears to it”.

    Please see the definition of apologetics that I posted earlier. Apologetics is giving reasons to support the Christian faith. That is what you are doing. It is not a bad thing but rather another branch of Theology.

  • 127. The Apostate  |  May 20, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    bobbi jo,

    You and I can both read the same verse and get a completely different read on it. Or I can read two verses and see how they compliment each other, while you see it as an inconsistancy.

    I realize this, but you must also understand that this is exactly the reason I went to seminary. I wanted to completely understand the problems as well as the solutions. This is why I await explanations from Christians scholars.

    I can throw a hundred passages at you too, all about community…

    Ummm… could you remind me why we are discussing community? I’m not too sure what you are trying to say with those verses.

    Also, I am going on vacation, so I won’t be around for a while (i know it sounds like a cop-out, but I didn’t want you to think I’d just adbandoned this site cuz you all challanged me).

    Doesn’t sound like a cop out at all actually. I leave for days at a time and sometimes forget I am in the middle of a discussion with someone. I won’t take it personally.

    Plus, I’ll be the first to admit that you all are way more versed in the bible than I, but hey, it’s making me read it more.

    While you are probably right on the first comment, I commend your willingness to learn and to study. Don’t stop. I must only add that the primary reason I no longer call myself a Christian is because I failed my own conscious when dealing with Biblical apologetics. I told myself that to philosophically grow in my faith, I would have to meet every objection to the Bible and my religion with integrity. I refused to be afraid of any argument. I may have been well versed, but it was never narrow-minded no matter how passionate I was for Christianity. I would not be afraid to read the arguments of those who disagreed. I would not lock myself into the group of apologetic fear-mongers who would only read what suited their current worldview: this was only dishonest to myself. If my faith was to be true, it would have to go head on with the Russells, Mackies, Dennetts, and Dawkins of the world.

    Jesus actually does this a lot when the pharasees tested him, he is like “well, what does it (the old test) say about it?” They knew the old test inside and out and he was always challanging them to look deeper at it

    I will consider it a compliment to be compared to a Pharisee, as they really did know their scriptures – but the fact is, Jesus’ interpretation of the scriptures was just another one, and his interpretation is rarely understood by the most devout Christians because it does not conform to the Gentile world as easily as historical Christians would like it to.

  • 128. TheDeeZone  |  May 21, 2008 at 10:41 am

    TA,

    Doesn’t sound like a cop out at all actually. I leave for days at a time and sometimes forget I am in the middle of a discussion with someone. I won’t take it personally.

    LOL, I just find your response amusing. Kind of have a mental image of an absent minded professor type.

  • 129. From Fundy to Orthodox to Apostate « de-conversion  |  July 18, 2008 at 12:29 am

    […] reality behind the Faith. No changes in the lives of believers compared with non-believers, no miracles, no answers to prayer. […]

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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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