Joel Osteen upgrades God to God version 2.0

January 8, 2008 at 12:27 am 68 comments

Become A Better You - Joel OsteenLeoPardus recently posted a few You might be a Fundy if… one-liners. Among them was:

You might be a Fundy if… God regularly opens up convenient parking spaces, JUST FOR YOU.

Well, it turns out that this is not far from what is being preached at one of the largest churches in America, Lakewood Church in Houston, Tx. According to a Slate Article by Chris Lehmann on Joel Osteen’s new book Become A Better You:

Joel Osteen’s God really wants you to dress well, stand up straight, and get a convenient parking space.

The article gave this analysis of Joel Osteen:

Joel has pointedly refrained from … really doing much biblical preaching at all. He has the wardrobe and tirelessly dapper mien of an oil industry lobbyist; it’s as a walking advertisement of the success creed, and not as any manner of prophet, that he’s made his name. “I’m not called to explain every minute facet of Scripture or to expound on deep theological doctrines or disputes that don’t touch where people live,” he writes dismissively in Become a Better You. “My gift is to encourage, to challenge, and to inspire.”

Here’s a summary of the teachings of Osteen by Chris Lehmann:

Indeed, if you bracket all the scary, irresponsible health-and-wealth cheerleading that jolts through Become a Better You, this exurban image of God the indulgent dad is among the more troubling features of the gospel according to Osteen. For it turns out that the divine hand turns up everywhere, at least in Joel Osteen’s life. God upgrades his reservations to first class on a long international flight; God spares his car in a water-planing wipeout on the Houston interstate; God allows Osteen and his wife/co-pastor, Victoria, to flip a property “for twice as much as we paid for it” in a once-sketchy Houston neighborhood; God swings a critical vote on the Houston zoning board to permit Lakewood to move to its mammoth Compaq Center digs—and God even saw fit 35 years earlier to ensure the engineer who designed the ramps leading to the Compaq Center provided easy parking access for Lakewood. This is a long, long way down the road from the inscrutable, infant-damning theology of this country’s Calvinist forebears—it is, rather, a just-in-time economy’s vision of salvation, an eerily collapsible spiritual narcissism that downgrades the divine image into the job description for a lifestyle concierge. Lakewood and Osteen seem to keep God so preoccupied it’s a wonder He can ever find the time to stock his fridge or whip out His wallet.

Personally, I like Joel’s God v2.0 a lot more than I do the God of the Bible v1.0 who, in the words of Richard Dawkins, is:

Jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Which God would you serve?

- The de-Convert

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

So what is the process from damnation to Christian salvation? Why is Humor Not a Christian Virtue?

68 Comments Add your own

  • 1. karen  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:10 am

    spiritual narcissism

    There it is! the perfect phrase to describe this “god opened up a good parking spot just for me!” version of Christianity. I am going to have to remember that one.

    Which God would you serve?

    d-C, I can’t say that I would serve either one. Not unless I expected him to leave a big tip. :-)

  • 2. The de-Convert  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:42 am

    :)

    an eerily collapsible spiritual narcissism that downgrades the divine image into the job description for a lifestyle concierge

    Not sure I would use the word downgrade. Sounds more like God 2.0 to me. Wait, that’s a better title.

  • 3. exevangel  |  January 8, 2008 at 2:34 am

    My biggest beef with Osteen has to be his lack of education. I have this (perhaps naive) expectation that people in positions of not just leadership but teaching should have some formal training in the area that they are supposedly teaching. It’s that continual railing against the idea that “those who can’t do, teach”

  • 4. asymptosis  |  January 8, 2008 at 4:52 am

    Joel has pointedly refrained from … really doing much biblical preaching at all. He has the wardrobe and tirelessly dapper mien of an oil industry lobbyist; it’s as a walking advertisement of the success creed, and not as any manner of prophet, that he’s made his name. “I’m not called to explain every minute facet of Scripture or to expound on deep theological doctrines or disputes that don’t touch where people live,” he writes dismissively in Become a Better You. “My gift is to encourage, to challenge, and to inspire.”

    This reminds me of Benny Hinn. Does Joel Osteen have the same issues with accountable accounting?

    Which God would you serve?

    There is a lot going for the new vision of God, except a soul :)

  • 5. Peg  |  January 8, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Which God would you serve?

    I thought this blog was supposed to be respectful towards people who still choose to believe? I don’t need to tell you neither description fits Jesus, you already know that.

    Having said that, great summary of Osteen, and I’m with Exevangel… the dude really needs to get himself a seminary degree if he’s going to attempt to be the spiritual leader of 20,000+ people. “Christianity Lite, Dixie Style”… bleccch…

  • 6. HeIsSailing  |  January 8, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Well, Osteen’s God is not realistic, so I would not serve that one because it does not exist. On the other hand, Osteen nor his God may not be as intelligent as someone like Jonathan Edwards or his God, but I would take Osteen over fire and brimestone any day. I don’t know much about Osteen except a sermon or two I watched on TV. He reminds me of Tony Robbins, except with more God-talk. He is this generation’s Robert Schuller – a more spiritual Norman Vincent Peale even. I don’t have anything bad to say about the guy except not everyone in his congregation is going to have as charmed a life as Osteen’s, so they may be in for a huge letdown when ‘god’ does not work in their life as Osteen promises.

    I would rather have Osteen than a freakshow like Benny Hinn anyday.

  • 7. The de-Convert  |  January 8, 2008 at 8:50 am

    I thought this blog was supposed to be respectful towards people who still choose to believe? I don’t need to tell you neither description fits Jesus, you already know that.

    :) I spent the last few years as a Christian, discussing the issues with Word-Faith theology and the fact that it is NOT Biblical Christianity.

    However, I’ve come to realize that it’s really “The Secret” with a little Bible sprinkled in. If Osteen and co. would simply remove God from their message and insert “you,” it would actually be a positive thing.

    My issue is that they oversell God and as HIS pointed out, the hearers are in for a “huge letdown” when God does not live up to expectation. However, if some of these principles of positive thinking/ etc. are applied, they do make a positive change in lives and “God” doesn’t have anything to do with it.

    Paul

  • 8. Neil  |  January 8, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Joel’s message is too wide, too narrow and too shallow.

    Too wide: His sermons could be preached at most Western churches, mosques, mormon temples and synagogues without offense. We don’t want to add to the offense of the Gospel, of course, but by its very nature it offends people. If you are preaching it properly you will make enemies. The only way that many people could hear it without offense is if it is unbalanced and/or watered down.

    Too narrow: His prosperity gospel is un-Biblical and would make no sense to most of the world.

    Too shallow: He is also ignorant or afraid to speak clearly on various controversial topics (saying that Mitt Romney is a Christian, not knowing whether the Bible teaches about topics like homosexual behavior and whether Jesus is the only way).

    Joel may give some good self-help advice. But if you aren’t saved then Joel’s church is a dangerous place to be. You might never realize that you need Jesus.

  • 9. the deacon  |  January 8, 2008 at 9:56 am

    He is much like the football coach stirring his team before the big game. Joel and others like him give a good dose of inspirational singing and music performance to which is added plenty of general feel good statements that help pump up his team that are cast in religious language. Significant content is not a goal…having everyone have an emotional charge is the goal. Despots and saints have forever thus used the same mass communicaiton processes, some for ill, some for good, some for the benefit of the community, some for the benefit of themselves.

  • 10. JustCant  |  January 8, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Great post. Although he seems harmless, I feel otherwise. It was Mr. Osteen that brought my wife into belief, albeit not a harmful one to her or us. But when she read he may not be “strong enough” on god, well, that’s where the Benny Hinns of the world started creeping in.

    Now, thousands of dollars of videos, DVDs, books, magazines later, she is full enshrouded in dogma, unable to feel happy in normal society and, in my opinion, now lost. Olsteen, she says, is not a real christian. But he did bring her into the fold.

    I submit that this cotton candy christianity can be a powerful geteway drug to the heroin of the new evangelical fundamentalism. When I see Olsteen now, I know what this harmless worship can lead to is one has the right mindset. It leads people in who do not want the dogma and just want a relationship with Jesus, only to serve you up to that dogma when the message is found empty. At least that is how I’ve witnessed it first hand.

  • 11. 1arabella  |  January 8, 2008 at 11:27 am

    JustCant,
    You know, you have a godgiven authority over your wife, if Jesus is your “head” ? Does her guru allow a husband to be the head of his wife ? Actually, it depends on you.
    Do you want to live in a house full of blasphemies and heresies ?
    Or could you simply forbid ?
    Know, what Ruth said. ” Your God is my God and where you go, I will go too…”

  • 12. confusedchristian  |  January 8, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Fundies hate osteen and say he waters down the gospel.

    Fundies like to hear that everyone is going to torment forever, and how great Jesus is, and they like to bash everything that isntl ike them (like osteen)

  • 13. dwhitsett  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Joel Osteen is undoubtedly successful by the world’s standards and that’s the problem isn’t it? The Christian lifestyle has never been characterized by comfort. We follow a Master for whom comfort was never a priority. Christians are called to serve others even to the point of great discomfort. Such a message will never fill stadiums but it will bring something to the world that it is desparately in need of: HOPE.
    If we keep proclaiming only what people want to hear, we rob them of a relationship with their Creator. Our creator has manifested and lavished His immeasurable love and grace upon us in amazing ways.
    The God of Joel Osteen is more like the genie in the lamp. The God of the Bible is nothing like the one Osteen sells and He is certainly nothing like what Dawkins and others describe. We need to let God define Himself.
    There are a lot of philosophies (I hesitate to call them religions) “out there” which fail the tests of religion.
    dwhitsett.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/testing-religion/

  • 14. confusedchristian  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Yeah, enough with this “positive” self=-help bullcrap. By yting to help people live a more fufilling life we are sending them straight into the pits of hell. Everyone knows that real Christians are working at the front lines of charity without a badge of honor except in heaven. The Real Christians aren’t only spending all their time giving away everything they can, they are also spending all of their time in completel submission to God. This requires them to constantly praise him even when they dont feel like it, to read his word even though they dont want to, becuase that’s what “Denying the flesh” really means.

    The true Christian is to suffer a great deal, even though Christianity is well-accepted now. When Paul was writing Christians were killed, but now that it’s the most popular religion you have to be much more extreme to get the results that Paul talked about. Or live in a country where it’s illegal.

    Yes, you must suffer for your Chrsit, suffer as much as you can, for you will reap a great reward in heaven for your suffering. AT the same time, you must bash your fellow brethren who arent suffering enough, and you must bash any ideology that may hint that your Christ isnt what you think he is. You must evangelize and tell everyone that doesnt know your Christ that they will burn in hell for eternity. You will suffer the anguish of having to tell people such things, for being hated that you have to tell them, but surely you will be rewarded in heaven.

    Nevermind any contradictioary evidence, and make sure you rationalize every contradiction and doubt as an arrow from the enemy so your faith stays in tact.

    God doesnt want you to try, he wants perfection. He sent his son so he could get his perfection from you. How dare you accept his son yet not obey him in his perfectionist law. You’ll enver be good enough. You will try your damndest to appease your angry Christ God and he will smite you for not working hard enough, not praying enough, and not praising enouigh.

    He has created us to be objects of worship and nothing else. When you finally are rewarded for your sufferage on earth, you will praise God in heaven for eternity. You will tell him how great he is and how unworthy you are to be in heaven, and how you are a pathetic soul in existance and nothing can measure up to the greatness of your Creator.

    All in the name of God do this, and never think for a second that your doubts are an intrinsic function to smell out lies. Just believe undeniabley and take great offense at any contradicting evidence.

  • 15. The de-Convert  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    dwhitsett,

    The God of the Bible is nothing like the one Osteen sells and He is certainly nothing like what Dawkins and others describe. We need to let God define Himself.

    … and how does he do that? Could it be he did it through the Sikhs. It sounds pretty good to me. Check it out:

    http://www.sikhism.com/home

    Bottom line is, you probably believe that the Bible is the accurate representation of God yet do you believe these scriptures rightly define the God you serve?

    Bible Verses about God

    Paul

  • 16. The de-Convert  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    confusedchristian,

    You are right. Historical Christianity has never been about success, health, and prosperity. It was about self-sacrifice, suffering, simplicity, etc. However, that’s just not going to fly in the 21st Century especially in the Western world. Not sure Christianity could thrive if it did not evolve.

    Paul

  • 17. JustCant  |  January 8, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    1arabella wrote: “You know, you have a godgiven authority over your wife, if Jesus is your “head” ? Does her guru allow a husband to be the head of his wife ? Actually, it depends on you.”

    Well, since you asked, Jesus isn’t my head. I have a head, and it works very well, thank you. For the most part, my head seems to be much more moral than the teachings that are poisoning my home. The guru has actually given her scripture she can use to leave me, “as a last resort” to convert me. My wife’s idea? “Maybe start by watching Joel Osteen and then grow.”

    But quoting biblcal passages to someone who thinks it is literature is of no help, sorry. The problem is her ideology/pathology, not mine. I’m the only thing keeping the household going now, out of fear for my child.

    DWhitsett said: “The God of Joel Osteen is more like the genie in the lamp. The God of the Bible is nothing like the one Osteen sells and He is certainly nothing like what Dawkins and others describe. We need to let God define Himself.”

    I offer that since God’s books are contradictory and he isn’t exactly publishing anything new (or doing the lecture circuit) that all of it is up to individual interpretation. God cannot define himself if he isn’t talking. Everybody who believes seems to believe that their thoughts on the matter are the correct thoughts. How do you know what god wants? How do you know the right way to interpret him, and if Osteen is right or you are right? How could you know, and claim it with such certainty that god is “certainly nothing like” someone else describes? These questions continue until the question is asked….How do you know anything with such certainty, especially that there is a god in the first place, let alone the one you follow?

  • 18. KC  |  January 8, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I despise Joel Olsteen and would punch him right in the face without blinking if the opportunity presented itself. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out why anyone would attend his church – he’s an idiot and I thought that was obvious. Then I saw one of his sermons.

    They’re shallow and narcissistic with the Christian god being demoted to the status of a beloved nanny who’d never do anything to cause her precious charges to get an informative glimpse of life beyond the gates. It’s not “God is my co-pilot”, it’s “God is my babysitter”.

  • 19. karen  |  January 8, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I submit that this cotton candy christianity can be a powerful geteway drug to the heroin of the new evangelical fundamentalism.

    Interesting theory, JustCan’t. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but it’s intriguing to ponder.

    Peg:
    the dude really needs to get himself a seminary degree if he’s going to attempt to be the spiritual leader of 20,000+ people.

    Peg, at the churches I attended, it was a badge of honor that the pastors NOT have seminary degrees. In fact, the joke was that these schools weren’t “seminaries” they were “cemetaries” because they turned out spiritually dead believers. I don’t know how prevalent that idea is anymore, but it virtually defined upstart Jesus Freak churches like Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard in the 70s and 80s, when I attended.

  • 20. Steelman  |  January 8, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    JustCant asked: “How do you know what god wants?”

    According to the Bible, it seems, if we’re going to wear something around our necks, we obviously need to ditch our iPods for ePhods.

    The ephod was a pouch, worn by Levite priests, that contained the Urim and the Thummim (also featured in the Book of Mormon), which were thrown (like flipping a coin, or rolling bones or casting runes) to receive yes/no answers from Yahweh.

    First introduced:
    Exodus 28:30 (New International Version)
    Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD.

    Used to settle a dispute:
    1 Samuel 14:41 (English Standard Version)
    Therefore Saul said, “O LORD God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O LORD, God of Israel, give Urim. But if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped.

    Ask your question twice, just to be sure:
    1 Samuel 23:9-12 (New International Version)
    When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” David said, “O LORD, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, God of Israel, tell your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will.” Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will.”

    I doubt the ephod would ever make it into modern Christianity, since the current standard for God’s answers to human inquires is “yes, no, or wait.” I suppose we could add a third divination piece. The “dumbim?”

    I’m sure the ancient Israelites would have stoned me for such impertinence.

    It is, however, fascinating to me how an ancient religion (which took seriously such a method of fortune telling) branched off to become what eventually morphed into the many Christianities we know today; and that these modern forms of religion would never accept such methods of determining God’s will.

    I wonder how many uninformed Christians, given a description of the above method of divination, but without revealing the identity of the ancient practitioners, would disclaim any connection with such “obviously” satanic” and “occult” practices?

  • 21. dwhitsett  |  January 8, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    God has revealed Himself in what we call today the Bible (“bible” is not found in the Bible). Here is the message of the passages cited: He will not tolerate rebellion from any quarter.
    In granting the land of promise to the Israelites, he enabled them to have victory over their enemies. In each of the passages cited, it is important to consider the context, both textual and historical. A careful reading is in order. In most cases a warning was given prior to any killing going on.
    God did some things and allowed some things to happen that I certainly don’t understand or agree with from a fleshly, finite viewpoint. But there you have it…there He is in all his power, anger and glory whether we like it or not. You may not like how He defines Himself but at least have a close look.
    Let’s try another tactic: let’s list all the passages that show His mercy and loving kindness. Let’s talk about His longsuffering, his grace and His desire that all men be reconciled to Him. Let’s show how he lovingly warned Israel and Judah what would happen if they continued in rebellion. At least we would have achieved something I’ve not seen much of in these posts: balance. dwhitsett.wordpress.com

  • 22. HeIsSailing  |  January 8, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Karen:

    I don’t know how prevalent that idea is anymore, but it virtually defined upstart Jesus Freak churches like Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard in the 70s and 80s, when I attended.

    That identical mindset was in Calvary Chapel when I last attended one in 1994. Amazing how we demand doctors with the best education. Only mechanics with proper schooling can fix our cars. Our educators must be accredited. But some churches promote total ignorance as a virtue!! Unbelieveable.

  • 23. The de-Convert  |  January 8, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    dwhitsett,

    The bottom line question you have to ask yourself is what makes the myths and stories about a warrior deity of a nomadic tribe wandering in a middle Eastern wilderness 4,000 years ago any more credible than all the other myths and stories we have about “god?”

    And which God of the Bible do you believe is the real God?

    Really Osteen’s God is God v.5 or higher.

    - Elohim created the world and was very intimate with his creation. Chatting with Adam & Eve, walking with Enoch, bargaining with Abraham, wrestling with Jacob, etc.

    - Yahweh showed up as a burning bush, THUNDER and lightning from a mountain and his holiness would kill anyone who even touched the mountain. You could not look on his face and live. You could not touch the Ark (unless you were a priest) and live. He was a warrior. Committed genocides etc. Made a bunch of ritualistic laws. A lot different character than Elohim.

    - Jesus described him as a loving Father in heaven who cares intensely about his people, has numbered the hairs on his head, cares for the sparrows, etc. He does not want sacrifices and rituals but a heart devoted to him. He wants us to be compassionate and kind.

    - The early church read the Bible and described him as the man Jesus who came to earth and died on a cross as a sacrifice of himself to himself in order that man could be redeemed from sin and enter into fellowship with him.

    - The Word-Faith reads the same Bible and describes him as a genie in a lamp who is there to grant you the desires of your heart. He wants you to walk in divine health. He wants you to be successful and prosperous. He divinely protects you from harm.

    …. and could probably come up w/some more….

    Paul

  • 24. HeIsSailing  |  January 8, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Steelman says:

    the Urim and the Thummim …which were thrown (like flipping a coin, or rolling bones or casting runes) to receive yes/no answers from Yahweh.

    When I was a Christian, I really wanted an urim and Thummim. I mean, imagine getting a yes or no from God, every time!! No more waiting patiently. No more guesswork. No more divining the Word. Just roll the bones, baby!! I once asked my pastor why the urim and thummim are no longer used. ‘We have something better”, he said, “we have the guidance of the holy spirit that Moses did not have!” No offense, but I still think the Urim and Thummim would be better at determining the will of God. Maybe it is just me though…

  • 25. JustCant  |  January 8, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    dwhitsett:

    I understand your devotion to the bible, and that is OK, but when you talk of warnings and speak of the writings as though a fact, you lose many of us. Proof of the book cannot be found in the book itself, no matter how much it is offered. I know that must make you sad or frustrated, but I need more proof the bible is real than the words printed in the bible. To some (most) of us, the world is exactly as it would be if there was no god.

    But how you interpret it is the question. How could you know that you are correct and Joel Osteen is wrong, if you are both free to interpret it the way you choose. Maybe someone in between the two of you (as far as Christian beliefs are concerned) is right. Of course, you could say that if you were wrong (or others), then you will be judged accordingly. Sure, but that means perhaps you shouldn’t speak with such certainty, offering threats and “facts” if they are just your personal theory on the matter.

    I’ll be the first to admit…..there are things I don’t know. So how is it that you are so certain that you can tell others that they are actually wrong, and that “he will not tolerate rebellion from any quarter”.

  • 26. dwhitsett  |  January 8, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    JustCant:
    I hope that my devotion is to the God of the Bible, not the Bible itself. The warnings of Scripture are there for you to read as easily as me. You may not want to believe Scripture as fact but that brings us to an impasse doesn’t it? What source or authority or base are we going to use to decide if anyone purporting to preach truth is actually doing so?
    Rest assured that I am not sad or frustrated. You and I and the others are having an honest discussion. That makes me happy.
    Now I must ask you, what kind of proof do you want? Proof of any book can be found in the book itself. Is the book telling the truth? Further proof can be found outside the book if the facts that can be verified are found to be true. You seem to have made a decision that it is not true. Why is that?
    For all too many the world is as you describe it. For millions of others in the kingdom of God it is a way of life that is in the world but not of it.
    I believe I stated my personal puzzlement about some of the things God does in my last comment. But how do we know anything at all about Him? I don’t know any other way than to see how he reveals Himself in Scripture, history and in His creation.
    We can create a God that pleases us in our mind and say He ought to be this way or that. We can assign to Him characteristics that we find acceptable and reject anything that repulses us. But that is all just wishful thinking. If you can think of some other way to know God, I am ready to listen.

    The de-Convert:
    Have you read some of those myths you speak of? If the books of Law, History, Poetry and Prophecy are myths, they are mighty good ones!
    As far as everyone reading the same Bible and coming up with different teachings…that has been going on a long time. We get bogged in error (and I speak from sad experience) when we fail to take into consideration ALL the Scripture has to teach on a topic. Division between believers is usually a problem of picking and choosing what we want to teach out of Scripture and ignoring the rest. It also results from using some additional contradictory standard such as an additional revelation, a creed or central dictating authority. That’s all for tonight, I’ll check on your responses in the morning. Thanks for the discussion. dwhitsett.wordpress.com

  • 27. Peg  |  January 8, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    karen wrote: Peg, at the churches I attended, it was a badge of honor that the pastors NOT have seminary degrees. In fact, the joke was that these schools weren’t “seminaries” they were “cemetaries” because they turned out spiritually dead believers. I don’t know how prevalent that idea is anymore, but it virtually defined upstart Jesus Freak churches like Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard in the 70s and 80s, when I attended.

    and HIS wrote: That identical mindset was in Calvary Chapel when I last attended one in 1994. Amazing how we demand doctors with the best education. Only mechanics with proper schooling can fix our cars. Our educators must be accredited. But some churches promote total ignorance as a virtue!! Unbelieveable.

    Karen, as a cemet… umm… seminary student myself, I kwym and I actually agree some seminaries seem to turn out more agnostics than they do believers. But I think a lot depends on whether the student goes to seminary in order to prepare for a role in ministry (learning the necessary skills and taking professors’ opinions with a grain of salt) or whether the student is majoring in theology in order to answer their own nagging questions about God and the faith (not what seminaries are designed to do). I don’ t know what Calvary Chapel’s rules are, but even Vineyard churches require at least SOME training for their pastors these days.

    I think what I was getting at was more along the lines of what HIS said. We require professionals for everything else that’s important in our lives — why would one trust education about our eternal destiny to an uneducated amateur with good looks and charm who just happens to have inherited the family business? (yipes!)

  • 28. JustCant  |  January 9, 2008 at 1:41 am

    Granted, your devotion is to the God of the bible, not the bible itself. I meant that you believe in the bible as god’s word. I suggest that you have probably made a decision that is not true. Why is that?

    You said:
    “Now I must ask you, what kind of proof do you want? Proof of any book can be found in the book itself. Is the book telling the truth? Further proof can be found outside the book if the facts that can be verified are found to be true. You seem to have made a decision that it is not true. Why is that?”

    Which facts of the book are found to be true? The exodus? Nope. No relics or archaeology from Jews wandering around for years and years. The age of the earth? Nope, against all scientific evidence. Worldwide flood (Noah)? Nope. Evidence shows it was just in the bronze age sandbox. Shape of the Earth? Wrong. Jesus’ idea on when the world would end? Nope, wrong. Still here. The number of pie? (not exactly 3 by the way). I needn’t go on, really, to state that the the facts that can be verified are not found to be true — to use your vernacular.

    What kind of proof do I need? Well, I don’t know. How about any? Just one thing. Just something. One obvious answered prayer. One visit from an angel. One direct discussion with the supernatural. One burning bush that talks. One bulletproof thing. They seemed to happen constantly in the olden times, when people were uneducated and superstitious, but not now. Why?

    Certainly in all the days of the Lord, in all the time this omnipotent being has had, he has been able to produce one thing that can prove his existence without doubt. He is supposedly subverting the laws of physics and science every day all over the world. Why is it that the best that FoxNews can do is show the window smudge that looks like mother mary?

    I’m sorry if I am being unkind, I just wonder why you can believe one idea on faith but not another, like Hinduism or another form of Christianity, like Osteen’s. Is it because of the family to which you were born? The country/sate/province/county you were born in? It is all on faith, right? You all (different religions) have blissful moments when you feel God’s presence (proof), yet reject each other’s beliefs — even though they, at some point, must be taken purely on faith themselves. Admirable for you, but for them, not so much.

    How do you know you are right?

    But back to your question, “what proof do I need” — maybe it should be what proof do you need. A theory that is presented without evidence can be rejected without evidence. I fail to see why Christianity should be any different than any other belief/religion.

  • 29. JustCant  |  January 9, 2008 at 1:51 am

    Yikes, sorry, that last post was to dwhitsett.

  • 30. Lorena  |  January 9, 2008 at 2:39 am

    Well, I did go to Lakewood, and wrote a few irreverent thoughts on my blog: http://exfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2007/11/joel-osteen-lakewood-church.html#links

    In essence, my impression was that Lakewood is a family business–and a huge one at that.

    Did you guys see him on CNN with Larry King? He was talking about Solomon, and he almost forgot that David was the father. And he admitted as much, too. “I almost didn’t know it,” he said, after a long awkward second looking for the word and mumbling sssau….

  • 31. Iris  |  January 9, 2008 at 10:29 am

    JustCan’t, I have yet to get a decent answer to your questions from any Christian! And most of the time, not even any signs of cognitive dissonance…really disappointing.

  • 32. confusedchristian  |  January 9, 2008 at 11:09 am

    JustCan’t: That was a really good post! I agree with everything you said. Most christians will rebuttal with the most powerful and convincing thing they can: The Babble. Unfortunately the Babble isn’t powerful or convincing when you see it for what it really is.

  • 33. dwhitsett  |  January 9, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    JustCant–well I tried posting a reply but for some reason it refuses to be submitted. Send me your blogsite or email and I will try to get it to you personally. dwhitsett.gmail.com

  • 34. JustCan't  |  January 9, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    dwhittsett:

    No blogsite for me, and I’ve learned not to give out the email (you may be aware that some folks band together and try to save some of us, and it is never appreciated, so I no longer give it out.)

    If you keep trying, I’m sure you’ll get your reply on. Good luck, I’ll look forward to it.

    JC

  • 35. karen  |  January 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I think what I was getting at was more along the lines of what HIS said. We require professionals for everything else that’s important in our lives — why would one trust education about our eternal destiny to an uneducated amateur with good looks and charm who just happens to have inherited the family business? (yipes!)

    Yes, I know what you meant and I agree with you. I was just taking a walk down memory lane there, actually. ;-)

  • 36. exevangel  |  January 9, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Exactly. As much as I am a skeptic of the modern medical profession, I’m not going to go to a faith-healer instead of a licensed medical doctor if I have breast cancer. Why do so many people feel no qualms about a pastor with no formal training in religion or Christianity???

  • 37. LeoPardus  |  January 9, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    dwhitsett:

    Are you familiar with the term “Bibliolatry”?

  • 38. dwhitsett  |  January 10, 2008 at 12:04 am

    LeoPardus
    I am very familiar with the term. I hope you are not a Biblioidolater.

  • 39. bry0000000  |  January 10, 2008 at 1:11 am

    I hope I’m not butting in on anything. I just wanted to comment on something dwhitsett said.

    “For all too many the world is as you describe it. For millions of others in the kingdom of God it is a way of life that is in the world but not of it.”

    I really feel like this is the Christian’s way of trying to rationalize all the seemingly cruel, heartless, and morally absent absolutes in the world. Just my interpretation, and of course, it is subject to scrutiny.

  • 40. JustCant  |  January 10, 2008 at 1:41 am

    dwhitsett:

    Ok so the comments are working for you again, so I’ll look forward to your reply now.

    Also, I had visited your website a few days ago yet didn’t read as much as I would have liked, or get the chance to comment. Now the link is gone from your name — is there a reason for this? After all, if you are able to come here, freely, and comment with a different view– shouldn’t others with a view other than yours be able to comment on your site / thoughts? Just wondering. I’ve heard from someone who had their comment deleted, obviously by you, because it wasn’t in agreement with you, unlike the single agreeable comment shown there on your opening post.

    I find often (not always) that opposing viewpoints are not allowed to stand on the sites of the faithful. Why is that? Is it because of the “war” you are in with us, that you speak of on your site? It is obvious from reading what I did that you are here on a mission, and find it a duty as a Christian to put out your view to those who would visit such a site as this. You have quite a handbook there as to how to do it.

    I ask the same from you that you receive from other sites you visit….a blog that will accept the ideas of others even if they are contradictory to yours. Then there is debate, and you can speak of why your points are valid, despite any criticism, like someone with nothing to hide or fear.

    If you cannot acquiesce to this, maybe you aren’t in a “war”. Maybe you are in an “insurgency”, shooting from alleyways, then melting into the darkness. Just a thought.

    The de-Convert: Sorry from diverting from the original post in this comment. I look forward to dwhitsett’s answers now that he has the ability to post again.

    JC

  • 41. JustCant  |  January 10, 2008 at 2:02 am

    dwhitsett:

    Its been pointed out to me that you are accepting comments now. I’ve been given help in finding your site, and have seen it for myself. The comment I mentioned earlier that wasn’t showing for the poster is now there, and contains more vitriol than I am comfortable with. For that I am sorry. It should be a debate, but a polite one — some of us are upset with some of you — and I guess it can show sometimes. You were called a name, and that is not right.

    Morality is universally practiced, after all, and is owned by no one group or belief. I’ll wait for your response to #28.

  • 42. LeoPardus  |  January 10, 2008 at 3:30 am

    dwhitsett:

    Since you are a Bibliolater (or Bible idolizer if we want to just use normal, English terms), I wonder how you would have managed in the second century.

  • 43. dwhitsett  |  January 10, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    JustCant
    I have tried at least five times to post my comment. Apparently, WordPress thinks I have already posted it and refuses to let me post it here. So, I have posted it in the comments to my last post on my blogsite. Probably need to move it there anyway and not clutter up this site any more. Thank you for your patience. dwhitsett.wordpress.com

  • 44. dwhitsett  |  January 10, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    JustCant
    By way of explanation, some comments on my site, for some reason known only to WordPress, require my moderation. I have refused to allow only one comment and that was simply someone pointing out that I had misspelled a name. I just didn’t feel it added to the conversation so I corrected the error and let it go at that. I am committed to being civil and fair so I allow all comments pro or con and will only delete a comment if it contains obscenity…one came very close recently. You are welcome to say anything you like.

  • 45. dwhitsett  |  January 10, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    LeoPardus,
    I have been called quite a few things but your’s is a new one. Thanks, I’ll add it to the list.
    As I said to another commentator, I hope I am devoted to the God of the Bible, not the Bible itself. In the centuries following the death of Christ, accounts of His life, Acts and the letters of the apostles were circulated among the churches. Later on they were collected into a canon. I would have the same reverence then for what I believe were words inspired by the Spirit as I do now in their collected form. If that is bibliolatry I suppose I will have to plead guilty.

  • 46. Thinking Ape  |  January 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    dwhitsett,

    I have tried at least five times to post my comment. Apparently, WordPress thinks I have already posted it and refuses to let me post it here

    Sorry, but this seems like a cheap way of getting hits on your blog. In our 253 blogs on this site we have had no problem with over 7,700 comments – the majority of those probably from people who do not agree with us, such as yourself. You seem to have no problem with writing short little snippets, I suggest you stay consistent.

  • 47. LeoPardus  |  January 10, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    dwhitsett:

    I hope I am devoted to the God of the Bible, not the Bible itself.

    How would you ever know, since you can’t find God? All you have is the Bible. And people get whatever God they like from it. You have no objective source, outside of yourself, to give you any indication that your understanding is correct. Now if you could get God to pick up the phone, then you could get some certainty perhaps.

    In the centuries following the death of Christ, accounts of His life, Acts and the letters of the apostles were circulated among the churches.

    That would given any particular, local church only a limited canon. How would they come up with a unified and cohesive view of things if they each developed theology only from what they had? And how would they even know whether the particular letters (or rather copies of letters) were Scripture or just writings?

    Later on they were collected into a canon.

    After about 2.5 centuries yes. And that canon was not completely settled even after that.

    I would have the same reverence then for what I believe were words inspired by the Spirit as I do now in their collected form.

    How could you? First off, you would not have had all of them. Secondly, there’s a very good chance that you would have had letters/writings that are not currently in the canon you are familiar with. Thirdly, it’s quite unlikely you would have been able to read.

    If that is bibliolatry I suppose I will have to plead guilty.

    You worship what you find in a book. Others find something rather different in the same book. All bow to the book as the authority. That would fit the definition pretty well.

    But of course, in reality, you are the authority. You decide how to interpret that book. You decide which verses to take literally or figuratively. So in a very real sense it comes down to egolatria. Or perhaps,, what would the term be? … phantasia latria?

  • 48. dwhitsett  |  January 10, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Thinking Ape,
    I told the truth. My motives were consistent with good ethics. Now the Christian thing to do would be to give me the benefit of the doubt. It would also be to reserve judgment and question motives until you made sure of your facts. But, either you don’t possess such values or you’re just angry with me. My conscience is clear. Sorry for another “short little snippet.”

  • 49. HeIsSailing  |  January 10, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I almost feel silly saying this – and I hope this site does not degenerate into hesaid/shesaid type arguments. We need to give benefit of the doubt when we can.

    Saying that, I can vouch for dwhitsett. There have been several times when I had trouble posting a comment, usually one with numerous links or something, and WordPress refuses to place the comment saying instead that I have already placed it. Then my comment is just lost. HuH? Give dwhitsett some slack here. What he describes has happened to me.

  • 50. dwhitsett  |  January 10, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    LeoPardus:
    That’s ego latria – two words. I had to figure that out before I could look up “latria.”
    I’m wondering what I said that made you so angry. Are you just angry at theists in general?
    I am endeavoring to be devoted to God. All I have seen, all I have studied points me to His existence. That hasn’t been the case for you and I believe you came to that conclusion honestly. Facts are, by definition, objective. We may draw subjective conclusions from them and I have probably done so. Nevertheless, I believe I have good reasons to believe He exists and that what I see was created by Him. Now, if you really want to discuss this, let’s consider the evidence instead of spouting angry invective.

    How in the world would you know the extent to which the individual gospels and letters were circulated? From reading the writings of Jerome, Polycarp, Irenaeus and others, we know the books we call the New Testament were widely circulated (of course you may not believe them either). And, early Christians did come up with a very cohesive view of basic teachings. This is certainly not to say there were no disagreements. There was an unofficial canon even before there was an official one. The Jews already had a canon of the books we call the Old Testament before the birth of Christ. Those were the books primarily used by Christians in the first century.

    The books that are not included in the canon of today were rejected for very good reasons. Have you done an objective study of those reasons? Again how would you know how many of the books I would have had or whether I could read? What kind of reasoning is that?

    To have latria for the God of the book is quite different from latria for the book itself. I have thrown away a few worn-out Bibles. I have a bunch of reference books in my library that are authoritative. Am I worshipping them because I believe their contents? Ridiculous! Do you reject the writings because people disagree about what they imply or their interpretation? You will have to reject a lot more than the Bible if you take that attitude.

    I’m certainly not the authority. I have made some decisions about interpretation of Scripture. The truth is, my interpretations have changed over the years due to learning additional facts and listening to different viewpoints. I’m even willing to listen to you sans the nonsense. I hope I can always be open and flexible. Among Christians of many denominations (too many) there is amazing agreement regarding basics…cohesiveness, if you will. There is an amazing amount of disagreement on peripheral matters. Most disagreements occur about what the Bible does not say. Other squabbles occur because some preachers and teachers fail to take into consideration all God has to say about a topic. Still, more difficulty occurs when interpretation is elevated to revelation.

  • 51. dwhitsett  |  January 10, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    HelsSailing,
    Thank you so much. I really appreciate you backing me up on this.

  • 52. dwhitsett  |  January 10, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    “I suggest that you have probably made a decision that is not true. Why is that?”
    I think you meant that I have decided it is true. And, you would be right. Some of the history recorded in the Bible cannot be verified. That, however, is true of any history, particularly history from that time period. Nevertheless, I will address each of these issues.
    1. The exodus and the call for relics. I take it that this is a denial of the historicity of the exodus based on the lack of archeological evidence. Nomadic people seldom leave any traces of their wanderings. The Israelites planted no crops, built no cities, had a tent for a temple, etc. What kind of evidence would suffice for you? Even today the Jews celebrate three festivals commemorating the exodus from Egypt. I wonder why the celebrate something that never happened? Some folks think they have found actual physical evidence – see what you think about this site: http://bibleprobe.com/exodus.htm
    2. The age of the earth. The answer to this one is simple: the Bible makes no claims regarding the age of the earth.
    3. Worldwide flood – you are right about the flood you refer to. A worldwide flood is unverifiable.
    4. Shape of the earth – the Bible does not teach cosmology. There are words and phrases like “pillars of the earth,” “ends of the earth,” or “four corners of the earth.” But there are also phrases like the “circle of the earth.” No definitive statement is made about the shape of the earth. The Hebrews did not have a word for “sphere.” For an extensive discussion of this point look at this site: http://www.tektonics.org/af/earthshape.html
    5. Jesus on when the world would end – Where does he say when it would end? In fact, he said no one could know that except the Father.
    6. I believe you meant the number of pi…but I’m not sure what that has to do with our discussion.
    7. Verifiable proofs giving the Bible credibility.
    a. Prophecy and fulfillment: Daniel listed eight world powers in the order they appeared before they appeared. Good trick, huh? The same is true for other prophecies we can verify historically.
    b. Historical Accuracy: The Bible is an accurate document of historical facts. Archaeologists use it as a guide to unearth proof of nations, names of people, places, kings, conflicts cities, events, etc.
    c. Cosmological accuracy: Keeping in mind that the Bible is not a scientific document, it is not in conflict with scientific discoveries.
    d. A better question would be, “What facts would destroy the Bible’s credibility?”
    8. Your request for a miracle. Well, I would like some of those also but No. 7 gives me plenty of reason to believe the Bible is the revelation of God. I believe what I cannot prove on the basis of what I can. That’s the definition of faith.
    9. “He is supposedly subverting the laws of physics and science every day all over the world.” How so?

  • 53. The de-Convert  |  January 10, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    I found the now infamous comments in the SPAM filter and posted them above.

    Enjoy :)

  • 54. JustCant  |  January 11, 2008 at 12:50 am

    dwhitsett:

    I won’t quote you, I’ll just use the numbers for the questions above:

    1. Nomadic tribes do leave evidence. There are museums full of them.
    2. If you follow the words and read the text, and do the math on the generations, etc., you have no doubt the bible writers think the earth is very very young. Is this really the first you have heard of this?
    3. Ok so I am right about the flood. Does this mean the bible is wrong about the flood? How about the whole intricate story that went with it? If it is false, why such measured and careful words?
    4. Some translations circle, some disc, etc., but it was believed to be so by the earlier Christians. Are you more adept at translating their ancient languages than they were?
    5. It is pretty clear that Jesus thought that people alive in his lifetime would see the end. He said it over and over. Really, you haven’t seen that either?
    6. Yes, pi. I like to eat pie, so that is where my fingers chose to push on the keyboard. :-) It is taught that pi is exactly 3 in the bible. Does your version have all of this removed to make it easier?
    7.a. Did Daniel use names, exact dating and other dead-on language? No, he was vague. Like when your horoscope is exactly like you. Geez, how do they do it!
    7.b. Well, was the flood accurate? Genesis? Where are the dinosaurs? Archaeologists have mountains of information and evidence that basically goes against biblical teaching or events. Poll them, they (real ones) will never say that the bible is the best history they have to work with.
    7.c. The bible is not in conflict with scientific discoveries? What about that flood again? And evolution? I could go on here, but why should I have to. That statement was just laughable. Well, it was. How can you really even say that?
    7.d. I’m not sure what would “destroy” it, but see the above to watch it take a few cannonballs to the hull.
    8. No miracles happening then. No kidding. And as for #7, again, those are reasons enough? Really?
    9. Is he answering even one prayer a day? If so, if those things are done by he who heard the prayer, then I guess he would have to step in somehow and change what is happening. Are you saying he is not capable of doing this, or that he just doesn’t wanna do it? (By that I mean he doesn’t choose to help the millions of people who spend their time on their knees for him).

    dwhitsett, I fear we are at an impasse. I have had the opportunity to read your site, and I don’t like the names we are called there. I also do not like the apocalyptic warnings about us just because we don’t believe as you do. Why so threatened? If anyone should feel threatened, maybe it should be non-believers. I’ve never had an atheist tap me on the shoulder to tell me about what he/she thinks. But Christians? Yeesh.

    I also do not like what you are teaching people to do — hate people unlike yourself. You also use very strong language (not swearing, obviously) towards non-believers, and then come here saying you are just looking for honest debate. Your site shows your not-so-hidden motive, suing the words “Get Out There And Fight!”. Actually, the De-conversion blog is listed on your site under the heading : The Opposition.

    Sorry, but even if you do reply to this post, I’m afraid I for one will no longer be participating in your war. Based on your thoughts available on your site, I frankly do not think you are here for healthy debate. I do respect your right to your own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean I think you should push it on others any more than I should, or take the fight to someone who is walking away from you, so to speak.

    From your site: “The arrogance and elitist attitudes of these godless jokers knows no bounds.” Right back atcha brother.

  • 55. Thinking Ape  |  January 11, 2008 at 1:54 am

    I give the benefit of the doubt when deserved. Like JustCant, I too read some of dwitsett’s blog. In one instance he states a “Christ-like” attitude” and yet in the same passage can call entire people groups, no matter their different perspectives on life, “jokers” and “arrogant.” Do I expect “Christians” to be perfect or even nice? Of course not. But whether you are Christian, atheist, Muslim, or whatever, one can only judge by the actions and words of that person. I am sorry the user had problem commenting, but I made no accusations – I just thought it was interesting that he pushed his blog on every post.

  • 56. LeoPardus  |  January 12, 2008 at 2:49 am

    dwhitsett:

    That’s ego latria – two words. I had to figure that out before I could look up “latria.”

    I have just barely enough Greek to make some sense of NT passages. I’d have to toss this one to my wife for proper etymology.

    I’m wondering what I said that made you so angry.

    Don’t know what made you think I was angry. In any case, accept my word that I’m not. You made a number of statements that didn’t stack up, so I asked probing questions about them.

    I will note that I generally do not pull my punches much in open debate. Not that I try to offend, but I do ask questions very directly, and I do call “bull” when I see it. Perhaps that comes across to you as anger or agression. It’s not. It’s just straightforwardness or bluntness; in other words, me.

    How in the world would you know the extent to which the individual gospels and letters were circulated? From reading the writings of Jerome, Polycarp, Irenaeus and others, we know the books we call the New Testament were widely circulated

    Part of how I would know the extent of circulation is by references to the letters in extra-biblical sources such as the ones you quote. Clement, Ignatius and others seem to have had “canons” of their own. Largely similar, though they often contained books you would call apocrypha or pseudopigrypha. At any rate there appear to have been regional variations in which books were accepted as canonical, and there appear to have been regions that were ignorant of some of the books that make up the current, Protestant canon.

    From all that I think it’s safe to say that any particular, local church might have limits or variations to their canon. Which brings us back to what I asked:
    -How would they come up with a unified and cohesive view of things if they each developed theology only from what they had? [Important note here: I didn’t say that they did not come up with a cohesive view. I’m questioning how they would do it if they had to function with a Sola Scriptura mindset, since there was no canon.]
    -And how would they even know whether the particular letters (or rather copies of letters) were Scripture or just writings?

    There was an unofficial canon even before there was an official one.

    Care to try to find it? Hint: Don’t try. You won’t succeed. There were a number of “canons” both before and after the Carthaginian council addressed the matter. And, contrary to what is oft times taught, the council at Carthage did not settle the matter once of for all.

    The Jews already had a canon of the books we call the Old Testament before the birth of Christ.

    Really? Which one do you refer to? Jamnian, Masoretic, Essene, Samaritan….? Then of course there are the various Christian OT canons. TA could probably supply many more for you to choose from.

    Those were the books primarily used by Christians in the first century.

    Try listing what you mean by “those” books. Hint: Any list you make, will conflict with some of the Ancient Fathers. Again, Sola Scriptura is problematic at best in the early Church.

    The books that are not included in the canon of today were rejected for very good reasons. Have you done an objective study of those reasons?

    Yes.

    BTW, which “canon of today” are you referring to? The Protestant one I imagine. Did you know that even that has had ups and downs as late as last century? And of course there are the canons of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. What do you really know about them.

    Again how would you know how many of the books I would have had or whether I could read? What kind of reasoning is that?

    The church leaders of the time (1st/2nd ceentury) had books not in the Protestant canon you know today, and sometimes those fellows were apparently missing some of the books in the canon you know. Anyone living back then would have faced the same situation. That’s how I know that you would likely have had different writings had you lived back then.

    As to whether you would have been able to read…. literacy was rather limited back then. The Jews had a fairly high literacy rate, but even theirs was poor by today’s standards. Estimates of literacy rates in almost any society prior to the last couple hundred years were consistently low. So, if most folks back then couldn’t read, it’s likely you wouldn’t have either. Just the laws of statistics.

    And to your query about the kind of reasoning I used…. that was reasoning based in history, fact, statistics, and deductive logic.

    Do you reject the writings because people disagree about what they imply or their interpretation?

    Sometimes I do. If the “experts” can’t figure out what’s what in their supposedly unified, divinely-revealed belief system, why would I believe it’s true?

    You will have to reject a lot more than the Bible if you take that attitude.

    I have rejected a lot more than just the Bible. Not always for the same reasons though.

    I have made some decisions about interpretation of Scripture. The truth is, my interpretations have changed over the years due to learning additional facts and listening to different viewpoints.

    Hmmmm…. that’s odd. If the Holy Spirit dwells in you to teach you all the Truth of God’s word, why would you get things wrong and have to change later? Why would you have to make decisions? After all, you’d be listening to the Author. And what of those who didn’t learn the additional facts or viewpoints you found? The Holy Spirit leaves them in their errors???

    I’m even willing to listen to you sans the nonsense.

    Please point to specific nonsense or retract the accusation.

    Among Christians of many denominations (too many) there is amazing agreement regarding basics…cohesiveness, if you will.

    You mean like, “You must speak in tongues or you are not saved.” And “Speaking in tongues is demonic and no saved person would ever do that.” ? I’d think that whether or not you’re saved is basic. There are many other similarly “basic” disagreements.

    [[To others reading this: Do we have a list of fundamental and intractable disagreements among Christian denominations somewhere for dwhitsett?]]

    There is an amazing amount of disagreement on peripheral matters.

    Yet all of those disagreements come from amongst folks who say they have the Spirit of all truth. Hmmmm…. doesn’t add up.

    Most disagreements occur about what the Bible does not say.

    Bull! For cryin’ out loud how many examples of “The Bible says” catfights do you want before you recant that bogus statement? I’m serious. There are no end of arguments, and splits, and fights, and rancor, and condemnations by people spouting scripture passages ad nauseum. And all of them claiming inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    Other squabbles occur because some preachers and teachers fail to take into consideration all God has to say about a topic.

    I assure you that they’d all tell you that they did take it all in. And they’d tell you that you had failed to do so.

    Still, more difficulty occurs when interpretation is elevated to revelation.

    How would one tell the difference? The whole of Scripture is supposed to be God’s revelation. So when you read it, and think it says, “Do thus and so,” how would you know it wasn’t a revelation?

    You see this whole Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Soli Deo gloria, etc. all boils down to the same thing. Sola mio. It’s all individual interpretation. Individual choice. Individual decision. It’s all Martin Luther’s proverbial plow boy with his Bible. Six billion popes. All competent to decide for themselves. Chaos. Division. Contradiction. And all this from “the God of all truth who will guide you into all righteousness”.

    But, remove that fantasy from the equation and suddenly it all makes perfect sense. A bunch of limited beings making up stories. Of course there would be irreconcilable differences.

  • 57. dwhitsett  |  January 13, 2008 at 1:27 am

    JustCant,
    In case you are reading this, I posted an apology to you in response to your comment pointing out my inflammatory language. I’ll not repeat it here but just let me say that it is seems I have not practiced what I preached in regard to civility. Let me expand that apology to any other reader who may have been stung by my language. I certainly have not done my credibility any good by having double standards. Please accept my apology. I’ll try to be a good boy from now own.

    I also will just use numbers in my response.
    1. We are talking about a relatively short time in the wilderness and yes, artifacts have been found but tying them to the Exodus is problematical.
    2. I’m not sure why we are talking (in at least two of your points) about what people thought. The question is, does the Bible teach it? I’ll repeat it again; the Bible says nothing about the age of the earth.
    3. I never said it was false. I said it was not verifiable. I believe you’re the one who thinks it is false.
    4. I’m not adept at translating ancient languages at all. And, I suspect, neither are you. The Bible does not teach the shape of the earth.
    5. I agree. As it became apparent that it was not going to happen quickly in human terms, Peter speaks of it as something that may take a very long time.
    6. Sorry for my ignorance but this is the first I’ve heard of pi being mentioned in the Bible. Please educate me. We can eliminate it from “my version” when I find out where to apply the scissors.
    7.a. We know when Daniel was written, we know which kingdoms came next – the order is important, dates are not. That’s dead-on language. And yes, he uses names: Daniel 5:28, 8:21, et al. No vague horoscope here
    7.b. Again, the flood is unverifiable and, so far, no one (that I’m aware of) can prove it did or did not happen. Genesis is as accurate unless you use it as a science book. Dinosaurs lived and walked and were annihilated and I don’t know where any are today…sorry. How do you tell a “real archaeologist” from a false one? Are the “real ones” the ones that help you make your case? I know that you know there are certainly two schools of thought. The problem is that no mountains of information exist in archeology and those who believe and those who do not believe have a running debate about the interpretation of the little there is. The non-believers may not say the Bible is the best history they have to work with but it is, in many cases, the only one.
    7.c. How is the flood in conflict with scientific discoveries? The Bible does not teach against evolution. Evolution is obvious. The Bible teaches that God is creator — two different things. As for the statement being laughable, I’m glad you at least got some humor out of our discussion.
    7.d. Your cannonballs are made of fluff and fell short of their target.
    8. I didn’t say they aren’t happening…I just haven’t seen one. And, this is not to say they’ve never happened.
    9. Why are you saying that answered prayer requires the suspension of physical laws? It may simply be the manipulation of those laws. If God set those laws in motion, suspension or manipulation is His prerogative. There are millions of Christians who believe that God answers prayer and has answered prayer – I’m one of them.
    JustCant, we indeed may be at an impasse. I think we may have started out there. I believe the “apocalyptic warnings” were from another commentator. Warnings don’t work with those who do not believe there’s any danger. I certainly don’t personally feel threatened, but I believe if Christians continue in their present apathy then our hull may indeed sustain some damage.
    I’m teaching people to hate those who are different or believe differently? Good God, I hope not! I follow a Master who talked and practiced love. I am the first to admit that I have not always been loving but I really am trying to practice what we call “agape.”
    Are you saying there is no war? Tell that to Dawkins, Hitchens and those who celebrate them. Have you read the titles of their books? Sounds like war to me. Is calling them “The Opposition” unkind or disrespectful? Should I use “Our honorable opponents” instead? You and I are in opposition or we wouldn’t have had this discussion.
    Here, take this olive branch and let’s be friends.

  • 58. sam  |  April 18, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I have learned a lot by just reading the Bible on my own. Today for the first time I welcomed the Lord into my life and heart. For so long I have attended many churches looking for Christ and I have never found Christ. Today I did. I opened the Bible and read it for myself. I did not need anyone to help me read it. I had wanted to belong to a church for friends and fellowships and I do not care for it now. Do not get me wrong. I do want friends. But I want to make sure that the church that I go to is the house of our Lord. Not for someone who wants my hard earned money. I do not mind giving. Trust me I do a lot for my communtiy. I always offer people rides, food shelter clothes and so much more. I do not mind giving tithings. Not at all. I just do not like it when people takes the Lord’s money and make themselves rich by it. That is wrong. And they forget that someday they will have to answer to the Lord for that. People can hide from men but no one can hide from our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • 59. LeoPardus  |  April 18, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    sam:

    Re- Post #58 -
    Why do people wander in here and post drivel like that. Are you, and others like you too dense to read what this site is?

    But hey, go ahead and post your drivel here. Pardon us though if we brusquely inform you that the Bible is just a collection of myths, written by a primitive tribe of people. Much like the ancient Greeks, Norse, etc, they made up gods and such to explain a world that they had very little understanding of.

    There’s no Santa, or Easter Bunny, or elves and fairies. And there’s no big chummy pal in the sky for you to have a personal relationship with, or for us to hide from. Get over it and get on with your life.

  • 60. Cthulhu  |  April 18, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    LeoPardus,

    Off-topic – but I just read a comment of yours on another post and learned your are a biologist! Cool – I got my degree, but never even used it…became a database architect instead. We have biologists AND physicists here – I am impressed!!!

  • 61. LeoPardus  |  April 19, 2008 at 12:26 am

    From biologist to database architect. Whew. Quite a shift. Of course you guys are indispensable for guys like me. Without you we’d quickly lose track of all our data. :)

  • 62. Cthulhu  |  April 19, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Leo,

    Glad to be of service :-)

  • 63. exevangel  |  April 21, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Not to mention those of us that are biophysicists…

  • 64. ACHRISTIANINDEED  |  July 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    I found this site accidently and I must say, the posts that I have read are quite disturbing.

    I am a student at a Christian University and I was actually searching for a quote that Joel Osteen said to compliment the answer to a question to a theology lesson.

    I can honestly say that I was in the same place that all of you guys are. I abandoned my Christian faith, only to realize that I could not live without it. The bondage that I felt was the bondage that Satan had upon my life, pulling me in directions that enticed me to do wrong.

    Fortunately, I did (and still do) have the grace of God to help me. I fully understand the idea that Christian’s living less than Christian lives are the number one reason why other Christians convert and that the mega churches sometimes do more harm than good. I fully believe this.

    I pray that all will get ahold of the faith that was once present and give God the chance to bless your lives again. I did, and so did He.

  • 65. Cthulhu  |  July 21, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    ACHRISTIANINDEED,

    What’s with the all CAPS thing? Please look at the sidebar under ‘Attention Christian Readers’ for starters.

    I pray that all will get ahold of the faith that was once present and give God the chance to bless your lives again. I did, and so did He.

    And you can skip the prayer for me. Wouldn’t work anyway because if God is omniscient and immutable He/She/It already know my decision and cannot change his mind or be influenced by any ‘prayer’.

    Cheers…

  • 66. The de-Convert  |  July 21, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    ACI,

    I must say, the posts that I have read are quite disturbing.

    Should we take that as a complement?

    I can honestly say that I was in the same place that all of you guys are. I abandoned my Christian faith, only to realize that I could not live without it.

    The difference is we REALIZE that we can live without it and live even better more productive lives free of guilt and intolerance.

    The bondage that I felt was the bondage that Satan had upon my life, pulling me in directions that enticed me to do wrong.

    Since Satan actually is your own mind, if you were enticing yourself to do wrong and you needed Christianity to help you do right, then that’s a good thing. Keep the faith!!!!

    I pray that all will get ahold of the faith that was once present and give God the chance to bless your lives again. I did, and so did He.

    My life continues to be “blessed” therefore either God doesn’t care that I’m now an apostate or he was not the source of my “blessed” life.

    Paul

  • 67. Shawndell  |  March 11, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    It doesn’t take education to make a person, “a person of God.” Joel Osteen is the tool God is using to turn peoples lives around. After reading through these posts, I understand what it means to have spiritual Blindness and a lack of knowledge of the Bible like most of you deliver. With that being said it feels good to have eternal security and the ability to perceive people who will try and sway you away from God by any means necessary. I have Seven years of Bible education and a Masters Degree later and I find Joel nailing God’s intended message. Clear and to the Point!

  • 68. cag  |  March 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Shawndell #67, seven years of bible education and you learned nothing? Or do you accept that the earth was created before the sun and that day and night were present before the sun? Do you subscribe to stonings for actions that sane people do not consider to be transgressions such as wearing mixed fibres? Do you accept Matthew 5:18? If you do, should you not be stoning preachers that work on the sabbath as the OT laws are still in effect? I’m sure that you will bring up one of the contradictions about the OT law, which just compounds the errors.

    It takes brainwashing to make a person “a person of god”. Either that or threats of death. Best get them before they can reason. You spent 7 years to convince yourself that the lies,contradictions and myths of the bible were acceptable to you. Seven years to get a useless degree.

    We demand evidence, not feelings, not faith, not pronouncements. Seven years of “education” and you get suckered by a con man, a charlatan? The study of imaginary entities does not an education make. Try studying reality, for that is where you are lacking.

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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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