To die is gain? – On religious martyrdom and forgiveness

July 7, 2008 at 12:01 am 274 comments

Christian Commentary – Martyrdom is not a new occurrence nor one that is restricted to Christianity. We often hear news stories from Iraq of suicide bombers hoping to gain favor with God by offering themselves as sacrifices. So what about martyrs? What is so convincing about one’s faith that one would die for it?

One example of twentieth century Christian martyrs is the missionary Jim Elliot and his four co-workers Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and Nate Saint. There were two recent movies made telling their story: End of the Spear and the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor. In 1956, these five men felt called to share the gospel with the Auca Indians of Ecuador, a violent indigenous people group who had never had friendly contact with the outside world. After a promising brief encounter including an airplane ride for one of the Waodoni (Auca) nicknamed George, they made plans to actually visit the tribe. During their journey they were ambushed and speared to death by ten Waodoni (Auca) men.

The thing that is astounding to me about this story is the reaction of their families. Two years later the wife and sister of two of the murdered missionaries, Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint, went to live with and minister to the same people who had killed the ones they loved. Even now, the son of one of the missionaries killed, along with his family, live with the tribe. His children now call one of the elders of the tribe “grandfather,” even though he is the same one who killed their real grandfather.

Reflecting on these stories got me thinking. What would I die for? Or to what or for whom would I sacrifice my life? What about you?

And secondly, is this kind of forgiveness possible outside of divine intervention?

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. – Jim Elliot

- rfogue (Rachel)

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Strobel’s A Case For Christ – religious propaganda Existentialism: An Introduction

274 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Quester  |  July 7, 2008 at 12:26 am

    As things stand, I can easily imagine dying for a friend, a family member or a principle. Dying’s easy, if momentarily painful. Choosing someone or something to live for, and then living for that something- that, I find a lot more impressive.

  • 2. The Apostate  |  July 7, 2008 at 4:05 am

    And secondly, is this kind of forgiveness possible outside of divine intervention?

    As much as it is without divine intervention.
    Mahayana Buddhists understand that an unselfish act is one of the most improbable events ever to happen. So improbable, in fact, that very few beings, be them the gods or humans, are capable of an unselfish act.

    I partially agree. While I cannot speak for another’s motivations, I understand the elation I feel upon even the smallest of sacrifices. Now add to that a sense of duty and a mission to something we believe to be a higher calling (whether in religion, or war, or humanitarian efforts). Granted, I have never been in the position stated above, but most of us never will put ourselves in such a place, nor was what they were doing necessarily a positive thing – only time, or maybe Judgment Day, will tell.

    What I do understand, or believe, is that myself and my family have but one precious life to live and I would whole-heartedly sacrifice myself for them should I ever need to. What I do know is that I would have little ulterior motives for reconciling apart from its own sake for forgiving someone who so hurt me in such a way as discussed in that story. I admit my reasoning would be decidedly selfish – it would be for my peace, and perhaps for that person to find a way to be healed. I would not add a God so flippant with his creation’s lives to complicate the matter.

  • 3. blueollie  |  July 7, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Of course it is possible without divine intervention. It happened didn’t it?

    Now if you ask “it is possible” without someone believing in a deity then that is a more interesting question.

    But I’d say “yes” as there are reasonably secular ethical systems out there (e. g., Unitarianism) that promote such “forgiveness” actions.

  • 4. The de-Convert  |  July 7, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Rachel,

    I’ve seen apologists on this site champion the merits of Christianity based on the supposed martyrdom of the disciples. “Why would they die for a lie?” Well, I believe most of those martyrdom stories are of suspect.

    However, my point is that this is a dangerous belief within religion (propagated by legends of former martyrs) – that somehow dying for your faith is a good thing. We see how terrorists are using this concept with young Muslims to champion their cause. We’ve seen similar abuse of it within Christian history in religious crusades, etc.

    Paul’s statement “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” does bring comfort to those who are dying but it also in some ways feed this martyrdom attitude within Christianity.

    Your story above is tragic yet somehow inspiring to many. However, it is also a testament of 4 wasted lives. I know their families view their death as necessary for the greater good of the spread of the gospel (a necessary act to deal with the grief of the loss) and it seems as if most Christians also view it that way. Is that really the case?

    In many ways, to give your life in this way is akin to suicide. It’s placing a low value on you living out your life to the fullest and determining that your death somehow will be for the better good of “God” and his divine plan. Again, a dangerous belief that ultimately de-values human life – which is the basis for evil, in my humble opinion.

    I know it’s hard to look at those missionaries as committing a form of suicide. Well, I’m sure most Christians would view what those young Muslims are doing in the middle east as suicide (which it is) even though many Muslims view it as acts of valor – as you do these missionaries. However, this does not change the reality.

    Paul

  • 5. Jim J  |  July 7, 2008 at 10:25 am

    The de-Convert,
    I know its a short sentence, but you’re forgetting the “to live is Christ” part. To live in Christ is to be at peace with God, and also to live forever. So what is death, then? You’re not supposed to look to die [Paul evaded death many times], but if you do die, don’t fret about it. That’s all it’s saying.

  • 6. John  |  July 7, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I suppose this is one reason why it is hard for me to consider giving up my faith. Where do these ideas of love and sacrifice come from if not from God? How, after millions of years of evolution, can I even consider giving up my life for someone I don’t even know. Where is my survival instinct? Where did this idea of sacrificial love come from? Surely after millions of years self sacrfice for anyone outside of my family should have been bred out of me.

  • 7. orDover  |  July 7, 2008 at 11:27 am

    John, it’s called altruism, and it IS a survival instinct.

    What really bothers me about this martyr story is the principle of “the mission” behind it. The fact that these four people thought it was okay to basically invade a unique and wonderful culture to poison it with their version of the truth makes me sick. They prove by their actions that they view their culture as superiority and don’t give a shit about destroying or damaging another culture that is every bit as old and complex as their own. This goes right back to the “help the Savage” notion of the 18th century (google the seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony). It’s elitest, racists, and morally disgusting. Do you think that maybe the reason the Auca killed the missionaries in the first place is because they were trying desperately to protect and maintain their way of life, to keep the outside world at bay in order to continue their established traditions? What gives the missionaries the right to say that THEIR established traditions are better?

    I know that this is turning into a rant, but as an art historian with a healthy appreciation for other cultures and the study of anthropology, nothing makes me more upset than missionaries.

  • 8. John  |  July 7, 2008 at 11:53 am

    orDover

    How is altruism a survival instinct?
    You really didn’t explain your reasoning.

    Also, don’t you think that some cultures are better then others? These men were killed by this particular tribe of native people merely because they were outsiders. (Auca is another, pejorative, name given by neighboring Kichwa indians and commonly used by Spanish-speakers as well, that literally means “naked one” or “savages”. Wiki) They knew nothing about Elliots teachings. Elliot did have the chance to explain why he was there before he was killed. This particular tribe was well known in the area for being vicious and violent. It is great to want to protect your people, but to kill indescriminantly is by no means an admirable trait in any culture.

  • 9. Ubi Dubium  |  July 7, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    How is altruism a survival instinct?
    You really didn’t explain your reasoning.

    Altruism is not a survival instinct for individuals, but it is a useful adaptation for a species. For a species to include individuals who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of other members of that species can be a real competitive advantage.

  • 10. Obi  |  July 7, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    John —

    Altruism is a survival instinct because even if an animal doesn’t get to pass on its genes due to being killed, social animals such as humans evolved in the presence of near family, meaning that giving up their life for those around them would still increase their fitness in an indirect way. The genes that they shared would be passed on by others in their family, thus increasing survival rates. Humans are social animals, and so altruism is something that we’ve evolved that benefitted us in social situations.

    Also, humans have evolved larger brains than other animals and thus we can attribute meaning above meaning to actions. In other words, we can see altruism not only as a natural social instinct, but we can also honor those who have died, place them in our memory, et cetera. We can also develop systems of mythology (religion) that perhaps state that this person who gave their life would be benefitted somehow in a “next life”. Evolutionary ethics and anthropology, mate.

  • 11. RLTJ  |  July 7, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    That story seems to be a case of some missionaries who are sort of ‘high’ to the point of being blind of the situation.

    So, they walked in there thinking there will be welcome for them because they have good news. Kill any alien who come and who bring blasphemy to their God was probably what those natives were thinking.

    That looks to me a needless sacrifice that could have been avoided.

  • 12. blueollie  |  July 7, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    To those who wonder how altruism can evolve: read Dawkins’s book: The Selfish Gene.

    He discusses this topic there and he gives a brief outline of the argument in the book The God Delusion.

    Bottom line: yes, altruism is consistent with evolution by natural selection.

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  July 7, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Rachel:

    I’ve always been impressed by the willingness of many missionaries to dedicate their lives as they do. They also know that in some cases, they may be attacked and killed. The addition in the Elliot case, of relatives coming back later with love and forgiveness, is wonderful. (There’s a similar story of forgiveness by Corrie Ten Boom toward one of her prison guards.)

    I know that non-Christians do mission type work. The Peace Corps comes to mind. Off hand no story of forgiveness, like that of the Elliot’s, comes to mind. [Perhaps making peace after a war is similar. Not sure.]

    I do know that some people seem to be quite good at forgiving, not taking offense, making peace even when badly wronged. This ability does not seem to relate consistently to religion though. And of course any of us knows that forgiving, not taking offense, making peace even when badly wronged, is far from the norm in any faith. [Just go listen to a group of US Fundy's talking about the Democratic Party to hear the opposite of "forgiving, not taking offense, making peace even when badly wronged". Oh, and mention Jim or Kathryn Elliot to hear their tune change to rapturous luv (sic).]

    I think the love and forgiveness expressed by the Elliots toward the Auca, is wonderful. But I do not invoke an invisible, intangible, non-detectable deity to explain it. The tremendous variety of humanity seems to encompass altruism just fine.

  • 14. LeoPardus  |  July 7, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    blueollie:

    I was gonna pipe in about how altruism fits in as a ‘species level’ survival advantage. Thanks for the Dawkins ref. The biggest problem people will have with that is understanding that evolutionary forces don’t work consistently on an individual basis. They work on a species-wide basis. That’s why individuals within a species can do things that are evolutionarily insane.

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  July 7, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    orDover:

    The fact that these four people thought it was okay to basically invade a unique and wonderful culture to poison it with their version of the truth makes me sick.

    Please share your substantial, anthropologic knowledge that informs you that the Auca were “unique and wonderful”. While at it, please differentiate the Auca from other primitive people who are often warlike, bloodthirsty, or xenophobic. Also please provide an assessment of Aucan life expectancy, general health, education level, etc. (Bear in mind that improvements in all these followed the sickening, western poisoning.)

    They prove by their actions that they view their culture as superiority and don’t give a shit about destroying or damaging another culture that is every bit as old and complex as their own.

    Please share your substantive, anthropologic knowledge that informs you that the Auca were “every bit as old and complex as [western culture]“.

    This goes right back to the “help the Savage” notion of the 18th century (google the seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony). It’s elitest, racists, and morally disgusting.

    Really? You are so upset about people gaining longer life-spans, treatments for diseases, schools, knowledge of the world outside their own tribe/jungle/etc.???
    This seems to go right back to the “noble savage”notion of the 18th century. (Google Rousseau.). It’s elitist, superioristic, and morally poo-poo; not to mention requiring a great deal of willful ignorance.

    Do you think that maybe the reason the Auca killed the missionaries in the first place is because they were trying desperately to protect and maintain their way of life, to keep the outside world at bay in order to continue their established traditions?

    Possible. Do you think they might have done it because they were xenophobic, ignorant, primitive and warlike?

    as an art historian with a healthy appreciation for other cultures and the study of anthropology

    As such you should know better than to spew “noble savage” nonsense. You should know that primitive people have poor health, short lives, loads of superstitions, nasty behaviors (cannablism, animal sacrifices, etc), exceedingly unsophisticated views of the world, little to no technology, and so on. Now WHY do you want to imprison them in such a state?

    nothing makes me more upset than missionaries

    Look around. I’m certain you can find something. Maybe you could try anti-religious bigotry for a candidate.

  • 16. Mike  |  July 7, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    The de-Convert (#4)

    “We see how terrorists are using this concept [of martyrdom] with young Muslims to champion their cause. We’ve seen similar abuse of it within Christian history in religious crusades, etc.”

    I find it interesting that you equate Muslim fundamentalist martyrdom with Christian fundamentalist martyrdom. There are a number of problems with this.

    First of all, when Christians give their lives for their beliefs, others who disagree with them dont die. When Muslim fundamentalists (of whom you speak) martyr themselves, they are intending to take others with them. One is the spread of faith through sacrifice, the other is a spread of faith through murder and terror. You mention the abuses done by Christians in the crusades, but they are just that: abuses, of others and Christianity itself.

    So why exactly do you feel the two equate?

  • 17. blueollie  |  July 7, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    First of all, when Christians give their lives for their beliefs, others who disagree with them dont die.
    ——————-
    This assertion just cracks me up.

    Crusades? Inquisition? Witch trails? Ethnic cleansing in Bosnia? Nothern Ireland?

  • 18. Jim J  |  July 7, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Leo, Thanks for pointing out the anti-intellectualism of orDover’s rant.

    I would add that the missionaries took a risk but it was by no means a suicide.

    Fearless, the missionaries initiated contact through an ingenious method of lowering a bucket of gifts from a small airplane. As Nate Saint flew the bright yellow single-engine Piper PA-14 overhead, banking it in a tight circle, a bucket was lowered on a long rope. It remained nearly motionless, just long enough for several curious Aucas to help themselves to what was inside.

    This continued for several months.

    Thinking they had gained their trust, the missionaries landed their plane on a sand bar in the Curaray River. Over the ensuing days, they made several friendly face-to-face encounters and even gave one of the Aucas, Naenkiwi, a ride in the plane. But on January 8, 1956, all five of the missionaries were attacked and brutally murdered.

    In the end the Waorani were the winners. The missionary women were integral in helping them modernize nonviolently.

  • 19. Jim J  |  July 7, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Mike meant to say, “First of all, when Christians give their lives for Christian beliefs, others who disagree with them don’t die.”

    blueollie wrote: “Crusades? Inquisition? Witch trails? Ethnic cleansing in Bosnia? Northern Ireland?”

    All of these were categorically opposed to Christian beliefs.

  • 20. Mike  |  July 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    BlueOllie,

    “This assertion just cracks me up.

    Crusades? Inquisition? Witch trails? Ethnic cleansing in Bosnia? Nothern Ireland?”

    Had you read farther down my comment, you would have noticed I addressed this concern.

    If you were in need of brain surgery, and I told you I was a brain surgeon, would you let me operate on you? Probably not. You would want to see my credentials. You would want to see that I had a track record of healing people who needed brain surgery. So it is with Christianity. I can tell you that I am a Christian, but if my life doesnt line up with Christian belief/action, then what does that say about my confession of being a Christian?

  • 21. John  |  July 7, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Isn’t Dawkins theory of the selfish gene highly disputed even among evolutionists?

  • 22. orDover  |  July 7, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Please share your substantial, anthropologic knowledge that informs you that the Auca were “unique and wonderful”. While at it, please differentiate the Auca from other primitive people who are often warlike, bloodthirsty, or xenophobic. Also please provide an assessment of Aucan life expectancy, general health, education level, etc. (Bear in mind that improvements in all these followed the sickening, western poisoning.)

    I’m not an expert on the Huaorani. Neither are you, and neither were the missionaries. But I don’t have to be an expert to guarantee that the Huaorani had a complex culture including a developed religion (likely involving animism and ancestor worship) and several cultural practices such as marriage and adulthood rites. These are staples for any culture, and typically found in central America.

    Characterizing a culture as “warlike, bloodthirsty, or xenophobic” just presents the antithesis of the “Nobel Savage.” Cultures are characterized by outsiders as violent or bloodthirsty only because they do not understand the reasoning behind the violence and bloodshed, which often (I’m tempted to say “always”) stems from the culture’s concepts of morality. For example, the Aztecs, often written off as “bloodthirsty” and “cannibalistic” by outsiders felt that they were morally compelled by their gods to give human sacrifices in order to keep the seasons changing. If they didn’t kill, they were sinning, just as the Jewish are/were compelled to give animal sacrifices. These deeds that are labeled “bloodthirsty” have to be understood in context. I’d challenge you to find a culture that engaged in completely senseless and meaningless violence.

    Please share your substantive, anthropologic knowledge that informs you that the Auca were “every bit as old and complex as [western culture]“.

    It’s a personal belief I hold that all cultures are complex as others. I say it a personal belief, because each person is bias to their own culture. Many people will continue to assert that Western culture is superior, or more complex, but to me, that proves that they haven’t considered any other cultures in depth. Look at the Navajo, the Zuni, Maori, Asmat. All cultures have taboos, they all have rituals, they all have religion, they all have a complicated system of morals, they all have cosmology, they all have a long history of traditions and practices. A quick glance at the Huaorani wiki page (which informs us that Auca is actually a derogatory name) scratches the surface their complex system of beliefs.

    Really? You are so upset about people gaining longer life-spans, treatments for diseases, schools, knowledge of the world outside their own tribe/jungle/etc.???
    This seems to go right back to the “noble savage”notion of the 18th century. (Google Rousseau.). It’s elitist, superioristic, and morally poo-poo; not to mention requiring a great deal of willful ignorance.

    The Huaorani, like many of the native peoples of central and south America, have had many opportunities to join the westernized world. Many reject and move into further isolation. The Huaorani weren’t some lost tribe deep in the jungle they, along with the rest of their sort of jungle tribes, had been known about since Spanish colonial days. We see longer life spans and western medicine as great things that everyone would want, but try to put yourself into the shoes of these people. They WANT to keep living the way they have lived for centuries, and who I am to say that my way of life is better? I’m not suggesting they are living in some sort of Arcadia, at one with nature, or any of those “Nobel Savage” ideas. I’m saying that they have a right to be left alone if that is what they choose. They have a right to die at 40 and suffer tooth decay.

    Possible. Do you think they might have done it because they were xenophobic, ignorant, primitive and warlike?

    That is possible, but again, it’s culturally relative. To you, warlike = bad, to them and many other cultures, warlike = good.

    As such you should know better than to spew “noble savage” nonsense. You should know that primitive people have poor health, short lives, loads of superstitions, nasty behaviors (cannablism, animal sacrifices, etc), exceedingly unsophisticated views of the world, little to no technology, and so on. Now WHY do you want to imprison them in such a state?

    I don’t want to imprison them, I want to give them a choice, and respect their choice. The Huaorani withdrew into isolation because they wanted to. I’m not going to force them to learn how to use a computer because I see that as good. I’m not going to force them to vaccinate their children, or change their religion. All of these examples are just forcing one’s will on another. You think they are good things, but you have to at least understand that what is good for you and your culture is not good for every culture.

    I also think it is wrong to characterize cannibalism and animal sacrifices as “nasty behaviors.” That’s the same reasoning the missionaries use to excuse their disregard for other’s rights. What is “nasty” to you and your culture is not nasty to them, it is in accordance with their moral systems. No one ate people because they tasted good.

    I would like to also add that there are ways of bringing the perks of western culture to isolated cultures without disrespecting their own traditions. I have no problem with neutral parties bringing medicine to isolated peoples, but they should still show a healthy respect for their own traditional herbs and remedies. Likewise schools could be opened that maintain tradition while educating. Some of these schools were opened a few decades ago in the southwest, which maintain traditional dress and other aspects of the culture while adding western advances in areas like math and science.

    Historically, missionaries have shown absolutely no regard for native cultures. When Spanish missionaries came to the southwest their forced the children to dress in western clothes, even though they were hot and impractical for the arid climate, be separated from their families, and attend religious schools. They literally outlawed their religion, native dress, ceremonies, festivals, celebrations, and rites. As a result, many aspects of the native culture died. I grew up in Arizona, and I was constantly surrounded by people who mourned the culture that was taken from them, and do everything they can to get it back and maintain what is left. That treatment is not okay.

    My post was not anti-intellectual, is was asking for MORE intellect to be used when dealing with native peoples. To call them “bloodthirsty” and “ignorant” shows the same sort of reasoning behind all of the terrible crimes committed against native peoples since Columbus. Learn to understand and appreciate other cultures before you try to interact with them, and respect their wishes if they don’t want what you are offering.

  • 23. OneSmallStep  |  July 7, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    First of all, when Christians give their lives for their beliefs, others who disagree with them dont die. When Muslim fundamentalists (of whom you speak) martyr themselves, they are intending to take others with them. One is the spread of faith through sacrifice, the other is a spread of faith through murder and terror. You mention the abuses done by Christians in the crusades, but they are just that: abuses, of others and Christianity itself.

    Isn’t the point here between the fundamentalists, though? Moderate Muslims say that Muslim terrorists are in fact violating the very act of Islam itself, and aren’t true Muslims, based on their behavior. In turn, it’s said here that the Crusades and other such behavior aren’t done by “real Christians,” because of the acts themselves, as well.

    But both camps spring from an idea that what’s important is the next life, and death is a stepping stone to get there. That do whatever it takes to ensure that all are “saved” in the end. Or that the opposite camp are damned and can’t be saved, and so behavior doesn’t matter.

    Not only that, I’m thinking of Christian fundamentalists as the “Left Behind” crowd. In reading those books, while they may not kill anyone in the name of their faith, they certainly have no qualms about those who are going to die and suffer eternally. There’s almost an air of glee about it, in that the “unsaved” crowd is finally going to see how wrong they are, and will suffer accordingly.

  • 24. blueollie  |  July 7, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Hmmm, killing non-believers not being consistent?

    Christians still accept the Old Testament right? Does the book of Joshua still ring a bell?

  • 25. LeoPardus  |  July 7, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Following a line here:

    Mike:
    You mention the abuses done by Christians in the crusades, but they are just that: abuses, of others and Christianity itself.

    blueollie:
    Crusades? Inquisition? Witch trails? Ethnic cleansing in Bosnia? Nothern Ireland?

    Jim J:
    All of these were categorically opposed to Christian beliefs.

    Got a “No true Scotsman” going here. (Please, everyone look it up unless you can write it out from memory.)

    In an effort to deal with some of this though, Mike did say:
    … if my life doesnt line up with Christian belief/action, then what does that say about my confession of being a Christian?

    Well, if you were around in 1095, you would have been told on no uncertain terms that the Crusades did line up with Christian belief. Likewise in the many other wars of religion. Similarly you would have been told to hate and burn witches was your sacred duty in Salem. Hating Catholics was your duty in North Ireland. Killing babies would have been your duty in ancient Israel. (In fact this last command would have come straight from your God, who is normally represented as being totally ‘pro-life’.)

    Sorry man, but you’ve got a classic “No true Scotsman” fallacy going here.

  • 26. Mike  |  July 7, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    OSS, BlueOllie, and Leo,

    You all raise good points, and I would be remiss if I didnt at least try to answer them to your satisfaction. Since there is a lot there and some of you ask the same question in different ways, please forgive me a little consolidation.

    (#23) “In turn, it’s said here that the Crusades and other such behavior aren’t done by “real Christians,” because of the acts themselves, as well.”

    First, I want to be clear that I will never speak with certainty as to another person’s salvation (who claims Jesus, that is). My intention is to draw a distinction between a person’s actions (who professes to be a Christian), and Christianity. (#25) Leo is right (a little) when he says that we are danger of coming into the “No True Scotsman” realm, but I maintain that while falling into that fallacy is possible, it is not necessary for the discussion.

    By fixing our doctrine upon the cannon of scripture, we can certainly and definitely claim that some things are Christian (sharing you faith with an unbeliever) and some are not (spearing an unbeliever). The problem in the Crusades was that at that time, the church had wrested all manner of biblical worship from the people. They were not allowed to participate in Sunday worship (they were allowed to watch, though), they were not allowed to read the scriptures (printed in Latin, which hardly anybody could read), and were not permitted to question the church. So when the church declared war on the Muslim nation, everyone had to go because they had no means of saying otherwise. So in this instance, I can actually claim (along with every other member of the Reformation) that the Church itself was not Christian!

  • 27. Mike  |  July 7, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Now I am going to address a different issue that I have seen creep up several times and has occurred in the comments by (#24) Ollie and (#25) Leo. This is a historical problem called zeitgeist. It literally translates to “time ghost” and it means that historians can look back to an age in the past and impose current standards upon it, judging the people of the time by modern standards. In this case, we approach the Bible from a standpoint in time when Christians believe that further revelation has ceased. This can lead people to read back into the Old Testament that tendency.

    In other words, if the conquests of Joshua were commanded by God back then, why would it be any different now? The problem with the question is that it ignores the Story. In light of the Biblical story, asking this question would be the same as asking “Why does Luke Skywalker believe Darth Vader is his father? In the first movie he was told that Darth Vader killed his father.” The answer is because in the second movie we find out Vader is actually Luke’s father. To expect him to go back after learning that would be ludicrous.

    As we see the biblical story unfold, there are new rules and expectations for the people of God. God continues to expand, refine, and hone His promises in new ways. One such example would be the transition from Judges to a King. Another would be from the Divided Monarchy to Exile. But Christians believe that since Messiah has come, there will be no further revelation. The story of God’s redemption of man is complete. No we only await the consummation of the Kingdom. Ultimately what that means is that what Jesus said and left us with is the final understanding of our faith. So fundamental, biblical Christianity is non-violent, and at any point in history where people forced others to believe at the point of a sword, they were being exceedingly un-Christian.

    Does that make sense?

  • 28. Jim J  |  July 7, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Leo,
    No true Christian goes on murderous rampages. Why? Because our mottos are Love God, Love Your Neighbor, and if you don’t do that, you are not a representative of the Christian faith. You are then a representative AGAINST the Christian faith in the worst possible way.

    The “No True Scotsman” Fallacy is rubbish. The example is not a universal principle among Scotsmen whereas the Christian principle is. You should know better.

  • 29. OneSmallStep  |  July 7, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Mike,

    My intention is to draw a distinction between a person’s actions (who professes to be a Christian), and Christianity. (#25) Leo is right (a little) when he says that we are danger of coming into the “No True Scotsman” realm, but I maintain that while falling into that fallacy is possible, it is not necessary for the discussion.

    Here’s what I find interesting, and this is off-topic, so I apologize in advance. Oftentimes, when people are asked what makes a Christian a Christian, they provide a set of beliefs, and the biggest one is the idea that no works are enough for salvation, it’s simply a matter of faith. If one has the correct faith, if one repents, and one believes the Apostles/Nicene Creed, one is a Christian. Works hold no bearing in that.

    Probably because everyone screws up at some point or another. Jim said that no true Christian would go on a murderous rampage, because it violates the Love God, love one’s neighbor. What Jim seems to be using to determine the status is not a matter of grace/faith, but a matter of works. However, where’s the line drawn in that? Those in the Crusades probably had the right type of faith, probably relied on God’s grace for salvation, probably thought that Jesus was God, died for sins and so on. Yet I presume their salvation is in doubt?

    And why is the line murderous rampages? Why couldn’t we say that anyone who is cruel to someone once a day is also not a Christian? Or anyone who thinks an unkind thought is not a Christian?

    However, if such behavior is referenced as to why some people are put off by Christianity, the response then becomes that we can’t use someone’s work to determine something, as everyone screws up, and one must look to God if someone can see perfection.

    It just seems that if I tell you I’m a Christian because I’m a good person, you’d say that’s not enough. If I tell you I’m a Christian because I believe God became flesh, died for my sins, resurrected and I have faith in that, and I’m a screw-up in my daily life in that I’m cruel, petty, jealous … I’d get told that, yes, I am a Christian.

    But this is detracting from the overall point, which was comparing two sets of fundamentalism, and the danger of placing the hereafter as the utmost importance, above anything else. I do see the same danger in Christian fundamentalism that I see in Muslim fundamentalism. I think it was Pat Roberston who called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez — and that’s calling for violence against another human. Now, yes, this is Hugh Chavez. But that’s the same type of attitude that I see in Muslim fundamentalism. The person is “other,” the person deserves to die, this is God’s will, and so forth.

    One is just words, and the other is actions. But this mentality — exterminate the “other” is what drove the Crusades, the witch trials, the ethnic cleansings. It’s what is in the Left Behind books, and those have done very, very well.

    So fundamental, biblical Christianity is non-violent, and at any point in history where people forced others to believe at the point of a sword, they were being exceedingly un-Christian.

    Is it, though? We do have examples of non-violence in the Gospels, with the Sermon on the Mount. Yet we also have Revelations, which isn’t proclaiming the most non-violent end for all unbelievers. If anything, it’s promising a rather ghastly one. I’m wondering how much of that book drove the earlier violence in Christianity, because it will clearly be okay at a certain point in time to have all unbelievers suffer in torment. There will be a point in time where Christians will not be called on to help them, or aid them, but actually even rejoice in the sufferings (based on some early Christians writers that I’ve read). Violence will be okay at some point in the future. Loving one’s neighbor has a cut-off point.

  • 30. Mike  |  July 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    OSS,

    You totally hit on some major issues there, but all very good observations.

    To take part in life as a member of the people of God (as Christians understand it) you must confess with your mouth certain things, be baptized, take part in communion, and live like Christ.

    It is true that Christianity proclaims that a relationship with God can never be merited or earned. It must be received. That person’s salvation is between them and God; I have absolutely no say in the matter. The only thing that I have to rely on as a member of the people of God is your actions and attitude. If you claim to be a Christian, even though you will never live a perfect life, I can 1) see a heart of repentance in you 2) see the growth of character that will inevitably occur 3) serve alongside you etc. But these are all just symptoms of something that I can never declare with total certainty, namely whether or not someone else is truly saved (no Christian could ever declare with certainty that I was saved, either). This is because ultimately Jesus alone is the judge. This is why we talk of the “things people do” as an indicator of their Christianity. Does that make sense?

    Now this brings us to your comment about Revelation. It is true that it does not end well for those who ultimately deny God, but of note is that it is not the responsibility of the Christian to exercise punishment. It is Jesus Himself. So at no point, ever, is the Christian to convert someone at the point of a sword.

  • 31. John T.  |  July 7, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Jim J.

    Just curious, how do I explain the fact that the Old Testament God wanted killed, all first born male egyptian children? If that aint murderous I dont know what is. Im waiting patiently for your spin on that one.

  • 32. OneSmallStep  |  July 7, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    MIke,

    My comment was kind of compact, wasn’t it? :)

    This is why we talk of the “things people do” as an indicator of their Christianity. Does that make sense?

    It just seems that this does have limits, though. The “things people do” are only acceptable proof up to a point. If I used the bad things people do as why I’m not a Christian, I’m no longer able to use the actions, because no one’s perfect.

    I know you mentioned the growth in character in terms of proof, but it also seems that the first point in your list — repentence — is emphasized much more than growth in character. So long as you are truly sorry, you’ll be forgiven. It’s like the situation where the serial rapist truly repents three seconds before death, and confesses the right things. That person is saved. The person who had the growth in character, who tried to do the right thing and work on his/her bad elements is not saved, and will be tormented eternally. So the serial rapist has a very valid reason as to claim the name “Christian” and yet had no growth whatsoever.

    And when you have that, when your entire hereafter decision is only based on your faith and repentence, and works don’t factor in at all, when everything you’ve done previously doesn’t matter, then it just becomes interesting to hear people say, “Oh, the Crusaders weren’t true Christians because of their actions.”

    It is true that it does not end well for those who ultimately deny God, but of note is that it is not the responsibility of the Christian to exercise punishment. It is Jesus Himself. So at no point, ever, is the Christian to convert someone at the point of a sword.

    This is another interesting point, though. Can it be argued that those who do violence against unbelievers are in fact living like the Christ seen in Revelations? I’m assuming you’d say no, and that there are limits as to how “Christ-like” you’re suppose to be. But I don’t think you can say that Christianity is supposed to be 100% non-violent while taking the Bible inerrently, given the end all unbelievers face.

    But so long as it will be okay, at some point, to do this to all unbelievers, I think there’s going to be a danger of events such as the Crusades, or the witch trials. At some point, your love and compassion and mercy will no longer be “required” for those unsaved. So it’s not required then, it can be harder to muster it up now.

  • 33. Tim  |  July 7, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    At the risk of stirring the pot with a complete tangent…

    In “The Original New Testament” (http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/scriptures/ONT.htm) Hugh Schonfield suggests in the notes relating to the quote from Phillipians “for me to live is Christ, but to die is gain” was the result of a scribal error. Schonfield notes that the word “chrestos” (not the proper name) should be rendered as “useful,” which turns this phrase into: “for me to live is useful, but to die is gain.”

    In that light, Paul continuing to live would be useful for the church at large, but for him to die would mean that he would personally benefit by receiving a “Go directly to Heaven, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 and then put it in the offering plate” card. It’s not clear to me that Paul’s comment in Phillipians is a comment on martyrdom.

    We now return to our regularly scheduled program. – Tim

  • 34. blueollie  |  July 7, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    So at no point, ever, is the Christian to convert someone at the point of a sword.
    ———

    Hmm: Salem witch trials?

    What the heck: what about Ann Coulter for that matter?

    (“kill all their leaders and convert them to Christianity”? ) :)

    The point is that there are gentle Christians and gentle Muslims and gentle Jews. But most adherents to these faiths aren’t that way. Belonging to a faith doesn’t make one more gentle or moral.

  • 35. Mike  |  July 7, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Ollie,

    “Hmm: Salem witch trials?”

    You clearly are not catching my point. People calling themselves Christians did very unChristian things. I make no claim as to their salvation, but the things they did were not according to the standard Christ set.

    “But most adherents to these faiths aren’t that way. ”

    Really? Have you ever been to a website called Voice of the Martyrs? Check it out and let me know what you think.

    “The point is that there are gentle Christians and gentle Muslims and gentle Jews.”

    This is, of course, true, but the nature of their passivity with regard to their orthodoxy is what is telling here. Gentle Christians (orthodox), gentle Muslims (moderate), gentle Jews (the whole spectrum, but specifically at least Reformed).

    “Belonging to a faith doesn’t make one more gentle or moral.”

    Ultimately, this hits the nail on the head. However, the nature of the faith does indicate where orthodox belief in that system will take you.

  • 36. Mike  |  July 7, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    OSS,

    I really appreciate the depth and amount of thought your points represent. You are correct that with Revelation looming in the future for Christians, there is the possibility for an apathy or even downright animosity towards unbelievers within Christianity itself. As a matter of fact, many of the people on this blog have probably seen it happen! However, I believe that a reading of those texts in the context of the biblical story will steer Christians to a proper understanding of them.

    The Bible is a story. Some who just read that line may think that I am claiming (as a Christian) that it was made up. But stories are not necessarily fiction. If I tell you about the time that my car caught on fire while I was driving it down the highway, it may sound fantastic, but it honestly did happen (the car was ironically a Blazer).

    Because the Bible is a story, we have to respect the place we have in it. We are currently at a place in the story where Christ on earth 2000 years ago is our example for living today. That will not change for the Christian until the last chapter, when Christ comes back. Simply because we are allowed to know how the story ends doesnt EVER give Christians the right to act like they are the Judge.

    This is more my preaching to the Christians than anything, but I hope that makes sense. I realize that there are a number of people here who have seen the business end of Christians who are bigoted, spiteful, and downright mean-spirited. Some of that comes from a misunderstanding of the Story. Some of that comes from unrefined character (which will hopefully change one day!)

    I hope that helps clarify some of what I mean.

  • 37. The de-Convert  |  July 7, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Mike,

    I find it interesting that you equate Muslim fundamentalist martyrdom with Christian fundamentalist martyrdom. There are a number of problems with this.

    First of all, when Christians give their lives for their beliefs, others who disagree with them dont die. When Muslim fundamentalists (of whom you speak) martyr themselves, they are intending to take others with them.

    Remember that Christianity is almost 600 years older than Islam hence further down the religious-evolution path. Hence you cannot compare the 2 today but have to compare Islam today with Christianity a few hundred years ago.

    You are correct in that there are few examples of Christians today killing innocent people for the sake of spreading Christianity but I’m sure you’ve studied history and know that this has not always been the case.

    Paul

  • 38. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Building on de-Convert’s point, it’s actually the norm. Christianity would never, ever, have been as large and widespread as it is today had it been spread peacefully and not by mass killings and forced conversions. I myself have a personal but indirect connection to this, because I am of Igbo (a Nigerian tribe) heritage, and Christianity was brought to them as detailed in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. When I read that book (I was a Christian then), I remember thinking that it was ironic that I would be going to hell had it not been for white men “saving” me by killing my people and forcing them to adopt their version of god or die.

    That itself says a lot about the truth of Christianity, actually. Why did the Christian god place it on the shoulders of man to spread the word about him? You’d think that an omnipotent god would spread his word equally over the Earth, and not leave it to humans to do it on their own accord and using their own methods — especially when those have been predominately very violent ways.

  • 39. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 8, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Mike:

    This is, of course, true, but the nature of their passivity with regard to their orthodoxy is what is telling here. Gentle Christians (orthodox), gentle Muslims (moderate), gentle Jews (the whole spectrum, but specifically at least Reformed).

    It’s amusing that you talk about the zeitgeist, then talk about orthodoxy as if it’s a static thing.

    Go back in time and an “orthodox” Christian (by the definition of orthodox being used here) would have been a violent Crusader. At some point in the future, an “orthodox” Muslim could be quite gentle.

    Not to mention that some Christians who might be considered “orthodox” today have some rather violent opinions (as mentioned, Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson). And if you want to argue that they are not “orthodox,” you can make the same argument about violent Muslims (the suicide bombers and Muslims who support it are, in fact, the minority).

  • 40. Jim J  |  July 8, 2008 at 1:28 am

    John T wrote—Jim J.

    Just curious, how do I explain the fact that the Old Testament God wanted killed, all first born male egyptian children? If that aint murderous I dont know what is. Im waiting patiently for your spin on that one.

    God can decide what He wants to do with His creation. In the Bible’s case He made a NEW Testament. Go read it some time.

  • 41. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Jim J —

    So you’re saying that we’re nothing but God’s playthings and that he can do whatever he pleases with us? That doesn’t sit very well with me as an independent human being, and neither does it mesh well with the Bible’s claims that God created us for fellowship on an equal level (he supposedly walked through the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve).

  • 42. The de-Convert  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Obi,

    Christianity would never, ever, have been as large and widespread as it is today had it been spread peacefully and not by mass killings and forced conversions. I myself have a personal but indirect connection to this, because I am of Igbo (a Nigerian tribe) heritage, and Christianity was brought to them as detailed in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. When I read that book (I was a Christian then), I remember thinking that it was ironic that I would be going to hell had it not been for white men “saving” me by killing my people and forcing them to adopt their version of god or die.

    The interesting thing would be that by today’s definition of Christianity, the majority of Christians would label these “missionaries” as radicals and not consider them Christians. So, in essence, Christianity can credit non-Christians (including Constantine) with the spread of Christianity

    Paul

  • 43. John T.  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Jim J

    “I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
    And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
    for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest”

    Hmmmmmm New Testament? Seems here its saying I dont need you or the bible or anyone else telling me about God. Seems he wrote it on my heart and mind. lol. wonderful book though.

  • 44. John T.  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Oh in case you didnt know thats

    Hebrews 8:10-11

  • 45. LeoPardus  |  July 8, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Mike:
    I can actually claim (along with every other member of the Reformation) that the Church itself was not Christian!

    And I can actually claim (along with just about every other member of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church) that the Reformation itself was not Christian. And I’d have a far better historical case.

  • 46. LeoPardus  |  July 8, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Mike: Re post #27

    Dude, it was God who ORDERED the murder of innocent children, and of other non-combatants. It was God who commanded genocide. This is the deity we are talking about hear. You know… the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, right?

    Like you, I used to do awesome, apologetic acrobatics to try to justify these atrocities supposedly ordered by the “loving, pro-life” deity. Now I can look at it honestly and simply see the truth. Namely that these are just stories of a primitive people who, like every other people group around them, fought scads of wars and justified it all by claiming they had a deity behind them.

    Mike, there’s no explaining it away. If they are just stories, then they are just stories. If there is a deity, who ordered such atrocities, he is no god you want anything to do with.

  • 47. john  |  July 8, 2008 at 10:42 am

    God did wipe out whole people groups, but that is not really hard to explain. It may seem unfair to us but we are not soveriegn. God now the end from the beginning. He knows how everyone will live their life before they live it. He used Israel to judge these desperately wicked people for their own sins. God is just and He does require punishment for sins. God would not let these people be killed if they were not totally reprobate. Even atheists believe in justice. God cannot let sin go unpunished forever. Man doesn’t even do this. We all want sinful/illegal behavior to be dealt with. Why kill the children? From God’s perspective, even the life of a child has been already lived.

  • 48. blueollie  |  July 8, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I have to laugh…yeah the mighty deity called on his tribe to commit mass murder on whole populations (called “genocide” these-a-days) but then couldn’t take on certain populations because the had iron chariots? (see Judges, Chapter 1, verse 19)

    I’d hate to see what would have happened if these folks had B-52s. :)

    But reading these posts from these Christians really helps me understand why people would fly planes into buildings in the name of their god.

  • 49. LeoPardus  |  July 8, 2008 at 11:10 am

    orDover:

    I don’t have to be an expert to guarantee that the Huaorani……..

    So you can just make general extrapolations from your amateur’s armchair, and present them as trusims?! How nice. It does not disturb you in the least that I heard exactly this sort of ranting, just this weekend by a Christian berating other religions, does it? This is a wonderful and easy road to angry bigotry.

    Characterizing a culture as “warlike, bloodthirsty, or xenophobic”

    Which I didn’t do. And you did not do anything to prove to the contrary. Which is what I’d asked you to do.

    It’s a personal belief I hold that all cultures are complex as others.

    Like I said earlier, “How nice.”

    Boy, to think of you berating Christians for ignorance, laziness, bigotry, presuppositional illogic, etc.

    I say it a personal belief, because each person is bias to their own culture.

    Or against it oddly enough.

    Many people will continue to assert that Western culture is superior,

    Or inferior, or just equal…

    or more complex,

    Or less, or more bigoted, or…..

    but to me, that proves that they haven’t considered any other cultures in depth.

    And you have???? No. By your own admission, NO. And so you are better than pro-Western bigots exactly how?

    The Huaorani, like many of the native peoples of central and south America, have had many opportunities to join the westernized world.

    Really??? Outline them please…..

    it’s culturally relative. To you, warlike = bad, to them and many other cultures, warlike = good.

    Ah, OK then. So since it’s all relative, then we have no basis for being bothered by the US going into Iraq. It’s “good” by some standards. And remember, you don’t want anyone invading other cultures and forcing things on them.

    Look orDover, I have a strong dislike and distaste for the anti-intellectualism, ignorance, superioristic attitudes and general bigotry of much of Christianity (and other religions). It’s a significant part of why I finally rejected the faith. I similarly hate the ignorance and bigotry of US political conservatism. I despise Cal Thomas, Rush Limbaush, Ann Coulter and others who represent those qualities in spades. By the same token I equally dislike bigotry from the anti-religious or liberal side, and I have no use for the likes of Molly Ivans or James Carville. Ignorance and bigotry are just damnable, damaging, and wrong.

    You make statements about how you don’t need to be expert in order to make authoritative, sweeping statements. You rant against missionaries for carrying through on their beliefs, but then you try to say it’s perfectly OK for others to kill, make war, sacrifice babies, etc. Sorry, but that’s just ignorance, opinion, and bigotry. Self aggrandizement. Presuppositionalism. Illogic. I’d like to think that you’d want to take a hard look at all that in yourself and decide not to be that kind of person. I fear however that I’m going to get an angry, defensive rant, or put on your permanent ignore list. There are things I’ve seen in your writing that indicate I may be wrong on that last though. I hope I am.

  • 50. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 11:12 am

    John said, “Why kill the children? From God’s perspective, even the life of a child has been already lived.

    That’s…disgusting. So why, may I ask, did God allow Hitler to live long enough to kill 10 million people during the Holocaust, including 6 million of his chosen people? Why didn’t he simply off Hitler as a child before he could do anything? Often the problem of evil is posed to Christians to disprove the existence of their supposedly omnibenevolent God, and the usual response is that God doesn’t choose to wipe out all evil because he wants people to have free will. Yet you’re now stating that God scans the possible future of a child, and sees fit to kill them if he detects a hint of “evil” in these children?

    However, you also state that God knows how everyone will live their life before they live it. How can God know how these children will live their lives if they were essentially predestined to die, thus meaning that they have no future life to live, and nothing there for God to know?

  • 51. john  |  July 8, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    I am struggling with my faith, but I don’t think I will find my answers in this forum. It is clear that those on either side don’t understand the perspectives of the other. The atheist can’t grasp a concept of God and what that means and the Christians won’t admit when the Bibel just doesn’t make sense.

    Thanks for your time. It has been fun!

  • 52. LeoPardus  |  July 8, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    john:

    If you read about who we are, you’ll see that we are almost all former Christians. We grasp the concept of God and what it means. Most of us lived with total dedication to that concept for decades. Most of us were very upset, scared, and uncertain when we began to feel that we were losing the faith.

  • 53. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 8, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Indeed, I have yet to meet atheists with a better understanding of God and Christianity than I have found here.

    All too often it seems like people forget that this blog is full of former Christians, not life-long atheists. For that matter, not everyone here who’s de-converted are atheists.

  • 54. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    John—

    One thing to beware. The majority of people on this site have come to the conclusion that “if they cannot understand it, then they won’t believe it”. “Why didn’t God just off Hitler before he had a chance to do evil?” Good question. But we just don’t know. God is infinite, we are finite. One day we will all know why evil continues to exist, and why God allowed it. God is allowing evil to “run it’s course” for a purpose—-one we cannot fathom or understand.

    I, as a Christian, have had the same questions. It is natural. “Lord, why didn’t you just get rid of the devil?” Why do you allow evil? Why do you allow suffering? etc. etc. and we can begin to accuse God in our hearts. And God understands that too. God is not worried if we question him. The only thing that is terrible is if we think because we cannot understand it, or it doesn’t make sense to us we are not going to believe any more. That is foolish.

    I cannot understand the Trinity. Why? Because God is an eternal being—infinite—it is not given to me to understand. But the Bible teaches it—-so I believe it even though I cannot get a complete grasp on it. For me to get upset and accuse and complain and shake my fist at God saying “If you do exist you must be some kind of monster!” is really quite stupid—-it’s like being a little kid and throwing a temper tantrum because you “can’t understand” why your parents won’t let you do what you want to do. They are smarter than you, and know what is best for you—-even though at the time you cannot understand why they are being so strict.

    We may not understand a lot of the “why’s” and “hows” and we may have a lot of questions, but we cannot give up hope and lose our faith. Read Psalm 1—the person starts off “walking in the counsel of the ungodly”, the stops and starts “standing in the way of sinners”, and then ultimately winds up “sitting in the seat of scorners”. It is a progression into unbelief. John—you may have a lot of questions about the Bible, etc.—-that’s fine—-God has no problem with you asking “why”? But some things we will not get the answer to until eternity. We need to keep our faith—not “draw back” and away from the truth. Especially, we should not draw back due to our own limited reason—if we want to put our own reason on the throne in place of God, we are worshiping a finite person, instead of an infinite God. Keep the faith!

  • 55. John T.  |  July 8, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Joe

    “But some things we will not get the answer to until eternity”(joe)

    Eternity isnt some time and place we get to, its happening right now. If you like scripture so much then you should like the words of Jesus in
    Luke 17:21
    nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

    Or in the words of the famous philosophers Van Halen

    “Right now”

  • 56. John T.  |  July 8, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    For everyone

    The great thing about the bible is that it does have lots of Absolute truths in it. The challenge is when people think that the book itself is the “absolute truth”

  • 57. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Joe —

    What you’re essentially saying is “Question nothing, and believe everything”, on nothing but blind faith alone. Had you been born in Saudi Arabia, you most likely would have been a Muslim, seen Allah as the only true God, and you would have accepted Islam — inconsistencies and all. Had you been born in India, you most likely would have been a Hindu, seen Brahman as the root of all existence, and you would have accepted Hinduism — inconcistencies an all.

    You must realize that one must be intellectually honest and question beliefs and ideas of God(s), and discard those ones which do not stand up to logical, empirical, and rational scrutiny. You’re being intellectually dishonest with yourself when you ignore faults within your system of belief and wave them away with a “God knows best” or something of the sort. That’s silly, and one will never find the actual truth going the way that you have, because your sentences are awash in the language of mind-suppressing religious institutions who will have you believe that their “word of God(s)” is real, and that you should never question nor doubt it because it is beyond the scope of human understanding.

    Bollocks, mate. Pure bollocks.

    Fix Reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason than of blindfolded fear. … Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it end in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others which it will procure for you.
    — Thomas Jefferson

  • 58. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Obi—

    You always bring up other religions. I wasn’t born in Saudi Arabia, and this blog is about EX-christians who have deconverted, not about muslims. One cannot you earthly reason to understand some of the truths of Gos—-we need to walk by faith alone—yes:

    “Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually”.(1 Cor. 2:14)

    We should use reason where it applies—of course. But there are things we MUST accept on faith alone for we are finite creatures and cannot comprehend the thoughts or wisdom of God: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, or my ways your ways. For as the Heavens are high above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts, and my ways above your ways”. If we try to use human understanding to comprehend God we are up a creek—if we base believing on what we can understand, we have a huge misunderstanding of what faith is.

    John T.—-when I say “we will learn in eternity” I am not questioning that eternity is now. We happen to be living within TIME on this earth though—once we have passed out of time into the eternity that always has been and always will be then we will understand what God did in this Bubble called Time. That is what I meant.

  • 59. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Gos should be God in fist few sentences above—typing to fast. LOL

  • 60. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    So Joe, where do reason and faith apply? I bring up different religions because there are others out belonging to different religions who are just as strong in their faith, have just as strong a relationship with God, have had just as many prayers answered and miracles seen, et cetera — as you have, or even more. How does one discern between these beliefs taken on [i]faith[/i] alone, save for reason?

  • 61. ubi dubium  |  July 8, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Joe:
    We should use reason where it applies—of course. But there are things we MUST accept on faith alone…

    You’ve come to a website where most of us have decided that “faith alone” is just not good enough anymore. That nothing should be accepted on “faith alone”. Many of us left your religion because of that “faith alone” attitude we found there.

    We are creatures with intelligence, and there is no reason for anything to be beyond questioning. We have heard, for many years, people exhorting us to “just have faith and don’t presume to ask questions”. To me, that’s a non-answer, and only Zen Buddism gets to base a religion around non-answers.

  • 62. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Joe, I have a question: When other religions were brought up to make a point, you countered by saying,

    “I wasn’t born in Saudi Arabia, and this blog is about EX-christians who have deconverted, not about muslims.”

    Of course this is true but it leaves room for a counter point.

    When you say,

    “[T]here are things we MUST accept on faith alone for we are finite creatures and cannot comprehend the thoughts or wisdom of God”

    how do you know (as a mere human) that what was taught to you about God was the correct version? If we are unable to comprehend ‘God’ except through faith, tell me how has faith alone shown you that the ‘wisdom of God’ is revealed specifically through the Christian tradition (as opposed to the Muslim tradition or any other tradition for that matter)?

    In essence, why do you dismiss Islam? It has all the same characteristics of Christianity: Monotheism derived from Abraham’s encounter with ‘God,’ a book claiming the unique and infallible revelation of God’s will, a complicated, pre-existing and universal system of morality, a paradise prepared for believers after their death and billions of people around the world who believe Islam is ‘One True Teligiontm’ with the same absolute certainty that you have about Christianity.

    How did you arrive at the position that Christianity is ‘The Truth’ while dismissing Islam? (And Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism… ?)

  • 63. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Obi—

    I don’t think you are going to find most of the those other religions talking about a “relationship with God”—to many of them God is not a personal being. But I am not talking about “other” religions—I am talking about Christianity. As Christians, we are to use reason where it can be applied. Where should I work? Do I wait for God to zap me with an answer, or do I ask myself “What am I good at? What am I skilled to do? This is reason—and we should use it.

    But when I am faced with a question like “Why does evil exist? Why is there a devil? Why do bad things happen to good people?” my reason is not going to supply an answer. The only answer reason will give is that God is unreasonable BECAUSE evil exists, there is a devil, and bad things happen to good people. we cannot use reason for that kind of question as Christians—we “accept” that THOSE THINGS DO EXIST, but we have no way of knowing or answering the question. We must walk by faith and not by sight.

    Now, when it comes to employment, we use reason, but we can also petition God to give us greater wisdom, or to possibly open a door for us—–but we cannot EXPECT that there will be a loud boom, a flash of light, and the telephone rings with a voice saying “we would like to employ you”. We use our reason, and ask for God’s help through faith.

    I hope I have explained that sufficiently—I’m not very good at explaining things sufficiently I’ve noticed. LOL

  • 64. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    That should read:

    …who believe Islam is the ‘One True Religion’ with the same absolute certainty that you have…

    Sorry. Lack of ‘edit’ feature is annoying.

  • 65. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Griffin—-

    I have explored many different religions. Almost none of them speak of a personal relationship with God. God is either a “force” or an “entity” of some sort. He is not a God looking for a relationship with human beings, and who was willing to die for them due to his deep love.

    I investigated Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism (Bagavad-Gita and Krsna), various sects and cults, ad nauseum, and have never found any that came close to Christianity. I received Jesus Christ into my heart, and no other religion, nor it’s teachings has ever attracted me, or appeared to have any greater answers to life than Jesus taught.

    And as I have said over and over again—all of these religions accept Jesus as a great teacher, or incarnation of an avatar, or a great man—–BUT JESUS REJECTS THEM. He said “All that ever came before me were thieves and robbers” and when he speaks of the future he says that many false christs and false prophets shall appear but “do not listen to them”. So, if a “great teacher” revered by other religions tells me to reject those same religions who do you think I am going to listen to?

  • 66. BigHouse  |  July 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I don’t think you are going to find most of the those other religions talking about a “relationship with God”—to many of them God is not a personal being. But I am not talking about “other” religions—I am talking about Christianity.

    Ergo, we will continue to talk past each other. Your reasoning is circular. 1.) I believe in the Christian God as true. 2.) All other religions are not Christianity. 3.) Therefore all other religions are false.

    The several you are debating here are asking you to EXPLAIN WHY you submit to #1. You keep retorting with #s 2 and 3. We’re watching games in different ballparks…

  • 67. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Joe —

    Could you please formulate the logical argument that describes how you came to the conclusion that because other religions don’t speak on the doctrine of a personal God, that they must be false?

    Regardless, you’re very wrong in saying that the Christian God is personal, because by your own admission you state that we don’t know why he does many things. That seems very much like a sovereign and aloof deity to me, doesn’t it? I don’t know where you live, but here in America the presidential elections are coming up. People value politicians who will speak to them personally and detail everything with regards to how they plan to conduct their government, leaving nothing in secret. A politician who keeps himself above the people is one who is usually despised — and for good reason, he or she isn’t personal enough.

    Yet you state that the Christian God is more personal than the God(s) of other religions, yet go on to say that he keeps many of his motives and ways secret and hidden from us, so that we should only follow him by faith. Sounds like an impersonal dictator to me, mate. Also, other religions have personal gods. Hindusim in fact has a more personal God than Christianity, because they believe in the idea of a Universal essence called Brahman, that resides in each of us. You can’t get much more personal than having God live inside of you, no? I’d say that they’re equally personal religions.

    However, I’d like you to answer my first question. How does it follow that because a religion speaks of a personal god that it is therefore true?

  • 68. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Joe:

    “Almost none of them [other religions] speak of a personal relationship with God. God is either a “force” or an “entity” of some sort. He is not a God looking for a relationship with human beings, and who was willing to die for them due to his deep love.”

    How do you know that God wants a personal relationship with you? How do you know that God isn’t an impersonal authoritarian that couldn’t care less about your plight on earth?

    Seriously.

    Without quoting from the Bible, (which would obviously agree with the Christian concept of a personal relationship with God) how do you know what God wants? If, as finite humans, we are unable to comprehend God how is it that you KNOW that all of the other religions that regard God as a “force” or an “entity” aren’t right?

    Think about it. You choose Christianity and dismiss other religions as false is because of the personal nature of the relationship between God and the individual but you have no basis outside of Christian doctrine for making that assumption.

    When you say that you arrived at Christianity (fairly and impartially) only after investigating other religions and finding them insufficiently in line with Christian doctrine, your reasoning is circular to the point of absurdity.

  • 69. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Ergo, we will continue to talk past each other. Your reasoning is circular. 1.) I believe in the Christian God as true. 2.) All other religions are not Christianity. 3.) Therefore all other religions are false.

    The several you are debating here are asking you to EXPLAIN WHY you submit to #1. You keep retorting with #s 2 and 3. We’re watching games in different ballparks…

    BigHouse—

    Let me repeat again. ALL major religions ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST as a great teacher, Avatar, or Great Man. Yet He REJECTS THEM. He says “I am the door to the sheep—ALL THAT EVER CAME BEFORE ME were thieves and robbers” (see John 14).

    Now, once again—-if all major religions say there is something divine or almost divine about Jesus, but Jesus says that they are ALL FALSE—who should I listen to?

    Let me put it on a bit more basic level: There are 6 barbers, one of them is “Bob”. All 5 barbers say Bob is a Great Barber. Yet Bob says the other 5 are not good at all. Who is the safest bet to use as your Barber? I know—-bad analogy—but it covers the basic point.

    Obi—-your reasoning is poor. Little children have a “personal relationship” with their parents, and yet they know very little about who those parents are at all. All they know is that the parents hug them and love them. As they grow older the relationship develops. The same is true of the Christian God—he wants a relationship with us—–but we can only understand a tiny portion of him because he is infinite and we are finite. But we can know enough to know that He dearly loves us and wants to fellowship with us. Hinduism believes in an “essence” and that you yourself can BECOME GOD. Christianity says a personal God through the Holy Spirit comes to live in us and can be known personally—-not as an “essence”.

    Griffin–

    I’m not talking about other religions falling in with Christian doctrine. I am saying that when I put all of them side by side, Christianity holds far more answers, has far more of a basis in fact and reality (historical evidence included), and has a far more appealing God than all the rest. There is no God like Jesus Christ. And again—ALL the major religions acknowledge Jesus—–but HE DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. That is a very important facet when looking at it from a logical perspective. Finally, I could NEVER accept any other religion—not due to fear—–but due to the fact that I have found the answer in Christ—he fulfills me—I don’t need to search any further. I can’t talk for Muslims, or Buddhists, or Hindus—I’m saying that I have no need to search further—-Jesus Christ is the answer.

  • 70. BigHouse  |  July 8, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Christianity holds far more answers, has far more of a basis in fact and reality (historical evidence included), and has a far more appealing God than all the rest.

    One of these things is not like the other….

    ALL the major religions acknowledge Jesus—–but HE DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. That is a very important facet when looking at it from a logical perspective.

    This I do not get at all. Why is this so convincing to you? I could concoct a lot of scenarios that would lead to this result, including, Jesus was a raving and egotistical lunatic that also taught lovely lessons.

  • 71. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Joe:

    “I’m not talking about other religions falling in with Christian doctrine. I am saying that when I put all of them side by side, Christianity holds far more answers, has far more of a basis in fact and reality (historical evidence included), and has a far more appealing God than all the rest.”

    My belief or disbelief in an afterlife aside, you’re willing to bet your eternal soul (which according to Christian doctrine you believe you have) that Christianity is the ‘One True Religion’ because Christianity (and-I-quote), “has a far more appealing God than all the rest.”

    What a ringing endorsement of the absolute, indisputable perfection of the Christian religion. That’s how I pick shirts. And you are talking about other religions falling into line with Christian doctrine. You said you picked Christianity because of the personal relationship it provided with god. In other words you rejected other religions because they lacked the required personal relationship with god – a requirement of Christian doctrine.

    Also:

    “ALL the major religions acknowledge Jesus—–but HE DOES NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. That is a very important facet when looking at it from a logical perspective.”

    Quite simply, no it’s not. And it’s also illogical. Of course Jesus doesn’t acknowledge any other religions as superior. He’s trying to start his own!

    Finally:

    “Finally, I could NEVER accept any other religion—not due to fear—–but due to the fact that I have found the answer in Christ—he fulfills me—I don’t need to search any further. I can’t talk for Muslims, or Buddhists, or Hindus—I’m saying that I have no need to search further—-Jesus Christ is the answer.”

    But you looked first. You said you did. “I investigated Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism (Bagavad-Gita and Krsna), various sects and cults, ad nauseum, and have never found any that came close to Christianity.” Why? It’s funny how so many people’s search for religion usually end up being the religious tradition they were raised in…

  • 72. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Joe said, “your reasoning is poor. Little children have a “personal relationship” with their parents, and yet they know very little about who those parents are at all. All they know is that the parents hug them and love them. As they grow older the relationship develops. The same is true of the Christian God—he wants a relationship with us—–but we can only understand a tiny portion of him because he is infinite and we are finite. But we can know enough to know that He dearly loves us and wants to fellowship with us. Hinduism believes in an “essence” and that you yourself can BECOME GOD. Christianity says a personal God through the Holy Spirit comes to live in us and can be known personally—-not as an “essence”.

    No, they have a parent-child relationship. A personal relationship is one in which the two view each other as equals, and thus can share their thoughts, motives, concerns, et cetera with the other. A parent-child relationship like the one you suggest God wants us to have with him is not a personal relationship. Since God keeps so many of his motives and reasons secret from us, how can the relationship be personal? If he created us for fellowship, then we should be able to fellowship on a common basis. Otherwise, it’s like the “love” between an owner and say, his pet hamster. That’s not a personal relationship in any sense of the word.

    Now before you say that God keeps himself aloof because he is vastly superior to us, remember that Jesus supposedly washed the feet of his disciples. That’s a personal relationship. Why doesn’t God reveal himself like this in such a way anymore? Why does he hide his motives and reasons from us, in the way that you yourself describe? Is it perhaps, because he doesn’t exist? Unless you can find a better answer than the hollow “God works in mysterious ways”, then that’s the only logical option there is.

    Regardless, you’re wrong about Hinduism. The Hindu belief is that everything stems from the Universal Brahman, and that each of us have a part of God within them. This belief actually predates the belief in the Holy Spirit of Christianity by a few centuries, so I’d say that it takes quite a bit of precedence over your beliefs and not the other way around. Christians could indeed perhaps even have lifted these beliefs from Hinduism, because the Holy Spirit isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament as far as I remember.

  • 73. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Quite simply, no it’s not. And it’s also illogical. Of course Jesus doesn’t acknowledge any other religions as superior. He’s trying to start his own!

    Griffin—

    But Mohammed came AFTER Jesus—why would HE acknowledge Jesus if he was starting the Islam faith? Your
    logic is not good.

  • 74. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    BigHouse–

    Read the barber scenario I gave earlier. There are (6) barbers—-you are going to choose one to do your hair. One of them is named “BOB”. The (5) other barbers say Bob does a great job of cutting hair. But Bob says that all of them are not very good barbers. Would you go with Bob, or one of the other 5? Think about it.

    Similarly, in a far greater sense—ALL major religions say that Jesus was a GREAT teacher. Yet, Jesus says THEIR TEACHINGS ARE NOT CORRECT. Who are you going to listen to?

    If you cannot grasp this logic I truly give up.

  • 75. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Griffin—

    You are putting words into my mouth. I did not say I chose Christiainity as simply as picking out a shirt. I said when you put all of the religions side by side and compare the doctrine, the God, the teachings and the fact that they ALL accept Jesus, but he does not accept them, combined with many other factors, there is no way I could go with any other religion.

    The one thing I hate about this blog is the selectiveness you all use when picking apart someone’s posts.

    Obi—

    You expect me to go with YOUR DEFINITION of a personal relationship? I think what you are saying is pure nonsense. Of course a child has a personal relationship wtih their parents. Only they can call Mommy THEIR Mommy—-no other kid can call the woman Mommy and have her respond.

    Man—you pick at straws—you really do. No matter what anyone says it just won’t sit with you. You KNOW that if there is a God he is infinite and far greater than any of us—yet he says he wants a personal relationship with us. Of course we cannot be “equals”!!! HE IS GOD for Pete’s sake!! A mother and child (as I suggested) is very far from the relationship of an owner and a hamster. Not even in the same league. God calls himself “Our Father” not “Our owner” and he calls us “sons” not “hamsters”. Man—your logic just send me into fits of laughter.

  • 76. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Why doesn’t God reveal himself like this in such a way anymore?

    Obi–

    Who says he doesn’t? I have had experiences of the closeness of God and his lovingkindness which were very tangible. He does not reveal himself like that often, but he will “touch” his children through the Spirit.

    I do not accept Hinduism because it came before Jesus, and Jesus said ” I am the door to the sheepfold—ALL that came before me were thieves and robbers”—ALL includes the Hindu faith. Sorry—but Jesus definitely said it. See John 14.

  • 77. ubi dubium  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Joe:

    But Mohammed came AFTER Jesus—why would HE acknowledge Jesus if he was starting the Islam faith?

    Oh- maybe because some of the people he was trying to convert were christian? Instead of tearing down their whole religion, he came at it from a perspective of “you already have part of the divine truth, now here’s the rest”. Jesus acknowledged the Jewish prophets that came before him – of course he did, he was preaching to Jews. And the Ba’hai prophets acknowledged both Jesus and Mohammed as their predecessors. It’s just a more practical way of winning converts.

  • 78. LeoPardus  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    ALL major religions ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST as a great teacher, Avatar, or Great Man. Yet He REJECTS THEM.

    We went over this before laddybuck. It got shot full of holes then, and it still doesn’t hold water.

  • 79. LeoPardus  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Re the Jefferson quote earlier.. let us hear from the other side.

    Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but–more frequently than not–struggles against the divine World, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.–Martin Luther

    Gee, hmmm, which one do i want to follow? Use your brain, or throw it in a pickle jar?

  • 80. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Joe said, “You expect me to go with YOUR DEFINITION of a personal relationship? I think what you are saying is pure nonsense. Of course a child has a personal relationship wtih their parents. Only they can call Mommy THEIR Mommy—-no other kid can call the woman Mommy and have her respond.

    So what’s your definition of a “personal relationship”? I’m not saying that children don’t have personal relationships with their parents, but an infant wouldn’t be able to have a personal relationship with their parents, because they aren’t on the same level. Your comparison then becomes flawed. However, as the child grows and learns more, he/she will be able to build a real relationship with his/her parents. The parent then proceeds to perhaps divulge more about themselves to their child, and this builds and strengthens the relationship even more.

    Thus, if God hides his reasons and motives for doing many things or not doing things (not abolishing unnecessary evil for example, the problem of evil is one of the most devastating arguments against Christianity) he isn’t establishing a truly personal relationship with us. You state that we can’t comprehend him because he’s God, but don’t you see the impasse that that creates between us? The Bible states that God walked through the garden with Adam and Eve — it doesn’t sound like he’s making himself high and mighty there. I gave the example of Jesus washing his disciples feet, as well as speaking to them about his sufferings. However, now you’re telling me that God withholds information from us — which is most definitely not how a personal relationship is started and maintained, this seems like common knowledge.

    It seems that you want to say that your God is a personal one who wants to fellowship with his creations, but you also state that your God is one who we cannot possibly comprehend, and who keeps his motives and reasons for action secret. They are two completely different attitudes — which one is it? You also give anecdotes of your “personal experiences”, yet I’ve heard similar anecdotes from those of many different religions, while I myself never had any as a Christian, even though I spent time out of every day in prayer. Have you ever considered that this “personal God” is all in your mind, mate?

    P.S.

    I could care less about what Jesus said about the leaders of other religions, thousands upon thousands of other religions disregard Christianity as in part or in whole as false, so which one should I believe? One, or many?
    :D

  • 81. BigHouse  |  July 8, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    If you cannot grasp this logic I truly give up.

    This is the problem. It isn’t logic you are using.

    You pre-suppose that the 6 barbers are my only source of information on who a good barber is. I would likely not rely on ANY of their word, I would talk to their customers.

    You set up a false set of limited options and then pick the best of this lot. You define ‘best’ as which appeals to you most. You think a ‘personal’ god is somehow mandatory and proving yet have no basis as to why this way MUST be truth.

    Face it, Joe, you LIKE Christianity the most, based in subjective factors, and NOW say it is truth. That is certainly your prerogative, but it won’t win you any logical debates with those living outside the blinders you have on.

  • 82. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Joe:

    “But Mohammed came AFTER Jesus—why would HE acknowledge Jesus if he was starting the Islam faith? Your
    logic is not good.”

    Jesus came after and acknowledged all the kings & prophets of the Old Testament. (So did Mohammad) This isn’t a problem because Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religion” title+”Abrahamic” religions. All three of them worship the same god that revealed himself to Abraham. Incidentally, all three do NOT acknowledge Jesus in the same way. Both Islam and Judaism consider Jesus a prophet but nothing more. Certainly not the Messiah or Son of God.

    Other religions (Don’t forget that nearly as many people DON’T believe in the Abrahamic as those that do) that you say ‘accept’ Jesus hardly do so in a manner that would be acceptable to Christians. Their regard for Jesus is same ours for the wisdom of Ben Franklin. Just because we think “God helps those who help themselves” meshes nicely with our beliefs doesn’t mean that we think Ben Franklin is a prophet sent by god. When the Dali Lama says that he likes the things that Jesus said, he’s not endorsing Jesus’ divinity or saying that he was anything more than a wise teacher. He is simply saying that (most of) the ideas that were attributed to a First Century CE traveling Jewish Rabbi were good ones. His Holiness certainly doesn’t consider Jesus the only way into heaven. The Dali Lama doesn’t believe in a heaven.

    Your grounding in facts is not good.

    Also:

    “You are putting words into my mouth. I did not say I chose Christiainity as simply as picking out a shirt. I said when you put all of the religions side by side and compare the doctrine, the God, the teachings and the fact that they ALL accept Jesus, but he does not accept them, combined with many other factors, there is no way I could go with any other religion.”

    No, I said you chose Christianity for the same reasons as I pick out a shirt. You “investigated Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism (Bagavad-Gita and Krsna), various sects and cults, ad nauseum” and based chose Christianity because it “has a far more appealing God than all the rest.”

    Those are all your words, not mine.

    If I compare four shirts and pick the one in the color I find most appealing, I have made my choice in the same manner – define your options and choose the example that appeals to you. I certainly did not mean to imply that you took the same amount of care in choosing Christianity as I do a shirt, just that in the end you found the one that YOU LIKED and picked it.

    I’ve already made my point that a statement like “they ALL accept Jesus” is disingenuous at best.

    To come full circle, let’s get back to why ‘other religions’ were brought up in the first place. As non-believers/deconverts we were trying to set our arguments up as ‘deconvert vs. Christian.’ We brought other religions in to construct an argument comparing believers and non-believers.

    What you’re not realizing, Joe, is that you’re an atheist too. You don’t believe in Zeus. You’re atheistic in regards to Thor. You dismiss out of hand any reality in the Egyptian belief in Ra or Anubis. You have no reason to consider the beliefs of the Mayans or the Aztecs anything more than stories. I simply believe in one less God than you.

  • 83. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    That link was supposed to be .

  • 84. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:13 pm

  • 85. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Forget it. I give up on the html. This is the link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religion

  • 86. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    We went over this before laddybuck. It got shot full of holes then, and it still doesn’t hold water.

    Leo—

    How did it get shot full of holes? It is a very logical question—and I still have not heard a logical response to it—-just avoiding the question with another question. It’s hilarious to watch ‘em squirm. Answer the barber question—-look at BIgHouse avoid it once again—it’s hilarious—-It is a straightforward question with a very straightforward answer—anyone being HONEST would say immediately that they would have BOB cut their hair. Of course they would—-it makes the most sense. But you just want to avoid any direct answer.

  • 87. BigHouse  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Umm..I answered the barber question I think quite reasonably and logically in #81. You’re setting up a false dillema.

    It’s not my fault you can’t see the forest for the trees…

  • 88. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Oops. Sorry. My second to last paragraph above (in the long post) should read:

    To come full circle, let’s get back to why ‘other religions’ were brought up in the first place. As non-believers/deconverts we were NOT trying to set our arguments up as ‘deconvert vs. Christian.’ We brought other religions in to construct an argument comparing believers and non-believers.

    Somehow I forgot the word ‘not.’

  • 89. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    BigHouse—

    in #81 you did what’s called “avoiding the question”.

    Let’s make it a cake shop. Come on—-just use your logic now—-just use it. There are (6) cake shops in town. (5) of them say that “Annie’s cakes” makes wonderful cakes and she is a wonderful person. But then you talk to Annie and she says that the other (5) shops make bad cakes, and they are right, she is a great cake-maker.

    You don’t need to ask the customers. The other cake-bakers have already told you she is great. She admits they are right—she is the best cake-maker. Yet, she tells you they don’t make good cakes at all.

    Now—-BE HONEST. Logically, who are you going to go and buy the cake from? I swear if you cannot answer this question with the obvious answer then you are truly trying to avoid the question. I am using the same logic regarding Jesus–because there are like 4 or 5 major religions—they all call Jesus a Prophet, and Avatar or a great teacher at the least. Yet he calls ALL of them thieves and robbers, false prophets and anti-Christs. If you cannot admit who you would buy the cake from as ANYONE WITH HALF A grasp of reality would, you are being willingly dishonest.

  • 90. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Joe —

    As has been previously stated, you try to make it seem as if all other religions acknowledge Jesus as the son of God. They don’t. They acknowledge him as a good leader who brought good teachings to the table. You’re also trying to make it seem as if they’ve incorporated him into their religions in full — no other religion save for Islam to my knowledge regards Jesus as more significant than “another good teacher”. For example modern-day Christians often consider the Buddha, Confucius, and Lao Tzi as wise men who had much wisdom to dispense about life — that doesn’t mean they worship them or hold them in more esteem than any other good, non-religious teacher.

    You’re twisting facts to support your case, but that isn’t going to work, mate.

  • 91. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    By the way, it is not a dilemna at all. The cake-shop scenario could be very real if you were visiting a town.

    Haven’t you ever heard that old riddle before. A man goes into a town with two barber shops. He enters the first and it is spic and span clean, orderly, with fresh flowers, and the barber has a fantastic haircut.

    He then enters the other barber shop and it is in terrible shape. Crap all over the place, smells bad, and the barber has a terribly botched haircut. The question then is, what barber did he wind up going to?

    The answer is the terrible shop—-because the other barber has to go to him to get a haircut.

    Now—in your world—instead of just answering the simple riddle you have to set up variables– “Oh, maybe the barber’s girlfriend cut his hair” or “I’d ask the customer’s first”, etc.—BUT COME ON it’s a simple question to answer. That’s all I am asking in the cake-shop question too. Be Honest for once and just give a straightforward answer.

  • 92. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Obi—

    Where in the heck do you get that I am saying that other religions accept Jesus as the Son of God? I NEVER said that. I said that they accept him as a Great teacher, or an Avatar, or a Great Teacher. They SEE SOMETHING in Jesus that makes him much higher than some average person. YET, Jesus does not acknowledge ANY OF THEM. He does not call any of them great teachers, or Avatars. Don’t you understand? I have to keep repeating this basic piece of information.

    Do I have to use cave-man talk?
    OTHER RELIGIONS—-SAY JESUS GOOD
    JESUS—————HIM SAY ALL OTHER RELIGIONS BAD

  • 93. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Joe, let me get this straight:

    Six bakers, 5 of whom say the other is great. That one says that she IS great and the other 5 couldn’t bake their way out of a wet paper bag. You want me to say that I’d buy a cake from the one esteemed baker.

    But where your example breaks down is that a baker may say that ‘Annie’ may be a great baker and still think that they are better. (That’s certainly how other religions that ‘accept Jesus’ would consider themselves. When a Rabbi or Imam tells you that Jesus was a great teacher they’re not telling you to abandon Judaism or Islam in favor of Christianity.) Also ‘Annie’s’ self interest in being the baker you buy your cake from places reasonable doubt on her claim that the other five bakers make bad cakes.

    Given only what’s contained within your construction, of course we’d pick ‘Annie.’ The problem is that in creating that construct to force us to make the choice you wanted, you distilled the reality out of the example.

    If I told you that you were in a room with six people and five of them told you 2+2=5 and the other told you 2+2=3 that doesn’t mean that 5 is the right answer. You’ve simply created a construct that ducks reality.

  • 94. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Riddle: “There are five apples sitting on a wall—you take two. How many do you have?”

    Answers given by the populace:

    Person not thinking correctly: “3”
    Person listening closely: “2”
    Atheists on Deconversion Blog: “How do we know for sure they are apples? Maybe they’re oranges. And how do we know for sure the person really only took two?”

  • 95. BigHouse  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Joe,

    Your posts # 89 and 90 continue to reveal how critically incapable you are of logic on this point. It’s not hard to construct logically fallcious questions. How about this, I will stipulate that I am evading your question if you can answer this question from me with evading it.

    “Joe, when did you stop beating your wife?”

    I look forward to your answer.

  • 96. BigHouse  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Of course that should be “without” evading it above.

  • 97. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Joe —

    And none of those other religions see Jesus’ teaching about salvation as anything special. They all declare him as mistaken. What does that say to you? If you went to a university, and one hundred other professors stated that there was a professor of physics on campus who was a wonderful mathematics teacher but who knew absolutely nothing about English, while the professor himself stated that they were all kooks and liars who shouldn’t be trusted and that he did know how to teach English, who would you acknowledge as right?

    One hundred, or one?

    Do you see how these pointless questions can be structured to benefit either side of the argument? We should be dealing with actual arguments and facts here, instead of structuring questions that state nothing about the truth value of the actual subjects at hand.

  • 98. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    The problem is that in creating that construct to force us to make the choice you wanted, you distilled the reality out of the example.

    Griffin—LOL

    But I did not create the construct between other religions and Jesus. They DO say HE is a great teacher, avatar or Great Man—none of them say he is a deceiver. Yet Jesus DOES say they are deceivers and thieves and robbers. Now, If I accept what other religions say about Jesus, then I accept He is a great teacher, or incarnated Avatar, or great man—so I LISTEN to what he has to say. He SAYS they are ALL deceivers!!

    This is as clear as day–no way around it. You can look it up in the Bible. Again, a room full of men ALL say “John is a man of the highest character—he would never lie to you”. Then you got to John and he says “Yes, I am a man of great character. They are ALL men of poor character”. Now, if you believe the other people, John is an upstanding person. If you believe only John you have made a good choice because the other men have said he would never lie, yet he has said they are all rogues.

    Listen—-that is good enough logic for me. If there are five apples on a wall and I take two how many do I have? The answer is ALWAYS two no matter how you try to squirm out of the question. LOL

  • 99. Joe  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    “Joe, when did you stop beating your wife?”

    BigHouse—-you KNOW that question is not in the same league or logic I am asking. Anyone being honest can see that. The problem is we are talking about God. If we weren’t talking about God you would have immediately have said “annie” as the person you would buy the cakes from. But because we are talking about God you HAVE to be evasive. It’s the only way around the obvious question and answer.

  • 100. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Joe:

    “Do I have to use cave-man talk?
    OTHER RELIGIONS—-SAY JESUS GOOD
    JESUS—————HIM SAY ALL OTHER RELIGIONS BAD”

    More like…

    OTHER RELIGIONS — JESUS GOOD TEACHER BUT OURS BETTER
    JESUS —————— OTHER TEACHERS GOOD BUT ME BETTER

    You can’t use Jesus saying that other religions are wrong as evidence that Christianity is right.

    It’s like letting Peyton Manning’s statement that the Colts are better than the Giants be used as proof that Indianapolis could beat New York.

    (Side note: Eli Manning may says that Peyton is a great quarterback. So does Kyle Brady. Ben Roethlesburger, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, John Elway and Bret Favre. say so too Peyton says that those guys doesn’t know sh*t. Does this prove that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback ever to play the game?)

  • 101. BigHouse  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Joe, it truly is frustrating to have you evade my question like that. It’s very straightforward as anyone honest can see.

    Why can’t you just answer it?

  • 102. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Joe:

    “But I did not create the construct between other religions and Jesus. They DO say HE is a great teacher, avatar or Great Man—none of them say he is a deceiver. Yet Jesus DOES say they are deceivers and thieves and robbers. Now, If I accept what other religions say about Jesus, then I accept He is a great teacher, or incarnated Avatar, or great man—so I LISTEN to what he has to say. He SAYS they are ALL deceivers!!”

    You simply refuse to accept that Jesus (or the people telling you what Jesus was supposed to have said) had very good (and very earthly) reasons to tell you that all the other religions are deceivers. He (or those writing up to a century later) held positions of authority and would lose those if people started accepting other religions. IT WAS SELF SERVING FOR JESUS TO SAY THEY WERE DECEIVERS! and therefore his word alone isn’t really worth anything.

  • 103. Griffin  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    “This is as clear as day–no way around it. You can look it up in the Bible. Again, a room full of men ALL say “John is a man of the highest character—he would never lie to you”. Then you got to John and he says “Yes, I am a man of great character. They are ALL men of poor character”. Now, if you believe the other people, John is an upstanding person. If you believe only John you have made a good choice because the other men have said he would never lie, yet he has said they are all rogues.”

    If they’re rogues, why wouldn’t they lie about John lying? If John were a rogue too, why wouldn’t he say that he is a man of the highest character? You’d be more likely to trust him. It’s almost like a set up… Next thing you know John will start asking for 15% of your income.

    “Listen—-that is good enough logic for me. If there are five apples on a wall and I take two how many do I have? The answer is ALWAYS two no matter how you try to squirm out of the question. LOL”

    Exactly, Joe. Exactly.

  • 104. Obi  |  July 8, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Joe —

    You’re trying to make it seem as if every single other religion that has ever existed and does exist on this planet reveres Jesus. The only religions that do are Christianity (for obvious reasons), Islam, and Hinduism. Others such as Zoroastrianism (where Christianity draws its roots), Shintoism, Taoism, Confucianism, the classical Greek and Roman religions, Aztec, Incan and Maya religions, native African religions, et cetera don’t mention Jesus (some for obvious reasons — they predated him), and all of them disregard his claims to be the only way to salvation, as well as his claims to be the son of God (although Hinduism shares the belief that he was indeed the son of God, just like their Krishna).

    You’re skewing the facts in your favor mate, and it’s quite obvious when your arguments are inspected. As a side note, have you ever heard the story of the man who thought all the schizophrenics were chasing him? He called everyone crazy but himself — when it was he who was the crazy one. Sound familiar?

  • 105. John Morales  |  July 8, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Wow. Talk about topic drift.

    I think it’s been established that Joe appears to think it self-evident Christianity is privileged above other religions. How can abstract reasoning dent that sort of belief?

    On topic, I note there’s a whole section in Wikipedia about non-Christian martyrdom.

  • 106. The de-Convert  |  July 8, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Joe,

    …Atheists on Deconversion Blog….

    Just for the record, all de-converts are not atheists. Apostate – yes. Atheist – not necessarily.

    Not because we do not believe that the mythical gods of the Jews, Elohim or Yahweh, is God or that a man name Jesus who supposedly performed great miracles 2000 years ago is a god-man, that it means we have come to the conclusion that god does not exist.

    Personally, I just think IF there’s a god, he is NOT a maniac in the sky who supported genocide/murder/rape/slavery/prejudice/elitism/ etc. who will sentence a majority of mankind to an eternity of torture in the fires of hell – and who, btw, we’re supposed to believe is a “loving father.” How does that make sense to you?

    Paul

  • 107. ubi dubium  |  July 8, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Yes, quite off topic. I think Joe has gotten himself in a logical loop without even seeing it:

    If other religions say they think Jesus is great, and he says they are liars, then they must be lying when they said they thought he was great. Or else Jesus was lying when he said they were liars, and in that case, why would they think he is great? Somebody’s lying here.

    Unless Joe proves that he is capable of thinking outside of his god-box, I don’t think we will get any interesting discussion from him.

    John, thanks for reminding us to get back on the topic at hand. I read that Wikipedia article – very interesting. I like the following part especially:

    However, Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, discouraged the literal meaning of sacrificing one’s life, and instead explained that martyrdom is devoting oneself to service to humanity

    I can certainly respect an attitude like that, whether it’s from a religious or a secular leader.

  • 108. RLTJ  |  July 8, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    A little more than a decade ago a group of tourist was kidnapped by Muslim terrorists in a beach resort in Palawan, central Philippines. Among in the group was a missionary couple, Americans Martin and Gracia Burnham.

    The group was held by terrorists for quite some time. They were always in the run and had to suffer great ordeals like hunger, sleeping on damp earth and sickness. A few of them, including one American, were beheaded by their captors to make strong their demands for ransom. In the end, government troops caught up with the group of the abducted and their kidnappers. The ensuing firefight that followed resulted in the death of Mr Burnham who got hit in the crossfire. Some of those alleged involved in the kidnapping were arrested later, brought to trial, and convicted.

    Interviewed about justice for them later, Mrs Burnham openly expressed gratitude. But it appeared she was short of being happy as Philippine justice system has only life imprisonment instead of death (which was revised) for heinous crimes

    In comparison the Elliot and the Burnham cases, where or which is sense and which is nonsense? Or, maybe question may be re-phrased whatever because both cases show stark contrast with one another.

  • 109. LeoPardus  |  July 9, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Joe:

    How did it get shot full of holes?

    Go look at the prior exchange we had on the very same point and see. I don’t recall just which thread it was right now. One of the “Why c-C?” threads I think. Let me know if you’re incapable of finding it.

  • 110. Rachel  |  July 9, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I stumbled upon this video about two months ago. Lisa Ling made a short journalistic documentary about female suicide bombers (i.e. martyrs)- specifically in the Middle East.
    It’s revealing, and sometimes she focuses on the wrong issue (wrong as I see it) and tries to play too much to the American ideal of the “terrorist”, but she does tell some truths. Better yet, she interviews women who failed in their attempts at achieving martyrdom, which is even more revealing. http://www.lisaling.com/fembomb

  • 111. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Just for the record, all de-converts are not atheists. Apostate – yes. Atheist – not necessarily.

    The de-Convert—

    Understood. Thanks for the clarification.

  • 112. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 11:51 am

    The one thing I hate about this blog is the selectiveness you all use when picking apart someone’s posts.
    This thread has exploded since I last visited, but this little gem caught my eye.

    Joe, you’re the only person I’ve seen complain about this here. Could it possibly be that the problem is in fact with your posts, and not the people picking it apart?

  • 113. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 11:51 am

    argh, need an edit button…

  • 114. Rover  |  July 9, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Joe,

    what variety of christian are you? Calvinist? Armininan? Something in between? What is your view of salvation?

  • 115. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Rover—

    I guess you could say I am somewhere in between. I believe ALL have a chance for salvation based on John 3:16 “whosoever”—but I am Calvinist in that I believe that once someone is TRULY saved they cannot be forever lost because they have been born-again. You are saved by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart, and by realizing that your own works of righteousness cannot save you, or else why would Christ have to die on a cross—in other words, if you could be saved by being good, why did Jesus die for you? We are saved, changed, “unto good works” not “BY good works”.

    I believe that many BELIEVE they were once saved who never really were—-and they show that by abandoning the faith. Jesus mentions those who “receive the word with joy, but then afterwards ‘fall away'(apostasize) because “they have no ROOT in themselves”—-or, in other words, the very root of salvation was never REALLY there. And they show it wasn’t ever there by their own ABILITY to apostasize.

    We see this in Hebrews 6 also—it talks of those who once believed, fell away, and now it is “impossible” for them to return—yet it says in v. 9 “But we are persuaded of better things of you BRETHREN, and things that accompany SALVATION”—thus inferring that the “others” who fell away were never really “brethren” in the first place. So, I believe a TRUE believer can never be lost, but many “professors” definitely can if they don’t repent.

    I hope that answers a few questions about what I believe.

  • 116. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Snuggly–

    What I meant is that what often happens when a question is asked with a very obvious answer. In this bit of a joke from yesterday I gave an example of this:

    Question: There are 5 apples on a wall, you take two of them, how many do you have?

    Answers from various people:

    Someone answering quickly: “3”
    Someone thinking before answering: “2”
    The devconverted on this blog: “How do we know they are really apples? What if they are oranges? What kind of wall were they sitting on?”

    The obvious answer, “2” (because that’s how many you have) is avoided, and many other questions are asked which have absolutely nothing to do with an easy answer if given honestly. I have run into this many times—-many times yesterday. I personally find it to be hilarious!!!! I went around the office yesterday asking the question with obvious answer yesterday, and everyone immediately responded with the answer that SHOULD be given. Yet the deconverted yesterday refused to admit the answer was correct—they were being “willingly ignorant”. That was funny as hell (oops, I mean that is as funny as can be).

  • 117. BigHouse  |  July 9, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I’m glad you’re so proud of yourself Joe, and continue to be willingly igonrant of your problems with logic.

    What seems obvious to you, is becuase you are so blinded by your own presuppositions that you can’t imagine that someone with a different point of view might see a different answer as correct, or even question the nature of the premise of your question.

    And what’s ironic is that I could post the same little story about you that you posted above, since you evaded my question, even though the answer is so obvious.

    It’s a shame, really.

  • 118. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    everyone immediately responded with the answer that SHOULD be given.

    This is the problem Joe, you’re asking a question and expecting us to answer a certain way. You think you’re being clever when you set up a question that should lead to God, and then get upset when we don’t follow the neat little path you’ve set up for us.

    You try to set up an analogy of barbers or bakers, comparing them to religions. You know what answer you think should be given. Then you get upset when we follow your analogy and say we would seek more information instead of making a choice based on hearsay.

    6 barbers, all say one is good, and that one says the rest are bad. Which do you use?

    Average person: The one everyone says is good.
    Someone who’s thinking critically: There’s not enough information presented here to make a good decision.

    Your analogy is never as cut-and-dried as your 5 apples example, so you can’t use that to criticize us when we take your other analogies apart.

  • 119. ubi dubium  |  July 9, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Oh – the classic apple trick question!

    There are five apples and I take two, so how many do I have now? None! Because the moment my kids saw that I had apples, which they love, they came and asked me for them. Being a good Mom, I handed them over. Our point is that simple questions with simple answers aren’t the way life really is.

    So can I have those other three apples now?

    And what does this analogy have to do with the topic at hand, which I believe was martyrdom?

  • 120. LeoPardus  |  July 9, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    And what does this analogy have to do with the topic at hand, which I believe was martyrdom?

    Nothing. It’s a classic case of comparing apples and martyrs. :D

  • 121. LeoPardus  |  July 9, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    many BELIEVE they were once saved who never really were—-and they show that by abandoning the faith.

    And some, who left the faith, then return and show a life full of faith, works, etc, thus showing that they were never really lost.

    Just completing the logical circle, thank you. You may return to your prior discourse.

  • 122. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    There are five apples and I take two, so how many do I have now? None! Because the moment my kids saw that I had apples, which they love, they came and asked me for them. Being a good Mom, I handed them over. Our point is that simple questions with simple answers aren’t the way life really is.

    There you go. That is absolutely pathetic. So you think you can take a question with an obvious answer of (2) and change it to none because “you gave the apples to your kids” and then say simple answers aren’t the way life is? I’m sorry–but the answer is two–you think you could turn in an answer of “none” to your Math teacher?? Give me a break!!

  • 123. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    some, who left the faith, then return and show a life full of faith, works, etc, thus showing that they were never really lost.

    Leo–very true and that’s why I continue to post. Jude says that of some “make a difference”—some are filled with doubts, worries and are troubled by losing faith—they have not crossed the line to “impossible” yet (Heb. 6:4-6). Other, filled with mockery of the Gospel show they have lost all faith and most likely have crossed that line. But we simply do not know. Only God does.

    When I say “abandoning the faith” —I have never seen anyone (but not denying it could happen) say they once believed, then say they lost all faith, and began mocking what they onced believed, return to the faith. I’m not saying it isn’t possible–only God knows. But very unlikely. But there is great hope for others.

  • 124. Obi  |  July 9, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Joe —

    Calm down, mate…the apple comment was meant in jest, don’t take it so seriously.

    The point a few people are trying to get across to you here is that you ask loaded questions that don’t present how reality truly is. The person who asked you previously “when did you stop beating your wife?” hit the nail on the head. If you answer that you’ve stopped, you’re seen as terrible for having done so. If you answer that you haven’t, then you’re seen as terrible for still continuing to do so. If you say you never did, then you’re avoiding what the question is asking you (you avoided answering the question, exactly what you accused some here of doing).

    After examining this question, hopefully you can see that your previous question was a loaded one in that stead. There have been several deconstructions of your points (such as, if Jesus calls all of those who laud him great deceivers, wouldn’t they be lying about his greatness?), all equally valid. Ideas are not our children — simply move on. Getting something wrong is much better than getting something right, because you learn something new in the process.

    However, let’s get back to the question (granted it wasn’t the main topic, but still) of how you decided that Christianity was the correct religion based on reason. I’m interested in how you did so, and I think a few others are as well.

  • 125. BigHouse  |  July 9, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you, Obi, for going into more detail on my point re: wife beating.

  • 126. BigHouse  |  July 9, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    An I echo Obi’s sentiments in that I too, am interested in hoe you decided Christianity was the correct religion.

  • 127. ubi dubium  |  July 9, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Joe said:

    I’m sorry–but the answer is two–you think you could turn in an answer of “none” to your Math teacher?? Give me a break!!

    Thanks, Obi, you got my point. Life isn’t math class. Most of the important questions in life are essay questions, not true/false or multiple choice. Pretending there is an easy answer to everything doesn’t make it so. And asking loaded questions does not produce useful answers.

    Joe – lighten up a little! I make a joke and you take it personally!

  • 128. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    However, let’s get back to the question (granted it wasn’t the main topic, but still) of how you decided that Christianity was the correct religion based on reason. I’m interested in how you did so, and I think a few others are as well.

    LOL—-I have been doing exactly that. Let me state one main REASON why I believe Christianity is a great choice:

    ALL the major religions acknowledge Jesus Christ as either an Avatar, a Great Teacher, or a Great Man. They may not call him “Son of God” but they acknowledge greatness in him–some even calling him “divine” (such as the Hindus who call him an incarnation). Yet (and I have stated this so many times I can’t believe it), He does not acknowledge ANY of them. THEY wanted followers TOO—-but they acknowledge his greatness—–He though, does not acknowledge them (you use the reasoning that he wanted followers—-well, the other religions want followers to, but they acknowledge HIM).

    To me, this is a very reasonable thing to consider. They point to him, he points away from them. Add to that his great wisdom, miracles, teachings, his death and resurrection, and I am sold.

    I am telling you based on “reason” why I would choose Christianity. Then if I add my own experiences, there is no way I could choose any other religion.

    For some reason you will not accept this—-I’m not sure why. I have asked the same questions of Muslims, etc.—and many of them become wide-eyed—-they had never considered that their religion calls Jesus “a great Prophet”—-yet he calls their religion false. This amazes them. They have never considered it—it is a very logical and reasonable thing to ask—I’m not sure why you cannot look at it critically and see where I am coming from. It seems very simple to others I have presented it to.

    Ubi—

    I am not really “upset”—just tired of the same old circular reasoning. To try to say that the “have you stopped beating your wife” logic, or “giving the apples to your kid” has anything to do with real logic is truly frustrating. But I’m not slamming my fist down or anything like that. LOL

  • 129. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Also, you all seem to think I am asking a “fixed” question. But I did not make Jesus say that he believes everyone who came before him are thieves and robbers—-HE SAID IT, not me. And he calls all that come after him false prophets and false christs. And yet, this same person, all the other religions acknoledge as a great teacher or prophet. I am not “fixing” anything—–Jesus said exactly what I am stating.

  • 130. BigHouse  |  July 9, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Joe, the reason the question is fixed or loaded is because Jesus’s words on other religions, and other religion’s “revering’ of Jesus ARE NOT THE ONlY SOURCES OF INFORMATION ONE CAN CONSIDER!

    It’s the same reason that the barber and baker questions are loaded. You are telling us to DROP EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD and just consider these limited options and make a choice. We repeatedly reply with ‘I REJECT THAT THESE ARE THE ONLY CONSIDERATIONS”

    I’m beginning to think you are just trolling. if you are not, my fears are well founded that having a logical debate with you is not possible.

  • 131. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    BigHouse—–

    Obi asked me why I believe in Christianity “based on Reason”—the answer I am giving is based on a reasoning process. If you don’t want to accept that fine. I can give you my reason for believing based on my “experience”—but that is “my” experience. If you want an answer based on logical deduction I am giving it to you.

    I mean, come on BigHouse, if someone asks me “give me an answer “based on reason” why you like fishing. I can say “because I then have free food to cook”. Unfortunately, I’m probably going to give that answer over and over again if based on “reason”—-BUT if you ask me why I like fishing based on experience I’ll tell you it’s relaxing, fun, exhilirating, etc. The same applies here—You are asking me to give an answer based on “reason” why I accept Christianity—you don’t want me to use the Bible because you don’t “believe in it”, and I can’t use my experience, so the option I have left is to use logical deduction. Well, all religons accept Jesus, yet he rejects them—-through deduction I come to the realization that all the religions say Jesus is someone great, He says the same about himself, and yet rejects them. Logically—I’ll go with Jesus.

  • 132. ubi dubium  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Joe-

    I certainly can accept that the reason you gave is indeed the reason you follow christianity as your faith of choice. I have no reason to question the sincerity of your beliefs, or that you hold them for the reasons you say you do.

    However, I don’t accept that your line of reasoning is a strong argument for trying to get others to follow your faith. Christianity shows respect for it’s predecessor, Judaism. Islam shows respect for it’s predecessors Judaism and Christianity. The Ba’hais show respect for all three as predecessors. This to me is normal, and does not say anything about the truth of any of these faiths, only that they share one common tradition.

    I’ve been working on reading the Qu’ran recently. It seems as if every third verse is proclaiming fiery doom on the infidel. In this book I see respect for Islam’s predecessors, and proclamations that all other religions are totally evil and wrong. Sounds very familiar.

    I am unaware of other religions, outside of the Abrahamic ones, that consider Jesus a prophet. (Except, maybe, the cargo cult of John Frum on Vanuatu. I am sure you would dimiss that as silly, as does much of the world.) If there are any that do, can you please give us some specifics?

    And as for christianity’s refusal to recognize that other religions might have some insight, or wisdom, and calls them “deceivers and theives”, I don’t see this as something in christianity’s favor. This speaks to me of intolerance and closed-mindedness, which from my vantage point of being on the outside of all religions, is a strike against a religion, not for it.

  • 133. Obi  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Joe —

    In a previous point, I outlined why I objected to your reason. The main point being that the only religions that revere Jesus are Islam and Hinduism, and that’s it. If you wanted to stretch, you could say Buddhism. However, there’s Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Jainism, Wicca and other modern “pagan” religions, classical Greek and Roman religions, the Norse religion, Spiritism, Aztec, Inca and Maya religions, et cetera that all have no acknowledgement of him (some because they predated him or were isolated geographically).

    Thus, your point that all other religions somehow revere Jesus while he denies them only works for about two religions. Further investigating the subject, we see that Hinduism reveres Jesus because they see him as extremely similar to their Krishna, another virgin born son of God, whom Jesus’ characteristics were most likely drawn from, since Hindusim predates Christianity by thousands of years. One must take into account the plethora of different historical facts, ideas, situations, et cetera when one is considering something like this.

    Not only that, but your claim that Jesus calls all others liars, but then you turn around and say that their praise of Jesus is worthy, seems suspect. These people are liars and deceivers, so why should we take their word for who is good and who is not? Does that not seem reasonable? Would you listen to confirmed liars to determine who is good and who is bad?

  • 134. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    However, I don’t accept that your line of reasoning is a strong argument for trying to get others to follow your faith.

    Ubi—

    There seems to be some misunderstanding here. Once again, Obi asked me to explain “using reason” why I would choose Christianity. I rarely use the line of reasoning I am giving when telling people about Christ. I use the Bible and my own testimony.
    I don’t expect people to follow my faith based on reason at all. Obi asked me to explain “using reason” and that’s all I did—when using deductive reasoning I come to the conclusion to follow Jesus based on the reasoning I gave above—-because that’w hat Obi was asking for. If you want me to share the Bible and myown testimony I can do that. If you want “reason” that’s the answer I am going to give.

  • 135. BigHouse  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Joe, so we’re back to the fact that you chose Christianity “because it was appealing to you”. Like choosing a shirt. You didn’t use reason, or logic, you used ‘feelings’. I’m not syaing that’s necessarily wrong, but it makes it hard for you to say that SOMEONE ELSE is ‘wrong” for choosing a different religion for the same reason as you, because it was appealing.

  • 136. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I am unaware of other religions, outside of the Abrahamic ones, that consider Jesus a prophet.

    Islam definitely reveres Jesus as a prophet. I have spoken to many Hindus who say that Jesus was an incarnation, just as Krishna was and 6 or 7 others. Buddhists revere the teachings of Jesus. All the major religions look at Jesus as a great teacher or a great man. The fact that all of the major religions revere him is enough for me. If you want to try to find others that don’t revere him fine—that’s up to you.

    Again, I did not say that other religions are false—JESUS DID (John 10, John 14:6) If it sheds a bad light on Christianity then that is Jesus’s fault–He said it. As I mentioned in another thread, when Jesus drove all of the people out of the Temple using small whips, and overthrew the moneychanger’s tables they ran ahead shouting “THAT’S NOT VERY CHRIST-LIKE OF YOU JESUS!!” Maybe the same thing applies here—it’s not very Christ-like to say all other religions are false—-or is it? Because Jesus is the Christ, and he said it.

  • 137. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    The problem, Joe, is that you gave a reason for why you believe, but you did not use reason. That Jesus is “revered” by two other religions that he dismisses is not a logical argument for Christianity’s truthfulness.

    To use your own barber analogy, what if you had three barbers, all three of which claim to be the best barber. The first two barbers admit that the third barber is pretty darn good, but still maintain that they themselves are the best. The third barber is kind of an elitist asshole, and claims that he’s the best and anyone who uses either of the first two barbers are going to hell. Just because the first two barbers are humble enough to admit that someone else might be a decent barber as well (in spite of his disdain for them) doesn’t mean that particular someone else is obviously the best.

  • 138. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    BigHouse—-

    I did not choose Jesus like a shirt. i actually have given my testimony several times here—-but I will try to put it in a nutshell for you:

    I did not know a thing about Christianity up to about 17 years old. My Mom said we were “Lutherans” so I always said I was a Lutheran when asked my religion—although we never went to church. I got laughed at in YMCA for not knowing the Lord’s Prayer, and thought of the shepherd in Psalm 23 as a German shepherd—-I knew nothing.

    One day my next door neighbor came to the door and said “Joe–there is still time” and handed me a Gospel of John. I threw it on a table and it sat there for almost a week. I finally began to read it and when I arrived at Chapter 10, alone in my room, I read the words “I know my sheep and call them by name”. I did not hear an audible voice, but something happened and I said “Jesus, please, can I be one of your sheep?”

    At that moment something happened—-I cannot explain it with words. The Gospel of John went from being a “booklet” I was reading—a story—to something that was “mine” and I KNEW IT. I went in a few moments from being someone who knew nothing about God to someone who was singing on my guitar to Jesus—-I KNEW he was very real. I was totally alone—but I believe that I was born-again at that moment.

    It was only AFTER, as I began to grow as a Christian that I began to think of any “reasons” why I should believe. I ALREADY KNEW it was true–it was only when facing people looking for something “tangible” that I began to reason as I have in my other posts—to see that Jesus alone is the way, truth and life as he says he is. I began to note that other religions count him in their lists of prophets, or great men, or teachers. I never heard someone from another religion ever call Jesus a thief or a robber. Of course, Judaism believes he is a false Messiah, but that is a given. I began to see that this person whom I had accepted was someone extremely special, he was the very Son of God. I could go on and on—I am just telling you my testimony—my experience—-I cannot convince you with “reason”–I’m not even sure if that is even possible. Reason can come into play, but a huge part of it is faith alone—one must “believe to see” not the opposite.

  • 139. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Islam definitely reveres Jesus as a prophet. I have spoken to many Hindus who say that Jesus was an incarnation, just as Krishna was and 6 or 7 others. Buddhists revere the teachings of Jesus. All the major religions look at Jesus as a great teacher or a great man.

    Ok, the first two we already covered.

    Buddhists revere the teachings of Jesus? Maybe some of them, but I guarantee they disagree with his teachings with regards to being the only way to salvation. It is possible to revere the good things a man did while abhorring the bad (most Americans revere Thomas Jefferson, even while abhorring the fact that he kept slaves).

    The last sentence is a broad generalization with no support. “Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Jainism, Wicca and other modern ‘pagan’ religions” are all religions that exist today, and are fairly mainstream. So far you’ve shown two religions who revere him, and one that may revere some or most-but-not-all of Jesus’ teachings. And as I mentioned before, that’s still not a logical argument for Christianity’s truthfulness, just evidence that some religions admire the guy in spite of his teachings on other religions.

  • 140. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    “believe to see” not the opposite.

    Once again, you forget who you are talking to. Most, if not all, of us once did believe, and even then we did not see (or we thought we saw, and later realized that nothing we “saw” in Christianity is because of Christianity).

    We “believed to see.” Then we realized that it made us blind.

  • 141. Obi  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Joe —

    See mate, your testimony is touching, but that’s not the way life works. If it was, then Muslims/Hindus/Shintoists/Buddhists/Taoists who had spiritual experiences (and all of the millions of other humans in different religions) could have just known that theirs was correct, could they not have? Hard facts, logic, and reason are the only way to go about these things — not subjective emotions, split-second decisions, and gut feelings.

    I’m not trying to attack you here, just laying it out in a straightforward manner, because this is how we obtain knowledge about and figure out the world around us. We do it as objectively as possible.

  • 142. Griffin  |  July 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Joe:

    “[T]hrough deduction I come to the realization that all the religions say Jesus is someone great, He says the same about himself, and yet rejects them. Logically—I’ll go with Jesus.”

    That may be the reason that you are a Christian, but that doesn’t mean that you used reason to deduce that Christianity is the one true religion.

    First, Reason (capital R) has rules. Check out things like ‘logical fallacies’ and ‘cognitive biases.’ You’re telling us that you used reason to arrive at a conclusion and we’re telling you that your reasoning is faulty. We’re not saying that you didn’t use that course of thought to arrive at your decision, we’re saying that your deduction cannot be accepted as ‘proved’ because you broke or ignored some of the Rules of Reason to arrive there.

    Read this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reason

    My guess is that all of this won’t sway you from your belief that you arrived at Christianity’s truthfulness logically – through reason. In fact, there is a very easy way to tell if you’re even engaging in an honest debate. Answer the following question:

    Is there any line of reasoning we as deconverts could construct that would convince you that Christianity isn’t the one true religion?

  • 143. BigHouse  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    I also thought you said that you reviewed all the major religions side by side and came to the conclusion that Christiantiy was correct. You did this after your bedroom conversion? Or before? I’m confused.

    This seems at odds with your testimony, which I agree with Obi, was touching.

  • 144. Griffin  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Joe:

    “All the major religions look at Jesus as a great teacher or a great man. The fact that all of the major religions revere him is enough for me. If you want to try to find others that don’t revere him fine—that’s up to you.

    Again, I did not say that other religions are false—JESUS DID”

    You keep putting up the same claim and we keep shooting it down.

    First, all of us except you can see the falseness when you use the claim “All the major religions look at Jesus as a great teacher or a great man” as a starting point for a line of reason. At best, you could claim that MOST major religions see him as a great teacher or a great man. That is a very different claim. As different as the claim that ‘all apples are red’ and ‘most apples are red.’ Second, your failure to account for the definition of ‘great man’ weakens your argument greatly. (Hitler was the Time Man of the Year at one point in the 1930s.) Other than Christianity, no other religion grants Jesus any more claim to absolute knowledge of ‘the infinite’ than they grant me.

    Those points alone are enough to discredit your reasoning but the second part of your deduction is even more open to criticism. There are ways to verify if ‘all (most) major religions hold Jesus in some sort of esteem’ but there is no way to verify what Jesus said about any other religion.

    Hearsay would be an easy way to discredit that assertation but the more damning aspect is that Jesus may have been lying when he said that all the other religions are deceivers. The word of one individual does nothing to prove anything – especially when his own self interest is best served by giving one answer instead of another. It’s not like Jesus (or the people writing about his historically debatable existence 100 years later) wasn’t better off by claiming that all the alternatives were bunk.

    The only way that your reasoning even begins to look like it has the vague shape of plausibility is if you assume Jesus to be infallible – something that would necessitate you to have already adopted Christian doctrine! You can’t assume an aspect of the result in your line of reasoning and expect your deductions to be accepted!

  • 145. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Bighouse—-

    Yes—-I do mean after my conversion. Only after I was converted did I investigate other religions at all. As I mentioined, I knew nothing about God, and had no interest in Him. Only later did I read a book called “The Autobiograhy of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda, and the “Everything and the Nothing” by Meher Baba. Meher Baba actually claimed to be God.

    I realized they both said a lot of Grand words, and appeared to be very “enlightened”, but they did not compare to Jesus–they just couldn’t get close. I read books about Zen Buddhism, and read books about Islam. I also read “Science and Health with the Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, and books by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons also—and began to realize that false teachers abounded.

    I wish I knew how to put into words what I am saying. It’s like person sitting in front of the most beautiful sunset they have ever seen and weeping. Later someone says “Please, using reason alone, explain why that sunset made you weep”. You could try—–but it would be almost useless. When Jesus entered my life it was like a beautiful sunset, or beautiful sunrise—I felt so clean and new–I KNEW I was forgiven. I cannot explain in logical terms what I am trying to describe.

    And after I had seen this “sunrise” in my life, all other sunrises weren’t as wonderful—there was no religion that I read about that had a Savior as wonderful as Jesus—who went through as much for his love for me, who taught what he taught so simply, but with so much wisdom. None could compare—-and they still cannot. Can I convince you of this using reason alone? I don’t think so.

    I believe what has happened to many in here is that you have fallen into unbelief, and you are looking for “reason” to be your ONLY guide as to why the faith you once accepted, but no longer do, could be valid. You know you lost something–some of you wish you could still believe–and to fortify your unbelief you are looking for reason to provide the answer why your decision had to be correct. But receiving Christ and becoming a Christian is beyond reason–it is a supernatural event, born of the Holy Spirit of God. We can “attempt” after the fact to explain what happened to us through reason, or explain why Christianity is the best choice through reason, but in the end it will not suffice.

    I know that will not sit with most of you. You will always have one more argument, using reason alone, as to why Jesus could not have risen from the dead, why Christianity is not valid, etc. etc. and it basically comes down to the fact that you need faith–the faith you have abandoned—to really know these things in the heart. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen”. Without faith there is no hope, and there is no more evidence of things not seen. How can one explain Christianity and being born-again solely using reason alone? The answer is you cannot.

  • 146. ubi dubium  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Joe:

    Without faith there is no hope

    Nope – sorry. I have no faith, but plenty of hope. One does not require the other. That argument just does not fly.

  • 147. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Griffin—-

    I am trying to explain a blue sky to a group of people who
    claim it is green. I see the futility in all of this. No matter what explaination, or experience, or analogy, of logic I use, you will always take another tack. And the reason is simple—you want firm, concrete evidence of the superatural supplied using human reason and explanation.

    It’s like a guy in a room in Georgia who never ventures out. “Unless I see concrete evidence Giraffes exist I will not believe” he says. So they finally bring him the carcas of a giraffe and he says “OK, I believe in Giraffes now, but there is no way in hell I believe in Gorillas”. In that case at least you could bring one carcass after another for a hundred years until he believed in all of them——but you’re never going to be able to bring physical proof of God. All you can accept is the Word of those who have been changed, the Bible, and by comparing Jesus and what he said to all of the other religions in the world—bu YOU alone will need to make the choice whether you accept or reject him.

  • 148. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Without faith there is no hope

    Nope – sorry. I have no faith, but plenty of hope. One does not require the other. That argument just does not fly.

    There you go again. You know that that verse is in the Christian context—-it doesn’t mean you can’t have “hopes”—-it means that without faith you cannot see or have the substance of the things hoped for from believing—heaven, God, eternity in the New Jerusalem. I find it hard to believe you really read the verse I posted—it is obvious it is referring to “things not seen” not to earthly hopes and dreams. It is so hard to have a conversation here—you immediately pick things apart without really reading them. Oh well, LOL I guess I just have to accept that that is the ways things are done here.

  • 149. Obi  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Joe —

    Now I think I understand. You accept your religion on faith, which makes it no more right than any other religion, except to yourself. Muslims accept Islam on faith, Hindus accept Hinduism on faith, et cetera. There’s nothing differentiating them or making them any more true save faith — and now that you’ve established and admitted that, I hope you finally realize that your religion is no more right than any other, because they all require huge leaps of faith to believe.

    So in the end, there’s no religion that’s more right than the other — because they’re all based in faith and how open willing you are to accept them.

  • 150. Rover  |  July 9, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    To those who are no longer Christians:

    Do you ever have thoughts that you might be wrong? Is there any every guilt for leaving your faith? What code of ethiscs do you live by? I know you have morals, but are moral of convenience, ie, as long as you don’t hurt anyone you can live however you choose? Would you mind given me some insight?

  • 151. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Ubi—

    By the way, I am taking it for granted you “used to be” a Christian. Heb. 11:1 which says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” is obviously referring to the “Christian Hope”, not to “hopes” in general. I “hope” we can go to the movies tomorrow is not the type of hope being referenced—-it is a heavenly hope of things not seen, which all the great believers of the past have put their hope in. Hebrews 11 is all about faith and the great hope it engenders in all, making men willing to sacrifice all, and even die for the faith.

    So, again, if you have never been a Christian before, and thought I was referring to something different, my apologies.

  • 152. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    So, basically, without faith in Christianity, you have no “Christian hope”? What a brilliant deduction.

    I don’t want “Christian hope” or “evidence of things not seen,” I want reality, whether that reality has room for Christianity and God or not.

  • 153. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    So, basically, without faith in Christianity, you have no “Christian hope”? What a brilliant deduction.
    By the way, this is why we sometimes take things you say out of context. You say something like “without faith there is no hope” referring to “Christian hope,” which is so inane that we assume you can’t possibly mean it that way, and interpret it to mean a more general context of “hope.” Otherwise, why even bother saying it? Why say “without faith there is no hope” if you mean something as blindingly obvious and completely irrelevant as “without faith [in Christianity] there is no [Christian] hope?” We assume you mean something more, and rightly so.

    Seriously, you’re the only one complaining about posts taken out of context. I seriously think the real problem is you just can’t put your thoughts together in a manner where your context is clear.

  • 154. ubi dubium  |  July 9, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Joe:

    Actually, I was once a Christian, but I haven’t been one for more than 20 years. That just happens to be the religion of the family I was born into. However, now that I am outside religion looking in, I don’t see that christianity deserves any special privilege.

    You are probably safe in assuming that most of the people here are de-converts from christianity, since that is the focus of this website.

    If you want to have conversations with us here, it would help if you did not re-define words mid-argument. You say we can have no hope, then redefine hope as “christian hope”:

    it is a heavenly hope of things not seen…

    Well, “a heavenly hope of things not seen” sure sounds like “faith”. So then your statement would be “without faith we can have no faith”. No argument from me on that one. But it’s not very meaningful, either.

    Rover –

    Good questions. There have been several threads on this website devoted to just those sorts of questions, including this one . I recommend you spend some time reading that post and the responses, and then see what further questions those answers have raised, and ask us those.

    Question on!

  • 155. Anonymous  |  July 9, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Snuggly—-

    Because I take for granted you all used to be Christians. There are certain verses that Christians have heard many, many times—so I take it for granted you all know what is being referred to.

    Hebrews 11:1 is a standard verse defining faith and is used over and over again in sermons, teaching, etc. in the Christian faith. If you as a Christian do not recognize that verse then I would have to say your teaching has been very limited. Read it again “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”–do you think he is talking about something like “I “hope” you get a chance to read that book tomorrow”? As a former Christian you should recognize that verse almost immediately—I am very surprised if you don’t.

    I will try to remember to be far more exact when quoting scriptures from now on. “For God (the supreme deity) so loved (he loved very much) the world (where we live) that he gave (he sent here as a sacrifice for us) his only begotten (the only one of his kind) Son (part of the trinity–the person called the son., Word, logos) that whosoever (anyone at all) believes in Him (trusts in him fully) might have everlasting life (will live without ever dying). If you want I can do that from now on.

  • 156. Anonymous  |  July 9, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    By the way, this is why we sometimes take things you say out of context. You say something like “without faith there is no hope” referring to “Christian hope,” which is so inane that we assume you can’t possibly mean it that way, and interpret it to mean a more general context of “hope.”

    Snuggly—-I take it for granted that you are former Christians. A former Christian should recognize that verse right away—it is used in many sermons, and is the very definition of faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”—it is pretty obvious it is not referring to something like “I hope I have a chance to read a book tomorrow”.

    But, actually, I’m not surprised any more. I can reference one of the most used verses of scripture and you’ll pick it apart as not really meaning what it says. How can you have hope for eternal things without faith? Man—I guess I’m going to have to quote verses now like this “For God(Eternal Deity) so loved (so cared for, so adored) the world (the dominion where we live) that he gave (sacrificed) his only begotten son (the only one of his kind–the Word, logos) that whosoever (anyone at all) beleives in him (trusts in him completely) shall not perish(suffer eternal separation from God) but have eternal life (live forever without dying). I can do this if you want in the future.

  • 157. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Oops—the above anonymous post is mine. –Joe

  • 158. Joe  |  July 9, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I posted twice because I thought I lost my first post. sorry about that. –JS

  • 159. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 9, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    It’s not that you’re not being specific enough, Joe. You used the word hope in one of two contexts, either regular ol’ hope, or the specific “Christian hope” you mentioned. To say “without faith there is no Christian hope” is, frankly, silly and useless to everyone, so we give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you meant hope in general (it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a Christian has claimed that without faith in God you can have no hope, in the general sense, while citing the very same verse you did; I’ve heard it before).

    It’s not that you aren’t specific. It’s subtle things like this that muddy your context. Again, you seem to be the only poster here who experiences this problem.

  • 160. CheezChoc  |  July 9, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Going back to the original post, I just have to say that it turned my stomach when I read the sentence about someone referring to a family member’s murderer as “grandfather.”

  • 161. John Morales  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Rover:

    1Do you ever have thoughts that you might be wrong? 2Is there any every guilt for leaving your faith? 3What code of ethiscs do you live by? 4I know you have morals, but are moral of convenience, ie, as long as you don’t hurt anyone you can live however you choose? 5Would you mind given me some insight?

    1. Sure. But not about the Christian God.
    2. Nope. There’s a sense of freedom.
    3. A self-determined one.
    4. No. It’s not a set of rules I could write down; rather a process. Give me a situation and, based on what I know, I could determine my considered most moral action.
    5. Not at all. See 1..4 above.

  • 162. John Morales  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:19 am

    But, actually, I’m not surprised any more. I can reference one of the most used verses of scripture and you’ll pick it apart as not really meaning what it says. How can you have hope for eternal things without faith?

    &;ltjoke&;gtHey, according to you, I already have eternal life up ahead. In Hell, maybe, but what the hey. I’ll adapt. ;)&;ltjoke&;gt

    PS Joe, may I say probably most of us know the way you feel, but you (until you deconvert) won’t know how we do.

  • 163. Griffin  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Joe:

    “It’s like a guy in a room in Georgia who never ventures out. “Unless I see concrete evidence Giraffes exist I will not believe” he says. So they finally bring him the carcas of a giraffe and he says “OK, I believe in Giraffes now, but there is no way in hell I believe in Gorillas”. In that case at least you could bring one carcass after another for a hundred years until he believed in all of them——but you’re never going to be able to bring physical proof of God.”

    What you don’t realize is that you’ve both made and proved MY point. Disbelief in Giraffes (or Gorillas) without “concrete evidence” is the appropriate and rational response any thinking human should have. (Of course one doesn’t need a carcass, a photo or movie would probably be sufficient.) As children, we truly believe that there are monsters under our bed. (One could also include Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.) As we grow up we learn to expect evidence for something before we accept a person’s claims about the existence of things we’ve never seen.

    Let me work with your example of a giraffe. To a three year old, there is no difference in the probability that a giraffe exists as there is for the existence of dragons, unicorns, or talking animals. As the child ages, he or she may learn that giraffes exist by seeing one at a zoo. The child will also learn which sources of indirect evidence (books, tv shows, etc.) are to be trusted (Discovery Channel) and which ones aren’t (Disney Channel).

    During childhood our brains absorb unbelievable amounts of information about the ‘real world.’ It learns that unsupported objects fall to the ground. It learns that strings of sounds made by other people can transmit ideas and messages. It learns that bunnies exist but talking ones named ‘Thumper’ are fictitious. All of this knowledge is gained either through an individual using his or her senses to detect direct ‘concrete’ evidence or to absorb indirect evidence – evidence that was direct for another (trusted, qualified and independent) individual.

    You state, “but you’re never going to be able to bring physical proof of God” and I agree completely. If I am to believe in him anyway I am also forced to believe in aliens, Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, UFOs, a still living Elvis and any other manner of imaginary thing that somebody somewhere claims to be real.

    The only difference between belief in Big Foot and the belief in Christianity is 2000 years, billions of believers (equally without evidence) and the church’s highly developed revenue and lobbying system.

    You claim that you’re “trying to explain a blue sky to a group of people who claim it is green.” Actually, we’re not saying the sky is green. To continue to use your illustration, you’re claiming that you can use pure logic to show that the sky is blue because Jesus wanted it that way and we’re saying your logic is flawed. That’s all.

  • 164. Quester  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Rover,

    Do you ever have thoughts that you might be wrong?

    Yes. I am often wrong. It’s a common side effect of either thinking or acting. One of the reasons I had to leave Christianity was that I thought I might be wrong about what I believed, and found no support for my faith when I looked for it. I may still be wrong. I am open to that, and to hearing reasons why some other option might be right.

    Is there any every guilt for leaving your faith?

    No, which surprised me when I first realized it. But, imagine with me for a moment that you believed all your life that your hometown was surrounded by the ocean, and anyone leaving town would drown. You might spend your life stopping people from leaving town. You might think about how special your town was to be surrounded by the ocean. But if you went, looked, and saw no ocean, would you feel guilt if you ceased beliving the ocean was there?

    I never really left my faith. My faith left me when I found out how little there was supporting it.

    What code of ethiscs do you live by?

    I try to live by an ethic of reciprocity, or “treat others as you wish to be treated”, with a dash of “act as the person you want to be”.

    I know you have morals, but are moral of convenience, ie, as long as you don’t hurt anyone you can live however you choose?

    If you remember that you are included in “anyone”, the only problem I see with that is its passivity. I mean, it’s a good starting point, but if you’re not going to hurt anyone, including yourself, what will you do?

  • 165. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Thanks for your responses. Here’s my struggle. I know there are some apparrent “problems” with the Bible as we have it, but there are also some incredible things about it.

    1. It’s message is consistent from Genesis to Revelation. Yes, opponents can say that it is not, but in a grand sense it is. Man needing a savior was taught tangentially and overtly in Genesis, Job, the entire Law, and most of the prophets. Even if you don’t agree on who the authors were they certainly had a somewhat consistant message through thousands of years. There is no other book that can claim to be composed in such a way as this.

    2. Prophecy seems to be in line with the Bible. As I look around today I see Israel back in the land and I see the muslim nations seeking her destruction. I see Jerusalem still being the focal point of history. Iran is in the news today firing missles that can reach Israel. Why does anyone care about Israel? They shouldn’t, but this enmity between muslim and jew may cause the next world war.

    3. The values that were extracted from the bible were the foundational principles that help create this great nation. I know all of the founders were not “fundatmentalists”, in fact most were not, but they recognized the “supernatural” teachings of the Bible. The book, though sometimes confusing does, at times, have a very enlightened point of view.

  • 166. Griffin  |  July 10, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Rover:

    “1. [The Bible's] message is consistent from Genesis to Revelation. Yes, opponents can say that it is not, but in a grand sense it is. “

    That statement is meaningless. either it’s message is consistent or it isn’t. If it is, the ‘opponents’ wouldn’t be able to say that it wasn’t. And I’m sure I’m not the only person that can find a rather marked shift in message between the Old and New Testaments.

    “2. Prophecy seems to be in line with the Bible. As I look around today I see Israel back in the land and I see the muslim nations seeking her destruction. I see Jerusalem still being the focal point of history. Iran is in the news today firing missles that can reach Israel. Why does anyone care about Israel? They shouldn’t, but this enmity between muslim and jew may cause the next world war.”

    What you actually mean to say is that you see reality reflecting prophecy set down in the Bible. People have been saying that for 2000 years. Plus there’s the whole ‘this generation shall not pass away before Jesus returns’ thing to contend with.

    “3. The values that were extracted from the bible were the foundational principles that help create this great nation. I know all of the founders were not “fundatmentalists”, in fact most were not, but they recognized the “supernatural” teachings of the Bible. The book, though sometimes confusing does, at times, have a very enlightened point of view.”

    Our Constitution was created primarily by a Deist who put the ideas of The Enlightenment into our founding document. The word “God” doesn’t appear in it. Ever. You say that the Founders “recognized the supernatural.” They also didn’t have an understanding of science that your average middle schooler has today. And while I appreciate your gesture towards the ‘enlightened’ point of view there’s plenty of barbarism contained within The Bible as well. Slavery (something the Founders brought from scripture into America) comes to mind. Genocide is in there too.

    If your going to come here and say that America’s prominence in the world is proof of Christianity you’re going to have to provide some pretty convincing evidence.

  • 167. LeoPardus  |  July 10, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Rover:

    To those who are no longer Christians:
    Do you ever have thoughts that you might be wrong?

    Sure. I’ve been wrong before, there’s a good chance I’ll be wrong again.

    Is there any every guilt for leaving your faith?

    I think you meant to say, “Is there ever eny…” The answer is ‘No’. There’s no deity, the whole thing is based on a phenomenal lie. I chose truth over that lie. What is there to feel guilty about?

    What code of ethiscs do you live by?

    What is known as the Golden Rule forms the main basis. Part of the de-conversion wager (look on the right side of the page) is another reasonable summation of it.

    I know you have morals, but are moral of convenience, ie, as long as you don’t hurt anyone you can live however you choose?

    I think you meant to say, “..but are they morals of convenience..” The answer is “By and large, yes.” That’s how nearly everyone lives. There are of course some whack jobs, like desert monks, who live by morals of inconvenience, but I won’t waste time with them.

    Would you mind given me some insight?

    No prob. This site is full of insights into de-conversion. If you want my personal insights, look in the archives for any article I’ve written.

  • 168. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Griffin,

    Thanks for declaring my statement meaningless. I suppose you would then conclude that all of documented human history is meaningless since there aren’t any historical records that are completely flawless in their tranmittal from age to age. However, I suppose that everything being meaningless is a pillar of aethiestic thought.

    The Bible is progressive Revelation. Genesis does not reveal as much to us about God and His Kingdom as Revelation does. God’s rule over the years has also been progressive. From “conscience” to civil goverment to the Law to the Spirit and final rule by Him directly. Yes, I am referring to a Dispensational point of view. The Old Testament is very different from the New Testament. I completely agree with you. How I raise my son is different when he is 3 then when he if 15. Some principles are the same, but expectations and punishments differ.

    “this generation thing” – that one really isn’t that hard. The word generation can also be rendered “race” meaning that the Jewish people would not pass off the scene before God’s program in complete. There are other fine eplanations as I am sure you are aware.

    On the last point. I do not think America is a great nation because it was founded on some excellent principles, many of which were taken from the Bible. It doesn’t mean that the founders were fundamentalists, but it does mean that they recognized that the Bible contained great truth, which can be confirmed from reading their extensive writings.

  • 169. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 11:16 am

    sorry for the typing errors

    “on the last point” should be followed by “I do think”.

  • 170. Griffin  |  July 10, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Rover:

    “Thanks for declaring my statement meaningless. I suppose you would then conclude that all of documented human history is meaningless since there aren’t any historical records that are completely flawless in their tranmittal from age to age. However, I suppose that everything being meaningless is a pillar of aethiestic thought.”

    If you make a statement that can’t be backed up or supported, it IS meaningless and I’m sorry that you’re offended that I called you on it. And yes, you’re right. There are no historical records that are passed from age to age flawlessly. But there are records that can be substantiated either through archaeological evidence, backed up by logical progression or corroborated by other records. Many stories from antiquity that make claims about the supernatural exist that we don’t use as a basis for a religion (at least not anymore.) I’m simply applying the same critical thought to the Bible as you do to stories of Zeus impregnating virgins while he assumed the form of a bull.

    “The Bible is progressive Revelation. Genesis does not reveal as much to us about God and His Kingdom as Revelation does. God’s rule over the years has also been progressive. From “conscience” to civil goverment to the Law to the Spirit and final rule by Him directly. Yes, I am referring to a Dispensational point of view. The Old Testament is very different from the New Testament. I completely agree with you. How I raise my son is different when he is 3 then when he if 15. Some principles are the same, but expectations and punishments differ.”

    If the Abrahamic god is slowly revealing more and more to humanity, why do you dismiss Islam? By your logic since it’s the same god and later (more perfect) revelation shouldn’t you be a Muslim?

    “this generation thing” – that one really isn’t that hard. The word generation can also be rendered “race” meaning that the Jewish people would not pass off the scene before God’s program in complete. There are other fine eplanations as I am sure you are aware.”

    Please point me to an example of this explanation provided by a person or group that has no vested interest in making sure their own holy and inerrant scriptures provide for a reality that doesn’t jibe with what’s written.

    “On the last point. I do not think America is a great nation because it was founded on some excellent principles, many of which were taken from the Bible. It doesn’t mean that the founders were fundamentalists, but it does mean that they recognized that the Bible contained great truth, which can be confirmed from reading their extensive writings.”

    Point out one aspect of our Constitution that draws purely from biblical principles. ‘Don’t kill’ and ‘Don’t steal’ don’t count because they are universally accepted by every society as something detrimental to society as a hole. Representational government certainly isn’t in the Bible. Neither is freedom of speech, press, religion, or trial by a jury of peers. Due process isn’t there either. In fact, most of what makes America great is specifically forbidden by the Bible. Many of America’s darker aspects – slavery and genocide for example – are specifically condoned…

    In America Christians are used to having their religion accepted as ‘good’ uncritically and without meaningful examination. I’m asking you to defend your position that ‘Christian principal is in our founding documents’ and ‘Christian government is good government’ and you haven’t done that.

  • 171. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Rover,

    I am not offended at all by your “meaningless” comment. Just trying to make the point that in your construct nothing has meaning so you must be critical of anything that promotes meaning and purpose.

    May I ask if you are really a “de con”. I am not trying to insult you, but you don’t seem to know much about the Bible. Please don’t be aoffended by this question. I freely admit that I do not know much about atheism. So please answer honestly.

  • 172. Obi  |  July 10, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Rover —

    Matthew 16:27-28, “27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

    Matthew 24:30-34, ” 30″At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other….34I tell you the truth, this generation[b] will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

    1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, “15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

    Matthew 10:22-23, “22All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

    1 John 2:18-19, ” 18Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”

    1 Peter 4:7, ” 7The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

    James 5:8-9, “8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

  • 173. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    May I ask if you are really a “de con”. I am not trying to insult you, but you don’t seem to know much about the Bible.

    Might you point out where he has demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the Bible?

  • 174. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Obi,

    I have reasonable responses to all that you quote excpet for Mt. 10:22. As I said at the beginning I am struggling with my faith.

    Mt. 16 – they saw Christ in His glory on the mount of transfiguration.

    Mt 24 – generation = race of people

    1 Thess. 4 – speaking of the Lord’s return for His bride the church at the end of the age

    Last hour and end being near. In God’s program this is the last hour or last dispensation before His return and judgement. As many de cons have pointed out you have to be aware of cultural linguistics when interpreting these phrases.

    But I still struggle with Mt. 10

  • 175. Griffin  |  July 10, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Rover:

    My deconversion happened when I was 15. I could recount the story if you want, but doesn’t really have anything to do with our current discussion.

    That said, I apologize for coming to my senses before I could waste my time acquiring an exhaustive knowledge of the bible. That said, I’d be willing to bet that I know as much or more than most people sitting in the pews of most churches.

  • 176. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Snuggly

    We all know the answers that Christians will give to these supposed dilemnas. Why don’t we just give each other a break and assume as much. Do I really have to defend that God ruled differently in the OT as oppossed to the NT? This fact is clearly reference throught the NT, read Galations and Romans – the Law served a purpose, but we are no longer under the Law we are under Grace. Some of these concepts, though they cause disagreement just need to be acknowledge.
    To say that a statement is meaningless without engaging the issue sounds great, but it is itself a meaningless statement.

    The “generation” controversy has been responded to very well on many occassions. Why keep bringing it up as a problem passage?

  • 177. Obi  |  July 10, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Rover —

    You haven’t resolved any of them. Matthew 16 specifically mentions that the people in his presence will remain alive to see his second coming, when he is accompanied by angels and will reward each according to what he has done (judge them). During the transfiguration, no angels are mentioned and no judgement occurs — Moses and Elijah simply descend from heaven to surround Christ.

    In his epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul is obviously stating that he expects the second coming to happen within his lifetime (in accordance with what Jesus has said, as he mentions), as he uses the pronoun “we”. There’s no need to bend words to make it seem as if he was referring to anyone other than himself and the church that he was sending the letter to to encourage them that their time on Earth would not be long.

    The generation he is referring to is not a race of people. This is further supported by Jesus’ other saying that “some here will not taste of death before the second coming” (paraphrased) assertion to his disciples. Do you think he was willingly trying to deceive? What he said is what he said, mate.

    The John, Peter, and James verses are given to supplement the previous verses and to show that Jesus did mean that his second coming would happen during his disciples’ lifetimes, and that they also interpreted it as so. But as you can see, since we’re all still here, the prophecy has quite obviously failed.

    1 Corinthians 7:29-31, ” 29What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.”

    The plethora of verses addressing the imminence of Christ’s return — with Paul even telling the Corinthians to give up sexual relations with their wives, their possessions, their emotions, et cetera — point to the fact that Jesus’ prophecy regarding the second coming were indeed supposed to come to fruition 2,000 years ago.

  • 178. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Obi,

    Your points are all very valid.

  • 179. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I don’t think it requires a lack of understanding of the Bible to argue that the change from OT to NT shows an inconsistency. God ruled differently in the NT, yet God is the same yesterday, today and forever. That doesn’t seem consistent to me. Maybe God is unchanging, but what aspect of himself he reveals to humanity does change? You have to start twisting your thinking to get an unchanging God whose behavior has notably changed.

    You might disagree with what I stated above, and probably no Christian would really agree with it (I would have disagreed with it just a few months ago). But just because someone argues a point about the Bible that you feel is obviously wrong doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t understand the Bible. Isn’t it possible that your understanding of the Bible has been twisted by people trying to cover up its inconsistencies? That your understanding of the Bible is in fact a mix of Scripture and other Christian’s interpretations? I know mine sure was…

  • 180. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Obi,

    Not that I agree with you, but responses to such questions take fleshing out a explanation. However, Mt. 10 I would struggle with even if I had time to respond at length. It is similiar to Judges 1:19

  • 181. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Snuggly,

    I am not trying to sound rude or defensive. It is hard to properly express emotion in text. I wanted to know if Griffin was a true de con because I suspect many here are not, or at least did not have strong knowledge of the Bible before they left the faith. That is okay. Many Christians who are in the faith don’t have a strong knowledge of the Bible. I have a knowledge of the Bible and I am struggling with my faith, however, I need to respect that many of these questions have been reasonably answered by those with a Christian perspective and we need to give some leeway when considering someone’s answer. For instance, you say the God cannot change and you are right, but the Bible is clearly talking about the character of God and His nature. He clearly deals with men differently throughout the ages. It does not mean that He fundamentally changes. As I said before, I want my son to behave. I will never change in desiring my son to behave. Yet when he was a child I spanked him on the butt, but know that he is older I reason with him. My nature hasn’t changed, just my method. There are tons of ways to tear that logic apart, but sometimes we have to say that the other persons view is at least plausible. The concept of God has to bring with it some activities that are above man’s ability to comprehend. However, these should not be totally unreasonable.

    Obi raises some good questions. Each one has an explanation which I clearly did not spend time giving, but could have. Obi probably knows what the responses are that I could have given, but they would not have satisfied him. I respect that he disagrees with me because he clearly seems to have a grasp of the Bible. He doesn’t mereluyclaim that it is meaningless, though he may think so, but he challenges me to logically think through what I believe. The answer I should give to Mark 10 is that it is referring to the judement of Jerusalem in 70ad. Will Obi accept that answer? No! and I cannot say that I honestly can either, even in the framwork of God that I hold on to. The other quotes I can harmonize, but not his one.

    My point is that we should give those struggling with the issue some room. Don’t just throw out sweeping generalizatoins that cannot be responded to in a blog. Be considerate, be honest. If you never really believed the Bible from the start that’s okay but respect the fact that others do have perhaps a slightly better understanding of the thought behind certian metholodogies of harmonizing the Bible.

  • 182. Quester  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Rover,

    1. It’s message is consistent from Genesis to Revelation.

    The consistency you seem to be clinging to apparently boils down to:

    Old Testament: Only God can help us.
    Gospels: God is helps us.
    New Testament: God has helped us, and continues to.

    That’s, um, not very remarkable. Especially when you consider that readers of the later parts had the earlier parts to look at, and that while some of the stories may have been in oral tradition for thousands of years, the Bible was only actually written down in a few centuries. The inconsistencies, contradictions, and lack of external support cast a large shadow over these small, thematic consistencies.

    2. Prophecy seems to be in line with the Bible.

    People have been claiming New Testament prophecy was being fulfilled in their lifetimes, leading to the imminent end of the world, for almost 2,000 years now. The world’s still here. The “prophecy” is simply that vague.

    3. The values that were extracted from the bible were the foundational principles that help create this great nation.

    Which great nation would that be? From other comments you’ve made, I’m assuming you mean the United States? Which “foundational principles” helped create your nation that did not come from philosophers and religious leaders who predate Christianity?

    If you choose to view these as incredible and reasons to believe, you are, of course, free to do so. I just can’t see these points as incredible, or even as weighing in as evidence to support a possibility of a God.

  • 183. Griffin  |  July 10, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Rover:

    In an earlier post I asked you to respond to this:

    “Point out one aspect of our Constitution that draws purely from biblical principles. ‘Don’t kill’ and ‘Don’t steal’ don’t count because they are universally accepted by every society as something detrimental to society as a hole. Representational government certainly isn’t in the Bible. Neither is freedom of speech, press, religion, or trial by a jury of peers. Due process isn’t there either. In fact, most of what makes America great is specifically forbidden by the Bible. Many of America’s darker aspects – slavery and genocide for example – are specifically condoned…”

    I wasn’t just saying that to be cruel or glib. I’m trying to understand your thought process and hoping to point out to you the same problems in logic that lead to my abandoning Christianity. For the sake of the discussion, I’d really like to hear your response to this.

    I apologize if I’ve come across as unkind. That certainly isn’t my intention

  • 184. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Rover—

    I read the posts above and you are very correct. The world today, and the events happening–especially the return of the Jews to Israel are HUGE prophetic signs that should not be ignored.

    The discussion regarding Jesus saying “some standing here shall not taste of death until the see the Son of Man coming in glory…” has been answered before. Immediately in the next chapter after this statement is made by Jesus he is transfigured in front of Peter, James and John. Please read the verse below carefully from 2 Pet. 1, and note: Peter says “we made known to you the COMING of our Lord Jesus and then mentions his experience of seeing the transfiguration, and hearing the voice of the Father. Peter is clearly stating that he has ALREADY SEEN Jesus coming in his power and glory when he was on the mount. Read below:

    “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
    For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to him from the majestic glory, “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain.

    Rover—–please note again Peter says “we made known to you the POWER AND COMING of our Lord Jesus, but we had been EYEWITNESSES OF HIS MAJESTY”. He is clearly stating that 1.) he WAS THERE AND ALIVE, that 2) he saw THE POWER AND COMING of the Lord Jesus, and 3) he was an EYEWITNESS TO HIS MAJESTY.

    Peter is stating that he SAW the power and coming of Jesus Christ while HE WAS STILL ALIVE. What Jesus said in Matthew 16 about “some standing here will not taste of death until they see the son of man coming in Power and Glory” was literally FULFILLED in the transfiguration——and Peter MAKES SURE we realize that in 2 Peter 1.

    Of course, when one is set on stating that Jesus said he would return before anyone dies, NOYHING ones shows as evidence to the contrary will suffice—–and they will argue the point despite contrary evidence over and over ad infinum.

    Rover—–Keep the faith!! Jesus Christ is going to return just as he promised. Prophetic events now passing make this one of the greatest times for us to be alive. We should be filled with great joy—-God says in Revelation “These words are Faithful and True”—-and they truly are!!! God WILL NOT fail of his promises—-everything WILL be fulfilled. For those who continue to believe, and don’t lose their confidence in God’s promises, it will be a day beyond compare. What a great and awesome gift salvation is!!!!

  • 185. Griffin  |  July 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Joe says:

    “Of course, when one is set on stating that Jesus said he would return before anyone dies, NOTHING ones shows as evidence to the contrary will suffice—–and they will argue the point despite contrary evidence over and over ad infinum.”

    He’s wrong. Using the Bible as evidence to ‘prove’ things that the Bible says happened / is happening / will happen isn’t evidence.

    “Jesus is coming back!” -how do you know?
    “It says so in the Bible.” -how do you know the Bible is right?
    “The Bible is infallible.” -how do you know it’s infallible?
    “It says so in the Bible.” – Don’t you see the logical disconnect?
    “No.” – **Head Explodes**

    You simply cannot use the Bible to prove the Bible.

    Joe doesn’t seem to realize (or won’t admit to, at least) that the mirror of his statement applies to him. Joe is so set on believing the Bible (and all that goes along with it) that nothing – not even the internal disagreements within his own ‘inerrant’ text – will ever convince him otherwise.

  • 186. John T.  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Griffin

    Its mind over matter. JOE lives in his own “Mind”, so anything rational just doesnt “Matter”.

  • 187. LeoPardus  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Rover:

    I suspect many here are not, or at least did not have strong knowledge of the Bible before they left the faith

    Actually the opposite would be more generally true. Look in the archives for an article I posted a while back called, “So who are the de-cons anyway?”

  • 188. Tim  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Quester,

    I apologize in advance for the following analogy, which I’ll fall in and out of, and therefore may not make any sense. (It’s also very long, so if nothing else, keep it handy for use as a sleep aid.)

    Abandoning faith because of finding inconsistencies with either the lives of various Christians or with the Bible in general seems like discarding a map of the world because some of the things on the map don’t appear to line up. The history of map making suggests that there are times that a presumption is made about uncharted territory, which upon exploring that territory, causes us to revise the map.

    Rarely did map makers go back and start completely from scratch. As with science, only if some of the foundational principles have been proven false do you abandon a theory and propose something brand new to base your “reality map” on. I don’t see (yet) truly foundational things about the existence of God or Jesus disproven, so I take new information (discoveries related to evolution, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the burial box of James, etc) and modify my understanding accordingly. When things that I learn are later proven wrong again, I move on with new and deeper understanding.

    I never sit down and say, “Well, the directions from Mapquest to Botswana weren’t correct, so I can’t trust it to get me to the grocery store either.” I will continue to use Mapquest until it gives me some obviously bad directions, or until I see evidence that it’s given someone such.

    Now, with that said, I’m going to take the weird position (for a Christian) of saying that there are any number of passages in the Bible that may be completely allegorical, may represent “negative examples,” or may represent someone (either Biblical writers or later commentators/theologians) completely misunderstanding and misrepresenting “God’s Will.”

    (Please note that I’m discounting the self-referential argument built upon various interpretations of 2 Timothy 3:16.)

    How then, to proceed? How did map makers go? Some created maps that they never truly used, or which led them to their deaths. Others created maps, used them to explore the world, and came back with stories to tell of their travels.

    Both types of map-makers are interesting to me, but I’m reluctant to use the map of someone who’s charted out territory that they haven’t (or can’t) explore and then document. In this way, my father’s map has been a useful starting point, helping me to see risks and dangers that turned out to be real (i.e. moral lessons), but appears to have had numerous “here there be dragons” references sprinkled about in places where he never went, or was afraid to go.

    Some places he marked with dragons turn out to have real dangers. This is true in the realm of theology, but also in other things that he “mapped out” for me. Other warnings from my father turned out to be bogeymen from his imagination or lack of understanding. Therefore, rather than simply grabbing a handful of absolutes handed down to me and blindly applying them (which is an approach validated by SOME interpretations of portions of the Bible, but not others) I think it makes more sense to learn lessons from previous map makers, but to be constantly checking the map along the way.

    Today, I live as an apprentice of Jesus, feeling that living this way seems like a pretty decent approach, regardless of one’s theology. As I go through life (which is a more accurate rendering of “The Great Commission”), I make sure that people know who I’m an apprentice of, and why.

    Now, living this way won’t turn me into Jimmy Swaggart, and won’t help me be the next Joel Olsteen. It also tends to piss off many of my Christian friends, who feel want me to conform to their vision of “hot or cold, not lukewarm.”

    I’m perfectly OK with all of that. – Tim

  • 189. Obi  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Joe —

    You’re wrong when you state that those verses refer to the transfiguration. Jesus is clearly speaking of his second coming, because he mentions some important details that cannot be found in the descriptions of the transfiguration, namely the appearance of angels as well as the Judgment.

    Matthew 16: 27-28, “27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.“”

    No account of the transfiguration mentions angels nor a judgment, for example, the entire account of the transfiguration as given by Mark (whose gospel is the basis for the other synoptics):

    Mark 9:2-13, ” 2After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

    5Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

    7Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

    8Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

    9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

    11And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

    12Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.“”

    As we can see, this (the transfiguration) is not the “coming of the kingdom” that Jesus is referring to in Matthew 16:27-28 when he tells his disciples that they will not taste of death before they see it, because it lacks the key details he mentioned that would accompany this coming.

    To further clarify this point, refer to Matthew 24:30-31 and 34, ” 30″At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other….34I tell you the truth, this generation[e] will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

    Here once again Jesus describes his second coming and the angels that will herald it. We see none of this happening in any account of the transfiguration. However, once again we see Jesus clarifying that “this generation will certainly not pass away” in addition to his previous “some who are standing here will not taste death” until the second coming accompanied by angels and the Judgment occurs.

  • 190. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    I have reasonable responses to all that you quote excpet for Mt. 10:22. As I said at the beginning I am struggling with my faith.

    Rover—-

    I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”(Matt. 10:22)

    As I have tried to explain before, when Jesus is talking about a generation, he is speaking about a generation in the “future”—the one’s that will SEE these events. Is he also talking about a “future Israel”? The one that formed in 1948? Could he be referring to THAT GENERATION and to the cities that exist then, in the future, in the re-unified Israel? It is very possible—I can’t prove it—–but it could very well be. And if so, that is a very exciting prospect—another reason that Christ could be coming very soon!!

  • 191. Rover  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Joe,

    How do you explain:
    I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”(Matt. 10:22)

  • 192. The Apostate  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Joe,

    As I have tried to explain before, when Jesus is talking about a generation, he is speaking about a generation in the “future”—the one’s that will SEE these events. Is he also talking about a “future Israel”?

    One what basis do you believe that Jesus was speaking about a future generation? Only by alluding to contradictory Pauline letters can the apologeticist disregard Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:28 which so obviously, within its own context, states that Jesus taught of an imminent return of the Son of Man (who many have argued that Jesus actually distinguished from himself in the gospel according to Matthew).

  • 193. John T.  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Joe

    “And if so, that is a very exciting prospect—another reason that Christ could be coming very soon!!”

    Im curious, why the need to leave this world? Whats so wrong in your life that its so exciting that you may have a chance to leave it?

  • 194. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Obi—

    I will not convince you—I KNOW that. But you have to look at Matthew 16 and see that Jesus makes the statement he makes about those who will not taste of death in the LAST VERSE of
    16, and then IMMEDIATELY is transfigured in Chapter 17 in front of 3 of his disciples.

    2 Peter is full of references to the Last Days, of false teachers, and of scoffers. Why do you suppose he refernces the Holy Mount and Transfiguration, and SPECIFICALLY says “we made known unto you the POWER AND COMING of our Lord Jesus and were Eyewtinesses of his majesty”? Because of misinterpretations of Scripture like yours!!!!

    Look what Peter says in the same book, 2 Peter, in chapter 3:

    “In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.
    Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability”. (2 Peter 3:16,17)

    Peter is warning, and giving testimony that he did INDEED SEE Christ COMING and in his GLORY will still alive in Chapter 1. In chapter 3 he is warning than many will twist and distort the scriptures—most likely with Matthew 16 and other like scriptures in mind!!!

    Rover—-You mention you are struggling wtih your faith. Take Peter’s forewarning—don’t fall from your stability—read 2 Peter carefully. Jesus would not make a statement about returning right away, when he states that the Gospel must be preached to the whole world before he returns.

    “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14)

    Now, I ask—-would Jesus say something that like if he meant that he would be returning within one generation? Absolutely not!! Obi is selectively twisting scriptures just as Peter warned us of. Just ignore it.

  • 195. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Rover:

    If you never really believed the Bible from the start that’s okay but respect the fact that others do have perhaps a slightly better understanding of the thought behind certian metholodogies of harmonizing the Bible.

    Why do you have such trouble with the concept of someone believing in the Bible fully and later changing their minds about it? I once believed as you do. I gave the same answers to those questions you did. And since then I have gone back, and looked at those verses for myself, without relying on others to tell me what it means, and I realize that “others with a slightly better understanding” are in fact just trying desperately to defend a book that doesn’t hold together under scrutiny. The transfiguration argument is a great example of this; the verse does not make sense in a transfiguration context when considering the verses that immediately precede it. Jesus talks about the Second Coming and then goes into a complete non-sequiter about people witnessing his transfiguration? That or Jesus describes his transfiguration in the preceding verse in a completely different manner from what happens.

    From what I’ve seen on this blog, most of the de-cons here are the same way. Everyone here has an understanding of the Bible, but you seem to be making the claim that disagreeing with the defenses some knowledgeable Christians have given proves a lack of understanding of the Bible. Isn’t it possible to understand the Bible fully and disagree with what some knowledgeable Christians have said? Just because those defenses make sense to you does not mean someone with understanding can’t disagree.

    Heck, some of the de-cons here used to be pastors.

    I don’t have many verses memorized, but I have read the Bible front-to-back, and I have studied it, both when I believed and after I de-converted. And I find that I disagree with most of the defenses given by knowledgeable Christians.

    And Joe, that’s a pretty weak defense of Matthew 10. Anyone could easily have gone through each city in the Israel that formed in 1948 and preached about Christ by now. I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised if someone has already visited every city in Israel since then.

  • 196. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I apologize above for saying “just ignore it”—I meant to say “just take it with a grain of salt”.

  • 197. Obi  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Joe —

    Of course Peter would say things such as that. He was in fact an ancient apologetic, who met skeptics as well. He engages in baseless ad hominem attacks, such as the ones you are resorting to right now, instead of using logical arguments and drawing on the sayings of Jesus and other writings.

    In my previous post, I show you, using scripture, why the Transfiguration could not have been the second coming that Christ was referring to, for two important reasons; (1) Because Jesus specifically states that his second coming will be immediately followed by the Final Judgment, since he states, and I quote, “and then he will reward each person according to what he has done” .

    (2) Jesus’ transfiguration was not attended to by angels. I gave you the entire account of it from Mark, which would have been the source the authors of Luke and Matthew used to compose their accounts. Mark mentions nothing about angels, he only states that Moses and Elijah came down from heaven and surrounded Jesus. However, Jesus says on two occasions while describing the second coming that, and I quote, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call…” and “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels“.

    During both of these descriptions of the second coming is when he makes the “this generation…” and “some here will not taste of death…until these things come to pass statements. He makes it clear in each situation that the events he was describing (the accompaniement of angels, the Judgment, the second coming) would all happen within the lives of those present.

    It’s clear as day, mate.

  • 198. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    would Jesus say something that like if he meant that he would be returning within one generation?

    Not if he were divine. But if he was just a man with a limited understanding of the world, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

    Would Jesus say “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” right after describing his Second Coming if he was referring to the transfiguration? Why would he say “some of you will not taste death” if he knew he was going to be transfigured almost immediately? No one standing there tasted death before the transfiguration, though not all got to personally witness it. It just doesn’t make sense in the context of his transfiguration. But the context of his transfiguration is the only way the Bible can hold together since the Second Coming didn’t happen in their lifetimes.

    Most apologetics I’ve read work the same way; they try to find an interpretation of the verses that’s consistent with what we’ve observed (the Second Coming hasn’t happened yet), instead of the interpretation that is clearly intended (the Second Coming would happen, if not in their lifetimes, then very soon).

  • 199. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    And Joe, that’s a pretty weak defense of Matthew 10. Anyone could easily have gone through each city in the Israel that formed in 1948 and preached about Christ by now. I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised if someone has already visited every city in Israel since then.

    SnugglyBuffalo—

    You’re right. But I think the verse has to be taken in it’s context. Jesus is saying:

    “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
    When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes”.

    He says “He that endures to the end will be saved”. So he is speaking of “the end”. And what has to happen before the “End comes”? Combine it with Matt. 24: 14:
    “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14)

    The Gospel will need to be preached to all nations before the end comes. So how do we define “the towns of Israel”? What itme is he talking about? Is he talking literal towns, or Jewish people scattered everywhere? We simply do not know. It is conjecture—but Jesus does make the definite statement that the Gospel must be preached to all nations before the end comes—and that was not to happen in one gereration.

    I will tell you something very exciting though. The Bible, or some part of it WILL BE TRANSLATED into every tongue on earth by 2038—-and they are shooting for 2025. This is another sign of end—–the Gospel has almost (another 30 years or before) been “translated” into the tongues of all—–and will be preached to all nations well before the last translation has been finished. That is absolutely awesome!!!!

  • 200. DagoodS  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Rover,

    I would agree that many Christian scholars have given reasonable answers to these questions. What plagues me is this—reasonable to whom?

    What is particularly troubling of most of apologetics is the fact it is geared toward convincing the already convinced. Christians convincing other Christians. Is it at all surprising people who believe Jesus is coming again, and are looking for any excuse possible to explain away these passages, will fall on any apologists apparently “reasonable” claim that reinforces what the Christian already believes? Of course it seems reasonable to other Christians!

    And perhaps we can excuse the same apologists for being unable to convince the unconvinced. We heathens can be written off as spiritually dead, or undiscerning in the spirit, or hardened of heart (whatever the most handy label is available) and the apologist is provided an escape for his/her inability to convince us.

    So what do we do? Stand on each side of the fence and lob slabs of butter at each other?—each convinced the other side is unconvincable?

    I developed a method of my own to overcome this hurdle. It is the same method I use in other areas of my life in which I am presented with two radically different arguments, and the truth is attempted to be ferreted out. Present it to a neutral party. To a person who has no stake in the outcome.

    You used the word “plausible.” I like. What is more plausible to a person who is not convinced Jesus is coming again? Not a person who needs an explanation for what appears to be the writers of the New Testament inferring Jesus was coming back within the First Century CE. One of the hardest things for all of us to do is step back and think as such a neutral. To weigh the evidence, and the writings and perceive what would be convincing to a person who is not convinced either way.

    Look at all the arguments. We have writings, written within the generational time frame, which claim the imminent return of Jesus. We start off with 1 Thessalonians (the first documented Christian writing) Paul clearly believes Jesus will come within his life time. 1 Thess. 4:16. Right, wrong or otherwise, from Paul’s understanding of what he knew, Jesus was coming back while he was alive.

    But notice by 1 Corinthians, Paul is already having deal with questions about what is taking so long and what was happening with the resurrection. 1 Cor. 15:12-21. By his last writing (Philippians) he was starting to suspect he might die before Jesus came. Phil. 1:21.

    Then we come to the Gospels. Writings geared toward a particular audience with particular problems. (What those are is a matter of some discussion.) Again, the authors are addressing the concerns about the coming of Jesus, and what is taking so long. Instead of an immediate return, we see that “some” will still be alive. Not everybody. The ending of John even implies excuses are being made for the deaths of all the disciples. John 21:23. (The author of chapter 21 is certainly aware of Peter’s death.)

    By the time 2 Peter is written—it is pretty clear the church is struggling with the issue of Jesus not returning. That is why the author in 3:8-10 creates this huge extension of time, saying a day is like a thousand years to God. (The first apologetic excuse of claiming “When the word is ’day’ it doesn’t really mean ‘day;’ it means anything from ‘day’ [if that is more convenient to my proposition] to ‘1000 years or more’ [if THAT is more convenient to my proposition.]”)

    Now, here is what I propose, quite simply, to our neutral person. Based upon the writings, and the understandings of the people at that time, they expected the Second Coming of Jesus to happen quickly, within a few decades. When it did not, they began to justify it with later writings.

    On the preterist side we have those who say it DID happen within the generation.

    And on those waiting for the Second Coming we have artful explanations from people sitting in pews of how genea may not mean that generation despite the fact that Greek scholars uniformly translate it “this generation.”

    What will a neutral person believe is more plausible?

  • 201. Obi  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Joe —

    As for the requirement for the gospel to be preached to all the world, Paul states that it alread has been.

    Colossians 1:22-23, “22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

    Notice how he says that the gospel has been proclaimed to every creature, and since “has been” is a past tense conjugation of the verb “to be”, this means that Paul believed that the preaching of the gospel to all the world has already taken place, fulfilling the requirement that you stipulated.

  • 202. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Obi—

    You are truly amazing. You are going to ignore all that Peter says in 2 Peter, where he specifically states that He has ALREADY SEEN the POWER AND COMING of Jesus on the “HOLY MOUNT”—referring specifically to the Transfiguration. And you are going to base, and define what Jesus said and angels not being there when he was transfigured?

    The Bible is literally FULL of instances where a Prophet will speak in one sentence of a present judgment, and then refer to a judgment FAR into the future. Jesus stands up in the Synagogue and opens Isaiah 61—he only reads half of one verse—-because the second half of the verse is talking about final judgment—WAY into the future.

    At the end of Matthew 16 Jesus makes reference to his future coming, and then immediately says “some standing here shall not taste of death until they see the son of man coming in his power and glory”. The only word missing in the text is “but”. In other words, “but some standing here…” he is tying an event he is talking about far in the future with an event that is to happen very shortly—-and it does—-in the very next verse he is transfigured before them. It is extremely obvious—–that is why Rover immediately said it, and I have been saying before. He is obviously referring to the Transfiguration that will take place shortly after his statement.

    You can say “you are wrong” until you are red in the face, but that interpretation has held for ages—-and combined with what Peter says in 2 Peter it is obvious it is what it means. The only people that take your interpretation are atheists, or those trying to disprove Jesus Christ. Any commentator or teacher will state he is referring to the transfiguration.

  • 203. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    You simply cannot use the Bible to prove the Bible.

    Griffin—-

    So let me get this straight–I can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible, but Obi and many others can quote it right and left (though out of context and to their liking) to try disprove that same Bible? You can use it to disprove it, but I can’t use it to prove it?

  • 204. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Obi—-

    After reading your posts above, and your “sampling” of Col 1:22,23—-Paul knew it had not been physically preached to every creature under heaven—read all of his other epistles Obi—you are twisting scripture. In the very same epistle he speaks of continuing to preach the Gospel and proclaim it.

    Obi—it is hilarious how you are using scripture to “prove” your point and twisting it—-but if I use scripture to “prove” what I am trying to say you “blow it off”—“Oh, of course Peter would say that….etc., etc.”

    Read this one more time:

    And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you,
    speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.

    Peter is saying that many twist and distort what Paul said to their own ends. And you are fulfilling scripture by doing just that.

    And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you,
    speaking of these things 12 as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.

  • 205. Obi  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Joe —

    2 Peter 1:12-18, “ 12So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

    16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[a] 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

    It’s clear that Peter’s purpose here is to prove an encouraging “keep the faith” message to those he knows are beginning to doubt the second coming that was supposed to have happened by then. As DagoodS previously pointed out, John 21 speaks on a case where people began to doubt the prophecies that Jesus gave, so the remaining disciples, seeing their deaths imminent, had to make up stories and explanations to allay the doubts of their followers. However, these explanations don’t stand up the clear words that Jesus gave regarding the issue.

    I’ve given the explanations to you twice now of why the Transfiguration event could not have been the event Jesus was speaking of, because of the descriptions of it as given by Mark. It’s written quite clearly in those books — Jesus stated that he would come back accompanied by angels trumpeting out his return to gather his elect and judge the people on Earth, and that all of this would happen within that generation and the lives of his disciples. Peter even mentions in this passage that they simply heard a voice, and he mentions nothing else that Jesus described when he spoke of the second coming. Also, note the word coming. The transfiguration wasn’t a coming, because Jesus was already there. In Matthew 16 and 24, Jesus clearly describes his return, meaning that he would have left the Earth and come back, which is clearly not what happened during the trnasfiguration.

    Also, you unintentionally solidify my point when you mention that the transfiguration happened directly after Jesus spoke of the return of the kingdom. If he was going to take them directly to see these events that he was speaking of transpire, why would he tell them that none of them would die and that it would happen within their generation? I’m sure that none of them were in such terrible health that they were about to drop dead within a few hours of Jesus saying that (John lived to a ripe old age for the time, in fact), so even that doesn’t line up. Mate, I’m not adding anything extra to this. I’m simply reading the words as they were meant to be read.

  • 206. Obi  |  July 10, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Joe —

    Oh, and what do you think Paul meant in Colossians when he made the statement that I quoted? I’d like to hear your interpretation of it. To me, it sounds like he’s saying what he’s saying — that the gospel “has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven”. It sounds quite straightforward to me.

  • 207. Griffin  |  July 10, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Joe:

    “So let me get this straight–I can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible, but Obi and many others can quote it right and left (though out of context and to their liking) to try disprove that same Bible? You can use it to disprove it, but I can’t use it to prove it?”

    Only if they’re trying to show internal inconsistencies.

  • 208. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I’ve given the explanations to you twice now of why the Transfiguration event could not have been the event Jesus was speaking of, because of the descriptions of it as given by Mark.

    Wow—I just received a call from a panel of Biblical Greek Scholars and Theologians and they said the following:

    “Thanks for fowarding the post from this person named Obi. We have ardently studied Matthew 16 and 17, and even written commentaries on Matthew itself. We are fluent in the Greek tenses and meanings, but had never considered that Jesus might have meant he was going to return in one generation. We always felt with definite assurance he was referring to the Transfiguration since it happened just verses after he made the statement in question. But since Obi forcefully states that it COULD NOT be the event Jesus was speaking of we were forced to throw up our hands and hand in our resignations. He is a virtual cornucopia of Biblical knowledge. How we wish we had listened to Obi’s definition of the events before. We are forced to admit that he, and he alone, is correct, and all of our Biblical study and knowledge was for nought”.

  • 209. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    The only people that take your interpretation are atheists, or those trying to disprove Jesus Christ.

    Or Christian preterists. Believe it or not, there are people who believe not only that Christ said the “last days” would happen within one generation, but that it did happen.

  • 210. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    Snuggly—

    I have never run into a “preterist” so I had to look it up :>)

    They believe that most fo the Biblical prophecies were fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. So yes, you can add “preterists” to atheists and those seeking to disprove Chirst. Somehow, I think maybe there are more atheists than preterists though—I have never met a preterists—but I have met plenty of atheists. :>)

  • 211. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Obi—

    The reaon I have resorted to sarcasm with the “Biblical Scholars” is that I have really gone to great lengths to show that Peter is stating He has ALREADY SEEN Jesus coming in Glory. You absolutely will not accept this and say it ansolutely could not have been the case. You say “I have already shown you why it COULD NOT be correct..etc” but you really have proved nothing.

    Many scholars, commentators, linguists etc. state that at the end of Matthew 16 Jesus is referring to the transfiguration about to happen—and it does happen immediately following. It makes sense that that is what he is referring to. If you don’t WANT IT TO of course you can lift scripture after scripture out of context to try to prove it.

    “judas went and hanged himself” “go and do thou likewise”—anyone can take a verse out of an area of context, combine it with other verses that seem to say the same thing, and “disprove” a point. But when you read the context between the two chapters, and compare it with 2 Peter 1 there really is no question as to what is being stated. I know you won’t accept that—but most scholars do.

  • 212. Obi  |  July 10, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Joe —

    (1) How do you account for Jesus’ mention of angels heralding his return and a Judgment following soon after? If it was merely some small “sneak peak” of heaven that he was speaking about, then I would be satisfied with your answer. However, Jesus mentions a fantastic second coming where he appears on clouds with angels trumpeting his return while he comes to judge the Earth. That doesn’t sound like what transpired during the transfiguration according to Mark, Matthew, or Luke, for that matter.

    (2) How can Jesus be referring to the transfiguration when he says the “kingdom will be coming“? Don’t you have to leave (the Earth) to come/return? The disciples were with Jesus the entire time, and none of the accounts state that Jesus left them — quite to the contrary, they say he was with them the entire time during the transfiguration.

    (3) Why did Jesus tell his disciples that they wouldn’t taste of death and that the generation wouldn’t pass before they saw his coming if he was referring to the transfiguration that he knew would be happening in about six days? If it’s a Monday and you’re planning to take a trip on the weekend with friends, do you promise them that they won’t die before your trip? Doesn’t it seem a little pointless to say such a thing when an event is planned for the very near future? On the contrary, people often compile “things I want to do before I die” lists, where they name events they’d like to partake in or places they’d like to go to sometime in the far future, because no middle-aged person (whom the disciples were) is expecting death to hit at any moment.

  • 213. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Whoa, no one is taking Matthew 16:28 and combining it with verses elsewhere in the text. Obi is combining it with verse 27, the verse right before it.

    Most Biblical scholars accept that he is referring to the transfiguration because the only alternative shows that Jesus said his second coming would occur before their deaths, which didn’t happen (ignoring the preterist view, since it doesn’t seem anyone currently engaged in this debate holds it; there have been some on this blog before, though, if you look for ‘em). If you presuppose that the Bible is inerrant, the transfiguration is the only explanation that makes sense (otherwise the verse is false, and these people have already assumed it is true). If you can accept that the Bible may in fact be fallible, it’s pretty clear that he wasn’t talking about the transfiguration. That he was referring to the Second Coming makes a lot more sense given the context of the previous verse. Have you ever looked at any analysis of those verses done by a non-believer?

    Jesus gave his sermon on the second coming and said some of them would live to see it. Days later, he took some disciples with him and had the transfiguration experience. The verses on his transfiguration take place right after the verses of his sermon because the transfiguration was the first significant event after the sermon, not because he was referring to his impending transfiguration. The only reason to link the transfiguration with his comment in the previous sermon is to change its meaning to maintain a futurist view of the Second Coming. It seems plain-as-day to me.

  • 214. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    As for scholars, check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Coming (yeah yeah, it’s wikipedia, but it’s a good starting point). Particularly the “timing” section. It’s pretty clear that there is no consensus on the interpretation of these verses; you’ve only heard the interpretations of biblical scholars and theologians who hold a futurist view. That’s the most popular one in the US, but it is by far the only one.

    There are many biblical scholars who disagree with you, Joe.

  • 215. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    “but it is by far NOT the only one.” is what I meant to say *sigh*

  • 216. Joe  |  July 10, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Snuggly—

    If you can bear with me, read this— you have to read the entire flow of scripture from 16:27 thru the beginning of the transfiguration. Then ask yourself “Why would Jesus say that “some” standing there would see him coming in all of his glory, and then just IMMEDIATELY following that statement, be transfigured “as white as the light” in front of them? Does it make sense that the two thoughts are NOT linked? I think it is obvious when one reads the flow what is really being stated:

    “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”(Matt 16–progress into 17):
    After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (Matt. 16:27 thru 17:3)

    When you see the progression, thus holding the thoughts together, you can clearly see they are
    LINKED together. 16:27 is a future event, 16:28 is referring to what is coming next. A couple of translations say “Amen” not “I tell you the truth”–signalling a progression from one thought to the
    next. When one sees the flow from chapter 16 into chapter 17 one sees obviously that the last
    sentence from Chapter 16 is linked to the next chapter 17.

    Peter confirms this for us in 2 Peter 1 when he states he saw Jesus coming in his power and glory, and was an eyewitness to his majesty. He says this happened on the Holy Mount. He also heard the voice of the Father saying “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”.

    HOWEVER, if someone simply “lifts” the last two verses of Matthew 16, they can say “see—he said that those around him would see him “return” in glory–he was saying he would immediately return!!” But this is nonsense when one links the two chapters together and reads the flow of thought.

    I agree that not all scholars agree with me. There will always be differing opinions. I just state that most scholars accept the transfiguration as the “logical and obvious” interpretation due to the flow of the text. If one wants to separate the two verses and use them alone—sure, then you can come to a different conclusion—-but if you honestly follow the flow of thought, there is a very good chance one will see that they are indeed linked—or come to that conclusion. Of course, if you DONT WANT them to be linked, then you no one can persuade you against it.

  • 217. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 10, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Except some people do follow the flow of thought honestly, and come to a different conclusion. You just can’t seem to grasp this. It has nothing to do with what conclusion I want, only with what conclusion makes sense. In all honesty, I read those verses and don’t see the same flow you do.

    I don’t see how “amen” signals a progression from one thought to the next. I don’t see how his final statement on the mount refers not to the second coming but to the transfiguration. I read those verses and see his final statement on the mount as the close to his sermon, and that’s the end of it. It then moves to the next chapter, starting a separate event. Verses 27 and 28 are clearly linked, both being spoken one after the other. The transfiguration takes place 6 days later, and only occurs next in the Bible because it was chronologically the next event to happen worth writing about (no one wants verses talking about how Jesus didn’t really do anything for 6 days). I don’t see how they are linked by anything other than time. I even had trouble with this verse when I was a Christian, I never really thought the arguments you’re presenting made sense even when I believed; I just chose to ignore it at the time.

    Your argument about Peter confirming it mean nothing. Peter confirmed that he saw Christ’s transfiguration. No one’s arguing that. But that Peter saw his transfiguration does not mean that the transfiguration was what was described in Matthew 16.

    You’ve now moved to saying “most” scholars accept the transfiguration. Do you have any basis for saying that? Have you actually done any research to verify that most scholars see it this way?

    Check out http://www.preterism.info/articles/transfiguration/frameset.htm it describes the faults in the view you are describing much better than I ever could.

  • 218. The Apostate  |  July 10, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    I think all arguments have been made regarding the transfiguration and the troubling Matthew verse(s). As every single de-convert here knows, there is nothing to convince the religionist. As every devotee knows, there is little here to convince the apostate. These are but seeds of doubt for the Christian, in the view of the non-religious, or arguments for faith, in the view of the believer.
    Once again, the only difference between the adherent and the apostate is that the former claims special knowledge of some sort whereas the latter admits that he or she is willing to be wrong should the overwhelming evidence against their previous faith prove too much of a burden.
    “You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions.” – Denis Waitley (Business guru and New Age flake)

  • 219. Quester  |  July 11, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Tim,

    What happens if you look up from your map and realize it does not match reality at any point, except to say that such things as land and water exist?

    I did not abandon faith because of inconsistencies in the Bible. Inconsistencies in the Bible taught me that I could not rely on the Bible as a trustworthy revelation of God. When I tried to find an alternative revelation, I found none I could trust. What sort of God makes as little impact on the world as a lack of God would?

  • 220. Tim  |  July 11, 2008 at 1:03 am

    (For some reason, all I can hear at the moment is your last line, which sounds amazingly like “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck…” Sadly, this keeps me from thinking seriously about the topic, and just puts my into fits of laughter instead.)

    OK… now that I’ve recovered a bit…

    If I simply look at the OT as a book recounting the history of Israel, keeping in mind that “the victors write the history books,” and so everything will in turn have that perspective, then I see much of what I find in a lot of other history books. I find similar inconsistencies, similar problems, similar amounts of “reliable” archaeological evidence, and so on.

    Moving from that point to treating it as a “trustworthy revelation of God” is a pretty big jump, in my opinion, and not necessarily related to using the Bible as a “life map.” If, however, I look at this book of history as just that, and then look deeper into the teachings of the nation and people described, then it paints a different picture.

    If I presume, for example, that the destruction of “evil people” was the perception of Israel, but not necessarily the clearly revealed Will of God, then looking at the life of Jesus takes on a different perspective in terms of illuminating how God wanted us to live. When people point to the inconsistencies of behavior promoted by Jesus compared to the OT prophets, judges, and kings, we come up with all sorts of explanations OTHER than what would appear most plausible–the OT guys just viewed everything threw a lens skewed to what mattered to them.

    Would such a view or interpretation make the Bible a flawed revelation of God? Maybe so. Would that also make it useless for any purpose other than ridicule? That seems a bit extreme.

    I do find it interesting to ask the “What sort of God” questions. If I do nothing more than take the perspective of a child, and consider how unfathomable many adult decisions seem, then the notion of me understanding the motivations of a creating being (whether or not it’s one that’s omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent) seems a little suspect. If I consider further that any being capable of such creative powers is exhibiting a far greater knowledge/ability delta compared to me than when I compare a human adult with a human child, then it seems less likely that I would ever fully grok a whole lot about that being.

    For whatever it’s worth, I’ve been in some weird places, and I’ve not yet come to a place where “only land and water exist” from the Bible map that I use. It still has some regions marked with dragons, but when I find solid, practical human relationship advice cleverly disguised as “how to resolve interpersonal conflicts in the New Testament church,” then it convinces me that there’s probably some other nuggets in there worth reading.

    Regardless, I do understand more of what you’re saying, and were I to have had that kind of experience, I might very well toss out the whole map too. I just haven’t been there, in spite of being a middle-aged guy who’s made lots of mistakes, and learned lots of things the hard way that I could have avoided by reading a few more verses in Proverbs. – Tim

  • 221. Quester  |  July 11, 2008 at 1:20 am

    Tim,

    There are some lovely sentiments in the bible, along with some horrific atrocities, If you carefully pick and choose, you can find some good advice for how to live life. What I could not find, however, was a clear idea of God’s will for us, nor any evidence that there is a God at all.

    For many years I found no reason not to believe, for I saw no evidence against God’s existence. It has only been recently that I’ve realized I also see no evidence for God’s existence, let alone that Christians have the correct understanding of who God is and what God wants.

    If I read the bible as a story of multiple generations of people trying to figure out the world and how to live in it, I can see where it would be useful. If I look for guidance of how God wants us to live, or revelation of who (or if) God is, I am disappointed.

    Does this make sense?

  • 222. John Morales  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:32 am

    Quester, no offense intended, but for actual knowledge (like the natural and social sciences, philosophy) the Bible is a rather poor source. For one thing, it’s way out of date ;)

    BTW, I see the OT as the national epic* of the Jewish people, rather than a religious text.


    * This is wittier if you’ve ever played Civilization.

  • 223. John T.  |  July 11, 2008 at 6:07 am

    Quester

    “If you carefully pick and choose, you can find some good advice for how to live life”(quester)

    If God is truly mysterious to us, then maybe this is how we get to hear its voice, by carefully picking and choosing on how to live our lives better. The bible sure isnt one long narrative, but I think it has lots of good old fashion common sense. And maybe that is truly what God is all about.

  • 224. Tim  |  July 11, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Quester,

    What you’re saying makes perfectly good sense, and I should point out that my goal in this discussion is as much for me to learn (my own selfish goal) as anything. I don’t have any illusions about changing someone else’s mind here, as I’m more interested in modifying my own map, but doing so with some running commentary so that others can toss their views into the mix.

    When I look at the Bible, I can certainly see a series of stories about how to live, and how NOT to live. For example, I’m one of the first to question how God would be glorifying Himself by asking for the foreskins of a thousand Philistines.

    Does that story fall into the category of King David (or some other OT hero) misguidedly trying to understand God’s will, and subconsciously (or consciously) writing his own desires in instead; or a matter of God desiring something that seems horrific to us, but somehow accomplishes an eternal goal (in which case King David got things exactly right)? For me, both are equally plausible, but I’m sure there are other ways to look at that kind of event.

    Now, I’ll be the first to say that I don’t feel that I’ve got everything figured out. As such, I am definitely not prepared to get up on a soapbox and tell you where you’re wrong, or why you need to believe what I do. I say this, even as someone who was raised in an evangelical environment, and who puts a huge amount of time and energy into my local church (which promotes a Jesus-centered theology). I’m much more inclined to say, “This is what I understand to be true, so far.”

    Also, I don’t look at the Bible as something that proves itself, or proves the existence of God. For me, the nature of causality and logic dictates some things for which “no God” comes up more empty for me than “strange God whose motivation I just don’t understand.” The Bible becomes an interesting (if potentially flawed) window into the way various people (primarily the nation of Israel) have viewed God, and a largely accurate account of the results of that view. – Tim

  • 225. Rover  |  July 11, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Tim,

    I think I am very close to where you are at. I not really trying to fight, but rather I a m searching for the truth.

    Joe;
    Christianity is full of preterists. The Presbyterian Church of America holds to Preterism or partial preterism. These are many of the same people who hold to Calvinism’s TULIP, whereby man really has not choice in salvation because God predestined the majority for hell and a remnant for heaven.

    Obi,

    thank you for your ability and willigness to challenge us on a Scriptural basis. I appreciate being forced to exam the Scriptures that I hold so dear.

  • 226. The Apostate  |  July 11, 2008 at 11:07 am

    John T. say

    The bible sure isnt one long narrative, but I think it has lots of good old fashion common sense.

    So does Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil and Thurman’s translation of The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti. Or how about the hundreds of great books I have read since high school (and many during)? Many of those had great gems of wisdom. There is more ring of reality in Orwell’s Animal Farm than many (or most) books of the Bible – again, this is something you cannot chose to forget: the Bible is a collection of books arbitrarily and ambiguously put together by people who understood the earth to be saturated with demons and sprites, with no knowledge of how the heavens or even most of earthly biology “works,” who thought nothing of owning another person or denigrating women, and who systematically persecuted the very “race” of people who wrote the vast majority of their Bible.
    The creation of the canon is at the crux of de-conversion and it is something that so many Christians are completely ignorant of and purposely deterred from learning about in most Bible Colleges and Seminaries.

  • 227. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I think all arguments have been made regarding the transfiguration and the troubling Matthew verse(s). As every single de-convert here knows, there is nothing to convince the religionist. As every devotee knows, there is little here to convince the apostate.

    Thanks Apostate—-well put.

    Snuggly– I appreciate what you have to say. I just seriously cannot read that flow and NOT SEE the link. Peter’s confirmation of it is precise:

    “SOME standing here shall not taste of death until they SEE the Son of Man COMING in POWER AND GLORY” (Matt. 16:28)

    “We made know onto you the POWER and COMING of our Lord Jesus Christ…we we’re Eyewtinesses of His Majesty when we were in the Holy Mount” (2 Pet. 1)

    If you do not want to make the definite link there, that’s fine. I personally cannot avoid it—-and I’m not just saying this because I am a Christian—I am saying it because it is obvious.

    But as Apostate said—-I can never convince you, and you can never convince me. LOL

  • 228. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Obi,

    thank you for your ability and willigness to challenge us on a Scriptural basis. I appreciate being forced to exam the Scriptures that I hold so dear.

    Rover—

    One thing I need to mention seriously—Obi is not “challenging on a scripural basis” at all. And there is no need to be “forced to examine the Scriptures I hold so dear”. Remember first, the Scriptures are not “dear” to him. He wants to disprove them. And what he is doing, is what I mentioned before, that I have seen in many, many books by atheists, etc. (Joseph Lewis, Robert Ingersoll, Ruth Hurmence Green, Don Barker, et al)—he is lifting Scripture as HE wants to out of context. Anyone can go into the Bible, lift (2) verses out of it and pick the hell out of it. One needs to go back, read the full context—what came before it, and what comes after it, to get the full point that is being made. Again, I strongly urge you to take verses Obi has given, and go back and read the full context.

    For example, Obi will pull texts from Matthew 24 to prove Jesus said he was coming right back, but then ignore verse 14 which clearly says:

    “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” —-There is no way that Jesus is saying he is coming back in one generation, and the end will come, when he says the Gospel “will” be preached throughout the world as a witness to ALL nations”. In order to ignore this statement of Jesus one must “selectively” choose what verses they want to use to show he taught his immediate return within one generation.

    There are many, many other verses from Jesus, and from other writers which clearly show otherwise.

    I know I cannot convince the deconverted, as Apostated said, but you are a Christian, and need to thoroughly investigate the full context of what is said——-in that manner, being “challenged” may be a good thing—-to make you study and confirm that the verses are being used out of context—but studying just the verses which are mentioned THEMSELVES is not a wise thing to do—for it is misleading and untrue.

  • 229. Rover  |  July 11, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Joe,

    Obi IS using the context to make his point. We merely disagree with his interpretation of the context. Similiarly, as I pointed out, you disagree with the preterists, however, they are becoming the largest part of the American Christian church. These include such men as RC Sproul, Hank Hanegraff, John Piper, James Montgomery Boice, John White, etc… They agree with Obi’s contextual interpretation and they are born again believers. Read Revelation 1:1-3, where even John taught that these things must “soon take place”, then read how apologists on the dispensational side dance around what that means.
    Acknowledging that Obi is using our own techniques to make his point does not mean that I agree with him in total, but I do need to respect the fact that he is asking me to examine the Bible from a perspective that is in harmony with my interpretation techniqes, ie, “context is king”.

  • 230. Rover  |  July 11, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    They agree in the sense of a 70AD fulfilling of His second coming.

  • 231. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 11, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I think the only conclusion being reached so far is that the context of those verses is not clear. Taken in context, many claim they refer to the Second Coming. Taken in context, many people claim it refers to the transfiguration. I still hold that the second view is only the most reasonable if you presuppose the Bible’s inerrancy combined with a futurist view, but I do recognize that it has enough merits to be seriously considered, at least.

    Snuggly– I appreciate what you have to say. I just seriously cannot read that flow and NOT SEE the link. Peter’s confirmation of it is precise

    I’m rather fascinated by this. I see two clearly separate stories, and you see two clearly linked stories, and I have to wonder how much of that can be attributed to simply how our minds are wired to think?

  • 232. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Obi IS using the context to make his point. We merely disagree with his interpretation of the context. Similiarly, as I pointed out, you disagree with the preterists, however, they are becoming the largest part of the American Christian church. These include such men as RC Sproul, Hank Hanegraff, John Piper, James Montgomery Boice, John White, etc… They agree with Obi’s contextual interpretation and they are born again believers.

    Rover—-

    I’m not doubting that there are “preterists”—but I do not think any of them are trying to prove that Jesus and the Bible are “false” due to unfulfilled prophecy about Jesus’ return in one generation, as Obi is using it. They may hold that all of these things have been “fulfilled”–in other words they BELIEVE THEM, but INTERPRET them diffently. Obi is using Matthew 16 to try to say that it proves Jesus said something but it never happened, THEREFORE the Bible is in error.

    There is a big difference there and I think you should consider that. That’s what I am trying to say.

    Snuggly—-

    I’m rather fascinated by this. I see two clearly separate stories, and you see two clearly linked stories, and I have to wonder how much of that can be attributed to simply how our minds are wired to think?

    That could play a big part—you’re right. But I really do believe that Peter mentions this specifically in 2 Peter 1 as a result of others possibly “misinterpreting” the words that Jesus used later put in the Gospel of Matthew. He makes a point in 2 Pet. 3 of saying that many “twist the words of Paul, as they do the other scriptures, to their own destruction”. Si I really believe what he says in 2 Pet 1 is reinforcing the fact that he has already seen Jesus coming in his power and glory, and was an eyewitness to that fact! I know this is probably the 80th time I’ve repeated that, but I feel it is a very important thing to consider. But I understand where you are coming from also.

  • 233. John T.  |  July 11, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Apostate

    I agree fully. I think all books have a piece of God truth in them, and lots of human Sheit also.
    :)

  • 234. Rover  |  July 11, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Joe,

    Your point seemed to be that Obi was taking scripture out of context to prove his point. My point was that there are Christians who contextual see this problem and have devised ways to harmony the text, thus the 70ad fulfullment of Christ “spiritually” coming in His kingdom. True believers have recognized this dilemna when they study the Word in context. I am not trying to fight with you but we, if we consider ourselves Christians, should be people of honor and truth. We should have a very good answer for Colossians and for Rev. 1

  • 235. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 11, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Yeah, I agree that Peter says he saw Jesus coming in power and glory in the transfiguration in Matthew 17. Where I disagree is that 2 Peter 1 is referring to the end Matthew 16. Both used “power and glory” but Matthew 16’s description also included angels and final judgment, so the two use similar language but describe different things.

    As for Obi, yes, he is trying to prove Jesus made a prophecy that did not come true, but he uses the same arguments Christian Preterists use to show the meaning of those scriptures. The difference is in whether those scriptures were fulfilled. Obi says Jesus predicted the Second Coming within a generation, which didn’t happen. Preterists say Jesus predicted the Second Coming within a generation, and it did happen. Whether the Second Coming happened or not isn’t relevant to the discussion of what these verses mean and how the conclusion was reached.

  • 236. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 11, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Unless, of course, you start with the assumption of the Bible’s inerrancy, in which case the debate on whether the Second Coming has occurred would determine which interpretation of those verses to use.

    Which is what I believe is the case with a lot of futurists. They don’t believe the Second Coming has occurred, and assume the Bible is inerrant, and the only way to reconcile that is to find ways that verses, seemingly pointing to the events occurring within a generation, in fact refer to the future.

    I agree with futurists that the Second Coming has not yet occurred, but I also agree with preterists that the Bible said it would happen within a generation.

  • 237. Obi  |  July 11, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Rover —

    Thanks, I appreciate that you can acknowledge views other than your own when it comes to things such as this. Joe seems to have it out that I’m some type of hatred-filled atheist who’d kill someone as soon as they mentioned Jesus’ name. In reality, I’m simply someone who’s trying to find out the truth, while weighing things as impartially as possible. I’m not trying to forcibly strip anyone of their religion, I’m just outlining my objections to the belief system and criticisms of it, because that’s how we gain knowledge; by testing beliefs and submitting them to logic, reason, and comparison to reality. It also worries me a lot when two people can settle firmly on completely different sides of an issue and think they’re absolutely right, so I always try to stay as open as possible.

    Anyway, your level-headed posts are appreciated.

    Joe —

    If I may ask, how old are you mate? Your endless streams of insults, baseless and ultimately false assumptions, and lack of knowledge about how to conduct yourself in a debate/argument are all unsettling signs of immaturity. I myself turned 17 years old one month ago today, so I’m sure that if you’re an adult that you’d be that much more respectful and dignified. What say we can’t put the insults aside and handle the subject at hand maturely eh? In post #212 I outlined my objections to your explanation in what I think was a rather clear manner, but you never responded to them. In case you glossed over them, accidentally or not, I will repost them here for you.

    Obi said, “(1) How do you account for Jesus’ mention of angels heralding his return and a Judgment following soon after? If it was merely some small “sneak peak” of heaven that he was speaking about, then I would be satisfied with your answer. However, Jesus mentions a fantastic second coming where he appears on clouds with angels trumpeting his return while he comes to judge the Earth. That doesn’t sound like what transpired during the transfiguration according to Mark, Matthew, Luke, or even Peter, for that matter.

    (2) How can Jesus be referring to the transfiguration when he says the “kingdom will be coming“? Don’t you have to leave (the Earth) to come/return? The disciples were with Jesus the entire time, and none of the accounts state that Jesus left them — quite to the contrary, they say he was with them the entire time during the transfiguration.

    (3) Why did Jesus tell his disciples that they wouldn’t taste of death and that the generation wouldn’t pass before they saw his coming if he was referring to the transfiguration that he knew would be happening in about six days? If it’s a Monday and you’re planning to take a trip on the weekend with friends, do you promise them that they won’t die before your trip? Doesn’t it seem a little pointless to say such a thing when an event is planned for the very near future? On the contrary, people often compile “things I want to do before I die” lists, where they name events they’d like to partake in or places they’d like to go to sometime in the far future, because no middle-aged person (whom the disciples were) is expecting death to hit at any moment.

  • 238. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Your point seemed to be that Obi was taking scripture out of context to prove his point. My point was that there are Christians who contextual see this problem and have devised ways to harmony the text, thus the 70ad fulfullment of Christ “spiritually” coming in His kingdom. True believers have recognized this dilemna when they study the Word in context. I am not trying to fight with you but we, if we consider ourselves Christians, should be people of honor and truth. We should have a very good answer for Colossians and for Rev. 1

    Rover—

    Don’t want to fight wih you either. Perhaps you misunderstood. I agree that a “preterist” would deivse a way to “harmonize” the text. But—as I stated the “preterist” BELIEVES the text he is interpreting. He may interpret it to mean 70 AD, and total fulfillment—but again, he still BELIEVES IT TO BE TRUE. Obi is using the texts in question as a way to “disprove” that Jesus was really the Son of God, that the Bible is “false” becauset these texts NEVER CAME TO BE.

    What I mean is there may be conflict between Christians as to what the verses mean, but all Christians BELIEVE that Jesus was who he said he was, despite how they interpret the text. Obi does not believe Jesus was who he said he was, nor does he believe the Bible to be true, and is seeking to disprove BOTH by using verses out of context. He is not taking a “preterist” view—he is taking a CYNICAL view of scripture. Do you understand my point? I am not arguing with you, I am just saying to take it all with a grain of sait, because the person is using verses to attempt to disprove the very person and book that you know to be true.

  • 239. BigHouse  |  July 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    So, Joe, it’s ok to interpret the texts in the EXACT SAME METHOD and to the EXACT SAME END. so long as you don’t use this information to question whether it invalidates Jesus? This is your logic?

  • 240. Obi  |  July 11, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Joe —

    You know what? Never mind. I saw your post on the “From belief to unbelief” article and now I realize that arguing with someone so set in their beliefs is futile. Whether it’s due to the fact that you’re rather advanced in years (that shocked me) or simply that you’ve told yourself over and over that what you believe is true, I see that the insults and baseless assumptions will just keep rolling in, and that we’ll never get anything out of this. I realize that your beliefs mean a lot to you, especially considering you’re drawing closer to the twilight years of your life; but please mate, just don’t be this disrespectful with other people, it isn’t befitting of someone your age.

    G’day, mate.

  • 241. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks, I appreciate that you can acknowledge views other than your own when it comes to things such as this. Joe seems to have it out that I’m some type of hatred-filled atheist who’d kill someone as soon as they mentioned Jesus’ name.

    So—now I am someone who thinks you are a “hate-filled atheist” who might kill someone. Even if your’re kidding, which I hope you are, I think you are truly being disingenuous. You say you are “looking for the truth”, yet you shoot down every statement I make—when I have put Matthew 16 and 2 Pet 1 side by side you still will not even acknowledge there is a possibility that they are tied together somehow.

    As for your questions above 1) Jesus is making two statements possibly centuries apart. (this is my opinion I know, but I do believe it to be true). He is essentially saying this “The Son of Man will come with his angels to judge the earth AND some of you standing here shall not taste of death until you see him coming in power and glory”. He is talking about two distinctly different things. Again, to me, it is obvious when he says “SOME” standing here—not ALL—and only Peter James and John were with him on the Mount.

    2) Jesus didn’t say “they shall see the son of man RETURNING–he said “coming in his power and glory”—and yes, it could happen on the earth. Both Isaiah and Ezekiel “saw appearances of the Lord in great glory” and Daniel saw end time events, and all the saints coming while he was still on earth. In this case Jesus was literally “transfigured before them” and became “white as the light”–just as he appears in REVELATION, WHEN HE IS IN HEAVEN. So, yes—this could be on earth for sure.

    3) Just because it seems like a strange statement to make to you Obi doesn’t mean Christ couldn’t have made it. In our terms of language he could say “One day in the future I will return with my angels, but I say to you that SOME standing here will see me coming in glory BEFORE THEY DIE”. This of course would cause them to wonder—-but Jesus said MANY THINGS his disciples did not understand, or misinterpreted.

    Again, Obi, I have to ask—because you have not addressed it, why would Jesus make a statement about an immediate return but then say “But this Gospel of the Kingdom WILL be preached to ALL NATIONS, and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14) Why would he state something like that knowing that to preach the Gospel to ALL nations could not be done in one generation? There were only a few of them—how could they do it? I would like to here your expanation of Matt. 24:14.

    And just because I am vehement in my belieft doesn’t mean I am being insulting towards anyone. I have to state that I am seeing the same from you as far as “false assumptions” go–and when someone is being completely unreasonable–and stating that my examples from Matt16/2Pet 1 have been “disproved” when they most definitely have not, I take umbrage at that, and come back a bit more tersely. My apologies if I have created too much heat in the kitchen.

  • 242. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    You know what? Never mind. I saw your post on the “From belief to unbelief” article and now I realize that arguing with someone so set in their beliefs is futile. Whether it’s due to the fact that you’re rather advanced in years

    Obi—-

    When you stated you were seventeen I realized with a chuckle why it has been so hard to communicate with you. All teenagers feel they are absolutely right, and really cannot be swayed no matter what you tell them. I don’t know what you mean about my “belief to unbelief” post—didn’t you read the gentleman’s article? Come on—you have to laugh at the last sentence in it. To try to make a reasonable argument and then end with “prison of faith” is extremely hilarious. You don’t see that as funny? Oh yeah, that’s right, I’m talking to a teenager who hasn’t really had the chance to experience much of life yet, and has not learned how to “respect his elders” yet. That’s cool though.

  • 243. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
    (Matt. 16:28)

    And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, 8 and then the end will come.
    (Matt. 24:14)

    Here are two verses from the same Gospel, 8 chapters apart. The first verse (16:28) has been used to argue that Jesus was saying he would “return” before “some” of the people standing there had a chance to die.

    Yet, In 24:14, only 8 chapters later, he tells of “wars and rumors of wars” and of “famine and plague” all as future events and then says “But this Gospel of the Kingdom WILL be preached in ALL nations and then shall the end come”.

    I have to ask—-why would he say he is “coming right back” and the end will come, and then state a short time later that the Gospel WILL be preached in ALL nations before the end comes? (At this point by the way, there were very few disciples)

    My answer—-because in 16:28 he is not talking about a “future return” at all—he is referring to the transfiguration. And by the way—just because it doesn’t mention angels at the transfiguration doesn’t mean they weren’t there. The main thing in view is Jesus with Elijah and Moses. Peter, James and John could have seen angels also surrounding all of them—who knows? Just because something isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean it might not have been there also. That’s why an argument based on what isn’t there when using a verse describing what IS there is really meaningless.

  • 244. Tim  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Joe,

    I’m 47, and I’m with Obi in terms of attitude and respect. Please note Paul’s advice to Timothy about not allowing others to dis him because of his youth. It seems contextually appropriate here.

    Both,

    What may be most amusing to me in all of this is a general lack of appreciation in this mini-debate over subtleties of meaning of English words that have been used to represent these two passages. These passages contain some very subtle verb tenses in Greek/Aramaic speech that have no clear parallel in English, and therefore render very differently.

    If there’s been a “OK, but let’s go back to some of the earliest manuscripts, and see what it looked like in the original language” comment in this side thread, I haven’t seen it. (If it’s been there, I apologize.) Ignoring those kinds of subtleties is a sure-fire way to misinterpret all sorts of ancient documents, but possibly more so in the case of the Bible than any other. If one is going to discard literal inerrancy, then such an approach is a logical step, in that it allows for scribal or translation errors to have crept into the text through the centuries. (Which was why I mentioned what I did about Schonfield’s “Original New Testament” earlier.)

    Then again, such research could yield another round of exegesis, isogesis, I’m-a-Jesus, You’re-a-Jesus, He’s-a-Jesus discussion. And now back to our featured program, Joseph Smith starring in “Days of Our Wives.” :-) – Tim

  • 245. Anonymous  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Joe:

    “Again, Obi, I have to ask—because you have not addressed it, why would Jesus make a statement about an immediate return but then say “But this Gospel of the Kingdom WILL be preached to ALL NATIONS, and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14) Why would he state something like that knowing that to preach the Gospel to ALL nations could not be done in one generation? There were only a few of them—how could they do it? I would like to here your expanation of Matt. 24:14.”

    Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he never mentioned anything about preaching it to ALL NATIONS but the people who put the story to writing decades later did as a kind of ‘fudge’ factor because otherwise their positions of authority within the emerging church (and the emerging church itself) would be threatened.

    All of the argument about scripture proving or disproving Jesus is as pointless as discussing the relative position of the Titanic’s deck chairs at the time of the sinking.

    All of the back and forth on this thread is really useless unless both sides can agree that there is something that would change their position.

    I know that there are things that would immediately cause me to abandon atheism and return to Christianity. I’d happily discuss them with you. Tell me, Joe, is there anything, anything that would convince you to become an atheist?

    If there isn’t, this isn’t a discussion – it’s just a shouting match and that’s useless to everybody.

    And you still haven’t answered me about the ‘fundamentally Christian’ principles our founders put into America’s founding documents – one of the specific reasons you gave for your belief in Christianity.

  • 246. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
    (Matt. 16:28)

    And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, 8 and then the end will come.
    (Matt. 24:14)

    I am going to post these two verses again right away, because the habit around here is to address some other issue in the post and ignore the main question or issue I am presenting. I want to know why Jesus would say these two entirely different things (The Gospel is to be preached THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND BE A WITNESS TO ALL NATIONS before the end comes) if he REALLY meant that he was going to return within one generation.

  • 247. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he never mentioned anything about preaching it to ALL NATIONS but the people who put the story to writing decades later did as a kind of ‘fudge’ factor because otherwise their positions of authority within the emerging church (and the emerging church itself) would be threatened.

    Anonymous, All—look at the above statement. Don’t you realize what you are doing? NO MATTER what is presented you have a “reason” (YOUR VERY OWN–not logical, not reasonable) to shoot the whole thing down.

    Tim— I appreciate what you have to say, but listen—-the reason I have gotten to the place where everyone is saying I am being “insulting” etc. is posts like the above. Instead of critically looking at the two verses I presented and saying “You know what? Why would Jesus say that? Maybe I should investigate further” it is an immediate “Maybe Jesus didn’t say it AT ALL” or some ofher meaningless “brush off” of an actual and real question. You guys are really too much.

    That last post above is the limit though—-it is completely and utterly ridiculous—-based on “just having an out” and not doing any investigating at all. If that’s what you want–then fine. Have your “lively” discussions all based on your own opinion, rather than at least comparing scriptures (even if you don’t believe in them).

  • 248. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Anonymous—

    It only becomes a “shooting match” if the Christian involved spouts off a bit too much. It’s a “lively discussion” if the de-convert posts 12 paragraphs of Bible verses and shoots down any attempt to present a different position with some force.

    I have been forceful here, I admit that. But it doesn’t have to be a “shooting match”—-I wish someone would just address those two verses side by side, 8 chapters apart, and tell me how it is possible Jesus meant he was coming right back–without resorting to “Maybe he didn’t say it at all, etc.” which is really an insult to logic and reason. I’ll try to shut up—I guess I’m just fed up.

  • 249. ubi dubium  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Joe:

    Well, I’m 44, and I respect Obi for the clarity of his arguments and his clear use of logic. When I read your posts, Joe, I see quite a bit of circular logic. If you are totally unable to see how your arguments appear from the point of view of another, then, indeed, I think the “prison of faith” metaphor is apt.

    And for now, I will not be responding to any of your posts that contain long arguments based on the premise that the bible is true, or how we have to have faith. Since I disagree with both of those initial premises, I find the arguments that follow very uninteresting.

    However – I think you have mentioned that there are parts of your faith that you are struggling/have struggled with. Hearing about a genuine question you have would be much more interesting. Although, as you have seen, the de-cons tend to have little stomach for preaching, when someone has a real question they are trying to work out, I have seen that they are honest, open, and supportive. And they never accuse anybody of being “sinful” or “weak” just for having a question. If you can stop preaching and just talk to us, I’d love to have a conversation.

    Oh, and Obi, I’m sorry if I assumed a gender for you that is not correct. I’ve had that happen to me online.

  • 250. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Why would he state something like that knowing that to preach the Gospel to ALL nations could not be done in one generation?

    You’re again operating under the presupposition of Christianity’s truth, that Jesus as part of the Trinity would know how long this would take. Maybe he said that because he was a simple carpenter and had no idea how long it would actually take to preach the Gospel to all nations? A few years to build up followers, then send them out to Europe, Asia, and Africa, preaching as they go. He would have had no concept of the Americas, and likely no concept of just how massive Africa and Asia actually are.

    It’s not that I’m unwilling to change my mind on this issue, but I haven’t heard any arguments that I find more compelling than the ones I have put forward thus far. No one is saying your arguments are disproved, but a number of people have put forward compelling arguments to counter yours. Does that make them right and you wrong? No, the reverse isn’t true either. All we can do is look at the interpretations and try to decide which makes the most sense. Ultimately, that’s subjective, and is why there are so many opposing interpretations available.

    Tim, I would love to look at the original Greek manuscripts and argue from that perspective. Unfortunately, I don’t know where to find the original Greek, and if I did I wouldn’t know how to read it. I’m just working with what I have.

  • 251. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Ubi—

    Thanks for the post. I see that most here are now going to begin to respond in the normal way you do. When given a very logical question—my asking you to address both of those verses from Matthew critically you are either 1) not going to address them at all
    2) Claim they are based on my opinion only (which is not true–they both come from the same book of the Bible and contradict everything Obi and others have been saying. 3) resort to what BigHouse, Tim and couple of others have “you are so hostile—-and you call yourself a Christian? Don’t you remember Paul and Timothy?” (and I really don’t care if that is Christians using it or de-cons—-it is an attempt to say that Christians cannot use their emotions or be forceful, or be strong in their convictions–because if they do they are not being “christ-like”).

    There is no circular logic in comparing those two verses and asking yourself why Jesus would say both of them. Obi is clearly using one of them to say that Jesus made a promise he did not keep. Why can’t I use the same verse, and add another to show that what he is saying may not be correct at all?? If I can’t do that it seems you are not being reasonable. And you call yourself de-cons? :>)

  • 252. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    ubi dubium

    And for now, I will not be responding to any of your posts that contain long arguments based on the premise that the bible is true, or how we have to have faith.

    Aww, how else are we going to break the record for the longest thread on this blog?!

  • 253. Obi  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    ubi —

    No, it’s fine. You’ve got the right gender. ;)

    Joe —

    Even though it seemed like I previously ended this, your “preach the gospel” statement pulled me in again. I posted this verse from Colossians before, because it seems like an interesting one.

    Colossians 1:21-23, ” 21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[f] your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

    I highlighted the most relevant part. To me, it seems that Paul is saying that the gospel has already been proclaimed to the world or “every creature under heaven”, meaning that Jesus’ requirement has already been fulfilled. What do you make of this?

  • 254. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    You’re again operating under the presupposition of Christianity’s truth, that Jesus as part of the Trinity would know how long this would take.

    Snuggly—

    Obi is operating under the presupposition of Christianity’s falsity. If he can argue, using scripture to prove the “untruth” of what Jesus said, why can’t I use the same scriptures he is using to prove their value and truth? Obi is presenting what Jesus said as if HE REALLY DID SAY IT—and then IT DIDN’T COME TRUE. This is a presupposition that the person was REAL, but he uttered falsities. I am arguing the same thing—He was REAL, but I am attempting to show that what he said did not have the inconsistencies Obi is saying are there.

    If I am not allowed to argue my point because I am being forceful, and don’t “fit into” the logic most of you use, I will stop posting. It appears most of you want to stay in some “logic box” of some kind, and anyone who starts to shake the box a little just doesn’t fit the mold and is a problem.

    I can understand that—you being deconverts and all. If you want a “nice Christian” I’ll just come to the board and say “bless you all” and then leave. Perhaps you all would like that very much though LOL.

  • 255. Tim  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Keeping in mind that the best we have are copies of copies of copies, we don’t really have any hope of those manuscripts. However, copies exist in the original language, and that was my point.

    It’s not too hard to find a decent Greek-English NT, and resources exist with Strong’s Concordance numbers (basically, an ID# for each unique word in the text, accompanied by an explanation of the word’s usage, part of speech, etc ad nauseum). If you’re into language issues, as many are who debate subtleties of translation, then this can be a fascinating exercise, regardless of your faith experience.

    As an aside, I’m regularly amazed at people who teach from the Bible, but ignore things the original text says. For example, Jesus’ questioning Peter with “Do you love me?” three times strikes many people as odd and repetitive. It takes on different meaning when you realize the questions and answers go:

    Jesus: “Do you love me the way God loves? (agape)”
    Peter: “You know I love you the way I love a close friend (phileo)”

    Jesus: “Do you love me like you love your family? (storge)”
    Peter: “You know I love you the way I love a close friend (phileo)”

    Jesus: “Do you love me like you love a close friend? (phileo)”
    Peter: “You know I love you the way I love a close friend (phileo)”

    (Note: It’s been years since I researched this passage, and I’ve probably mucked up the Greek a bit. Hopefully, that’s not been to the detriment of the point. If it does, know that I still love you. :-D )

    What in English seems like simple repetition takes on a different meaning if we see Jesus basically “watering down” the love request to match what Peter is willing to do.

    Now, given that, why would I want to listen to a teacher who didn’t at least dig deep enough to realize that it was a different word each time, instead of some convoluted and contrived explanation for Jesus repeating Himself? Likewise people talking about “My yoke is easy” and discussing the yoke you put around oxen, and not the set of teachings of a rabbi (also called “a rabbi’s yoke”). I guess the yoke’s on them, but also on me if I listen to such teaching and don’t scrutinize it carefully.

    Hmmm… I’ve probably managed to annoy just about everyone here with this post, convert and de-convert alike. :-) – Tim

  • 256. Tim  |  July 11, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    (Ed Note: My previous post was directed to SnugglyBuffalo, who gets the “Best Nickname on a Theology Blog” award.) – Tim

  • 257. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Yeah, when I said “original” I meant “original language” not “original manuscript”, or maybe a manuscript in the original language? Something like that, I realize that all we have are copies.

    And yeah, I’m sure I could find some good Greek-English NT resources if I really looked (I’ve stumbled on some smaller ones before) but I’m lazy, and as I said before, I’m not really skilled enough in matters of language like this to be able to do anything beyond repeating points made by others who do have such skills. I thoroughly enjoy reading and considering such things, but I don’t feel comfortable debating from such a position, at least not yet.

    Joe:
    I’m willing to assume Jesus was a real person, and that he really said what’s in those books as we have no other record of what he said to counter it.

    I’m willing to consider that some of what’s in those books may in fact be made up, though I agree there’s no real way to be certain of any of that and it’s a weak position to argue from.

    Obi is not starting with a presupposition of Christianity’s falsity with regards to the meaning of those scriptures. As I’ve said before, Christians who believe fully have agreed with Obi on what those verses mean.

    My own argument about Christ’s lack of complete understanding began with no presuppositions about Christianity’s truth or falsehood; starting from a neutral view, you have a man, a carpenter, who claims to be the son of God making statements claiming a Second Coming, and later stating that the gospel will be spread to all nations before that Second Coming. My argument seems pretty likely when starting from a neutral point. There are probably better answers that still fit with Christianity’s assumed correctness that you could get from preterists.

  • 258. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 11, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    …SnugglyBuffalo, who gets the “Best Nickname on a Theology Blog” award.

    It’s my roommate’s version of “gentle giant,” I think; he compared me to a snuggly buffalo one day, and the nickname stuck with all my friends. I decided to embrace it (pun very much intended). :P

    So, sadly, it’s not theology-blog-specific.

  • 259. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Obi—

    You may not “buy” this, but here is one explanation. Also, please see my comment at the end. I promise to keep it civil—sorry about the comments about your being a teenager and all–I got a bit hot-headed as usual—patience is not one of the Christian graces I am filled with—obviously.

    “Preached to Every Creature Under Heaven”
    That brings us very close to the main course for today. But briefly lets look and one other “side dish” that could stick in our throat.

    In verse 23 Paul refers to “the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven.” What does that mean—that the gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven?

    Paul knows full well that the gospel has not yet reached to all the peoples of the earth. He is writing from Rome. And his intention, according to Romans 15:20–24, is to go on to Spain, if he gets out of jail, because he wants to preach where Christ has never been named.

    Literally we could translate the last part of verse 23, “the gospel which you heard, the one preached in all creation under heaven.” This wouldn’t imply that the job is done. It would simply imply that it is the gospel’s destiny to be preached everywhere, and that this is in fact happening. Verse 6 suggests that this is what Paul means. He refers to the gospel “which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing.” The point in both texts is that the gospel is not for just one group, but for the world; and that it is in fact making great headway through the world.

    Tertullian, who was born only 100 years after Colossians was written, was able to say about the spread of the gospel, “We [Christians] are but of yesterday, and yet we already fill your cities, islands, camps, your palace, senate, and forum. We have left you only your temples.”

    Often times in the Bible the writers speak of something as though it were accomplished, when indeed is has not been.

    Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Rom. 8:30)

    Note how the verse in Romans just above reads as though it is a finished fact–though as yet none have been glorified. One could speak of the Gospel as having been preached to all as a finished fact, when in reality it is still in process.

  • 260. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 11, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    I have to admit, it seems unlikely that Paul thought the gospel had already been preached in all nations, in spite of that verse.

    Obviously full preterists don’t have a problem with that verse. I’m going to have to do some more research on it when I get the chance.

  • 261. John Morales  |  July 11, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Joe,

    If I am not allowed to argue my point because I am being forceful, and don’t “fit into” the logic most of you use, I will stop posting.

    As far as I can see, you’ve long ago made your point, and now you’re just repeatedly asserting your interpretation has merit.

    In fact, I’ve kind of lost track of what your point was in the first place, with all those protestations… [scans back, way back]

    Oh right, is this it?

    The only thing that is terrible is if we think because we cannot understand it, or it doesn’t make sense to us we are not going to believe any more. That is foolish.

    Your point being it’s foolish to stop believing in things that don’t make sense. Ooookay…

  • 262. rover  |  July 11, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
    Rom 1: 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. ”
    In a sense the Gospel has been preached to the whole world

  • 263. Obi  |  July 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Joe —

    Why do you think the Bible writers wrote such things that they didn’t really mean? Paul stated that he felt that the gospel had been preached to all creatures, but you say that he didn’t really mean what he was saying, and that in fact many Biblical writers didn’t mean what they were saying. Could you put yourself in my shoes and just see how that might seem a little far-fetched? That Paul would send a purposefully misleading letter to one of the churches that he had founded doesn’t make much sense. I acknowledge that Paul intended to go to Spain, but he could have easily done that within his lifetime, it isn’t really much of an issue, in my opinion. His travels were quite extensive, as can be seen by the number of his epistles.

    1 Thessalonians 4:13-16, “ 13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

    Why do you think he’d say something like this if he truly didn’t believe it? It seems plain as day to me what he’s saying in these passages, and considering how he was such a major figure in the early church, I’d put great weight in his words. Do you think Jesus could possibly have been wrong about his prophecy?

  • 264. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Obi—

    Actually—the explanation wasn’t mine, but was cut and pasted from another theologians works. I just used it as an example.

    I have to be totally honest with you Obi—and I mean this sincerely—I have read that verse in 1 Thess. 4:13-16 many, many times, and I have NEVER interpreted it as Paul stating He would be alive when Christ came. I have always seen it when he said “We who are alive and remain” as referring to “Christians”. In his second letter to the Thessalonians he says this: (2 Thess 2):

    1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
    2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
    3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
    4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”.
    5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
    6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

    So—here we see that Paul is saying that several things have to happen before Christ returns and not to be shaken in mind by others saying something different. He definitely is not talking as though he himself will be taken up “alive” to be with the Lord.

    There are many phraseologies in the Bible that you have to be very careful to investigate and compare, before coming to one conclusion. As I showed you (but you did not address) Romans 8:30 is speaking in “past tense” even though none of it has happened yet. Check the verse out yourself. Truly, I have always interpreted Paul’s statement to be: “We who are alive” (“we” being Christians who are alive at the time)—perhaps because it is obvious to me Paul is not speaking about himself. But I mean, even when I first became a Christian years ago I have always interpreted it that way.

    I guess it would be like the commander of a platoon about to invade a blockade who says “we will attack, and we who are alive and remain will then take the enemies weapons, and overtake the blockade”—–there is an excellent chance he may not even be alive to see it, but he is using “we” because he is part of the platoon. The Bible often uses this type of phrasing. It truly does.

  • 265. Joe  |  July 11, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Obi—

    What I mean is that you are taking a verse, and then being far to “literal” with the phrasing of it. To take a statement Paul makes “Then we who are alive and remain” and then state he is referring to himself is really not good hermeneutics. One has to investigate other places in the Bible where similar statements are made to really get a better understanding of what is being said.

    One more example: “Our family is saving to buy a store. We know we will have the funds—we don’t know when though. But when we get enough funds, we who are alive will purchase the store…. etc.” The person making the statement is referring to the WHOLE FAMILY, though he doesn’t even know if he’ll be around to see it. Perhaps you won’t accept this—but it is a tense often used in the Bible.

  • 266. rover  |  July 11, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Paul was not God. He did not know when Christ would return. This is called the doctrine of “Imminency”. It was resonable for him to think the Lord would return in his lifetime. Paul did outline some things that must occur before the end, but he had not reason to believe that they would not be fulfilled in his lifetime.

  • 267. Obi  |  July 11, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Joe —

    Come on mate, you have to see that that’s a bit of a stretch. Who says things like that? You’re bending language in awkward ways to make it seem as if that’s what they were really saying. A commander of a platoon would say those who are alive, not we who are alive. It simply sounds more natural in that situation, because he wouldn’t expect to be alive. However, Paul uses the personal pronoun “we”, which obviously refers to himself. I’m being literal because that’s usually the way you should read nonfiction works, no? Paul is sending a letter to a church he ministered to, and I don’t think he’d use confusing metaphors or obscure figurative language to get his point across — letters are usually rather straightforward.

    Also, do you think perhaps Paul changed his tone regarding the prophecy coming to pass in his second letter to the Thessalonians because he was beginning to realize that perhaps it was never going to happen, and that he was in the early stages of denial? I recall from history class a man with the surname of Miller, who in the 19th century predicted the day the world would end. He and his followers went out into a field to wait for Jesus to arrive, and when he didn’t, they weren’t deterred. Many of them continued to follow him, showing that even after utter failures, humans can still convince themselves to keep following. I have a feeling that that’s what’s happening here, which is why you see Paul’s tone becoming more and more resigned to the possibility that Jesus may not be coming after all as time goes on.

    Rover —

    Indeed, he didn’t. But since he new what Jesus’ teachings regarding the subject were, he understood that Jesus was saying that he would return soon, because of all of the reasons outlined in this thread. However, it never happened, and I think the church has been holding onto an empty dream ever since. Just look at all of the people proclaiming the end is near, even today. They’ll be disappointed just like the millions who preceeded them, because such an end isn’t going to come.

  • 268. rover  |  July 11, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Obi,

    What’s you background?

  • 269. Obi  |  July 11, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Rover —

    What type of background?

  • 270. John T.  |  July 11, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Obi

    If youre only 17, Im very impressed by your grasp of language and its application. Pretty mature speaking, you must be an old soul ;)

  • 271. Quester  |  July 12, 2008 at 3:00 am

    John Morales #222

    Quester, no offense intended, but for actual knowledge (like the natural and social sciences, philosophy) the Bible is a rather poor source. For one thing, it’s way out of date

    True, but I did only claim it as “a story of multiple generations of people trying to figure out the world and how to live in it”. I might call it out of date if people were not still coming to the same conclusions as to the world and their place in it that the characters in the Bible did. I’m not going to open the Old Testament to learn about biology, but the Bible does still have it’s uses.

    John T #223

    The bible sure isnt one long narrative, but I think it has lots of good old fashion common sense. And maybe that is truly what God is all about.

    In what way, then, do you differ from an atheist who uses common sense as a way to choose how to live?

    Tim #224

    What you’re saying makes perfectly good sense, and I should point out that my goal in this discussion is as much for me to learn (my own selfish goal) as anything.

    Keep pursuing that goal. I’ve pretty much stopped responding to people (online) that I don’t think I can learn anything from or teach anything to. Why else communicate in this medium?

    When I look at the Bible, I can certainly see a series of stories about how to live, and how NOT to live. For example, I’m one of the first to question how God would be glorifying Himself by asking for the foreskins of a thousand Philistines.

    As the Apostate said to John T., there are many books that can fulfil this role. Some of my favourite include Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and The Road to Mars by Eric Idle. The stories I consider to be good all talk about (at some level) what it means to be human. The best stories, in my opinion, talk about what it could mean to be human, if we were to live out our potential. I prefer the optimistic tales over the darker ones, in that regard.

  • 272. John T.  |  July 12, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Quester

    “In what way, then, do you differ from an atheist who uses common sense as a way to choose how to live?”(quester)

    I dont differentiate, just because you dont believe in a creator doesnt mean youre right, just as with me believing doesnt mean im right. I do think there is a format to this life and common sense is one of its operating systems.

  • 273. Griffin  |  July 12, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Joe said:

    “Obi is operating under the presupposition of Christianity’s falsity. If he can argue, using scripture to prove the “untruth” of what Jesus said, why can’t I use the same scriptures he is using to prove their value and truth? Obi is presenting what Jesus said as if HE REALLY DID SAY IT—and then IT DIDN’T COME TRUE. This is a presupposition that the person was REAL, but he uttered falsities. I am arguing the same thing—He was REAL, but I am attempting to show that what he said did not have the inconsistencies Obi is saying are there.

    If I am not allowed to argue my point because I am being forceful, and don’t “fit into” the logic most of you use, I will stop posting. It appears most of you want to stay in some “logic box” of some kind, and anyone who starts to shake the box a little just doesn’t fit the mold and is a problem.”

    Actually, Obi is working under a more complicated premise. He’s working from this point:

    Christianity holds that Jesus was the Son of God and member of the Trinity. As such, he is all knowing, all seeing and infallible. The Bible is infallible record of his life and teachings on earth.”

    This is an A = B, B = C, C = D and therefore A = B = C =D argument.

    As such, demonstrating that the words attributed to Jesus in The Bible do not accurately reflect reality disproves Jesus’ infallibility. That disproves that Jesus was a member of the Trinity and/or that the Bible is an accurate record of Jesus’ life and teachings. Either one of those two things is problematic for Christianity.

    Your argument that the inconsistencies don’t exist is fine. But you can’t use or assume Jesus divinity (and therefore infallibility) or the in errancy of the Bible to disprove Obi’s claims of ‘untruth.’

    You complain about our wanting to stay in a “logic box.” The truth is that logic is a box. It has rules and limits and boundaries. As soon as you step outside of them, we will discredit your argument because it is no longer logical. If you are not claiming your argument is logical (appeal to emotion or personal experience) that would be one thing, but you ARE claiming logical basis for your argument.

    And it’s simply not there because you’re breaking the rules of logic in formulating your argument.

    We certainly don’t want you to leave. We either want you to refine your argument to comply with the rules of logic or to accept that your argument isn’t valid and either change your position on the issue or find a new argument to support your position.

  • 274. Obi  |  July 12, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    John T —

    Haha, thanks mate, I try…
    ;)

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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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