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Only God Can Convert People

February 19th, 2009 · Posted by Hugo · 252 Comments

I consider this to be a universal truth: only God can convert people.

In the context it is most often heard, it is advice to evangelical Christians in their efforts to evangelise their religion. It suggests the evangelist should not get too concerned about whether they are successful or not, it is not by their power that they convert people, so they need not feel bad if or when they fail. It also helps them not be too pushy/aggressive, their role is only to share the Truth, beyond that it is out of their hands, their job is done.

With that description, it isn’t much of a universal truth, is it? It sounds like a Christian truth, specific and limited to the context and language of Christianity. Or other monotheistic religions maybe. However, I suspect my regulars already know where I’m going to go with this…

I consider it a universal truth, not limited to a theistic deity, that can be quite easily translated to, or seen from, a post-theistic context. Let me try to rephrase / explain the concepts in a non-theistic fashion. Mining out these universal aspects, separating it from the theistic context:

  • God is Truth… Yes, that’s a theological statement, not a simple equality statement. But even theists would often happily substitute Truth. “We can’t convert people, that’s the work of Truth“, personified.
  • God is “something inside”. This is a stance explicitly taken by some liberal theologians and explicitly warned against by some “conservatives”, but I’d expect all Christians and most other monotheistic religions (hopefully all religions, but anyway…) would accept and agree that God operates “from the inside”, causes a shift of mindset, rather than physically forcing you to act differently by overpowering your muscles. Non-theists, secular humanists, etc. might consider God an idea that influences believers in the idea, an influence, again, from the inside, something pretty much “owned” by the individual, a part of them.
  • Conversion as Metanoia. Metanoia, or repentance, or spiritual conversion, or the changing of one’s mind (in some fundamental way, a paradigm shift), this is something much more fundamental and “internal” than a mere confessing to a different creed, or attending a different faith community. (What metanoia refers to in Carl Jung’s psychology is quite interesting, but I think only tangentially related.)

The point is this: a true metanoia, a true shift in mindset, a true “conversion”, no matter from what to what, cannot be achieved by power, cannot be done by the sword. And it cannot be done by us, it is done by truth and in the person undergoing metanoia, it happens from within. It is up to them and their relationship with Truth.

Consider a scientific theory, and the awe-inspiring experience of an Eureka! moment of understanding something, often way beyond the powers of our imagination, more amazing than we could dream: Being dumbfounded by how much bigger the universe is than we can even conceive of. Or mountain ranges forming by tectonic plates moving about over millions of years, rather than being created as-is six thousand years ago. I sometimes just sit and stare at the folded crust of the earth (recently, some mountains in the Alps), and imagine, awe-struck, the geological forces of these huge plates that crumple the crust like that. WOW! These things are truly amazing, but for that kind of metanoia, truth has to work from the inside, the discovery has to be made by the individual searching for truth. Otherwise it is just a bunch of facts given by an authority, learned by a student, and no true metanoia happens.

I’ve seen cases where people seem to have no faith in the power of truth itself, believing/feeling they must convert others to their way of seeing things (rather than trusting truth to do its thing, trusting the seeds to grow when the soil is fertile), and they try to do so by their own power… It’s the kind of attitude that ends with “look what *I* have achieved!” with regards to those they have influenced, a self-focused victory, rather than a celebration with the other person, for the other person, for having discovered truth by their own means, even if you “helped out”.

So yes, I’m erring towards the other side rather: I want to convert no-one from anything to anything else, in fact, I even have some kind of fear of that happening. It helps me stay out of the way, and “let truth”. All I want to contribute, is to encourage better understanding between people, create an environment where truth is able to spread, to be sought, to be understood. At that point, I believe it is out of my hands, truth will do the rest, in its own time. In fact, I go so far as to say, sometimes in our efforts to “force the truth”, we end up harming it, we get in the way.

To borrow from Lewontin’s review of Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World” (and this doesn’t follow directly on the previous paragraph, I have the utmost respect for Carl Sagan and for what he does):

Conscientious and wholly admirable popularizers of science like Carl Sagan use both rhetoric and expertise to form the mind of masses because they believe, like the Evangelist John, that the truth shall make you free. But they are wrong. It is not the truth that makes you free. It is your possession of the power to discover the truth. Our dilemma is that we do not know how to provide that power.

He was pointing out that much of Carl Sagan’s science-popularisation and education was effectively an argument “from authority” again. Because yes, scientists are authority figures, in their fields of expertise. They can teach, the learner can pick up knowledge. But if it is to be about more than just teaching and learning of simple facts, the seeker‘s role in seeking for truth, their relationship with that truth, that is really the most important!

I have much faith in truth. (Perhaps too much? :-P ) I would like to be a vehicle for truth, to be an enabler for truth to spread. (And I’m talking broader truths than just “scientific facts”, I’m specifically including compassion/empathy as well, a way of life, a life-stance, an attitude… I also call these “truths”.) Beyond that, beyond playing an active role in promoting the propagation of truth, I want to stay out of the way, and let truth do its work.

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252 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hugo // Feb 19, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    An interesting element, or requirement, for me to take my stance, is the awareness/acceptance that *I don’t have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth*. My viewpoint isn’t necessarily the “correct” one, or the “best” one. Acknowledging this, living it, means I get to a point where I can hope that truth will spread in spite of me instead of because of me – an idea I’ve picked up from my favourite pastor. So I don’t know what truth will tell you, and I won’t know if you have the better truth or I have the better truth.

    (Unrelated: Buddha reportedly taught his followers that, if they find better truths elsewhere, they’d be fools to not embrace it – an awareness of the fallibility of any individual’s “truths”, teaching skepticism and open-mindedness…)

    So… whatever you find, even if it differs from what I’ve found, if it makes you a better person (measuring a tree by the fruit it bears, an idea attributed to Jesus in the New Testament), I’ve found a way to not judge it, for maybe you know a better truth than I do.

    And we just continue on our paths, together, sharing our views with one another, seeking better understanding all around, believing that, given the scope to really live and breathe, Truth as a whole, of which we each know but a piece, will be victorious, will prevail!

  • 2 Thomas // Feb 20, 2009 at 9:16 am

    So… whatever you find, even if it differs from what I’ve found, if it makes you a better person (measuring a tree by the fruit it bears, an idea attributed to Jesus in the New Testament), I’ve found a way to not judge it, for maybe you know a better truth than I do.(Emphasis added)

    Your acknowledgment that there might be a better truth than your own oozes judgment. If you are able to concede to such a possibility then you may as well admit that your truth is far better than all the other truths out there somewhere. I’m fascinated by your choice of the word “maybe.” It suggests that there is a slight possibility that someone else’s truth may supersede your truth. As soon as you toy with degrees of comparison (good – better – best) you are opening wide the playing field for judgment.

    Truth can only be truth when it is absolute and vindicated for all eternity – i.e. it remains the same today, tomorrow and for ever more and that is precisely why Jesus (the One whom you claim to follow) said “I am the Truth.” You have humbly conceded that you have found a way not to judge other peoples’ truths, but you have no misgivings whatsoever to judge the only Truth – Jesus Christ. And don’t tell me you are not judging Him. Your assertion that there are a multitude of truths, some of which may be even better than yours, bears this out perfectly.

  • 3 Thomas // Feb 20, 2009 at 9:37 am

    If only God can convert people then He must be the only holder of the Truth for it is His Truth that makes you free, and all the other truths must be false. This leads me to the conclusion that we desperately need to know His Truth in order to escape the falsehood of the other so-called truths.

    Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

  • 4 Thomas // Feb 20, 2009 at 9:56 am

    My viewpoint isn’t necessarily the “correct” one, or the “best” one. Acknowledging this, living it, means I get to a point where I can hope that truth will spread in spite of me instead of because of me – an idea I’ve picked up from my favourite pastor.

    I humbly suggest that you find yourself another favourite pastor. Let me remind you what Jesus said in reference to your favourite pastor.

    You shall not necessarily know the correct truth or even the best truth. All you need to do is to humbly submit to that truth (whatever you conceive it to be) and allow it to spread in spite of you and instead of you.

    You may as well tell someone to destroy his life with drugs or to take a big overdose of poison because you do not know what the true consequences of their actions might be. You can only hope that they will not die. I can only say that that kind of truth is pathetic, dangerous and destructive. It offers no hope at all.

  • 5 Hugo // Feb 21, 2009 at 3:14 am

    I thought I’d provide the atheists a better example of what I mean by I hope that truth will spread in spite of me instead of because of me*, in the context of science education…

    *(My pastor’s version of this was I hope people will meet God not *because* of me, but rather, *in spite of* me — something I’d really expect all fundies would agree with after even just a little bit of reflection, I thus believe Thomas’ challenge to the worth of that idea is therefore more due to me not communicating it clearly enough, than any grievance with the idea itself.)

    Some people have hefty anti-drug values, including against soft drugs, e.g. anti-marijuana. (Even if it is tremendously helpful for certain medical uses… in which case an anti- stance doesn’t seem very compassionate to me.) Some people have hefty marriage-for-life values, only one wife per person. Some people have hefty anti-crime values, and believe those that evade taxes are doing bad, are bad people. Some people have hefty anti-hypocrisy values, don’t care much for liars. That sets up three examples I want to give, the first is the science-related one:

    Carl Sagan. Ann Druyan was his third wife. He was a marijuana user. And he was a great science teacher. Now I’d hope those with hefty anti-drug and marriage-for-life values would be able to learn scientific Truth via Carl Sagan, even if they disapprove of his lifestyle choices. What he as person did or didn’t do, whether good or bad, does not mean he wasn’t an excellent communicator of science.

    Not a perfect example, there are surely better ones. Now the other two examples I was pondering are even worse examples really. Ted Haggard and Kent Hovind. *Assume* for a moment Kent wasn’t spouting absolute baloney whenever he opened his mouth (apologies for hyperbole there, I’m really referring only to the silliness of his young-earth arguments). The fact that he evaded taxes, i.e. behaved criminally, and ended up in jail, shouldn’t really be held against his arguments — the truth-value (or lack thereof) of what he taught is pretty much independent of who he was as person. The same applies to the hypocrite Ted Haggard.

    So… all of that… when it comes to Logic, the idea/meme I’m talking about above is the “ad hominem fallacy”. (See Wikipedia for more?) In fact, this whole post could be considered a broader, more extended, more abstract emphasis on the independence of Truth and the individual person that helps Truth spread.

    There are also truths that are best lived… demonstrated. That is the most effective way to communicate such truths. But even those that live the opposite can also communicate such truths. It is possible thus that Ted Haggard could accurately communicate the truth of hypocrisy is sucks, and Kent Hovind could communicate dishonesty sucks. Such truths they could end up promoting, in spite of themselves.

  • 6 Thomas // Feb 21, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    *(My pastor’s version of this was I hope people will meet God not *because* of me, but rather, *in spite of* me — something I’d really expect all fundies would agree with after even just a little bit of reflection, I thus believe Thomas’ challenge to the worth of that idea is therefore more due to me not communicating it clearly enough, than any grievance with the idea itself.)

    I agree; you don’t always communicate your ideas properly.

    Meeting God “because of me” implies that someone meets God because you present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them (which your pastor ought to know). In this case God uses you as an instrument or vehicle to introduce Him as Lord and Saviour to others. Paul’s words in 2 Cor 5:20 underpins this very nicely:

    2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    Meeting God “in spite of me” implies that God is not dependant on you to introduce others to Him. He is able to open a sinner’s eyes with the simplest of ways, and yet He chooses to use human beings (not angels), who have tasted his mercy, kindness, love and compassion, to introduce others to Him. However, if you are unwilling to present others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that they may be saved (meet Godd), He will make Him known to others in spite of you through someone else who is willing to be His instrument. You will find this truth in 2 Tim 2: 21:

    2Ti 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

    Both your pastor’s ideas “because of me” and “In spite of me” are valid. It depends on your attitude toward the Gospel of Salvation. God is not to be patronized; He may even use unbelievers to accomplishes His purpose.

  • 7 Thomas // Feb 21, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I assume you have never heard of the little word “overdose.” Even an overdose of soft-drugs can kill. Not so . . .?

    Ted Haggard, Kent Hovind, King David are all examples of the truth in 1 Co 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” We are all prone to falling, Hugo. Those who think they are standing are closer to falling than those who know they can fall at any moment.

    There are also truths that are best lived… demonstrated. That is the most effective way to communicate such truths.

    Jesus of Nazareth lived a perfect and sinless life, a life to be imitated in all aspects, and yet no one learned the truth by His perfectly demonstrated life. In fact, He once said:

    You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

    “Demonstrating” the truth in stead of “preaching the truth” is one of the heresies of the emergent church. Yes, of course Christians should live a life demonstrating what they believe but that should only be the means to find opportunities to preach the Gospel.

  • 8 Bendul // Feb 21, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Thomas, I get the idea you might be confusing “not forcing the truth down someone’s throat” with a refusal to let the truth be made known. Most of the “heretics” you criticise preach the gospel much more than I think you’d concede…

  • 9 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 22, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Even an overdose of soft-drugs can kill. Not so . . .?

    Absolutely. Overdoses of alcohol or water can both kill.

  • 10 Bendul // Feb 22, 2009 at 10:29 am

    The Bens, it seems, have a hard time staying away from sarcasm…

  • 11 Thomas // Feb 22, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Thomas, I get the idea you might be confusing “not forcing the truth down someone’s throat” with a refusal to let the truth be made known. Most of the “heretics” you criticise preach the gospel much more than I think you’d concede…

    Well, I’ve never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ being preached by either you or Hugo even once on this site. You know as well as I do that in the olden days, when a king wanted to proclaim his will to his subjects, he sent a emissary or ambassador who traveled from one town to another. He would steer his horse to the middle of the town where a special place (something like a soapbox) was erected for him to stand on and where he would unroll his scroll, read the contents out loud, roll up the scroll again, mount his horse and continue to the next town where he would repeat the whole exercise. This is called “heralding the kings wishes.” Paul called himself and all those who truly follow Jesus Christ ambassadors for Christ who are sent out throughout the world to herald His will. What is His will? Now let’s see. I’m sure you already know, don’t you?

    2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

    You can hardly blame someone who is longsuffering and waiting for people to turn to Him in repentance with “forcing the truth down someone’s throat,” now can you? If He were to force His truth down your throat, He could have done that in the twinkling of an eye but prefers to wait patiently for people like you and Hugo and all the other scribes of this age to come to heir senses. Listen to what Paul says:

    2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    Do you sense any coercion, enforcement or “forcing the truth down the throat” in those words? “Beseech you” means to beg, Ben-Jammin. In the last book of the Bible, John the apostle of love also beseeches sinners to repent.

    Rev 22:17: The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

    There is no coercion or enforcement in those words. Indeed, it is an invitation to take the water of life freely and to drink it freely. However, and sadly so, the following passage in Scripture applies:

    Lu 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

    The invitation still stands; the Door is still open — what are you going to do, Ben-Jammin?
    You should rather say that evolution is forced down the throats of our kids in our school these days. They have taken away their freedom of speech with regard to their religion; they have forbidden them to pray at school but lo and behold, they are forced to believe the theory of evolution.

  • 12 Thomas // Feb 22, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Sorry, I see now that I got mixed up with the names Bendul and Ben-Jammin. Please correct in my behalf. Anyway, it does not change the contents of my comment.

  • 13 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    You should rather say that evolution is forced down the throats of our kids in our school these days. They have taken away their freedom of speech with regard to their religion; they have forbidden them to pray at school but lo and behold, they are forced to believe the theory of evolution.

    Evolution is taught in science class because evolution is science. It is taught because there are no valid alternatives for explaining the diversity of life on this planet. None. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Religion isn’t taught in science class because religion isn’t science. It is still discussed in religiously-aimed classes. Unless you would like the students in Home Economics to be studying quadratic equations, or the Physical Education students to be performing experiments on the speed of sound. Unless the Chemistry Dept is teaching our students the theory of Alchemy, or our Physics Dept teaching the geocentric model, you have no argument here.

    As for forcing, I am very aware that many of my students don’t accept evolution, even when they are shown the evidence. Universally, they don’t accept it because of religious reasons. I leave it at that, because all they need to do to pass the course is learn the material. They don’t have to accept it. To claim that I am forcing them to believe is laughable.

  • 14 Amanda // Feb 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    @ Bendul

    Most of the “heretics” you criticise preach the gospel much more than I think you’d concede…

    That is not true. The emergents certainly do not preach the Gospel. They claim that Jesus Christ came to the earth to show us how to deal with the mess the world is in and He died on the cross to show the evil of the imperial system. According to them we have imperfections and we make mistakes. The solution for the world’s problems is for all to share the resources. Jesus followers must bring the kingdom to earth by caring and sharing and being nice. They only have law: love God and love your neighbour. They think that we are somehow saved by obedience to law. This is not Christianity at all. Salvation does not follow obedience. Salvation is gained by repentance and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who died for our sins (breaking God’s commandments).

    For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:20-26

    Bendul, I get the idea you might be confusing “defense of the faith against heretical preaching” with forcing the truth down someone’s throat

    Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jud 1:3-4

    Preachers should preach the crucified Christ and not the moral life of the Christian. They cannot do this unless they have a very high view of Scripture and they actual believe in the atoning death of Jesus Christ for sinners and in His bodily resurrection from the grave. Teaching a redefined Gospel does not count.

    Kenneth Oberlander

    It is taught because there are no valid alternatives for explaining the diversity of life on this planet. None. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

    Not so. The Creator God is a perfect explanation for the diversity of life on earth:

    So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds–livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Gen 1:21-25

    @Hugo

    Am I allowed to comment on this thread as a Christian fundamentalist or does my troll status carry over from the previous thread?

  • 15 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 22, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    @Amanda

    Not so. The Creator God is a perfect explanation for the diversity of life on earth:

    Really?

    How does God explain endogenous retrovirusses? The fossil record? The shared, near universal genetic code? The Hawaiian silversword radiation? The cichlid fish species flock of East Africa? Nipples on men? The hundreds of characters that link birds to theropod dinosaurs? The domestication of corn? Antibiotic-resistant bacteria? The London Underground mosquito? The Green Revolution? Why bats don’t have feathers, and birds don’t have hair? The contingent nature of the Lenski E. coli experiment? Why our eyes are inside-out? Maiacetus? Archaeopteryx? Morganucodon? Cynognathus? Archaefructus? Calamites? The arms race between HIV and our immune system? The seedless banana? Altruism? The structure of the ribosome? The transfer of chloroplast genes to the nucleus? The Hox gene cluster? The mule, the hinny, the liger, the tigon and the beefalo? Polyploidy? The peacock’s tail? Inbreeding depression? The future survival of the cheetah? The near-identity of human and chimp chromosomes? Incomplete lineage sorting? Morphological simplification in endoparasites? Sickle-cell anaemia? Pseudogenes? The congruence of morphological and DNA sequence-based phylogenies?

    There is a coherent, evidence-based, evolutionary explanation for each one of these observations. Please do yourself the favour of Googling these. Then tell me how “God did it” explains these aspects of the living world better than evolutionary theory.

  • 16 Amanda // Feb 22, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Kenneth Oberlander

    Why our eyes are inside-out?

    Are you saying our eyes, being inside-out, could only have evolved that way and cannot be purposefully designed to be inside-out?

  • 17 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 22, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    @Amanda.
    Essentially, yes.

    These are the reasons why the design argument fails in this case. Cephalopods have camera eyes analogous to ours, but light doesn’t have to pass through several layers of retinal cells before hitting the photoreceptors. So it’s not a necessity to have inside-out eyes. Moreover, our system is a less efficient system than that of octopi, in the sense that light can be wastefully absorbed by the layers between the retinal surface and the photoreceptor layer. So cephalopod photoreceptors get light directly, whereas light in ours needs to move through several layers of cells. Also, because the nerves in cephalopods lie on the brain side of the photoreceptors, they don’t have a blind spot.

    So why do we have inside-out eyes if they aren’t necessary? This situation is a consequence of the evolutionary history of the eye. Ours started out being inside-out, as it were, but were still good enough to provide a survival advantage. All subsidiary changes have been tacked on or jury-rigged around this problem. So we’re stuck with it.

    Our eyes still serve us pretty well, considering…but they aren’t perfect, by any manner of means.

  • 18 Amanda // Feb 22, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Kenneth Oberlander

    Cephalopods have camera eyes analogous to ours, but light doesn’t have to pass through several layers of retinal cells before hitting the photoreceptors. So it’s not a necessity to have inside-out eyes. Moreover, our system is a less efficient system than that of octopi, in the sense that light can be wastefully absorbed by the layers between the retinal surface and the photoreceptor layer.

    We live in brighter light than octopi and we live longer. We need the protection that the extra layers provide. And by the way, Kenneth, Christians are not against science.

  • 19 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 22, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    We live in brighter light than octopi

    What about fish? They live in exactly the same environment as octopi, and they have inside-out eyes.

    and we live longer.

    Also doesn’t hold, because there are thousands of species of mammals, reptiles etc. etc. with inside-out eyes, that have similar lifespans to octopi.

    We need the protection that the extra layers provide.

    Again, fish. How does your explanation account for this? Why are their eyes similar to ours in this regard?

    And by the way, Kenneth, Christians are not against science.

    Agreed, mostly. Sadly, in many ways, you are. Do you mind it when science provides you with vaccines against diseases, or the computer that you are working on, or a longer, healthier lifestyle than any other generation in history? But let science tell you that you are related to a chimp, that the earth is several billion years old, that your mind and personality are entirely functions of your brain, that human morality has evolved, and suddenly you have issues. Never mind the fact that every single one of these conclusions has come about using the exact same method as the findings allowing you to use your computer, your vaccine, your car, your cell phone, or your TV. If you have problems with what evolution tells you, then, to be consistent, you have to have problems with every other finding derived from the scientific method.

    Simply put, you are against science where it doesn’t give you the answers you expect. So you are willing to disregard a staggering immensity of data published by millions of scientists from all over the world for the last few centuries because it doesn’t fit in with your worldview.

  • 20 Bendul // Feb 22, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    That is not true. The emergents certainly do not preach the Gospel. They claim that Jesus Christ came to the earth to show us how to deal with the mess the world is in and He died on the cross to show the evil of the imperial system. According to them we have imperfections and we make mistakes. The solution for the world’s problems is for all to share the resources. Jesus followers must bring the kingdom to earth by caring and sharing and being nice. They only have law: love God and love your neighbour. They think that we are somehow saved by obedience to law. This is not Christianity at all. Salvation does not follow obedience. Salvation is gained by repentance and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who died for our sins (breaking God’s commandments).

    This is not how I understand “the emerging message”. At least not the emphasis of say; Brian McLaren. Regard the following passage; which I read today.

    The Cross doesn’t represent a “shock and awe” display of power as Roman crucifixions were intended to do, but represents a “reverence and awe” display of God’s willingness to accept rejection and mistreatment, and then respond with forgiveness, reconciliation and resurrection. In this kingdom, peace is not made and kept through the shedding of the blood of enemies, but the king himself sacrifices his blood to make a new kind of peace, offering amnesty to repentant rebels and open borders to needy immigrants…To follow Jesus is to become an atheist to in regard to all bloodthirsty, tribal warrior gods, and to become a believer in the God of grace and peace who, in Christ, sheds God’s own blood in a manifestation of amnesty and reconciliation. To repent, to believe, to follow…

    I do think that McLaren, Rob Bell etc. are in danger of become reactionary, through a constant critique of conservative Christendom, but I have to say that you are being unfair labelling them as heretics. But in all fairness, they are sometimes unfairly critical of “your brand of Christianity”.

    In regard to all the scriptures you guys quoted, though I do feel you use certain quotes out of context, I still want to thank you for posting so many. You drive me to scripture, something that does not always come naturally, and for that I am truly greatfull, for there is nothing that nourishes me more!

  • 21 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 22, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    And by the way, Kenneth, Christians are not against science.

    Not all are. You are, though, and it is a lie to suggest otherwise. Methodological naturalism (science) is a way of knowing things. You reject this method; you only accept some of modern science’s conclusions when you find it convenient.

  • 22 Hugo // Feb 22, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    How does God explain endogenous retrovirusses? The fossil record? The [...etc...]

    Kenneth, I love ya! For having so much interesting knowledge. (Oh, and ’cause you’re a cool person, of course, but right now, I can’t pretend it’s not the knowledge.) How do you all that stuff? I suspect from teaching, that makes sure you remember it? I don’t think the typical holder of a 3-year BSc will be able to name a list like that off the top of their head (that was all off the top of your head, right?)

    With regards to eyes, there are some eyes that can heal themselves. Saved into my quotes collection a fear years ago, from a Slashdot comment, back in the days when I still had time to read Slashdot:

    Re:Darwin got it right…
    (Score:5, Informative)
    by BWJones (18351) * Alter Relationship on Monday November 01, @05:13AM (#10687372)
    (http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/ | Last Journal: Thursday October 12, @05:39AM)
    The other thing to remember is that the human eye is NOT the most advanced eye in the animal kingdom. We essentially have three channels of vision for perception of our world, red, green and blue, whereas other organisms such as many fish, turtles and birds have much more advanced retinas (and complex) that our own. For example, the turtle likely sees in at least seven channels of vision, perceiving a world we could never hope to imagine.

    Oh, and here is another fact: In the zebrafish, despite their retinas being much more complex and sophisticated than ours, can repair their retinas from damage whereas we are currently screwed if our retinas go bad.

    IAAVS (I am a vision scientist), and neuroscientist.


    Visit Jonesblog [utah.edu] and say hello.

    Hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it here. I credit him for it, on the other hand, I hope he doesn’t mind me adding his name here! ;-)

    So there goes “We need the protection that the extra layers provide” -> how about we could do with eyes that can heal rather…?

  • 23 Hugo // Feb 22, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    @Amanda:

    Am I allowed to comment on this thread as a Christian fundamentalist or does my troll status carry over from the previous thread?

    As usual, I would appreciate it if you added thoughts like “I believe…” and “From my perspective…” Wishful thinking?

    With regards to jumping to new threads… I would consider it trolling if every thread ends up being about exactly the same thing. This thread already went in a direction I wasn’t quite hoping for (hoping for some on-topic conversation first, as per my impression of what the topic is about), but it’s too late now. So feel free to continue.

    In general, however, I’d be happy if a certain line of argument / “supposed trolling” sticks to the same thread. E.g. our previous many-many-comments discussion, that’s pretty much the subject matter thus, and you’re welcome to continue “trolling” on that thread.

    If you can stay on-topic, that’s cool. Here’s a post whose topic might interest you, see what you think:
    More on the Afterlife Belief. Maybe read Sadducees and the Afterlife first, it forms a series…

    With regards to what is trolling, here’s an example that you might find useful to ponder: What if I go post a comment on every single post by Thomas, each pointing out “the fact that the world is billions of years old, and that evolution is a fact”? Would that be trolling?

    With regards to “sharing the gospel” (your version of it, maybe much of what Paul taught, Jesus certainly didn’t teach that gospel in every encounter described in the gospels), there’s another interesting question:

    Who are you sharing it for, what is your motivation? To help someone, or to feel better about yourself / to “look better in the eyes of God”? The latter being selfish reasons. If it is the former, I’m going to have to encourage you to get to know the people here better. At this point, all the participants on my blog will be utterly unresponsive to merely repeating the same short message over and over. Bendul does find some value, as he mentioned, so there’s that. In that sense someone’s finding it valuable, undermining the previous idea in this paragraph a bit.

    In any case, you’re right, my blog is most certainly not about repeating a particular interpretation over and over. I will get around to discussing that as well, seeing what it means to believers, what makes it such a potent belief, when the time is right… This blog’s primary focus is cross cultural understanding and from that should develop more tolerance. That’s a hard enough fight, to encourage atheists to be more tolerant and respectful of religion, and the way they communicate with the religious, mostly because “anti-science fundies” make it so hard. With “liars and hypocrites” like Kent Hovind and Ted Haggard being the public face of Christianity. So I’d certainly like to focus more on Jesus’ teachings, and increasing the understanding and appreciation of those. (That article and picture with Dawkins in the “Atheists for Jesus” t-shirt pops into my mind again. ;-) ) And I’m hoping it would also go a long way to encouraging Christians to be more “Christ-like”, or helping them appreciate what it is that is such a great influence in the tradition.

    Of course, understanding all these things in this manner might just end up undermining their fundamentalism… That was my experience anyway, as well as some of my friends’: we felt that when you really understand what was so amazing about Jesus and his teachings, you get to be excited and motivated about the tradition they inherited, appreciating its worth, liberating them from being so monotonously repetitive about only one particular aspect of the gospels, an aspect which only really seems to make much sense if you believe in a literal hell…

  • 24 Hazard // Feb 22, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Eyes that can heal? Where would our faith healers get their bucks from.. you’d put them out of business!!! How about regenerating limbs too while we’re about it, lol. God seems to have it in for amputees, haven’t seen any of them healed on stage lately… or ever.

  • 25 Hugo // Feb 22, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    ;-) (There is a website, whywontgodhealamputees.com, if anyone’s into pondering that kind of thing in greater depth. Quite obviously an anti-religion site, given the title, I don’t even have to mention that.)

    I saved some more comments from that Slashdot thread on e.g. Darwin and eyes, if there’s interest I can paste those comments as well.

  • 26 Hazard // Feb 22, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Always open to hear other websites on their views… thanks Hugo.

    But… just keeping on the topic. Taking the bible at face value… um … verse value?… Yeah… I think that would count for much… There would be no question about the power of faith (and God) if such things were as common as the other impossiblities… raising the dead, cure for AIDS etc. You’d find me an instant convert. Damn right on this topic… pity my old man was only “half the man” he used to be… his faith must have got halved at the same time as his legs. I think that type of logic fits in well with the fundies. ;-)

  • 27 Thomas // Feb 22, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Who are you sharing it for, what is your motivation? To help someone, or to feel better about yourself / to “look better in the eyes of God”? The latter being selfish reasons. If it is the former, I’m going to have to encourage you to get to know the people here better. At this point, all the participants on my blog will be utterly unresponsive to merely repeating the same short message over and over. Bendul does find some value, as he mentioned, so there’s that. In that sense someone’s finding it valuable, undermining the previous idea in this paragraph a bit.

    Do you actually read my and Amanda’s comments? As for our motivation being selfish, I would like to refer you to my # 11 again. If Amanda and I had the right to force the Gospel of Jesus Christ down your throat, we would have done so, but that is the wrong thing to do. Only those who are desprately thirsty and who hunger after God’s righteousness will take the water of life freely. We are merely beseeching you to drink the water, not forcing you.

    When King Agrippa told Paul that he nearly persuaded (please note the word “persuaded” and not “coerced” or “forced”) him to be a Christian, he answered:

    “I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

    Don’t pretend to know our intentions and our hearts. You’d be surprised to know what agony you are causing us.

  • 28 Thomas // Feb 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Ugh! please . . . my blockquotes are wrong again.

  • 29 Thomas // Feb 22, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    With regards to “sharing the gospel” (your version of it, maybe much of what Paul taught, Jesus certainly didn’t teach that gospel in every encounter described in the gospels), . . .

    I have it on good authority that Paul received the Gospel directly from Jesus Christ. Shall we continue to comment on Jesus’/Paul’s rendering of the Gospel?

  • 30 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Eyes that can heal? Where would our faith healers get their bucks from.. you’d put them out of business!!! How about regenerating limbs too while we’re about it, lol. God seems to have it in for amputees, haven’t seen any of them healed on stage lately… or ever.

    If Benny Hinn and other Word of Faith ministries are your idea of what true Christianity is, then I can sympathize with your frustration.

    For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

  • 31 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Do you mind it when science provides you with vaccines against diseases, or the computer that you are working on, or a longer, healthier lifestyle than any other generation in history? But let science tell you that you are related to a chimp, that the earth is several billion years old, that your mind and personality are entirely functions of your brain, that human morality has evolved, and suddenly you have issues. Never mind the fact that every single one of these conclusions has come about using the exact same method as the findings allowing you to use your computer, your vaccine, your car, your cell phone, or your TV. If you have problems with what evolution tells you, then, to be consistent, you have to have problems with every other finding derived from the scientific method. (Emphasis added)

    Evolutionists postulate that mankind evolved from a lower species to a higher species (from a chimp to a champ). If that be the truth and nothing but the truth, then morality also must have evolved from something lower to something higher. You must be joking. Are you going through life with blinkers over your eyes?

  • 32 Bendul // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Thomas.

    I think I see your heart. Want to send you a long reply about my experiences in the fundamentalist church I love & still attend, but no time now.

    All I would like to say is that I fear you don’t understand my heart or hugo’s heart either. I fear we often respond versely to your rhetoric and “immunize” ourselves to your message. This is not good. Realize that you cause us a great deal of agony too.

    But I feel somewhat encouraged by your last few posts that a respectfull dialogue might emerge. I truly hope hugo shares this optimism; more than that: that we can truly seek to understand each other’s hearts; maybe even find that we share a genuine love for Christ.

  • 33 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Ben-Jammin at # 21 and Kenneth Oberlander at # 19

    Tel me more about these evolutionary hoaxes.

    1) Piltdown Man
    2) Nebraska Man
    3) Haeckel’s Embryos
    4) Hahnhöfersand Man
    5) Archaeoraptor
    6) Flipperpithecus
    7) Peppered Moth
    8) Lucy

    Thanx

  • 34 Hugo // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:14 am

    I’m not commenting, just leaving some links to reference material. I suspect Kenneth’s going to be unable to stop himself from responding. ;-) Hopefully me already linking to reference material can be of some use to save him some time/effort. And is a reading list for me for later. (ItCC is TalkOrigins’ Index to Creationist Claims.

    1) Piltdown Man: Wikipedia, ItCC, Talk Origins FAQ, Skeptic’s Dictionary

    2) Nebraska Man: Wikipedia, ItCC, TalkOrigins FAQ

    3) Haeckel’s Embryos: ItCC, TalkOrigins FAQ

    4) Hahnhöfersand Man: seems to be a newer one?

    5) Archaeoraptor: ItCC.

    6) Flipperpithecus: um… I’m getting lazy, only leaving ItCC links, and they aint got something on “Flipperpithecus”.

    7) Peppered Moth: ItCC links now… I gotta go to bed.

    8) Lucy: ItCC … or what about her? Mentioned at that link: “Far from indicating evolutionist dishonesty, this claim shows how creationists fail to check their claims (Lippard 1999). ”

    And what do these isolated examples have to do with the huge big solid body of evidence/knowledge, the examples Kenneth posted above, and all the evidence for the age of the earth? *sigh*.

    Proposal, if anyone takes a bite out of these: one-for-one. Kenneth listed a bunch of things above, Thomas listed a bunch of things. If you feel inclined to research and comment on one of these, comment on only one, then let the other do the same with the other list.

    Or,… Join the Book Club! Some of the books proposed tackle these scientific questions. If there’s really an interest in learning, that’s probably the best way to do it!

    Oh, and remember guys: the universal truth equivalent of “Only God Can Convert People”. (Hey, maybe we can bring the discussion back to the original post! I’d been hoping to have at least *some* conversation on the *non-theistic* side about this “universal truth” idea.)

  • 35 Hugo // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Oh wait… check this, that precise list in that precise order on this website:

    http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=54508

    Now why would we have another list that’s exactly the same? Thomas, I’m curious, what was the source of your list? Was it that site, or was it another that served as a common source for both your comment and that site? If it isn’t that site, go read the comments there, they’ve got a couple of good responses.

    If it is the same site… eish man… stop friggen wasting our time. That’s been discussed there already.

  • 36 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Tel me more about these evolutionary hoaxes.

    1) Piltdown Man
    2) Nebraska Man
    3) Haeckel’s Embryos
    4) Hahnhöfersand Man
    5) Archaeoraptor
    6) Flipperpithecus
    7) Peppered Moth

    You would have to convince you’re actually listening first. Only a few of those were actual hoaxes, for example. You could find similar mistakes and hoaxes in the development of the germ theory of disease and in the atomic theory of matter.

    Bah. How about the first one on the list? Convince me you’re actually willing to discuss it and learn. Piltdown man was a fraud that started in 1912. Unsurprisingly, the perpetrators of the fraud only had the knowledge available in 1912. From the talk origins link:

    As the years went by and new finds of ancient hominids were made, Piltdown man became an anomaly that didn’t fit in, a creature without a place in the human family tree. Finally, in 1953, the truth came out. Piltdown man was a hoax, the most ancient of people who never were. This is his story.

    My principal source for the original version of this page is Ronald Millar’s The Piltdown Men. This book is an account of the entire Piltdown affair from beginning to end, including not merely the circumstances but the general background of the paleontology and evolutionary theory with respect to human ancestry during the period 1850-1950. A number of important books have also been written on the hoax, e.g. works by Spencer, Weiner, Blinderman, and Walsh, and have been valuable resources.

    You’d be surprised to know what agony you are causing us.

    Oh, come on. If we were to end up screaming in agony for the rest of eternity, this is a decision made by your perfectly good God. Pondering a decision made by a perfectly good God causes you agony?

    And since you feel free to assert your beliefs, I will do so as well. Your God and your hell are both fictional creations. There is no need for anyone to be frightened of them any more than they need be frightened of Darth Vader or Mordor.

  • 37 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:35 am

    Wow, am I too slow. :)

  • 38 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Oh wait… check this, that precise list in that precise order on this website:

    http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=54508

    Now why would we have another list that’s exactly the same? Thomas, I’m curious, what was the source of your list? Was it that site, or was it another that served as a common source for both your comment and that site? If it isn’t that site, go read the comments there, they’ve got a couple of good responses.

    If it is the same site… eish man… stop friggen wasting our time. That’s been discussed there already.

    Your kindness and hospitiality exceeds your scientific knowledge. I happened to stumble on the site and thought you might be able to provide me with a little more information. And this is the kind of response I get? Oh! I forgot, you never browse the internet when you need some info on a particular subject. You know it all! Thanks again.

  • 39 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 7:42 am

    You would have to convince you’re actually listening first. Only a few of those were actual hoaxes, for example. You could find similar mistakes and hoaxes in the development of the germ theory of disease and in the atomic theory of matter.

    Bah. How about the first one on the list? Convince me you’re actually willing to discuss it and learn. Piltdown man was a fraud that started in 1912. Unsurprisingly, the perpetrators of the fraud only had the knowledge available in 1912. From the talk origins link:

    You never even mentioned Peirre Teilhard de Chardin once in the Piltdown hoax. In any event, your comment is not that convincing. You only referred to the Piltdown hoax. Allow me to provide you with the following info.

    It is perhaps not surprising that a leading advocate of Darwinism, Stephen Jay Gould, has gone to work on Teilhard. Writing vehemently and dogmatically, like the guardian of an established religion, Gould asserts that Teilhard’s whole enterprise is illegitimate: Teilhard’s essential insights are incompatible with science. In addition to that, Gould has made it his personal mission to expose Teilhard as being guilty of the most outrageous scientific fraud of modern times.

    Partly as a result of these defensive and dogmatic reactions to Teilhard, he is today tragically underestimated in both the religious and scientific communities. While many of his ideas have worked their way anonymously into currency and have been widely accepted, still Teilhard’s innovative thinking has been taken seriously only by a minority of thinkers who see science and religion entering into a new era of cross-fertilization and creativity. For the vast majority, Teilhard’s thought seems marginal at best, and his insights are not studied in the depth they deserve. This is partially explained by the active suppression of his ideas by the church and the suspicion of his ideas within the scientific community. Teilhard’s obscurity is also to be explained, however, by his own style of writing and his tendency to wander into the realm of pure speculation. His fertile imagination sometimes led him into a fantasy world foreign to scientists and theologians alike.

    In 1953, however, Piltdown Man was exposed as a deliberate hoax, perhaps the most astounding fraud in the history of modern science. Until recently Charles Dawson was believed to have acted alone in the Piltdown affair, but in August 1980, a quarter-century after Teilhard’s death, Stephen Jay Gould put forward his own view that Teilhard was a coconspirator in the original fraud. Gould first published his accusations in Natural History magazine and repeated his case with additional argument and discussion in Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes. Though his “evidence” is entirely circumstantial, Gould accusations are tightly reasoned, as are the arguments of Teilhard’s defenders who have written and published their own views in reply to Gould. The briefs for and against Teilhard are too complex to review here. Suffice it to say that the reconstruction of events that originally took place in the years 1908 -1914 is difficult in itself. To draw firm conclusions based upon circumstantial references in letters and remembrances stretching across seventy years is almost impossible. Gould speculates wildly as to why Teilhard might have been drawn into the conspiracy. His tentative conclusion is that Teilhard thought he was involved in little more than a practical joke.

    You can read the entire article here: http://www.godweb.org/chardin.htm

    You guys are quick to respond when you supposedly find an assumed single contradiction in the Bible but when a few evolutionary hoaxes are unearthed you are quick to defend your so-called science in spite of the flaws. Hmmmm I wonder why? Isn’t a science supposed to be flawless in order for it to vindicate it’s veracity?

  • 40 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Ben-Jammin said:

    Oh, come on. If we were to end up screaming in agony for the rest of eternity, this is a decision made by your perfectly good God. Pondering a decision made by a perfectly good God causes you agony?

    And since you feel free to assert your beliefs, I will do so as well. Your God and your hell are both fictional creations. There is no need for anyone to be frightened of them any more than they need be frightened of Darth Vader or Mordor

    Q.E.D. Your science pointedly disproves the existence of heaven and hell. Could it be that you are being unscientifically irrational or perhaps overtly emotional?

  • 41 Amanda // Feb 23, 2009 at 8:12 am

    @ Hugo

    What if I go post a comment on every single post by Thomas, each pointing out “the fact that the world is billions of years old, and that evolution is a fact”? Would that be trolling?

    Are you asking me to judge Kenneth?

    With regards to “sharing the gospel” (your version of it, maybe much of what Paul taught, Jesus certainly didn’t teach that gospel in every encounter described in the gospels),

    I do believe you do not understand that fundamentalists hold to Scripture. And if you teach the wrong Gospel, then how can ‘truth do its work’?

    Who are you sharing it for, what is your motivation? To help someone, or to feel better about yourself / to “look better in the eyes of God”?

    Is it your understanding that I believe in works righteousness?

    Bendul does find some value, as he mentioned, so there’s that.

    Our interpretations differ on this point.

    This blog’s primary focus is cross cultural understanding and from that should develop more tolerance.

    It seems to me that this is not successful.

    I would consider it trolling if every thread ends up being about exactly the same thing. This thread already went in a direction I wasn’t quite hoping for (hoping for some on-topic conversation first, as per my impression of what the topic is about), but it’s too late now. So feel free to continue.

    It is my impression that the answer is ‘yes’. Thank you.

  • 42 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 8:29 am

    @Thomas:

    Your kindness and hospitiality exceeds your scientific knowledge.

    Projection, methinks. No, meknows.

    I happened to stumble on the site and thought you might be able to provide me with a little more information.

    Which is why you have been here for 300+ comments? Come on.

    You never even mentioned Peirre Teilhard de Chardin once in the Piltdown hoax.

    Oh, you mean the Jesuit priest? Perhaps you don’t want us to mention him.

    Have you read the original Gould article on Teilhard? I have. Your quote from godweb is hardly unbiased.

    You guys are quick to respond when you supposedly find an assumed single contradiction in the Bible but when a few evolutionary hoaxes are unearthed you are quick to defend your so-called science in spite of the flaws. Hmmmm I wonder why? Isn’t a science supposed to be flawless in order for it to vindicate it’s veracity?

    Thomas, who uncovered the Piltdown Man scam?

    Was it the man on the street?

    Was it the government?

    Was it the church?

    It was scientists.

    And whoever, anywhere, said science was flawless?

  • 43 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 8:51 am

    As to your list:

    1) Piltdown Man

    Dealt with.

    2) Nebraska Man

    A mistake. Scientists make these sometimes. Particularly nearly a hundred years ago, when the state of paleontological knowledge concerning human history was so rudimentary.

    3) Haeckel’s Embryos

    Again, who uncovered Haeckel’s elaborations? Scientists.

    4) Hahnhöfersand Man
    Who uncovered this?
    Scientists.

    5) Archaeoraptor
    This was published in National Geographic Magazine, for goodness sake. Hardly a reputable science journal. Not to mention that the scientists studying the Cretaceous fauna of China raised holy hell the moment it came out.

    6) Flipperpithecus
    I’ve never even heard of this. A google search turns up articles on Conservapaedia, which is not exactly peer-reviewed. Searches on ISI Web of Science and Google Scholar turn up nothing.

    7) Peppered Moth
    8) Lucy

    These last two show you just how ignorant you are of the state of evolutionary science. Neither is a hoax, and both serve as compelling evidence for evolution.

    Science self-corrects. It is the very fact that other experts can call you on your shit that helps to keep scientists honest. It doesn’t always work, but then again, I have never claimed that science is error free.

    So, done with your list. Whilst we’re busy debunking, please respond to one of the things I talked about in my post 15. Explain to me how God is a better explanation of even one of those biological questions.

    Finally, I second Hugo’s request. Where did you get this list? A few minutes of googling would have sorted this list out for you.

  • 44 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 9:03 am

    @Thomas

    Evolutionists postulate that mankind evolved from a lower species to a higher species (from a chimp to a champ).

    No no NO NO NO!
    Why do I have to keep repeating myself? I’ve told you this before. There is no higher or lower scale in modern evolutionary theory. This was part of early science due to the explicit theological dogma of the Scala Naturae. It has been endlessly disproven. Neither chimp nor champ is higher up or lower down. Stop saying this! You should know better by now.

    If that be the truth and nothing but the truth, then morality also must have evolved from something lower to something higher. You must be joking.

    Again, no NO NO!
    Morality has evolved. Full stop. Again, there is no morality scale against which to measure higher or lower. Our morality is not objectively better or worse than that of chimps. It is simply better within the context of the human organism, just as chimp morality is better within the context of the chimp organism.

    Are you going through life with blinkers over your eyes?

    *cough* IRONY *cough*

  • 45 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 10:16 am

    @Amanda

    Are you asking me to judge Kenneth?

    You are welcome to. After all, I have made judgements about the state of your scientific knowledge. I suppose it is only fair for turnabout.

    As long as you are aware that it is you judging me, not god.

  • 46 Hazard // Feb 23, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Hugo

    It’s difficult to keep on topic with regards to religious matters. So sidelining is bound to happen.

    Thomas @39

    “You guys are quick to respond when you supposedly find an assumed single contradiction in the Bible but when a few evolutionary hoaxes are unearthed you are quick to defend your so-called science…”

    Assumed? Let’s start with the most obvious. No man can look upon the face of God and live. Come on.. you know the answer to this one… and it’s not even science nailing you on this one.

    And there’s isn’t just that one… but something like 5000 contradictions. if you want me to, I’ll get a list for you to peruse. Let’s assume that “people like us” are just out to nail you left, right and centre and are just spewing out any garbage to discredit the bible, if just 10% of that is all true, you have reason to start thinking they way we atheists do. Do you think all of us were just born this way? Most of us were born into religious backgrounds, all it took was a crack to appear, and just like your car windscreen it just grew and grew until the windscreen became a danger. I like the science windscreen, cracks do appear, but it’s made of self repairing glass, correcting itself. And most of all, it doesn’t try make me feel guilty and threaten me with denial to a place that doesn’t exist.

  • 47 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Hazard:

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

    And the Internet shall provide, for verily, it is the source of all knowledge!

    ;-)

  • 48 Amanda // Feb 23, 2009 at 11:24 am

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    After all, I have made judgements about the state of your scientific knowledge.

    No need. I will freely confess that my primary school science education is inferior to your science education.

    Thomas, who uncovered the Piltdown Man scam? Was it the man on the street? Was it the government? Was it the church?

    So, you are okay with Christians exposing false doctrine being taught inside the church?

    The troll.

  • 49 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 11:44 am

    @Amanda
    I don’t think you are a troll. You are quite clearly sincere in your arguments. I just don’t agree with those arguments, for the various reasons I have offered.

    So, you are okay with Christians exposing false doctrine being taught inside the church?

    Yes. However, note that I consider most of the Bible to be untrue…so I doubt that my answer is all that useful to you!

  • 50 Hazard // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Kenneth @47

    And the Internet shall provide, for verily, it is the source of all knowledge!

    Lol…. Is that a commandment, theory, or law? ;-)

  • 51 Amanda // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    However, note that I consider most of the Bible to be untrue…

    :) So noted. So how about we ask you the scientific questions and we ask Thomas about apostasy in the Church?

    Then I do have a question for you. Feel free to ignore. In your scientific opinion, is the global warming threat real?

  • 52 Amanda // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    @ Hazard

    Is that a commandment, theory, or law?

    It is not Gospel.

  • 53 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    @Hazard

    Lol…. Is that a commandment, theory, or law?

    It is written. Somewhere. Probably on the Internet…

  • 54 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    In your scientific opinion, is the global warming threat real?

    Yes.

    It is a fact that the earth has warmed over the last few centuries. There is no justifiable way to discard these data. I think most global-warming deniers have moved on from claiming otherwise. Where I think a lot of people are currently digging in their heels, is whether humans have caused this warming, or whether it is a purely natural event.

    To me, it’s pretty simple. We know the earth has warmed. We know that we have been releasing immense amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. We know these gasses absorb infrared radiation and thus cause a warming effect. So, if the warming is purely a result of natural processes, where is the anthropogenic warming? At the very least, we are then aiding and abetting a process which we should not be encouraging if we want our civilization to survive.

    There is a lot of bumf on the Internet on climate change. I would prefer to place my trust (this not being my area of expertise) in the findings published in academic journals, where scientists freely debate these issues. And virtually every major scientific society I know of has assessed this evidence, and come to the conclusion that it is human-caused.

    Hope this helps.

  • 55 Amanda // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander
    Thank you.

    At the very least, we are then aiding and abetting a process which we should not be encouraging if we want our civilization to survive.

    Do you feel the energy crises in South Africa and Europe, for instance, is being handled responsibly (scientifically)? What would be a viable long-term solution? Maybe you can link to a reliable source?

  • 56 Bendul // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Kenneth

    Political motivations/agendas further compromise global warming’s critics. I cannot imagine how the ideology of waste and irresponsibility can go unchallenged in conservative Christianity for one.

    Anyways.

    I’d also like to propose that you consider certain interpretations of the bible as untrue; and that being within your criteria of truth (which I am not attacking per se – we’ve had this discussion, I trust you understand my stance). I’d like to propose the existence of certain ethical narratives in scripture that are overlooked in your truth judgement of it.

  • 57 -M- // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    @ Kenneth

    Hmm I would stay away from the conclusion of global warming being human-caused. I have attended several talks on global warming these past 10 years and had very interesting conversations with a geologist friend of mine (;-). I believe as ecologists (and seeing how humans exploit and destroy ecosystems) we are tempted to blame humans straight away (who can blame us?)…and even if I acknowledge that human activities do have an impact on global warming, I am still not convinced that the whole thing is only human-based…but I am not a climatologist! ;-)

  • 58 Bendul // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Political motivations/agendas further compromise global warming’s critics.

    ugh

    I mean their Critique is compromised because there are such overt political incentives to deny it.

    Jasss and don’t get me started oin weapons trade…

  • 59 Bendul // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Interesting -M-

    where can I find out more?

  • 60 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Bendul wrote:

    The Cross doesn’t represent a “shock and awe” display of power as Roman crucifixions were intended to do, but represents a “reverence and awe” display of God’s willingness to accept rejection and mistreatment, and then respond with forgiveness, reconciliation and resurrection. In this kingdom, peace is not made and kept through the shedding of the blood of enemies, but the king himself sacrifices his blood to make a new kind of peace, offering amnesty to repentant rebels and open borders to needy immigrants…To follow Jesus is to become an atheist to in regard to all bloodthirsty, tribal warrior gods, and to become a believer in the God of grace and peace who, in Christ, sheds God’s own blood in a manifestation of amnesty and reconciliation. To repent, to believe, to follow…

    The social Gospel, not unlike that of the Liberal Gospel, interprets man’s ill’s and woes in terms of an external and not an internal problem. The problem is hardly or ever sought in man’s innermost being or heart from whence all kinds of sin emanate. Hence their philanthropic outreach to change the world by virtue of a Gospel that looks like the genuine one but is in fact a very clever counterfeit. In this Gospel Jesus becomes the supreme philanthropist whom we should imitate by sacrificing the personal self for the good of the world. Alice Bailey wrote:

    Your spiritual goal is the establishing of the Kingdom of God. One of the first steps towards this is to prepare men’s minds to accept the fact that the reappearance of the CHRIST is imminent. You must tell them everywhere that the Masters and Their groups of disciples are actively working to bring order out of chaos. You must tell them that there IS a Plan, and that nothing can possibly arrest the working out of that Plan. You must tell them that the Hierarchy stands, and that it has stood for thousands of years, and is the expression of the accumulated wisdom of the ages. You must tell them above all else that God is love, that the Hierarchy is love, and that Christ is coming because He loves humanity.

    “It is time that the church woke up to its true mission, which is to materialize the kingdom of God on earth, today, here and now.… People are no longer interested in a possible heavenly state or a probable hell. They need to learn that the kingdom is here, and must express itself on earth The way into that kingdom is the way that Christ trod. It involves the sacrifice of the personal self for the good of the world, and the service of humanity…”… — Alice Bailey (Cited in chapter 15 of “In The Name of Purpose”).

    The emergent, post modern followers of Christ (another Christ) are inadvertently or knowingly advocating Alice Bailey’s rendition of the Gospel. “Love” is the magic word to change the world, but it’s a love that is completely void of justice and righteousness . . . and of course sound biblical doctrine. Brian McLaren, for instance, lavishly talks about Jesus in his books, but is he the Jesus whom we are supposed to know and follow? The message of the Bible is changed ever so subtly to accommodate this Jesus. Brian McLaren wrote in his book “Church on the other Side” (p. 68)

    It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, “We’re not changing the message; we’re only changing the medium.” This claim is probably less than honest … in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naïveté or denial about this.

    What did John the apostle of love say about the changing of the message of the Bible?

    I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

    Brian McLaren ridicules the prophetic meaning of Revelation. He says in his book “The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 176-177:

    If Revelation were a blueprint of the distant future, it would have been unintelligible for its original readers, as well as the readers of all succeeding generations, and would only become truly and fully relevant for one generation–the one who happened to live in one period of time it is prognosticating about. But if Revelation is instead an example of the literature of the oppressed, full of ever-relevant warnings and promises, it presents each generation with needed inspiration and wisdom and encouragement. In this light, Revelation becomes a powerful book about the kingdom of God here and now, available to all. (Emphasis added)

    This is Alice Bailey par exemplent. I wouldn’t want to stand in his shoes on the day of judgment. Would you?

  • 61 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    You guys are quick to respond when you supposedly find an assumed single contradiction in the Bible but when a few evolutionary hoaxes are unearthed you are quick to defend your so-called science in spite of the flaws. Hmmmm I wonder why? Isn’t a science supposed to be flawless in order for it to vindicate it’s veracity?

    Science is absolutely not flawless. It is a process by which human flaws are acknowledged and inductive epistemological limits are acknowledged. No one is denying there was a hoax, just like no one is denying Hwang Woo-Suk’s fraud. Fleischmann and Pon announced cold fusion and were wrong. Does this make the atomic theory of matter suspect?

    If you’re looking for flawlessness in investigations done by evolved beings in a material world, you’re going to be disappointed. There aren’t any. Not theologians, not scientists, not mathematicians, not anybody.

    Could it be that you are being unscientifically irrational or perhaps overtly emotional?

    What?

  • 62 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    @-M-

    As I say, this isn’t my area of expertise. However, the number of scientific societies that endorse anthropogenic global warming is substantial, including the last IPCC report. I would tend to trust them, considering they are the experts ;-).

    I agree that we as biologists like to blame human-caused change (with good reason in most cases). However, this still leaves the issue: if the global climate is changing naturally, where is all the greenhouse gas-caused (i.e. human-caused) heat going? We should be expecting an increase in heat due to greenhouse gas emissions. If the change is not human-caused, what is accounting for the human-caused change that we are not seeing?

    @Bendul: agreed re your global warming stance. One can hope that the various religious authorities will attend to this issue, and soon.

    I’d like to propose the existence of certain ethical narratives in scripture that are overlooked in your truth judgement of it.

    Oh, most certainly. I fully agree that there are moral messages, or ethical narratives, in the Bible. I just don’t accept the Biblical messages as being the ultimate source of morality. And they most certainly aren’t unique to the Bible: you can get most of those moral principles in many other Holy Books, or religions, or mythologies. Or from secular humanism, for that matter.

    So, in effect, I see the ethical guidelines in the Bible as adjuncts to, or ancillary evidence for, human morality as a whole. I’m not writing the Bible off: it does have tremendous mythological and historical value. It just isn’t the literal truth. It should be approached in the same way as the Quran, or the Book of the Dead, or the Bhagavad Gita: as a window into the culture and worldview of the civilization that gave them birth; the beliefs, the morals, the mythologies; the attempts of that civilization to understand the world around them.

    Does this answer your statement? Sometimes I feel I get bogged down in the details, and miss the bigger picture of what people are trying to say to me…but then again God is in the details.

    Metaphorically speaking…

  • 63 Bendul // Feb 23, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Kenneth.

    Methinks time for coffe round 2 draws near.

    We’ve had the “superiority of the bible convo”. I’d like to affirm that I still feel that there is truth in the moral truths of the bible. However not at the expense of the ethical truth. Like you are most certainly aware of; humans have the tendency to reduce truth to manageable proportions.

    I react to conservative oversimplification of the bible adversely. HOWEVER. I want to affirm many of the same propositional truths that Amanda & Thomas make (Jesus was real, etc). I find no compelling evidence to do otherwise. However the bible seems to me obviously metaphorical in Genesis, and I consider it reductionistic to read it as factual. There are greater gains to be had when it is view in it’s “native environment” 2000+ years before the development of “fact-based narrative”. The same applies to “end-time-prophecy” as found in Revelation. Comparison with it’s contemporaries enrich it, as “mythically based language”, instead of reducing it to fact.

    So In a sense I agree with you, but the theological framework you propose (liberalism) is in my humble opinion somewhat passe. Post-liberals and post conservatives offer richly nuanced readings of scripture as paradoxical, poetic, AND propositional literature

    To kick off the convo thusly…

  • 64 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Hazard in response to Thomas

    Thomas @39

    “You guys are quick to respond when you supposedly find an assumed single contradiction in the Bible but when a few evolutionary hoaxes are unearthed you are quick to defend your so-called science…”

    Assumed? Let’s start with the most obvious. No man can look upon the face of God and live. Come on.. you know the answer to this one… and it’s not even science nailing you on this one.

    In your hazardous response you have overlooked the obvious. Let’s assume you know Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Second Person in the Trinity. Let’s also assume you know the word “Christophony.” The dictionary explains the word as “Christ’s appearance after his resurrection” but it also refers to His appearances in die Old Testament. Now we are getting a little closer to the truth. Christophonies in the Old Testament suggest that die folk living then (Moses, Isaiah, etc.) did not see God the Father but His Son. Jesus Christ. Why didn’t they die? Well of course, because Jesus Christ has always been the Mediator between God and Man. He represents God (the Father) to man and man to God (the Father).

  • 65 Thomas // Feb 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Kenneth Oberlander wrote

    Oh, most certainly. I fully agree that there are moral messages, or ethical narratives, in the Bible. I just don’t accept the Biblical messages as being the ultimate source of morality. And they most certainly aren’t unique to the Bible: you can get most of those moral principles in many other Holy Books, or religions, or mythologies. Or from secular humanism, for that matter.

    The Bible never pretends to be the only book on morals. The fact that moral principles are espoused in Holy Books, or religions, or mythologies prove that man is made in the image of God. The only difference between the Bible and the other sources is that the Bible provides the only solution to the contravention of those morals.

  • 66 Bendul // Feb 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Brian McLaren ridicules the prophetic meaning of Revelation. He says in his book “The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 176-177:

    If Revelation were a blueprint of the distant future, it would have been unintelligible for its original readers, as well as the readers of all succeeding generations, and would only become truly and fully relevant for one generation–the one who happened to live in one period of time it is prognosticating about. But if Revelation is instead an example of the literature of the oppressed, full of ever-relevant warnings and promises, it presents each generation with needed inspiration and wisdom and encouragement. In this light, Revelation becomes a powerful book about the kingdom of God here and now, available to all. (Emphasis added)

    This is Alice Bailey par exemplent. I wouldn’t want to stand in his shoes on the day of judgment. Would you?

    Kenneth:

    This is an excellent example of what I mean. I side with McLaren on this one. I struggle to identify with Thomas’ approach, but I have to Re-affirm (he will deny this) that even though there is a massive rift between us, he is my brother, and we share a love of the same truth.

    Thomas however reduces the message to a MERELY propitiatory one, I choose to view it holistically as BOTH propitiatory AND socially transforming.

    Many of the authors Thomas critices, I will criticise for a reactionary “discarding of the baby along with the bathwater” I.E. no propitiatory element. This is in my opinion however not the case with Brian McLaren. I consider Thomas’ reading of him wrong. I would not be interested in him if he did what Thomas describes.

    Thomas.

    Your view of revelation as this kind of predictive prophecy is considered by a vast amount of scholars to be not much more thyan 200 years old. Are you implying that the church has been wrong for 1800 years?

  • 67 -M- // Feb 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    @ Kenneth

    I agree that anthropogenic activities have an impact on global warming, to the extent that it might speed up the natural process (if there is any) and therefore lead to higher level of temperatures. However, I have problems with claims about human activities being the direct (and for some people, unique) cause of global warming. I think the all process is way more complicated than that, and that we still need more data and models to explain this phenomenum, as we must look at a larger time scale than the last hundred years…
    Now fair enough, I havent read the last papers on this topic, being busy with a few other, less significant things! ;-)

  • 68 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    @Bendul:

    However the bible seems to me obviously metaphorical in Genesis, and I consider it reductionistic to read it as factual.

    Agreed 100%. The problem is, there are many people who do read it as fact.

    @Thomas

    The fact that moral principles are espoused in Holy Books, or religions, or mythologies prove that man is made in the image of God.

    Your logic here would hold only if religious/mythological texts were the sole sources of morality. They aren’t. Chimp morality clearly isn’t sourced in a Holy Book. Neither was the morality of the human species for upwards of 95% of its history. Not to mention that there are values-based ethical codes, such as those that Ben-Jammin’ espouses, which have no recourse to a Holy Book of any kind.

    So, effectively, your argument fails on its first assumption.

    -M-
    Here I mostly agree with you. On a practical level, however, if we are having an adverse impact (or just minorly contributing to an adverse impact), which we are, we should be putting procedures in place to deal with or reduce these impacts. The blame game can come later, if necessary.

  • 69 -M- // Feb 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    @ Kenneth

    Of course, procedures should be taken to reduce the impact of human activities…never said we should wait and see! ;-)

  • 70 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 23, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    @Amanda, sorry, I missed this. It’s been a busy day!

    Do you feel the energy crises in South Africa and Europe, for instance, is being handled responsibly (scientifically)? What would be a viable long-term solution? Maybe you can link to a reliable source?

    Hmmm…I don’t know enough about these to be able to comment on responsible handling.

    In terms of a long-term energy solution, the answer obviously doesn’t lie in fossil fuels, that much I can say. I would suspect that a sustainable future course would be diversifying our current power-generating mechanisms. Wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, hydro-electric, nuclear etc. etc. All have pros and cons. Although, it appears that some of the major cons to solar power (cost, and storage) are substantially decreasing. So there are some hopeful developments.

    Anyone following this conversation who can answer this question better? I’m seriously not an energy expert!

  • 71 Hazard // Feb 23, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Thomas @64

    Well, I was right in one thing… given time, religion will come up with an answer from a previous question/statement that had them stumped. That’s a thumb suck gap filler reason using the same (ill)logic which created the bible. Why say one thing and mean another then? It didn’t say anything about those die folk looking upon the aspect of God, it states very clearly “I have looked upon the face of God…” not the avatar, or any other representative God put forth. In his grand wisdom, surely God, the omniscient, could see very clearly how this would be a very glaring lapse of logic.

    Secondly, the Trinity you speak of was only used after the Council/s of Nicae… that being just before the bible was composed to what it is today. Before then there was no reference to the Holy Trinity. And the reason how that came into being, is because their were two opinions of Christ, one was that he was a mortal man, the other that he was divine. The Councils brought into effect the Trinity, not the bible, or previous gospels. And the reason done was to avoid further debate and confusion, and decree that all three aspects were one and the same, equal and divine. I have to mention that later, the sects of Christianity that opposed Jesus being divine, were quickly eradicated.

  • 72 -M- // Feb 23, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    @ Bendul

    Now you are making feel guilty for not taking notes during these talks!! I know there is a lab at UCT busy working on models to potentially understand and explain global warming . They seemed to be pretty good and on top of the game(though the climatologist I met was a useless speaker, therefore I do not remember his name!!;-)).

    Just like Kenneth, I am just a biologist! :-)

  • 73 Amanda // Feb 23, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    @ Bendul

    I do think that McLaren, Rob Bell etc. are in danger of become reactionary, through a constant critique of conservative Christendom, but I have to say that you are being unfair labelling them as heretics…
    Many of the authors Thomas critices, I will criticise for a reactionary “discarding of the baby along with the bathwater” I.E. no propitiatory element…

    I do not understand what you are alluding to with the word ‘reactionary’. Are you saying they are dividing the church? Are you afraid of the possible consequences? Let me reassure you that the fundamentalists are very few in numbers.

  • 74 Hazard // Feb 23, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    @ Amanda

    Fundamentalists few in numbers? Few is still quiet a few million in the worlds population. Afraid of possible consequences? Yea, I have a problem with people strapping bombs to themselves and blowing “unbelievers” up. Do you think only muslim suicide bombers exist?

  • 75 Amanda // Feb 23, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    @ Hugo

    It sounds like a Christian truth, specific and limited to the context and language of Christianity.

    Yes. Christians believe that the Lord’s Word will do what it says it will do:

    so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isa 55:11

    The Word teaches that we are sinful, fallible people, therefor we do not rely on our own abilities, but on the Word of God:

    And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1Co 2:1-5

    Your words, or McLaren’s for that matter, do not have the same power. I feel.

    The troll.

  • 76 Amanda // Feb 23, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    @ Hugo

    Would you like me to respond to Hazard’s provocation in 74 or rather not?

  • 77 Hugo // Feb 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Eish! You guys have too much time!! ;-)

    @Amanda: I think rather not.

    Hazard, are you trying to provoke? As if this thread isn’t derailed enough already?

    I’d like it if everyone could try their best to refrain from provoking. The aim is to have a friendly conversation, if at all possible.

    I’d love it if everyone could take a step back, think about what they’re trying to accomplish with their comments here. Once cool, calm and collected, I encourage you to put down, in a comment, in a couple of sentences (a short paragraph), explain what you’re trying to accomplish, why it is that you are commenting.

    Next, I’d like you to take a step back again, and think about whether you’re being effective, whether this is the right place to achieve your goals, and whether you think your method of going about achieving such goals is effective. Once you’ve done that, write in another short, cool, calm and reflective paragraph how you feel you are doing, why you think you’re being effective or why you think you’re not being effective.

    Lastly, I’d like everyone to comment on each other’s methods, not each other’s goals. I don’t want this to become a debate at all, I want each and every one of you to try and give calm, sincere, carefully thought out advice to each other as to how they can improve their methods in order to achieve their stated goals.

    So if someone’s goal is to convert someone else, that’s fine, leave that. Aim only to help them achieve that goal. Such advice might range from the extreme “I think it’s probably best for you to give up, I don’t feel this is the place for you to achieve that, because of such-and-such-reasons” to the more helpful “well, if you want to achieve that, I think your angle of attack, namely quoting foo or discussing bar, is not the best approach, because abcde. Rather start by… building a friendship? Trying to understand this-or-that, or…”

    Is my idea more or less clear? I hope so. I’ll now hold thumbs that people could actually achieve this. It’d be a useful exercise in any heated discussion that’s becoming too emotional.

    But BTW, the discussion has certainly improved towards the last couple of comments, you guys are simply moving too fast for me to keep up.

  • 78 Hugo // Feb 23, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    I’m going to make a couple of brief responses.

    @Amanda #41:

    Are you asking me to judge Kenneth?

    Not at all, I was trying to create a reversed scenario, in an attempt to express and help understand how a certain behaviour is perceived by “The Other”. What I now see I neglected to mention, is I’m referring to Thomas’ blog (when I’m talking about his posts.) My bad! My scenario:

    What if I go post a comment on every single post by Thomas on his blog, each pointing out “the fact that the world is billions of years old, and that evolution is a fact”? Would that be trolling?

    With the bold bit, I expect I’m being much, much clearer. I suspect you would consider that trolling? It probably would be. OK, moving on, I’m hoping you understand this now, once you do, I’d like to leave this line of thought. It sketches a potential future scenario that hasn’t happened yet, an awareness of its potential and undesirability is all that I want.

    I do believe you do not understand that fundamentalists hold to Scripture. And if you teach the wrong Gospel, then how can ‘truth do its work’?

    You’re teaching your gospel here, after all. That’s fine. I’m also referring to scientific truths, and hoping “the truth will do its work” in that regard as well. I’m talking big-picture, meme-frequency-in-a-population, not about particular individuals. As much as I’d love it if you two were to accept science (I mean evolution here), I’m under no illusions. I’d rather leave it be, in terms of aggressive “fighting/debating”, and trust truth to “do its work”.

    I would consider it trolling if every thread ends up being about exactly the same thing. This thread already went in a direction I wasn’t quite hoping for (hoping for some on-topic conversation first, as per my impression of what the topic is about), but it’s too late now. So feel free to continue.

    It is my impression that the answer is ‘yes’. Thank you.

    No, not quite. There’s an important “if” there, namely “every thread”. I count only two threads so far, which is why I said “feel free to continue”, and I meant it.

    @Thomas #38:

    Your kindness and hospitiality exceeds your scientific knowledge. I happened to stumble on the site and thought you might be able to provide me with a little more information. And this is the kind of response I get? Oh! I forgot, you never browse the internet when you need some info on a particular subject. You know it all! Thanks again.

    My apologies. You can easily deduce from my comment that I was a bit fed-up. From there, with some thought, you’d probably be able to understand why? If not, my ideal for us all (myself included) would be to respond with a sincere question seeking to understand. I was fed-up because I perceived (incorrectly?) a lack of desire to know, and merely an effort to “waste our time” as I’d call it, for I saw what seemed to be a quick copy-paste of a list that would cause us a lot of effort if we were to respond in detail, and I suspect your mind’s already made up about these things anyway. So where did that list come from, that link?

    @Hazard:

    It’s difficult to keep on topic with regards to religious matters. So sidelining is bound to happen.

    Of course that is no excuse for not at least trying to avoid letting things “sideline”. Right?

    /me enjoys the humour. ;)

    For the curious and inquisitive, my favourite link that I’ve surely pasted before:
    http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics
    “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic”
    It provides an interesting starting point, I feel. (Even if you don’t agree with all of it. It’s like Wikipedia or TalkOrigins.org ;) )

    Brian McLaren ridicules the prophetic meaning of Revelation.

    Not from my perspective. From my perspective he considers prophetic writing “powerful” and “available to all”… but I appreciate that we’ve probably got different understandings of the role of “prophets” and the nature/genre of “prophetic writing”.

    Amanda, *wink*, you can stop signing with “The Troll”. I’m pretty happy with your recent contributions. (Maybe the “I feel.” words you tacked on helped. ;) ) Even if it was meant in a slightly sarcastic way, I don’t mind. (I didn’t pick that up.) More seriously, actually, I thought #51/#55 in particular was pretty cool, a good way of letting the conversation calm down.

    What I’d like is (a) no nasty provocations, as far as possible, (b) if there is provocation, a non-reactionary response. A third path, a turning the other cheek in passive subversive resistance. (And I want this for myself as well, NB! I’m talking to myself as much as to anyone else.)

    I’m still skittish about Hazard, he seems keen on provoking, but maybe that’s just my misinterpretation. Welcome Hazard, try to keep it extra-clean!

    Of late, I’m also particularly impressed by Bendul’s way of handling things, as well as Kenneth’s. (Most of the time. ;) ) (And -M-’s been smart, by refraining from SIWOTI interactions, ever since many months ago, when she decided “the info’s out there, it’s up to you”.)

    @Thomas I can but apologise for me not always communicating clearly, and for my own reactionary comment.

  • 79 Al Lovejoy // Feb 23, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Hi H, this must be that long discussion you mentioned, wow … helical and ja, lekker hard to keep up in places. However, I re-edited that piece you asked me to write for you and no problemo, it is my pleasure (the draft version
    was scribbled off and posted between Himself’s first home-bottle and our supper the other night, hence the quick and raw feel to it) and agrees wholeheartedly with your statement above. So do I, hence writing directly from Scripture rather than trying to disagree with anyone else here. I have no urge to argue and cannot convert anyone to anything.

    And thank you for asking.

    And this edited version reads better (You are also spared glaring back at the previous glaring anomalies in the draft.)

    He is Author and Finisher of our faith and Our Father will always be patiently waiting and looking out for us … long before we come upon the need and decide to pray from the heart…

    All night.

    Still nothing. Empty nets. Like my soul inside. Flickering and almost disappearing like that small fire on the shore out there.

    Like, if my soul was a tiny light, a flickering little distant flame like that fire … it might go out completely … because there is so little in there now.

    I know nothing. That much I know is true.

    And yet … when He was with us, something lit up inside me, in all of us! And it seemed that I did … know. It really seemed I did. Even the betrayer, who is no longer here did the things He showed us, with the untouchables … we touched and spoke His words to … and healed. We attracted Their hate. I tried to tell Him and warn him and then He called me a slave to my fears and told me what would happen.

    My empty oaths.

    I am more than stupid, and exactly as He said … It crowed.

    Three times it crowed.

    Three times.

    And three times I said … I never knew Him.

    The fruit of my empty oaths.

    A slave to my fears. The Slavemaster of my fears wants to sift me like wheat. That is what He told me.

    And He never lies.

    I looked in His eyes and when He called me to Him – I walked on this same water. And I would have drowned if He hadn’t pulled me out … when I looked away. He told me to cast my line and pull in our supper and find that gold coin to slake Their law of Temple Tax. We watched Him take a few fish, give thanks, break them with those small loaves and somehow we … us, not Him … We fed a multitude … the biggest multitude of poor and desperate people I have ever seen outside of the Holy City. He just kept dividing it and dividing it.

    I thought I started to know.

    He did it twice and I still didn’t know. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand.

    Then with the blind man, He stopped me, rebuked me and showed me how wrong I was to reject that wretch because the man had almost nothing except his cries of desperation … and I thought I had all His trust and friendship.

    And that day with those poor, miserable children. I saw dirty beggars and little scummy, sticky-fingered thieves … that day … that Day … I saw in His eyes that I had come close to upsetting Him. And then He showed me we are all His children, and that it takes nothing more than a cup of this water we are sailing on … stirred with that special kind of acceptance of His, that untiring way of His with all people and to hold that cup to their little lips.

    He told me to start with them. Told all of us to start with them if we truly wanted to be like Him to Our Father. And I didn’t understand then and I don’t think I do now. If I could weep for my ignorance … I would overfill this lake

    I’m not depressed … it’s the truth. I really do know nothing … without Him, I’m a fishless fisherman.

    I denied Him whom I need most. More than all things.

    I denied Him Who said to all he healed: Fear not.

    I denied Him for fear.

    All that is left, is for me to remember everything. As much as I can … every moment I was with Him. Every word that He spoke. Walk with Him in my mind, hear His Voice, His jokes … and listen. Especially for my mistakes. But, because I know nothing … most of them still I don’t understand. It was like He spoke wonderful mysteries, bigger than my mind bent to nets and weather and my oldest fear…

    Going home with nets as empty as this night.

    He calmed this water to mirror another moon … when we all thought we were trapped in a raging storm that would have swallowed us. And then joked with us afterwards. I know nothing … except being a sailor. And, yet – He has re-taught me everything I have ever learned out here on the waters, the ways of the seasons and His way with the fish … the unknown mysteries of the wind. And we saw with our eyes and heard His mere words … waters and winds obey Him. He taught us that it all subject to the will and love of Our Father. And He came to bring us to Him.

    But … now … here … I, we … are fishless.

    A beautiful night, and a moon to mourn at. And no catch. No bright jingling coins in the market and not even small fry to eat and slake our own mortal hungers. Am I to beggar myself and my men?

    His men. We’ve all been through too much. He called us His brothers and friends and washed our feet.

    He told me He was going to make me a fisher of men … and I weep inside … here I am, with my empty nets and the crows of denial from a mindless rooster, awakened by thirsty cries for violence in the fearful, thrilled, buzzing and faceless anger of a mob. The fear of being hurt like Him, rejected like Him … ki—

    And I ran … and ran … and ran away.

    I crawled back to the empty grave … on the third day … the empty grave? Why aren’t the Roman guards dead? Why did they abandon their post? Why flee – if they would die under the sword Rome for deserting anyway?

    What did they run from?

    And … I saw it with my own two eyes. The stone, the broken seal of Rome … and in the empty vault … the shelf, and the … graveclothes. Wrapped yet void. Like an empty cocoon of a moth in a tree.

    He was gone.

    Maybe it is the dark hell of my guilt, but it seems … truly seems I have seen Him … again. But to speak of that. If … any of us … no, I cannot. We have argued.

    I cannot.

    John saw Him die.

    He won’t talk about it much. Just mumbles to himself about seeing the soldier’s spear go in … and the blood and water running down His body. His mother and the girl Mary … they saw Him die too. And they saw Him buried … yet, they saw the empty tomb first … and spoke of angelic beings.

    He died and He is gone … and it is my own sense of horror and failure holding onto this confusion in my mind.

    Those times after I looked in the grave. Those times when, I thought …

    It seemed like He was right there … right there!!!

    And then He was not.

    Even Thomas!!!

    If I could find Him again … if only I could find Him again. Maybe I can seek … maybe … watch … watch and … pray with me. It’s all He asked me. The last thing He asked of me before the betrayer came. Watch and pray with me.

    Don’t fall asleep.

    The dawn is coming, the wind is going to change and we must abandon our night’s work.

    The men heed my commands, spread the sails and we bear homewards using the small fire on the shore as a beacon. It is almost dead, except for the dim red light of the glowing coals.

    Someone is out there … early like us … maybe he had better fishing.

    Suddenly a person hails us from the shore … his voice carries clearly across the flat night water. It is the firemaker, and he asks us how our night has been going? I tell him we have not fared well, nothing in our nets. He hails back and suggests I cast my nets from the other side of the boat!

    It is His voice … His voice!!!

    And He calls across the water to us … come and eat with Him … He has prepared food.

    John shouts for the first time: It’s the Master!!!

    And without thinking … I scream the orders to furl sails, cast in the nets, and I tear off my clothes … dive overboard … and swim and swim … with everything I have towards Him…

  • 80 Bendul // Feb 24, 2009 at 12:08 am

    hmmm…

    context for this comment?

  • 81 Hugo // Feb 24, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Hehe…

    Hi H, this must be that long discussion you mentioned, wow

    Actually no, I was referring to the previous conversation which contains 427 comments. 427!

    Anyway, I like how Al expresses himself, and I also like his views on the Gospel, which is why I asked him for a “concise summary of his view, in less than…” (and suggested ’500 words?’) That is what this comment of Al’s is an answer to.

    Al comes from a rough past (euphemism), and found his way out of it and into the light, through his conversion to Christianity. Thus, I consider him an expert (in terms of personal experience) on the metanoia-potential of Christianity, and also why I consider his views valuable. And yes, I would be most interested to hear a similar story about humanism, if there is such a story. And if not, I’d also be most interested in pondering “so why is that, exactly?”

    I’d happily have us have a conversation about this, hoping we can all remain “positive and constructive” (hint: it is possible to be positive and constructive even if you disagree). It is “poetic”, it comes from a writer’s hand, and I think that is entirely appropriate, because it talks about “matters of the heart” (which is, of course, itself a poetic expression).

    Al’s book is on the proposed list for the book club.

    ….Bendul, I hope that provides enough context?

  • 82 Hugo // Feb 24, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Before I continue, I would like to re-emphasize #77. I think it’s worth-it.

    Now… about Hazard and whether to respond to provocation: it actually depends on how you intend to respond. There are good ways, and there are bad ways… with good and bad dependent upon what you’re trying to accomplish. I’m going to take a dive at responding, in some way on Amanda’s behalf, maybe Amanda can correct me (in a friendly manner ;) ) when I’m too far off.

    Hazard wrote:

    Fundamentalists few in numbers? Few is still quiet a few million in the worlds population. Afraid of possible consequences? Yea, I have a problem with people strapping bombs to themselves and blowing “unbelievers” up. Do you think only muslim suicide bombers exist?

    Amanda is talking about a particular context, of course. She’s talking about the context of her church, and she feels within that population, the “true fundamentalists” are few in number. Second sentence is irrelevant to that context.

    Now the suicide bomber thing: yes, there’s a certain kind of suicide bomber, that is most certainly a certain kind of fundamentalist. But *obviously* Amanda doesn’t consider her kind of fundamentalism to be the same as that kind. And anyone that straps a bomb to themselves is not “her kind”.

    That’s why, Hazard, your comment looks mostly like bait, to me. It doesn’t seem to take Amanda’s context into account, and therefore I recommend she doesn’t bother answering, unless she can answer in a non-reactionary way.

    What could have been more useful, more friendly, is to calmly explain why you feel “all fundies are the same”, which is the impression I get of your beliefs (about fundies) from your comment.

    Actually, I tried to get a conversation going along those lines in a previous thread. I was hoping Amanda would be interested in discussing what she’d suggest the “solution” is to what she perceives to be a problem: the fundie version of Islam (with some believing that’s really the only version that exists, I’m abstaining from that discussion). She didn’t show an interest though.

    If she did, it could have been an interesting discussion in which I could try to represent the Islam-adherent’s frame of mind about their holy book, and how it mirrors Amanda’s views of the Bible, and possibly thereby demonstrate the similarities and the effect and the dangers of that particular “general mindset”, and try to brainstorm, *together*, some possible solutions to *that* problem.

    Thus my suggestion: if you want to have a discussion that goes in that direction, try to find something that will lead to interesting, cooperative discussion of a problem both can recognise. Don’t take “the easy way out” and simply throw out emotion-inducing bait. (I’ve done that too, so I’m not lecturing from a podium here… this is peer-to-peer.) If you do that, the best response *is* to ignore it! (Assuming the goal is to have calm and friendly discussion, rather than hefty debate blinded by emotion on both sides.)

    Hope This Helps (HTH)…

    Recap: #77. Self-reflection, motives, methods, friendly and open discussion. Thoughts?

  • 83 Hugo // Feb 24, 2009 at 2:17 am

    So, baiting wise, if anyone needs to bear the Troll title, Amanda, you can pass it on to Hazard! ;-)

    I’ve got family that have a little pig on their table, the dinner table, that gets passed around as a token for when someone’s being “the pig” with regards to how they’re communicating. Might be useful, not as an indication of who is or who isn’t “a troll”, whatever that is, but rather as indication of who is “the most troll-like”, who needs to “up their game”.

    Thus: feel free to “pass me the troll” whenever I’m being particularly mean, provoking, or trollish. Especially whenever I’m the worst of the lot, but also at other times: it’s correct to hold me to a higher standard, I’m the one driving this campaign.

    And yes, maybe I do have double standards when it comes to posts-vs-comments: I do sometimes aim to provoke a bit with posts. That doesn’t stop me from campaigning for friendlier discussion in the comments: I consider comments and posts to be quite a different genre of writing.

    (On trying to build more balance: I have considered encouraging “guest posts”, and remain open to the idea, but that will still be an approval process. This is “my blog”, after all, my subscribers subscribe to “my blog posts” — or “posts by guest-bloggers *chosen by me*”. And of course, there’s always wordpress.com …

    So I’m afraid that’s how it is, until such time in the (distant?) future that I’m able to think of, and implement, a “good and fair” technological solution to balancing my posts with other community-member posts, in order to encourage and facilitate a more vibrant (and more plural) community.

  • 84 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 24, 2009 at 2:33 am

    @ -M- and Kenneth

    My understanding was that climate scientists did not consider human activity the major source of climate change. It’s just the source most able to be changed by us. Modifying solar activity and such is a little bit beyond us. I am no expert, obviously. -shrug-

    When it comes to energy, on any time horizon greater than >1k years or so, we are going to be limited to a solar energy budget. We’re past peak in natural gas in North America, at or past peak in oil worldwide, at or near peak coal, and have a finite amount of uranium. It’s going to be an interesting few decades. (I spent 10 years working in nuclear power in the navy and am working in the electrical power industry today. I don’t feel nearly as ignorant on energy as I do on climate change.)

  • 85 Thomas // Feb 24, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Thomas.

    Your view of revelation as this kind of predictive prophecy is considered by a vast amount of scholars to be not much more thyan 200 years old. Are you implying that the church has been wrong for 1800 years?

    I prefer to abide by Jesus’ words in Revelation.

    I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

    Has Rev 20 to 22 been fulfilled or is it something waiting to be fulfilled in the future? One of the main reasons why the emergents shun Revelation as a predictive prophecy is because it undermines their goal to bring in the Kingdom here and now. Apocalyptic disasters of the magnitude described in Revelation certainly does not advance their cause to bring in the Kingdom.

  • 86 Thomas // Feb 24, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Thomas however reduces the message to a MERELY propitiatory one, I choose to view it holistically as BOTH propitiatory AND socially transforming.

    I’m not too sure that Jesus came to our earth to establish a new social order or even to transform it socially. Would you agree that He did not come to the earth to bring peace but the sword and to cause division?

    Mt 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

    “MERELY propitiatory” reduces, to my mine, the cross of Christ, which is the power and wisdom of God, to something of lesser importance than social transformation. The problem with our modern-day followers of Christ is that they expect Him to change the world for the better without His cross. They pine for His love but not His justice. There’s a very dangerous discrepancy in this. You cannot expect God to love you without Him having to exercise His righteous judgments. The cross of Christ is the epitome of God’s love embedded in His holy justice. You cannot separate the two.

    Ps 85:10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

    Where . . .? On the cross of Christ of course.

  • 87 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 24, 2009 at 8:39 am

    @Ben-Jammin’
    Purely speculative question. What do you think the prospects are for fusion?

  • 88 Amanda // Feb 24, 2009 at 8:48 am

    @ 85

    I prefer to abide by Jesus’ words in Revelation.

    You, Sir, are an imposter. Hugo, what have you done to the real Thomas?

    The recovering troll

  • 89 Amanda // Feb 24, 2009 at 10:15 am

    @Ben-Jammin’

    Is carbon trading worth the effort?

  • 90 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 24, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    @Kenneth:

    Purely speculative question. What do you think the prospects are for fusion?

    I don’t know. My speculations about high-energy physics that hasn’t been discovered yet aren’t worth anything. For the short term, prospects are poor, of course.

    I would continue to put money into researching it but I wouldn’t plan on it ever becoming a viable energy source.

    @Amanda:

    @Ben-Jammin’

    Is carbon trading worth the effort?

    Carbon emissions trading can work when the market is set up well. Such markets have already been set up for other pollutants like NOx (nitrogen oxides) and they have worked. This is the one I am familiar with, in the northeast.

    Making carbon emissions costly will also help non-fossil fuel energy sources compete better, which will help us in SO many ways. Energy security, foreign policy, global warming, etc.

  • 91 Al Lovejoy // Feb 24, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/blog/around_the_world/article/979/

    Note the blog comments …

  • 92 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 25, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Once cool, calm and collected, I encourage you to put down, in a comment, in a couple of sentences (a short paragraph), explain what you’re trying to accomplish, why it is that you are commenting.

    Next, I’d like you to take a step back again, and think about whether you’re being effective, whether this is the right place to achieve your goals, and whether you think your method of going about achieving such goals is effective. Once you’ve done that, write in another short, cool, calm and reflective paragraph how you feel you are doing, why you think you’re being effective or why you think you’re not being effective.

    Lastly, I’d like everyone to comment on each other’s methods, not each other’s goals. I don’t want this to become a debate at all

    I don’t think that last goal will be achieved very well. :)

    Let’s see…as far as commenting on this particular post on this particular blog, I’m not sure there is a simple goal. Where I find interesting conversations I like to read and contribute. For a more general goal of why I comment on religion…hoo boy. I’m not sure how much I can shorten that.

    I was raised Catholic but it never took. To me, the history of human knowledge shows that we made very, very little progress in coming to know what is until the enlightenment. We had this annoying habit of projecting agency as an explanation for everything.

    The enlightenment and the beginnings of modern science – methodological naturalism – changed that. People were forced to explain things with much more exacting conceptions of what the explanation was saying, such that you could definitively say if you were wrong. In other words, you had to test your explanations. So my basic principles for arriving at my beliefs about what is were:

    1. We are in a state of fundamental ignorance. All of our learning leads to tentative conclusions only.
    2. Testing beliefs is the best general method of minimizing your false beliefs and errors.

    So science was (and is) the primary basis for ALL my beliefs about what is.

    The justification for what I was taught determined whether I believed it or not. History class? Pretty much. Science class? Pretty much. Religious instruction? They didn’t have ANY justification for what they taught. Basically, I thought religion was something my fellow classmates were nodding their way through out of some social convention I hadn’t figured out yet. It certainly didn’t seem to me like something anyone could actually believe.

    Fast forward through several decades of ignoring religion as much as possible. In the mid 2000s I started to get scared about people in my country (the U.S.) actually believing this religious stuff and acting on it. Evolution denial was in full swing, stem cell research was stopped, 9/11 had happened, etc. I reached my tipping point into activism and started dialogs online and in real life with religious people. What I perceived as the cost of not challenging people on believing these things became greater than the pain of discussing such things. In the long term, I hope to influence people to rely more on empiricism, reason, and empathy and less on superstition, faith, and authoritarianism.

    My effectiveness is and has been limited, of course. I haven’t observed any more effective methods yet, though, or I might try them. People seem to accept methodological naturalism as a good justification for not worrying about their cars blowing up in a gasoline explosion when they start, not worrying about being electrocuted by the electrical outlets in the walls, going to doctors, flying on airplanes, etc. Yet they also believe things that are wholly contradictory! It gives me a headache.

    As far as I can tell, Amanda and Thomas’ goals are to convert us to Christianity so that (ostensibly) we will be saved from going to hell. The methods are not at all effective because they are selling conclusions that do not have any justification I recognize as being sufficient. Nor are they trying to sell their own justifications as being better than methodological naturalism. The only theological method of which I’m aware that people can use to converge on more and more accurate beliefs is to slaughter those who do not hold those beliefs. (They have made an attempt at selling authority as a better basis for morality than empathy. I just can’t see it. I have no idea how they or anyone could be more effective on that particular sale.)

  • 93 Hugo // Feb 25, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Thanks Al! And thanks Ben-Jammin!

    /me superstitiously holds his thumbs to try bring about a friendly discussion about methods (encouraging self awareness), while not dropping into a “going-nowhere debate about people’s goals”.

    ;-)

    i’m finding it interesting to feel my own attitudes change while I reflect on what can be reflected upon and what not, with regards to particular comments. I think I’m already developing a better appreciation or understanding by just thinking/reflecting on what *I think* people’s goals probably are.

  • 94 Thomas // Feb 25, 2009 at 6:12 am

    As far as I can tell, Amanda and Thomas’ goals are to convert us to Christianity so that (ostensibly) we will be saved from going to hell. The methods are not at all effective because they are selling conclusions that do not have any justification I recognize as being sufficient. Nor are they trying to sell their own justifications as being better than methodological naturalism. The only theological method of which I’m aware that people can use to converge on more and more accurate beliefs is to slaughter those who do not hold those beliefs. (They have made an attempt at selling authority as a better basis for morality than empathy. I just can’t see it. I have no idea how they or anyone could be more effective on that particular sale.)

    It has never been my intention to convert you to Christianity for it is not the latter that will get you into heaven and keep you out of hell. My goal is to introduce you to the only Person who is able to do that, but seeing that you reject Him and prefer to go to hell, do so by all means. No one is going to stop you, the least of whom I. You yourself are paving your way to hell with cobblestones of empathy, love, morality and willful ignorance. And if you should want to grow hot around the collar, do so by all means. It shows that your denial of the existence of hell is pure fallacy. Why would you want to become mad at me over something that does not exist and if you do, you would only be making a fool of yourself.

    Having been a Roman Catholic, you should know who did the slaughtering of others who refused to believe the way they did (especially with regard to the abominable idolatry of transubstantiation). But then again, one should seriously reconsider whether the inquisitional Popes, priests and murderers were true Christians. History attests to the fact that some of the Popes were roguish fornicators who were slain by jealous husbands who found them whoring with their wives in their heavenly Catholisized beds. Not to worry, it is called morality in progress or evolutionary morality.

    Friend, I have nothing of my “own justifications” as you so eloquently put it. My justification comes from Jesus Christ who died for my sins (and your sins) on the cross. However, in your methodological idiosyncrasies and madness you prefer to reject the life which is being offered to you as a gift. This reminds me of the following great maxim:

    Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

    Take a good guess where that comes from.

  • 95 Thomas // Feb 25, 2009 at 6:15 am

    And just to make sure you know to who the above comment wat addresses – Ben-Jammin @ #92

  • 96 Thomas // Feb 25, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Sorry, I’m rather tired.

    And just to make sure you know to whom the above comment was addressed – Ben-Jammin @ #92

  • 97 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 25, 2009 at 8:46 am

    @Thomas
    Yes, I know this was addressed at Ben-Jammin’, but I have several points I wish to make anyway…

    seeing that you reject Him and prefer to go to hell

    This doesn’t follow. Hugo, we seriously need a sarcasm smiley!

    You yourself are paving your way to hell with cobblestones of empathy, love, morality and willful ignorance.

    One of those things is not like the others…
    Besides, I can’t think of a better way to live this life than with empathy, love and morality…

    Having been a Roman Catholic, you should know who did the slaughtering of others who refused to believe the way they did (especially with regard to the abominable idolatry of transubstantiation). But then again, one should seriously reconsider whether the inquisitional Popes, priests and murderers were true Christians. History attests to the fact that some of the Popes were roguish fornicators who were slain by jealous husbands who found them whoring with their wives in their heavenly Catholisized beds.

    This is the how-many-ith time you’ve invoked a No True Scotsmen argument? Infidelity is a characteristic of every human society, so stop blaming the Catholics for an ordinary human failing.

    Not to worry, it is called morality in progress or evolutionary morality.

    Why do you keep making such ignorant statements? Are you intentionally trying to provoke?

  • 98 Hugo // Feb 25, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Excellent, there’s an excellent example, comment #94. Kenneth comments:

    Not to worry, it is called morality in progress or evolutionary morality.

    Why do you keep making such ignorant statements? Are you intentionally trying to provoke?

    That touches on the idea. Thomas, I don’t want your overall motivation/goal, I’m in particular interested in what that individual comment, #94, is trying to accomplish. I’d like some reflection on it, as described in #77. I’d love it if you could take a step back and reflect on the purpose of every paragraph, and the methods used. For example, precisely the question: are you trying to provoke with some of those paragraphs? Or are you trying to induce something or other…

    I’ll come give my own breakdown about what I perceive in that comment this evening. Others are welcome to also give their thoughts: don’t respond to the “direct content”, to any “provoking” material in it, rather take a step back and look at the methods used, and describe what impressions it leaves with you.

  • 99 Thomas // Feb 25, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Kenneth Oberlander @ # 97

    Infidelity is a characteristic of every human society, so stop blaming the Catholics for an ordinary human failing.

    Out of the mouth of babes . . . .? I can hardly believe this. Kenneth is preaching the Gospel without knowing it. Kenneth, you have transliterated what the Word of God has been saying for the last more than 2000 years.

    ” for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

    Please elaborate! To what were you referring as an ordinary human failing?

    1) Infidility
    2) Killing the Pope who was caught in bed with another man’s wife.

    Wel of course. The best way of expressing your empathy, love and morality is to murder the guy who committed adultery with your wife. Touché.

  • 100 Thomas // Feb 25, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    For example, precisely the question: are you trying to provoke with some of those paragraphs? Or are you trying to induce something or other…

    The person who cries “provocation . . . provocation” does so when the person who supposedly does the provoking, actually hits the nail on the head.

  • 101 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 25, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    @Thomas

    Kenneth, you have transliterated what the Word of God has been saying for the last more than 2000 years.

    Thomas, I have summed up human behaviour, which you are trying to co-opt, for the last several million years.

    At least.

    Your god has no exclusive claim on this particular fact.

    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

    There is no evidence for this. None. Your claim does not stand up to reality. We have come to a point where you keep recycling the same points, which have been pointed out to you ad nauseum as not being true, or relevant. More importantly, people have shown you reasons why your points are not true, or relevant. It is clear that your argument from authority and our arguments from logic and evidence are utterly incompatible. Is any further discussion really constructive, to any of us?

    Your constant harping on sin and how we are fallen is starting to sound eerily…Catholic…

    Please elaborate! To what were you referring as an ordinary human failing?

    Infidelity. This should have been clear from context.

    Your misunderstanding of my sentence aside, I think a case can be made that infidelity and genocide have been a natural part of the human condition since at least our split from the chimp/bonobo lineage. As much as empathy and compassion. But that is even further off-topic than we have gone thus far.

    Wel of course. The best way of expressing your empathy, love and morality is to murder the guy who committed adultery with your wife. Touché.

    You’re clearly not getting my point. The actions you are using to single out and demonise Catholics in particular were pretty much universal to all Middle Age societies. You can’t claim this as being a particular evil of Catholicism when the same genocidal and cuckolding practices were rampant in Middle Age Asia, or Central America, or Polynesian society. You’re creating a strawman.

  • 102 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 25, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    My goal is to introduce you to the only Person who is able to do that

    Well, introduce him, and let him start commenting for himself.

    Or is this “Person” Jesus, and you are trying to re-phrase ‘convert to Christianity’?

    Friend, I have nothing of my “own justifications” as you so eloquently put it.

    I know. You have bent the knee of your mind.

  • 103 Al Lovejoy // Feb 25, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Hi, H … I’ve been reading this, all of it and not to pick fault with anyone but in a sense really trolling with a line in the water … reading everything and looking for something in amongst all these posts.

    I took some time to read that linked story of the Christian in Iraq, but I also took time to read about eight pages of the comments too … iesh, regular middle-east stoning (sonder ys) and both here and there, a question was asked … is it only God who can profoundly change a man?

    This blog and many, many of Hugo’s other conversations all end up pretty much derailed and off into the same type of fractured conversational pattern. And listening carefully here, in the crux of asking this crucial question about my Father … it is more than plainly obvious that no one commenting here can convert anyone to anything. Hugo can barely convert anyone into really listening to each other or being civilised.

    Ergo, since no one here is God, (except some person possibly skipping their medication AMA) and neither biting argument nor civilised debate carefully backed up with reams of Google (like expert witnessess in a TV court) – can disuade any other person to pull out the cork, deflate their worldview and pack up and go home …

    Any profound change in anyone’s worldview must come from within that person’s own inner-space and motivated by their own choices.

    We each have a specific worldview and personally, I would be misusing my intellingence and indeed compassion to try and force any person to come over to my/our/their/any “side” … this post you are reading is not going to profoundly change you … only the questions you ask yourself and how ruthlessly you are willing to persue the answers to those questions can do that.

    For me and my best friend (my son’s namesake) Rob to speak … really speak about our belief systems we have to find common ground. He has found peace in eastern thinking and Buddhism and I explain that God is my ‘Invisible Friend” syndrome, which I cultivate from Scripture and which is much more than the sum of its parts – and makes me feel whole. Walking with Christ and listening to Him maintains my happiness and I remain motivated into being a better human being, a better friend, a better husband and most of all a good Father.

    It started with my subjective choice to believe that any loving Father would rather die than lose a child, and I chose to reshape my shattered inner life with this concept first, even though my outer life was caged in a foreign country and possibly going to stay caged for the rest of my natural life. Why show me this love? … I have no idea, but it is very real to me – caged or free.

    With all the freedoms, intelligence and multiple educations expressed here, none of which beggars belittling or demeaning response – no one sounds truly happy. Factoids no matter how well researched are window dressing to pretension and agendas from subjective experience.

    Every single person, whether to throw a stone, pick and find fault or impossibly drag someone onto their soapbox – is here, because at heart – this discussion Hugo started is about the words and teachings of the person we know as Jesus Christ. Virulent debates do not spring up around the Tooth Fairy.

    This is about Christ. And – For or Against – it is about the Father he came to teach about. And the core reason why no one can “convert” any other person here is because no one has expressed any real questions.

    Read your own work carefully.

    Outside of Hugo, nobody here can ask a single sincere question of any other person. A sincere question is where you are truly willing to listen to the answer because you have no idea what it is. If many sincere questions are asked, the right questions to ask become more apparent…

    Is anyone here really and truly happy? No intellectual games, no attack on your integrity as a human being, this also has nothing to do with science or paperwad religion or religious history – are you deeply happy? Animals cannot willingly make and break promises – we do that. Love is above science and merely continues to explore and employ it, exactly the same as hate. People both love and murder. And abject loneliness is possibly the greatest horror of the human condition, and a germ to most of its ills.

    Are you possessed of a profound personal sense of reason, purpose and meaning ?

    Tell us about it and teach us.

  • 104 Thomas // Feb 25, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

    <blockquote?There is no evidence for this

    You are contradicting yourself.

    Infidelity is a characteristic of every human society,

    . . . unless of course “infidility” is not a sin but merely human nature. Unfortunately infidility does not always end there, as we have seen. It ends in murder which, I suppose, is also not a sin and merely human nature. Well! carry on regardless because their is no God to judge you.

    You have bent the knee of your mind.

    And you will bend your knee before Christ, confessing that He is indeed the Christ, but then it would be too late.

    For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

  • 105 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 25, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    @Thomas
    I see you haven’t answered my question in #101. It is clear that your and our worldviews are completely incompatible. We can’t accept your arguments, and you won’t be swayed from your belief. Is any further conversation really productive?

    Nevertheless, soldiering on…

    You are contradicting yourself.

    Really? Where?

    . . . unless of course “infidility” is not a sin but merely human nature.

    Oh. So I was contradicting myself, except that I wasn’t?

    Unfortunately infidility does not always end there, as we have seen.

    Yes. Sometimes infidelity ends in recrimination, and divorce. Not to reduce the hurts of those involved, but this hardly equates with a capital crime.

    It ends in murder which, I suppose, is also not a sin and merely human nature.

    Sometimes /= always. Unless it’s clear that the largest cause of mortality in today’s society is jilted spouses.

    And yes, violence is part of human nature. The part that you seem unable to comprehend is that I can accept that, and still see it as wrong.

    Well! carry on regardless because their is no God to judge you.

    I will thanks. I’ll bring that point up at the next atheist puppy barbecue.

  • 106 Bendul // Feb 25, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    PUPPY BBQ!!!

    LOOOLLLZ!

  • 107 Thomas // Feb 25, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Kenneth,

    At least this once your’e quite right. There’s no point in continuing our discussion. However, I would like to be the first to know when you turn to God in repentance and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

    Don’t bother to respond to this post.

  • 108 Amanda // Feb 25, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    @ Hugo

    You have an interesting dilemma. You want to have a conversation with all, but in order to do that, you must exclude some: the Christian fundamentalists. Now that is a hard call for you to make, because you want to claim tolerance. You have hinted that we should leave and you have tried to convert us into being emergents. It does not work, hence my challenge in 88 to Thomas. Now your are hoping that peer pressure will save you from doing what must be done in order for the plan to go forward.

    I have stated my motivation before: my primary concern is the apostasy in my church. I did not come here to convert anybody. You are using that idea to stir up resentment. As proof I can only offer my modest little record of being banned from preachers’ blogs and my complete absence from secular blogs. If I get to preach the true Gospel and to contend for the faith along the way, good.

    I am also grateful to have the opportunity to warn atheists about the social gospel of establishing the New Age kingdom here on earth. That is a political goal and as such it should warrant the interest of the atheists. I shall plant that seed and hopefully, it will give them pause when they read in the newspaper about ‘christians’ finding common ground with other religions to achieve peace and safety in the world. They should at least be aware that the New Age is not at all tolerant and they might not like what is coming their way.

    If she did, it could have been an interesting discussion in which I could try to represent the Islam-adherent’s frame of mind about their holy book, and how it mirrors Amanda’s views of the Bible, and possibly thereby demonstrate the similarities and the effect and the dangers of that particular “general mindset”, and try to brainstorm, *together*, some possible solutions to *that* problem.

    Sputter! You are in serious need of help. I feel. Here is a hint: read the quran.

    Ben-Jammin’ :

    In the mid 2000s I started to get scared about people in my country (the U.S.) actually believing this religious stuff and acting on it. Evolution denial was in full swing, stem cell research was stopped, 9/11 had happened, etc.

    You have good reason to be scared. Your country is changing rapidly and your freedom of speech is being eroded. I hope that you have the patience to sort through the propaganda and get to the truth. If the problem can be accurately diagnosed, then preventative steps can be taken. But do not kid yourself. It is never going to happen. People are afraid and they will lap up the promises of peace and safety of the New Age kingdom.

    What I perceived as the cost of not challenging people on believing these things became greater than the pain of discussing such things.

    This is exactly the same challenge that fundamentalists in the church face today.Are you challenging the religion of peace, too?

    The only theological method of which I’m aware that people can use to converge on more and more accurate beliefs is to slaughter those who do not hold those beliefs.

    No. That will force submission, not faith. True faith is spread by the preaching of the Word.

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    This is the how-many-ith time you’ve invoked a No True Scotsmen argument?

    Kenneth, there was the Reformation, remember? Fundamentalists are defending the Gospel against all who would like to add works righteousness. You cannot be a Christian if you believe that you must add to the salvation paid for in full by Jesus Christ dying on the cross for your sins. You cannot be a Christian if you skip repentance and faith and settle for love God and love your neighbour by doing good works to establish the kingdom here on earth. This is the very problem we are facing, that pagans have hijacked the church. It should concern you that they have a socialist political agenda and the only people standing in their way are the fundamentalists.

    Come on, Hugo. Execute the plan and make the call.

  • 109 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 25, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    @Thomas

    At least this once your’e quite right.

    Why thank you.

    I would like to be the first to know when you turn to God in repentance and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

    So, still no answer to post fifteen?

    That’s a pity.

    Don’t bother to respond to this post.

    What, when you left me such juicy material to work with?

  • 110 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 25, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    @Amanda
    I appreciate that you feel sincerely about your church, however:

    You cannot be a Christian if you skip repentance and faith and settle for love God and love your neighbour by doing good works to establish the kingdom here on earth.

    You are one of thirty thousand flavours of Christianity. Is there any way for you to really be able to say: “my flavour is the correct one!”?

    I really mean this sincerely. I would truly like to know how you can say, my interpretation of the Bible is the correct one, all the other billions of people who have believed in their versions are incorrect, even though they have based their understanding of Christianity on exactly the same text.

    How do you justify this? I’m not saying this to antagonise. I would really like for you to answer this question. How is Amanda’s interpretation of the Bible better supported as the correct interpretation? How can you possibly say: the version I believe is the truth?

    Do you use the Bible? OK, fine, however, any other sect of Christianity will use the Bible to justify their interpretation. From an outsider’s perspective, their viewpoint is equally valid. How can you justify your interpretation outside the Bible?

  • 111 Amanda // Feb 25, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    Now that is an excellent question. But you are asking the wrong person. I can give you my answer, but I am sure to miss important parts. Why don’t you make nice to Thomas so that he can give you a valid and complete explanation? It will go a long way to clear up some misunderstandings. As a scientist you should seek out the expert and not the amateur. Ask him sincerely and you will be rewarded.

  • 112 Hugo // Feb 25, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    OK, here’s my “reflection/contemplation” around Thomas’ #94. Benefit-of-doubt as far as I can. First paragraph:

    It has never been my intention to convert you to Christianity for it is not the latter that will get you into heaven and keep you out of hell. My goal is to introduce you to the only Person who is able to do that, but seeing that you reject Him and prefer to go to hell, do so by all means. No one is going to stop you, the least of whom I. You yourself are paving your way to hell with cobblestones of empathy, love, morality and willful ignorance.

    Talk of going to hell… I suspect Thomas means to sincerely warn us and try to help us from suffering that fate. I’m going to refrain from speculation on deeper psychological motivations behind that goal, and just work with it at face value. That’s the motive.

    Now the method: talk of hell again. I think the further dialogue between Ben-Jammin, Kenneth and Thomas cleared that up: it isn’t particularly effective. When there’s no belief in hell, this line of reasoning will only have effect if you can first provide evidence for hell, that would meet their standards for evidence. (This basically boils down to “understand the people you’re talking to”. You’ve got to first “Walk the streets of Athens”, to refer to a sermon by Erwin McManus. Worth a listen for those that generally find sermons worth listening to. Not Ben-Jammin. ;) He found Erwin boring.)

    The “wilful ignorance” comment is more interesting. Thomas could sincerely believe we’re being wilfully ignorant, but using it in communication like that, what’s the intention of that? (Provocation? We’ll get to that.*) Does it work? Is it useful to get people emotional? (Maybe, depends on the goal! On the motives. If that’s his motive, that method makes sense.)

    And if you should want to grow hot around the collar, do so by all means. It shows that your denial of the existence of hell is pure fallacy.

    Non sequitur. Again, I’ll get to that in a minute.*

    Why would you want to become mad at me over something that does not exist and if you do, you would only be making a fool of yourself.

    Is anyone here “mad”? Or angry in another way? If so, is there any interest in explaining what it is that makes you mad? Also… this sentence’s motives? Meh, rather a boring sentence to contemplate from an outside perspective.

    Paragraph 2:

    Having been a Roman Catholic, you should know who did the slaughtering of others who refused to believe the way they did (especially with regard to the abominable idolatry of transubstantiation).

    Transubstantiation: I’d say the Catholics are just taking the Bible way too literally in that regard, that’s all. But on the other hand, I’d also say you’re taking the Bible too literally, e.g. Genesis.

    Purpose of this sentence? Back to benefit of doubt…: assume an honest intention to teach. Methods? Well, “What does Roman Catholicism have to do with anything? What does… the crusades, have to do with anything in this conversation?” Remember, Ben-Jammin is no Roman Catholic, and … arguably he never really was? So this seems quite irrelevant, and I’d suggest a change of methods. Unless, of course, the motive isn’t to teach, then this method might match the motive well. (What is the motive?)

    Skipping the rest of the paragraph, there’s mention of evolving morality. Yea, Protestantism “evolved” out of Catholicism, a new memetic organism coming into being under the influence of a new environment (direct access to scripture). Luther’s religion’s “ancestor” influenced his interpretation of Paul’s commentary on whether circumcision is necessary to become a member of the “followers of Jesus” (referring to early Christianity, not “contemporary followers”, if you’re counting).

    The last part of the comment:

    However, in your methodological idiosyncrasies and madness you prefer to reject the life which is being offered to you as a gift. This reminds me of the following great maxim:

    Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

    Take a good guess where that comes from.

    What is the motive behind this? Accusing people of “methodological idiosyncrasies and madness” (heh, scientists… discovering useful things that we use every day, thank God for their madness!). This piece of the comment also seems to aim to provoke. The method simply doesn’t make sense, if the aim is to teach, unless Thomas is really unable to understand other people. (That’s certainly a hard thing, but we try and we make some progress, one way is to *listen* to them.)

    So that’s a breakdown of #94. I’m sad Thomas was unable to be humble enough to do this himself. (To reflect on his motives.) I believe prayer is supposed to have that kind of effect, to reflect and repent about your ways (where I’m defining “repent” as “thinking again about past actions”). I don’t know if this kind of thing seems too “contemplative” for fundies, it seems so… emergent… or something? ;-) If the Buddha says “you should breathe!”… rather not, because you’re not Buddhist! *jokes*

    OK, reflecting on my own comment. My aim/goal is to encourage Thomas to be a little bit more reflective, to consider his methods and his goals, and to try to understand other people before he trots off with… “useless” (in the context) comments. Methods? I don’t know if they’re effective, it sometimes feels there’s no way to get through. But I try. Some humour towards the end of my comment above seems a bit risky, but it aims to provide a bit of comic-relief, in something that can get too “serious” otherwise. I think it’s healthy. If it gets misconstrued and experienced emotionally, it’s being unhelpful. I’ll have trouble eradicating all humour though. That also aimed to teach, to point out that it is okay to learn from other people that aren’t the same as you.

    Let me know if my methods are particularly ineffective.

    OK, now the provocation thing… the emotional response thing…

    The person who cries “provocation . . . provocation” does so when the person who supposedly does the provoking, actually hits the nail on the head.

    Wrong… though… it depends on which nail they’re trying to hit. Let me illustrate with an example. Suppose I’m trying to communicate to someone “your comments are ineffective, they could be much improved, with some careful thought and self-reflection”. Now suppose the words I choose to communicate that are “you’re stupid!” and I respond with that every time. At some point, Thomas gets upset about the provocation and questions it. Does that mean I’ve hit a nail on the head? It only means I’ve succeeded in provoking, not in communicating my idea.

    Similarly thus, there’s an idea Thomas is trying to communicate, a “person he’s trying to introduce us to”. His comments are perceived by us as being provoking. (We’re trying to have a meta-conversation, talking about motives here, so it’s quite in line with our aims. Though, I should probably rather go to singular there, rather than “we” and “our”.) Unless that’s an effective way to introduce us to “that person”, he’s certainly not hitting the nail he claims to be aiming for?

    I’m sad Thomas left without first being a bit self-reflective in public. You can’t blame me for wondering if those two things bear any relation to one another. (Some things are really too tough to do in public, the “light” of public scrutiny “burns”, a meme also expressed in the Bible.)

    Don’t bother to respond to this post.

    That’s fine, I’m responding to the other ones. Ah… um,…. oops. *grin* (humour)

    Ask him sincerely and you will be rewarded.

    There are many questions I asked sincerely, and I wasn’t rewarded. I understand I’m asking the wrong questions, and only a couple of very specific questions, sincerely asked, will be awarded. Right?

  • 113 Bendul // Feb 25, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Kenneth and Amanda. great interchange.

    Kenneth; you have asked exactly what I would like to know from Amanda & Thomas. I struggle with many of their “fundamentals” of the gospel; because I find them reductionistic (ie. creationism); Reductionism, in this instance, not of the realm of science that Christians are “allowed” to deal with & accept – but reductionistic of the living Word of God. To me, this reduction of a multi-faceted truth (which I believe to be peculiar & unique: IE. not the liberalist equation of scripture to all other documents*) to cold-hard-facts seems silly if viewed in the context of History. History shows us that this paradigm of knowledge is around 200 years old. Scripture is around 2000 years old. It was written outside the very existence of “factual” paradigm as we know it. Forcing it into that paradigm is to honour the paradigm above scripture & whatever paradigm it proposes.

    So in my opinion if anyone is behaving heretically it is in fact Amanda and Thomas; with their reduction of Jesus life and teaching to a propitiary doctrine.

    The following statement will be loosely attributed to, for instance, Brian McLAren, an author I respect and enjoy, and have read quite extensively:

    You cannot be a Christian if you skip repentance and faith and settle for love God and love your neighbour by doing good works to establish the kingdom here on earth.

    While there may be “emergent” authors who might preach this kind of message, I would like to say authoritatively (as someone who has read a spectrum of his works) McLaren in no way even implies such a reduction. He rather reacts against a perceived neglect of the social element of Christ’s message. McLaren and many of the authors Thomas criticises on his blog are misrepresented & misconstrued by (I trust) well-meaning “fundamentalists”. Propitiation lies at the core of their message about Christ, but they refuse to stop there: they believe there are ethical imperatives not only to propitiation, but also Jesus and Paul’s ethical/moral commands!

    I however want to resist the temptation to point my finger at Amanda & Thomas for what I perceive as a reduction of the message of the bible and of Christ, because I don’t disagree with what they are saying until they start affirming it as the “fundamental” or “essential” message of the bible, thereby limiting the scope of this amazing piece of literature.

    I would in fact like to honour them for the affirmations they make; because these are dear to my heart. But my heart breaks if the message I love so dearly is forced into a rendition that makes no room for those other emphases that enlarge the scope of its impact on my life; and ultimately its impact on all of reality.

    So Thomas: with all due respect. I am not interested in more condemning, out of context quotes: I am interested in your unique story. Why are you a follower of Christ? How has he become a reality to you? How has he transformed you? I wish we could discuss this over a hospitable cup of fine coffee. I have no intention of judging you, for I am in such great danger of judgment myself.

    So I emplore you. Stop judging those I love. They have enriched my understanding of Christ’s love, not only for me but for all mankind, love that gives itself away, unto death. Love that makes it possible for me to escape not only the physical death’s sentence in faith, but the sentence of death’s (read infidility/infidelity) reign on earth.

    Blessings.
    Ben

    *Ken this point should be much better discussed in person over coffee than here on the blog…

  • 114 Amanda // Feb 25, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    @ Hugo

    How do you explain your 112 in light of this:

    This blog’s primary focus is cross cultural understanding and from that should develop more tolerance.

    Shall we ask Thomas how he is experiencing your tolerance?

  • 115 Hugo // Feb 25, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    How do you explain your 112 in light of this:

    This blog’s primary focus is cross cultural understanding and from that should develop more tolerance.

    #112 is aimed at trying to encourage more reflection, which brings about more tolerance. I consider my #112 very tolerant, in good spirit, a sincere attempt to encourage self-reflection.

    Shall we ask Thomas how he is experiencing your tolerance?

    Yes, most certainly! I’d like to know how he experiences it. And you. It seems you experienced it quite differently to how it was intended. Can you describe how you experienced it? (Eg. “experienced on Thomas’ behalf”.)

  • 116 Amanda // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:08 am

    @ Hugo

    112 is aimed at trying to encourage more reflection, which brings about more tolerance. I consider my #112 very tolerant, in good spirit, a sincere attempt to encourage self-reflection.

    You have got to be joking.

  • 117 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Not at all! I’d dead serious.

    I can try to re-read it tomorrow with what I suspect your or Thomas’ frame of mind might be, to see how it could be perceived. I’d suggest you try to read it from a perspective of me being sincere and friendly and only trying to encourage self-reflection (even if that might be very, very difficult — the communication/culture gap makes it so). I’d also happily discuss elements of it, to try and achieve better understanding of (a) what I meant and the “gesindheid” (attitude?) with which I meant it, and (b) how you experience it and how that might be overcome (by either you or by me).

  • 118 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:15 am

    @Al, nice comment! Which doesn’t mean I don’t have a couple of niggles. I’ll respond to only one niggle though:

    Outside of Hugo, nobody here can ask a single sincere question of any other person. A sincere question is where you are truly willing to listen to the answer because you have no idea what it is.

    Thanks for the complement, but I do think you’re a bit biased. ;-) Bear in mind this “discussion” has been “raging” for 530 comments already… So if some exhibit “gatvol”-ness, it’s understandable. Another source for bias, I’m probably the only one here that you’ve actually met. That helps a lot, more face-to-face get-togethers should probably be encouraged, especially between otherwise friendly people that argue a lot. More knowledge of those you communicate with, goes a long, long way to aiding understanding, compassion, empathy. Of course.

  • 119 Amanda // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:24 am

    @ Hugo

    Re-read my advice to you 108. It can save you a lot of effort. Good night.

  • 120 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:29 am

    I’m actually busy responding to #108. ;) Doing things in parallel. Sleep well!

  • 121 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Are you challenging the religion of peace, too?

    Pastafarianism? Yes. It is factually incorrect, just like all the other religions.

  • 122 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:44 am

    @Amanda #108:

    You have an interesting dilemma. You want to have a conversation with all, but in order to do that, you must exclude some: the Christian fundamentalists.

    I’m glad you seem to have some feeling for the dilemma. I continue working on a way to get “conversations with all” going, despite derailings of various kinds. The Christian fundamentalist derailings are most certainly not the only problem. I’ve had many an atheistic-derailing occurrence in the past, that’s been my big fight until now. Lately it’s the flip-side. I’m not surprised, I knew this is coming, which is why I’ve *still* not started with “Chapter 3″. *sigh*

    I hear Thomas uses moderation. Many-a-comment he simply doesn’t “approve”, comments he disagrees with too much? I’m hoping to avoid having to follow the same path.

    Now that is a hard call for you to make, because you want to claim tolerance.

    I claim tolerance, yea.

    You have hinted that we should leave

    In some ways, I’m glad you didn’t leave. This is a most interesting conversation. But it still points to the necessity of the software I’m working on, whether you two stay or leave: there will be others with similar ways of communicating, from whatever worldview.

    and you have tried to convert us into being emergents.

    That wasn’t my intention. My intention was to encourage more tolerance of e.g. my views, and others’ views. If such tolerance is considered a defining characteristic of “converted into being emergents”, then sure.

    It does not work, hence my challenge in 88 to Thomas.

    I must confess, I didn’t quite understand #88. I still don’t. Sorry…

    Now your are hoping that peer pressure will save you from doing what must be done in order for the plan to go forward.

    Not exactly. An “I think” added onto that would be sweet. ;-) (I love your “I feel”‘s, thanks for those! I notice and really appreciate them.)

    I have stated my motivation before: my primary concern is the apostasy in my church. I did not come here to convert anybody.

    Cool.

    You are using that idea…

    I’m sorry, I don’t actually recall doing that. I realise it’s very possible that I mentioned “you’re trying to convert” though, or thoughts to that regard, but I don’t remember it recently. Ben-Jammin mentioned it, that was his experience of Thomas’ comments. Even if that’s not what Thomas’ intention is (he states his intention is only to introduce us to Jesus, that the rest has nothing to do with him — that’s fine).

    to stir up resentment.

    I resent that. ;) Sorry, too strong a word. I recognise you experience me as trying to stir up resentment. I take note of it, and will be careful about such impressions in the future. I’m most certainly not trying to stir up resentment.

    That is a political goal and as such it should warrant the interest of the atheists.

    Emergents, as well as I, as well as scholars at seminaries I bet, do consider Jesus’ message a highly political one, yes. That’s no secret.

    If she did, it could have been an interesting discussion in which I could try to represent the Islam-adherent’s frame of mind about their holy book, and how it mirrors Amanda’s views of the Bible, and possibly thereby demonstrate the similarities and the effect and the dangers of that particular “general mindset”, and try to brainstorm, *together*, some possible solutions to *that* problem.

    Sputter! You are in serious need of help. I feel. Here is a hint: read the quran.

    I’m sorry, I either don’t understand what you mean, or you misunderstand what I’m on about. Please don’t judge me based on a conversation we didn’t even have. (We can have that conversation if you like, it seems my intended role in that conversation is not communicated clearly to you by the above quote.)

    It should concern you that they have a socialist political agenda and the only people standing in their way are the fundamentalists.

    Actually, I believe most of the people here are left-leaning on the political spectrum, which would be demonised with “socialist!” by the extreme right. That means it probably concerns them that the fundamentalists are “getting in the way”.

    There’s a link to the political compass over on the post Political Relativity. Anyone interested: go fill out the compass and post your political “coordinates” in a comment below that post!

    Come on, Hugo. Execute the plan and make the call.

    Is that the advice you’re talking about? And you’re referring to the “moderate the fundies” idea, eh. That isn’t necessary yet, and like with the atheists — so far I’ve only “condemned” one person to being moderated so far, an atheist named saneman, and he agreed it’s a reasonable thing to do (from my perspective) — I will hold out against taking the route Thomas chose on his blog, for as long as is possible. Hopefully my software will fix the problem without it ever being necessary to moderate another contributor. (Even if that’s at the cost of postponing Chapter 3 another few weeks.)

  • 123 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:48 am

    @Ben-Jammin: you heathen! ;-)

    Though I think she’s referring to Islam?

  • 124 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:52 am

    …Wait, this was supposed to be my second comment tonight, did I neglect to hit Submit? Seems so. Here goes.

    (I’m splitting my commenting into ones focused on particular conversations.)

    Ben-Jammin, that’s a nice looking link, where did you come across it? I’ve skimmed it, I hope to read it in depth later. (Leaving a tab open, will probably end up bookmarking it “toread” a couple of days from now, and closing the tab. And “httm”, making it appear on the miniblog.)

    Oh, comment on my previous comment:

    Let me know if my methods are particularly ineffective.

    Duh. Obviously they’re ineffective, people aren’t being reflective, or tolerant! However, let me know if they’re counter-effective. (Having the opposite effect to what’s intended, rather than no effect.)

    The reason I’m not similarly reflecting on Kenneth’s (and Ben-Jammin’s) comments, for example, is because I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding of what he’s trying to do (his goals), and his methods seem to be quite in line with that. I see nothing that seems very counter-productive to (what seems to be) their cause / goals.

  • 125 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 26, 2009 at 2:50 am

    Though I think she’s referring to Islam?

    Huh. I never would have picked up on that.

    Yes, I very much challenge Islam as well.

    Ben-Jammin, that’s a nice looking link, where did you come across it? I’ve skimmed it, I hope to read it in depth later.

    Here. I thought I pointed it out to you before? Oh, well. I found it very depressing but refreshingly honest. The person pointing it out is a thoughtful conservative Christian whose conversational style you would love. He’s still trying to get back to me on how Galileo could be considered correct from such a view.

    I thought I emailed you the article before? Checking my email program…yup, on 11/11/2008. Apparently it didn’t make an impression the first time. :)

  • 126 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 26, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I knew Ben-Jammin’ was a Unicornist!

    @Amanda

    I can give you my answer, but I am sure to miss important parts.

    Please do! But see below.

    Why don’t you make nice to Thomas so that he can give you a valid and complete explanation?

    I have tried to be nice. However, I find his repeated misinterpretations and slurs to be tiresome.

    As a scientist you should seek out the expert and not the amateur.

    As a scientist, I should gather data. All other things being equal, I’d prefer to gather it from a less exasperating source.

    Also, there is something I feel I should point out. As a scientist, I like different viewpoints. I like other ideas and opinions. That is one component of how science moves forward. However, the other component is just as important: your idea must match the evidence better than previous ideas, or other, current ideas. That is the paradigm in which I work.

    So, I’m not going to insult you. I am going to question why you believe this. If you feel that you don’t want this conversation, and you don’t wish to answer, then that is fine. Please feel free to ignore.

    @Bendul
    Yes, it is coffee time again…finish first year classes today, which will free up some time. I promise I will send you those blog links I talked about last, before we meet again!

  • 127 Amanda // Feb 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

    @ Thomas

    Asseblief, Thomas, sal jy hier ‘n antwoord plaas op Kenneth se vraag in 110 ter wille van die Waarheid?

  • 128 Amanda // Feb 26, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    @ Hugo

    Thomas claims to believe in the fundamentals of the faith. If you evaluate his 94 in that light, you shall find that it contains both Law and Gospel. I can deconstruct it further and give you the relevant Bible quotations. As a fundamentalist Thomas scores 100%. But you will not have that. You measure him against your meme-thingy and, not surprisingly, he scores 0%. You are sad that he did not comply with your very reasonable request to convert to emergent-think. If he did, I am sure you would have tolerated him and encouraged others to do the same.

  • 129 Thomas // Feb 26, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Bendul at 113

    Bendul

    So in my opinion if anyone is behaving heretically it is in fact Amanda and Thomas; with their reduction of Jesus life and teaching to a propitiary doctrine.

    Would you regard the following statement as that of an heretical reductionist who over emphasizes a propitiatory doctrine?

    1Co 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

    Perhaps you may not want to be so acute in your judgments when reading and studying the following as well:

    And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

    Some would say that the disciples were so heavenly-minded that it made them worthless-earthlings. However, I have it on very good authority that the disciples (followers of Jesus) considered the preaching of the Word (that is, the preaching of the cross) to be of greater importance than philanthropic work among the sick, the destitute, the hungry and the down-and-outs. Mother Theresa was one of the most wonderful philanthropic instruments of her time but sadly sent all her patients into a Christless eternity. By the by some of the emergent saints regard Mother Theresa as one of their best examples of living out social imperatives.

    If you can explain to me how one can infuse Paul’s and Christ’s ethical and moral imperatives into the lives of a group of atheists or any other unbelievers without first laying a solid foundation, I would gladly put the cart before the horses. God never works from an outward position toward an inward one. He works from within a person toward his outer life – that, is from within the spirit toward the members of your body. Why . . .? Well, because man’s spirit without the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit is dead. It should first be quickened, made alive by virtue of Christ propitiatory work on the cross before he can be of any worth for His Kingdom. This is why Paul said:

    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    There are a number of other Bible passages that substantiate the necessity of putting the propitiatory work of Christ first very clearly. Consider the following:

    Joh 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

    It simply means that you, I, Amanda or anyone else for that matter cannot do a single good thing without Him, which inversely also means that anything we try to do without Him means nothing. You know as well as I that the flesh is of no profit but that the Spirit, within our spirits, produces the good works we need to do in His behalf and for His Name’s sake.

    Now, let’s look at your admonishment a little closer.

    While there may be “emergent” authors who might preach this kind of message, I would like to say authoritatively (as someone who has read a spectrum of his works) McLaren in no way even implies such a reduction. He rather reacts against a perceived neglect of the social element of Christ’s message. McLaren and many of the authors Thomas criticizes on his blog are misrepresented & misconstrued by (I trust) well-meaning “fundamentalists”. Propitiation lies at the core of their message about Christ, but they refuse to stop there: they believe there are ethical imperatives not only to propitiation, but also Jesus and Paul’s ethical/moral commands! . . . So Thomas: with all due respect. I am not interested in more condemning, out of context quotes: : I am interested in your unique story. Why are you a follower of Christ? How has he become a reality to you? How has he transformed you?

    I agree wholeheartedly that we dare not leave those to whom we have proclaimed the finished (tetelestaic and propitiatory) work of Christ on the cross, and who we have led into a salvivic relationship with Christ, to fend for themselves. Our duty is to make disciples of them and to teach them to honour and obey Christ’s doctrines. Whoever refuses to do so is in grave danger.

    Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

    I disagree with your remark that Christ’s propitiatory work on the cross lies at the core of McLarens’s message. He says the following in his book “A Generous Orthodoxy:

    In the Bible, save means “rescue” or “heal.” It emphatically does not automatically mean “save from hell” or “give eternal life after death,” as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means “get out of trouble.” The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil.

    Now, if you need to blame someone for heretical reductionism, I suggest you do it here because McLaren is reducing eternal redemption to a temporal rescue action which any medical doctor, prolific general, political figure or activist is quite capable of doing ever so easily. Do you really believe that God shed His blood just to rescue people form their sickness, war, political upheavals and the like? If that were true He was a dismal failure because all those things he mentions are not man’s problems. It is not sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty and imprisonment that separates us from God, but our sins — those things we do in violation of His laws. Sin contaminates and blemishes the soul and the spirit, not the things Brian mentions. If sickness, war, political upheavals, oppression, poverty and imprisonment were the things he died for on the cross then you have a very low estimate of his blood. In fact, even the Antichrist will be able to rescue men from the things Brian mentions.

    Emergents love to blame their critics for “out of context” quotes. I would appreciate it if you could show me where I did this and while you’re at it put it in context for me.

    So I emplore you. Stop judging those I love.

    You are judging me unfairly. I’m not judging Brian McLaren or any of the other emergent leaders. I am evaluating their words in the light of the Word of God because I aim to abey His command in 1 John 4 and you should do the same.

  • 130 Bendul // Feb 26, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Thomas!

    NO, NO, NO!

    In the Bible, save means “rescue” or “heal.” It emphatically does not automatically mean “save from hell” or “give eternal life after death,” as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means “get out of trouble.” The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil.

    Now, if you need to blame someone for heretical reductionism, I suggest you do it here because McLaren is reducing eternal redemption to a temporal rescue action which any medical doctor, prolific general, political figure or activist is quite capable of doing ever so easily. Do you really believe that God shed His blood just to rescue people form their sickness, war, political upheavals and the like? If that were true He was a dismal failure because all those things he mentions are not man’s problems. It is not sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty and imprisonment that separates us from God, but our sins — those things we do in violation of His laws. Sin contaminates and blemishes the soul and the spirit, not the things Brian mentions. If sickness, war, political upheavals, oppression, poverty and imprisonment were the things he died for on the cross then you have a very low estimate of his blood. In fact, even the Antichrist will be able to rescue men from the things Brian mentions.

    Read this aloud to yourself and see if this makes sense. It doesn’t to me. You are saying unwillingness to discard the context in which scriptural phrases were uttered and AUTOMITICALLY infer other conceptual meanings is reductionism. I just don’t get this.

    Give me some time and I will write you a long and thoughtfull reply. obviouosly my previous attempt did not attain to these attributes…

  • 131 Thomas // Feb 26, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Bendul

    I fail to understand your line of thinking. Perhaps you’d be obliged to answer a few questions to clarify your thoughts.

    1) For what specific reason was Jesus Christ incarnated?
    2) Why was it necessary for Him to sacrifice Himself on the cross?
    3) Why did God the Father need to crush His own Son on the cross?

    You are saying unwillingness to discard the context in which scriptural phrases were uttered and AUTOMITICALLY infer other conceptual meanings is reductionism.

    What on earth do you mean by this sentence? Please enlighten me with the correct context.

    I have one thought I want to leave with you. God can choose whether He wants to heal a sick person or not but He cannot choose to save a person in his or her behalf.

  • 132 Amanda // Feb 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    @ Hugo:

    Emergents, as well as I, as well as scholars at seminaries I bet, do consider Jesus’ message a highly political one, yes. That’s no secret.

    Jesus Christ said:

    “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Joh 18:36

    Hugo:

    Is that the advice you’re talking about? And you’re referring to the “moderate the fundies” idea, eh. That isn’t necessary yet, and like with the atheists — so far I’ve only “condemned” one person to being moderated so far, an atheist named saneman, and he agreed it’s a reasonable thing to do (from my perspective)

    No, no. Outright banishment would be the reasonable thing to do from your perspective. Your readers will then have the opportunity to engage with your ideas without distraction.

  • 133 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Joy.

    Paul was writing letters to his own communities, when he wrote the things he wrote. If being a fundamentalist means “communicating in exasperating ways”, then obviously being a fundamentalist is incompatible with “communicating in friendly ways”.

    I’d have loved to have a chat with St. Paul, I’d love to see how he communicates when he’s not writing to his own communities. Though apparently he wasn’t much of an orator, he didn’t come across nearly as “confident” in person. More of a writer… Either way I bet he wasn’t so exasperating, so unable to consider things from another viewpoint. And if the latter is your definition of “fundamentalism”, from that definition it would follow that I’m betting he wasn’t as much of a fundamentalist.

    Since *my* community is about communication and dialogue (that’s the “faith” here), those that “communicate in exasperating ways” are the unbelievers (with regard to the “faith” promoted on this blog). The conflict between believers (us) and unbelievers (…Thomas) in the context of this community’s raison d’etre remains a nasty one, a communication gap deluxe. But still I aim at open doors… so I’ll get back to writing code rather than comments here, it’s going to be more effective use of my time in the long run.

    And I mean this in the most friendly manner, just like #112. It is unfortunate that we lack the paralinguistic clues found in face-to-face communication, I’m sorry if you read meanness into my comments.

    Outright banishment would be the reasonable thing to do from your perspective.

    Unfortunately “reason” is all so relative, eh? ;-) Or unfortunately humans aren’t rational. Sometimes people don’t like freedom either, and prefer an authoritarian model wherein someone “in power” exercises that power so that those under the influence of that power doesn’t have to choose. I know this, because I experience it all too often: I’d like someone else to force my hand, to make it impossible for me to waste my time, to remove my commenting rights so that I don’t struggle with that feeling of “I just can’t help myself, I *must* respond to this comment!” I have, for example, at times made the offer to friends: “if you want, I’ll commit to blocking your comments, so you don’t have to fight the urge to respond”. But in general, I don’t like the authoritarian model, I rather try to encourage people taking responsibility for their own actions, as tough as that is for us humans.

  • 134 Hugo // Feb 26, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    @Amanda, I’d also love to hear your answer to Kenneth’s question, more so than I’d like to hear Thomas’.

    An interesting related question is: why and how do you trust Thomas to be the best source on how the Bible should be read? (As opposed to the Bible scholars you two don’t like, for example.) If others are also interested in the answer to this question, they can expand it for me.

    It is particularly interesting how you defer to Thomas, in the light of a comment someone gave me some time ago, “Thomas seems out of his depth in this conversation”. I.e., it appears to us as though you, Amanda, are better at communicating and better at responding to others’ thoughts than Thomas is.

    If Thomas’ exasperating communication style is considered being “a better fundamentalist”, I’d most certainly do everything in my power to encourage others to not become… well… exasperating in the way they communicate with others.

  • 135 Hugo // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:46 am

    @Ben #125 – that same night you posted the comment, in bed, I went through my emails: it’s still there, waiting in my inbox! (Along with hundreds of other emails.)

  • 136 Al Lovejoy // Feb 27, 2009 at 2:28 am

    @Thomas: I will respond. What does this mean?

    “And you will bend your knee before Christ, confessing that He is indeed the Christ, but then it would be too late.”

    Hmm???

    “Mother Theresa was one of the most wonderful philanthropic instruments of her time but sadly sent all her patients into a Christless eternity.” –

    Jesus had the same said about Him and His followers by the Jews, and your good authority is …. ??? Had a sneak preview of the afterlife have you???

    This is the gospel??? Respond to me, validate my inviolate theology and Turn …. or Burn baby burn??? (I’ll be watching…)

    Come on china, this is more than pathetic and worse than feeble – the message Jesus gave his disciples never contained threats to them. He promised the Father’s eternal love, without religion, to those who would follow Him, listen and do what He asked.

    “However, I would like to be the first to know when you turn to God in repentance and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour”.

    I perceive that you mean this very sarcastically, and from a Christian perspective it might bode you well to consider those people with whom you would rather not spend eternity, in the very Heaven whose rejection you threaten – God, in his grace might grant you your exact wish.

    You sound exactly like an insecure kid who isn’t that sure of himself and actually cannot couch his reasoning properly and needs to resort to a threatening Big Brother with a hot hell. The Christ being rejected here is only the one you portray – and if your jesus is a pathetic and threatening bully … you get to be responsible for him.

    @ Amanda, You just sound frightened and thus very narrow-minded and paranoid. Not to shred the reams and reams of mostly eschatological theology and theories (like Kenneth rightly says there are hundreds and hundreds) – but Jesus proclaimed a man who sacrificed to the idols of the Roman Pantheon – to have more faith than he found in all of Israel. He healed that soldier’s child. A syro-phoenecian woman’s child. Need I continue? He was your worst New Age nightmare – he wasn’t frightened of the corrupted religious sects in Judaism or even other idolatrous religions or politics or money. He wasn’t waiting for the world to end “SOON” with his shaking finger pointing at all the supposed New Age culprits. He did not get angry with anyone except those who corrupted the Old Covenant, like you should be doing with those who corrupt the New Covenant with doctrines of demons and money parasitism – not by attacking science. The only major hijacking going on in the church is by the Media Dollar Jesus, plainly a source of most of your “real Gospel” arguments and information. The Media Dollar Jesus is frightened of being exposed for what it is – so the producers have created an “enemy” for the Media Dollar Jesus to fight for validation. Dat ‘ol debbil New Age creeping around backside lawdy, lawdy.

    Nothing you preach is original, not one single word and it is utterly ineffective – yet you still have the audacity to nail Hugo about apparently not preaching the gospel among other things – the person without whom you would not have this open forum…to preach true rubbish and where you aren’t banned yet.

    This conversation is still supposed to be about faith and Christ and without faith Abraham would have never have pleased God. How about you read Heb 11 … instead of gob-swallowing everything regurgitated from the cheap pulpit you paid for.

    Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. God will not hear a prayer without faith and faith without works is dead. God chose to speak directly to Abram and Saul of Tarsus, but He promises to speak to all who will listen to and follow Christ.

    If the non-Jewish parents of those children Christ healed had faith God recognised and lauded – then Muslims who do not blow up their children can have that same faith, so can Hindus, Buddhist’s, Taoists and even, hold your breath … scientists. God does not ask your permission or follow the constraints you have allowed to be set in your mind – when speaking to anyone. And only He can see and speak into anyone’s heart.

    He is the Author and Finisher of faith and if you chose to follow Christ then follow Him … He is not out there fighting “New Agers” or “satanists” for that matter, go back to Scripture and listen to Him tell you what the Spririt of God anointed Him for.

    If anyone does come away from this blog, to go find and listen to Christ in Scripture and then really and truly pray to the Father for the first time as an act of faith in Him – it will not be because of any threats or reams of other people’s religious arguments like the ones you have listed above.

    I have had a vast amount of life experience and I have never seen a man motivated into being a better human being by insults, threats or bribery. And never ever moved to faith.

    Let’s suggest being a Christian is like being a grand master chess champion. You can play 24 people simultaneously and blindfolded – but here a rank amateur person challenges you, who has never played before – and suddenly your game is so weak you have to resort to psychological threats and taunts??? I suggest to both of you that Jesus Christ is still Someone neither of you know, really know – because you would sell the idea of listening to Him and then praying to the Father – better.

    Ag, toe maar H, ek gaan maar nou nie ook skoor hier soek nie. Ek moet nog daai exorcism storie skryf op die ander blog vir jou en meneer dinkpyp as ek nog tyd kan maak oor die naaweek – maar regtig, ek het nou weer alles gelees … maar hier is bitter min om te leer. Veral van die sogenaamde fundametalists. Hulle koester respek en mense moet aan hulle lippies aandagtig aanhang en vinnig reageer of Jesus sleep gou-gou hel toe eendag – maar hulle kan dit nooit gun nie. Ja, nee ken daai ene.

    Let’s see Thomas, Amanda … hypocthetically – if it was in your power – what would you do to someone like Kenneth who refuses to John 3:16/sinner’s prayer/add God and a dash of your infallible theology for flavour then stir … ???

    @Kenneth – Are you a puppy, do you taste nice with BBQ sauce? From here, your only “sin” seems to be blaming Christ for Christians. A small fault considering.

    At any rate, I personally think Einstein was far more balanced when considering man’s scientific quest in relation to his spiritual evolution. Most especially God’s role in it.

  • 137 Amanda // Feb 27, 2009 at 6:51 am

    @ Hugo

    If Thomas’ exasperating communication style is considered being “a better fundamentalist”, I’d most certainly do everything in my power to encourage others to not become… well… exasperating in the way they communicate with others.
    with others.

    Exasperating, yes. He refuses to tell you what your itching ears would like to hear. Instead he tells you the cold, hard, saving truth. You fail to understand him in the same way that you fail to understand the Bible. What could possibly motivate a man like Thomas?

    I defer to him because he has the discernment, knowledge and writing ability to answer Kenneth’s question comprehensively, in the same way that he is dealing with Bendul. His work speaks for him. It seems to me that he actually believes the Bible and he is taking a stand against the wolves devouring the flock.

  • 138 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Al Lovejoy

    This is the gospel??? Respond to me, validate my inviolate theology and Turn …. or Burn baby burn??? (I’ll be watching…)

    Come on china, this is more than pathetic and worse than feeble – the message Jesus gave his disciples never contained threats to them. He promised the Father’s eternal love, without religion, to those who would follow Him, listen and do what He asked

    You’re right; Jesus Christ’s message never contained threats but very stern warnings. And by the way, I’m not your “china.” At least show some respect. Jesus, whom you claim to follow, was a real gentleman who even called His enemies his friends. If you want to follow Him, then please emulate Him in all things.

    Joh 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”(John 8:24)

    Mat 13: 40-42 As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    Of course you, Hugo and the rest of our atheist friends would just love the idea of “no religion,” “no doctrine,” “no judgment,” “no accountability to God.”

    Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

    Perhaps you should reconsider your claim that you are following Jesus Christ and not another Christ who espouses another Gospel and another spirit.

    Nothing you preach is original, not one single word and it is utterly ineffective – yet you still have the audacity to nail Hugo about apparently not preaching the gospel among other things – the person without whom you would not have this open forum…to preach true rubbish and where you aren’t banned yet.

    Really? You say it as if Hugo’s site is the only open forum on the entire internet. I’ve got some news for you. Lovejoy, your unmitigated anger proves that you are not so sure about your own message. Anyone who loses his “cool” has already lost the fight. Come on, you’re not doing your Master’s cause any good . . . . no good at all. Sit down, pipe down, drink a blood pressure pill and try to remain calm because you are polluting Hugo’s site with your anger. By the way, it is not I or Amanda who are doing the preaching. I am merely quoting what Jesus Christ Himself said. If you don’t like it, I suggest you take it up with Him personally. Tell Him He spoke a lot of baloney . . . . and kindly refrain from pointing a finger at me and Amanda. Perhaps you would want to tell Him He’s a “moeiliheidmaker” and a charlatan especially when you take into consideration His words in Mat 10:34:

    Mt 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    One last question. If Christ did not come to our world to rescue mankind from the righteous wrath of God and the jaws of hell, for what purpose was He crucified? I sense fear in your comment. Could it be that you are not too sure about your own opinion of the existence of a hell?

  • 139 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 27, 2009 at 8:29 am

    @Al Lovejoy.

    Are you a puppy, do you taste nice with BBQ sauce?

    No, not nearly as nice as kittens ;-)

    From here, your only “sin” seems to be blaming Christ for Christians. A small fault considering.

    Hmmm…an interesting thought. I would also say that I “blame” Christians for Christ, but that is by the by…

    @Amanda

    I defer to him because he has the discernment, knowledge and writing ability to answer Kenneth’s question comprehensively, in the same way that he is dealing with Bendul.

    To be blunt, you have defended your viewpoints more eloquently and with fewer logical errors than Thomas has. I see no reason why you should defer to him on this point.

    But c’est la vie. If you don’t want to answer, then that really is fine. I’m not the inquisition here.

    @Thomas

    Perhaps you should reconsider your claim that you are following Jesus Christ and not another Christ who espouses another Gospel and another spirit.

    I can and will reflect this right back at you. How can you tell Al he’s deluded when you have yet to support whether your version of Christianity is correct?

  • 140 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 27, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Typical. I should proofread more…

    Al, a better word choice would have been:
    I “blame” the attributes of the Christ figure, as understood by modern society, on Christians, in the same sense as I “blame” the modern understanding of quantum physics, on physicists. Blame has far too many negative connotations, hence my quotation marks. It wasn’t meant to be inflammatory as it was written. Apologies.

  • 141 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 10:53 am

    @Thomas

    Perhaps you should reconsider your claim that you are following Jesus Christ and not another Christ who espouses another Gospel and another spirit.

    I can and will reflect this right back at you. How can you tell Al he’s deluded when you have yet to support whether your version of Christianity is correct?

    Well, you being such a formidable scientist should at least prove to me that my assertions of Jesus Christ is wrong. I’m waiting for your Q.E.D. Kenneth.

  • 142 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Thomas.

    With all due respect. If Christ came across half as condescending as you do in that previous comment then I am not sure if anyone would have been attracted to Him in the way we see it happening in scripture.

  • 143 Hugo // Feb 27, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I’ve another question. Emergents would typically say this is a silly thing to argue about, but you know them: they don’t much believe in arguing? ;) Also, this could serve as a great illustrative example in answering Kenneth’s question.

    Kleindoop en grootdoop. For those not Afrikaans: Kleindoop is sprinkling babies with water (literally small-baptising), grootdoop (big-baptising) is what the Baptists do, when you’re “old enough” to decide for yourself. The Dutch Reformed church is traditionally a kleindoop congregation. It’s the kind of thing that causes schisms. My grandmother read the Bible and came to the conclusion that it says you should grootdoop. So she got herself baptised. *Shock* *Horror*, the Dutch Reformed church wanted to kick her out (this was a couple of decades ago, when they weren’t so “liberal” :-P ), but my grandfather was quite a respected elder (a couple of things related, I’m not speculating on), so they didn’t.

    Thomas (or Amanda), I’m curious, was my grandmother wrong? According to your discernment, which is correct? Is kleindoop the right and true and correct thing, or grootdoop? The nature of such arguments would be what convinces the typical emergent (I think, anyway) of the futility of this kind of arguing, so I think quite a number won’t touch this question. Thomas and Amanda are no emergents though, so I’m thinking we could get an answer, with motivation?

    I’m hoping it is kleindoop? Because I’ll probably provide, if no-one else does, the motivation typically given by one of the grootdoop churches (e.g. Shofar), with the Biblical passages they use to support it. Then Thomas or Amanda can explain how they know their interpretation is more accurate and correct than Shofar’s interpretation.

    Amanda, I do believe I understand Thomas better than you give me credit for. But yea, maybe I’m just overestimating myself.

  • 144 Amanda // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    @Kenneth

    If you don’t want to answer, then that really is fine. I’m not the inquisition here.

    I want Thomas to answer the question. I don’t recall him answering this one before, but I have read his work where he applies his knowledge to refute false teachings. You can see it at work in the discussion between him and Bendul, which I am following with interest. I just hope it does not turn out to be something like the discussion between Todd Friel and Doug Pagitt.

    Thomas’ answer will go a long way towards helping you to understand the difference between Biblical Christianity and the pretenders. You might even appreciate its consistency and clarity as opposed to the foreign interpretations of those who do not believe the Bible like Marcus Borg and John Shelby Spong, the heroes of the emergents.

  • 145 Hugo // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Marcus Borg and John Shelby Spong, the heroes of the emergents.

    I believe you’re mischaracterising emergents. Bear in mind that “emergents” are not the same thing as “liberals”. Many emergents are indirectly fans of NT Wright, whose view “juxtaposes well” with Borg’s. Has Thomas talked about NT Wright yet?

  • 146 Amanda // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    @Hugo

    Also, this could serve as a great illustrative example in answering Kenneth’s question.

    No, it will not. Kenneth wants to understand where we draw the lines between true Christianity and the rest. If you go back and read the five fundamentals of the faith, you will see that baptism is not included.

    Amanda, I do believe I understand Thomas better than you give me credit for.

    Oh. Then what is the problem?

  • 147 Hugo // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Oh. Then what is the problem?

    Come on, you know the answer to this. (And #112 should provide enough of a hint.) Understanding is not the same thing as agreeing.

  • 148 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    The past 2 days comments lead me to an impression which I believe Amanda confirms to a degree in her perceived grouping of emergents with liberals.

    I get the idea that Thomas has “heard it all” and knows exactly where I stand. I perceive his questions…

    1) For what specific reason was Jesus Christ incarnated?
    2) Why was it necessary for Him to sacrifice Himself on the cross?
    3) Why did God the Father need to crush His own Son on the cross?

    …as attempts to “Expose” me as an heretic, rather than a genuine interest in how I think.

    It follows that my expectation would wane for Thomas to be an accurate observer of any kind of theological movement that doesn’t immediately make the same sounds that his does.

    It also leads me to a disillusionment with the ideal that we can in fact reason with each other, as his agenda to prove me a heretic is frightfully clear.

    *sigh*

    It seems futile to try and argue that the “five fundamentals of the faith”:

    is a movement that arose mainly within British and American Protestantism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among conservative evangelical Christians, who, in a reaction to modernism, actively affirmed a fundamental set of Christian beliefs: the inerrancy of the Bible, Sola Scriptura, the virgin birth of Christ, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and the imminent personal return of Jesus Christ. (wiki)

    So I’m just glad the chruch finally got it right after 1800 years of confusing the core message of the bible…

    (sorry for that bit of frustrated sarcasm. It is not meant to degarde or hurt anyone)

  • 149 Amanda // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Has Thomas talked about NT Wright yet?

    Not as far as I know. But thanks for the heads up.

    The emergents like Brian McLaren hold the same view of Scripture as the liberals. I think this is the podcast that makes the point.John Shelby Spong Was the First Emergent I might be wrong, though. I will listen to it over the weekend and get back to you.

    In an interview NT Wright said:

    “I have friends who I am quite sure are Christians who do not believe in the bodily resurrection,” he says carefully, citing another eminent scholar, American theologian Marcus Borg, co-author with Wright of The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions.

    “But the view I take of them – and they know this – is that they are very, very muddled. They would probably return the compliment.

    “Marcus Borg really does not believe Jesus Christ was bodily raised from the dead. But I know Marcus well: he loves Jesus and believes in him passionately. The philosophical and cultural world he has lived in has made it very, very difficult for him to believe in the bodily resurrection.

  • 150 Hugo // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    > John Shelby Spong Was the First Emergent

    What is an “emergent”? The label isn’t well defined. The point I’m making: many, many of the guys that label themselves emergent, do not consider Spong “their hero”.

    So any kind of argument-from-authority of whoever is claiming Spong is an “emergent”, doesn’t mean much to me. I’d agree he was one of the first that “stood up for what he believed, in conflict with the religions status quo” (sounds very Jesus-like to me). If you want to call that “emergent”, that’s fine. My issue was only with the “Marcus Borg and John Shelby Spong, the heroes of the emergents” thought, when the “emergent” label there is used to generalise over a whole bunch of specific people. That is wrong, and false witness. The statement is only right if you specifically mean use “emergent” in that sentence to refer to only those that consider Borg and Spong their heroes. )And that’s certainly not the same set of people that label themselves “emergent”, so I don’t think you could sensibly argue that’s what you meant.)

    > Wright on Borg / Two Visions

    Yes, indeed. That’s precisely what I was referring to. Their joint-authored book is precisely the juxtaposition I was referring to. McLaren, who might more accurately be a “hero” of the emergents if you want to use such labels, draws much from NT Wright, explicitly. (Which is why I took issue with the suggestion that they’re — speaking generally — “big on Borg”.)

  • 151 Hugo // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    > one of the first

    (Amongst our contemporary debates, I mean. There’s been many across the years. Consider Spinoza, on the Jewish side I think. Or Luther, of course. I’m sure you know Spong sometimes compares his own intentions/approach with Luther’s.)

    Ah, whatever. I just hate certain kinds of generalising, specifically the kind that’s subsequently used to point fingers at specific people. It’s “bearing false witness”, top-to-bottom.

  • 152 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I think there are nuanced schools of thought are being ignored in this “flinging aound of labels”

    Post-Conservativism and Post-Liberalism have a lot in common, and recognise Liberal VS Conservative as a modernist dichotomy that is essentially unhelpful. McLaren (whom I would consider post-conservative) profits from certain elements of many different schools of theology; but I am sure that he will disagree with much of what they say too.

    Similarly I will disagree with him if he says Jesus was not a real historical figure. (I AM EMPHATICALLY NOT SAYING THAT IS THE CASE) That does not mean that he cannot enrich my understanding of Christ’s message.

    This “either fully heretic” or “either fully saint” is a weird dichotomy which I find particularly unhelpful. It’s quite prevalent in modernism’s legacy.

  • 153 Hugo // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    And Amen to Bendul’s #148. And #152. Die dumb dichotomies, die! (E.g. Jesus’ challenge to the pure/impure dichotomy, to hammer on my popular-”Bible-scholarship”-inspired — like popular science, or pop-psych, etc, being no professional Bible scholar myself — and many other examples of Jesus’ life, many mentioned by Al above, many mentioned by the RLP-Hell-vids that Thomas linked to from his blog, I’m still wondering if he watched them all?)

    I’m going to try to disappear off the radar for the weekend (starting now).

    Proudly “heretical”,
    Hugo da “heretic”!
    Viva, love and compassion, viva!
    (Die, dumb dichotomies, die!)

  • 154 Amanda // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    @ Bendul

    You defended Brain McLaren and Thomas told you:

    I am evaluating their words in the light of the Word of God

    Now you have a problem with this and you have decided not to continue?

    I don’t want to distract you from your debate with Thomas, but if that has been cancelled, I have a question for you. How do you define fundamentalists and how do you think they define themselves?

  • 155 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    @Thomas
    Two things.

    Well, you being such a formidable scientist should at least prove to me that my assertions of Jesus Christ is wrong.

    The burden of proof is on you. You are the one asserting your interpretation is correct. Show us how your reading of the Bible is the correct one, and Al’s, or Hugo’s, or Bendul’s isn’t.

    @Amanda

    I want Thomas to answer the question.

    As do I.

    @Bendul
    I don’t know if you caught my last message, it was buried in text. I’m definitely still keen for coffee, and I will pass on those blog links…promise!

  • 156 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Amen to that Kenneth. Coffee & Amanda’s burden of proof.

    Amanda:

    You have not validated your reading of scriptural foundations past the 18th century fundamentalistic turn in theology.

    therefore i read:

    I am evaluating their words in the light of the Word of God

    as

    I am evaluating their words in the light of (my personal doctinal affirmations of the essential message of) the Word of God.

    Therfore I have no problem duckbackwatering your challenges as no threat to my orthodox belief. Sorry. I just don’t equate your doctrinal position with scriptural authority (even though i do consider what you’ve put on the table to be a pretty good, but incomplete rendition of the bible’s message).

  • 157 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Thomas.

    With all due respect. If Christ came across half as condescending as you do in that previous comment then I am not sure if anyone would have been attracted to Him in the way we see it happening in scripture.

    Would this be less condescending in your eyes? Remember now, Paul received the Gospel directly from Jesus Christ.

    I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

    “Accursed,” as you may know, means to be cast from the presence of God into a Christless eternity. Your LcLarenarian Gospel is no Gospel at all and cannot save. It is a social Gospel that misleads people and leads astray. To reiterate what Paul said: “But there be some that trouble you.” You are a stumbling block to the unbelievers on this site. You are leading them away from the One whom you claim to follow. I urge you to repent and stop your unbiblical and anti-Christ ramblings.

    By the by, Christ never was and never ill be a box-office attraction, as you have depicted Him. He said that the world hated Him first and that it would hate His true followers as well. You don’t seem to know this because you are a much loved and distinguished commentator on this godless site. Why do you think the real Jesus (and not the one you are following) said that the world would hate Him and His true followers? Shall I remind you?

    Joh 7:7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

    I can assure you that the world will hate you as much as it hates the genuine Jesus (and not the one you claim to follow) if you testify with Him that the works of this world is evil.

    Once again, Jesus (the genuine One and not the the one you claim to follow) declared He did not come into this world to bring peace but the sword.

    If you want to be ashamed of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, so be it.

  • 158 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Bendul

    I have no problem duckbackwatering your challenges as no threat to my orthodox belief. Sorry. I just don’t equate your doctrinal position with scriptural authority (even though i do consider what you’ve put on the table to be a pretty good, but incomplete rendition of the bible’s message).

    Allow me to tell you a little story. Two missionaries were sent to two different places. The one loyally preached the Gospel and managed to lead only one person to Christ. In other words, only one person was saved. The other decided not to preach the Gospel but to attend to the needs of the poor, the destitue and the lonely. Unfotunately not a single person was saved. Which of these two missionaries held to an incomplete rendition of the Bible? To which one is Jesus going to say: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

  • 159 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Thomas (or Amanda), I’m curious, was my grandmother wrong? According to your discernment, which is correct? Is kleindoop the right and true and correct thing, or grootdoop? The nature of such arguments would be what convinces the typical emergent (I think, anyway) of the futility of this kind of arguing, so I think quite a number won’t touch this question. Thomas and Amanda are no emergents though, so I’m thinking we could get an answer, with motivation?

    To begin, I would like to remind you of Jesus’ words (the genuine Jesus, of course):

    Mt 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

    Was the man saved to whom Jesus said, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise”?

    There is no difference between a dry sinner (one who has been baptized with a drop of water or two) and a wet sinner (one who has been immersed in a massive swimming pool). Both need to repent and receive Jesus Christ as their only Saviour. That’s if thay had’nt done so yet.

    If H2O was able to save men, then Jesus would have been a fool to die on the cross.

    < For the preaching of the cross (and not “kleindoop” or “grootdoop”) is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

  • 160 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Thomas.

    Your rhetoric comes across as desperate and self-justifying. It in no way strikes me as the confident certainty I (for instance) would associate with Paul’s dealings with the Mars Hill Philosophers. Paul’s quotes of desperation are ALWAYS IN A PERSONAL CONTEXT. i.e. not applicable here. A comment is not NEARLY as prone to being condescending when it is written in the context of a spiritual director to his friends Like Paul’s epistles. Please don’t quote more Paul at me. I have a bible, which I can an do read beyond Ecclesiastes. Also please refrain from any silly commentary on the preceding sentence. My patience grows thin.

    Anyways. I regret a dissemination of all the points of critique you’ve offered will take me more time than I am willing to spare thereupon. I have already spent more time than I wanted to trying to communicate my ideas; which, judging by your critique, you seem to insist on misunderstanding.

    I have been trying to say over and over again that I do not consider any one of the two missionary’s you describe as a mutually exclusive and complete rendition of the gospel. Preach the evangelicalistic faith without the socially reformative works and you lose the impact of Christ’s teachings on earth. Preach the social gospel of works without the faith that drives and motivates them and you lose the heart.

  • 161 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Please remind me of the question you want me to answer? I don’t have Alzheimers but tend to forget your most intriguing questions. What’s the use anyway? No one listens. When I quote from Scripture you blame me of hypocricy, for instance:

    therefore i read:

    I am evaluating their words in the light of the Word of God

    as

    I am evaluating their words in the light of (my personal doctinal affirmations of the essential message of) the Word of God.

    What on earth does this man mean? I have merely quoted to him word for word relevant verses from Scripture and yet he blames me of presenting my own affrimations of the essential message of the Gospel. Does he know what the essential message of the Gospel is? He would do well to remind himself of Jesus’ words at his very first sermon.

  • 162 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Bendul @ 60

    Paul’s words not applicable here? Really? I dare say you are adding and taking away from the Word of God which places you on very dangerous ground. I take it that you are not a friend of Paul (he’s alive, you know, and living in heaven) and therefore his words do not apply to your situation today? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is an eternal Gospel, Bendul, not a temporal one. I am shocked to hear you say that I shouldn’t quote more Paul at you. Did you miss the part where I said that Paul received his Gospel directly from Jesus Christ? Should I no longer quote Jesus Christ’s words at you?

    Once again, I urge you to repent.

  • 163 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    *sigh*

    Thomas.

    The Lord bless you and keep you…far away from me…

  • 164 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Bendul @ 160

    I have been trying to say over and over again that I do not consider any one of the two missionary’s you describe as a mutually exclusive and complete rendition of the gospel. Preach the evangelicalistic faith without the socially reformative works and you lose the impact of Christ’s teachings on earth. Preach the social gospel of works without the faith that drives and motivates them and you lose the heart.

    I deliberately mentioned Jesus words on the cross when He said; “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (in my comment to Hugo’s question about baptism).

    Jesus hardly had the means or the time to serve the rogue with socially reformative works. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross. And neither could the rogue benefit from any socially reformative works. His hands and feet were nailed to a cross. And yet Jesus declared the man saved for all eternity. Notwithstanding, in your eyes this was an incomplete rendition of the Gospel? Please explain to me what your rendition of the complete and essential Gospel is. (You need not quote Paul but at least quote at me the words of Jesus).

  • 165 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Bendul @ 163

    Your’e speechless? That’s good! Silence is often the very first step to repentance because it offers you a chance to reflect very deeply on your attitude.

    Your blessing is no blessing.

  • 166 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    :)

    Thomas. While your example of the cross is interesting, it betrays that I have in fact not successfully communicated ANYTHING to you.

    sorry for the sarcastice blessing. I mean both the blessing, and the sarcasm.

  • 167 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Bendul @ 166

    The invitation to repent still stands.

    Your “sorry” is no sorry at all.

    Well, if you know that you have not successfully communicated ANYTHING (I’m a little retarded, you know), why not try again. Jesus advised us to be longsuffering in our contention for the faith. Don’t give up so easily.

  • 168 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    :D

    Thomas. Oh my oh my. So now I have to repent unto thou?

  • 169 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Retarded Thomas?

    You are mighty articulate for a mentally handicapped person I must say!

  • 170 Hugo // Feb 27, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    My favourite two Thomas quotes are the following:

    > “If you want to follow Him, then please emulate Him in all things.”
    > “Silence is often the very first step to repentance because it offers you a chance to reflect very deeply on your attitude. ”

    I have also learned that it might be useful to know many Bible quotes off the top of my head, given that:

    > “I have merely quoted to him word for word relevant verses from Scripture and yet he blames me of presenting my own affrimations of the essential message of the Gospel.”

    There’s a lot of stuff one can quote. The Bible becomes a weapon, and you end up playing “hou-vir-’n-hou” (hit-for-a-hit, a game some South African boys may play) flinging verses this way and verses that way. While I do consider it a waste of time, just a couple of examples might go a long way.

    Currently all I’ve got off the top of my head would be Paul stating “what helps it I have all these things, but I have not love” -> (Paul in defence of love as the heart of the Gospel). And then the one I’ve raised a couple of times already, but never got an answer for. This bit is not attributed to Paul who wrote about a vision which is interpreted as “straight from Jesus”, this is directly attributed to Jesus by the author of Matthew:

    “…he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

    Sorry, will look it up and give the verse later, I’m on a train, at a station, gotta hop over onto another train now… but I tried, and saw a Bible Verse of the Day:

    “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”- 1 John 3:18.

    Actions and in truth… not with words or tongue… hmmm…

  • 171 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Dear Thomas.

    I’m sorry it’s come to this; turning to ridicule out of frustration. What’s frustrating is that I have the idea that everyone will understand my reasoning BUT the person it’s aimed at.

    @EVERYONE WILLING TO READ “the debate between me and Thomas”: please do tell me if I am being completely absurd.

    Maybe you should reread my comments: think them through and see if you can find any sense in them. I won’t be writing much in the next while. Will be too busy *sarcastic remark refrained from by the author*

  • 172 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 27, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Thomas. I’m still waiting. Please justify your version of Christianity as the correct one.

  • 173 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Hugo,

    Who do you say is Jesus Christ?

  • 174 Amanda // Feb 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I have read every single one of the articles on Thomas’ blog and I am truly ashamed today. I have been a blind fool all this time.

    @ Bendul

    It is my intention to study Thomas’s work and methods and to learn everything I can from him. What is your warning to me?

    Today I have realized, for the first time, the true stature of the man. I finally get it. Thomas, I salute you. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • 175 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Currently all I’ve got off the top of my head would be Paul stating “what helps it I have all these things, but I have not love” (Paul in defence of love as the heart of the Gospel). And then the one I’ve raised a couple of times already, but never got an answer for.

    The love Paul speaks of in 1 Cor 13 is “Godly love,” i.e. the “AGAPE love which is magnanimously expressed in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whomsoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This is the kind of love you should have — a love that reaches out to lost sinner who need Christ to save them. If you don’t have THAT kind of love you are merely an empty sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. None of the other things will ever have any meaning or substance, including Bendul’s social reformative works, if you do not have THAT kind of love. Once again, it is a love that desires others to be saved and will do anything to persuade them to repent. Unrepentant sinners cannot express the AGAPE love because it is given of God at repentance alone. That’s the heart of the Gospel.

    And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

    As for your million dollar question in view of Matthew 15:24, you should know what the answer is, bearing in mind that you have a meticulous interest in culture and context. The context is that Jesus, when He was on the verge of His ministry, was first sent to
    the Jews and not the Gentiles. In that way He complied with His kinship duty to the Jews. However, they rejected Him as their Messiah, and He turned to the Gentiles. Paul did exactly the same thing in adherence to His Jewish tradition.

  • 176 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Kenneth

    Thomas. I’m still waiting. Please justify your version of Christianity as the correct one.

    You are wating? I don’t know how old you are but God has been waiting for you all these years with much longsuffering to turn to Him in repentance unto salvation.

    I don’t need to justify His Gospel. Read His Word and start with the Gospel of John. Perhaps then God will open your eyes.

  • 177 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Dear Thomas.

    I’m sorry it’s come to this; turning to ridicule out of frustration. What’s frustrating is that I have the idea that everyone will understand my reasoning BUT the person it’s aimed at.

    If everyone understands your reasoning BUT the person it’s aimed at, all or some of them should already have bent the knee before Christ in contrition for their sins against Him and bowed in submission to His Lordship. Has that happened?

  • 178 Bendul // Feb 27, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Goodbye again Thomas.

  • 179 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Hugo

    There’s a lot of stuff one can quote. The Bible becomes a weapon, and you end up playing “hou-vir-’n-hou” (hit-for-a-hit, a game some South African boys may play) flinging verses this way and verses that way. While I do consider it a waste of time, just a couple of examples might go a long way.

    It is obvious that you do not have much respect for God’s Word. Nonetheless, your’e right in saying that the Bible is a weapon. In fact it is sharper than any two-edged sword.

    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    I assure you it is not a game for boys but a stern warning for young men like you who do not tremble at God’s Word.

  • 180 Thomas // Feb 27, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Bendul

    Goodbye again Thomas.

    Oh hello again Bendul. Thought you had left us! Welcome back!

  • 181 Hazard // Feb 28, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Thomas @175

    That kind of love? Some would say you’re suffering from delusional bliss. When I see an “outie” (beggar, tramp) and give him half my KFC meal do I think, “that’s a couple of brownie points with God?” or “I’m such a good Christian?” or “I’m such a good guy?’. No… I feel sorry and feel compassion for his position, his fault or not. I don’t desire him to be saved, but I do desire that he and others such, do climb back on the wagon and live fulfilling lives… because that makes our society better.

    And as stated by NUMEROUS posts, you’re quoting from a book that’s as valid as the Lord of the Rings in authenticity. And as for the Son and the Father and the Holy spirit thing? The Holy Trinity only came into existence AFTER the Council of Nicae… that’s 325 years AFTER your saviour. It’s a man made concept with the purpose of keeping the Christian faith together for the very reasons that brought the Council together in the first place. So unless you’re reading a bible that says different (like the New World Testament, the JW’s bible: which is just a rehack of the bible as we know it), you’re reading material put together by people 325 years after your Christ in a way fitting to keep your faith in line in order to control the turmoil of politics at the time. It also “allows” “the faithful” to go back back in time to correct glaring contradictions, such as… “that wasn’t REALLY the face of God that was looked upon.. but an aspect, or an avatar thereof… the Jesus mediator.” Which again is a contradiction. How can a man-made political tool be used to correct Gods infallible word? ah.. let me guess “God works in mysterious ways. He can turn anything into an intrument of his peace.”

    Even if it means contradicting his infallible word, (which obviously isn’t as infallible as what we thought it was…) which again asks the the question, how fallible is god… unless this whole two thousand year old excercise is aimed just to keep us in check with the fear of death and hellfire as opposed to a glorious “afterlife” called heaven.? It is very apparent that you are a very strong believer, and although you put your points well, they get broken down with hard facts and/or logic. Yet you still carry on as if people have said or proven nothing. It’s a commendation to your faith, but it doesn’t do your intellectuality justice.

  • 182 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 28, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    @Thomas
    You’re evading the question. Please show us how your interpretation of the Bible is more valid than that of the other theists on this site.

    Back it up with evidence. It can’t be that difficult.

  • 183 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 1, 2009 at 2:40 am

    You’re evading the question. Please show us how your interpretation of the Bible is more valid than that of the other theists on this site.

    Putting on my devil’s advocate hat…

    Read the first 4 paragraphs of the longer piece that I linked to previously. If you think the piece is a Poe, it isn’t. John M. Frame is a theologian and philosopher.

    Now, given this, the argument is that this interpretation is more valid because it is the interpretation that follows most straightforwardly from bending the knee of your mind to the text itself and to your contemporary authorities. There is no evaluating of evidence to determine true and false for yourself – this is unbelief.

    From a little later on in the essay:

    That is why Christian views of the family, of sex, of education, of justice, of the sanctity of human life are increasingly marginalized in modern society. Our secularized society looks at us with increasing condescension and pity. They do not listen to our arguments; they don’t take us seriously. Our positions are simply incredible. They violate the main premise of secular thought, the premise of autonomy, man’s right to be the final judge of truth and falsity, right and wrong.

    (emphasis added)

    The very idea that a person should be judging for themselves true and false, correct and incorrect, is unbelief. If your epistemology is to submit to the authority of the text and to the authorities who claim to follow a similar epistemology, then Thomas’ interpretation of the Bible IS the valid one.

  • 184 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 1, 2009 at 3:17 am

    Darnit, I messed up a blockquote at the beginning of my previous comment. The first two sentences are Kenneth’s.

  • 185 Thomas // Mar 1, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Hazard @181

    Joh 19:9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.

    Silence if often the correct way to answer people who persist in their follishness.

    Pr 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.

    I can assure you I have no intention of ever being like you.

    Read the Bible from cover to cover and perhaps, just maybe, you may find the Triune God who has been, who is, and will be for evermore.

    And yet, the wisest man who ever lived also said:

    Pr 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

    I sincerely hope you understand the gist of Solomon’s wisdom.

  • 186 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

    @Ben-Jammin’

    The very idea that a person should be judging for themselves true and false, correct and incorrect, is unbelief.

    Hmmm…OK. I’m with you.

    If your epistemology is to submit to the authority of the text and to the authorities who claim to follow a similar epistemology, then Thomas’ interpretation of the Bible IS the valid one.

    But then surely you aren’t thinking for yourself? You’re accepting someone elses authority without question.

    Or am I not following your argument?

  • 187 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 1, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    But then surely you aren’t thinking for yourself? You’re accepting someone elses authority without question.

    Exactly! To think for yourself is un-belief. That’s the whole point of the first four paragraphs.

    Or am I not following your argument?

    I think you are…or I’m not following you. :)

  • 188 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    That’s the whole point of the first four paragraphs.

    Actually it’s the main point of all of part 1. If you have the patience and/or stomach for it, all of part 1 is worth reading. Parts 2 and 3, not so much.

    Another highlight from part 1:

    You see, if you start from human autonomy, you can’t believe in God. If you look for some logical argument that runs from the assumption of human autonomy to the conclusion, “God exists,” you won’t find one. When you start from that premise, you will conclude over and over again that God does not exist. The only way to believe in God is by means of a whole new way of thinking, a new mind, the mind of Christ.

    The mind of Christ says, first of all, we are not autonomous. We are creatures of God, under his control and under the authority of his word. Our minds were made to think his thoughts after him, to presuppose his authority, not our own. Once we surrender our own autonomy, we are freed from its terrible bondage, and our very concept of possibility changes.

  • 189 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    @Ben-Jammin’
    Sorry, I misinterpreted one sentence of your devil’s advocate post, which led to my confusion.

    Thomas, still waiting…

    But Jesus gave him no answer.

    Perhaps he just wasn’t that good at snappy comebacks.

    Silence if often the correct way to answer people who persist in their follishness.

    It is also very often the indicative response of someone who doesn’t have an answer.

    Read the Bible from cover to cover and perhaps, just maybe, you may find the Triune God who has been, who is, and will be for evermore.

    You are aware that reading the Bible cover to cover has led many people to atheism?

    And yet, the wisest man who ever lived also said:

    What, wiser than Jesus?

    By the by, didn’t the direct contradictions of those two consecutive Proverbs verses make the props under your Biblical literalism groan just a little?

  • 190 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 1, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    @Ben-Jammin’
    I did try to read it…persecution complex and projection, and some lovely appeals to consequences and unevidenced assertions.

    I particularly loved this bit:

    When the Vista school board, with a Christian majority, considered asking the teachers to mention some of the “weaknesses” in the theory of evolution, they encountered massive resistance. Why? Doesn’t every theory have weaknesses? Of all the theories of human science, is evolution alone infallible?

    Which is why we teach astrology and Aristotelian physics in Physics class, alchemy in Chemistry, and spontaneous generation and Lamarckism in Biology.

    And this spectacular piece:

    So if you believe in God this morning, it’s not because you are especially smart, or well-educated. More likely it is because you are dumber than most.

    Unbelievable.

    You sure this isn’t a Poe? ;-)

  • 191 Bendul // Mar 1, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Edgar Alan Poe, Kenneth?

  • 192 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 1, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Not Edgar Allen. Poe’s Law.

  • 193 Thomas // Mar 1, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Kenneth acknowledges that Jesus is the wisest of all humankind.

    What, wiser than Jesus?

    And yet you sadly reject His wisdom.

    Kenneth, I’m glad to see that you are beginning to see the light. God said:

    Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

    Put your whole heart into your acknowledgment that Jesus is the wisest of all people and start seeking Him with your whole heart.

  • 194 Bendul // Mar 1, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    POE!!!

  • 195 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 1, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    You sure this isn’t a Poe?

    POE!!!

    It really isn’t. Here is the author’s webpage:

    Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy

    Princeton University, A.B.
    Westminster Theological Seminary, B.D.
    Yale University, M.A., M.Phil.
    Belhaven College, D.D.

    Dr. John Frame serves as J.D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy.

    An outstanding theologian, John Frame distinguished himself during 31 years on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary, and was a founding faculty member of WTS California. He is best known for his prolific writings including ten volumes, a contributor to many books and reference volumes, as well as scholarly articles and magazines. Rev. Frame is a talented musician and discerning media critic who is deeply committed to the work of ministry and training pastors.

    This is a list of his articles on his website (the one I linked to is under ‘presuppositional apologetics’). It even has a short written debate with Paul Kurtz from 1996.

    This is mainstream religion. It’s just presented here more honestly, without the usual obfuscation.

  • 196 Bendul // Mar 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Sorry Ben-Jammin. I don’t find your “argument on Thomas’ behalf” convincing.

    Using a fundamentalist’s interpretation of the bible to validate fundamentalistic affirmation of orthodoxy is “no can do” in my books. I realize you are playing devil’s advocate; and tyour whole idea is to be cutely ironic: but this logic can be used to validate ANY INTERPRETATION of the ANYTHING. It attempts to argue away the fact that most text do in fact have a certain scope of intended meaning, and therefore certain semantic impossibilities. But this is probably what you are trying to do, no? Prove the ridiculousness of the entire affair, no?

    Anyways.
    “bowing the knee to the text itself” as you describe is a misnomer; as this is only possible if someone has NO prior exposure to biblical epistemologies (or secular epistemologies for that matter). We usually see the bible’s message wrpped up in a certain interpretation thereof, the form is which is clearly visible in the style and empasis of the preacher. The knee is bent to interpretative recreations of the text, by different authorities, as you put it (hope thats what you meant!).

    This brings us back full circle, to our original question. Who is the final authority on what scripture means, and how it’s theism should therefore be articulated and practised? (the proposition “scripture is inerrant” that your “case” is based upon is invalid criteria; it too is a construct of the fundamentalism authorities of the 19th century: regard early history, in the context of which inerrancy would be qualified by how good it makes a certain Ceaser look in the public eye. I.E. the context of certain words change all the time, so meaning can in fact be misconstrued )

    Sorry for the sloppy reply. I’m off to bed.

  • 197 Bendul // Mar 1, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    No man Ben-jammin.

    I meant Kenneth’s comment #189 is POE in the context of Thomas’ comment #193.

    that’s like textbook naivete…

  • 198 Bendul // Mar 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I don’t like the way Frame uses the term “postmodern”. It assumes a unified ideological front to the “movement”; instead of the fragmented response/reaction to the extremely fragmented “late-Modernism”.

    His philosophical awareness of Cultural distinctives is way oversimplified. He might have gotten some degrees in classical philosophy, but he seems clueless to contemporary critical thinking in the cultural sphere, if you ask me!

  • 199 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 1, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I don’t find your “argument on Thomas’ behalf” convincing.

    I would hope not. :)

    but this logic can be used to validate ANY INTERPRETATION of the ANYTHING.

    Yup. Whatever you are willing to bend the knee of you mind toward, you can then be sure to never find out if you’re wrong.

    But this is probably what you are trying to do, no? Prove the ridiculousness of the entire affair, no?

    Actually, no. It’s a technique of going back to where disagreeing parties stop agreeing. The root of the disagreement is at this basic level.

    I just get tired of people talking past each other.

    If any of us could get Thomas or Amanda to demonstrate a similar understanding or ability to cite Paul Kurtz / Daniel Dennett / whomever in a similar way in their own words, I would be extraordinarily happy. Forget convincing anyone of whether they were correct; I’ll settle for basic comprehension.

  • 200 Hugo // Mar 1, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Haha! So 189 was the POE? Thanks Bendul, I kinda missed that. I did catch that it is related to 189/193, but I actually thought you were referring to *Thomas*’ response being illogical (thinking that Kenneth’s question means he thinks what Thomas suggests it means). The opposite emphasis shot right past me, for two reasons:

    1. I read Kenneth’s question as more sincere, less satirical.
    2. Thomas’ response on the other hand felt deliberately absurd and close-minded. Which I now realise is an incorrect “tone” to read into it as well. Glad you’re here Bendul, you’ve helped me recognise more of my bias.

    So Thomas is more sincerely serious about such things than I’m sometimes giving him credit for. (But it still is illogical, “Jesus > Solomon” by Kenneth would still not mean Jesus == max_{wisdom}(set of all humanity). Unless combined with “solomon was wisest of all”, but Kenneth didn’t suggest he agrees with that.)

    On Ben&Ben, I think Ben-Jammin is more sincere than Bendul gives him credit for? Granted, I probably detect less sarcasm/irony than was meant, but I’m suggesting you’re detecting more than was meant? I concur with Ben-Jammin’s description for example, I think he’s pretty accurately expressing how a fundie-epistemology works… and Bendul, you’re a post-fundie, naturally you won’t like the fundie-self-referrential epistemology? It won’t “work for you”. (Was there once a time when it was more accurate for your view of the world? I’ll describe my own experiences in that regard in a blog post.)

    So there seems to be a little bit of “talking past one another” going on.

    …drats, I’m slow on this phone. Ben-Jammin has since reponded, and much of what I wrote is unnecessary or slightly misguided even. Another mengelmoes idea became more concretely defined in the process. :-P

  • 201 Hugo // Mar 2, 2009 at 1:12 am

    OK, my previous comment sucked on a couple of levels. And I knew it when I hit submit, but editing it on a cellphone was prohibitive, and there was some of it that I *did* want to publish and not lose. (And my battery was nearly flat.) Verdict: don’t bother starting a reply on a cellphone. In most instances.

    Here’s what I was mostly responding to:

    your whole idea is to be cutely ironic: but this logic can be used to validate ANY INTERPRETATION of the ANYTHING. It attempts to argue away the fact that most text do in fact have a certain scope of intended meaning, and therefore certain semantic impossibilities.

    Ben-Jammin responded already about his intentions.

    I was talking about the above as something I consider fundies doing, also out of personal experience: it becomes a self-referential framework that pulls itself up on its own shoelaces. That’s the bit of Bendul’s post I was disagreeing with, considering it an indication of a misunderstanding of what Ben-Jammin was trying to say.

    At the same time, I *agree* with is this:

    “bowing the knee to the text itself” as you describe is a misnomer; as this is only possible if someone has NO prior exposure to biblical epistemologies (or secular epistemologies for that matter). We usually see the bible’s message wrpped up in a certain interpretation thereof, the form is which is clearly visible in the style and empasis of the preacher. The knee is bent to interpretative recreations of the text, by different authorities, as you put it (hope thats what you meant!).

    The influence of the observer on what is observed, is very significant. That’s the bit that kept on evolving over the past 2000 years, even if the texts didn’t change much since the committee’s decision on what is to be considered the “canonical” Word of God (whether under inspiration or not, I don’t mean to side-track with this “since” anchor, I just don’t know the year or century).

    The question though: Ben-Jammin would like to get some honest comprehension/agreement/reflection about this. That’s his stated goal: “I’ll settle for basic comprehension.” -> And I love it! (Cross-cultural comprehension, and self-comprehension within that plural context, is all this site wants to accomplish.) Oh yea, back to “the question though”: what would be easier to get agreement on? Trying to achieve recognition/comprehension of “that’s one understanding/interpretation of the text” has failed in the past more-than-600-comments.

    So setting aside the point on whether the fundie-interpretation is the correct one or not… they believe it to be, and assume they’re reading and believing “only the text”. Talking from within that context, might Ben-Jammin’s explanation be something Thomas should be able to agree to, upon more self-reflection and brutal honesty? Or is it inaccurate, from Thomas’ perspective? In what way? Apart from the fact that we’re talking about one specific interpretation of the Bible.

    BTW, here’s a guy that has a “cleaner than most” read of the Bible, coming at it with a friendly and “always reverent” attitude. Makes for some very interesting reading, start from the bottom:
    http://biblewithhugh.blogspot.com/

    Having more of that kind of “read” of the Bible, with commentary, might be particularly interesting. I’ve met people that, for missionary work, went and “lost some Bibles” in a middle-eastern country, e.g. under a rock, behind a bush, for others to find, since they may not overtly preach another religion. And I wonder, what kind of impact does that kind of text have?

    And what kind of impact might it have if we were to leave many copies of “A Short History of Nearly Everything” in a young-earth-fundie-Muslim-country? The latter should actually be legit by local laws as well, I’d hope.

    These were supposed to be pondering-out-loud, rhetorical thoughts, hoping not to derail the conversation. Again. ;)

  • 202 Hugo // Mar 2, 2009 at 1:21 am

    @Thomas, #173:

    Hugo,

    Who do you say is Jesus Christ?

    The canonical, short answer:

    The Lamb of God, the Wisdom of God, and the Son of God.

    Apparently similar/”equal” emphasis in the New Testament, when not read with prior bias?

    The more expanded commentary on that answer includes:

    Well, Jesus didn’t exactly have wool, he wasn’t literally a sheep. What does it mean to be a son? In human terms, if someone is the son of another guy, it would mean that guy had sex with that someone’s mother, that the genes from one of the father’s sperm cells combined with the genes of the mother’s egg cell to produce a human with ~50% the father’s genes.

    I doubt God had sex with Mary. I doubt God has genes. I doubt Jesus shares 50% of his genetic material with God. So “Jesus is the son of God” is a highly theological statement, rather than a literal one.

    Oh, and if you want some incriminating evidence, here’s another related place I confess to heresy:

    I Will Burn In Hell.

    The post is a bit vague, the comments explaining the post contain a confession of my heresy, against one of the “fundamentals” of your faith, for all the world to see. Enjoy.

  • 203 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 2, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Kenneth acknowledges that Jesus is the wisest of all humankind.

    I am actually starting to agree with Bendul here. I think Thomas is yanking my chain. If true, may I say, well played! You got me. If not, the alternative explanations are not particularly complimentary.

    @Thomas
    Thomas, your very previous post said that Solomon was the wisest of humankind. Now all of a sudden it is Jesus. Direct contradictions aren’t helping your argument, you realise this?

    Still waiting for your explanation on the validity of your interpretation of the Bible.

  • 204 Thomas // Mar 2, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Kenneth,

    That’s exactly why I advised you to read the Bible. Had you done so you would have known that the wisdom of Solomon was in fact the wisdom of Jesus. Solomon never had wisdom until he prayed and asked God to give him that wisdom. Is your so-called “wisdom” your own or is it but a replica of those (such as Darwin and the likes) who are leading you astray?

    I expect you to live up to your claim of a brain power that surpasses that of a chimp and not to write down your thoughts in a moment of absurdity. Please think through every little word you aim to write down. I don’t expect you to thinktoomuch but to think just a wee bit more than you have done thus far.

  • 205 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 2, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Now this is ROFLMAO funny!

    Thomas, this a) in no way explains the contradiction b) is a truly wonderful example of irony and c) is still not the explanation I keep asking you for.

  • 206 Bendul // Mar 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

    absolute farce.

    ROFLMAO, with a touch of ROFCMAO (substitute laughing for crying…)

    Ken; I think Thomas does not waste time on things like irony and sarcasm (I don’t blame him, you know, him being mentally handicapped and all > comment #167) in his crusade, hence I’d say he is being completely sincere in comments #189 & 193. You were obviously sarcastically pointing out his blatant and unqualified contradiction in that comment; he misunderstood your sarcasm as sincerity…

    Ag die hemelwesentjies is darem tog so naief! :)

  • 207 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 7:10 am

    absolute farce.

    ROFLMAO, with a touch of ROFCMAO (substitute laughing for crying…)

    Ken; I think Thomas does not waste time on things like irony and sarcasm (I don’t blame him, you know, him being mentally handicapped and all > comment #167) in his crusade, hence I’d say he is being completely sincere in comments #189 & 193. You were obviously sarcastically pointing out his blatant and unqualified contradiction in that comment; he misunderstood your sarcasm as sincerity…

    Ag die hemelwesentjies is darem tog so naief.

    But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. (Jude 1:17-19)

    Both you gentlemen are living monuments of the inerrancy and infallible truth of the bible. I once again urge you to repent before it is too late. Do not resist God and the conviction of His Holy Spirit.

  • 208 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Hugo @ 202

    The short answer to that is:

    1Jo 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

    Wise post-modernists like you should know what a metaphor is but apparently you don’t. Jesus likened Him to a hen as well. Does that make Him a chicken? If you fail to recognize a metaphor, how on earth can you know what literalism means?

  • 209 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 3, 2009 at 8:46 am

    How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

    Bendul, you experiencing any ungodly lusts right now? I have a mild coffee high; does that count?

    Both you gentlemen are living monuments of the inerrancy and infallible truth of the bible.

    Confirmation bias, and cherry-picking the data. Really Thomas, you can do better than this.

    I once again urge you to repent before it is too late. Do not resist God and the conviction of His Holy Spirit.

    Bendul is a Christian. There is no a priori reason to assume that your reading of the Bible is the correct one. Until you provide evidence to substantiate your position, you are no more or less a Christian than he is. Stop telling him that he isn’t. It makes you look hypocritical.

    As for myself…well. Simply provide evidence.

  • 210 Hugo // Mar 3, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Uh… Thomas…

    If you fail to recognize a metaphor, how on earth can you know what literalism means?

    It was actually precisely my point that we’re talking about metaphors. I don’t understand how your Bible quote is relevant, I didn’t say anything about whether “Jesus came in flesh” or not. And… um… could you use the NIV? Nice up-to-date language, easier to read.

    So it even seems like you’re agreeing that “Jesus is the son of God” is a metaphor? Is that correct? So what does it mean that Jesus was the “son of God”, and how does it differ from others that are also considered “the sons of God”? (Sincere question, I’d like to understand what your views are with regards to what makes Jesus, Jesus…)

  • 211 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Ben-Jammin.

    My main thought on that article John M. Frame is that it contains a sting of irony. Exactly the thing he argues against (the autonomous human interpretation of reality – free from interpretative bias & pressure from interpretative authorities) is the thing that he is ignorant of in his own interpretation of the “pure text” that is scripture. We see the same thing with Thomas. He assumes his interpretation of scripture is completely unbiased and pure. This is the key characteristic of extremistic fundamentalism:

    TOTAL UN-SELF CRITICAL THOUGHT

  • 212 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

    So here’s my position (sorry Thomas, but your calls to repent still remain a call to join YOU and YOUR way of interpreting scripture).

    I am worried by Fundamentalism;
    Not because it tries to remain orthodox; true to the message of the bible, but because it assumes itself as the authority in determining what scripture says. No one else can be right in any way, and the Fundamentalist is PERFECTLY CORRECT IN ANY and ALL interpretations he makes.

    A fundamentalist like Thomas will gleefully quote Paul to validate |THEMSELVES & always themselves. how many times has Thomas used scripture where it has not been in an obvious attempt at self-preservation? Not many! (obviously here the “chastisement of other’s viewpoint’s also serve as self-preservation).

    Thomas will “conveniently” omit anything Paul said about “not-yet having attained” and “being the chief of all sinners”. How much of this kind of self-effacing rhetoric have we heard from him? none. *Because he is unable to misinterpret ANYTHING from scripture* (SARCASM!!!)

    He will have many explanations for this. But ultimately scripture is his tool for validating HIMSELF and the way HE thinks things should work. We’ve seen this dynamic at work.

    I sound angry, because I am. I know of people who have been thrown out of churches because of their refusal to “submit” to authoritarian leader’s viewpoints of the meaning of scripture. People then thrown out of their houses in winter in London, by their “Former brother’s and sisters”. The scary thing about fundamentalism is that “the end justifies the means”. We see this attitude at work in imperialism & all the evils committed by it. People are killed, robbed of their culture and resources, but then offered “the gift of eternal salvation” as repayment.

    It is of such people that Jesus warned. The nullify the command of God – to love, honour and respect their neighbours – so that they can establish their own ideals, using scripture. Thomas will explain away neighbourly love as humanistic, conveniently altering the emphasis of the bible: much similar to what George W Bush did for those long years.

    I am nauseated at the thought.

    So again. I am passionate for Jesus. His message. His self-sacrificing love. I want to share this with people. But I believe the way you proceed in this endeavour to be just as important as the message itself.

  • 213 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 11:39 am

    And what really gets me is that there are so many young people who are desperately looking for a place to passionately express faith in God and Christ, and this is where they find a home. In churches where they would prefer being hypocrites; accepting views & opinions that don’t make sense to them – only to later give up on the whole religion, rather than sincerely challenging and wrestling with the truth and their leaderships opinion thereof. Why? because this us/them schism is created by shortsighted Christian leaders who are afraid of losing control of “the flock” as soon as people start asking questions.

    We need Christian leaders who are Christlike. We need Christian Leaders who refuse to lead. Like Jesus did.

  • 214 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

    17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

    Thomas. Regard James’ words here. Ask yourself if this is you. Ask yourself if when Jesus said “I do not come to bring peace, but a sword” he might have meant something other than what you have made clear as your objective: to war against people who do not share your views of scripture. Your passion for the purity of scripture’s message is blessed. But ask yourself if the Pharisees were not too passionate about preserving purity?

    So Thomas; here is YOUR CHANCE to repent. It is not I who offer it to you. I have probably gotten muchly in the way by getting this emotional about what I believe in my heart to be true. But the prince of peace offers you rest; repentance from trying to defend the one who offered no defence when he was cursed and crucified by those whom he came to give himself to. Our beloved Jesus Christ.

  • 215 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    And by this I do not mean to associate myself with anything like the Jesus Seminar for instance. that is merely a different kind of fundamentalism…

  • 216 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Ben-Jammin.

    My main thought on that article John M. Frame is that it contains a sting of irony. Exactly the thing he argues against (the autonomous human interpretation of reality – free from interpretative bias & pressure from interpretative authorities) is the thing that he is ignorant of in his own interpretation of the “pure text” that is scripture. We see the same thing with Thomas. He assumes his interpretation of scripture is completely unbiased and pure. This is the key characteristic of extremistic fundamentalism:

    TOTAL UN-SELF CRITICAL THOUGHT

    I merely quoted some relevant passages from Scripture. Your outright rejection of the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God is the cause for your downfall and not my assumed interpretation of Scripture. Apparently you have some difficulty to understand the simple and plainspoken meaning of the Word of God.

    If my interpretation is the incorrect one would you care to provide me with the correct one. Perhaps there is no such thing as a singularly correct interpretation of the Bible simply because we live in a post modern world in which everything is supposedly paradoxical. Your truth is as good as mine kind of thing. Next time you approach a red light, try and interpret it as a green one and see what happens. The Bible is full of red warning lights but apparently you choose to ignore them all. You’re on a collision course unless you repent and start believing the literal meaning of the Word of God.

  • 217 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I merely quoted some relevant passages from Scripture. Your outright rejection of the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God is the cause for your downfall and not my assumed interpretation of Scripture. Apparently you have some difficulty to understand the simple and plainspoken meaning of the Word of God.

    sorry Thomas. Your reading of scripture dictates the relevance of your quoted scriptures. I reiterate: I reject your reading of scripture as inerrant. Not the inerrancy of scripture itself. I am simply stating the possibility of interpreters of the bible being wrong: a possibility you seem to be more than willing to acknowledge unless its YOU doing the interpreting.

    Apparently you have some difficulty to understand the simple and plainspoken meaning of the Word of God

    Thomas seriously. If scripture was THIS easy to understand NONE OF CHURCH HISTORY MAKES ANY SENSE.

    Perhaps there is no such thing as a singularly correct interpretation of the Bible simply because we live in a post modern world in which everything is supposedly paradoxical

    I suggest you google “paradoxical” because you obviously don’t know what the word means. “postmodern” would be another good word to google. I am being very sincere here. I don’t see any evidence in your abuse of the terms of complex semantic comprehension.

    You’re on a collision course unless you repent and start believing the literal meaning of the Word of God.
    -Thomas comment#216

    Wise post-modernists like you should know what a metaphor is but apparently you don’t. Jesus likened Him to a hen as well. Does that make Him a chicken?
    Thomas comment#208

    As much as I would like to leave these two statements to “speak for themselves”, I have to bring something up. Who decides what is to be taken literally and what is literal? Sorry Thomas. This is where all of your arguments fall flat. Men make these decisions. Men err. We will never have a perfect representation of the inerrant word of God. Which doesn’t mean we accept any obvious misinterpretations: No. It menas we humble ourselves and do what James suggests:

    17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

    A scripture which you have no qualms in ignoring because you are “exempt” by your “quest for purity”.

  • 218 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Thomas will “conveniently” omit anything Paul said about “not-yet having attained” and “being the chief of all sinners”. How much of this kind of self-effacing rhetoric have we heard from him? none. *Because he is unable to misinterpret ANYTHING from scripture* (SARCASM!!!)

    You should at least try to put your arguments into perspective according to the context and not allow your personal emotional outbursts to distort the meaning of Scripture. The thing Paul hadn’t attained was not salvation or the assurance of salvation but the resurrection from the dead, meaning of course the state of perfection which every saint will eventually attain to when they are indeed resurrected from the dead. How can I elaborate on the resurrection when you (I assume you don’t) and all the others on this site do not believe in the literal, bodily (physical) and historical resurrection of Jesus Christ from amongst the dead?

    Paul considered him the chief of sinners, not because he committed any sin bigger or more hideous than any other sinner; he called himself the chief of sinners because he persecuted Jesus Christ before his redemption. It may do you well to rather focus on what Paul said about his own salvation. It might just encourage you to do the same and motivate you to stop your own persecution of Jesus Christ.

    Why do you become angry? Surely you know by now that anyone who knows the truth will never allow anything to unsettle him or make him mad.
    The Truth, the real Truth, makes you free, especially from being ruffled so easily.

  • 219 Hugo // Mar 3, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Guys, remember the topic of this post. Maybe go re-read it.

    If my interpretation is the incorrect one would you care to provide me with the correct one.

    If Thomas has no inclination or fertile ground in his mind for the seed of another understanding to grow, there’s not going to be much that can be done. It’ll be a matter “between him and God”.

    Your truth is as good as mine kind of thing. Next time you approach a red light, try and interpret it as a green one and see what happens.

    Straw-man.

    Live Lyrics, from What Are We Fighting For:

    The crucifix ain’t no baseball bat
    Tell me, what kind of god is that?
    Ain’t nothing more godless than a war . . .

    Ditto for The Bible. Yay Bible Bashing.

    ps: I hear one of the first things done in my favourite church’s “Padlangs” course (literally: along-the-path/road/way), is addressing that particular problem. Rabbi’s (dedicated to the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament) are aware of more than a dozen interpretations of certain texts. Out of such kinds of “paradoxes” you find the mirror with which you look at yourself, and a tool with which you can learn. Being shown this early in the course, it removes from their hands the Bible-as-weapon-to-whack-each-other-over-the-head-with. What’s left is relationship, community, people walking the path together, and learning from one another, also about what can be learned from the Bible, given the balancing effect of discussing different things it means to different people… the result is that the text speaks to you personally, rather than one particular person’s interpretation being shoved down on you.

  • 220 Hugo // Mar 3, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Thomas:

    I assume you don’t

    BAM! Evidence. Assumptions, the “father of evil”… Playing on assumptions rather than humbly seeking to understand: arrogance.

    We have diversity on this site, Thomas. I’m sure Bendul’s going to correct you here.

    So let me take this opportunity to provide a first warning: incorrect assumptions and unrepentant arrogance are not welcome here. If public opinion has it that you continue in arrogance and incorrect assumptions about others (something I consider highly, highly unchristian, by my understanding of Jesus), I reserve the right to moderate your comments. Maybe that’s what you want…? I do also continue reserving the right to *not* moderate your comments.

  • 221 Hugo // Mar 3, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Surely you know by now that anyone who knows the truth will never allow anything to unsettle him or make him mad.

    Did Jesus ever become angry?

  • 222 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    You should at least try to put your arguments into perspective according to the context and not allow your personal emotional outbursts to distort the meaning of Scripture.

    Sorry Thomas. This is what I am accusing you of. It’s your burden of proof to prove me wrong; turning the argument back on me does not exempt you. Sorry.

    The thing Paul hadn’t attained was not salvation or the assurance of salvation but the resurrection from the dead, meaning of course the state of perfection which every saint will eventually attain to when they are indeed resurrected from the dead.

    I never said that Paul hadn’t attained to Salvation; You seem to be putting words into my mouth. Which puts the next part into context:

    How can I elaborate on the resurrection when you (I assume you don’t) and all the others on this site do not believe in the literal, bodily (physical) and historical resurrection of Jesus Christ from amongst the dead?

    Another Fundamentalistic forte: Pressuposition. You don’t know anything about me Thomas. Don’t pretend you know me because you know (ONE OF!!!) the authors I enjoy reading. Your misinterpretations of author’s like McLaren’s theological viewpoints make more sense now.

    Why do you become angry? Surely you know by now that anyone who knows the truth will never allow anything to unsettle him or make him mad.
    The Truth, the real Truth, makes you free, especially from being ruffled so easily.

    *SARCASM* Jesus apparently didn’t know the truth when he became angry at people who made a mockery of the temple of His Father, and overturned their tables *SARCASM*

    Thomas I am angry because what you are doing is honouring the word of God with what you say and write, but generally making a mockery of Jesus’ teachings to be humble and loving. I realize I am also overstepping the line; but I have tried humbly challenging your self-justified “truths”. I am desperate to prevent that you will continue hurting people in the name of religion.

  • 223 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Bendul

    Thomas seriously. If scripture was THIS easy to understand NONE OF CHURCH HISTORY MAKES ANY SENSE.

    Do you really think a young man wooing a young woman he loves would write her a letter she is unable to understand? He is going to make his intentions so perfectly clear that she would in no way misinterpret it? Unfortunately church history from the earliest centuries to the present (including Roman Catholicism’s salvation by works and Calvinism’s appalling doctrine of predestination and election) has falsified the truth to such an extent that John Doe needs a priest or a dominee to explain to him the intricacies of the Bible. I prefer to believe God when He says:

    Joh 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

    The Spirit of God guides into all truth only those who have been saved by the grace of God.
    I know perfectly well what the word “paradox” means. So stop patronizing me.

  • 224 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Another Fundamentalistic forte: Pressuposition. You don’t know anything about me Thomas. Don’t pretend you know me because you know (ONE OF!!!) the authors I enjoy reading. Your misinterpretations of author’s like McLaren’s theological viewpoints make more sense now.

    Ok Bendul, please tell us all how you were saved. How did it happen. Give us your testimony. Peter said:

    1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

  • 225 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Sorry Thomas. This is what I am accusing you of. It’s your burden of proof to prove me wrong; turning the argument back on me does not exempt you. Sorry.

    I’m not trying to prove you wrong by any means. I am merely showing you what the plainly spoken Word of God teaches. Don’t you understand the simple meaning of John 3:16 and John 3:36 and 1 John 5:11-13? If you do, why don’t you preach it?

  • 226 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Do you really think a young man wooing a young woman he loves would write her a letter she is unable to understand? He is going to make his intentions so perfectly clear that she would in no way misinterpret it? Unfortunately church history from the earliest centuries to the present (including Roman Catholicism’s salvation by works and Calvinism’s appalling doctrine of predestination and election) has falsified the truth to such an extent that John Doe needs a priest or a dominee to explain to him the intricacies of the Bible. I prefer to believe God when He says:

    Joh 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

    Interesting. Then I struggle to understand why you insist on telling all of us how we misunderstand the scripture?!

    I like to think that the spirit guides us into truth. Does a guide stand at the bottom of the mountain, tell you how to walk and then let you do it on your own? No. He goes with you. The impression I get is that the guide has already told you the way; all of it, and now you know it all – rendering you exempt from guidance.

    This is a big problem I wrestle with in my own church. The idea I get from you is that a preacher is either fully right or fully wrong. The schism fundamentalism creates plays heavily on this distorted sense of loyalty. This does not correspond to reality OR scripture. Once again Paul. Not Perfect YET…

    Testimony idea: I like dem! Hugo; how about a feature of “about the regulars” on your blog? people can share about themselves and their background etc. Will encourage understanding and diminish presupposition…

    Sorry if I come across as patronizing Thomas. But I sincerely see very little understanding on your part of the term “paradoxical” from your writing.

  • 227 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    You should at least try to put your arguments into perspective according to the context and not allow your personal emotional outbursts to distort the meaning of Scripture.

    Ok so explain to me how you are NOT ACCUSING me of distorting scripture here?

  • 228 Kenneth Oberlander // Mar 3, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    @Thomas; everyone:
    Let’s sum up, why don’t we. This was fun, but we’re moving in circles right now.

    Thomas, according to you, you have access to the correct interpretation of scripture. We do not. You cannot (or will not) provide us with reasons why your interpretation is correct. You are not even willing to acknowledge that you might be incorrect. This gives us no reason to believe.

    We are not willing to accept your version of scripture, because you have provided no reasons for the validity of your particular viewpoint, and consequently we have no reason to believe that yours is true. Yet you continue to judge us on it. We do not accept the judgements you lay down on us, because you cannot (or will not) defend your interpretations with evidence. Your (only) defence consists of cherry-picked passages of scripture that you insist must be interpreted your way. Which leads us directly into a circular argument.

    We have been in this cycle for hundreds of posts now, and there is no reason to believe that either side is going to change their viewpoint. So, there are a few alternatives:
    a) Someone changes their mind. Not likely.
    b) Argument continues ad infinitum. Not useful.
    c) Argument stops, and we all go on with our daily lives.

    I vote for c.

    Seriously. You’re not going to convert us, and we are not going to convince you. Why don’t we all just give it a rest.

  • 229 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Ken.

    Don’t completely agree. I feel Thomas has (inadvertently) made an excellent suggestion in asking for my story. I think it would really help conversation if we knew a bit more about each other…

  • 230 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Bendul 226

    Someone once said: “The Bible is written with a single purpose in mind – to present the Way of salvation through a Messianic lineage chosen of God and to offer this salvation to all mankind. The assurance of salvation is the most important thing to know. Is that so difficult to understand. Why do you think Jesus once said that unless we become like little children we will never enter into the Kingdom of God?

    Paul’s “not perfect YET” does not mean that you cannot be certain of your final destination. Can one be sure, Bendul, and if so, on what basis can one be certain?

  • 231 Thomas // Mar 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Bendul

    Sorry if I come across as patronizing Thomas. But I sincerely see very little understanding on your part of the term “paradoxical” from your writing.

    Is your opinion/interpretation the only correct one. If so, then you do not know what the word “paradox” means.

  • 232 Hugo // Mar 3, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    In many ways I do agree with Kenneth, without some other valuable contribution, this conversation/argument is best put to rest.

    But I also agree an “about the regulars” page would be cool. Longer-term plans actually includes having some kind of profile page for commenters, and it’s something relatively high up on my features-to-implement list, but if that’s “too long”, I can create normal WordPress “pages” for whoever wants it in the meantime.

    Why do you think Jesus once said that unless we become like little children we will never enter into the Kingdom of God?

    I’ve got a post-to-write on my to-do list about that very topic. My first post will be about children being open to learning new things, whereas adults typically are not. But I have a suspicion (probably vague recollections from Bible scholars) that the “contextually correct” understanding has more to do with the role children had in that culture, making it something similar to the “the first will be last, the last will be first” thing.

    Compassion is still a very easy thing to understand, and I suspect children grasp that easier than many adults…

  • 233 Bendul // Mar 3, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    A paradox is a statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies intuition; or, it can be an apparent contradiction that actually expresses a non-dual truth (cf. Koan). Typically, either the statements in question do not really imply the contradiction, the puzzling result is not really a contradiction, or the premises themselves are not all really true or cannot all be true together. The word paradox is often used interchangeably with contradiction. Often, mistakenly, it is used to describe situations that are ironic.

    The recognition of ambiguities, equivocations, and unstated assumptions underlying known paradoxes has led to significant advances in science, philosophy and mathematics. But many paradoxes, such as Curry’s paradox, do not yet have universally accepted resolutions.

    Sometimes the term paradox is used for situations that are merely surprising. The birthday paradox, for instance, is unexpected but perfectly logical. The logician Willard V. O. Quine distinguishes falsidical paradoxes, which are seemingly valid, logical demonstrations of absurdities, from veridical paradoxes, such as the birthday paradox, which are seeming absurdities that are nevertheless true.[1] Paradoxes in economics tend to be the veridical type, typically counterintuitive outcomes of economic theory. In literature a paradox can be any contradictory or obviously untrue statement, which resolves itself upon later inspection.

    This is how I (and those cute blonde liberal bunnies at wikipedia) see paradox.

    This is how you’ve communicated your idea of paradox:

    Die post-modernisme is deurspek met teenstydighede. In die gewone spreektaal verwys ons na hierdie fenomeen as “paradokse.” Dr. Nelus Niemandt, outeur van die boek “Nuwe Drome vir Nuwe Werklikhede” omskryf “paradoksaal” as volg:

    Die feit dat verskillende wêreldbeskouings gelyktydig ons wêreld beïnvloed, krap sake nogal om. Een van Dr. Nelus Niemandtdie gevolge is ‘n paradoksale wêreld. Paradokse beteken dan twee dinge, wat oënskynlik teenoor mekaar staan, terselfdertyd waar en geldig is. Dit is ‘n geval van “die een en ook die ander”. Ons leef in so ‘n en/ook wereld. Die een ding is waar en ook die ander. Teenoorgesteldes is beide waar en geldig. Die lewe en die werklikheid kan nie meer in eenvoudige swart/wit kategorieë geplaas en verklaar word nie.

    Dit lyk my paradokse is deel van die wese van die mens. En mense moet sommer gou leer om daarmee saam te leef. [1] (Klem bygevoeg)

    Dr. Nelus is (in your defence) not doing a very good job of describing paradox; he does make it seem like paradox is the “new word to make contradictions seem cool”. However the dominant assumption in your article is that paradoxes is evil liberal’s way of dispelling absolutes. No can do sir. This is a misunderstanding of the word. You abuse this reductionist meaning of the word to make statements like the following:

    Perhaps there is no such thing as a singularly correct interpretation of the Bible simply because we live in a post modern world in which everything is supposedly paradoxical

    Please stop that. You present yourself as rather ignorant.

  • 234 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 4, 2009 at 3:39 am

    @Bendul

    The nullify the command of God – to love, honour and respect their neighbours

    Ummm….I’m confused. Does God commanding [x] make [x] the right thing to do? If so, we’re back to an authoritarian version of morality. If not, it doesn’t matter (from a moral viewpoint) if God commands [x] or not.

    @Hugo

    Ain’t nothing more godless than a war . . .

    I know you mean other than the literal meaning of this (and/or the song does), but still. Grrr….

  • 235 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 4, 2009 at 3:50 am

    But I also agree an “about the regulars” page would be cool. Longer-term plans actually includes having some kind of profile page for commenters, and it’s something relatively high up on my features-to-implement list, but if that’s “too long”, I can create normal WordPress “pages” for whoever wants it in the meantime.

    Oooh, my comment 92 might suffice for me…rereading it…it’s short and sloppy which should work well, I think. Modifying it a bit so it doesn’t need as much context:

    Hugo’s question:

    Once cool, calm and collected, I encourage you to put down, in a comment, in a couple of sentences (a short paragraph), explain what you’re trying to accomplish, why it is that you are commenting.

    Let’s see…as far as commenting on this particular post on this particular blog, I’m not sure there is a simple goal. Where I find interesting conversations I like to read and contribute. For a more general goal of why I comment on religion…hoo boy. I’m not sure how much I can shorten that.

    I was raised Catholic but it never took. To me, the history of human knowledge shows that we made very, very little progress in coming to know what is until the enlightenment. We had this annoying habit of projecting agency as an explanation for everything.

    The enlightenment and the beginnings of modern science – methodological naturalism – changed that. People were forced to explain things with much more exacting conceptions of what the explanation was saying, such that you could definitively say if you were wrong. In other words, you had to test your explanations. So my basic principles for arriving at my beliefs about what is were:

    1. We are in a state of fundamental ignorance. All of our learning leads to tentative conclusions only.
    2. Testing beliefs is the best general method of minimizing your false beliefs and errors.

    So science was (and is) the primary basis for ALL my beliefs about what is.

    The justification for what I was taught determined whether I believed it or not. History class? Pretty much. Science class? Pretty much. Religious instruction? They didn’t have ANY justification for what they taught. Basically, I thought religion was something my fellow classmates were nodding their way through out of some social convention I hadn’t figured out yet. It certainly didn’t seem to me like something anyone could actually believe.

    Fast forward through several decades of ignoring religion as much as possible. In the mid 2000s I started to get scared about people in my country (the U.S.) actually believing this religious stuff and acting on it. Evolution denial was in full swing, stem cell research was stopped, 9/11 had happened, etc. I reached my tipping point into activism and started dialogs online and in real life with religious people. What I perceived as the cost of not challenging people on believing these things became greater than the pain of discussing such things. In the long term, I hope to influence people to rely more on empiricism, reason, and empathy and less on superstition, faith, and authoritarianism.

  • 236 Thomas // Mar 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Bendul

    For the umpteenth time, Bendul. Is your interpretation of the Bible the only correct one or can you surrender to the fact that my interpretation is also valid, notwithstanding the horrid fact that I am a fundamentalist? ?

  • 237 Hugo // Mar 4, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Ben-Jammin:

    I know you mean other than the literal meaning of this (and/or the song does), but still. Grrr….

    There’s a Dutch phrase attributed to “Filosofie Magazine” (Philosophy Magazine… uh… duh) as follows:

    “Ateis: zonder God, maar niet goddeloos.”

    “Atheist: without God, but not godless”. Again the use of language pointing at the meaning of the individual words, that is a nicely loaded phrase. I’ll not spoil it with analysis. Take that meaning behind the Live lyrics, hopefully it helps with the Grrr. ;-)

    I was also wondering, do you know that Live song?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dwpWLo2nLM&feature=related

    Some talking at the beginning, but it does contain the song.

    @#235: Thanks Ben-Jammin, I’ll probably throw up place where such things can be placed until such time as I have a cooler solution.

  • 238 Bendul // Mar 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

    I think I see your heart. Want to send you a long reply about my experiences in the fundamentalist church I love & still attend, but no time now.

    But I feel somewhat encouraged by your last few posts that a respectfull dialogue might emerge. I truly hope hugo shares this optimism; more than that: that we can truly seek to understand each other’s hearts; maybe even find that we share a genuine love for Christ.

    I react to conservative oversimplification of the bible adversely. HOWEVER. I want to affirm many of the same propositional truths that Amanda & Thomas make (Jesus was real, etc).

    Thomas however reduces the message to a MERELY propitiatory one, I choose to view it holistically as BOTH propitiatory AND socially transforming.

    Many of the authors Thomas critices, I will criticise for a reactionary “discarding of the baby along with the bathwater” I.E. no propitiatory element. This is in my opinion however not the case with Brian McLaren. I consider Thomas’ reading of him wrong. I would not be interested in him if he did what Thomas describes.

    I however want to resist the temptation to point my finger at Amanda & Thomas for what I perceive as a reduction of the message of the bible and of Christ, because I don’t disagree with what they are saying until they start affirming it as the “fundamental” or “essential” message of the bible, thereby limiting the scope of this amazing piece of literature.

    I would in fact like to honour them for the affirmations they make; because these are dear to my heart. But my heart breaks if the message I love so dearly is forced into a rendition that makes no room for those other emphases that enlarge the scope of its impact on my life; and ultimately its impact on all of reality.

    Thomas; these excerpts out of this comment thread were attempts on my part to show that I do actually consider your passion for and interpretations (in general) legitimate. I fear you misunderstand my concerns as falling into the “either you or me are completely wrong or completely right” dichotomy. I don’t think like that. I am not a relativist that believes no one can ever be more right than anyone; but I do not believe anyone who claims to have it ALL right. We are all in the process of becoming…

  • 239 Thomas // Mar 4, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Sorry! Hugo, please delete my previous comment.

    We are all in the process of becoming…

    Becoming what . . . ?

    Let me rephrase that somewhat. Do you believe that a person can have the assurance of his salvation NOW and that he/she can know NOW that he/she will go to heaven when they die? If you do, how would you substantiate it or how would you prove its veracity? Should anyone claim to have this rock-steady faith, would you interpret their assurance as having it ALL or are they living in a dream world of becoming . . . something . . . sometime . . . in the future?

  • 240 Bendul // Mar 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Absolutely Agreed!

    I’d say that the process I am in (becoming like Christ) is the only validation that scripture is real and true! My assurance of eternal salvation springs from the fact that my relationship and journey with God has been so blessed, so real, at times so awfully tough…

    So yes, I have blessed assurance of salvation; Because God has saved me from myself (stupid things I habitually thought and did); saves me from death (it’s effects now and in eternity…); and He continues to do so.

    No I don’t understand EVERYTHING in Scripture, and feel I probably will die not knowing everything about God. No I am not perfected in Christ yet, but I stretch myself out to that which is to come.

  • 241 Thomas // Mar 4, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Bendul @ 241

    Thanks!

    Could you mention one (only one is enough) passage in Scripture that underpins your assurance of salvation?

    Neither do I claim to understand EVERYTHING in Scripture. However, God unequivocally declares:

    De 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

    Do you agree that we can understand EVERYTHING revealed to us in Scripture? If so, do you agree that EVERYTHING revealed to us with regard to a place like hell is comprehensible?

    The ultimate goal of salvation is indeed to become like Jesus Christ. It is a journey which we may call a journey of sanctification. The Bible refers to it as putting off the old man and clothing yourself with the New Man (Jesus Christ). However, every jouney has a starting point. Where and how would you say does this journey get underway? Does one merely decide to take the first step on this journey without having to take into account the prerequisites for the journey? Is becoming like Christ the New Birth or is it the outcome of the New Birth?

    Bear with me please when I ask so many questions but it is the only convenient way to find out how people think.

  • 242 Bendul // Mar 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Do you agree that we can understand EVERYTHING revealed to us in Scripture? If so, do you agree that EVERYTHING revealed to us with regard to a place like hell is comprehensible?

    Yes, but we can make mistakes based on interpretative bias of our contemporary textual strategies. This is not simple stuff. There are things people disagree on when they interpret scripture. Many of the issues you bring up are such issues.

    I think Hebrews 11 communicates the idea of being sure of something that is not yet established, but in the process of becoming quite well. 1 Corinthians 13 speaks of seing through a cloudy glass/in a dark glass/scratched mirror. Jesus emplores us to not worry about what tomorrow brings in matthew 5…

  • 243 Thomas // Mar 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Bendul @ 241

    Absolutely Agreed!

    I’d say that the process I am in (becoming like Christ) is the only validation that scripture is real and true

    I must admit that I have a problem with this. Do you mean that everyone’s processional experiences on his journey to become like Christ is the only way to validate the inerrancy of the Bible? Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals,
    A Church for the 21st Century, said:

    The old paradigm taught that if you had the right teaching, you will experience God. The new paradigm says that if you experience God, you will have the right teaching. This may be disturbing for many…

    Do you agree with Him? Experience to my mind is a very shaky and uncertain way of validating truth. The reason I say this is because God said and I quote:

    1 Peter 1:24, 25 For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands for ever.”

    If these verses from 1 Peter are true, then we have no alternative but to agree that the Word itself bears witness to its inerrancy (reality and truthfulness) and not our experiences. If men are like grass whose glory is like the flowers of the field and eventually withers and falls, then we can safely assume that man’s experiences are also temporal and not eternal like God’s Word. If someone asked me to choose between my own experiences in my becoming like unto Jesus Christ and God’s Word, I would not hesitate to vote a resounding yes for God’s Word. It is not a process we’re in that teaches me how to become like Christ but His Word.

  • 244 Thomas // Mar 4, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Bendul @ 243

    No response to my very first question?

  • 245 Bendul // Mar 4, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Ok. I think my statement “only validation” was a bit hurried. But it is definitely most persuasive if you read something that correspond to/sheds light on your current situation. Thats more what I meant.

    A question from my side:

    Do you experience the word of God?

    your very first question Thomas? I have lost you…

  • 246 Bendul // Mar 4, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    What I am asking is can you have interaction with the word outside of experience? What differentiates experience of the Word of God from other forms of experience? Is reading the word of God UNexperiential?

  • 247 Thomas // Mar 4, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Bendul @ 243

    I think Hebrews 11 communicates the idea of being sure of something that is not yet established, but in the process of becoming quite well. 1 Corinthians 13 speaks of seing through a cloudy glass/in a dark glass/scratched mirror. Jesus emplores us to not worry about what tomorrow brings in matthew 5…

    I doubt whether Hebrews 11 wants to communicate the idea of being sure of something that is not yet established. Surely God whom we have not seen is an established reality since time immemorial and so too is His heavenly abode. We’ve never seen Jesus Christ and yet He too is an established reality since time immemorial. Chapter 11 of Hebrews conveys the idea of what genuine faith really is. It is not based on the worldly maxim “seeing is believing.”

    Your deliberate connection of Hebrews 11 to Matthew 5 (or is it Matthew 6:34?) is, if I may say so, a little suspicious. It seems that you are trying to say that Jesus implores us not to worry about what tomorrow brings with regard to things not yet established. Am I correct? The main substance of Mathew 6:32-34 is that we should be busy seeking the interests of His Kingdom and His righteousness (i.e. not the establishment of His Kingdom which Jesus alone is capable of doing. We can only pray for His Kingdom to come to earth). Any concern for what we shall eat and what we shall wear hampers us in our duty to preach the Gospel to others so that they may be saved. That’s why Paul said:

    2 Tim 2:4 No-one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.

  • 248 Bendul // Mar 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Thomas.

    The way you are conducting this convo implies again that YOU are in fact the Authority on what scriptures mean. Not that I disagree neccessarily with everything you say; or wish to imply that I have an exhaustive understanding of scripture. But you seem intent on playing semantic games. I believe you take scripture seriously; and so do I.

    But the tone of your arguments are in no way compliant to The scripture I quoted earlier from James.

    13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

    17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

    So in light of this argument:

    I doubt whether Hebrews 11 wants to communicate the idea of being sure of something that is not yet established. Surely God whom we have not seen is an established reality since time immemorial and so too is His heavenly abode. We’ve never seen Jesus Christ and yet He too is an established reality since time immemorial. Chapter 11 of Hebrews conveys the idea of what genuine faith really is. It is not based on the worldly maxim “seeing is believing.”

    I refuse to engage your issues with emerging church doctrine. It is obvious that your blood-pressure is rising again because you see traces of “establishing heaven on earth” theology.

    In terms of our discussion this forced assertion makes no sense. I have been talking about our need for humility in terms of “not knowing everything” aswell as our certainty that we are on our way somewhere: towards Christ, and (hastily; granted) used the word “established” to refer to man’s ideological/religious establishment (I would think by this time obvious from our discussion) and still you think I am attacking Christ’s deity.

    I give up.

  • 249 Thomas // Mar 4, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    A question from my side:

    Do you experience the word of God?

    your very first question Thomas? I have lost you

    Yes of course! I experience God’s loving-kindness, His compassion, His protection and even His chastisement or discipline at times. These are all truths we find in His Word. However, I would never dare to suppose that my experiences validate the reality and truthfulness of His Word, In fact, it is His Word that proves beyond any shadow of doubt that my experience of His loving-kindness etc. are indeed His doings. Let me explain. We often expect God to work in certain ways to express His love and compassion and when He does it in other more strange ways we never dreamt of being possible, we are disappointed and feel dejected. We forget that God’s ways and thoughts are not ours but that they are much higher and loftier than our ways and thoughts. In these instances it is not our experience that provides the answer to His strange dealings with us but His Word.

    My first question was that you provide a single verse from Scripture that underpins the assurance of your salvation.

  • 250 Thomas // Mar 4, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I give up.

    That’s a pity. I thought we could begin to agree on the essenstials of the Gospel by asking a few questions, but it is obvious that you don’t want to. Perhaps you think that James does not apply to you. Does it?

    By the by, humility is not a naturally inborn trait of humankind. We need to learn it from Jesus Christ who said:

    Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    Jesus did not only preach God’s Truth; He is the essence of Truth and the world hated Him for it. It still does, you know.

    Bendul, show me your good deeds; show me how you follow Jesus Christ.

  • 251 Ben-Jammin' // Mar 9, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I was also wondering, do you know that Live song?

    Watching the video…I did not know it.

    In the U.S., the word is still used to describe atheists. The National Journal‘s cover story this issue is “Rise of the Godless.”

  • 252 Hugo // Mar 10, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    So as I see it, “godless” has two meanings, one being “without God”, the other the one referred to with “but not godless” in that Dutch quote.

    Based on the friendlyatheist’s comment:

    I felt a bit strange when I saw the word “Godless” used all throughout the piece — the connotation is so negative — but I suppose if “atheist” isn’t enough to catch a reader’s eye, this word certainly will.

    …it seems the second connotation is also strongly present in the population/culture, being what provides the negative connotation, and that the first is not necessarily the “assumed” definition.

    So one can wonder what that Live song meant. My benefit-of-doubt-for-everyone approach (attempted approach) assumes he’s talking about:
    (a) hypocritical theists, claiming to have a God but waging something “as godless” as a war,
    (b) the morality-less meaning (the “but not godless” meaning) for a more general
    (c) I assume he’s *not* talking (singing) about “those that don’t believe in God”. And I believe that’s a fair assumption, but yes, I understand and appreciate the Grrr-inducing effect it has when so many associate with the word…

    Ah, culture-dependent language/poetry. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. And now I’ve flogged it to death with over-analysis. ;)

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