Home » Intelligent Design » Dawkins’s use of hip hop against ID

Dawkins’s use of hip hop against ID

Have a listen to the following segment from Dawkins’s documentary against religion (“The Root of All Evil?”):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUy-Uq3WuhA

Who is the rapper that did this rendition of the Lord’s Prayer?

For your further edification, here is another bit of vintage Dawkins from that documentary:

The God of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction. Jealous and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist, an ethnic cleanser, urging His people on to acts of genocide… Now, of course, the good Christians will be protesting. Everyone knows the Old Testament is deeply unpleasant. Jesus, they claim, undoes the damage, and makes it all right. Yes, there is no doubt that from a moral point of view, Jesus is a huge improvement, because Jesus, or whoever wrote His lines, was not content to derive His ethics from the Scriptures with which He’d been brought up. But then, it all goes wrong. The heart of New Testament theology, invented after Jesus’ death, is in Paul’s nasty, sado-masochistic doctrine of atonement for original sin. The idea is that God had Himself incarnated as a man, Jesus, in order that He should be hideously tortured and executed to redeem all our sins. Not just the original sin of Adam and Eve, future sins as well, whether we decide to commit them or not.

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44 Responses to Dawkins’s use of hip hop against ID

  1. A commenter on another thread asked that we be more sympathetic toward atheists, since their unbelief generally stemmed from lack of direct (physical?) experience of the Creator. But Dawkins is a prime example of another kind of atheist—the kind that typifies passionate, activist atheism. Dawkins does not merely doubt the existance of God, but is openly hostile toward God (or more accurately, his caricature of God).

    If Dawkins could have the direct experience of the Diety that the commenter implied was all that was needed to produce belief, then I suspect Dawkins would be horrified, angered, disappointed and frustrated by the experience.

  2. Dawkins wins the award for “Most Uncomfortable Person in a Church”.

  3. Dawkins is good at expressing what others believe but avoid expressing (even thinking) and at fleshing out the illogical positions of others (and for that matter the illogical positions of himself). Just as he embarrasses the nice Naturalists here he threatens to discomfit comfortable Christians who have never really reconciled the two Testaments, let alone the historical baggage of their faith.

    The Deity of the Torah violates our modern pieties and those of our fathers too, and this by his own admission (Isaiah 55:8):

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts [כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם],
    neither are your ways my ways [וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי],
    saith the LORD [נְאֻם ה׳].

  4. Rude@3
    Christians have no problems with the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”).

    As for violating “our modern pieties”; so? Our “modern pieties” condone things that are just abominable.

  5. Wow, Bill, I can almost feel the “love” Richard have for God.

    It reminds me of the words of Dr Duane T. Gish regarding Mrs O’Hair (the woman who fought against prayer in class):

    (Paraphrase)
    “I don’t believe that Mrs Murray is really an atheist. How can she hate Someone so much, yet claim that He doesn’t exist?”

  6. Mr. Dawkins won’t be an atheist forever, just like Madeline isn’t now.
    Great quote, Mats.

  7. Dr. Dembski you are proving yourself very adept at painting the enemy. How about putting some intellectual energy into actually responding to the points he makes? Does it really satisfy you to use him as a poster child? What is the point of posting someone’s opinions and then failing to respond meaningfully to them? It is just a gesture of self-righteousness. “look how bad he is. we are so much better!”

  8. Sorry, Tina, but I’m not going to take the bait, tempting as it is.

  9. 10
    formlessandvoid

    There is little content in Dawkins’ rant that needs “meaningful response”. It is self-refuting. “Evil” is meaningless apart from a theistic worldview.

    Much as it pains me to say this, for people who hate God so much, hell is probably a better place for them to go than heaven. After all, spending eternity with someone you passionately hate is worse than hell, isn’t it?

  10. Tina: I will add this though. Some people need assistance to commit suicide. Others commit it on their own. When it comes to intellectual suicide, Dawkins falls in the latter category.

  11. I was shocked to see this man Dawkins enter a house of worship and attack the doctrine of its people. I am in awe of the pastor’s restraint at this naked savagery. Truly we are what we believe we are.

    The idea that these old empire throwbacks (evolutionists) would be welcomed in Canada is alarming.

    Thanks for the warning, Mr. Dawkins.

  12. “Some people need assistance to commit suicide.” Thus Dawkins does not reside in my state–Oregon–which is where they unfortunately have you know what.

  13. Regarding Richard Dawkins video of church life in Colorado …I once saw a video made by an Australian TV crew that got into Richard Dawkins home and started talking to him about science and then challenged him about his atheism and his evolutionism. Richard initially thought their interest was scientific and later complained the crew caught him off guard. Now his has dealt to Colorado Christians what was done to him. Ted Haggard should have been forewarned.

    One classic Dawkin’s propaganda line is to say over and over again that “his enemies” (he has several names for them, Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, etc) are “fighting science”. His propaganda runs along the lines
    1. Explain that Fundamentalists (the enemy) think Genesis explains everything about biological origins.
    2. Attribute to anyone who does not accept RM+NS=All Biology some Fundamantalist tendencies.
    3. Therefore American Evangelicals are engaged in a war against science.
    4. The economy of the West will be ruined by these enemies.
    5. Stir this up, heat it up and throw it around.

    Will Richard D. have any credibility left in 10 years?

    As I understand ID we are arguing for more and better science, not less.

  14. Dawkins finds the simplicity of salvation offensive.
    His is not a mature repsonse , but rather a childish reaction.
    It is *crucial* that no offense be taken at his provocations.
    He really needs some lovin’, hey now.

  15. I don’t know what christians Dawkin’s is referring to here. Jesus spoke more about Hell more than anyone. Plus Revelation deals with the tribulation where God pouring out his wrath. This is make the old testanment judgments look like childplay.
    Jesus himslef made this clear in Matthew 10:15 “Verily I say unto you, It shal be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than for that city.”
    Of course if you are someone who God pour out his wrath in the day of judgment you will see God as evil. P.S A drug dealer see a cop as the enemy so it’s common for them to hate cops and the law.

  16. 17

    Here’s the sad thing. As y’all might figure out from my posts, God is more of my concern than even evolution, fascinating though that is. And I find Dawkins an intellectual lightweight. Yet I agree completely with what Dawkins wrote above. I’d say it was a disaster when the council of bishops, who fought with one another viciously for decades, voted to accept the Old Testament verbatim as all equally valid and inspired.

    In my opinion that has caused the tragic failure of Christianity, and it is very rare to find a Christian who will make even a feeble attempt to answer this problem. And that is because there is no answer.

  17. thanks again, avocationist. I was going to say exactly what you did, and lacked the courage, so I roundabouted it! I just finished an extensive discussion with some great guys about the influence of Paul on the Christian religion, and I was making basically the same point as Dawkins about the sacrificial death of Christ. It really doesn’t matter what the issue is, though. Dawkins rightly points out that God, as portrayed in the OT, is at times vicious, unfair, cruel, etc. To me, it is obvious that these things are not God, but mens’ sometimes feeble, sometimes noble attempts to portray him. If we could keep to the idea of the inviolable perfection of the Divinity, then we would have to see that so much of what we say about Him is not much better than blasphemy and idolatry.

  18. avocationist, tinabrewer

    Conditioned by the mores of our day and the high premium placed on “tolerance” and feel-good warm fuzzies, we instinctively find the no-nonsense God of the Old Testament hard to take. The missing key is a three-letter word: Sin.

    God says repeatedly in the Old Testament that He will not compromise with sin. He never does “play fair” with sin or sinners. He kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden because they had sinned by disobeying one simple commandment: “Do not eat from that tree.” The Flood of Noah’s time was a universal judgment on societal sin. God refused Moses entry into the Promised Land, despite all he had done to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses’ fault? The sin of striking the rock at Kadesh (Numbers 20:7-12) when God had said “Speak to the rock” and water would gush out.

    In short, the whole Bible, Old and New Testament, is the record of humankind’s utter inability to live up to the holiness that a holy God demands. (“You shall be holy, for I am holy,” — Leviticus 11:45). The Ten Commandments were given not only as a yet-unsurpassed benchmark of high moral living, but as proof that no human being can keep them all, perfectly. So, to demosntrate how ugly sin is to Him, God instituted the bloody sacrificial system by which the OT Isrealites could temporarily atone for their sins by sacrificing a valued animal.

    Jesus came not only to fulfill the OT law but to Himself be the ultimate blood sacrifice. His crucifixion did away once and for all with the ancient sacrificial system and, through His resurrection, offers eternal life to all who believe He is who He says He is (God the Son). We should count ourselves truly favored that we no longer have to perform animal sacrifices, only simply believe and receive.

    Refusal to receive Christ and His atonement is to declare that one will plead his or her own case with God. But if Moses couldn’t cut it into the Promised Land (for just one slip) and Adam and Eve could not plead lack of experience, what chance have any of us in pleading that we are good enough to enter heaven and stand in God’s presence?

    We no longer take sin seriously because we have in our time virtually lost the concept of evil as God defines it. (Every perversion is excused either a preferance, lifestyle choice, or psychological/genetic disorder.) Dawkins and others who rile against the “brutality” and “unfairness” of the biblical God do so only because they prefer a god who is more like they imagine they are — refined, cultured, highly articulate, brilliantly intellectual, and very open-minded.

  19. 20

    EmKay, I agree.
    But in a way, I find Dawkins to be a blessing, strange as that sounds, as a negative example.

  20. God gave the Canaanites 440 years to repent from their ways. Sounds fair to me. God also removed the worst influence cities to gave the rest a chance (Sodom and Gomorrha) just like a doctor will remove cancer to save the whole. these cities was judged by how well they treat a stranger. they really treat strangers awful yet God agreed if there were 10 rightous he would spared them. That’s sound fair to me for I doubt there isn’t a american city today which atleast has 10 rightous in them That’s right!!!!! only 10 and Sodom would have been spared.
    God judge Isreal hard in Exodus because:
    1) they first hand saw the power and presence of God which in turn made them more accountible for their actions.
    2) they claim and agree they could keep God’s commandments. God pointed out from the beginning that God didn’t delivery them because they were more rightous than the Egpytians but it was by his mercy.

    The more is giving to you the more is required. Sounds fair to me.

  21. Emkay: I will start by saying that I absolutely agree with you that sin is the problem, and invokes the wrath of God. This is as far as our agreement can go, though. I am in no way proposing that God should manifest towards humans in a “feel good, warm fuzzies” way. In fact, if you look at the essence of your proposal, you will have to admit that your theology is the “warm, fuzzy” one; you believe that you are so valuable, so wonderful, that God himself, the almighty creator of the universe, should sacrifice himself for you, should suffer torment for you, and should finally die for you. I cannot, simply cannot, think of a more self-satisfied, warm and fuzzy view of God. There is absolutely no severity in it, no demand, no anything. Just, as you say, passive reception of God’s work on your behalf. This is in dramatic contrast to the view, repeatedly expressed throughout the Bible, both old and new testements, that the sinner MUST desist from sin. This is a far more demanding, far less warm and fuzzy view. If I am truly responsible for my thoughts as well as my deeds, and am accountable before my creator for all of these things, by what possible rationale is this warm and fuzzy? Additionally, you must face the logical problem that if it is really true that humans CAN NOT, through an inherent quality of their nature, live without sin, then all of the warning, exhortations and teachings of the Son of God are totally superfluous and unnecessary. God would only have to get it over with and annihilate us, or get it over with and save us. Why even try to change us? If someone is mentally retarded, for example, do we rail and yell at him, demanding that he do better in school, threaten him with punishment if he fails? Of course not. It would be a preposterous waste of time, and cruel and vicious to boot. We accept that he is unable to perform intellectually due to an inherent defect or weakness of his body, and we make allowances in a compassionate manner. I would argue most seriously that it is the view propagated by mainstream Christianity (men are sinful and cannot be righteous by their very nature, theres nothing they can do about it) which eventually gave birth to the modern notions of tolerance and “I can’t help it. Its my nature”; just because those notions have taken on a materialistic, genetics-based taint, they are fundamentally analogous to your view, not mine.

    Ultimately, everything we say we believe, both metaphysically and physically, is what we believe about God. Since God is the author of all, everything, like some tremendous hologram, refers to God. Therefore, when we say “we can never be righteous, therefore God had to die for us”, we are saying that God created us such that we could never develop in a harmonious, upstanding way. If Adam represents a single individual, then this is tantamount to saying “God cannot make creatures that develop properly” If Adam represents ‘mankind’, in a more allegorical interpretation, this still begs the question “how do the sins of the previous generations perpetuate themselves into the future?” If they do, then this is saying “God unjustly punishes those who have never chosen sin because of the wrong choices of their ancestors” OR, we must admit that we lack an answer to the question of how these ancient sins propagate into the future. THere is no getting around this. There are so many questions which are left unanswered, and which paint God in ways which are far from the beauty and magnitude which should be associated with Him IMHO. As far as I can tell, the only reason so many people fail to see this is that they think they have to believe the versions of truth handed down to them in the Bible. As avocationist pointed out, a quick and objective look at the material factual history of how this book came to be cannonized as ‘truth’ should dispel such notions, or at least cause serious concerns.

  22. 23

    [troll]

    “Dr. Dembski you are proving yourself very adept at painting the enemy.”

    Being a general waste of space, Dumbski isn’t good for much else.

    “How about putting some intellectual energy into actually responding to the points he makes?”

    Methinks you give him too much credit. It’s about the only thing he and his little toady DaveSpringer can only do the one thing they’re good at, ie character assassinations and mud flinging.

    “Does it really satisfy you to use him as a poster child?”

    Of course it does. It distracts the rabble at this wretched excuse of a blog from noticing that he’s intellectually and morally bankrupt. Note the recent purchase of the ‘evidencefreescience’ domain. Apart from squandering money that could be used in the ID research program (What research program? Hahahaha), it sums up ID to a T if you remove the word ‘science’ or add the word ‘pseudo’ in front of ‘science’.

    “What is the point of posting someone’s opinions and then failing to respond meaningfully to them? It is just a gesture of self-righteousness. “look how bad he is. we are so much better!”

    Have you really not noticed before now that the bogeyman of ‘Darwinism’ that is deployed daily on this sad little website is responsible for every last little evil of today’s world according to Dumbski and his stooge DaveScot, and that before 1850, life was perfect in every way?

    “Sorry, Tina, but I’m not going to take the bait, tempting as it is.”

    I bet you can’t. Because that would mean doing some science. And let’s face it, why go to all the trouble of doing some actual work when you can piss, moan, lie, post hoax emails, stay just on the legal side of slandering people, and other such charming activities?

  23. avocationist@17
    “In my opinion that has caused the tragic failure of Christianity, and it is very rare to find a Christian who will make even a feeble attempt to answer this problem. And that is because there is no answer.”

    Let’s see the record of the “failure” of Christianity:
    1. It’s the most popular faith on the plannet.
    2. Christian morality has served as the foundation for many beliefs that we cherish (looking after the poor, helping the needy, social houses, hospitals, etc, etc)
    3. Bible Believing CHristians are less likely to fall into superstition
    4. Many of the founding fathers of modern science were devout Christians (Mendel, ISac Newton, etc)
    5. Societies where Christians are (or were) the majority are the most developed nations on the plannet on many levels (technology, democracy, etc). Compare this with then record of Islam controled nations, or even other religions.

    I don’t see where Christianity “failed”.

    But the greatest sucess of Christ is not what is mentioned above, but is in fact the effect that the Person of Christ has in the person who accepts Him as Savior. Changed lives fixed marriages, healed relations, restored health and other “failures” are Christ’s scored card. If you call that a “failure” then there is nothing I can do or say to make you change your mind.

    Another point worth noticing is that the greatest advance of the Christian Faith was during the time (The Apostolic Age) when the Christians quoted EXTENSIVELY from the Tanakh (“Old Testament”). Far from being a hidrance for the advance of the Gospel, the Tanakh is the Firm Foundation from which the Christian principles flow nicely.

  24. His is not a mature repsonse , but rather a childish reaction.

    Then perhaps he is not far from the kingdom of heaven :).

  25. Mats: I cannot speak for avocationist regarding the first part of your response to her calling Christianity a “failure”: my suspicion is that she was not referring to the ethical triumphs of Christianity, which no one, (apparently including Richard Dawkins) seems to doubt. I can say, however, that the “effect that the person of Christ has in the person who accepts Him as Saviour” is controversial at best. I know many religious Christians who struggle with the fact that there are people outside of the fold ( who have not accepted Jesus as their savior ) who are better people than they are in every measurable area of life. They have better marriages, nicer children, are more generous, joyous and all-around good. This fact presents an irresolvable quandry to such people: if the way things work is that we are all sinners, and no one can get over sin without “accepting Jesus”, then it really should be a fact that those who have done so are overwhelmingly, obviously, superior. I don’t just say this theoretically, but based upon real, personal experience.

    I am friends with a family of wonderful people who are very very religious Christians. Before my family moved into the neighborhood here, their home schooled daughters never played with anyone on the block, because they were so sheltered from all of the bad elements. However, we made the grade, so to speak, and my ten-year-old is dear friends with their 10-year old. The problem is, that when it became clear to them, after repeated attempts to convert us to their religion, that this was not going to happen, their little girl became overwhelmed and totally emotional, having several very sad scenes where she BEGGED my daughter to PLEASE accept Jesus so that she wouldn’t have to go to hell. This may sound weird or extreme, but it is not. In every interaction I have with this poor child, it is intuitively obvious to me that she is profoundly confused by the fact that we have a nice and loving family without any of the terrible sinful problems that are supposed to exist in everyone without Jesus. It is just not a part of the story that is told. It is an unaccounted for fact which causes real cognitive dissonance.

    On the other hand, I am not at all saying that Christ does not cause changes in people’s hearts, nor do I belittle the faith of the genuine Christians. I saw an interesting movie (can’t remember the title, but it was fairly recent) which was a recreation of Martin Luther’s life. In it, Martin Luther is several times seen struggling terribly with his own faults and overcoming them through his faith in Jesus. This was quite strikingly portrayed, and was a very beautiful example of how the purity of one’s intuitive relationship with God (here in the Person of Jesus) can be an anchor of tremendous support. My only point is that this inner devotion is by no means exclusive to Christianity, and cannot be used as some kind of “proof” which exonerates the religion from answering its own unanswerables.

  26. 27
    formlessandvoid

    tinabrewer, your honesty and frankness is much appreciated. But if you think Christianity is about being or becoming “nice” people, so that one might get to heaven, you’d be gravely mistaken. No, Christianity is about prostitutes and tax collectors going to heaven, and the “righteous” Pharisees missing it. I am glad for you that you have a nice and loving family, but do you really think you are “good enough” to stand before God’s presence? If so, be afraid — so did the Pharisees think of themselves. Read the Gospels and see God’s demand for perfection in righteousness and holiness, and you will see that all — yes, yourself included — have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

  27. Mats: I didnt say I was good enough to go to heaven! if I were, I suppose I wouldn’t need to be here right now! If you read carefully, you will see that I was saying nearly the opposite: that it is only the “storyline” of Christian churches which goes “People are bad and cannot get out of sin. Here are all these sins everywhere…if you accept Jesus as your savior, then he will come into your heart and you will be changed” This is a very explicity recipe for spiritual change, and it hinges on the entry of Jesus into the heart of the believer. All I was saying was that the believer is, indeed must be confused when the changes wrought in himself are no different, no more profound, than the changes wrought in others of different faiths.

    And while Christianity isn’t about being “nice”, it arguably is about being “loving” and “good”: both are concepts terribly degraded in the modern world, yet clearly demanded by Christ.

  28. Mats: sorry, I was in a rush on that last post. The other thing I wanted to note was simply that I was using your own defense of Christianity as a framework: in your response to avocationist, you listed all of the goods which have resulted from Christianity. I was just taking that reference and illustrating where it is problematic.

    You make a very important point when you say that Christianity is not about “being nice”, and you liken this to the attitude of the Pharisees. I think this is an entirely false analogy. The term Pharisee, which if we can trust the gospels to be giving us a fair account of their attitudes, were far from “nice”: rather, they were self-satisfied and utterly convinced that their rigid adherence to ‘the law’ was what made them righteous. Now, ‘the law’ as it existed at the time of Christ is in no way comparable to what modern day Christians call (with barely concealed contempt) “works”. At that time, people’s lives were utterly circumscribed by a thousand and one rules, all of them thought out by men, adding totally unjustified and useless burdens on people. These detailed rules and regulations, which were the doctrinal narrowing of the LAW in the sense which Christ explicitly defended, were the “works” which Christ condemned. There is no logical way to compare this version of “works” with the spiritual purification or transformation which should lead to redemption. The only question is how this redemption occurs: does it occur through strenuous personal effort towards becoming good, aided by the truth brought and taught by Christ, or is it given as a reward for believing in Christ’s mission to the spiritually passive? Obviously I believe the former, and you the latter, but that shouldn’t be confused with “works” in the sense of the Pharisees.

  29. Mats: I know this is starting to look wierd: my third post to you in such short order…Anyway, I just realized that I responded to you when it wasn’t you who wrote the post #27. I am so sorry. Please disregard my last two posts, as they should have been directed towards “formlessandvoid”. If I knew how to use those little smiley faces, I would post one right here ( ).

  30. tinabrewer/post 22
    My apologies if I gave the impression that I hold to the theology of a warm and fuzzy “Uncle” God. Nothing could be further from my understanding of Christianity. I know from personal experience, and the testimony of many others, that when God finally arrests us and we are brought to that moment of decision whether or not to accept the Lordship of Christ over our life, a long (and often painful) process is just beginning.

    The first thing is repenting of our former way of life and the sins committed while living in conformity to the pattern of this world. Repentance (literrally, “turning around and going in a different direction”) means living in conformity with God’s revealed standards. As Jesus said variously (as in John 14:15), “If you really love me, you will obey my commands.” Nowhere in the Bible is the Christian life portrayed as one of easy-going, smug self-satisfaction. If anyone claiming to be a Christian actually lives that way they are most likely self-deceived and deluded to boot.

    The nature of sin has exercised thinkers from time immemorial. The apostle Paul referred to it as “the secret power of lawlessness,” (II Thessalonians 2:7-12) or “that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority.” Dr Dembski’s essay “Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science” gives many illuminating insights into this perennially vexuing question.

    On whether the presence of sin in world shows a God who is not totally in charge or diminishes Him, you say: “As far as I can tell, the only reason so many people fail to see this is that they think they have to believe the versions of truth handed down to them in the Bible. As avocationist pointed out, a quick and objective look at the material factual history of how this book came to be cannonized as ‘truth’ should dispel such notions, or at least cause serious concerns.”

    Avocasionist wrote: “I’d say it was a disaster when the council of bishops, who fought with one another viciously for decades, voted to accept the Old Testament verbatim as all equally valid and inspired.”

    Which council of bishops voted to accept the Old Testament? Where? When?

    Sounds like the Dan Brown school of spiel-lology has graduated the class of ’06…

  31. Emkay wrote: “Which council of bishops voted to accept the Old Testament? Where? When? Sounds like the Dan Brown school of spiel-lology has graduated the class of ‘06…”

    Hahahaha!

    I wasn’t going to say anything after Avocationist’s remarks about “the council of bishops” because that’s not what this website is about. But now that you’ve brought it up, Emkay, perhaps Avocationist and tinabrewer could educate the rest of us about the canonization (please note spelling) process. I haven’t seen The DaVinci Code, so I may be in the dark about these things…

  32. Lutepisc, why are you making fun of my spelling? That’s mean. I write very quickly when I post, because with three children running around needing me, there is NEVER time to do anything else! Please find it in your heart to forgive present and future spelling errors without public revelation of them!

    I do not know which “council of bishops” avocationist refers to, and so I explicitly avoided referring to it, and rather spoke generally of the “history of how this book came to be cannonized {oops, did it again}…” I am personally aware of only two in which significant doctrinal disputes WITHIN CHRISTIANITY were debated and “settled”: In 3-hundred something the Arian controversy was decisively dealt with, and in 553 under Justinian the issue most pressing to me personally (and, in my opinion to any reasonable attempt at theodicy) was decided as heretical in a purely human, intellectual and largely political fashion: reincarnation, a common doctrine throughout the world, and demonstrably in the ancient world in which Christ lived, was stricken from the official records. Also, as you should be aware, there exist various old testament and New testament writings which contain stories and information about Christ’s life and teachings from many different perspectives. These teachings have been officially declared “heresy” by human beings acting with varying degrees of purity in their motivations, and it is only smugness or fear of the unknown which causes people to reject these scriptures out of hand. I would never claim that the alternative scriptures contain the truth, while the accepted ones do not. I would only say that their very existence is evidence enough that immediately in the aftermath of Christ’s death, the nascent movement began to develop along differing lines depending upon the humans involved. We have no objective reason for trusting that the one line officially brought down to us through the church is the pure, unadulterated and correct one. I don’t know what that has to do with Dan Brown, but maybe you could let me know.

  33. Emkay: If you see my posts mistakenly written to Mats but intended as a response to formlessandvoid, you will see that I dealt with the question raised in your last post about the transformation which takes place when one accepts Jesus. I may not have dealt with it well, but I tried to respond to the notion that this acceptance of Christ has a transformative effect on the sinner. I have no problem with this notion, and I explicitly described the experience of Martin Luther as an example. I have only a problem with the evidence from all around me which makes it obvious that this transformation is in no way exclusive to Christianity. Also, it is a demonstrably weak transformation since by their own admission, Christians continue to sin, sin, sin, even after they have allegedly been transformed through Christ. In my view, none of this whatsoever dims the work of Christ, which was to bring humans the truth which could lead them out of sin. The consequences of saying “I can’t help it if I sin because its my fallen nature, therefore I will trust Jesus to forgive all of my sins if I just really believe in him and try my best” are very different from the consequences of saying “Jesus taught me how to avoid sin, and by imbibing this message and striving with all my strength to overcome sin, I can eventually overcome the fall”. This in no way eliminates the need for grace. In fact, without the grace of God, none of this mess we have made would be allowed to exist for another minute in my opinion. It is just a matter of defining “grace”: in my view it is the quality of manifest love which extends toward the creature from out of God, and allows a living connection to continue in spite of sins. It might be enlightening to you to do some reading on some of the websites of Christian churches. I have read the most unbelievable things, all of them natural outgrowths of the doctrine you defend: things like ‘jesus paid for your sins. No matter how much more you sin, as long as you accept him, these are already paid for! And its a free gift! You don’t have to do anything, there is no trick…all you have to do is accept this gift” etc. You may argue in principle that the human being cannot achieve sinlessness, but you cannot seriously avoid the devastating consequences of the above-view. if a parent treated their child with such contempt and called it love, you can only imagine the type of human who would result from such undemanding indulgence.

  34. 35

    Hello Mats- I wish I could find some editing functions on this blog!

    **avocationist@17

    What’s the 17? I’ve thought long and hard for years about all of this.

    **Let’s see the record of the “failure” of Christianity:
    1. It’s the most popular faith on the plannet.

    That isn’t how I measure success. Look at Islam. It’s the fastest growing. Both Islam and Christianity have often been spread by varying degrees and kinds of force. So that’s cheating.

    **2. Christian morality has served as the foundation for many beliefs that we cherish (looking after the poor, helping the needy, social houses, hospitals, etc, etc)

    Quite true. But so have pretty much all the other religions. Christianity simply does not stand out as it should if it had a truly more uplifting and unique handle. Secondly, I do not deny the power of Christ’s life and teachings. Rather my take is that his life and teachings have been degraded and misunderstood by mixing them with defiled notions, many of them from the Old Testament. I, personally, find this tragic because it means his supreme efforts have not really borne the fruit they could be bearing, and it grieves me to see the God which I love slandered by equating him with the lowest notions of God which the human psyche is capable of. In my opinion, the Holy Spirit cannot perform his work of transforming the individual and society toward the good under the prevailing conditions because the negative and false notions held in the mind are a barrier.

    **3. Bible Believing Christians are less likely to fall into superstition

    Hmm…I don’t worry much about superstition. But I’d say the whole witch burning phase was pretty superstitious.

    **4. Many of the founding fathers of modern science were devout Christians (Mendel, ISac Newton, etc)

    Oh, yes! Just because I criticize Christianity doesn’t mean it’s all black and white. And here’s something to ponder. The religion is a guide. Even if you think the Bible is the inspired word of God (which I think only some of it is), that is still not more than a map of the spiritual territory (Jesus said to the pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for you think in them to find the words of life…”). No matter how pure or how defiled a religion is, some people will make great progress and some will make little. That is because what is real is the individual soul and God and life itself. The spiritual journey is always unique and personal.

    Since I believe strongly in God, I would expect the greatest scientific minds to also do so.

    **5. Societies where Christians are (or were) the majority are the most developed nations on the plannet on many levels (technology, democracy, etc). Compare this with then record of Islam controled nations, or even other religions.

    I’m not sure where technology fits in. An argument could even be made that Christianity led to it because of its materialism and lack of truly rewarding connection to God, causing men to look without and to other satisfactions.

    The great freedoms of our society came from the enlightenment. And while most of those men were believers, they were very specifically reacting against what happened when Christianity had full power over it.

    **I don’t see where Christianity “failed”.

    After centuries, slavery was revived by Christian nations. And the OT was used as the main justification. It was indeed a triumph of Christian sentiment that it was re-suppressed. That was due to Christ. No doubt. But there is no real justification for suppressing slavery if you really accept the OT as valid. One reason it has been so very hard for the Islamic nations to outlaw it is because their revered prophet personally took slaves.

    The treatment of the Native Americans and others around the globe, and if you read the actual words of, say Christopher Columbus, in which he simply assumed that God has given into their hands the beautiful lands and their people which he found. Such attitudes arise from judgementalism, from the idea that a people is condemned or unsaved. These inner feelings are completely natural given Christian theology.

    Christianity has not excited the admiration of the world. That is the bottom line. Not its behavior, not its teachings. It has not reduced war and violence and human greed. If Christian doctrine were a reflection of the true God, I think it would be magnificent, magnanimous and paint a picture of the goodness of God which could astonish. The picture of God painted by current and Catholic Christianity turns people off in large numbers. No, not wicked people who want to sin and won’t submit to God. That’s just what Christians tell themselves because they are living in a system that frightens them away from examing honestly their theology because they think they have no choice.

    We have a whole lot of people who have looked at it and turned away. It is so easy for “Bible believing Christians” to dismiss them. Most of those who turn away from within are just plain turned off to its theology and results. The words of Darwin exemplify the whole situation:

    “Christianity is a damnable doctrine which I don’t know why anyone would want to be true.”

    Now stop and think about this! How is it possible that someone of his calibre, and he was a kind and gentle person whose wife was very religious, could say that he didn’t know why anyone would even want Christianity to be true?

    I certainly don’t want it to be true! I can never be happy while others suffer eternally! And it goes against everything Christ tried to bring about in our souls to be able to be do so. You cannot tell people to love even their enemies and at the same time tell them that they won’t mind if they suffer without hope forever. The two aren’t compatible. This is the crux of the failure of Christianity. We cannot become the people Christ envisioned for us because we are taught about a theology and a God who isn’t good or admirable!

    It is interesting that at the time when so many Christians were willing to die publicly for Christianity, that the belief in universal salvation for all mankind was predominant or at least common.

    **But the greatest sucess of Christ is not what is mentioned above, but is in fact the effect that the Person of Christ has in the person who accepts Him as Savior. Changed lives fixed marriages, healed relations, restored health and other “failures” are Christ’s scored card. If you call that a “failure” then there is nothing I can do or say to make you change your mind.

    No, I do not call that a failure. But I know that much more is possible if we get the flies out of the ointment.

    **Another point worth noticing is that the greatest advance of the Christian Faith was during the time (The Apostolic Age) when the Christians quoted EXTENSIVELY from the Tanakh (”Old Testament”).

    Since many early groups were Jews or exJews, that may be so. But for centuries there were many groups who had just one gospel to go on. They did not have “The Bible.” I don’t mean to say that the OT is horrible and awful. It has many sublime parts, and it is valuable for other, historic reasons. But the very thought patterns that Jesus railed against were replaced back into Christianity in slightly altered guises.

    So again, I don’t say Christanity is totally bad or totally a failure, rather it has been shackled. Just as the Jews in the time of Jesus were shackled. And he tried to take them off. And for a while there was some success, but the negative forces won in the end.

    I want reformation.

  35. Hi, tinabrewer. You wrote, “why are you making fun of my spelling?” Yep, I noted the correct spelling of the word “canon”–but I’m at a bit of a loss as to how this constitutes making fun of your spelling. Is that what you meant? How and where have I made fun of your spelling?

    “That’s mean.” Ouch.

    And you wrote: “…in 553 under Justinian the issue most pressing to me personally (and, in my opinion to any reasonable attempt at theodicy) was decided as heretical in a purely human, intellectual and largely political fashion: reincarnation, a common doctrine throughout the world, and demonstrably in the ancient world in which Christ lived, was stricken from the official records.”

    What “official records” was it stricken from?

    I’m getting a little confused here. The Second Council of Constantinople in 553 dealt with several issues, often in a rather nasty way, but where do you get that reincarnation was one of them? Yes, Origen–whose teachings were condemned–was a Platonist and believed in a pre-existing world of ideas, but this is not the equvalent of reincarnation, which Origen actually spoke against. The main issues had to do with cleaning up the aftermath of the Nestorian controversy, which also has nothing to do with reincarnation unless someone has made some sort of incredible stretch. And I’m not sure what any of this has to do with the adoption of a canon of scripture. The canon was most explicitly defined by the Council of Trent, in 1546.

    I’m not an expert on the church councils, and I’m a Lutheran–not a Catholic. I believe the councils were fallible. But I’ve made something of a hobby of church history and wince when I see the councils mischaracterized. That’s why I smiled when Emkay brought Avocationist’s attention to his statement: “I’d say it was a disaster when the council of bishops, who fought with one another viciously for decades, voted to accept the Old Testament verbatim as all equally valid and inspired.” (Avocationist, don’t make us cue the sound of crickets chirping on this…)

    Emkay was the one who brought up Dan Brown’s name. I made a guess to myself that something like this must’ve been depicted in The DaVinci Code, which is not exactly a reliable source regarding the councils. But neither is Shirley MacLaine, who popularized the idea that the Second Council of Constantinople dealt in some way with reincarnation.

    Finally, you wrote: “Also, as you should be aware, there exist various old testament and New testament writings which contain stories and information about Christ’s life and teachings from many different perspectives. These teachings have been officially declared ‘heresy’ by human beings acting with varying degrees of purity in their motivations, and it is only smugness or fear of the unknown which causes people to reject these scriptures out of hand.”

    Yes, the New Testament (NT) contains stories and information about Christ’s life and teachings from many different perspectives. But your next sentence is completely baffling to me. What teachings of the NT have been officially declared heresy, please? How are you able to determine the motivations of “human beings” (sorry I can’t be more specific) who acted in these matters? How are you able to limit the causes of the rejection of “these scriptures” (?) to smugness or fear of the unknown?

    Inquiring minds (or mine, at least) want to know. Thank you.

  36. Lutepisc: when you take pains to point out a spelling error in a public forum like this, it is unlikely that you do so out of a genuine concern for the preservation of purity in language; rather, it is an attempt to imply that the mis-speller’s arguments should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt since he/she is clearly of questionable intellectual calibre…OR you are such a miserable pedant that you actually do care that much about spelling, but I would rather not consider that…its mean. just admit it. meany meany bo beany bananafana fo feany…

    I can resolve your confusion about the NT perspectives issue by profusely apologizing for my incorrect expression. When I wrote “there exist various old testament and new testament writings…” I MEANT to say “various scriptural documents dating from the pre-Christian and the Christian eras”. My bad. I am referring to the OT and NT apocrypha, the gnostic gospels, and far more generally to the writings of early-church teachers whose works have been declared anathema by the councils at various times. The general point I am trying to make is very simple: Either the Bible (NT)came to be the document that it is through some sort of unbroken, objectively reliable association with Christ and his will, OR it is a work whose existence in current form was guided into being by the Holy Spirit, OR it is a human-made and therefore fallible and piecemeal documentation of the significant events and teachings of Christ. As a church historian, you are a better resource than me and could probably tell us all how it came to be. I have had the discussion, though, with many many earnest Christians, who assure me that the reason they cannot believe anything (doctrinally speaking) outside of the Bible is because they BELIEVE it to be the divinely inspired word of God. This is fine as far as it goes. Beliefs are often based on fear and smugness, they are often based on deeper personal experiencing. What they should never be, however, is in basic conflict with the realities of history and objectivity.

    I should not have assumed that you shared Emkay’s feelings about the “Dan Brown school of spiel-lology…” Your written laughter made it seem so. I think my views could not be in greater contrast to what I gather from Dan Brown’s storyline, but that is essentially irrelevant since it was an unmeritorious attempt on Emkay’s part to paint avocationist as some weak-minded, pulp-fiction flake. meany meany bo beany.

    On Origen; from what I have been able to gather, Origen’s views on reincarnation are controversial. Some scholars claim that he did teach it, and they use as evidence the various quotations OF origen by other writers. Others say he did not. To be honest, I don’t care whether he did or not. I was only using it as an example of an idea which was commonly held and which later, for reason’s of establishing orthodoxy, was declared anathema. There must be many many others, no? The point is that you can observe a pattern of the systematic narrowing of the scope of belief to the accepted canon. This may be a good thing. This may be a bad thing. But that it happened in historical time, under the direction of arguing and debating humans is clear.

    I was making a speculation in determining the motivations of human beings. They are rarely pure. Politics, consolidation of power, fear, self-righteousness: surely we all experience these realities. I was just saying that these same faults found everywhere in humans, could well have influenced the men who fought with one another at these councils.

  37. tinabrewer/34 — Not everyone who claims to be Christian is, just as there are many Republicans In Name Only. And you are right, there are many extra-biblical doctrines out there all claiming to be the real thing; there have always been. As the Book itself says, “There is nothing new under sun,” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again.”

    The possibility fully exists, has always existed, that not all who claim to be converted to Christ and spiritually born-again are so. “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning,” writes the apostle John in 1John 3:6. “No one who continues to sin has either seen Him [Christ] or known Him.” Jesus Himself gave us the ultimate litmus test, in Matthew 7:13-22, by which we can discern the genuine from the fake:

    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.

    “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them . . . Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

    “Many will say to me on that [final] day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

    We can know them, and ourselves, by the fruit produced. A lot of the error and weirdness that pop up in Christian circles is due principally to individuals making their own private doctrines by adapting Scripture to suit their predilections. Conversely, orthodox Bible scholarship has from the very beginning (before there was even a New Testament compiled) always maintained that we must use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and that culture must conform to the Bible, not the bible conform to the culture. Thus, for example, Bible scholars have always come to appreciate that the Old Testament “is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” One comes to this realization only by studying the NT as the key to the OT, and vice versa.

    I agree with you regarding the erroneous “cheap grace” doctrine that seeks to attract converts by promising them that they can go on sinning regardless, because their insurance premium has been taken care of by “cousin” Jesus. This is a caricature of Christianity, and a doctrine which I personally do not and cannot condone.

    So why do some fail to live up to the standards of the faith they profess? Christian doctrine recognizes that every person on the face of the earth has three relentless enemies: The World, The Flesh, and The Devil. The world is the total external environment in which we live with its myriad influences, good and evil, on the personality. The flesh is our own innate physical and psychic desires and natural lusts, inherently bent toward sin on account of the Adamic nature. The devil is himself, the “prince of this world” (John 12:31) who holds sway over and influences everyone who has not the Spirit of Christ.

    Paul goes to great length in Romans 6: 1-23 to prescribe the post-conversion means of escape from sin’s snares. He nutshells it in Rom. 12:2 — “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    Bible-centered Christianity has always understood that the necessary transformation from the world’s paradigm to a God-centered one, and the accompanying mental renewal, come only through daily immersion in the Scriptures. The promise of Hebrews 4:12-13 calls for a faith that is not only exercised in service to others, but is personally practised and experienced daily:
    “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

    –avocationist–
    The OT does not actually sanction slavery, polygamy or other human “foibles” and evils. They are in there to actually portray how easily human culture embraces and normalizes deviant behavior. If you follow the life stories of the polygamous notables chronicled in the Bible — from Abraham, to King David, to Solomon and a host of others in between– you will see that their “lifestyle choices” brought tragic dysfunction into their families for gnerations. That is part of the reason their stories are in the book.

    Jesus Himself affirmed the one man-one wife ideal when the issue of divorce was put to him (Matthew 19:3-6). He took his interrogators back to the beginning of the human race: “Have you not read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said ‘For this reason [marriage] a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one fles’?”

    As for slavery, it is believed to have been invented by the Ishmaelites, descendants of Ishmael, the son born to Abraham by his Egyptian servant Hagar. Present-day Arabs trace their ancestry to Ishmael. Here is what God prophesied over Ishmael and his descendants, in Genesis 16:12 — “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand will be against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

    The first slave recorded as voluntarily set free by his master (at least in the NT anyway) was Onesimus. He went on to become a bishop in the first-century Church. Part of his story is in the NT book of Philemon, who was his master.

    “Christian nations” were not responsible for the slave trade of the 17th and later centuries. Rather, godless merchants in European countries,and in the New World, were. Real Christians were responsible for bringing an end to the New World slave trade and also to the much older one that had been ferried slaves from Eastern Africa to the Middle East since about the 10th century.

    John Newton, the man who wrote “Amazing Grace,” reputed to be the most famous hymn in the world, was a drinkin’, cussin’, whorin’, slave ship captain on the trans-Atlantic crossing. Then Jesus encounted him and totally transformed the “wretch.” John Newton became a Reverend and joined the abolitionist crusade against his former trade.

    The Christian way seeks personal transformation, not superficial societal revolution. Transformation has deep and lasting effects, and on more than just the transformed individual. Revolution merely replaces one set of masters for another and leaves the superstructure as rotten as it was before.

  38. Emkay: I appreciate your very thoughtful response, and I feel the depth of your personal faith through your words.

  39. 40

    I do not know who Jim Brown is. I have only a vague notion what the Da Vinci code is about but I know it is fiction, and therefore have no intention of bothering with it.
    The book I’ve got which goes through the councils is The Closing of the Western Mind, and I have looked high and low for it but I can’t find it. I don’t have a clear memory of how the OT got accepted, but many groups were Jewish as I mentioned, and worshipped in temples, so their possession of those scriptures is to be expected.
    I’m trying to think of a simple way to describe a long and complex process, that involved but was not limited to the councils. I thought of this: Suppose that within an Islamic country, say Saudi, a great man of God arises, someone like Jesus. And he cannot just buck the whole thing. Although he does and says many very revolutionary things, which eventually result in his being put to death, even he knows that to proclaim openly the depth and magnitude of their errors would just close all doors and leave him no opening to teach anyone at all. He cannot just tell them that half their scriptures are wicked, or that their understanding of Allah is so flawed that they might as well be revering the devil. So he goes about it more roundabout. He teaches them to know God themselves, he teaches them things about the nature of God which are very uplifting, and he cleverly finds ways to be compassionate without openly bucking the laws (Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.) So after his death a new religious movement is generated within Islam. But – many or most of his new followers, even if they make a break with their previous Islamic religion, insist upon bringing the Koran in verbatim.

    Do you see the problem?

    If I were the prince of darkness, if I were a mind with centuries and millenia with which to ensnare mankind, I cannot imagine a better system than the one I see in Christianity. The people are locked in to an impenetrable self-referencing system. It teaches diametrically opposed ideas at the very same time. This is utterly effective in bringing on spiritual paralysis.

    A house divided cannot stand, a heart divided cannot soar toward God. Jesus teaches one thing and dies while showing the meaning of his lessons with every fiber of his being. Christianity teaches the exact opposite, and upholds both as exemplars. No one knows what to do and can justify whatever they do. Jesus not only says but shows us while having his hands nailed to the cross that he loved the ones doing the nailing. Love your enemies means universal love, unconditional. But Christianity teaches the God the Father gives only conditional love and will never forgive. Jesus says to the pharisees, “go and learn what this means, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice’” but the church teaches that God required a sacrifice. Billy Graham says, “God demanded a death.”

    Jesus gave parables about his father that included unconditional love and forgiveness. But the Church teaches that God never forgives anyone. Only some are pardoned because Jesus paid the debt. The idea of a substitutionary victim comes from Roman feudal law. It is suspicious to me that the birthplace of this theological idea is Rome, and that this matches so well the Roman feudal law of the time.

    A debt that is forgiven is not paid. In Jesus parable about the rich master who forgives his servant a huge debt, that debt is forgiven as in not paid. If you owe your credit card company 10,000 dollars and your credit is about to be ruined, a kind, wealthy relative could call them and say, “I’ll pay it. Would that be OK?” and the credit card company would no doubt say, “Yes, we’ll be happy to accept the money from you. We just want the money.”

    You see, it isn’t a problem who pays it. According to Christianity God the father required that somebody pay the debt in order for him to be reconciled. So he got his death. There was payment. That has nothing to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness is what the rich master in Jesus’ parable did. But not God the Father.

    And this is the greatest, most sublime religion in the world?

    If I were the devil, what more clever way to prevent the hearts of the people from turning toward God could I devise than to convince them God has a low character? And to put that into scripture? That way almost no one can reach the goal to love God with all one’s heart, and all one’s mind, and all one’s soul. Because we may be fools, but the heart can’t be fooled. But it can be paralyzed.

  40. avocationist: you should not forget that Justice is as important as Love, they are two sides of the same coin. Universal salvation and unconditional love (as defined by you) produce the same intellectual/intuitive quandry which propitiatory sacrifice produces: namely they are unjust. If you use a term like ‘unconditional love’ to mean that the love of God is such that it extends itself equally to the deeply wicked and the righteous, and , more importantly, that the CONSEQUENCES of deep wickedness and righteousness are indistinguishable ultimately, then you have removed any natural incentive or mechanism which favors righteousness over evil.

    In a microcosm, I love my children unconditionally: this means that I will love them even if they are bad and mean and faulty. In practice, however, this does absolutely NOT mean that no matter what they do, I will always “fix” their messes and take away the natural consequences of these acts. The reason I would not do this is BECAUSE I love them and understand love to mean “that which benefits and uplifts spiritually”. Sometimes, tremendous severity is required: we call it “tough love” these days, but the concept is ancient.

    God’s will is analogous to the natural lawfulness we observe in the material creation. We observe that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Reciprocity is completely BUILT IN to the nature of the world. It is inviolable, automatic. Gravity works the same way. If I walk off the edge of a cliff, I must expect to fall to my death. That is the natural law. Do I rail against this? Do I call God unjust because all objects fall toward the center of the earth? Of course not! I learn about this automatic activity and I obey it. Whenever I fail to obey it, I experience BUILT IN consequences, and each time I experience these built in consequences (like breaking my ankle, getting bumps and bruises) I should, through this experiencing, become ever more vigilant in my desire to live in harmony with this law. Unfortunately, there are many humans who, no matter how many “spiritual bruises” they suffer, obdurately continue in their desire to oppose the will of God. These are free-willing choices. They have natural consequences. This is not God punishing, rather it is the natural (spiritual) laws taking their inexorable effect. It makes no more sense to think of these consequences as punishment than it does to say, as I hit the ground after stepping off the cliff “Woe is me! How can God allow me to suffer like this if He is all-loving!”.

  41. 42

    Hi Tina,

    I agree with what you’ve said, and I hope I didn’t imply otherwise. In fact, the other side to my feel-good philosophy is in a way even more stringent than the currently held Christian one. I believe that being with God is only available in direct proportion as one is ready, willing and able to align oneself with the Supreme Being. It isn’t possible for God to ‘give’ heaven to a person who is greedy and takes at the expense of others, no matter that the person believes in Jesus. Only the person who carries heaven in their inner nature is capable of living in heaven. That’s what transformation and the born again experience (receiving the Holy Spirit) is really about. That is the reason for the scriptures which say that if we know God we can no longer sin. It isn’t a matter of willpower, though. The emphasis shouldn’t be on willpower but on inner transformation. This, too, is the real point of the AA 12-step groups. Surendering to the higher power allows inner transformation.

    If God ‘gave’ heaven to a greedy person it would mean that God forced that person to change. God in my understanding never, never does sucha thing, and if He did it would mean we had no free will.

    I find the current system of salvation through faith rather close to the old one of salvation through works. Although it was certainly a step in the right direction, there’s too much of “do this quick and easy step so that God will let you into heaven.” I have always been very fond of the epistle of James, (which I read Martin Luther wanted struck from the Bible) where he says, “Faith without works is dead” and “show me your faith by your works.” Has this been misunderstood? I don’t think James meant to imply that works, after all, are primary. Rather he says that bare faith doesn’t bear fruit. Only being born again bears fruit, and being born again isn’t a matter of an intellectual decision to believe Christianity and saying a quick little prayer to Jesus. It is about having one’s spiritual faculty come to life via the Holy Spirit. (my interpretations!)

  42. tinabrewer, Thanks for the compliment but, truth be told, y’alls been keepin’ me on my toes. As the Book says, “Iron sharpens iron,” (Proverbs 27:17). I’ve been a born-again Christian since only six years ago, so I’m still learning and have a lot of doctrinal catching up to do. I’m enjoying the journey, and the challenges.

  43. His is not a mature response , but rather a childish reaction. – C. DuCrâne

    Then perhaps he is not far from the kingdom of heaven. – Mung

    The Kingdom is only one agreement away from anyone.

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