What Is a Christian?

He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.  AW Tozer

By Jobas- Wikicommons
Christians by Jobas_Public domain

Next week we are planning to discuss Rachel Held Evans' book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. We will also dissect Mary Kassian's rather startling review of Evans' work. We will also present Wayne Grudem's infamous in-depth list of what women can, and cannot, do in the church along with some other strict complementarian views by Al Mohler and others.

In preparation for next week, I read A New Path to Theological Liberalism? Wayne Grudem on Evangelical Feminism, written in 2006, at Al Mohler's site here. I read something that caused me to pause. It is highlighted in the following statement.

Nevertheless, his surgical approach to their theological arguments and hermeneutical proposals reveals the clear and present danger to evangelical orthodoxy posed by egalitarian theory and practice. Evangelical Feminism is truly a tract for the times–a manifesto that should serve to awaken complacent evangelicals to the true nature of the egalitarian challenge. Furthermore, the book serves as an arsenal of arguments to use in revealing the crucial weaknesses of the egalitarian proposal.

Nothing less than the future of the Christian church in North America is at stake in this controversy. Evangelicals no longer have the luxury of believing that this controversy is nothing more than a dispute among scholars. Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? has arrived just in time. Get this book quickly–and read it with care.

What is he saying? Certainly anything that would destroy the Christian church in the United States (except for a bomb) would be a heresy of untold magnitude, wouldn't it? Grudem is discussing the gender divide. So, it undoubtedly appears to me that Mohler, and Grudem, are implying that an increase in the role of women in the church will lead to Christianity's demise in America. Amazing! Nero couldn't do it. Communism couldn't do it. But those dadblasted women who want to be pastors will do it!

As I have read the reviews of Evan's book, there seem to be subtle (or not so subtle) accusation that Evan's is not a "real" Christian. This has caused Evan's to  define what she believes. Her explanations certainly seem to embrace orthodox Christianity. This has not made one iota of difference in the vitriol being spewed about her "faith" or lack thereof. One time, on the Bayly Blog, I, too, was accused of not being a real Christian. However, not willing to take that one on the chin, I went to that blog and spelled out what I believed which caused them to back off a bit. I don't think God takes kindly to those who make hard and fast judgments on the salvation of others.

So, I thought it might be of value, anticipating the explosions to come, to discuss what we mean when we say someone is a  "Christian." Let me be clear, I am not in business of declaring who is, and is not saved. That is waaaaaaaaay beyond my pay grade. I leave that in the Almighty's capable hands. With that caveat in mind, here are a few thoughts to get us started. I am really interested in what you all have to say.

Deb and I have defined our basic set of beliefs as those outlined in the Nicene Creed. Here is the version from the Book of Common Prayer. Link

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. 

However, some might object, saying that the devil himself knows these truths. So, I found an interesting article in the Leadership Journal of Christianity Today. Gordon MacDonald, chancellor of Denver Seminary, wrote How to Spot a Transformed Christian here. I thought it would be interesting to review the points that he makes since, in the past, I have not found MacDonald to be excessively rigid. Once again, this list in meant merely for discussion, not as an end unto itself.

McDonald says:

How about churches and their goal of making of devoted followers of Jesus? What does the difference look like there?
We exist to see people transformed from a state of brokenness and selfishness to a state of wholeness and usefulness sometimes called Christlikeness. Paul used the word maturity when he talked about life-change. We want, he wrote, "to produce every person mature in Christ." And that "Christ be formed in you." Same idea. If the church exists to see people transformed, shouldn't we be clear about what a transformed Christian looks like?

McDonald then goes on to define 12 characteristics. 

1. Has an undiluted devotion to Jesus.
He defines this as the  "intention to be faithful to Jesus' influence on a regular basis, not because he is unsure but because he doesn't want to lose that "edge" of proactive commitment."

2. Pursues a biblically informed view of the world.
This means "aiming to know the Bible well: its content and its imperatives."

3. Is intentional and disciplined in seeking God's direction.
 "It means living by intention and commitment, developing life-habits in alignment with Jesus and replacing those that are not"

4. Worships, and with a spirit of continuous repentance.
"There is an appropriate rhythm in routines in order to refresh one's relationship to God. Worship is an appropriate description for this."

5. Builds healthy human relationships.
This person is "faithful to friends, and (if married) affectionate, attentive, and servant-like to a spouse, and (if a parent) patient and nurturing to his children."

6. Knows how to engage the larger world.
"He will pursue friendships with people who walk in other spiritual pathways. He will make contributions to the greater community, especially those that bring equity and relief to struggling people.In short he will not be absorbed into religious institutionalism."

7. Senses a personal "call" and unique competencies.
 "It's not about me, but about what has been entrusted to me and what can be offered to others"

8. Is merciful and generous to those who are weaker.
This is based on the model of Barnabas who welcomed Saul and stood up for John Mark.

9. Appreciates that suffering is part of faithfulness to Jesus.
"The transforming believer does not complain, does not seek pity, does not become embittered"

10. Is eager and ready to express the content of his faith.
They "express their faith in the serendipitous events and encounters of everyday life."

11. Overflows with thankfulness.
They "walk through the day looking for things to be thankful for."

12. Has a passion for reconciliation. 
"They hate war, violence, contentiousness, division caused by race, economics, gender, and ideology. They believe that being peaceable."

So, what say you? What did he forget or what should he not have included?

I leave you with a music video featuring Rich Mullins singing "I Believe" which is based on the Apostles Creed.

Lydia's Corner: Numbers 10:1-11:23 Mark 14:1-21 Psalm 51:1-19 Proverbs 10:31-32

Comments

What Is a Christian? — 305 Comments

  1. When a Christian is insecure about personal value and identity in Christ, a position sealed by God's grace (not our works), then that Christian will do everything within his or her very limited human power to convince other people of the supportability and truth of their theological arguments instead of working hard to build relationships with fellow Christians that God has delivered by his unmerited grace. Those who are hell bent on achieving their worth through their ability to persuade others of the correctness of their theological positions will become, when frustrated, accusers of the personhood and identity of those who disagree. "They must not be a Christian in the first place." In other words, what the accuser is feeling within himself is slipping out of his speech. When insecurity rises in the soul or the mind, it expresses itself through the tongue.

    Ironic.

  2. Really like McDonald’s list, especially points 6, 8, and 12. They really get to the heart of a divide that’s pretty clear in Christian community – being right versus being different. The ‘negatives’ of all three of those points are all about a person’s own ‘rightness’ – I’m completely surrounded by Christians, not tainted by the world, don’t accept wrongdoing, my positions on everything are correct. Those things aren’t completely bad, it is good to be in community with other Christians (however that community is formed), we shouldn’t ignore our consciences, and obviously everyone thinks their opinions are right. But when you get far too invested in those things – and it seems to be depressingly common for Christians – we forget that a big part of why we’re meant to do all those things is to be different, to be salt and light, to be gracious and compassionate. In short to be Christlike. Jesus didn’t lord his ‘rightness’ over others, so why is it that his followers fall into that trap? And fall into it so much that we don’t just condemn what we see as wrongdoing from ‘the world’, but are even more vehement in condemning what we see as wrongdoing from each other?
    That’s what I see happening with Rachel’s book, critics (who are of course more than welcome to disagree with her egalitarianism) go beyond saying ‘well, I don’t agree because of XYZ’ to saying ‘she’s a heathen, she’s a false teacher, she’s not a Christian, she’s destroying the faith’. It’s disturbing that so many – and so many prominent people – don’t seem to understand that they can do the first sort of critique, but instead jump straight to the second, which is, frankly, dangerous and downright mean.

  3. “We will also present Wayne Grudem’s infamous in-depth list of what women can, and cannot, do in the church”

    I imagine the comments will be lots of fun the day that is posted. ; )

    “Nothing less than the future of the Christian church in North America is at stake in this controversy.”

    I wonder if anybody could dig up some parallel statements about slavery from the lead-up to the Civil War. I bet there are many.

    “Nero couldn’t do it. Communism couldn’t do it. But those dadblasted women who want to be pastors will do it!”

    Loved this!

    “One time, on the Bayly Blog, I, too, was accused of not being a real Christian.”

    I was under the impression that the only real Christians at the Bayly Blog were the Bayly brothers, the Botkin sisters, and Doug Phillips.

    Also, I absolutely adore Creed. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Rich Mullins is so unknown and underrated. He’s the one CCM artist I listen to on a regular basis (as I’m a sucker for acoustic instruments, esp. hammered dulcimer). Have you ever heard his song about faith and works, Screen Door on a Submarine?

  4. Pam, the problem people have had with Rachel Evans’ book is not egalitarianism, but theological liberalism.

  5. Nicholas – have you read RHE’s book?

    *

    Dee – I so wish that evangelicals would back off from telling people that they have to show some kind of “signs of a transformed life.” I say that mainly because it’s just another way – imo – of making people fit into a mold, and if they don’t, to hell with them. Behave or else. Conform or else!

    I’m not joking… so many of the changes we go through in life are *not* visible by anyone but ourselves (to a certain extent) and God. So much of what goes on inside us that changes us is… slow, subtle, not exactly visible to anyone but God.

    Evangelicals want dramatic proof, like Paul falling to the ground and being struck blind during his vision. but is that an exception, or is it the rule? My money’s on “exception.”

    How about just asking people to follow the two commandments that Jesus identified as “the greatest”? if we do that, then it’s NOT about appearance or measuring up to others’ standards. (and jesus didn’t exactly fit the religious standards of his day, did he?)

    While I do agree with some of the things in that list, it reads – overall – to me as just another set of rules by which people are judged by others… and yet another hamster wheel to run and run and run on, without seeing a way to get off.

    Sorry if I’m being too blunt, but that’s how I see it at this point…

  6. Nicholas

    Could you please tell me precisely what  theologically liberal points about Evan’s book that concern people? I finished reading it and underlining it. It does not deny any essential Christian belief as to the historic creeds. This is what I do not understand.

    I do believe that Mohler, et al. define liberal as egalitarian but maybe I am missing something.

  7. Wade/Readers

    Now that is one of the best explanations of the issue of theological vehemence ever! It must be repeated.

    “Those who are hell bent on achieving their worth through their ability to persuade others of the correctness of their theological positions will become, when frustrated, accusers of the personhood and identity of those who disagree. “They must not be a Christian in the first place.” When insecurity rises in the soul or the mind, it is expresses itself through the tongue.

  8. Nicholas

    In fact, you have given me an idea for a post. What differentiates theological liberalism from theological conservatism? Where does the line cross and diverge? Is it based on secondary issues? For example, if I am an evolutionary creationist and a Wesleyan, am I liberal? If I am an evolutionary creationist and John Piper’s disciple, am I conservative?

    I am becoming very, very confused about these definitions. Theological liberalism used to imply that someone might disagree with elements of orthodoxy found in the Nicene Creed such as the Virgin Birth. However, since the 1990s and the so-called conservative resurgence, it has been used to indicate those who might favor female elders or old earth creationism.

    I think, from now on, I am going to ask for definitions when people use the terms just so i know how to continue the conversation.

  9. BeneD

    Thank you for linking to Ben Witherington’s humorous essay. Everyone should read it. It is far more pleasant and lighthearted. Wayne Grudem’s analysis is enough to put a Pharisee to sleep.

  10. I don’t define egalitarian as liberal. I was not referring to Rachel Evans’ book in particular but to some of her positions in general.

    I have only read reviews of Evans’ book. I have also read posts from her blog. My point was only that it is not an accurate representation of Evans’ critics to suggest that they are only objecting to her views on gender roles and creationism. I am not accusing you of doing this, you haven’t. But some have.

    I think Denny Burk’s response to Rachel Evans on the Today Show summarizes the evangelical objections to Evans’ teachings. You linked to this response in a previous blog post. The egalitarian/complementarian stuff is a part of Burk’s and others’ objections to Evans, but not the only part.

  11. Speaking of liberal and conservative, I don’t get why it is more liberal to deny the miracles in the Bible than to believe in them…

  12. Christian has the root “Christ” and the suffix -“ian.”

    So a Christian has to be someone who follow Jesus and try to be like Him. But that itself is a hard definition: Some picture Jesus as egalitarian, some as male-centered for having male deciples. Some picture him as a pacifist, others as a freedom fighter, etc.

    No wonder someone wrote a book called, if I translate the name into English: “Will the real Jesus stand up, please?”

  13. Nicholas,

    And people are more than welcome to have problems with Evans’ theology and to say so. But there is a huge difference between saying ‘I disagree with position XYZ because of ABC’ and saying ‘She said XYZ so therefore she’s godless’.
    It’s not disagreement I have an issue with – it’s proclaiming your own views perfect and everyone who doesn’t think like you damned to hell that I don’t like.

  14. I cringed at #9. How many victims would have that (and have had that) thrown in their faces?

    “Your suffering is part of following Christ — stop complaining about being abused! You’re being bitter so you’re not a transformed Christian!”

    For the rest, I’m with numo. It’s another list to judge and be judged by.

  15. If McDonald’s list is the litmus test, I’m doomed, and so is everyone else if they’re honest. Really. I’m a follower of Jesus who affirms and believes the Nicene and Apostle’s creeds and I’ve failed at every single one of those items. Every. Single. One.

    C’mon people. We need God’s grace anew every single day. No exceptions. Of course McDonald’s list has an element of truth to it, but the danger of lists like this is that they’re soooo easily hijacked by the legalists and then used as a bludgeon against anyone they don’t like.

    We have enough of that kind of thing already, and it’s exactly what’s driving people from the church.

  16. Mullins was the last Christian music songwriter I paid any attention to. Nothing to do with the content of the post as such but I’m just throwing that out there.

  17. And agree with John.

    More lists. More standards. More failing them. More depression.

    Trusting in Christ: my security is in Him and His word (the same?), not me. I depended on me to show me I was saved. I was anxious. Worried. Confused. Depressed. Afraid of the end of the world. No no no. Stopped focusing on me, look at Him. Look at what He said.

    Why is it all about us and what we can do, what we can prove?

  18. Yep – who could possibly live up to even *one* of the things on that list?

    (Rest of my comments on this being yet another impossible set of standards are above.)

  19. In some ways trying to define what makes someone christian is like trying to hold water in your hands — you can do it but some of the substance winds up dripping out if you hold on to it too long.

    RHE is getting flak b/c she’s committed the terrible sin, not so much of being an egalitarian, but of being a POPULAR egalitarian. For all their lip, most of the CBMW types are not getting or going to get popular media exposure. Therein lies the problem.

  20. On the topic of judging people and thinking they are not Christians. I’m not going to be PC here and say we cannot judge if other people are Christians.

    Deep in my heart, correct me if I am wrong, say if you disagree) I believe that someone who say he is a Christian, blogs on male authority, say he slept with non-consensual women, who take pride in calling himself a cruelty artist, who believe that men need to learn from pick up artists how to treat women and recommend the blogs of men who advocate “pumping and dumping” (yes, I am descibing a real blogger here)- is clearly not regenerated by God, in short, is not a Christian by my assumption.

    But that don’t make me much different from the guy who said I cannot be a Christian if I am an egalitarian.

  21. I don’t know if this is okay but I copied this from desiringgod blog. The article is by Trillia Newbell

    There are several reasons why I decided to read and review Rachel Held Evans’ forthcoming book A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” (Thomas Nelson; October 30, 2012).

    I certainly am not writing this review out of any sense of convenience and comfort. Here’s why I did:

    First, as a Christian woman who adheres to Reformed doctrine, I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, written by men, inspired by God, infallible in all that it teaches, sufficient for all of life and doctrine, and the very words of God, words from God. And this new book from Evans is a recent example of how this essential truth is lost.

    Second, I write this review because I have something of a relational history with the author. I have had the pleasure of corresponding with her over emails and have enjoyed our brief interactions.

    Third, and even more centrally, I write this review out of a love for my fellow sisters in the church who are trying to walk with integrity as women, as I am, before God.

    Finally, I write this review out of a love for the lost who are searching for answers about God and the Bible and will read this book and sadly be misled.

    Before I begin the review, let me say that I find this book to be most troubling because of Evans’ handling of Scripture. As much as I hoped to be pleasantly surprised, as I read my heart became heavy. And yet, for all its weaknesses, this book is sure to draw a lot of attention in the coming weeks.

    The Premise

    Evans embarked on a yearlong mission to explore the Scripture references to women, following and practicing what they say as literally as possible. Her adventures take her through various Jewish traditions, she interviews polygamists, she camps outside, she spends the night in a monastery.

    Each month, for one year, she tackled a new challenge or virtue such as gentleness, domesticity, obedience, and submission. At the end of each chapter, she features a specific woman in the Bible writing out a historical profile and her thoughts.

    She interviews a wide range of people from a variety of faiths and traditions. Her book does not draw from purely an evangelical, or even distinctly Christian, perspective. Many of her rituals are from the Jewish tradition, and she quotes several Rabbis.

    The Trial

    As I read the book, it became increasingly clear to me of one theme: God’s word was on trial. It was the court of Rachel Held Evans. She was the prosecution, judge, and jury. The verdict was out. And with authority and confidence, she would have the final word on womanhood.

    Evans makes it clear that although she holds the Bible in high esteem as a historical document, she would warn us to be careful in attempting to use it as a guide for living out the Christian faith. A few quotes explain her stance.

    Despite what some may claim, the Bible’s not the best place to look for traditional family values as we understand them today. (48)

    I kept digging, and as it turns out, Peter and Paul were putting a Christian spin on what their readers would have immediately recognized as the popular Greco-Roman “household codes.” (216)

    Evans also quotes Sharyn Dowd saying, “The apostles advocated this system not because God had revealed it as the divine will for Christian homes, but because it was the only stable and respectable system anyone knew about. It was the best the culture had to offer” (217).

    The Bible is a sacred collection of letters and laws, poetry and proverbs, philosophy and prophecies, written and assembled over thousands of years in cultures and contexts very different from our own, that tells the complex, ever-unfolding story of God’s interaction with humanity. (293)

    And you see it most clearly in Evans’ conclusion.

    For those who count the Bible as sacred, the question when interpreting and applying the Bible to our lives is not, will we pick and choose? But rather how will we pick and choose? We are all selective in our reading of Scripture, and so the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we reading with the prejudice of love or are we reading with the prejudices of judgment and power, self-interest and greed? (295)

    And later:

    This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not, what does it say? But what am I looking for? I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (295)

    Throughout A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Evans works to prove that the Bible is not without error and therefore cannot be applied literally — and in some cases cannot be trusted (as we see by the implications of Paul’s and Peter’s motives, she says, to keep their culture in the Scriptures). Furthermore, the Scriptures are called sacred but never inspired by God, never the very words of God.

    This notion is applied to every text, except in the chapter on justice where she unequivocally determines that God got it right: “Justice is one of the most consistent and clear teachings of Scripture, and traditionally, a crucial function of the Church” (228).

    Evans selects various Old Testament laws regarding women and discusses the horror of such laws, yet she never rises to the place where the purpose of these laws are made sense of. And yet she never introduces the redemptive history of Scripture. This point could take up an entire lengthy blog post of its own. Evans will not allow redemptive history into her courtroom.

    This is not to say that Evans is a poor writer. She’s talented, engaging, funny, and at times I found myself wrapped in her story, pretending to grip a walkie-talkie for her as she described sleeping alone in her tent in the front yard during her monthly cycle (see Leviticus 15:19–33). While the living-biblically-for-a-year theme is not original to her, she wrote this book quite creatively.

    But while the book is engaging, her methods and her conclusions on womanhood are confusing at best. And this is largely because she selectively decides which Scriptures apply to women and which ones do not. She spoke with men and women from a full range of backgrounds and faiths and then attempted to apply them to evangelical Bible-believing Christianity. The majority of her quotes and references from complementarians aim to show complementarianism as foolish and dated. Strangely she more often cites authors with a more traditionalist orientation (and less truly complementarian) and only one or two of the more biblical moderates.

    What’s At Stake

    Evans claims to be caught between conservative and liberal theology. She believes in the physical resurrection of Christ, and she believes in evolution. But in seeking to bridge conservative and liberal theology in this book, she invests so much time explaining what she does not believe, that readers will be left wondering exactly what she does believe.

    Part of this comes down to widely differing worldviews. To understand womanhood, Evans blends Eastern practices and mysticism, with a few selected Scripture quotes. For me to properly understand biblical womanhood, I can only finally return to God’s sufficient word, which is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Our worldviews split over whether the Bible is inerrant and sufficient. And when the Bible is determined to be insufficient to guide our faith and life, or to define womanhood according to God’s design, the temptation is to run to various methods, various faiths, and to synchronize selected doctrines — which is precisely what Evans does in this book.

    Conclusion

    Through this book it seems Evans is trying to “reach” women like me, who take the Bible seriously and believe God is honored through his design for complementary roles in marriage and the church. But I fear she will actually have the greatest impact on those who are already sympathetic to her undermining of the truthfulness and sufficiency and relevance of the Bible, those who are already suspicious of Christianity, and who are already prone to deny that God has designed a special and beautiful role for women in marriage. This is a book that will reinforce the views of non-Christian men and women who seek validation for thinking Christians are foolish for following the Bible closely.

    In this book Evans is trying to build a bridge, but I wonder if it is not rather a comfortable bridge for shaky evangelicals to find their way into theological liberalism. This book is not ultimately about manhood and womanhood, headship and submission, or the complementarian and egalitarian debate. At its root this book questions the validity of the Bible. And denying the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture is a denial that will ultimately erode the gospel of our Savior.

    For this reason, along with many others, and with a very heavy heart, I cannot celebrate the upcoming release of this book.

  22. Backtracking a little:

    …his [Grudem’s] surgical approach to their [egalitarians’] theological arguments…

    This simply refers to the practice of salami-slicing the arguments of an opponent into tiny fragments which, once taken out of their broader context, can easily be “disproved” using a bible proof-text, also taken out of context. It’s not nearly as big and clever as it looks, including when I am tempted to do it myself, or when I draw satisfaction from reading someone I agree with doing it to someone I disagree with.

    But back on topic. To paraphrase scripture somewhat, every good and perfect gift comes from God, and every good and perfect gift can be horribly misused. Of course an article like McDonald’s could be hijacked and used against people. So is the bible, so is the Christian faith, and so is love (as in, abusive church discipline done “in love”). It so happens that I’ve met Gordon and Gail McDonald, when they taught together at a smallish training day for church leaders in Glasgow a few years ago. So I happen to know that they are not prideful, aggressively complementarian, or hell-bent on judging and condemning other professing believers.

    I note that McDonald does not ask, what doctrinal code will a transformed believer subscribe to, nor what pretences should a christian struggle to keep up, but what will it look like when we’re becoming more and more Christlike. His original article is entitled “How to Spot a Transformed Christian”. If you can’t spot one, then in what sense is God real in people’s lives today?

    It may well be that the crucial transformations that happen in our lives are hidden internally – to start with. But if they’re real transformations, they cannot help but produce visible evidence in us. It was Jesus, not Park Fiscal, who said that you know a tree by its fruit.

  23. Fwiw, btw, imho McDonald’s list is a pretty good one if I understand its context and purpose correctly.

    (Though I think there may be a word or two missing from point 12 – “They believe that being peaceable.” isn’t a complete sentence!)

  24. The word “liberal” is a mighty slippery word and often the user of it is the only one who can define it. I can easily say that the conservative resurgence used this one word to destroy the lives and ministries of many Bible believing and born-again people.

  25. I have often asked myself the following question as a Southern Baptist. Must I believe everything in this man made document to be a Christian-especially the part about only a man being allowed to be a pastor.

  26. So a question I’d like to throw out there into the blue.

    There’s nothing about one’s view of Scripture (i.e., the inspiration-inerrancy-etc. debate) in the creeds. And the Bible itself would seem to indicate that all that matters is belief in Christ and following his commands. In light of this, is it proper to use inerrancy as a “salvation litmus test” doctrine if the person in question genuinely believes and is following Christ’s commands?

    I am thinking basically of a person who has otherwise “normal” doctrine (Trinity, Virgin Birth, etc.) and “normal” praxis but has genuine issues with either the historicity of some parts of the OT and/or the occasionally savage view of God presented therein; and by inerrancy I do not necessarily mean literalism. I am NOT talking about someone who ditches inerrancy to make the Bible say what they want it to say, or who allegorizes everything into meaninglessness.

    I’ve been wondering A LOT about this lately after encountering some folks who would be labeled “real Christians” by the people I know except for the fact that they believe the book of Joshua has non-historical elements…which would lead me to believe that my other friends really believe that one’s beliefs about archaeology can negate true belief in Christ. This seems to conflict with Romans 8:37-39 to me.

    Please help me out here.

  27. @ Mot:

    “The word ‘liberal’ is a mighty slippery word and often the user of it is the only one who can define it.”

    “Liberal,” “conservative” and “fundamentalist” are almost meaningless buzzwords nowadays. I wish we had more meaningful alternatives.

  28. Per McDonald’s list:

    To someone who has read multiple Puritan “signs of salvation” lists (often book-length), let me tell you, McDonald’s is downright refreshing. The Puritan lists got right down to saying that even if you withstood persecution and torture you might not be saved, because you might have survived the rack via a “stout Roman constitution” instead of by faith.

  29. What do I have to say about MacDonald’s list? I don’t like it. It is very subjective and smacks of legalism. I don’t object to someone using the questions in an exercise of personal evaluation, but to use it as a checklist to decide whether someone else is a “transformed Christian” (whatever that means) is just wrong. What would be the purpose of “checking out” another person this way? To make me feel better about myself? And who sets the standard? Who is qualified to judge the heart and motives of another person? How about just loving people and appreciating who they are as God’s image bearers, whatever their personalities, talents, passions, strengths and weaknesses, instead of trying to make them into the image of what we think they should be?

  30. Tikatu/Numo

    I am making my point. Any list is flawed because it reduces complexity to simplicity. The faith is not that way.

  31. Hester:

    You said:”“Liberal,” “conservative” and “fundamentalist” are almost meaningless buzzwords nowadays. I wish we had more meaningful alternatives.”

    I totally agree.

  32. I just love the irony of neo Cals whining and wringing their hands over the “liberals”. They don’t realize that they have more in common philosophically with Marxism than practically every politically liberal friend and family member I know. What is the core assumption that drives both Marxism AND Calvinism, after all? It is this:

    That a specially anointed and unelected group of authoritarians is obligated and entrusted to use a monopoly of threats, force, and violence to compel the masses into “right” moral behavior.

    Honestly, their theology is the most freedom hating of all theologies. So they can just stop the hypocritical judging.

    Oh wait…they can’t. Otherwise, their pastors would need to go find real jobs.

  33. The only thing they hate about liberalism is the fact that they aren’t the ones determining how everyone should behave…or else. And they reeeeeally crave the power of “or else”. That’s why the big push for embracing the church discipline lie. Guess who gets to do the disciplining? Guess who gets to do it by the authority of “standing in the stead”.

    Gross.

  34. John

    You are getting my point. The moment we start defining what constitues a “real” Christian, we fall into the legalism of the Pharisees. Your comment impressed me with your honesty. 

    “I’m a follower of Jesus who affirms and believes the Nicene and Apostle’s creeds and I’ve failed at every single one of those items. Every. Single. One.”

    You see, so have I. Grace is the point and the only point. The longer i live this Christian life, the more I see my own inadequacies and my need for grace.

    Case in point: On Wednesday night, about 11:30PM, I was up late making preparations for Thanksgiving. My husband had gone to bed. I took my three rescue pugs (or as I call them “the roiling mass of pugs”) out into the backyard before going to bed. I was confronted with a yard full of smoke.  I back up to the woods. I ran around the outside of the house and didn’t see flames. i woke up my family and we checked everywhere. There was no question that a fire was blazing somewhere. I live in the county so I called the sheriff’s department. They told me that a husge house that backs up to another side of the woods was on fire and that it was buring to the ground and the fire departments were containing it.

    My response? Embarrassingly I said , “Whew, I’m glad. I thought it was us.” Immediately I realized what I had said. I then said to the sheriff dispatcher-“That was not knid, was it? I am so sorry for my neighbors who will lose their house.” I have been thinking about that for a few days. My first thought was for me. And that response is why I need grace.

  35. Gavin

    I read this review, along with Mary Kassian’s stunningly weird review, and I disagree with them which, of course, makes me a liberal. I shall be writing my review of her book which I have read, underlined and thought deeply about.  I think just about everyone is missing the boat here.

    Secondly, I reject this. ” Evans claims to be caught between conservative and liberal theology. She believes in the physical resurrection of Christ, and she believes in evolution. But in seeking to bridge conservative and liberal theology.”

    This is exactly what i am getting at. I believe in evoutionary creationism. This reviewer has chosen to throw me into the mix with the theological liberals.This is an epithet being used by today’s Pharisees who see everyone who does not agree with their confusing complementarina view (something I shall address next week) as a no good liberal. That term used to be for those who denied things like the essentials-Virgin Birth, Redemption, etc. I am frankly sick of it and will fight such terms here at this blog.

  36. Mot

    Awesome comment. “The word “liberal” is a mighty slippery word and often the user of it is the only one who can define it. I can easily say that the conservative resurgence used this one word to destroy the lives and ministries of many Bible believing and born-again people.”

    Mary Kassian’s review of Evans is replete with protestations that Kassian “invented”  the term “complementarian” and only she can define it properly. Words are loaded and are used to shoot others. 

     

  37. Mot

    Must you believe everything manmade? Ony if you want to be a real Christian according to the SBC. They throw out churches who have women as pastors.

  38. Hester

    Perhaps I can answer you in this manner. When I became a Christian at 17, I knew very little of the Bible. I did not consider the miracles of the OT. I did not consider the role of women or how to obey a group of elders. I did not know of the historicity of the bible or how we got our canon. Yet, at that moment in time, I had become a Christian. It embarrasses me to think of how little i knew but I did know that Jesus saved me on the Cross.

    If you had asked me to explain the Trinity, i would have given an answer that would turn the head of a seminarian gray (like a 3 in 1 shampoo is what i would have said). For all of us, the Christian walk is a process. I am like the father of the child with demons- Lord I believe, help my unbelief. That is why i gave up judging another’s salvation. God alone knows our hearts and knows how we wrestle with Christ and the Scriptures. 

    How many of us refuse to deal with the dffculites of the OT? Instead, we stick our heads in the NT which is fine, and stick our fingers in our ears and go “la la la-I can’t hear you” when we are asked to explain why God would not allow a handcapped man to make a sacrifice in the Temple. Benign neglect is just as bad as saying you are not going to accept what you read. It’s a process.

  39. Hester

    Can you tell me where i can read some of these Puritan lists? They would make a good post.

  40. Longtime lurker and very infrequent commenter here. I finished reading Rachel Held Evans’s book last night. Her exploration of “biblical womanhood” reminded me of the hands-on homeschool lessons I used to do with my kids. Object lessons and hands-on learning tend to be memorable. For instance, my kids quickly grasped the structure of the inner ear when we made a model of it using household objects, and they still remember it many years later.

    To take just one example from RHE’s book: I’ll bet Rachel will remember for the rest of her life that it’s virtually impossible to rid a house of every trace of unleavened bread in preparation for Rosh Hoshanah.

    Okay, what does this have to do with “Who is a Christian?” For me, RHE’s book points out the impossibility of living by the letter of the law, but at the same time, the book shows the kindness of a Father God who uses object lessons to teach his children about sin and redemption.

    When you try to keep the Law, whether it’s the OT Law or some modern checklist, you fail miserably. When you run to God’s grace, your Redeemer saves you wonderfully. Or as Dee put it: “Grace is the point and the only point. The longer i live this Christian life, the more I see my own inadequacies and my need for grace.” That’s exactly it.

  41. Meg

    I may use part of your comment in my post on RHE book. Thank you for weighing in. I was beginning to think I was only one of a few “conservative” Christians who liked her book. But then again, I have always been a rebel or sorts.

  42. Argo

    When I am asked by others how to tell if a church is OK  to try, I tell then if church discipline is mentioned almost immediately, there is a problem.

  43. Dee,

    That is on my top 3 list of churches to avoid as well. Incidentally number one is a reference to the importance of “biblical roles”. Ug.

  44. “What differentiates theological liberalism from theological conservatism? Where does the line cross and diverge? Is it based on secondary issues? For example, if I am an evolutionary creationist and a Wesleyan, am I liberal? If I am an evolutionary creationist and John Piper’s disciple, am I conservative?”

    I would be interested in that, too. As a mutualist that believes scripture teaches practicing homosexuality is sin (we are to love homosexuals) , I find I am much alone and not welcome on either side. I have no “country” as it were.
    So I am liberal to one group and a conservative to the other.

  45. “His original article is entitled “How to Spot a Transformed Christian”. If you can’t spot one, then in what sense is God real in people’s lives today?”

    Your entire comment was right on. Not long I started reading about this subject of what does a Christian look like and started reading about the early Christians up to around the time the doctrinal wars started. They were not really concerned with correct doctrine as defined today, surprisingly enough. They were known for their sacrificial love for one another and for others. In that hierarchical society they were seen as weak and foolish for being weak.

    There is a great example in the Letter to Diognetes. It is edited on this site but easier to read the translation

    http://www.christian-history.org/letter-to-diognetus.html

  46. RHE is just a writer and blogger and normal woman, throwing ideas out there as eloquently as she can. I think it’s hard for some of her critics to accept that way of doing things, because they present themselves as the authority on certain topics. I think that’s why she gets the whole ‘heretic’ schtick from certain people. RHE doesn’t use threats and the fear of ‘not being a real Christian’ to make her point, and these critics just don’t get it.

    Between Piper’s chart and Grudem’s list and their own husband’s authority, I wonder how on earth many complementarian women manage to do anything without worrying that they’re doing something wrong.

  47. ” have often asked myself the following question as a Southern Baptist. Must I believe everything in this man made document to be a Christian-especially the part about only a man being allowed to be a pastor.”

    The problem is there is NO declaration in the NT that only men can be pastors. The situation about women functioning in the Body of Christ is not cultural as in it was forbidden in the 1st Century so it is now. It was not forbidden then. The interpretations are horrible. A great place to start to understand this are’

    Catherine Bushnell’s God’s Word to Women. (Eat your wheaties. She goes deep)
    http://godswordtowomen.org/gwtw.htm

    I highly recommend buying the book. Marking it up and studying it for a long time.

    Another great source which is quicker and give an overview of some of the passages used to keep women out of ministry are in this DVD Series by Cheryl Schatz:

    http://mmoutreach.org/wim.htm

    These are not cultural arguments. Scripture does not forbid women from teaching men. Centuries of bad translations have kept women in bondage.

  48. Anon1

    You are like me. Some people think I am too conservative; others too liberal. Maybe that means we are striking the right note?

  49. “To someone who has read multiple Puritan “signs of salvation” lists (often book-length), let me tell you, McDonald’s is downright refreshing. The Puritan lists got right down to saying that even if you withstood persecution and torture you might not be saved, because you might have survived the rack via a “stout Roman constitution” instead of by faith.”

    Amen. Perhaps I did not see a problem with the list because of being around so many who put women’s roles, YEC and other things right up there with salvation. I saw the list as one striving for the transformed life

    If you think about it, Mahaney nor Driscoll would fit the list at all by their public behavior and teaching. I would add a believer does not want people to follow them but only Christ. A believer would never seek personal followers.

    Another problem is that many in evangelical circles think we can live any way we want, treat people like dogs, and still should be considered Christians. Calvinists teach total depravity and inability to be transformed so doctrine becomes more important than how people are treated. They would hate the list too.

  50. Dee, you said: “I was beginning to think I was only one of a few “conservative” Christians who liked her book. But then again, I have always been a rebel or sorts.”

    Me too! I’m really very conservative. Reading RHE’s book (as many of her critics have *not* done) made me want to dig deeper into the Bible. It made me want to love God and people better.

  51. Hi Dee. I can relate to what you are saying. When I became a Christian at 18 I only had the vague memory of childhood Sunday School and RE lessons, didn’t understand Jesus’s death on the cross and thought doctrine was something that only Marxists did. But by God’s grace and the encouragement of some fellow Christians I was taught well and encouraged to pray and read the Bible. I think theology is important, but the most important thing is reading the Bible. Over the years I have probably moved in a more conservative direction, but I still balk at some of the neo-Reformed stuff, not least the idea of having apostles.

    This may seem strange but I think it’s often easier to tell a transformed Christian early on. There is a change in heart and attitude from the person that previously was and a genuine and fresh outlook on life. I think the danger is later on that one can take this for granted or indeed (in the words of point 6 of MacDonald’s list) become “religiously institutionalised” which is paradoxically where the greatest danger may lie, as there’s no pressure to be the salt and the light (everyone else around you is a Christian after all!) and worldly habits of politicing, backstabbing and other stuff can creep in.

    I think the Nicene Creed is a very good basis for faith. I’ve always found it interesting that all the historic churches can subscribe to it, whereas the cults find it difficult at best.

  52. The other thing I’ve noted is that today we seem to talk so much in conservative evangelical circles about right doctrine, YEC vs evolutionism, gender roles, etc, and yet prayer and devotional reading are hardly ever mentioned. I don’t think one can be divorced from the other.

  53. If I believed for a moment the Bible truly taught the gender roles prescribed by the Calvinista tribe, I would of course have to accept them AND strive to live by them.

    It wouldn’t matter how much I disliked them. I could make all the human centered opinionated arguments I wanted, God’s Word would stand.

    But the thing is, there are quite conservative Christian bodies that have ALWAYS taught egalitarianism BECAUSE they believe that is what the Bible teaches. I find the BIBLICAL teaching on it quite compelling.

    So my question for the comps is two fold: Are you willing to study what the Word really says, and if you see it is egalitarian, are YOU willing to be obedient to the Word?

  54. A Christian: someone who trusts Christ as the solution to his or her sin problem.

    All of those who are really trusting Christ in this way are being transformed- we may not always look like it and different people may see different evidences of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

    I don’t generally judge who is and who isn’t; however, I will strongly point out when some people claim they trust in Christ but their behavior shows extreme ungodliness then it behooves us to treat them as unbelievers (for example, the aforementioned “Christian” who advocates “pump and dump”). I think behavior is a lot stronger indicator than theology, and that’s the problem with social media and blogs. Often we cannot tell what a person’s behavior is really like. A preacher may say the most wonderful, peaceful things and then go home and beat his wife; we have to be cautious. But when a person puts it out there in front of us (like saying he wants to beat up his elders with no hint of self deprecating humor), we come to a point of needing to react to that kind of revelation.

  55. “But the thing is, there are quite conservative Christian bodies that have ALWAYS taught egalitarianism BECAUSE they believe that is what the Bible teaches. I find the BIBLICAL teaching on it quite compelling.”

    Linda, This is why I maintain the internet is changing the hold the comp/pats have had on the church. The internet has been horrible for them. We can discover great scholars on the internet that interpret the Greek totally different. Such a thing happened to me when I started researching the word “Authenteo” and found I had a total misunderstanding of 1 Tim as taught by MOST pastors. That is just one example out of thousands.

    What are they going to do? Claim that Fee, the Kroegers, Bushnell and many other theological scholars are not saved?

  56. Hester – good spot on the Creeds. There’s nothing in there about the bible (unless you count the phrase “on the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures”) and certainly nothing about infalliberrancy. [NB – I would like to submit that word for inclusion in the TWW dictionary, along with “deleterated”. I concede that “Deebs” for “Dee and Debs” might be a neologism too far.]

    Personally, I have no use for infalliberancy; the concept may not be wrong per se, but it’s almost perfectly useless since the Bible has to be read by fallible and errant human beings.

    On the Gordon McDonald List Of Doom… I want to defend McDonald’s intent here. In his original post (which is quite long, and spread over 6 interweb pages), he explicitly makes the point that becoming Christlike is a process, not a zap, and he never suggests that anyone who fails any of the Twelve Sacred Tests Of Salvation is damned. Nor does he hold it up as a checklist by which to pass or fail someone else. For one thing, the context is actually a follow-up to the question, what would the world looked like if everyone (or a critical mass of people) were Christian. For another, the article is full of reflective, first-person references.

  57. “I just love the irony of neo Cals whining and wringing their hands over the “liberals”. They don’t realize that they have more in common philosophically with Marxism than practically every politically liberal friend and family member I know. What is the core assumption that drives both Marxism AND Calvinism, after all? It is this:

    That a specially anointed and unelected group of authoritarians is obligated and entrusted to use a monopoly of threats, force, and violence to compel the masses into “right” moral behavior.

    Honestly, their theology is the most freedom hating of all theologies. So they can just stop the hypocritical judging.”

    Amen, Amen Amen!!! It is the big government “taking care of you” version of theology.

  58. What Is a Christian?

    All too often, “SOMEONE WHO AGREES COMPLETELY WITH ME!”

  59. That a specially anointed and unelected group of authoritarians is obligated and entrusted to use a monopoly of threats, force, and violence to compel the masses into “right” moral behavior. — Anon1

    Just in one case the Divine Right comes from God and in the other from The Inevitable Dialectic. And that difference alone is enough for Jihad to the death between the two. (Like between the two Atheist faiths in that South Park episode.)

  60. 2. Pursues a biblically informed view of the world.

    This means “aiming to know the Bible well: its content and its imperatives.”
    **********************

    People come to different conclusions about the meaning of its content and imperatives. #2 can easily amount to “if your conclusions aren’t mine, then you’re not legit, and I will be wary of you and communicate to others to be wary of you, too. And from here on we’ll narrow our eyes when we look at you.”

  61. Linda: exactly! That is the point that the Calvinistas utterly miss in their simplistic picture of those who disagree with them…they really have NO idea that those who hold different views from them would adopt those beliefs if they thought that was what the Bible said, this point has completely passed them by.

  62. Retha —

    “Pumping and dumping” in a sexual or financial sense? (And either way, somebody’s getting screwed over.)

  63. 3. Is intentional and disciplined in seeking God’s direction.

    “It means living by intention and commitment, developing life-habits in alignment with Jesus and replacing those that are not”
    **********************

    But who and how is Jesus? I feel that all too often we see Jesus through a Robert Powell lense (from the film “Jesus of Nazareth”). I recall seeing this movie as a kid, on TV, and thinking “ew – this is Jesus? this is who I’m supposed to be like? seems a little prissy to me. And so unnatural.” (& I don’t mean supernatural, but rather choosing “godly” facial expressions, “godly” language – pretending to be what our best guess of godliness looks like – pretending to be Robert Powell pretending to be what he thinks Jesus acted like.)

    This isn’t Jesus. This is convenient, easy-access Jesus that we put on like a baseball cap on our way to the game.

  64. What with fundagelical, deleterated & now infalliberancy my vocabulary is being marvellously extended by being a Warty Watcher.

    I’m now trying to come up with a word for that state of ‘everlasting moderation’ I have lost some of my comments on various Calvinista lady-mouthpiece blogs to…

  65. Actually, the term ‘moderation everlasting’ sung to a monastic style chant might just do…

  66. 5. Builds healthy human relationships.

    This person is “faithful to friends, and (if married) affectionate, attentive, and servant-like to a spouse, and (if a parent) patient and nurturing to his children.”
    ***************

    hmmm…. this gets too much into ordaining a one-size fits all uniform of behavior, mood, facial expression, body language, tone of voice, word choice, etc., and overlooks differences in personality. And personality shaped by a complex cocktail of life experiences. Not everyone is affectionate, either by personality DNA or circumstances. Leave them alone.

    And who gets to decide what “attentive” looks like??

    And the most transformed christian is the one who we see doing the most servant=like things. “Let’s see, I’ve observed Jane doing 6 servant-like things since I’ve arrived at church this morning. I’ve done 4…. what are the 3 quickest & easiest ways to be servant-like? I might just win. If i can come up with 4 or 5, then I’m sure to win!”

    Way too much emphasis on how people “look”. Encourages people to put on a behavioral uniform, and to judge people by whether or not they’ve put on this uniform. And since it’s about “God”, it is so all-important, and therefore if it’s tweeds, then it’s ONLY tweeds. If it’s preppy, then one must ONLY look preppy. Because this about GOD. And if it’s puka shells, Micky Mouse, and a tough=guy sneer, then so be it. And woe to all those who look different.

  67. 9. Appreciates that suffering is part of faithfulness to Jesus.

    “The transforming believer does not complain, does not seek pity, does not become embittered”
    *****************

    So, anyone who rocks the boat is not legit. And we must hide our true feelings. Better yet deny them altogether, and they’ll hopefully go away. That pesky intuition, conscience and conviction – they sure get in the way. Satanic, they are. They must be put away, and my happy “true godliness” face put on.

  68. 11. Overflows with thankfulness.
    They “walk through the day looking for things to be thankful for.”

    Not a bad idea. But I see the spectre of “godly” emotional overdose fast approaching, zapping people with permasmiles & the uncontrollable urge to spout flowery language dripping with sweetness.

  69. HUG- he recommended the reading of pick up artists. In a sexual sense. My point is, some people who call themselves Christians do make it very hard to believe they are.
    But then, some people also find it hard to believe I am a Christian, for example because I’m egalitarian and not a young earther.

  70. Elastigirl – I completely agree. That’s the point I was trying to make in my comment this morning.

  71. “…they really have NO idea that those who hold different views from them would adopt those beliefs if they thought that was what the Bible said, this point has completely passed them by.”

    Maybe so for most Christians. But I wouldn’t adopt those beliefs in a million years. Just as I could never believe that racism (‘race-plimentarianism’, ‘race-riarchy’) was the will of God, so I would never accept sexism, however biblical. Sexism is no more acceptable to me than racism. Then again, I’m not really a Christian these days anyway, since I rarely pray and never read the Bible.

  72. What with fundagelical, deleterated & now infalliberancy my vocabulary is being marvellously extended by being a Warty Watcher.
    “infalliberancy” deserves an award for being a most excellent word.

    elastigirl said:
    But who and how is Jesus? I feel that all too often we see Jesus through a Robert Powell lense (from the film “Jesus of Nazareth”). I recall seeing this movie as a kid, on TV, and thinking “ew – this is Jesus? this is who I’m supposed to be like? seems a little prissy to me. And so unnatural.” (& I don’t mean supernatural, but rather choosing “godly” facial expressions, “godly” language – pretending to be what our best guess of godliness looks like – pretending to be Robert Powell pretending to be what he thinks Jesus acted like.)
    This isn’t Jesus. This is convenient, easy-access Jesus that we put on like a baseball cap on our way to the game.

    Your comment made me think of how little we consider that Christ was ‘fully human’, I mean his feet really did touch the ground when he walked. I think that Peter’s brashness may have made Christ chuckle once in a while – I am sure there was a personality present, not just a smiling face that said nice happy things.

  73. elastigirl – I really appreciate your analysis of some of the points on that list. You’re far more articulate than I was late last night!

  74. Sophie, many respected Christians would say that if you were a Christian once, you always will be, even if you are currently in a state of abeyance. I’m saying that not to have a go at you but to reassure you.

    I can understand your feelings on sexism and racism – both are after all offences against the second commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself.

    The full humanity of Jesus is something that we need to be reminded of from time to time, just as heresies tend to miss out on his full deity. But it’s interesting that nowhere in the Gospels are we told what he looked like, or any details of his personal life. This is undoubtedly because Jesus’s importance lies elsewhere, but might it not also be to discourage us from possibly idolatrous fixation with external details? Some of the radical Islamists seem to have a thing about men wearing beards to imitate Mohammed. But it seems to me that the very lack of detail about Jesus’s personal particulars makes him a man for all people and every age.

  75. Anon1

    “What are they going to do? Claim that Fee, the Kroegers, Bushnell and many other theological scholars are not saved?” That is what they are hinting at. They  also like to throw around the term “unregenerate.” There is a reason that Mark Dever/9 Marks is pushing for the keys of authority doctrine which they say gives them the right to declare who is, and isn’t, saved.

  76. Nick

    I like Gordon MacDonald and know him nopt to be rigid. That is why i chose his list  in order to illustrate that any list, no matter how well intended, has its drawbacks.

  77. HUG

    I would be so bored with a world that agreed completely with me. I have been known to awaken in the night and disagree with myself. Wait-is that schizophrenia?

  78. Bobson,

    “…khow little we consider that Christ was ‘fully human’, I mean his feet really did touch the ground when he walked.”

    Ok, here it is: Jesus farted.

    i’m not comfortable even writing that, but it is true. He burped, belched, had bad breath, got splinters, hangnails, clipped his fingernails (however they did that back then), picked food out from between his teeth, sneezed, had a runny nose, tripped at least once, told a joke & goofed up on the punch line, felt embarrassed….

    i’m sure there were times that he regretted his word choice (not the sermon on the mount thing), wished he had handled an interpersonal situation differently, truly and legitimately hurt someone’s feelings by accident and had to apologize…

    I believe he was sinless. But what does that mean? Surely not perfect (at least as we might think of “perfect”).

  79. elastigirl

    “But who and how is Jesus?” I kind of like the snakes and vipers apporach a bit too much so I try to tone it down. :)

  80. BeakerJ

    Moderation everlasting….it does have that majestic hymn sound, doesn’t it? Just so you know, I. too, am put into moderation, especially if I use me real name. So, I have developed a supersecret alias so I can slip in once in awhile.

  81. Sophie

     “I’m not really a Christian these days anyway, since I rarely pray and never read the Bible.” So you must always pray and read the Bible to be a Christian? Don’t you go listing yourself!!! The mere fact that you comment over here means you are still interested and that, to me, speaks volumes! Now don’t make me come over and slap you upside the head!!!

  82. Dee,

    What would a 2012 equivalent to snakes and vipers be? (when really necessary)

    Surely we can do better than “she’s a heretic!”, and “YOU, SIR, blah blah blah…”

    Perhaps, “She turned me into a newt once! …..I got bettah.”

  83. @ Nick & Dee:

    “Personally, I have no use for infalliberancy; the concept may not be wrong per se, but it’s almost perfectly useless since the Bible has to be read by fallible and errant human beings.”

    It does often become difficult to distinguish someone’s interpretation of the Bible from what the book actually says…esp. when the person themselves can’t see the difference. I haven’t studied the inerrancy issue hardly at all, thus my question in my original comment.

    I’m not trying to judge anybody’s salvation here – as Dee & Deb often say, that’s above my pay grade. But it recently struck me as ridiculous that someone’s opinion about archaeology could possibly undo/override their belief in Christ, which is what you would have to believe to claim that someone who said Joshua wasn’t historical was automatically lost. They didn’t believe Joshua wasn’t historical because they rejected God; they believed it wasn’t historical based on archaeological findings. I don’t see what’s necessarily wrong with God speaking through allegory, metaphor, story, etc. And as Dee has pointed out repeatedly, it’s a much less weighty issue to say that the conquest of Canaan didn’t happen exactly as described than to say that the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection didn’t happen exactly as described.

    Inerrancy is a big, complicated and messy ball of wax that sounds so simple from the outside. Even thinking about this huge topic makes my brain tired.

  84. @ Dee:

    Have at it. Three book-length treatments are below. Finding ultra-detailed “X-ray questions” should be about as hard as finding water at the beach. The last one comes with an extremely detailed index for your browsing convenience.

    http://www.gracegems.org/Brooks/heaven_on_earth.htm Thomas Brooks (1667), Heaven on Earth: A Serious Discourse Concerning A Well-grounded Assurance.

    http://www.gracegems.org/28/matthew_mead.htm Matthew Mead (1661), The Almost Christian Discovered; or, the False Professor Tried.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/guthrie/interest/files/interest.html William Guthrie (1668), The Christian’s Great Interest.

    I have read entirely too many of these things. Just even glancing down the index of the last one makes doubts spring up in my mind like ugly little trolls, and I still have to resist the urge to feed said trolls. Warning: here be dragons.

  85. elastigirl

    It appears you are quoting from one of the finest examples of theological films ever to hit the big screen-Monty Python and the Holy Grail- “She turned me into a newt once! …..I got bettah.”I believe that regular viewing of that film should be required of all people who get just a little too sure of themselves! My personal favorite-the killer rabbit.

  86. Hester:

    You said:”Inerrancy is a big, complicated and messy ball of wax that sounds so simple from the outside. Even thinking about this huge topic makes my brain tired.”

    But to be a good Southern Baptist you have to at least say publicly you believe in innerancy.

  87. Monty Python and the Holy Grain has nothing, theologically, on Monty Python’s The Life of Brian.

    Spectator: I think it was “Blessed are the cheesemakers”.
    Mrs. Gregory: Aha, what’s so special about the cheesemakers?
    Gregory: Well, obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

    Expository preaching as God intended it to be. Welease Woger, say I!

  88. “But to be a good Southern Baptist you have to at least say publicly you believe in innerancy.”

    It’s OK; I believe in it. Specifically, I believe it’s a rollicking great waste of brain-cells.

  89. elastigirl,

    I loved your comment on Jesus’ humanity! I like it because it goes past the roped off areas in the “Jeezus Museum”, and would surely make many an evangelical cringe and get uncomfortable. Some might even claim that you don’t “know” “Jeezus” and that you might not even be “saved”.

    I believe that Jesus was sinless perfection, his very DNA did not “miss the mark”. It was not seeded with the slow death over time that the rest of us are doomed to. I also believe that as the last Adam, he was the most physically beautiful man to ever be born of woman. Yet another reason why the vineyard hirelings were so jealous of him and hated him with hatred cruel enough to plot his murder.

  90. Dear Hester
    Having read all three, I have to say that there are no trolls here, only great comfort from godly men who tried to protect their flock.

    Here’s another – John Howe – one of the best. Listen to what he has to say.

    “I know not how to judge better of Christianity, than by charity. Now know I where, among them that profess, there is less of either, than with them that would confine and engross both to their own several parties; that say, Here is Christ, and There he is; and will have the notion of Christian, of saint, of church, to extend no further than their own arbitrarily assigned limits, or than,as they are pleased to describe,their circle.”

    This blog like many others it criticises is susceptible to too narrow a view. There ha to be more generosity of spirit.

    Regards
    Gavin

  91. Muff–

    How do you define perfection, in terms of sinlessness? Incapable of sin? Able to discern the right reactionary choice to make in the moment? (perhaps i’m coming to terms with my own understanding here.) Would you say it any differently? Take it apart any more?

    Or, how do you define sin in the context of this conversation?

  92. For my purposes, it boils down to one of two things…since I do not believe there is a god, being “Christian” is either a simple matter of believing that you are…like calling my self a stamp collector, who’s to say I’m wrong, OR option B, it would be someone who adheres to a specific set of doctrines (certainly anyone claiming to be a Christian, to some extent also falls into the second group or else words would lose their meaning).

    What set of doctrine might be open to some debate, I mean Trinitarian theology was not always the de facto standard, would you consider someone who claims to be Christian but denies the trinity to actually be one? I think doctrine must come into play at some point.

    John, sorry also about your neighbors house, but I wouldn’t feel bad that your first reaction was relief for the safety of your family, I’d be worried if it wasn’t! I think that reaction was perfectly fine…now I guess the question is, once that moment passed and you and yours were safe..did you do anything to help your neighbor?

  93. @ Gavin:

    “This blog like many others it criticises is susceptible to too narrow a view. There has to be more generosity of spirit.”

    On the contrary, I’ve found TWW to be one of the most open Christian sites I’ve ever visited. Though I would agree with Mr. Howe that some Christians do restrict the definition of Christianity to their own circle. I’ve met many of those people, esp. since, as a Lutheran, my denomination is one of the default “dead Christian” punching bags for Baptists (the other is Catholics). But none of them were on TWW.

    Also, I too came by my opinion of Puritan assurance writings by extensive personal experience. (I also formed that opinion long before I ever started reading TWW.) There are some people who are too prone to obsessive thinking to ever find comfort in the books I referenced. (I would, for instance, never recommend them to any Christian with OCD or on the autism spectrum.) These people fixate on their inevitable shortcomings – and they will find many in such long treatises – and this leads them to despair or at least great discouragement. This does not mean they are lost; it just means that this method of self-examination doesn’t work for everyone. And that’s okay. If you find comfort in those books, then more power to you. But many sincere Christians have not.

  94. Hester: I am one of those who would lose my wits if I read the Puritans lists…seriously I get VERY anxious over these topics & sometimes wonder (for real) if I have some sort of religious OCD/phobia tendencies, because mostly I’ve found being a Christian very deeply unsettling…& can’t figure out why other people don’t seem to.

  95. Not all Puritans were nitpickers, though it seems from what’s been thrown up on this blog that some were. Matthew Bridge’s “A Lifting Up For The Downcast”, for example, is a very encouraging and gentle book and contrasts very favourably with some of the harsh rigorism that seems to come out of the Calvinista crowd from time to time. Ahem.

  96. Liked the John Howe quote, by the way!

    Gavin, sometimes people do say things on here that I think stem from their own experiences which may come over as uncharitable. However I wouldn’t say that that is the overall timbre (to use a musical term) of this site.

  97. @ Beaker:

    Just curious, are you on the autism spectrum? It’s very possible that I am and I think this might partially explain my tendency to obsess over things. I do this with other subjects that I care about – I had a lot of trouble when I was a kid knowing when I had bored the people around me to tears by constantly talking about a single subject. Maybe it’s natural that I would carry this over to religion as it’s always been such a central part of my life.

    Also, like you, all my negative religious experiences have always been in the vein of doubt/fear about my salvation. My first one (age 8) was when an AWANA missionary told me my prayer to “ask Jesus into my heart” didn’t take because my mother said the words for me (I was nervous for whatever reason). Way to start a kid off right. My very earliest religious experiences, however – always liturgical and hymn/music-related in the Lutheran church – were extremely positive.

  98. @ Kolya:

    I hadn’t heard of Lifting Up for the Downcast. The title is certainly more encouraging than “The False Professor Tried.” : )

    From my overall historical/theological reading I got the impression that most Puritan assurance writing was in the “list” vein as opposed to the “comfort” vein. In some circles these “lists” were used as tests for church attendance. Edmund Morgan (in his book Visible Saints) shows how New England Puritans would use the “steps” of conversion outlined in assurance books to assess whether or not a potential church member had had a true conversion experience. So there were definitely certain signs in a certain order that were thought to signify true conversion, and if you didn’t measure up, you were refused membership and thus communion (and earlier on, participation in government). (The scarier part was that, when Morgan went through the conversion “steps” in the text, I had read so much assurance stuff by Puritans that I recognized all of them!)

    I know I reference Morgan on here all the time, but his books really are excellent and give great insight into the New England Puritan mindset. So please forgive me for being a fan. : )

  99. Hey Numo – no I’m not at all, I am a recovering agoraphobic however, so having an anxiety disorder has probably coloured my religious experiences somewhat…I’ve been told that a combination of a high IQ & being really sensitive is not such a good one…yay me.

  100. Hester and beakerj – I hear you on both anxiety and the tendency to get obsessive, though those things are also present in plain old anxiety disorder (with or without panic attacks, agoraphobia, etc.).

    My free-floating anxiety level is *very* high; as you can imagine, my startle response is pretty easily triggered. I do take meds and they help a lot, but so has the slow process of learning to view myself differently. In the latter case, I’ve had to consciously step away from the religious practices that were contributing to my anxiety and sense of guilt/unworthiness/ etc. (See comments on previous thread.)

    Also, I now live in a rural area, and the pace of life is slower. Taking time to look at the sky, the trees, etc. really helps me. so does having an animal pal – in my case, an indoor bunny who is litter-trained and so much fun to be around!

    I’ve often smiled over the fact that – possibly – one of the reasons I’ve bonded sow ell with her has to do with the fact that in some ways, I’m a lot like a prey animal. (Startle response, etc. – Temple Grandin has talked and written quite extensively about this in her own work with animals.)

  101. Beaker – I hear you re. the closing sentence in your last comment. Pretty much the same here, along with difficulties with depression and anxiety.

    The thing is, being able to see that those things exist – and doing what you need to do to help yourself – is a very good place to be. (Unlike those who deny that there’s anything wrong with them, or that such problems should never happen to [fill in the blank], etc. etc. – have heard it from people who would never in a million years identify themselves as xtian, btw.)

  102. Fendrel- You cannot say that whoever self-defines as a Christian is one. Nor are you a stamp collector by calling yourself one.

    I am not a medical dotor or the president of my country by calling myself one. I cannot be drop-dead gorgeous by insisting I am. I cannot be a dog or a toothbrush or a mind reader by insisting I am.

  103. I am not a Christian. I used to be one, but then, over a period of time, I realized I was simply deceiving myself. Just to give one example, apropos to this season of the year: The Virgin Birth.

    o Underneath “born of the Virgin Mary” the doctrine says a married woman having normal sexual relations with her husband in marriage is simply Not Good Enough to conceive and bear God’s son. It’s not very positive about the goodness of sex within marriage, and I can tell you, from having read in medieval thought, this caused a LOT of problems for women down through the centuries. You’d think an almighty God would have been able to see this, but I guess not.

    o The traditional telling of the Virgin Birth raises the question of, “really, how much like me IS Jesus?” After all, he didn’t get here the same way the rest of us got here (via sex act).

    o Where did the genetic material making up Jesus’ Y chromosome come from?

    …and so many more questions. You really don’t want me asking them here.

    I’m personally of the opinion, based on Ockham’s razor (that is, picking the hypothesis with the least moving parts), that the historical Jesus was likely the son of Mary and Joseph. There are other possibilities, ranging from more to less probable. I’m not going to list them here because some people may be very offended. The least probable possibility is the one given in two of the gospels (Matthew and Luke). I’d also note that this idea was not known by Paul or a part of his preaching.

    If you have to assert, “born of the Virgin Mary,” to be a Christian, well, then, no, I’m not a Christian. Because the virgin birth is probably the least likely possibility.

    N.B. This doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I’m rather wishing Christmas was hived off from the month-long domestic economic boost/shopping orgy otherwise known as “The Holidays.”

  104. Retha,

    Actually I disagree (no surprise to those who read my comments, I’m sure), but if I decide to call myself a stamp collector, who can say that I am not..there are no rules or guidelines or official bodies that certify a stamp collector from a non collector (unlike being a doctor or lawyer).

    You may in fact call yourself drop dead gorgeous, without fear of any legitimate contradiction as long as you are being honest with yourself and truly believe that you are.

    all that said, I think you are missing my point…I would actually argue that you must believe certain doctrinal statements in order for the word “Christian” to have any real meaning. But since I am an atheist, I can see how it might work either way.

    For example, during the elections many people accepted the fact that Romney, i.e. the LDS church is a “Christian” religion. They defended it by making the basic assumption that belief in the trinity has not always been considered heretical and so, even though “the norm” today, it is not a basis for saying someone isn’t a Christian. Others might argue for even more simplicity, i.e. that “Christian” simply means a follower of Christ and there are no specific doctrinal beliefs required.

  105. Retha,

    oops, in my above post it should be “…that not believing in the trinity has not always been heretical…”

    mea culpa

  106. Beakerj, I have similar experiences. My personal struggles are OCD and anxiety. I really struggle with “religion anxiety.”

  107. But it’s interesting that nowhere in the Gospels are we told what he looked like, or any details of his personal life. This is undoubtedly because Jesus’s importance lies elsewhere, but might it not also be to discourage us from possibly idolatrous fixation with external details? — Kolya

    Smart move. If the Gospels described Christ’s beard or hairstyle, we would have a Godly Beard/Hairstyle that all Christians had to copy to be Godly. “If He was recorded as wearing a red robe, we would doubtless have a Holy color of dress.”

    Some of the radical Islamists seem to have a thing about men wearing beards to imitate Mohammed. — Kolya

    Not only an Islamic beard style (sometimes enforced on pain of death), but an Islamic sleeping position. I heard once that radical Islamists even sleep on their right side with their right hand cushioning their head because Mohammed was recorded once as sleeping in that position.

  108. N.B. This doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I’m rather wishing Christmas was hived off from the month-long domestic economic boost/shopping orgy otherwise known as “The Holidays.” — SW Discomfort

    Which kicked off yesterday with Black Friday(TM). I was driving yesterday and early afternoon radio were tallying the Black Friday casualties. Including some guy who pulled a gun on another shopper in San Antonio and some other guy who either got knifed or almost knifed for cutting in line in Sacramento. As is that station’s custom, they prefaced it with some bumper music I’ve been unable to track down — a catchy little tune that starts out
    “Why is it always WalMart
    Where the crazy s**t goes down?”
    and continues with
    “Naked people running past
    And meth labs in the aisles…”

  109. Also, like you, all my negative religious experiences have always been in the vein of doubt/fear about my salvation. My first one (age 8) was when an AWANA missionary told me my prayer to “ask Jesus into my heart” didn’t take because my mother said the words for me (I was nervous for whatever reason). Way to start a kid off right. — Hester

    Me too. I got told mine didn’t take because I didn’t say the words exactly as recited to me. (Kind of like a verbal-component magic spell; mess up the words and the spell fizzles or backfires like “Klaatu Barada Nikto” in Evil Dead II.) This has the advantage for the Witnesser because they can now lead the mark in the magic words again and cut a notch on their Bible for brownie points at the Bema. I became a notch on half a dozen Bibles that way.

    I also suspect I might be an undiagnosed low-end Aspergers. The excessive scrupulosity and worst-case runaway imagination match something I read on RHE’s blog about an interview with an Aspie.

    I’ve been told that a combination of a high IQ & being really sensitive is not such a good one… — BeakerJ

    It isn’t.

  110. @ HUG:

    The fact that RHE took time to interview an Aspie Christian was awesome. I remember from that article that the Aspie said most psychologists recommend people on the spectrum not get involved in religion. This made me sad but didn’t surprise me.

  111. @ HUG:

    “Which kicked off yesterday with Black Friday(TM).”

    I don’t generally worry about the commercialization of Christmas, but I do make an exception for Black Friday (now rapidly becoming Black Thursday). I won’t participate in it. It’s become insane, as evidenced by the fact that people are starting to die regularly (last year an innocent bystander was trampled by a mob at a Walmart). What’s even more of a head-shaker is that my Christian friends who complain about materialism at Christmas, almost to a person head out at ungodly hours on Black Friday.

  112. A Christian is someone who believes in the supernatural, someone who sacrifices the knowledge we have gained through science, medicine, psychology and the humanities for ancient myths and legends to guide then in life.

    A Christian is one who buries his doubts and fears about a misplaced or weak faith deep in their psyche, someone who ignores the still, small voice in their head which tells them that no one is there when they’re praying or talking with their God.

    A Christian is someone who gives away credit for changes made in their own life, to an invisible father figure, someone who dwells on how unworthy, lowly and inadequate they are.

    A Christian is one who, ignoring all reason and good evidence to the contrary, convinces themselves of the truth of their faith and then sets out to poison the minds of their children, their neighbors and the world with the same, addictive nonsense, all the time deluding themselves into thinking they are doing the world a favor.

  113. Christians were first called Christians at Antioch. They did not give themselves the name. It follows that they were given the name either by the Roman authorities or by the local inhabitants because of something different in them or about them. It was given to distinguish them from other religious groups. It was objectively verifiable. The clue lies in the designation – it had to do with their proclamation of Christ as the promised Messiah who had come and lived and died and had risen again.(Schnabel: Urchristliches Mission).

    Fact not fiction, no matter how you care to spin it, dear Fendrel.

    Regards
    Gavin

  114. Gavin, huh?

    Just because someone named the group doesn’t imply there is anything “true” about their belief system. They names them “Christians” because they were follows of Christ…Just like the name Buddhist refers to followers of the teaching of Buddha.

    I didn’t spin anything…so I am not sure what you are referring to…enlighten me please.

  115. @Hester

    The fact that RHE took time to interview an Aspie Christian was awesome. I remember from that article that the Aspie said most psychologists recommend people on the spectrum not get involved in religion. This made me sad but didn’t surprise me.

    Yup. When I was still a believer, I used to review every conversation I had afterwards in my head and judge it as to whether it was “godly. I was very self-critical. After I decided believing was too much of a burden, that compulsion disappeared. I do not want to go back to that way of thinking.

  116. What exactly is the sin of the Calvinistas?

    I believe it is the same sin seen in the garden of Eden: the idea that “I” will decide what is just or unjust, sexist or non sexist, loving or unloving, racist or non racist. Having decided that, I examine God’s Word and if it and He do not live up to my expectations, to hell with God and the Bible.

    The Bible can be twisted to teach racism and sexism, but it does not actually teach it.

    Those of us who are egalitarian need to tread carefully and make our case BASED ON God’s Word.

    Otherwise we are no better than the Calvinistas.

  117. Dear Fendrel the stamp collector

    Having found one of your less dignified but ultimately more enlightening posts elsewhere,I think it is fair to say that you are driven by your unbelief to be an evangelical atheist who has set up his tent on the village green to peddle a quack cure for faith! Unfortunately it has a bitter taste.

    You said
    “Hello? Where is everyone…please give us one, just one solid, logical, empirical proof for the existence of God which will compel our belief. We beg of you, dazzle us with holy brilliance, let God’s power be seen and heard in your divinely crafted, Holy Spirit filled, response, vetted against the almighty’s own storehouse of his omniscience. We patiently await an answer to our plea. In other words…either put up, or shut up.”

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  118. While I’m sorry to hear that others also suffer from anxiety & related problems I do find it immensely heartening to know I’m not the only one… I’m actually thinking of trying to find a therapist who can help me negotiate some of the faith/anxiety tangle I get into.
    I also wonder, along these lines, how many of the ‘super’ christians, those who memorised massive chunks of the Bible etc, were actually obsessives of some psychiatric flavour…

  119. When the Candles are lighted, Pray:

    Most thick and dark clouds do cover our minds, except thy light, O Lord, dispels them. Thy sun, O most wise Worker, is as it were a firebrand to the world; thy wisdom, whereby light comes both to soul and body, is a firebrand (a torch, editor) to the spiritual world. After day, when the night comes, thou hast given for the remedy of darkness, a candle; after sin, for the remedy of ignorance, thou hast given thy doctrine, which thy dear Son has brought unto us. Oh! thou, who art the Author and Master of all truth, make us to see by both the lights, so that the dimness of our minds may be driven quite away: lift upon us thy joy in our hearts. Thy word is a lantern to my feet, and a light unto my paths.

    Occasion to meditate

    Think that the knowledge and wisdom that God has given unto us by candles this night, whereby we see those things in this night of our bodies, which are expedient for us, make us to wish much more for this doctrine of God; and when we get it, to esteem and diligently embrace it the more, that as all would be horror without candles so there is nothing but there confusion, where God’s word takes not place.

  120. Southwestern Discomfort

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am not offended by your point of view on the Virgin Birth. You are welcome to express all of your thoughts here

    .It certainly seems outside the realm of the natural world that such birth is possible. Let me give a few details on ths issue from my point of view. Please do not think I am demeaning your thinking on this matter because your thoughts are definitely understandable and are shared by many people.

    If God is the Creator God of the Universe, then he is also the creator of DNA. In fact, some Christians believe that, when God creted Adam out of the dust of the earth, that this dust was what we now know to be DNA. To the ancients the dust, or dirt, of this earth was the primary substance which made up the land that we see. So, DNA=dust is not out of the realm of possibility. And we know that DNA makes up all living things. I think humans share 49% of our DNA with bananas, something which amuses me to no end.

     

    If God is the creator of DNA, He is capable  of creating the human body of a God/Man. Jesus, according to Christian beliefs, is fully God and fully man. The God part is essential to the redemption on the Cross if one follows the story as outlined by Scripture. Man was unable to live without sin, so a God sent one who could. That necessitated a God/man. According to the Scriptures, the focal point of the entire Christian narrative is the Cross and the miracle that happened there. If the Cross, along with the Resurrection, did not occur, then according to Paul, we have absolutely nothing. Basically, why bother? Christianity becomes just another religion with a bunch of rules. For me, as i look at the Bible story, i look at it all in light of the Cross, before and after.

    I consider miracles as a manifestation of God in this world.  To us, they are supernatural. But, if God is the all powerful Creator, is it not natural for Him to create what we consider exceptions to our rules? So, if we could do a study of God, and we were able to prove that He is the one who can do all of these things, then wouldn’t it be fair to say that God is naturally miraculous? 

    The conflict boils down to whether the universe and  all that is contained therein, is either a self existing, self perpetuating, nonsentient “stuff” or the universe is the direct creation of an Uncaused, First Cause which we call God. The answer to that question is not something that can be proven definitively by science or by observation, although we are told that the creation itself is a witness to the Creator.  So, how we go about making our conclusions is up for grabs. For me, the Bible narrative-Genesis to Revelation- answers the vast majority of my observations of the history, as well as the issues, of mankind, etc. Not all questions, mind you, and not without some wrestling with big issues. 

    I agree with your statement that “ the virgin birth is probably the least likely possibility.” But, I might add, just because something is the least likely explanation, does not mean it cannot be the explanation. 

    As for “ I’m rather wishing Christmas was hived off from the month-long domestic economic boost/shopping orgy otherwise known as “The Holidays.” Can I get an “Amen?”

  121. BeakerJ

    Our bodies are frail and that goes for our minds as well. There is no shame in that. Did you know that JB Phillips, the Bible translator and scholar, suffered with chronic depression his entire life? My understanding is that he was instituionalized as well. And this was a guy who really know and believed the Bible. Apparently, he wrote two books, published after his death, dealing with his struggles.  

    There are many new drugs that are used effectively in the treatment of anxiety and depression. It really irks me that there are Christians who would deny the validity of such treatemtn. But, then again, their are christians who also believe if you pray hard enough, God will take away diabetes.

     

  122. Fendrel

    These statement are absolutely untrue and you know it starting with ” A Christian is someone who sacrifices the knowledge we have gained through science, medicine, psychology and the humanities for ancient myths and legends to guide then in life.”

    Once again, I believe there is evidence. You don’t like it so you don’t agree. It is a hung jury.

  123. Anony

    I have heard that some of the drugs in the same class as Paxil are helpful in treating OCD. Is that true? I am sorry for your struggle.

    I think one of the most humanizing treatments of OCD occurred when Tony Shalhoub played the role of Monk. Who didn’t love Monk and root for him to overcom?He was the ace detective, admired, and loved, by many. 

  124. Dee,

    Any chance you have an idea what the titles are to those books, or where to find them? if not, i can google around myself. I just think those books might be helpful or at least interesting to me.

  125. @ Dee:

    “Did you know that JB Phillips, the Bible translator and scholar, suffered with chronic depression his entire life? My understanding is that he was instituionalized as well.”

    Not to mention Luther, who had serious and well-documented OCD-obsessive tendencies. How interesting that, in a way, they led to his posting of the 95 Theses, because his fear drove him to search for a loving God instead of a merciless judge.

    What many people don’t know about OCD is that, in many cases, it can have a mental component. It’s not just physical routines like turning all the light switches on and off before leaving the house. We know a woman whose 11-year-old daughter has “thought OCD” – she doesn’t perform any physical routines, but is unable to let go of thoughts/ideas, esp. worrying ones. (For instance, when Irene hit New England last year, they tried very hard to keep her from watching the news or she would obsessively worry about preparing for the storm.) Other people repeat words or phrases in their minds or are plagued by disturbing mental images, always involuntarily. It’s easy to see why people like this are almost always severely damaged by legalistic church environments.

  126. Hester –

    I know someone with the mental version if OCD. He has struggled greatly in his spiritual life. He is under a doctor’s care. Medicine helps, but it is a struggle to keep the right balance.

  127. Fendrel

    It’s always a pleasure to hear from you, and hear what you have to say. Because…

    Your testimony repeatedly reinforces my belief in Jesus – I’ve experienced His Love.
    And your testimony reinforces my belief that His written word, the Bible, is quite accurate…

    Your “Testimony” – You were a born again Christian 20 years – But NO longer. :-(

    It is written…
    “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith”
    “so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.”

    You openly mock those who believe in the supernatural. Those who believe in God.

    It is written…
    “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers”
    “How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time”

    You openly make false statements about God, and about believers.

    It is written…
    “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature”
    “for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:”

    But, I do give you kudos for your persistence. :-)

    And “Atheists” are certainly progressing towards being normal, gaining “Celebrity Status.”

    It’s about time you guys, “Atheists,” had your own “Holiday.”

    How about – “Atheists Deficiency Day.” or “Atheists Deletion Day.”

    May I suggest a day that seems open and appropriate – April First. ;-)

    Be blessed in your search for “Truth” – Jesus…

    P.S. It sure takes a lot of “Faith” to be “Atheist.”

  128. Dee,

    First, let me categorically deny that I know it’s “untrue”, for the record so to speak.

    Rather then go back and forth, let me ask you (and the community), can you agree on and give to me a single, unambiguous definition of what constitutes empirical scientific evidence from your perspective?

    This statement should be applicable whether we are discussing religion, global warming or the trajectory of a bullet. It does need to be comprehensive, but it should be clear enough that we can agree on whether a particular piece of evidence belongs in the “supports” or “does not support” group.

    From there we can continue, maybe with more success.

    Gavin, I believe that post was something I wrote to an individual that kept talking about “proof” but never presented any…if you can point me back to the original I’ll take a look…now, sarcasm aside, the question is still valid, don’t you think?

  129. A. Amos,

    Because you can quote a verse from some letter written 2000-3000 years ago that says I am foolish for mocking god…doesn’t make the mockery any less valid…silly is silly, even if the silly book says it isn’t.

    Religions are no more than control mechanisms for those in power and harbors for those who feel the need to have answers and believe, regardless of whether those answers have any validity.

    You have bought into it hook, line and sinker, just as I did, and I suspect you probably know better, also just as I did. I realize it takes time to change…

    Patiently waiting

  130. Beakerj – I think that problems with depression, anxiety, etc. are FAR more common than anyone out there wants to admit. (And not just in church circles, either.)

    But you know, Jesus will never break a “bruised reed” or put out a “smoldering wick.” He suffered as we do, for one…

    Beyond that, there are things that go out of whack re. neurochemistry (as Dee said), and why should that be viewed any differently than other things that seem to be physiological in nature? (i.e., how is it different than chronic physical illnesses?)

  131. Dear Fendrel
    The question is valid but meaningless because we are saved by God’s grace, not by asking the “right” question. It is useful though in that it reveals the state of our heart before God and should serve as a reminder of our brevity of life.
    You seem to have placed yourself some way beyond Thomas (who got the proof in the end) and the sarcasm of the Pharisees at the cross (if you are the son of god come down).It does not appear to me to be a very happy place to be and I wonder what drove you there.

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  132. Fendrel – I think you must realize that the things that you state are your current beliefs about the world and how it works.

    As someone else noted, you sound no different than a stereotypical “soul-saving” evangelist when you’re beating the drum here. (In other words, saying that your beliefs and perceptions are the only reality.)

    but as you know, we’re on different wavelengths about this… :)

  133. numo,

    I have never, ever said that…not once.

    What I have said or more appropriately asked for is evidence, and a discussion on that evidence. To be clear, I am only “beating the drum” because Christians keep harping on how their beliefs are based in science, well then let’s see the science…I don’t care if someone wants to believe in Santa or God or heaven or hell or Jim-Bob down the street…but I will not let the fanciful idea that religion is based on scientific evidence to pass without challenge.

    let me ask you a question, directly. You believe, I am going to assume, that you are correct in your beliefs about the existence of God, yes? Doesn’t that mean that you concurrently believe that people who don’t believe in God are wrong?

    You can’t really believe you are right and people with opposing views are also right.

  134. RE: elastigirl on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 05:52 PM,

    It’s a fair question, but one that I can only answer for myself in terms of my own view of the Scriptural narrative. I cannot speak for others.

    1) Sinless perfection to me is Jesus of Nazareth, his very person (DNA) was untainted, so that there were no “wages” (physical death) to be paid.

    2) I am born with an inner spark of divine, a moral compass which tells me what’s right and what’s wrong. The choices I make are entirely my own affair. [this model flies in the face of Reformed and Lutheran theology which claims that I inherit a “sin nature” only]

    3) This thread & convo is about what constitutes a Christian. We could debate this from now until hell freezes over. But which is weightier? What I believe about Jesus, or if I actually practice Jesus? In my opinion, and for me, sin is when I disregard the better angels of my nature and go ahead with bad choices that will hurt others.

  135. Dear Fendrel
    The late rev John Witherspoon, formerly of my parish, signatory to the Declaration of Independence, and the founder of the “common sense” school of theology, would no doubt heartily dispute that you worked it out all by yourself. Lol :-)

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  136. Gavin,

    Yes and human rationality took the place of God and His word as final arbiter of truth according to Witherspoon (and Reid). I assume that you would disagree with him, obviously smarter than he was. Still not sure what your point to me was supposed to be though.

  137. Muff,

    So are you saying that Jesus DNA came ONLY from God the father and that even though Mary was involved in the birth she contributed no DNA at all?

  138. Monty Python as theological discourse, that made my day! My theological proofs come from my extensive expertise in television and movies. I should have known the writing was on the wall at my former church, most of them didnt even own a televison. They wouldn’t know who Monty Python was, neither did they know such classics as A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Singing in the Rain, or The Ten Commandments, not to mention Star Trek, Shakespeare, and Disney! I would consider that both unAmerican and sacrilegious.

    @Hester, I’m glad you put that stuff into words. My husband is undiagnosed but has a tendency toward OCD and anxiety. I too am probably high,functioning Aspergers, undiagnosed. I’m almost totally left-brained, with degrees in Finance and Economics, and an expert in computer applications. Yet, I was told many times that I was not a good Christian because I got enjoyment from working, didn’t homeschool, wasn’t quiet and demure, was a “feminist”, and (gasp) I wanted to dialogue with men about scripture. My husband is reserved, but not a Bible thumper, and not into theology, so he was not considered manly.

    @Fendrel, I know better than to try to persuade an atheist or agnostic. I never doubted God, my doubts have always been in organizations, rules, authority figures, people. I think people stink, and do the wrong thing, but I have hope in the fact that justice will be served one day. I don’t really want to believe that there is no afterlife, because then I’d really be angry. I would probably become a nonbeliever if aliens came to earth and said something like “we are the god you have been praying to”. There is nothing you can say to shake my belief, so I’m glad you come here with your alternate viewpoint.

  139. @Fendrel

    Jesus body was created of Mary’s substance, so he would have had Mary’s DNA. But due to his miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, he did not have the sin nature of Adam.

  140. @Susan

    I don’t believe in aliens. But if aliens came to earth and falsely claimed to be the God I worship and pray to, that would not shake my faith.

  141. Dear Fendrel

    Could this be progress?

    Christians are written off as deluded because they believe in God – an idea formed by their human rationality – while atheists exult in their belief that there is no God – an idea formed by their human rationality.

    Common denominator seems to be human rationality and your belief is as absurd as mine, according to the terms of the argument.

    My point to you is this. One day you will stand before Him and be asked to explain your position with or without the sarcasm.

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  142. Atheists demand that God prove Himself to them *to their own personal satisfaction*. He is under no obligation to do that. If the many evidences and proofs for His existence that He has left over the millenia are not good enough for them, why should He do more?

  143. “…A Christian is someone who believes in the supernatural, someone who sacrifices the knowledge we have gained through science, medicine, psychology and the humanities for ancient myths and legends to guide then in life…”

    So very true Fendrel. It reminds me Of Dr. Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace), the brilliant scientist who was also a woman of faith in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film Prometheus.

  144. I don’t generally worry about the commercialization of Christmas, but I do make an exception for Black Friday (now rapidly becoming Black Thursday). I won’t participate in it. It’s become insane, as evidenced by the fact that people are starting to die regularly (last year an innocent bystander was trampled by a mob at a Walmart). What’s even more of a head-shaker is that my Christian friends who complain about materialism at Christmas, almost to a person head out at ungodly hours on Black Friday. — Hester

    And on the car radio Thursday Night (Black Friday Eve) somebody was talking about how someone they knew was circling for four hours before finding a parking spot for the Black Friday Eve campout. I mean, this is like Star Wars Line-cons.

    Oh, and I’ll take that “People of Walmart” video and raise you one by the same singer: BLACK FRIDAY NIGHT! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6TdM02Jt-k

  145. That is not true at all, Muff Potter. In fact it is a category error. Aside from misguided geocentrists and young earthers, Christians embrace all the knowledge revealed from science and nature. There is no conflict. And the Bible is neither legend nor myth. It is true.

  146. I don’t believe in aliens. But if aliens came to earth and falsely claimed to be the God I worship and pray to, that would not shake my faith. — Nicholas

    Nick, that sounds kind of close to the “There are no aliens, only DEMONS” I’ve heard whenever Internet Monk opens up the lines about life on other worlds. Imagine how that bit of Christianese Core Dogma goes down with a guy who’s been into SF since “Old Testament” Star Trek.

    The best comment in that long-ago thread was “There are no aliens. The ‘aliens’ are really Fallen Ones come to deceive us in These Last Days. No, I am not a conspiracy crackhead.”

  147. Nicholas … no offense meant, but I think it might be helpful if you could view your own beliefs and convictions as your beliefs and convictions.

    You might know that they are true (or believe that they are), but telling others that what they believe is true or not… I’m not so sure that’s helpful. Everyone here has beliefs and convictions, or else they wouldn’t be bothering with this site.

    But take a good look at how people phrase things when talking about those beliefs/convictions, OK?

    best!
    n.

  148. A. Amos,

    Because you can quote a verse from some letter written 2000-3000 years ago that says I am foolish for mocking god…doesn’t make the mockery any less valid…silly is silly, even if the silly book says it isn’t. — Fendrel

    You mean you haven’t noticed that A Amos is just plain WEIRD?

    Kind of like Sopwith with his comments I’m still trying to make sense out of. (I wonder if running them through an Enigma machine might work…)

    Welcome to the Internet. Like “People of WalMart” except online.

  149. HUG, what I meant was that it would not shake my faith in God. If aliens appeared, I would of course believe in aliens.

  150. Hi Dee, Thankfully my church (not that I’m attending right now…me & God have problems, not me & the church), which grew out of English L’Abri, is a generally safe place for those with mental health issues (my only problem with them is that they are compatibilist rather than arminian)& we have a lot of broken reeds in our congregation. I’ve probably been a bit of an education to a few who seem to think that anxiety is more about your personality type, rather than an acquired disorder (say no to illegal drugs kids), as I don’t present as a ‘nervy’ type because I’m not! I come across more as a bit of a tough cookie, which is just another form of defence mechanism…doesn’t stop me having problems with panic attacks/avoidance, or from being robust in other areas…But the welcome extended here to those of us with such issues is completely brilliant :)

  151. Nicholas,

    How exactly, because even with heavenly DNA from Dad, He still was half Mary’s DNA, which would mean 1/4 of that was from Mary’s father hence a sin nature….no?

  152. Fendrel,

    I said “due to his miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, he did not have the sin nature of Adam.”

    I don’t believe there is any such thing as “heavenly DNA.” If you went back in time and took a blood sample of Jesus, it would all appear as human DNA. The hypostatic union is not something we can explain beyond the fact that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. I hope this clarifies what we believe.

  153. Since this thread went off on a tangent, let me explain what I mean by aliens. Not that I don’t believe that aliens could exist, on the contrary. I love the Star Trek universe, but mankind wouldn’t be able to live by the Prime Directive, that’s why I don’t think we will ever get to other planets and discover new races or creatures. We could not help but exploit them. Extrapolate what forgiveness of sins would look like in a world where none existed. The whole purpose of Christ dying for our sins would be shot. What would God’s story be to other worlds? Would other humanoids have free will and yet never sin? I doubt it.

  154. Nicholas, sorry I didn’t further clarify that it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. And that was precisely the point of my comment with reference to Scott’s film. And again, we may have an inerrant Bible in what the ancient Jews refer to as the oracles of God, but what we don’t have is inerrant interpretations of those oracles. Different people may see different things.

  155. RE: Fendrel on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 02:02 PM,

    No I am not saying that Jesus’ DNA came only from the Almighty, he was fully Mary too. By way of conjecture, I would say that the coding sequence & timed release of decrepitude and physical death we are all doomed to is passed on by human males, hence the careful choosing of Jesus’ lineage to retrieve the least damaged female ovum as promised in Genesis.

    Physical decrepitude and death is our real inheritance from Adam. I don’t believe in “spiritual death” or some mystically inherited “sin” quantity that makes me fit only for hell at birth.

  156. Furthermore, I think a world without God would look exactly the same as it does today, except I would be without the hope of a better future for me or my children. To quote a Star Trek character, Khan Noonien Singh, “technology, knowledge is increased, but how little man himself has changed”.

  157. Fendrel

    Here is what you said

     

    A Christian is someone who believes in the supernatural, someone who sacrifices the knowledge we have gained through science, medicine, psychology and the humanities for ancient myths and legends to guide then in life.

    We do not sacrifice the knowledge we have gained through any of these modalities. My husband is a doctor. This is an over-reaching argument. Francis Collins is a world class scientist and physician so he does not sacrifice any knowledge of science/medicine. And he probably knows far more than you or i will ever know.

    A Christian is one who buries his doubts and fears about a misplaced or weak faith deep in their psyche, someone who ignores the still, small voice in their head which tells them that no one is there when they’re praying or talking with their God.

    How do you know what goes on an every Christian’s head. Have you examined them? Better yet, have you expertly (due to significant psych training) examined them. What proof do you have of this small voice that is being ignored by every Christian?

    A Christian is someone who gives away credit for changes made in their own life, to an invisible father figure, someone who dwells on how unworthy, lowly and inadequate they are.

    I know that i am inadequate. I have a pretty good understanding of my life and I can well express those inadequacies, starting with getting all dishes on the table at Thanksgiving at their proper temperature. Now, you may not be inadequate. That’s up to you. If you believe it, I shall not attempt to diabuse you of your notion. 

    A Christian is one who, ignoring all reason and good evidence to the contrary, convinces themselves of the truth of their faith and then sets out to poison the minds of their children, their neighbors and the world with the same, addictive nonsense, all the time deluding themselves into thinking they are doing the world a favor.

    Now you are starting to sound like a typical, ho-hum athiest. Only atheists can access reason. You know, like Stalin-such a reasonable guy. You are far better than that.  Christians have given up all reason? Then, how i have survived to this point with a total inability to reason? ALL reason?? Darn, then all those Christians in the humanities and sciences have lost all ability to reason as well? Fire them and hire an atheist who is so much more reasonable and knows how to accues all that science and knowledge.

    i set out to poison the mind of my children? How sweet. This is merely warmed over Harris/Dawkins.  

     

  158. Velvet Voice
    Welcome to this blog-doubly. I am a major Star Trek fan-became a Christian during an episode of it. Have you read CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy?

  159. Nicholas
    Have you read CS Lewis” Space Trilogy? We had a cool debate here once about what might occur if aliens were to be proven to exist. For example, did Jesus’ sacrifice cover them? Maybe they did not fall?

  160. Dee,

    First let me say I enjoy discussing this stuff with you…hope you don’t think otherwise and I hope you enjoy it too.

    OK, let me take 1 paragraph at a time.

    A Christian is someone who believes in the supernatural, someone who sacrifices the knowledge we have gained through science, medicine, psychology and the humanities for ancient myths and legends to guide then in life.
    We do not sacrifice the knowledge we have gained through any of these modalities. My husband is a doctor. This is an over-reaching argument. Francis Collins is a world class scientist and physician so he does not sacrifice any knowledge of science/medicine. And he probably knows far more than you or i will ever know.

    I did not mean to imply that you revert to the stone age and lose all knowledge that we have gained in the last couple hundred years. That said however, by most Christians definition, the Bible, on “A” topics at least, overrules what we have learned from science and thus you are bound to hold on to pseudoscience (miracles if you prefer).

    For example, virgin births, resurrections from the dead, visible ascension into heaven, concepts of morality and sin, and, while I know you do NOT subscribe to the following, there are a large number of Christians that do, 6000 year old earth, global flood that covered the world’s tallest mountains for a year, special creation (no biological evolution), lessor items, such as talking donkeys, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people living 600-900 years, Adam/Eve as the literal first two humans, blind allegiance to Israel, water into wine, walking on water, and on and on and on.

    My point being, that many of those issues trespass overtly on what we know from the sciences and yes, as a believer to some extent or the other you are obligated by your faith to accept those as real and true phenomena in spite of the fact that it runs contrary to everything we know. In addition, acceptance of those items as “absolute truth” prevents or at least strongly discourages any need for research or acceptance of facts when available.

    Israel holds to land in the middle east, for many reasons, but certainly included are those is a belief that a supernatural real estate agent deeded them the land for all eternity…no room to compromise there.

    People that are militantly pro-life, not to say it isn’t a valid position (I think it can be defended), but for many, it is not a matter of science or humanity, it is simply out of faith that some magical being in the sky tells them it’s the right thing to do…no thinking required.

    I know this is a bit sarcastic, but I’ll wager that somewhere in the world, some farmer is tieing his animals up to a fence painted with stripes in the belief that the animals will produce stripped offspring, I mean it IS in the bible.

  161. Fendrel, I am sure that Dee does believe in the Biblical miracles you mentioned. There is nothing that God cannot do.

    The Bible does not teach any kind of allegiance to Israel for Christian. Christian Zionism is heresy.

  162. How does science preclude any of these miracles? Science tells us how the world operates naturally, but it does not mean that God cannot intervene.

    For example, I’m a software developer and I write the “rules” my programs operate under. But using special tools I can pause and change the state of the application while it is running, essentially performing a “miracle” according to the rules it knows and understands. I can make things happen that could never happen under as-programmed circumstances. If I can do it in my software, surely God can do it in his creation?

    There is no conflict between miracles and science. Science is the repeatable rules that govern our universe; miracles are the exceptions to those rules.

    Now if you are talking about something that science tells us did not happen by ovserving the effects of said event (say a young earth) then I see the conflict, but a talking donkey or the virgin birth- I have 0 problem accepting that.

  163. Jess,

    kind of my point…science tells us how the natural world works…is does not working by creating talking snakes or water turning into wine on command or with the sun standing still in the sky.

    Yes, it’s a miracle, but that’s what I am getting at…you believe them because you WANT to believe them, not because there is any objective, empirical evidence for them. you accept as a violation of the natural laws that we understand with no evidence to support it, then christians try to pass off the miracles as scientifically valid…hogwash

    by the way, tools or not, it is still software that is making the change to the program…your “environment” is the entire pc, all programs currently running, all the firmware and associated logic….within THAT environment there are no miracles…unless you really believe the office worker who says “but it was working before I went to lunch and no one’s touched anything, I swear!”

  164. Nicholas – I wonder how you know that the donkey’s voice came from an angel?

    Where does it say that?

    (*Not* intending to be unkind, but you have a tendency to tell everyone where they’re wrong and where they’re right – how can you be so certain, and why do you feel the need to “correct” people all the time? It’s… well, imo, impolite, at very least.)

  165. numo, I wasn’t aware that I was. Other people here are disputing with Fendrel.

    As for the donkey, the Bible says that an angel opened the donkey’s mouth. It is no big deal, just my interpretation. I wasn’t arguing it with anybody.

  166. in other words… neither of us know exactly how the donkey came to speak, though from what’s recorded, it does sound as if the donkey spoke for it/himself. (Given the bit about ill-treatment by its owner.)

    As to whether this incident actually occurred, or whether it’s meant to be a story that instructs us about God, well… I honestly can’t judge. Is it instructive (or meant to be)? Yes. did things actually occur as it says in the text? I personally feel that the jury is out on that one.

    but that’s just me.

    Again, I’m not meaning to be hostile or difficult toward you or your beliefs.

  167. Also… are they “disputing,” or is it more like “discussing”?

    This site is generally a “discussion” site, though sometimes things get heated.

    Fendrel is saying that things are what he says they are… and you often do the same. So does everyone here (including me) at times, but I think maybe it’s helpful to think of it as being a bunch of folks with widely varying points of view seated around a (virtual) table. It’s OK to pound the table sometimes, but we all need to focus on keeping things peaceful… or else it goes from a discussion to a brawl.

    Brawls are, sadly, the norm on many web sites, but Deb and Dee strive to keep this place free of personal attacks (etc.) in their posts as well as in the comments.

    Again, i respect you and your beliefs, but that’s exactly what they are – beliefs. And yours, by default.

    the same is true of me – I can step in and try to put forth a position that I don’t agree with/believe in (and do at times, for the sake of furthering the discussion), but I try to preface that – as well as my own statements of belief – with a clarification. As in “”I think,” “I believe<" " From my pov," etc. – or else "X source says…"

    Does that make sense?

  168. And to be honest, there are times i get really p.o.’d at someone else, here.

    Usually I *try* to walk away and cool off, but sometimes I screw up and let things fly.

    I’m learning, and sometimes I screw up pretty badly.

  169. numo,

    Why does everyone feel like there is something insensitive or rude or about someone thinking they are right? If I’m not certain of my position I will say so, but when I think I’m right, why hide behind some phony humility.

    As your friend Numo, I promise that whenever I think you are wrong and I am right, I’ll be sure to let you know. :) lol

  170. Because, while it might seem like splitting hairs, PEOPLE deserve respect, their ideas, have to stand on their own.

    I actually think it is dishonest to not call a stupid idea stupid. There is no “respect” in soft selling it so the person thinks it is actually a good or acceptable idea.

    If you tell me you really believe in a flat earth and heliocentric universe I’m going to laugh my ass off and ridicule you without mercy.
    None of that is meant to attack you personally, just the idea.

    All that said, I would be the first person in line to defend your right to hold whatever beliefs you desire, won’t stop me from laughing though. I would also be among the first to sit down and listen intently to any evidence in support of those beliefs, but if the evidence doesn’t make sense, is unsupported, is insufficient or the argument itself is illogical, why should I pretend like it is somehow valid. Sparing that person’s feelings isn’t doing them a kindness.

  171. Nicholas – s’okay! No need to apologize!

    Fendrel – I am not up for a big discussion right now, honestly – am in the middle of doing laundry (tons of towels) and schlepping things between the basement and the 2nd floor.

    Anyway… yes, people deserve respect, but I wonder if every discussion about beliefs needs to turn into a big thing about logic, reason, etc.? (Honestly, no offense meant.)

  172. None taken,

    I am working on work stuff too :)

    Because logic and reason is how science works :)

    I thought the DNA question was cool .. oh well

  173. I gotta admit, the crack about God talking out his/Baalam’s ass was pretty funny. Back in my Calvary Chapel days, and mind you, they use KJV or NKJV only, it’s always the rooster that crows after Peter’s betrayal of Jesus, never what the Elizabethan text reads.

    Not only funny, but an actual real life example of how not all words and their connotations are interchangable across many centuries of human society.

  174. And Numo! I haven’t heard ‘schleppin’ stuff since the last time I was in my old Wisconsin neighborhood visiting relatives. Do you know other Yiddish terms? I’m bettin’ ya do and that you were once one of the preferred goyim as I was.

  175. “your suffering is a part of christ-stop complaining about being abused!”
    This shows how twisted their thinking is.

    “and with authority and confidence,she would have the final word on womanhood.” Isn’t that what they are doing.I guess they can’t see the contradiction there.

  176. Dee

    A Christian is one who buries his doubts and fears about a misplaced or weak faith deep in their psyche, someone who ignores the still, small voice in their head which tells them that no one is there when they’re praying or talking with their God.
    How do you know what goes on an every Christian’s head. Have you examined them? Better yet, have you expertly (due to significant psych training) examined them. What proof do you have of this small voice that is being ignored by every Christian?

    Nope, haven’t examined them all, on the other hand

    I have never met a person who was a Christian and left religion who hasn’t said that’s exactly what happened. From run of the mill folks, people I knew in my church, up to and including missionaries, pastors and evangelists who have left the faith. Same story over and over again.

    It rings true with my personal experience.

    If in fact there is no God, highly likely given the absolute paucity of any real evidence for the supernatural, then it seems likely to be true for everyone else as well or at least a lot of them.

  177. Dee

    Last one…

    A Christian is one who, ignoring all reason and good evidence to the contrary, convinces themselves of the truth of their faith and then sets out to poison the minds of their children, their neighbors and the world with the same, addictive nonsense, all the time deluding themselves into thinking they are doing the world a favor.
    Now you are starting to sound like a typical, ho-hum athiest. Only atheists can access reason. You know, like Stalin-such a reasonable guy. You are far better than that. Christians have given up all reason? Then, how i have survived to this point with a total inability to reason? ALL reason?? Darn, then all those Christians in the humanities and sciences have lost all ability to reason as well? Fire them and hire an atheist who is so much more reasonable and knows how to accues all that science and knowledge.
    i set out to poison the mind of my children? How sweet. This is merely warmed over Harris/Dawkins.

    See, this one is a great example of why it is near impossible to have a discussion..

    I never, ever, not ever, not even once, not even implied that “only atheists have access to reason”, was never even a twinkle in my eye as far as a thought goes.

    Just because reason is equally accessible to both sides, doesn’t imply you (or me for that matter), use it in each and every thought that’s rumbling around in our heads. But when a Christian makes a claim to believe in the supernatural, and Gods, and specifically the God he was raised to believe in, and adds to it a long list of “miraculous” events for which there is no support, and bases it all on the flimsiest of subjective evidence, and in the same breath, dismisses out of hand, the miracles and Gods of other religions, how is the rest of the world supposed to react other then to say, you may be an incredibly logical, rational, intelligent person, but in this particular case, your normal abilities that allow to to navigate and succeed in the world, seem to have gone on holiday.

    You know my past, I am no more rational, logical or intelligent today than I was as a Christian. I simply refused to apply the same rigor to my initial assumptions about God’s existence and miracles that I used on a daily basis to evangelize members of cults and demonstrate that their arguments (theology inconsistent with Biblical teachings) was illogical and irrational. I do not think that is an uncommon situation for Christians to find themselves in. I also would like to apologize for becoming “ho-humm”, thought not quite sure what to do about it.

    I think that teaching children to believe in invisible beings that require blood sacrifices in order to pay for “sins” so that they can go live in an imaginary magical place because otherwise they aren’t worthy (great for a kid’s self image), is poisoning their minds. If you thought so, wouldn’t you pound away at those who perpetuated those problems too?

    I have no dislike of Christians, if I did, then I wouldn’t bother, but I know people can leave religion, maybe I only get to plant the seed, as you might say, but I have hope it will bloom one day.

  178. Fenderal, you’ve succeeded in proving that people who left the faith had doubts. You’ve not proven that all people still in it do. You have to admit that your sample is biased if you only include people who have left the faith.

    Regarding my software example, you changed the analogy. The fact remains I can intervene as an outside force in a way it would not operate in a natural state, my intervention is unnatural to the way it was programmed.

    I agree this doesn’t prove miracles exist, I’m just saying its a fallacy to say that science disproves miracles. Science has nothing to say about miracles. I accept that my belief in miracles is faith based. My experience of this world has led me to faith, whether I can prove it to you or not.

    I will absolutely admit to having doubts. I am a skeptic by nature– I pretty much accept that I am unable of holding any belief without any doubt at all. So I have to go with what I believe in the most, and by a large majority this is Christianity. God has proven too faithful to me for me to not accept it.

    One of the things you’ve asserted here before is that people cling to faith because they are wrapped up in it. Their social circle and everything they are is devoted to the church and they cannot honestly assess their doubts because to do so means reassessing every part of their life. I know this because it’s something I’ve thought of for years: “am I just a Christian because I’m too invested?” Well this past year I lost all the trappings of faith. I lost my church, my church friends, my ministry. Basically there was no reason for me to remain a Christian at all. I had the chance to make a new life without Christ in it, but I didn’t do that. I found a new church, and new friends. I got involved in a new ministry. Why? Because friends or no friends, Jesus is worth it. He was there when no one else was. When the church abandoned me, the still small voice was not of doubt, it was Him saying “you are still my child and I still love you.”

    Perhaps you are right and I am deceived. I cannot say that my life is better for having been involved in the church– there’s a lot of pain to compensate for the good. But Jesus? There is no regret there. My faith has been worth every investment I’ve made, even the misguided ones. He is worth it.

  179. Christians are not supposed to sit around and develop a list for what constitutes a Christian beyond what Jesus said. And even then, we can’t decide the state of that person’s soul.

    Christians ARE supposed to baptize and disciple, and to teach others what Jesus taught.

    There will always be disagreements about this. That’s why the Reformation happened, right? That process will always continue – followers disagreeing with this or that.

    There do seem to be some common, agreed upon, beliefs that define the boundaries of the Christian faith. The Bible and the ancient creeds are good places to start.

  180. I find RHE already boring.

    Her work is a sort of popularized lampooning of the Bible’s more interesting statements about women, to prove a larger point that she wants to make.

    The people who like her larger point will defend her, which is their right.

    Her detractors can only be glad that a book like this was not written by some educated and serious person.

    I think that Gavin’s point about who this book will persuade is probably spot on.

  181. Fendrel:

    Are you one of the obnoxious, evangelical atheists?

    Christians can certainly be obnoxious and argumentative. But those qualities are not reserved for those in the faith.

    By the way, have you ever seen the South Park episode about the competing groups of atheists in the future? It is hilarious.

  182. Muff – yes, I do know more Yiddish words and a few phrases, and I think I probably have been one of those “preferred goyim.”

    Fendrel – I’m *still* doing laundry! but it’s my own fault for letting it pile up…

  183. Fendrel:

    In reading your comments, it seems that one of the things you believe is that things that are true need to be verifiable by objective, scientific evidence.

    I am I correct in that?

    If so, could you explain why you believe that?

    Thanks.

  184. Beakerj,

    I am not sure how many super Christians had troubles with OCD or etc., but in my own bubble the evangelists who visited who were worshipped, those who had the people hanging on their every word and living by their standards and lists, seemed to have some obsessive tendencies, seemed to be very insecure and controlling men. So human like us all, yet elevating themselves above us.

    As to “common” Christians (those without a book published or a big following), I used to be very depressed that I could not be like their super selves, and indeed I did not even have a desire to be. But then I got to know several of them rather well, and the ones I have gotten to know (by no means saying all of them are this way) are not really more superior, as they seem. They in fact seem insecure in Christ and just able to deal with pressure and stress far better than I, who struggle with aforesaid disorders, ever could.

  185. Miguel:

    Exactly!

    But you just shouldn’t teach in a seminary.

    And conversely, you can get a lot of theology right, and not be right with God.

    Problem is, as humans, we can’t get inside anyone and figure this out.

  186. Anon and Jeff

    1. I want to be careful here, so I would say that whether or not I have already verified something to be true or not has no effect on it’s reality. Also that, reality, by definition is subject to natural law and therefore is verifiable or testable via scientific methodology, the current status of science notwithstanding.

    2. I am not saying that the supernatural, God, angels, heaven, hell are not real or that they do not exist. I am saying, given the inability to test or verify via scientific methodology that which is outside of the natural realm and sensory experience, it makes no rational sense to commit our belief to its existence, certainly no more than something which might be in the realm of “possibilities”. definitely not to the level that believers would have you think is reasonable, i.e. almost, if not, a sure thing.

    3. That last point also addresses miracles, in that there is simply no conclusive evidence that is of such quantity and kind that we should permit it to overwhelm our verified knowledge of how things behave. You can tell me all day long that you dropped a bowling ball off the roof of your building and it just hung there in mid air defying gravity and that you can walk out your window and walk through mid air to the next rooftop all day long, but unless you can produce overwhelming, substantiated, evidence and can repeat and test under extraordinarily regulated conditions, it simple makes no sense to abandon what I know about gravity and all the evidence which supports what we know about gravity, simply on your word or that of a few friends or neighbors who you claimed witnessed it. It would not be rational…doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, just that you’d have to be crazy to buy into that story.

    4. Yes, it is biased to only look at those who have left the faith, on the other hand, if someone is in the faith, would it be reasonable for them to admit that they don’t believe God is there while they are still members? Secondly, there have been thousands upon thousands of people who used to belong to one religion or another and have left all with similar stories. I think therefore that while I cannot prove it is true for everyone, it seems a reasonable hypothesis. In addition, doesn’t this blog work in a similar manner? By that I mean, people who have left SGM for example, all tell a very similar story, and those who are still members typically do not, even if they feel that way. Yet because of the numbers, we assume that the assumption something is wrong, has merit. What’s the alternative, would you try to make the case that all the thousand of people who left Christianity were all being dishonest about their conversion experiences…they all lied? If not, then you need to explain God’s apparent absence from their lives in stark contrast to his biblical promises.

  187. Dee,

    I took Celexa for anxiety and during that time learned ways to cope better with anxiety and how to have a game plan against it. I have now been off it for a year and am grateful for being on it because it truly did help me focus on improving how I dealt with anxiety, although I don’t wish to ever be on it again.

    My OCD comes on as a result of the anxiety, so I deal with the anxiety, poof goes the OCD. I appreciated the show Monk because I could relate! And I personally felt they handled his issues with respect and humor, and perhaps made more people aware that people like that do exist and you don’t have to be afraid of them. Aside, I have always felt that the churches I have been in ignore mental struggles or put them down (“you don’t need to take that Celexa if you’d have enough faith in God to heal you.”).

  188. One more thing (sorry such a long reply!) I felt like the churches address porn struggles or drug addictions, but we who struggle with mental instability are passed over, perhaps because they don’t know how to address that particular problem. Very little understanding or support from the organized church.

  189. Anony,

    I take adderal for AD, Bystolic for blood pressure, Naprosyn for Tennis Elbow and Tylenol just cause it make my arm stop hurting…they tell me not to worry until you have a least 2-3 daytime pill reminder containers :)

    I feel your pain…hang in there

  190. Hester,

    Yes! OCD does indeed have a mental component. My anxiety over a particular situation (especially what-if ones that haven’t actually happened) causes the same thoughts to run over and over in my mind. Sometimes I can stop them, at other times I just have to let it run its course. I do hope the church steps up its understanding to those who struggle with things like this. Unfortunately, growing up I heard the stories of “this person refused to follow God’s will, got in a car accident, died.” And other variances of the same story…rather traumatizing to someone with anxious tendencies!

  191. I think the Bible is supposed to be a story about God’s relationship with His people. Its also a story of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s not a book of rules or science or even history. Jesus used parables to describe important moral ideas. How do I know that God didn’t do the same thing, using allegory and metaphor and poetry to get us to understand important concepts? Do you really believe that the Israelites were educated people, and could understand the natural workings of nature? I have to read it with new eyes, not influenced by culture and perception. People are so focused on rules, and creating their own distinctive brand of church, they forget they can’t read the Bible that way. I cannot judge God on perceptions of what other people think and theorize about Him. I see things and extrapolate on them, and the universe I see is not the same one as anyone else. But most people would call me a heretic because I don’t see what they see. And it doesn’t make me stupid either. If these are just stories that ignorant people believe, then I guess I will find out soon. Otherwise, prove my perceptions wrong. Make it good!

  192. Fendrel, if I experienced said bowling ball floating in mid air, then whether I could prove it or not to you or repeat it would not make me question my experience. My faith works the same way. I have experienced something real, and whether I can prove it to you or not does not make it any less true. My faith is based on how I’ve experienced this world and the presence of God, and it would be irrational for me to deny miracles while accepting the experiences of God that I have.

    I disagree that we have to be able to scientifically prove something to believe it. I believe tons of things that I have not scientifically proven. I believe that my mother and father love me, and I believed that way before I understood anything about rational thought or science. Was it irrational to believe that as a young child? Well, believing it served me well. I believe it even now because I have experienced their love for me, and whether you trust me or not when I share that truth with you, it is still true and real.

    In the end, all of our measurements and scientific studies are marred by the fog of our perceptions. We are limited in our capabilities and we cannot even trust our most basic pieces of knowledge fully. We have to start with some basic assumptions and go from there (“I think therefore I am”). There is no truly rational belief if you want to be pure about it, but as far as it goes there are reasonable things to believe based in our experiences that make sense of the world we live in.

    Miracles do not “overwhelm our verified knowledge of how things behave.” By definition miracles are outside the norm of verified knowledge of how things behave. Just because a miracle happened 2000 years ago does not require any change at all to our understanding of how things behave. It is easy to conceive of a Creator who establishes behaviors for his creation, but then intervenes at times contrary to his established order.. I’m not arguing that such a Creator does exist, but that there’s nothing about miracles that challenge scientific thought. Believing in them does not mean throwing out any science. As far as anything is rational, a belief in mircales is rational.

    Regarding the bias question, you ask if I think people are being dishonest about their conversion stories. I’m not suggesting they are. What I’m suggesting is that YOU are suggesting that people still in the faith are the dishonest ones (if even to themselves), and I think that is going too far. I don’t have a problem asking people why they left and drawing conclusions for that, but please be sensitive to your lack of knowledge of what is really going on inside other people who you accuse of deceiving themselves.

  193. @ Anonymous: Bingo. Perfect understanding is not a meritorious work necessary for salvation, but it certainly is good for something! I believe there is such a thing as right and wrong theology. But in view of Romans 10:9, there’s not a list of academic hoops to jump through in order to get in.

    Oh, and one thing I love about being Lutheran is that we can call all sorts of Christians dead wrong on many issues without ever having to question the sincerity or efficacy of their faith. Roman Catholics and Pentecostals are considered our brothers, even if they are the crazy ones :P

  194. Jeff

    Miracles do not “overwhelm our verified knowledge of how things behave.” By definition miracles are outside the norm of verified knowledge of how things behave. Just because a miracle happened 2000 years ago does not require any change at all to our understanding of how things behave.

    You are assuming what you are trying to prove. It is circular logic. You assume that miracles can occur therefore they are included in you view of how the world works…

    If I walked off the roof and floated in the air, I doubt I would jump up and down and scream oooh a miracle happened. I would probably either try to wake myself up or get someone to take me to a hospital so they could see what I was hallucinating on…and I suspect you would too.

  195. Fendrel, I am not assuming anything. I am saying that

    A) miracles by definition do not adhere to scientific knowledge of behaviors
    B) the existence of miracles does not contradict scientific knowledge of behaviors
    C) believing in science does nit make miracles irrational

    I am not arguing that miracles do exist, which is what would make me guilty of assuming what I am trying to prove.

    To say it differently: I am merely arguing the definition of a miracle as something that happens outside of scientifically observed behavior is a rational concept. Whether it is a rational concept that actually exists is another story.

  196. Not to change the subject/derail the conversation…but did y’all see the bloggers at TGC making a fuss about the International day for the elimination of violence against women? I find it so sick that this group…you know…the one that supports women “enduring abuse for a season” AND who fails to aknowledge the whole SGM lawsuit trying to make a case that they give a &%#* about the safety of women and children. It smacks of such hypocrisy….ugh! Just UGH! Sorry…couldn’t stop the rant…

  197. Hey Fendrel, & I know I’m preaching to the de-converted here, but some of this issue of proof needs to be looked at in terms of what kind of proof does Christianity offer for itself? Most of it surely centres on the person, life, death, resurrection of Christ, & the historicity of the recordings of these events. That’s an entirely different category than scientific proof…which is only one kind of proving system anyway, there being many things in life that do not conform to its boundaries, for example, love.
    For me, many of the things I can’t prove in a scientific fashion, about the faith, are answered in terms of trusting someone else, for other reasons, who says these things are so & who is in a position to know that. That’s not in the slightest bit irrational, we trust people to know things we can’t that moment prove scientifically all the time, from medical staff to electrial engineers, to psychiatrists & so on…in lots of cases I have to trust because I’ll never be in a position to scientifically prove certain things.
    There are limits to what can be proved anyway – let’s take my birth certificate – I believe it’s mine, my Mum gave it to me, I’ve always been known by that name, I can’t remember being anyone else, but…there’s always the possibility that it’s still not mine, but someone else’s from that time & that everything else is a carefully constructed facade. Even were you to blood test me & my brothers, that proves nothing more than I’m related to them, not that we are who we claim to be, in any absolute sense. There is a weight of evidence, but not enough to quell radical scepticism. So I suppose I wonder where our other systems of proving & normal evidential limitiations come in for you?
    This is a bit of a rushed comment as I’m running off to work, but I’m sure you get the gist…

  198. Dear Fendrel

    I have to admit that you have chutzpah. Your argument seems to be almost reduced to the absurd as you’ve gone from proving but ignoring the fact that, according to your statements, the basis of your belief rests on the same fallible human thought processes as ours. You then try and avoid Jeff S’s very “reasonable” inferences because he undermines your position.
    Now you have said, in response to Dee, that you believe what you believe because other people like you have felt the same way or come to the same conclusion as you. Your scientific reason king has just flown out the window and landed in the dustbin beside your stamp collection.Lol.
    So in a final flourish I would like to make the following points (all of which have been made many times before throughout history).
    The first is that our human intelligence is unable to prove that God exists. But it definitely cannot be proven that God does not exist. Atheism is an entirely unprovable theory. It is never certain of itself. To those who contemplate the deeper questions of life, there is a great deal more in favour of faith than opposed to it. The so-called proofs have value to the extent that they point out as human beings we cannot ignore God. Therefore, we do not limit ourselves to the phenomena that we observe, but focus our minds on God to whom the world owes its formation and existence. This is how it can be explained that the arguments for the existence of God, which in themselves are inadequate and problematic, yet make a favourable impression.(Beknopte Gereformeerde dogmatik,1992 van Genderen & Velema).
    In sensation I am determined by objects. In thought I determine the object.(Preliminary Theses Concerning the Reform of Philosophy; Feuerbach). Therefore, according to Feuerbach to arrive at truth..thought must give up control of its objects and allow to objects(of sensation only) their proper autonomy as independent subjects(Principles of the Philosophy of the Future; Feuerbach). If you want to be consistent at least follow the principles of what Mr F is saying. Having said that you could drive a coach and horses through his argument.
    We know the truth not only by means of the reason but also by means of the heart. It through the heart that we know the first principles.(Pensees; Pascal).
    It is a fact of universal and immediate experience that human beings are not only capable of knowing but that they are indeed endowed with a knowledge-base encompassing essential and ultimate principles of reality. It is this knowledge-base which underlies all thought and rationality and every exercise of the human mind. How do we know that these affirmations are true and how can we demonstrate their truth? Well, we know them to be true because our minds tell us – instinctively, immediately,- but we cannot demonstrate them to be true because all demonstration would presuppose their truth… Nevertheless, we know that these affirmations are true affirmations and if any interlocutor wishes to deny them the burden of proof lies with the interlocutor…In making such affirmations, we are remaining true to self-evident facts while those who deny them are flying in the face of these facts…At its most fundamental level, rationality can be experienced and exercised but not demonstrated.(Great Thinkers on Great Questions;Varghese).
    You remind me of the lion in the Wizard of Oz, going around saying “Put ‘em up, put ‘em up. Nobody’s fighting :-)
    Best wishes
    Gavin

  199. Gavin/Jeff,

    I will make this as simple as I can, in a relatively short statement.

    1. My assertion is that, without sufficient evidence to overwhelm or at least be on equal footing with what science tells us about how the world works through observation and testing, there is no rational reason to give credence to the supernatural.

    2. You may wish, for whatever reasons, to believe in its existence, but you do so contrary to mountains of data, accumulated over years of testing, observation and analysis.

    3. Can I disprove God (any of them)…of course not, but based on what we know of how the universe works, is it rational to believe in the supernatural…no.

    4. To say that God or miracles are beyond the scope of what science can test or beyond any dimension that we can partake of, is to beg the question. The point is, that its all, completely, baseless conjecture and if you chose to believe it, that’s your prerogative, but please don’t try to convince people it is based on science or has any type of scientific legitimacy and then run for cover when asked for evidence to that effect.

  200. Dear Fendrel
    Ever the scoundrel (almost rhymes with Fendrel), you avoid the point but thanks for your simple and short explanation. I just about managed to follow it. (Put ‘em up, put ‘em up!).
    Best wishes
    Gavin

  201. Fendrel:

    Thanks for your response. It was nice of you to set out your belief system.

    If I were to summarize where I think you are, it would be that there is, or could be a God, but since we can’t test such things, we should not rely on them. We should only rely on what can be scientifically verified. We should not have religious assumptions that are unprovable or are contrary to known physical proof.

    I look forward to talking with you some other time in detail.

    One additional question came to mind.

    Where did the first matter come from, in your opinion? What is the basis for your opinion?

    Thanks.

  202. Miguel:

    To follow your point out a bit:

    An 8 year old who trusts Christ for salvation may not know or understand the Virgin Birth or the concept of the Trinity. No one would have reservations about the salvation of a child in those circumstances.

    A 48 year old who denies the Trinity, the diety of Christ and the Virgin Birth is another matter. We certainly have no window into the status of that person’s soul either.

    Or someone who is on his death bed and converts. He may know very little theology. Take the Thief on the Cross.

    But it seems plain that a child with a lack of theological understanding, or a newly repented adult with no theological background are different types of people when compared with educated adults who consciously reject Christian essentials.

    Again, we can’t get into judging to status of these person’s souls, but they seem to be on different planes, so to speak.

    And none of them should be hired as seminary professors or missionaries.

  203. Hi all

    I am running behind the comments and will catch up as quickly as possible. My husband needed to go to ER after his rounds yesterday and was diagnosed with a herniated, ruptured disc. I need to write the post today but I am enjoying the conversation. 

  204. Anon,

    Quick response first..

    Thanks for your comment. You are very close in what you said, the only thing I might modify is that I am not saying that a person shouldn’t have faith, all I am asking is that IF a person chooses to exercise faith, that they do so, because it’s what they want to do, not because there is any compelling empirical evidence for the belief.

    I do not think that is an unreasonable thing to ask, I believe it would go a long way to ease tensions between believers and non-believers, and it would be a common base for future discussions.

    cosmology, after breakfast and coffee :)

  205. Anon,

    ok quick coffee :)

    Where did the first matter come from? If you are asking me, personally, I do not have a clue, I am not an astrophysicist, theoretical physicist, or have any credentials or experience that would provide even an inkling of knowledge about the subject personally.

    That said, there are people in this world who have spent their professional lives working on the incredibly complex mathematics and physics involved to understand the origins or life cycle of the universe(s).

    Whether the universe (energy) has always existed, whether there are an infinite number of universes, whether our universe is simply a particular arrangement of nothingness (energy vs gravity cancel each other and = 0),
    whether we are in an ongoing expansion and contraction and others are certainly interesting question.

    If you are looking for a “first-cause” and believe that to be “God”, well, I guess you can stop there, but for me, then whats the purpose of science trying to learn more…the “God” explanation is simplistic and unsatisfying, and I learn nothing about the universe I live in.

    If the universe was at one point a singularity, and if space-time is part of our universe, then time itself would have ceased inside the singularity, so it becomes meaningless to talk about “before” or “after”.

    What do you think happened?

  206. Dear Fendrel
    I wasn’t asking you to engage with me, I gave you a list of brighter stars than I to discuss, but as they seemed to make the same points that I and others were making you’ve retreated into the ” you’re making it personal” bunker.

    The problem is that you don’t exist (again using your rationality template). Or if you do, you don’t know who you are. I think you’ve used that argument as well. It’s a sad day when you can’t take sarcasm the way you dish it out.

    Keep smiling captain. Nothing is personal. We’re all just cyphers in a meaningless universe.

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  207. Dear Fendrel
    And isn’t it strange that quite a few Puritans believed that God created multiple universes?
    Gavin

  208. Thanks, Fendrel. Coffee would be fun sometime.

    I agree with much of what you say.

    However, I did not introduce God into the answer.

    There are some questions that are, at this point, simply unanswerable. The concept of infinity, for example, is something that does not make logical sense.

    Where the first matter came from is the same.

    It seems to me that question cannot be answered, and if it is, then by what energy was it produced, and where did that energy come from.

    Unless I am missing something, I have never seen a scientist answer that convincingly. If you run into what you think is a good answer, let me know.

    Most explanations of the universe, or multiple universes, seem to start somewhere due to the limitations of human understanding. And it seems to me that most of the questions that cannot be answered, will not be answerable. I want science to try, for sure. But philosophically and practically, it seems an impossibility.

    There are easier questions than this that cannot be answered. Just take life on earth. The “jump” from non-life to life. That has not been explained. Thus, when Professor Dawkins was asked, he surmised that aliens brought life to earth. Seems pretty ridiculous. But if true, it just pushes the question back – Where did the aliens get life?

    If you find any references to the first known matter in the universe, or universes, and a theory as to what it was, how it got there (wherever there is), let me know. I would be interested in reading about it.

    Thanks. Hope to see you around some more.

  209. By the way, have you ever seen the South Park episode about the competing groups of atheists in the future? It is hilarious. — ANonymous

    More accurately, it was a “DIE, HERETICS!” Crusade/Jihad between THREE Atheist Faiths, each of the three trying to exterminate the other “Heretics”. Don’t know about you, but I’m backing the Sea Otters in that fight.

    “SOUND THE NAFFERTY!”

  210. And isn’t it strange that quite a few Puritans believed that God created multiple universes? — Gavin White

    Okay, what is this all about? And you might want to know that this sounds like the passive-aggressive sweetened venom that usually gets thrown about in such “discussions to the death”.

  211. Unfortunately, growing up I heard the stories of “this person refused to follow God’s will, got in a car accident, died.” And other variances of the same story…rather traumatizing to someone with anxious tendencies! — Anony

    Ah, yes. Just like those chain letters who curse you with “death comes to whoever breaks the chain” — never directly, but always through anecdotes of someone who threw away the chain later and soon after died horribly.

    The image from my Aspie OCD days is from a Chick tract, with a car going over a cliff, a word balloon screaming “AIEEEEE!!!!!!”, and a narration text of “AND WENT TO A CHRISTLESS GRAVE!!!!!”

    Pretty serious mind games there, and wouldn’t you think God needs mind games about as much as He needs a starship?

  212. @ Dee~

    “My husband needed to go to ER after his rounds yesterday and was diagnosed with a herniated, ruptured disc.”

    Dee-I am so sorry. I am sure that must be very painful for him. Let us know how he is doing, will you?

  213. Hello Headless
    Just asking Fendrel or Kaptain Kirk to prove his case the way he asks us. If he exists.
    Regards
    Gavin

  214. Fendrel, you see to have forgotten the discussions about two weeks ago where I presented, using two Nobel Physics prizes as justification, empirical evidence that requires atheists to make a statement of faith concerning origins of the universe that are as strong as those of us who accept the reality of a God outside of, but still able to influence the universe, make. The speculations in your 9:57 AM comment IS a statement of faith.
    Your answer to my evidence was to introduce the already ruled out a cyclical/big crunch/big bang (2011 Nobel Physics prize) thus you have not dealt with this well known empirical evidence in any rational or intellectually satisfactory way. The evidence for God is much stronger than just “since the evidence doesn’t prevent God as a possibility then it qualifies as evidence FOR God”. The observational evidence is 1) the universe as we know it was created. 2) The universe, because of the accelerating expansion, will not come to an end. Cyclical behavior is ruled out by the empirical evidence leading to the 2011 Nobel Physics Prize. This is exceedingly strong evidence for an entity outside of our present universe responsible for its creation.
    The cited post and comments are in: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/11/08/is-the-sovereign-grace-ministries-pyramid-collapsing/ with my comment starting Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM.

  215. oldJohn, if I failed to address something (I thought I had..but memory fails sometimes), please point me to original question or repost.

    A quick response, (take it for what it is), even if our universe has an apparent “cause” from outside our universe, to say it is “God” or “supernatural” is still just speculation – there is “evidence” that God exists.

  216. HUG:

    I was already with you.

    I have my money on the Sea Otters.

    Hey, and I LOVED Chick tracts back in the 1970s. I used to take them to school. I could give out 50 at a time.

    They were simple, sometimes simplistic, but often really good conversation starters.

    I later read some of Chick’s anti-Catholic stuff. It was wild.

  217. “My assertion is that, without sufficient evidence to overwhelm or at least be on equal footing with what science tells us about how the world works through observation and testing, there is no rational reason to give credence to the supernatural. ”

    I don’t believe that my faith in any way contradicts how science tells us the world works. We all operate on truths we have not had scientifically proven to us. Empiricism does not tell us everything we know about life.

  218. O/T but what is with the massive coordinated cry against spousal abuse by the Calvinist community today? Did Al Mohler and Mark Dever send out a talking points memo to the usual suspects trying to put on a happy face about what “real complementarianism” is all about? I love how most of the posts talks about how REAL MANLY MEN don’t hit women. Instead, they nuture and lead them lovingly. Kind of like you would do with a good horse. :)

  219. Dee,
    Sorry to hear about your hubby’s bad disc. If it’s ok with you, I’ll do a Native American prayer to the Great Spirit using (horror of horrors!) tobacco and my Eagle feather. I know there are some who cannot abide such heathenish & downright demonic syncretism (in their opinion), but it should be remembered that my tribe NEVER worshiped talismans and such, only the Great Spirit because they were monotheists.

    I’m glad it was the Jesuits who made first contact with my people because they never tried to stamp out the old spirituality, but tolerated it and incorporated it into the xtian paradigm.

  220. Anonymous wrote:

    “…Thus, when Professor Dawkins was asked, he surmised that aliens brought life to earth. Seems pretty ridiculous. But if true, it just pushes the question back – Where did the aliens get life?…”

    In Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film Prometheus, The brilliant Dr. Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace) who was also a woman of faith, asked her non-believing significant other pretty much the same thing.

  221. Dee – Sorry to hear about your husband’s ruptured disc – hope he (and you) are feeling much better ASAP!

  222. Jeff,

    So, for instance, the resurrection doesn’t contradict what science tells us about how things work? What about virgin births, certainly science tell us something about that, and in Joshua, the sun standing still for a day along with the moon?

  223. “I find RHE already boring.

    Her work is a sort of popularized lampooning of the Bible’s more interesting statements about women, to prove a larger point that she wants to make.

    The people who like her larger point will defend her, which is their right.

    Her detractors can only be glad that a book like this was not written by some educated and serious person.”

    Wow. Now that is arrogance. Some of the biggest charlatans in Christendom are ‘educated’. Mohler, Dever, Piper, etc

  224. ‘Kind of like you would do with a good horse.’

    Good one! Kind of like the “wife whisperer”. :o)

  225. Eagle,

    Both examples you cite are easily accounted for by those who believes that the original writings of Scripture contain no errors. The author of Hebrews was clearly well versed in the Old Testament and would have known about Ishmael. Whether he didn’t consider Ishmael a legitimate child, or was making a point about the special status of Isaac, I am not sure, but it is not an error.

    Your example with Babel is only problematic if…well…actually I can’t find a way to make it problematic for those who believe the Bible is without error. Do you also think that Prince of Peace as a name of God is an error, when he called His people to war at times?

  226. ‘Whne Christians look at the Bible as being inerrant they paint themself into a corner’

    Every Christian is also reading a “translation”. And they want us to believe a translation is inspired and inerrant. Well, perhaps their ESV. (wink)

  227. “So, for instance, the resurrection doesn’t contradict what science tells us about how things work? What about virgin births, certainly science tell us something about that, and in Joshua, the sun standing still for a day along with the moon?”

    These events contradict nothing that science tells us. Science tells us how Creation works when it is set in motion under its own established order and rules. These events have nothing to do with science. When the Creator steps in and manipulates things, science is not applicable to describe those events, nor should those event be used as our observation set when coming to scientific conclusions.

    Like my software program. The code tells the program how to behave and what the rules are. If I step in and change some data or an execution path while it is running, I have not invalidated the “rules”. The code still exists and can be understood, even if my interventions are not explained by them (which they wouldn’t be).

  228. @ Eagle,
    I don’t give a rat’s ass what others believe or disbelieve about the Bible, or whether they quibble about discrepancies minor. I will continue to sort out the granite blocks in the Bible that resonate with my inner guts and the spark of divine I am born with and let the grains of salt slide.

  229. There are thousands of examples but a few that show us scripture cannot be inerrant is the translation of the word teshuqa in Gen 3. “Desire” is a bad choice and does not communicate the truth which is “turning” as it was translated up until about the 1300’s.

    Another one is authenteo in 1 Tim. Used only once in the NT it is translated as “authority over” when a better translation, and one even used by Jerome/Calvin, is “domineer”.

    The choice of the translator in these cases changed the meaning of the passage in subtle but important ways.

  230. Jeff,

    maybe I am not expressing myself clearly, what I am trying to say is that science tells us about the natural world, you are absolutely correct in that regard. What I am saying is that your faith puts you into an intellectual position of having to accept as fact, events which clearly couldn’t have happened based on what we currently understand about the natural world.

    You presuppose that miracles and the supernatural are real, but you do so without any scientific support, which by your own definition is incapable of providing the support required.

    This is the very definition of fantasy, not reality. I’m OK with you having a fantasy to hold on to, all I ask is that you not try to sell it as something which is rational from a scientific basis.

    What that means is, that you are willing to accept or believe that the miraculous can occur, without any

  231. Fendrel,
    Even after all the compelling proofs and non-proofs concerning the rationality of faith vs. science, I still choose to click my ruby slippers together and wish for home & fantasy somewhere over the rainbow.
    ===> (smiley face goes here)

  232. You have not established that these events could not have happened, only that they cannot be measured by science. It’s quite a leap to say that because you cannot measure something that it did not occur.

    I do NOT presuppose that miracles are real. I presuppose that they are possible without betraying scientific understanding. Though I do not presuppose them, I believe them because they are part of a system of faith that my experience has verified as true. Or rather, my faith represents the best framework for understanding the world around me, including that which science cannot measure.

    I am not selling anything. I am defending against you labeling my beliefs as “irrational” and “fantasy”. You cannot prove that my beliefs are not real, so labeling them as “fantasy” is a leap, and one that is offensive (I assume you realize this is offensive and picked that word deliberately). As far as “rational” goes, it’s as rational a system as any. We have no verifiable facts that we can test everything against to make truly rational decisions. We make assumptions and go from there. We all do it, so in a sense we are all a little irrational. But we do the best we can with what we have. My beliefs deny no science or verifiable facts, so calling them irrational is overreaching.

    Science does not tell us that God cannot make donkeys talk. Science only tells us that we observe that donkeys do not talk and we have no expectation that they will start, absent a change in our assumptions. One of our assumptions is that the universe continues to operate as we have observed it. Science has nothing to say on the subject of outside entities changing the assumptions.

  233. HUG,

    Indeed, and now the scare tactics only seem to prove that insecurity-driven leaders like that don’t know God very well and live fear-based lives. How unhappy since it trickles down to the congregations’ lives.

  234. Every Christian is also reading a “translation”. And they want us to believe a translation is inspired and inerrant. Well, perhaps their ESV. — Anon1

    ESV is the new KJV?

    Because some KJV-only fanboys came up with something called “double inspiration”, which was that God not only inspired the original writers but the translators of the KJV 1611. Thus, the KJV is The Inspired Word of God and there can be no other. (I’m just reporting it…)

  235. I love how most of the posts talks about how REAL MANLY MEN don’t hit women. Instead, they nuture and lead them lovingly. Kind of like you would do with a good horse. — James Rednour

    As in a horse that has been properly BROKEN?

  236. HUG:

    I know some KJV only guys. They really do believe that the KJV is inspired.

    I don’t know anyone who believes that with regard to the ESV.

  237. “I don’t know anyone who believes that with regard to the ESV.”

    Perhaps that is because I failed to mention all the propaganda around it’s debut as the most “literal” translation. But go to Crossway and see the authors they represent and you get a good idea why the Reformed guys promoted it so heavily as the most literal translation.

  238. “Anon1:

    I said “bored.””

    I am sure RHE is devestated you are bored with her and think she is uneducated. Not sure what that says about those who enjoyed her book. I am trying to reserve it at the Library to see what all the hoopla is about.

    “Have you seen the South Park episode about the atheists?”

    Not a big fan of TV. The last time I watched something consistently was Seinfeld.

  239. Thanks Gavin. Where have I heard of Susan Hyatt before? Anyway, here is a snippet from the link:

    “The starting point of the church’s traditional theology of womanhood is the pagan premise that women are INFERIOR, UNCLEAN, UNEQUAL, and EVIL. (See Alvin John Schmidt. Veiled and Silenced: How Culture Shaped Sexist Theology. Mercer University Press, 1989.)

    The starting point of Jesus’ teaching about womanhood, which is diametrically opposed to this, is that WOMEN ARE EQUAL WITH MEN IN TERMS OF SUBSTANCE AND VALUE, PRIVILEGE AND AUTHORITY, FUNCTION AND AUTHORITY.”

    The reason this interested me is when I started researching ancient pagan cultures and found so much in common with current teaching on women’s “roles” in certain circles of Christendom. Did you ever think Christianity would have so much in common with Islam when it came to beliefs concerning women and their “roles”?

  240. “Can I add to your list? “Obey” in Hebrews 13:17″

    Bingo, Diane. Same word translated totally different in other parts of the NT. Interesting.But then translations historically have been political.

    “According to W.E. Vine, the Greek word peitho means “to persuade, to win over, in the Passive and Middle Voices, to be persuaded, to listen to, to obey, is so used with this meaning, in the Middle Voice. THE OBEDIENCE SUGGESTED IS NOT BY SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY, BUT RESULTING FROM PERSUASION” (emp. mine. An Expository Dic-tionary of New Testament Words, Vol. 3, p. 124).

    The thrust of the word peitho is not one of submission to authority; it is one of listening to someone out of respect and taking their advice. A better translation of peitho in verse 17 is “Listen to,” not “Obey them.”

    Peitho is sometimes translated “trust” in the King James Version of the New Testament and would have been an ideal translation in verse 17: ‘Trust them….’ This leaves the reader with a different flavor entirely than does the translation “Obey them…”

    BTW: This is Mohler’s BFF Mahaney’s fav verse. He is here to “serve” you when you “obey” him.

  241. Jeff,

    I am NOT saying that they did not occur, I am saying, as I have said over and over again, it is NOT a matter of whether an event is true or not,it is a matter of whether, in the absence of any scientific evidence, it is rational to accept that event as true, when everything we DO know from science would seem to indicate the contrary.

    I do not, for example, believe in the story of Noah’s flood and it is NOT because I negate the possibility of a magical being working behind the scenes violating all the laws of nature.

    It is because what we DO know of water, pressure, currents, soil deposits, ice core technology, animal care, logistics, etc. all scream that this couldn’t have happened based on how we can demonstrate that things work.
    Also because people who have tried to answer some of the issues have failed dramatically, usually creating even worse problems in the process.

    Maybe God did do it all by magic, but believing in that answer is not a not a rational choice, from a scientific perspective. That’s all I am trying to say.

    Would you agree with me on that point?

  242. “I am NOT saying that they did not occur”

    You did say:

    “What I am saying is that your faith puts you into an intellectual position of having to accept as fact, events which clearly couldn’t have happened based on what we currently understand about the natural world.”

    You then labeled this is “fantasy”, which unless you are using a different definition of the word, means “not real”.

    “Also because people who have tried to answer some of the issues have failed dramatically, usually creating even worse problems in the process.”

    You would find, though, that I am not one who generally attempts to explain these things. I also believe that faith and science must not contradict, and if they do then one must be wrong. I tread carefully in deciding which, and if there is great scientific evidence I am more generally in favor of re-checking my theology than trotting out the religious weaponry to destroy the heretic scientists.

    “Maybe God did do it all by magic, but believing in that answer is not a not a rational choice, from a scientific perspective. That’s all I am trying to say. ”

    I will agree that my belief in miracles is not derived from scientific principle. I will not concede that the definition of “rational” is bound up in scientific proof. Is that fair?

  243. Jeff,

    please read more carefully…

    clearly couldn’t have happened based on what we currently understand

    Is not the same as saying it didn’t happen.

    This is the very definition of fantasy, not reality.

    Fantasy, refers to the preceding sentence (in the original context), in other words believing in miracles without the support is fantasy. The word fantasy here meaning to believe something is true in the absence of evidence, wishful thinking if you prefer a different term.

  244. Dear Fendrel

    Back to basics.

    De Jure objections to theism are question-begging, and a successful atheological objection will have to be to the truth of theism, not to its rationality, or justification or intellectual respectability. Before atheolgians can discredit a basic belief in God with reference to this or that process of belief-formation, they must first prove that God does not exist, Because if Christian belief is true then it is highly probable that it is warranted. The a theologian can’t attack theism simply by referencing a process of belief formation, because any process they mention could be a process intended by God. (Plantinga).

    More appositely,stripped of the rhetorical packaging, the charge of irrationality – which is basically what the ‘science explains everything’ objection amounts to – is little more than a theologians asserting that theists are thick because they disagree with them.

    Or as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says – Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-boggingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist,but that’s just peanuts to space.

    My smallness in the cosmos doesn’t make me insignificant or my God non-existent. You of all people should know that as you’ve been on the Starship Enterprise and gone where none of us mere mortals have gone before. To misquote Mr Bentsen , I knew S’chn T’gai Spock, I worked with him. Sir you’re no S’chn T’gai Spock.

    Continued best wishes
    Gavin

  245. About translations: the thing is, Koine Greek is not crystal-clear for us, living about 2000 years after the NT texts were written, in very different cultures, with our own presuppositions about what the original texts are “supposed” to mean.

    But then, I think that all reading is, to a greater or lesser extent, about interpretation. Even seemingly simple things that don’t use words per se – like algebraic equations – use a set of symbols that have to be interpreted correctly by anyone reading a math text.

    Words generally can’t be tied down to just one meaning – if you ever try translation from one language to another (modern), you’ll find that out FAST. Even the most seemingly simple, literal texts often have to be re-tweaked in translation, because the words used – sometimes, even the concepts – are unstranslatable.

    I’ve run into that myself numerous times in the course of attempting to write about music from other cultures; also in assisting with edits of translations from another language into English.

    it is hard, hard work, and equally gifted translators are likely to come up with differing renderings of the same texts… it’s inevitable, given that words work on so many different levels. (Literal, “meaning,” and more.)

  246. Dee

    If your husband can avoid surgery on the disc, do so. I have had two back operations with what was suppose to be the best surgeons in Dallas-Ft Worth and one in Houston, and both made me worse.
    Try anything before surgery.

  247. Fendrel on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:02 PM said:
    oldJohn, if I failed to address something (I thought I had..but memory fails sometimes), please point me to original question or repost.

    Everything you ask for is in my 11:24 AM post, the one immediately preceding your reply partially quoted above, including a brief restatement of my primary concern about your claims.

  248. Fendrel, you sure has been interesting in this discussion. So much of what you say is the same as what some christians say of other christians. As soon as something mentioned in the bible is found to be historically correct, then the entire bible is infallerentable, therefore it proves God. Uh, OK. thanks Ken.
    Last I heard science had calculated the beginning of time to the beginning second, but just can’t make sense of that first second. Does that mean anything? I don’t know.
    Oh, 2-2=? What?
    just curious.

  249. If the universe was at one point a singularity, and if space-time is part of our universe, then time itself would have ceased inside the singularity, so it becomes meaningless to talk about “before” or “after”. — Fendrel

    Didn’t St Augustine say something similar about talking about the idea of “before God”?

  250. I read somewhere that there were about 20,000 words in Koine Greek and we have about 600,000 in English language. YOu can see the problems with translation of meanings in that big of a difference.

  251. One “Great” definition of a Christian: WHOEVER, anyhow, shall receive the kingdom of God humbly, like a little child.
    The second is like unto it: Anyone who receives a little child on Christ’s behalf–who therefore receives Christ and the One who sent him. See Matt 18:4-5, Mark 10:15 and 9:37, Luke 18:17 and 9:48.

  252. I’m not sure that the number of words (that we know of) in Koine Greek is the problem, though… it’s partly that Koine Greek is about as “alive” as Middle English – i.e., nobody speaks it or writes in it anymore, and they haven’t for a long time.

    Imagine how lost we’d be if we were teleported back to Geoffrey Chaucer’s time and found ourselves totally unable to speak the English of the day – and probably at a loss to understand it as well…

  253. KD

    We agree with you on surgery. The latest stats seem to indicate that surgery has little benefit over conservative treatment unless there is loss of muscle mass.

  254. Dee – my grandfather had 2 fusions and, I think, suffered from the effects, whereas my mom was advised (in the late 1970s!) not to have surgery on hers unless there was no other alternative.

    She never has had a fusion, and a lot of her problems resolved over time. I have herniated discs in my neck and lower back, and only plan on doing something if/when they become unbearable. (intact or ruptured.)

    Again, all best wishes for your husband’s recovery!

  255. “please read more carefully…

    ‘clearly couldn’t have happened based on what we currently understand’

    Is not the same as saying it didn’t happen.”

    Yes, it really is. Adding the qualifier “based in what we currently understand” is no qualifier at all. If we are not talking about what we currently understand, what are we talking about?

    “Fantasy, refers to the preceding sentence (in the original context), in other words believing in miracles without the support is fantasy. The word fantasy here meaning to believe something is true in the absence of evidence, wishful thinking if you prefer a different term.”

    Wishful thinking and fantasy both imply “not true”, or in other words: “didn’t happen.”

    You have been very clears that you believe it is irrational to believe in miracles. I fear we are working off of different definitions of “rational”. You seem to have attached to “rational” a form of empiricism, that you must be able to measure something concretely  for it to be rational. Going by that definition, nothing is rational because there is no knowledge we know for certain. Every measurement is tainted the distortions in our perception and the tainted nature of our dependence on fallible means of observation.

    My definition of “rational” is “reasonable”, and yes, I think belief in miracles is reasonable. Given that I believe the Bible is generally true about how it describes the nature of the world we live in, that it reports miracles, and that science does not deny miracles so I have no reason not to believe in them, it is very reasonable to believe they can and have occurred and thus it is also rational. I don’t even have to believe in the inerrancy of scripture to get there.

  256. RE: numo on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 05:35 PM,

    Great comment on what it takes to become literate in a thing, whatever it may be. When we’re blessed and lucky, a Katharine Bushnell will come along and even shed greater light on Holy Writ.

    It’s really too bad that a vast majority of the folks that are in abusive calvinista regimes would prefer to be lemmings and let their leadership do their thinking for them. Most of them have no desire to do the hard work and critical thinking you speak of and are kept in line with fear and guilt.

  257. Muff

    You Native American prayer takes me back to my days on the Navajo Reservation.Thank you for helping me to think back to those days. i was very happy there and I miss it. When (or if )my husband retires one day, we hope to do some filling in at one of the Indian Health Service hospitals once again. He thanks you for caring as well.

    I attended a Christian Reformed church there in which half of the service was in Navajo.They were very gentle with those Navajos who decided to follow Christ. 

     

  258. It’s really too bad that a vast majority of the folks that are in abusive calvinista regimes would prefer to be lemmings and let their leadership do their thinking for them. Most of them have no desire to do the hard work and critical thinking you speak of and are kept in line with fear and guilt. — Muff Potter

    “Ich habe nur meine Befehle Ausgefert…”

  259. Proclaiming the good news?: Go out to the highways and the byways and bid them all come!

        Hello,

    As the Apostle Paul is clear to point out, our struggle is not against flesh and blood. (Eph. 6:12).

           For us and for our earnest salvation God’s Dear Son came down from heaven, and by the power of God’s  Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For His people’s sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He then suffered death upon a Roman cross and was buried as foretold in the scriptures. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He then ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. God’s Son, Jesus, will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. This too being foretold in the scriptures.

    His people rejected both Him and His offer of eternal life.

           The Lord of heaven, Christ Jesus, after His death, burial, and resurrection, had asked His servants to go out to the highways and the byways of the world and bid them all come. Our Lord raised up one of His enemies for this very purpose, the Jew, Saul of Tarsus, a roman citizen, who subsequently penned much of the New Testament. 

           The Lord of heaven has currently asked his servants to go into all the world to proclaim the good news of what Jesus has done, and to make disciples of all nations; and to be about this work until He faithfully returns. This He shall do. All those who respond to this proclamation, and receive Christ’s gift, are admitted into God’s glorious household. The Lord expresses assurance that His wheat will be gathered and placed into His barn.

    Time is of the essence.

    [Please note: No religious clergy is required to accomplish this much blessed endeavor. As you are called to receive the proclamation and the good news about what God’s dear Son has done for every man, so proclaim to others, and they to others still!]

    The wheat includes all those who hear the good news and receive it, and accept it.

    The unfortunate chaff includes all those who refuse the offer.

    Therefore, let us be about proclaiming God’s good news about what His Son has gloriously done, and to God’s generous offer of eternal life with Him as a dearly beloved member of His household! The Lord ever faithful to His promises! His children need not be satisfied with crumbs; the Lord’s table being bountiful to overflow.

    Balaam’s ““Jackass”” not withstanding.

    Consider Carefully?

    You Decide.

    IronClad

  260. Dee: sorry to hear about your husband’s back…that must hurt. My younger brother had surgery on his prolapsed disc a few years back & is back doing triathalons, I’m glad I had no idea that surgery isn’t always a success!
    My love to Mr Dee & great hopes for his recovery :)

  261. Dee,

    I had a friend with a slipped disk back in the 70s, I remember her talking about treatment with Chymopapain injections, at the time was relatively new I believe, is it still a common treatment modality?

  262. A Christian is someone who holds the same definition of “inerrancy” as RHE’s critics do. DUH.

    ;)

  263. Fendrel

    I will get back into discussion with you shortly. Never, ever take a long trip just prior to a holiday. Things are a bit out of control.

    There are some similar treament modalities. The neurosurgeon said the Bill now has a mild foot drop so he needs to be followed quite closely. I am afraid that this is going to be a bit of a process. And he is taking no time off-seeing patients while sitting on heavily cushioned chairs. Me-I would be lying in bed, whimpering.

  264. This is interesting, because I feel a desire to avoid No-True-Scotsman-ing. Certainly anyone can call themselves a Christian, but I suppose–like being Scottish–there is at least some test that the group can use to determine membership.

    I think the Nicene Creed does it for me–perhaps allowing a quibble regarding Mary’s virginity, although I’d certainly understand it if people held that as dogmatic. I’d add the Apostle’s Creed, too, but I understand (from Wikipedia), that the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches don’t profess it–and I’m not about to count those (large!) groups out.

    It’s sort of strange personally for me to embrace either of these, as I’m not really familiar with them through any sort of liturgical worship. I’m certain I would’ve never seen the creeds before I was in college, and then only rarely. So I’ve always approached it very carefully: do I, in fact, agree with all these things? This seems to be a big thing to commit to.