Church Leaders Can Discipline Anything They Want But You Can Get Out Anytime You Want.

If all Church power vests in the clergy, then the people are practically bound to passive obedience in all matters of faith and practice; for all right of private judgment is then denied. Charles Hodge


Princess Buttercup wishing you all a merry Advent season!

The joy of church discipline

Church discipline is meant to produce joy.” Thus states a theology professor. Darrell Bock, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, interviewed Jeremy Kimble who is an assistant professor of theology at Cedarville University and elder at Grace Baptist Church in Cedarville, Ohio.

The first thing that I did before reading the rest of the article was to mosey on over to Grace Baptist Church and take a look at their stated beliefs on discipline. Always do this before you visit any church.

Scroll on down to Appendix B which spells out their thoughts on the matter. Let me pick out a few statements that jumped out at me.

There is no a priori discussion on what constitutes a church discipline sort of offense.

It can be just about anything if the statement is to be believed. In other words, don’t get on the bad side of the church leadership because they can use just about anything to *discipline.”

Church discipline is concerned with the prevention and correction of offenses, an offense being defined as anything in the doctrine or practice of a member of this church that is contrary to the Word of God, a direct violation of the church covenant, or failure to adhere to the church Articles of Faith in the prescribed manner, all in a manner that lacks repentance.

From this point they discuss the typical steps of Matthew 18, leading up to a vote by the majority of the congregation to boot the offender from the church.

Once the person under discipline has reached Stages 4 and 5, he/she must give up their right to go to *court.

According to the appendix, Stage 4 is the meeting with the Elders and Stage 5 is the vote by the congregation to dismiss the member. As TWW continues to insist, these church covenants, which we prefer to call church contracts, are legal documents. This next quote appears to mean that a person cannot sue the church as it proceeds through this process.

The members of this church agree that there shall be no appeal to any court because of the dismissal or because of public statements to the congregation at the fourth or fifth stages of church discipline.

At any time in the process a believer who has been confronted will have the right of appeal to the Council of Elders to be heard in regard to the matter in which he or she stands accused.

Now, the good readers of this blog know that this is not true. If one is able to prove serious harassment, like in the Karen Hinckley situation at Matt Chandler”s church, civil litigation is often possible, especially if the church gets a bit overboard in their approach. Never take the church word for this. They are only interested in protecting the leadership of the church. Always consult an attorney.

Members cannot leave the church while under discipline and can be retroactively disciplined.

This is one of my personal favorites. Inumerable churches make this claim and they are wrong. The church cannot act like the Hotel California in which you can check in but you can never leave.

Therefore, discipline may be instituted or continued either before or after a member seeks to withdraw from membership if the Council of Elders determines that such discipline may serve to guard and preserve the honor of God, protect the purity of the church, or restore the erring member to the Lord (see #4)

Members who are under discipline by the church forfeit and waive the right to resign from this church. Resignations from membership are possible only by members who are in good standing and who are not under any disciplinary action. (Codswallop. Dee could not resist.)

While the church cannot force a withdrawing person to remain in this congregation, the church has the right and the responsibility to encourage restoration, to bring the disciplinary process to an orderly conclusion, and to make a final determination as to the person’s membership and/or fellowship status at the time withdrawal is sought or acknowledged. In doing so, the Council of Elders at its discretion, may temporarily suspend further disciplinary proceedings, dismiss any or all charges pending against the accused, or proceed with discipline.

Folks, involuntary servitude was ended when the Civil War ended. No one can force you to stay in a church, even if you are under church discipline. You may leave whenever you darn well please. And if you do it properly, you can prevent a church from playing the retroactive discipline game.

We wrote this post in which we highlighted a court case in which a woman did resign from a church and then sued the church which had continued with her discipline. In this post we also have a template of a letter and instructions on how to resign from the church. This is the United States and people are free to leave voluntary organizations at any time. Don’t let them tell you that you can’t.

Although the church says their covenant can be found in this document, I was unable to find it there or anywhere else for that matter. If someone can help me I will post a link to the covenant.

Now, with that background, let’s get back to the article.

It’s about sin and love…

Dr Bock brings up the potential pitfall of legalism which is a good point. I also wish he brought up the very real problem of sinful church leaders who misapply church discipline. Once again, they never define what sin should be disciplined. This leaves it open to *any sin at any time we feel like it.”

Kimble responded that he felt it’s important for church discipline to be done with a proper recognition of “what sin actually is,” noting that with sin “we reject what is life giving and pure and good, for what is going to produce death and destruction.”

“If we can get back to that doctrine of sin, we can then start saying something like, ‘Discipline is done for progress and joy in the faith.’ It’s not meant to produce a, as you said, a grim, austere kind of environment. It’s meant to produce joy,” replied Kimble.

Church: Make sure the person should be discipline and get yourself some good lawyers.

Bock states that the process of discipline should be done with care and brings up the question of liability. Kimball has no such concerns because he has *good lawyers.” Folks, if you ever thought for one minute that church discipline and covenants have nothing to do with the law, think again. It is. Churches are merely trying to protect themselves from being sued. Never forget, if the church screws up, you hold the power when it comes to abusive and undeserved church discipline.

“The worst thing you want to do is discipline someone who doesn’t deserve it, and deal with whatever the array of factors might be that could be in play. So it’s a very, very deliberative process,” Bock said.

There is also a potential legal dimension, Bock added, noting that, “in an American legal context,” practicing discipline “might get the church into trouble.”

“We have some good lawyers in our church that are able to give us some guidance in that regard, as well, to know what kinds of documentation do we need,Kimble replied.

Never forget. If the church wants to, they can discipline you for anything such as: for not giving enough, for asking too many questions, for disagreeing with your pastor, for refusing to stay in a church which likes to sell CJ Mahaney books, for not joining the right™ church after leaving, etc.

In the end, I wonder if this is all a power game. It is one game I no longer plan to play and neither should you. I would NEVER join Grace Baptist Church. They will not define what is a *discipline level offense.* The door remains open for anything that could be defined as a sin.

Remember:

  • You may leave your church anytime you want, including while you are under discipline. This is not the former USSR. Please see this link on how to resign from a church.
  • Remember pastors and elder are still sinners.
  • Never join a church that will not spell out for you, a priori, what they will discipline. If they will not, that means they want the right to discipline anything and that is unbiblical and can lead to abuse.
  • Never join a church in which an elder, like Kimball, rejoices in the fact that they *have lawyers” helping with the leaderships’ right to discipline you.
  • If you insist on joining a church that boasts of  *having lawyers,* make sure you have one as well. Ask your attorney (who is not a member of the church) to review what you are getting into. If they are concerned, listen to them.
  • Never sign a membership contract (usually called a covenant to make it sound biblical) that gives the church the right to discipline you for undefined sin.
  • Church discipline should be limited to egregious sins, many of which are against the law anyway. Others which are not crimes include pastors caught in adultery and divorce caused by a husband leaving his family to shack up.
  • Find a church which gets it. Avoid power hungry elders and pastors who love to be *in charge,* demand submission (and they won’t tell you for what) and enjoy deciding on who should be disciplined next.

For Dr Bock: Next time, please ask those, who discuss discipline more than they discuss real grace, what they discipline. It might be an eye opener for you as it was for me 10 years ago.


Comments

Church Leaders Can Discipline Anything They Want But You Can Get Out Anytime You Want. — 349 Comments

  1. And be on the lookout for informal discipline. If your pastor or priest doesn’t welcome discussions of your concerns, and doesn’t focus on being a servant leader, run. And don’t look back.

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  2. “No one can force you to stay in a church, even if you are under church discipline. You may leave whenever you darn well please. And if you do it properly, you can prevent a church from playing the retroactive discipline game.” (Dee)

    And, guess what? You won’t lose your salvation, either!

    Retroactive discipline is sick. Autocratic leaders must have the last word; they thrive on the power to wield shunning and excommunication at the drop of a word. They control the pew by manipulation and intimidation. What love is this?! Cedarville, there is freedom in Christ – you need to use it.

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  3. Dee–I looked at the Grace website and found a place for ‘application for membership” which you can fill in online.

    they are cagey and won’t let you advance to the next page until you have filled out all the required questions.

    I registered myself as Susan B Anthony with made up info for the rest. I just typed in random words where they asked you specific questions about your baptism, date of conversion, testimony, understanding of the Gospel message, etc. They even ask you for a brief bio to be read to the congregation before you are voted on for membership!

    They helpfully informed me that if I was married, only 1 bio would be required….

    Finally after wading through the pages, there is a place on the last page for you to review their Articles 4 & 5 dealing with membership and discipline.

    After you’ve reviewed it, there is a box to check to indicated that you have read and agreed with the statements, and also a place to list any questions you might have.

    I didn’t finish this form obviously but it appears that it is send in electronically.

    Don’t know how that would be viewed legally as there is no signature but there is your agreement to the terms of membership.

    Hope this helps!

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  4. Judas Maccabeus: They can’t lock the back door.

    And if they don’t have a back door, make one! Put your behind in your past and let them see your elbows and butt heading for the car! (there must be a Scripture along that line somewhere)

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  5. At the risk of sounding like a heathen, I’m wondering why anyone would sign up for this, and furthermore take all of the discipline crap bestowed upon them.

    I understand the church being upset if a 40 year old man married 15 years with 3 kids decided to divorce his wife and subsequently shack up with a 20 year old lady, and using the discipline thing to express their disapproval of the act. But I’m guessing those types don’t care about what the church thinks.

    If a church sentences me to “discipline” for something petty, I would quit going to that church. I don’t care if you still say I’m a member or not.

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  6. Jerome: “We are very pleased to announce that Dr. James R. White is officially joining Apologia Church as a member and scholar in residence…Here’s to #TheNewGeneva”

    That is scary, very scary. And they believe that A New Geneva is a good thing . . .no words.

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  7. I am on the Board at my church. We consider new congregants for membership twice a year and then recognize them during a Sunday service. There is nothing to sign. A new member class reviews our history and broad points of theology. Then just a handshake and recognition before the congregation. Recently, a new resident of a senior living center started attending and was very happy he found our church. He immediately asked to become a member and pestered the pastor every week. The pastor requested the board to break precident and approve him for membership without delay just to get him off his back. (He is a very nice Christian gentleman) I cannot wait to congratulate him.
    So some chuches wrap you in a covenant and won’t let you go and our church cannot move fast enough to offer membership with no strings attached.

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  8. Is this a small town phenomenon? If a church tries to discipline me for something petty, I would leave. Go to another church.

    The only church discipline that should be applicable is something like a 45 yo guy divorcing his wife of 15 years and leaving his 3 kids with the wife, in order to shack up with a 20 yo lady. That guy needs biblical correction. It sounds like most of these cases are not like that.

    Leave the toxic church, if they are holding this discipline over your head. Join another church.

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  9. Bridget: That is scary, very scary. And they believe that A New Geneva is a good thing . . .no words.

    Yes.

    It’s very scary.

    Fortunately for us, the old dead white men who founded our great Nation took steps to ensure that these kinds of men will never accrue the power they so desperately covet.

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  10. Bridget,

    Bridget: Jerome: “We are very pleased to announce that Dr. James R. White is officially joining Apologia Church as a member and scholar in residence…Here’s to #TheNewGeneva”

    That is scary, very scary. And they believe that A New Geneva is a good thing . . .no words.

    It is scary. When I suggest that what these guys want is to create a modern, global Geneva, people laugh. It’s kinda, sorta what scripture seems to suggest we are going to end up with . . .

    My former ‘Doctrines of Grace’ Calvinist pastor was deep into the Dominionist/Reconstructionist stuff, and I have no idea who or what is behind it all (because they deliberately try to stay underground), but he, and his associates, believe that this is the way to build ‘the Kingdom of God’, to which they have been called. This is not some sort of joke. Many people were murdered in the name of ‘protecting true orthodoxy’ and ‘building the kingdom of God’ in earlier centuries.

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  11. Muff Potter: Fortunately for us, the old dead white men who founded our great Nation took steps to ensure that these kinds of men will never accrue the power they so desperately covet.

    They have never stopped trying. Time will tell if people are so ignorant of history that they will once again be persuaded that the only way to ‘make the world great again’ is through a Theocracy. Some might suggest that our current political climate is an attempt to lead us down that path.

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  12. Dee wrote,”Church discipline should be limited to egregious sins…”
    I disagree. I advocate a zero tolerance policy toward church discipline. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. Give them an obvious example of excessive or even abusive discipline and they’ll do some fine tuning so they can do it better next time. But they’ll cling to their “keys” all the tighter. Churches are free to do all sorts of things, including teaching, exhorting, rebuking, correcting, and sometimes kicking someone out. They can follow I Cor 5. They must not be free to discipline. Ever. For any reason. Church is brotherhood or it’s nothing. Matthew 18 is how a brother, singular, (this means a sister, too) may try to “win” his brother, and must forgive him. “Church” plays absolutely no greater role than the 2 or 3 individuals– it’s just a larger group with hopes the brother will listen. “Church” does not initiate the process and does not do the “gentile or tax collector” thing. Jesus uses the singular pronoun for you as a brother (sister). And in the New Testament, brother never disciplines brother. Parents discipline children. God disciplines his children. In the Old Testament, however, brother often disciplines brother, and the result is murder. Cain, Esau, the Patriarchs, Abimelech son of Gideon, Absalom, etc all murdered or tried to. To adapt Screwtape– murder is no better if church discipline can do the trick.

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  13. TS00: Some might suggest that our current political climate is an attempt to lead us down that path.

    We’re certainly seeing a new kind of lying coming to the fore in politics. Human beings are what we are; so that when you give someone money and/or power, those things are likely to enhance any innate dishonesty. In short, we’re proverbially used to politicians lying. But we were used to them lying about things that happened behind closed doors; over hidden conflicts of interest, for example, or over whether they did or did not have sex with someone. Now, prominent politicians and influential pressure-groups are lying about things that are openly visible; making up claims about crowd sizes or Sweden, for example, that anyone can immediately go and disprove.

    A meme running through George Orwell’s famous satire Nineteen Eighty Four states the importance of the fact that two and two make four. Orwell’s point was that once a government can say that two and two make five, they are effectively all-powerful: at least, they have complete power over the people whose lives they control. They’re no longer accountable to, or for, anything.

    The lie that hides in plain sight is the most dangerous lie, because it’s already been accepted as true. The people who’ve bought into it don’t even care that it’s a lie. It’s almost pointless to try even to get people to see that this multitude of splinter-groups all calling themselves “a local church” are nothing more than para-church organisations, even if they are benevolent and healthy ones that are worth joining. But it’s precisely the ones that are malign and unhealthy, that no-one should join, ever, that market themselves shamelessly and aggressively – and successfully. Wide gates and easy roads leading down to destruction, an’ a’ tha’.

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  14. Dr. X:
    Is this a small town phenomenon?If a church tries to discipline me for something petty, I would leave. Go to another church.

    No, in fact, it is the current trend among megachurches, particularly Southern Baptist megas, and most megachurches only situate themselves in affluent and busy suburbs.

    There is a movement called 9 Marks that comes from Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC. 9 Marks claims to be about “building healthy churches, but it’s main methodology for enforcement is all about prolifically applying church discipline.

    Note his book doesn’t give examples like you gave. Pastors and elders should have absolute authority to discipline for any reason they see fit, and members should have all church authority removed (like congregational voting) from them because they are “dumb sheep”. Really, that is a basic theology of 9 Marks and New Calvinism, that if you are not a pastor or elder, then you are not believed capable of making “Christlike” decisions. Any instance where a dumb sheep is not immediately doing what a wise pastor or elder believes they should is cause for church discipline.

    I will note that Dever has tried to walk back on overdoing church discipline since his earlier books, but he’s still publishing those books. They also continue to support a number of abusive pastors even after it’s clear they’ve been disqualified from ministry for their abusive leadership.

    TWW has lots of stuff on 9 Marks:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2016/05/25/9-things-you-should-know-about-9marks/

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/02/03/gods-love-for-his-people-is-the-missing-mark-of-9-marks/

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/05/10/9-marks-and-the-gospel-coalition-continue-to-ignore-the-abuse-in-their-midst/

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  15. Dr. X:
    Leave the toxic church, if they are holding this discipline over your head. Join another church.

    I think I have a post waiting, but I will add that they often don’t let you go peacefully. They tell all your friends from their church to shun you, stalk you to other churches, and send letters to the churches you go to next that you are under church discipline for bad behavior (but usually won’t explain why because “gossip”).

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  16. Do yourself a favor – DO NOT go get yourself a lawyer. People who go get lawyers for relatively frivolous reasons do not understand how the American justice systems works. It does you no favors but it does enrich lawyers.

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  17. ishy,

    There’s also those churches that have threatened legal action against members for leaving. Note, an actual lawsuit would likely be thrown out, but many members in these churches have been conditioned to believe the church would do anything to enforce their discipline and those things will work. Just the threat that the church can block you from being saved by excommunicating you is enough for many.

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  18. Check your misquote:You can check OUT anytime but you can never leave as opposed to’check in’! Lol keep up the good work.

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  19. Church Membership
    A church we are visiting requires this in addition to the Doctrinal statement….
    Notice that we are to give it a “SACRED PREEMINENCE OVER ALL institutions of human origin” (Caps mine)
    OUR CHURCH COVENANT
    Having been led by the Holy Spirit to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the public confession of our faith, having been immersed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and this assembly solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
    We purpose, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to attend its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to give it a SACRED PREEMINENCE OVER ALL institutions of human origin; to give faithfully of time and talent in its activities; to contribute cheerfully and regularly, as God has prospered us, to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations.
    We also purpose to maintain family and private devotions; to train our children according to the Word of God; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings; faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our conduct; to avoid all gossip, backbiting and unrighteous anger; to abstain from all forms of activity which dishonor our Lord Jesus
    Christ, cause stumbling to a fellow believer or hinder the winning of a soul to Christ; to be zealous in our efforts to advance the cause of Christ, our Savior; and to give Him preeminence in all things.
    We further purpose to encourage one another in the blessed hope of our Lord’s return; to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and, mindful of the rules of our Savior, to seek it without delay.
    We moreover purpose that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church of like faith and order where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word. In the event there is no such church, we will seek, with the Lord’s help, to establish one.

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  20. dee: I get hives when I hear about the *doctrines of grace.*

    Yes … “doctrines” and “grace” are totally different things. Those who hold to doctrines of grace have proven to focus more on the teachings and traditions of mere men, rather than the unmerited favor of God. It is the difference between life and death. Believer, be careful which “religion” you choose … some lead you deeper into law, others lead you to life in Christ. Be careful that you don’t miss Grace by hanging your hat on doctrines about it.

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  21. Dr. X: Is this a small town phenomenon?

    No, this is an aberrant faith dilemma. You can find it wherever little men desire to be big by exerting control over others through twisting Scripture to manipulate and intimidate. It is a plague in small town America and a cancer in cities across the landscape. Both mega and mini church have fallen victim. While you can certainly find this sickness in the pulpit in just about any church, the New Calvinist tribe is particularly infected by it.

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  22. I believe in a old earth. In the past I have been told by a number of people that such belief is in violation of scripture. Cederville Unversity is a “young earth” institution, presumably that church is also. So, one can assume, based on their definition, that a member of the church COULD be placed under church disciple for believing modern physics and geology.

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  23. From the OP: “Church discipline is concerned with the prevention and correction of offenses…”

    Prevention of offences? Quite a slippery slope.

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  24. Bridget: And they believe that A New Geneva is a good thing . . .no words.

    The Old Geneva under Calvin’s reign was a place of fear and oppression. City residents were forced to accept Calvin’s teachings by the strong arm of the magistrate … or else. Opponents suffered shunning, excommunication, imprisonment, torture, and death. In this grace-less atmosphere, doctrines ‘about’ grace were birthed, rules and regulations intended to control you rather than release you into freedom in Christ. (For the last 500 years, 90+% of Christendom worldwide have rejected this aberrant expression of faith … Praise God!) Beware of anything promoted as a “New Geneva” … in the New Geneva, you may not suffer the physical abuse encountered in the Old, but you will be bound in law and tormented spiritually.

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  25. Loren Haas: We have a “Grace” church in our town. Highly legalistic, controlling and exclusionary.

    Back in my naive days – eons ago – we decided to check out a church in our community called “Grace Fellowship.” It was an SBC-affiliated church, but we quickly noted that the pastor didn’t preach the Gospel we were accustomed to as Southern Baptists … his delivery was harsh with no reference to Jesus, the pew was robotic and lifeless. We attended a couple more Sundays out of curiosity to check out this strange environment. The pastor took note that we were back and asked us to attend a pre-membership class, a series of 13 one-hour videos on doctrines of grace by John MacArthur presented during the Sunday School hour. That’s when the red flags started going up, spiritual hair raised on the back of my neck, “No” shouted in my spirit, etc. There wasn’t any Grace or Fellowship at Grace Fellowship, so we moved on.

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  26. Max: Be careful that you don’t miss Grace by hanging your hat on doctrines about it.

    Love this.

    The day I forever gave up on ‘doctrines of grace’ was the day I rediscovered true grace. And peace. And Joy. And hope.

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  27. FREEATLAST,

    Wow, that’s about the scariest membership covenant I have ever read; lots of euphemism’s for ‘we will control your mind and actions’ along with ‘we expect you to worship this church above all else’.

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  28. TS00: The day I forever gave up on ‘doctrines of grace’ was the day I rediscovered true grace. And peace. And Joy. And hope.

    And I’m glad you did TruthSeeker! You can’t help someone out if you are still in. It’s been a pleasure contending for the faith with you.

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  29. Max,

    The pleasure is mutual. My healing began when I discovered, mostly here, that I was not alone in my experience. It was not, as I was being told, all in my head. Or due to my ‘rebellion against my God-given authorities’.

    All of my life, literally from my first day of kindergarten, I have found myself confronting and standing up to bullies. I had a lot of siblings, and understood the realities of conflict and the fusing of different personalities. But the one thing my precious mother did not tolerate was manipulation or bullying. What a shock to go to school and discover that those with nice clothes and important parents believed themselves entitled to push around those from broken homes or those whose every material desire was not attainable! Since I somehow became a prime target of the chief bully – probably due to my naive belief that everyone was my friend – it seemed only natural to stand up for the others, the quiet ones who allowed themselves to be pushed around.

    I suppose that is how I developed the strong personality that can sometimes get me in trouble. I truly wish no one any ill, but cannot tolerate the simple, trusting and weak ones being pushed around by bullies of any sort. How horrible that this sort of bullying takes place in an institution that calls itself The Body of Christ!

    I thank God for all of you for standing up for truth, love, mercy and justice, which is what I believe we are all called to do, singly and jointly, in whatever ways we can.

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  30. Bridget: That is scary, very scary. And they believe that A New Geneva is a good thing . . .no words.

    Of Course It’s a Good Thing.
    They See Themselves as CALVIN On The Iron Throne, making Ex Cathedra Decrees.

    (Just like all the intellectual radicals of the Sixties who KNEW that Come The Revolution, they would all become Party Commissars giving all the Orders because of their Superior Intellects.)

    But the Iron Throne has room for only One; let the Game of Thrones begin, with dagger and poison and Red Weddings…

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  31. Max: The Old Geneva under Calvin’s reign was a place of fear and oppression. City residents were forced to accept Calvin’s teachings by the strong arm of the magistrate … or else. Opponents suffered shunning, excommunication, imprisonment, torture, and death.

    But to the Elect on top Predestined to Hold the Whip (i.e. those who personally benefit from the System), it was Godly Paradise.

    “What do you mean, ‘The System is broken?’ THE SYSTEM WORKS JUST FINE (for MEEEEEEEEE!)”

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  32. Loren Haas:
    Max,

    Yep.
    We have a “Grace” church in our town. Highly legalistic, controlling and exclusionary.
    Figures.

    Remember “People’s Republic of Tyranny” in TV Tropes:
    “The more adjectives about Democracy there are in a country’s official name, the nastier a Dictatorship it is.”

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  33. Max:
    Whew!Makes one wonder if there is any Grace being dispensed at Grace Baptist Church!(a member church of The Gospel Coalition)

    “WE BELIEVE IN THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE!”
    — Spat out by a Westboro Baptist Phelps-spawn in an interview

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  34. Muff Potter:

    Headless Unicorn Guy,

    And that’s the whole object of the game.
    Better to be the whipper than the whippee.

    Can you derive a better ‘anti’ message to that of the suffering Servant?

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  35. a tangential question (asked in a moment of need):

    how do i raise my kids with an understanding about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit so that they, too, can know the 3-in-1… when my beliefs are totally in flux and i’m not sure what anything means anymore?

    –signed, bewildered and befuddled daughter-of-disappointment to my very christian dad

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  36. Dr. X: At the risk of sounding like a heathen, I’m wondering why anyone would sign up for this, and furthermore take all of the discipline crap bestowed upon them.

    I’m with you, pal. I don’t get it and never will. But for those who have been raised into these churches or get sucked in then the church becomes your entire community.

    You or I might have multiple interests outside of church, say boards, secular sport teams, other friends or clubs or hobbies. But for these folks, the church is everything…it’s your entire social world.

    To lose that plus if they’ve conned you into believing that your soul is at risk is a powerful incentive to play ball. At this point anything is possible – see the previous posts on some of the whackiness that goes on – standing ovations for abusers and other such crud.

    That’s why these churches love married couples or encourage marriage within the group. If one had doubts then the family doubles down to squelch it. it’s a classic cult tactic.

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  37. senecagriggs: Do yourself a favor – DO NOT go get yourself a lawyer. People who go get lawyers for relatively frivolous reasons do not understand how the American justice systems works. It does you no favors but it does enrich lawyers.

    Or don’t sign the covenant contract, stay home Sunday and save 10%!

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  38. elastigirl: a tangential question (asked in a moment of need):

    how do i raise my kids with an understanding about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit so that they, too, can know the 3-in-1… when my beliefs are totally in flux and i’m not sure what anything means anymore?

    –signed, bewildered and befuddled daughter-of-disappointment to my very christian dad

    Not tangential at all, since you don’t want them to end up in an abusive church. Everyone will approach this differently. Here’s what worked for us.

    Our child saw me buckle as a church member, and still associates church with harm to me. Since church became scary to child, we stopped insisting on attendance. We decided to live by example and keep the teaching brief. Several years after I quietly returned to church, our child started showing more curiosity than fear. Later, child began to express support of my church activities. Recovery is slow but real.

    After much trial and error, I worked out a daily prayer routine that helps me feel tranquil and in touch with a loving God. Our child benefits from this.

    I would suggest you start by observing your children’s needs, and proceed with love and understanding. Love comes first, an explanation of the Trinity later, if and when you believe it and feel competent to discuss. (Some Christians are not Trinitarian.) Also… God has a separate relationship with each of your children. The burden is not entirely on you.

    Offered humbly, in hopes that this helps or at least gives you something worth thinking about.

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  39. Preach it Dee! Thanks. I think you should post like this once a month. People need to know how ridiculous and slight of hand these “covenants” are. I can not imagine a “pastor” boasting that he has lawyers to help him with writing documents so he can discipline his members.

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  40. elastigirl: a tangential question (asked in a moment of need):

    how do i raise my kids with an understanding about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit so that they, too, can know the 3-in-1… when my beliefs are totally in flux and i’m not sure what anything means anymore?

    –signed, bewildered and befuddled daughter-of-disappointment to my very christian dad

    Oh my goodness. I’m pretty much in the same boat right now, although my christian mom doesn’t know about my all-but-collapsed faith. My husband sometimes undertakes to teach them things about God, as well as takes them to church. I’m still dealing with the fallout of years of hearing far more law than gospel, including the neverending debates over sanctification, plus longstanding teachings about the created nature and role of women. Right now my crazy work schedule doesn’t leave much time for study, although that may lighten up somewhat after Christmas. I’m thinking of systematically reading through the Bible with the kids just to teach them what’s actually in it, and ultimately let them decide what they believe. After all, that’s what any good parent ends up doing anyway.

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  41. The quoted membership covenant is an altered version of the old standard one. The old one did not give the church sacred preeminence over other institutions.

    It was and still is (old version) common many different kinds of Baptists and really is a pretty good description of how a Christian should live.

    That said, it used to be glued inside the old Broadman Hymnal or given out to stick in your Bible as a guide but was not something YOU EVER SIGNED. Just something some publisher or other came up waaaaaayyyyyy back when.

    In that use, as a guide for a heart check as to whether or not you walk the walk rather than just talk the talk, and without the new stuff added in, it is good. Turned into a contract or creed and unh unh no way jose. I did not notice–did it still have the paragraph about no use or selling of intoxicating drink?

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  42. Bridget: I’m dumbfounded that these churches/leaders believe that A New Geneva is a good thing

    The new reformers need to be ashamed of their beginnings, not proud enough to restore any semblance of Calvin’s Geneva.

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  43. The New Geneva thing is so disturbing, but even more disturbing is that it’s been done before (by Sir Piper, no surprise there).

    I say, Great! Go for it! They should move to their New Geneva and we’ll see how long it takes before they obliterate each other.

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  44. Jerome: James White hops from Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church to ‘Apologia Church’ which promptly announces its status as The New Geneva:

    https://www.instagram.com/apologiastudios/?hl=en

    “We are very pleased to announce that Dr. James R. White is officially joining Apologia Church as a member and scholar in residence…Here’s to #TheNewGeneva”

    Ah, so much closer to my home! James White called me a socialist or Marxist or something equivalent a few years back on Twitter, and then blocked me. I was flabbergasted. I can’t be either of those things, I work for an evil too big to fail bank.

    But seriously…I’m just filing that away in my head for a Sunday afternoon.

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  45. ishy:
    The New Geneva thing is so disturbing, but even more disturbing is that it’s been done before (by Sir Piper, no surprise there).

    I say, Great! Go for it! They should move to their New Geneva and we’ll see how long it takes before they obliterate each other.

    What do predators eat after they’ve killed off all the prey?

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  46. Just to be clear, the pastor** of Apologia Church (Jeff Durbin) has made it clear that some women should be executed. You can look up what that’s all about, I’ve given you the words for a Google search. IMO, no matter what you think about the underlying issue, the fact that the guy is so clear about his desire to execute women makes the place unsafe for women in general.

    Also, calling your church #TheNewGeneva on the church’s Instagram, and knowing that John Calvin was not a nice person, that also makes the church troubling.

    ** Durbin apparently had a health issue recently and that may explain why James White is stepping in.

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  47. senecagriggs: Do yourself a favor – DO NOT go get yourself a lawyer. People who go get lawyers for relatively frivolous reasons do not understand how the American justice systems works. It does you no favors but it does enrich lawyers.

    Having your reputation destroyed by a local church because you won’t submit to discipline is not frivolous. I was told that prior to the late 1980s, a person could not resign his Mormon church membership. The only way to get out was to be excommunicated. A guy who apparently still lives in my town filed a federal suit saying he had done nothing to be excommunicated for and he should be able to just leave. You might think this is frivolous, but if you’ve never lived in a Mormon community, just the whiff of “well, he was excommunicated” and people will think you’re either an adulterer or evil apostate. This guy just wanted out. The suit was settled out of court with the Mormon church agreeing to allow people to resign their memberships. Now there’s a website where a person can resign their membership and a lawyer will represent them, for free. Because it just works better when the request comes in on a lawyer’s letterhead.

    So yeah, there are reasons to have lawyers. This is one of them. Nobody should sit idly by while a bunch of men who think they’re running a tiny Geneva judge you.

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  48. The old Baptist covenants found glued in the Broadman Hymnals use to have the statement that we would abstain from the sale and use of alcohol. I’ve have not found that in a any of the new covenants of SBC churches. People drank anyway. Why make them liars.

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  49. Bridget: I’m dumbfounded that these churches/leaders believe that A New Geneva is a good thing

    I’m dumbfounded that so many people willingly go to these churches and follow these leaders! What the heck has got into folks?! These pulpits would not exist if it weren’t for a pew supporting them; charlatans would have no stage if they had no audience.

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  50. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: Having your reputation destroyed by a local church because you won’t submit to discipline is not frivolous. I was told that prior to the late 1980s, a person could not resign his Mormon church membership. The only way to get out was to be excommunicated.A guy who apparently still lives in my town filed a federal suit saying he had done nothing to be excommunicated for and he should be able to just leave. You might think this is frivolous, but if you’ve never lived in a Mormon community, just the whiff of “well, he was excommunicated” and people will think you’re either an adulterer or evil apostate. This guy just wanted out. The suit was settled out of court with the Mormon church agreeing to allow people to resign their memberships. Now there’s a website where a person can resign their membership and a lawyer will represent them, for free. Because it just works better when the request comes in on a lawyer’s letterhead.

    So yeah, there are reasons to have lawyers. This is one of them. Nobody should sit idly by while a bunch of men who think they’re running a tiny Geneva judge you.

    Thank you, Muslin! Seneca’s comment chapped my grits. So the dudes with the power (New Cal honchos) should have Lawyer Protection but the pew peons can’t?? Grrrrr.

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  51. Kimble is the Interim Director and Asst Professor of Theology at Cedarville and his bio states he is currently on the board of elders at Grace Baptist; however, Grace Baptist’s website does not list him as part of their Council of Elders.

    http://www.gracecedarville.org/leadership

    Of further interest: Only 3 of 14 elders listed have no affiliation with the University or are NOT already on staff with the church. And one of the 3 has since retired from the University (my alma mater). I wonder how those board meetings go when it comes down to a vote and the two or three disagree with the direction things are going. There is not enough for an overturn nor for a quorum to pass separately. They are, indeed, enmeshed.

    Cedarville (the town) would cease to exist were it not for the University – and this church is a prime example. Expand that out to apartments, houses (real estate), restaurants, gas stations, mini-marts, etc. The University is the very life blood of that village. And the townspeople both resent and love it because of its existence.

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  52. I was at Cedarville when Jeremy Kimble was hired there. If my memory serves me well, he followed the president, Thomas White and the dean of the School of Biblical Studies (a glorified department), Jason Lee from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where non other than Paige Patterson was president. I also attached Grace for a few short months but decided it wasn’t for me. Grace is a GARBC (well at least when I was there) as was Cedarville but the university distanced itself from the GARBC and is slowly being taken over by SBC. Grace may be part of that as well as Kimble is probably a SB, too.

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  53. I am watching Leah Remini’s show about Scientology aftermath. On tonight’s show Mike Rinder says something like…the difference between a cult and true religion is what happens when you leave. So these churches who want to control/punish/etc. are right up there with Scientology.

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  54. Nuttshell: the university distanced itself from the GARBC and is slowly being taken over by SBC

    Cedarville University clearly leans reformed. They would fit in the new SBC which has surrendered to the New Calvinist movement.

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  55. I guess I grew up in a normal Southern Baptist Chuch. My grandfather was a bivocational SBC preacher. If you were a Calvinist, he would guide you to the local Presbyterian Church. He would not approve of drinking beers at the local bar, but would not micromanage the Church.

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  56. Max,

    I attended CU when it was only a “college” and part of the GARBC conference and Dixon was president. My understanding is that Dr Brown paved the way for CU switch affiliations from GARB to SBC. Many (staff, faculty, students) were unhappy about this change – especially as it was done on the DL. I was on staff when Brown became president.

    There were several other changes that took place under Dr Brown and the subsequent changing of the guard that happened w/ Dr White.

    Also of note: White is on the council of CBMW.

    So, yes – CU fits very well with the new SBC movement. They also align with 9Marks – which was just hosted at their Pastors’ Conference in November.

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  57. It’s a bit puzzling that these contracts that force the signer to embrace “at leader discretion” discipline do not specify the actionable offenses.

    After all, the letters of Paul, such rich sources of justifications for current ecclesiology, are full of “sin lists.” It would be eminently sensible and certainly “biblical” to refer to these in the membership contract as containing a comprehensive catalog of disciplinable offenses.
    A list of offenses that Paul overlooked could be included in an Appendix.

    That this is not done certainly conveys the impression, as the OP suggests, that the vagueness is intentional and is for the purpose of social control.

    As others have said (Nick might quote “The Doctor”): “Run!”

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  58. elastigirl:
    a tangential question (asked in a moment of need):

    how do i raise my kids with an understanding about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit so that they, too, can know the 3-in-1…when my beliefs are totally in flux and i’m not sure what anything means anymore?

    –signed, bewildered and befuddled daughter-of-disappointment to my very christian dad

    The first step would be to stop thinking of yourself as any kind of disappointment to anyone.

    No one has ever explained the 3 in 1 god/father/spirit in any term I can understand. I suspect it’s to maintain monotheism because it’s never made sense to me.

    My wife & kids go to church and I have been attending as well because I want to know what their learning.

    I don’t try to explain Christian theology. I stick to the simple stuff. Love thy neighbor etc etc.

    I have an understanding with my wife that when it comes to the creationism, I will tell the kids it’s false. Likewise the idiot missionary who claims he’s raised dead people.

    The kids will eventually make up their own minds.

    As for me, no returning to the fold for this sheep. I’m only in it for the family breakfast afterwards. I can be bribed.

    Be honest with your kids. Don’t pretend to be a ‘believer’ if you don’t feel it. They’ll see right through you. And don’t try to allow others to define Christianity for you. There is no ‘christianity’ just a bunch of christianities. And they can’t all be right.

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  59. FREEATLAST,

    I was a member of a GARBC church, and attened a GARBC high school… in fact, the hs was called, drum roll, Regular Baptist High School, over 40 years ago. While we did not have membership covenenant, everything else you write is consistent with what I experienced….

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  60. Friend,

    “We decided to live by example and keep the teaching brief.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    thank you, friend. i think that’s pretty much been my approach — well, “teaching” amounts to praying together now and then.

    it’s very helpful to know i’m not alone.

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  61. Jack,

    I read this with a very heavy heart. I am saddened that no one could explain the Trinity to you in a way that you can “understand”. Too often in our scientific culture we want to have everything explained so we can “understand”. When we are talking about God, the creator and all powerful being that is responsible for our very existence and the existence of everything we see, is it even possible that I should expect that I can “understand” Him? If I could understand everything about God would he even be a god worth knowing?
    The New Testament along with the Old Testament tells us that there is only one God. However in the increasing revelation of God about himself in the New Testament we learn that The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. How can all of these be true? I don’t think I will every “understand” it. However since I find that the Bible is like no other book in the world able to predict events hundreds of years before they happened and was able to do this hundreds of time along with many other convincing proofs externally and internally. Since the New Testament explains a love so above human understanding that humans are so desperately looking for, in that God would pay the price to redeem sinful humans by an eternal sacrifice of His Son for those who will believe it, I am left with no other choice than to accept it is what God reveals about himself. Each member of the Trinity is God. They hold personally and individually the attributes of God in total. Yet there are three persons that hold all the attributes of Deity. I confess I don’t understand it. Yet this is the revelation of God about himself. What else can I do. I am left to believe it. I am the creature not the creator. I don’t think I hold the trump card in telling Him to tell me in a way I can “understand” Him. There is no other way to really make sense from the New Testament. Jesus prayed to the Father as God. ???? I don’t understand that totally, if Jesus was God. Yet Jesus was God and addressed the Father as His God. What else am I left to do but believe what He has revealed.
    If I am to understand anything really about God since he is so above me (yet at the same time we are told “he is not far from anyone of us”)I am going to have to believe what he reveals about Himself. This is basic to understanding Christianity.
    God is God and I am not.

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  62. Samuel Conner: It’s a bit puzzling that these contracts that force the signer to embrace “at leader discretion” discipline do not specify the actionable offenses … the vagueness is intentional and is for the purpose of social control

    This is a system that works well in a reformed church. If a member feels he is one of the predestined elect, then he figures he has also been elected to attend the church and must subject himself to the rules and regulations of church leaders. Since “it is written”, he has no other options. The free church of Jesus Christ is of course voluntary … whosoever may come willingly … but the new reformers don’t want you to know that. They want you under their thumb to control, manipulate, and intimidate your every move.

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  63. Charis: CU fits very well with the new SBC movement. They also align with 9Marks – which was just hosted at their Pastors’ Conference in November.

    Well, it doesn’t any more New Calvinist than that! Mr. Discipline himself, Mark Dever, was a featured speaker.

    https://www.cedarville.edu/Event/9Marks.aspx

    Yep, I would say CU pastoral candidates will hit their pulpits trained with an iron fist to control the spiritual life out of church members.

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  64. Dr. X: I guess I grew up in a normal Southern Baptist Church. My grandfather was a bivocational SBC preacher. If you were a Calvinist, he would guide you to the local Presbyterian Church.

    Well, those days are over. They ended when Al Mohler launched his rebellion to return the SBC to its pre-Civil War Calvinist roots. SBC founders were Calvinist slave-holders who believed sovereign God was on their side during the War, until Confederate victories turned to defeat. After the War, Southern Baptists distanced themselves from the founders’ theology and remained distinctly non-Calvinist in belief and practice for 150 years until Dr. Al came along. Wrenching SBC away from the non-Calvinist majority has been the darnedest thing I’ve ever seen … the battle was won without firing a shot.

    P.S. I have great respect for bi-vocational pastors. They work long weeks in small churches loving folks into the Kingdom. Your grandfather was a good man.

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  65. NJ,

    “I’m thinking of systematically reading through the Bible with the kids just to teach them what’s actually in it, and ultimately let them decide what they believe. After all, that’s what any good parent ends up doing anyway.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    thank you, NJ. it’s so comforting to know i’m not alone.

    a recent conversation with my dad has left me feeling like…., oh, maybe Hester Prynne. He doesn’t reject me, tells me he loves me, but he’s so deeply disappointed, deeply concerned, deeply sad, to the point of tears. i feel he’s ashamed of me.

    at the moment it’s unbearable to know i’m the source of his pain. to hear him trying to hold back tears.

    it’s unbearable to me that all the good things that i am, how i’ve tried to live a life of integrity and doing what is right, how good of a daughter i’ve been to him, how good of a parent i’ve been to his grandchildren is all so deeply and darkly overshadowed by not automatically subscribing to the traditional “christian” routine and method, so to speak.

    the complex feelings i have include a good deal of anger.

    ….but getting back to your reply — reading through the entire bible with your kids? a cursory overview or really reading the whole thing, Leviticus and all?

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  66. elastigirl: it’s unbearable to me that all the good things that i am, how i’ve tried to live a life of integrity and doing what is right, how good of a daughter i’ve been to him, how good of a parent i’ve been to his grandchildren is all so deeply and darkly overshadowed by not automatically subscribing to the traditional “christian” routine and method, so to speak.

    the complex feelings i have include a good deal of anger.

    I’m truly sorry. I know it probably doesn’t help much, but someday the people in our lives who have been programmed to conflate loving God and others with ‘going to church’ will someday understand . . . Just appreciate the tears as misguided concern. Keep living a full life, and know that, whether he realizes it or not, your father no doubt sees the difference between what you do and what so many ‘faithful attenders’ call christianity. It is the same with my mother, who sees the steps forward I’ve taken, but all is overshadowed with the burning need to ‘go to church’, which, for most, is the primary duty of a believer.

    I appreciate your pure heart.

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  67. Jack,

    “My wife & kids go to church and I have been attending as well because I want to know what their learning.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    how do you endure it? especially the music, & being a stoic lone island in the middle of a sea of religious fervor?

    thank you for your reply. it was very sensible.

    it’s difficult because it’s my parent. parent/child relationships are emotionally complex. never been one to give a flying fick about what anyone thinks of me. but a parent is different. and i am a disappointment to him.

    but it’s the world he comes from, and his generation. i’ve long overheard him and his siblings talking about their kids/nieces/nephews. “I wish they would come back to the Lord”…. all because some don’t attend church on Sundays and do vote democrat.

    the assumptions astonish me.

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  68. Jack: There is no ‘christianity’ just a bunch of christianities. And they can’t all be right.

    Heartily agree.

    The one thing all the multiple splinter-groups and separate local churches will ALL agree on, in any town, is that they must protect their separate identities at any cost. Another thing they more or less agree on, though of vastly less importance, is that people out there should join “a church”.

    Well, I’ve chosen, just like they have. Some of them don’t like it, though.

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  69. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Thank you, Muslin! Seneca’s comment chapped my grits. So the dudes with the power (New Cal honchos) should have Lawyer Protection but the pew peons can’t?? Grrrrr.

    Best to not get into a situation with lawyers to start, but if the church lawyers up, you should too.

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  70. Jack: No one has ever explained the 3 in 1 god/father/spirit in any term I can understand. I suspect it’s to maintain monotheism because it’s never made sense to me.

    I know I cannot explain in in a way that will 100% help you to understand. I lead a group of kids in confirmation. I have explained it in many ways; my personal favorite being 1 What and 3 Who’s.

    However, there is a problem in trying to explain it so all of us can fully understand it, even for me. If we are talking about a God, who created the vast universe that we can see and even, perhaps, multi parallel universes, filled with untold wonders (like black holes) we are attempting to understand a Being far beyond our ability to fully comprehend Him.

    We are mortal-He is immortal. We are limited to time and place. He is omnipresent and exists outside of the construct of time. In fact, many scientists look at time as a dimension in itself. He can enter our time dimension but He is also outside of that as well.

    In other words, our attempt to fully apprehend a Triune God who is both one and three is beyond our present capabilities. In fact, for those of us who believe in a new world to come with newly created bodies for our souls, we may still not be able to fully comprehend it. We are created. He is not.

    I once heard someone say that us trying to comprehend God is like a mollusk attempting to comprehend us. It is, in some ways, impossible.

    However, I do not believe that the Trinity was dreamed up in order to stay monotheistic. Go back go Genesis. Even there God is referencing Himself as a *We.* God gave us a book that merely includes the beginning of who He is and what He expects of us.

    Maybe, in the end, you cannot fully comprehend this because your brain, like mine is (to use a Grinch descriptor during this Advent season) two sizes too small.

    In some respects, the whole Garden of Eden fiasco occurred because Adam and Eve insisted on fully understanding so that they could be like gods themselves. The answer is clear- we cannot.

    I supposed that you are stuck with two options. 1. The universe just is. It has no meaning and it existed, exists and will exists for all eternity. That’s all there is so make the best of it. There is no hope for something more. We are just a lucky accident so enjoy it while you can. Too bad for those suffering. They are essentially screwed. 2. The Universe was created by an eternal being being who is a bit difficult to understand. Somehow that being loves us and wants us to be with Him in eternity.

    As I look at the beauty of the world around me, I am grateful to have someone to thank. When I watched little children dying in the surgical oncology floor when my daughter suffered with her brain tumor, I’m grateful that I had the hope that these children, including my daughter, would one day live a life in eternity without pain and suffering. I’m glad that I can believe that there is something much, much more than then the pain and suffering that I see around me.

    For me, there is a God who is so much bigger than I can ever comprehend and I look forward to getting to know him for all of eternity.

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  71. Jack: I have an understanding with my wife that when it comes to the creationism, I will tell the kids it’s false.

    Help me here. Are you saying that there is no possibility of a God who created the universe and that He, like all of us, are merely accidents?

    Or are you referring to the 6 day, 24 hour creation account? If so, you’ve landed at a blog in which many of us are evolutionary creationists.

    When I use the word *creationsim* I mean that God created the universe ex nihilo.

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  72. Jack: There is no ‘christianity’ just a bunch of christianities. And they can’t all be right.

    Most people who call themselves Christians believe in an essential Christianity as found in the Apostles or Nicene Creed. From there, folks deviate on how to baptize, etc.

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  73. Ken A,

    Ken yes all this is sad, as I watch people leaving / distancing themselves from the church, or possibly the faith.

    We are doing an expository study of 1 Corinthians during Sunday School, I think what we are seeing, good people walking away from church attendance, struggling with the trinity, and the compatibilism/egalitarianism debate, et al,
    Is tied to what the Apostle Paul warned against. ***** not to go beyond what is written *****

    Once anyone gives up on inerrancy of scripture truly any belief is easily within reach or acceptance.

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  74. Jack,

    Years ago, I had a crisis of faith caused by learning that the woman caught in adultery is not found I n the earliest manuscripts. Oddly enough, it was this that caused Bart Ehrman to leave the faith. So, I spent a few years reading books by atheists, agnostics, and a bunch of other faiths.

    However, unlike Ehrman, I do not view myself as an exceptionally clever intellect. I realized that any *gotcha* examples that I could come up with had been thought of by far more brilliant people than myself. For example, the great Francis Collins who wrote the book Learning the Language of God while mapping the human genome. Most impressive. Throughout the ages, there are many great intellects who wrestled with the *gotcha* examples.

    The most embarrassing part of it all for me was that these people thought of far more difficult questions than I could even imagine. In other words, I found out I wasn’t as clever as I thought I might be. During those years I found answers to all my questions and more. I was also humbled.

    I raised my kids during this time by teaching than that there are answers to the questions out there. I found those answers and became quite confident in my faith. No-I still don’t understand how a being could create the universe but I fully believe that he did so. God led me to answers, enough answers that I find great hope and comfort in my faith.

    I wish you well on your journey. Read the great intellects and try to figure out why they believed. It will be an interesting endeavor.

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  75. Benn: Once anyone gives up on inerrancy of scripture truly any belief is easily within reach or acceptance.

    But “Inerrancy of SCRIPTURE” has become a code word for “IT IS WRITTEN!” AKA “EES PARTY LINE, COMRADES!”

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  76. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: Best to not get into a situation with lawyers to start, but if the church lawyers up, you should too.

    Assuming the church hasn’t put all the good (and expensive) law firms in town on standby retainer so all you’re left with are the low-end Jacoby & Myers firms. A lot of Megas/Gigas do that, pre-empting you with the best shysters money can buy.

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  77. Samuel Conner: It’s a bit puzzling that these contracts that force the signer to embrace “at leader discretion” discipline do not specify the actionable offenses.

    Like “Hooliganism” in the Russian penal code, “actionable offenses” are whatever Those In Power say is an actionable offense.

    “Before that can happen, make sure WE are the ones who define what is legal and what is not.”
    — L Ron Hubbard

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  78. dee: Most people who call themselves Christians believe in an essential Christianity as found in the Apostles or Nicene Creed. From there, folks deviate on how to baptize, etc.

    “As found in,” although many groups reject those creeds or any creeds, and Christianity predates the creeds. Quaker Christians believe in the Inner Light. Coptic Christians also depart from Trinitarian belief. It’s easy to write off group X or person Y as heretical or cultish, but I am unwilling to do so if people refer to themselves as Christian.

    [Throws down can opener, flees escaping worms]

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  79. Carolyn S Swick:
    I am watching Leah Remini’s show about Scientology aftermath.On tonight’s show Mike Rinder says something like…the difference between a cult and true religion is what happens when you leave. So these churches who want to control/punish/etc. are right up there with Scientology.

    I watched the one about Jehovah Witnesses, and the one guy stated it wasn’t unusual for a sex abuse victim to sit alone on one side of the court room while the elders and other Witnesses support the perpetrator on the other side. Sounds like that calvinist church in Texas? I think where everyone supported the pedophile, but not the victim. I think TWW did a post not long ago on it. It shows no matter what religion JW, Scientology, Neo calvinism, cult, etc., there is the tendency to support the perpetrator while shunning the victim. Terrible.

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  80. elastigirl: He doesn’t reject me, tells me he loves me, but he’s so deeply disappointed, deeply concerned, deeply sad, to the point of tears. i feel he’s ashamed of me.

    at the moment it’s unbearable to know i’m the source of his pain.

    You are kind and loving to empathize with your father’s pain, but you are not the source of it. It sounds more like his beliefs and expectations are the source.

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  81. Benn: I agree that the term has been high jacked unfortunately by some, ( just like a lot of other terms have as well…

    Has it been hijacked? Or has it always been a tool for manipulation and control? I would be genuinely interested to see a legitimate use of this phrase, which I would once have fallen on the sword to defend.

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  82. Many Baptists back in the day did abstain from alcohol, so the old pasted in covenant which no one had promised to adhere to made no one a liar.

    dee–you might enjoy updated source studies on the scripture passages said “not to be in the oldest manuscripts.” Some scholars who previously thought that invalidated them no longer do. Some, not all. Has to do with weather and who copied what, etc, but some of those discounted passages are back in.

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  83. Benn,

    “Once anyone gives up on inerrancy of scripture truly any belief is easily within reach or acceptance.”
    ++++++++++

    so, what does it mean when person A and person B have different interpretive conclusions, yet neither deny the inerrancy of scripture?

    do they each write the other off as espousing any ol’ belief that was easily within reach?

    isn’t it a fair statement to say that inerrancy means whatever agrees with “my interpretation”?

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  84. TS00: Has it been hijacked? Or has it always been a tool for manipulation and control? I would be genuinely interested to see a legitimate use of this phrase, which I would once have fallen on the sword to defend.

    Just spitballing here, but off the cuff I can think of:

    John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word, and the Word with God, and the word was God. (NASB)

    John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, ….. NASB)

    Hebrews 6:18 God did this so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, .( NASB)

    I hope these clarify, but I could go on……

    If he can’t preserve his word, he is not all powerful to do anything else, ( IMHO). Respectfully submitted…..

    John 1

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  85. Benn: Is tied to what the Apostle Paul warned against. ***** not to go beyond what is written *****

    Once anyone gives up on inerrancy of scripture truly any belief is easily within reach or acceptance.

    I have seen too many who hold to the tenants of innerrancy blatantly misuse scripture to support one of their pet beliefs to take any argument about innerrancy seriously. Those who back it most vocally will frequently take liberties with their interpretation. Recent case in point: Someone telling a women’s group that their marriages were doomed to misery if they didn’t subscribe to a complementarian framework. They presented this as being biblical. Whether or not complementarians is biblical, doesn’t negate the fact that many people who do not follow that path are perfectly content.

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  86. elastigirl:
    Benn,

    “Once anyone gives up on inerrancy of scripture truly any belief is easily within reach or acceptance.”
    ++++++++++

    so, what does it mean when person A and person B have different interpretive conclusions, yet neither deny the inerrancy of scripture?

    do they each write the other off as espousing any ol’ belief that was easily within reach?

    isn’t it a fair statement to say that inerrancy means whatever agrees with “my interpretation”?

    That’s exactly it! And if you have stronger interpretation, it won’t make any difference if the other person is dead set against your belief system.

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  87. elastigirl,
    It’s supposed to mean “literal”, but it’s often used to include personal interpretation of what they believe is literal.

    There’s also the Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which said that hyperbole had to be literal for the Bible to be inerrant. Many things Jesus said would be silly if they were not exaggerated.

    And most evangelicals are not aware of this, but inerrancy comes from the Second Vatican Council. So who’s hijacking what? I am also curious to know if that includes the apocrypha.

    And let’s be honest, most evangelicals claim inerrancy without adherence to the Greek manuscripts. They use their preferred English translation and have never studied Greek to know there are some really problematic differences. I’ve actually stopped a few people from brandishing their English Bibles at me in asking them to define inspired and inerrant, because it had never occurred to them that Paul didn’t write in English.

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  88. Lily Rose: That’s exactly it! And if you have stronger interpretation, it won’t make any difference if the other person is dead set against your belief system.

    I’ll agree with you to a point, yes we can disagree on some verses, there are some that are make us go hum…

    1 Corinthians 13:10 but when the perfect comes,the partial will be done away. (NASB)

    Don’t bring this verse up to a Pentecostal friend ever, if you want to remain friends……

    I had a teacher for apologetics and a little Greek who once said ( talking about biblical exegesis/ hermeneutics in relation to the constant cultural shifts that all societies and generations go through), say this:

    The proper interpretation of scripture ( hermeneuticlly), can never be a different interpretation than what the author intended, or what the author spoke to the original recipient ( exegesis) in the comment I originally made to truth seeker in regards to Paul and the Church at Corininth.

    Now you may not agree with that statement, ( fair enough, that’s your right). But is a profound statement, in trying to make sense of the Bible in today’s culture.

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  89. Jack: No one has ever explained the 3 in 1 god/father/spirit in any term I can understand. I suspect it’s to maintain monotheism because it’s never made sense to me.

    It made no sense to Isaac Newton (one of the co-inventors of the Calculus) either.
    But he was careful back in that time to not let it out publicly. It’s only recently (early to mid 20th century) that his private notes and journals reveal an antipathy toward trinitarian doctrine.

    That’s Newton, and that’s fine and dandy for him, but Muff is under no constraints to follow in lockstep. I believe in the Trinity, but on my own terms. To me, water is a simple and real world experimental analogue. It can exist in three states; ice, liquid, and vapor, simultaneously, with no one of the three in preeminence over the other, and all of them indeed the same substance.

    I’ve gotten 88mm flak over this from various quarters.
    One determined soul even wrote a 500 word rebuttal on why I’m all wet on this.
    Hell, the convoluted obfuscation was so intense I needed Alan Dershowitz to help me sort it out.

    The point being is that all this theological stuff is purely subjective, and different folks will have different strokes. This is celebrated in Judaism but generally frowned upon in Christianity.

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  90. ishy:
    elastigirl,
    It’s supposed to mean “literal”, but it’s often used to include personal interpretation of what they believe is literal.
    Ishy

    That’s why I say we have to go back to the original Greek, and yes ( preemptively), we do have textual variants,( see Dee’s comments on the pericope adulterae ( John 7:53 – 8:11).

    But when you see the research on the textual variants, it will enhance your faith, not diminish it, ( at least it has mine).

    There’s also the Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which said that hyperbole had to be literal for the Bible to be inerrant. Many things Jesus said would be silly if they were not exaggerated.

    And let’s be honest, most evangelicals claim inerrancy without adherence to the Greek manuscripts.They use their preferred English translation and have never studied Greek to know there are some really problematic differences. I’ve actually stopped a few people from brandishing their English Bibles at me in asking them to define inspired and inerrant, because it had never occurred to them that Paul didn’t write in English.

    So you don’t hold to any form of biblical inerrancy?

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  91. Friend,

    Notice that I used the term “most people.” I’l stand by that.

    I do not call other groups such as Coptic Christians *heretics.* I believe God gave us ALL free will which allows for people to choose whatever belief system they are comfortable with. That doesn’t mean they are correct. I will be curious how the Almighty deals with this in the end I trust Him totally.

    Also, even groups, such as the SBC, which do not believe in reciting creeds. would affirm the creedal statements as found in the Apoltel’s Creed.

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  92. FW Rez: I have seen too many who hold to the tenants of innerrancy blatantly misusescripture to support one of their pet beliefs to take any argument about innerrancy seriously. Those who back it most vocally will frequently take liberties with their interpretation. Recent case in point: Someone telling a women’s group that their marriages were doomed to misery if they didn’t subscribe to a complementarian framework. They presented this as being biblical. Whether or not complementarians is biblical, doesn’t negate the fact that many people who do not follow that path are perfectly content.

    Sad that someone would say that, worse I guess that someone would just believe it blindly.

    My default setting on the comp./ egalitarianism debate is I default to more of an orthodox position ( which I think is comp., but I fully understand the egalitarianism view). I am in fact studying egalitarianism as we speak, and I personally have no problem whatsoever moving over to the egalitarianism view if that is where the research takes me, to me it is a secondary or possibly a tertiary position. Being a male I guess can seem to diminish the passion of egalitarianism.

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  93. dee,

    We were reutinely asked this, both in jest and seriously. They changed the name after I left to “Berean Christain HS”.. a nice pious name.
    The school was, then moved, but still is in the Diablo Valley…. this valley is in the shadow of Mt Diablo, which was named that by early Spanish explorers. For those Spanish challeged, Diablo mean “Devil”…. so, a name for the school that was reutinely suggested was Diablo Valley Christain School…. as you can imagine, that name never got very far with the leaders…

    But, a “Regular Baptist” also has “bowel” implications that I guess the leaders ingored until the name change…

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  94. dee: Notice that I used the term “most people.” I’l stand by that.

    I do not call other groups such as Coptic Christians *heretics.* I believe God gave us ALL free will which allows for people to choose whatever belief system they are comfortable with. That doesn’t mean they are correct. I will be curious how the Almighty deals with this in the end I trust Him totally.

    Also, even groups, such as the SBC, which do not believe in reciting creeds. would affirm the creedal statements as found in the Apoltel’s Creed.

    Thanks. Sorry, I was not questioning your statement, just shedding light in corners unfamiliar to some. I didn’t mean to imply that you considered anyone a heretic. 🙁

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  95. Benn,

    The evangelical definition of inerrancy is the Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. So no, I do not. I believe there is metaphor and hyperbole in the Bible. I also believe God makes jokes in the Bible and those would fall outside the definition.

    And most Christians, and I’m pretty sure you are included, have no way to know what the author’s “original intent” was in many places. You can guess, but you don’t know. There’s a lot of ways to interpret that and you don’t live in that culture. Not that people can’t know, if if Christians were really honest about finding the true meaning, they would admit they didn’t know a lot of answers.

    I also believe it’s a terrible term to use to defend any point because of the way it is used by most people. Such as how you put down many people here down by claiming that someone doesn’t adhere to it believes everything and anything.

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  96. ishy:
    elastigirl,

    And let’s be honest, most evangelicals claim inerrancy without adherence to the Greek manuscripts.They use their preferred English translation and have never studied Greek to know there are some really problematic differences. I’ve actually stopped a few people from brandishing their English Bibles at me in asking them to define inspired and inerrant, because it had never occurred to them that Paul didn’t write in English.

    The Babylon bee did an article not long ago for the benefit of KJV only diehard types.

    They claimed to translate the kjv back into original Greek, and said if the people living in the time of Christ had had this, they would have had a chance to be regenerated

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  97. elastigirl: it’s unbearable to me that all the good things that i am, how i’ve tried to live a life of integrity and doing what is right, how good of a daughter i’ve been to him, how good of a parent i’ve been to his grandchildren is all so deeply and darkly overshadowed by not automatically subscribing to the traditional “christian” routine and method, so to speak.

    This is unbearable to me too.

    How all the good things you are is simply not good enough!

    For years I signed onto that whole spiel too, that God has a totally separate standard of goodness and fairness, and that what I think they are, or should be, is somehow flawed. Now I call horse poo-poo on it and have learned to breathe free, like one of Emma Lazarus’s huddled masses.

    Your Dad is only human, be angry yes, for the theological stuff he hurts you with, but love him and accept him anyway as a human being, even though he won’t do the same for you.

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  98. dee: I will be curious how the Almighty deals with this in the end I trust Him totally.

    That’s where I am too. Considering the arguments about head coverings alone, I think Heaven will offer some surprising sights.

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  99. ishy: I’ve actually stopped a few people from brandishing their English Bibles at me in asking them to define inspired and inerrant, because it had never occurred to them that Paul didn’t write in English.

    Not just English, but Kynge Jaymes Englyshe.

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  100. Muff Potter: The point being is that all this theological stuff is purely subjective, and different folks will have different strokes. This is celebrated in Judaism but generally frowned upon in Christianity.

    “Two Jews, Three Opinions” vs “Hooray Hooray for The One True Way”.

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  101. ishy,

    That’s not exactly what I said.

    I said. Once anyone gives up on the inerrancy of scripture, truly any belief is easily within reach or acceptance.

    And I’ll stick by that, look at Scientology, JW, LDS, they all had to rewrite sacred text to elavate their new belief system.

    The best of it all is, we are free to commit to what ever we want to.
    All I’m saying is for anything to make sense we must have a standard to evaluate by, C S Lewis said it simply
    A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.

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  102. Benn,

    But you don’t even seem to agree with what “inerrancy” means. You just followed a professor’s interpretation of it, not the standard definition. You interpreted where that line was. That’s exactly the point most of us here are making.

    Lots of people who believe in inerrancy disagree on what the Bible says.

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  103. For me, the critical issue isn’t inerrancy in the original texts, so much as the doctrine of the perspicuity, or essential clarity of the most important teachings of the Bible. It’s hard for me to take this idea seriously given the multiplicity of Protestant denominations and independent churches out there 500 years after the Reformation got started. I’ll never forget asking our former pastor when the doctrine of Sola Scriptura functioned in such a way that Protestants were able to have unity. He thought for a second, and said something like, for a relatively short period of time. I’m like, how short a time are we talking here?

    Peter once remarked that Paul had written some things that are hard to understand, which unstable people distort to their own destruction. Does that include something as basic as the doctrine of justification? It seems so, given Christian history.

    The Bible is supposed to be the Holy Spirit inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God to humanity, or at least His people. Out of necessity, I have had to take the common stance of being my own ultimate authority on what it says and how seriously to take it. I recognize the problems of *everyone* doing that, and the resulting lack of unity, but what else to do?

    I am in a process of discerning the reliability of the Bible, and the likelihood of its god existing. I want to believe in a loving God who cares about the people He has made, in Whom there is found ultimate purpose to everything. But there is no point to believing anything, however comforting, that is not objectively true.

    Lord have mercy. (If He’s there.) I think I’m an agnostic.

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  104. NJ,

    I took a church history class once and in the lecture I heard the the term perspicuity of scripture at least 20 times, you gave me a flash back………..

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  105. ishy,

    No I understand what you are saying, really I do.

    I am talking strictly about the Greek autographs, we have them, and the textual variants not withstanding, we know what the Greek says, and if you disregard ALL of the textual variants will still have an intact New Testament.

    We may draw different conclusions because of our personal assumptions of the sacred text

    I am well aware that a lot of people on this blog disagree with the above statement, I am not condemning anyone, I respect everyone’s one right to a different view.

    I read constantly on here about the ambiguity of the Bible, and we can’t depend on it, I just wanting to say that all though I really enjoy the diversity of everyone on this site, for me it is settled.

    With no hard feelings at anyone, and I don’t feel superior to anyone here, I just wanting to say that I do believe God is powerful enough to preserve his word.

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  106. Benn: A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.

    Yes, but do we need “inrerency” for an idea of a straight line.” We have Jesus himself, and we have scripture pointing to him.

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  107. Elastigirl, stuff like Leviticus of course needs to be handled prudently with younger kids. Teenagers should be shown everything, as far as I am concerned. Heck, I think Ezekiel has a passage where God compares His idolatrous people with those who practice bestiality with horses and donkeys, using rather earthy language.

    I don’t know if your dad believes in hell as a state of eternal conscious torment, but that would explain his reaction to you. It’s largely why I haven’t said anything to my mom. With stakes like that, of course she’d keep badgering me, especially if the kids are involved. My dad is not a Christian as far as I know, although my mom likes to think he probably is.

    You’re absolutely right about relationships with one’s parents being emotionally complex. Due to my experiences growing up in church with religious fervor all around me in the pews or seats, I am uncomfortable with low church Christianity, as well as talking about spiritual things with my mom. Some of that is my personality, which I seem to have inherited from my dad. Honoring your father and mother per the commandment, isn’t always easy even if it’s generally a good idea.

    I gotta get into work. Be back later.

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  108. dee: Years ago, I had a crisis of faith caused by learning that the woman caught in adultery is not found I n the earliest manuscripts. Oddly enough, it was this that caused Bart Ehrman to leave the faith. So, I spent a few years reading books by atheists, agnostics, and a bunch of other faiths.

    It’s a wonder I came out of the Calvary Chapel cult with an intact faith myself.
    I learned over time (for me) that it (faith) doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition.

    From that angle, it doesn’t matter (for me) if such and such turns out to be not true, I pick and choose from the vast panoply that is the Bible what has resonance for me and what does not.

    In other words I do not require Scripture to have absolute linearization.

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  109. Benn: So you don’t hold to any form of biblical inerrancy?

    I wrangled with his for *literally* decades, after my closest friend went *liberal* on me in the eighties. It seemed that we always circled back to the issue of inerrancy. My current perspective is similar to what I once so hotly rejected, but was unequipped to process at the time.

    Being brought up in christianese from the cradle, I had a good many deeply ingrained presuppositions, which I did not recognize as such. My dear friend, raised similarly, was gentle, kind and understanding. She neither condemned me for being ignorant or dogmatic, nor challenged me with concepts I was not prepared to handle.

    It was only after a traumatic spiritual (Calvinist) experience that the stranglehold of my preconceived notions was finally broken. I found myself eager to consider various perspectives, as I sought to make sense of scripture on my own. I was determined to access as many viewpoints and interpretations as I could find, finding it a healthy exercise in critical thinking.

    One day a light bulb came on, and I found myself rethinking inerrancy. Perhaps echoing questions my friend long ago posited, I thought:

    Even IF I had authentic, original autographs (which few, if any claim to have verified copies of;
    even IF I was fluent in the original languages;
    even IF there was a voice from heaven that declared the full and true cannon;
    I would still be faced with the task of comprehending the meaning of the perfect, authentic, original verified ‘Word of God’ in my hands.

    I should have known this. I studied English, journalism, psychology – understanding discourse is a difficult process, particularly when complicated by a deceitful enemy (Satan and/or his minions) who uses all manner of tactics to confuse and mislead the hearer concerning what God intended to convey. Was this not how sin entered into creation, as Satan used deceptive and misleading language to deceive Adam and Eve into distrusting God’s agenda?

    I now consider’inerrancy of scripture’ to be nothing more than a red herring, used by those who seek to assert their particular views and interpretations as unquestionably authoritative. Among the questions one might ask the defenders of inerrancy are:

    Which version of scripture do you assert is the true, inerrant translation?
    If KJV, how does one account for various changes from the original KJV translation to the present?
    Which authentic transcripts do you hold this inerrant translation to be the perfect representation of, and where might one obtain reliable copies?
    Do you assert that no copying, printing or other transmission errors have occurred in the creation of ancient or modern copies of scripture?
    Do you consider inconsequential the issues of grammar, punctuation, time indicators, chapter and verse numbering, etc. in the translation and interpretation of scripture from one language and time period to another?
    Why (if Protestant) do you trust the cannon that was decided upon by what you consider to be a ‘corrupt’ Christian church?
    Which religious authority decides what is literal and what is metaphorical? Where are such determinations documented? [Do those who claim all scriptural is literal truly believe that David emerged from the womb with the ability to talk, that camels can go through the eyes of needles or that Jesus intended people to cut off their hands?]

    I would encourage people to ponder the fact that words, on their own, do not have unchanging, precise meanings. The same exact words, spoken by different persons, in different settings with different tones and inflections, can have entirely different meanings. If you are bilingual, or know someone for whom English is a second language, you know how easily one can be confused by various usages of the same words, particularly when written. Minus tone and setting, and with limited understanding, it is very easy to misread sarcasm, metaphor and slang, among other things.

    Scholars refer to the effects that our preconceptions, knowledge, life experience, etc. have on our interpretation of scripture as hermeneutics. We never come to scripture with a blank slate, but bring lots and lots of invisible baggage, which shapes how we understand the words and concepts presented in scripture. The very same hermeneutics were in play for the translators who gave us our English translations; along with potential religious, political and social pressures that we have little knowledge of.

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  110. TS00,

    Trying to find a good reference, but I have also come across the idea that the early Church Fathers viewed Jesus as ‘THE WORD OF GOD’, not so much the scriptures that were written by mere men. The scriptures attested to THE WORD, which was Jesus. It would give an entirely different understanding than that which is commonly taught by fundagelicalism. As some ‘Liberals’ suggest, maybe we should look to the example of what Jesus said and did, more than doctrines created by how various writers dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s. The perfect, unerring manifestation of God’s love is the sacrificial life and death of Jesus – a truth which cannot be distorted by imperfect translation.

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  111. TS00: Trying to find a good reference, but I have also come across the idea that the early Church Fathers viewed Jesus as ‘THE WORD OF GOD’, not so much the scriptures that were written by mere men.

    To my mind, John – the disciple whom Jesus loved – was very much taken by this idea. The Word that “was with God in the beginning” predates any scriptures. The same Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, with glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, transcends any scripture.

    There has always been this weird streak among inerrantists; they seem to need to believe that after the Word became Flesh, it became words again, because Jesus was just a blip.

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  112. Nick Bulbeck: There has always been this weird streak among inerrantists; THEY… [emphasis added]

    Hmm. No, I can’t leave that without apology. Inerrantists are not “they”, because as a new Christian I too latched onto inerrancy. I believed all that stuff too, and that alone shows that I am not better than anyone who believes it.

    Your longer comment was very thought-provoking; I wish I could say I wrangled for decades, but in fact my shaking free of inerrancy had much more to do with ageing and dumb luck…

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  113. Benn: Once anyone gives up on the inerrancy of scripture, truly any belief is easily within reach or acceptance.

    I keep coming back to this. Not sure exactly what you mean, so please forgive denseness.

    The following argument is often trotted out: If you don’t literally believe every word of the Bible, then there’s nothing to stop you from committing mass murder and trying to marry your cat.

    Nevertheless, most religions and nations manage to agree that mass murder and cat-marrying are not to be done. (I’m not making fun of you here: folks who set up these straw-man arguments like to add goofy examples to silence disagreement.)

    What would be an example of applying inerrancy to daily life?

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  114. Charis:
    Max,

    I attended CU when it was only a “college” and part of the GARBC conference and Dixon was president. My understanding is that Dr Brown paved the way for CU switch affiliations from GARB to SBC. Many (staff, faculty, students) were unhappy about this change – especially as it was done on the DL. I was on staff when Brown became president.

    There were several other changes that took place under Dr Brown and the subsequent changing of the guard that happened w/ Dr White.

    Also of note: White is on the council of CBMW.

    So, yes – CU fits very well with the new SBC movement. They also align with 9Marks – which was just hosted at their Pastors’ Conference in November.

    What does “on the DL” mean, and what is CBMW?

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  115. Nuttshell:
    I was at Cedarville when Jeremy Kimble was hired there. If my memory serves me well, he followed the president, Thomas White and the dean of the School of Biblical Studies (a glorified department), Jason Lee from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where non other than Paige Patterson was president. I also attached Grace for a few short months but decided it wasn’t for me. Grace is a GARBC (well at least when I was there) as was Cedarville but the university distanced itself from the GARBC and is slowly being taken over by SBC. Grace may be part of that as well as Kimble is probably a SB, too.

    What does a “glorified department” mean for the School of Biblical Studies?

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  116. Benn,
    Hurrying off the confirmation class but let me make a quick comment. You haven’t been reading here too carefully. I do not believe that the Bible is ambiguous when it comes to the big issues. I believe in the inspired nature of Scripture and I understand how we got our canon and know that our Bible is one of the best documented books in history.

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  117. elastigirl,

    NJ: I don’t know if your dad believes in hell as a state of eternal conscious torment, but that would explain his reaction to you. It’s largely why I haven’t said anything to my mom. With stakes like that, of course she’d keep badgering me, especially if the kids are involved.

    This might feel compassionate to some Christian parents, but. In my view (and family experience), there’s not enough difference between weeping “My ___ is going to hel1” and screaming “You’re going to hel1.” I just wish all of Christendom would give up the reflexive condemnation and gut-wrenching worry about this. Surely God has more to offer than threats.

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  118. Jojo: What does “on the DL” mean, and what is CBMW?

    Not sure about “DL”, but “CBMW” stands for Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood which defines gender roles according to Calvinist interpretation of Scripture … which essentially subordinates female believers into submission to men in and out of church. Jesus, of course, said there was to be no distinction between race, class and gender.

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  119. Friend,

    I know you weren’t. I just wanted to make a point that I beleive that the majority of Christians in the world could (and do) affirm the statements in the nicene and Apostle Creed even if they do not believe they should repeat a creed.

    I usually ask people if they have read the Bible and how do their beliefs line up with it. If the person says they don’t “agree with verses *so and so* and they appear to have thought about it, I don’t get into arguments,ents with them. I usually tell them that I am more concerned about the account I have to give for my life when I appear before Him. In the end, we all will have some ‘splaining to do. 🙂

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  120. dee: Years ago, I had a crisis of faith caused by learning that the woman caught in adultery is not found In the earliest manuscripts.

    I had a crisis of faith as a child when I started reading Scripture on my own and discovered that Noah didn’t take one pair of every animal … he took 7 pairs of some species! Later, I read that Jesus was 2 years old living in a house when the wise men found him, not as a baby at the manger. And there weren’t 3 wise men, there was a group of wise men bearing three gifts. I thought to myself “If they’ve lied to me about this stuff, what else have they lied to me about?!” As silly as it might seem, that launched a lifetime of disciplined Bible study in which I allowed the Holy Spirit to teach me, not mere men.

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  121. Ken P.: What does “on the DL” mean

    It means on the “down low”, or done without any announcement of their actions

    Oh, I see … that’s done all the time by patriarchal, autocratic, narcissistic New Calvinist church leaders.

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  122. Mr. Jones:
    “9 Marks claims to be about “building healthy churches””

    I think you meant wealthy…

    Bahahaha! True!

    Honestly, I think their whole obsession with church discipline is probably hurting them in the wealth department….

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  123. Serious question….

    I’ve never seen a serious need to church discipline anyone before, as I think most things that require church discipline are also crimes that should be handled by the police.

    However, what if a member of your church is always demanding that people leave because they disagree on minor issues? Done it to multiple people who were thinking about joining and hadn’t yet, and more who were members, and most of the issues weren’t even related to the church but personal.

    Basically, this person wants to keep the church only to friends who agree with them. It’s something that infuriates me and not what the church is about. Talking to that person about this has failed. Do you ask them not to come back if they won’t stop?

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  124. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Thank you, Muslin! Seneca’s comment chapped my grits.

    Seneca grinds a lot of people’s grits.
    He’s been put into semi-permanent moderation here at TWW in times past.
    Back then he called himself ‘Jimmy’.

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  125. ishy,

    Ishy, it sounds to me like it’s time to involve the pastor and/or elders. In a Presbyterian church, the first person to go to would be the offender’s shepherding elder. If anyone else has observed this behavior, bring them along, in accordance with Matthew 18. There is another passage where Paul teaches to warn a divisive person once, then a second time if necessary, then to have nothing to do with them. That could include excommunication, if the offender is unrepentant and is obviously trying to take over the church.

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  126. ishy: And let’s be honest, most evangelicals claim inerrancy without adherence to the Greek manuscripts. They use their preferred English translation and have never studied Greek to know there are some really problematic differences. I’ve actually stopped a few people from brandishing their English Bibles at me in asking them to define inspired and inerrant, because it had never occurred to them that Paul didn’t write in English.

    There are some King James Version Only people (mostly of the Peter Ruckman school), who believe the KJV is “advanced revelation” and better than the Greek texts. Of course, then you ask them, “do you mean the 1611 version or the 1769 5th edition?” and they give a weird look. Most of them don’t realize the version commonly called the King James Version at least here in America is the 5th edition. 🙂

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  127. TS00,

    “Just appreciate the tears as misguided concern. Keep living a full life, and know that, whether he realizes it or not, your father no doubt sees the difference between what you do and what so many ‘faithful attenders’ call christianity.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    Thanks for the kind words. i know he loves me.

    he actually apologized to me today for his part in the troubling conversation we had a few days ago.

    not sure exactly where he stands on things, but i was able to communicate to him how his views are so hurtful, and unreasonable (as i see it). he was very humble and kind.

    In the recent past we’ve agreed to steer clear politics in our conversation. i think it might be wise to steer clear of matters of faith, as well. conflict central. he is too special, as is our relationship, to put ourselves and each other through the shredder on purpose.

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  128. Benn,

    “If he can’t preserve his word, he is not all powerful to do anything else, ( IMHO). Respectfully submitted…..”
    ++++++++++++++

    God didn’t preserve the original writings from being redacted by others. is God therefore not all powerful?

    if a hypothetical Dead Sea Scrolls, Part 2 should ever emerge which are older and demonstrate that some of the texts in our bible are unreliable, does that mean God is not all-powerful? is God no longer who & what we thought?

    humans are the ones who call the bible “God’s Word”.

    it’s helpful and i find it full of inspiration… even so, no one really knows what God thinks of all the writings (redactions & all) that a group of people decided to canonize.

    my thesis statement: the bible is the glass we see through dimly — the dim reflection of God, who is far too big to be adequately explained in human words.

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  129. NJ,

    “I don’t know if your dad believes in hell as a state of eternal conscious torment, but that would explain his reaction to you.”
    +++++++++++++++

    well, it’s hard for me to believe that he believes that my name and that of my kids is being erased from the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    i think he’s been so deep in christian culture his entire life, the chief tenet of which is to be very afraid of what is outside. “The World”. The evil Worldly World, which is everything, everyone, & everywhere outside the church bubble.

    when he observes me, his family, not conforming to christian culture in practice, routine, and method, he panics — like a machine with buttons pressed in a pattern it doesn’t recognize, and it seizes up.

    he’s been conditioned to be terrified of what is outside the church bubble. he would vehemently disagree, but his reflexive responses demonstrate otherwise.

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  130. Jeffrey j chalmers,

    Good point. YEC is an expression of the belief that the first chapters of genesis are inspired by God – but that’s only a theory. It also depends on the assertion that these particular passages must be read and interpreted in one way, whereas other passages (such as those asserting that those who believe in Jesus will perform miracles) must NOT be read and interpreted that way. But that’s only a meta-theory – that is, a theory about a theory.

    On the rare occasions I encounter proponents of YEC who insist that the bible is god’s word and must be interpreted in that way, I always ask them: How do you know? Were you there?

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  131. elastigirl: i think he’s been so deep in christian culture his entire life, the chief tenet of which is to be very afraid of what is outside. “The World”. The evil Worldly World, which is everything, everyone, & everywhere outside the church bubble.

    You know, it’s one thing to develop such a mindset in places where there has been decades or centuries of systematic persecution against Christians. I find it hard to understand why anyone would freely choose to live like that. And yet, some people do. Sometimes I wonder if they need to hear the truths of the gospel all over again. Or maybe they’ve only heard a truncated version. I know I didn’t begin to hear snippets of a truly liberating gospel of Jesus until within the last several years, and I grew up in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, from birth. Went to Cedarville when it was GARBC. Was in the PCA since 2000. Seems like some orthodox Lutherans are almost the only people articulating it.

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  132. NJ:
    Ishy, it sounds to me like it’s time to involve the pastor and/or elders.

    Oh, multiple pastors have witnessed this behavior. Pretty much the whole church has (they’ve done it in open church meetings). And it’s more than one person, but this group has been acting this way for a long time, believing their tenure lets them decide who’s in and who’s out. Our pastors changed this year, and the new pastor was actually put in this church to deal with some of these problem people. They did reorganize the structure a bit (following new conference guidelines), and managed to pull this group apart in doing so, but I personally don’t think that’s enough.

    Thing is, I don’t think anyone else would consider asking them to leave, because that’s not a nice, Christian thing to do. I do think churches have the ability to remove people. I don’t think they can “ex-communicate”, but they can ban people from coming if they are abusive or causing major problems. I think scaring away honest people seeking God is definitely a major problem.

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  133. Benn, responding to T500’s specific question looking for a legitimate use of the phrase “inerrancy of scripture”:

    John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word, and the Word with God, and the word was God. (NASB)
    John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, ….. NASB)
    Hebrews 6:18 God did this so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, .( NASB)

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  134. Benn, responding to a specific question from TSOO regarding a legitimate, non-hijacked usage of the term “inerrancy of scripture”:

    John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word, and the Word with God, and the word was God. (NASB)
    John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, ….. NASB)
    Hebrews 6:18 God did this so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, .( NASB)

    The first two verses you quoted refer very explicitly to Jesus himself, and not to the bible. Indeed the bible as such did not exist when, according to christian tradition, John wrote those words. The bible would not be compiled (by a series of church councils) until centuries later.

    The third verse you quoted refers very explicitly to God’s promise to Abraham and the oath God himself made, confirming it by the cutting of a covenant with Abraham. It does not refer to the bible.

    Paul made an odd observation to the Galatian church: see what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Whatever else Paul meant by that, it does illustrate something: the text that is now known as the bible was written with human hands. Once you take something made with human hands, and equate it to – even elevate it above – someone who is NOT made with human hands, then indeed any doctrine or fad becomes easily believable.

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  135. Nick Bulbeck: On the rare occasions I encounter proponents of YEC…

    To clarify, I meant: face to face in real life. YEC is nothing like as prominent or prevalent in Blighty as it is in the US.

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  136. Nick Bulbeck: On the rare occasions I encounter proponents of YEC who insist that the bible is god’s word and must be interpreted in that way, I always ask them: How do you know? Were you there?

    As a firm believer in the Bible as God’s Word and having a long career as a scientist/technologist living in the US South I’ve had to deal often with the YEC/OEC chasm. I believe God knew when He gave us the Bible dictated to a prescientific world that it would still be read and have to be interpreted many thousand years in the future. The first 9 chapters of Genesis are purposely allegorical for precisely this reason.

    The origin of our universe, first life and the intellectual capabilities of our species developed in an, by evolutionary time scales, exceedingly short time are specifically mentioned as being due to God in Genesis.

    Currently there is a very strong assumption that life is a natural occurrence and must be common elsewhere in the universe and signs of it are diligently sought. A single example of intelligent life elsewhere would confirm the assumptions. However, the universe is so vast that no amount of searching could provide a negative answer.

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  137. dee: I know I cannot explain in in a way that will 100% help you to understand. I lead a group of kids in confirmation. I have explained it in many ways; my personal favorite being 1 What and 3 Who’s.

    However, there is a problem in trying to explain it so all of us can fully understand it, even for me. If we are talking about a God, who created the vast universe that we can see and even, perhaps, multi parallel universes, filled with untold wonders (like black holes)we are attempting to understand a Being far beyond our ability to fully comprehend Him.

    We are mortal-He is immortal. We are limited to time and place. He is omnipresent and exists outside of the construct of time. In fact, many scientists look at time as a dimension in itself. He can enter our time dimensionbut He is also outside of that as well.

    In other words, our attempt to fully apprehend a Triune God who is both one and three is beyond our present capabilities. In fact, for those of us who believe in a new world to come with newly created bodies for our souls, we may still not be able to fully comprehend it. We are created. He is not.

    I once heard someone say that us trying to comprehend God is like a mollusk attempting to comprehend us. It is, in some ways, impossible.

    However, I do not believe that the Trinity was dreamed up in order to stay monotheistic. Go back go Genesis. Even there God is referencing Himself as a *We.* God gave us a book that merely includes the beginning of who He is and what He expects of us.

    Maybe, in the end, you cannot fully comprehend this because your brain, like mine is (to use a Grinch descriptor during this Advent season) two sizes too small.

    In some respects, the whole Garden of Eden fiasco occurred because Adam and Eve insisted on fully understanding so that they could be like gods themselves. The answer is clear- we cannot.

    I supposed that you are stuck with two options. 1. The universe just is. It has no meaning and it existed, exists and will exists for all eternity. That’s all there is so make the best of it. There is no hope for something more. We are just a lucky accident so enjoy it while you can. Too bad for those suffering. They are essentially screwed. 2. The Universe was created by an eternal being being who is a bit difficult to understand. Somehow that being loves us and wants us to be with Him in eternity.

    As I look at the beauty of the world around me, I am grateful to have someone to thank. When I watched little children dying in the surgical oncology floor when my daughter suffered with her brain tumor, I’m grateful that I had the hope that these children, including my daughter, would one day live a life in eternity without pain and suffering. I’m glad that I can believe that there is something much, much more than then the pain and suffering that I see around me.

    For me, there is a God who is so much bigger than I can ever comprehend and I look forward to getting to know him for all of eternity.

    Excellent reply!

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  138. elastigirl: well, it’s hard for me to believe that he believes that my name and that of my kids is being erased from the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    i think he’s been so deep in christian culture his entire life, the chief tenet of which is to be very afraid of what is outside. “The World”. The evil Worldly World, which is everything, everyone, & everywhere outside the church bubble.

    when he observes me, his family, not conforming to christian culture in practice, routine, and method, he panics — like a machine with buttons pressed in a pattern it doesn’t recognize, and it seizes up.

    he’s been conditioned to be terrified of what is outside the church bubble. he would vehemently disagree, but his reflexive responses demonstrate otherwise.

    I am glad that you were able to have some meaningful communication with your father on the subject. Sounds to me like you understand his problem well. That generation, and ours, have been trained to think purely reflexively – as they have been programmed. Many simply cannot go far in complex, deductive reasoning, as they have been trained since childhood to churn out the official ‘right’ answer to everything.

    I believe that people like us are escaping the machine. This is very frightening to our parents, loved ones and, in my case, spouse. My dear sister says ‘Surely, after 30+ years of living with you, your spouse would see, whether you attend church or not, the pureness of your heart, the genuineness of your love for God and the reality of your desire to help others?’

    And yet, the programming is so powerful, it is like presenting them with a butterfly without wings or a skunk without a stripe – such things are unnatural, if not impossible, in their well-conditioned minds. I have pretty much given up hope of ever convincing such people that I am anything but a rebellious heathen, and always will be unless I return to the fold. The last question my mother always asks on the phone is ‘Are you going to church?’ Argghhhh . . . as if all the prior conversation on my studies and my growth never even took place! When I gently point it out, she says “I know, I know, but . . .”

    Going to church is, for her, and most ‘christians’ the sole measuring stick of who’s ‘in’. And they cannot see the absurdity of such a measure. It’s akin to the deliberately conditioned thinking that only a white person who speaks English as a first language can be ‘American’. Thank God he recognizes all of his sheep, even the ‘heathen’ ones like me.

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  139. elastigirl: so, what does it mean when person A and person B have different interpretive conclusions, yet neither deny the inerrancy of scripture?

    As a Baptist I say you call him/her brother/sister. You leave the non-essentials to the other persons conscience. Because most of all in non-essentials, a-hum, I might be wrong.

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  140. Ken A: For me, there is a God who is so much bigger than I can ever comprehend and I look forward to getting to know him for all of eternity.

    Isn’t this ‘fear of God’ the beginning of knowledge?

    Once we come to understand that all of our beliefs about God, science and the world are ‘Theories’, we can overcome our arrogance and superiority. Many of our preferred theories have undergone massive reformulation, or entirely replaced former ‘approved’ theories. Any or all may someday be tossed aside for better, more complete theories.

    Like the doctrine of the Trinity, modern physics is replete with unanswered questions and workarounds. And yet, the ‘questions’ are rarely admitted by those who uphold the authoritative ‘Truth’ of Science and Religion. Isn’t it time we admitted that our knowledge and understanding is incomplete, and nearly all proclaimed ‘certainty’ a lie?

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  141. ishy: And most Christians, and I’m pretty sure you are included, have no way to know what the author’s “original intent” was in many places. You can guess, but you don’t know. There’s a lot of ways to interpret that and you don’t live in that culture. Not that people can’t know, if if Christians were really honest about finding the true meaning, they would admit they didn’t know a lot of answers.

    I don’t mean to be insulting. But this argument makes no sense to me. There are thousands of manuscript still in existence from NT to many, many secular or other than biblical sources written in the language of the New Testament. It has been poured over for centuries. We may not be able to understand every last nuance of every word, but we have a pretty good idea about most all of what is written in the New Testament. It is reliable. So many translations that even a diligent non ancient Greek speaker can figure it out if he will take the time.

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  142. Ken A: You leave the non-essentials to the other persons conscience.

    Is soteriology, God’s plan of salvation, a “non-essential”? Al Mohler thinks it is. He developed a theological triage a few years ago to defend New Calvinism, tossing soteriology into the secondary/tertiary stack of things to be concerned about.

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  143. Max: Is soteriology, God’s plan of salvation, a “non-essential”?Al Mohler thinks it is.He developed a theological triage a few years ago to defend New Calvinism, tossing soteriology into the secondary/tertiary stack of things to be concerned about.
    Max, I am not an Al Mohler fan. But I doubt this. If you mean that believing in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for ones sins is the essential belief for salvation. Again there are many things I would disagree with Mohler about, but last time I looked they still have the Billy Graham School of Evangelism at SBTS. Billy Graham was no Calvinist.

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  144. Ken A: If you mean that believing in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for ones sins is the essential belief for salvation. Again there are many things I would disagree with Mohler about, but last time I looked they still have the Billy Graham School of Evangelism at SBTS. Billy Graham was no Calvinist.

    I was referring to soteriology in terms of “Predestined Elect” vs. “Whosoever Will May Come.” Southern Baptists for the last 150 years have focused evangelistic efforts and missions on the latter. Mohler’s SBC does not. To Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists, the “world” means every person, of every tribe, of every nation … to Mohler’s New Calvinists, that is reduced to the world of the elect. That difference effects the message of the Cross of Christ … limited or unlimited atonement … and how that message is delivered by the messenger in regard to reformed tenets of faith … 90+% of Christendom worldwide have rejected Calvinistic belief and practice. There may be a Billy Graham School of Evangelism at SBTS, but Dr. Graham called whosoever-will-may-come to the Cross.

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  145. ___

    Agents Of Holiness:“The Pursuit Of Love And Good Deeds, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Respectfully, An intelligent and discerning Christian public will comprehend that this 501c3 not-for-profit church establishment promotes a voluntary closed limited membership fellowship based solely upon the holy scriptures.

    1 Peter 4:8 NIV – Above all, love each other deeply, – Bible …

    ATB

    Sòpy
    —-
    References:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qqh8IIaACz0
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l1Nk7WKV-a8
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_BiADekC16o
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_-cTaVT3fZg
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_BiADekC16o
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_BiADekC16o
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_BiADekC16o

    ;~)

    – –

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  146. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    I believe in a old earth.In the past I have been told by a number of people that such belief is in violation of scripture.Cederville Unversity is a “young earth” institution, presumably that church is also.So, one can assume, based on their definition, that a member of the church COULD be placed under church disciple for believing modern physics and geology.

    It also wouldn’t be surprising that if these kind of churches disappoved of how their parishioners voted, it could be a case for discipline and eventually excommunication if they don’t repent.

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  147. Nick Bulbeck,

    “Ye are fond of contention, brethren, and full of zeal about things which do not pertain to salvation. Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them.” (Clement of Rome, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians).

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  148. Ken A: We may not be able to understand every last nuance of every word, but we have a pretty good idea about most all of what is written in the New Testament. It is reliable. So many translations that even a diligent non ancient Greek speaker can figure it out if he will take the time.

    That’s not what I meant. What I wrote relates back specifically to Benn’s definition of inerrancy, which is determining author intent, not literal words. Just because you can read Greek and have reliable manuscripts doesn’t mean you understand the intent behind them and have the same cultural understanding that author did. We are 2,000 years out in totally different cultures.

    You didn’t understand the intent behind my words in your response, and we’re probably in similar cultures. How much more so would that be true in very different cultures and time periods.

    Huge theological disagreements exist because of culture, viewpoint, and personal inclinations. The wide range of arguments about free will and predestination are because people perceive those literal words in very different ways. Most of those people are absolutely convinced their reading of intent is correct. I do think we should always keep seeking for meaning and intent in the Bible, but we should also carry an expectation that we probably aren’t smart enough to get it until we meet Jesus.

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  149. Ken A: Billy Graham School of Evangelism at SBTS

    Just because they still call it that doesn’t mean they are still teaching according to Billy Graham’s beliefs.

    The Itinerant Evangelism degree requires almost the same classes as a pastoral degree.

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  150. elastigirl: my thesis statement: the bible is the glass we see through dimly — the dim reflection of God, who is far too big to be adequately explained in human words.

    Great thesis statement!

    This is where I’m at too.

    The only thing I could add would be this:

    The Bible suffers from the same two ills that ‘Science’ is plagued with.
    Not giving it the credence it deserves at one extreme, and making way too much of it at the other.

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  151. Ken A: I read this with a very heavy heart. I am saddened that no one could explain the Trinity to you in a way that you can “understand”. Too often in our scientific culture we want to have everything explained so we can “understand”. When we are talking about God, the creator and all powerful being that is responsible for our very existence and the existence of everything we see, is it even possible that I should expect that I can “understand” Him? If I could understand everything about God would he even be a god worth knowing?

    I appreciate the sentiment. What you describe in your comment is the very nature of faith. An explanation is not required for those that believe. I used to be in that bucket so I completely understand. What I was trying to get across to elastigirl was that attempting to explain the unexplainable leads to confusion. My wife’s family converted from a Buddhist/Muslim background to Christianity back in the sixties and it wasn’t because someone could explain the Trinity to them.

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  152. ishy: I do think we should always keep seeking for meaning and intent in the Bible, but we should also carry an expectation that we probably aren’t smart enough to get it until we meet Jesus.

    Exactly. I suppose that is my primary concern with New Calvinism. They firmly believe that they alone “get it” and are out and about to convince the rest of us – even if it takes stealth and deception – to follow them.

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  153. ishy: Billy Graham School of Evangelism at SBTS

    Just because they still call it that doesn’t mean they are still teaching according to Billy Graham’s beliefs.

    In their heart of hearts, New Calvinists at SBTS do not believe in the evangelistic message preached by the namesake of their school. You would never find them preaching, as Graham, with an urgency for ALL men to come to faith in Christ … never find them bowing a knee to assist a lost man with a sinner’s prayer … never find them pleading for folks to accept Christ.

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  154. Nick Bulbeck:

    The first two verses you quoted refer very explicitly to Jesus himself, and not to the bible. Indeed the bible as such did not exist when, according to christian tradition, John wrote those words. The bible would not be compiled (by a series of church councils) until centuries later.

    The third verse you quoted refers very explicitly to God’s promise to Abraham and the oath God himself made, confirming it by the cutting of a covenant with Abraham. It does not refer to the bible.

    Paul made an odd observation to the Galatian church: see what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Whatever else Paul meant by that, it does illustrate something: the text that is now known as the bible was written with human hands. Once you take something made with human hands, and equate it to – even elevate it above – someone who is NOT made with human hands, then indeed any doctrine or fad becomes easily believable.

    Nick,

    My point was/is. Jesus equates himself with the word, I don’t feel you can separate Jesus from his word, just as he said, if you have seen me, you’ve seen the Farther.

    Not trying to be mean, but imho, if we separate from the written word, we do it at our own peril…

    Obviously we are all free to disagree with this,

    Max advises all to read and remember the words of Jesus when we are reading Paul, I agree, but also remember Paul was selected to take the gospel to the gentiles, and to author a large part of the New Testament.

    2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God, ( Greek-theopneustos- literally God Breathed )

    So I believe Paul in his own personal way, wrote exactly what God/Jesus/Holy Spirit told him to say…

    So in my christian world view if God breathed it out, I’m gonna go with it..

    I understand we all change with the culture ( most all of us anyway, I’m not Amish ) there in lies the rub…

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  155. OldJohnJ,

    Two brief comments.
    The first is that Richard Baxter, somewhere in volume 1 of His Practical Works, theorises that on the basis of what he sees in Creation, there may be countless worlds where there is life. I’ll try and find the exact quotation.
    Second, a good primer or Introduction to Christian theology, is the one written by Alister F McGrath. In the section on Human Nature, Sin and Grace, he discusses Young-earth creationism, Old-earth creationism, Intelligent design, and Evolutionary theism. In summing up, he makes the following observation:- “Yet one point must be made in closing. When all is said and done, Darwinism is a scientific theory, provisional in its status and open to modification, correction, development, or even ultimate abandonment as the process of scientific advance continues. It may be the received scientific wisdom of our age; no study of the history of science would be unwise enough to suggest that it is necessarily, and possibly uniquely, immune to the process of radical theory change that has characterised scientific advance in the past. So what will this debate look like in a century? Will we have moved on, scientifically and theologically? I am no prophet, and have no answers on this. It would, however, be extremely unwise to suppose that the present age has settled, or even begun to settle, the question of the relationship between religious faith and the scientific exploration of the biological origins of life.”

    Until then I’ll continue to read Genesis on the basis that “God in His Word has given us information concerning creation that we could have received in no other way than by divine revelation, for no one was there to observe it, and it cannot be repeated as an experiment in a laboratory.” (Douglas Kelly: Creation and Change, Genesis 1.1-2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms).

    This also answers Nick Bulbeck’s rather trite remark “How do you know? We’re you there?”

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  156. elastigirl: how do you endure it? especially the music, & being a stoic lone island in the middle of a sea of religious fervor?

    thank you for your reply. it was very sensible.

    it’s difficult because it’s my parent. parent/child relationships are emotionally complex. never been one to give a flying fick about what anyone thinks of me. but a parent is different. and i am a disappointment to him.

    but it’s the world he comes from, and his generation. i’ve long overheard him and his siblings talking about their kids/nieces/nephews. “I wish they would come back to the Lord”…. all because some don’t attend church on Sundays and do vote democrat.

    I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not what I enjoy doing. As I mentioned, the family breakfast time after is a big incentive. So I guess I’m more hungry than stoic.

    I respect my wife and her faith. So yes, it’s a compromise. I do it of my own free will and I don’t fake a faith that I don’t feel. I don’t always go to every service, some topics I’m not willing to sit through – like young earth creationism or when they go of on a tear about LGBTQ folks.

    I understand that the parent child relationship is complex but if there is a God, he respects honesty, so faking it just to please people will eventually wear on your psyche. It’s not healthy. My relationship with my folks deteriorated so bad that I never reconciled with my dad before he died.

    Anyway, you’d be more unhappy faking it to please someone.

    Note: I got a “C” in psychology – the advice in this comment should not replace professional help.

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  157. Nick Bulbeck: Well, I’ve chosen, just like they have. Some of them don’t like it, though.

    You’ll never please everyone. Until Jesus comes down in a golden chariot to tell me what to do, I reckon we all make it up as we go along.

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  158. TS00,

    TS00

    We have replied a few times when Robert dive bombs in wth his its the Calvinist way or the highway tripe.

    I take some online classes with some Calvinist, most of them are similar to Robert, but a few are not,
    I find Calvinism a logical contradiction of God’s love for his creation.

    But to your bigger points about KJV only people , most of them are the older generation, and that is what was feed to them night and day, you won’t change their minds, so I don’t try anymore ( their hero is Peter S Ruckman )

    I like most all modern translations of the Bible, to name a few, NASB, NRSV, NIV 2008 version is best, ESV isn’t bad, has some Calvinist slant, enjoy the NEW Jerusalem Bible ( i believe it is a catholic bible, get the new version, the original Jerusalem Bible was written only in French) KJV is good but language is archaic, and was translated from a different text type ( Byzantine, as opposed to most modern bibles translations are from the alexandrian text type.)

    I said all that to say this, we really do know what the Greek autographs say, ( I know a lot of people on this site will spew coffee, but it’s true)

    The textual variants are many, but all major doctrines survive even the most strict examinations of the variants.

    So you won’t go wrong with any of the newer translations ( *** the new world translation is JW pipe dreams)

    Just pick one and let the spirit lead you through your past issues,

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  159. dee: I wish you well on your journey. Read the great intellects and try to figure out why they believed. It will be an interesting endeavor.

    Thanks! For what it’s worth, I have my own spirituality and have read a number of books both for and against religion, about religion, about atheism, about history (biblical and otherwise). I came to my opinions honestly and believe me, I wrestled mightily. I was Christian for most of my life so to even consider apostasy gave me many a sleepless night. Even now, I wait the lightening bolt to strike. The programming is hard to break!

    I’m not telling my kids there is no God, I’m letting them go to church and we’re talking about what they learn. I want them to look at the evidence so if they come to the conclusion that the universe was created then that’s ok. If they are told that people rode dinosaurs then that’s not ok.

    I don’t think the bible is literal. I don’t think there was a literal Adam and Eve that ate from a literal tree of knowledge, or that some guy killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad, or that a donkey talked.

    Did the resurrection happen? I don’t know.

    The bible makes some fantastic claims that have to be taken on faith but what really disturbs me is that the literal bible means that literal God was ok with the literal slaughter of literal cities. That was bronze age warfare – and everyone did it. And we don’t condone it (or shouldn’t).

    This is being used to control people. It’s being used to make money.

    That being said, being Christian doesn’t equate with not being a critical thinker. As you’ve mentioned, lots are.

    By the same token, just because I don’t have faith doesn’t mean I don’t care about human suffering. In fact it makes it all that more tragic. I do give to charity, I do volunteer and I don’t expect a mansion in heaven for it either. Just saying.

    Anyways happy journey to all!

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  160. Lowlandseer,

    Sorry, Old John J, The Baxter comment is from Volume 2 of his Practical Works, Page 198 in my Volume. He says
    “We have no great cause to think, that this Earth is Terra Ʋniversalis: I confess, since I have looked upon the Moon through a Tube, and since I have read what Galilaeus saith of it, and of Venus, and other Planets, I finde little reason to think that other Globes are not some of them like our Earth. ”

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  161. Check out what Al Mohler and fellow ‘Conservative’ Southern Baptist and TGC Councilmember David Dockery were saying about inerrancy circa 1990:

    http://media.sbhla.org.s3.amazonaws.com/7009,17-Aug-1990.PDF

    “Southern Baptists must understand the Bible is truthful, authoritative and is both a divine and human book, said Dockery.”

    “A lot of us get quite hung up on terms like inerrant and infallible,’ he said. ‘I think it is very possible to move the discussion forward and still talk about the nature of Scripture without using those particular red flag terms’…’I would prefer that we talk about the Scripture as truthful, reliable and authoritative and see it having to be the normative guide for the church, for our lives and for the Christian community'”

    “Another speaker, R. Albert Mohler Jr., editor of the Christian Index, newsjournal for Georgia Baptists…described inerrancy as ‘an important issue’ but it ‘isn’t the most important word about Scripture.'”

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  162. Muff Potter: The point being is that all this theological stuff is purely subjective, and different folks will have different strokes. This is celebrated in Judaism but generally frowned upon in Christianity.

    Boom! It is purely subjective. Two quotes come to mind:
    “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” Dr. Benjamin Spock
    “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you” Neil Degrasse Tyson
    Peace.

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  163. Jack: You’ll never please everyone.

    LOL! Ain’t that the truth. As this thread ably demonstrates! Sometimes, you just have to let comments refute themselves.

    As regards making it up as we go along – well, ethically and morally, I rather think I agree. As regards our physical surroundings and the universe in which we live: well, the Jesus described in the gospel accounts wasn’t afraid of evidence. I think the E-word is the one thing that creates a fundamental, qualitative difference between religion and science. The scientist, whether or not (s)he believes in God (and many do), can test his/her theories because they make concrete predictions that can be disproved if wrong. (S)he does this by gathering further evidence. This is something the religionist, whether a professing christian or not (and many aren’t), cannot do.

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  164. Lowlandseer: …Nick Bulbeck’s rather trite…

    Ah, Lowlandseer! If, indeed, there IS a resurrection, I’ll miss you when I’m in hell. You even managed (wrongly) to credit me with a spurious apostrophe.

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  165. Lowlandseer: This also answers Nick Bulbeck’s rather trite remark “How do you know? We’re you there?”

    Nick Bulbeck: You even managed (wrongly) to credit me with a spurious apostrophe.

    Lowland Seer-Nick was accurately quoting Ken Ham who seems to be the darling of the angry YE crowd. Besides, I shared dinner at a pub with Nick in Edinburgh. He thoughtfully ordered a burger with haggis on top to entertain me. Anyone who does this is a dear friend for life!

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  166. dee: I shared dinner at a pub with Nick in Edinburgh.

    I’ve been telling people the opposite: I had dinner with you. That is to say: the honour was mine!

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  167. It’s bedtime in Scotland, and I’ve an early start tomorrow, but one more thing before I hit the hay: I genuinely love haggis. And spiders.

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  168. Thank you, Max. I agree with you about what Jesus said.

    Max: Not sure about “DL”, but “CBMW” stands for Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood which defines gender roles according to Calvinist interpretation of Scripture … which essentially subordinates female believers into submission to men in and out of church.Jesus, of course, said there was to be no distinction between race, class and gender.

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  169. Nick Bulbeck: Dee – for you, I would even eat cucumber.

    What’s that wiseacre comment supposed to mean? Are you some sorta heretic, blaspheming cucumbers? Sheesh, ain’t nothin’ sacred around here . . .

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  170. Lowlandseer: The Baxter comment is from Volume 2 of his Practical Works, Page 198 in my Volume. He says …

    Thank you for the Baxter quote. I assume his writing is done with an awareness of current science.

    NASA has undertaken a very significant search for life beyond our solar system. The Kepler satellite found many earth like planets. Perhaps as many as 1 in a 1000 stars have an earth like planet circling them. The much delayed James Webb telescope, hopefully to launch in 2020, apparently has some capability for analyzing planetary atmospheres in nearby solar systems. The followup mission to Kepler, TESS, is now in earth orbit and searching for exoplanets to be examined by the Webb telescope. As I said in the my first comment the expectation for finding life somewhere else in out galaxy is high enough to drive the development of satellite systems that have the capability of determining if signs of life are present on planets of relatively close stars. Terrestrial based radio searches have not to date identified any signs of intelligence beyond our planet.

    Sadly, the YEC crowd appears purposely oblivious to current science.

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  171. Lowlandseer: It would, however, be extremely unwise to suppose that the present age has settled, or even begun to settle, the question of the relationship between religious faith and the scientific exploration of the biological origins of life.”

    You’ve piqued my interest in McGrath’s writings, and he makes a good point, one which has been borne out in real-world-real-time-history.

    Did you know that Geocentrism once had iron-clad math rigor based on what could be observed and measured?

    More importantly, its predictions could could be verified in an unassailable system that was taught in all of Europe’s universities until it was upended by Kepler.

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  172. Benn:
    The proper interpretation of scripture ( hermeneuticlly), can never be a different interpretation than what the author intended, or what the author spoke to the original recipient ( exegesis) in the comment I originally made to truth seeker in regards to Paul and the Church at Corininth.

    Absolutely 100% agree! I always try to understand a text from the point of view of the original author and audience. Not to say that I am always right, but sometimes, I get opposition from Christians who think my interpretation is wrong even though I believe I come from a stronger position because I do consider the intent of the original author/ audience and the cultural context the text was written in. A lot of these Christians tell me the original cultural context etc. is not important. I disagree with this.

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  173. Lily Rose: Absolutely 100% agree! I always try to understand a text from the point of view of the original author and audience. Not to say that I am always right, but sometimes, I get opposition from Christians who think my interpretation is wrong even though I believe I come from a stronger position because I do consider the intent of the original author/ audience and the cultural context the text was written in. A lot of these Christians tell me the original cultural context etc. is not important. I disagree with this.

    Lily rose you are correct, we try to make all scripture make sense for us, scripture can be divided into two categories, prescriptive ( what is God prescribing to the original people of the epistles, and possibly for future believers), and descriptive ( describing something, that future believers are not held to, or required to do, e.g.
    Romans 16:13 Paul says greet Rufus, I used to joke with my kids while they were at college, did you remember to greet Rufus today…

    And it is no great mystery that we in 2018, struggle to discern one from the other, we have so many denominations

    We have —-de noma ( number and divide) the nation ( believers ). If you don’t believe everything exactly like I do you can’t be in my club.

    Groucho Marx, had a great line,he said he would never be a member of any organization that would allow himself to be a member…

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  174. dee,

    Although Nick wasn’t there, the point is that God was there and as I said in my reply to Old John J, we would never have known the truth had God not revealed it to us.

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  175. Benn: Groucho Marx, had a great line,he said he would never be a member of any organization that would allow himself to be a member…

    His little-known brother Nein Marx, OTOH, wouldn’t allow him to quit once he did become one, saying, “Brothers, don’t allow your people to resign into thin air.” Or something like that.

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  176. Nick Bulbeck,

    I would much rather we met in more convivial settings. I’m sure this is only a passing phase. Sometimes when you come off the mountains you need to walk through valley to get to your car etc.
    What’s an apostrophe between friends?…..oh hang on!
    Continued best wishes, Nick

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  177. Nick Bulbeck: The scientist, whether or not (s)he believes in God (and many do), can test his/her theories because they make concrete predictions that can be disproved if wrong. (S)he does this by gathering further evidence. This is something the religionist, whether a professing christian or not (and many aren’t), cannot do.

    Nick with all do respect, I regard this as poppycock. I believe what I believe about God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, faith, etc. because that is where the evidence leads. Just for starters on the existence of God. Where did everything in the Universe come from? The facts are. Religion gives the only plausible explanation. The Atheist has no answer that makes sense. The Atheist argument can be summarized as No one(there is no God) x took nothing = and made everything. The person who beilieve in God however has a much better answer. God made everything from nothing. See Genesis 1:1 and Hebrews 11:3. What is more logical? (0x0= Everything) or an all powerful, all knowing being created it with nothing from it? Science can not explain where everything (the universe) comes from. It can study the universe but can not tell where it came from.

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  178. Lowlandseer: This also answers Nick Bulbeck’s rather trite remark “How do you know? We’re you there?”

    That “trite remark” is a direct quote of More-YEC-Than-YEC Ken Ham — you know, the guy behind the Kentucky Creation Museum and the Ark Experience Theme Park? Ham’s Answers in Genesis (AIG) tells schoolkids to use that exact line to science teachers when Defending SCRIPTURE Against Godless Darwinism.

    It’s refreshing when you can use Hambone’s own words as a dig on him; or better yet, directly against him or his disciples.

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  179. Max: Is soteriology, God’s plan of salvation, a “non-essential”? Al Mohler thinks it is.

    And there are those who tunnel-vision on Soteriology to the exclusion of everything else.

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  180. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Yes, I was aware of the Ham link. I thought he was discredited a while ago after his team split and there were other concerns that he had become more interested in “getting donations” than actually delivering his message.

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  181. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    I did reply to you but it’s disappeared into the ether or somewhere. So I’ll try again.

    I was aware of the Ham link and it brought to mind Johnny Cash singing “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” and I’ve not been able to get the song out of my head all day. I’ve just googled Ham again and I see that Richard Dawkins also thought of Cash! I ha ego say that I’ve never bothered much with Mr Ham because he seemed to be promoting himself more than his message. I’d also read that his original team split over money issues and a personality clash which doesn’t sit well with Christian humility.

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  182. Benn: Lily rose you are correct, we try to make all scripture make sense for us, scripture can be divided into two categories, prescriptive ( what is God prescribing to the original people of the epistles, and possibly for future believers), and descriptive ( describing something, that future believers are not held to, or required to do, e.g.
    Romans 16:13 Paul says greet Rufus, I used to joke with my kids while they were at college, did you remember to greet Rufus today…

    Great comment!
    And this is where I too think the whole rub lies, descriptive vs. prescriptive.
    So much so that ‘Inerrancy’ is just a shibboleth.

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  183. HUG
    Another thought is – assuming my missing comments appear eventually – is that Mr Ham was doing a very poor impersonation of the Creator Himself who said:-
    “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.” Job 38:1-3.

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  184. Muff Potter,

    I would just add, in case there is anyone who has never had a spouse, child, friend or living relationship in which people use words – words can very easily be distorted and/or misunderstood, either intentionally or unintentionally.

    IOW, I agree with

    Muff Potter
    So much so that ‘Inerrancy’ is just a shibboleth.

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  185. Muff Potter: Great comment!
    And this is where I too think the whole rub lies, descriptive vs. prescriptive.
    So much so that ‘Inerrancy’ is just a shibboleth.

    Muff, that is where the rubs lies, I do believe in the inerrancy of scripture, but I also know that the term can possibly mean different things to different people.

    And I also freely admit that I don’t have all the answers, heck I struggle to know all the questions.
    I don’t agree with every post, or every person that post on this blog, but I do find the back and forth from this eclectic group to be very stimulating and thought provoking……

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  186. The Charles Hodge quote is from an address to the Presbyterian Historical Society called “What is Presbyterianism?” The words immediately following are worth reading too.
    “If it vests in the whole Church, then the people have a right to a substantive part in the decision of all questions relating to doctrine, worship, order, and discipline. The public assertion of this right of the people, at the time of the Reformation, roused all Europe. It was an apocalyptic trumpet, i.e. a trumpet of revelation, tuba per sepulchra sonans, calling dead souls to life; awakening them to the consciousness of power and of right; of power conveying right, and imposing the obligation to assert and exercise it. This was the end of Church tyranny in all truly Protestant countries. It was the end of the theory that the people were bound to passive submission in matters of faith and practice. It was deliverance to the captive, the opening of the prison to those who were bound; the introduction of the people of God into the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. This is the reason why civil liberty follows religious liberty. “

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  187. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    I was aware of the Ham connection. It seems to me that he was trying to do a very poor impersonation of the Creator Himself in Job 38:1-4.
    “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
    2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
    3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
    4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.”

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  188. Ken A: Science can not explain where everything (the universe) comes from. It can study the universe but can not tell where it came from.

    Agreed and many find it troubling that there was a beginning “The Big Bang” for our universe and anything before it out of the scope of science.

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  189. Headless Unicorn Guy: And finding an ally in The Fermi Paradox.

    Fermi was also known as “The Pope of Physics” and there is a pretty good recent biography by that name. No confirmed alien visits. Apparently the current science stating no communications or physical transport faster than the speed of light holds.

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  190. Lowlandseer: I was aware of the Ham connection. It seems to me that he was trying to do a very poor impersonation of the Creator Himself in Job 38:1-4.

    I agree that Ken Ham should not be equated in any way with the biblical Job. Perhaps he still has time. I’ll offer a compliment to Ham – he understands the old HL Mencken quote usually paraphrased “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public: better than anyone since PT Barnum.

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  191. Lowlandseer: This was the end of Church tyranny in all truly Protestant countries. It was the end of the theory that the people were bound to passive submission in matters of faith and practice. It was deliverance to the captive, the opening of the prison to those who were bound; the introduction of the people of God into the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. This is the reason why civil liberty follows religious liberty. “

    Well, not really for women though. And that last part doesn’t hold up as women had few liberties until civil liberties have them liberties.

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  192. Dave A A: His little-known brother Nein Marx, OTOH, wouldn’t allow him to quit once he did become one, saying, “Brothers, don’t allow your people to resign into thin air.” Or something like that.

    I see what you did there, touché

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  193. Suddenly all my comments appear! I’m saying more or less the same thing with the odd add-on. Isn’t that hat the same as inerrancy? 🙂

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  194. Lowlandseer: This was the end of Church tyranny in all truly Protestant countries. It was the end of the theory that the people were bound to passive submission in matters of faith and practice. It was deliverance to the captive, the opening of the prison to those who were bound; the introduction of the people of God into the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. This is the reason why civil liberty follows religious liberty. “

    Wow, now that’s some serious reimaging.

    IMO, Calvin and his gang of thugs were responsible for the most brutal tyranny and oppression the world had ever known. Civil liberties were born in response to the untenable oppression introduced by Calvin. If we have the Reformation to thank for religious freedom, it is simply because once the people saw what Theocracy looked like, they determined ‘Never again’.

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  195. TS00: Calvin and his gang of thugs were responsible for the most brutal tyranny and oppression the world had ever known

    Evidently, the new reformers have a mental block on this historical fact.

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  196. If anyone is seriously interested in learning about Calvin, Geneva and the Reformation in context, I highly recommend the following Coursera MOOC entitled

    Calvin – Histoire et réception d’une Réforme

    It is run by the University of Geneva; it is in French but has English subtitles and notes, if you need them.

    *MOOC* – Massive Open Online Courses

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  197. Ken A: Nick with all do respect, I regard this as poppycock.

    Yes, I get that a lot… Not always with respect, now I think about it, and yours is duly noted and appreciated.

    Many wars have been fought (more or less literally) over this, and since neither of us intended to start another one (I’m pretty sure), I shall leave it there!

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  198. Lowlandseer,

    I’ll grant the

    Dave A A: Dee wrote,”Church discipline should be limited to egregious sins…”
    I disagree. I advocate a zero tolerance policy toward church discipline.

    Meant to agree with this earlier. Nowhere does scripture give an example of some so-called church leader(s) practicing ‘church discipline’ upon so-called members. It was all one body, under the headship of Jesus. If there was egregious unrepentant sin, the entire body was called upon to put the unrepentant sinner out of the congregation, presumably upon enough evidence to persuade all of the truth of the charges. Never was an elder given the authority to discipline someone for ‘deficiency in doctrine or life’, as my former church alleged. Such acts constitute reprehensible, authoritarian spiritual abuse, with no biblical precedent. No one should be bullied into accepting such an abuse of the role of elders.

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  199. Ken A: The religious will never come close to killing more than the atheist of the last century. What was the final count over 100million?

    I’m not confident that the case is that easily made. Hitler was baptized, and the Nazis invented a religion of sorts. Stalin was also baptized, and he attended Tiflis Seminary. We can blame them for turning away from Christianity. We might also wonder why Christianity did not “stick” in their lives.

    Viewed another way, these two men did not personally do all the killing. I’m uncomfortably willing to conjecture that most of their soldiers, sailors, and airmen were also born into Christianity. Obviously things went wrong. The Romanovs come to mind as one source of difficulty.

    Mao’s mother was a strict Buddhist. Pol Pot spent some time as a novice in a Buddhist monastery and at Catholic school (according to lofty Wikipedia).

    Much as I detest totalitarianism, I’m not completely sure that atheism is to blame for the carnage of the last century. Besides, as the hyper-religious are fond of claiming, there are no atheists in foxholes.

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  200. Max: Is soteriology, God’s plan of salvation, a “non-essential”?Al Mohler thinks it is.He developed a theological triage a few years ago to defend New Calvinism, tossing soteriology into the secondary/tertiary stack of things to be concerned about.

    If he did that, how he gets any hearing from anyone is disturbing. (And much of what has been documented about his take on things as documented and discussed here is disturbing.)

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  201. Ken A:
    Nick Bulbeck,

    The religious will never come close to killing more than the atheist of the last century. What was the final count over 100million?

    interesting that you bring that up. Was reading through the comments section of an article on the guy who showed up on the Stone Age-era Sentinelese island with the reported goal of sharing the Gospel with them, notwithstanding the aforementioned isolation (and thus the potential for communicating catastrophic disease) and the guy’s reportedly not speaking their language.

    Some used the incident almost robotically to declare that ‘religion’ is the most destructive force in history ever. I’d counter that the 20th century butchery instigated primarily over non-religious matters points to man’s ability to find any reason to be chaotically barbarous and murderous. Additionally, what this guy did illustrates what can be destructive is ignorant and reckless actions in the name of religion, which is what is to be opposed by all.

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  202. Muff Potter,

    “And yet we have a hugely diverse and eclectic bunch of faith flavors and people of no faith.”
    +++++++++++

    kind of like a dull knife being run through the sharpener.

    like, when you have conclusions about things, and feel pretty comfortable with those conclusions… then you listen to deep thinkers and bona fide experts discuss (on better radio and TV outlets) the topics and you realize all the facets and factors you never considered or were completely unaware of.

    keeps one open-minded, and on the humble side.

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  203. JDV: Some used the incident almost robotically to declare that ‘religion’ is the most destructive force in history ever. I’d counter that the 20th century butchery instigated primarily over non-religious matters points to man’s ability to find any reason to be chaotically barbarous and murderous.

    Quite true. Personally, I consider militant atheism to be a religion, regardless of what its adherents claim. (I’m not an atheist, militant or otherwise.) Moreover, religious communities and groups here in the UK are responsible for a great deal that holds society together: the cumulative effect of many sustained and concerted acts of kindness, done without fanfare and for no cost.

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  204. Ken A: The religious will never come close to killing more than the atheist of the last century.

    Really? I think you best calculate again through history and think about all the religious wars. Not to mention the “Christian Nation” that dropped “the” bombs.

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  205. Bridget,

    In their recently published book, “Encyclopedia of Wars,” authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare, and from their list of 1763 wars only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for less than 7 percent of all wars and less than 2 percent of all people killed in warfare.

    (The book is about 5 years old now)

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  206. Friend,

    So Atheist i.e. Communist whose major tenant is Atheism kill over a 100 million people last century and it is people of religions fault. Oh, and you better read up on Buddhism. There is no god in Buddhism, so by definition it is Atheist. Thought Mao was an Atheist. He had rejected religion. Unless you want to say Communism’s god is the state, in which I would have to agree.
    Stalin rejected his Christianity. You don’t understand history. The 100 million deaths were only from Communism, which has Atheism as a chief tenant. “Religion is the opiate of the people” Karl Marx.
    Hitler was anything but Christian. I’ll give you he was occult but I don’t think anyone would want to equate the occult with Christianity.

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  207. Nick Bulbeck: Yes, I get that a lot… Not always with respect, now I think about it, and yours is duly noted and appreciated.

    Many wars have been fought (more or less literally) over this, and since neither of us intended to start another one (I’m pretty sure), I shall leave it there!

    I hope everyone will remember. It wasn’t me who insinuated that because I wanted to argue for the existence of God we would end up in war. Was it insinuated that Christians are ready to go to war with anyone who disagreed with them about their beliefs? It sure seemed that way from where I stood.

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  208. Ken A,

    One of the problems many people have is assuming that what happened in ones lifetime is more important than what happened in centuries past. Yes, atheism was at the root of communism in this past century. My grandmother fled Russia. She told me that the Romanovs were destructive. She claimed to have seen the *crazy monk* when the Tsarina visited her little village. She said they were bad enough, with people dying due to lack of concern about the poor. She said that as soon as she heard about the Bolsheviks, she was out of there.

    Unfortunately there is much in history that Christians have caused as well. Whenever I see the Vatican, I think about the peasants who were told to give money to build, peasants who were starving. But they were taught by the church, that the church could get their loved ones out of purgatory. There was the Inquisition and the Crusades. Let’s add the nod given to slavery by Christians throughout the centuries. Then, there was the Puritans and witches which was used as an excuse for land grabs. I watch as churches cover up sex abuse.

    Religion in Europe is definitely on the decline. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Europe Yet, we do not see mass extermination of people like we saw in the last century. In fact, many of these countries are considered some of the happiest countries on earth. So, what happened? Lots to think about for me, for sure.

    This all goes to prove something. Man is innately sinful, including those in the church and outside of the church. The whole of history is a story of the Fall of man. I

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  209. dee,

    I didn’t mean to defend all forms of Christianity without exception. Nor all Christians without exception. I do not and I don’t think I did. I agree with you about “Man is innately sinful”, that is the real problem. In fact I do not disagree with any of what you have written here. We have the new Atheist that will tell us something like religion is the cause of all of mankind’s wars, persecution, murder, and on and on. They will blame everything on organized religion yet conveniently overlook the atrocities done in the name of Atheism in the last century. I lament the atrocities done in the name of religion also. But to claim that Atheism is pure is very selective and even willfully blind in my opinion.

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  210. Ken A,

    And why do you think Communism along with Atheism became do popular? Why so many people looking for something different and, they hoped, better? Which we know it isn’t. It seems to me that most communism turns to Fascism if it didn’t really start that way.

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  211. Ken A:
    Bridget,

    Do you understand how much 100 milion is?

    No. I’m an idiot. (Snark)

    Yet, the US, a Christian Nation, nearly destroyed itself during a civil war and had no problem killing thousands of innocents with two bombs.

    You see, I simply cannot ignore what is done by Christians when I hear them hammering those who are not. I know plenty of Atheists who wouldn’t harm another human being, while I watch Christians call for all kinds of abuses against other humans, but acting like they stand on high moral ground.

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  212. Bridget:
    Ken A,

    And why do you think Communism along with Atheism became do popular? Why so many people looking for something different and, they hoped, better? Which we know it isn’t. It seems to me that most communism turns to Fascism if it didn’t really start that way.

    I too became very dissatisfied with an organized major denomination. People being what they are, fallen creatures will tend to try and amass power to themselves. Doesn’t matter if it is through religion or through Atheism by the all powerful state. My solution was not to broom God from my thoughts. It was to realize that the same flaw in the people who would use the state whether through religion or Atheism to persecute their fellow human beings, was that, that same flaw was in me. I have become the religion that I think is most likely to not amass power. But if they do, I can leave. A self determined congregation that has congregational rule where the believers can have input and throw the tyrants out if need be.
    I am thankful that I live in a country where the founders tried to do all they could to make sure leaders could not amass all the power to themselves. Through many checks and balances and protections for each of the three branches of government they tried to keep the power hungry at bay. Though sometimes I wonder if we will be able to keep it as they gave it to us. I think it has worked pretty well so far.

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  213. Ken A: I have become the religion that I think is most likely to not amass power.

    I have become the Church instead of going to church … and will probably stay that way until a genuine revival of God’s people and a spiritual awakening in America take place, if/when that ever happens again before Jesus returns.

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  214. Friend: I keep coming back to this. Not sure exactly what you mean, so please forgive denseness.

    The following argument is often trotted out: If you don’t literally believe every word of the Bible, then there’s nothing to stop you from committing mass murder and trying to marry your cat.

    Nevertheless, most religions and nations manage to agree that mass murder and cat-marrying are not to be done. (I’m not making fun of you here: folks who set up these straw-man arguments like to add goofy examples to silence disagreement.)

    What would be an example of applying inerrancy to daily life?

    Thanks for response and the question, just noticed your comment ( l don’t live vicariously through a daily blog fix).

    I do a lot research on apologetics, and if you follow apologetics/ debates/ seminars/lectures you can listen to what a lot of college students say when asked about absolute truth, morality, situational ethics, and the like, you may be a little suprised to hear some of the students answers, some of them that are naturalist that don’t believe in any absolute truth, they do believe that we are just moist robots, molecules in motion, and don’t really have major issues with the items you mentioned above ( not all but quite a few do believe anything goes, they say what is true for you is ,not true for them they follow Richard Dawkins, Singer , ( if memory serves me has been quoted as saying abortion is ok up until around 5-6 years old.

    Ask to you question I’m not sure what you mean, can you rephrase it, I would be glad to answer, how does inerrancy work in day to day life

    To me one of the biggest misnomers about inerrancy is this; if the Bible is totally inerrant, or if is 75% correct ( pick any percentage you like, of even if it isn’t truly God breathed, but just a collection of good advice, it still wouldn’t help humankind if it hadn’t been preserved).

    So one of my biggies on inerrancy is God is big enough to protect it, and preserve it.
    I just believe the Bible is how he chose to communicate with creation.

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  215. Max,

    I can understand how you could make that choice. I mourn that it came to that.
    I am very sorry that you felt that was the only choice.
    My sincere prayers for some comfort for you brother.

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  216. dee:
    Benn,
    Hurrying off the confirmation class but let me make a quick comment. You haven’t been reading here too carefully. I do not believe that the Bible is ambiguous when it comes to the big issues. I believe in the inspired nature of Scripture and I understand how we got our canon and know that our Bible is one of the best documented books in history.

    Not real sure of what you are saying here, can you elaborate, when you have time please….

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  217. Ken A,

    After 60+ years as a Southern Baptist, I finally came to the conclusion that most SBC members are more focused on the teachings and traditions of men, than on the commandments of God … and Jesus warned us not to do that!

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  218. K

    I didn’t approve your last comment because it appears you are commenting here as K and Ken A. That is against the rules. Please repost the comment as Ken A

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  219. Ken A: We have the new Atheist that will tell us something like religion is the cause of all of mankind’s wars, persecution, murder, and on and on. They will blame everything on organized religion yet conveniently overlook the atrocities done in the name of Atheism in the last century.

    Don’t Christians do the same thing. If I read one more article on the *purity* of the Puritans, I will spit. I grew up in Salem and know a great deal about the history. They may have written great books on being *pure* but they weren’t.

    The problem we have is that both sides want to hide their past. Ive read silly articles by atheists trying to prove Hitler was a Christian. I have read equally silly article by Christians trying to prove that slavery was kind and gentle (Doug Wilson.)

    However, if we look at things today it would appear that both Christians and atheists are opposed to pogroms and whole sale killing of people due to religion or atheism. Great evil has been perpetrated by those claiming to be Christians as well as those claiming to be atheists.

    This all happens because hatred is alive and well in the souls of mankind.

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  220. Bridget: And why do you think Communism along with Atheism became do popular? Why so many people looking for something different and, they hoped, better? Which we know it isn’t. It seems to me that most communism turns to Fascism if it didn’t really start that way.

    The older I get the more I perceive that the major events and movements of history, social, political and religious, are neither accidental nor uncoordinated. That does not demand that all of the players were consciously in on one coordinated Big-C Conspiracy, but that behind all of these things was the ‘war’ against God and man being orchestrated by the enemy of both.

    Would he, the most, longest living and clever of deceivers hesitate to create and manipulate institutions and men through the centuries, inciting war, chaos, disease, social decay and any other tool that might be used? I tend to think that those who see things in the very stark black and white, good guys vs. bad guys mentality are being manipulated by this same war of deceit into perceiving history and current events very falsely. That does not imply that I consider myself to have ‘figured things out’ so much as I have learned to not so much trust the so-called reality show we have been programmed to believe by the ‘experts’ in history, science, education, economics, politics and – most of all – religion.

    It comes as a great shock, even to those who have become somewhat cynical about most other institutions to learn that organized Religion, including the Institutional Church, must be viewed with the same amount of critical examination and questions. At least, it was to me.

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  221. TS00: The older I get the more I perceive that the major events and movements of history, social, political and religious, are neither accidental nor uncoordinated. That does not demand that all of the players were consciously in on one coordinated Big-C Conspiracy, but that behind all of these things was the ‘war’ against God and man being orchestrated by the enemy of both.

    As an Old School D&D type who was around during the Satanic Panic of the Eighties all I can say is:

    Just take care that you don’t go too far along those lines, lest you wind up with the Malleus Malefacarium and Witchfinders-General seeing Demons under ever bed an in every closet.

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  222. Bridget:
    Ken A,

    And why do you think Communism along with Atheism became do popular? Why so many people looking for something different and, they hoped, better? Which we know it isn’t. It seems to me that most communism turns to Fascism if it didn’t really start that way.

    One guy I knew referred to Communism as “Fascism of the Left” (as opposed to “Fascism of the Right”).

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  223. Max: Evidently, the new reformers have a mental block on this historical fact.

    They see their being Predestined Elect as meaning They Get To Hold The Whip. Just like Calvin, on top of the Predestined Heap.

    Like those “Red Fanboy” Intellectuals who embraced Communism because they KNEW that Come the Revolution, their Superior Intellects(TM) would make them Party Commissars giving all the Orders. “Wile E Coyote. Super. Genius.”

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  224. OldJohnJ: Agreed and many find it troubling that there was a beginning “The Big Bang” for our universe and anything before it out of the scope of science.

    When Fr Lemartire(sp?) first proposed The Big Bang, he got piled on by the Cosmological community for “Introducing RELIGION into Science”.

    Especially Sir Fred Hoyle, who with his usual combativeness doubled down on Steady State (Aristotle’s Eternal Cosmos) and dared everyone to “Prove Fred Wrong”. And the evidence eventually did.

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  225. dee:
    K

    I didn’t approve your last comment because it appears you are commenting here as K and Ken A. That is against the rules. Please repost the comment as Ken A

    I didn’t mean to defend all forms of Christianity without exception. Nor all Christians without exception. I do not and I don’t think I did. I agree with you about “Man is innately sinful”, that is the real problem. In fact I do not disagree with any of what you have written here. We have the new Atheist that will tell us something like religion is the cause of all of mankind’s wars, persecution, murder, and on and on. They will blame everything on organized religion yet conveniently overlook the atrocities done in the name of Atheism in the last century. I lament the atrocities done in the name of religion also. But to claim that Atheism is pure is very selective and even willfully blind in my opinion.
    Sorry for the confusion.

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  226. dee,

    Dee, I don’t think we disagree. I don’t want to kill people who disagree with me. I don’t think that it is relevant to tell me about all the Christian atrocities that happened over the centuries as if somehow I had something to do with it. Why do the new Atheist want to tell me over and over again and imply that just maybe down deep that is what I want? I personally feel insulted by this, which seems to be the goal. If they do not intend to link Christians to the atrocity of the past, why bring it up?
    I don’t see how anyone can get that murdering anyone is warranted from the teachings of Jesus. I think it is a big stretch to try and link me to people who did. But, if they want to link me to it, then I think it only fair to bring up the much closer examples of the atrocity of Atheist?

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  227. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    I don’t know if this qualifies as seeing demons under every bed 😉 but I tend to think what Satan (or whatever signifier you prefer for the powers of darkness) loves to do is posit equally false, but opposite truth claims and throw all of the true believers of each side into the ring to duke it out endlessly. This incites all manner of wars, sometimes simply philosophical and, sometimes, fought with more deadly weapons. Meanwhile, the real Truth, lies bruised and bleeding in the street, neglected and mostly unrecognized.

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  228. Friend: The following argument is often trotted out: If you don’t literally believe every word of the Bible, then there’s nothing to stop you from committing mass murder and trying to marry your cat.

    This Ken Hamism to a tee.
    According to Ham, it has to be an all-or-nothing-literalism.

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  229. Headless Unicorn Guy: They see their being Predestined Elect as meaning They Get To Hold The Whip. Just like Calvin, on top of the Predestined Heap.

    When your theology teaches that there has to be whipping, it’s always better to be the whipper than the whippee.

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  230. dee,

    My understanding is that the Salem trials covered a very small period of time – beginning in January 1692, trials started in May, over 200 people accused, 20 executed and by the beginning of the following year it was over with the pardoning and release of all the accused. Cotton Mather tried to caution against testimony of “spectral happenings” and later Increase Mather and him tried to get the courts to apply the same evidentiary tests as those in other crimes. Some time after that, the affected families had their names cleared and financial restitution made to their heirs.

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  231. Benn: I just believe the Bible is how he chose to communicate with creation.

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I disagree with your viewpoint about the Bible. I view it as a set of ancient texts in which humans, inspired by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, strove to record their understanding of God. Paradoxically, God cannot be understood by mere humans. The Bible contains history, allegory, poetry, law, Gospel narrative, etc., all of which need to be studied, with faith and scholarly care, to reveal meaning. God can reach us through the Bible and through other means, such as prayer and baptism.

    Given that humans are the only creatures of God who read, what do you mean by saying that “the Bible is how he chose to communicate with creation”?

    Living day to day: what is the difference between inerrancy and literalism? In my experience, both concepts lead to claiming that women must be silent in church, the earth was created in exactly seven days, etc.

    I shrink away from inerrancy because the Bible does contain several accounts of particular stories, and the versions cannot always be reconciled. It also documents slavery, and some current “scholars” claim that this means God approves of slavery. If this is the slippery slope, we can climb back uphill through study and prayer.

    Pointing out the foibles of college students is like shooting fish in a barrel. The dear sweet things are gradually realizing that their parents have valuable information to share. I don’t worry too much about their wild ideas, just as I don’t worry too much about the inner thoughts of a basket of puppies.

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  232. Lowlandseer: Some time after that, the affected families had their names cleared and financial restitution made to their heirs.

    If we’re still remembering Pearl Harbor (a one-day event), we might not wish to underestimate the damage of witch trials. Witchcraft hysteria arrived with immigrant ships in the early 1600s and lasted well over a century. Heck, I was accused of witchcraft in college, by another freshman in our Christian fellowship. He actually performed an exorcism on a guy from the engineering department.

    Names cleared and restitution made after the trials of 1692? Perhaps, but the harm could not be undone. The locals saw the error of their ways only after powerful officials were accused. Sarah Cloyce escaped hanging (unlike her two sisters), moved with her husband to a different town, and changed her name. Her full trial transcript is available online. It still makes people cry. All of this is worthy of research if your time allows.

    I do think that today’s church discipline, which falls disproportionately on women, contains echoes of 1692.

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  233. Friend,

    I feel that humans are the only ones in creation that has a soul, destined to live throughout eternity.

    So yes I feel we are the only ones that can read for that reason
    The Greek word Paul uses mostly when talking about his relationship with God and what God called him to do is
    Doulos which at its root means slave, we soften it in various translations to say servent, or bond servent.
    Paul said he was a slave for Christ… God loves all of his creation, but man is the pinnacle of said creation.

    Yes slavery was/is wrong, but a lot of people beat God/Bible/Jesus up all the time for not addressing certain topics, but also beat the same trio up when God/Jesus and the Bible address a topic, but we don’t like what the Bible says.

    When we pray for something and asking the spirit for direction, how can we be sure the spiritual answer we get, is from God?….

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  234. Benn: When we pray for something and asking the spirit for direction, how can we be sure the spiritual answer we get, is from God?

    I would agree with this statement. We should run our given direction in light of the Scripture. However, many times, Scripture is unclear on some issues. Let me give you a couple.

    1. John Piper says women would not be police officers because of his understanding of the Bible. I see no such mandate in Scripture so if someone feel led to be a police officer.
    2. Obviously the issue of baptisms a conundrum since all sorts of churches have different ideas.
    3. The same goes of charismatic gifts.
    4. Can a woman read Scripture out loud during a church service. A number of the gospel boyz say no but my church, a conservative Lutheran church says yes.

    Just a few thoughts here.

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  235. Friend: . Heck, I was accused of witchcraft in college, by another freshman in our Christian fellowship. He actually performed an exorcism on a guy from the engineering department.

    Good night! Seriously? I’m so sorry that you had to go thru that weirdness. I would have slapped him upside the head.

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  236. Friend: what is the difference between inerrancy and literalism? I

    Friend: I shrink away from inerrancy because the Bible does contain several accounts of particular stories, and the versions cannot always be reconciled.

    These are two excellent and thoughtful examples. I’ve never thought about the difference between inerrancy and literalism. You have now given me something to read about when I should be decorating the tree! Thank you.

    Some theologians use the word *inspired* as opposed to inerrancy. Then they add that the Bible is inerrant in its original writing which we don’t have. Which leads me to another question. If the original manuscripts were necessary for inerrancy to be claimed, then why didn’t God preserve the original manuscripts?

    Also, if the Scripture were meant to be inerrant in such as way as to influence practice, then why aren’t they clearer? We have a gazillion denominations all of which put their unique spin on certain practices.

    Then we get the men who claim that it is clear and that they know it is clear because that is what their church teaches? So many questions…looking forward to clearing things up in heaven.

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  237. Lowlandseer,

    I grew up near Gallows Hill (2 blocks away) and played many days in Gallows Hill park where 19 were hung. One poor person was pressed to death.

    I wonder if all the lands that were grabbed by the Puritan businessmen were returned to the 200 people accused? Do you think this was just about stupid Christians persecuting people for warped biblical reasons?

    There was a business motive for these fine upstanding Puritans. When someone was accused of witchcraft and thrown in prison, the *pure* businessmen were allowed to grab their lands. Interestingly, there were a number of so called witches that owned prime land. If you had lived in Salem or other areas of the North Shore, you would be aware that the land is rocky and not easy to farm.

    Then, 10s of thousands were executed in the UK and Europe. The Puritans were not the *godly* people that recent new Calvinists believe. They were no different than you or me. They had great ideas and mores and poor follow through, to say the least.

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  238. Ken A: Why do the new Atheist want to tell me over and over again and imply that just maybe down deep that is what I want? I personally feel insulted by this,

    Why do you feel you are being personally insulted?The Bible is clear that people will not necessarily understand you and might even revile or persecute you. I look at it as an opportunity to be a witness in a way that might reach them. I don’t take many things personally. In fact, I look at it as a privilege that has been give not me to be a light on a hill. I spend much time contemplating how to be kind and thoughtful to others while studying their thoughts and having some fun while I show them they are not much different than me.

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  239. Lowlandseer: Increase Mather and him tried to get the courts to apply the same evidentiary tests as those in other crimes.

    ROFL-there was no need to evidentiary tests. These folks were not witches. Can you imagine bringing up someone on witch accusations today.? As for restitution, once the land is gone, its gone. They did not return the all the lands that were grabbed.

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  240. Funny aside about Salem-There are a bunch of idiots who declared themselves witches and have moved into Salem because they feel the vibes from the past. There are not vibes. There were not witches.But all of these folks have ruined the downtown area with all sorts of sorcery stores and stores that sell witch memorabilia and souvenirs. They have succeeded in screwing up a rather nice historical downtown area.

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  241. Benn: When we pray for something and asking the spirit for direction, how can we be sure the spiritual answer we get, is from God?….

    Partly through asking God’s guidance, partly through study, examining my motives, and scraping away the top layer of cultural influences. If I invest the time, struggle through those considerations, and find an answer compatible with the main Christian principles, then I have at least held up my side of the bargain. Meanwhile “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

    I follow an established prayer routine that reminds me of certain principles and walks me through an assessment of myself. That is a combination of the Spirit’s leading and my deliberate study.

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  242. dee,

    When you have time could you site two or three examples of the particular stories that can’t be reconciled?
    Just curious, not to be over reacting though.

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  243. Friend: Partly through asking God’s guidance, partly through study, examining my motives, and scraping away the top layer of cultural influences. If I invest the time, struggle through those considerations, and find an answer compatible with the main Christian principles, then I have at least held up my side of the bargain. Meanwhile “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

    I follow an established prayer routine that reminds me of certain principles and walks me through an assessment of myself. That is a combination of the Spirit’s leading and my deliberate study.

    Why are you using scripture to prove your point that the Bible can’t be inerrant ?
    How do you know Romans 8: 26 is an accurate translation of the original autographs?
    Not being obtuse, or argumentative, just trying to prove me original point, that it is a slippery slope we are talking about

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  244. dee,

    I have to admit to being surprised by all your replies to me.
    I do feel blessed.
    Even Paul defended himself.
    I guess I see it as “be prepared to give an answer For the hope that is within you.”
    I really don’t feel personally insulted. I think the Atheist just use it as a way to dismiss the arguments of Christianity.
    There are good reasons for being a Christian. Ad hominem attacks is how they dismiss the arguments.
    Again, the teaching of Jesus can not be interpreted as being okay to kill anyone.

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  245. Benn: When you have time could you site two or three examples of the particular stories that can’t be reconciled?

    There are two different death accounts for Judas: suicide by hanging, or falling down and bursting asunder. Our youth minister preached to us that obviously both were true: he hanged himself, fell down, and burst asunder.

    I think this discrepancy might point to an oral narrative being handed down and later written in one place, while different particulars were handed down in a different place. Both versions show that Judas’s life ended promptly and disgracefully, with anguish (not with repentance and years of righteousness).

    It’s good that we can talk about these things without fear, and admit that the Bible has a history.

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  246. Benn: Not being obtuse, or argumentative, just trying to prove me original point, that it is a slippery slope we are talking about

    We can’t help having fact-bound post-Enlightenment minds, but we can use those minds to derive wisdom and inspiration from ancient texts we call holy.

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  247. Ken A: I have to admit to being surprised by all your replies to me.

    When I started this blog, I was able to actually have discussions with. the people who commented. I miss that. Sometimes I just jump into a conversation but I want to have some interaction.

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  248. dee: I would have slapped him upside the head.

    Oh, I was far too scared to do that. Anyway, if I had, he probably would have built a ducking stool at the ornamental pond.

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  249. dee: They have succeeded in screwing up a rather nice historical downtown area.

    I can’t decide which is worse, that or complete gentrification, topped off with a Starbucks and an Apple store.

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  250. Muff Potter: topped off with a Starbucks

    If you could se the creepy stores, you’d think Starbucks was the height of artisanal offerings. Every year on Halloween, the town gets overrun by people who think they are going to commune with the witches of yore. The town is packed with creepiness. Where is the Mather family when you need them?

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  251. Friend,

    Do you remember that crazy guy, Mike Warnke who claimed he was a warlock and then became a Christian. he was famous in the days in which Christians saw Satanists dooming sacrifices all over the place. I once knew a pastor who told the story of a former satanist who testified to having taken part in baby sacrifice.

    It appears Christians just listened to the stories and went on their merry way. I once asked this him if he had ever thought to call the police since he was supposedly listening to guys boasting of murders. Of course he didn’t. Why not? I think deep down inside he knew they were lying.

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  252. Friend,

    “Heck, I was accused of witchcraft in college, by another freshman in our Christian fellowship”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    I was told by a fellow christian college peer, “You have prophesied falsely and thus you shall die.”

    i’m not sure what my overriding reaction was: “gimme a break” or “ok, i feel weird now”.

    he was reading Leo Tolstoy in his free time for fun.

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  253. dee: The town is packed with creepiness.

    Where’s your will to be weird?
    Gentrification still sucks.
    I watched South Corona succumb to it.
    The lemon groves and produce stands are all gone now.
    If ever there was a whiff of Olam-Ha-Ba, those lemon groves were it…
    Upscale shopping and single level 1500 square footers that start at 3/4 mil is the new paradise now.
    The Prophetess sang about it on vinyl long ago (Big Yellow Taxi)

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  254. elastigirl: I was told by a fellow christian college peer, “You have prophesied falsely and thus you shall die.”

    evil ot hctiw a reffus ton tlahs uoht
    — Exodus 22:18 —

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  255. dee,

    A legislative bill was passed in 1711 which -as well as clearing the names – gave £600 as compensation to the families of those affected. I imagine that this would be a fairly substantial amount in those days.

    As for the “land grab” as you call it, the following are the facts, as recorded by the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia.
    “It is perhaps easier to rule out explanations of witchcraft in 1692. Medical theories that locate the witchcraft hallucinations in the poisoning of rye or other grains—“ergot poisoning”—have been decisively and repeatedly discredited. The symptoms do not fit. The illness usually is fatal, and most of the afflicted led long and apparently healthy lives. Furthermore, the ergot would have had to come from one communal grain supply infected by this mold. Yet people were afflicted or made accusations in many places throughout the region. Nor were people fraudulently accusing neighbors to gain their land and money. It is true that the real estate (but not personal property) of a convicted felon could be seized by the sheriff, but all assets of the convicted witches became the property of the Crown, not the accusers. While Sheriff Corwin generally followed common law on seizures, he appears to have illegally retained some personal property.” This is looked at in more detail in the William and Mary Quarterly, 1993 ‘The Foreitures at Salem 1692’

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  256. Friend: We can’t help having fact-bound post-Enlightenmenti minds, but we can use those minds to derive wisdom and inspiration from ancient texts we call holy.

    I listened to a lecture once from a very mature, and distinguished Jewish Rabbi, and he made a statement that I have never forgotten.

    The pinnacle of human intelligence is when we ultimately realize we really don’t know anything…..

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  257. Lowlandseer: A legislative bill was passed in 1711 which -as well as clearing the names – gave £600 as compensation to the families of those affected. I imagine that this would be a fairly substantial amount in those days.

    As for the “land grab” as you call it,

    “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.” —Anatole France

    These were government murders, mainly of older women accused of things like looking at a cow. The poor accused souls had nowhere to go for justice. Cotton Mather, et al., had gone out of their way to whip the public into a frenzy. Restitution 19 years later might have helped a little, but it did not undo the monstrous deeds of our colonial society.

    TWW folk might want to explore the University of Virginia’s Salem archive: http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/home.html

    Literary works (I recommend Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”): http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/lit.html

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  258. TS00,

    Thanks for agreeing, and I’m in agreement with you as well. If we disagreed, we’d have to discipline/ excommunicate/ exterminate one another!

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  259. ___

    Uncommon Valor: “Just The Facts, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Bridget,

    Hello,

    Respectfully, by the time little boy and fat man were available, the United States military was forced to exercise repeated one thousand B-29 plane raids upon the island of Japan. it was estimated (and rightly so) that to continue the war without their use would have cost a million American service men and approximately three million Japanese. Their only (Japan) option was unconditional surrender which the Japanese Emperor refused to do prior to their release. Please also consider that the U.S. completely rebuilt This aggressive island country after the war. This is after this island country had successfully tested their own nuclear device with limited resources PRIOR TO SURRENDER. Furthermore, unclassified documents NOW show that nuclear material was shipped from Germany, in specially constructed cylinders but was intercepted.

    Over 485,000 US soldiers, airman and sailors lost their lives protecting their country during WWII, from Dec. 7 1941 and Aug 30 1945.

    Respectfully, facts are important when you wholesale acuse the American people, and those who were constitutionally elected to represent them of a crime.

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LGvW6jHUHiY
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8yqtKVsnXe4

    ;~)

    – –

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  260. dee: I think deep down inside he knew they were lying.

    But, it’s more interesting to follow preachers who stretch the truth a bit … rather than going to those old dry churches where things are so predictable! An experience built around deception is so much more exciting than hearing Truth. (Sarcasm, of course)

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  261. Friend: mainly of older women

    My multi-great aunt testified (to the Christian character of the accused) in a witch trial about 40 years before the famous ones. A widow woman was accused of causing her neighbor’s daughter’s nervous breakdown- actually caused by being jilted. She then said some bad things about the neighbors, and was found guilty of defamation, while they were found guilty of false accusation. Each side paid fines of under 20£.

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  262. Friend,

    And if you follow the scholarship back a little further, there is fairly strong evidence to suggest that Luther and Calvin, among others of their ilk, were highly instrumental in whipping up irrational fear and mysticism, more or less laying the groundwork for the concept of the ‘witch hunt’. It appeared to work well in the Reformation and Counter Reformation era, as various powers and persons struggled for control of the minds, beliefs, not to mention lands of the masses.

    In all that mix run threads of plagues believed to be caused by poison, the increase of virulent anti-semitism, etc. which I am not so sure is adequately documented or explained in our history books. Some suggest that many of those accused of being witches were akin to what today are called ‘quacks’, passing ages-old knowledge of the healing qualities of herbs and other traditional healing practices. It is easy to believe there is far more behind these odd events than what the official records suggest, and interesting parallels to the present.

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  263. Friend,

    In fact it goes all the way back to Augustine’s time and even in the Orthodox Church it is said that
    “The teaching of the early Church relating to magic and witchcraft, often found as condemnations in patristic sources (e.g., St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom) or expressed as prohibitions (especially to the clergy) in early collections of ecclesiastical law, was summarized at Constantinople in the acts of the Trullan Synod (692), which formalized the work of the fifth and sixth ecumenical councils (Constantinople II and III) but was later rejected by the Latin Church. This synod regulated marriage and sexual behavior. It also forbade association with Jews; mixed bathing; attending horse races, mimes, or animal shows; theatrical dancing; consulting diviners, sorcerers, cloud-chasers, or purveyors of amulets; celebrating the Calends, Vota, and Brumalia (Greek festivals in honor of Pan and Dionysius); wear- ing comic, satiric, or tragic masks; or jumping over fires at the beginning of the month” (Origins of The Witch Hunts, Iowa State University)

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  264. TS00: In all that mix run threads of plagues believed to be caused by poison, the increase of virulent anti-semitism, etc. which I am not so sure is adequately documented

    The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum covers a lot of this for visitors. Christendom had quite a reckoning after World War II, correcting the old theology of Jews as Christ killers. I agree, the witch hysteria and other forms of prejudice arrived from Europe. It was too easy for the early colonists to apply their fears and dogma to the Natives and everybody else.

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  265. Friend,

    The more troubling silence was of those who knew what was going on in the extermination camps but said nothing. The most obvious example of this, in my view, is in Majdanek, which is built on a hill over looking the town of Lublin whose inhabitants could not only see what was going on, but could also smell and touch the ash that fell on them.

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  266. Lowlandseer: those who knew what was going on in the extermination camps but said nothing.

    And a similar thing went on on the Stalinist Soviet Union. Totalitarianism depends on silent fear of everybody. Denouncing neighbors and relatives starts with a small compromise (“We’ll pay you to tell us something bad about the dastardly Mr. ___”) and progresses to “Tell us something—anything—or we will slaughter you and your family.”

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  267. Friend,

    If you haven’t already done so I can recommend Nadezhda Mandelstam’s (semi-autobiographical) books “Hope against Hope” and “Hope Abandoned” which portray exactly what you say.

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  268. And to return finally, for me at least, the point of Dee’s warnings, those who advocate for membership covenants, need to go back to Calvin 101.
    “ Summary: Calvin begins with two preliminary comments about church discipline. The first is that he is going to divide the issue of spiritual discipline between discipline for clergy and discipline for laity. The second is that spiritual discipline is necessary because “…no house, which has even a small family, can be kept in proper condition without discipline, it is much more necessary in the church, whose condition should be as ordered as possible. Accordingly, as the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the church, so does discipline serve as its sinews…But let pastors and presbyters (elders) be especially watchful to do this, for their duty is not only to preach…but to warn and exhort in every house…whenever they are not enough in general instruction…” (pg. 1229-30).

    Calvin continues with a step by step process for discipline of the laity. Step one is to “provide a place for private admonition” (pg. 1230). Calvin desires that all spiritual correction begin in private, between clergy and parishioner. Step two, if step one does not work, is to “admonish a second time in the presence of witnesses” (pg. 1231). Finally, step three, if the first two steps don’t work, is to call the person before a “tribunal of the church, that is the assembly of the elders, and there be more gravely admonished…in order that he may submit and obey” (pg. 1231).

    In addition, there are other distinctions that Calvin makes. The first is between private and public sins. If the sins of a person are between two people alone, then correction ought to be done in private. If the sins of a person are public, meaning that they are “…those witnessed not by one or two persons, but committed openly and to the offense of the entire church” (pg. 1234), they will need to be dealt with publicly. The second distinction, differentiates between “light and grave sins” (pg. 1231). Light sins (gossip, etc.) are only in need of mild correction. Grave sins, which include sins such as adultery, theft, robbery, sedition and perjury, may need to be dealt with by removing the person from the church if they do not repent and seek forgiveness. Calvin argues that these steps are necessary in order that God not be dishonored, that the good in the church not be corrupted by the “company of the wicked” (pg. 1233) and that people be led to change their ways.

    Calvin is aware of the possible negative impact of spiritual discipline and so he encourages clergy and elders to take great care in how they administer it. As much as possible for light sins it ought to be no more than verbal chastisement which is “mild and fatherly” (pg. 1234) and even the most severe form of discipline ought to be “…joined with a spirit of gentleness” (pg. 1236).

    Finally, Calvin acknowledges that excluding someone from the church has no impact on their eternal destiny and that the church ought to continue to pray for those persons. This is because “…God, whenever it pleases him, changes the worst men into the best, engrafts the alien, and adopts the stranger into the church” (pg. 1237).

    Reflection: Church discipline has always been a thorny issue in the life of the church. Most clergy and laity dislike anyone poking their noses into their personal life, whether in Calvin’s time or ours. The issue however, is that if we, the church, are the body of Christ, then there ought to be some boundaries in terms of beliefs and actions. In terms of boundaries of belief, we state that to become a member, persons must acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior. In terms of actions, we will not allow members of the church to do harm to or harasses others. The church is to be safe place for all. When a problem does arise, we follow the 3-step outline that Calvin lays out; first individual conversation, then conversation with a clergy and an elder and only in extraordinary circumstances (this has only happened once in my thirty-two years of ministry) is it brought before the elder board (session) for consideration.“

    There no separate rules for laity and rulers. Erik Raymond belabours the point that elders are different because there should be two or three witnesses. What he mits of course that the evidence of a single witness is not acceptable in Biblical teaching. It’s just over two years since he addressed this at his TGC blog.

    So reading it all in toto, covenants are not biblically sanctioned, are outside the scope of the church, cause harm to the believer and the church and are not a sign of grace but of hyperlegalism for the benefit of those who seek to moose them.

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  269. Dave A A: My multi-great aunt testified (to the Christian character of the accused) in a witch trial about 40 years before the famous ones.

    dee: I once asked this him if he had ever thought to call the police since he was supposedly listening to guys boasting of murders. Of course he didn’t.

    elastigirl: I was told by a fellow christian college peer, “You have prophesied falsely and thus you shall die.”

    Yeah, I think it’s clear we haven’t ridden ourselves of witchcraft allegations. Laughing them off is a start though.

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  270. Lowlandseer: Nadezhda Mandelstam’s (semi-autobiographical) books “Hope against Hope” and “Hope Abandoned”

    Excellent recommendations, along with Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

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  271. Friend: “Tell us something—anything—or we will slaughter you and your family.”

    Herein lies the problem. Similar to an abuser threatening a victim not to talk or it will be worse for them or their family. Sitting here with no death threats hanging over my head it is easy to criticize those who did not speak up when we think they should have.

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  272. Bridget: Sitting here with no death threats hanging over my head it is easy to criticize those who did not speak up when we think they should have.

    I still view Third Reich and Stalinist informants as the lowest of the low. Many people did sacrifice their own freedom and lives rather than inform.

    Abuse victims are in a different ethical position. Most do not knowingly provide more victims to protect or benefit themselves.

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  273. Friend: Abuse victims are in a different ethical position.

    Yes.

    I’m talking about the every day people who were threatened and tortured for information. It was them and their family or the other people.

    I stand by my comment about us not understanding what it was like for them.

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  274. Bridget: Yes.

    I’m talking about the every day people who were threatened and tortured for information. It was them and their family or the other people.

    I stand by my comment about us not understanding what it was like for them.

    I agree.

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  275. Lowlandseer: So reading it all in toto, covenants are not biblically sanctioned, are outside the scope of the church, cause harm to the believer and the church and are not a sign of grace but of hyperlegalism for the benefit of those who seek to moose them.

    Yep. You took the words right out of my mouth.

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  276. Friend: I’m talking about the every day people who were threatened and tortured for information. It was them and their family or the other people.

    Which, btw, were the exact same tactics used during the Reformation and Counter Reformation against ‘heretics’. Only the names of the bogey men change; the tactics of those in power, and intent on remaining so, do not.

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  277. Max: Lowlandseer: So reading it all in toto, covenants are not biblically sanctioned, are outside the scope of the church, cause harm to the believer and the church and are not a sign of grace but of hyperlegalism for the benefit of those who seek to moose them.

    I might add that ‘Church discipline’ is pretty much synonymous with ‘covenants’ in religious circles. There is no biblical precedent for religious authority, period, unless by authority you mean the right to sacrificially lay down your own rights and life to serve others.

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