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On Martyrdom September 2, 2006

Posted by Sobek in Gardening.
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Don’t worry, I’m not about to subject any of you to more of my views on martyrdom.  You can get your fill of that here.

 As it turns out, I was reading last night before bedtime, and I came across this, from The Brothers Karamozov:

“That morning Gregory had gone in Lukyanov’s shop to buy something, and the owner had told him a story about a Russian soldier who, while serving somewhere far away, on the frontier, had been taken prisoner by Asian tribesmen.  Under threat of torture, he was ordered to renounce the Christian religion and be converted to the Muslim faith.  He refused and underwent the ordeal.  They flayed him alive and he died a martyr’s death, praising and glorifying Christ…

“‘It’s about that soldier, sir,’ Smerdyakov said in an unexpectedly loud, brisk voice.  ‘Even if his act was very brave, I still think he would not have sinned if he had rounced Christ on that occasion, as well as his own baptismal vows, so as to save his life for good works, which in time would have made up for his moment of weakness.’

“‘What do you mean, would not have sinned?  You’re saying wicked things and you’ll go straight to hell for it.  They’ll roast you there like mutton,’ Mr. Karamazov declared.

“‘As for the mutton, sir, that’s not so.  I won’t get into trouble for it there.  I couldn’t if there’s true justice,’ Smerdyakov declared sententiously.

“‘What do you mean “if there’s true justice”?’ Mr. Karamazov said, gaily egging him on and nudging Alyosha with his knee.

“‘He’s just no good, that’s what!’ Gregory suddenly blurted out, glaring at Smerdyakov.

“‘Don’t you be in such a hurry to call me names, Mr. Gregory,’ Smerdyakov parried with quiet self-assurance.  ‘You’d better try to work it out for yourself.  If I happen to be in the hands of Christ’s enemies and they demand that I curse the name of God and renounce my holy baptism, my reason tells me that I have the right to do it, and that there would be no sin in doing so.’

“‘You’ve already said that.  Don’t just keep repeating it again and again — prove it!’ Mr. Karamazov said challengingly.

“‘Just listen to the miserable cook!’ Gregory hissed scornfully.

“‘Again, don’t be in too much of a hurry to call me names instead of trying to reason things out, Mr. Gregory, because the moment I say to my captors, “No, I’m no Christian and I curse my God,” I at once become anathema by God’s highest judgment and am banned from the Church, just as if I was a heathen — all that not within a second of when I say it, but the moment I think it; before a quarter of a second has passes after I’ve thought it, I’m already excommunicated from the Church.  Isn’t that right, Mr. Gregory?’

“‘You’re anathema and you’re damned already!’ Gregory exploded suddenly again.  ‘And how dare you argue after that, you scum, when…’

“‘Stop that, Gregory, don’t keep abusing him like that,’ Mr. Karamazov interrupted him.

“‘Why don’t you wait a short moment, Mr. Gregory, and hear what I have to say, because I haven’t finished yet.  Because at the very moment when God damns me, at that exact, precise moment, it’s just the same as if I’d become a heathen and my baptism is taken away from me and no longer counts.  Don’t you agree at least with that?’

“‘Come, my boy, get to the point quickly,’ Mr. Karamazov urged,  sipping his brandy with relish.

“‘Well, then, if I’m no longer a Christian, it’s not a lie if I told my torturers when they asked me whether I was a Christian or not.  Because by that time God Himself has stripped me of my Christianity, just for having thought it, before I even said one word to them.  And if I was already stripped of it, how could they accuse me in the other world of renouncing Christ since, before I could renounce Him, I had already been deprived of my baptism?  It’s the same as for a pagan Tartar: who could hold him responsible, even in heaven, Mr.Gregory, for not having been born a Christian, and who would want to punish him for that, since no one can strip two hides off the same ox?  Besides, God Almighty Himself, even if He decides to punish the Tartar after he dies (since it’s impossible not to punish him at all), would give him only a very small punishment, considering that a Tartar cannot be blamed for having been brought into this world by infidel parents…”

Also:

Geezer notes that Captain Ed is on the topic, too.  It seems everyone wishes they were as cool as us. 

But you’ll note that Captain Ed’s topic is a little different from mine.  I was discussing, not whether Centanni and Wiig had some responsibility to die for the faith (or the West, whichever the case may be), but whether I would do so.  And in that sense, I come to the same conclusion as Captain Ed: regardless of whether I am willing to die for my faith, I’m not about to ask anyone else to die for my faith.  Like Ed, I reject David Warren’s characterization of the situation as something we can “understand: not forgive.”

Dex has a different angle, examining the topic of our general resolve, as a culture, to win this war, in conflict with our basic belief in freedom of religion:

“It’s not manliness we lack; it’s the will to do what’s against our shared American values. But as rogue states get ready to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, we’re running out of other options.”

Well, assuming we want to win, he’s right.  But there are those who don’t think that’s such a necessary point.

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Comments»

1. Retired Geezer - September 2, 2006

I come to the same conclusion as Captain Ed: regardless of whether I am willing to die for my faith, I’m not about to ask anyone else to die for my faith.

That pretty much summarizes it.

2. What would amish do? - September 2, 2006

I dont understand. Do you think you could post this again with some Wolverines or maybe a small group of wildebeasts acting out the roles of these pinkos?

I think you should all take Mr.Gregorys advice and renounce God now. Sure there would be a ‘ very small punishment’ but in the end you would get Gods good reward without ever having to actually prove your faith in Him.

You can twist things and look at them from a thousand different angles but there is only one way into Gods good Grace.

There are no short cuts. No Back Doors. No tricks.

God made you. He gave you every precious moment of your life and in the end you wont even honor him when the time comes for you to pay the good lord back for all of his blessings?

p.s. Shatner was great in the movie of this. Who knew he could actually act?

3. Bart - September 2, 2006

I’m not asking anyone to die for their faith. Why does it always come down to this? Why do we need to make pointless stipulations for the sake of sensitivity?

It’s healthy to have a conservation about important matters such as renouncing your God and pledging allegiance to a false god. It is very important that we do indeed judge the actions of others — not to condemn them, but to learn from them.

Discussing what Centanni and Wiig did and deciding whether it was right or wrong is good. We’re not judging their souls, we’re examining their actions under the bright light of Christian doctrine.

Notice how I said “right or wrong.” Good, cuz that’s important, too.
Let’s be real; there is no gray area in Christianity. There is light and darkness, truth and lies, good and bad, life and death.

Do you think anyone is going to stand before The Almighty and be all Alan Dershowitzy-like and try to lawyer their way out of a transgression? Well, God, you see, it’s like this…

I don’t think so! Mitigating circumstances don’t exist on Judegement Day.

4. Sobek - September 2, 2006

Smerdyakov betrays his own inconsistency in his first sentence:

“Even if his act was very brave, I still think he would not have sinned if he had rounced Christ on that occasion, as well as his own baptismal vows, so as to save his life for good works, which in time would have made up for his moment of weakness.”

At the beginning of the sentence, it is no sin whatsoever to renounce Christ under coercion, but by the end of it, it has become “a moment of weakness” for which he must engage in a lifetime of good works to atone (assuming he still has some life ahead of him).

His argument simply doesn’t withstand scrutiny. He argues that the act of renouncing Christ is no sin, because before one can renounce with his voice, he must already have renounced in thought, and so by the time the vocal renunciation takes place, he is no longer a Christian. But that ignores the fact that the renunciation in thought is a grave sin, by his own reasoning, for which the erstwhile Christian merits excommunication — how the gravity of that sin is somehow mitigated by a later, “truthful” vocal renunciation, Smerdyakov does not explain.

It is also based on a false premise: Peter denied Christ three times. Was he excommunicated, cast from the grace of God, and made as bad as a heathen in that moment? Clearly he sinned, and had to be forgiven later, but nothing indicates he was actually made anathema, such that he was no longer a Christian.

5. Cast Down The Amish - September 2, 2006

I think that Smerdyakov somehow believes that by renouncing his faith that he is somehow wiped the slate clean and has somehow attained a state of, maybe not “innocance” but perhaps a state of “unalterable ignorance” that a pagan who had never heard of Jesus Christ through no fault of his own.

Which makes no sense. Its a silly thing to say. Obviously he cant be as “blissfully ignorant” as the Tartar, or he wouldnt embark upon “…good works, which in time would have made up for his moment of weakness.”

Which would be a futile effort anyway because good works will not get you into heaven will it?

“Peter denied Christ three times. Was he excommunicated, cast from the grace of God, and made as bad as a heathen in that moment?

Yes. He was worse than the heathen. The heathen may have never had the opportunity to hear the Word i.e. Native Americans but Peter heard it and still denied his Master. If the Romans had not believed Peter and cut him down on the spot I believe he would have been hellbound.

6. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

No work can get you into heaven; only God’s grace can do that. Once you’ve received God’s grace no work can cause you to lose your salvation. Its a promise made many times in the scripture.

Amish, Paul wrote “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and diving nature, have been clearly seen, being understood throught what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

7. Amish is the Fifth Man in the Fire - September 2, 2006

“Once you’ve received God’s grace no work can cause you to lose your salvation. Its a promise made many times in the scripture. “

ah, so once saved always saved is that it?

8. Feisty - September 2, 2006

Since I’ve learned that, despite treating others with kindness, dignity, and respect, I’m going to Hell, I’ve decided to brush up on my Chinese because it may come in useful there.

Whenever I use my Ouija board and communicate with demons, they’re always speaking in Chinese. Something to the effect of, “I was a Buddhist monk, but now I’m in Hell! This sucks!”

9. Michael - September 2, 2006

I said this in a conversation with Musli recently at HZ’s — Christianity unambiguously exalts martyrdom, but it is a gift for those who are so called, not a duty for those who are not. I’m not going to launch into a treatise on the doctrine of the call; I think you get my point. It’s not for any of us to judge the walk that God has chosen for another.

(Mat 10:22-23 NIV) All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.

Could a fake conversion to Islam be a way of “fleeing” to another place? Maybe. Or maybe it could be a rejection of God’s call to die for His glory. Beats me. It’s not my job to judge.

10. Bart - September 2, 2006

so once saved always saved, is that it?

Yes! Once your name is written in the Book of Life, you’re in.

But we don’t know who is saved and who is not saved. I might stand in front of God, thinking I’m definitely saved, but He could tell me, “No, Bart, I know your heart. And I know that you never really loved Me.”

Don’t think that all those people with their arms in the air at the Billy Graham revivals are all going to the Kingdom. And don’t think that all those losers in the bar down the street are going to Hell.

11. amish suggested frankincense. what baby doesnt like frankincense? - September 2, 2006

But we don’t know who is saved and who is not saved.

What? You dont know? WTF? Impossible. No one who is truly saved could doubt it for a second. Having your heart touched by Gods hand is not a moment of which you will have any doubt.

“No, Bart, I know your heart. And I know that you never really loved Me.”

Well if your just using him for His body no wonder your going to Hell. You should probably bone up on your Chinese. Or bone Feisty – she can be your interpreter.

12. sandy burger - September 2, 2006

Since I’ve learned that, despite treating others with kindness, dignity, and respect, I’m going to Hell

Not all Christians think that, Feisty.

13. Bart - September 2, 2006

Personal feelings aside, do you know if Billy Graham is saved, Amish Gantry?

14. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

despite treating others with kindness, dignity, and respect, I’m going to Hell

While you are a commendable person and are trying to live a commendable life thats just not enough when it comes to spiritual matters. I know I’m offending you by typing this but its what I believe so I hope you’ll not be offended and just humor me. The reason you can’t work your way into heaven is because there is a standard for admission that no one, on their own, can qualify for. Myself included. Think about it. If I only sin 3 times a days (and this is a low ball, believe me), if I live to 70 that will mean I have sinned almost 77,000 times. Speaking for myself, I know my good works don’t come near that and in God’s eyes one of those sins is enough to disqualify me. Only one person ever lived a life that qualified for admission and He, by His sacrifice, becomes the propitiation for those of us who don’t qualify. This is why I find it ironic that atheists accuse us of thinking we’re better than others. The opposite is true; we recognize we’re totally depraved in the eyes of God.

End of sermon. Have a good night, and for what its worth, I respect the decisions you make for yourself.

And amish, yes, once saved always saved.

15. Amish is gonna beat you with Barts Jaw Bone - September 2, 2006

Feisty : Since I’ve learned that, despite treating others with kindness, dignity, and respect, I’m going to Hell

Sandy: Not all Christians think that, Feisty

Amish: Then what is the point of being a Christian? If being good is all it takes then believing in Jesus or reading the Bible is completly pointless. You cant believe in Christs teaching that are written down in the Bible and also belive that a person can get to heaven without believing in God. Its a contradiction. And if a person doesnt believe in what the Bible teaches then why the heck would they call themselves a Christian?

It would be as if I said “Im a Communist. I dont believe anything that Marx wrote and I get hard just thinking about Capitalism but by God(who I also believe in – screw you Stalin) I am a Pinko Commie Red. ”

God wants you to be a good person and too belive in Him – is that too much to ask?

Post Script:

BART: Personal feelings aside, do you know if Billy Graham is saved, Amish Gantry?

Amish: Nope. But God does. And so does Billy Graham.

16. Michael - September 2, 2006

Once you’ve received God’s grace no work can cause you to lose your salvation. Its a promise made many times in the scripture.

True enough; faith immunizes you from sinful acts. But just to be clear here, we need to distinguish between the doctine of election (where we agree), and the Calvinist notion that faith, once received, cannot be lost (where we probably don’t agree).

(Luke 8:13-14 NIV) Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

(1 Tim 1:18-19 NIV) Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.

17. kevlarchick - September 2, 2006

Faith without works is dead.

18. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

So Michael, is your argument that you can lose your faith but not your salvation? If so, I would agree, because I lose my faith on a regular basis. But I alway get back, and as I get older, it comes back a little stronger. This is what we call sanctification. BTW, the five points of Calvinism don’t refer to lost faith.

19. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

Right on, KC. James wrote that but he didn’t mean we receive our salvation via works, just that if you’re saved you better be bearing some fruit or there might be the possibility you’re not saved.

20. Michael - September 2, 2006

The doctrine of election, on the other hand, is aptly summarized by Sandy’s statement: “Once your name is written in the Book of Life, you’re in.”

We don’t have a copy of the Book of Life, and the Bible clearly teaches that we should zealously guard and strengthen our faith through the means of grace, because it can be lost. In other words, you might have an epiphonic experience at a Billy Graham crusade, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that God punched your ticket and your name is in the Book of Life. You can have a transitory faith and blow it.

21. Amish Will Part Feisty Like the Red Sea - September 2, 2006

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

Might not this also be interpreted that a Christian does not necessarily lose there salvation as you think when they sin, but that even though they have been saved they are tempted and eventually might return to their earthly ways, and fail to experience the true joys that living a Christian life brings you?

22. Bart - September 2, 2006

But do you also believe that your name is entered into the Book of Life way way before you’re born? We all agree that God is out of time, so to speak. So He has seen the Beginning and the End.

This point has always confused me and I don’t really know what to believe. Do we have, what’s it called, pre-something destiny, where our fate has already been decided? Or is our God-given “free will” real control over our destiny?

23. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

Bible clearly teaches that we should zealously guard and strengthen our faith through the means of grace…

Michael, thats crazy talk. ELCA crazy talk.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9)

24. Michael - September 2, 2006

So Michael, is your argument that you can lose your faith but not your salvation?

Nope. (We’re not going to agree about this.) The biblical point is that you can lose your faith, and thus lose your salvation.

If so, I would agree, because I lose my faith on a regular basis.

Nope again. Lutherans would say you may lose the consciousness of your faith. That happens every night while you sleep, and also happens during troubled times when you have doubts. But faith is entirely a work of the Spirit and not of your will (another point where Lutherans and Calvinists disagree), so your own doubts do not mean that you don’t have it. (This issue gets interesting when applied to the subject of the faith of baptized children.) On the other hand, you can clearly have saving faith and lose it through your defiance of God’s plan for your salvation. Thus, for example, Paul is extremely solicitous of immature Christians. He knows they are at risk.

25. Amish the Athiest - September 2, 2006

“But do you also believe that your name is entered into the Book of Life way way before you’re born? We all agree that God is out of time, so to speak. So He has seen the Beginning and the End.”

Youre on to something there Bart.

May I play Devils advocate and ask you all some questions concerning Gods very existence?

You have to promise not to get offended.

26. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

But do you also believe that your name is entered into the Book of Life way way before you’re born?

This *is* one of the five points of Calvinism and its referred to as ‘election’. I believe our names are written in the book of life before we’re born (Eph. 1:4-5) but how this reconciles with free will is subject to much debate. Some feel God ‘foreknows’ the saved and thats how their names are recorded in the book of life. This would square with your feeling that God is not bound by time or space, Bart.

27. Michael - September 2, 2006

This point has always confused me and I don’t really know what to believe.

Nobody does, really. The doctrine of election, which involves the concept of predestination that you mention, just makes everybody’s head hurt, because it involves mysteries that are simply beyond our reckoning. I know that’s a copout, but that’s really the situation in Christian theology.

28. Bart - September 2, 2006

Ya, go ahead, Amish Swaggart.

Brew, you don’t share these beliefs? You think God is in the same timeline that we mere mortals are?

29. Amish the Apostate - September 2, 2006

“Ya, go ahead, Amish Swaggart.”

What about the rest of you?

30. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

The biblical point is that you can lose your faith, and thus lose your salvation.

Its not the ‘biblical point’. Quite the contrary. Charles Ryrie says it better then I can:

“The doctrine of eternal security rests on a proper concept of what God actually does when he saves a soul. 1) He loves to the uttermost 2) He purposes to keep it in spite of everything 3) He intends to present us faultless before Himself 4) His Son ever lives to make intercession to keep us saved 5) His Spirit has placed us into the Body of Christ 6) His Spirit has sealed us until the day of redemption 7) His Word guarantees that nothing (including ourselves) can separate us from Christ. In order to lose one’s salvation all of these works of God would have to be undone, and the Bible nowhere even hints that this is possible”

Michael, if you’d like the scripture that supports these points I can send it to you in an email.

31. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

Brew, you don’t share these beliefs? You think God is in the same timeline that we mere mortals are?

No, I’m with you on that one Bart. God transcends space and time.

32. Michael - September 2, 2006

Sure, Amish.

Bart’s point is basic stuff: Much of what God reveals to us about Himself is necessarily paradoxical simply because He is outside of time, and we are not. The timelessness of God, and what the Bible says about it, is a fascinating topic, but long story short, if we are trying to figure God out the Bible says we’re going to fail.

Brew, Lutherans do not dispute election. But that’s different from the notion of subjective eternal security, i.e., once a person is dead certain in their own head that they’ve been saved they can’t lose it.

33. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

Michael, there is a book called ‘Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God’ by J.I. Packer that deals with the topic of election that is helpful in understanding the doctrine.

34. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

Michael, I was a Lutheran (LCA, remember that one?) for many of my formative years. Confirmed and everything. But you want to hear something sad? I remember my sister had a bookmark that said ‘Jesus Saves’. I was a young teenager and I had no idea what that meant. I really thought it had something to do with fiscal responsibility. I don’t remember anybody, including the pastor, ever sharing the gospel with me.

35. Sobek - September 2, 2006

No offense here, Amish.

I’ve got a book here called “The Openness of God,” by Clark Pinnock et al. Two days ago I would have assumed that most of you would reject everything it says, but apparently we’re all over the theological map, so I guess I’ll mention it. The authors reject the pre-destination/election, and argue in favor of free will (rejecting also the notion that the pre-destination can somehow be reconciled to free will).

I disagree with many of the conclusions, but it’s a fascinating read, if nothing else.

Also, interesting as this discussion is, I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m cross-examining them (I’m looking at you, Brew), so I’ll just read along. There’s a fine line between religious debate and sophistry, and I don’t know how to avoid crossing it, so I’ll just keep my peace.

36. Michael - September 2, 2006

That’s incredibly sad, Brew. Lutherans are supposed to be more gospel-oriented than anyone. Abhorrence of legalism is in the DNA of Luther’s teaching. It’s what started the Reformation.

37. Bart - September 2, 2006

if we are trying to figure God out the Bible says we’re going to fail.

How true. Yet we still can’t help but try to put God in a box.

Brew, the same thing happens in the Catholic church. They focus on Mary and the saints, and the mechanical recitiation of praise-words, way more than they do on Christ’s Crucifixion.

38. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

Also, interesting as this discussion is, I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m cross-examining them (I’m looking at you, Brew)

Sobek, I welcome your input and also your questioning of what I’m saying. Just don’t get all lawyery on me. It brings back bad memories :)

39. Sobek - September 2, 2006

OT, but tomorrow I’m teaching a class on Micah. Anyone have any pointers?

40. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

What I like best about Martin is sola scriptura. Tradition and the what the Pope says has no more weight then what I say.

41. Sobek - September 2, 2006

I don’t know how to talk to people without getting all lawyer-y, so I’ll pass. Seriously, my own family doesn’t ask me about work anymore, because I say things like:

“I’m working on a Rule 12(b)(5) Motion to Dismiss, because the idiot Defendant’s attorney didn’t allege any of the elements of defamation. The problem for me is that although I know I’ll prevail, I need something more preclusive than a dismissal with leave to amend.”

Yeah, I’m the life of the party.

42. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

1)Micah save Jeremiah’s life (Jer. 26:18)

2)The priests and scribes quoted Micah in answer to Herod’s question about the birthplace of the Messiah.

43. Michael - September 2, 2006

I have a recollection that some of Micah is in the format of a formal legal proceeding where God is a plaintiff filing a complaint against his people. You could have some fun with that.

44. Bart - September 2, 2006

So what have we learned?

Is it okay to fake a conversion to Islam in order to save one’s life?

Can someone lose their salvation?

____________________________

Do we all agree that we all will stand in front of God on Judgement Day?

If yes, then if we “know” we are already saved, then what’s the point? Why don’t we just get the all-access backstage pass? Are we standing there to hear the Lord say, “You’ve done well, my faithful servant,” and give us a high-five?

45. Sobek - September 2, 2006

My favorite “legal” part of the Bible is Zech. 3:1-4. Great imagery.

46. Michael - September 2, 2006

Hey, Sobek, ain’t it a bitch when you do all that work on a 12(b)(5), and just educate the asshole on how to write an amended complaint?

The strategic issue is: should you just keep quiet and hope he’s dumb often to leave a failure of proof in his case that reflects the gap in his pleading?

You’re making sense to me, dude.

47. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

There will be a judgement of the believers, Bart, but not a judgement unto salavation. It will be us giving an account of our actions (*shudder*) but the best I can figure out is the result will be we will lose a ‘crown’, not our eternal life with God.

48. Michael - September 2, 2006

Bart, Judgment Day is when we get lined up for the triumphal march into the New Jerusalem. The Lutherans get to enter right behind the Remnant of Israel.

Maybe we can sneak Feisty in amongst the Episcopalians at the rear.

49. amish tries to be good man - September 2, 2006

My spelling sucks but here ya go:

Do you have children?

Do you love them?

Would you give your life for them?

Would you do everything within your power to keep them from going to Hell?

God is all knowing, yes? He knows what in our hearts. We can keep no secrets from him. He knows what we did on prom night and knows the very instant we are going to die. He knows a billion years before creation which of us will and will not accept Him into our hearts. So why create someone whom he knows is Hell bound? He is condemning a soul to an eternity in Hell before they are even born isnt he?

Why? Why are we here? Why would an all powerfull god need us simple humans to dance and sing his glories? And if someone refuses to worship him or if they simply dont believe why would a benevolent God cast them into a lake of fire for all eternity? Why would the Supreme Power in the Universe create a race of pathetic ignorant beings just to toss them into a fire because they doubt his existence?It seems a terribly cruel thing to do in light of the fact he knows that most of us will make the wrong decision. God doesnt need us. So why doom so many poor souls? Wouldnt it have been far better for him to have never created us at all? I repeat – God Doesnt Need Us.

Heaven is a State of infinite Joy, yes? There is no experience that can give a soul more pleasure than to reside there, correct? Then what if one of your children or parents doesnt make it? Can you truly be perfectly happy knowing that your loved ones are burning in hell? But lets assume that God blocks the memory from your family and your former life from you once you reach Heaven – are you really the same person? Without all of your memories both good and bad, the joys and the pain, are you really the same person you were or are you a mindless automaton forced to sing and praise God for all eternity? Is eternal life worth having if you cant be with the ones you love? Would you rather dance on streets of worthless gold or hold your wife again?

Why make the Earth so old for a race of people who, if you add up all the A begat Bs in Genesis, is only a few thousand years old? Why create animal species that will become extinct millions of years before mans creation? God knows it would create confusion and doubt so why would he do it? I understand that the Devils purpose is to act as a stumbling block for our faith but why would God create so many things that fill mankind with doubt when he knows the punishment for our lack of faith is to be damned?

Why is the Bible so hard to understand if God intended it to be the only blueprint for our salvation? Im not talking about small things. I mean questions like CAN YOU LOSE YOUR SALVATION? This seems to me something that should be plainly spelled out but it clearly isnt. Mankind has been debating it for thousands of years. If the people who Believe that once you are saved you will always be saved are wrong then many of them will go to hell im afraid. Again – why would God purposly make his Word so confusing?

Please dont be offended. And Please dont give me the same answer God gave to Job.

p.s There arent any answers to my questions. There is no god. Ive been an athiest since i was twelve and i havent been inside a church or opened a bible since. Im still pretty good at quoting the Good Book though aint I? I do think slightly less of people who are religious but not nearly as little as they think of me. In the end it really doesnt matter to me. Folks is Folks.

Just wanted to be honest.

50. Feisty - September 2, 2006

You theologians will not like this simplistic, yet true explanation of the situation here, but one can say that there are so many contradictions in Christianity and with God in general because Christianity was invented by people who were pissed off by the Romans.

Even the most hardcore Christian knows that the Bible was scribed by various mortals, written in such as way as the author wanted it, at least few hundred years or so after the described events supposedly happened.

The Bible according to Amish vs. Michael would look a lot different if you were entrusted with the task of writing it, and would lead to contradictions, especially since you wouldn’t have been able to compare notes. The Bible is a human creation, you see.

51. Feisty - September 2, 2006

Maybe we can sneak Feisty in amongst the Episcopalians at the rear.

We already know I’m rotting in the IB group atheist tomb with steve and lauraw; I need no spiritual help. Maybe a fund-raiser for a REALLY kick-ass tomb would be of some assistance.

Thanks in advance,
Feisty

52. Sobek - September 2, 2006

Amish, I’m not offended, but I certainly am stunned. Hey, I keptmy promise though. You didn’t say anything about “stunned.”

53. Feisty - September 2, 2006

Alright, now I really need a kick-ass fundraiser since we have to make room for Amish too.

54. Michael - September 2, 2006

There arent any answers to my questions.

You got that right, because you’re trying to figure out God. The Bible reveals what is necessary to our salvation. It does not (and logically cannot) purport to make God comprehensible to us.

I always end up quoting the same passage from Isaiah when I get into these discussions:

(Isa 55:7-11 NIV) Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

It’s sorta the same message as Job.

55. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

amish, if you’re interested I’d be happy to address all the questions you’ve raised. Send me an email at bkepapaATyahooDOTcom. But this one I have to address now because its key to all the others: Why is the Bible so hard to understand. 1) Its not if you ask God to help you understand it. God’s revelation is for God’s people and 2) Don’t accept any other document or person or tradition as having equal authority to scripture.

56. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

Christianity was invented by people who were pissed off by the Romans.

I’m sure you will favor us with something, a link, citation, whatever, to back up this assertion.

Even the most hardcore Christian knows that the Bible was scribed by various mortals, written in such as way as the author wanted it, at least few hundred years or so after the described events supposedly happened.

Wrong. Most biblical scholars recognize all of the New Testament was within 60-70 years of Christ’s death.

The Bible is a human creation, you see.
No, its God’s creation. The evidence is in its influence on our world, like it or not.

57. BrewFan - September 2, 2006

One final thought; If I can’t prove God exists (and I can’t) and you can’t prove God doesn’t exist (which you can’t) this makes you a believer just like me. See, common ground!

Goodnight everybody.

58. Feisty - September 2, 2006

This is extra vague memory now, but I remember hearing quite a bit about how Jesus was a political figure who spoke out against the Romans and he was killed just as much for this as for anything else. The Bible apparently contains allegories and stories which allude to many Roman practices and why they were wrong, but dammit if I can remember the examples.

59. Bart - September 2, 2006

I’ve asked all those questions, too, Amish is burning.

This week, in Boston, a 9 year old died from Triple E.
The kid lost his life, all his little hopes and big dreams, from a mosquito bite. A fucking mosquito bite.

I don’t know how to explain that. What was the point of creating the kid, only to take him away from his parents at such a young age?
My sister died of meningitis when she was twelve. (I think it was from a horse that a neighbor owned. That’s why I hate horses).

This is life. This is what we have to face no matter what we believe.

You can go through life believing there is no God and we are merely animals at the top of the food chain. Or, you can believe that you have an eternal soul and THERE IS MORE than these short, few years on Earth.

Will my sister be in Heaven? I don’t know.

So what should I do? Should I question God? Should I doubt God because it doesn’t make sense to me?

Who am I to question a being so powerful HE can create entire worlds from a grain of sand to a mountain?

We’re all in the same boat as Job. Tough shit. There is nothing we can do about it. But I don’t know how anyone who has ever been in love, had a child, lost a loved one, or looked at the stars in the sky and not feel God’s presence.

60. Bart - September 2, 2006

Fistey, watch the film Ben Hur. The last part of that movie will show you exactly how Christianity started.

61. Feisty - September 3, 2006

Sadly, the kid who died of a mosquito bite was just a biological organism like the rest of us whose little body was disproportionately freaked out by the mosquito bite. If you believe God killed the child or put the stamp of approval on that event, you shall also believe that God attempted to kill me with diabetes at the age of 7 and failed. Is synthetic insulin, the reason I’m not dead, then more powerful than God?

Just curious.

62. daveintexas - September 3, 2006

I just want to know if Adam and Eve had belly buttons, that’s all.

Oh! and who was that guy who was dead and they dropped him in in the common grave and he touched Elisha’s 30 years old dead BONES who still had the Holy Spirit in em and he came back to life and all?

I forget his name.

63. If you touch Amishs Bone they'll call you this too... - September 3, 2006

I forget his name.

Lucky.

Lucky the Moabite.

64. lauraw - September 3, 2006

One thing I’ve learned Feisty; conservative atheists should not argue with spiritualists. They can cut on us all day, but we won’t speak our real minds for fear of offending them.

You can’t argue with someone when you have to pull your punches but they do not.

Personally, I don’t believe that Jesus Christ was a real guy that ever actually existed.

65. Retired Geezer - September 3, 2006

I think we’re havin’ a pretty good discussion here.

Variations on Amish’s name just crack me up. How do you come up with all of them?

I went through the whole athiest/agnostic thing. Became a Christian in my 30’s after reading The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. Your actual mileage may vary.

66. Sobek - September 3, 2006

Feisty, the Romans only killed Jesus because of political pressure from the Jews. Pilate found nothing in Jesus that was worthy of death. And synthetic insulin is like Kryptonite to God. I think He created it by accident, not knowing it would thwart His efforts.

LauraW, I won’t speak for anyone else here, but you may speak your mind to me without fear of giving offense. And I hope I have not given offense to you or anyone else. Actually, this is the reason I generally avoid religious discussions on blogs in the first place.

Amish, we don’t know his name, but he was an Israelite, not a Moabite.

67. Feisty - September 3, 2006

They can cut on us all day, but we won’t speak our real minds for fear of offending them.

I’m really not holding much back, but you’re right about the futility of arguing…

I think Jesus probably existed, but he was one of several thousand political dissidents crucified and was one of thousands of people who made a religion or a variation on an existing religion. The only reason we know about him today is due to the Roman empire using Christianity as a way to unite its people, where it spread quickly due to fear of persecution.

68. Dave in Texas - September 3, 2006

I remember offending skinbad, and I feel badly about that.

Anyone else, please forgive my stupidity. Life is way too short to go around stomping on people’s feelings.

lauraw, I understand what you’re saying. I am never offended by your positions or considerations. Honestly I shake my head from time to time that a busy bidnesswoman in the Northeastern US of A has time to spend acknowledging a moron.

69. lauraw - September 3, 2006

Dave, it’s almost 1 A.M. here. My darling man is snoring in the next room. I’m perched half awake here in front of the glowing screen.

I am a nothing and a no-one. And its good this way.

I am shocked, however, that you guys are unoffended at what I said, and still willing to be my imaginary friends.

You people are the cat’s tits.

70. Michael - September 3, 2006

You can’t argue with someone when you have to pull your punches but they do not.

Yeah, I didn’t get that either. Do you think you’re going to hurt my feelings if you tell me Christianity is a bunch of wierd shit that makes no sense to a rational person? Heck, that’s what I think.

71. Michael - September 3, 2006

I mean, in a few hours I am going to participate in a ceremony that, my church teaches, is strictly speaking a type of cannibalism. Go figure.

72. Lauraw? Yeah amish would Hittite - September 3, 2006

Amish, we don’t know his name, but he was an Israelite, not a Moabite.

Oh ye of little faith. Lot was Moabs daddy and King David was one of his descendents. Now I know they arent exactly the same as Israelites, but i’d be willing to bet that either your wrong or that we were read two different translations of the Bible when we were growing up and somebody mistranslated something.

Elishas bones brought back a Moabite. I would swear it on a stack of Bibles.

73. Feisty - September 3, 2006

….is strictly speaking a type of cannibalism

Which is? Is this a riddle?

74. Michael - September 3, 2006

Atheists don’t bother me at all. I hang out at Politburo Diktat and World Wide Rant, and I get along just fine.

It’s those Calvinist heretics that gripe my ass. :)

75. Michael - September 3, 2006

Which is? Is this a riddle?

Feisty, you obviously weren’t paying attention when your Lutheran pastor explained the Lord’s Supper. Sorta like Catholics, Lutherans believe in the “real presence” of Christ in this sacrament. In other words, the eucharistic meal is not just a symbolic ritual. We think that we are actually eating the body and blood of Christ, and that this is a means of grace.

Christianity is way more voodoo than a lot of us like to discuss.

Don’t get me started on zombies.

76. Amish Maitre D' "Donner? Party of Four" - September 3, 2006

Well Michael, if God didnt want you to do it he wouldnt have made his son so darn Tasty.

“MMMmmmm – now THATS good Host!”

“Would you believe hes been dead for over 2,000 years? Hes even good cold!”

The only problem with eating Jewish food is your hungry and/or need absolution a week later…now Buddha on the other hand could feed a congregation of Baptists for a week.

77. Michael - September 3, 2006

Maybe sometime I’ll do a post on the whole concept of blood sacrifice and how it is cental to Christianity. It’s pretty interesting stuff, actually.

78. Feisty - September 3, 2006

Donner, party of 4?

heh.

I wasn’t really paying much attention; we had some wicked hangman tournaments. I think my church wasn’t particularly anal-retentive about making us believe the sip of cheap wine was ACTUALLY Jesus’ blood, more of a symbolic deal. It’s hard to convince a group of hoodlum 14 year olds that the jug from the liquor store happened to contain Jesus’ blood.

79. Amish Choir Boy - September 3, 2006

” …think my church wasn’t particularly anal-retentive ”

Well you must not have been raised Catholic.

80. Michael - September 3, 2006

LOL, Amish. Spoken like a true zombie.

(John 6:53-54 NIV) Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

81. lauraw - September 3, 2006

If you can grab a handful o’ them wafers and scamper away before that drunk Irish what calls himself a Priest can catch you, they are pretty good with onion dip.

82. Michael - September 3, 2006

Sobek is right, it was an Israelite that got restored by Elisha’s bones, in response to Moabite raiders.

(2 Ki 13:20-21 NIV) Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

83. Amish is coming to get you Barbara - September 3, 2006

(John 6:53-54 NIV) Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Ohhhh…so is that why the Romans tried to pierce Jesus’ side with the Batman soundtrack?

I always wondered about that verse.

84. Michael - September 3, 2006

It had been prophesied that no bone of Jesus’ body would be broken. It was extremely odd that the Romans pierced him with a spear to accelerate his death. The standard operating procedure in such an execution would have been to break his legs, in order to advance the asphyxiation which is the actual cause of death in a crucifixion. Jesus died with no broken bones.

85. Michael - September 3, 2006

Crucifixion is an excruciating, and diabolically ingenuous, form of execution that is designed to extract maximum suffering prior to death. What actually causes death is that the diaphragm is overworked until it simply cannot function, so after hours of agony the victim’s death is akin to a drowning. This could take a couple of days, but in order to speed things up you can break the legs of the person on the cross to put additional stress on the diaphragm.

86. Doubting Amish - September 3, 2006

“Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they{the Israelites} threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb.”

If you reread the verse you posted Michael, it seems to support what Sobek was saying.

I have no idea what “NIV” stands for. The only bible I read as a kid was the King James.

Maybe i was wrong…

87. Michael - September 3, 2006

NIV = New International Version

Sobek is right — I changed my comment about 30 seconds after I posted it. They must have been trying to protect an Israelite body from Moabite raiders.

88. Sometimes the Amish Come Back...Again - September 3, 2006

I had to look it up- King James version Second Kings chapter 13:

20And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.

21And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

Not the clearest description is it? You ever wonder what happens to these dudes who are brought back to life? Do you think this guy just wandered on home to his family? He probably got killed by the Moab raiders as soon as he crawled out of the grave.

You would think that this would be a point worth elaborating on.

p.s. I bet the Sackville Lazarus’ were disappointed.

89. amish prays the lord his soul to keep - September 3, 2006

Goodnight Folks.

90. Sobek Rides a Pale Horse - September 3, 2006

This name-gag thing would work a lot better if I were LauraW.

91. BrewFan - September 3, 2006

Nice thread. lauraw, you could never offend me in a thousand years. Feisty, too. You can say whatever you want to me. I don’t believe you have to commit intellectual suicide to be a Christian so I don’t really think there is anything you could say that would offend me. I feel like I can defend my beliefs to anybody on an intellectual basis.

One of the reason’s Jesus was rejected by the Jews is he *was not* the messiah they expected. Their expectations were political, Jesus was anything but. He was not at odds with the Roman government and when asked if the Jews should pay taxes to Rome He replied, “Render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser’s”. The Roman Empire slaughtered Christians on a wholesale basis until 313 when Constantine granted religious freedom. Christianity didn’t become the ‘official’ religion untl Theodosius’s edict of 380.

92. Mrs. Peel - September 3, 2006

Communion Sunday!

Michael, your joke reminds me of the following conversation I had with my ex-fiancé and two friends.

Ex: Who here participates in symbolic ritualistic cannibalism?
(Both friends raise their hands.)
Me: (doubtfully) I guess I do, if you count gingerbread men.
Ex: Gingerbread men?? I was talking about Communion!
Me: Oh.
Friend 1: I was thinking gingerbread men!
Friend 2: I just thought that sounded like fun.

Anyway, I, personally, have to believe in free will, because if I didn’t, I would have no reason to go on living. But free will and the idea that God knows our lives before we live them are not necessarily mutually exclusive if you keep in mind that God is outside time. All times are now to Him.

93. Russ from Winterset - September 3, 2006

“How true. Yet we still can’t help but try to put God in a box.”

Much like putting Baby in a corner, this is something you should never try to do.

I’ve always thought that the biggest obstacle to faith is a person’s unwillingness to say “I don’t know”. Election? Predestination? Does free will conflict with God’s omnipotence? I don’t know, because God is beyond my comprehension. I’m just happy to enjoy the fruits of his grace.

Feisty, don’t buy that express ticket to hell just yet. Jesus said “My Father’s house has many rooms”. It’s not beyond comprehension that one of those rooms has a red light in front of it, along with a heart shaped waterbed with bondage restraints provided.

94. Retired Geezer - September 3, 2006

David Warren discusses the backlash he received from writing the Chestlessness column.

Link Here.

95. Mrs. Peel - September 3, 2006

I love my new church, LOVE IT! I’m so excited because I’ve been wanting to find a new church home for so long. Also, the Aggies won last night. And I just finished a huge project at work and now I have 5 different assignments which will keep me busy and challenged, and my career is in great shape. So now I’m going to go for a nice long run and then take a shower and then my new boy is taking me out on a date. He takes me on such great dates and it’s awesome because I’ve never been properly courted before. And he thinks I’m beautiful.

YAY!

96. John - September 3, 2006

Another great thread. I just want to throw some stuff out that hasn’t really been hit, at least to my satisfaction. This stuff isn’t aimed at any part of this discussion in particular – it’s just stuff that I find interesting or important.

My own trip has been from deeply religious but profoundly anti-church to agnosticism back to religious and finally Christian with an acceptance of Church. There were life changing moments along the way, and some things that insinuated the presence of God. Finally, there was also some great texts from some unexpected sources.

Like some other people that I’ve read on this thread, I tend to get a little pragmatic when I write about this stuff, but my own belief is that everyone has to walk their own path. One of the deep ironies of the Christian experience is that it is intensely individualistic, as well very protective of individuals. It is ironic because a lot of people take Christ’s discussions of “church” to mean that the Church is the only vehicle for acceptance or transfiguration. Of course, it’s not – each way that you can accept Christ are all based on a single person performing an act or undergoing an experience.

Another thing that I’m not sure ever gets communicated well is that Faith and Doubt aren’t opposites. They intertwine in experience. The more my Faith leads me, the more doubts I have. They take on a particular flavor, and it’s difficult to describe.

I am a philosopher by nature, and have been a big Rand adherent at various times, although I’ve always found the Objectivist movement annoying and smarmy. One of the things that consistently annoyed me was the notion that the more that you accepted intellectualism as a means of gaining knowledge, the more atheistic you would become. Especially wrt to Rand’s epistemology, she seems very insistent on this point in fact rather than practice. But it has always been my experience that the more you know, the more you don’t know. Your inability to know something, in other words, is not grounds for its dismissal, but is often a function of your being a limited human being using limited tools to attempt to grasp infinite concepts. And the fact that there are conceptually things that are out of our reach seems to be a truism, and therefore a proof of sorts of God.

Some of the most compelling writing about religion lately has come from Neal Stephenson, who is generally deemed to be a SF writer. His book Snow Crash is completely a discussion of the reducability of the religious experience to biological functioning. His ultimate answer is that religion, and the concepts of God, leverage those biological processes but are not dependent on them. And he has a great line along the lines that “Intellectuals are very dismissive of religion, but that’s because they are buying into the parts of it that are sterilized for mass consumption.” Some religions are nothing more than the sterilized bits. Christianity is chock full of subtleties and possibility.

To wit, Chirsitianity has changed its doctrines and demeanor in the last 2000 years, having undergone several crises and deep internal discussions. A bunch of these have been realized as wars, and a lot of them have begat wars. America is a Christian nation primarily because the Christianity of the Enlightenment (as Religion and as Individual Faith) gave the appropriate philosophical underpinnings. Christianity as a Religion wouldn’t have supported an “America” in, say, the 8th century.

To make a long story shorter, this is one foundational point that explains why our current war _is_ a religious war and war for Civilization. Islamic Fascism is Islamism taken literally. 21st Century Christianity has had the mitigating influence of Lutheranism, Calvinism, and 200 years of American Evangelicalism. All of those lead to a deep respect for individualism, free choice, liberty, and so on.

So this is what you bastards get for having a 100 post thread and having me come late to the party. I’ll post a picture of the bunk beds that I built yesterday while you folks were wasting time talking about your eternal souls.

97. lauraw - September 3, 2006

Feisty, don’t buy that express ticket to hell just yet.

Don’t listen to him Feisty. If you wait too long you’ll have to pay the scalpers.

Mrs. Peel, your last comment was enchanting. New love makes everything in life taste good.

98. Michael - September 3, 2006

But free will and the idea that God knows our lives before we live them are not necessarily mutually exclusive if you keep in mind that God is outside time. All times are now to Him.

That is exactly how I think about it.

99. Michael - September 3, 2006

Geezer, looks like Warren just isn’t going to pull his punches.

100. Dave in Texas - September 3, 2006

All times are now to Him

All our base are belong to him. Make your time.

101. Retired Geezer - September 3, 2006

All our base are belong to him. Make your time.
DinT, lol and true.

It is ironic because a lot of people take Christ’s discussions of “church” to mean that the Church is the only vehicle for acceptance or transfiguration.

I’m thinking that the Greek word for church is ekklesia which means ‘The called out ones’. It’s where we get the word eccleasiastical.

IAW church isn’t the building or the organization, it’s me and you.

102. one of the cat's tits - September 3, 2006

I am shocked, however, that you guys are unoffended at what I said

It’s because we like you, imaginary internet friend. You are a nice person. Imaginary internet friends do not take offense where clearly none is intended.

103. Retired Geezer - September 3, 2006

In other news, the always excellent, Mark Steyn seems to be siding with David Warren.

Am I reading that correctly?

104. John - September 3, 2006

Geezer,

I’d say that church isn’t me and you, it’s me and Christ. You and me can get together and share, but a lot is going to get lost in translation. It comes down to 1+Christ.

105. Retired Geezer - September 3, 2006

I’d say that church isn’t me and you, it’s me and Christ.

I’d have to agree with you. Thanks for clarifying my mind.

Next year when we go to Seattle, can we buy you some oyster shooters at Ivars?

106. sandy burger - September 3, 2006

You guys are discussing the order of events as far as your “name” being “written” in a divine “book”… that you think exists outside of time. It’s an entirely meaningless conversation. I mean, what does “before” and “after” mean in this context?

Much of Christian theology looks like this to me: applying human logic to concepts beyond human comprehension, and then believing in one’s conclusions with a fervent certainty.

Few of the normal Christian beliefs on matters of faith make the slightest bit of sense to me. I believe in God, for many reasons (in part, because I feel God’s existence, a statement which sounds somewhat silly to atheists). But I don’t think I can be counted as a real Christian, not as most Christians define Christianity.

107. John - September 3, 2006

Oh yeah Geezer. Speaking of God, I love Oysters. Heaven’s sea fruit.

Do you mean the one N of Seattle? The original Ivar’s?

108. sandy burger - September 3, 2006

Look at the first page of the Bible, book of Genesis. It’s clear to me that the author and his intended audience are people whose worldview sees the sky as a big dome with water above it.

People back then had such a small concept of God’s creation, compared to what we know today. Now, we know that the sky and the stars are something far more incredible than the ancients could have ever guessed.

But the ancients were forced to describe God using concepts they understood, so they imagined that God as the creator of a dome which we now know doesn’t exist (at least not as they thought it did).

My point is that we’re just the same today whenever we discuss God. Only, our mistakes aren’t domes in the sky, but implicit assumptions about time, free will, afterlife, and reality. But they’re just as likely to be misguided.

This isn’t an argument for atheism; I’m not an atheist. It’s an argument against any kind of certainty, though. We’re mortals, and reality is a mystery.

109. Bart - September 3, 2006

sandy, you’re making sweeping statements. Incoherent, too.
Focus, son, and try to tell us what you mean.

If I am intepreting your comments, we should all just say “fuck it, whatever, man.”

110. All Amish Wants is Life Beyond Sandys Dome - September 3, 2006

I think Sandy is saying that he cant make heads nor tails out of the Bible and that no one else can either. He thinks that mankind insists on trying to define Gods true nature when it is ipso facto impossible for mortal man to comprehend an all powerful God.

Ancient men tried to do it by writing the Bible, Modern man tries to do it by having conversations like this.

Nonetheless he believes in God because he can “Feel” Him. Just maybe not your God Bart.

111. Sobek Rides a Pale Horse - September 3, 2006

“It’s clear to me that the author and his intended audience are people whose worldview sees the sky as a big dome with water above it.”

Consider Moses’ intended audience: a bunch of people who had just spent 400 years in Egypt, and their descendants. It looks to me like he’s addressing the message to the audience. [One reason I never buy the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo: the Hebrews never had any such concept, coming out of an Egyptian millieu, and yet Moses never tries to disabuse them of their ex materia preconceptions.]

“Now, we know that the sky and the stars are something far more incredible than the ancients could have ever guessed.”

Unless they weren’t telling us everything they knew.

112. Bart - September 3, 2006

Amish beyond ThunderDome, sandy should realize that Bible scholars are able to offer many plausible explanations to the “confusing” parts of the Bible by intepreting the original text in its original language.

One needs to know how to read between the lines of Biblical scripture to be able to understand.

113. Amish is Hung like a Black Horse - September 3, 2006

Sandy aint gonna buy that Bart. Nobody is going to convince anyone of anything by continuing to discuss this. People on both sides will just become more set in their ways and eventually will eventually lead to ill feelings between the Innocent Bystanders.

I blame Sobek.

As a matter of fact Im pretty sure I saw him offering Feisty an apple over there in the Men Without Chests thread.

Say Goodbye to your Legs Crocodile Man.

114. lauraw - September 3, 2006

I feel God’s existence, a statement which sounds somewhat silly to atheists).

Not at all. And I remember well the feeling of grace in a quiet church, too.

Our difference is where we believe that feeling comes from.

115. Dear Penthouse: Amish Never thought this would happen to him -but last Sunday... - September 3, 2006

Not at all. And I remember well the feeling of grace in a quiet church, too.

Whos Grace?

116. sandy burger - September 3, 2006

There’s no way that I can be coherent today. It’s not on the agenda, I’m afraid. The laws of science forbid it.

I should really know better than to talk theological smack here without being able to back it up. You guys are friggin’ Bible scholars.

And, like Amish, I blame Sobek.

If I am intepreting your comments, we should all just say “fuck it, whatever, man.”

Well, yes and no.

Look, my “conversion” to really believing in God was pretty directly a result of wisdom I found in the Bible, and this faith dramatically changed the way I live my life on a day by day basis. I know how incredibly cheesy that sounds, and what a total pussy and hypocrite I sound like saying it, but it’s still true. So no, I really don’t view religion as some sort of fluffy “anything goes, don’t worry by happy” sort of thing, I do take it very seriously. It’s not just something that’s out there to draw upon when you feel “spiritual”, it’s a conscious decision to live your life for God, because you love God and because, for some reason and in some way, everything we do matters very much.

But yeah, “whatever, man” is pretty much is my take on the deep issues of afterlife, original sin, creation, and so on. Whatever, man, anything’s possible. God is good, so I don’t worry too much about it. (The number of angels on the head of a pin is fun to discuss and all, though, don’t get me wrong.)

Sobek says to consider Moses’ intended audience, which is exactly my point; I don’t think we’re much more advanced than they were. Look, I wasn’t bringing up the sky dome to attack the Bible, I was bringing it up to attack human mental capacity. Modern humans are still pretty much cavemen. Just look at Bart.

People on both sides will just become more set in their ways and eventually will eventually lead to ill feelings between the Innocent Bystanders.

Nobody is innocent, Amish. Nobody!

117. Michael - September 3, 2006

People on both sides will just become more set in their ways and eventually will eventually lead to ill feelings between the Innocent Bystanders.

I thought this was a remarkably interesting and good-natured conversation amongst people of good will, especially given the tindery nature of the subject. At the end of the day, we all still like and respect each other, and Brewfan has once again exposed himself as a dupe for satanic Calvinist heresies.

Where’s the problem?

118. BrewFan - September 3, 2006

T.U.L.I.P.

Thats how I roll.

119. John - September 3, 2006

And nobody is a bystander, especially if they’re a commenter.

I found the quote in Snow Crash, which really did make a big impression as I was on my way back to Religion. The quote is slightly paraphrased for this audience – Just call me Moses.

“Most people look at Religion, and see that 99% of it is bullshit. But they forget that the 1% is really important and really interesting. Religion is not for simpletons.”

I think that last point is really important, and I liken it to my conversion from quasi-liberalism. The more you reject what people say about religion and quest for yourself, the more realistic it becomes.

120. Michael - September 3, 2006

Lutherans generally have no problem with TUL. IP is where we fall off the wagon. But I kind of have an attitude like sandy’s — we’re really trying to box up deep issues that are beyond our comprehension. God is good.

121. John - September 3, 2006

What is that, Michael? 4 Avatar changes? Gonna call shennanigans.

122. BrewFan - September 3, 2006

I guess ‘once saved, always saved’ is a doctrine I hold dear because anything else would make grace meaningless and God capricious, imho. The only scripture in the NT that seems to supprt losing one’s salvation is in Hebrews 6:4-6 and if you chose to hold to this passage then you have to acknowledge that once its gone, its gone for good.

123. Bart - September 3, 2006

A deep issue to you is Lipstick’s extra-terrestial sized feet.

124. Michael - September 3, 2006

John, I abandoned Moses so Elzbth could have it.

125. John - September 3, 2006

Brew, I can’t take “once saved” seriously. I have sort of come to the conclusion that everyone’s behavior is relative – Christ expects our best from each of us consistently. At the same time, both Grace and Hell are dangerously close to being capricious, manipulatable jokes.

But it’s not mutually exclusive that Christ expect the best out of you and that “once saved is always saved.” It’s just beyond simple comprehension

126. Michael - September 3, 2006

A deep issue to you is Lipstick’s extra-terrestial sized feet.

Well, that’s true, but you’ve never seen me claim to be a particularly profound thinker.

127. BrewFan - September 3, 2006

I find it strange that people who want to tie salvation to works also don’t want to believe in the security of the believer. This is what I mean by capricious. For example, imagine a man worked hard doing good works all his life then one day, during intercourse with his mistress, he has a heart attack and dies. Oops! this ones not going to heaven. So much for God’s grace.

128. John - September 3, 2006

But the flip is true too. If Hitler was saved on his deathbed, would he be destined

129. Michael - September 3, 2006

I guess ‘once saved, always saved’ is a doctrine I hold dear because anything else would make grace meaningless and God capricious,

It’s not the caprice of God that causes the lost salvation, but the degenerate resistance of the old Adam. That’s why “I” is also a problem. If indeed grace is irresistable, then “once saved, always saved” is necessary to avoid the conclusion that God is capricious. Lutherans would say that millions of people successfully resist God’s grace. Others were elected to accept it. But, that does not mean anyone was elected to resist it, for the Bible clearly teaches that God wills for everyone to be saved. In other words, the concept of election exclusively refers to the saved, and not the damned.

From our perspective, this is just what the Bible says, and it sets up logical paradoxes for which we freely admit there is no solution. Calvin tried, but he just moved the paradoxes over to a different corner.

Having said that, I would also point out that a timeless God who is far beyond our reckoning will inevitably appear to be capricious to us, regardless of the attempts of theologians to make Him appear orderly by human reckoning. The Bible says that God is just and righteous in His wrath. It nowhere claims that God is fair and reasonble by our standards.

The only thing that is consistent is that He means what He says, and He delivers on his promises. For better or worse.

130. John - September 3, 2006

Achhh. I hit submit …

… would he be destined for Heaven or Hell. What I have learned, and what I believe, is that he would be destined for Heaven, no matter how viscerally unsatisfying that is to me. But it’s not about me … it’s about him and Christ.

At the same time, there is the implicit question from God that you do extraordinary things. Receiving grace, eg, is an extraordinary thing, and one that goes well beyond your “natural life.” There is nothing biologically that compels you to seek grace. It is a personal quest, belief, and action that seeks a transfiguration of your material body into the greater “thing” that is a being blessed with grace. And once you have received grace, that’s not the end of the journey either.

So, like I said, not mutually exclusive, but certainly not a neat fit for you and me.

131. Bart - September 3, 2006

God doesn’t keep a score card. He knows your heart.

By the way, doesn’t it seem like something is missing from this lengthy religious discussion?

132. sandy burger - September 3, 2006

If you mean Muslihoon, he’s out of town until tomorrow, according to his web site.

133. Bart - September 3, 2006

And that’s why you’re part of my Scooby gang that solves mysteries at Camp Geezer, sandy!

134. Michael - September 3, 2006

I find it strange that people who want to tie salvation to works also don’t want to believe in the security of the believer.

Lutheran doctrine does not tie salvation to works at all. I think we’re in agreement that “works” belong under the topic of sanctification, which is properly part of the Gospel message, i.e., a consequence of faith is that the Spirit dwells within us and relentlessly seeks to improve us.

135. Megan - September 3, 2006

Sandy said: “You guys are friggin’ Bible scholars.”

They’re really not. You had it right when you said:

“You guys are discussing the order of events as far as your “name” being “written” in a divine “book”… that you think exists outside of time. It’s an entirely meaningless conversation.”

I’ve just read through most of the comments. Even skimming, wow… that’s 20 minutes of my life wasted on degrees of theological illiteracy ranging from the merely absurd to the simply breathtaking. I’ll use Butters as an example, since I routinely make him my bitch anyway, and because Laura asked me to.

Regarding the Spear of Destiny, Butters, have you even read John? It’s 19:34, in case you’re ever inclined to pick up a Bible. It’s not remarkable in the least that no one broke Jesus’s legs because HE WAS ALREADY DEAD when they came to do it, you total retard.

Honestly.

The soldiers THEN pierced His side, AFTER ascertaining that He was, in fact, dead, which produced “blood and water.” It didn’t “accelerate” His death, you ninny, because (I repeat, for those of you who have trouble with sequential time) HE WAS ALREADY DEAD.

I suppose I could go into your more abstruse but equally moronic errors as well, but what’s the point? Your opponents, such as they are, occasionally manage to be even more clueless than you. Actually, it’s a bit of a stretch to call them your opponents, since you’re all just floundering around without any direction at all, but whatever…

Dumb post, dumb thread. Here’s a nickel, kids, why don’t you all go out and buy a better education?

136. Dave in Texas - September 3, 2006

Isaiah 53:5. Spear of destiny.

And lighten up, Francis.

137. Megan - September 3, 2006

The “pierced” in Isaiah refers to the nails, not the spear. :P

138. Bart - September 3, 2006

Megan, do you have anyhting to offer other than a sweping dismissal of the entire discussion?

139. Bart - September 3, 2006

…and insults.

You really need to read ALL the comments in the other thread, and ALL the comments in this thread before you jump in and offer your expert opinion.

140. Megan - September 3, 2006

Nope, nothing. You’re a bunch of morons, and the words “bible scholars” used in reference to any of you took me way over my RDA for irony.

Bible scholars. Feh. Like Cedarford appointed as an ambassador for Israel.

141. Bart - September 3, 2006

Nobody here claimed to be a bible scholar. If you read the comments, you’ll notice that we’re all sharing what we do know so we can find the Truth, if possible.

I really can’t understand the hostility. Or the hostility from Fistry and lauraw.

142. Megan - September 3, 2006

Settle down, Bart. ;) I’ve known Michael (“Butters”) for some time; this is just how I talk to him.

143. Dave in Texas - September 3, 2006

Zech 12:10. Psalm 34:20 (no broken bones, which was typically done to hasten death on the cross),

And yes, the other Psalm refers to the piercing of his hands and feet, Zech is non-specific. And yes the account in John says he was already dead… John goes on to say the piercing was to fulfull prophecy.

I’m sorry, what is it about this that is bothering you again?

144. Dave in Texas - September 3, 2006

Oh, you’re just busting Michael’s balls.

Carry on!

145. Bart - September 3, 2006

Michael wrote: It was extremely odd that the Romans pierced him with a spear to accelerate his death.

Thanks, Michael, for making us all look stoopid. By the way, next time you better capitalize the pronoun when referring to the King of Kings.

146. Megan - September 3, 2006

Uhhh, that Butters was quite simply flat-out wrong when he said that Jesus’s side was pierced to “accelerate” His death?

And that that idiotic mistake sort of serves as a metaphor for this entire thread?

147. Megan - September 3, 2006

Yeah, basically, Dave. It’s sort of my purpose in life. :)

148. Megan - September 3, 2006

Well, that and destroying the Democratic Party, but Howlin’ Howie seems to be angling for my job, so I might need to take up another hobby.

149. Michael - September 3, 2006

Megan is right about John 19:34 — Jesus was already dead. I stand corrected. I think my recollection was still correct in that breaking his legs would have been the norm (v. 33, for the effect on the diaphragm I previously mentioned), and the fact that his legs were not broken was taken as a fulfillment of OT prophecy (v. 36, which does not refer to the Isaiah passage about the Messiah being pierced).

In any event, Megan, we’re just shootin’ the breeze about what we’ve learned in Sunday School or from our personal experiance, and I don’t think anyone here has claimed to be a “Bible scholar” or to have any credentials as a theologian.

What’s up with the anger?

150. Megan baby, I think you need old Amish to give you a bit of his "Spear of Destiny" to relax you a bit. - September 3, 2006

You must spend quite a bit of time at the beach Megan to get that much sand in your vagina.

Im going to let your bitchy attitude slide – this time – because you like Kingdom Come which means you cant be all bad. And because your a woman and dont know any better.

p.s. I call dibbs on any pearls youve got – pink or otherwise.

pps Im out of here folks. Night.

151. Megan - September 3, 2006

Oh, “anger,” pssh. Laura just wanted me to beat on you a little, Butters. I imagine she’s satisfied now.

152. Dave in Texas - September 3, 2006

God I don’t want to read the whole damn thing, I pretty much avoid these things. Is that the premise of this whole thing?

Don’t hold my feet to the fire, I thought they stabbed him to accelerate death in case he was still alive.

I don’t feel like looking it up. Bust my chops if I blew that call. Be gentle though.

153. Megan - September 3, 2006

Dave:

“Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
– John 19:32-34

154. lauraw - September 3, 2006

GAH!
This is what happens when you suggest a ninja just slap somebody around a little.

Bart, I haven’t been hostile in this entire conversation. I did heckle, though. This is pretty much like a D&D thread to me.

155. Megan - September 3, 2006

I do nothing halfheartedly. :)

156. sandy burger - September 3, 2006

I should have said that they’re like Bible scholars compared to me.

But that’s OK; I recently acquired the Spark Notes Old Testament and New Testament study guides, so get ready for your old pal Sandy to become the next Elaine Pagels. Aw yeah.

157. Bart - September 3, 2006

So they weren’t making sure that Jesus was dead?

158. Dave in Texas - September 3, 2006

See, she’s a NINJA.

Ain’t no subtle death skills. Just death!

Megan, I’m hip dear. I knowed he were already dead, as we say here… I thought the relevant points were a) they didn’t break a bone of his, see Psalms and Isaiah. b) busting bones to hasten the death was normal, see your quote, and c) piercing, blah blah blah.

I just thought they stabbed him in case he was still breathing, which would hasten death, if you weren’t already dead.

When do the Cowboys play again? Are they dead yet?

159. Megan - September 3, 2006

Bart:

I don’t know that any motive was ever ascribed to the soldier. In the Acts of Pilate, it seems Longinus does it more to check on Jesus’s divinity rather than on whether or not He’s alive. Or, at least, he recognizes Jesus’s divinity after he does it.

160. Michael - September 3, 2006

Laura just wanted me to beat on you a little, Butters. I imagine she’s satisfied now.

Well, then, job well done. Consider me to be utterly humiliated because I was confused about whether the spear was used to accelerate his death or confirm it. I suppose that this exposes all my other comments as utter nonsense also. Oh well. Just another thrashing of Butters at the hands of Megan the Merciless.

Settle down, Bart. I’ve known Michael (”Butters”) for some time; this is just how I talk to him.

That’s actually true, Bart. This sort of vicious attack from Megan has been going on for years. I can only speculate that it’s her way of controlling her yearning for my body. Which is odd, all things considered.

This is pretty much like a D&D thread to me.

I hadn’t thought of that, but the comparison strikes me as apt in many ways.

161. Megan - September 3, 2006

aww, Butters. How else am I supposed to show how much I love you?

162. Michael - September 3, 2006

But that’s OK; I recently acquired the Spark Notes Old Testament and New Testament study guides, so get ready for your old pal Sandy to become the next Elaine Pagels. Aw yeah.

Dude, get the Teachers Edition of QuickVerse Deluxe, and fire that baby up for the next thread like this. The search engine works great.

163. BrewFan - September 4, 2006

Hi Megan. Nice of you to stop by. Thanks for not picking on me specifically. My feelings are hurt easily. What’s your take on the security of the believer. Feel free to humiliate Michael with your response.


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