Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dammit!

Concernedengineer has once again baited me into a response. This is my reply to his comment on the Ted Haggard post. If I have to work this hard, I'm going to post, rather than bury it in the comment section of a past post. This is long, but I think it belongs here because I think it illustrates the gulf between his worldview and mine.

”It is not wrong to desire justice and to speak truth. In point of truth, if you ever do become a Christian, I think that you would probably speak out with a strong, prophetic voice - something that the church needs.”

I was raised Methodist, and as a choir member, more active in the church than most young people. I met many good people that were doing their best to be good, upright citizens. I don’t object to the concept of fellowship, or human attempts at mutually assisted self-improvement. I object to hierarchical thinking, mind control techniques, and fanatical insistence that I believe a fairy tale. I also object to the scam-like construct that says I am a bad person if I do not believe without material proof (take it on faith). I am also not fond of the fear-mongering tactics of predicting dire consequences after death (of which the predictors can have no direct knowledge no matter how loudly they assert the “truth” of their beliefs) if I do not believe this fairy tale.

”You are right that authentic repentance is not just fessing up when you get caught. It is not false humility of acting humble and acting like you feel bad - as if by feeling bad you can somehow make up for the wrongdoing.”

I think we are close to complete agreement here. I believe that if a person was truly remorseful, they would seek some kind of help shortly after committing the act.

”When somene does wrong, they are lieing, cheating, stealing. The offense is real. Justice ought to be served. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life.”

“Ought” and “Should” are truly dangerous words in the human lexicon. They can lead to lynch mobs and/or the victim mentality. The inherent problem with the “eye for an eye” construct is that it does not solve the original problem, even if it does provide a measure of karma-like justice. In some cases, it is fair for a perpetrator to live with the direct consequences of their actions, but we as a society have not put out eyes or cut off hands in a long time. We tend to think it barbaric when other countries indulge in this form of justice. The problem with the death penalty solution is the same as the reason that murder is immoral in the first place. If I take your life, I have taken something that does not belong to me and I cannot give it back. Executing a murderer doesn’t bother me, and might give some closure to the victim’s friends and family, and might prevent more murder, but it does nothing for the victim(s).

”But I maintain that if this exacting of justice is the end of the story, then the logical conclusion is that we are all failures. The logical conclusion is suicide. Just look at your life, and I'll look at mine. Do you really think it is possible to compensate for all of the wrongs you have done (including the right things that you have failed to do)? If you think it is, then your standard is really low and/or your opinion of yourself is really high. Either way, you are sticking your head in the sand if you think you have what it takes to justify yourself. So, then if you have a realistic view, you recognize that you do not have what it takes to live a truly just life. Acknowledging this truth is the first step to getting in touch with reality. Failing to acknowledge this truth is to play the ostrich mentality.”

This line of reasoning is a logical consequence of your worldview. The idea that we are all failures is a direct consequence of believing that there is such a thing as perfection or a perfect being. I see this concept differently, as sort of a Platonic ideal that acts as a logical limit, like zero or infinity in Calculus. As humans, we are born with antisocial and behavioral problems that, while possibly advantageous to individual survival, need to be extinguished as we are socialized.

"God is loving, merciful, and forgiving. "

One of the hymns I used to sing in church went:

(soloist) “The firstborn of the Egyptians he smote."
(chorus) "For His great love, Is without end.”

I think that was the first time my brain went, “Warning! Warning! Danger Will Robinson! Does not Compute!”

”I have a friend who was telling me a story about a guy trying to teach his children about the grace of God. He gave one of his kids a cookie. One kid got a cookie, while the other kid did not. When the kid without the cookie complained, the father said that the kid who got the cookie did not deserve it. It was simply grace.”

Wow. Convoluted, but hangs together on its internal, um, logic. “Deserve” is another one of those dangerous words. As in the example above, many times in social, and almost always in Natural situations, “deserve” only comes into play as the logical outcome of work toward an expected goal, or as a reward for actual or perceived behavior. Sometimes the results are disappointing in real life. In the example above, I would say that the father gave the child a good working example of “arbitrary”. I infer from the story that the one child did not share with the other, and note that he/she might not have even known that he/she was empowered to make that decision (or at least ask about it), having assumed that the decision was made by the handing of the whole cookie to just one child. Rigid authority often causes this kind of unquestioning paralysis.

If I see a dollar or five or ten lying on the ground, I have a choice. I can pick it up, or leave it for someone else to find. Chances are about 50/50 the next person will be no more in need of it than I, and will pick it up anyway, so I generally pick it up. I don’t think any invisible power has engineered this, I think I have experienced a synchronicity between two probable events: people lose stuff and people find stuff. Since I don’t need this windfall (usually) it will probably find its way into a charitable donation or an extra generous tip for some waitress. If I ever encounter a larger amount of money, I will seek to find the owner for reasons that I will leave as an exercise to the student.

”That's how it is with God. God has grace on people. It is a free gift that flows out of his love and mercy.”

Sounds pretty arbitrary to me, or is that covered under the “Mysterious Ways” clause?

”We are not all created equal. Some have certain gifts, talents, abilities, families, and opportunities that others do not. For some, refraining from telling a lie is really hard to do. For others, refraining from drinking too much alcohol is hard to do. For others, eating right is hard to do. One person's strength might be another person's weakness. One person might be gifted in an area that another person is not.

This knowledge ought to compel us to be compassionate toward one another.”


I think a new spin on the old gallows humor would go, “Until they perfect cloning, we’re all created equal, but the minute you’re born, some are more equal than others.”

I think this reality is enough to make a thinking person more accepting of another’s different strengths and weaknesses, but compassion is perhaps more complicated. I actually had to look up the word to be sure that common usage agreed with my understanding of its meaning (it did). Compassion as defined, encompasses both elements of pity, and a call to action. The ancient Greeks said, “The gods help those who help themselves” and I take a similar attitude. I feel no compulsion to help those who give all appearances of being ones who cannot be helped through their own unwillingness to change. Indeed, unless I am the proximate cause of someone’s suffering, I am under no obligation to choose to help that person. This does not mean that I won’t, it just means I don’t feel like I have to. Too, I think it is every person’s right to struggle against their own personal problems as a solo effort, if they so desire.

”Make no mistake. I was upset by the news about Ted Haggard. What he did was wrong. I hope that he is changing - really changing from the inside out. But I do not write him off as beyond hope or beyond redemption or reconciliation. He did wrong. He can't make it up. No matter how much he tries, he did what he did. He is incapable of making it right on his own. He should still do everything that he can to make it right. But ultimately, he needs to trust God - trusting that God will find a way to make it right.”

I’m with you right up to the last sentence. Isn’t that like asking someone else to clean up your mess? This seems like adding layers of insulation against responsibility. What is the logic here? God led/failed to lead in the right direction? God’s plan? Temptation? The excuses are many. The ownership is avoidable. Ted has feet of clay. He is not what his followers thought him to be. He does not need our forgiveness, he needs to tend his garden and shut the fuck up.

”The idea that you think you have what it takes to right every wrong you have ever done is arrogant. I do not mean any disrespect. I actually say that with compassion in my heart.”

Hmmm. It would be arrogant if I thought any such thing. While my wrongs are miniscule when compared to others, such as the deaths caused by the foreign policy of President Carpenter and Vice President Walrus, I do understand that some things once broken cannot be unbroken. I will have regrets until the day I die, unlike some who will rationalize horrific immorality away. I do not dwell on this, but I do not forget either. Every day I write the book.

”Jesus paid the price for us. This is the greatest gift of the world - the gift of God's righteousness. The gift is free, but it is not cheap. It cost Jesus His life.”

I was not there at the time. I did not exist. If this actually happened, I did not ask for this. You are no doubt familiar with the problem with this assertion that is stated, “I sacrificed myself to myself so that I would not have to break a rule that I arbitrarily made myself… even though I am all-powerful and nothing therefore prevents me from breaking my own rules.” In addition to that classic problem, I also have the problem of reconciling a “free gift” to one that apparently has strings attached. Have you seen the cartoon where the Devil says to Jesus, “I’m sorry? What was that you were saying about suffering for a few hours on the cross? We were just celebrating Confucius’ 2085th year of burning in Hell.

”Very rarely will anyone lay down his life for another, though for a good man, someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

If your god is truly omniscient, then he knew that he would rise from the dead in three days. So where was the sacrifice? Can you see the problem I have with this myth? If you read accounts of historical fact like The Charge of the Light Brigade, or A Bridge Too Far, or Iwo Jima, or millions of other sacrifices that took place so that we could live as free men, how does this compare to the big deal you make over one Roman-style hanging of an innocent man? How many dead throughout the centuries could lay claim to the same distinction? And, they stayed dead by all accounts too. Isn’t that a greater sacrifice? The story that sticks in my brain is not one of a poor bastard hung up on a cross. I once heard a tale of a Police Officer who dove into a storm drain in pursuit of a child who got sucked into same during a flash flood. The Cop had no chance of survival, and probably knew that, but could not stand by and do nothing.

22 Comments:

At 11:37 AM, Blogger The Editor said...

'Should' and 'ought', fascinating because they imply an imaginary higher authority. Also neatly performing double-duty by shifting personal responsibilty from what one does or doesn't want to do.

 
At 7:06 AM, Blogger kalanchoe542 said...

"...I think it illustrates the gulf between his worldview and mine."

More like a yawning chasm, I would say.

Sometimes I really wish I could possess the simplistic, regurgitative worldview of these blind followers. It would make life so simple if I never had to think again.

Thank you, BL, for your insight and determination. It's good to know that there are others out there who can see the Matrix...

 
At 7:21 PM, Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

I read the whole thing. Your observations are pithy and entertaining - and exactly how I would have liked to express them.

Shame on you for being dragged back into the Cave of Wispering Delusion.

See, they have this magic dust - well they think its magical anyway - and every time your words find their way into their central nervous system, they toss a pinch of dust into the air thinking that it will cast a spell on you slowly transforming you into a creature of their design.

It just makes me sneeze loudly.

 
At 8:44 PM, Blogger Pixelation said...

I love civilized discourse. Far too often, both sides get into a shouting match and nobody wins anything.

But nothing quite beats the feeling of demolishing an opponent with a smile on your face.

The Joker must be the happiest man alive.

 
At 9:08 PM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

"I also object to the scam-like construct that says I am a bad person if I do not believe without material proof (take it on faith)."

It is not that you are bad if you do not believe. You are already bad. By refusing to believe, you are rejecting the free gift of salvation that has been offered to you. Refusing to believe is not what made you "bad." You already were.

The point is subtle, but significant.

As for the "fairy tale":

The gospel is based on two huge historical facts: the death of Jesus by crucifixion and the resurrection from the dead. Paul wrote about hundreds of eye-witnesses to the resurrection, many of which were still alive at the time of his writing. If the resurrection was not for real, then surely the Romans who opposed the spread of the gospel would have showed the body to people.

At this point, I would ask you this: How much historical evidence would it take to convince you beyond reasonable doubt that the gospel is true? I would like you to nail down some criteria, because otherwise, "reasonable doubt" can always be redefined and redefined again. But you believe other historical texts. So, what are some criteria?

"“Ought” and “Should” are truly dangerous words in the human lexicon.

Should we not be hypocrites (or as you might prefer saying - assholes)? You said later about Ted Haggard, "he needs to tend his garden and shut the fuck up."

Okay... so not should or ought. Needs. How is needs different than should or ought? Where does that need come from? You seem to be talking out of both sides of your mouth. But maybe needs is totally different than should. Please explain.

"The idea that we are all failures is a direct consequence of believing that there is such a thing as perfection or a perfect being. I see this concept differently, as sort of a Platonic ideal that acts as a logical limit, like zero or infinity in Calculus."

In other words, you have exchanged the tought truth for a comfortable lie and have thus deceived yourself and have stuck your head in the sand. You are too afraid to handle the tough truth. Of course, you do not even recognize your fear, because you have suppressed the truth so much that you are really deceived. Your perception of reality is totally skewed, and you love it being so skewed.

Of course, if I did not have confidence of Savior who loves me and who paid the ultimate price for my salvation, then there is no way that I would ever have the courage to deal with reality either. Like you, I'd essentially be saying, "I'm not that bad."

God was just when He struck down the firstborn of Egypt.

"I feel no compulsion to help those who give all appearances of being ones who cannot be helped through their own unwillingness to change. Indeed, unless I am the proximate cause of someone’s suffering, I am under no obligation to choose to help that person."

The Bible says, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another."

The greatest commands are to love God and to love one another. We are all obligated to serve one another in love. This is what Christ modeled for us.

And while God certainly helps those who help themselves, He also helps those who don't know or don't care to help themselves. God helps those who are lost in sin and rebellion an pride. He loves the unlovely.

Refusing to love people is sin.

As for minimizing the sacrifice made by Jesus...

First of all, that He made any sacrifice at all is merely an act of His mercy.

Second of all, Christ took on our sin - absorbing the Father's wrath for us completely. As bad as the physical sacrifice was, being separated from the Father was teh real sacrifice. Christ actually became sin for us. He did not merely die a martyrs death. He provided the atonement.

Other people throughout history have made all kinds of heroic sacrifices for other people. But only this sacrifice can take away my sin and yours, because only Christ's blood is pure enough to cleanse us.

"Isn’t that like asking someone else to clean up your mess? This seems like adding layers of insulation against responsibility."

Yes, it is as asking someone else to clean up our mess. Recognizing that we have screwed up our lives, we cry out to God: "God! I screwed up! I've sinned. I've squandered everything that is good and right and pure and lovely. I can't even begin to put everything together and then make this right - in my own strength. But I know that you died on the cross for me - the just for the unjust - the righteous for the utterly sinful. Now I confess my sins; I ask you into my heart and life. Come and change me God from the inside out. Give me a new beginning."

And when we pray a prayer like that from our hearts with faith, then God in His grace, mercy, and love forgives us and bestows onto us His rightesousness - thus making us justified. This is all by grace. Then, by that same grace, by His Word and His Spirit, He sanctifies us. He transforms us and enables us to make things right - not in our own strength, but in His strength working in us. By faith in Him, we overcome all that we could not overcome on our own.

See when the Father looks at me, He sees Jesus in me and says, "They are righteous." I am in fellowship with my Savior. I am my beloved's and He is mine. And this transforms my life.

Those who don't have a transformed life have good reason to question whether they are in faith at all.

 
At 6:39 AM, Anonymous ConcerenedEngineer said...

"Sometimes I really wish I could possess the simplistic, regurgitative worldview of these blind followers. It would make life so simple if I never had to think again."

Talk about an elitist attitude! You wouldn't happen to be from the Northeast, would you? Did you campaign for John Kerry?

I'm not blind. I considered this gospel for five years before I decided to follow Jesus. Having that decision, I have not turned off my brain, but have thought more deeply about all kinds of things (theology, psychology, psychiatry, science, engineering, philosophy, etc). It is a popular false dichotomy to assume that believers don't think or reason well, while non-believers are so scholarly. The truth is that some believers think a lot, and some do not. Likewise, some non-believers think a lot, and some do not. Don't be so smug. There are many believers who are far superior to you intellectually.

God bless.

 
At 6:15 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

This threatens to get very long. I am going to attempt to abridge the quotes and still avoid quoting out of context.

"It is not that you are bad if you do not believe. ... Refusing to believe is not what made you "bad." You already were.

The point is subtle, but significant."

Ah yes, but the church scam, er, I mean my "salvation" depends on making a life-long project out of it... or else. Not much of a difference when you look at it that way.

By the way, I would never say that it wasn't a brilliant scam.

"The gospel is based on two huge historical facts: the death of Jesus by crucifixion and the resurrection from the dead. Paul wrote about hundreds of eye-witnesses to the resurrection, many of which were still alive at the time of his writing. If the resurrection was not for real, then surely the Romans who opposed the spread of the gospel would have showed the body to people."

Paul himself did not witness the resurrection, so his "hundreds of eyewitnesses" are at best, hearsay. And what possible motive would Paul have to lie? He was only attempting to sell a new religion, with himself, and a group of other motivated salesman (with whom he brokered a deal) at the top of the pyramid. The Romans showing the corpse argument presumes they gave enough of a crap (they were equal opportunity persecutors, no matter how much the Christians would like to feel special), and it also presumes that there were no such thing as grave robbers or bribable Roman guards. The whole adventure surrounding the burial of Jesus, and his resurrection, and his cutesy way of "revealing" himself to those that knew him stinks of Liederkranz.

Regarding Paul, from Wikipedia, quoting other sources:

"He fell to the ground and found himself blinded, a condition which was not relieved until he had been taken to Damascus where Ananias laid hands on him, cured him, and baptised him. There are three versions of the story told in Acts: the first is a description of the event (9:1-19a); the second is Paul’s account of the event in Aramaic before the crowd in Jerusalem (22:1-22); the third is Paul's account before King Agrippa II (26:1-24). His own account, in his letter to the Galatians (1:11-24), is more circumspect, emphasising his independence from the apostles in Jerusalem but not describing his conversion in any detail."

"Acts makes no reference to his letter writing and it never quotes any of his letters. Omissions, of course, present less of a problem than apparent contradictions. The general line taken is to prefer Paul's own account to that of Acts."

"Upon Paul's arrival in Jerusalem, he gave account of his work of bringing Gentiles to faith and was then confronted by James the Just with the charge that he was teaching the Jews to ignore the law and was asked to prove that he was a practising Jew keeping the law by taking a Nazirite vow along with some others (21:26). That he did so is difficult to reconcile with his personally expressed attitude both in Galatians and Philippians where he expressed himself utterly opposed to any idea that the law was binding on Christians, declaring that even Peter did not live by the law (Gal 2:14). Various attempts have been made to reconcile Paul's views as expressed in his different letters and in Acts, notably the Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers states:

"Paul, on the other hand, not only did not object to the observance of the Mosaic Law, as long as it did not interfere with the liberty of the Gentiles, but he conformed to its prescriptions when occasion required (1 Cor 9:20). Thus he shortly after [the Council of Jerusalem] circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:1–3), and he was in the very act of observing the Mosaic ritual when he was arrested at Jerusalem (21:26 sqq.)"

My attempt to reconcile Paul's views as expressed in the various letters can be stated in three and a half words:

Paul's a weasel.

I explore this theory here and here. You might also want a look at this for a larger perspective.

"Okay... so not should or ought. Needs. How is needs different than should or ought?"

One is based on past experience, belief, or prejudice, the other is based on perception. Your point is taken however, that it is a bit presumptuous. I did not say that it was always wrong to use "ought" or "should", I said they were dangerous. So is gasoline, no? When I said he needs to tend his garden, I meant that as a euphemism for reconciling his beliefs to his actions. This is sort of an internal garden that has been displaying some hateful weeds. I don't like to express things this way, but you are no doubt familiar with the phrase "your body is a temple?" Well, it is at least a home and responds to both maintenance and neglect. So too does the human psyche. I think Ted would benefit from asking himself some tough questions right now, and seeking some professional help perhaps, far more than he would benefit from love-bombing and forgiveness from the church. Shutting the fuck up is a quick way to prevent verbal hypocrisy.

I do indeed share the value of loving my neighbor or my fellow humans (or at least holding them in positive regard) and I do so with a higher degree of success than some and less success than others. To do so all the time and under all conditions is an impossibly high standard and is also grossly uncalled-for. It is a recipe for failure, but then, the church thrives on those.

 
At 5:25 AM, Blogger kalanchoe542 said...

This is rich, CE calling ME an elitist! Take a look in a mirror sometime, pal! I know you think your fire is fueled by righteousness, but you have no respect for other world views, so just cut the drivel and identify the situation for what it is. You feel superior to anyone who doesn't believe exactly what you do. If that isn't elitist, then I am Genghis Khan.

 
At 5:56 AM, Blogger kalanchoe542 said...

One of life's little conundrums is that the TRULY arrogant never see themselves for what they are. They justify themselves to their own liking and paint the world the colors that support their vision. This, interestingly enough, is a trait that is also possessed by the mentally unstable.

The reason I chose The Predator as my avatar is simple: He chooses his prey based on some subtle, honor based principles. He does not hunt the unarmed, the handicapped, the innocent. His prey are the armed and arrogant/foolish.

Based on this, I should pursue, however I will not be rising to the pathetic bait again. I have more important things to do than waste my time on a lost cause.

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

Honestly, is it really worth your time talking to a brick wall?

Doesn't CE sound like one of those algorithyms that researchers use to simulate human conversation?

I don't know about you folks, but I have heard all this godtalk too many times and it fails to illicit any new thinking on my part.

Theists are really, really boring.

Chryst, it's like having dinner with an insurance salesman. It gives me indigestion.

 
At 7:11 AM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

"you have no respect for other world views."

It is impossible to have real respect for two contradicting creeds, doctrines, or ideas. Anyone who tells you any differently is deceiving you. And he probably is a politician - at heart, if not in practice.

At very least, you have no confusion about what I think and why.

That said, I see no reason why people of different worldviews can't be friendly with each other. I hate sin, but I love sinners.

kalanchoe, please let me know what I can do (within reason, please) to make your life more joyful and filled with love and peace. How can I serve you? Of course, if you request something that would cause me to go against God or cause me to neglect any of the other responsibilities of my life, then I won't be able to honor your request. Otherwise, I sincerely hope and pray that you might have a life full of joy and love, and I want to do what I can to help you to that end.

Peace, friend.

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger shoes said...

organized religion is the opiate for the masses. it was the only way to keep control thousands of years ago....to tell the uneducated about a all powerful being who lives in the sky and would smite them. original sin locks them in from birth. its a viscious cycle.
they have to sell faith because what else is there....the bible? without it being in gods handwriting or signed by him then its just a book written by mortal men....not unlike harry potter. a work of fiction.
you have the bible..i have fossils. i win.
look at the world today. wars , famine, gnocide...most done in the name of god. if he is truly all powerful then hes a piss poor manager. he would get fired from the gap for running such a poor operation. he needs to start delegating some authority to somebody more in touch with todays people. what well run universe would allow all this confusion.

 
At 7:26 AM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

"you have the bible..i have fossils. i win."

There are a great many scientists of all kinds - including physicists, chemists, biologists, archaeologists, and others that believe in the Bible. In fact, many archaeologists will bring Bibles on their escapades and have repeatedly found that the Biblical record matches up with the archaeological record.

Many of us who believe in the Bible also believe that the Hebrew word used for day in Genesis 1 does not imply a 24 hour period. I am not of those who believe that the world is 6000 years old.

Furthermore, throughout history, many educated people have believed in God. Once again, unbelievers are setting up a false dichotomy which says, "Only the foolish and uneducated believe in God. The wise and the learned know better." The facts are plain: Both educated and uneducated people believe in God, and both educated and uneducated people do not believe in God.

I note that shoes isn't making any real arguments - just proclamations. It is interesting how atheists will often make these kinds of proclamations "on faith." There is no evidence to support the notion that "organized religion is the opiate of the masses." There is substantial evidence that many people use religious rhetoric to hide, to weasel, and to avoid dealing with reality, but Jesus railed against that practice. Those who engage in that practice are not being true to the faith. So say what you want about the hypocrisy of those who profess Christianity, but real Christianity cuts right through all that jank and gets to innermost core of a person's being. That many who profess to believe refuse to deal with the jank does not imply that God is not real. It simply implies that people are sinful and stubborn.

And that is the reason why so much evil is done in the name of religion.

"if he is truly all powerful then hes a piss poor manager."

No, He's not. Much of the evil that is going on in the world is done because people have rebelled against God. Having rebelled against God, we have created a mess. We have reaped what we have sown. That's not God's fault. Furthermore, He has promised us to forgive our sin and heal our land if we turn to Him in faith and repentance.

If the Bible was really signed by God, would you believe it, or would you think someone forged His signature?

The truth is that God has - in a sense - signed His word. He has confirmed in by the testimony of the Holy Spirit. By rejecting the testimony of the Holy Spirit, God gives you over to a depraved mind, and you become deceived and confused.

God bless.

 
At 7:50 AM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

"Theists are really, really boring."

Boring or not... what does that have to do with the truth?

I would suggest that if you bored, then you are boring yourself - no disrespect intended.

I find life very exciting. Let's see: I get to study science - which is incredibly fascinating and causes me to wonder at the greatness of God's creation. We also have music, art, poetry, literature. We have sports. We have families and community - relationships. We have homes and fellowship with people. And we have some wonderful traditions.

But a great part about being a believer is that God gives all of those other things in life meaning, and He helps me keep all those things in perspective.

When discussing truth and justice, whether or not something or someone is boring is a real non-issue in one sense. But in another sense, I find it a bit sophomoric when people embrace the attitude that says "All traditions are boring and we have to experiment with all kinds of craziness and even perversion because chaos is beautiful and I want to be different just like everyone else." Furthermore, if this becomes part of your criteria for determining epistemology, then your whole basis for epistemology becomes unreliable.

I have very little tolerance for people who get bored. If you are bored, then get creative. Find a way to go help another person. Or find an ethical way to make $1000. Or learn how to play the piano. Or go for a walk in the park. Or write a poem.

But as great as all those things are, even with that, life is utterly meaningless and depressing without God.

I just find it a bit hypocritical and even partisan - in a sense - to find theology boring, but science fascinating. And I can't help but notice a bit of elitism once again.

A simple life is worth celebrating.

 
At 8:12 AM, Blogger shoes said...

you cant have a discussion (or an arguement as you might have it) because i'm speaking of facts while you are speaking of superstition. you cant argue faith.

and even though i'm making proclamation......they are spot on.

 
At 11:43 AM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

shoes,

I'm speaking of facts when I say that there are a great many scientists who probably know a lot more than you and me put together who believe the gospel.

What exactly are you saying that the fossil record proves? Darwinian macroevolution? Please tell me you are not making such reckless statements about science.

Or are you saying that the fossil record proves that there is no God? That would be ludicrous.

Or are you trying to assert that the fossil record contradicts claims of Scripture?

In fact, even if there is an element of truth in macroevolution, that doesn't necessarily contradict the Bible. A careful reading of Genesis 1 shows that the "land produced vegetation" and the "water teemed with living creatures."

While I believe in God, I am fully capable of engaging in a scientific discussion. Imagine that!

But let science speak of science - not of morality, philosophy, or religion.

 
At 3:43 PM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

Breakerslion,

The idea that Paul and James were opposed to one another is an idea that can only be entertained by those who do not understand the nature and purpose of the law and the nature of God's grace.

For in truth, they were not opposed to one another. They were emphasizing two sides of the same coin. But they both agree that the coin itself is valuable, and that you can't take half of the coin and leave the other. You have to take the whole coin - if you are going to take it at all.

James did not assert that people would be saved by observing the law. He did assert that faith without deeds is dead. This is consistent with Paul's teaching. Paul emphasized that you can not be saved by observing the law, but that through the law we would merely become conscious of sin. But there is hope for sinners. The grace of God is the saving kind of grace that justifies sinners and then sanctifies sinners. By God's grace, we become transformed. We are not saved by our works, but we are saved unto good works. "For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves - it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one may boast. For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The marvelous thing about this doctrine is that it does not excuse sin, but calls sinners to repentance - yet asserts that we are not saved by works (so people who think they are pretty good can just get off their high horse). In this teaching, we learn of the wonderful grace of God. We are not under law if we are in Christ. We are under grace. And therefore, we uphold the law. But when we don't, we do not get cut off from our salvation, but we are continually sanctified through and through by the grace of God. If we don't have a transformed life, then we have good reason to question the autheticity of our faith, and many have deceived themselves into thinking that their faith is authentic when in fact, it is not. James and Paul do not contradict one another; rather they complement each other, and balance each other out perfectly.

On the charge of Paul being a weasel who set himself up at the top of a great pyramid scheme...

Why would he repeatedly put himself in harm's way? He was repeatedly beaten, stoned, left for dead, whipped, imprisoned, and eventually beheaded, because he would not shut up about Jesus. He was not a stupid man. He could have avoided all of these things had he shut up. But he was compelled to take the gospel to the world, and he didn't flinch in the face of persecution and suffering. And he suffered real persecution. We, in America, are not persecuted all that much. But Paul certainly was. I would suggest that you have reached your conclusion that Paul is a weasel - not because of a careful and objective analysis of the history - but because you want to believe he is weasel. It helps you to feel good and right about what you want to disbelieve.

As smart as he was, if he was only looking to make a buck, he surely could have found an easier way and a more profitable way. A weasel would not put himself in harm's way over and over again the way he did.

 
At 10:47 AM, Blogger JanieBelle said...

Oh, Crap.

I'm so sorry, Breaker's Lion, to see that your blog has been infected with that hate-mongering virus, ConcernedEngineer.exe

I had a bout of that a while back, but I see from your archives that you were already aware of that.

My only suggestion is that you not allow it to take up too much of your time, although it tends to be rather entertaining to trick it into chasing its own tale.

Anyways, I was just on an unrelated search and happened by.

You've kindly commented at UDoJ on more than a couple of occasions, and I don't really recall having stopped by to say thank you.

Thank you.

I'll be 'round.

 
At 11:00 AM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

By hate-mongering, JB means believing in Jesus and objecting to immorality with the idea that morality is based on God - oh - and preaching to forgive Ted Haggard is also hate mongering. It is especially hateful to say that the unborn are human persons and therefore ought to be protected under law.

But expressing outrage at people for their immorality (based on non-Christian ideas of morality), approving of abortion - America's Holocaust - and displaying hatred, disdain, intolerance, and absolutely no kindness toward Christians - that's not hate mongering. That's cool.

Got it? By all means, showing contempt for Christians is cool - not hate mongering. But insisting that you forgive Ted Haggard for his sins - that is hate mongering.

Just so we're all clear.

Have a Merry Christmas! God bless.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Kristine said...

God bless.

*fart*
(Long story.)

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Has anyone ever done a survey on how many former Methodist choirboys fall into apostasy later in life?!

(I'm one, too!)

Me, I accept nothing less than DNA evidence (Jesus was a haploid baby nyah nyah nyah!) or signed affidavits with verifiable chains of possession. Anything else is just wishful thinking and/or self-delusion.

 
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