Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."



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Comments

Walrus

I think the first condition is to be profoundly aware of how you yourself have been forgiven, and needed to be forgiven. Which lies right near the heart of Christianity.

reader_iam

I read about the Amish reax elsewhere, on- and off-line (but am very sorry that I didn't encounter first the excellent post by the very-fine-indeed Walrus, whose general insight is a consistent grace) and was struck by it.

Yet I don't consider this "radical" Christianity, but rather "root" Christianity, a natural reflection of the ways in which Jesus was quite a radical (though he certainly was not in every way). This is a reflection of one of the most fundamental teachings of Jesus. As such, this reaction is not radical (though certainly notable, praiseworthy and a witness!--make no mistake what I think about that) at all, in terms of Christianity.

"Radical," as far as practicing Christians go (note what I just wrote, Amba; it's specific to that group), is embracing an idea of Christianity that would assess what the Amish are doing in response as "radical."

What are the conditions? Well, I guess that's complex. But the first thing would be NOT to consider some of the most fundamental, essential teachings of Jesus as, well, not radical.

Which, of course, the Amish don't.

amba

Funny that "radical" has come to mean "extreme, far out"' when its root meaning is "root."

meade

Is extending forgiveness a Christian obligation? To be a Christian, must I forgive those who trespass against me? Even those who murder my children? Isn't it possible to leave the forgiving up to the Lord, manage the righteous anger in my own heart, and still love my neighbor as myself?

I'm not ready to forgive Osama Bin Evil and his angels of jihad. I can't imagine I ever will be.

Where the heck is Pastor Jeff when I need him?

PatHMV

Meade, as Christians I think we do have an obligation to forgive our enemies, even the worst among them, and to pray that they see the light.

But of course we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so I have no reason to believe that failing in that obligation is any worse (and far more understandable) than any of the myriad other ways in which we imperfect humans daily fail in our obligations to Christ's commandments.

PatHMV

Amba... likewise with the term "fundamentalist".

Dave Schuler

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and not tried.”

G. K. Chesterton

Dave Schuler

“You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:43-48

amba

What can I say? That's radical. In both senses of the word. Maybe the most radical thing that was ever said.

amba

I remember being struck so hard by seeing Tutu talking about Christianity during the extraordinary Commission he was largely responsible for creating in South Africa. I wish I could remember his exact words -- something like, nobody ever said Christianity was a cautious or a timid religion, but it was better than that. He gave the sense of being embarked on a highly risky adventure/experiment with an unpredictable outcome. He was beaming with delight and seemed so excited, thrilled. He also put his head down on the table and cried like a baby at some of the stories he heard. He became one of my heroes at that point.

PatHMV

Amba, I can't find that quote, but I did find another one by Bishop Tutu which seems relevant:

"Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity." In the context of his community, he was speaking to black people who suffered mightily at the hands of the white power structure of Apartheid. Many black people came to hate all white people, many of whom were oppressors and most of whom benefited from the oppression whether they themselves approved of it or not. Tutu is telling his people to forgive, because it is a man's obligation to help his fellow man find salvation.

reader_iam

What can I say? That's radical. In both senses of the word. Maybe the most radical thing that was ever said.

Yes, but once said, and once Christians "sign on", it's no longer supposed to be radical (in the modern sense: bow!) for them. (Which is not to say humans don't fall short, because of course they do.)

I can see I'm not putting it well. Sorry.

meade

Interesting. Thanks, Pat.

So if indeed it's man's obligation to help his fellow man find salvation, it seems plausible to me that forgiveness, offered prematurely or cheaply, could end up doing just the opposite.

For the sake of the sinner's salvation, the process needs to include admission, remorse, restitution, and prayer for forgiveness. Right? Atonement.

Who are we, the sinner's victims, to short circuit that process?

reader_iam

Meade: Pastor Jeff could address it better. But insofar as Christians are supposed to be a body reflective of Christ, of God, we are charged to, well, reflect "radical" (in both senses) principles as set forth by Christ.

Now, obviously, that's a work in progress. But we're supposed to aiming at that, working at that, growing toward that. As a basic, I think we're supposed to accept the premises (of the principles).

The last part is the absolute toughest, I find, at least for me.

reader_iam

The "God's kingdom on earth" thing, basically ... .

meade

Attention. meade is hereby possessed by a dybbuk.

The Ministry of Truth has removed the slanty things and all references to them as if they never were.

EOM

BrianOfAtlanta

I agree with reader_iam that while the behavior of the Amish is certainly radical by the world's standards, it's expected behavior for a Christian. The fact that even many of us Christians, such as myself, wonder "Would I be able to do that in this circumstance?" says more about us than it does about the Amish. The Amish humble us with their humility.

Walrus

I agree with the consensus here. This is basic Christianity in action. It isn't optional. And it often overwhelms our natural abilities, which is why we have to rely on the Spirit of God to do it. As one of the Amish men said when a very rude TV reporter was shoving a microphone in his face as he tried desperately to avoid the camera, "How is it possible. By having Christ in your heart."

At the same time, it is useful to remember what forgiveness means. To forgive does not to mean to condone or to gloss over or to justify. It means not to hate.

I don't hate Osama bin Laden. I truly desire to see him brought to justice. He is a dangerous man and should be stopped. And he has not repented. Repentance is necessary to allow forgiveness to enter your life. If someone offends me and I forgive him, if he still refuses to talk to me, that forgiveness does him no good. It does me good, but not him. And if his lack of repentance means he's still out to hurt me, I will be wary and protect myself, even if I've forgiven.

Brecht had it all wrong. He thought forgiving meant being a chump. Typical atheist strawman.

amba

For the sake of the sinner's salvation, the process needs to include admission, remorse, restitution, and prayer for forgiveness. Right? Atonement.

Who are we, the sinner's victims, to short circuit that process?

Meade has a point in that a "normal" person might be shamed into awakening and remorse by being forgiven, but a sociopath wouldn't give a s**t.

But maybe forgiving is for our own sake, not theirs. Because if we hate we begin to resemble them. They are trapped inside their hate, which is lethally dangerous to others but also pitiable.

amba

Now I'm going to start another whole branch of this conversation.

To someone not raised a Christian, this question occurs: why is the myth necessary to the message?

The message is stunning and it is clearly not from a merely human or natural source. Isn't that enough? Why does Jesus also have to have been the physical son of God, been born of a sinless virgin, been willingly sacrificed to remove sin from the rest of us, been taken up into someplace called Heaven where we all have a chance to go after we die, etc.?

For someone not raised Christian, the message may be impossible, but it is thrilling. One trips over the myth and is sent sprawling on the way to the message.

I can't believe the literal myth, and I would rather live with not knowing what happens after death than console myself with fairy stories; but the vision of the kingdom of heaven on earth, as we get glimmers of it in Desmond Tutu's or the Amish's conduct, that is riveting. We can attain to the eternal state called "heaven" in a few of our transient moments on earth.

Isn't that enough?

Pastor_Jeff

Wow. What a great set of comments -- by all.


Meade, you are doing some good wrestling with the Christian idea of forgiveness. Jesus absolutely calls on us to forgive those who have sinned against us, and in fact states that if we don't, we cannot receive God's forgiveness. Walrus makes some good points along these lines in her last post.

You wrote: "So if indeed it's man's obligation to help his fellow man find salvation, it seems plausible to me that forgiveness, offered prematurely or cheaply, could end up doing just the opposite. For the sake of the sinner's salvation, the process needs to include admission, remorse, restitution, and prayer for forgiveness. Right? Atonement.

Yes. "Cheap grace" can hinder the work that God needs to do to bring true repentance. But see below.

(One technicality -- atonement is what Jesus has accomplished for us because we cannot atone for our sins. When we confess, repent and turn from sin to Christ, we receive his forgiveness and the benefits of his atonement for sin)


Who are we, the sinner's victims, to short circuit that process?

I don't think our forgiveness does that. In fact, it can be incredibly powerful. True forgiveness doesn't mean pretending it doesn't matter or denying civil justice be done; it means I choose to release that person to God who alone is capable to judge sin; it means forgoing vengeance (either mental or physical). To express forgiveness in the face of truly evil acts can be powerfully disarming. God uses that to break down the pride and anger which stand in the way of repentance.


And Amba, you're right on track, too. Even if the sociopath doesn't give a flip for your forgiveness and laughs in your face, you've done what you were supposed to do. You are at peace. How the other person responds is between him and God. The Amish are pained that anyone could have become so estranged from God.

meade

"...choose to release that person to God who alone is capable to judge sin."

Thanks... I think I get it. Hitler, OBL, Charles Carl Roberts, my ex wife... all I can say is, for some evildoers, it must take a whole busload of faith to make that choice.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6wuZygSAOCg&mode=related&search=

(audio NSFW nor many other situations)

Maybe two busloads.

Now, Pastor J, can you give me a hand with
this dybbuk thingy? Or do I need to see a specialist?

Pastor_Jeff

Amba,

Good questions. There's no short answer, but here goes.

I would rather live with not knowing what happens after death than console myself with fairy stories

I appreciate your honesty. It sounds like part of your understandable disinterest is due to the way Christianity has been presented to you: "Believe in Jesus and go to heaven." It's true as far as it goes, but it doesn't go nearly far enough.

the vision of the kingdom of heaven on earth, as we get glimmers of it in Desmond Tutu's or the Amish's conduct, that is riveting.

Amen! Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it more abudantly." That cramped vision of Christianity (going to heaven someday) was not Jesus' main concern. He spoke more about money than heaven! In fact he came to bring heaven to earth -- in a real, but limited sense.

The OT background to Jesus is that sin brings death -- literally and spiritually. And none of us are sinless before God. We are all corrupt in ways both small and large. And Jesus says we are all guilty and enslaved to sin. We are born on death row deserving our punishment. No matter how kind we are to the other prisoners, we still deserve death.

Because God is just, he cannot turn a blind eye to sin and pretend it didn't happen or doesn't matter. Do you want to spend eternity with Stalin? I don't. (Unfortunately, Bishop Tutu has gone off the tracks here and now believes in universalism. Bin Laden will be warmly received by God, according to him.)

But God is also merciful and loving. So he comes to us in the person of Jesus to show us what true life looks like and to pay the penalty for our sins, in order to reconcile us to himself and make a new kind of life ("heaven on earth") possible. Jesus comes to offer a new heart and a new life to people who know their hearts are full of sin. And he promises a new power to be able to live as citizens of heaven here and now. That's what's behind the unnatural concern and forgiveness of the Amish.

But there is still a real heaven and an eternity ahead of us. C.S. Lewis suggests that what we are becoming here and now is what we will be forever. Is my soul being shaped in a way that I would want to spend eternity with God? Do I not only love justice, mercy, kindness, goodness, repentance, and humility, but also hate pride, greed, envy, and every sin -- especially my own?

We need someone from outside to save us, to set us free -- those are the most common OT and NT images for what the Messiah comes to do. As you said, his words are not those of a mere human. He claimed complete equality with God -- radical and blasphemous words for a Jew. He claimed to be the way to the Father, and that he had come to give his life as a ransom to rescue us from the power and penalty of sin. He claimed the authority to forgive sin and the right to judge people's eternal destinies. He claimed to be the eternal God and ruler of creation.

Lewis also suggested that a person who said the things Jesus said would either be a lunatic, a liar, or who he claimed to be -- God in the flesh. The one option Jesus didn't leave open was to see him as simply a prophet or wise teacher.

Pastor_Jeff

Meade,

It does indeed. And there's a place for righteous indignation and holy anger, too. The problem is most of my anger is not very righteous :)

The bottom line for the Christian is that we are sinners saved by grace (God's undeserved mercy). That, along with the help of the Holy Spirit, helps us show grace to other sinners.

As many have noted, we're not always that good at it.

What is up with dybbuk and slanty things? I feel like I'm walking in at the second reel.

Tom Strong

I have no time to participate here as I'd like, but this is a very stirring story, and a great conversation.

Maybe I'll chime in later.

PatHMV

Amba, I'm certainly no scholar of divinity, but here's a partial answer to your question...

For one thing, abstract thought is a tough way to learn things. It's only recently in human history that any individuals have had any time to devote to philosophical abstract thought, and it's only very recently that the masses of humanity had sufficient education and socialization to individually engage in the kind of abstract thought which would allow one to philosophically reach these conclusions.

Mankind has historically learned painful and deep lessons from examples and symbols and stories than from individual reasoning and deduction.

Also, the same capacity for reason and abstract thought, while they lead both you and me to more or less the same principles espoused by Christianity, can also easily lead one to other conclusions, conclusions more harmful to society if practiced. of course, religion can be misused to reach the wrong conclusions, too, so I suppose that argument's a wash either way.

But I think a deeper answer is one I touched on a few weeks ago, talking about Jesus' Mom. All human beings have a deep need to be loved, to know that we are not alone, that somebody is there to help and comfort us. By sacrificing his own son to both live and die as a human being, God made a huge sacrifice, a sacrifice he would not even, in the end, ask Abraham to make, just to show us how much He loves us.

A final note. John 3:16 tells us: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." I don't think that God is demanding fealty to the person of Jesus: he is not Annubis or Ra, commanding fealty to a person or earthly thing upon pain of death or eternal suffering.

No, it means something else, and Jesus tells us: "For I am the way, the truth, and the light; no one comes to the Father but through me." It's almost like algebra. Where it says "Jesus" or "me" substitue "the way, the truth, and the light". No one comes to the father but through the way, the truth, and the light.

What is that way? Jesus tells us, in John 13, what one must do to be his disciple, to follow his way: "34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

A disciple of Jesus is one who has love one to another, as God loves us all. In the radical fundamentalism of it all, it's as simple as that.

Pastor_Jeff

Got to run to visit someone in the hospital. Great discussion.

I had written about the coverage of the Amish tragedy, and have now added links to this article and Janet's.

eusto

Amba,

Thanks for raising the elephant-in-the-room point: namely, that it appears that Jesus' message, at least imo, has little to do with the theology surrounding him, or at least is unnecessary to it.

I would very much appreciate it if any of the thoughtful Christians reading this would respond to my arguments. I have been bold and blunt, but I've tried very hard to be as fair and as polite as I can given the rather uncomfortable topic at hand.

I consider it a bait-and-switch technique. In that, what Christ said is stunningly beautiful, whereas Christian theology is imo incredibly horrid or injust -- on any traditional account anyways.

(Christian theology was more or less an elaboration of Paul, who never even knew the man -- not while embodied anyway.)

Why is that most people find Christ's words beautiful and the theology difficult and disturbing? Because the former is true, and the latter false.

Let me clarify my bold rhetoric. It seems to me that any Christian theology, if it is to be responsible, must directly and clearly answer the question: what about non-Christians? For instance, do all or most or even some otherwise moral Jews go to hell? Most of them have explicitly rejected Christ in the sense that they have had ample opportunity to know about him and still do not perceive him as divine.

(What about them? Or about most of non-Christian Japan and China and India?)

If you allow that, no, they do not go to hell, provided that they lead a good life, then you have abandoned fundamental tenets of Christian theology -- (ones which I think ought to be rejected.) IOW, you're now saying that no, it's not necessary to believe in Jesus. Which is fine by me, but if we say that here, let's not preach any differently.

Or let's say the Christian responds, well, I don't know about ALL Jews, say. Besides, I don't claim to know about these things -- to know what a person's fate is. That would be arrogant. If that line is taken, then if you don't know about these things, then you are honor bound to stop preaching that Jesus is necessary for salvation. You should teach things that you're not certain of.

Now, let's take up the Stalin case. Where does he go? Heaven or hell? First, off maybe the flaw in your reasoning is that you're making a false dichotomy. Why could Stalin not just be annihilated? God's "justice" certainly does not require eternal torture, or eternal banishment from more prime real estate. If God's mercy truly endureth forever, and Jesus says we should forgive seventy times seven, than at no point would God ever permanently consign someone to a less-than-perfect fate.

Now, some like Lewis, attempt to act as if "hell" is a self-imposed state, something that one does to one's soul. Perhaps, but that has nothing to do with being Christian -- that has to do with living an evil life.

And if we raise the question about Stalin, then what about Gandhi? After all, he studied Christianty throughly and embodied the teachings we're here discussing. Yet, he REJECTED traditional Christian claims. He did not consider Jesus to be his savior. What of him? If you'll allow him into heaven, then you've taken away one of the fundamental tenets of Christian theology. Which, of course, I think should be done.

Again, if one claims that one cannot know what God will do with a person so it's not for us to judge -- you're begging the question. You're assuming what's at issue. Namely, is Christian theology true? The above answer is one internal to the framework of an already assumed theology. Besides, again, if one cannot answer these very basic questions and yet still wants to cling to this theology, I think HUMILITY would dictate that you stop preaching a theology that you don't really understand.

Now, as for C.S. Lewis liar/lunatic thing. First off, just because Jesus may have some said some profoundly beautiful things it by no means follows that he can't have deluded himself as to his identity. Furthermore, all those statements are to be found in John, the latest, least historical, and most different of the canonical Gospels.

Furthermore, just because Jesus was a Jew doesn't mean that he would have never questioned Judaism -- as he clearly did (it is written but I say unto you). Buddha was a Hindu but he strongly questioned Hindusim.

The reason why I am being so forthright here is that I think traditional Christian theology IS blasphemous. I object to it, not on atheist grounds, but on religious ones. If there is no fear in love, whence this eternal damnation, or eternal not-so-greatness, depending on your view of hell.

I think Christians who preach such a view are defaming the divine; furthermore, to believe that even a non-zero number of non-Christians will be sent to not-so-great land for all eternity, is the utmost spiritual racism and elitism. It is NOT humble and self-effacing.

This very nasty strain that has become entagled with Jesus' pure teachings should be removed. After all, it was THAT strain that permitted virtually ALL the heinous deeds done by Christianity, not the teachings of Jesus were discussing. Christian theology and belief in hell lead to the crusades, the inquisitions, and the wars of religion.

If indeed, by their fruits we shall know them, then Christian theology has a very bitter fruit indeed and is not of God. Again, if anyone feels uncomfortable defending the traditional views or at least less comfortable defending them then Jesus' words, doesn't that mean that, you know, you're kinda not sure of them?

eusto

I agree almost entirely with Pat, save that I don't see why God would need to require a human sacrifice in order for forgiveness? If we humans don't demand sacrifices in order to forgive, then God, who is greater than us, surely would not need to so either. My comments were primarily targeted at Pastor Jeff (I hope he comes back) as well as more traditionally-minded.

Pat,

Spread your views more widely!

PatHMV

God didn't need a human sacrifice for himself; that's why He stopped Abraham at the last minute. God rather sacrificed part of Himself to demonstrate to humanity how much He loves us.

Eusto, when you get into the level of details of specifics, it's hard to say that there is a single "Christian theology". Amish, Lutheran, Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, Adventists and many, many others all have their differences of opinion over fine and not-so-fine points. There are differences of believe among Christianity over predestination (only the "elect" can reach heaven) and the importance of good works as opposed to faith and whether one or the other or both is required, and in what proportions, and many, many other crucial areas of "doctrine". I can't respond to your general criticism of "traditional Christian theology" without knowing more of what you mean.

amba

But there is still a real heaven and an eternity ahead of us.

Pastor Jeff -- That's where you lose me. How do you know? Because you read it in a book you choose to believe? That's not "knowing." Trusting, maybe.

amba

Pastor Jeff --

dybbuk and slanty things: I took over and rewrote a post signed "meade" which was addressed to those who had been wringing their hands, in helpless italics, over a bunch of inadvertent italics.

amba

It's only recently in human history that any individuals have had any time to devote to philosophical abstract thought

Pat: I thought the Greeks did that.

eusto

Pat,

When I speak of traditional Christian theology, I speak of that which is held in common by all orthodox Christian denominations. Something that both Calvin, Luther, and Aquinas would accept. Now I will admit that some trend universal salvationist these days, such as the Episcopal church. I have no beef with them. But rather with those who believe that accepting Christ as one's savior is necessary in one form or another.

Predestination etc. are not really of concern. Nor are faith and works. What is of concern is that Jesus plays any necessary role in salvation.

BTW, I'm virtually certain that your view is not orthodox. Which is one reason I can support it.

Now, notice Pat you're doing a bit of a gloss on the sacrifice thing. I suppose God could allow himself to be killed to show his love for us. But that would be a bit of a strange way to show one's love if the sacrifice weren't necessary.

All I'm saying is that it seems quite perverse to say that (1)God needs to be propiated because he is "just"(2)Our sins our so bad and we're so bad we can't propiate ourselves (3)Therefore God will allow himself to be killed. IOW, (1) seems perverse. But without (1) I'm not sure why God would choose self-torture as a way of showing one's love toward humanity. That doesn't seem to bear any relation to how love is understood.

I don't just throw myself in front of a train to show my love for you. I throw myself in front of a train to push YOU away. My point is the train, that is (1) seems absurd. If (1) is absurd so is the sacrifice.

My real problem with Christians, or other traditionalists, and I think amba would agree (at least partially), is that they actually believe that their views have a chance of being right, as opposed to being a very imperfect human device to reach the divine.

My only point is that, assuming God exists, the traditional theories fail miserably, in the sense that they're very unlikely to be true, and that people should stop pretending otherwise. People should stop taking ancient theories so seriously, as if they mapped onto reality. They have too many flaws to do so. If anything, they're like the four humours description of health.

I guess I just find it deeply offensive and to be honest, a bit moronic, to claim, as an orthodox Christian must, that Christianity is the true religion. It's offensive because it's saying all others are screwed, and it's moronic because it doesn't withstand scrutiny.

What I'm saying is this. A Christian has two options. (1) Be orthodox which paints God as at least an enabler of eternal torture or at least eternal not-so-greatness or (2)become a religious pluralist,or a universal salvationist, or a post-modern Christian. What frustrates me is that too many Christians try to preserve orthodoxy and at the same time try to act as if orthodox Christianity is a religion of love. One can't have both.

You can't at the same time say that God is love, and yeah, although they will try to squirm out of it or downplay it or somehow obfuscate, you ought to believe in Jesus -- at least to be on the safe side. They're smuggling a doctrine of hate and division under the cloak of love.

PS Pat, though I'm trying to preserve anonymity, we know each other. I used to post a lot on centerfield and defended the notion of a centrist party frequently. But don't ask my name. I even tried to mitigate between you and Brian once when he was making rude remarks ;)

Pastor_Jeff

Eusto,

No one will be condemned because they didn't hear about Jesus. Everyone is already separated from God because of our sin. That's the clear teaching of the Bible from both Testaments: Sin = death, both physical and spiritual. Sin is what's wrong with each one of us on the inside -- pride, anger, greed, lust, envy, the whole lot.

The cross is the intersection of God's love and justice. There God's holy and just wrath at sin was poured out on Jesus in our place. Jesus took the punishment we all deserve, and now offers himself freely to all who will receive him. How is that elitist? If you see it that way, your issue is with Jesus, not me. I'm just telling you what Jesus said.

If you don't want to trust John (even though you quoted him) or Paul, how about these:

* Jesus judges mankind (Matthew 7:22, 9:4, 12:25, 22:18-20)

* Jesus forgives sin and determines who will be forgiven (Luke 5:17-26, 7:36-50, 13:40-43, 18:9-14).

* Jesus' authority = God's authority (Matt. 12:3-8, 28:18)

* Eternal destinies depend on response to Jesus (Matt. 7:21-27; 10:32-39; 16:24-26; Luke 14:26-27; Mark 8:34-38)

* Jesus' comes to die for our sins (Matt. 20:28; 26:27-28)

And finally,

* Jesus believes in a real hell involving judgment, rejection, and punishment (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-30; 7:21-23; 8:11-12; 10:28; 13:40-50; 18:6-9; 22:13; 23:15, 33; 24:51; 25:30, 41-46. There are more cites in Mark, Luke and John also.)

In fact, Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven. I believe in hell and judgment not because I like the ideas, but because Jesus believes in them and I trust him more than anyone else.

None of this makes me think I'm "better" than anyone else. I am just as deserving of God's judgment as everyone. I don't say any of this with pride, but with profound gratitude to God and an acute awareness of my own sin.


May I ask you a few questions?

If you don't trust the Bible as an authoritative witness to Jesus, then why do you believe he said the things you like?

What things did Paul write which you believe contradict Jesus?

If salvation is not a gift of God's grace by faith in Jesus, what is it based on?

Pastor_Jeff

Amba,

How do you know? Because you read it in a book you choose to believe? That's not "knowing." Trusting, maybe.

I don't think I claimed to have empirical proof. I didn't mean to in any case. Sure, it's faith -- and trust.

But we think we have good reason to believe in lots of non-material reality, don't we? -- love, beauty, truth, good, conscience, consciousness.

I am curious. Do you believe that there is a personal existence after physical death?

Pastor_Jeff

Eusto,

May I respond? You write:

that would be a bit of a strange way to show one's love if the sacrifice weren't necessary.

But that's exactly the point of the Bible from beginning to end. The sacrifice was necessary.


it seems quite perverse to say that (1)God needs to be propiated because he is "just"

I'm not sure why. We expect our courts to punish wrongdoers. We experience righteous anger at evil such as what Roberts did to those Amsih girls. If we are sinful and flawed and yet experience moral outrage and a desire for justice, why would a perfect being be less angered at offenses against him or less desirous that the guilty not "get away with it"?

One alternative is universalism, but the idea that it doesn't matter what you do seems morally abhorrent. Bishop Tutu now apparently believes in universalism, and says that Bin Laden will be in heaven. I have a problem with that, as I think most people would.


I don't just throw myself in front of a train to show my love for you. I throw myself in front of a train to push YOU away.

Yes, that's what Jesus has done -- taken the bullet for us. "Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends."


My real problem with Christians ...is that they actually believe that their views have a chance of being right

You're being disingenuous. Everyone thinks they're right. You seem pretty convinced that you're right.


assuming God exists, the traditional theories fail miserably, in the sense that they're very unlikely to be true

How would anyone know this? How do you know this? That's what you believe, but you have no evidence or reason to believe it beyond your faith in it. Your asserting I'm wrong doesn't make you right. And it sounds a lot like you think your view "has a chance of being right."


It's offensive because it's saying all others are screwed,

As do all religions when you come down to it. Everybody (who isn't a universalist) thinks they're right -- as do you. Christians just admit it.


it's moronic because it doesn't withstand scrutiny.

I've yet to see that demonstrated. What scrutiny has it not withstood? You may not agree with Christian belief, but it's certainly internally consistent and has great explanatory power for the world and human nature.


They're smuggling a doctrine of hate and division under the cloak of love.

I guess it all depends on your perspective. If there is a train bearing down on you and I try to warn you and tell you how to be saved, that's loving. If there is no train, or you choose to believe there is no train, I can see how you would take Christian warnings as arrogant or elitist.

But then the real questions are about the nature of God and whether there is such a thing as judgment and eternal life, and if so, how one experiences it.

eusto

Pastor Jeff,

I apologize for being strident; I'm quite passionate about this issue -- as you can see. I appreciate your response.

We are talking at cross-purposes. Although I do not believe that traditional Christian theology (TCT) flows from the Bible, I'm willing to concede that for the sake of argument. If I accept that the Bible does teach TCT, my claim is that what it teaches is unjust.

In other words, it is unjust for Gandhi or Jews to be condemned. And that it makes no sense to believe that God would need a sacrifice. You can't refer to the Bible here because that's what I'm questioning. I'm saying what the Bible teaches is unjust.

Now if you reply, by human standards, yes, the Bible is unjust, you're again begging the question. What we're trying to get the answer to is whether the Bible teaches unjust things, and the only standard of justice we could possibly apply is that known by humans. To me, it is clear that eternal punishment for anyone is unjust and evil.

If you disagree, please state for the record what you believe the Bible has to say about damnation for Jews and for Gandhi. If you can't answer this basic question, why are you confident that this theology that you're teaching is true? If you can't even answer the simplest question about it, how can you honestly teach it?

My standard is simple. Any theological system that allows that God might eternally torture people is wrong, especially if only on the basis of belief. As a nation, we're debating whether the US should ever torture. If torture makes you fill uneasy down below, even for short durations, how much the more so for a perfect and ostensibly loving being.

If someone made the claim down here that they needed to eternally torture someone for the greater good, would you accept it? Would you accept it if they then tried to REDEFINE justice, so that the punishment is completely out of proportion to the crime. A perfectfully just God would always have the punishment fit the crime, unless he showed mercy. It is fallacious to say that a perfect God requires "perfect justice" and therefore requires infinite sacrifice. No, again perfectly just just means the punishment should fit the crime. IOW, claiming that TCT is just is deeply Orwellian.

Now, to answer your questions.

(1)If you don't trust the Bible as an authoritative witness to Jesus, then why do you believe he said the things you like?

The gospels are the earlier and most reliable source of information we have about Jesus. However, we have to apply careful historical methods to figure out what he most likely said. I am particular to Bart Ehrman's methodology and interpretation of the Bible. So you're right that I have to be careful to make sure that what I quote does meet the test's for historicity that Ehrman lies out -- or at least some test for historicity. At least if I want to claim that the historical Jesus actually said it. However, more basically I trust that I can recognize the beautiful. Even if Jesus didn't happen to say the passage in question, I can still accept it as inspiring.

(2)What things did Paul write which you believe contradict Jesus?

I'm not enough of a Biblical scholar to answer that complex question, not without digging through my books at least. But when I have studied the texts, it seemed that the Jesus of Paul was quite different than the Jesus of the gospels. But I'm not prepared to defend that here.

If salvation is not a gift of God's grace by faith in Jesus, what is it based on?

I don't believe we need salvation. Salvation from what, the hell god created for sinners? What are we being saved from? If only sin, then I believe we can morally improve without Jesus. Buddhists are proof of that.

eusto

Pastor Jeff,

Thanks again for responding. Though we're cross-posting. Let me try to answer the questions that I haven't already answered.

First, off, it is true that everyone believes that they are right. However, some believe more firmly that the traditional views are correct than others. Other religions believe they're right, but usually allow those who lead moral lives, whatever their religion to be "saved." That's what makes Christianity uniquely elitist. Only it says everyone else is screwed. Even Islam allows for that. Atheists don't say it, Buddhists don't say it. No one else has the audacity to claim that all others will be tortured forever, save maybe Islam at times.

I just feel that if someone claims that a wholly good God's justice demands torture of those who do not believe, they have a much higher burden of proof than I do. My claim is very natural, if God exists, he doesn't torture anyone. I don't believe that Bin Laden will be in heaven; what about annihilation? I think if someone is really just beyond hope, annihilate them, don't torture them forever.

Now, you ask why I think that the traditional theories fail. Well that's a long story. But what I mean is that they contain internal contradictions or are manifestly unjust, as I have been arguing. For instance, note the contradiction between forgiveness seventy-times-seven and the very stern God who will damn people eternally.

Notice as I'm questioning the whole system of the Bible, I have many options open to me. Reincarnation, just plain death, or whatever. But that's getting us off topic. Again, the central claim here is that why the Bible teaches, or is claimed to teach, is unjust.

Let's put in another way. God is the great conductor. He wrote all the rules. What I am saying is that only a sick and evil God would create such a train as previously discussed. To be saved from that train is to be saved from God himself. Again, perfect justice does not entail eternal punishment. My point is that only an evil God would write the rules the way Christianity said he did.

That's your task. You need to play John Yoo and justify your administration's policies. It's no good to look at the text from which the policies derive, because that's what's being questioned.

Pastor_Jeff

Eusto,

Thanks for your interaction and responses. I appreciate them both. We are cross-posting, but I think it's working okay.

If you disagree, please state for the record what you believe the Bible has to say about damnation for Jews and for Gandhi.

Well, obviously you're not looking for references about those two specifically, but those who do not beleive in Jesus. Let's start with what Jesus said:


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:16-18)


"'You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.'" (John 8:23-24)


"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." (John 6:54-54)


Pat is right that love is the fulfillment of the law. The problem is we don't love -- not according to God's standards.

The old covenant under Moses was "Obey the law and you will live." Nobody could do it. Nobody ever came close.

"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."" (Luke 10:25-28)

Aye, there's the rub. If we could do that, we would have earned eternal life. But we can't and we don't -- not Mother Theresa, not me, not anybody. All God's law can do is condemn us and show us where we fail.


"No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:20-24)


Under the new covenant, Jesus comes to fulfill the law which we can't. He did what we were unable to do. He pays the penalty for our sin and offers us new life and a new ability to live the way God intended.

It's not a matter of self-improvement -- unless you can improve yourself to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love others to the extent and degree you love yourself.

Does it bother me that the Bible teaches that all who die apart from Christ will eternally perish? You bet it does. That's why Christians are so big on evangelism. That the gospel is offensive is nothing new. Jesus said it would be, as did Paul. The earliest Christians were persecuted precisely because of their claims to exclusivity which were offensive to a syncretistic Roman culture.

Is God unjust in condemning people? It seems most of your hesitation is related to eternal torment. Not all traditional Christians believe in conscious torment in hell. Some hold to annihilation. Catholics believe in purgatory with the possibility of post-death repentance. It's an issue over which there is some Christian disagreement.

But does God have the right to judge his creation at all? A teacher has the right to judge her students' work and assign grades. A judge has the right to try cases according to law and assign punishment. If we who are imperfect can do these things, then a sumpreme being who is perfectly good and just should have the right to set standards and hold us accountable. We may disagree over the details, but I believe God will judge.


In your second post, you assert that God is unjust because he created the system in which we are doomed to failure and yet held repsonsible.

only a sick and evil God would create such a train as previously discussed.

God's standards are higher than we can reach on our own. That's not God's fault, but ours.

Again, here is Paul:

"What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good ... What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing ... So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-- through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:15-25)

I think that's a pretty honest and accurate assessment of the human condition. Paul is not saying he is irredeemably wicked and evil; he wants to do good. But even our good deeds are corrupted with pride, self-interest and sin.

But God didn't create us this way -- that's what the first chapters of Genesis are about. We were created to live in perfect harmony with God, one another, and creation. But we have chosen sin and turned away from God in rebellion and pride ("You will be like God, knwoing good from evil"). We have ignored his warnings and run out on the tracks, thumbing our noses at him. And even though it's not his fault, God stepped in to save us from ourselves, and yes, from the justice we richly deserve.

In spite of their best efforts, some parents have wayward kids -- children who reject good examples and teaching to do selfish, even evil things -- like Roberts in Pennsylvania. If he hadn't killed himself, would he have deserved death? I think so. Do his parents still love him, grieve over his choices, and wish things were different? You bet. But they can't do anything about it. God can do something about our sin, and has.

We like to put sin in neat categories and tell ourselves that we're not as bad as those really evil people. But it's Jesus who said:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, 'is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matt. 5:21-22)

And:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matt. 5:27-29)

And the rest of the Sermon on the Mount is harder yet.

Did Stalin do more evil than Gandhi? No doubt. Did Gandhi live up to God's standards? Nope. I don't. Do you? Does anyone?

We're all guilty. So what's the solution?

eusto

SUMMARY

Sorry for my rather tangled mass of writing.

These are the core questions that need answers:

(1)Defend eternal punishment as just WITHOUT reference to the Bible, for that is what is being questioned. Keep in mind that justice means "the punishment should fit the crime."

(2)State clearly what happens to people like Jews and Gandhi. Or to be personal, state clearly what will happen to amba if she continues not to view Jesus as her personal savior.

(3)Explain how her reasoned choice to not believe in Jesus warrants eternal torture. Show how a finite misdeed merits eternal punishment.

(A perfectfully just God merely makes sure that the punishment does fit. Perfectfully just does not mean infinitely offensible.)

(4)If you believe that God practices torture (or outsources it to the Devil), I think you can see why I say that this is smuggling hate and defamation of God under the cloak of love.

(5)Remember God wrote all the rules and to believe that an omnipotent being has NO CHOICE but to torture to satisfy "justice" is absurd.

Certainly, it is within God's power to forgive whomever or whatever he desires. It makes no sense to say that sacrifice is required. Again can even I not just forgive someone, without demanding a sacrifice, even a small one commensurate to my small amount of virtue? If so, then God certainly could do the same. Eternal punishment is unnecessary.

eusto

Ah, another cross-post. Thanks again for your patience -- I can be intemperate.

Again, you're defending TCT from within. I'm asking you to stand outside it and evaluate it objectively.

It makes little sense to me to say that we should be judged based on whether or not we accept Christ. Just as it's more important what comes out of our mouth than what goes in it, is it not more important what we do, than what we believe???

It also makes little sense to say that we deserve eternal punishment. For what, the sins of our "father" Adam? It is unjust to judge someone on what their father has done.

If I'm sinful, then, at most, it should be an eye-for-eye. Eternal punishment doesn't even meet that low standard.

And besides, it's not my fault that I have a fallen nature, assuming TCT for now. God could have just started over after Adam. He didn't have to let us breed.

And also notice, that, well, you're weaseling. You're unwilling to state that you believe that Jews and Gandhi (and amba) will be eternally punished.

This is disingenuous. I guess I believe that if people fully grasped just how bad of a "hit-piece" on God TCT is, they would flee from it in droves -- and you're, well, playing the role of the deceitful car salesman -- trying to gloss over what any child would reject as cruel and evil.

eusto

Just to be clear: it drives me nuts when you keep quoting the Bible. You can't use the Bible to justify the Bible. Stand outside the Bible and explain why what it's saying is just.

eusto

Finally,

Even though we cross-posted, please focus on the 5 questions I wrote. The rest is clarificatory. Those are central.

Also, do not try to suddenly be a post-modern weasel and question whether it's possible to objectively evaluate something. Just try to be objective, okay :)

Pastor_Jeff

Eusto,

I know my last post was long, but I really believe I answered all your questions already.

As Jesus himself said, all who die not believing in him are condemned already. They will be eternally separated from God. How much plainer can I be?

I've recognized that not all Christians believe in conscious suffering. If we get rid of conscious suffering in hell, then you're okay with Christianity?

"Torture," by the way, is your word, not mine, and is not generally used by Christians, as it's a loaded term that doesn't express the biblical concept. Is that word the problem?

I've told you that I regretfully believe in hell because Jesus did. What do you do with the dozen or so passages I gave you demonstrating that? (You really haven't answered any of the questions I've posed to you)

You can't ascribe it all to textual variants (the issues Ehrman raises aren't new and were answered decades ago, anyway).

Is Jesus evil? Crazy? Why would he believe such things? And if he's wrong about hell, what else is he wrong about?

And why do I have to defend my belief in what the Bible teaches apart from the Bible as an authority? There is such a thing as faith that comes into play in religious belief. Are you looking for a religion that meets all your criteria? That sounds more like a shopping trip than a quest for truth. Do you expect God to be completely explicable and reasonable according to your standards?

Look -- if Jesus didn't come from heaven, isn't who he claims to be, and didn't do what the Bible says he did, then I don't care what he thought. Why would I listen to the moral teachings of a lunatic, a liar, or a megalomaniac?

The authority of the Bible is the issue. If Jesus isn't an authoritative and infallible representative of God, then I don't know what I'd believe about heaven or hell. What difference does a hypothetical like that make, anyway?

And if you didn't want me to quote the Bible, then you shouldn't write:

please state for the record what you believe the Bible has to say about damnation for Jews and for Gandhi.

I spent a lot of time and effort to answer your request and you accuse me of being weaselly, deceitful, and dishonest.

You've also recognized we're cross-posting, but seem impatient and willing to assume bad faith on my part.

Even so, I do appreciate the interaction -- but I wish you'd be a little more gracious in your responses. And it would be nice if you interacted with any of the numerous answers I've given you or responded to any of the questions I've posed.

It's late and I'm tired. Have a good evening.

Tom Strong

Durr...

Well, I was going to say something about how this story reminds me, as a non-believer, of what I like best about Christianity. And, for that matter, what I like best about intentional communities like the Amish' (which I know are far from perfect in many regards).

Having had the argument eusto and PJ are having many times (a few on this website), I don't really want to go through that again right now. Though I will say that you both could probably be a little more respectful towards each other, and towards the traditions in question.

Eusto, Christianity really is a lot more varied than you're allowing for; while I also have no patience for supercessionalism, it's not fair to condemn Christianity as a whole for it. The thing is just way too big, and there's too much good mixed in with the, ahem, flawed, to trash it.

And PJ, I hope you can step back from your words enough to see how inaccurate - and at times insulting - they can seem to someone from another tradition (I know eusto, like myself, hails from more than a few traditions). That's regardless of your intentions, which I'm sure are good.

I'm not claiming any innocence in this regard. I'm one of those people who really enjoys tearing my opponent a new one - some of the time. And sometimes, that's just fine. But then I get into quiet moods, like right now, when the whole aggressive aspect of debate just really turns me off.

Stories like the one this post is about put me in that quiet place.

eusto

Pastor Jeff,

I really do appreciate all the effort you've put in.

As Jesus himself said, all who die not believing in him are condemned already. They will be eternally separated from God. How much plainer can I be?

I suppose I was looking for, "I believe all Jews go to hell, and Gandhi too." That's your belief, it seems. I just don't think this should be sugar-coated. You don't like the way I state it, but those are the consequences of what you believe. (Sorry for the lack of graciousness. I'm more gracious below.)

I've recognized that not all Christians believe in conscious suffering. If we get rid of conscious suffering in hell, then you're okay with Christianity?

It would go a long, long ways. But what exactly is non-conscious suffering?

"Torture," by the way, is your word, not mine, and is not generally used by Christians, as it's a loaded term that doesn't express the biblical concept. Is that word the problem?

But "torture" does express the traditional concept of extreme suffering and pain, which is how Geneva defines torture. So it's a fair term, if unbiblical.

I've told you that I regretfully believe in hell because Jesus did. What do you do with the dozen or so passages I gave you demonstrating that? (You really haven't answered any of the questions I've posed to you)

I'd have to look through them very carefully. I know that tentmaker.org disputes every one though. But even if I was convinced that Jesus did believe in hell, I still wouldn't believe as hell is a fundamentally evil and immoral notion.

Is Jesus evil? Crazy? Why would he believe such things? And if he's wrong about hell, what else is he wrong about?

I believe that Jesus was an apocalypticist who believed that the meek would be rewarded and the high made low. So, say, he preached hell-fire to sinners and love to everyone else. I don't see what's so difficult about believing that a man may have great moral clarity about some issues and be mistaken about others. Sure he was "crazy" as all holy men can be. BTW, I am persuaded not by Ehrman's textual variants so much as by his method of interpreting the Historical Jesus. I was wowed by it, when I first came across. The www.teach12.com offers a course by Ehrman on it.

And why do I have to defend my belief in what the Bible teaches apart from the Bible as an authority? There is such a thing as faith that comes into play in religious belief. Are you looking for a religion that meets all your criteria? That sounds more like a shopping trip than a quest for truth. Do you expect God to be completely explicable and reasonable according to your standards?

If we approach the question objectively, we must ask ourselves what reasons we have to accept the Bible as true. If we are being rational, we must at least have good reasons for believing the Bible is more likely to be true than not. And realize that it's much harder to show that the Bible is more likely authoritative than not, than merely more likely true overall than not. In the first case, that means we can trust the whole text. In the second, it's more passage by passage.

So if we've established that the Bible is more likely than not, I'll concede for argument's sake that we can let faith fill in the rest. But have to at least cross that more likely than not 50% threshold.

Until we reach that point, we cannot use anything but our normal, everyday ethics and reason. Why? Because at that point, we haven't yet accepted the Bible and so can't use its ideas to justify itself. At that point, we don't know yet whether we should believe what the Bible says or not.

You may think this exceedingly stringent, but this is the MINIMUM standard I can imagine. Because it's more likely to be false than true, surely you shouldn't believe it then? I'm not even asking beyond a reasonable doubt.

What criteria might we use? Does the Bible reveal a just God, for one? For surely, we should not trust a book that proposed unjust things.

So, that's what I wanted you to argue. That how I wanted you to answer my 5 questions. You can't use the Bible because we haven't established its authority yet. Treat the questions as an assigment for an ethics class. Show me why what the Bible says is ethical without using the Bible. Using just your everyday faculties.

Again, you may think this in unfair. But if you weren't raised Christian, how else could you possibly judge it? And isn't this exactly how you would evaluate thet Koran, on these sorts of criteria. When it preaches injustice, is that not a strike against it?

If you don't like my criteria, propose others. Even were you to experience Christ, all you would know is that Christ exists. Unless he gave you a theological discourse, you'd be back in the same boat.

Look -- if Jesus didn't come from heaven, isn't who he claims to be, and didn't do what the Bible says he did, then I don't care what he thought. Why would I listen to the moral teachings of a lunatic, a liar, or a megalomaniac?

Because some of what he said was beautiful and true. I don't see what the problem is with imagining that a man has moral clarity in some areas and not others. I don't doubt that he was a bit unhinged, but many great persons were a bit unhinged? Just because Mozart was lecherous doesn't mean I can't accept his music. Just because Newton believed in alchemy doesn't mean I can't accept his physics.

I spent a lot of time and effort to answer your request and you accuse me of being weaselly, deceitful, and dishonest.

Thanks for your time. Although I did slip once or twice, and I apologize for that, I didn't truly intend to imply you were doing it on purpose. IOW, I was trying to suggest that you were being deceitful and weaselly, but didn't realize it. Maybe that's still rude, but hey you believe that I will be condemned -- and that's worse ;)

The authority of the Bible is the issue. If Jesus isn't an authoritative and infallible representative of God, then I don't know what I'd believe about heaven or hell. What difference does a hypothetical like that make, anyway?

The more extraordinary the claim, the greater the proof required. If we're talking about condemning millions and millions of souls, that's a lot of proof.
At that point, we haven't accepted it, so the only POSSIBLE standards are those of normal, everyday human rationality.

It's late and I'm tired. Have a good evening.

Thanks so much for all your efforts. Sleep well. I really appreciate it. And I'm just ornery with the posting. I'll try to control myself better next time.

eusto

Tom, Tom, Tom

Long time, no post. But Tom, I'm not trashing all of Christianity. I'm only trashing those versions of Christianity that would have your sorry Jewish atheist butt condemned for all eternity ;) which is to say, all the orthodox ones! Save for liberal ones that are goin' flakey. Good for them.

Yes, there's a lot good in Christianity; I'm just trying to be the physician pulling the teeth of bad doctrine.

Tom, you may think that I'm being harsh. And I am. But come on, Tom, for us non-traditionalists it takes a lot of effort to contain ourselves when someone is claiming that all non-Christians will be condemned. It's a very nasty doctrine, don't ya think. And if you're not roused by that, I mean what will you be roused by.

You're such an enigma to me, Tommy boy. Here I am, the theist, doing battle with the Christians, and you the atheist are so laid back.

I know I know, you're zenning out with the Amish. But stick up for yourself and your fellow atheists and non-traditionalists. We need the voices of people of no-faith in the public square as well!

Certainly, we don't want to foment a culture war, but all I'm trying to do, is to extract that doctrine of condemnation from Pastor Jeff. Isn't that the least we non-believers can ask of believers? Believe what you want, but don't think we're condmened for all eternity. This is the minimum respect required in a pluralist society. You've gotta stick up for at least that. The guy's telling you and a lot of your friends, they're toast. It's hard to be polite under these circumstances. Sure they say they're just warning you and trying to help you out. And that may very well be true. But still, come on folks, this is the 21st century.

(Sorry for being rude again, but it's hard.)

amba

I am curious. Do you believe that there is a personal existence after physical death?

I don't believe it, I don't disbelieve it. It's possible but I don't know, and I don't think anyone else really does either. I would hope for reincarnation. I havn't had enough of this place!

eusto

Finally (for this round)

PJ,

While I did mention religious experience as a possible sort of evidence -- bear in mind that it's actually quite weak in regards establishing the truth of the Bible. After all, how would be sure that you experienced Jesus and just not say the Hindu God Brahman? I don't think religious experience can take us very far with establishing the truth of the Bible. So again, before we've decided to trust the Bible, we're back to our everyday sorts of reasoning.

BTW, I definitely will check back, but I promise NOT to post nearly as much tommorrow. Thanks for your patience amba, but these issues are complex.

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