No true Scotsman: Sometimes they’re just not

This is really for one kind of reader: Atheists.  Often a skeptic will cite some particular Christian, or group of Christians and hold them up as a representative sample of Christians and Christianity.  There also exist sects of people who claim for themselves the label of “Christian” yet are largely dismissed by the broader body of believers due to affirmations or denials of certain doctrines traditionally held by Christians.

For instance, the Westboro Baptist Church, those who were responsible for the Inquisition, or even the Jehovah’s Witness and LDS groups.  I can also think of times where a skeptic will hold up some group of politically liberal professing Christians as being the standard that more professing Christians should be strive to be like.  This usually includes groups accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and some form of pluralism — that you don’t necessarily need to be a Christian to be saved.

Of course, the defender of Christianity will object to their being held up as “Christian”.  They merely identify themselves as Christian, but their affirmations and actions disqualify them as being “true” Christians, or so some say.

To the Atheist: can it be the case that someone or some group of people self-identify as Christian yet are not actually Christian by theological and doctrinal definition?  Who or what determines who is and isn’t a true Christian?  Because Christianity is a belief system, there are certain required beliefs and required denials.  Therefore, doesn’t it stand to reason that not everyone is a true Christian simply by virtue of claiming it?

 

Comments

  1. Well, yes and no. Yes, I agree that entire swaths of people who claim to be Christians probably are not(though one can never know what’s in another’s heart) simply by virtue of theological and doctrinal standards. But who gets to decide what those doctrines and beliefs are(certainly not an atheist)? I think this is where the confusion lies. What is the dividing line between who is and who is not? Is a Christian anyone who believes they’re a sinner who accepts Christ’s atonement for their sin? Must they also believe he was born of a virgin? What if they believe that but also are unforgiving, themselves?

    So I don’t think it’s just so black and white as doctrinal beliefs. But that’s just me.

    • Would you agree, Ruth, that in the bible there are concepts and beliefs that are unequivocally “must affirm” and “must reject”? For example Jesus makes many claims that unless you believe… and elsewhere Paul says that if you believe a different gospel… and in the old testament where God says I am the only and if you dont…

      So it would appear, or an argument could be made that whether one is or isn’t a true Christian is based solely on what it is you believe theologically. What else could it be based on?

      And what is unChristian behavior, and could behavior alone disqualify someone from being a Christian?

      • *shrug*

        Right, but that theological criteria seems to be: “I am the way, truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” That theological criteria is: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

        Belief in Yahweh, certainly. But beyond that, what is the gospel?

        And what is unChristian behavior, and could behavior alone disqualify someone from being a Christian?

        Beats me. I don’t suppose behavior disqualifies a person but I thought one was supposed to be a new creation. Doing away with the old. So murder, lying, stealing, cheating.

        So are you suggesting that mental ascent alone in some doctrinal belief is salvation? Are you saying that all one has to do is believe the right things?

        • It seems as though one basic, foundational, non negotiable doctrine would be basic theism. In other words, someone who claims that God (or god, or gods) does not (or do not) exist would seem to be outside even the most generous bounds of what could be called Christian. I am honestly surprised at the increasing number of people who call themselves Christian, yet who deny the existence of God.

        • Ruth, in particular I’m speaking of an increasing number of people who claim to be Christian, including an ever growing number who are engaged in pastoral ministry in various mainline denominations who categorically deny the existence of God.

          I’ve always thought that a “cultural christian” was someone who had grown up in a culture where Christianity was the dominant religion, whether or not they personally believed or claimed to believe.

          I’m talking about folks who aggressively claim the label of Christian, while denying things that are foundational to Christianity. (again I’d think that a belief in the existence of God would be a prerequisite for someone claiming to be a Christian)

          Hope that helps

          • Can you cite an example in particular? I’m not doubting you, it’s just that this fascinates me.

            I know there are some pastors who are closeted atheists because they believed at one point and no longer do and who also are trying to get out of the ministry but as it’s their livelihood can’t just quit, as it were. But I’ve not heard of these who openly deny the existence of God. It would seem their congregations would be in an uproar about that. But that’s just me.

            I know that once I stopped believing I no longer claimed the label Christian, aggressively or otherwise. That’s just…bizarre to me. I’m not sure why one would want to claim the title if they don’t believe the basic tenets of the religion.

            • Ruth, for example, someone close to me unnamed, claims to be a christian, yet refuses to read the Bible..refuses. believes in the occult, believes that all roads lead to God. And more. But this is the kind of person Craig is talking about.

              • I got the impression he was saying that they claim there is no God.

                The early Jews were pantheists. They believed that Yahweh was the most high God, not that there weren’t other gods. Now, while I might agree this person you are referring to might be suspect if he/she confesses belief in Yahweh, and the death burial and resurrection of Christ as atonement for their sin, I’m not sure their lack of study or belief in other deities disqualifies them according to your standard. That person seems to be coming to Yahweh through Jesus. Does that make sense?

              • The person I’m talking about is unturned and not at all familiar with theological concepts. It’s a very general belief that God exists, sort of synonymous with a higher power and would not say that Jesus is the only way, but that people can believe what works best for them.

              • Have you asked them why they identify as Christian? Why haven’t they chosen one of those other ways?

              • They say they can say they’re whatever they want and it’s not my business. It’s not for me to say that they can’t be a christian. However, they do unspokenly affirmed all these other ways in things they say they believe are true.

        • Ruth,
          I’ll give you one of the more outspoken examples of what I’m talking about. He is an ordained pastor in a Marcelline protestant denomination named John Shuck. He maintains several blogs, so you might have to hunt a little, but he’s pretty much up front that he doesn’t believe that God exists and that the Bible is virtually all fiction.

          Please don’t misunderstand me, I have no problem with what he believes, my problem is that he claims to be a Christian while denying foundational doctrines.

          • There is also a regular commenter here who professes to be an orthodox Christian yet believes virtually the entire old testament is a work of fiction.

          • Well, Craig, as an atheist I find that…odd. His congregants don’t take issue with this?

            Incidentally, I’ve heard of Shuck. I didn’t realize he was essentially an atheist.

            I will say that one of the things that I miss the most is community. So to that extent I can understand, but to the extent that he’s a pastor and openly declares it fiction is what I find so strange. What does he preach about if he thinks is fiction? I couldn’t sit in front of a Sunday School class and teach the Bible once I believed it to be fiction. That’s the bit I can’t wrap my head around. Why would a person even want to?

  2. Oh, and for the record, yes I believe there are some people who self-identify as Christians who are so completely unChrist-like that it would be true that they are not Christians at all.

  3. Depends on how much validity one puts on doctrinal authority, does it not?
    Arius and Marcion are two cases that come to mind and look what happened to them.
    Then of course there were groups such as the Cathars.
    These days there is no death penalty for heretics. Well,not Christian heretics at any rate.
    The mob with the biggest stick won out, as simple as that.

    Besides, what the ‘average’ Christian believes is largely based on Pauline doctrine and less on the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth. And we only have the bible as evidence for Saul of Tarsus as well. And we all know how truthful the bible is right? ;)
    To paraphrase a line from the Life of Brian – Maybe they were “making it up as they went (you go) along.”

    • Arius and Marcion taught things not in the bible, why should they have authority above that which they claim to draw from?

      The Christians didn’t have the biggest stick until centuries after its inception. So how does such a small population set gain so much control if they made it up as they went?

      The actual teachings of Jesus weren’t all that theological in most cases. Mostly believe in me, I’m it. Paul is the one in the bible giving us the most theology. This is based on his claim to have been taught by Jesus post – resurrection and by the direct disciples of Jesus. So why shouldn’t his teaching carry weight?

      • Arius and Marcion taught things not in the bible, why should they have authority above that which they claim to draw from?

        Oh dear, here we go…
        The character Jesus of Nazareth and what he taught were around long before the bible was put together.
        And it was in no small part because of Marcion’s desire to put his own bible together and ditch Yahweh that the Catholic Mob got its act together pretty sharpish returned Marcion’s money, declared him a heretic, said thank you very much and sent him packing.

        The Christians didn’t have the biggest stick until centuries after its inception. So how does such a small population set gain so much control if they made it up as they went?

        I didn’t day the Christians had the biggest stick they were pretty much all Christian. I said the MOB with the biggest stick.

        This is based on his claim to have been taught by Jesus post – resurrection and by the direct disciples of Jesus. So why shouldn’t his teaching carry weight?

        Er…didn’t he claim he only got his authority from the (vision/ghost) character, Jesus of Nazareth.
        He didn’t kow tow to the disciples at all if memory serves? You’re the Christian, though perhaps I misread the ramblings of a little Jewish tent maker?

        Why should it not carry weight?
        I dunno, you tell me? You going to listen the boss ( Yeshua) or his self-appointed lackey, especially one who might well be making up a lot of what he says – if we can even trust what is claimed he said, considering how spurious most of his ‘letters’ are and how Acts is pretty much a work of fiction.
        You knew this of course, yes?

        • Acts is fiction? Based on what?

          There is an incident Paul documents where he is interacting with Jesus which resembles a vision, however the incident doesn’t seem to be long enough to encompass all the teaching he says he got from the risen Jesus.

          Why was Marcion run out of town? No reason in particular, or because he was advocating ideas opposed to the past and present teaching of the Church?

          • Acts is fiction? Based on what?

            Pretty much, yes. Haven’t you read the report of the Acts Seminar? They were at it for years Sheesh, what sort of Christian are you?
            Don’t tell me you swallow everything based on ‘faith’? The gods forbid!

            Why was Marcion run out of town? No reason in particular, or because he was advocating ideas opposed to the past and present teaching of the Church?

            Has this become a history lesson all of a sudden?
            I hate educating Christians.
            I already said he wanted to get rid of Yahweh for one thing and base his bible solely in the ‘new’ god, the character Jesus if Nazareth.

            And who wouldn’t want to ditch Yahweh, the miserable, genocidal SOB that he was. Probably got all pissy after he ended up without a wife/companion. You did know that Yahweh originally had a wife/ companion, yes? Please say you knew.

            But ditching Yahweh would have meant some real creativity over things like original sin for one and the Catholic Mob weren’t going for that.
            Go do a bit of research. It’ll be fun. You’ll learn heaps of new stuff.
            Wait til you find out that Abraham and Moses are just fictitious.
            :)

  4. paynehollow says:

    Excellent observations and questions, Ruth and Arkenaten. I’m looking forward to some answers and responses.

    ~Dan
    (A Christian who likes good and rational questions and to be challenged on questionable points)

    • Dan

      What, in your opinion, would disqualify a person who professes to be a Christian from actually being a Christian, even if they claim to be? Or does anyone who says they are, just is?

      For clarification: I’m not asking what makes a person a Christian, so please don’t go down that road. I’m asking what if anything makes someone not a Christian who says they are.

  5. I think I’m a little confused. On the one hand you seem to be saying that the only qualification for being a Christian is that one confess that a)Jesus was who he claimed to be(namely God or part of the god-head depending on your stance on the Trinity), and b) that he died and rose again as an atonement for sin.

    On the other hand you seem to be saying that even some groups who confess these things are not Christians. Based on what?

  6. paynehollow says:

    John, may I ask two questions? Where you say…

    The actual teachings of Jesus weren’t all that theological in most cases. Mostly believe in me, I’m it. Paul is the one in the bible giving us the most theology. This is based on his claim to have been taught by Jesus post – resurrection and by the direct disciples of Jesus. So why shouldn’t his teaching carry weight?

    1. Do you think Paul’s teachings carry MORE weight than Jesus’? Equal weight? If we have an apparent conflict or possible conflict between Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s teaching, do you think Jesus’ words should be used to clarify Paul’s?

    2. Jesus preached some sermons that are recorded in the Gospels and taught many lessons – lessons about love, forgiveness, simplicity, peace-making, being wary of material gain, of how he came to bring good news to the poor, etc… giving many pretty specific teachings, commands, examples of how to live in this world. Do you consider those teachings “not all that theological…”? Why? Do you think theology – the study of God and religious belief – is not found in how we live out our life in following the teachings of Jesus?

    For the record, I would say that Jesus’ teachings are not dogmatic in the way of many religious theologies, but I would not say they are not theological. Since I believe Jesus to be the son of God, I think everything he says is, by his divine nature, contributing to theology – the study of God and religion.

    Thanks.

    ~Dan

    • Paul doesn’t carry more weight. I would suggest with seeming conflicts to ensure we’re understanding what everyone is intending to convey.

      Love your neighbor was not a new teaching unique to Jesus. None of the things you mention were unique to Jesus. What was unique was that He was God, He could forgive sin, and that only by trusting in his atonement could one be saved from the wrath of God.

  7. paynehollow says:

    John…

    What, in your opinion, would disqualify a person who professes to be a Christian from actually being a Christian, even if they claim to be? Or does anyone who says they are, just is?

    I think that is the question being put to you.

    In my mind, a Christ-ian is one who follows/adheres to the teachings of Jesus, the Christ – not simply mentally affirms the existence and teachings of Jesus, but who agrees with/adheres to – however imperfectly – those teachings. That is what the -ian suffix means in the English language.

    So what would “disqualify” a person who professes to be a Christian? I guess when they quit affirming/adhering to/holding up those teachings. The one who says “Jesus taught us A, B, C, D and E. I REJECT these teachings and call them wrong!” is one who has attested to their rejection of Jesus’ Way of Grace. Thus, the person who says, “We should NOT live lives of Grace, salvation is NOT found in God’s grace! Salvation is found in our perfect understanding of the god of the Southern Baptists (Catholic, Quaker, whatever), as THEY understand god, and affirming THOSE teachings is the Right Way, not Jesus’ Gospel of Love, Forgiveness and Grace!” that person is someone who has said they are not a follower of the Christ.

    Seems to me.

    How about you?

    ~Dan

  8. paynehollow says:

    John…

    What was unique was that He was God, He could forgive sin, and that only by trusting in his atonement could one be saved from the wrath of God.

    But I believe you would say that a mere affirmation of Jesus as God is not sufficient for salvation, correct?

    Nor is mere affirmation of Jesus being able to forgive sin, correct?

    So, it appears (correct me if I’m mistaken) that salvation – in your mind – is the “trusting in Jesus ‘atonement’ to be ‘saved from God’s wrath’ is what saves us, ” is that correct?

    What, to you, does it mean to “trust in Jesus’ atonement…”?

    Thanks,

    ~Dan

  9. paynehollow says:

    John…

    Dan, will you not be answering those questions?

    I’d be glad to, but the questions were put to you. I thought I’d at least defer to your response on your own blog questions put to you. Give you the first shot, as it were.

    ~Dan

  10. For clarification: I’m not asking what makes a person a Christian, so please don’t go down that road. I’m asking what if anything makes someone not a Christian who says they are.

    I’m not sure that I see a distinction but I would say(though I realize the question was not put to me) that denying whatever confessions or professions are necessary to make a person a Christian (i.e. the divinity of Christ, the death burial and resurrection of Christ).

    • Ruth, Dan routinely changes the question asked to one he has reworded, then answers that. Just like he did when responding.

      Dan

      The new testament is pretty clear that trusting that jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection is the only thing that can atone for your sins, and not any behavior or sacrifice you personally offer that can do it. It is also pretty clear that you must also believe that Jesus is God in flesh since that is precisely the reason his atonement is actually efficacious.

      • Oi! Been down that road…

        Regardless, in your answer to Dan here what you are suggesting is that you nor anyone else can definitively say that groups or individuals aren’t Christians based on anything other than their doctrinal confessions with regards to the divinity of Christ and his death and resurrection as atonement for sin.

        I think that, based on that answer, you’ve negated your argument that sometimes they just aren’t as long as they are confessing these things. No one can know what a person truly believes. Only what they say they believe.

        • Ruth

          I’m assuming that when someone says they believe ABC that they do, not that anyone would be lying about what they believe. But as far as I can tell, behavior alone doesn’t provide enough info to make a determination. Therefore we’d have to rely on what a person says they do and don’t believe.

          My over arching point is that not everyone who says they are a christian is one, and that it’s not entirely a matter of opinion.

          • Ok. Then perhaps I misunderstood your intent with the post. I thought you were alluding to the fact that there are groups who are not and that you could determine who they are.

            • Ruth, I think you could only make the determination based on their claims.

              • So, you’re not trying to say that if someone accepts homosexuality, for example, or even is homosexual that disqualifies them from being a Christian.

              • Not necessarily but those kinds of people may not be due to other reasons. It’s usually an indication, but not strictly a deal breaker.

              • I think it’s all rather complicated because of Pauline doctrine. Jesus said that he was God and that the only way to the God-God was through him. So it seems to be a prerequisite to believe that a) there is a God b)Jesus is somehow God and that c)he died was buried and raised again for atonement of sin.

                Beyond that it’s anyone’s guess whether a person who professes to be a Christian really is a Christian or not.

                I was a Southern Baptist and we had the saying “Once saved, always saved, IF saved”. So according to that theology I was never a Christian. Though I can tell you that I believed the prerequisite theology to be a Christian.

                I was recently told I was never a Christian because I demonstrated a lack of understanding of original sin. Now that I’m not a believer I see that from a different perspective and that’s what I was sharing.

                As a believer I understood perfectly well the doctrine of original sin, I just no longer believe that to be true.

                Skeptics do hold up groups like the Westboro Baptists as examples of Christianity because they claim to be. I realize they don’t represent all of Christendom, but neither does, say…more progressive Christians who don’t think the Bible is inerrant. All the while other groups who identify as Christian claim that neither of the former two are. It’s….insanity.

  11. paynehollow says:

    But does that not beg the question: What confessions/professions are “necessary” to make a person a Christian?

    ~Dan

  12. paynehollow says:

    John…

    It is also pretty clear that you must also believe that Jesus is God in flesh since that is precisely the reason his atonement is actually efficacious.

    But not simply believing that Jesus is God in flesh, is that right? “Even the demons believe… and shudder” the bible tells us, so it’s not a mere affirmation of Jesus’ Godly nature, right?

    The new testament is pretty clear that trusting that jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection is the only thing that can atone for your sins, and not any behavior or sacrifice you personally offer that can do it.

    That is one interpretation found in biblical teachings. But what does it MEAN to “trust in Jesus’ death on the cross” as the “only thing that can atone for our sins…”?

    Does it mean that those who affirm that Jesus IS the son of God, who affirm mentally that Jesus DID die on the cross and that the purpose of this death is as is defined in the modern Penal Substitutionary Theory of Atonement… that those are the people who are “saved…”?

    John, I have not “re-worded” any questions in this post. I copied and pasted your question to me and answered directly that question. Nor do I “routinely” do this. Hasn’t happened. Bearing false witness is not a good way to present a positive witness or accounting of your opinions.

    I realize this is your blog, but why not stick to a polite and respectful conversations considering these VERY interesting questions and opinions without engaging in personal attacks? Thanks.

    ~Dan

    • Actually, you reworded nearly everything in the previous post.

      What does it mean to trust that Jesus’ death and resurrection atoned and not our own merits and works? It mean to understand just that. You can’t really break it down much more.

      • paynehollow says:

        If you’ll show me exactly where I’ve done this, I’ll gladly apologize for the mistake. I do not believe you can or will do so, though, so absent ANY evidence, we’ll just have to note that this “re-wording” you claim is simply a false witness.

  13. paynehollow says:

    The problem, it seems to me, with this formula:

    Affirm that Jesus IS the son of God
    +
    Affirm mentally that Jesus DID die on the cross
    +
    Affirm that Jesus DID raise from the dead
    +
    Affirm that the purpose of this death is as is defined in the modern Penal Substitutionary Theory of Atonement
    =
    Salvation, and ONLY those who can mentally affirm these four beliefs (or additional beliefs, if you want to add an affirmation of an “inerrant 66 books of Scripture” or “Jesus must have ‘elected’ you” or other add-ons to the formula) are saved, no one else…

    the problem with that formula then is that it becomes a sort of salvation by works – one has to
    1. Have been exposed to this specific teaching so that they can even KNOW to affirm it
    2. Be able to understand the teaching, that it makes moral and rational sense to them
    3. They have to be willing to understand and affirm these…

    THEN once they have done this, they can be “saved by grace…”

    Is that a salvation by grace, at all? Or is it a salvation by our perfect understanding of some subset of points peculiar to some large number of Christian denominations (but not all)?

    Hmmm…

    ~Dan

    • Paul specifically contrasts faith and works, therefore faith, as in affirming necessary doctrines, understanding them, and trusting that they’re true and effective, is not a work.

    • Also Dan, what you seem to be hinting at is that there is no set of beliefs in particular that one must understand and believe to be true in order to be saved, rather that it is somehow opposed to being saved by grace. The implication is that non christians or even atheists are saved by grace as well. Is that what you’re saying, more or less?

  14. paynehollow says:

    John…

    There is also a regular commenter here who professes to be an orthodox Christian yet believes virtually the entire old testament is a work of fiction.

    As for myself, I happen to believe that the OT was passed on in the styles common to the time period – epic, myth, poetry, some history, but not necessarily literal, etc. That one believes a mythic piece is written in a mythic style is not quite the same as calling it “a work of fiction…” Myths were stories told to explain concepts in a way that was understandable to the culture in question. That seems to be a difference to me.

    Regardless, would you add “must believe in the OT as a work of literal history” to the list of things one must rightly believe in order to be saved or to be “not a Christian…”? IF so, on what basis? The Bible never makes a claim that the OT stories must be considered as literal history, God has never told you to do so, we have no rational or moral reason compelling us to take it as a literal history… so on what basis would you add this to the list of things one must believe in order to be saved (if that is on your list at all)?

    This gets to a question that was raised earlier: Who gets to decide what is on the List of Things that Must Be Believed in order to Be a Christian? The Bible offers no such list, nor says that such a list exists. Or, looking at it another way, the Bible offers multiple lists of things one “must do to be saved…” Give up your wealth, give to the poor, be baptized, watch out for the least of these, believe in Jesus and you (and your household!) will be saved, etc, etc. Who gets to decide which lists are valid and which ones aren’t? On what basis?

    ~Dan

    • If I may?
      It is worth noting that the generally accepted notion of being a Christian would be belief in the risen lord. This would seem to be a pretty good jump off point. Saul of Tarsus seemed to be thinking along these lines.
      Yet….as Moses is generally considered a fictitious character, or a composite if you prefer to adhere to Martin Noth’s thinking, and the Pentateuch is pretty much fiction also and that the character Jesus of Nazareth references Moses then it casts aspersions on JC and the claims made about him, does it not?
      Why would he talk about a fictitious character as if he were real?

      • Arkenaten, you keep throwing out all these “everyone knows” statements with no citation or source. Are you expecting people to take your word as some authority on this matter?

        • I am sorry, I understood this has been known for ages?

          Are you really unaware of the archaeological findings of Devers, Finkelsein Herzog etc?
          What about Kenyon?
          Have you not read/heard about the statements by Rabbi Wolpe etc?

          Are you serious? You have never read up on these people?
          I can provide plenty of links etc if you truly are unaware. I thought we were all supposed to be at least Google savvy these days.
          Crikey, I apologise in this case.
          Let me know, okay?

          • I’m pretty well read on this. However, one could cite a few people who believe anything really. You’re posing your views as the broadly accepted view amd that’s just not the case.

            • The overwhelming consensus among the secular scientific field AND all but the most highly orthodox Jews consider that Moses and the Exodus are nothing but myth.
              in fact, I would be surprised if you could find a single Rabbi that would put in writing that the Exodus was an actual event.

              As you are pretty well read how do you not know this, and which scientists dispute that Moses and the Exodus is myth?
              Truly, I have not come across any other than those with seriously fundamental religious leanings.
              This goes back at least as far as William Albright.
              Please, feel free to give me a few links. This is a fascinating topic.

  15. paynehollow says:

    John…

    Paul specifically contrasts faith and works, therefore faith, as in affirming necessary doctrines, understanding them, and trusting that they’re true and effective, is not a work.

    Paul says a lot of things. Regardless of what Paul does or doesn’t say, IF one can’t be saved unless they are able to understand your list of “must believes” as moral or Godly or rational, then EVEN IF they love God, acknowledge God, accept God’s grace and forgiveness, repent of their sins, accepting Jesus as the risen son of God and strive by God’s grace to walk in Jesus’ steps, then STILL they can’t be saved because they can’t understand some concepts that you say they must understand in order to be saved. That is an addition to salvation by grace, is it not?

    It is something the Person has to “get right” and “believe right” in order to be saved, no mistakes are allowed in that reasoning. But if no mistakes are allowed, how is that a Gospel of Grace?

    Along those lines, you asked…

    what you seem to be hinting at is that there is no set of beliefs in particular that one must understand and believe to be true in order to be saved, rather that it is somehow opposed to being saved by grace. The implication is that non christians or even atheists are saved by grace as well. Is that what you’re saying, more or less?

    Less. I believe that ANYONE can choose to reject God’s grace, choose to reject Jesus’ Way of Grace, Love and Forgiveness. But the Bible makes a lot of room for grace to cover a lot of misunderstanding and sin. Thanks be to God!

    John, can you tell me in the Bible where it says one must accept a literally historic OT in order to be saved? Where one must accept a Penal Substitutionary Theory of Atonement in order to be saved? Where it says, “If you just don’t understand these 5 (10, 20 100?) points JUST RIGHT, you can’t be saved?”

    Of course, the Bible doesn’t say any of these things. Indeed, reason and basic morality, along with Biblical teaching, suggest that children who don’t understand the PS Theory of Atonement or “literal history” vs “myth” will be saved. That the thief on the cross who knew nothing of 13th century theories of atonement would be saved.

    I just don’t see the Bible teaching anything like the harsh This Way or Die theories of salvation by perfect knowledge (on at least a subset of human theories), except by way of bad example in the Pharisees (ie, that this harsh judgmentalism is NOT the way of God).

    I see the Bible teaching – JESUS teaching – a lovely theory of salvation by God’s grace, not by human goodness, not by perfect understanding, not by what we do other than accepting that Way of Grace.

    All I’m saying is that God has not given us a series of Theories and Beliefs and Tenets/Doctrines we must dogmatically understand perfectly correct and cling to. God has offered us, instead, Grace. Since God has not given us a list of tenets one must affirm in order to be saved, I do not insist that such a list exists.

    Do you?

  16. paynehollow says:

    Arkenaten…

    Why would he talk about a fictitious character as if he were real?

    First of all, I do not hold that Moses’ character is a fictional character. These early OT stories were passed on in a time of epic storytelling. Epic storytelling, as you may know, may or may not involve actual historic characters. Sometimes, they are actual people being referenced in stories that may or may not be loosely based on actual events.

    I don’t know that we have the evidence to claim that Moses was or was not a real person, but clearly, the Jewish people are an actual people and in their remembered history, Moses plays a key role. I have no great inclination to write the character off as fiction without some more substantial evidence. On the other hand, I do not insist on a literal Moses, and certainly don’t insist that these stories from a pre-modern history telling time were told in a modern history style.

    Now, having said that, why would Jesus reference a perhaps mythic/epic character? Why wouldn’t he?

    Again, the stories of Moses, of Adam, of Abraham… these all figure large in Jewish history. Of course he would reference him without noting that the story was written in a pre-modern history time and style?

    I do not believe in a literal one-rib-short Adam and I don’t hold an opinion one way or the other about Jonah, but I mention their stories all the time without noting, “This may not be an actual historic person…” The stories are REAL, regardless if they are literally factual in the modern history sense. Of course people will reference these characters. Why wouldn’t we?

    Is there some reason why we – any of us – should not reference characters from a story without noting the genre in which the story was passed down to us?

    Thanks,

    Dan

  17. Dan, do you believe that we are saved by grace through faith, or by grace apart from faith?
    If it’s the former, what kind of faith is absolutely devoid of any doctrinal substance? How can one have faith IN GOD without believing in theism (that is, the existence of God), or how can one have faith IN JESUS without believing in the historicity of Jesus? Are we saved by faith in literally anything, such that, as long as we believe in SOMETHING, God will save us in His grace?
    (Would it not be more accurate to say, then, that we’re saved by sincerity and not by faith, per se?)
    If it’s the latter, then your beliefs have devolved even further from Christian orthodoxy and the clear teachings of Scripture, which emphasize three aspects of salvation: God’s grace, Christ’s death, and our faith.
    Romans 3:24-25a is clear, we are “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” [emphasis mine]
    Though not every NT reference to salvation mentions all three, all three are mentioned repeatedly, clearly, and emphatically, and none are ever excluded as inessential to salvation. In denying the causal connection between Christ’s death and our salvation, you once pointed to I Peter 2:21, and the claim that Christ died as our example, but even in that passage, the Apostle teaches that Christ “bore our sins in his body on the tree” (v. 24).
    It seems that you are now denying both Christ’s death AND our faith in your formulation of how we are saved.

    About the historicity of Moses, I think there are serious problems if Jesus seemed to speak about a person as if he were historical, if he really wasn’t. The supposedly great teacher ought to have been more clear, and the supposedly brave prophet should have been more willing to overturn erroneous traditions in interpreting those bits of epic storytelling.
    Or are you suggesting that God Incarnate was ignorant about this issue? Jesus claimed not only to have the truth, but to BE the truth, so that’s an interesting position to take.
    “No, Lord,” is an inherently contradictory sentence, but it is convenient to be able to claim Jesus as Lord — and to claim to follow all his teachings! — while leaving yourself wiggle room on the pretense that He may have sometimes been too prejudiced by the surrounding culture to speak on every subject with authority.
    But never mind all that.
    Jesus didn’t just talk ABOUT Moses. JESUS TALKED WITH MOSES.
    The Gospel of Luke claims to have been an orderly and carefully researched account of the life of Jesus, and yet it contains a few clear attestations of miracles that we modern minds are tempted to dismiss as flights of fancy, such as the virgin conception of Mary and the angelic host announcing Jesus’ birth to the shepherds outside Bethlehem.
    The gospel also records the Transfiguration.
    Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” – Luke 9:28-31, emphasis mine
    Now, Dan, I know you think an awful lot of Luke, especially Jesus’ sermons recorded in chapters 4 and 6. Did Luke’s gospel suddenly become epic storytelling by the time we reach chapter 9?
    Or does this chapter require us to believe in the historicity of Moses but not necessarily the historicity of, say, Exodus? Is his parting the sea really that much more “epic” than appearing in glory on a mountain some 1200-1400 years after his death?
    You write, “I don’t know that we have the evidence to claim that Moses was or was not a real person.”
    I do know, and the strongest evidence is the claim in Luke 9, supported by the author’s own assurances of careful investigation at the beginning of the book. Did you forget about the Transfiguration? Or did you never read about it, since it’s not easy to make that story fit a progressive political agenda? Or were you just hoping that no one would notice this serious flaw in your arguing ostensibly from the perspective of a follower of Jesus as the Bible presents Him?

  18. Fixed the hanging italics tag: I hate not having the chance to preview before posting.

  19. @Dan

    First of all, I do not hold that Moses’ character is a fictional character.

    Then before we get into a point scoring debate I strongly suggest you do a little more historical research. I do not mean to imply any condescension, but a cursory look at the archaeology of people like Finkelstein and Devers, will soon show what scientists have pretty much concluded and this has been known for around a quarter of a century or more.
    Furthermore, people like Chief Rabbi David Wolpe also feel similar concerning the Exodus and Moses. In fact, as I mentioned to John, I doubt you will find any but the most highly orthodox Jews that will state the story of Moses is factual. It isn’t even taught in Israeli schools anymore.
    However,if you know of scientist that upholds the biblical tale as real, then I will be very interested to read what they have to say.

    Thanks.
    Ark

  20. paynehollow says:

    Bubba (if John is okay with us pursuing this theme – feel free to stop it if you wish, John)…

    Dan, do you believe that we are saved by grace through faith, or by grace apart from faith?

    I believe in salvation by God’s grace, ultimately. That is the primary thing. God wants us all, in God’s Grace, to be saved. God invites us all to Life and Love and Good.

    Beyond that primary point, I believe we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus.

    But what does that mean? That we merely affirm that Jesus is God? That we merely affirm Jesus life, death and resurrection?

    No, I don’t think that is rational. As you know, the Bible suggests that “the demons” believe in God (and Jesus) – and shudder. No, mere intellectual assent is not what saves.

    Do you agree? I expect you do.

    I would suggest that “faith in Jesus” equates to an acceptance of Jesus’ teachings – ultimately, agreeing with, embracing and accepting the Way of God’s Grace, which brings us back to that primary point, that we ARE saved by God’s grace. God’s grace in God’s desire and decision to forgive us, God’s grace in how we live out our lives in that same manner.

    That Way of Grace as evidenced by Jesus’ life and teaching is the Way of love – of everyone, including our enemies… of owning up to our mistakes and admitting them, asking forgiveness of God and humanity when we mess up, striving, by God’s grace, not to do that mistake any more.

    So, I believe in salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus/acceptance of Jesus’ Way.

    Bubba…

    If it’s the former, what kind of faith is absolutely devoid of any doctrinal substance?

    I expect MANY people might do much better with a faith devoid of “doctrinal substance…” at least in what passes for much of religious doctrine.

    On the other hand, a faith devoid of “doctrinal substance” meaning a rich understanding of Jesus’ teachings and the apostles’ teaching after him, that would be a poorer sort of faith. I fully support “doctrinal substance” – as long as your doctrine HAS some substance.

    Give me a doctrine that teaches us the hard, sometimes scary lessons of how to love an enemy who might be prepared to abuse or even kill us, of how to find ways to work with and for the “least of these” – the poor and marginalized – who formed such a core part of Jesus’ teachings and TO WHOM his Gospel was specifically aimed (“I have come to preach good news to the poor…”) Let us work on deepening our faith on these meaty subjects.

    You can keep the naggy doctrinal disputes about more petty tenets (was Mary a literal virgin? Was Adam a literal man? Which theory of Atonement is the best? Are you a believer in God’s Absolute Sovereignty? etc) which are oftentimes rather inconsequential as compared to the meat of Jesus’ teachings. Discussing these topics might have their place, but they are oftentimes (not always) the froth on the top of doctrine, as far as I’m concerned. Give me the Meat.

    Bubba…

    How can one have faith IN GOD without believing in theism (that is, the existence of God),

    I don’t know, you’d have to ask someone coming from that position. I know of no one like that.

    Bubba…

    or how can one have faith IN JESUS without believing in the historicity of Jesus?

    I don’t know, you would have to ask someone coming from that position. I would guess, though, that some people might affirm the teachings we find from Jesus and embrace those, while questioning the literal existence of Jesus. Is someone who accepts EVERY teaching of Jesus, but considers the words about God to be metaphor, does that automatically mean they do not “accept” Jesus? I don’t know the answer to that, God has not told me, nor has the Bible.

    I mean, they are accepting Jesus as best as they understand Jesus. Do you think we have to have a perfect understanding on all points in order to be saved? If so, is that not a salvation by our own works, not by faith or grace?

    If you think you “know” the right answer, on what do you base that? Your own understanding of how the Bible should be interpreted? Then who’s to say that you have the “right” understanding?

    Good questions to consider.

    Bubba…

    Are we saved by faith in literally anything, such that, as long as we believe in SOMETHING, God will save us in His grace?

    I don’t know. If we have faith in our guns and bombs and wealth for salvation… or if we have faith in our own personal intellect and private wisdom – or the wisdom of our particular culture – it would seem to me that we are not resting in the Way of Grace, as taught by Jesus, but in our own wisdom or guns or wealth, right?

    I would think not. I think it is specifically accepting God’s grace, even if we may not understand perfectly every detail of how that plays out.

    Do you think we need to perfectly understand every detail of “God’s salvation” in order to be saved? What, then, of the thief on the cross? No, you probably don’t. You would probably defer to perfect knowledge of some subset of beliefs about God. Is that correct?

    I’ll give you a chance to address these questions/comments.

    ~Dan

  21. paynehollow says:

    Arkenaten…

    Then before we get into a point scoring debate I strongly suggest you do a little more historical research. I do not mean to imply any condescension, but a cursory look at the archaeology of people like Finkelstein and Devers

    Far be it from me to side with John (joking a bit), but that some archeologists have decided there is not reason to accept the Moses story (for instance) in whole, does not mean they claim he doesn’t exist. No respectable scientist or researcher would. They MIGHT claim “We have no evidence to support a Moses figure in a story as it appears in the Bible…” but that is not the same as saying he didn’t exist.

    Indeed, Dr Dever (William Dever, I assume this is who you mean by citing “Devers”?) says…

    …the overwhelming archaeological evidence today of largely indigenous origins for early Israel leaves no room for an exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness. A Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in southern Transjordan in the mid-late13th century B.C., where many scholars think the biblical traditions concerning the god Yahweh arose. But archaeology can do nothing to confirm such a figure as a historical personage…

    http://www.fsmitha.com/review/r-dever.html

    My point stands, I believe, with Dr Dever’s support. But even if not, the point stands rationally.

    Fair enough?

    ~Dan

  22. paynehollow says:

    Arkaten…

    I doubt you will find any but the most highly orthodox Jews that will state the story of Moses is factual.

    Just to clarify my position: I do not take the stories told in especially the older parts of the OT to be told in a modern history style. Modern history-telling did not arise until ~500 BCE – 500 ACE, so we have no reason – rational, moral or biblical – to demand that these stories must have been told in a style that didn’t exist yet, any more than we would demand that they must have been written in English, a language that did not exist at the time.

    I think by all biblical, historic and rational evidence, some parts of the OT were told in a mythic style, some in an epic or legendary style, etc. But in epic stories, there are often kernels of historic fact. That is my point and position.

    ~Dan

  23. Dan, if you’re going to continue to write about your thoughts on the historicity of Moses, you ought to address Luke 9, where that explicitly careful evangelist records that Jesus spoke with Moses during the Transfiguration.

    On salvation you write, “I believe we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus,” and you add, “I would suggest that ‘faith in Jesus’ equates to an acceptance of Jesus’ teachings.”

    We are called not only to accept Jesus’ teachings, but also to accept His lordship — to accept Jesus Himself. Jesus is Lord, not just a tutor or teacher or philosopher or guru.

    But even as you state it, your position is inconsistent with your worries about doctrinal beliefs being essential for salvation.

    “I would suggest that ‘faith in Jesus’ equates to an acceptance of Jesus’ teachings – ultimately, agreeing with, embracing and accepting the Way of God’s Grace, which brings us back to that primary point, that we ARE saved by God’s grace. God’s grace in God’s desire and decision to forgive us, God’s grace in how we live out our lives in that same manner.”

    That suggestion raises the same sort of concerns you have for John’s position. Those concerns suggest that you have a problem with a doctrinal “formula,” but really your problem is with which formula is being used. By your logic, the requirement to accept Jesus’ teachings becomes a sort of salvation by works – one has to

    1. Have been exposed to these specific teachings so that they can even KNOW to affirm it

    2. Be able to understand the teachings, that it makes moral and rational sense to them

    3. They have to be willing to understand and affirm these…

    Your position doesn’t hold up to your own standards, even without considering the particular problem with your emphasizing ethics — for how can one be judged to have agreed with Jesus’ ethical teachings unless he obeys those teachings, and salvation by obedience is FAR closer to a works-based righteousness than any conception of saving faith that requires some amount of doctrine.

    You ask, “Do you think we need to perfectly understand every detail of ‘God’s salvation’ in order to be saved? What, then, of the thief on the cross?”

    The position that saving faith requires SOME amount of doctrine cannot be reasonably construed to that grotesque parody where one needs PERFECT understanding of EVERY detail, particularly when the New Testament itself only briefly addresses some subjects, such as the “mystery” in Paul’s comparing marriage to the relationship between Christ and the church (Eph 5:32) and when the NT explicitly withholds information, as John was commanded to do so in Rev 10:4.

    But what about the thief on the cross? Did he say anything about the goodness of Jesus’ ethical teachings? Or did his plea not focus on who Jesus was?

    “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” – Luke 23:42

    (There’s Luke again: apparently we can trust his record of Jesus talking with this thief on the mount of the crucifixion, so what about his record of Jesus talking with Moses on the mount of the transfiguration?)

    The thief pleaded before King Jesus, not saying anything about the wisdom of His way of life, a set of teachings that could hardly be followed after the completion of one’s execution.

    Dan, you positively beam about the “meat” of Jesus’ ethical teachings compared to the garnish (or “froth”) of doctrine. That’s your prerogative, but I have no doubt that you and I are BOTH children compared to the Apostle John, and that great apostle of love did not hesitate to write about the importance of the Incarnation, REPEATEDLY warning that the denial that the Son came in the flesh comes only from the spirit of antichrist.

    “Give me a doctrine that teaches us the hard, sometimes scary lessons of how to love an enemy who might be prepared to abuse or even kill us…”

    There’s an even harder lesson than that, Dan, a doctrine that teaches that nothing that we do merits salvation and warns of God’s judgment on sin, a doctrine that teaches that God Himself came and died in our place so that God’s mercy can be extended without compromising God’s holy justice.

    It’s a doctrine that requires our humility and inspires our literal awe.

    What was it Paul said? That he preached loving one’s enemies, and that that was the stumbling block?

    No: “we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” (I Cor 1:23)

    The doctrine that Jesus Christ died for our salvation, that He bore our sins, that His death was a perfect and final sacrifice for sin, that we are justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood: you don’t merely minimize this doctrine as incidental, you reject it as immoral.

    The doctrine that Jesus Christ is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, that He came to give His life as a ransom for many, that His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins — that He is the lamb who was slain, by whose blood He ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Indeed the doctrine is too crucial to de-emphasize, and you don’t try to do so, you try de-legitimize it.

    The saving power of the cross of Christ: THAT, you don’t find it unimportant. You find it to be atrocious, bloody, monstrous, and hateful.

  24. paynehollow says:

    John, you had asked, and I quote:

    The implication is that non christians or even atheists are saved by grace as well. Is that what you’re saying, more or less?

    I answered that question, already. I said…

    Less. I believe that ANYONE can choose to reject God’s grace, choose to reject Jesus’ Way of Grace, Love and Forgiveness. But the Bible makes a lot of room for grace to cover a lot of misunderstanding and sin. Thanks be to God!

    And went on to explain further. But to this re-worded version of the question, you asked…

    I asked you if a person can be save by grace without faith in Christ? You haven’t answered that yet.

    I don’t know the exact answer to that question. It requires some unpacking in order to answer it specifically and clearly.

    I believe, as I have often stated, that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.

    The question, then, is “What is ‘faith in Jesus’…”?

    I put to you these questions:

    Is “faith in Jesus” mere affirmation that Jesus was the son of God, who lived, died and rose again and if you believe that, you are saved?

    I don’t think so, “Even the demons believe… and tremble…” No, mere affirmation of Jesus’ existence can’t be what that means. I suspect you agree, yes?

    Earlier, to a similar question, you responded…

    What does it mean to trust that Jesus’ death and resurrection atoned and not our own merits and works? It mean to understand just that.

    So, is it your opinion that merely “understanding just that…” that merely holding the opinion that Jesus is God, lived, died, rose and “atoned…,” that this is what saves you? Simple intellectual assent? Then why aren’t “the demons” saved?

    Isn’t “faith in Jesus” something more than simple intellectual assent? Isn’t it an acceptance/adoption of the Way of Grace that Jesus taught and lived? That seems more rational and biblical to me.

    So if “faith in Christ” is “acceptance of Christ’s Way” – the Way of God’s grace – then to return to your original question: Can someone be saved by grace without accepting the Way of Grace? No, I don’t think so. It seems to be mutually exclusive.

    I can’t go IN a house by leaving it. I can’t go UP in the air by digging a tunnel. And I can’t be saved by grace if I reject the Way of Grace.

    Does that answer your question?

    Respectfully,

    Dan

  25. paynehollow says:

    John…

    I asked you if a person can be save by grace without faith in Christ? You haven’t answered that yet.

    Speaking of unaddressed questions, earlier I had asked…

    …would you add “must believe in the OT as a work of literal history” to the list of things one must rightly believe in order to be saved or to be “not a Christian…”? IF so, on what basis? The Bible never makes a claim that the OT stories must be considered as literal history, God has never told you to do so, we have no rational or moral reason compelling us to take it as a literal history… so on what basis would you add this to the list of things one must believe in order to be saved (if that is on your list at all)?

    This gets to a question that was raised earlier: Who gets to decide what is on the List of Things that Must Be Believed in order to Be a Christian? The Bible offers no such list, nor says that such a list exists. Or, looking at it another way, the Bible offers multiple lists of things one “must do to be saved…” Give up your wealth, give to the poor, be baptized, watch out for the least of these, believe in Jesus and you (and your household!) will be saved, etc, etc. Who gets to decide which lists are valid and which ones aren’t? On what basis?

    …I hope you’ll return the favor and address some of these questions. They seem to be good ones, to me.

    ~Dan

  26. Dan, it’s funny how your wonderful questions have no bearing on your position “that ‘faith in Jesus’ equates to an acceptance of Jesus’ teachings.”

    On what basis do you make that claim? The Bible never makes such a claim, presumably God has never told you, etc.

    Who gets to decide what is on the List of Teachings that Must Be Believed in order to be a Christian? John’s gospel has some teachings that the synoptic gospels do not, so if a person only reads John (or only reads Matthew, or Luke), is he not saved?

    You’ve never shown how your positions meet the exacting standards you try to impose on others, which suggests that you don’t really believe that it’s necessary for a position to meet those standards in order to be credible.

    You just find these “good” questions to be useful in criticizing your opponents.

  27. paynehollow says:

    Bubba, I’m just going off of word meanings. The suffix -ian means an adherent to. Thus, a Christ-ian is an adherent to the teachings of Jesus.

    Beyond that, we could talk about what it means to be a member in good standing at a Southern Baptist church, or a Roman Catholic, or Presbyterian, or Methodist, or Eastern Orthodox church. Each of these have their essential teachings.

    By strict English word definitions, then, a Christ-ian is one who adheres to/accepts the teachings of Jesus, the Christ. The problem in moving beyond that is that it is very much a matter of a wide range of human opinion what The Baptists think Jesus’ teachings imply, what the Eastern Orthodox church think the teachings of Jesus imply, etc.

    My definition meets the standard of basic English language usage.

    Bubba…

    it’s funny how your wonderful questions have no bearing on your position “that ‘faith in Jesus’ equates to an acceptance of Jesus’ teachings.”

    It is my opinion based on some basic reasoning. But I’ve put the question out there, feel free to offer your opinion, that’s fine with me.

    I don’t think mere intellectual assent of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and a particular theory of atonement is a reasonable answer to “what does it mean to have faith in Christ…” Do you?

    By all means, offer an opinion.

    ~Dan

  28. No, Dan, I agree that a mere intellectual assent is insufficient, but it’s not obvious why your “basic reasoning” leads to focusing on the teachings of Jesus rather than the Lordship of Jesus when even YOUR example of the thief on the cross points less to Jesus’ ethical commands than to His rule as king.

    And an appeal to your reasoning is a poor substitute for answers to your own questions. John has his position, you have yours, and if you think his position on salvation should be subject to those questions of yours, you should show us how your position measures up.

    It seems to me you’re equivocating between the question of what is necessary for salvation and what makes a person a Christian — a really poor equivocation, since Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses weren’t Christian (and three weren’t even Jews) but presumably all four were saved.

    The issue has been, what is necessary for salvation, you say grace through faith in Jesus, and you add that you believe saving faith is “equates to an acceptance of Jesus’ teachings.” It is ENTIRELY fair to ask the same sort of questions you ask John: must a person know, understand, and accept ALL of Jesus’ teachings? If not, who gets to decide on the list?

    As for the other subject of dictionary definitions, I didn’t realize, “The suffix -ian means an adherent to.”

    I didn’t know that a Martian adhered to the teachings of the planet (or Roman god?) Mars, that an Egyptian adheres to Egypt, and that an octogenarian is an adherent of octogenarianism, whatever that is.

    I’ll remind you that Christ isn’t Jesus’ last name, it’s a title, the Greek word for the Hebrew term messiah, both of which refer to God’s anointed. AT A MINIMUM, the term in applies theism — for how could a person be God’s anointed if God doesn’t exist — and it is probably also dependent on the authority of Jewish Scripture that predicted the messiah.

    You’ve never answered whether an atheist could be considered a Christian while continuing to deny God, but even aside from semantics, Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God: I don’t see how an atheist could affirm the command to love that which he denies exists.

    Since Jesus’ greatest commandment entails theism, your emphasizing ethics over even the most basic doctrine seems to misconstrue what it is Jesus came to preach.

    • Noah, Abraham, and Moses were fictional characters, how can fictional characters be ‘saved’ let alone real figures?
      If this were the case, by your reckoning then, a character such as Harry Potter is likely doomed, being a Wizard, hmm?
      Is it not honest to at least demonstrate the veracity of a claim that someone called Noah actually existed?
      Surely you are not of the opinion that the entire world was actually flooded and some biblical deity enacted global genocide?
      I presume you have heard of the Epic of Gilgamesh and are aware of the actual evidence pertaining to an ancient ( localised) flood – er … not the biblical nonsense, of course.

      • Ark

        At what point will you argue for and demonstrate that noah, abraham, and Moses were fictional. You’re presupposing it.

        • Ah, John, are you truly claiming there was ?
          That the biblical character Noah was a real person and the global flood actually happened, or are you merely suggesting that while the global flood tale is fictitious nonsense, that there could have been a character named Noah?
          Which is it?

          • First, gt here’s a difference between global and worldwide. One encompasses the entire planet, the other would cover the reach of mankind.

            Second, you’re the one making the assertion that everybody knows all these figures are fictional. I’m asking you to actually demonstrate that claim. Otherwise I’ll have to leave it as an unsubstantiated claim on your part.

            • Ah, well, as you would refer to the bible as your authority I refer to science and those who make the claims.
              Science says there was no flood as described in the bible or anything similar.
              Do you dispute this? If so, based on what evidence?

              Thus if this is a given – and it is, John, except by fundamentalists and halfwits of the Ron Wyatt fan club – then all one has to reckon is whether Noah was a real person?
              Fair enough. This is reasonable. Maybe there was someone called Noah? How would we know?
              He most certainly was not the two-by-two character as described in the bible, this we know.
              And of course when I say ‘we’ I am including you in this and basing the assertion upon science.

              Now, it is likely that these days everyone ( who has an interest) knows this about Noah. Whether they are prepared to accept the evidence is another matter.

              I will concede that the majority of people might not know that Moses and Abraham were fictional characters. Heck, I only discovered the truth less than ten years ago. It is a mystery why it is not more widely acknowledged, but then, there is a lot at stake, not least of course, politically.

              So there you have it.
              As you are well read on the subject and obviously know the arguments I am interested why you believe what I say is unsubstantiated, and why you appear to be taking issue with me?
              I have already offered to provide links and identified the experts, but as you said you’ve read the evidence there seemed no need.
              I cannot see the problem you are having with this?
              Could you explain,please?
              And if you have counter arguments then please, provide a few links.

              • Actually science has said no such thing. Perhaps you could reference the scientific discovery that proves all these things you are claiming it does.

                Claiming science and everyone know is not an argument.

                You keep deflecting to me to disprove your unsubstantiated claims. I will address your actual arguments once you present one.

              • Actually science has said no such thing. Perhaps you could reference the scientific discovery that proves all these things you are claiming it does.

                There is no scientific evidence of a flood as described in the bible. Period. I do not wish to embark on a lengthy dialogue based on arguing semantics which would be pointless for both of us, yes?

                Before we even consider moving on, let’s stick to this shall we?
                If you claim otherwise then please provide a link to demonstrate the veracity of the biblical clams.
                In fact, let me ask you straight.

                1. Do you believe there was a flood as described in the bible?
                2. Do you believe the character Noah existed as described n the bible?

                I think it only fair to both of us that I know where you stand on these issues otherwise I may be commenting under a false understanding
                Fair enough?

              • I think there was a worldwide flood which destroyed the man inhabited world. Yes Noah is a historical figure.

                Keep in mind, we are waiting for you to demonstrate your assertions. You’ll be doing that soon I hope?

              • A little ambiguou I think.?
                Man inhabited world? How do you know which parts of the world were inhabited?

                Let me ask again.Do you believe the biblical flood story, as described?

              • That’s a loaded question Ark, the Hebrew term used to describe the scope has multiple usages and definitions.

              • Let me try to be more specific.
                According to AIG, for instance, the entire surface of the Earth was flooded.
                This is the generally accepted term when applied to the biblical deluge as described in Genesis 7 onward.
                This is my understanding as well and does not seem to allow any margin for ambiguity.

                Do you accept this version?
                Yes, or no?

              • AIG? Is that answers in genesis? I don’t find them to be a reliable source. So just take what it was that I said I think about it and go from there.

              • I would prefer if you made a more serious effort to nail this down without any ambiguity.

                Do you believe the entire surface of the planet earth was under water to the depth as described in the bible?
                Yes or no?

              • No

              • Good. We have lift off, ladies and gentlemen.
                Or maybe we should say ‘Touchdown’.
                Let me finish typing this document, get some coffee and we can move on.

  29. @Bubba

    You’ve never answered whether an atheist could be considered a Christian while continuing to deny God,

    I’ll have a shot at this, if I may?
    This of course, goes back to my first comment and depends on how one views the authority of doctrine.

    I would venture that, by generally accepted terms, those established by the Catholic Church, who actually bestowed godhood upon the character,Jesus of Nazareth and established the Doctrine of the Trinity, then no.

    However, as there was no clear cut definition prior to this and plenty of dissent – Arius, Marcion – for example, then it is obvious the status/nature of the character Jesus of Nazareth was not so cut and dried.
    Even someone like Eusebius was initially Arian.
    These days, with so m any different branches/denominations/cults of Christianity there seems no overarching doctrine governing all christians, from Young Earth Creationists to Jehovah Witnesses, to Liberal Friends ( Quakers).

    If one takes into account how much diverse opinion there is in this regard there seems no reason why an atheist could ,em>not call himself/herself Christian
    I’ll admit, as an atheist the idea is quite novel and not a label I would hang on myself.
    But the idea is fascinating!

  30. If there was ever a christian, and here it is a big if, he died on the cross. Since then there have been many claimants to the name but they have never agreed on what should be the true christian.

  31. paynehollow says:

    As to the scientific evidence against a global flood, aside from a lack of geological evidence to support the idea, and aside from the problem of having no rational reason to assume a story told in what appears to be clearly mythic style being treated as a modern historical record, there is the simple rational/scientific observation that there is a finite amount of water on the earth and it’s not enough to cover all the land surface on the planet. Where did all the extra water come from? After the flood, where did it all go?

    I suppose one could argue that it’s magic water that showed up at God’s command and disappeared at God’s command, but again, given that the story is written in an obviously mythic style in a time before modern history telling, why would we assume magic water when the more rational, obvious answer is we simply have no biblical or literary reason to take the story literally?

    ~Dan

    • Ah…Good! A man who embraces a bit of common sense. Good for you.

    • Ark, keep in mind Dan thinks the old testament is a work of fiction and is the kind of Christian this post is aimed at to a degree.

      • Excellent! Then he and I should get on like a maison en feu … to a point. :)

      • So, even though you’ve stated that all that’s required to be a Christian is belief in Yahweh, that Christ is the Son of God(divine himself) and that he died, was buried and raised again for the atonement of sins – a mental ascent to these things no less, not behavior in any way – you are here declaring (in a sense) that Dan isn’t a Christian because he doesn’t believe everything just so. Even if he believes that Jesus is God and that Jesus died and that the God God raised him from the dead for the atonement of his sins?

        Now I really am confused.

        • Ruth, Dan has a long history here. There are many things he has said here that she’d doubt on whether he would affirm unequivocally at least one of those things.

          • Yes, I’ve lurked for a long time. I read a lot and don’t comment. I know that you and Dan have a history.

            I just find this whole argument fairly ridiculous. Especially since Jesus himself allegedly said he’d separate the goats from the sheep.

            Even people who verbally ascent to those tenets you say are central will be sent packing. I’m not sure how one would know for themselves whether they are in that group or not, much less for anyone else.

            • Ruth,

              It’s odd. On the one hand it seems pretty straight forward and simple. However, so many other smaller issues, when compounded, have a much larger impact than it seems at first blush

        • paynehollow says:

          You didn’t answer her question, John. The problem is, you have not only a list of hoops that you require people must jump through in order to “really” be a Christian, each of those beliefs must be affirmed in a certain, John-approved sense. Which I believe is the answer she’s looking for.

          That is, “Yes, Ruth, Dan believes all those things, BUT he does not believe the “right way” about the Atonement, or about WHY Jesus died…” I think that is the answer you’d give her, right?

          So, it’s not enough to believe those things, but you can’t be mistaken about how to interpret each of them, right? So, if you are mistaken, then you are not saved, so salvation depends on your ability to rightly understand, is that what you’re saying?

          If so, what does that say about children or people with mental disabilities who are not able to understand the “right” way? Are they doomed along with me and others who simply have a slightly different understanding of “atonement…”?

          And where in the Bible does it say “In order to be saved, one MUST hold a right view of the Atonement of Christ? And the “right view” is the Theory that was developed in the 13th century…?”

          Good questions, seems to me.

          ~Dan

          • Dan, you are correct. You hold an unbiblical view of the atonement and Jesus’ reason for dying. Therefore believing in his “atonement” in the way YOU do, would disqualify you. Not because it’s MY view, but it’s contrary to the explicit view in the bible.

  32. paynehollow says:

    Ex nihilo nihil fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes.

    For what it’s worth, one of the very logical reasons against a literal flood is the same argument I have in favor of a creator God. We have an ever-expanding universe composed of… EVERYTHING. That universe, science suggests, had a beginning. Before that beginning, nothing. After that beginning, Everything.

    Where did Everything come from?

    Just like we can’t have (rationally) magic water appear and disappear, we can’t have a magic universe (infinitely more material than the mere amount of water needed to cover this tiny globe) appear out of nothing from nothing. It has to come from somewhere.

    A creator God (even if it isn’t a god that created everything 6,000 years ago, on a Monday) is, to me, a rational explanation for Everything, and the Design of Everything.

    Intelligent design is not, to me, good science, but it is good reasoning.

    For what it’s worth.

    ~Dan

    • Dan, for what it’s worth, we have no way of knowing what was before, if there was a before to talk about, the universe. I have read a bit on the BB cosmology and they don’t talk beyond Planck time.

      Now, your opening statement, if you conclude there is a god, must be in my view, a case of special pleading.

      And do you have any reason why it should be one god? Why not many creator gods?

  33. paynehollow says:

    John, you asked for scientific evidence against a literal global flood, I provided it. Where DID that extra water come from? Where did it go?

    If you’re going to ask questions, I hope you’ll be respectful enough to respond when the answers are given.

    Also, given that the story comes from a time when people didn’t speak in English and didn’t tell history in a modern manner, why would we presume that this Flood story MUST have been written in English (we don’t, that would be silly) or told in a modern style… (that is a question that remains unanswered)? Given that it is written in a mythic-sounding style, why would we not presume that is exactly what it was written in? Given that God has not told us to take this story as literal history and that we simply have no biblical, rational or literary reasons to take it as literal history, why would we?

    Good questions.

    The only response I’ve ever seen is, “Well, we’ve always taken it that way…” but surely you can see that an appeal to tradition, alone is not a very compelling rational argument; and “Well, Jesus refers to the flood story, so he must have thought it was literal” but I’ve pointed out that many people refer to characters/stories that are fictional without meaning to suggest they must be literal. I do this, myself. Doesn’t mean I take Noah or Adam literally, it’s just a way to reference a common story.

    I don’t care at all if some people prefer to take the stories literally, if that sense of tradition is more important than the rationality of it all. I’m just saying that we simply have no reason to INSIST upon literal interpretations of these stories, and plenty of rational, literary and biblical reasons not to insist upon it.

    ~Dan

    • @Dan
      So if we accept that the OT is little more that stories how do approach the New Testament?
      How do we deal with the events surrounding the character Jesus of Nazareth? He not only references figures in the OT, from the text he clearly believes they were real and as Bubba pointed out, Jesus is described actually talking with Moses on the mount of the transfiguration.

      In all honesty, I admire a Christian such as Bubba. I don’t agree with him at all and think he a few sandwiches short of a picnic but at least he doesn’t appear to be cherry-picking.
      If you think the OT is fiction then just who was the character Jesus of Nazareth talking to if not Moses?
      And if not Moses how much of the Gospels are simply made up?
      And who gets to decide?
      The Church?
      The Jesus seminar?
      John, Bubba or you?

  34. paynehollow says:

    Just for fun, some info on how much water there is on earth…

    http://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthhowmuch.html

    Which raises another rational question: You can see on that link the amount of existing, finite water on the earth and that most of it is saltwater. There is also a tiny dot representing the freshwater (ie, the water WE need to survive). Assuming a literal global flood, wouldn’t our freshwater all have become salinated? How did Noah and his family (and the millions of fauna species on a literal ark – another rational problem) have gotten fresh water to survive after this great salination of all water?

    Good, reasonable questions, it seems to me.

    ~Dan

    • wiley16350 says:

      Did you ever think that there is so much water on the earth because of the flood? You ask where did the water all go and you fail to recognize that much of it is still here. The problem people have is that there is a lot of information that we just don’t know. We don’t don’t know what the earth was like before the flood. We don’t know how high the mountains were. We don’t know how much cataclysmic activity was activated by the flood or how much activity has happened since. How much of the sedimentation we do see has happened since the flood and/or was caused by the aftermath of the flood. The earth has so much history that it seems foolish to say we know what happened in the past for certainty. As a Christian, you shouldn’t be so quick to follow the logic of an atheist. You should try to see if there is a hole in their logic or something missing to what they’re saying or try to see what they’re claiming from a different angle. They are so quick to not believe in God that they will accept any argument that sounds good without actually looking into the validity of the argument. Like the argument about where did all the water go. The atheist above congratulated you on thinking with common sense, which in a way you were but neither of you were thinking with a full picture of the event because neither of you cared to delve deeper. The simple answer is; much of the water is still here; since there is a lot of water on the earth it seems reasonable. The obvious conclusion is that there wasn’t as much water on the earth prior to the event than after it. The question that logically follows from that is what allowed the water to drain and recede from it’s high point. That should be the real question. The answer would be all the geological activity that was set in motion by the eruption of water from within the earth and the effects of vastly moving water at the very beginning of the eruption. Dr. Walt brown explains all of this in his hydroplate theory. Go here to read it online http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/. It even has an answer to your saltwater and millions of species on the ark questions. Ultimately though, The best evidence of a world wide flood are fossils. Fossilization happens when an organism is trapped quickly in sediments where the organism can’t be dissolved by oxygen or scavenged by other organisms. Fossilization is not an expectation of evolution. It is an expectation of catastrophe and so much of it actually infers it. Such as fossilization of soft bodied organisms, large fossil graveyards and fossilization of organisms in action. The fact there is so much fossilization (especially of large animals like dinosaurs) speaks to the validity of a large flood (since fossilization is worldwide) or at least multiple large scale catastrophe’s. Nobody can say for sure, all we can do is come up with theories, which can be easy for local areas but to try and explain a global flood in complete congruence with all of the evidence is impossible. Especially since we know many other catastrophe’s have happened since. We weren’t around to witness what the world was like prior to the flood, during the flood and after the flood. We haven’t witnessed much of the world’s history, so to say with all certainty what happened is foolishness especially when it is so easy to miss one detail that can change everything. What we do know is that large scale fossilization, sedimentation, geological activity have all happened and those are all expectations of large scale catastrophe.

  35. paynehollow says:

    Ark, “like a house on fire…”? Not familiar with the expression.

    ~Dan

  36. paynehollow says:

    John…

    keep in mind Dan thinks the old testament is a work of fiction

    Keep in mind that I think the Bible is a work of writings found in multiple genres, including what might generically be called “fiction,” but then, you believe the same thing. We don’t disagree that fiction appears in the Bible (you no doubt agree that parables at least are “fiction”), we just disagree on which parts are fiction, myth, epic, poetry, imagery and more or less literal.

    ~Dan

    • We don’t disagree that fiction appears in the Bible

      Fiction? You mean like the nonsense of a man walking on water and a bunch of saints coming back to life and going walkabout in down town Jerusalem?

      Or the fiction of City of Nazareth as described in Luke?
      Or the fiction of casting demons into a herd of swine and sending them off a cliff to their deaths? ( where’s the SPCA when you need them?

      BTW, do you know how far those pigs would have had to run to commit porcine suicide?
      Damn fit pigs, I can tell you that!

      So who gets to decide which is fact and which is fiction and by what criteria do you, Dan, decide?

    • Dan,

      Whereas I don’t disagree with you that the bible or parts of it fall in the genre fiction, my interest is knowing how you make the distinction?

  37. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    John has his position, you have yours, and if you think his position on salvation should be subject to those questions of yours, you should show us how your position measures up.

    The difference, Bubba, is that MY opinion has been clearly identified as MY opinion. I am not claiming to speak for God, nor am I insisting that I hold the One True Opinion worth holding.

    The thing is: we have no authoritative word to answer the question, “What does it mean to trust in Jesus?” We have personal opinions. Some of these opinions might be more rational than others, but they are personal opinions. We have NO WAY to prove any one of them is the “right” opinion.

    Do you agree?

    Given that, then, if John or you are merely saying, “it is my opinion that ‘trust in Jesus’ means X and here’s why I think that… but people of good faith may disagree with my opinion,” then that is fine, that is what I’ve done. I don’t think you all are content to leave it at that. You will want to insist that those who disagree with you not only have a different opinion, you will want to insist that they are wrong, and to a degree that they can NOT be “christian” according to your word.

    And that is the difference, I think, between me and thee.

    Am I mistaken? Please enlighten me, if so.

    Thanks,

    Dan

    • Dan, I agree with you here.

      The thing is: we have no authoritative word to answer the question, “What does it mean to trust in Jesus?” We have personal opinions. Some of these opinions might be more rational than others, but they are personal opinions. We have NO WAY to prove any one of them is the “right” opinion.

      and I think it should be said more often, maybe there would be greater understanding.

  38. paynehollow says:

    Arkenaten…

    So if we accept that the OT is little more that stories how do approach the New Testament?

    Rationally. Reasonably. With an open mind. I’d suggest. Unlike the OT, the NT was written in a time that was within the age of modern history telling. Unlike the early OT stories, the NT stories were written in a manner that seems at least a bit more like a literal, relatively linear history that we moderns are more accustomed to.

    So far, so good?

    While we may have no hard data to support a literal Jesus, we do have what I find to be compelling support for Jesus, just the same. Clearly, there were a group of people called “christians” in the early centuries ACE. Clearly, they eventually made a large impact, eventually becoming a dominant force in world history (unfortunately, for good and for bad). Clearly, it seems to me, these “believers” came from some source and that source, it seems clear enough to me, was Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant preacher in the first century.

    Clearly, then, it seems to me, that this preacher likely did exist and I have no reason not to presume that the stories recorded about him are likely at least relatively true (within the spectrum of the type of historic recording that would likely have been used in this time period), nor do I have any compelling reason not to accept the teachings attributed to this Jesus as likely being of the actual Jesus.

    Fair enough?

    Arkenaten…

    How do we deal with the events surrounding the character Jesus of Nazareth? He not only references figures in the OT, from the text he clearly believes they were real and as Bubba pointed out, Jesus is described actually talking with Moses on the mount of the transfiguration.

    Your support that he “clearly believes” the OT characters were “real…”? He references their stories, yes, but as I have noted, I reference those stories, too. Doesn’t mean I take their stories as literally factual.

    I simply don’t think you can create an argument based on the text that Jesus must have accepted these people as literal history, there’s simply not the data there to support that claim. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but the data is not there to make the claim authoritatively.

    Fair enough?

    ~Dan

  39. paynehollow says:

    Arkenaten…

    if we accept that the OT is little more that stories

    I don’t want to give the impression that I downplay OT stories as meaningless. I think that treating them as lightweight flights of fancy is just as wrong as treating them as literal history. People of all cultures have told stories to help them understand their place in the world, and they have done so in the genres, styles common to their day. To that end, a creation myth passed on by tribal peoples in the Americas or by early people in Mesopotamia gave people a sense of who they were and where they fit in the world. These epics and myths and other more or less “historic” stories helped give hope, encouragement, peace of mind, instruction or otherwise served the people who passed them on, generation after generation.

    In my opinion, one trap we tend to get into would be the modern arrogance to insist that ancient stories MUST have been told in the same way WE would tell them, otherwise, they’re just lies and silly fairy tales.

    Another trap is the modern arrogance to insist that all ancient stories are “merely” silly fairy tales and thus, are meaningless.

    These are great and important stories, regardless of whether they are factually, literally history in the modern sense.

    Not saying that you’re falling into that trap, just making the point that, in my opinion, these ancient stories are not “little more than stories” to be brushed aside as irrelevant. In my opinion, they are great and fundamental stories that we should strive to understand in the context of their genre.

    ~Dan

  40. paynehollow says:

    Arkenaten…

    So who gets to decide which is fact and which is fiction and by what criteria do you, Dan, decide?

    We all get to decide, the best we can, with the evidence on hand.

    Here’s the thing, Ark (may I call you “Ark…”?), my interest in Biblical teaching is more about the Truths found in its pages, not the “facts…” We have no way of proving or disproving any of exact details of most of the amazing stories found in biblical pages (well, some, like an assumption of a young earth or a flood, we can disprove, but not most of the stories).

    I find sufficient cause to accept the facts as presented for much of the NT, but I certainly can’t prove them, any more than they can be disproved. I am fairly grounded in what is rationally, scientifically possible or likely, but I also make room for the Truth that there is room for Mystery and the Unknown in this world.

    Regardless of each of the facts, I agree with, am amazed by, am compelled and challenged by the Teachings of Jesus and the Moral and Philosophical Truths found within those teachings. The Bible to me is NOT a book of facts, but one of Truths, and Truth and Understanding are what I seek within its pages.

    I think those who treat the Bible as a rule book or as a history book are missing a central point of the many authors and stories found in its pages. Truth – specifically, Truth about living lives of Grace, Love and Forgiveness – are what I find there.

    And now, I am really out of time, I’ll be glad to take this up in more detail later, if you’re interested.

    ~Dan

    • And this is where I have difficulty accepting that the average Christian really has integrity and is not merely struggling with the indoctrination they have suffered from childhood; to which the evidence points.
      Most people are more than willing to apply commonsense criteria to day to day life, be it wiring a plug or building a Jetliner.
      But when the topic moves to god belief and its inherent interpretations then all the ‘weirdness’ oozes out and we are faced with oohs, ahs, buts and all sorts of ambiguous words and hedging one’s bets type phrases as such folk ( like you) try to present themselves as rational, critical thinkers while trying to avoid answering a straight question.
      But when faced with the ‘truth’ that they are merely cherry picking they often get pissy.

      If you are circumspect regarding saints going walkabout and maybe ambivalent toward the nativity tales or the Massacre of the innocents, but claim that there is every probability that the Character Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead and chances are the disciples did see something then I’m afraid you are really not being honest and I call foul. Or fowl, as I regard this as behaving like a scared chicken.
      Rather just say “I have faith.’ and be done with it instead of doing the theological two step and come across like a hypocrite.

      At least Bubba calls it straight.

      • Ark

        I’m at work now so I’ll be responding sporadically. But for a little background on me click on the about section above.

        • You are referring to your About page? I have already read it.I usually do before engaging.

          For this reason I am surprised at this particular topic.
          You clearly have a fixed immutable idea of what you consider a ‘christian’ is, so I wonder why you posed the question in the first place?

          To be antagonistic,ie to basically be dismissive of every other who claims they are Christian but does not fall under the definition you clearly adhere to.
          And why do care what an atheist regards as a true christian?

          or

          are you at a point in your faith where you are ready to do some genuine critical thinking?

          • I posed the question to atheists who hold up the worst examples of people who call themselves christians as if they are representative. Then when the ordinary Christian objects to that lumping in, the atheist often scoffs at the attempt to distance themself. So I ask the atheist if there are any disqualifiers that just because someone claims the label that they just arent.

            I wasn’t asking for what a real christian is as the foundation of the question. It is to find out your personal opinion.

            • As what a christian ‘is’ is based on erroneous text there really is no right or wrong answer to this question, and therefore the term ‘Ordinary Christian’ has no meaning.

    • Sorry, yes, call me Ark, everyone else does, apart from my wife who calls me ‘Oi, the dishes!’

      • I do like your sense of humour good buddy

        • Makagutu & Ark,

          Just an fyi, I don’t ban people because they disagree. I can only think of one person I banned, a really nasty person. Granted it’s in poor taste to trash people behind their back, but I don’t censor.

          Secondly, what definitions am I changing in the middle of a discussion? What is it that’s unclear exactly?

          • The Op reads like what would make one a christian. Once you have gotten several answers you change it to

            I’m not asking what makes a person a Christian, so please don’t go down that road. I’m asking what if anything makes someone not a Christian who says they are.

            and

            So I ask the atheist if there are any disqualifiers that just because someone claims the label that they just arent.

            .
            It is good to know you don’t ban people. Ark gets banned all the time on theists blogs.

            • Perhaps go back and reread the closing paragraph. The post makes general reference to true and not necessarily true christians. But the question had been from the beginning, regardless of where commenters have taken it, to the atheists who would hold up the deeds or claims of professing christians as though it would be illegitimate to disqualify them as real christians. I ask the atheist if it’s possible for someone claiming to be a christian to not really be one, or is the mere self profession all one needs. Nothing has changed except for my chasing rabbit trails and not keeping the discussion on track.

              But no, I don’t even consider bans until someone becomes so hostile or belligerent that there is no actual discussion going on. I don’t care that there’s dissent, that’s what makes the discussion interesting.

  41. paynehollow says:

    Makagutu…

    Whereas I don’t disagree with you that the bible or parts of it fall in the genre fiction, my interest is knowing how you make the distinction?

    Well, we have no fool-proof way of knowing, is the short answer. The Bible has not provided a guide to understanding that details what is and isn’t imagery vs literal.

    But generally speaking, we can use our reason and literary consideration and knowledge of writing styles to get at least some idea.

    Scholars would say that the era of Modern History began ~500 BCE – 500 ACE, with Herodotus and others being some of the first who emphasized telling history in a more literal, linear manner. Before that, by any evidence or research I have seen, people just told history differently. They weren’t intentionally lying or making up stories out of whole cloth, but just passing on stories in the style common to the day.

    Consider our own lives today: Sometimes we pass on a story with the purpose of being funny, or to “serve as a lesson” to children. We might tell our friends about an encounter with a police officer or our children about a story from our youth. When we do this, we don’t always tell stories literally or linearly, but we might juggle the facts for emphasis. When we do this, we don’t do in order to lie or confuse, but because we’re being funny or making a point. As one great storyteller puts it, “I’m not lying, I’m telling a story!”

    All of that to say: I have no hard data reason to presume that most of the OT was written in a modern history style, so generally, I don’t make that assumption. Why would I? Now, clearly, there IS and WAS a People of Israel, so the stories are at least based on some kernel of reality, but I don’t need to presume that they would tell stories in the same way modern historians would. That would be a modernist arrogance.

    And seriously, I’m out of time. Short answer again: WE don’t know for sure, but we can use the evidence we have to make educated guesses.

    Thanks,

    ~Dan

    • Dan, I don’t remember saying you must respond immediately, am a generous man or should I say patient.
      I would have no qualms had you stopped after

      Well, we have no fool-proof way of knowing, is the short answer.

      Whenever I use my reason, I find very little that would be worth taking as a matter of fact but there are quite a number of good lessons once could learn from it.

    • “Scholars would say that the era of Modern History began ~500 BCE – 500 ACE, with Herodotus and others being some of the first who emphasized telling history in a more literal, linear manner.”

      You keep saying this, but never have I seen you cite more than one guy in support of the claim. Also, you have never addressed the charge that your default position regarding when “modern history” began automatically lumps OT Scripture in with ancient works of others, as if there is no significant distinction between those others and OT Scripture. My response has always been that regardless of how anyone else recorded their histories and legends, there is no legitimate reason to suspect also that OT authors did so in the same way, simply because they are of the same general era in history. Thus, my suspicion is that it is convenient for you in holding your self-serving positions to write off the OT as some so-called “mythic style”. It gives you permission to dismiss that which does not conform to the god of your own making that you prefer to worship.

      “I have no hard data reason to presume that most of the OT was written in a modern history style, so generally, I don’t make that assumption.”

      Nor have you even attempted to offer anything akin to “hard (OR soft) data reason” to support the contrary, so generally, actually definitely and without question, you make the assumption with extreme prejudice that it couldn’t possibly be written as an accurate history.

      • paynehollow says:

        Herodotus and Thucydides are considered the fathers of modern history telling, which began in ~500 BC… How many sources are needed to confirm this?

        Here’s another…

        http://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/bria-24-3-a-herodotus-and-thucydides-inventing-history

        More to the point, where is your research demonstrating ANYONE claiming from a scholarly point of view that ancient stories – pre-500 BC – were told in a literally historic manner?

        Again, the stories appear to be told in a mythic/epic style, they come from a time period when that is how people told their stories and I have ZERO evidence that they were told in a modern historic style. The Bible has never told us we should treat them as literal histories. God has not told us to. Scholars have not told us to. The ONLY thing we have is tradition, but while I appreciate tradition, merely “Cause tradition!” is not a rational support, short of ANYTHING else.

        So, with NOTHING but tradition to say “Literal,” on what basis would I presume that it must be literal? That is the answer that you have not offered. If you offer nothing, then I have no reason to change my opinion.

        ~Dan

      • paynehollow says:

        Another source…

        http://www.studentsfriend.com/historians.html

        “The Greek writer Herodotus is considered the world’s first historian, “the father of history.” Others have called him “the father of lies.””

        (Because even Herodotus didn’t write literally factual histories in the modern sense so well. dt)

        “Thucydides wrote only about events that occurred during his lifetime that he could verify through examination of written records and eyewitness accounts. He strived for complete objectivity, and in this way he pioneered the historical method used by historians today.”

        and…

        “Historians are undocumented elsewhere in the world until the first century B.C. in China.”

  42. paynehollow says:

    Ark…

    all sorts of ambiguous words and hedging one’s bets type phrases as such folk ( like you) try to present themselves as rational, critical thinkers while trying to avoid answering a straight question.
    But when faced with the ‘truth’ that they are merely cherry picking they often get pissy.

    I’m calling it straight, Ark. I find the teachings of Jesus to be wise, compelling, challenging and worth adhering to. When Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek, I take that pretty literally. When Jesus tells us to look out for and side with the least of these, I take that pretty literally. Etc, etc.

    The Bible no where, not one time, tells me to take the Bible literally. I have no compelling reason to take each line literally. Indeed, no one does, not even the more literal-minded types. Most conservatives don’t take Jesus’ words about turning the other cheek or selling your goods and giving to the poor, etc, exactly literally, nor do ANY of us take the admonition to pluck out offending eyes literally – we ALL recognize that at least parts of the bible are figurative, not literal. The thing is, we all realize we need to use our God-given (or innate, if you prefer) reasoning to sort out the literal from the metaphor and figurative. If we take a text written in a figurative style literally, we will not be understanding the text aright.

    So, all of that to say, I don’t see what is disingenuous about striving to understand the text in its proper literary genre/style.

    Ark…

    If you are circumspect regarding saints going walkabout and maybe ambivalent toward the nativity tales or the Massacre of the innocents, but claim that there is every probability that the Character Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead and chances are the disciples did see something then I’m afraid you are really not being honest

    But the honest truth is, Ark, I DON’T know if those texts are reflective of literal events or not. I don’t know even of the resurrection’s literal historicity, I have no evidence to say 100% for sure that it did or did not occur. There is some testimony/evidence, many witnesses spoke of seeing Jesus after the fact and a large sect grew up around his teachings and his story and would seem (to me) less likely if it were built upon a hoax.

    But are the texts citing that evidence to be taken literally? I simply don’t know. That is the fact. No one does.

    What is dishonest about acknowledging that reality?

    I DO accept it in faith that, at the least, Jesus’ resurrection likely happened, but don’t know that in the sense that there is hard evidence that forces that understanding. That is the truth of it all.

    Regardless of the “miraculous” aspects of the story, the MAIN THING I glean from the Bible, again, are its Truths, which I believe to be compelling and powerful, wonderful and challenging. Again, the Bible to me is not a history book, nor a rule book, nor a science book, but a book of truths.

    Why would I insist on literal facts if the facts are not the critical part of the story? What is dishonest about that?

    Thanks for your thoughts,

    Dan

  43. paynehollow says:

    Ark, I would repeat a question to you…

    Your suggest that Jesus “clearly believes” the OT characters were “real…”, but what is your evidence for that? He references their stories, yes, but as I have noted, I reference those stories, too. Doesn’t mean I take their stories as literally factual.

    Is it not fair that a mere citation of a story is not evidence that the one doing the citing takes the stories as literally factual?

  44. I DO accept it in faith that, at the least, Jesus’ resurrection likely happened, but don’t know that in the sense that there is hard evidence that forces that understanding. That is the truth of it all.

    Really? You think this act is genuine yet you might have reservations about other NT claims about the character , Jesus of Nazareth? And yet you find this perfectly acceptable and not in the least hypocritical? lol… Spoken like a true Christian!
    William Lane Craig would be proud of those dance moves.
    Aren’t you glad they aren’t burning heretics these days?

    ‘Roll up roll up … pick your version of god belief. Plenty to choose from. 42,000 and counting. Or why not make up your own? It’s loads of fun for the whole family. Circumcision and Hell optional.
    ‘ What was that, dear. Oooh,yes, dear, you;re right. It
    is like a sundae bar isn’t it? You want nuts with that? Sorry, dear, didn’t hear you? Cant hear a blinking thing with all this praying going on. You’re nuts enough, you say. Ha ha, good one, dear. Move along then.’

    Thank you. This is what I asked. Faith.

    And as Twain said.( more or less) ‘ Faith is believing what you know really ain’t true.’

    And this is likely as close to fact as one will get.

    Couple this with what we do know and what can be reasonably considered nonsense one can be confident in dismissing all other comparable biblical claims.

    Truly I shake my head in despair at the credulity of the religious at times. Please, just leave the kids alone okay?

    Your suggest that Jesus “clearly believes” the OT characters were “real…”, but what is your evidence for that?

    Let’s get this straight. There may very well have been an itinerant, smelly, 1st century prophet named Yeshua wandering around Galilee. Who knows?
    However, the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth, is a narrative construct. Period.
    And if you can find any evidence to the contrary then I will be fascinated to read it.

  45. paynehollow says:

    Wiley…

    Did you ever think that there is so much water on the earth because of the flood? You ask where did the water all go and you fail to recognize that much of it is still here.

    Wiley, the total volume of water on earth is about 1.4 billion cubic kilometers. The amount required to cover all the mountains would be 3 times that.

    http://www.epicidiot.com/evo_cre/noahs_flood.htm#how_much_water

    The Earth is a closed system. The amount of water we have today is the amount of water we had a thousand years ago or at the beginning of the earth. It is a fixed amount that doesn’t change. Rationally speaking, WHERE would the water come from needed to cover the earth? Where did it go once the flood was over?

    It’s simply not possible from a purely rational point of view.

    Wiley…

    As a Christian, you shouldn’t be so quick to follow the logic of an atheist. You should try to see if there is a hole in their logic or something missing to what they’re saying or try to see what they’re claiming from a different angle.

    In noting that

    1. The Flood story is written in what appears to be (at least to many people) a mythic fashion – I’d suggest that if you read another story written in a similar fashion outside of the Bible, you’d consider it a myth… the Epic of Gilgamesh, does that not read like a myth or epic story to you?
    2. The Flood story is written in a time when stories were passed on in mythic fashion, and before modern history
    3. That there is no serious geological evidence for a flood
    4. That there is a fixed amount of water on the earth – that none “appears” or disappears, just changes form – and that there is insufficient water to completely cover the earth…

    etc, I am not “following the logic of an atheist.” I am following logic. It’s not as if atheists have logic and we don’t. There is only one set of facts and reason is reason, whether it comes from a monster or a monk.

    Since the Bible does not require a literally historic reading of the OT, since God has not told us “Thou shalt take it literally…” on what basis would any of us try to juggle science in order to try to make the OT literal, if we have no rational or biblical reason to do so?

    So, when you say…

    The simple answer is; much of the water is still here; since there is a lot of water on the earth it seems reasonable. The obvious conclusion is that there wasn’t as much water on the earth prior to the event than after it.

    The simple answer does not comport with reality. Reality is, there is and has been a fixed amount of water on the planet, this answer is therefore insufficient to reality.

    Since a literal answer does not fit reality and since I have no reason to take the story literally (other than tradition), why would I?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    ~Dan

    • Ummm. The amount of water isn’t fixed. It may balance out on average, but it’s not fixed. Not that I ascribe to a complete global covering of water, but it’s not fixed.

      • Ummm. The amount of water isn’t fixed. It may balance out on average, but it’s not fixed. Not that I ascribe to a complete global covering of water, but it’s not fixed.

        You’re right. The Angels came down and swiped a few buckets to wash God’s chariot to get it spruced up for when he rides out with the Four Horsemen.
        You know there was originally a Fifth, right? Like the Beatles, he left before they were famous.

        • Ark

          What point does that serve? I can see why you get banned from other blogs. Maybe you wear it as a badge of honor. But why not just have a normal discussion with people who don’t share your views? If you’re tired of this one, wait for the next.

    • Of course, once again we see that Dan picks and chooses which miraculous events favor his preferences. His insulting “magic water” verbiage demonstrates his selective sense of the grace he insists the rest of us show. The Flood is an example of a miraculous event. What makes anyone think scientific research and tools of an imperfect and limited race could measure that which is miraculous. The water on earth before and after the Flood could have been the same general amount, with that water that covered the rest of the earth merely disappearing rather than receding or evaporating. It was a freakin’ miracle, not a normal event that abides natural physical law.

      This is a major flaw in the position of the atheist because one must not regard the miraculous as actual happenings the ever truly occurred in history. If science, the god of the atheist, cannot “prove” what we believe, then we are fools and they are oh, so sophisticated. “Christians” like Dan, cannot abide being regarded as less than sophisticated so they will play down the miraculous. We see it here as Dan refers to “magic waters” in discussing the Flood story.

      As to what the Bible (or God) does or does not require in terms of how to read Scripture and what to take literally, this is yet another tool of Dan’s that gives him permission to dismiss that which does not conform with the god of his own making that he chooses to worship.

  46. wiley16350 says:

    @ Dan

    I actually didn’t go against any closed system of water. If you would read what I write, you would know that. Water came from below the earth. The bible says the fountains of the great deep burst forth. That means there was more water under the crust of the earth than there is now and less water on the face of the earth than there is now. That means all the water came from within the closed system.

    1. How do you explain Josephus? He wrote books on the history of the Jews. He in fact wrote as though the flood was real and all of the stories of the bible. He even referenced the fact that in his day people would go and visit the ark. Would you claim that he was writing an actual history of people by including all of their myths?

    3. There is evidence of a world wide flood, you just refuse to accept it. There are over 200 legends of a world wide flood. Fossils are found in sedimentation all over the world. Fossils of marine organisms are found on tops of mountains. There are mass grave yards of fossils found all over the world. Fossils of trees are found to go through multiple layers of sedimentation. The fact there was an ice age, which may be best explained as a result of a large scale flood. Large deposits of coal and oil may actually be best explained by a large scale flood. The problem is, all of this evidence is fit through the lense of evolution, despite being expectations of a large scale flood and having nothing to do with evolution or necessary for evolution.

    I didn’t say atheists are the only ones with logic, that statement was not placed in a favorable light. They have poor logic when it comes to the existence of God and you seem to accept a lot of their arguments.

    I’m not going to tell you whether you have to believe in a literal global flood or not. I am telling you that you don’t have to juggle science, you just need to see alternative views. You have to understand that the flood, age of the earth and archeology are historical sciences. Those subjects require speculation, assumption and interpretation of all evidence to come up with viable theories. There are many possible theories when it comes to each area and without having full knowledge of past conditions the best you can do is theorize. The problem is the secular scientists automatically will reject any theory that involves God and interpret the evidence in a way to support their no God belief.

    • There is evidence of a world wide flood, you just refuse to accept it.
      Where? Ken Ham’s museum?
      Find one secular scientist who agrees with the biblical deluge and is prepared to demonstrate how it worked and I will eat my laptop.
      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html

    • Dan also assumes, like atheists, that because some other ancient group of people spoke of a flood in their traditions, that the Bible’s version is no more reliable than the others. But the other side of the coin is that because other groups of people speak of a flood in their traditions, it just might mean that it is so because there was indeed a flood. Dan and atheists just don’t like that possibility.

      • paynehollow says:

        Again, as I repeatedly note: Oftentimes, myths and legends and epic stories are based at least partially on reality.

        It has nothing to do with “liking the possibility. I once believed the possibiliity. I personally have no problem with “the possibility,”

        I just see NO RATIONAL REASON to suppose it happened exactly as Gilgamesh says it did (or as Genesis says it did) simply because that is how ancient people passed on the story.

        Marshall: A simple question: Is Gilgamesh’s story 100% factual and objectively literal history? Why not? How do you know? Based on what?

        ~Dan

  47. paynehollow says:

    Again, why would we even want to consider a text written in a mythic style, in a time of mythic storytelling, as literal history or as modern science? I’m saying we have no textual or rational reason to take it as literal.

    As to guesses about how ancient people’s may have considered a text – did ancient peoples take myths to be literal? – I feel no need to make guesses about their take on ancient texts.

    But even if ancient people were unaware of the boundaries of myth, does that mean we accept that the myths are true simply because ancient people believed them to be true? No, of course, not. Is it possible that ancient people took Gilgamesh to be literal history? Sure. Does that make it true? No.

    Do you see the problem?

    And “hydroplate theory” is not science, it’s pseudoscience and does not answer the question, Where did all that water go? It’s many times more than the water we have now, where did it go?

    ~Dan

    • “Again, why would we even want to consider a text written in a mythic style, in a time of mythic storytelling, as literal history or as modern science?”

      You only assume it was written in a “mythic style” simply because of the time it was written, as if that means it could ONLY be written in a “mythic style”. You’ve offered nothing but this slimmest of speculation to support your contention.

      “Is it possible that ancient people took Gilgamesh to be literal history? Sure. Does that make it true? No.

      Do you see the problem?”

      Yes. The problem is that you NEED things to be as you claim they are because it serves your position to do so, not because you have any solid data to support it.

      And like any atheist, you don’t like a theory that contradicts your preferred stance, it isn’t science. How very gracious.

      • paynehollow says:

        I’ll remind you, Marshall, I reached these conclusions as a younger conservative fella. The conclusions did NOT serve my “preferred – more conservative – stance” necessarily, but I was an honest conservative who went where reason and facts and moral thinking led me, who went with what seemed most rational, moral and biblical, because that is how my honest conservative forebears taught me.

        You all have to keep in mind that every time you criticize my “agenda” or “preferred stance” that I had that led me to my position, that you are criticizing a conservative agenda/stance.

        ~Dan

  48. wiley16350 says:

    I don’t see your problem. It makes the most sense to compare any writing claiming itself as history against reality. In doing so you should try to research all avenues and possibilities to validate or invalidate the writing. It is most useful to come from the perspective that the story is true because you’ll be more likely to research all possibilities rather than close your mind after the first flaw. It is also almost always the case that there is some truth in mythical stories and the false parts can easily be spotted in a many of cases. Doing research this ways allows your mind to be open and more willing to find the truth. If you automatically choose that there is no truth to what you think is myth and it is in fact true, then you will always come to a false conclusion no matter what research you do. This is the problem with the way the flood is researched by secularists. We have a multitude of writings claiming the truth of a world wide flood and if the main truth of the global flood is in fact true, science will never come to the right conclusion because they are constantly avoiding the true answer.

    Why is the hydroplate theory pseudoscience? All it does is theorize how the earth got to it’s current state? It is an attempt to explain history using current scientific understanding. it is actually no different than any other theory that does so. How do you know that the water is many times more than the water we have now? You don’t know how much water there was before. Your attempt to know is based on the conditions we have today based on the current heights and depths of the mountains and waters. If the mountains are higher and the oceans larger than they were before then how can you confidently state how much water was needed before? Also, do the calculations include all of the ice that is still around? How do they even get the numbers to do these calculations? These are the problems you have when you investigate history. Many, many unknowns. Have you actually read the hydroplate theory? What would it hurt to read it? It is highly invloved and has a lot of information in it. The guy is pretty intelligent and i’m sure knows more than either you or I about these things. I don’t see why a christian would be so set against reading it. The problem is that people think that the secular scientists have all the answers and are correct in all their theories. They are not, their theories have problems. I’m not claiming that the hydroplate theory is flawless, what i’m saying is that it gives a lot of answers that helps explain the possibility of a world wide flood and would at least give you some answers to questions you might have. It is just a theory and one of many possibilities.

    • Why is the hydroplate theory pseudoscience?

      Walt Brown’s theory is bunkum, and has been shown t be so. That you even suggest it is indicative of your refusal to let go of a nonsense piece of ancient literature – the bible, and the reprehensible indoctrination you have suffered as a child and are still suffering.
      Maybe we should ask Peary if he ever found Santa’s grotto at the North Pole.
      Really, this YEC intransigence to refuse to let go of delusion is beyond me.

      • A charge of “bunkum” requires conclusive proof that it is so, or it is no more than just another atheist crapping on that which contradicts his favored position.

        • @marshallart
          Okay, we’ll play by your rules. I’ll give you that Brown’s theory could very well be is valid and I am prepared to let it stand.
          Now, marashalart, you provide conclusive proof of the claim that the character Jesus of Nazareth was divine.

          Because of you cannot , you are no more than just another theist crapping on that which contradicts his favored position.

          Okay, hot shot …you’re up. Away you go

  49. paynehollow says:

    Wiley…

    It makes the most sense to compare any writing claiming itself as history against reality.

    The Bible, nor the OT, nor Genesis have “claimed itself as history.” Hasn’t happened. That’s one big problem. People are pushing a modernist interpretation on ancient text, saying, “God (or the people writing) would have written these stories as a history…” It’s a modernist arrogance and presumption that undermines rational consideration of the text.

    The first step is to assess what writing style/genre/themes are being used, not pushing a modernist presumption and THEN trying to understand the text.

    Make sense?

    Wiley…

    You don’t know how much water there was before.

    Yes, the same amount as we have now. Wiley, the total volume of water on earth today is about 1.4 billion cubic kilometers. The amount required to cover all the mountains would be many times that. Say, 6-10 billion (I’ve seen different estimates). Where has that extra five billion ck gone?

    That’s the rational problem.

    • “The Bible, nor the OT, nor Genesis have “claimed itself as history.””

      Someday you’ll have to explain why it must and why it should matter that it doesn’t in order for it to be a legitimate record of historical events.

      The beginning of the movie “Fargo” claims that the story about to unfold is true. Of course, it isn’t true at all and the claim was just a device for entertainment purposes.

      • paynehollow says:

        Well, for conservative biblical students, we get our information for Christian life first and foremost from the Bible – sola scriptura. So, if someone makes a claim, “The Bible says we must take these texts as literal history…” then they need to back it up.

        On the other hand, if they make a claim, “I PERSONALLY think the Genesis stories should all be taken as literal history,” then that person should be prepared to make their case. WHY do you think Genesis should be taken as literal history?

        In either case, knowing why one is making a presumption about a text is important. If the text does not claim it, if the author does not claim it (or is not there to make the claim), if the evidence at hand does not claim it… well WHY would we presume it? There has to be some reason other than, “Well, my father thought so, and his father before him thought so, and his mother before him thought so back for many years…”

        Tradition is fine as far as it goes, but it does not replace scholarly or rational consideration.

        ~Dan

    • wiley16350 says:

      @Dan

      How did someone come up with those numbers? Did they actually take measurements of the whole earth to have a definitive answer of how much water there is? Does that figure take into account the amount of ice on earth and the amount of snow that consistently remains in cold regions? That 1.4 billion is an estimation and the question is how accurate is it? The second problem you have, that you have consistently missed; is how accurate the amount of water that would have been needed at the time. There is absolutely no way to know how much water was needed at the time of the flood because the landscape was vastly different. Your estimation is based on the landscape the way it is today, which was formed by the flood itself. Oceans are bigger, Mountains are bigger, there are probably more rivers, valleys and hills. For example, the Grand Canyon. Dr. Walt Brown’s theory concludes that the Grand Canyon was formed after the flood. Many other formations would have been too. If true, the Grand Canyon is a big hole in the ground that wouldn’t have to be filled. This is the part you’re not getting. The whole landscape at the time of the flood was different and so the amount of water needed to flood the earth back then would be less than the amount of water needed to flood the earth now. Don’t come back with the amount of land mass is still the same because it has nothing to do with the amount of water needed. Since what were talking about is getting to a certain point above the highest mountain, while starting at the lowest depth of the sea. If those two levels were vastly different, it makes a big difference. Especially since there would be more earth to fill in other areas, requiring even less water. You’re just throwing a big number out there to make it sound good, but ultimately, the reality is, you have no idea of how much water was needed to flood the earth back then. All you have is an estimation of how much water would be needed to flood the earth to a certain height above the highest mountain of today. It is a pointless exercise because you have too many unknowns.

      Riddle me this though, if what you say is true about the earth, then why are there scientists that have no problem believing that Mars was flooded at one time? On a planet that has no water (at least at it’s surface) there are scientists that believe it was once completely flooded. Where did all that water go?

      • paynehollow says:

        Wiley…

        There is absolutely no way to know how much water was needed at the time of the flood because the landscape was vastly different.

        No, Wiley, it isn’t. Geology doesn’t typically change a huge amount over thousands of years. There is no valid data I’ve heard of that suggests the topography of the planet was “vastly different” then as compared to today.

        Wiley…

        For example, the Grand Canyon. Dr. Walt Brown’s theory concludes that the Grand Canyon was formed after the flood.

        I’m no scientist, but sorry, that’s just a silly theory made by someone who was trying to find facts to fit an ideology. That’s where the Young Earthers go wrong.

        People interested in facts should always look at the data and form conclusions based on the data. NOT start with an ideology and then try to find or create data to fit the ideology. It’s just not a good way to do science.

        Can you produce even one scientist who did not believe in a literal Genesis who looked at the available data and said, “WOAH! THERE is the evidence that proves the earth is ~6,000 years old. I am going to have to change my conclusions based on that evidence… and hey, what about that? It turns out those Genesis literalists were right!”?

        If all of your “research” is by people who have gone looking for data to support forgone conclusions, then you’re starting with a bad research model to begin with.

        Again, Wiley, WHY would I do this when the Bible itself does not command that we take Genesis literally, God has not told us to do so and there is no rational reason to demand it?

        That is the question that you are ignoring. If I have no reason to doubt scientists with no agenda, if the Bible doesn’t demand it, why would I presume that a mythic-sounding text reflects literal history?

        If you’re not going to address that question, then I think the conversation is sort of at a stand still. I can keep saying why I doubt the creationists’ theories and suggestions, but the short answer is I simply have no reason to TRY to defend a literal Genesis.

        Where you ask, “Where did Martian water go…?” The answer is…

        “And then Mars lost its atmosphere starting somewhere around 3.5 to 3.7 Billion years ago. As the atmosphere thinned and the pressure decreased, the water evaporated and Mars evolved into the cold arid world we know today.”

        http://www.universetoday.com/106297/mavens-quest-where-did-mars-water-go/

        In short, Mars is not a closed system, we are. And that is the difference.

        Thanks.

        ~Dan

        • Dan,

          I something occurred to me just now. This thread is huge so I’m not going to go back and look, I’m hoping you’ll be cooperative and help me out with something you’ve probably already answered.

          Your working definition of a Christian, by and large, is a follower of Jesus, roughly meaning someone who follows the teachings of Jesus. Is that correct? If so which teachings? His moral teachings, and how we should be in relationship with others? Am I correct?

        • paynehollow says:

          Wiley, here’s a helpful, rational site that explains many of the rational problems with trying to take this story literally…

          http://thetruthiswrong.com/indeed/belief/logic/about-the-mathematics-of-the-great-flood/

          But again, the question is moot. If we have no reason to NEED to make Genesis literal, then we don’t need to try to make up reasons to support a flood.

          Dan

        • wiley16350 says:

          @Dan

          Geology does change very quickly due to catastrophic events. Sure, when nothing catastrophic doesn’t happen, things happen slowly, but there are many geologic formations that formed quickly due to catastrophe.

          Evolutionists also have a commitment to fit an ideology. That ideology is evolution and everything is forced into that window. They don’t care to fit it in any other way. Stop fooling yourself that they don’t have a commitment to hold to.

          Many people that work for AIG and creation.com were atheists and evolutionists at one time. When they started seeing the evidence in a different light, they became more convinced of the possibility that there was a global flood. We all have the same evidence, it is just how you interpret the evidence that makes the difference. Those interpretations come from either the biblical standpoint or the evolution standpoint. Both sides will paint the picture from their desired perspective. Very few people will actually try to understand the evidence from both sides but some of the people from the creation websites have done so or at least claim to come from the evolution side onto the creationist side.

          I’m sorry but the Genesis story of Noah doesn’t come off as myth to me. If it is a myth than why does it mention specific details like how much above the mountains the water rose or where the water came from or how big the ark was to be built. If you’re writing myth you want to leave specific details out and/or make obviously outlandish statements. Maybe I just haven’t read myths enough to see it in Genesis. My objective in my responses hasn’t been to change your mind, it was to give you other viewpoints. I have never attacked your position, only defended my own. That is why I never dealt with your myth question. The difference between us is that you think it sounds like a myth and I don’t. It seems to me that it sounds like a myth to you because that is the way you want it to be so that you don’t have to defend the flood story. I really don’t care whether the story is a myth or not. All I care about is the truth and at this point in time I see no reason to call it a myth and I don’t think science has or can prove that it did not happened. I can’t explain every little detail of the flood, nor would I say that I believe it absolutely. What I do believe is that it is possible the flood actually happened and that there could be a viable explanation.

          As for your truth is wrong site, try looking for what is wrong with what they’re saying and try to find the holes in their logic. You seem so accepting of atheistic arguments. Their first argument is the one that we have already discussed. Their second argument is about how much rain fall was needed. I have already touched on this too. It was fountains of the great deep that caused the majority of rain fall, not rain fall itself, although there was some of that too. It’s something else that can’t be calculated because you just don’t have the information. The salt water thing is based on how salty the oceans are now. They wouldn’t have been so salty prior. Volcanic eruptions, the water from the fountains of the great deep and run off from the land into the ocean after plus accumulations since have all made the oceans more salty. Like all the other problems mentioned, it is all based on today’s landscape. Here is an article about the fish, I doubt you’ll read it but just in case you would http://creation.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter14.pdf.

          Remember, I’m not trying to change your mind, I’m trying to defend the possibility that Noah’s ark did actually happen so that you might be willing to read alternative views and not be so hostile or dismissive of it. I know most people on here attack your positions, but if you go back through and read what I have written, I never attacked your position and as you noted I have completely ignored the idea that Noah’s ark was a myth for the most part. Which is because It is not my intention to attack your position. It isn’t that you believe the flood is a myth that bothers me so much, it is that you are so willing to attack the opposing viewpoint with statements that lack thoroughness and also show an immature view of the opposing position. I would think any christian would be at least open to the possibility that Noah’s flood did happen.

        • paynehollow says:

          Wiley…

          It seems to me that it sounds like a myth to you because that is the way you want it to be so that you don’t have to defend the flood story.

          As you may recall, I started out as a conservative, traditionalist, “literalist” when it comes to the Bible. I took the Genesis stories as literally historic factual stories. I changed my position NOT because “it is the way I want it to be…” but because that is just how it seems.

          Again, it came from a time of mythic storytelling. It reads like myth (…and that is how the rainbow came to be in the sky…” “and that is how the snake lost his legs…” “and that is how people came to speak in many languages,” etc). The Bible does not tell me to take it as literal history. The science is counter to a literal history. What possible reason in the world would I have for taking it as literal history? I have not one reason beyond tradition, and tradition alone is not a compelling complete argument.

          Thanks for noting that you weren’t attacking me, I took nothing that you said as an attack, just took it for your opinion for what it’s worth. Thanks.

          At the same time, nothing I have said has been intended to be an attack on your position in the least. I apologize if it seemed that way to you. I’ve just been explaining my position.

          “So willing to attack…”?? I would be curious what you have viewed as an attack.

          I try to always be clear with my more conservative brothers and sisters that I hold no grudge against you, I consider you to be family with whom I simply disagree. I do not care if you believe in a literal flood, it causes me no problems whatsoever.

          The only thing I have against conservatives is not “conservatives” so much (I still consider myself pretty conservative in many ways – I DO take Jesus’ words pretty literally) as it is the “fundamentalism” of the sort that is being discussed in a post a few days ago – the harshly judgmental, arrogant, “my way or you are of the devil” sort of approach to faith questions.

          You want to believe in a literal flood? By all means, go ahead. I certainly did for many years. You want to believe that the earth is 6,000 years old? Go ahead, I don’t consider you evil for doing so.

          I just ask for the same courtesy. Those, like me, who see no reason to take Genesis literally are not of the devil, we don’t hate the Bible and we are serious followers of Christ. We simply have disagreements on interpretation. I accept that of you, I hope you (and your friends here) can do the same.

          Sort of the Golden Rule, right?

          Dan

  50. John said:

    But the question had been from the beginning, regardless of where commenters have taken it, to the atheists who would hold up the deeds or claims of professing christians as though it would be illegitimate to disqualify them as real christians. I ask the atheist if it’s possible for someone claiming to be a christian to not really be one, or is the mere self profession all one needs.

    I guess I misunderstood the OP as well. So I’ll take a stab at answering this.

    From those outside Christendom, yes, all one has to do is claim they are a Christian. As those who do not hold Christianity to be some kind of ultimate truth, if one claims to be a Christian, as far as I’m concerned they are. And, yes, skeptics hold up some of the most extreme cases of a given religion as a representation of that religion. The reason for this is because the extremism in question is usually upheld by some tenet of the religion held. Whether the group or individual’s behavior/view of that tenet is to the extreme is only a matter of degree. For instance: The Westboro Baptist folks protest and hold up horrific signs at the funerals of soldiers because they believe that God is judging America for it’s acceptance of homosexuality among other things. They shout out that God hates fags. Even though I know that is an extreme view, they do this and proclaim Christianity. They claim to represent Yahweh and Jesus. Whether they do it correctly or not is not the issue. And whether they represent your particular flavor of Christianity is not the issue. I understand your desire to distance yourself from that. But it doesn’t make them not Christians. So for those more moderate Christians who wish to distance themselves from that to say “those people aren’t true Christians” just seems to be obfuscating.

    I’ll ask you a question of the like: Are Islamic extremists Muslims? Or might there be something they could do that would make them not Muslims?

  51. Ruth,
    Not necessarily, what John is referencing is that the Quran allows Muslims to lie to non Muslims in the interest of furthering Islam.

    I’m curious about where all the moderate Muslims speaking out against terrorism are, I’ve never really heard much vocal opposition to the terrorists. Not saying it isn’t there, just that I don’t see it often.

    • The only thing I usually hear from moderate muslims on the regarding extremism is its islamophobic to notice that 99% of the world’s terror violence is committed by muslims in the name of islam.

    • In fact, globally, muslims are ok with terrorism even if they personally wouldn’t participate.

      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/opinion-polls.htm

      This page links to dozens of fairly recent polls from mainstream news outlets.

    • @Craig,

      See my above replies to John re: Muslims denouncing violence.

      The point that I think I’m rather successfully demonstrating based on the reaction here is that those who don’t adhere to a particular religion will most likely use the “worst offenders” to judge the whole, even while different denominations are distancing themselves from those they see as “not real Christians, Muslims, etc.” I’m not debating the tenets of the held religion or whether the religion is good or bad.

      This was the question John asked, correct?

      • “…those who don’t adhere to a particular religion will most likely use the “worst offenders” to judge the whole…”

        Not a particular Christian thing for a non-believer to do.

        I have to challenge this “many Christians advocate” whatever. Stoning either homosexuals or unruly kids is not a position held by “many” Christians as if “many” refers to a significant percentage of the worldwide Christian population. I would wager that the VAST majority of the total does not advocate such things and would challenge those who do.

        • Not a particular Christian thing for a non-believer to do.

          What does this mean?

          I have to challenge this “many Christians advocate” whatever. Stoning either homosexuals or unruly kids is not a position held by “many” Christians as if “many” refers to a significant percentage of the worldwide Christian population.

          Did I say “many Christians advocate” whatever?

          • Ruth, just for the record, you said many christians think homosexual should be stoned. I’m guessing by your reaction that maybe that’s not what you meant.

            • Ohhh…no, that’s not what I meant. At.all. Some Christians think homosexuals should be stoned.

              Mea culpa.

              Though I will say I spent 20+ years as a Southern Baptist (don’t come back, please, and say they’re not “real” Christians). While no one within that organization would openly advocate for stoning there were quite a few who weren’t far off and might not condemn such actions.

              • What I think a lot of christians get wrong is the judicial law used to punish those who broke the law was given to theocratic Israel, not the Christian church. But even still, Jeremiah 31 explains that once the new covenant comes in the old is done. Therefore Jews aren’t even bound by the ot law. However, just because the system of punishment is done, the moral law is still in effect in such a way as to identify sin.

              • Hmmm….citation please. I always believed that, too, John. But in looking at the scriptures I can find no place where judicial punishments from the OT were abolished. What in particular in Jeremiah 31 says that the punishments for crimes was to be lifted?

                I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you on this point, btw. But that certainly doesn’t disqualify them from being Christians and they do represent Christianity.

            • Also, for the record, these are not American Christians who are trying to legislate stoning for homosexuality. But there are some of those as well. The Ugandan situation is particularly worrisome.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Act,_2014

  52. Here’s something for all you concerned Christians.
    Have a read of this and see if you are prepared to help this kid…
    Let’s see what you lot think of these ‘christians’.

    http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/we-have-a-chance-to-save-a-girl-from-a-fundamentalist-prison-camp/#more-2412

  53. paynehollow says:

    Pretty scary-looking story, if the facts are as presented. If nothing else, the spelling and grammar are atrocious on their (Marvelous Grace Girls Academy) website… which is always a red flag for an organization that has education as part of its mission.

    ~Dan

  54. Ruth,

    As John alluded, I was referring to your comment of 8/13 @9:32AM in which you said:

    “Many believe that homosexuals, in particular, should be stoned.”

    As we are speaking of Christians, I have to assume it was Christians to whom you were referring.

    I noticed references by you, and I believe Ark also, regarding the numbers of denominations within the Body of Christ. Most of these differences are NOT doctrinal but matters of church polity. There are very few, if any, differences on the major truth claims of the Christian faith in general. It is true, however, that some who call themselves Christians, such as the Mormons, have doctrinal differences that are wholly unBiblical but do not totally reject the teachings of Christ. These few denominations stand out for the type and nature of differences that do exist, as opposed to the minor differences between most Christian denominations.

    • Right, I do hope you saw my mea culpa?

      Though there are a sufficient enough number of Christians in Uganda to pass legislation against homosexuality and a death penalty for such.

      As I recall it, within the Southern Baptist denomination, there is much speculation about the “real” Christianity of other denominations. I should probably add that I was a member of a Southern Baptist Church but I did not agree with all their doctrines nor beliefs.

      • Yes I did see it. I was just explaining myself as well. On that, we’re good.

        I’ll be quite upfront with legislation opposing certain sexual behaviors. While too many in this country have gone off the rails since Lawrence v Texas, we still have certain behaviors criminalized, marginalized and generally regarded as major no-no’s. Some of those simply haven’t yet generated the same level of sympathy as the homosexual lobby. I’ll also say that I do not favor the death penalty or, for the most part, prison terms for perpetrators of homosexual behavior. I’d have been just fine with the absence of the current legislative acceptance of homosexual behavior as somehow beyond criticism.

        As to how some Christians view others, I have no doubt that there exists those, even in large groups, that judge whether or not others are “true” Christians. It’s a worthy debate and a worthy endeavor to deal with the question for the sake of all. For example, if Dan had anything akin to Scriptural support for his positions, I’d be more than happy to consider his positions and re-consider mine. But he doesn’t possess any such thing. The contortions required to get to his positions are humanly impossible and the Spirit won’t allow for it.

  55. paynehollow says:

    Been there, done that, Ruth (raised Southern Baptist).

    As to the Uganda law, you should know that the legislation that the legislation as it exists now, to my understanding, has dropped the death penalty in favor of the “kinder, gentler” life in prison for gay acts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Act,_2014

    Horrifying and draconian still, of course, and you are right that there were reports of Christians here as well as there in support of the law, but just to make sure we’re getting the facts correct.

    ~Dan

    • How much more horrifying is that than for a man over 18 who has consensual sex with a girl of 16? Your devotion, Dan, to sexual immorality of a particular kind overstates the “horror” of anti-homosexual legislation. Is a life term over the top? Sure. But you wouldn’t want to force your morality down the throats of Uganda, would you?

  56. Dan:

    1) I see that Arkenaten picked up my question about the account of the Transfiguration in Luke 9. Jesus didn’t just talk “about” Moses, He talked WITH Moses. Have I missed where you explained why this doesn’t undermine your position that the gospels do not clearly treat Moses as historical?

    2) You write, “knowing why one is making a presumption about a text is important.”

    If the text does not claim it, if the author does not claim it (or is not there to make the claim), if the evidence at hand does not claim it… well WHY would we presume it? There has to be some reason other than, ‘Well, my father thought so, and his father before him thought so, and his mother before him thought so back for many years…’

    Okay, earlier you wrote, “The Bible to me is NOT a book of facts, but one of Truths, and Truth and Understanding are what I seek within its pages,” so why EXACTLY do you presume that the Bible’s authors were concerned ONLY with communicating ahistorical “Truths” but not historical “facts”?

    Or if that’s only your personal approach — you write what the Bible is “to me” — why should we consider this approach to be anything more than a potentially useful idiosyncrasy of just one guy?

  57. paynehollow says:

    It is absolutely only my opinion, Bubba. But it is my opinion for what I consider good reasons.

    1. The whole of the OT was passed on at a time before the era of modern history telling. I simply have no reason to assume that any of the stories passed on were told in an anachronistic manner. Again, why would I? I don’t presume that the stories were told in English because ENGLISH DID NOT EXIST, so that would be silly. Nor do I presume that they were told in a Modern Scientific Historic style because IT DID NOT EXIST.

    Page One of “how to interpret text” says “consider the genre…” I have no reason to presume that they were written in a modern style and, indeed, have reason to consider the suggestion silly.

    2. The stories in the NT were passed on at the dawn of the Modern History-telling era. Stories from this period tend to be better about sticking to facts, but not perfectly so.

    3. But clearly, stories in both the OT and NT are based at least on a modicum of reality, because there ARE a People of Israel. There IS/WAS an Egyptian kingdom. There WERE/ARE followers of an itinerant teacher named Jesus from the first century.

    And so, I have no reason to write off every fact as entirely fiction, nor to demand that every fact is literal, scientific history.

    Given that, what impresses me about the stories and teachings in the Bible are the TRUTHS they pass on. Jonah’s story is an amusing and ironic little story in its details, a story that is enjoyable for what it says about humanity. But the great thing about the story of Jonah are the truths it imparts – what it says about humanity – not the little facts of the story. What does it matter if Jonah existed or not? If he was swallowed by a “great fish” or a whale or simply had a vision? How do the facts affect the truths?

    They don’t. Not that I can see.

    As to Moses hanging out with Jesus, it could be it actually happened, I can’t prove otherwise. It could be that it was a vision or a dream. I can’t prove otherwise. The fact is: I simply cannot say with any objective authority that ANY of these stories are literally factual. Nor can you. That is just real world reality.

    But the facts of the stories don’t affect the Truths found in this beautiful, marvelous book. Not to me.

    Well, that is, unless you start trying to insist that all the facts MUST BE literal. Once you do that, you start having “literal” stories that take away from the beautiful truths of love, mercy, forgiveness and grace. Then you have a god that demands that we follow him and not shed innocent blood and who would never command us to do evil… but then who might sometimes command us to shed innocent blood.

    Trying to take at least some of the stories literally undermines the great truths the Bible teaches.

    Having no reason to need to demand these stories must be literal (other than bullies insisting “yuh-huh, you DO need to take it literally, or… or, or… You ain’t a Christian!”), why would I?

    So, all of that to say, this is clearly my opinion, but I think it is a rational, moral, Godly and biblical opinion to hold. Feel free to form your own opinions. Just be clear to note that they are your opinions, not God’s Word.

    ~Dan

  58. paynehollow says:

    John, I’d be glad to answer your questions. I hope you’ll be just as glad to answer mine.

    You asked…

    Your working definition of a Christian, by and large, is a follower of Jesus, roughly meaning someone who follows the teachings of Jesus. Is that correct?

    Yes, that is correct. Although one clarification: We have NO authoritative demand of what a Christian is, specifically. God has not told us, Jesus has not told us, the Bible has not told us. We have opinions about what it means. We have biblical texts that people look over and pull out clues as to what it might mean, at least in their opinion.

    But there is NO one singular definitive word from someone in a place of authority to make that decision. Can you agree to that?

    John…

    If so which teachings? His moral teachings, and how we should be in relationship with others? Am I correct?

    All of them, in context of the greater themes found in Jesus’ teachings.

    But keeping in mind that, in my opinion, the Bible is not a history book and not a rule book and if we start plucking a verse out here and there and saying, “So, here is a teaching of Jesus, do you agree with IT?”, we might get a skewed view of Jesus’ teachings.

    In my opinion, in reading Jesus’ words/teachings and reading of his action/life, we get some overall themes/truths of what Jesus taught.

    Certainly, Love would be one such theme. God is love. God loves us. We should love each other, we should love even our enemies.

    And along with that, Forgiveness would be another theme: Standing ever ready to forgive.

    Overcoming evil with Good, Peacemaking, dealing with oppression in a way that defends the oppressed but loves the enemy, etc… these are themes.

    Looking out for/siding with the least of these/the poor and otherwise marginalized… this is a common theme. “Good news for the poor.”

    And so on.

    So, we interpret the whole of Jesus’ teaching through the lens of these overall themes.

    Why is that important? Because the same Jesus who taught us to love everyone, including our enemies is the same Jesus who said that in comparison to God, we must hate our family. If we’re taking the Bible as a woodenly literal rule book, then we run into some conflicting messages. But if we look at the whole of the Bible, the whole of Jesus’ teachings through the lens of these Great Truths, then we find a beautiful, challenging, powerful and consistent message of Grace.

    This is my opinion, for what it’s worth.

    Does that answer your questions?

    ~Dan

    • Yes Dan, that does answer my questions. Now I have to ask, given the red letters and Jesus’ teachings, why do we need Jesus? His teachings aren’t all that uniquely tied to him, meaning anyone could have taught those things, forgiveness, helping the poor, loving your enemy, etc could have been taught by anyone.

      So what’s the point and importance of being a follower of Jesus if I could follow anyone, presumably, who taught the same kinds of things?

    • If I get this correctly, we are to look at the themes rather than the specific teachings?

      • paynehollow says:

        That’s my opinion. Or better put, look at all the teachings, but keeping in mind of the themes.

        Also, in my opinion, we ought not treat Jesus’ words as deadly, wooden rules to merely be obeyed, but as words of grace and truth to be considered, along with all teachings/ideas that are good, loving, helpful, kind, pure and just.

        “The Sabbath was made for humanity,” Jesus noted when confronted by the harshly judgmental Pharisees for breaking a “clear rule…” found in Scripture… “Not humanity for the Sabbath…”

        Rules, teachings, codes, guidelines… these are only as good and helpful as they help us to be good and helpful, loving and kind, concerned about justice and injustice and making the world a better, not a more snippy, place.

        One man’s opinion.

        ~Dan

        • In a sense, just as we would treat any law book?
          I think I like this, maybe if many people did this, the idea of original sin and a fallen humanity in need of salvation may soon become a thing of the past. Don’t you think?

  59. paynehollow says:

    Let’s keep the dialog going two ways, please, John. I asked I think only one question above…

    But there is NO one singular definitive word from someone in a place of authority to make that decision (of what a Christian is). Can you agree to that?

    If you disagree, then who is in a place of authority to definitively state what a Christian is? And what is that One True Answer?

    ~Dan

    • I think there are passages that are explicit that say you must believe _____, and you must reject ______. I think a person could see those and make an assessment.

      Back to you. If anyone could have taught what Jesus did, why do we need to follow him? Can’t I just do all those things without him?

  60. But there is NO one singular definitive word from someone in a place of authority to make that decision (of what a Christian is). Can you agree to that?

    I disagree. Can Christians not trust the Pope? After all he ,em>is the vicar of Christs, not so?
    And from vicar we get vicarious … or is it the other way round? Anyhow, if you can’t trust the Pope and those that compiled the bible who can you trust?
    They wouldn’t lie or make stuff up, wold they?

    • Ark

      Do you not know the distinct difference between roman Catholicism and protestant Christianity?

      • The funny hat, right? Or was it Henry VIII wanting to get divorced.

        Seriously, why would you ask such a question?
        The Catholic church ‘wrote the book’ on your religion – quite possibly in a literal sense in certain aspects.,
        so all jokes aside the definitive voice should be the Pope or leastways their brand of Christianity.

        • Are you serious? You think the Catholic Church “gave us” the bible well, I guess we know who needs to bone up on history.

          • Oh, I am sorry, are we still doing the semantics thing?
            Where do you with to start? Constantine, Eusebius, Theodosius?
            Shall we rather go back and begin with the Torah, then?
            Is this going to be yet another you show me yours and I’ll show you mine?

  61. paynehollow says:

    Ah, wait a second, John, that isn’t really an answer to my question. My question was about a ONE TRUE ANSWER that we can know WITH AUTHORITY (not subjectively) ONE definitive answer. Your response is a vague and subjective, dependent upon individual interpretation of sometimes conflicting or potentially conflicting verses.

    Consider:

    So, when Jesus told the rich young ruler, “You must sell all you own, give it to the poor and follow me” THAT is an authoritative assessment of how to objectively know if someone’s a Christian? (After all, the man asked Jesus point blank, “What must I do to be saved?” and that was Jesus’ explicit literal answer).

    But then, when the jailer in Acts asks Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul said “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, YOU AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD…” so, is THAT an authoritative assessment of how to objectively know if someone’s been saved (ie, if the head of the household? Or any one member of a household? “believes on the Lord Jesus,” the whole household is saved?) That was Paul’s explicit instruction to that man, so we can know “objectively” that anyone fitting that category is saved?

    Or then again, Jesus told people point blank “He that believes and is baptized will be saved…” so we can authoritatively know if someone is objectively a Christian if they just follow THAT passage literally? That is pretty clear and explicit and it’s straight from Jesus’ mouth.

    OR, since the same Jesus told one man explicitly one thing (sell your belongings, give to the poor, follow me) and other people another thing (believe, be baptized), can we authoritatively and objectively know that it depends on the person?

    DO you see the problem with your answer.

    If the Bible all pointed to ONE verse, the whole of the Bible was a build up to the ONE TIME question, “What Must I do to be saved?” and there was one answer, direct, clear and explicit, THEN you might rationally say, “The Bible, taken pretty literally, gives us ONE explicit direction on what we must do to be saved and that is the one and only one answer the Bible gives…”

    But then, the question is begged, “But is the Bible rightly understood as a rule book explaining how to be saved or is it more of a book of Truths, and we’d be mistaken to take it as a rule book?”

    You see, that is not an authoritative or objective answer, John. It is one man’s opinion. And the one man’s opinion is complicated by the reality that the Bible answers that question in potentially several different ways, depending on interpretation, and the individual interpretation is, by nature, subjective, not objective, not authoritative.

    Do you see that this is not an authoritative response?

    Do you see that it is not objective, but subjective?

  62. paynehollow says:

    Ark…

    Can Christians not trust the Pope?

    And Ark successfully points out the reality of it all: There is no one accepted authority with whom all Christians can agree on the question. It is not a provable point. Maybe a fourth of the Christian world will agree with the Pope, but that is not all of the Christian world, nor is it all of the whole world. Muslims would not agree to the Pope’s “final authoritative answer.” Glenn certainly would not agree with it. Atheists won’t agree with it just as strongly as Glenn (perhaps).

    So, if not the Pope, who? Billy Graham? Billy Joel? Bill Clinton?

    We have no one single living authority who can answer that question objectively where al people can see, “Oh, yes, that IS the One True Answer.”

    We can ask Jesus to clarify (did you mean ALL of us need to sell our belongings or only that one man? Did you mean we really need to be baptized in order to be saved, or just the “believe” part? And what exactly did you mean by believe???), but Jesus is not answering direct questions directly these days.

    So we end up with some 7 billion opinions on the matter. Now, maybe some 1 billion of those are all sort of close in agreement on one answer (or maybe it would be closer to 1 million? But even if a majority could agree on one answer, is the majority always right? Fundamentalists and rationalists alike would assure us, No, the majority is not always right).

    And so, John, returning to the open question: Is it not clear that the answer to the question really comes down to an un-provable personal opinion? Not an objective, authoritative statement?

    Or, again, if it’s the latter (in your opinion), all I’m asking is that you provide it specifically, explicitly and literally.

    ~Dan

    • Well, Dan, here’s another rub of it all:

      21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

      24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7

      So be not merely hearers of the word, but also doers. And it’s abundantly clear that there are many who think they’re getting it just right who aren’t. Even people who did great works in Jesus’ name. They’re gonna to be some kinda pissed.

    • Dan, Jesus, if he lived, never answered any direct question especially those that could have been useful to us even in this discussion. For example, he didn’t answer what truth is among others.
      That said, am I right to assume that the questions I asked you earlier you didn’t see or you ignored?

    • @Dan.
      Oooh…kick a man when he’s down, eh? It’s okay, I am sure John s made of stern stuff. He’ll bounce back. :)

      I think we have to say that we can’t trust humans, as they are prone to making mistakes.They are only only human after all.
      So, therefore, I believe we should be able to trust the Bible, it being the inspired word of Yahweh.

      This should be the benchmark for all critical thinking those who are steadfast in the faith and don’t ask too many awkward questions.
      If you can’t believe a talking snake or a talking donkey we might as well all pack it in, I say, and become Muslim. At least their Holy Book is theliteral word of God, or Allah … or someone and in their religion they’ve only got a winged horse that takes you to heaven.

  63. paynehollow says:

    I guess I didn’t see them. I haven’t ignored any. It’s been a busy couple of days. I’ll go back a-searching for them…

    Thanks,

    Dan

  64. paynehollow says:

    This question…

    And do you have any reason why it should be one god? Why not many creator gods?

    Short answer: No great reason.

    I do tend to take the Bible as a valuable resource for theology, and the Bible speaks of a God and I accept that, by faith, mainly (now) because I think Jesus’ teachings are right on. That is, mainly, because I DO identify as a Christian and Jesus spoke of One God.

    The thing is, on all these unprovable ideas… well, they are unprovable. I could guess that there was a god for each day of the week or only one God, I have no way of proving either notion.

    Given the assumption that out of nothing, nothing comes, I do find a Creator God to be a reasonable conclusion – a better assumption than the atheists, “out of nothing, something comes, somehow… although I can’t say how exactly… I have some guesses…” (Is that a fair take on the atheist-scientist position?), but I could not say what that God looks like or if it’s multiple gods.

    I find the Bible a compelling explanation for HOW to live, about the Way of Grace that truly leads to Heaven/God’s Realm and because of that and because I am a follower of Jesus’ teachings (as best I understand them and have them), I opt for Jesus explanations of God, such as they are.

    I have an appreciation for the my own lack of full knowledge and humanity’s own lack of full knowledge and therefore, have plenty of room for mystery and the unknown in my belief system.

    But ultimately, I am much less interested in trying to guess at what can’t be proven than I am in striving to live out a life that can be lived out.

    I hope that answers your question. If I missed others, let me know.

    Thanks.

    Dan

    • Thanks Dan.
      I just have a new set, if you allow me.
      First I will not begrudge for taking things on faith, I do, like that I will wake up tomorrow :D but you also write

      because I think Jesus’ teachings are right on

      is this all or just some of his teachings?
      The atheist position is a lack of belief in gods.
      The position you describe is a scientific position. But it is close. By excepting your god from demanding a creator, you commit a fallacy of special pleading that am sure you are aware of. It is best to say I don’t know and leave it at that.
      Well, I agree with much of Ecclesiastes.
      I don’t agree with most of the bible on how to live, like giving your daughter to be raped, sacrificing your daughter because you made a promise, and so much more.
      I too appreciate that there is much I don’t know. Like why I need sleep everyday.
      We agree on some point, I am concerned ,mainly with living with what I can know and nothing else.

  65. paynehollow says:

    Makagutu…

    is this all or just some of his teachings?

    I just answered this question for John, up at 12:10 today.

    Dan

  66. Dan, about the Transfiguration, you write, “The fact is: I simply cannot say with any objective authority that ANY of these stories are literally factual. Nor can you. That is just real world reality.”

    That’s true, but it’s also beside the point, because the issue isn’t what you and I can say with objective authority, the issue is about the New Testament’s claims about Jesus as they relate to the people described in the Old Testament. Your position is that, sure, the NT records Jesus talking about Moses, but that’s insufficient evidence that Jesus or the NT’s writers considered Moses to be a figure of actual history.

    That position is based on an inaccurate and misleading summary of the NT account of Jesus’ life, as the carefully researched gospel of Luke not only documents Jesus talking ABOUT Moses, but talking WITH Moses during the Transfiguration. Your gloss on the NT ignores this direct encounter with figures from the OT.

    Approaching the stories of the Bible as possible myth ignores the Bible’s primary message of exhorting faith in God. It’s not just that Moses and David were faithful to Yahweh and we should emulate their virtues and avoid their vices — lessons we can learn even if they were as fictional as Harry Potter and Peter Parker — it’s that Yahweh was faithful to them and can be trusted to be faithful now, both the original Jewish readers of OT scripture and present-day Christians who have inherited the same promises.

    The Bible repeatedly points to Yahweh’s actions in the past as a very big reason to trust Him now and in the future — that’s the entire point of the Passover meal, the observance commemorating the key event in Judaism. If Yahweh did not do what the Bible attributes to Him, then it is AT THE VERY LEAST misleading and perilous for the Bible’s writers to point to those acts as reasons to put our trust in Him.

    It’s like the underrated Tim Burton movie Big Fish, where a dying old man’s autobiographical tall tales has alienated him from his adult son: the son doesn’t know who his father is because he cannot trust accounts about what his father has done.

    The Bible isn’t primarily about these ancient human beings, but about God who interacted with them, and if the accounts about GOD aren’t trustworthy, we cannot have real confidence about His attributes and actions.

    And this ties to the New Testament because the NT claims that Jesus fulfills the promises of the OT. If there is no Abraham, there’s no covenant with Abraham to bless the world, and Jesus could not have been the blessing promised in that covenant: ditto, the promises of a prophet like Moses and an eternal king in the line of David.

    If Jesus is not that seed of Abraham and prophet like Moses and son of David, then in a very real sense Jesus cannot be the Jewish Messiah.

    And the NT itself makes strong claims about historical truths, with the gospels being written so that the reader may come to believe in Jesus based on the many signs He performed (John 20) and he may have certainty about what he believes (Luke 1) — not just about Jesus’ ethical teachings, but His deeds and His identity as God’s Son.

    Look at I Corinthians, where Paul recounts what is “of first importance.” It’s NOT Jesus’ ethical teachings, but rather the historical claims of Jesus’ death and resurrection, both in fulfillment of Scripture. In verse 17, he makes ABSOLUTELY clear the importance of the historical resurrection: if Christ was not raised, our faith is futile and we’re dead in our sins.

    Whether you insist on a historical Jonah is far less important than whether you insist on a historical resurrection, but I don’t see why the latter is more rational than the former. Okay, surviving in a great fish for three days is unlikely — even the original readers surely knew that and attributed the event to God’s miraculous intervention — but it’s no more fantastic than a man surviving being scourged, crucified, and impaled evidently through the heart and a lung, only to hike to Emmaus three days later.

    All four gospels record the feeding of the multitudes: why is Jesus multiplying fish and loaves any more conceptually difficult than the idea that there was more water during the Deluge?

    And Jesus walked on water and turned water into wine: are we supposed to sneer about “magic water” in dismissing literal interpretations of those stories too?

    You write that taking all of the Bible’s narrative as literally history detracts from “the beautiful truths of love, mercy, forgiveness and grace.”

    Then you have a god that demands that we follow him and not shed innocent blood and who would never command us to do evil… but then who might sometimes command us to shed innocent blood.

    Never mind that there’s no justification in the NT that God would command “us” to do that, since His church is an instrument of divine mercy rather than judgment; the Bible only records that the command was given to the theocracy of ancient Israel, not us.

    Never mind that: it’s been clear for a very long time that you cannot accept the wrath of God, but that’s your problem, and the Bible doesn’t justify your proposed solution of excising the historical record.

    No, the Bible’s writers saw no conflict between the prohibition of shedding innocent blood and the divine command to wage wars of annihilation. As I’ve pointed out before, Psalm 106:34-38 affirms and EVEN connects the two, blaming ancient Israel for disobeying the command to “destroy the peoples,” which resulted in their picking up the wicked practice of child sacrifice and the shedding of innocent blood.

    More generally, the New Testament does NOT portray a God of mercy without justice: without elaborating on where the punishment would come, Paul taught that flagrant sinners deserve death (Rom 1:32), and Jesus Himself endorsed the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah as a mere prelude to the coming judgment.

    Rather than deny that the Bible attributes to God what it does and still claim fidelity to the Christian message, the more intellectually honest thing for you to do is to describe yourself as non-believer whose ethics is rooted in PARTS of the Bible.

    Dan, you write oh so eloquently how “the facts of the stories don’t affect the Truths found in this beautiful, marvelous book.”

    Okay.

    The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth: is this an ultimately irrelevant and merely historical “fact” or is this a Truth which all Christians MUST affirm?

    My focus has been on Jesus, not Jonah; I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t change the subject.

    • If there is no Abraham, there’s no covenant with Abraham to bless the world, and Jesus could not have been the blessing promised in that covenant: ditto, the promises of a prophet like Moses and an eternal king in the line of David.

      No. Not IF. There was no Abraham.
      See if you can find a non orthodox Jewish scholar or rabbi who will state that Abraham was a real person.

      • “See if you can find a non orthodox Jewish scholar or rabbi who will state that Abraham was a real person.”

        Why not just demand we deal only with total atheists to get our answers? Can’t you be any more narrow in your demands?

        • No, a Rabbi is fine. At least you will be dealing with someone who is part of the original faith your man god was supposed to have come from and they have a much better understanding of Jewish history and language than one of your evangelical Christian scholars, like Habermaas, Craig or Licona.

          Here you go. I tell you what. Look up Rabbi Sherwin Wine to start with.
          Then we can take it step by step, from there, if you like?
          Oh, and you can look up Professor Ze’ev Herzog as well if you fancy.
          If you get stuck, ask and I’ll give you a few links.

          I mean, surely you are not afraid of the truth, Marshal, now are you?

          Big feller like you? Strong in the faith and so forth….

          Go on, I dare you…live dangerously.

  67. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth: is this an ultimately irrelevant and merely historical “fact” or is this a Truth which all Christians MUST affirm?

    According to whom?

    According to me? It is my opinion that God has not said so and so, since God has not said so, I’m not willing to make a claim that God has not told me to take, nor will I demand that others affirm something which God has not demanded.

    SO, lest I be accused of being unclear: NO, I do not think “all Christians MUST affirm that Truth.”

    I personally affirm it, because it’s what I happen to believe in faith about a point which none of us can prove, but God has not demanded that we “must” affirm it, so I don’t demand that either. Do you? Why?

    Do you think that is unreasonable for me to not demand something that God has not demanded?

    Do you think that it’s a good idea to demand that other people affirm something which God has not said we need to affirm?

    The second problem with your question (didn’t we just go through this, or was that John? or someone else??) is it begs the question “MUST affirm for what?” To be saved? To be in good standing in modern conservative evangelical churches? To be “orthodox…”? “Orthodox” according to whom?

    Given the way you phrase the question and our past experience, can I assume you DO think it “must be affirmed…”?

    I get that you take Paul perhaps more literally than I do, especially when it comes to saying “these phrases in Paul’s teaching indicate universal belief systems all Christians must affirm, in my opinion…” but as I’ve tried to be clear about, I am a Christ-ian, a follower of Jesus. I REALLY like Paul and his teachings (Paul is the one who helped summarize clearly Jesus’ teachings as being about Grace), in context, but I am not a Paulinian, I am a Christ-ian.

    As a follower of Jesus, I think (in my unprovable opinion) that Jesus would be very wary about taking holy wisdom texts/scriptures and turning them into life-killing “rules to follow,” so I’m wary of those who seem to emphasize Paul to the exclusion/undermining of Jesus’ own teachings.

    My focus is on answering the question you raised and raising some rational questions in response. I’d appreciate it if you don’t change the subject.

    ~Dan

    • “It is my opinion that God has not said so and so, since God has not said so, I’m not willing to make a claim that God has not told me to take, nor will I demand that others affirm something which God has not demanded.”

      But He did tell you. See John 11:25. Of course, if you don’t believe Jesus is God then there’s no hope for you.

  68. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    the Bible only records that the command was given to the theocracy of ancient Israel, not us.

    Points of correction:

    1. The Bible, AS BUBBA understands it has a command to slaughter entire peoples given to ancient Israel.

    2. IF Bubba is right, then he has established a God that will sometimes command people to do awful, horribly immoral and atrocious things. IF God might (“DID,” according to Bubba) command an ancient people to do that, THEN God might command you to do it or your children to do it. You’ve established a very unbiblical precedent, IF you try to take it literally.

    But why would we?

    Bubba…

    More generally, the New Testament does NOT portray a God of mercy without justice: without elaborating on where the punishment would come, Paul taught that flagrant sinners deserve death

    Indeed, many people such as Bubba DO interpret the Bible to mean that. Indeed, many people like Bubba might say, “you know, if you have a 16 year old person who has committed, let’s say, 2,000 sins – fibbing to their parents, not being respectful, etc – and that 16 year old does not correctly repent of their sins, affirm the 13th century view of atonement and become a Christian in just the right way, then the only “just” thing God-as-Bubba understands God can do is condemn that 16 year old to an eternity of suffering… That is JUSTICE!” in the view of people like Bubba who interpret the Bible in that manner. (Is that a generally fair portrayal of your position? Feel free to clarify if and where I’ve missed it). That certainly is an opinion of how the Bible should be interpreted as to what God and God’s “justice” are like, according to some people’s interpretation.

    Others would disagree and would ask, “How is that consistently biblical? Let alone consistently moral or just or loving?”

    Is it your position that everyone must agree with your opinions on the way to interpret these passages in order to be saved? Or to be a Christian in good standing?

    ~Dan

  69. paynehollow says:

    Yes.

    Your turn:

    When you say, ” Does that comment [ie, “we may have no hard data to support a literal Jesus…” – a simple statement of reality] sound as if it came from someone who follows Jesus seriously?” it sounds like a rhetorical question where the implication is, “NO, it does NOT sound like someone who follows Jesus seriously…”

    But I would say that it could also be a set up for a defense (“Yes, of course seriously followers of Jesus acknowledge reality…”), however I don’t think it’s likely.

    It could also be a statement of ignorance (“Is that the words of someone who follows Jesus seriously? I have no idea, I am totally in the dark, and I’m asking you all…”)

    When you said that, which meaning were you getting at? WAS it a rhetorical question, as it sounded? Or were you trying to imply something? Or was it coming from a place of innocent ignorance and you were honestly wanting feedback? Or was it something else?

    Dan

  70. Dan,

    I’ve addressed this numerous times, and I fail to see how me repeating the fact that I asked a question, will get past your already made up mind. But, once again, I asked a question in an attempt to get feedback. A question is NOT a comment, it is NOT an accusation, it in NOT an attack, it IS a question. I’m sorry that answering every single question you’ve asked recently is not good enough for you. I’m sorry that a simple request for people opinion offends you so. I’m sorry, that the multiple times I’ve addressed your insecurities aren’t enough. At this point I feel comfortable is presuming that you’ve not read my answers to your questions, nor my multiple responses. If you had, I suspect, you’d not be acting like a petulant child.

    To be clear, I’VE ANSWERED EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR QUESTIONS SPECIFICALLY DIRECTED AT ME THAT I HAVE SEEN. if I’ve inadvertently missed one, I’ll be happy to answer it as well, just like the rest. So perhaps it might be best of you read my answers, instead of pretending that they don’t exist. There is a term for what you are doing, it’s called lying.

    So, since in the real world, I’ve played your little power game and jumped through your hoops, how about sharing what exactly it is that you would affirm with a high degree of certainty.

  71. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    asked a question in an attempt to get feedback. A question is NOT a comment, it is NOT an accusation, it in NOT an attack, it IS a question.

    And I’m calling you a bald faced liar.

    Prove me wrong.

    What specific feedback were you seeking?

    Are you saying you were asking the question in ignorance, and you truly have NO CLUE as to whether or not those were the words of a serious follower of Christ?

    Feel free to clarify. Otherwise, since it is, by any reasonable measure, a rhetorical question designed to attack, I’m stuck thinking you are a liar. Lying for the way you asked the question and lying in not being forthcoming about why you asked the question.

    I will be glad to apologize and admit an error if I have misread you. If the question was coming from a place of genuine ignorance and you were wanting feedback, well, I gave it to you. Yes, that’s the feedback. Serious followers of Christ DO acknowledge reality.

    IF feedback is what you were wanting, I’ve given it to you, acknowledge it. Or, since it’s more likely that it was a passive aggressive attempt to take a little dig at me, just admit it, it happens, I don’t care about digs, but for conversation’s sake I do care about honesty and you appear to be blatantly dishonest on this point.

    Until you clarify, that’s what I’m left with.

    ~Dan

  72. paynehollow says:

    My guess is that you are in a position that you REALLY want to say, “No, Dan, you are mistaken. We CAN know objectively that Jesus was demonstrably a person exactly as described in the Bible. I know it because “the Spirit testifies to me that it’s true,” so I know it objectively based on that witness…” But you recognize that you can’t say that out loud because it is, by definition, subjective opinion, not objective fact. But you can’t admit that I’m correct that there is no objective demonstrable evidence to back up Jesus’ literal existence, so you are stuck in a frustrating quandary and rather than admitting to reality or offering your “objective evidence” (which isn’t, you recognize), you choose to slander by rhetorical innuendo.

    But clarify for me this way, if you will: CAN you say with me, “YES. Of course, real Christians can admit reality, can admit that there is no objective evidence…”? That will demonstrate that you weren’t trying to slander or impugn. Then all you have to do is say what it was you WERE trying to find out that you were ignorant of that caused you to ask the question.

    Ball is really in your court.

    ~Dan

  73. “Ball is really in your court.”

    No, I’ve answered and responded to you plenty. I know it pisses you off that I want to use my own words instead of just parroting back what you’d like me to say. Since, you have now proven that you have no interest in my actual motivation, I fail to see what could possible satisfy that seemingly irrational desire to be validated.

    If you are truly willing to accept correction, then you must admit that linking my question to one phrase out of multiple lengthy quotes of your own literal writings, is a bit misleading to say the least. Of course your continued false assertions that I haven’t answered your questions are another area where you could accept some correction and admit that you’ve repeatedly and consistently lied.

    i suspect that you will continue your unwillingness to behave according to the standards you demand of others, and continue to misrepresent both the context of my question as well as your lies. It’s kind of sad to see you like this.

    “YES. Of course, real Christians can admit reality, can admit that there is no objective evidence…”?

    So, let me get this straight, all I need to do is to parrot your words back to you and everything will be good? If I just copy/paste the words you’d like to put in my mouth, you’ll answer unasked questions, stop lying, and stop misrepresenting my question? I’ve got to say,that’s pretty tempting.

    Here goes.

    YES. Of course, real Christians can admit reality, can admit that there is no objective evidence…”?

    There, you should be happy now, Although I don’t quite know what I’ve agreed to, but I’ve done it. Yay for me.

    “That will demonstrate that you weren’t trying to slander or impugn.”

    I’ve already explained that asking a question is (by definition) not slander, or impugnation. I’m sorry, you’ve missed it.

    “Then all you have to do is say what it was you WERE trying to find out that you were ignorant of that caused you to ask the question.”

    Again, since you seem to have ignored the explanation the first few times, and because I’ve already done what you asked, why not once more.

    I was trying to find out if anyone else noticed the similarity between the (entire) quotes I posted (not your misleading one sentence), and the types of things that folks like Shuck, Borg, and the atheists that comment here and their ilk say/write. It’s really quite simple, and I would have thought that the previous explanations would have explained it. It would seem that you missed those previous explanations and need one more, so there it is.

    No slander, ranting, imputing, or impugning, just a question based on the fact that your comments are much closer in tone to a bunch of folks who deny the existence of God and Jesus.

    If it were me, I’d be concerned that anyone had noticed that my writings were so similar to those folks, you chose another tack.

    But now you’ve gotten your statement and explanation, the ball is once more in your court.

    I eagerly await all of the marvelously compelling reasons why you won’t answer my questions, I’m sure they will be either extremely creative or extremely repetitive.

  74. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    I was trying to find out if anyone else noticed the similarity between the (entire) quotes I posted (not your misleading one sentence), and the types of things that folks like Shuck, Borg, and the atheists that comment here and their ilk say/write.

    And is that a good thing in your mind, and in the mind of your comrades? Or would being compared to Shuck, et al, be considered an insult to your crowd?

    And if you agree that there is no objective data to demonstrate authoritatively that Jesus existed, then are you not saying that you are wondering if anyone is concerned that YOU agree with Shuck, et al?

    But that’s it, isn’t it? You CAN’T agree with reality? You don’t agree that you have no objective evidence to “prove” Jesus, am I right?

    Still dodging.

    ~Dan

  75. “Still dodging.”

    No, just answering the same question over and over again, while trying to jump through your hoops.

    “And is that a good thing in your mind, and in the mind of your comrades?”

    I can’t speak for “my comrades” (I’m sure you’ll label that a dodge too), but speaking for myself that similarities to Shuck etc. are so at odds with the way you normally present yourself I was not sure, so I asked a question. Actually to be honest, I asked several questions. I don’t know that I was making a value judgement as much as seeking confirmation for my impressions. Personally, I think that (I know I’ve said this before) that you are welcome to whatever hunches you choose to have. In the same was as Shuck and the others,my problem with folks like that is that they are essentially lying about what they believe by claiming to be Christian. I would hope that you would agree that a “Christian” who claimed that God did not exist, that Jesus did not exist, and that the vast majority of the gospels are fiction is traveling under false colors. Again, they’re free to whatever belief they want, I just think that they should go for some truth in labeling. Surely, you agree that honestly describing yourself (especially in a clergy position) is a good thing, right?

    “Or would being compared to Shuck, et al, be considered an insult to your crowd?”

    Again, I can’t speak for my “crowd”, but personally I see it as more of a comparison than an insult. The fact remains that I’ve read enough of these folks to make a comparison. A comparison is not a value judgement, it’s a comparison.

    For example, here are two quotes, one of them is yours.

    “The Bible is a library of witnesses from different times, places and contexts all attempting to describe God and humanity in the world. It is not the transmission of the literal, infallible words of God. We turn to the Bible to listen and interpret the meaning of faith for us today. We discern the Word of God through the many words.”

    “I take the Bible as a book of Truth, not history or science or rules, so questions about miraculous events are not my central concern. Again, the Bible does not insist upon any literal interpretations of its stories, God has not insisted upon it, I have no rational demand for it and so, why would I?”

    I’m sorry, it seems reasonable to conclude that there is a similarity of language and opinion.

    Anyway, I suspect you’ll just continue trotting out the “Still dodging” canard.

    The problem with your dismissal is it ignores the fact that I commented yesterday in a manner that should have made your earlier questions irrelevant. SInce you missed it, I quote.

    “Again, I’m sorry I asked the question. I guess you could make the argument that even Borg takes Jesus seriously, in which case I could have worded the question a little better. The fact remains, that a Jesus devoid of deity (which is exactly the Jesus you depicted in your quotes), is a different Jesus that the one we see in scripture. ”
    “I’m truly sorry that you are having so much trouble differentiating an attack on you personally, with a question about what you literally factually wrote. I’m sorry that your opinions (or reality if you prefer) sounds an awful lot like a bunch of folks who have some pretty far out theology, as well as a lot like the atheists that comment here. I really am, but the similarities are there for all to see, and the fact that you choose to attack me instead of clarifying your positions really speaks volumes.”

    I also, went back to my original comment that got you all huffy to begin with, and realized that your paring the entire thing down to two out of context phrases is even more misleading that I first thought. If I was to jump to conclusions and attempt to assign impure motives to other people, I just might think you chose your excerpts with intent to mislead, but I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, you should try it, it’s kind of liberating

  76. “Given that, what impresses me about the stories and teachings in the Bible are the TRUTHS they pass on. Jonah’s story is an amusing and ironic little story in its details, a story that is enjoyable for what it says about humanity. But the great thing about the story of Jonah are the truths it imparts – what it says about humanity – not the little facts of the story.”

    Another similar quote.

  77. paynehollow says:

    Still dodging. I’m done with you, Craig.

    I honestly am not upset or angry with you, I don’t at all care what you do or don’t think of me.

    I just think you are entirely incapable of understanding what I’m saying or the question that I’m asking. Given that your complete inability to understand my points and questions, I’m done responding to your comments.

    Good luck, God bless you,

    Dan

  78. Dan,

    You can continue to play this silly game all you want, but the reality is I have NOT dodged anything you have said.

    i DO understand your what your saying, or if I don’t I ask questions. I certainly understand your questions as evidenced by the amount of time I’ve spent responding to them and the number of times I’ve answered the same question over and over again. One problem is that you’ve made no points, you continue to act as if you somehow know my intentions and thoughts better than I do, then you misrepresent what I actually did say in an effort to fuel your pique.

    Honestly, I feel sorry for your inability to extend the benefit of the doubt and grace you prattle on about. I’ve directly and honestly answered your questions and you accuse me of all sorts of things with no actual evidence to back up your accusations.

    Unfortunately, I’ve been the target of your loving grace filed responses before and while this is not as egregious as,

    “It is slimy and diabolical and excrement-filled. It is not the sort of behavior that becomes Christians.”
    or

    “This repeated arrogant and sanctimonious excrement that you spew from your mouth sometimes is not becoming an adult Christian or adult human.”

    or

    ““This is more of the arrogant mouth shit that some less mature (or just vainly arrogant) Christians spew instead of actual responses.”

    While you have certainly toned down your vitriol, you still have some sort of problem dealing with anyone who in any way shape or form asks the wrong sort of question about you or your beliefs.

    So, you go your grace filled way and embrace the same grace you expect from others, because you certainly haven’t shown it here.

  79. There’s a good quote from C.S. Lewis about Jesus and Paul.

    In the earlier history of every rebellion there is a stage of which you do no yet attack the King in person. You say, ‘The King is all right. It is his Ministers who are wrong. They misrepresent him and corrupt all his plans—which, I’m sure, are good plans if only the Ministers would let them take effect.’ And the first victory consists in beheading a few Ministers: only at a later stage do you go on and behead the King himself.

    “In the same way, the nineteenth-century attack on St. Paul was really on a stage in the revolt against Christ. Men were not ready in large numbers to attack Christ Himself. They made the normal first move—that of attacking one of His principal ministers. Everything they disliked in Christianity was therefore attributed to St Paul. It is unfortunate that their case could not impress anyone who had really read the Gospels and the Epistles with attention: but apparently few people had, and so the first victory was won. St Paul was impeached and banished and the world went on to the next step—the attack on the King Himself.” [emphasis mine]

    Dan, your writing, ” I am not a Paulinian, I am a Christ-ian,” is like a Union soldier saying he follows Lincoln but refuses to follow General Grant whom Lincoln appointed and repeatedly endorsed. It’s like a basketball player at Kentucky saying he has all the respect in the world for Calipari but refuses to listen to an assistant coach that Calipari assigned to him. If you REALLY followed Jesus, you would defer to the teachings of His hand-picked Apostles.

    None of Paul’s teachings contradict Jesus, many directly echo the Lord’s teachings, and I believe most (and possibly all) of them are latent in the Lord’s teachings, but I don’t have to appeal to Paul to prove that the crucifixion and resurrection are essential: Jesus Himself prayed that He might avoid the cross if it could have been avoided, and the Father’s evident answer was that the Son MUST take that cup, and Jesus told His followers that He MUST suffer and be killed and be raised on the third day (Mt 16:21, Lk 9:22, cf Lk 24:7).

    But all of this is beside the point: it’s enough to show that the Bible’s writers did indeed treat at least a few key historical events as vitally important: the covenants with the patriarchs and with David, the Exodus and the giving of the Law, and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

    You had written, “knowing why one is making a presumption about a text is important,” and you distinguish between the Bible’s eternal Truths and its mere facts of history. Clearly that distinction is not just external to the Bible, it is contrary to the writers’ clear intent.

    That’s worth pointing out.

    Now, I do not believe, I have never implied, and I have explicitly rejected the idea that God “will sometimes command people to do awful, horribly immoral and atrocious things.” You ought to abide by your own insistence that others not put words in your mouth. Since God is our Creator, He has the moral right to end our lives when and how He chooses; this isn’t an instance of the Divine Command Theory, just a recognition of God’s prerogative as Creator.

    What the Bible records as the words and deeds of God, I believe God spoke and did; what the Bible records as the reason for the immorality of murder — that we are made in God’s image and that therefore we belong to Him, Gen 9:6 — I accept; and the unity of the prohibition of shedding innocent blood and the command to wage wars of annihilation is shown in Psalm 106, and I accept that unity. You cannot plausibly denigrate my position as unbiblical.

    You write:

    Indeed, many people like Bubba might say, “you know, if you have a 16 year old person who has committed, let’s say, 2,000 sins – fibbing to their parents, not being respectful, etc – and that 16 year old does not correctly repent of their sins, affirm the 13th century view of atonement and become a Christian in just the right way, then the only “just” thing God-as-Bubba understands God can do is condemn that 16 year old to an eternity of suffering… That is JUSTICE!” in the view of people like Bubba who interpret the Bible in that manner. (Is that a generally fair portrayal of your position? Feel free to clarify if and where I’ve missed it).

    No dice, Dan. You must justify that portrayal from what I’ve written. Again, you’ve repeatedly asked others not to put words in your mouth, and you ought to live by your own standards.

    I notice that you say that this summary of salvation is wrong but you don’t offer your own detailed beliefs. You’ll notice that I don’t presume to summarize your beliefs for you and ask after the fact if I got it right — and you should also know that I have no expectation for you to be clear on your own beliefs here, as you’re so often less than forthright on other issues.

    You write, “My focus is on answering the question you raised and raising some rational questions in response. I’d appreciate it if you don’t change the subject.”

    I could easily remind you of more than a dozen questions of mine that you didn’t address and often didn’t even acknowledge. If there’s a question of mine that you want to answer, I’m not stopping you from answering it, but I’ll remind you that these supposed digressions are merely holding you to your own stated standards and asking you to clarify what you believe.

    If you’re going to sneer that the Bible doesn’t insist on taking its historical narratives as literal history, you ought to point out where the Bible even permits your emphasizing Truths but not facts — and you ought to clarify how you categorize the resurrection of Jesus, as important Truth or mere fact.

  80. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    If you REALLY followed Jesus, you would defer to the teachings of His hand-picked Apostles.

    Per normal, you have read my words and drawn an incorrect conclusion about my actual words. Where, I ask, did I say I think Paul got it wrong?

    No, AS I STATED, I truly love Paul and his writings. BUT, because I am a Christian, I defer to Jesus, not to Paul.

    I interpret PAUL through the teachings of Jesus, not the other way around. I don’t subvert Christ-ian teachings underneath Paulinian teaching.

    See the difference? I’m not saying “Paul is wrong.” I’m saying, “I interpret Paul through Jesus, not the other way around.”

    You, on the other hand, appear to give preeminence to the apostle over the teacher. A rudimentary mistake in biblical hermeneutics.

    No, I do not “reject” Paul’s teachings. I do reject your interpretations of his teachings.

    As always, I do not conflate Bubba’s interpretations to God’s Word.

    Bubba…

    If you’re going to sneer that the Bible doesn’t insist on taking its historical narratives as literal history, you ought to point out where the Bible even permits your emphasizing Truths but not facts

    1. Pointing out a fact (“the Bible does not tell us to take the Bible as literal history”) is NOT sneering. It is pointing out a fact.

    Do you recognize this simple, basic observable reality? Do you see how you’ve ungraciously mischaracterized what I’ve done?

    2. I don’t take the Bible as a rule book. If I did, then I could say, “According to the Rule book/Bible, we can know it is a book of Truth because…” and cite sources.

    I don’t take the Bible as a rule book.

    It is my opinion that the Bible is a book of Truth. Disagree if you wish, it remains my opinion until such time as you offer some definitive objective evidence that it is NOT a book of truth. Until such time, it remains my opinion vs your opinion (if you disagree).

    ~Dan

    • Weird, I always thought laws were rules. And when I was a kid, when my father said you’re allowed to do this, but not allowed to do that, that those were rules.

      • Weird about nails it, John.
        Like genocide, incest, circumcision, stoning and slavery?
        Oh yeah, Yahweh and Paul. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
        A real comedy duo.
        Judge ”Yahweh” Dredd.
        “I am da Law”

        • How sad for us that we can never attract a liberal or atheist who is even slightly gifted in wit. Instead, we get Ark’s boorish comments.

          • I try to pitch my repartee to the level of my audience, dear Marshal.
            You can rest assured I will up my game if the situation warrants.
            Maybe when you leave, perhaps? Care for a banana?

        • Ark,

          You’re not the first rank amateur that pretends his childish antics are compelled by any of us. What a cheap attempt to deflect, and incredibly childish (“You started it!!!”) but not surprising based on your routine thus far. Here’s a guy who pretends he doesn’t need any god to teach him moral behavior, and he does nothing to show that he has the least clue about how to manifest that notion. Would that be irony, hypocrisy or hypocritical irony? I doubt you have a game to “up”. I’ll say a prayer for you.

          • The more worrying aspect of this is that you obviously believe that ‘without a supernatural sky daddy and a book of erroneous, fallacious text full talking snakes and donkeys; of murder, mayhem, slavery , rape, torture and grossly immoral acts – including sanctioned incest – that you would not be able to function as a normal human being.

            Now THAT is very worrying indeed!

            I really don’t believe prayers are going to cut it, Marshal, truly I don’t. But, thanks all the same.

        • The truly worrying aspect of this is the people like you believe that without God you are capable of defining what constitutes functioning as a normal human being. Indeed, without God it is all subjective and there is no such thing as “normal” and certainly no such thing as “moral”. Without God, I could very well believe as I now do regarding right and wrong. But I would do so without basis, as you do now. You call whatever it is you believe about right and wrong “functioning as a normal human being”. But you are far more governed by His morality than you have the courage to admit. Your current understanding of right and wrong is largely based on the Judeo-Christian traditions that have shaped the western world. You simply have rejected aspects of that tradition that conflicts with your self-serving sensibilities. The fact is, without God, more people will indeed function as normal human beings because it is the morality defined by God that tempers the normal functioning of the human being. No God, no morality, and your insistence that you can act morally without Him would be worthless against those who are far less timid in asserting THEIR self-interests than you are in asserting yours. Against such people, who exist even now in the world, your self-satisfied sense of moral superiority won’t save you from whatever extremes those people are willing to go.

          • The fact is, without God, more people will indeed function as normal human beings because it is the morality defined by God that tempers the normal functioning of the human being. No God, no morality,

            Now you are behaving like an irresponsible fool and science has already demonstrated why.
            If you want links, ask.
            If not, we are done. I won’t argue this with an indoctrinated apologist. It is a fools errand.

    • “You, on the other hand, appear to give preeminence to the apostle over the teacher.”

      Don’t see that as having ever happened. We use Paul to substantiate what we know to be true about Christ, because he is Christ’s apostle and knows these things. So when we cite Paul, we are citing someone who is imparting to us the teachings of Christ.

      ““the Bible does not tell us to take the Bible as literal history”

      Someday you’ll have to explain why it would need to for an honest student to regard it as such. It certainly makes no claim to be fable or metaphor.

      “It is my opinion that the Bible is a book of Truth.”

      Illogical given how little regard you have for the truthfulness of its recording of the history it relates. However, I do see how convenient it is to hold your opinion.

      • because he is Christ’s apostle

        Self – appointed, egotistical, bellicose tent-maker who never met Yeshua and may very well have been an epileptic.
        Spent all that time in Jerusalem as a supposed ‘Policeman’ and never once sought out Yeshua?
        And after his conversion never once tried to make contact with Mary?
        The bloke was a damn fraud, if he existed at all.

        • sources?? citations?? I won’t hold my breath. You simply disparage better people than you rather than do the heavy lifting of presenting a case. Typical.

          • Sources? The bible! What did you think Paul was, a damn motor mechanic?

            What are you, a complete imbecile?

            Read Acts…then read the findings of the Acts seminar.

  81. Dan, you’re welcome to elaborate A) how my interpretation of Paul’s teaching is at odds with the clear teachings of Christ, and B) how we should instead interpret Paul’s claims that Christ’s death and resurrection are “of first importance” and that without the latter we are dead in our sins and our faith is in vain.

    Anybody can claim that they affirm the Bible’s teachings and only dispute a particular interpretation of those teachings, but we cannot evaluate the credibility of that claim without seeing the details of his dispute and his alternative interpretation.

    About this “rule book” business, it’s a phrase I’ve never used and have never endorsed, so once again you’re putting words in another person’s mouth — and once again, if you cannot explain the reasoning for what you believe, no one can compare your position against those you dispute.

    My problem isn’t with your claim that the Bible is a book of Truth, but of “Truth and not facts,” when it’s obvious that the writers did affirm the importance of at least some claims of historical fact, chief being the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Yahweh is a deity who has acted decisively in history, supremely in the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. A person who nominally affirms these events but treats them as disposable is ultimately worshipping a deity of his own creation, not the God revealed in the Bible.

  82. chief being the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Jesus of where?
    Are you serious?

  83. Nazareth, Ark, and yes, I’m serious, as the four gospels mention Jesus by that name, e.g., in Matthew 26:71, Mark 1:24, Luke 18:37, and John 1:45. (See also Acts 3:6 and 22:8.)

    I know, I know. Even though archaeology has confirmed much in the gospels and refuted none of its claims — corroborating minor details such as the pool of Bethesda’s five porticoes in John 5:2 — the gospels simply aren’t trustworthy. They claim the miraculous occurred, which we know is impossible, so Q.E.D. And as the Jesus Seminar documented, Jesus didn’t say most of what the gospels attribute to the man, because it’s just ridiculous to believe that the Jewish rabbi and founder of Christianity would have uttered anything that sounded Jewish or Christian.

    • Now you are going off on a rant, as per usual.
      There is no verifiable evidence for the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth.
      Best check the etymology of the word, Nazareth, then we can talk further, okay?

      • Best cite an actual source for your atheist drivel, then there can be something akin to an actual discussion and not just your constant boorish commentary, which likely wouldn’t even amuse other atheists.

        Or hey! How about you actually make an argument rather than merely assert what you don’t lack the courage to defend? That would be a change.

        • Argument? Who’s arguing?
          If you don’t know the etymology of the word ‘Nazareth’ and you are unable to research this and the archaeology, then sure, I’ll teach you. But it isn’t drivel, Marshal. Really it isn’t.
          Have you read Luke?
          City, multitude, synagogue etc.
          Always remember, the character, Jesus of Nazareth is in the same book that features a talking snake, and talking donkey.
          Pause for thought, I would say, wouldn’t you?
          Or maybe your pet dog or your hamster tells you his secrets, hmmm?

        • The drivel is in your conclusions of yours based on the “sources” you take as gospel. You, like all of your kind, latch on to whatever sounds as if it is in contradiction to the possibility of the existence of God of the Bible, and hold fast with religious fervor to your “proofs”, which really aren’t proofs of anything, but mere evidence for the possibility.

          I’ve looked at a number of cites dealing with the etymology of the word “Nazareth”. What’s your point? Do you suppose the etymology somehow detracts from the claims of Scripture? If so, it what way? You never say. You only put forth crap that you expect will be taken as some measure of your sophisticated knowledge. Yours is the typed version of an empty suit. Someday, perhaps, you could bring some meat instead of meaningless morsels.

          “Always remember, the character, Jesus of Nazareth is in the same book that features a talking snake, and talking donkey.”

          You have a strange notion of what passes for “featuring”. What I can’t get passed is the character, Arkenaten, typing tons of words with no real substance to any of them. Nothing but condescension and a level of (I’m using the word extremely loosely here) “wit” that would not impress a nine-year-old. I can barely keep from yawning.

          “Pause for thought, I would say, wouldn’t you?”

          There seems little you would say that I ever would. I’m not quite as classless as you seem so determined to present yourself. You have my abject pity.

  84. Dan, one more thing is that this “rule book” business is really grating because it bears no resemblance to reality. It’s like your old habit of insinuating that inerrantists worship the Bible, as if it’s impossible to esteem the Bible because it is FROM God without treating it AS God.

    (If a man with a terminal disease had written his adult son a lengthy letter, the son would probably treasure that last communication because it’s his father’s, but he wouldn’t then come to believe that that communication — those words on the page — had sired him and reared him.)

    Believing that a book’s important teachings include both eternal truths (or Truths) AND historical claims does NOT entail treating the book as rule book, nor does even the inerrantists’ position that the Bible contains truth without error.

    The emphasis on doctrine that ought to be affirmed isn’t an emphasis on rules that must be obeyed, and if anything your focus on Christ’s ethical teachings is FAR closer to an overemphasis on rules.

    For us, it’s not about rules, it’s about the relationship — not primarily our relationships with our neighbors, but our relationship with God. The Christian God isn’t a deity that has just revealed truth from on high, He is the Creator and Redeemer who has decisively entered history, and to have a right relationship with Him, it’s important to know what He has done.

    The Bible clearly teaches that we’re saved by grace received by faith — and saved by Christ’s death, too — and perhaps in His mercy, God allows saving faith to have even very serious misunderstandings about God’s character and actions in history.

    (Even so, Hebrews 11:6 does affirm the obvious, that theism is essential to saving faith: “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”)

    But, obviously, the Christian’s mission on earth isn’t to argue against the necessity of the central doctrines, including the ones that the Apostles explicitly declare to be essential — Paul’s emphasis on the resurrection, John’s emphasis on the Incarnation — or to try to obscure these doctrines in entirely unjustified doubt.

    The Christian’s mission is both to accept what God has clearly revealed in Scripture and to communicate ALL of what He has clearly revealed to a lost and dying world. That you so enthusiastically act to undermine that mission is yet another piece of strong evidence that you’re not a Christian.

  85. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    The Christian’s mission is both to accept what God has clearly revealed in Scripture and to communicate ALL of what He has clearly revealed to a lost and dying world.

    Source?

    As always, that I disagree with your particular opinions about how best to take some scriptures is in no way indicative of any sign of undermining the Bible. As always, I do not conflate your opinions and God’s Word.

    ~Dan

  86. Dan:

    As always, that I disagree with your particular opinions about how best to take some scriptures is in no way indicative of any sign of undermining the Bible. As always, I do not conflate your opinions and God’s Word.

    As I wrote just yesterday, anybody can claim that he affirms the Bible’s teachings and only disputes a particular interpretation of those teachings, but we cannot evaluate the credibility of that claim without seeing the details of his dispute and his alternative interpretation.

    You’re not really fooling anybody, and I don’t think you’re so stupid that you’re even fooling yourself.

  87. paynehollow says:

    Bubba, on probably dozens of topics using thousands of words, I have explained why I disagree with your opinion and why I hold my opinion, and why it makes more sense to me. That you disagree with my conclusion is evidence of nothing other than the fact that we have a disagreement over unprovable opinions.

    For instance, you made a claim…

    The Christian’s mission is both to accept what God has clearly revealed in Scripture and to communicate ALL of what He has clearly revealed to a lost and dying world.

    And I requested a source to support the claim. You provided none, of course, because you can not. All you can offer is your statement of opinion. Which is fine, but just own it as your opinion and give up this pretense of your having some objective source that demonstrates the “Christian’s mission, as told to Bubba by God…”

    Do you have an unprovable opinion about what a Christian’s mission is? Fine, just be clear that it is your opinion, not God’s Word. That’s all I’m suggesting, to keep things honest and in the world of facts.

    Will it happen? As Marshall notes: Place no wagers.

    ~Dan

    • Dan

      How come Bubbas claim requires a source, but yours is common sense?

      • @John
        Because Bubba claims to be speaking on behalf of what he considers is right Christianity.
        He neither has verifiable evidence or authority to presume to do so.
        Dan is correct , it is simply opinion, based in biblical interpretation.
        The supposed ‘right’ interpretation was originally laid out by those who put together the bible and established doctrine. But you don’t abide by all of that any more do you?
        No, of course not.
        Thus all you are saying is the bible is the inspired word of your god, and yet are unable to offer a single piece of evidence to back this up.
        If Dan says he is a Christian, you have to be able to demonstrate that this is a false claim based in verifiable evidence
        Your brand of hermenuetics wont cut it, I’m afraid, John, and neither will Marshal’s or Craig’s. or anyone else’s in fact.
        While Dan considers he is Christian the only one who is able to tell him he is not is Yeshua, and that would be a very interesting exercise , indeed.
        Maybe he can pray and ask Yeshua, himself?
        And if Dan claims Yeshua answered his prayer and says he is are you really going to call him a liar?
        Well, are you, John?

        • The point, which you elude for the effort it takes to face it head on, is that one side is being encouraged to provide unassailable evidence by the other side which won’t bother. If you believe Bubba is providing only opinion, that he isn’t speaking factually, then obviously there is proof YOU could provide rather than merely pretending you know something.

          Dan does very little to support anything he believes, and if you could eliminate all the whining about engaging with grace when his opponents call him on his less than satisfactory answers, few threads would total over fifty comments.

          We are taught that we will “know them by their fruits”. We know YOU clearly enough and we’re fairly certain we know Dan as well, regardless of what he claims about himself. We can also match what he says he believes against Scripture, and when we do we see inconsistencies and strange, if not clearly false, understandings.

          He, like you, is free to believe whatever he likes, no matter how un-Scriptural it may be. But here in these forums, we are free to question him and hold him to account, just as he is free to do so with us.

          In the meantime, we have to deal with Dan’s favorite loophole of “opinion” when he refuses to back up his position, while demanding solid proofs for ours. You guys are so much alike.

  88. So, if Dan prayed to Yeshua and he claimed Yeshua said he was a Christian would you call him a liar, Marshal, yes, or no?

    • You’re great with the silly questions. He does as much already. That is, he makes all sorts of claims that we find highly questionable, to say the least, that he does not support to the end. “To the end” means that it leaves us with no more questions and all the loose ends tied neatly together in a way that prevents more questions. He’s never come close to doing this.

      • I find your position highly questionable, not least of all your ignorance of Christian doctrine; the inability to state succinctly what you consider it is to be a Christian and on what /whose authority.

        Once again , if Dan prayed to Yeshua and claimed Yeshua spoke to him and assured him he was a Christian would you call him a liar, Yes or No?

        Or if not a liar, would you say he was delusional?

  89. paynehollow says:

    Marshall, Ark has the right of it. I factually offered an opinion, clearly labeled as an opinion – an unprovable opinion. Bubba (and the rest of y’all) make statements as if you are stating an objective fact. Bubba, for instance, stated flatly…

    The Christian’s mission is both to accept what God has clearly revealed in Scripture and to communicate ALL of what He has clearly revealed to a lost and dying world.

    I simply asked for a source. He is stating authoritatively what sounds like he’s making an objective fact claim. If one makes a fact claim, the onus is on THAT person to prove his fact claim, not on other people to offer up every possible other fact in the world to demonstrate his claim does not exist in the world of reality.

    IF Bubba (and the rest of you all) would just say, “Well, I don’t have any objective evidence to prove it, it really is only my unprovable opinion… BUT, it is backed by a long history of many people who have agreed with me (who also had no objective data to support it), so I REALLY think it is a pretty good opinion…” then the matter is rested. It’s Bubba’s unprovable opinion vs my unprovable opinion.

    The onus is on the claimant to support his own fact claims or to clarify it’s an unprovable opinion. You all, it appears, REALLY don’t like to admit your opinions are unprovable opinions. I am of the opinion that it is the only honest thing to do and admitting something is your opinion is, in fact, the only CHRISTIAN thing to do, IF you believe Jesus valued honesty.

    This is where we get stuck every time, when you all make claims and someone asks you to support it and you either go silent or go on the attack, in place of simply supporting your opinion or clarifying it as an opinion.

    Source?

    ~Dan

    • @Dan
      So what we are all saying here is, in effect, it is just as likely to have all been made up and the only thing missing is the line:
      Once upon a time …

      Of course, that is just my opinion.

    • And this is what I have stated, Dan, that you hide behind “opinion” so as to avoid the heavy lifting involved with backing up that opinion and responding to questions and objections that indicate the weakness of the opinion.

      I’m also bored with the idea that we have to continually rehash the notion of opinion. OK. We know you have a different one. That’s hardly at issue, especially after all these years. We get it. Try defending it for a change with complete openness. You don’t.

      What’s more, your notion of what constitutes an opinion in the arguments of others is incredibly self-serving. We are not bound by such one-sided definitions.

  90. paynehollow says:

    John, Marshall, Craig, Glenn, Bubba… this is the question that goes unanswered amongst you all, that feels like it’s constantly being dodged:

    It is a simple reality that our opinions about Jesus and his existence and the best interpretations of his teachings… that these opinions are clearly subjective opinions, that they are unprovable, that you may hold one set of opinions and someone else may hold different sets of opinions about almost any of these questions and they will remain unprovable. This is just a reality in this world.

    Can you agree with this?

    That question, asked many different ways, almost always goes unanswered, and it usually goes unaddressed (Glenn is a rare exception: I think he usually commits to a “Hell no, I won’t agree to it. I OBVIOUSLY and objectively know the answers to all these questions…” but then if asked to provide support, he then dodges). You’ll answer questions that you feel are related, but you won’t answer the question that is directly asked.

    But it is a reasonable question to ask, it is not a trick question, it is not a leading question.

    Can we know objectively and provably that Jesus existed?

    Can we know objectively and demonstrably what Jesus’ opinion is about marriage between gay folk? Between multiple partners (since the Bible never condemns polygamy, you can’t even cite the Bible on this one…)?

    If any of your answers to questions like this is a provable Yes, then all you have to do is provide the objective proof and, wow, what results you might get with that hard data.

    If it is obviously unprovable, then there is no harm in admitting it. That is only an honest answer and honest answers are good answers.

    I think (just a guess) you all are collectively unwilling to admit the obvious answer because you don’t want it to be said that your opinions are unprovable or that they are somehow less than God’s Word.

    That, or I think some of you all may hold (I know of people like this) that we CAN “know” because “God’s Spirit has affirmed it in my heart in a very real way…” and you think that this is somehow not subjective. And yet, you realize that this is the very definition of subjective, so you don’t want to say that out loud, so you say nothing.

    How about that? Would anyone care to say that this is your position?

    Is, “I ‘know’ the answer to this question because God’s Spirit has affirmed it in my heart and for this reason, I can know this is objectively true and factual…” your support for any of these questions?

    So, how about it? How about just admitting what is obviously factual to anyone not blinded by agenda or pride or fear?

    Anyone up to dealing with this question directly?

    And lest anyone think this is somehow an attack or mean-spirited or anti-Christian, it most certainly is not intended that way. I’m just asking reasonable questions and looking for reasonable answers.

    ~Dan

    • Dan

      History is a forensic science. There is enough ancient documentation that yes, objectively, Jesus existed even if some people want to reject it out of hand and say “that’s not good enough”. Those people have a philosophical stake in being able to reject Jesus.

      • Crap. There is no ancient documentation that suggests objectively that Jesus ( as refelcted in the bible) existed.
        There isn’t even a single contemporary report.

  91. paynehollow says:

    Ark…

    There is no real reason why this [“once upon a time…”] should not be included as the opening words. But this was no my question.

    I happen to believe that Truths are True, whatever their source. It does not matter if a story or lesson or teaching begins, “once upon a time,” or, “in the Beginning was the Word,” or “There once was a man from Nantucket…” IF what follows teaches Truths, then those Truths ARE true, and good, and worthwhile.

    Likewise, if what follows the introduction is Truth, but someone takes that Truth and twists it to endorse harm, oppression, murder, rape or otherwise, Bad, it doesn’t matter that the teaching had Truth, it was taken the wrong way to endorse that which is not Truth, Good, Pure, Loving, etc.

    This is a rational conclusion, it seems to me.

    ~Dan

    • Likewise, if what follows the introduction is Truth

      Could you give an example of this ‘Truth’ in Genesis, for example?

      Including the phrase, Once upon a time…>/em>, one generally regards the prose that follows as fiction.
      Not always, but generally.
      The bible
      is largely fiction, of course, a fantasy tale overlaid and interwoven with certain familiar geographical and political settings interspersed with a peppering of real historical figures.
      Many authors write in this fashion to create a sense of realism.

      Why would one suppose the myriad authors who contributed to the bible approached its composition any differently?

  92. Dan, you seem to think that it’s an objective fact that everyone has only subjective opinions, and you don’t see the irony of that. We can disagree about everything EXCEPT that, and in fact you insist that everyone agree with you on it.

    By your own criteria, your position regarding subjective opinions is ITSELF nothing more than a subjective opinion, and it’s certainly nothing you can show to be provably and demonstrably true.

    In which case, you ought to have the humility that you think is appropriate for others, and you should not insist that everyone agree with that subjective opinion of yours.

    For myself, I see that the Bible’s writers clearly intended its readers to have confidence about what can be known (see Luke and John, whom I’ve already cited), and it does not serve the mission of Christ’s church to obscure God’s revelation in this entirely unnecessary murk of doubt and skepticism.

    About that mission, Matthew records that Jesus’ last standing orders were to teach everything He taught, and that would explicitly include His affirming the authority of Scripture and warning against not teaching the least commandment, and — since Christ claimed to be God — it would implicitly include all of Scripture, which He consciously claimed to fulfill.

    If you feel free to conclude (wrongly) that I didn’t answer your question because I couldn’t, I’m going to have to conclude the same thing about your not elaborating on how I misinterpret Paul and cause Paul’s teachings to collide with Christ’s.

    Bubba, on probably dozens of topics using thousands of words, I have explained why I disagree with your opinion and why I hold my opinion, and why it makes more sense to me.

    No need to tell me what you’ve done: I was there, and I’ve seen you refuse to answer — and in many cases refuse even to acknowledge — more than a dozen questions I raised in our last conversation.

    I haven’t forgotten the literal months it took you to provide clear and unambiguous statements denying the historicity of the Passover and denying the causal connection between Christ’s death and our salvation.

    And it’s been more than four years, and you still haven’t addressed John Stott’s argument (and mine) for why Jesus did NOT set aside the law.

    You use language to obscure rather than clarify, and the many thousands of words you’ve written have been no substitute for clear explanations of what you believe and why.

  93. paynehollow says:

    So, that’s a “NO,” you won’t be answering this very reasonable, extremely pertinent questions?

  94. paynehollow says:

    …and when I ask very pertinent and reasonable questions to try to get you to clarify a point, you accuse ME of using language to obscure rather than clarify?

    I don’t know about you, but I generally use questions exactly to try to clarify points. Why the dodge?

  95. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    it took you to provide clear and unambiguous statements denying the historicity of the Passover and denying the causal connection between Christ’s death and our salvation.

    I have not denied the historicity of the Passover.

    I have stated pretty consistently for years now that I have no reason to take the story as literal history.

    It MAY have happened just like it says in the Pentateuch, but I (nor you) have any evidence that the story is literally true and we both have reasons NOT to take those stories as literal history.

    Do you have ANY objective data to support a claim that the Passover happened just as described in the OT?

    Please understand that what you perceive as being ambiguous is simply reasonable doubt? I have NO data that “proves” it didn’t happen, so I don’t make that claim.

    Rather, I state that simply I have no evidence to demand to take it literally?

    Do you have a hard time understanding the difference? If so, I can explain it further, but hopefully, you understand that I have been precise, not vague, and in so doing, have only stated facts, not opinion.

    ~Dan

  96. paynehollow says:

    John…

    There is enough ancient documentation that yes, objectively, Jesus existed even if some people want to reject it out of hand and say “that’s not good enough”.

    You are saying it is NOT an unprovable position, but one that you CAN prove? By all means, prove it. Just a link to a source with objective data will suffice.

    If you can not provide such data, then, perhaps a clarification on your part would be appropriate and honest?

    ~Dan

  97. paynehollow says:

    John…

    How do you call yourself orthodox while having this view of the bible?

    What view of the Bible? Not claiming that it is a literal history or science book? I hold that position because the Bible never demands that we take it as a literal history or science book and there is no evidence supporting viewing it as a literal history/science book and good common sense and data DO support NOT taking it as a literal history/science book.

    Given that, the question should be why do you hold a position on the Bible that the Bible doesn’t tell you to hold? Who told you you should take it as a literal history? On what basis.

    Again, as always, I’m looking for you all to support your claims and, if not, back off your hostility.

    John, it is PRECISELY because I take the Bible seriously that I’m not willing to make silly claims about the Bible when I have no reason to make such claims. I used to take the Bible as you do, but serious study demanded that I STOP making claims about the Bible that are not rational, supported or biblical.

    How about it? How about providing data for your claims, rather than making empty claims?

    ~Dan

  98. paynehollow says:

    Makagutu…

    I think I like this, maybe if many people did this, the idea of original sin and a fallen humanity in need of salvation may soon become a thing of the past. Don’t you think?

    I don’t know. I think that the notion that we all make mistakes, that it’s part of human nature to err (ie, “fallen humanity…”) is a vital thing to keep in mind for all of us. Perhaps not so much that our “sin” is sort of magically passed down from a man called Adam (“original sin…”), but certainly that we are a humanity who makes both good and bad decisions – all of us – so, perhaps it might depend on how you define those terms.

    Does that answer your question?

    ~Dan

  99. Dan, I *DID* answer your question. In Matthew, the Great Commission is clearly comprehensive in terms of Jesus’ teachings, and since Jesus affirmed Scripture’s authority, warned against omitting the least commandment, and claimed to be God Himself, the commission extends to a comprehensive view of Scripture.

    (Furthermore, one can see the emphasis the Apostles placed on preaching by their example in the Acts: some 19 sermons are recorded, mostly by Peter and Paul, and the Apostles assigned deacons to serve the widows so that they would not neglect “preaching the word of God” (6:2). And the importance of preaching follows quite explicitly from the argument the Apostle Paul made in Romans 10, that saving faith comes from hearing and hearing comes from preaching.)

    I answered your question, and my questions have been AT LEAST as pertinent as yours. Before you asked about my claim regarding the Christian’s mission, I had asked you about how my interpretation of Paul’s teaching regarding the necessity of the resurrection is in conflict with Christ’s teachings. As you have with most of the dozen questions you didn’t answer in the last conversation, you haven’t even acknowledged that question.

    Dan, about the historicity of the Passover, you’ve gone much further than saying it’s not necessary to believe in its historicity, you’ve written that you “find it hard to believe as a literal historic event.”

    Even in this thread, you’re not taking an agnostic position on the OT’s historicity, you’re arguing against it by appealing (wrongly, I believe) to science and morality.

    On science, you positively sneer at the position that the Deluge is historical, with your comments about “magic water.” On morality, you’ve written that ours is a view where God commands “awful, horribly immoral and atrocious things.”

    You’ve established a very unbiblical precedent, IF you try to take it literally.

    You’re doing more than suggesting that we should be tolerant of the view that the OT is ahistorical: you’re arguing that that view is the only rational and moral position to take, and the fact that you don’t own up to that reinforces my conclusion that you’re not interested in being honest about what you believe.

  100. Dan, you ask John, “the question should be why do you hold a position on the Bible that the Bible doesn’t tell you to hold? Who told you you should take it as a literal history? On what basis.”

    Who told you that the Bible teaches Truths but not facts?

    I know, I know, that’s only your subjective opinion and you’re not being nearly as rigid about your position as we are about ours, even though you frequently sneer at us and insinuate that we’re immoral and irrational.

    You should explain why we ought to agree with your position that we’re all just arguing over subjective opinions: you’re treating THAT claim as an objective fact about which we all must agree, and so we ought to know why you have some sort of special authority to tell us this one and only objective fact.

    Or if it’s only your subjective opinion that we’re just dealing with subjective opinions, you ought not to insist that anyone agree with you.

    • You should explain why we ought to agree with your position that we’re all just arguing over subjective opinions:

      Why should he?
      He has said all along it is simply opinion. He has never said you must agree with his.
      You are the one/s who are trying to enforce a rigid biblical understanding and adherence based on your interpretation of this supposed truth.
      A ‘truth’ for which you have no evidence.
      Furthermore, that there are over 30,000 Christian sects clearly demonstrates there are a number of others who also don’t Kowtow to your definition.
      In fact, based on the definition that was eventually written into Law by Theodosius, I wonder if you actually measure up in this regard?
      And of course, there were quite a number of definitions prior to this and had they won out your current definition of what it is to be a proper Christian would be wrong.

      This type of internecine bullying from supposed self proclaimed ‘proper’ Christians such as you merely highlights your ignorance, lack of tolerance and plays right into the hands of those who claim what you believe is all made up in the first place.

      Such behaviour is ‘Joke Religion’.

  101. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    I *DID* answer your question. In Matthew, the Great Commission is clearly comprehensive in terms of Jesus’ teachings, and since Jesus affirmed Scripture’s authority, warned against omitting the least commandment, and claimed to be God Himself, the commission extends to a comprehensive view of Scripture.

    ? I’m sorry, which question, exactly, do you think that is an answer to?

    It seems that you are quite content to answer questions I have not asked, but how about one I have asked?

    And to the answer you’ve given (to whatever question it may have used as a starting point), when Jesus “affirmed Scripture’s authority” (says you), do you mean to say that Jesus meant specifically and only the 66 books of the Protestant Bible (which of course, did not exist yet)?

    As to your reference to the Great Commission, I’m not sure what you mean to infer there, but the passage says quite specifically… “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” so, in that reference, it is a call to follow very specifically the teachings specifically of Jesus, taught by Jesus (ie, the Red Letters). That is literally what it says.

    Are you inferring something beyond that?

    If so, why, when the Bible has not told you to do so?

    ~Dan

  102. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    you’re treating THAT claim as an objective fact

    ? I’m treating the claim that our subjective opinions ARE subjective opinions as an objective fact? Well, yes. It IS an objective fact. Tautologies are facts.

    I have not said there is no such thing as objective facts. I’ve said, simply, that are subjective and unprovable opinions are subjective and unprovable, a simple statement of reality. Thus, it is a fact.

    Why would I NOT treat facts as facts?

    I’m not clear on the point you’re trying to make there, Bubba. Perhaps you just misspoke?

    ~Dan

  103. Dan, I thought you were at least capable of keeping up with that part of a conversation circling around the question you asked. Apparently not.

    I had written, “The Christian’s mission is both to accept what God has clearly revealed in Scripture and to communicate ALL of what He has clearly revealed to a lost and dying world.” You asked for the source for that position, I gave it.

    You say the Great Commission is “a call to follow very specifically the teachings specifically of Jesus, taught by Jesus (ie, the Red Letters),” and indeed it is. I said as much when I wrote that “Jesus’ last standing orders were to teach everything He taught.”

    But clearly those teachings “would explicitly include His affirming the authority of Scripture and warning against not teaching the least commandment, and — since Christ claimed to be God — it would implicitly include all of Scripture, which He consciously claimed to fulfill.”

    In the “Red Letters,” Jesus both explicitly affirmed the authority of the Black Letters and implicitly claimed to be the ultimate Author of the Black Letters. Since the Red Letters endorse the Black Letters, it is impossible to follow all of the former without also submitting to the latter.

  104. I’m treating the claim that our subjective opinions ARE subjective opinions as an objective fact? Well, yes. It IS an objective fact. Tautologies are facts.

    That a circular argument, Dan. It’s sheer question begging to assume that our positions are merely subjective opinions in order to prove that they’re merely subjective opinions.

    And it’s hypocritical to elevate your position to the realm of objective fact when it can no more meet your standards of what’s provable and demonstrable than anything else being discussed.

    You want to claim as objective fact your belief that our positions are subjective opinions, but you have not AND CANNOT prove that belief. By your own standards, your position is just subjective as our positions.

  105. paynehollow says:

    Bubba…

    You asked for the source for that position, I gave it.

    Ah, THAT question. So many questions had been asked and ignored since then. Thanks for clearing that up, I appreciate it and apologize for having forgotten having asked it (or, actually, for failing to recognize that was the question you were answering). I’m sorry about that. My old memory does fail me some time, please be patient.

    Bubba…

    Since the Red Letters endorse the Black Letters, it is impossible to follow all of the former without also submitting to the latter.

    That’s a fine opinion and you are welcome to it. I don’t think that logic follows at all (actually, neither do you since we all agree that not all the “black letters” are to be submitted to – you don’t heed OT hair codes, for instance), but you are welcome to your opinion no matter how irrational I might think it sounds.

    Can we agree, though, that it IS only your subjective and unprovable opinion?

    And, jumping back to your claim, now that you have tried to answer it, you said…

    “The Christian’s mission is both to accept what God has clearly revealed in Scripture and to communicate ALL of what He has clearly revealed to a lost and dying world.”

    And your proof is that Matthew 28, TO YOU, suggests that “the Great Commission is clearly comprehensive in terms of Jesus’ teachings, and since Jesus affirmed Scripture’s authority, warned against omitting the least commandment, and claimed to be God Himself, the commission extends to a comprehensive view of Scripture.”

    But how does that equate to “the Christian’s mission” is to “accept what God has ‘clearly revealed’ in Scripture…”?

    Matthew 28 (given the title of “the Great Commission” by many publishers, but that is not part of the text) says, “as you are going (or if you prefer, “Go ye, therefore”) into the world, and make disciples of the people you meet, baptizing them and teach them the things I have taught you…”

    Where does it say that the Christian’s mission is to accept what God has clearly taught in Scripture? That is not at all in the text. It also begs the question, “clearly revealed…” according to whom? Which is one of the questions that remains unanswered (except perhaps by Glenn, whom I believe affirms, “according to ME, Glenn, who cannot be mistaken on some of these ideas we discuss…”)

    Thanks.

    ~Dan

  106. Dan, my reaching my position from Matthew 28 (and the other passages I cited, including Acts and Romans 10) is certainly less tendentious than your position that, since the Bible is clear that God blesses marriages, surely God blesses arrangements that the Bible consistently condemns, so long as we attach to those arrangements the label of marriage. The mission of proclaiming God’s revelation is one of the Bible’s central themes, from Moses to the OT prophets to Christ Himself and His Apostles, and any alternative mission you would propose would not be based on nearly as much scriptural support.

    There isn’t a supreme authority on what is and isn’t clearly communicated on most subjects, from works of literature to conversations between family members, and yet it is just willful stupidity to conclude that there is no clear communication about which no good-faith disagreement is possible.

    Your gainsaying ultimately leads to the position that God mumbles, either that God is incapable of clear communication or that we’re incapable of receiving it, different positions that lead to the same result. I know from past discussion that you take option #2, but it’s only because you believe that you are infallible when it comes to you OTHERWISE all-encompassing conception of human fallibility.

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