Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cal Thomas Says Barack Obama's Not A Christian

Journalist Cal Thomas has written a column entitled "Barack Obama Is Not A Christian".
I'll be needing a few tools....
Scalpel - thanks.
Laptop - got it.
Righteous Indignation - I've got plenty.
Various Unitarian Websites - check.
Online Concordance - there are dozens.
Chainsaw - yep.
Let the Fisking begin ! Here's Cal Thomas:

Religion is a topic that makes most journalists uncomfortable, unless they can expose hypocrisy — as in preachers who speak of virtue while carrying on an affair — or outrage such as Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the doings at Barack Obama’s now former church in Chicago.

Let's divide journalism into reporting and editorializing.
The reason for the journalistic discomfort is that journalists are supposed to deal with facts, and only facts, when doing straight reporting.
Journalists are supposed to combine logic and opinions when editorializing.
But religion is an area where many of the "facts" are debatable, and logic is secondary to emotion, feeling, and tradition. Therefore, it's difficult to do straight reporting or editorializing about religion unless the thrust of the journalism is something like exposing hypocrisy or generating outrage.
For instance, amazing things happen during Pentecostal worship services. When taken at face value, these events are credited to the movings and workings of the Holy Spirit. Many Pentecostal worshippers believe that God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, enters their bodies and allows them to speak in foreign languages, have feelings of ecstasy, etc etc etc. Anyone attempting to "report" on this would have difficulty determining what is fact. Anyone attempting to "editorialize" on this, would probably be skeptical. But the True Believers would then claim that the journalists simply don't wish to transcend themselves or take a journey of personal and spiritual discovery.

Most journalists think taking religion seriously might require them to study the claims of various faiths and too many of them have already decided this might lead them to a faith higher than themselves or politics and they don’t wish to take such a journey of personal discovery.

Yeah, that's what it would sound like.

That is too bad, because such an attitude exposes one of the main gaps between most Americans — who believe in God — and most journalists, who don’t.

At this point, Cal does a bit of equivocating. Most of the time when we say "equivocate", we mean "to use intentionally misleading language". But in the rhetorical sense, To Equivocate is to toggle back and forth between two different meanings of the same word as if they meant the same thing.
The Americans surveyed above who believe in God are referenced as if they're a unified block.
That ain't the case. Muslims, who believe in Allah, generally take offense to being lumped in with the Jewish devotees of Yahweh. Many Christians believe that God is not one, but three. Others see God as a life force, or the driving energy behind the universe, like Paul Tillich's "The Ground Of Our Being" concept.
Either way, our beliefs in God aren't all the same.

An exception is Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani, who interviewed Obama in 2004 for her book, “The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People “and asked him specific questions about his religious beliefs.
“I’m rooted in the Christian tradition,” said Obama, who has declared himself a Christian. But then he adds something that most Christians will see as (gasp) universalism: “I believe there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”

Obama could've quoted some Saint Paul at this point: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Rom. 5:18-19)
Or Obama could've continued by simply stating "I refuse to believe that God is creating people by the billions, simply to torture them forever for non-belief."

Falsani correctly brings up John 14:6 (and how many journalists would know such a verse, much less ask a question based on it?) in which Jesus says of Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
That sounds pretty exclusive, but Obama says it depends on how this verse is heard.

Mr. Obama is correct on this point. Not only does it depend on how the verse is heard, it depends on whether Jesus really said it. According to the near unanimous opinions of the Biblical scholars in The Jesus Seminar, Jesus didn't say it.
Americans not only have widely divergent beliefs about God, they have diverse beliefs about scriptural authority.

According to Falsani, Obama thinks that “all people of faith — Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone — know the same God.” (her words)

Cool. Does this mean we can stop killing each other?

If that is so, Jesus wasted his time coming to Earth and he certainly did not have to suffer the pain of rejection and crucifixion if there are ways to God other than through Himself.

Only if the entire universe has to conform to the belief system you grew up with, Cal. One of my favorite theologians, a guy named Culver Nelson, has hypothesized that Jesus simply taught love and compassion and stood up to authority. This got him killed. The substitutionary atonement business got projected onto Jesus after the fact. Click here for details.

Here’s Obama telling Falsani, “The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they’re going to hell.” Falsani adds, “Obama doesn’t believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell. But he’s not sure he’ll be going to heaven, either.”

OK, from what I've read here and elsewhere, George W. Bush believes that other people will go to hell, and he's going to heaven. Forever. Barack Obama doesn't believe that anyone is going to hell, and Obama isn't sure he's going to heaven.
Think about that a few minutes, and let me know which person you'd trust with the nuclear football.

Here’s Obama again: “I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die."

The rarest of all commodities: A politician telling the truth for a print publication.....

"When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.”

Tucking in your daughters, being a good father, kindness, honesty, curiosity - those attributes are worth more than every creed, dogma, and doctrine ever invented.

Any first-year seminary student could deconstruct such “works salvation” and wishful thinking.

I believe that condemning your enemies to eternal torture and rewarding yourself with eternal bliss is "wishful thinking". Wishful thinking for sadists. But that's just me.
One thing I've noticed,'re correct that first-year evangelical college seminary students would probably deconstruct this as "works salvation". Willingness to do so tapers off at the Doctoral level, though. It's difficult to study Church History, Biblical Origins, and Textual Criticism at that level and see these little debates the same way.

Obama either hasn’t read the Bible, or if he has, doesn’t believe it if he embraces such thin theological gruel.

I suspect that Obama has read some Bible. I suspect that Obama "believes" the Bible is worthwhile. But I suspect that Obama has read some other books, books that lead him to believe that the Bible was created by a small group in a small place by people who had no idea that God just might like other people too, and that their enemies weren't necessarily God's enemies.
These people remind me of Cal Thomas.

Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn’t meet that requirement.

A clear requirement? One clear requirement? Does one have to be baptized? Does one have to receive the Last Rites from a priest? Does one have to accept the doctrines given by the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith? Become a member of a Church Of Christ or some other restorationist denomination?

One cannot deny central tenets of the Christian faith, including the deity and uniqueness of Christ as the sole mediator between God and Man and be a Christian.

No, if Bob Barr can sponsor the Defense Of Marriage act and oppose all medical marijuana laws and still be called a Libertarian, then we can call Barack Obama a Christian.

Such people do have a label applied to them in Scripture. They are called a “false prophet.”

I prefer the term "Whited Sepulchres", but that's just me.
The best rebuttal I know of for this nonsense, if we're going to go Biblical, can be found in Wikipedia's "False Prophet" entry. None of these scriptures remind me of Barack Obama. But if you can read those verses without thinking of Benny Hinn, John Hagee, or Oral Roberts, then you're not watching enough religious programming.

I hope some national journalist or commentator with knowledge of such things asks Obama about this and doesn’t let him get away with re-writing Scripture to suit his political ends.

People have gotten away with re-writing scripture for 2,000 years.
I hope some readers with knowledge of such things will e-mail Cal Thomas about this, and not let him get away with spiritualizing politics to suit his political ends.


TomG said...

doesn't take much reading of this list to be concerned:

The Whited Sepulchre said...

On the list you've posted, issues 1-11 have to do with his family (which no one gets to choose) or religion (which very few of us get to choose).
Obama comes from a somewhat exotic family background, which I see as a non-issue.
As a child, he was raised with one set of religious beliefs, as a man, he has stated that those have changed. Since religious conflicts and persecutions have probably killed more people than, say, tobacco, I think it's best that Cal Thomas, Maggie's Farm, and everyone else leave religion out of politics.
Unless it's a situation where I can bring up Mitt Romney being a Mormon....

Dr Ralph said...

At the beginning of your post you referred to Cal Thomas as a "journalist." I believe the correct term is "shrill right-wing hate-monger."

I recall hearing Cal Thomas on NPR twenty years ago, spouting venom as one of their token conservative commentators. He has not mellowed with age.

Anonymous said...

Your complacent synical attitude
toward Christ is very scary. And it is very prophetic that you do not see the patterns being set and the road we are headed down. Deception was predicted. Look in the mirror. If you do not KNOW what follows death, you might want to research that. Cause the after life is quite contrasting depending on if you are a believer or not.The words you use sound as though you are intelligent. However, the word says that the wisdom of God confounds the wise. You might want to see what the "radical right" are concerned with. Or wait and find out. It is your choice.
And whether you like it or not, the
belief values of our President is
of utmost importance.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dear Anonymous,
Synical is spelled "Cynical".

I'm very comfortable supporting someone who believes that Right Here and Right Now is important.

As for the afterlife, I really do hope that there is one. I've "researched" the Valhallas (sp?), the Nirvanas, the Happy Hunting Grounds, and all the other afterlifes that are unique to each culture.
I can't believe that a Creator would limit his/her revelation to only one small group of nomadic tribesmen.
That probably makes me a Universalist, at least in the Cal Thomas sense.
But hey, if you believe that God is going to torture people forever because of the beliefs they develop in a mere 70-year lifespan, you need to get busy. Don't ever stop saving the lost. That's all that matters, isn't it? If you watch a minute of television, you're a total unh...Whited Sepulchre.
The only thing that matters is convincing people that they should believe the exact same things that you do.
Please leave me progress reports on this post.

Thanks !

TomG said...

WS, I normally admire your very perceptive views on issues - and even when I don't agree, I admire your great honesty, and think your general blog format to be one of the very best, enjoyable ones I've seen (you remain in my top 5 that I look at 'religiously', if you pardon the use of that word ;). But in this case I think that every point on that Maggie's Farm list is most relevant to the gist of what's being discussed here - showing Obama to be the very incarnation of liberalism's redefinition of belief as but the professed respect for existential relativism. In this vein all theistic conceptions become relevant - even the Flying Spaghetti Monster - and therefore there's no way of avoiding the religious aspect to its politics. Personally Cat Thomas and other holier-than-thous irritate me, whereas the Maggie's Farm folk are admirable in not feigning to be upholders of a false morality or hypocritical buglers (and for that they also remain in my top 5 blogs). It's the dishonesty of this candidate that bothers me far more than anything else. Cheers, Tom

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Thanks for the props....

I have HUGE concerns about Obama.
1) He's a Chicago politician, with all that that implies.
2) He's starting to pander more and more to the fringe of his party, instead of retreating back to the center now that the nomination is his.
3) He's a very traditional left wing Dem who, at one point, was saying encouraging things about Free Trade (one of my hot buttons).

I honest-to-goodness have no ideal who I'll vote for now.
The recent Farm Bill has me so irritated with Republicans that I can't see straight.
I can't get behind Bob Barr.
If a Dem has to win, I would've preferred Joseph Biden.

I think part of my distate for the Maggie's Farm link goes back to the distate I have for talk radio hosts who invariably make use of Obama's middle name. I grew up in the (ahem...) Yellow Dog Democrat South, and I'm starting to hear a lot of things, stated and implied, that remind me of the anti-black rhetoric that I grew up with.

My point about religion in politics is that it can't be clarified. Candidate Joe Blow says he believes option #1. His opponent, Slim Jim has always been an option #2.

If the topic is tax rates, you can look at numbers. You can look at incentives. You can bring logic to the table.

But if we're going to debate whether John McCain's Episcopalianism is superior to Mitt Romney's Mormonism,what are the rules of engagement?

That's why I see red when Cal Thomas acts like there's only ONE kind of Christian. I'm one kind of Follower Of Jesus, as my current preacher says. It's a hybrid variety that Cal Thomas doesn't want to acknowledge.

TomG said...

you're right - and that kind of intolerance is as much extremist as exist in other groups folk worry about. Ultimately there's no room for a Catholic Irishman of upbringing either, and I don't see much criticism made of televangelists who claim to have had a nice chat with Christ last night (usually followed up by "please send your money to ..."). Cheers, Tom

Anonymous said...

What I know is that I believe every word of the Bible. It says,
no man comes to the father except through the Son. The Son is Jesus
Christ. It is very simple. The back of the book is very explicit in its details of the afterlife. As for the torture, that does not
even begin to describe it. It is for eternity, which again, I cannot begin to describe! Believing
the "exact" way that I do can be looked at in various ways. First,
if you are right and I am wrong, then I have been "faithful" for no eternal reason. But Mr WS, what if I am right. And the Holy Word is the infallable word of God. Then
the afterlife for those who do not believe is real. Eternal torture. Where are you? I think I would rather be in my spot and find out that I had been wrong, rather than the other way around. Besides, there is no other thing in the world to take the place of my personal relationship with Christ.
He is definitely real and alive!!
You know, there is nothing "way out" about me, but I do have a
deep concern for others. Thank you
for allowing me to converse!
(Sorry for the incorrect spelling of cynical. However, you knew what I meant, and that is what mattered. Hopefully, I have no
spelling errors in this one!)

TomG said...

toward Anonymous' comment:'s_Wager

but one can't expect ultimate uniformity, since everyone's conception of God is at least slightly different. In many respects, I think, apart from a total egomaniac (which can be deemed an illness really) most people are living with an implicit decision on Who their 'God' is and where He/She/It stands relative to day-to-day living (such as the dichotomy of a withdrawn One that renders Free Will vs. an actively involved Dramatist that fosters the proponents of predestination). In that vein we're already living each of our Pascal's wagers, based on our own reasonings and cost/benefit analysis - which makes someone's telling another that they're living incorrectly nonsensical and perhaps obnoxious too. It's not by words but deeds that we get others to truly see a better way of living. Cheers, Tom

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dear Anon, Tom, and Company,

Thanks for your comments. If we could get Pete to chime in on this, we'd have a perfect theological continuum on this post. (I've been discussing the same topic, but from a different point of view, beneath a post called "Can The Whos Hear Horton?")

Anon, you reference a form of Pascal's Wager- Blaise Pascal's formulation that, given a choice between belief and non-belief one should choose belief because you risk losing nothing. If you choose non-belief, you risk losing everything. I believe that sums up our conversation to this point.

Speaking as a compulsive gambler, my problem with Pascal's Wager is this: a wager requires odds.

The muslims are also asking us to accept their wager. Are you willing to risk everything by denying Allah/The Koran? Ditto for the Jehovah's Witnesses, and numerous other gangs of believers. How do you determine the odds? Which one do you bet on in this wager?

r.e. believing everything the Bible says.... I have respect for parts of the Bible. I have a similar respect for a few of the mellow parts of the Koran. I have a grudging respect for Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon.

But I've admitted that the following narrative is basically a group of stories that tells us about our perception of God. It's not a history.

An All-Powerful and All-Knowing Being is lonely. HE (always HE) decides to create the universe. Gets it done in 6 days, and despite being all-powerful, rests on the 7th. HE creates a man. Only when man tell him that he's lonely does he create a woman. God gives them a garden to live in, and the garden has only one rule.
Man and woman break the rule, which God knew all along they were going to do. They're thrown out of the garden. Man and woman console themselves by making babies.
Before long the earth is populated. But Humankind has turned from God and grown sinful, which God knew all along we would do. He tells Noah to build a boat, but various quantities of all the critters on the boat. Penguins from Antarctica, Platypuses from Australia, Elephants from India, Pandas from China, Copperhead snakes from Arizona, etc. You see the difficulties. God lets it rain 40 days and 40 nights. Everyone dies except the ark inhabitants. We start over.
Then we get big for our britches again, and try to build a tower to the sky. It's called the tower of babel. God gets jealous, and halts construction by giving us all different languages.
Then God gave us a sacrificial system where we could atone for our many sins. You took doves, lambs, etc to the priest, and he slaughtered the dove or lamb instead of you. But this didn't work out either. God knew it wouldn't work out, but he set it up anyway.
Then God gave us the ultimate perfect sacrifice - Jesus. But people are still messing up.

I don't mind saying that I don't believe that story. I don't believe you do either. I think you are fiercely loyal to it.

If that's the 100% true story of the actions of an all-knowing, all-powerful being, then I'm Lou Dobbs.

These stories do tell us about what we want God to be. We want God to provide us with a perfect garden paradise.
I think most of us do have a feeling that we need to get back to the place (garden?) where we belong.
I can't tell you how many movies I've seen where someone gets too big for his britches and tries to accomplish too much, and is brought down by fate. Just like the Tower of Babel story.
We want to think that God will preserve all of us. Whether it's in an ark, or by fixing the ozone layer.

So I, too, can say that I "believe" those stories. But in a different way. They're metaphors. Some of us tell more about us, and what we want from life, than they tell us about God.
And anyone who tries to learn science from them is nuts.

TomG said...

WS - as usual yours are really thought-provoking thoughts! I used to argue 'til the cows never came home, with a preacher I lived with - who used to profess that anyone who didn't get born again by uttering the name of JC, could not get into Heaven. I would offer him scenario after scenario of obvious exceptions to any all-loving, all-knowing God where His mercy at least (if not perfect logic you'd think) would understand how this created unintended human victims to such an inflexible command (dare I say cruel even?). Anyway, it didn't matter what I had to say really - if it in any way upset his nice cozy paradigm to explain it all, then he's hear nothing of it. And I would even say that if you read the general tone and actions of the OT God and NT God, it would be easy to conclude that God is schizoid - and that the jealous and vengeful God is imcompatible with the accepting, forgiving one Who even let's His own Son get insulted and physically destroyed. Hugh? Indeed, like you said, the Bible is a compilation of many eras greatest surviving stories (apart from the Apocryphal ones cast aside, or even much Gnostic text that's appeared for public consumption of late) - many of them parables and lessons for asserting values that are believed to have kept a people in tact for some millenia already and therefore have store of value to pass on and on. As for how much of it is really accounts of divine revelation remains unresolved for sure - but it's easy to conclude that the entire book is not so much sacred as most special. I don't fear the wrath of God for what I question - since he's let the likes of Hitler and Stalin fly in airplanes that never once dropped from the sky - whose crimes may be considered a bit more egregious on the God scale than my possible blasphemy. This doesn't at all make me a relativist either - just someone willing to not take things at face value. I prefer to have a tested faith - which makes me not fit into any cookie-cutter Christology for sure.

Pete Wann said...

Sorry, gang. I've been in Austin the last 3 days doing my part to get our future Islamo-Fascist-in-Chief (who will most assuredly not only take away everyone's guns, but also require everyone to be gay and every first pregnancy to be aborted, after he turns over the keys to the country to Osama bin Laden and surrenders our troops to the ghost of Saddam Hussein, praise Satan) nominated and elected.

I have only a few comments for "anonymous." (Which, BTW, if your faith is strong and it's "the one true faith," why hide behind anonymity... do you SERIOUSLY believe that Christians are still persecuted in this country?)

1. "What I know is that I believe every word of the Bible." The Bibile says that you can sell your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7). That sounds like a good way to raise funds, and maybe we should look at it as a way to reform the welfare system. The Bible says that you shouldn't wear clothing of mixed materials (Lev. 19:19), and makes no mention of allowing you to wear synthetics. Mind if I come examine your closet to make sure that you're adhering strictly to your statement that you believe "every word in the Bible?"

2. I won't repeat the other comments about Pascal's Wager, but I will just say that if you have to rely on fear and threats of eternal torture to convince people to follow the teachings of your "loving" God, then I think for the last 2000+ years Christianity has needed a better PR department.

3. If you believe that Christ (who, let's remember, died over 2000 years ago) is "definitely real and alive!!," then I would say that you're probably hallucinating and should see a medical professional. IMO, Jesus never wanted people to believe that he continued to guide them after his death. I think that's why he worked his ass off traveling all over the known world spreading his message. The Christian fascination with insisting that Christ is "alive" smacks of pagan ancestor worship, which God (through Moses and the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)) pretty unequivocally said is a no-no.

Ghandi said: "I love your 'Christ.' It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ." Nowhere in the world and at no time in history is that better illustrated than in the US of A, 2008.

Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple (Matt 21:12) (the Jewish temple, I might add, not a temple to him), but the Baptists and Joel Osteen's followers have invited them back in with open arms. While rescuing an adulteress from being murdered (punished under religious law) by a mob, Jesus said "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her," (John 8:7) then seeing that she forgave her attackers, also forgave her, yet our evangelical leaders (more people who believe EVERY word of the Bible) beat the drums of war so that our boys can go off and kill the people who attacked us (and they can't even get it right about who attacked us -- they were Saudi, not Iraqi). I guess these words must mean something different to you than me: "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matt. 5:38)

I saw an interesting billboard on my way back from the convention. I don't remember the exact text, but it was a picture of a young man pointing a loaded revolver at the camera with a kind of empty rural scene in the background, and the text said something like: "If he doesn't care about God, how do you think he feels about you?" There was a link to a group called "Answers in Genesis," which bills itself as a Christian apologist group, fighting to "defend" Christianity. The last time I checked, there were no rival bands of atheists roaming around the planet killing each other because the other wasn't "non-believing" enough. Again, relying on creating an irrational fear of other groups is really just a bad PR move, and not a very welcoming stance for an open and loving group like the church set up to teach Jesus' messages of forgiveness, compassion, and service to others.

I suppose my point is that again, religion has no place in our political discourse. The Constitution (Article VI) specifically prohibits a religious test as a qualification for holding office. The INSISTENCE of the populace and media on making religion an issue in seemingly every election demonstrates that the Constitution, like the Bible, is only really meaningful to people when they can choose which parts to enforce and ignore the parts that are inconvenient.

Lastly, Cal Thomas is a fucking moron who wouldn't know the truth if it were printed in a book that people give out for free in hotel rooms. I can't believe ANY self-respecting news outlet publishes the not-even-slightly disguised hate speech that spews forth from his keyboard. (How's THAT for an ad-hominem attack?) A few weeks ago he wrote a column on energy policy that was just so wrong (and I mean dead wrong, as in inaccurate and full of logical inconsistencies) I couldn't believe the S-T published it. I didn't think the S-T had much editorial credibility before I read that, and whatever shred I still held on to was GONE once I finished the column.

I've missed you guys. :) I've been ruminating on the Horton Hears a Who post, I'll try to respond later today. I'm catching up on my online life.

Dr Ralph said...

Pete Wann: I stand corrected on Cal Thomas!

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dr. Ralph, this is Pete.
Pete, this is my friend Dr. Ralph.
Pete, can I take your coat?
Help yourself to the buffet.
The party has been going on for a while, and I might have to run to the convenience store to refill the cooler.

Ok, back to the topic at hand, which is more or less the Cal Thomas article and Anon's statement that the beliefs and values of our President are important.

If I'm a scriptural literalist, then I have difficulty avoiding the following chain of thought:

1) All non-believers are damned for eternity.
2) This is worse than anything Stalin or Hitler could accomplish.
3) The "lost" - Muslims, Chinese, N.Koreans - continue to be fruitful and multiply.
4) Bringing a child into the world only to have the child condemned to an eternity in pain is the worst thing any parent could do.
5) Therefore, if the President of the United States were to nuke the Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus, it would not be cruel.
6) Using a nuclear weapon to stop their assembly line of babies condemned to populate Hell would be the greatest humanitarian event in history.

So, the values and beliefs of our commander in chief are important. They're so important that I don't want anyone with the belief system outlined above to be anywhere near the nuclear football, the White House, or that phone that rings at 3 in the morning.

That's where I'm coming from. If you accept the first premise, everything else inevitably follows. Can we get God to further clarify any of this for us?


That's why I think religion has no place in politics, and vice-versa.

Anonymous said...

Pete, you have to read it all. Not take bits and pieces and try to argue. BUT it is obvious that the only thing I can do for you is add you to my prayer list. The comments posted since my last post make me very sad . But I still stand on my conviction that
the leader of this country needs a firm belief in the one TRUE GOD and
needs to be able to be led by what He wants done. Hang on, cause what is ahead of us may be the ride of your life. I am always amazed when people who speak as eloquently as you do have to resort to descriptive words that are really not so pretty. And as for staying anonymous, what could it matter to you, you are anonymous to me,too. I have wondered all weekend how in the world I ever found this place anyway. It is quite different from
the places I generally visit!! I guess it is kinda like not wanting to be seen in a bar!! Ya know, maybe I shouldn't even be here. Like I said earlier, nothing I can say here will change any of your beliefs or opinions. But because of mine, I will remember these comments and figure out how to pray for you. I sit here in my conservative southern atmosphere, surrounded by like believers, and I totally forget that there is a big world out there that believes in abortion, homosexuality, life with no boundaries-essentially. God forgive me for not being more diligent in having a heart for the lost. The more I have typed this morning, the more I know why I found this site. Thank you for
allowing me to be a part, and thank you for helping me see a more clear picture.

WS, I hate to disappoint you, but
I do believe it all. I do not believe they are metaphores. I believe it literally.(Of course there are parables, but they are written that way). I won't go into anything really personal, but
yes, I have reason to be totally committed to this man, Jesus Christ and the Word. NOT the Koran
or the Book of Morman or any other
source of guidance. I am firm on my belief. Gives me a peace and an assurance for here and now and later. You jump around saying you belive bits and pieces of many religions. I would suggest that you
get a more focused. You can quote,
argue, site Pascal's Wager and a hundred other things. It is obvious that you read and absorb alot of information. If you gave the same devotion to studying the Word of God, oh my goodness, there is no telling what you could acomplish. There are many ways to worship. There are many ways to acknowledge God. But there is only one true God, and there is only one true way to him, the SON.
The instruction in the Word is both
kind/gentle AND firm. Yes he can be both.
Guess I add you to my prayers along with Pete?

Anonymous said...

Could not help but add this. I went to the local hospital for routine lab work this morning. I had a waiting time of 15-20 minutes, so to pass the time, I looked at magazines. EVERY magazine in the lobby was Christ based. Either Catholic, Protestant, or Charismatic Publication. So, it made me think
of all of you on this blog. I kinda laughed to myself. It told another story of where I am in my life and why I live HERE!!! Just a little thought. You guys have a wonderful day. !!!!!

Pete Wann said...


I HAVE read it all (in addition to being skilled at web search, I have also personally read every word of the Bible, even the book of Numbers). Have you? How can you say that I've only taken bits and pieces to use for my arguments when you've clearly done the same thing? Why is my use of bits and pieces invalid and yours is?

How can you say that you "believe it all" and then tell me I'm silly for pointing out things that THE BIBLE SAYS BELIEVERS SHOULD DO? You don't get to have it both ways; either you believe it all and follow the literal word of the Bible or you don't.

I'm not a member of the group that INSISTS on black-and-white interpretations of everything, but by your own admission, you are; so again, please explain to me how you can say that you "believe every word" and "I believe it literally" and still do (or not do in the case of mixed-fiber garments) the things I've pointed out? They're in the Bible, do you believe that God meant them literally and you should do what God says through His literal word, the Bible, or don't you?

I know you won't respond to those questions. No "person of faith" ever does, because there's no way to reconcile the two. What I usually get is an assurance that they'll "be praying for me" in that condescending and holier-than-thou way (I guess any way would be "holier-than-thou," since I make no claim to holiness) that I've heard countless times. Then they go back to living their life as a hypocrite, because that's what you call someone who says one thing and does another.

I stand on my conviction that the leader of this country sacrifices his or her PERSONAL opinions and beliefs in favor of the Constitution (which that person swears on a Bible to protect and defend), the rule of law, and the will of the people they've been chosen to represent. They have no business putting the will of ANY god (because, let's face it, even evangelical fundamentalists can't agree on what exactly God wants) before the rule of law and the will of the people of this great nation.

It's good that you've found this place. I hope that reading what I've written here will make you think about WHY you believe what you believe, not just whether you believe it or not. I'm not trying to tempt you or convert you. I know that when I went through that process of serious introspection, I came out on the other side an atheist. I couldn't reconcile what I was hearing in church and telling "non-believers" with what the Bible actually said, and I never got a satisfactory explanation of why the two didn't match up.

Regarding anonymity - hiding behind "anonymity" on the web is usually seen as an act of cowardice. I post under my real name (I can't be anonymous to you because you know my name, BTW) because I've thought long and hard about not only WHAT I think and believe, but also WHY I think and believe those things.

You're welcome here (well, it's not my place to say that, but I don't think Allen would kick you out), but you have to understand that just spouting platitudes isn't going to go very far with this crowd. Claiming faith in something without having reasons for doing so is just blind fealty to someone else's dogma.

Please don't waste your breath praying for me. I can't stop you, of course, but like all other prayers, it will have no affect whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pete, why are you so angry? You can talk and write and rant or
cuss or what ever, but the only thing your words convey is that you are very angry.I think you are the only person I have run across that if your print were in color, it would be RED. It is really ironic because I do not have one intimidating bone in my body yet I have come along and ruffled your feathers. It was not my intent. I do ask you to forgive me for that. There are so many things to have joy about, and it's a shame you are missing out.
I do not consider myself a coward, but it is o.k. if you do. I can handle that. When I spoke of you being anonymous to me, I meant it. I do not know you from Adam. So you could really be a Jane or John. ANYWAY---next.
You have not shaken my faith, but you have given me things to pray about. For instance, I do not understand how anyone could be an atheist. I see evidence of God the creator every day. EVERY day. You know, Pete you sound as though you have nailed one foot to the floor and are frantically running in a circle trying not to believe what that little place inside of you KNOWS is real. Each of us has that spot that only he can fill. If he is not the one filling that spot, then there is
emptyness. Cause no matter how hard you try nothing fulfills it.
Kinda like trying to put a square
peg into a round hole.
You might want to go through slowly and read the Word again . But this time asking the Holy Spirit to give you revelation knowledge so that you can have an understanding. You point out the Old Testiment Law. Isn't that ironic. That is the part that Jesus came for. But you do not speak of him. It is like you
missed the message in that area.
I fully understand what the Old Testiment says, but I also know what the NEW Testiment says. It is the "rest of the story".
I will have to tell you that you lost me in the paragraph when you describe why you were an athesist.
You really might try getting to know JESUS CHRIST as a person instead of trying to make the paper the story is written on your
only argument. The personal relationship and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are the only things that can make it all make sense. Pete, please do not give up on God. I am not trying to make you something that I am. I am who I am as a result of my search and life experiences just as you say you are. I am just thinking that maybe you could have possibly missed something somewhere. Cause it really is "for real". I like the way you throw around words like
"hypocrite", "holier-than-thou",
and a few others. Once again, we do not know each other, but I can tell you, I do not live an infallable life, but I am no hypocrite. I live it as closely as I can and when I fail, I go for forgiveness. That forgiveness and mercy has my name written all over it. I just know that I am fulfilled through my faith. We have been through enough in our family that I do not throw stones.
I cannot afford to. I believe Galations 6:1 and I try to be careful. I do not know this person named Pete,God does and I do know that if I am never able to converse with you again, you have redirected my purpose. To that I give you thanks. Have a good evening.

TomG said...

I don't usually like interjecting my 2 cents betwixt dueling debaters, but I smell something awry here - and am willing to go out on a limb and say that WS is "anonymous" having fun ribbing us ;) How do I know this now? Cuz anon's words are just a rambling series of sophistical (not sophisticated) do-loops that never answer any of peter's points against biblical literalism. So I conclude that WS is disguising as a typical holy roller to bring his overall point home. Touche mon frere! And the disarming attempts at conclusion - like the Dickensian "bless us one and all" - that is sheer brilliance! You had me for a while, but really admit it ... you've been found out, and the 'kind' jostle must cease now - don't you think :)

The Whited Sepulchre said...

One of the things that will open your eyes a bit, is travelling to places other than "the places where I ordinarily visit".
I've been to Israel, Jordan, Latin American, Greece, Italy, England, Lichtenstein, Germany, Austria, Bermuda, Bahamas, China (5x), S. Korea, Hong Kong, etc etc etc.

And the position where I've arrived is that the further one goes from here, the more diverse the material is that you find in the hospital waiting room, so to speak.

I noticed you didn't mention any Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Mormon reading matter from your hospital visit. Therefore, I can safely deduce you aren't writing me from Beijing, Bombay, Kabul, or Salt Lake City. Am I correct?

Go ye therefore, Tom. Go ye therefore. If you believe it, what are you doing hiding your light under a bushel basket? You're illustrating my point.

BTW, did you watch any TV last night? How many people busted hell wide open while you were slacking off?

You're only alive for about 70 years, Anon. Compare that to eternity. If you ever stop witnessing, if you ever stop going door to door, if you leave a single waitress unconverted, you've got to live with it forever. You should CONTINUE "going to places you don't ordinarily visit", right?

You flatter me too much. I enjoy the debating society that got established here, but not enough to go that far.

I believe that we live in a world that has a Creator, or that was caused by a Higher Power. I just don't believe we live in a world that was created to provide fuel for a Bar-B-Q. (And after this Creator jump-started the process, things evolved.)

May I suggest a book to Pete, The Good Doctor Ralph, and to Anon?

"The Heart of Christianity" by Marcus Borg. It explains why I still cling to the church, the question Pete was asking in the earlier post. It explains why it's no longer possible (as if more evidence is needed) to cling to "I believe every word" - type statements.

Anon, you've got to learn the difference between Fact and Truth.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

One other thing,

To TomG, and others who say that there is no Anonymous, or that I made up Anonymous to explain The Big Unanswered Questions, or that Anonymous is just a crutch:

Anonymous is real. He speaks to those who seek him, and who reads his words with an open heart and mind.

And you better believe it, Anon (as we call him) will return to this site. At the sound of the trumpet, Anon will return to this comment field with the keys to the kingdom, the username, and the passwords, and he'll be covered in glory.

The prophets have foretold it.

When did they foretell Anon's return?

Two sentences ago.

And Tom, if you're a skeptic like Pete, denying the existence of Anon, You'll Be Left Behind. All your good works will count for nothing without a firm belief in Anon's words and an unyielding faith that he will return.

Not only will Anon post again on this site, but even now he is trying to post in the comment field of your heart.

Won't you hear him? Won't you?

Answer him now, before it is too late.

Pete Wann said...


If I came across as angry, it's probably because I'm angry at myself for trying yet again to engage in reasoned debate with someone who doesn't apply reason to what they claim is the most important thing in their life.

I'm not angry at all (nor was I when I wrote my comment). In fact, I've never been more at peace with myself and the world. I rely on my own wits and reason, and I don't need a Creator to tell me what to do, to justify my actions, or to kowtow to when things go wrong.

You have mistaken my directness and unwillingness to just let you have your way with anger. I'm not angry at all, but I know that you've been taught that non-believers will react with anger when you show them the truth. I've had the same training. I've led people down the Romans road at Carmen concerts. I used to rock out to Newsboys, DC Talk, Petra, and Glad. I know your world. I've "known" Jesus Christ (as much as anyone can know someone who's been dead for 2000 years) and had a "personal relationship" with him. In your words, I know EXACTLY what I'm "missing out" on.

I suppose you have ruffled my feathers, but not for the reasons you think. You think I'm ruffled because of your Christ-like demeanor and Godly qualities, or because I'm being willfully blind to the "truth" you're telling me, but in fact I'm ruffled because you won't answer my direct questions, which I find a bit rude.

To your point about the creation myth: I see the exact same things every day, too. I marvel at the beauty of a the egrets down by the river. I'm floored and humbled that the dirty, shallow Trinity River caused Fort Worth to take the shape it has over the last 4 billion years or so. That's awe-inspiring stuff. I often wonder how they came to be, and can definitely feel the temptation to chalk it all up to some "higher power" or whatever. But I don't, because even while I was living the lie that turned out to be my "Christian" life, I never saw any evidence of a higher power at work. I saw a lot of coincidences and a HUGE amount of blaming negative outcomes on our own lack of faith or "God's will."

I've read the bible every way you can read it. I've prayed for wisdom before reading, I've read it out in nature, I've read it before bed and first thing in the morning. The only other way I could read it is in Greek or Latin, and I don't have time to learn those languages. No amount of reading or rereading will change the fact that the words printed on the pages, the LITERAL meaning of the bible, very regularly make no sense at all and quite often contradict each other.

It's not ironic at all that I pointed out Old Testament law, nor did I only point out things in the Old Testament; I gave THREE examples from the New Testament, specifically about Jesus and his teachings. It's not ironic because YOU said that you believe the literal meaning of every word in the bible. Is the Old Testament no longer part of the bible? Can you tell me where Jesus specifically said that you should ignore the Old Testament? If he did say that, then why is it still included as part of the Christian holy book? (That question has vexed me for a LONG time.) More importantly, I gave a specific example where Jesus said that his way is the right way and that people should "turn the other cheek," instead of following the Old Testament guidance of "an eye for an eye," and contrasted that to the drumbeats of war coming from the evangelical Christian leadership regarding the Middle East. Perhaps you should pray for wisdom and reading comprehension and then go back and read what I wrote again. (Gosh, that sounded condescending and insulting, but no more so than the suggestion that I "...go through slowly and read the Word again . But this time asking the Holy Spirit to give you revelation knowledge so that you can have an understanding," as you suggest.)

I suggest you go back and re-read what I wrote about hypocrisy, as well. I didn't "throw the word around," I gave a concrete example of what a hypocrite is, and then challenged you to prove to me that you (or the majority of those professing to believe the "literal word of God") aren't one. Which you still haven't done. Nor, I suppose, will you ever, because you've already fallen back on your training by saying that I "don't get it," and that "you don't live an infallible life." It seems like it would be really easy to abide by the "no mixed fibers" rule, but that's in the Old Testament, and it's inconvenient, so why bother? (I also don't recall Jesus ever lifting the requirement to keep Kosher. When's the last time you had a cheeseburger?) That's the thing about religion, I suppose. The rules can always be bent for the true believers, but never for the infidels.

Am I a prophet because I so accurately predicted that you would respond to me in exactly the way you did? (Not only did you not answer any of the questions I posed, but you also struck a condescending and holier-than-thou tone. Thanks for making me look so prescient!)

Above it all, though, I sincerely hope you're happy with the path you've chosen, Anon. I certainly am with mine.

Anonymous said...

WS, I know the difference in fact and truth......
I will take God's Truth over your
"fact" any day. I have seen Him turn over "facts" too many times in my life and my walk with him. That is why I cannot compromise-- just can't do it. Won't.
Did not read the book, but did read sections and interviews by Borg. He has a lot of good things to say. But once again, compromise. Maybe an end result of the overall general complacency and acceptance. There are alot of places in our world that compromise is effective, encouraged, necessary. Not with my faith. WS, I have a Creator, not just a higher power, it is God the Father. Call it a Bar B Q, or what ever, it will not smell enticing when the fragrance becomes apparent. But I do not intend to smell it or partake of it. But I believe that LITERALLY it will have a stench that no word we know can describe. So I cannot bend to your not believing it all, just as you cannot bend to my total acceptance. Mr. Borg made alot of things sound so eloquent and reasonable, but rather washed down and diluted. As intelligent and learned as you obviously are, I will stay where I am, Thank you.
It is kinda like Paul in 1 Timothy
he was so certain of what he knew, cause he had been with Him. WS, I have been with Him and I know.I know alot of people who have not had the priviledge of the "I know that I know" when it comes to faith. I do not know why, but they say they have not. 25 years ago I spent an entire year totally yielded and broken because of things in my life, and it forever changed my life. Numerous Truths totally ATE the Facts of the world and so be it. That is just what it is. So, I will cling to the Rock, the Old Rugged Cross, My El Shaddai, My Jehova Rapheka and every thing else that came with my
relationship. "Would not trade it for all the tea in China".( That was just a figure of speech. You guys seem to take every thing very seriously, so I thought I would clarify that.)
So, I guess for now, we agree to disagree.
If we want a really interesting
load of comments, you guys tune in
on tonight at 7 or so CT. Or if you have DirecTV, the GOD Channel out of the UK. Tomorrow.....

Pete,you make something hard out of something simple.
However it does make my stomach churn to know that you lead people to the Lord not believing it yourself. Isn't that ironic. But probably you are where you are because you tried to believe in someone you thought was dead. That is a big key. He is very much alive. Makes all the difference in the world. If you say you have read the Word, why do you ask so many questions that were answered by the Life of Christ? It probably goes back to you thinking he is dead. I would feel differently about him too, I that is what I believed. But then, if I believed that, then I would not believe the WHOLE THING!!! So, at this moment in time, we too will have to agree to disagree. You are interesting and
amusing at the same time. Thank you for taking the time. I have NEVER been on a blog site before-- ever. Like I said the other day,
I feel like I am hanging out with
people my mother would not approve of. So I lay a little low!!!

TomG said...

"lay a little low" - that's okay given that Jesus sat around with money changers, tax collectors and ladies of the night, and not the prideful ones with certitude that they're on top to stay (as in some divine right). And I've met much more honest people in bars than pews - and most moms can tell the difference.
WS, you know I was just joshing about the in cognito anon business. I can now tell this is all for real (but still waiting for some interesting counter-points to pete's cited passages, as well as rebuttal to your syllogistic exercise (allow me to put it here again, that anon may give it a whirl):
1) All non-believers are damned for eternity.
2) This is worse than anything Stalin or Hitler could accomplish.
3) The "lost" - Muslims, Chinese, N.Koreans - continue to be fruitful and multiply.
4) Bringing a child into the world only to have the child condemned to an eternity in pain is the worst thing any parent could do.
5) Therefore, if the President of the United States were to nuke the Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus, it would not be cruel.
6) Using a nuclear weapon to stop their assembly line of babies condemned to populate Hell would be the greatest humanitarian event in history.

Pete Wann said...

Gosh, flattery will get you everywhere, Anon. Is it any surprise that your message is so hard for some people to swallow? You provide no evidence beyond "I Just KNOW!", you refer to people who ask you questions as "interesting and amusing," then refuse to answer the questions. You've been nothing but condescending and insulting to me because I don't see things the same way you do, insisting it's because I'M being deliberately ignorant and if I'd just try, I'd get it. I DO get it, and I reject it completely. But apparently YOU don't get THAT.

" make something hard out of something simple." -- I don't even know where to start with that. I asked you simple questions about things the bible says, and you can't seem to find the words to answer them. As someone who interprets the bible literally, shouldn't you be able to say "yes" or "no" to whether you disobey God's word by wearing clothing of mixed fibers?

What's simple about believing that killing is simultaneously wrong (in the case of "unborn children"), and also perfectly acceptable and encouraged (in the case of Arabs, criminals, abortion clinic doctors, enemy soldiers, gays, etc.)? How is it that God (in the Old Testament) and Jesus both tell their followers not to judge other people, but Christians have no problem determining who's going to hell and who has a "real" relationship with Christ, etc.? I would have thought that if God (or Jesus) specifically says NOT to do something, he means that you DON'T DO IT. PERIOD.

If you're going to be a literalist, why don't you literally interpret those things instead of believing in the fairy tales of Jesus walking on water or turning water into wine? Is it because the fairy tales are fun and the other stuff is actually hard to do? It's HARD to not judge people. It's HARD to turn the other cheek and lead a peaceful, loving life. It's much easier to not have to think about any of it, profess to believe ALL of it, and do whatever the hell you want. I just cut out the middle section. I don't think about any of it, and I do whatever the hell I want.

As it turns out, not thinking about it makes me a pretty decent Christian, at least by the standards of behavior laid out in the Bible. I don't judge people, because I have no dogmatic teachings to judge them against. I don't kill people, because short of trying to kill me or my loved ones, they can't do anything that offends me so much to drive me to that. I don't commit adultery because I love my wife and wouldn't cause her or myself that pain. I don't steal because I know that would mess with someone else's livelyhood. I don't lie about things because I generally have no reason to. I'm usually painfully honest, sometimes to my detriment. I honor my mother because I love her and appreciate all she's done for me. That's 5 of the 10 commandments. I sort of observe the Sabbath by not doing much that day (unless my wife bullies me into working in the yard). The first two don't apply to me since no one is my "Lord" or my God. I guess I need to work on the coveting part, but I'm doing better about trying to live a simple life, free of material things. I do enjoy an eyefull of a good-looking woman, but I'm only going to look. :)

One doesn't need religion to have morals and a strong moral compass. In fact, religion usually trumps morals, causing people to do things that a rational person would never consider doing. (Blowing themselves up to punish infidels (Islam), wholesale slaughter of non-believers during the Crusades (Christianity), and so on.)

I didn't explain myself very clearly when I described my relationship with Jesus in high school. I very fervently believed at the time that he was alive and that the holy spirit guided my every move. It's only in hindsight that I realize that I was just internalizing and parroting the things I was hearing 3-4 days a week in church and at youth for Christ events. I wholeheartedly believed them at the time. I don't anymore.

Jesus isn't any more alive (you're a literalist, remember -- "alive" means "living, not dead," in the biological sense) than Julius Caesar. Unless you mean that Jesus is "alive," as in alive in spirit, or that the memory of him is surviving with his followers. But you wouldn't mean that, I'm sure, because you believe the literal meaning of the words in the bible. If Jesus is alive (in the literal sense), where does he live? What's his phone number? Got an email address? Does he have office hours that I might get a chance to talk to him?

I don't believe that Jesus is dead, I know he is. The historical record states unequivocally that he's dead. (Don't ask me where his body is -- they never found Jimmy Hoffa, either. It's not hard to kidnap a cadaver.)

Life isn't a matter of belief for me. That's the part of me that YOU don't get. I don't rely on "believing" things. I act on what I know, and if I don't know, I make educated guesses or I find out. That's not hard at all, and when you get right down to it, it's pretty fun to constantly be educating myself. Unlike people who "believe." For them it's good enough just to say "that's what I believe!" and never have to think again.

Blind faith allows you to abdicate your responsibility for what happens to you and your affect on others. It's been (and continues to be) used to justify the most horrific acts throughout history, and it's the ultimate cudgel against free speech. All it takes is for someone to claim that they're offended on religious grounds, and the whole world bows at their feet, practically falling all over themselves to remedy the situation. It disgusts me.

You don't have faith, you have dogma. Faith requires one to have put in the mental effort to decide to believe something. I don't get that feeling from you. I know several Christians whom I respect because they know not only WHAT they believe, but also WHY they believe it. I have no respect whatsoever for fundamentalists and literalists who know nothing more than the dogma (look it up, since I'll bet no one in your church has ever uttered the word) they're fed by slicked-up preachers and high-production value "worship" services.

Enjoy your dogma and your life as a willfully ignorant slave (or is it "servant?" does it matter?), and I'll continue to live my life free of guilt and the fear of being chucked into a pit of despair for all eternity because I looked at a woman wrong, was envious of my neighbor's BMW, worked on a Sunday, ate a cheeseburger, or some other silly shit.

Your mom sounds like fun! Send her over to join the debate!

As for, it seems they're not too crazy about spreading the word online, since I have to register with their website in order to watch your brothers and sisters in Christ tell me why I'm going to hell. No thanks. The last thing I need is "she'll be amazed by the size of your faith" spam along with all the penis enlargement stuff I get.

Dr Ralph said... this still being kicked around? I'm going to head over and have whatever she's having.

I'm reminded of that old Austin Lounge Lizard song, Jesus Loves Me but He Can't Stand You.

Later, boys.

TomG said...

the Doc may be right - the patient is expired and it's time to wheel in the next one ;) So my final take on it all: if one's motive for believing is to be Saved, then it's focusing on the wrong target. As a friend of mine puts it, that assumes the Almighty to be but a monkey-god whom one cajoles into submission (reversing the actual relationship). This is self-deception, since by definition an omniscient, omnipotent Creator of all can't ever get fooled or bribed. I contend, to the contrary, that the emphasis should be striving toward one day actually *wanting* to do what's right (with the Commandments there as stark reminders of all our sinful urges toward selfishness and greed). That's where our eyes should focus - on helping eachother understand and do charitable works, not worrying about whether we'll end up as one of the chosen "saved". Plus it's already written that we can't earn our way to Heaven - rather it's *only* by God's mercy. So I would urge not using belief as a crutch and way of avoiding the pain and hardships of our reality, rather as a means of plunging ourselves into the thick of life's turmoil - where the lessons and rewards are great. A real God doesn't wish us to play it safe - but to find out what we're really made of. Peace.

TomG said...

ok I lied (still working on that sin) ... one more point still - demonstrating the impossibility for unanimous consent in biblical literalism:
there have been so many translations and reinterpretations throughout its history, that there's no consistent "Word of God" ... one would have to go back to the Aramaic and old Greek versions to even try discerning the exact meanings of certain words and their connotations *at that time* (an impossible feat, of course). So if one claims to take the entire Good Book as verbatum - I ask which version of the many existing ones is true?

Pete Wann said...

Huh. Either I've scared Anon off, or they're in the process of donating all of their mixed-fiber garments to the nearest atheist charity...

Maybe they're asking the leader of their church some questions for a change... I doubt it.

dr. ralph, I agree. I shared this conversation with a minister friend of mine, and he said that this debate with literalists is boring because it eventually comes down to just throwing scripture at each other. Of course, his debates are of the believer vs. believer sort.

Alan said...

The real acid test on the question begins with the doctrine of the Trinity. One cannot be a Christian if one does not believe in the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

I don't regard the Jesus Seminar as a canonical source. I prefer source documents (the Bible and historical records contemporary to biblical events) over a body of philosophers, just as I prefer Obama's direct quotes over Falsani's hearsay (e.g. "all people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone -- know the same God") when determining Obama's theology.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I don't think I can go there.
Trinitarian doctrine didn't really get crankin' until the 4th century.
Nothing approaching the word "trinity" appears in the N.T.
If that core belief was to be the dealbreaker, I think we would've been given a little more info.

Sorry to bring this up at such a late date, but this just occurred to me.... If you really are a literalist, what the heck were you doing at a hospital?


Dr Ralph said...

...And this thread still refuses to die. Or maybe it has I refuse to go there.

Whited Sepulchre, how soon until we can order leather-bound copies of this post (preferably with our names stamped in gold leaf on the front)?

Alan said...

The Trinity is the logical conclusion of the biblical claims that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all God.

The claims of Jesus' divinity are clear. For starters, Peter called Jesus "the author of life (Acts 3:15), and the first chapter of John clearly establishes Jesus as God ("In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God").

The Holy Spirit has equal station with the Father and Son: "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" (Matthew 28:19).

The personhood and divinity of the Holy Spirit is explained rather will here:

Anne said...

Gosh, you guys are smart.
Seriously, I have enjoyed your discussion. How (in God's name) do you find the time to do all this thinking and writing? Are you really, really rich?

Anonymous said...

Umm... "Obsessive/Compulsive" is the first thing that comes to mind. "Overmedicated" is the second, at least in my case. :)

Anonymous said...

Whited sepulchre shows his ignorance when he relies on the words of 200 men who meet twice a year to judge the words of Jesus..namely the Jesus Seminar...God alone can reveal his Words to man..
He shows further ignorance about the Godhead...Peter understood the Godhead.. That is precisely why he baptized in JESUS NAME only; (acts 2:38) and not in the titles father, son and holy ghost..Matt. 28:19........ Peter knew Jesus was God....The elect of Christ know Jesus is God and know and understand the Godhead...
As for Obama being a false prophet, he isn't, .. He fits the title of false messiah more accurately..He is called the chosen one, the one who walks on water, the transfiguration, the new testament, etc. Plus he has promised to set up a kingdom on earth.. ..Obama himself does not claim divinity..This is done subliminally, For instance ..The aforementioned kingdom on earth.... Or playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic (thine eyes have seen the glory of the Coming of the Lord) at Obama's Hocking College speech..This is a subliminal message that Obama is the coming of the Lord..Obama's adoring congregation respond by claiming he is the chosen one,etc.. All I know is either the Democratic party is astounding brilliant to create such a delusion or the devil did it...
The Bible does promise strong delusion to those who do not accept Christ's gospel...Pretty clear to me..I guess when man understands he is not as wise as God (Genesis 3:4) as promised by the serpent then and only then will he believe gods words and not what men and serpents say of God's words...

Pete Wann said...

Wow, you're "angry" anonymous... I miss "literal" anonymous. That one was more fun!

Pete Wann said...

Either that, or our old friend Anonymous got ahold of some pretty strong peyote.

People who look to Obama as a messiah or even a prophet are deluded, just as much as people who think he's the anti-christ. He's a man, and he's never claimed to be anything more than that.

The degree to which religious verbiage and concepts have infused our society and politics is frightening.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Ok, here we go.
(And I'm glad we could bring this epic comment field back around to Obama. Thank you, "Angry Anon".

What this is all about: The total impossibility of clarifying theological concepts. We can all drop back and chunk scripture at each other, and not come one whit closer to determining whose theology is better, McCain's, Obama's, or the concepts we learned in childhood that we display such a fierce loyalty to.

That's why there's no place for it in our political discource, and that's exactly why the Republicans are going to use it against Obama in the fall.

But enough of that.

To Anne,
I'm filthy rich.
But rich in Time, not Money.
I don't watch much TV.

To Alan (not Allen),
Trinitarian doctrine developed because of the need to have a divine Christ, and the Old Testament requirement for monotheism. I don't think anyone in the first, and maybe early 2nd century ever had any exposure to the concept.

To Mr. "Literal Anon".... you still haven't told me how a literalist can justify going to a hostpital.

To Mr. "Angry Anon".... You're correct in stating that I like the guys in The Jesus Seminar "to reveal God's words to man" (see Westar Institute in my blogroll). They're doing the best they can to determine what Jesus really did do and say.
The first group to attempt this was at The Council of Hippo (or Synod of Hippo) in the year 393. They tried to determine what is and isn't inspired scripture the same way that they do it at the Jesus seminar.
They voted.
Are you telling me that their vote should be binding, and that you have total confidence in all their decisions and their reliability?


We have "Literal Anon", "Angry Anon", and I believe there we have logical and internal evidence for the existence of "Hospital Anon".

Hospital Anon's post was relatively short, and written in a totally different style from the other two.
Hospital Anon is yet another facet of the Mr. Anonymous that you have had such a good time debating.

Wait a minute.... 3 distinct personalities.... One name.... Three in one, all equal....

For the first time in my life, I really understand the doctrine of The Trinity.

Dr Ralph said...

This has gone on waaay too long, so I thought I'd throw in my $.02 worth.

Re: the Jesus Seminar and whichever Anon took exception to it. WS -- your point is well taken.

Is it only the passage of time that gives the Council of Hippo's decision more weight? What is it that made this group more "inspired" than the Jesus Seminar, who I can only assume were honest, intelligent, well-educated people with good intentions?

Is there something, Anon, that makes anyone who wants to search for truth suspicious -- when it disagrees with your truth? The attitude that only you can be inspired, and that excludes the possibility that anyone else can be is smug narcissism at best and intellectual fascism at worst--no matter how much you wrap it in the gossamer shroud of "faith."

I refer you again to that old Austin Lounge Lizard song, Jesus Loves Me but He Can't Stand You. I think I hear you singing it.

Alan said...

John Ankerberg quotes in this footnoted article several sources dating prior to the fourth century AD. At least one, the Ignatius source, is
available online.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Thanks for bringing something other than opinion and emotion to the discussion.

The quotes you listed from the Early Church Fathers are concerned with the divinity of Christ, and God being in Christ.
Earlier, you were arguing that a belief in a Trinity (Father,Son, & Holy Ghost) was the core belief of Christianity.

Unless I'm mistaken, the only source (on that link) to equate Father, Son, & Holy Ghost was Augustine, who didn't live until the time period when Trinitarian doctrine really got cranking.

The others merely state that God was in Christ.

Alan said...

"The others merely state that God was in Christ."

The quotes I'm reading (from Ignaitius to Cyril of Alexandria) are saying that Jesus is God.

That does leave one person of the Trinity to go. Earlier I linked a site that effectively explains the biblical support for the claim that the Holy Spirit is also God. We do not agree on what is and is not genuine scripture, however, so the only place to go in this conversation is to unearth the history of the doctrine.

Gregory Thaumaturgus (205-265 A.D.) is the first on Ankerberg's list to refer to the Trinity explicitly. It'll take a bit of digging to find more on the history of Holy Spirit doctrine.

Born Again Lisa said...

The Bible IS the 100% true word of God. There IS only One God and only ONE way to heaven, yet there are many false prophets/teachers. Other religions don't say they will get to heaven, they can't. God's grace IS free and available to ALL who will accept it, which is the ultimate definition of a loving accepting God. One must have the wisdom to accept the gift. The Bible tells us that unbelievers can not understand scripture, which is why you misunderstand and misquote much of it. Anonymous should stop casting his pearls before swine, this is not the place where the harvest waits for the worker. No need to reply to me, I'm already sorry I wasted so much of my time here, so definitely won't be back.

Born again Lisa

Pete Wann said...

YAAAAAAYYYYY!!! Finally the response I've been waiting for!!!!

Pete Wann said...

Wait a minute... If "unbelievers can not understand scripture," then how can they ever become believers?

Anonymous said...

"Literal" Anonymous and "Angry" Anonymous are NOT the same.I am the "literal" as you refer to it and I also am the "Hospital" Anonymous. I work in the medical field. YES, you can believe the Word and be a medical professional. Was that "revelation knowledge" for you guys or what! I have been gone for some time. It is interesting where all of this has gone since I left. ( I think I will just turn on the God Channel, watch a little Todd Bently and check in now and then and see where you all are going. That way I get blessed by God and entertained by you. )
I have not been on since June 10th. Just now catching up. The new ANON has voiced some interesting things.
I have been basking in my RELATIONSHIP with the Lord and using the new direction that I got from being on this site earlier. I am sorry that Lisa called all of you "Swine". Sounds so "judgemental" Otherwise, I agree with most all of what was said.
Pete: Non believers are prompted by the Holy Spirit. Kinda like getting an invitation. It can happen while reading the Scriptures or whenever the Lord chooses. True understanding of the word comes from a revelation given by the Holy Spirit. Even as a saved Christian, the Holy Spirit is how the understanding comes. Hey Pete, how come I feel like you already knew this? I have missed you so!!!

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Ok, here we go.....

Some assignments need to be completed before we go any further without me exercising the "delete" option on future comments on this post. Anyone feel free to answer for anyone else. Otherwise, we're just typing questions and no one is answering them. And if you feel someone hasn't answered a question that you've asked, I guess that's fair game also.

Pete has asked you the following: "if unbelievers can not understand scripture," then how can they ever become believers?
It's a legit question. How is it supposed to work? Literal Anon makes it sound like God chooses the time and place, so there's no point in an unbeliever even making an effort. Look at his latest entry.

Alan K Henderson, who BTW, runs the best Libertarian Blog Aggregator in North America:
If belief in the Trinity is the defining mark of a Christian, why aren't there any early references to the concept?

Hospital Anon (who is a sock puppet for Literal Anon),
How can a self-proclaimed literalist justify working in a hospital? What about faith? What about prayer? Do you not even have the faith of a mustard seed? Or do you believe (as I do) that the mustard seed verse is a metaphor?

Glenn said...

Wow...I just read all the comments. Flame war, indeed.

Cal Thomas: "..." Need I say anymore about the man? haha

Latter Days Ministry said...

Obama is not a Christian and the "Progressive Christianity" he claims is an abuse of the word Christian.