Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jun/11

8

Magical Thinking Watch: God’s private messages

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A conservative Republican Congressman from North Carolina’s military and Bible belt, Walter B. Jones, opposed the war in Iraq and is now calling for a pull-out from Afghanistan.  For such a courageous stance against party conformity, he should be congratulated.  Among likely presidential contenders (leaving aside Ron Paul), the stance on U.S. war against countries we have no hope of transforming and no stated desire to conquer ranges from “We’re not doing enough invading” to “We’re not doing enough invading or enough shoveling of tax dollars down the gullet of the Pentagon.”  I heard Tim Pawlenty do his tough-guy routine against the Syrian President—“We give him an ultimatum: ‘You’re gone tomorrow’”—several weeks ago to a group of influential New York neo-cons, who rewarded his promise of aggressive militarism with an enthusiastic round of applause.  All the other major Presidential candidates would have said the same thing.

But however much I admire  Rep. Jones’ intrepid individualism, I cannot help puzzling over his understanding of how he arrived at his anti-war stance.  He voted for the authorization of military force in Iraq in 2002, then started having misgivings about the invasion and in 2005 publicly called for troop withdrawal.   The reason he changed his mind, he said, was that God led him to do so: 

“I thank God that he made me feel guilty about my vote on Iraq,”

he told the New York Times.

This statement raises a host of questions.  If, in Jones’ view, God is anti-war and thus led him to that Godly stance, why are there so many equally devout Americans who are just as convinced of  the justice of the Iraq war?  Is Jones uniquely attuned to God’s will?  The implication is unavoidable that those pro-war believers are mistaken about God’s will—why is that?  Does the fault lie in themselves and in their disordered prayer lives?  It must, since presumably God would not send readable messages about the injustice of the war to some people and inscrutable messages to others.    Or perhaps God sends completely different messages to different people—pro-war to some, anti-war to others–just for the sake of spectator sport? George Bush claimed divine mandate for the Iraq invasion, since freedom is God’s gift to humanity, which he, Bush, was assisting with the Freedom Agenda.  Presumably, Jones would say that Bush was mistaken in his reading of God’s will.   But how does Jones know that he, Jones, is right and Bush is wrong?  Both appeal to the identical and sole piece of evidence: Their personal sensation of God speaking to them.  But again, if Bush is wrong, why did he get it wrong?  If you were God, and the unjustified loss of American lives (we won’t even mention Iraqi lives) were important to you, wouldn’t it be equally important to get the message out, clearly and unequivocally?   Either God screwed up in his messaging or your fellow Christian war hawks are screwed up in their ability to receive God’s will, but I have never heard a believer confront this fact explicitly and either berate God for being coy or accuse his fellow Christians of lacking access to God’s message.  Nor have I heard anyone offer a theory as to why there should be disagreement about something so fundamental as God’s will—about war, in this case.  If the problem is that man’s fallen state prevents him from perceiving God’s clear messages in all their unequivocal splendor, Jones is therefore implying that he is less fallen than his fellow Republican religious war supporters. 

But when pro-war believers hear Jones’ claim, do they believe it?  And if not, why not?  Do they say: Jones is mistaken about God’s making him feel guilty about his vote in Iraq?  How could a believer be mistaken about his access to God’s will?  If Jones is wrong, how do they know that they are right?  Do they propose any method for resolving such disagreements?  As usual, a believer dismissing another believer’s claim of divine insight is temporarily adopting an identical stance towards that mistaken believer as a non-believer does:  “Show me the evidence!  Your mere claim of access to God’s will is insufficient; you are projecting your own beliefs onto a fictional external reality.”  And yet that same believer, skeptical of his fellow-wrong believer’s false claims of religious inspiration, would have the non-believer suspend his skepticism when judging the believer’s own claims of revelation and accept the identical quantum of evidence for it that he finds insufficient in his fellow wrong-believer: the sensation of access to God’s will.

In the past, the religious had the courage of their convictions and killed wrong believers.  God’s truth should be worth such a sacrifice.  Today, since we live under the reign of secular Enlightenment tolerance (which is not a religious virtue), believers adopt the “Yeah, whatever, I’m OK, you’re OK” stance towards wrong believers, thereby increasing civil peace while betraying the splendor of the word of God. 

Needless to say, I am dreading the Republican presidential season.  We are going to see an escalating arms race about piety and God-given American exceptionalism.  Everyone will be as convinced about their messaging from God as Walter Jones is.  Not everyone can be right, which is fine.   But when it comes to divine inspiration, I just want some hint as to how we figure out who is wrong.

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17 comments

  • Wm Jas · June 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    When I saw the title (“Magical Thinking Watch”) I thought it was about a magical watch which could think, perhaps with reference to Paley.

  • paine · June 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    “God made him feel guilty”?

    I presume god also made him feel lust for that frozen taquito, sleepy in that one meeting, and horny after choir practice.

    That’s a great role for the purported smartest being in the cosmos: picking out one member of one species of one ape on one planet in one galaxy…and implanting emotions in him.

    Magical thinking alright…inasmuch as insanity also is.

  • falterer · June 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    “I have never heard a believer confront this fact explicitly and… accuse his fellow Christians of lacking access to God’s message.”

    Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.

  • Frederick Santal · June 9, 2011 at 12:39 am

    We have to know more of this man’s doctrine. He could be a Quaker for all we know.

    “Today, since we live under the reign of secular Enlightenment tolerance (which is not a religious virtue), believers adopt the “Yeah, whatever, I’m OK, you’re OK” stance towards wrong believers, thereby increasing civil peace while betraying the splendor of the word of God.”

    The Reformation championed liberty of conscience.

    “…the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.”

    Westminster Confession of Faith

  • Cyg · June 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Mr. Santal,

    Thank you for identifying yourself as a Christian. Clearly, God has led you to this blog so you can set us Secularists straight. Please help us answer the question raised by this post.

    First, tell us if you deny any of these premises:

    1) God is the source of all morality.
    2) The question “should we go to war?” is a moral question.
    3) The two mutually exclusive ways of answering the question are: Yes or No.

    Any disagreement so far?

    Now, this post reveals that one Christian (Walter Jones) says God told him the answer was No and another Christian (George Bush) told him the answer was Yes.

    The broader question is: why don’t Christians agree on the content of God’s messages?

    You say two things. One is that maybe Jones is a member of a denomination that always answers “No” to this question. (He’s a Catholic, by the way, but no matter). The other is, according to a document drafted, tellingly, toward the end of the Thirty Years War, that Christians value liberty of conscience and abhor blind faith.

    Really? See, if there were no actual messages from God because, say, He didn’t exist, it would make perfect sense for different people to feel different ways about this issue. But if God is truly communicating, what room do you have to spew this relativistic hippie nonsense about liberty of conscience? It’s the Word of God!

    So, if you would, please enlighten us.

    Isn’t one man right and one man wrong?

  • Frederick Santal · June 11, 2011 at 12:30 am

    The revealed word of God, the Old and New Testaments, doesn’t mention the Iraq War of 2003, and more generally it doesn’t make an absolute statement on war making or violence or non-violence, etc.

    If you want to be less shallow in your take on this when this fellow says ‘God told’ him he probably means his conscience moved him to be against the Iraq War. If he wants to say God is speaking to him personally on the matter then fine, but it’s hardly binding for all Christians as the word of God, the Old and New Testaments, are authoritative.

    I’m not aware Bush said ‘God told’ him anything regarding the Iraq War. Liberating 28 million people from a Satanic regime is arguably a pretty good thing to do, though it obviously really pissed off the devil and those people who express the devil’s displeasure like ventriloquist dummies.

    >The broader question is: why don’t Christians agree on the content of God’s messages?

    Again, the Bible doesn’t give warrant to anything anybody says in the name of God. God gave us his revealed word in the Old and New Testaments to be authoritative for all matters of faith and practice.

    The issue of liberty of conscience was brought up in the context of the reference to the Enlightenment. I pointed out that that virtue was championed by Protestants during the Reformation a good two centuries or more prior to the Enlightenment.

  • Cyg · June 12, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Mr. Santal,

    We agree, then, that people who claim God’s warrant for some action are probably just listening to their consciences, not really hearing the words of God. As Heather says in her post, they are simply projecting their own beliefs onto an external reality.

    But wait. For Christians, isn’t one’s conscience a God-given entity that encapsulates the natural law that God wishes us to follow? Don’t we all have God’s laws written on our heart? You say that if a practice were to be binding on Christians there’d be a clear, absolute statement about it in the Old or New Testaments. But don’t you pray when attempting to discern the meaning of Scripture so that God’s Holy Spirit will lead you to the correct interpretation?

    Yes, Protestants invoked freedom of conscience during the Reformation to explain their break from authoritarian Catholicism. But that’s because they believed Catholics had the wrong interpretation and they had the right one.

    So the question remains: why don’t Christians agree on the content of God’s messages? Forget the Iraq war; I’ll grant you Biblical ambiguity about that. Sticking strictly with the Bible, however, why can’t Christians agree on what the Bible says?

    Based on the sources you’ve cited, I assume you are a Protestant. What’s up, then, with those 1.2 billion “Christians” who stick with Catholicism? Luther seemed pretty sure God communicated something special to him and you presumably agree. Why aren’t Catholics getting the same message? Don’t they pray for God to help them interpret Scripture? Maybe most of them aren’t as serious as they should be about the Bible, but isn’t the Pope? Wasn’t Mother Teresa? What’s keeping God from alerting devout Catholics to their error? Why did it take God 1500 years before he let Luther in on the Christian insights that now belong only to the Protestants? Why did it take another century after Luther for Protestants to produce the Westminster Confession?

    If God really cares about saving us, and His Word has a right interpretation and a wrong interpretation, why do so many Christians disagree?

  • Frederick Santal · June 13, 2011 at 4:31 am

    >Sticking strictly with the Bible, however, why can’t Christians agree on what the Bible says?

    Not all self-identified Christians consider Scripture alone to be authoritative for all matters of faith and practice.

    Roman Catholics consider tradition to be equal with Scripture, and they also consider their Magisterium and ultimately their Pope to be equal if not above Scripture in authority.

    Charismatics of various stripes are all over the board in what they consider to be authoritative.

    Then you have man’s fallen nature making demands on the word of God. Homosexuals read all the parts of Scripture on that subject 180 degrees in the opposition direction. They lawyer Scripture into meaning what they demand it to mean. Same with universalists, anti-Trinitarians, and all the rest.

    Christians who accept the Bible un-watered-down, un-negotiated down to the demands of their fallen nature are rare. But once you approach the Bible in that way the Bible is very clear. (And once you get a basic understanding of law and gospel and the unique role of the Nation of Israel and how judicial and ceremonial laws for that specific theocratic nation don’t apply to Christians after the incarnation of Christ and the end of that unique nation, etc. I.e. basic understanding of the Bible that most of its critics don’t have.)

    The Bible is less clear on matters of ecclesiology and sacramentology, but that is because different things are needed in different eras of God’s plan of redemption. There were house churches depicted in the New Testament, for instance. There were also larger gatherings depicted. As for sacraments, they can be a mere visual parable for some who need that, and they can have deeper meaning as a practice for others who can see deeper meaning in it. But all the other loci of systematic theology the Bible is rather clear on if you aren’t making demands on the Bible from your fallen nature.

    >Why did it take God 1500 years before he let Luther in on the Christian insights that now belong only to the Protestants?

    Nothing Luther said came from Luther. The Reformation was about ad fontes, or back to the sources. Apostolic biblical doctrine is what the Reformation was fueled and built on.

    Christianity is in a continual battle against the world, the flesh (fallen nature), and the devil. There is always a remnant though. Throughout all the corruptions and tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church prior to the Reformation there was always a remnant of Christians whose influence was greater than their numbers.

  • Frederick Santal · June 13, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Think of the analogy of liberty vs. tyranny in the purely secular political realm. Tyranny is a force we are continually having to fight back. Those who want tyranny never tire. They keep changing clothes and coming back with the same thing. They keep trying to undermine institutions and attack liberty at foundational levels. They take advantage of the blank slate state that each new generation is born with. (To be a leftist you just have to be born; to be a conservative you have to acquire a library card and actually use it.)

    And the forces of tyranny insinuate themselves inside the tent and work to destroy liberty from the inside. While they are attacking it from the outside.

    Look how even after the blatant history of horror and failure the left has in just the last 100 years we are *still* dealing with them in our politics today. In fact they took power over us rather completely in ’08. It’s never-ending.

    The same with the truth of Christianity. The same forces fight it to destroy it. It’s a losing cause for them, ultimately, yet it’s still a struggle for everyone nevertheless. God is the first cause, but He works through secondary causes, some free, some necessary, some contingent (as the Westminster Confession says, with surprising conciseness and rather sophisticated philosophical accuracy I might add). I.e even though God is sovereign in creation, providence, and grace — effort matters.

  • Cyg · June 13, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Mr. Santal,

    Once again, we are in 100% agreement. People who identify themselves as Christians, whether they’re Roman Catholics, Charismatics, Homosexuals, Universalists, anti-Trinitarians, etc., cannot agree on what sources are authoritative for all matters of faith and practice.

    You say some self-identified Christians express confusing and contradictory messages because they are fallible and sinful humans. Because of their fallen nature, their ability to discern God’s will is poorly attenuated. But you, perhaps because of your slightly less-fallen nature, have access to God’s true will, which you are convinced is expressed only in the Bible.

    But what do you think I’d hear if I asked the Roman Catholics, Charismatics, Homosexuals, Universalists, and anti-Trinitarians why they’re right and you’re wrong? The Catholic would say your fallen nature has put you in rebellion against the True Church. The Charismatic would say your fallen nature keeps you from being filled with the Holy Spirit. The anti-Trinitarian would cite verses such as Matt. 24:36, in which God the Father apparently knows things that Jesus the Son doesn’t, and that maybe if your fallen nature weren’t blinding you to the truth, you’d see it their way. And so on and so on.

    So, it occurs to me I asked the wrong question. I asked, “Why don’t Christians agree on the content of God’s messages?” but it appears every Christian will answer the same way, which is that our group is right and everyone else is wrong because of people’s fallen natures.

    Maybe this is a better question: how does one decide between these competing claims?

    I’ve got a hunch you’re going to say, “It has to be written in the Bible.” But to simply assert that the Bible alone is authoritative does not answer the “how does one decide?” question. If A and B both claim to be true, it would be nice to have something besides A and B to help me break the tie.

    And that brings us back to the inner urgings of the conscience. Deep down, one feels a tug and, next thing you know, it’s Sola Scriptura for you. Or you become a Catholic or a Pentecostal or whatever.
    I submit that every new interpretation of Scripture (including every novel insight that has ever lead Christians to separate from their former brethren in Christ to start a new Christian denomination, Luther being a prime example) probably arose from the same phenomenon that Walter Jones experienced when he thought God was making him feel guilty about his vote in favor of the Iraq war: a sudden clarity of thought that one suddenly has about an issue with which one had been struggling.

    If God were behind this phenomenon, either through direct contact with people whose consciences he affected, or indirectly by having written His natural laws on the hearts of every man, I would expect a lot more consistency than I see. But if there were no God, I would expect confusing and contradictory messages to abound. You know, just like the ones you illustrated.

  • Frederick Santal · June 14, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Take homosexuality. The Bible is very clear on homosexuality. You either accept what the Bible says or you don’t. If you don’t then you seek to explain it away, or to even change what the Bible says as some translations have actually done. The fact remains, though: the Bible is clear on homosexuality.

    A person needs the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of truth and discernment – to be able to see and to accept what the Bible says. It’s called regeneration. It’s effected, when it is, by the word and the Spirit. It still needs effort to be applied. You have to read the Bible and engage biblical doctrine and get a parts in relation to the whole understanding. Always gravitating towards the truth as the Spirit enables you to find the truth. That is a tall order. It’s possible to fall short of this and to have the mere basics, but really when a person has the Spirit in them the fact that the bar is high is not an obstacle. They are inspired to learn.

    Not everybody who belongs to a particular church believes in everything that church puts in their confession (or whatever). A person can be saved despite the shortcomings of their church. Churches are gatherings of human beings – mixed gatherings at that, as in goats and sheep – and are not perfect representations of the truth of the word of God.

    A Christian is called on to use Spirit-guided discernment based on the word of God alone for ultimate authority, but the witness of other Christians throughout time for guidance, if not authority.

    There are really three great divides:

    Those who worship the creation (any part of the creation, i.e. any created thing, including man or nature or the state, and just all false idols), and those who worship the Creator Himself.

    Those who see Jesus as a mere inspired ‘teacher’, and those who see and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and King.

    Those who think they can be justified and made righteous by their own works rather than by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ in His life and in His death on the cross vs. those who believe in self-righteousness and self-justification by their own works.

    To understand the third above – the Gospel – you have to know the revealed word of God. You can’t learn of it from general revelation (nature, the law that is written on our hearts, etc.)

    The world and the devil and your own fallen nature that controls you want you to believe the truth is a hall of mirrors which nobody can possibly decipher. This is not true.

    This comment has to be taken with points made in previous comments above.

  • Cyg · June 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Mr. Santal,

    Let me see if I understand the exegetical method you describe.

    1) Read what the Bible says.
    2) With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and discernment, one will gravitate towards the truth.
    3) Weigh your understanding against Biblical doctrine.
    4) Understand the parts in relation to the whole.
    5) If you accept it, fine.
    6) If not, you explain it away or even change what the Bible says, as some translations have done.

    How might we put this method into practice?

    Example #1: Let’s say I live anywhere from, oh, the year 400 to the year 1500. I can’t read. Well, that pretty much dooms me to Hell, then, doesn’t it? I cannot come to a true understanding of anything because I can’t get past step 1. Fortunately, God has deployed a means on Earth for the salvation of people. It’s called the Church. From what my priest tells me, it appears to work somewhat like Noah’s ark. If you’re on it, you’re saved. If not, you drown in the flames of Hell. Fortunately, I’m aboard, so I’m saved, yippee!

    Example #2: Let’s say I’m Martin Luther. I can read. While in cloaca one day, the Spirit reveals to me that faith alone, not works, saves us (sola fide). This conflicts with a millennium of Church doctrine and with the book of James (i.e., conflicts with #3 and #4). But no matter, I have a way out. I will deny the authority of man-made tradition (sola Scriptura) and I will call James an “epistle of straw” and try to have it removed from the Biblical canon (along with Hebrews, Jude and Revelation). And when I translate the Bible into German, I will add the word “alone” to Romans 3:28 so that it says “faith alone” even though the manuscripts I’m working from don’t contain that word (see #6).

    Oops, my mistake. I forgot you were a Protestant, so it should have been Luther who was right and the first guy who was wrong. But, see, that’s the problem I’m having. How do I decide between these competing claims? The method you describe is a bit mushy compared to, say, the Scientific Method.

    With the Scientific Method, I can hypothesize a concept such as gravity, then I can do experiments to see if I’m right. And the amazing thing is, it doesn’t matter what culture I’m from or how my parents raised me: everyone in the world can accept the “truth” of gravity. Of course, science doesn’t really “prove” things. It’s rather a method of ruling things out. So, if I’m Einstein, I can challenge Newton’s theory of gravity and improve upon it. And I won’t be excommunicated. As long as I’ve properly followed the principles of the Scientific Method, people everywhere will recognize the validity of my assertions.

    So, let’s pretend I accept everything you say about Spirit-guided discernment and you now I have a hypothesis. I’m still not sure what I can do to test it.

    For example, what if I find something in the Bible really clear, such as that women’s heads should be covered or that they should have long hair (1 Corinthians 11). Let’s say I have two test subjects, Lady Gaga and Rep. Sue Myrick. How can I determine which one is following God’s Holy Word and which is a degenerate sinner?

    For your benefit, here are some links to pictures of the two women:

    Lady Gaga:
    http://www.google.com/search?um=1&hl=en&rlz=1T4ADFA_enUS421US421&biw=951&bih=846&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=lady+gaga%27s+hats&oq=lady+gaga%27s+hats&aq=f&aqi=g3&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=18173l20831l0l16l14l0l3l3l1l249l1918l0.6.4

    Sue Myrick:
    http://www.google.com/search?um=1&hl=en&rlz=1T4ADFA_enUS421US421&biw=1899&bih=874&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=sue+myrick&btnG=Search&oq=sue+myrick&aq=f&aqi=g1g-m1&aql=&gs_sm=s&gs_upl=16820l18388l0l10l8l0l0l0l0l235l1482l0.5.3

    Here’s also something on Luther’s views on James and his mistranslation of Romans 3:28: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther's_canon

    And, just for fun, a reference to the phrase “in cloaca,” which is where Luther got his big ideas: http://books.google.com/books?id=hlMOAAAAQAAJ&lpg=PA396&ots=6HC09eseI6&dq=spiritus%20sanctus%20cloaca%20luther&pg=PA396#v=onepage&q=spiritus%20sanctus%20cloaca%20luther&f=false

  • Frederick Santal · June 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    For the record, again, Roman Catholics don’t even state their beliefs (let’s say the Tridentine Creed) are derived from the warrant of Scripture. They, again, hold tradition to be equal with Scripture. It’s one of the reasons Protestants aren’t Roman Catholics.

    As for justification by faith alone, that is derived from the whole counsel of Scripture. James doesn’t contradict anything, and it’s not a case of special pleading. Good works are the fruit of justification not the cause, that is what James is referring to. A tree is known by its fruit. Read all of James there. His very example of Abraham gives it away as Abraham clearly had faith prior to the works mentioned.

    Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    The word ‘alone’ in the German trans. is inconsequential in that verse. It’s redundant.

    But if anybody thinks they can be saved by their own works, good luck with that. Remember, you have to follow all the law. Dot every i, cross every t. From birth. If you’ve already messed up the good news (Gospel) is that Jesus has done it for you. You can appropriate His fulfilling the law by simply having faith in his work in his life and on the cross. But to understand what that means you have to learn it from Scripture. A snarky attitude on a full stomach while living comfortably in a Christian land in Christian culture and civilization, taking advantage of God’s common grace will only keep you in the dark regarding it.

  • Cyg · June 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Mr. Santal,

    You continue to ignore my central question, which is: how does one decide between these competing claims? Your implicit answer seems to be, “it has to be written in the Bible.” But to those who disagree with you, your rule seems arbitrary. Yes, your Catholic forebears don’t even pretend to base all of their beliefs on the Bible. Why does that make you the winner by default?

    Let’s say that after your death, a movement developed to understand the “real” Frederick Santal. Would the stuff you had written in blog comments be adequate as the basis for this understanding? Or would we gain additional insight from people who actually knew you?

    Now consider the apostle Paul. In his decade and a half of preaching, he communicated most of what he had to say in person. If he couldn’t make a visit personally, he sent a representative. And if he could do neither of these things, he wrote a letter. Why are his letters alone the only valid means of understanding him and not, in addition, traditions set down by Church fathers who knew him?

    Speaking of early Christianity, how did one develop a “parts-to-the-whole” understanding of Biblical doctrine when there was no such thing as “the Bible” until at least 393? Isn’t tradition pretty much all one had to go on for the first 400 years of Christianity?

    So, I don’t need to hear from you about anything else the Bible says. What I want to know is why I should pay the Bible any more attention than, say, the wise words of Captain James T. Kirk. Do you have some experimental data I can review? Have you confirmed that folks who believe doctrines X, Y and Z have made it to Heaven, while those who affirm Not-X, Not-Y, and Not-Z are burning in Hell?

    Funny you should bring up “common grace,” the lame Calvinistic rationalization of the obvious reality that no measurable benefit derives from being a believer. Yep, we snarky atheists are just free riders in this Christian land. Never mind that, if you deported all the atheists, you would lose 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, but only a tiny fraction of the prison population.

  • Frederick Santal · June 21, 2011 at 1:40 am

    >You continue to ignore my central question, which is: how does one decide between these competing claims? Your implicit answer seems to be, “it has to be written in the Bible.” But to those who disagree with you, your rule seems arbitrary. Yes, your Catholic forebears don’t even pretend to base all of their beliefs on the Bible. Why does that make you the winner by default?

    A standard and athority is a standard and authority.

    >Let’s say that after your death, a movement developed to understand the “real” Frederick Santal. Would the stuff you had written in blog comments be adequate as the basis for this understanding? Or would we gain additional insight from people who actually knew you?

    The words of the Bible are God-breathed. They aren’t ‘the religion of Paul’ or James or Peter, etc. They are the revealed word of God.

    >Now consider the apostle Paul. In his decade and a half of preaching, he communicated most of what he had to say in person. If he couldn’t make a visit personally, he sent a representative. And if he could do neither of these things, he wrote a letter. Why are his letters alone the only valid means of understanding him and not, in addition, traditions set down by Church fathers who knew him?

    Because the canonic letters are God-breathed and the revealed word of God. This is not difficult. Go beyond your atheist 101 bookshelf and learn.

    >Speaking of early Christianity, how did one develop a “parts-to-the-whole” understanding of Biblical doctrine when there was no such thing as “the Bible” until at least 393? Isn’t tradition pretty much all one had to go on for the first 400 years of Christianity?

    There was always the complete Old Testament. As for the books of the New Testament, it’s not true that they didn’t exist until 393, or weren’t recognized until then. Again, you are pretty ignorant on these subjects. Your arrogant attitude doesn’t give me much hope your ignorance will ever be relieved though.

    >So, I don’t need to hear from you about anything else the Bible says. What I want to know is why I should pay the Bible any more attention than, say, the wise words of Captain James T. Kirk. Do you have some experimental data I can review? Have you confirmed that folks who believe doctrines X, Y and Z have made it to Heaven, while those who affirm Not-X, Not-Y, and Not-Z are burning in Hell?

    This just shows up your shallowness.

    Funny you should bring up “common grace,” the lame Calvinistic rationalization of the obvious reality that no measurable benefit derives from being a believer. Yep, we snarky atheists are just free riders in this Christian land. Never mind that, if you deported all the atheists, you would lose 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, but only a tiny fraction of the prison population.

    Visit Muslim lands and tell me no benefit derives to Christians. And, yes, you atheists are parasites on Christian culture and civilization. You are voting with your feet on that one. And no statistic on atheists among the National Academy of Sciences can take Christians out of the history of the scientific enterprise. Christians founded the universities, hospitals, and research institutions all your modern day atheist (real or scared or bullied) scientists have taken advantage of. Again, atheists are parasites on Christian culture and civilization.

  • Frederick Santal · June 21, 2011 at 1:44 am

    By the way, atheist science has given us a now defunct theory of evolution that lives on by intellectual coercion and propaganda; the scheme of global warming that has done more to damage the scientific enterprise than anything else, perhaps; and the great triumph of pure atheist technology and science: the East German Trabant. Way to go.

  • Cyg · June 22, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Mr. Santal,

    So, you’re saying, “it is because it is.” The Bible is a “standard and authority” because it’s a “standard and authority.” Humans should obey the Bible because, well, it’s the Bible.

    This seems to be a shift from your earlier position, when you said, “…the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.”

    How would your current position be distinguished from “absolute and blind obedience?” Was I mistaken in believing that if I asked you enough questions, I’d actually get a reason?

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