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The Gods of Liberalism Revisited


The lie hasn't changed, and we still fall for it as easily as ever.  But how can we escape the snare?



Monday, December 22, 2008

The Gods of Liberalism are Ancient

J. Matt Barber's column today at CNS News points out a spiritual truth about liberalism.

He mentions a sermon he heard a few weeks ago at Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, VA by Pastor John Mabray:

In his sermon, Pastor Mabray illustrated that, although they've now assumed a more contemporary flair, the fundamentals of Baal worship remain alive and well today. The principal pillars of Baalism were child sacrifice, sexual immorality (both heterosexual and homosexual) and pantheism (reverence of creation over the Creator).

Ritualistic Baal worship, in sum, looked a little like this: Adults would gather around the altar of Baal. Infants would then be burned alive as a sacrificial offering to the deity.

Amid horrific screams and the stench of charred human flesh, congregants – men and women alike – would engage in bisexual orgies. The ritual of convenience was intended to produce economic prosperity by prompting Baal to bring rain for the fertility of "mother earth."

To revisit the key point I bold-typed above, modern liberalism and ancient paganism are strikingly similar in their practice of child sacrifice, sexual license and reverence of creation over the Creator.

These are some points I know Pastor Steve Hickey at Voices Carry has preached and taught on before.

And, as Barber points out, the ancient gods are in ascension in America right now:
Nonetheless, the aforementioned pillars of postmodern Baalism – abortion, sexual relativism and radical environmentalism – will almost certainly make rapid headway over the next four to eight years, with or without help from the Christian left. The gods of liberalism have a new high priest in Barack Obama, and enjoy many devout followers in the Democratic-controlled Congress, liberal media and halls of academia.

There is indeed nothing new under the sun. The human race keeps doing the same old stupid thing and repeating the same old sins.

Which points out another area where liberalism is dead wrong: we aren't evolving up morally any more than we are evolving up biologically.


cinemaphile85 said...

Human sacrifices and ancient paganism, eh? Reminds me a bit of Christianity. At least Baalism doesn't include rituals where people pretend to drink someone's blood and eat their flesh. That's just barbaric!

Bob Ellis said...

You really should do a little more research into Christianity and stop allowing yourself to look so foolish and ignorant.

Pagan usually means non-believe in the One True God, and is also usually defined as someone who revels in sensual pleasures. Most definitely not any sort of description of Christianity.

If you do take the time to actually learn something about Christianity, you might also take a closer look at the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. It does involve symbolism, but certainly that isn't beyond a Godless liberal, as we employ symbolism every day in our culture today.

Far easier to foolishly dismiss what one finds connected to unpleasant moral accountability.

cinemaphile85 said...

Christ's crucifixion was a human sacrifice, was it not? That's at least one thing Christianity and Baalism have in common.

As for paganism, surely you must know that the decorated evergreen sitting in your house right now is an obvious tribute to pagan tree-worship, and that December 25th just so happens to be the day when pagans celebrate the winter solstice. Basically the only "Christian" thing about Christmas is the name Jesus, and even then, the story is almost identical to that of the god Mithras. Christianity contains very few original ideas.

And sorry, but Christ's choice to use ritualized cannibalism as a way for us to remember him is just a little too gross for me. You may think that drinking grape juice and eating a cracker on Sunday morning in your best suit makes the ritual seem normal and civilized, but the principle is the same - you're pretending to drink someone's blood. Oh and speaking of Sunday, doesn't it strike you as a little...pagan...that you worship God on a day named after the Sun?

Bob Ellis said...

As usual you're reaching, cinemaphile85, and reaching far beyond reason.

Christ's crucifixion was no more equivalent to a pagan human sacrifice than was Navy SEAL Mike Monsoor's sacrifice when he jumped on a grenade to save his comrades in Iraq. Christ gave up his life willingly to save the souls of any who would follow him, and to give them a more abundant life here in this world. Why don't you consider accepting the gift he purchased for you with his life?

By the way, I don't have a decorated evergreen tree in my house. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, something infinitely worthy of celebration because the creator of the universe walked away from his throne for some 33 years to live as one of us. I can't imagine myself having that kind of love or humility, but the God of the universe did.

And to further your education, Christians worship on Sunday, not because of the name of the day, but because that was the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead. Besides, God created the sun and set the order of the days themselves, so again...another silly reaching attempt to avoid your moral accountability.

Dutch said...

If you think evolution is such a myth, let's try a little experiment. The next time you get a serious infection, try using an antibiotic the causative strain has evolved resistance to. We'll see if you believe that species change over time after you go septic.

Bob Ellis said...

Ah, antibiotics! A favorite of disciples of the religion of evolution...as fallacious as most of the so-called arguments for evolution.

All organisms contain far more genetic information and genetic possibilities than each individual organism uses. And subsequent generations of organisms can employ this genetic variety, as microscopic organisms often do. But there is no generation of new genetic information, only new uses of previously existing genetic information within that species.

For evolution to occur, the species must generate new genetic information that was not previously present in the organism.

New genetic information has never been generated within a species.

Nice try, but no dice.

I used to believe in evolution...until I found out it was a house of cards built on 5% evidence and 95% conjecture about that evidence.

cinemaphile85 said...

"Why don't you consider accepting the gift he purchased for you with his life?"

Why? To answer that, let me ask you something:

If your children reject the gifts you bought them for Christmas, would you kill them? If they say they do not love you anymore and never want to see you again, would you kill them? Of course not.

So why do you worship someone who would? Why do you devote your life to someone who scares you into serving him? That doesn't sound like unconditional love to me. In fact, that doesn't sound like love at all.

The implication of your question to me is that if I choose not to accept Christ's gift, I will burn forever in the fires of hell. I don't know about you, but I don't think it's right to accept a gift simply because I'm afraid of what will happen if I do not. It should be worth receiving on its merit alone, not based on the consequences.

Bob Ellis said...

Because what Christ did for us, while a gift, is much more than a simple gift.

It is also a pardon he bought for us.

We all sin, and are under judgment for that sin as certainly as if we broke a human law and faced criminal court (only God doesn't miss a single, solitary crime, so no one goes unpunished for anything). As Creator, God's character is the standard for what is right; anything contrary to that or that fails to measure up to it is "sin." A single sin is enough to warrant punishment, which is eternal separation from God in Hell.

Fear of Hell is a good reason to get right, but even more powerful is the realization of how incredibly good God is, and how much good he wants for our lives, both here on earth and eternally. When people reach the point where they're mentally and emotionally ready to face the reality not only of their profound guilt, but also of the indescribable good God wants for them, they can choose to reject that and continue on their way, or accept it and be profoundly changed inside (so profoundly that Christ described it as being "born again").

God would be so glad if you'd accept that gift today, and so would I.

cinemaphile85 said...

Someone who holds us responsible for the mistakes of our ancestors and who threatens us with eternal suffering if we do not serve him does not deserve to be called "good."

Dutch said...

"For evolution to occur, the species must generate new genetic information that was not previously present in the organism.

New genetic information has never been generated within a species."

As usual, Bob, you're incredibly wrong. Have you ever taken a genetics class? If you had, you'd know that genetic mutations (such as translocations, deletions, etc) are quite common. Most have no real effect on the organism (it's estimated that everyone has a certain number of mutations and we don't even know it). The genetic information changed by mutation isn't exactly "new," but it does cause the subsequent generation to have genetic information that was not present in the parent generation.

You should really stick to being condescending about religion, at least you seem to actually know something about that.

Dakota Voice said...

cinemaphile85, you say that because you are yourself not good, but don't want to face that reality.

Dakota Voice said...

Dutch, how many times or how many ways must I say this: no new genetic information is involved. Therefore no evolution has occurred.

Perhaps your faith in the religion of evolution has blinded you from being able to understand even elementary concepts when they conflict with your faith.

Dutch said...

Bob, do you know what evolution is? Evolution simply states that species change over time. Things like MUTATIONS and nonrandom breeding cause species to change over time. You would be hard pressed to find someone who disputes genetic drift and genetic shift. Pope John Paul II even recognized that species change over time.

Translocations, etc mix up chromosomes. Therefore, the nucleotides code for different proteins than they did before because they are in a different order. This causes a different end result. If a mutation either enhances or doesn't affect the survivorship of the organism, there is a good chance that it will be passed down to the next generation. Do you think that new DNA has to fall from Heaven in order for a species to change? I TA'd for an introductory genetics class last year -- maybe you should look into taking it. I'll tutor you. I can tell you're having a harder time understanding this than the 18 year old freshmen did.

Grace Explosion said...

Great article.

cinemaphile85 said...


I think Dutch is on to something. HAVE you ever taken a genetics class? Do you even have a college degree?

Dr. Theo said...

Dutch, most antibiotic resistance comes from innate genetic information that was placed there by God to counter plant toxins that are produced to restrict growth of competing organisms, as Mr. Ellis has said. Cadavers of arctic explorers who died over a hundred years ago and were frozen in the ice have been recovered and examined. Several organisms were discovered that showed resistance to some of our common antibiotics.

Another major factor in bacterial resistance is the ability of bacteria, even of different species, to share plasmids, little packets of extra-chromosomal genes that contain these antibacterial elements.

In the few instances of mutational resistance, the organisms suffer a net loss of information and, though more resistant to one type of antibiotic, are less well-equipped to live and reproduce in the "wild." Depending on the location of the mutation, they may gain in resistance but lose the ability to produce an enzyme necessary for some important cellular function, for instance.

Yes, I have taken genetics classes.

cinemaphile85 said...

Dr. Theo, how do you know that that genetic information was placed there by God? Did you reach that conclusion through rigorous tests that were verified by other scientists?

Bob Ellis said...

Dutch, I know your last comment came in before Dr. Theo's response, but I don't believe it was moderated and posted before Dr. Theo's response.

Still, Dr. Theo more than adequately responded for me.

I will reiterate that you are apparently relying on the dogma of evolutionist religion and don't understand (as I said before) that species contain genetic information for limited variation within that species that isn't used in every organism, thus some small variations are possible within that species. New extra-special genetic information must be introduced in order to form a new species.

Such a phenomenon has never been recorded. But it makes for nice sci-fi fantasy material...as does most of evolution theory, since key components of it do not conform to the laws of science and nature.

cinemaphile85 said...

The foundational premise of "intelligent design" does not conform to the laws of science and nature, either. So by your own definition, it too is sci-fi fantasy. Bob, you blasphemer!

Bob Ellis said...

Good point, cinemaphile85. The really interesting thing: both creationist and ID frameworks admit and incorporate super-natural forces at work at the beginning of the universe and recurring from time to time.

The ironic thing is that materialism/naturalism/evolution denies even the possibility of a super-natural force...yet its key tenets are absolutely impossible without super-natural intervention.

Interesting, huh?

cinemaphile85 said...

Well, no. What do you think happens when scientists discover something they first perceive as "supernatural"? They study it and study it until finally they know enough about it to add it to the catalog of known natural forces and natural laws. Things like magnetism and electricity are perfect examples.

So really, there's no such thing as "supernatural." Just things we have yet to include in our ever-lengthening and ever-changing list of natural laws.

And since you chose not to answer my previous question, I'll assume that you have not taken a genetics class ;-)

Bob Ellis said...

I haven't taken a genetics class per se, but I have some education on the subject. How about you? Are you a geneticist?

Do you think that, maybe if scientists ever came to know enough about God, they might add Him to the catalog of known natural forces? They'd, of course, have to open their minds a little first, but do you think that might be possible if they did?

cinemaphile85 said...

I'm certainly no geneticist, but I did take some biology (and psychology) courses in college while earning my bachelor's.

If scientists were capable of doing what you propose, I'm sure that would be a possibility. That's a big "if" though. I don't think an idea like God is simple enough to be categorized by our primitive minds. But boy do we try. We imagine God as some kind of anthropomorphic, gendered being with human-like emotions who sits on a cloud in heaven, because that's the only way we can even attempt to understand it. But if you ask me, God is just too ...big, I guess is a good word, to conform to any sort of laws we might impose onto him/her/it.

Then again, if we did categorize God as just another natural force, like gravity or heat or magnetism, there wouldn't really be any point in having faith, would there?

Bob Ellis said...

What a refreshing dose of reason and reasonableness, cinemaphile85. You should try it more often.

I agree with pretty much everything you said.

One step further which should be considered, though (maybe two).

Just because God is indeed far to vast and powerful for us to ever comprehend, that doesn't mean we shouldn't and can't try to understand him better within our admittedly limited capacity. And in learning about his creation, we learn something about him, because the stamp of his nature, character and personality are on creation. They are marred by the curse that Adam and Eve brought on it, but there is still enough of the original design remaining in operation that we can learn a lot.

In fact, I think it's safe to say God wants us to be curious and learn more about him and his creation. It seems to be a drive He's built into us (that, like all, drives, can be perverted to unhealthy ends), and in the Bible God has had the occasional scientific conversation with human beings. So I don't think he's into keeping the science (really just the functional laws by which his creation operates) a secret, but at the the same time, thousands of years ago when we didn't have the accumulated knowledge of previous generations to stand upon, and the research technology which is a fruit of that accumulated knowledge, to be able to understand much more than he revealed back then.

But many of the great scientists believed in God and sought to understand God better by investigating his creation, and vice versa; these greats of science included Galileo, Copernicus, Mendel, Kelvin, Newton, Bacon and Kepler.

But as I said earlier, while we can and should investigate the science behind God's creation, I don't think we'll ever be in danger of making faith obsolete. We'll never understand his infinite power and intelligence, just as we'll probably never understand his infinite goodness and love for such seemingly insignificant and troublesome creatures as we are.

cinemaphile85 said...

Thank you for the compliment, Bob. I hope you will also see that the links I tried to post on your other article, the ones that prove you wrong about your claim that "treating homosexuality is not harmful" are also grounded in reason. I think your readers deserve to hear both sides of that story, don't you?

Bob Ellis said...

They most certainly did not prove incorrect my statement that helping people leave an immoral and unhealthy lifestyle is harmful. Such an assertion is ludicrous even on the face of it. One might as well claim that helping drunks stop drinking or drug addicts stop taking drugs is harmful to them.

Let’s stick to topic here.

Dr. Theo said...

"Dr. Theo, how do you know that genetic information was placed there by God? Did you reach that conclusion through rigorous tests that were verified by other scientists?"

No, Cinemaphile, I believe that on faith, but a faith based upon a great deal of study, experience and evidence.

May I ask how you know that organisms evoloved from simple to complex? Were you there? Did you see it? Can you demonstrate it in the laboratory? What forces came into play that were able to negate known physical laws like the second law of thermaodynamics and the law of conservation of matter and energy.

What is the difference between a random scattering of stones and the same stones arranged into an arrow pointing the way on a trail? Does the difference depend on an observer, i.e., is the difference present whether you observe it or not? If there is a difference, what would you call it. Can you measure it scientifically?
If you concede there is a difference then you accept the supernatural. There are no physical laws that can account for intelligence/information; it is beyond scientific discovery, i.e., supernatural.

Merry Christmas!

cinemaphile85 said...

It must get confusing knowing when to act like a scientist and when to act like a zealot. I guess you take your cues based on whatever is in your best argumentative interest at the time.

By the way, I never said that I know organisms evolved from simple to complex. If they did, though, it would make a lot more sense than complex organisms magically appearing out of thin air - or dust, whatever.

A Merry Christmas to you too!

Dr. Theo said...

"It must get confusing knowing when to act like a scientist and when to act like a zealot."

Not at all, Cinemaphile. Honest scientific inquiry leads inexorably to God and Jesus. And my scientific curiosity is motivated by a desire to understand as much as can be known about His incredible creations.

I was once an atheist and ardent evolutionist. In-depth study of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry brought me to some kind of amorphous theism, but, at age fifty, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and nothing has been the same since. I was truly saved from certain destruction. I pray that you and others that truly seek Truth will find it.

Dutch said...

Yes, bacteria have many innate properties that make them immune to many chemicals. Yes, bacterial conjugation spreads resistance. This does not disprove evolution. Conjugation allows bacteria to create genetic diversity much like sexual reproduction allows us to. When a certain trait allows for greater survivorship (ie resistance to antibiotics), that bacteria survives to create the next generation, and the others either die off or do not reproduce as rapidly. That's survival of the fittest, and it changes the genetic makeup of the species over time = evolution.

Bob, I'm well aware that individuals contain more genetic information than they express. I can tell you're proud of the one fact you know about genetics. That doesn't account for the net change in genetic pool of a species over time. When we look at the genes in a population, we try to account for the recessive alleles that aren't being expressed as well.

Why are you so obsessed with the idea of injecting DNA into a population? That is definitely NOT required for a new species to develop. Species come about in a few ways, mostly having to do with genetic isolation within a population (which can happen in a variety of ways, in plants it mostly occurs through the development of polyploidy, in animals it can occur through geographic or temporal isolation,etc)and genetic drift. Once genetic drift between the two populations reaches a point where the two populations can no longer greate viable, fertile offspring with each other, genetic drift continues independently in the two groups, causing them to be increasingly different.

Dr. Theo, if you're reading, thanks for your comment. It's refreashing to have an intelligent discussion with someone of faith who actually understands science.

cinemaphile85 said...

I have genuinely been seeking truth. And it has led me away from Christianity, which was a terrifying process at first, but now I can honestly say that I'm in a very good place with myself. I hope you are too.

As I began to tell Bob earlier, life is better when you're not enslaved to an insecure, punitive tyrant who reads our every thought and will torture us forever if we don't give him the love he needs.

And if we really did come into being through unguided natural selection with odds that were astronomically against us, then it makes the fact we exist at all that much more precious and beautiful. The sense of sheer humility in that thought is enough to make me cry.

If you reject the circular reasoning and intellectual laziness of "Christianity MUST be true because it says it's true," you can finally open your mind to new possibilities and fearlessly go wherever the hypotheses, facts, and conclusions take you. Thank you for the offer, but there's no way I'm going back to Christianity.

Bob Ellis said...

I'm sorry to hear that, cinemaphile85. I believe some event or events in you life have distorted your perception and have misled you away from the truth. With every serious non-believer/atheist I've ever been able to talk extensively with, there has always been some traumatic or perplexing event or crisis that has led them astray.

I don't believe Christianity is true because it says it's true. I've viewed the truth claims of Christianity with some skepticism since childhood, and still continually hold them up to new facts for comparison.

But as time goes on, the level of that skepticism diminishes. As with anything or anyone, when a track record of reliability is built and maintained, reliable things can prove their trustworthiness. I have no interest in believing in a fantasy, but I have found no evidence of fantasy in Christianity. Though I don't understand everything about it, and while all its claims cannot yet be proved, the pass/fail ratio of what can be weighed for accuracy is thus far 100% pass.

I can still hope and pray you eventually come back to Christianity, and embrace it fully this time...and I will.

Dr. Theo said...

"...open your mind to new possibilities and fearlessly go wherever the hypotheses, facts, and conclusions take you."

Exactly! That is what I did many years ago and it ultimately led me to the foot of the cross.

cinemaphile85 said...

"With every serious non-believer/atheist I've ever been able to talk extensively with, there has always been some traumatic or perplexing event or crisis that has led them astray."

Bob, I couldn't agree more; that's exactly what happened to me.

I also believe that every serious believer, like yourself, comes to be so devout due to their own traumatic event or crisis. For you, I'm guessing it was your alcoholism. You might say that God "planned" for you to be an alcoholic so that you would eventually find him through your crisis, but psychologically speaking, maybe you just needed to sublimate your guilt and shame into something productive. It's not surprising that a lot of hardcore evangelical Christians used to be alcoholics or drug addicts. Not surprising, that is, if you figure that maybe they have simply changed the object of their addiction from drugs to God.

cinemaphile85 said...

Dr. Theo,

I think the main reason you did that is because you were afraid of what would happen to you if you didn't.

Bob Ellis said...

I don't think God "planned" for me to be a drunk; I don't think he enjoyed my suffering in the slightest (though at the time I was mislead into believing He did). But I believe He did use that bad circumstance to get my attention. And I think many former drunks, etc. like myself are very serious about God once we find him because we've been to the end of ourselves and see our inability (in other words, all our self-sufficient pride gets exhausted), and we see how incredibly good and merciful God is to be longsuffering with us in our rebellion, love us anyway, and be willing to forgive us when we ask.

cinemaphile85 said...

Exactly! Personal trauma, not reason or evidence, is what made you find faith. Out of your desperation, a shift occurred in you that made you see the world differently. The same thing happened to me, only with different results. And there's no going back. If you don't believe me, try being a skeptic again and you'll see what I mean.

Bob Ellis said...

Personal trauma led me to the point where I was open to the truth. I could have chosen to push it away and reject it, but I chose to give up myself and give in to it.

The same sun that melts the butter hardens the clay.

In the end, God gives us the free will to accept or reject him. And we live with the consequences of that decision, good or bad.

cinemaphile85 said...

God created us because he was lonely and wanted to be worshipped. And if we don't do that, he'll kill us. That's not a choice - it's an ultimatum. It's conditional love.

My personal trauma led me to a point where I was ready to accept this despicable truth about the Christian god.

cinemaphile85 said...

Do you think the rest of the world will ever see it that way? Do you think everyone will eventually accept Christ?

Bob Ellis said...

Christ made it plain 2,000 years ago that "small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Nevertheless, he instructed us to invite all who would come.

cinemaphile85 said...

So instead of creating just enough, God made a vast surplus of people throughout history, knowing the whole time that he only planned on keeping a few in the end. Nice friend you got there.

Bob Ellis said...

You just hate God too much to see his character clearly.

We'll certainly never understand just why God created the universe in this life (maybe not in the next), but there is more than enough evidence that it wasn't insufficiency (he is already complete, and exists in a mysterious Trinitarian state where he already has companionship and relationship), and it wasn't sadism. If he enjoyed seeing us suffer, Christ could have stayed in heaven and saved himself the trouble of coming to earth 2,000 years ago.

He gave us the freedom to accept him or reject him, and our parents long ago chose to reject him, bringing all of creation under the curse of that rejection. But each of us has the opportunity to accept him, and restore individually what was broken corporately.

Like the father of the prodigal son, God will be there waiting for you when you get ready to come home, provided you don't wait until it's too late.

Bob Ellis said...

Sorry, Dutch. Your comment got stuck in the moderation queue and the system didn't notify me it was there.

The type of changes you're talking about involve a loss of genetic information; evolution requires an increase, new information. You can differentiate within a "type" (what we commonly call a "species")--such as a beagle or poodle or Doberman among canines--, but one type cannot produce new genetic information to produce a new type. It's never been observed, and there's no evidence it's ever happened.

Dr. Theo definitely knows more about genetics and science than I do, and I'm extremely grateful for his contributions at Dakota Voice. But I'm not wrong: you can't get a bird from a dinosaur. And I think Dr. Theo would back me on that (and already has).

Dutch said...

If you'd read my posts, I'm not just talking about a loss of information. Mutations, etc. cause changes in the information which lead to new traits.

If poodles and beagles are separated enough to the point where genetic drift brings the two groups to where they can no longer produce viable, fertile offspring together, they could become two separate species.

Nobody thinks a dinosaur can give birth to a bird. New species develop over long periods of time through random mutations, genetic drift, etc giving rise to traits that are favored by natural selection.

Bob Ellis said...

Well dinosaur-to-bird was at one time an orthodox part of evolution theory, excuse me, evolution fact.

It may still be orthodox evolution doctrine...unless it's changed again. The "settled facts" of evolution dogma change so quickly, it's hard to keep up...

cinemaphile85 said...

Oh, is that it? I "just" hate God too much? Maybe I'm "just" not afraid of calling it like it is.

I think you "just" LOVE and FEAR God too much to see his character clearly!

Rationalize it any way you want, but the simple fact remains: if God said himself that only a few people will make it to Heaven, that means he also knows that billions of people will not. Yet he allowed them - and continues to allow them - to be born anyway.

If you gave your daughter a command that she chose not to follow, would you want someone to hold her great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren accountable for her one act of disobedience? Would you curse her entire lineage? What kind of parent would do that?!

What about the millions of Native Americans who lived and died on this very land in complete ignorance of God until Christians arrived from Europe and shared the Gospel? WHAT OPPORTUNITY DID THEY HAVE TO ACCEPT CHRIST?! What makes you and I so special that we have the option and they did not?

And what about the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust? Since they did not accept Christ, they are now suffering even further torture as they burn in hell forever, as if starvation, forced labor, medical experiments, and asphyxiation were not enough. Meanwhile, all that their Nazi tormenters had to do was repent and accept Christ, and now they're enjoying eternal paradise with choirs of angels. IS THAT JUSTICE?!

I honestly cannot fathom being even remotely associated with a human who would do such things, let alone WORSHIP a deity who does!

(By the way I'm actually enjoying this conversation quite a bit. It's nice to vent every now and then!)

cinemaphile85 said...

Bob, if I could just chime in on this other conversation for a second, evolutionary theory makes a lot more sense if you consider that the earth is more than 6,000 years old. Natural selection occurs on a scale of time that we often fail to appreciate.

Bob Ellis said...

God doesn't hold the umpteen-grandchildren responsible for the sins of their fathers. However, the choices of the fathers and mothers often do have an influence on the choices of the children and subsequent generations, for both good and bad. It's an awesome responsibility people have as parents, because they can set a bad trend that subsequent generations can easily follow...or take responsibility and choose a better way.

The Bible says that the truth is plain in creation; all one has to do is take time to observe, think, and the truth can become pretty clear. It's hard to say exactly what happens to human beings who have never heard the gospel, per se. But as I said, Romans is plain that creation speaks to the truth, and humanity is responsible to listen to the message. Abraham's faith was counted as righteousness thousands of years before the messiah; perhaps any Native Americans who heeded the message of the truth of God from creation are covered.

All I know is that if one rejects the truth of God when presented with it, if they die in that state of rejection, they face eternal separation from God in Hell because they chose to reject him in this life.

If you're the Creator, you get to make the rules. And God is extremely loving and gracious. Our fallen and sin-tainted condition makes that hard to see sometimes.

Bob Ellis said...

cinemaphile85, you know the earth is more than 6,000 years old because...you have a photograph older than that? A video recording? A book older than that?

Perhaps it's a rock that someone is told you is older than that because...they say it is? Because they made an assumption about the amount of a certain parent element in the rock at the time it was formed? Because they made an assumption about the decay rate of that parent element? Because they made an assumption that there was no contamination with the daughter element from an outside source? Because they made an assumption that none of the parent element had leeched excessively due to changes in moisture, temperature, barometric pressure, levels of cosmic radiation and such?

Like the rock from the lava dome of Mt. Saint Helens that we know from observation is only about 30 years old...yet gave a reading of 2.8 million years?

The earth is older than 6,000 years because there's "proof?" Riiiiiiiiiight!

Dr. Theo said...

"I think the main reason you did that [accept Jesus] is because you were afraid of what would happen to you if you didn't."

Perhaps that was your motivation when you were a Christian and, if so, explains a lot. But hell-fire is far from my mind. I believe God is perfectly just. I try to leave matters of judgement and consequences in His hands. I came to accept the Lord after He revealed to me His love and desire for me to be with Him in eternity.

Dr. Theo said...

Dutch, we are not that far apart in our understanding of genetics and change over time. It is only a matter of degree. Genetic drift does cause changes in the genetic make-up of some organisms, but this is simply adaptation and not in dispute as far as I am concerned. But there is no evidence that this, or mutations or anything else can change one type (genus) into another. A canine will always be a canine, an oak an oak, a cephalopod a cephalopod, etc.

There is nothing, other than speculation, to support such a theory. Have you read about the Galapagos finches on which Darwin first based his ideas? It seems that, rather than being 17 different species, they are all the same species of Passerines, but change bill size and shape depending upon local conditions and food supplies. This demonstrates a level of adaptability rarely seen in birds and diminishes Darwin's interpretation of his data. These changes occur much too quickly to be accounted for by genetic drift or mutations. Changes can occur in a single generation! Only innate genetic information and variable expression can explain this phenomenon. I believe all of God's creatures have vast capacities for adaptation pre-wired from the start, and the evidence to date is in my favor.

Merry Christmas.

cinemaphile85 said...

"The Bible says that the truth is plain in creation; all one has to do is take time to observe, think, and the truth can become pretty clear. It's hard to say exactly what happens to human beings who have never heard the gospel, per se. But as I said, Romans is plain that creation speaks to the truth, and humanity is responsible to listen to the message. Abraham's faith was counted as righteousness thousands of years before the messiah; perhaps any Native Americans who heeded the message of the truth of God from creation are covered."

I don't mean to be rude when I say this, but that has to be the feeblest defense of Christianity I have ever read.

Yes, it's hard to say what happens to someone who is incapable of hearing the Gospel, because the Bible fails to account for that type of situation. Ironic, since it was allegedly written by an omniscient and omnipresent being who should have foreseen such a glaring loophole in his own "inerrant" theology. Perhaps it's an indication that the Bible was written by men, men who at that time had no way of knowing about the other civilizations that already existed in different parts of the world.

If creation indeed speaks to the truth (the truth being that Jesus is the son of God, and that Jesus is the only path to salvation), then why are Christian missionaries always the ones telling indigenous natives about God, and NEVER the other way around? Has there ever been a recorded case of Christian missionaries claiming that THEY were the ones being proselytized to when visiting a pre-industrial society? And if I'm having so much trouble understanding this "plain truth" even with the aid of an annotated Bible, online Christian resources, a college degree, and 20 years of Southern Baptist education under my belt, then how can illiterate uneducated tribesmen who might not even have their own native word for "salvation" or "repentance" be expected to get it? Also, Christianity is not the only religion that promotes creation. Muslims and Hindus believe in creation too, so why haven't they independently concluded that Jesus is the son of God if, as you say, creation speaks to the truth?

And are you suggesting that Abraham's righteousness earned him admission into Heaven? Because that contradicts John 14:6, where Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." No one means no one, including Abraham. But if this Jew's righteousness was enough to get him into Heaven, why do Christians now believe that even the most righteous and good-natured Jew will go to hell unless he accepts Christ?

It's unfortunate that the best answer you can give me is "perhaps any Native Americans who heeded the message of the truth of God from creation are covered." I would hate to try explaining that to any living descendants of pre-colonial Native Americans, who have no way of knowing whether their ancestors are enjoying paradise in Heaven or suffering unending torture in hell, all because of a vague and inconsistent religious text. I would find little comfort in "perhaps."

Dr. Theo said...

I believe the following verses address your questions, Cinemaphile. As you have alluded, God and His ways are beyond our comprehension, but I believe He is loving and all-just.

Romans 2: 11-16 For there is no partiality with God. 12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

God's attributes are clearly evident in Creation, as mankind has recognized for thousands of years. It is only during the last few hundred years that man has begun to delude himself by imagining that he can deconstruct creation in naturalistic terms. In fact, our feeble knowledge doesn't begin to explain what the Lord has created by his Word.

cinemaphile85 said...

"I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6

If the Bible is perfect, then this verse cannot be contradicted. And if there are exceptions, then Christ should have stated them just as explicitly. But as I said, the men who wrote the Bible had no way of anticipating that some people are incapable of learning about Christ.

Life is so much simpler once you stop trying to make sense of something that, frankly, does not make sense.

And you're right, God and his ways are indeed beyond our comprehension. So why do scientists like yourself try to deconstruct his supernatural creation into natural terms, as if you could somehow "prove" it? Aren't you part of that delusion? Isn't it a mark of extreme arrogance to even attempt knowing the unknowable? If you can prove creation, what is the point of having faith in it?

Bob Ellis said...

And the Bible also says multiple times that "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

So we have an apparent quandary...unless there remains something more we haven't taken into consideration.

Perhaps since God told Abraham that the messiah would come through his descendants, and that all nations would be blessed by this messiah through him, and Abraham believed God, that in a way Abraham was already believing in Jesus.

The men who wrote the Bible already knew there were people who did not know about Christ. The Roman world itself was large even by todays standards, and elementary deduction would have told them it would take many, many, many hears for Christianity to spread over the entire empire. And they also knew that there were many people outside the empire, where lack of roads, organized civilization and infrastructure would make it even more difficult to propagate the gospel quickly. And even if the writers couldn't figure this out, God--who inspired what they wrote--obviously knew it.

We can never understand God completely, and can never understand even his creation completely. But God has put within us a curiosity, and a desire to learn and know, and also a need to know him. In seeking to know God better, we understand his creation better. In seeking to understand his creation better, we understand him better. His nature (goodness, order, etc.) and character are stamped onto his creation, visible even through the distortion of the curse, and when we gain understanding of one, we gain understanding of the other.

How incredibly wonderful that the infinite creator of the universe has invited finite, dirty, rebellious creatures such as us to know him!!!

cinemaphile85 said...

There's that word again: perhaps.

This means that eventually, the best theological answer you can give me is based on interpretation. And interpretation, even when millions of people agree, is always subjective and therefore can be wrong.

I must say, I'm extremely disappointed by how this conversation has turned out. You are one of many Christians I've asked these same questions to, yet like them, you seem to think they are all rhetorical. They're not.

If John 14:6 is true, and the Bible's statement about Abraham is ALSO true, then why do Christians believe that all Jews will go to hell unless they accept Christ? According to Abraham's story, belief in Yahweh should be enough.

I notice that both you and Dr. Theo keep coming back to the same defense: when you can't explain something, you remind me that we can never understand God completely. I'm sorry, but that's just not good enough. It basically amounts to nothing more than, "Oh come on, you're thinking about this too much. Just believe it!" That sort of explanation would have worked if I were still ten years old, but God gave this "finite, dirty, rebellious creature" a brain of his own, and it wants better answers than that.

Christians have repeatedly failed to deliver those answers.

Bob Ellis said...

The messiah wasn't manifest when Abraham lived. The messiah has been manifest for the past 2,000 years ago, and anyone presented with information about him has a choice: accept him and receive God's forgiveness, or reject him and spend eternity in Hell.

The choice is the same for Jews and Gentiles alike.

You lean on the objection that "Christians can't explain everything" as a crutch and an excuse for avoiding the truth. It's quite convenient for you, since no human being will ever be able to answer every question from someone who is determined not to believe anyway. Even if we could, you would still rationalize away the truth.

So while you have a convenient excuse for avoiding God, it won't last forever. When you stand before God someday, if you haven't accepted Christ before then, God will almost certainly point you back to December 2008 and remind you that you had an opportunity to accept his Son, but passed it up because the answers you got from some of his followers weren't perfect enough for you, weren't comfortable enough for you.

That's your choice, to face that end someday, but I hope you accept Christ before then, and I know He hopes you will, too.

Dr. Theo said...

When Jesus said that no one comes to the Father except by Him, I believe that is a declaration that Jesus holds the keys to everlasting life. He can open the doors to anyone person that He judges righteous, as only He can judge.

This does not relieve Christians of the obligations of the "great commission," but does not necessarily exclude those who never had the opportunity to know Him in this life. As I've said previously, God is all-just and will judge and condemn according to His will and His perfect knowledge of each person's heart.

I have raised several questions and propositions during this conversation that I have asked atheists on many occasions and none have been able to answer. It did not go unnoticed that you simply ignored them and proceeded with your scripted agenda. As a former member of M.M. O'Hare's American Atheists, I know the arguments well and employed them for many years.

It is a non sequitor to argue that it is inconsistent for a believer to pursue some understanding of God's creation. How so? God told us that His attributes are evident in creation. How can it be an affront to Him for us to endeavor some understanding, especially when that endeavor leads us to a deeper faith?

"Arrogance?" I think you know thw word well.

cinemaphile85 said...

Since we have both ignored each other's questions in favor of promoting our own scripted agendas, I guess this conversation is over. Isn't it amazing how when two people who are both convinced they are right begin talking, it's almost impossible to have an honest conversation? Describe my "agenda" any way you'd like Dr. Theo, but there's no difference between why we do this: we both think we're right, we both think we know the truth (or at least what we think is the truth), and we both go into conversations like this assuming that we having nothing to learn and that we will prove the other guy wrong. If I'm arrogant, then you're right there with me.

So Bob and Dr. Theo, whenever you feel that the person you're trying to convert is being obstinate, just remember that they feel the same way about you. And like you, they assume they're right before the conversation even begins.

Dr. Theo said...

For the record, Mr. Ellis or I have tried to answer every theological question raised in this thread. Cinemaphile answered none.

Good day to you, Cinemaphile.

Jonathan said...

Seriously? This is a discussion on ANY website ANYWHERE on the web? I usually pass by these types of articles, but this one is quite horrendous. Let's attack it piece by piece.

First, it is downright insulting to equate child sacrifice to the right to choose. But, more than that, it is bigoted to think of liberals as an undifferentiated mass that agrees on every point. I am EXTREMELY liberal, and I do not relish the thought of abortion. The idea saddens me, and I celebrate the day when abortion is no more. But I also recognize that the issue is not as black and white as many on the right want to make it. Does that make me some sort of advocate for child sacrifice? To suggest so only shows contempt and lack of serious reflection.

Further, I don't know one liberal, progressive, or democrat who wants to celebrate sexual relativism. Yeah, sex is a difficult thing. Within a Judeo-Christian framework, it has been many things over many years. David had many wives, and God even said if those had not been enough, he would have given David more. Does any Christian today seriously consider this a mode of behavior to be encouraged? If not, then you have already begun to be sexual relativists. It is a FAR stretch to equate the realization that sexuality has had many legitimate forms over thousands of years to sexual orgies in front of sacrificed babies.

Finally, wasn't one of the first commands in the bible to take care of the earth? In fact, isn't the belief that we need to care for creation more Christian than simply accepting the conservative myth that global warming doesn't exist? That's not radical environmentalism or pantheism (which, might I point out, was defined incorrectly - check out any book on theology or comparative religion). In fact, such a belief goes to the very soul of Christianity - this is God's creation, and we need to care for it. It doesn't matter however he created it, whether in 6 days or over billions of years - especially since anyone who has studied Hebrew can tell you that the Genesis account can support both stories. What matters is that it is God's earth, and as his children, we must care for it, even if it means disagreeing with some biased conservative talking head.

A discussion with liberals might do you well. We are not the demons you think us to be. I love my wife. I hope to have kids one day who I teach to respect their fellow many as well as the earth that God has given us. I want to do well by them, and give them a better life than the one I have had so far. I have been blessed with more resources than many, and I accept that as a responsibility to give to others, whether through education, security, justice (physical, social, or economic), or freedom of choice through diversity of thought and experience. How does this make me some sort of pagan? How does this mean I support something horrible? Are not these beliefs, borne out in the democratic platform, more Christian than a belief in an unregulated free market which favors the richest of us at the expense of the poor in the hope that something will trickle down? Is it not more Christian to listen to others and accept with wide open arms all who come what, regardless of their point of view (like Jesus did), than to simply state that all who do not believe exactly as I believe must be sinners and bearers of a sinister motive?

Perhaps you'll show some thought before making some horrendous accusations that bear nothing with the truth. Further, you might recognize that the other side of the political spectrum might just love God like you, but just disagrees with you on how to express that love. Perhaps.

Dr. Theo said...

"First, it is downright insulting to equate child sacrifice to the right to choose."

Is it really, Jonathan? Please go to the folowing link and view the video, if you have the stomach for it, then make your case.

God's plan of one man and one woman in a monogamous relationship called marriage is clearly established in Genesis (the first book of the Bible in case you want to look it up). The fact that there was a period when God allowed some men to have more than one wife, for His own reasons, does not invalidate that plan. Furthermore, Jesus re-asserts the point in the New Testament several times.

God gave man "dominion" over the earth and all that was in it. Your attempt to link that to "global warming" and radical environmentalism is specious. Look up the word dominion.

I have no doubt that you love your wife and family. Are you willing to see 70% of their life-time wages go to those who refuse to take responsibility for themselves. Are you willing to see industry and commerce brought to its knees in subjugation to government so that your children will have to beg for work from some bureaucrat because that's how socialism works. When Jesus said "Those who will not work shall not eat," does that fit your idea of 'economic justice?'

Jesus opened His arms to all men and women, regardless of their past sins, and said to them "repent and follow me." Was Jesus being intolerant and judgmental?

"...the other side of the political spectrum might just love God like you, but just disagrees with you on how to express that love." Well, perhaps, but I didn't make the rules and neither did you. God layed out His plan for us in His Word. If you have a problem with that, take it up with Him.

Jonathan said...

I don't want to get drawn into a long debate over something we clearly won't agree on. But a couple of quick points.

First - because abortion and child sacrifice are sad, does not equate them. That is a logical fallacy. AIDS and genocide are sad, this does not mean they are the same. But there is gray, whether you choose to admit it or not. When does life really begin? The moment a zygote is formed? The moment the heart starts? The moment the brain is formed? Birth? These are legitimate questions. If you want to claim that conception is the moment life begins, you are left with all sorts of implications that perhaps you might not be prepared to deal with. What of rape and incest? What of natural abortion? What of health of the mother? I don't pretend to have all the answers. But it is sincere to admit there is gray, it is offensive to insinuate that recognizing the gray is the same as committing child sacrifice.

Second, you mentioned that I should pick up a Bible and look at Genesis. Well, I have. In fact, i have two degrees in theology (one graduate) as does my wife. One of my degrees was even from an institution you might consider "evangelical." So when I say that the Bible has had changing concepts of sex and marriage, I am not kidding. Genesis, which you so lovingly point to, also seems to encourage incest (how else does the literal creationist account for breeding when there was only Adam and Eve? Or with Noah?). The rest of the Torah (by which I mean the first five books of the Tanakh) discusses a man invading a new town, finding a woman he fancies, and marrying her. The instructions of the Holiest part of the Bible? If she displeases you, don't kill her, divorce her. The new testament envisions families being ripped asunder BY THE BELIEVER in an effort to follow Christ. Paul said it is better to not marry. And yes, the Tanakh contemplates multiple wives, and shows God's approval of this arrangement. At no point does it limit this arrangement to a certain point in time. You have to read this into the text (what sort of literalist would do that???). The Bible also says that if you sleep with your wife within seven days of her menstrual cycle, you will be unclean. Are you unclean Dr. Theo? My point is not to personally attack you. This book that has been handed down is rich and varied. It contains hard teachings, many of which are open to MANY different understandings. By your comments you appear to be of the conservative evangelical mode, most likely of the fundamentalist variety. This mode of interpreting the Bible has only been around for about 150 years. Are you suggesting that for the first 1,850 years of the church, every other person who looked at the Bible got it wrong? If not, then at least begin a discussion with "my understanding of the Bible" rather than "Biblical Christianity says..." I hate to break it to you, but we've been trying for 2000 years to understand what Biblical Christianity is. There are many thoughts. After many years of study, I still can't give you a definitive answer, and I would distrust anyone who claims that they can. The Bible itself even contemplates that it cannot be found (see Paul, Peter, etc).

Which leads to my next point. The closest the bible does suggest to us that we might find Biblical Christianity is in James, when James tells us that the purest form of religion visits the widow and the fatherless. NOTE the significant absence from this phrase. It doesn't say the purest form prays some prayer "accepting Jesus." The rest of the Bible is the same. It reiterates repeatedly, take care of the weak. Take care of the poor. Your favorite quote about working and eating actually was directed at a group of well-to-do followers who chose to not contribute to the community in expectation of Christ's return. The Bible also tells us to give without expectation of return. In fact, this is an oft repeated concern of the Bible - are you taking care of the poor? It doesn't ask what the poor have done to deserve your help. It just says to help. It's not about them, its about you.

But you bring in an extra point about taxes and socialism. First, look at the early church. IT WAS SOCIALIST. There is no other way to describe it. There really isn't. Second, the suggestion that the new administration is ushering in socialism is ludicrous. If you really want, we can get into a discussion on political structures. We are already a mixed capitalist society - but nobody has suggested a government run society. Third, I have not yet met this person being taxed at 70% (and, working in a lucrative field, I know many in the highest tax brackets), nor have I met this person just accepting the handouts without giving anything in return (I met many receiving handouts while my mother worked her way from welfare to being very successful. I used public education, federal student loans, and lots of hard work to earn multiple degrees, with which I have returned to society its monetary investment in me). So I speak from a unique position when I point out that the Regan's "Welfare Queen" is more myth than fact, and state that we, as a society, if we are to call ourselves moral, need to take care of the weak and oppressed. Further, as Christians, we need to do so without expectation of return.

Minor points: Regarding dominion, please do look it up. Dominion does not necessarily mean domination, and moreover, the original language does not even carry the connotation of domination. In fact, it means care. And since you argue so ardently that God made this world, why would you want to destroy, rape, mishandle, and generally mistreat it?

Jesus did say repent. But he was also known for hanging out with "sinners," many of whom did not abandon their lifestyle. He was just as comfortable among the rough crowd as he was among the "refined."

Regarding Liberalism. God is not a Republican. Much of the republican platform goes against the bible. And, as mentioned, nobody can point out God's rules with exactitude. So, you can't conclude by telling me to take it up with him. Perhaps I will take it up with whoever is interpreting the Bible for you, but not God.

Dr. Theo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Theo said...

Jonathan, so many canards, platitudes and misconceptions, it's hard to know where to begin.
Despite your many degrees and intense study you seem to have gotten an awful lot wrong, or at least misconstrued.
Abortion today and infanticide among pagans are more alike than different. Both are or were done out of self-interest and without regard to the life of the child. Among biologists there has never been any controversy about when life begins. Human life begins with the formation of the zygote from a sperm and an ovum. The only controversy is if and when to grant this life the status of personhood. This is a political question and any answer is necessarily arbitrary.
To argue the issue of abortion by appealing to extraordinary circumstances such as rape or incest begs the question and is fallacious. Those are separate issues. No less than the Guttmacher Institute has established that almost nine out of ten abortions are sought for no other reason than that the mother didn’t want the child.
The marrying of close relatives, i.e. incest, was not addressed until the time of Moses, Leviticus 18-20. Cain married a daughter of Adam and Eve. Multiple wives were permitted among the Israelites for the purpose of increasing their numbers so as to establish God’s people in the land that He promised them. Jesus made it clear that God’s plan was for one man to marry one woman for life.
The sexual and dietary proscriptions on the Israelites are contained in Leviticus and were established for health or social reasons. The prohibition of sex within seven days of menses makes perfect sense medically. Among a nomadic people spending years in the desert hygiene probably wasn’t ideal. For several days following menses the woman’s endometrium is vulnerable to infection because the vasculature, disrupted by the soughing of the lining, has not yet healed and sealed off the blood vessels. By the way, this is still true today. Women are much more likely to contract STDs during the days following menstruation.
You claim that what you call a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible is a recent phenomenon. Not true. The beliefs that I hold today are consistent with the beliefs of the early Christians as related by Eusebius, Josephus, Origen, Justin Martyr and other early historians. Among the early churches a form of socialism was enjoined by Jesus and widely practiced. But this was only among believers, all of whom consented to the arrangement. Just as today there were some who were willing to take from the community but less eager to give and that is where the admonition of “no work, no food” originated.
You contend that James “tells us that the purest form of religion visits the widow and the fatherless.” That is a clever attempt to place the emphasis on works vs. faith, but is wholly out of context. In James’ greeting at the beginning of the epistle he clearly defines who he is: “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” He then goes to a major point of his letter saying “But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers…” The point about visiting orphans and widows is but one of several ways in which James enjoins Christians to be “doers of the word.” In no way does he diminish prayer or acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord. He presumes those things of his readers.

You ask if I am taking care of the poor. I try. I give money, food and clothing to worthy charities to help those in need. I have helped found an inner city church that serves a community with few resources. I offer my time and expertise as a physician to those in need without expectation of compensation, although I am sometimes rewarded with a child’s drawing, a basket of fruit or a pecan pie (please don’t tell the IRS). If I find that I am simply being used by someone who is capable of doing for themselves I decline to be of further assistance unless they too agree to help others in need thus giving back to the community of believers.
You say “I have not yet met this person being taxed at 70% (and, working in a lucrative field, I know many in the highest tax brackets), nor have I met this person just accepting the handouts without giving anything in return.” I didn’t say I was being taxed at that rate. My taxes only total 56% of my income (all taxes), but that doesn’t include the hidden taxes of governmental over-regulation. At the current rate of government growth the Cato Institute projects that children born in 2006 will pay as much as 70% of their life-time earnings in taxes.
You don’t believe there are people accepting hand-outs without giving in return? Where do you live and what kind of life do you have? I just saw a 27 year old woman in my office yesterday who was attempting to get a prescription for Percocet and Xanax. She was on disability because of her “nerves” and had never had a job. She has three children out of wedlock by different men, all of whom are provided for by welfare. I see similar patients several times a day in the ER. While there are some who use welfare temporarily until they get back on their feet, there is a large percentage of permanent welfare recipients and the condition is often passed on to their children.
“…we, as a society, if we are to call ourselves moral, need to take care of the weak and oppressed.” I agree, but that is the responsibility of individuals and churches. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to give our money to the government so that it can provide for the needs of others (and enrich themselves, as well). This matter is also clearly unconstitutional. If I see someone hungry on the street by what moral authority may I come to you and demand YOUR money to feed them?
Every sinner that Jesus encountered in the Gospels is told to repent and obey God’s commands. You may try to make it otherwise, but you are either ignorant or a liar.
You ask, as a believer in God, the Creator, “why would you want to destroy, rape, mishandle, and generally mistreat it?” What sophistry and presumptuousness! This question deserves no other response.

[My apologies to other readers of these comments. I try to keep my remarks short and concise, but Jonathan's tome of misinformation demanded a rather lengthy response.]

Bob Ellis said...

Jonathan, I think this has already been covered in the post or in subsequent comments, and I'll try not to belabor the wisdom of Dr. Theo, but I did have a few additional thoughts.

Abortion and child sacrifice equate perfectly. Both involve the killing of one's own child, and both are motivated by the desire to make ones life more prosperous; only a tiny handful of abortions are done to save the life of the mother or because of rape (which still involves the killing of an innocent child, regardless of the circumstances of the child's conception).

When does life begin? The most obvious answer is at conception, as was recognized until around the time abortion became "legal" through judicial fiat. The unborn child has unique human DNA from the moment of conception, meaning it's completely unique and not a part of the mother's body she may do with as she pleases. Most abortions occur around the eighth week of development...by the time the unborn child has a heartbeat, a forming nervous system, and many researchers believe the child can feel pain.

It's troubling that you claim to have two theological degrees, yet lack even an elementary understanding of Biblical history; you must have attended a very liberal college where liberal ideology was more important than God's truth.

There was no prohibition agains incest in the early days of Genesis because brothers marrying sisters was necessary to get the human race going. There also was not the problem of errors in the gene pool which can result in serious birth defects among children of close relatives. By the time such a development came along, God prohibited the practice.

Christ also explained the divorce God allowed in the Old Testament; did your college not explain any of this to you? God made a concession to allow them divorce under certain circumstances, but it was never in his plan, just as polygamy was not. If you'll notice, while the Bible records historical events of polygamous marriages, in every example I can think of, the disasterous results of this became abuntantly evident.

There are also many instructions issued to the ancient Jews in the Law of Moses for a variety of reasons. Some were to illustrate the sinfulness of human beings, God's holiness, and the gulf between. Some were moral in nature and remain in effect, while others were dietary and ceremonial, and the New Testament makes clear have been rescinded. Some may have been for health reasons.

Still, there are some we simply don't understand. God is infite; we are finite. But unless you believe God is an idiot, he obviously had good reasons for these laws that we simply do not understand. Why attempt to undermine God's authority by shouting about your ignorance? It doesn't do you any good, and it undermines the crediblity of the God I belive I understand that you profess allegiance to.

The early church was not socialist as we understand the term. They shared of the blessings God had given them willingly without government coersion or force. And the Bible makes it clear that the first line of responsibility for helping the needy starts with family, then church, and that givers are to be alert for misuse and abuse of charity (Leviticus 25:25, Exodus 23:3, Leviticus 19:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:10, 1 Timothy 5:4, 1 Timothy 5:13, 1 Timothy 5:16). Unfortunately there are a lot of liberal ideas floating around the church today masquerading as Biblical doctrine. You can put lipstick on a pig, but...

It is true that God is neither a conservative or a Republican. However, the values of conservatism are more in line with God's values as laid out in the Bible than any other political philosophy. I part ways with conservatives where they part ways with the Bible, but such instances are few and far between.

Jesus hung out with "the sinners," but he never adopted their ways, and he never excused their behavior. He said, "Salvation has come to this house" when he saw evidence of it, and "Go and sin no more," not "Your sin isn't really sin."

Don't let shallow people who aren't really interested in obeying God mislead you. While we'll never understand everything about God or his instructions, living an obedient life is much easier than they want you to believe.

Jonathan said...

In response to Bob:

You noted several possible explanations for why certain passages of the Bible are no longer applied. First, can you identify (unequivocally) the passage in the Bible that states this? The part which states "you no longer need to worry about these rules?" It certainly wasn't Jesus - why else did the first ecumenical council in Jerusalem fight so fiercely over whether Gentiles needed to adopt the kosher rules? And where (besides a contemporary commentary) does it say that incest was necessary then, but not now?

For Dr. Theo:

Further, it is not unconstitutional to engage in social welfare. Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause. Is the system perfect? Not at all. My wife works very closely with many on the lowest end of the social ladder. She's seen its abuse. But that doesn't mean that everyone out there is some mythical "welfare queen." Further, if you are being taxed at 56%, perhaps you are referring to the tax rate of the highest portion of your taxes (since income is taxed progressively, the first chunk at a certain percentage, and so forth). However, if you are actually being taxed at 56% (effective tax rate, not something on paper), then I suggest you see a tax guy - your effective tax rate in most cases can be significantly reduced over that, usually to much closer to an EFFECTIVE rate around the mid 30's.

BTW - regulation as a hidden tax? Do you have money in tied to the stock market? If so, how much money might you have saved had there been increased regulation. Say, what if the government had stepped in and slowed down predatory lending practices and an unregulated credit default swap market? Might have avoided the bubble altogether. That's a "hidden tax" I'm willing to bear.

Also, you mention several names. Eusebius wrote with a clear political bent (to make Constantine look good) and in fact recognized the extreme diversity within the church. He also referred to a Christianity that looks very different from protestant Christianity today. Josephus barely mentioned Christianity, and even when he did, it is hotly disputed which words he put in, and which were inserted by later scribes. In either case, he doesn't relate much of the early churches practice. Origen was a theologian, not a historian. Further, he was a universalist who thought that in the end even Satan would be saved, and his teachings were later declared anathema. Justin Martyr was also a theologian, not a historian. He toyed with universalism, and was very open to dialogue with pagans and recognized (even celebrated) diversity of theology within the church.

I could also mention Irenaeus, Augustine, and even recent theologians like Karl Barth. They all celebrated diversity of thought within the church. And not a limmited diversity of thought, but a broad, vigorous debate. They didn't universally declare "well, it makes sense to me that at the time, God would have wanted incest to get the human race going" (which, again, I ask you to point out to me where in the Bible, or which theologian from more than 150 years ago suggests that), and expect that this covered up the tough realities found in the Bible. In fact, if the Bible is so straight forward, why wasn't it until the fourth century that the texts of the new testament were declared? Why was Athanasius so controversial? If the Bible is so clear? Why has there been ecumenical council after ecumenical council, often dealing with core issues of the faith? Read Eusebius. Tell me if you think even this one (clearly biased) writer presents a unified vision of the faith that looks like today.

Which is my ultimate point. To equate liberalism with baalism is simply offensive and an overstatement. First, to act like ANYBODY likes abortion is to fail to understand the other side of the argument. I'm not pro-abortion. I think it a horrible thing, and everyone I know who has gone through it deals with it to this day. Would that it were gone. But I recognize that it is a difficult area, and I doubt many people just non-chalantly walk into it. It is a difficult decision. Second, as far as helping the poor, I see the scale of the challenge, and see no reason why it can't be addressed through the government. Third, regarding the earth, this is God's earth, and it needs to be protected. Even if it costs money, it needs to be protected. (besides, has anyone considered the implications for our economy if we go green? New technology, being widely purchased, creates a new sector to the economy like the PC did in the 90's. New infrastructure creates new jobs. We send less money to regions supporting terrorism. How is this a bad thing?). So, again, I ask why is liberalism, or being progressive, some sort of boogeyman equated with some of the worst in human nature?

Bob Ellis said...

Here's an example. The dietary restrictions of the Mosaic Law no longer apply. Evidence: Acts 10. You will find other evidences of ritual and dietary laws no longer applying elsewhere in the Gospels and throughout the New Testament.

There was disagreement early on because most Christians were Jewish, and good Jews were used to keeping these rules. They also may not have heard from Peter and others on such subjects.

As to incest, it's a simple deduction. The math and science is obvious that brothers and sisters would have to marry and mate in the beginning in order to build up the numbers of the human race. As long as it's consensual, was there a moral principle prior to the Mosaic Law (and modern science, which has confirmed the practical and health wisdom behind the Mosaic prohibition) which says it shouldn't be done? Of course not. To do so now would invite birth defects on our children; in the early days of humanity, before chromosomal errors began to multiply, there was no such risk to children.

See, it really isn't hard. People who'd simply rather not listen to God want you to believe it's hard...but it isn't. If you join them in buying into the lie that simply believing God is tough and oh-so-impossible, that makes it much easier for them to just ignore God completely.

Don't enable them to remain enslaved to sin without a challenge, and don't let them mislead you.

God meant what he said, and God can be trusted!

Dr. Theo said...

Typical of most liberals that I have debated you choose to ignore the many points in my argument and proceed with another litany of assertions and questions. Thanks, but I won’t play that game.

You seem to be well-schooled in liberal theology, putting me in mind of Rom. 1:22-23. I have studied many of the authorities that you mention, but do not arrive at the same conclusions.

You said “I have not yet met this person being taxed at 70% nor have I met this person just accepting the handouts without giving anything in return” in your first comment and now you say “My wife works very closely with many on the lowest end of the social ladder. She's seen its abuse. But that doesn't mean that everyone out there is some mythical "welfare queen." You first make an absolute declaration, “never” and now “she’s seen some abuse.” Which is it? Who said “everyone out there is some mythical ‘welfare queen.’” Straw men do not an argument make.

Yes, I pay about 56% of my income in taxes, federal, state and local. A partial list might include:
Automobile Registration Tax
Building Permit Tax
Capital Gains Tax
Dog License Tax
Estate Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (Tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (Tax on top of tax)
Local Income Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Taxes
Social Security Taxes
Road Usage Tax
Sales Tax
Toll Booth Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and non-Recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Parking Fines
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Workers Compensation Tax
Gasoline Tax (42 cents/gallon)
Federal Income Tax

The following gives some examples of regulatory costs:
According to economists Michael Hazilla and Raymond J. Kopp, environmental regulations alone reduced overall American employment by 1.18 percent (by 1990), or by 1.1 to 1.4 million jobs. Federal regulations on business, environmental and otherwise, have destroyed between 3.6 and 9.6 million jobs.

*As much as 80% of all inflation is attributable to federal, state and local government mandates and regulations, according to economist Richard Rahn.

*Americans spend 12 billion hours, equal to 48 hours per capita, dealing with federal forms each year.

*According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 24% of all health care spending goes for administrative and regulatory costs.

*Since stringent drug-approval procedures were enacted in 1962, the cost of developing new drugs has doubled and the number of drugs approved each year has plummeted by two-thirds.
--The National Center for Public Policy Research

Add the costs imposed by fiat by the EPA, EEOC, Dept. of Education, HUD,HHS, etc. and Americans are paying outrageous amounts to the regulators and getting little in return.
That is not to claim that all regulation is bad. In our current economic mess much of the blame can be placed on Congressional oversight committees that failed to properly regulate the mortgage industry, Dodd, Barney Frank, Pelosi and Obama being the worst culprits.

Wasting money on unproven technology and programs in the hope of solving imaginary, unsubstatiated problems is not a frugal use of Americans’ hard-earned dollars. It certainly does grow government, which, of course is real the intent.

As for your appeal to the Commerce Clause, some of our founding fathers and past presidents had some thoughts on the subject:
•I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."-- James Madison
•"With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers [enumerated in the Constitution] connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."-- James Madison
•"I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity," adding that to approve such spending, "would be contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded."-- Franklin Pierce,
•"I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan to indulge in benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds . . . I find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution." -- Grover Cleveland

Liberalism is the antithesis of freedom. Just look at how much damage has been done already. Before he even gets in office look what Obama has done to the stock market and the economy.

Personally, I'm feeling all hope and changey over the prospects for the next four years.

Sarah said...

Dr. Theo

You're correct, I did stumble across myself. No, I have not met anyone who has abused the system, though as with any system I believe some corruption has crept in. My wife does work with people who have tried to game the system, and never to avail. Her stories usually relate to helping the military vet who lost half his brain in an attack try to get disability pay.

As far as congressional oversight, this problem began while repub's controlled congress and the presidency. Obama wasn't even in the Senate when Lindsay Graham (of the 'nation of whiners' infamy) slipped deregulation of the credit default swap market into an appropriations bill about 8 years ago. Further, Obama isn't even president yet. What has he done I the stock market. In fact, it has started to stabilize since his election, and especially since he started naming his picks to financial posts. Do you read the news. If so you'd know that the worst happened between Sept. 15 and the middle of October. So check your numbers.

You tax argument is intriguing. But ultimately false - even with all those taxes you listed, I don't see this adding up to 56%. If it does for you, again, see a tax guy. But it's one thing to argue tax policy. Quite another to equate disagreements over tax policy to a semi-demonic religion. And with the Commerce Clause, check out Gonzales v. Raich. And if your really that hard hearted to think that about government, I can't help you.

To Bob:

The Bible is easy and clear? Then why are there so many denominations? Who is correct? Each claims to be the adherent of Historical/Biblical Christianity. Are they all right? Granted, some of the disagreements are over things that only theologians really care about and don't directly influence day to day living: soteriology, christology, eschatology, pneumatology, or any of numerous other '-ology's'. But then what of drinking - abstention or moderation? Baptism - infant, believer's, or at death? What of family values - Jesus did say he came to set brother against brother. What of money? What of non-belivers? What of war? You mentioned Acts 10 - that is the Jerusalem Council I spoke of. But why wasn't it clear? Why did Peter and Paul disagree with each other? What of the 'unforgivable sin'? To what lengths should we read the Bible literally? Does God continue to reveal new truths? How much of the Bible is contextual? What did Paul mean when he said something can be a sin for you but not for me?

My point is not to get you to abandon your faith. Celebrate it. But live it with humility that says 'this much I think, but I know other lovers of God who completely disagree.' these are some of the hard questions that can't be answered in a comment online. But recognize they might have different answers. And in so recognizing, don't demonize someone who has concluded different from you. We disagree on the nature of personhood. We disagree on the role of goverent in social justice. We disagree on how to preserve God's earth. Does that make me or my philosophical brethren evil?

But I have made my point - that Chiratians can differ, even be liberals, and yet still be Christians. We liberals are not a monolithic entity that all thinks the same. I've responded to your points (though Dr. Theo insists I missed something. If he points them out and requests a response, then I will). Otherwise, I've had my say and will let you have re last word. This is not my forum, and I can only respond to the offensive things I see.

Bob Ellis said...

Jonathan/Sarah, did I say anything even remotely claiming that everything in the Bible was clear? I have NEVER said such a thing, and certainly didn't here. You misunderstand me, perhaps intentionally.

God's wisdom is so vast that we will never understand fully and completely all that he wanted to tell us. However, the overwhelming majority of the Bible's teachings are very clear, especially the most important teachings.

And you might want to go back and read Acts 10 again in light of the dietary restrictions. And read it again. And again. And however many times it takes to understand it. It's really pretty plain; perhaps whatever liberal college you attended has clouded your perception, because it isn't hard to glean.

As Jesus said, "You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." People who are wise in their own eyes and wise in the dark wisdom of the world often miss the easy and obvious truths; they simply can't or won't believe that God's truth can be so easy to understand.

Again, don't let people mislead you into believing that you can't really know what's morally right or wrong. You can. Claiming you can't is a cop-out; don't fall for it.

It doesn't matter whether you and I disagree on abortion or social justice. What does God say? What does our Constitution say? Both condemn the taking of innocent human life, and both condemn taking something from one person against their will and giving it to another (hint: that's "stealing").

The best and ultimate test is not whether something meets the criteria of liberalism or conservatism, but whether it (in a secular setting) meets the Constitutional standard, and (in a moral, spiritual setting) whether it meet's God's standard. Unfortunately, liberalism is almost completely against both God's values and those of the Constitution.

You don't have to like it, but it's just the way it is.

Again, don't let people deceive you into the easy path. Choose the high road, choose God's way. You can understand what he said is right and wrong, and you can trust him. Put your faith in God, not man.

Dr. Theo said...

Jonathan, I am willing to agree to disagree on most of the issues we've differed on--politics and taxes can get very difficult to adquately discuss in such a forum, especially if you are as poor a typist as I.

But, I did ask a question that I really wish you would address regarding "social justice." If I see a man in need of food, by what moral authority do I have the right to point a gun at your head and demand your money so that I can feed him?

Thank you for your time.

Jonathan said...


First, I would take issue with your description of "pointing a gun to my head." We elect representatives. These representatives have continually voted to fund these programs. Various presidents have signed these programs into existence. The courts have upheld challenges to these programs. It is not a gun to your head. If you take such issue with it, and logic really is on your side, then organize other voters to side with you and elect in representatives who agree with you on the "un-necessity" of these programs. Its not a gun - it's representative democracy.

Also, from an economic perspective, it actually benefits us as a society. With more people with money in their pockets, more is produced, more is consumed, and the economic pie grows. It might affect your marginal propensity to save - making you more willing to spend a larger percentage of your net income. And again, if you disagree with it (or any other aspect of progressive taxation), again, organize other like minded citizens. But that doesn't make those who disagree with you members of some nefarious plot to steal your money. Which leads to my next point - the morality of social justice via the government.

There are two approaches to this. The first (admittedly weaker) argument is that Caesar will do with Caesar's and God will do with God's. But this is the weaker argument. The better point is that the Bible clearly contemplates that governments are not amoral. Rather, they can be moral or immoral. And not just the leaders, the state itself. Here, with such a large number of people in need, and since nearly 2000 verses of the Bible speak to our need to help the poor, it strikes me that it would be immoral for our government to not address the need. It is only a modern thought which fails to understand that systems can be moral entities. The ancients (and most definitely, the Jewish people), understood that the government was a moral entity. So if our government sees such suffering, and does nothing for it, then it is just as culpable as God declared you would be to do nothing for it. So, since the government has the right and responsibility to care for its weakest citizens, it is not pointing a gun at you - it is simply ensuring that the state is a moral actor.

You may not like this mode of analysis, but I guarantee you, it is very ancient, and woven into the fabric of the Bible (both testaments).

Moreover, there is also the practicality argument. The problem facing our society is large. It is simply inconceivable that individual actors within the system can address the problem. We must orient the system to address the problem. And to think that it will simply "trickle down" is naive, and probably selfish. Regan didn't really believe in that, nor do economists. So why should it be the answer to one of society's deepest questions - how do we handle our poor. Further, ours is already a mixed capitalist society (professional police, firefighters, schools, infrastructure, etc). We can disagree to the limit of that mixing, but that is fundamentally a political disagreement. It does not mean that those who would support social justice via government intervention are nearly as demonic as you suggest.

Finally, we are a community. You may call it a platitude, but we bear responsibility for each other. To not care (individually and corporately) would simply demean us all.

Dr. Theo said...

Jonathan, I believe that you are sincere in your beliefs and that you have thought them through at some length, but I think your are mistaken on several points. When I used the analogy of taking money to help others “at gunpoint,” I wasn’t speaking in hyperbole. If I refuse to pay the taxes that are levied on me and try to defend what is mine, the government would send armed agents to force the government’s will on me. The only flaw in my analogy is that if I were to take your money at gunpoint to help someone else, I would keep half of it for my efforts. That is how the government works.

Yes, we are a representative democracy. But just as de Tocqueville warned, the masses have determined that they can vote themselves benefits from the government largesse and, being in a minority, I have little recourse.

I find nothing in Scripture that directs us to give our money to a government authority for the sake of helping others. You can point to ancient Jewish law and tithing, etc. but that is apples and oranges. A homogenous religious community where all contribute and share equally and all consent to the arrangement cannot be compared to our socio-economic system. And, at any rate, the maximum tax was set at 10%.

I disagree with your statement that “The ancients (and most definitely, the Jewish people), understood that the government was a moral entity. So if our government sees such suffering, and does nothing for it…” I find nothing in the Bible or in history to support this contention. Charity and care for the poor and less fortunate has always been an individual or church responsibility.

From a practical standpoint, why engage a middle-man between me and a beneficiary that I choose to help? They can only take from what was intended for the needy and are at a much less advantageous position to decide who and how much someone needs. Besides, these government workers have an incentive to expand their programs, whether needed or not, and vote accordingly at election times.

Yes, we are a community, and that is why I do the things that I do to help others, because the Lord has commanded me to. But, again, I see no or very little role for government in this process. We also have fundamental differences about the constitutionality of social welfare programs. I can be persuaded that states may institute some such programs with the consent of their citizenry, but I find nothing in the Constitution that includes such things as an enumerated power.

Jonathan, I've enjoyed the exchange and I hope you return to Dakota Voice in the future for further discussions.

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