"The Case Against Christianity Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This."

Apart from the derogatory remarks made by Steve Hays in this post at Triablogue, he has offered us quite the backhanded compliment while explaining to his audience why he's chosen to target us at DC. He said "the case against Christianity doesn’t get much better than this." Here's also what he said:

The Secular Web is the world’s leading website in the cause of militant atheism.

As such, it has quite a constituency.

A while back, it started a weblog (The Secular Outpost), which is a spin-off of The Secular Web.

This was an attempt to extend its reach. Extend its sphere of influence.

I assume The Secular Outpost draws from the preexisting constituency of The Secular Web.

The Secular Outpost also has a number of links to other secular sites.

DC is one of these. I assume that it gets a lot of crossover traffic from The Secular Outpost.

Of the various links, DC is the only site that regularly assails the Christian faith.

I assume that DC attracts a certain audience because its contributors are ex-Christian and ex-ministers. They have the inside dish, right?

Loftus bills himself as a student of Craig. This has PR appeal.

Well, if someone who trained under a Christian apologist to be a Christian apologist defects from the faith, then what does that tell you about the Christian faith. The more you know, the less you believe, right?

So DC presents a nice, compact target….when you get right down to it, the case against Christianity doesn’t get much better than this.


It is for that reason that Steve and his fellow colleagues have decided to dog us "every step of the way."

50 comments:

Paul Manata said...

yeah, the claim is that there's not much by way of challenge to the Christian faith.

It was a backhanded slap, not compliment.

Matthew said...

Oh, but Paul, you guys really think you're hot stuff when it comes to apologetics, don't you? The egos of folks like you and Engwer are almost right up there with Robert Turkel (which was not only backhanded slap, it was a bitchslap as well!)

Matthew

Anonymous said...

Matthew, YOU are the one who has been made the intellectual bitch.

As for Loftus, people give him a lot of praise, but deep down nobody respects a turn coat.

Matthew said...

The anonymous coward says "Matthew, YOU are the one who has been made the intellectual bitch.

As for Loftus, people give him a lot of praise, but deep down nobody respects a turn coat."

Hahahaha! How have I been made an "intellectual bitch"? What is it with your cowardly insistence on hiding behind anonymity? Why don't you grow a pair or try and stitch a pair on and come out into the open?

As for the "turncoat", I take it you mean "apostate"? No one respects them? Oh you mean those blind, unthinking, feel-good dronish pew-sitters who don't bother to think for themselves because it's so much comforting to let your pastor do your thinking for you? Is it the repsect of these pathetically blind boobs that I should be seeking?

Oh, the blind boobs in the Church won't respect me or John! Woe be us!

Listen, Mr/Ms/Mrs Anonymous. Unless you grow some testicles and come out into the open, don't bother wasting our time with your whimp-ass comments.

Matthew

Paul Manata said...

Oh, but Matthew, I do not think I'm "hot stuff" when it comes to apologetics, which makes it even worse for you guys when amateures can take you to school, on a daily basis.

openlyatheist said...

Confucius say:
Trading insults with Christians like poop throwing contest with orangutan: Even if you win, why would you want to?

I first started reading this blog because there was interesting research to be read and interesting insights into religious and irreligious thought.

I would like to encourage posters here to move away from empowering hecklers by degenerating this blog into a running commentary on other blogger's running commentaries on the comments originating here. I do not come to this blog because I care what OTHER blogs are writing. I care what YOU GUYS are writing.

Commenting on comments (and imitating the worst traits) of Christians does not seem in line with this blog's mission statement.

Disallowing anonymous comments would also be a step in the right direction I think.

John W. Loftus said...

I hear you openlyatheist. We're looking into the anonymous comments thing, with having to moderate comments. They seem to get the same comments at their site as we do about this. Readers on both sites are saying the same thing. Their readers are sick of it, and some of ours are too. But this post of Steve's explains why there is the fight in the first place and who initiated it. I wish it weren't so, and I for one am tired of it and will seek to do something about it from now on, at least on our site.

paul said...

Maybe we should just turn the other cheek and love our enemies.

John W. Loftus said...

That's "without having to moderate comments." It's now done. No more anonymous comments.

paul said...

Seriously John,
It just cracks me up every time I read comments like Paul Mantanas because they are so blatantly "unchristian." Please leave them and don't delete them as they are a valid form of debunking (odd christians would debunk themselves, still, the purpose of this site is served). I think it best not to respond though, and certainly not in kind. Ultimately, a pissing contest is just a pissing contest and of little value.

John W. Loftus said...

Paul, that's pretty much how I want to respond to them, but it's tough when they sometimes act like idiots. I need more resolve on this, but I think you're right. Thanks.

Paul Manata said...

Paul,

Oh, would the "Christian" thing be to lie? Okay,

Yes, John, we cannot touch you, you're the best debater, a master debater. Your arguments are the best, no one compares, nothing compares, to you.

I bow down to all the debunkers and I love you. I just want to love you back into the kingdom. Please come back, because we love you so much. If you come back I'll wash your feet, I'll pay your bills, I'll do anything, as long as you come back, and I love you.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi John,

If I could chime in here.. I think debate and argumentation have their place and we can attack each other's ideas without attacking each other. Debating issues that we have such passion about are going to naturally pose some situations where the debate will get heated, and answering with sarcasm can make a point. That being said, I am a Christian and thoroughly disagree with you and your staff, but as a Christian I would love to see all of you come to know God and be saved from your sins. I mean that sincerely, and I am truly thankful for God's grace in my life. I wish you could know that joy as well. But ultimately we're not going to arrive at the truth through debate and argumentation. We come to the argument with our presuppositions, and we're not going to reason our way into the kingdom of God. We don't discard our reason, but recognize its' limitations. Faith goes beyond reason, if you're holding onto reason only you won't get to God. That's the way it is. Well, I suppose the ridicule will begin, but that's what I had to say...thanks

John W. Loftus said...

Paul Manata, that was good! A little good natured humor isn't bad for any of us. Thanks Paul, I think I'll quote from what you just said from now on. ;-)

Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
paul said...

In response to Paul Mantanas last post...

We're here to "debunk" christianity, i.e. expose the falseness. So it seems that either Paul Mantana is not a christian, or if he is a valid representative, that christianity is not what Jesus dictates. Jesus is believed by christians to have said "...love your enemy, if you love only those who love you, what more do you do than the heathen...", that "love is the greatest commandment..."
The bible further says of love that it "is patient, kind, does not boast, is not rude, is not self-seeking, keeps no record of wrongs..."

We "will know christians by their love..."

So, all you who are reading these posts have a great opportunity to judge christianity in action, first hand.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hey Paul (not Manata),

I hear what you're saying, please read my previous comments....thanks

paul said...

Hello shining and burning light,

Really, I don't 'know' Paul Mantana. He may be a fine person for all I know, and I wouldn't make a deal except as a christian, it's my understanding that he represents Jesus. Kind of like the kosher hot dog, christians are held to a higher standard.

Christians are saying "Jesus is real, I have a relationship with Jesus..." They act and do things in Jesus name (which means in His stead). So I look and listen for Jesus and what I see is just regular folk, no God. Just people who want to win arguments, score points, feed the ego, but not really get at the truth. That's hard to do, we all fail, but I do expect someone with God on their side to have an edge, be different, since they claim to be...haven't seen that so far. Still,anyone can be an ass and be right, so I'm glad John doesn't restrict or discriminate.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul (not Manata),

I agree, Christians should be different and show that in the way they live and in how they treat people. I am not interested in winning arguments, but in proclaiming and defending the truth with the end in view of seeing sinners come to Christ. I think one of the best arguments for Christianity that I can make is being as Christ-like as possible (by God's grace)...thanks for your observations

Paul Manata said...

Hi Paul,

Christians can't be sarcastic?

Anyway, the claim that we are demolishing your arguments is, actually, a VERSE IN THE BIBLE!

Now if it's unloving and unbiblical to claim such then [a] the Bible is unloving and unbiblical, and [b] what, do you want us to lie? The people here do not hjave good arguments, period.

Lastly, please make sure you do hold me to Jesus' standard, and not your own wimpy blue-eyed, blond haired, effeminate *idea* of Jesus.

You know, hold me to the standard of the one who said:

"You brood of vipers."

"You white washed tombs."

'Their father is the devil."

"Whoever does not believe my will be judged by my words."

"NO ONE comes to God but through me."

"I never knew you."

And, what about the OT prophets? WHat about when they mocked the false prophets? What about when they asked if the baal was relieving him self? They mocked them.

What about when the Bible says "THE FOOL says in his heart there's no God?

What about when Paul said he wished the judaizers would cut their members off?

Indeed, hold me to a biblical standard.

It appears that you'd have me be *more* holy than Jesus. It appears that to be a Christian, in your book, is to act un-Christ-like when the situations call for it.

Look, if you don't turn to Christ he's going to throw you in hell. You'll probably tell him that he's a big meany also.

Your pious, pompous, false humility is a sham.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul Manata,

I don't think this is the best forum to address this with you, but since you posted it here I felt compelled to respond. You seemed to shift your comments to some of the things I said in my post, if I have misunderstood you and misconstrued this--please forgive me, brother. The Bible verse you referred to is pertaining to demolishing arguments, not people. The words you quoted from the Lord and the apostle Paul were directed toward the religious leaders of the Jews who made the pretense of teaching God's people His word, while being hypocrites and not doing what they themselves taught as the truth. The Pharisees and the Judaizers were the ones those harsh rebukes were addressed to. Please review those texts and correct me if I'm wrong. I will gladly admit it if I am. I am not advocating a weak Christ, as you mentioned. That depiction of Christ is patently false. What I am saying is that the Debunkers are not religious hypocrites, they are apostates and are in a deplorable condition. The clear commandment of Scripture is to love your enemies, that doesn't mean we don't defend the truth with passion and veracity, but it does mean we exhibit patience when wronged and when we are railed against we don't return in kind. The Lord Himself was railed against and did not respond in kind. I agree with destroying arguments, but not with attacking people the way you sometimes do. Your approach is not going to win these men to Christ. I understand that is probably not your purpose, hardened apostates are a difficult group, but while there is breath there is hope. God could make any one of these men a trophy of His grace. You are smarter than I will ever be, God has given you a sharp intellect and great understanding of His truth, but I exhort you dear brother to consider what I have said. I hold you to no other standard than the biblical one. There is no directive for Christians to demean the lost, even apostates. I grieve for these men, and you should too. If you think my humility is a sham, the Lord knows my heart and let Him be judge between you and me regarding this issue. I would never say that I'm humble because I know my own heart, but I have attempted to be gracious though. If I have sinned in anything I have said here please forgive me. If I have misunderstood the Word of God regarding any of these issues, I am open to correction. Thank you for your consideration, brother...

Shining and Burning Light said...

Correction to above, I should have said that "most" of the verses you cited were addressed to the Pharisees and Judiazers. The prophets also did mock the false prophets of Baal, but they were inspired OT prophets mocking the futility of false gods. I don't see where this is a warrant for doing this to atheists or apostates in the same manner under the covenant of grace...

Daniel said...

[munching popcorn, sipping soda, on edge of seat]

paul said...

Daniel...:)

Hi back at ya Paul Mantana,

Those are some great biblical examples of sarcasm. I've always liked the story of Elijah and the priest of Baal. I had the opportunity to study with a rabbi for about 10 years and he once told me that the translators have softened things up, that Elijah is literally asking if their god is taking a shit. Some might call that rude, but, you're right...there it is. And really, why stop at sarcasm or rudeness, didn't Elijah also chop the infidels up into little pieces?
We can make a scriptural argument for killing, lying, marrying a whore, and on. We can make a scriptural argument for not lying, not murdering, not marrying a whore, and on.
So, to answer your question: "Christians can't be sarcastic?" Depends on which christian you're asking. Shining Light would seem to say no (and has his scriptures to back him up), you would say yes (and have your scriptures to back you up). I don't know, God seems to be equal opportunity.

You also ask: "Ok, would the Christian thing be to lie?" I don't know. God sent out lying spirits and I wouldn't have you be more holy than God, so I guess the choice is yours there also.

I'm sorry, I can't relate to the "blond haired, whimpy blue eyed, effeminate 'idea' of Jesus." I don't know any whimpy blue eyed, blond haired, effeminate people, and I have brown hair and eyes...who knew there were such people? Thanks for the heads up. Really, I was just quoting from the bible, if that's what you take the bible to mean, what can I say?

I can take your side to: how about where Jesus turned over the money changers tables in the temple and lashed out at them with a whip he had fashioned himself (premeditated)?

So, on the one there's Shining and Burning Light and on the other Paul Manata. I'm pretty familiar with both lines of reason (so far), so I guess I could take either side and have my scriptures to back me up. Having the scriptures is kind of like the Good Housekeeping Seal, except with the Good Housekeeping Seal one can reasonably verify whether the person has earned it. With the God Housekeeping Seal, there's no independent place to go to verify who chose the right scripture, who knows Gods will.

Paul Manata said...

S & BL:

Hello,

My context was that they complained that we said their *arguments* were weak.

I then said, "what, should we lie."

Saying someone's *arguments* are weak is not the same as saying *they* are weak.

Furthermore, we can address the man. The Bible copnstantly says that unbelievers are *fools.* Now, if I were to say that, they'd call me a big meany.

As far as your verses go, yes, I understand the direct context. But are you saying that I can go to a Jewish blog spot and call them names? It sounds a bit prejudiced to say that it's okay to talk tough to the Jews but not the apostates.

Furthermore, nothing I said was directed towards you but rather to Paul. I called him the pseudo-pious one. So, *nothing* I said was directed towards you. There are perspectives on approaching the fools here, both yours and mine is valid, both yours and mine is biblical. it's just that we have different goals and purposes. We're working together.




Now, in response to Paul,

Mosty of your responses were tu quoque fallacies. Nothing you said directly dealt with my post.

I pointed out that you are very disingenuous because you call me unbiblical and unChristian yet you'd call Jesus a big meany also.

You also pointed out verses in the Bible which you think are examples of people being rude or mean. Therefore my response, and your walk into my trap, has proven that I'm not unChristian or unbiblical. You don't call me unbiblical and then turn around and show how the Bible agrees with some of the things I do, that's callwed self-refuting. In case you're wondering, that's an outsome of your sin rotted mind, always refuting yourself, or, as Paul say, "opposing" yourself.

Now, if you'd really like to make "scriptural" arguments for what you said you could, then go ahead. Remember, they must be *internal* critiques since you said *scriptural arguments.* If not, then don't try to bully me. Christians are a bit more intellectually tough than to get bullied by some kid.

ANyway, you're done here buddy. Your original argument was discected and dismsmbered. You didn't even see what I did to you, you never saw it coming.

Remember, your *original* claim was that I was *unbiblical* and *unchristian.* Then, note that you *just admitted* that I've acted *biblical* and *Christian.*

QED

paul said...

Paul Mantana,
I keep reading my posts and cannot find where I used the word "unbiblical" or "unchristian." I didn't use the word "mean" either. Since you like the philosophical terms identifying fallacy, what's it called when you put words in someones mouth to try and make a point? I did say, after relating the story about Elijah and his saying of Baal that "he is taking a shit" that "some might call that rude." "Some" might. I was connecting that to something I quoted earlier from ICor. 13, i.e. "love is not rude." I'm just connecting dots, "God is love," "...the greatest commandment is love...", "...love your enemy..." I know, I'm a 'fool.' So how do I get to be like you? I tried receiving Jesus and I never quite became like you. Where did I go wrong?

I'll let others judge whether I'm "done buddy," it's all here for people to read for themselves and draw their own conclusions. Since we both seem to think we are right, we can both hope people carefully read what's been said and see all of our grand insights and flaws.

I actually thought (not sure why) you might go down the path of giving scriptures to justify sarcasm, etc. I know they are there, so maybe the trap was in reverse. It does demonstrate that the bible contradicts itself, which seems like a problem to me...and I think to other fools as well.

I took one christian stance (on purpose), you took another. I wonder why you take the sarcastic stance instead of the love stance? But, leaving me out, even two christians disagreed. So it's not like there was just an enlightened christian and a "fool" going at it. You tell Shining Light that you just have different perspectives and both are right....wonder if he agrees with that conclusion?

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul Manata,

Fair enough, brother. I apologize for misconstruing your remarks as having been directed toward me. I think you know I wasn't suggesting that it is legitimate to "talk tough" to Jews and not to apostates. That wasn't my point, I was making a distinction between the way we address religious hypocrites and atheists/apostates. Furthermore, I have no problem pointing out that the arguments made by the Debunkers are weak, and even at times laughable. That we must do when appropriate. Also, as I've said in a previous post on this thread, sarcasm has a place in argumentation and is utilized in the Bible. My position on our approach Paul is that we are balanced on our use of and emphasis upon the love and wrath of God, and reflect that balance in our treatment of unbelievers (whether atheists/apostates or not). I just think that at times your disposition toward the Debunkers doesn't reflect that. I know your primary focus is on apologetics and not evangelism, but take what I said for what it's worth. Thanks for your comments, brother, and your labors for His glory.

Hi Paul (not Manata),

There is balance in Scripture, there are times and circumstances that dictate how we are to respond to those who oppose the faith. The Lord preached to the poor and humble sinners of His day differently than He addressed the money changers in the Temple. Furthermore, there is room for differences among Christians. Does that surprise you? Though I don't know him personally, I accept Paul Manata as a brother in Christ (and hey, he's a Presbyterian and I'm a Baptist!). He and I have the same Spirit dwelling within us, and have the same Savior. Christians in this world may disagree about some things, but in heaven we will all agree about everything.

Hi Daniel Morgan,

You can put away your soda and popcorn now. Nothing to see here...

God bless y'all

Paul Manata said...

paul,

Sorry, but you're done buddy.

Here's what you said,

"Seriously John,It just cracks me up every time I read comments like Paul Mantanas because they are so blatantly "unchristian." (10th post down).

You also said,

"So it seems that either Paul Mantana is not a christian, or if he is a valid representative, that christianity is not what Jesus dictates. Jesus is believed by christians to have said "...love your enemy, if you love only those who love you, what more do you do than the heathen...", that "love is the greatest commandment..."
The bible further says of love that it "is patient, kind, does not boast, is not rude, is not self-seeking, keeps no record of wrongs..." (13th post down).


What's it called when you accuse someone of putting words in your mouth, but you actually said those words?

Note that to contrast what I'm doing with what the Bible says is to say that I'm *un*-biblical. It's called logical inference.


So, the trap was set and you blindly walked into it. You said I was unChristian, unbiblical, but then were caught admitting that Christ and the Bible engage in the very thinsg I do! That's called "being done buddy."

Lastly, there's no contradiction. You've not established A and ~A. You've simply *assumed* a humanistic theory of ethics and then drew the conclusion that when the Bible makes human's arguments and positions look absurd and stupid then, therefore, that's "unloving." What's that called when you pour your meaning into someone elses?

So, I think we're done. You've been decisevely refuted. Again, remember, you *started* by saying that I was unbiblical and then *ended* by pointing out things I do are inded things the Bible supports.

Cheerio

paul said...

Paul Mantana,

Yeah, we are almost done. Two clarifications. One, you'll note that my comment to John about you being "unchristian" was in quotes. There was a reason for the quotes, (I can see how you misunderstood) there are plenty of christians who would consider your attitude "unchristian," for all the reasons given...even Shining Light did, briefly.

And you didn't find the word "unbiblical" either. I do wonder still why you chose sarcasm instead of, say, kindness. It's a problem to me that you can justify your behavior just because it's in the bible, but I'm not going to rewrite all that stuff.

paul said...

Shining lIght,
Thanks for participating in all this. At one point you did indeed "hear me." The truth is, I am not an atheist, one can pick up on it in some of the stuff I write. My stance on God/Jesus is "i don't know." It's also true that at one time I thought I did know this, so, this may make me an "apostate" in your book. I am more comfortable being honest and saying "i don't know." I wandered onto this site thinking that others might be asking questions like myself (indeed they are). Some have gone so far as to call themselves "atheist", I haven't gotten to that point. I also figured I'd find christians here responding to the questions, some do. As I've stated above, I find contradictions in the scripture, I won't rehash the things I've written, you can reread them if interested. Anyway, these contradictions make it posible for anyone to do what they want and still claim to follow God/Jesus, as long as one can find a scripture to justify them. You and Paul Mantana illustrated this really well, at first. Both of you are biblical christians and each fell on different sides, who's right? Okay, you did recant and apologize to Paul M., but you do say that christians can differ, but will all agree in heaven. Why not now? If you have the ability to discern the truth now, why wait?
Yes, I do question the bible and anyone claiming to know God, and will continue to until my questions are answered.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul (not Manata),

I don't consider what I said as a recantation of anything that I stated earlier to Paul Manata. I apologized for misconstruing his comments as having been directed toward me, and I admonished him as a brother for what I consider to be an imbalance in his approach. Though the use of sarcasm, etc. are Biblical, the use of them are dictated by the circumstances and are not what should be the main characteristic of our dealings with other people. Personally, if I was debating someone about some issue, and I felt my argumentation prevailed, I wouldn't say "you're done, buddy". I don't think that would be a proper representation of Christ. I still "hear you", believe me. I understand what Paul Manata is saying to a degree, but I think it can go too far and denegrate to mud slingin' and both sides can look like angry teenagers. To me, when it gets that way, you've defeated your own purpose. I'm after the good of your soul, not winning an argument so I can then press my foot on your neck (I don't mean to imply that is what P.M. is doing, I am just making the point). The clear commandment of Scripture is to let all of your speech be unto edification. Scripture doesn't contradict itself, Paul. There are paradoxes (apparent contradictions), but no actual contradictions. Unbelievers usually latch onto those because it justifies (in their own mind) their unbelief. That's just a simple and convenient way out.

As far as who's right? I think I am, but I recognize some Christians may disagree with me. We (that is, Christians) have differences in this life because we are sinful men living in a fallen world. This world is not our final home, if things were perfect here we would have no need to long for heaven. Christians also struggle with remaining sin, none of us have everything exactly right. But in heaven we will have our differences taken away and dwell in God's special presence together, with a more perfect knowledge of the things we may see only dimly now.

Paul, you will never have all of your questions answered. If that is your prerequisite for believing, you will never believe. I had struggles and questions when I was seeking the Lord, but I confessed that to God. Faith comes before understanding--not after. I entrusted myself to Him and He opened my heart and gave me peace in believing.

I appreciate your honesty. If you're an earnest seeker, DC is not the web site for you. I'm just dealing with you plainly. May God bring you to the place where you can cast your whole heart upon Him, and not feel funny or embarrased when saying "Jesus is my Lord and Savior".

Soli Deo Gloria

Shining and Burning Light said...

One more thing........

"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

paul said...

Hi Shining Light,

Thanks for your reply and clarifications.
I guess it's time to sum up.

My original response to John about what Paul M. had written as being "unchristian" still stands. I put "unchristian" in quotes because not being a Christian means I was quoting Christians. Shining Light, as a Christian, confirmed my statement that Paul M. had an attitude that was "unchristian." It was a simple point, missed by Paul M. because he either didn't see or understand the quotation marks around "unchristian."

Paul M. added more sarcasm to the pot when he asked if the ""Christian" thing [would] be to lie?, etc." Here he shows that he understands the use of quotation marks, because he also employs them around "Christian." I knew he was referring to someone elses definition of Christian and not his own. I even answered his question: "Would the 'Christian' thing be to lie?" My response was: "I don't know. God sent out lying spirits and I wouldn't have you be more holy than God, so I guess the choice is yours there also." It seems christians can make an argument either way, based on scripture, as to whether or not to lie.

Re Paul M. and his question: "Christians can't be sarcastic?" I complimented him on his choice of scriptures supporting his christian right to be sarcastic. I even added that, scripturally, it's okay to be rude and chop up infidels into pieces (literally!). I was careful to say that "some might" consider my example of Elijah as rude, clarifying some might not.

Paul M. thinks he designed a clever trap that I walked into. Though I wasn't trying to manipulate Paul M., I suggest that the trap was reverse of what he claims, as I figured he'd come up with scriptures to justify his sarcasm.

Paul M. incorrectly infers that I accuse him of being "unbiblical", missing my previously clear point that one can make a scriptural argument for either side (e.g., it's okay to be sarcastic vs. it's not okay to be sarcastic) and that it "depends on which christian you're asking." My point being the contradictions, double standards in the bible and christianity.

Paul M. decides the discussion is over, appoints himself judge and jury and excercises his christian right to be superior by declaring "your done here buddy."
Yet, Paul M. accuses me of being "pseudo-pious" and "pompous." I'll let the readers decide.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul (not Manata),

You can't use the Scriptures to justify a lie. The verse you mentioned about God sending out lying spirits is a whole other issue, and does not mean that God somehow "lied". God cannot lie. The clear commandment is "Thou shalt not bear false witness", period. The ten commandments are simply a reflection of God's holy character. You have to interpret Scripture with Scripture, that is called the "analogy of the faith", so you cannot interpret the verses about the lying spirits as meaning that somehow God lied. The correct understanding of those verses takes more than a superficial consideration.

You can't use the Bible to justify any behavior you want either. The situation with Elijah had a context in redemptive history, we don't therefore follow his example in chopping up false prophets. That too takes more than a superficial consideration to understand properly. As to whether it is biblical to be sarcastic, it depends on the circumstances of the situation, not upon which Christian you're asking.

Finally Paul, you've got to prayerfully study the Scriptures for yourself to come to a conclusion on the matter. Attending a faithful church that preaches the Bible, studying conservative evangelical commentaries and other good books, and most of all prayerfully seeking of the Lord. My answers are not going to necessarily settle it for you, my friend. Thanks for your comments, if I can be of some help to you in the future please let me know. I'll be checking in here and there.........thanks

paul said...

Shining Light,

I understand. If I were to presume on you, I would have guessed you'd give me those answers.

As you have also noted, however, different "Christians" have different answers on the same topics, which is the majority of my point. No doubt you would have good arguments against the Spanish inquisition (me too, even from a 'christian' perspective), killing abortion doctors in the name of Jesus or selling healing hankies for a "donation." Unfortunately, all these things, and more, have been done in Jesus name and using scripture. I wonder what Hoseas wife thought and felt when he told her he was going to marry a prostitute? The list goes on and on.
Simple issue. Sarcasm. You believe you are right, Paul M. is wrong. Both of you are "praying people, attending a faithful church that preaches the bible, you both read commentaries and other good books." Still you both manage to end up on opposite sides of the fence, both with equally wordy and persuasive arguments. I'm still looking for the person whos "message and preaching[are] not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirits power, so that [ones] faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." Instead (and apparently because of the lack of "a demonstration of the Spirit" to back one up), I see "christians" learning all the techniques and words employed by any other philosopher who wants to win people over to their persuasion. Where are all the illiterate fisherman doing miracles?

Sorry (sigh), I have a few miles on me. You haven't quite pegged me (not that you're trying), another indication to me that your words and insights are your own and not from a God, who "sees my heart."

Shining and Burning Light said...

Paul,

Paul Manata and I are not on opposite sides of the fence, we're more like in different places on the same field--if that analogy helps. The Debunkers are on the opposite side of the fence.

Do you require that I perform miracles before you believe what I say is from God? The demonstration of the Spirit's power is in the conversion of sinners, not necessarily in parting the Red Sea. The Spirit's power is seen in the fruit produced in the Christian's life. The apostle Paul's point is that the truth is not ultimately arrived at by intellectual acrobatics, that's why I think the apologetic endeavor has it's limitations. When the Word is preached with the Spirit's power, the heart of the sinner is convicted of his sins and he looks to Christ for salvation. Reason alone is not going to get you to God, it's just not gonna happen that way. You must have faith. Faith goes where reason can go no further. We don't abandon reason to become Christian, we just recognize that we are creatures and finite in our understanding, and that God is infinite.

Hey, I'm not into the nuts and bolts of debate and rhetoric (if A then not -A, blah blah blah). I'm just a regular Christian. Where are those illiterate fisherman you mentioned? What they did and said are recorded in the Bible (everything that they did and said that we need to know). I'm not trying to peg you though, I'm trying to direct you to God and not men. There is no one person that is going to give you all the answers. If truth is really what you're seeking, you are shut up to God only to find it. If you don't go to God, you have nowhere to go for what you're seeking. That's why you have to believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

You are going to get different answers from different Christians about certain things. Such is life (philosophical, huh?). Is it that you want the same answers from every Christian about all things? Not gonna happen, man. And that's OK--to a degree (there are certain essentials that all Christians must believe in order to BE Christians, such as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, etc.). However, that doesn't change the truth. Each Christian or group of Christians may have a different interpretation of this or that issue, but the fact is God has His interpretation and it's the right one. As Christians, we seek to understand the Scriptures as best we can so that our interpretation is closest to God's meaning. I hope what I've said has been helpful and encouraging....

God bless

paul said...

Shining Light,

No, your analogy doesn't help. From my perspective you are on opposite sides of the fence, as regards your approach to sarcasm at least. Not to mince words here, the fence can be in the same field. And no, I am not in the same field with either of you. Either way, how one puts it is not that important of a point to me.

I appreciate your honest approach to discussion. I have no problem with philosophy or philosophers. I very much appreciate that people like John Loftus have spent enormous amounts of time and effort studying such things and are kind enough to share their expertise. I am very wary of "amateurs." I'll give you an example. I'm a martial artist, I have been studying under a 9th degree grand master (a recognized expert in karate) for 11 years. I am working on my second degree black belt. As part of any class, we spar. It is traditional that higher belts spar with lower belts on occassion to help teach them. Having studied for 11 years, I've acquired a certain level of expertise myself, and a level of self control. For example, I can throw a kick at someones nose and come within a half inch. It takes time and study to achieve that level of skill. Invariably there are people new to the sport who have something to prove, who want to be Bruce Lee and prove they can best someone of higher rank, and indeed they can do damage...they miss the point of the sport. A scalpel in the hands of a trained physician can cure, in the hands of an amateur it can murder.

We both have different purposes for being here. You want to find the lost sheep and bring them back, convert people. I'm here to listen, ask, contribute when I think I can in an effort to discuss the problems with christianity. I've been at this (christianity) awhile, have taught, counseled, was asked to pastor a church but declined because based on scripture I didn't qualify (I've had a hard time finding someone who does qualify based on scripture). I was raised in Vernon McGees church, was babtized by John MacArthur and attended his church for quite some time as well. I even attended Jack Hayfords church to throw a little bit of the charasmatic in. For 35 years I ate the scriptures for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I read nothing but christian literature (I'm really having to catch up now!). So, there's some of my christian credentials.

"Do [I] require that [you] perform miracles before [I] believe what [you] say is from God?" At this point, absolutely! It would take a miracle. Sure, why not? There is scriptural precedence. I know you have an answer for this, chances are I've given it to others myself. It doesn't matter, yes I require a miracle. And no, not one that others have writen about that I can't confirm happened.

paul said...

Shining Light,

A little more.

I said earlier that "you haven't pegged me." Why not? Jesus purportedly pegged the woman at the well, He pegged lots of people. Now, Jesus said you'll do what He did, and even greater works. So why not a miracle? At least you could address me with the knowledge that I'm not a neophyte (no rancor in my tone here, just being matter of fact)because it is "no longer you that lives but Christ who lives in you." And Jesus would know these things about me. Okay, so maybe your not all Jesus, just a "gifted" member of His body. Which gift do you have (ICor.12), I'm going to guess not "miracles" or "prophesy" or (you need the greek on these, they're esoteric) "word of knowledge" or "word of wisdom." I never encountered any of these gifts during my tenure. If God gave these "manifestations of the Spirit..for the common good" I think I can safely assume He would not be against a miracle or a lessor thing like you knowing me without my telling you about me. Or are these particular parts of Gods word not for this dispensation? That's a way that many get around expecting God to do what He purportedly says He will do.
When I say I am not an atheist, it's not to say I believe in God, it's to say "I don't know." As nice as you are, I do not see what I can call "God" in you. Nor can I say I've seen God in the mocking for Jesus approach, but who knows, I'll keep listening.

I think there's some good stuff in the bible. I like the story of Baalam and his jackass. I think there is a valuable lesson in that story,i.e., the truth can come even from a jackass. No! I am not calling you a jackass. Truth is, I think we all have a bit of jackass in us...guess it's an evolutionary thing (kidding).

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for sharing a bit of your history. I'll never pick a fist fight with you (just kidding). As far as amateurs in Christian apologetics, some have a warm and earnest zeal for the Lord and want to obey His commandment to preach the gospel to every creature, some are misguided and have a higher view of their abilities and gifts in such an endeavor (I fall into this category :-), and some may have more base motives like pride. I understand your analogy though. As far as experts are concerned, experts don't equal true knowledge. Judas Iscariot was with the Lord throughout His whole ministry, saw His miracles, heard His preaching, and yet he rejected the truth. There were people who saw the resurrected Christ who still didn't believe. Do you want God to drop down out of heaven to speak to you personally before you will believe? He already has in the Person of His Son. I have to say that even if I or anyone else performed a miracle, you still wouldn't believe. You have too many reasons not to. I won't re-state why we don't perform apostolic miracles today because, as you said, you already know the position.

I am saddened to hear that you have had so much exposure to the truth, yet have not come to Christ. Sitting under MacArthur's ministry should have been a great spiritual blessing to you. You have certainly heard the gospel faithfully preached. I have spoken with other people that have been through similar things. They are kind of like spiritual wanderers who keep looking but never come to Christ. "Ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7) They are in a perpetual state of "not knowing". I think that is a tragic place to be. Paul, Christ said that His people would hear His voice and follow Him. You're not following Him because though He is speaking you don't hear His voice. It has entered your ears, but you're not hearing Him.

I don't agree with what you imply about spiritual gifts, and I'm not a dispensationalist. This is not a carnival show, I'm not a psychic who is going to magically tell you things about yourself. That is not what Jesus meant by doing "greater works". You never encountered such gifts during your tenure because you were looking for the wrong thing. If you can't "see God" in me, it's because you don't know what God "looks like", as it were. I don't say that because I'm somebody, I'm a nobody saved by God's grace. Have I displayed a graciousness that is seen naturally in the human heart? Have I shown forth a spirit of love, gentleness, patience, etc? (I give praise to God for any measure of this in me) That is the Holy Spirit that dwells within me as a believer. That is not naturally there, if you knew me before I was saved you would understand what I'm saying. I also don't mean to set myself up as an example, I'm not comfortable even saying those things about myself, but I hope I've made the point.

You may think I'm just delusional, that I believe a lie and so forth, but if you think that you're wrong. Having peace with God and knowing true spiritual joy in my life is worth all the gold in this world. To know Christ is of inestimable value. You have actually illustrated the truth of Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." You don't believe that He is, you just don't know, and I pray that you shall not remain in that state forever. I really do, but I'm troubled by how long you have resisted the truth. May God be merciful to you Paul, may He shine His light into your heart. Before I was converted and I was having problems, if a Christian told me he would pray for me, I thought "thanks, that'll do me a lot of good", sarcastically. You may take this the same way, but I'll pray for you anyway...

S&BL

paul said...

Hey S&BL,

Looks like it's just me and you.

When I use bible scripture it's because you believe it to be Gods word, not because I believe that. Using it as an example of why I am right or wrong doesn't really work for me as I do not give it the same weight as you. I don't know that any of what you say of Judas is true. Furthur it is presumptuous of you to say that "if [you] or anyone else performed a miracle,[I] still wouldn't believe." You simply do not know that...you may believe it for your own reasons, but you do not know that. You chose to contrast me with Judas who you believe saw miracles and didn't believe. Why not instead think of me as Saul? He was a religious man going around killing christians(i don't!), who when Jesus spoke to, blinded, then healed him, believed? Why do I have to be Judas?

I don't expect a carnival show. If you saw my heart, you would know that. If the bible is Gods word and is true then I think it's okay for me to expect that God would do what He says He will do.

There's nothing "sad" about being honest and saying "I don't know." I don't think you don't "know" either. For what you have to be knowledge, I think you would need to be able to verify it in some reasonable way. I think you believe. I don't. I haven't heard any adequate reasons to believe, and I've heard a few. By saying "I don't know," I can be open. When one says "I know" one stops looking/seeing because one thinks they already know. I don't have a problem with faith, but I can verify certain things about my car even though I have faith it will start in the morning. I can't do that with God.

I don't know you well enough to say you are delusional.

John W. Loftus said...

It's not just you two. I read every comment. I'm planning on creating a post about why I do not believe the Bible, sooner than you think.

paul said...

S&BL,
I meant to say I don't think you know either, not "I don't think you don't know." typo.

John,
Look forward to what you have to say, as always. S&BL thinks that DC is a bad place for me to be. I disagree, I've found some great folks here, I'm particularly fond of you, Daniel and DagoodS, I'm sure I'll find others, I haven't been here long. Besides, if God is for me, who can be against me? So, I'm foolishly unafraid of y'all.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi John,

Thanks for letting me post, I appreciate it.

Hi Paul,

Please don't be insulted by the Judas example, would to God that you had an experience like the apostle Paul. But are you more like Paul or Judas at this point? I said that even if you saw a miracle you wouldn't believe because that is the testimony in Scripture regarding unbelievers and miracles(e.g. the rich man and Lazarus). You know the account, the rich man in hell pleads with Abraham to send someone back to warn his brothers so that they would not go to the terrible place he found himself in. Abraham advised the rich man that they had Moses and the Prophets, if they didn't believe them then even if someone was raised from the dead they would still not believe. Ironic, isn't it? Since Christ Himself was raised from the dead and spoke the truth--and you still don't believe.

There's nothing sad about being honest, but something sad about being lost. I know you don't believe the Scriptures, but I do and I believe the Word of God will achieve the purpose for which it was sent. Faith in God isn't like faith in your car starting, Creation itself ought to be enough to verify certain things about God, its' incredible design, its' immensity, its' amazing detail down to the atom and the molecule, its' order and perfection, but you just don't see it. All saying "I don't know" means is that you do not find the answer in the gospel. I dare say you will never find what you're looking for Paul. You're right though, saying "I know" means you stop looking. Now that I've found the truth by God's grace, I only need to continue to learn and grow in it. I don't have to wander in the dark. Thanks for your comments, Paul. I can say no more, really. I commit you to God and His grace...

with Christian affection,
S&BL

paul said...

Shining and Burning Light,

whew, what a name, you must have had a lot of fights growing up. :) (hehe, sorry). I hope we both live to discuss another day.

I'm going to beg the DC gods indulgence one more time here.

I think, at the end of the day we are all subject to the laws of probability (like it or not, mostly not). The fact of those laws is so ingrained in our psyche that we even have cliche' like "the only absolute is there is no absolute." Some have changed that one and added "there are no absolutes but God and taxes." I laughed and was delighted (not in a mocking sense, just in recognition of our human condition) when reading the debate between Craig and Ehrman on the "Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus." During the debate, Craig appealed to the laws of mathematical probability in an attempt to argue his point that Jesus did arise. Craigs brand of Christianity relies on absolutes, yet here he is, one of its' main proponents, arguing that he's 'probably' right. Do you see the irony? Even a top evangelical christian advocate realizes, he doesn't really "know." Which is my point. Knowledge seems progressive to me, none of us has arived. We're all climbing the ladder. Not that we don't acknowledge that we see something when we do, I just think it's wise and accurate to always reserve a healthy amount of doubt about whatever we currently "see." When I say "I don't know", I mean I don't know absolutely. I think that cautious acknowledgement of doubt could save the human race a lot of grief if we all espoused it. Think about it, wars, disagreements are usually based on the notion of being "right". We'd probably be less adamant, less inclined to have to fight to win an argument if we could admit our ultimate ignorance, and of course, we'd all have to agree to do this. Right. I think what happens here at DC is a good thing because an absolute notion is being challenged. I think some make the mistake of challenging the absolute notion with another absolute notion (which never goes unchallenged!), rather than just exposing the fallacy of an absolute notion. Still, "walking in the light" is a very scriptural principle, no? (no, of course not, Jesus is the light). sigh

Okay Jesus. A great evolutionist, whoever wrote that stuff. Sorry, don't stumble at the word "evolution," I simply mean it in terms of progress. "Jesus" deconstructed the law. He realized that trying to follow something absolute and carved in stone made pharisees out of people. Pharisees who want to throw rocks at and control other people. Instead "Jesus" invoked the law of love, explaining that there is no greater love than to give up your life for another. Yet people still want to be pharisees!

If you study evolution, you'll find a discipline called "group selection." (Most evolutionists are "individual selectionists" so you have to hunt around, try Robert Wright if you are in the least interested). Individual selection is kind of like the pharisees were, everyone is out for themselves, "survial of the fittest." Group selection is like what "Jesus" taught (I'm really oversimplifying this, I know) in that it it argues that individuals should/will give up their lives for the interests of a larger collectivity. "Collectivity?" "Now the body is not made up of one part but of many" (ICor.12:14NIV) Intriguing, no? What I am saying, poorly and briefly, is that we could all benefit by following "Jesus'" command to love one another. Instead people qualify love, and it fails. Love gives up it's life for another. Pretty cool really when you think of it. I like to look at it as giving up our absolutes for one another. Most people glaze over when I talk this way...it's really just a tease because of its' brevity, but I'll stop now.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Paul,

Well, you can call me "Larry" if you want, but that's not my real name either :-). To respond briefly, Craig argued that way because of his approach to the debate. He doesn't really believe that the resurrection probably happened, no true Christian thinks it probably happened. We believe it did happen absolutely, just as recorded in Scripture, for if it didn't happen then we are still in our sins and have no sacrifice to atone for them. Christ's resurrection is proof that His death on the cross was accepted by God as payment for the sins of His people. I didn't agree with the way he took up that point, I think it was a misguided attempt to play on an academics ball field. He was arguing within the context of the debate though, I don't mean that he was somehow being dishonest in attempting to make the point. I see what you're getting at, but I disagree. The fact is we all come to the argumentation for and against Christianity with our presuppositions. That's why I say that unless God opens the heart we are just spinning in circles. You argue, we respond. We argue, you respond. We're not going to reason you into the kingdom of God. That's one of the reasons the Biblical method of communicating the truth is preaching. You can accept or reject the message, but we don't spend a lot of time spinning in circles. Because of your presuppositions you accept certain evidences and come to certain conclusions, the same with Christians. However, even on a logical basis I think the theist position makes perfect sense. The arguments and conclusions of the guys at DC are utilized to undergird their basic premise, that God doesn't exist. In my opinion they have to make such a stretch to hold the argument together that it caves in on itself. Obviously, you all disagree.

Knowledge is progressive, but you have to start on the right track to get to the right destination. A Christian starts out on one track and the atheist starts on another. I do know what I know absolutely, it must be so to be a Christian. The reason the gentlemen at DC are no longer believers is because they didn't know it absolutely, and they jumped tracks.

Wars and disagreements are not the fault of Christian truth. If God's commandments are obeyed, there would be no war, stealing, lying, unfaithfulness, idolatry, murder, and the list goes on and on. It is resistance to the truth that is the cause of strife, whether from atheists or the followers of false religions. The only notions that need to be challenged are false notions.

Furthermore, Jesus established the law--He didn't reconstruct it. He taught the correct understanding of it, the Pharisees misunderstood and mistaught it to the people. He corrected them since He is the Lawgiver and Judge. People want to be Pharisees because they are fallen creatures in need of salvation from sin. That's why Christ came, to seek and to save the lost. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but through Me". I don't think you can get any more absolute than that...

Of course we could all benefit from Christ's command to love one another. Love has a definition, and it isn't whatever we want it to be. It is defined by the Bible, not by secular humanists. In your last paragraph you try to take Christian teaching and apply it through an evolution analogy, that is a reflection of your presuppositions. You will recognize what you determine to be good about what is in the Bible, what was good in what Jesus taught, etc., but only through your worldview, and you disregard the rest. In effect you sit as judge over what is right and good in God's Word instead of being subject to it. In love Christ gave up His life for another, many others, and you do not perish for want of a Savior. He is available to you, but you do not come. That is your choice, all the theological rambling aside--that is your choice. Well, I said I would respond briefly. I guess I have trouble doing that, but I meant to when I started. Nonetheless, please soberly consider what I say...

paul said...

Shining and burning Larry,

I think your approach to sharing your belief is easier to justify biblically than Craigs. In my opinion it's more consistent with what the bible teaches. I found Craigs approach ironic, for stated reasons.

Your statement that the DC people opperate from the premise that God does not exist is not quite true. In the defined format it is written (like that?) that some are atheists here and some are not. The general premise I think, is that the evangelical christian idea/definition of God has some serious, false problems. It's not a blanket "there is no God" with everyone here.

Again, I don't think you "know" anything absolutely, not by any normal standard of knowing. You believe by faith and that is counted to you as righteousness, no? And faith is a gift from God, otherwise you have cause to boast. What you call absolute knowledge would negate the need for faith. Or will you now answer that you have absolute knowledge because of your faith?

I've never been drunk a day in my life. Remember, I've said everything you've said to me, and more, to others on many occassions.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Paul,

Shining and Burning Larry (funny)...


If you operate from any other premise than that God DOES exist, you are basically operating under the premise that it is possible that He does not exist. That is an attempt at a neutral position, which, in this manner of speaking, does not exist. They may not all assert that "there is no God", but even if they were to somehow come to the conclusion that there is one, they have no way to know this God--so it's either there is no God, or if there is one we can't really know Him. After all, you've said that "not knowing" is just being open. At what point Paul would you come to the place that you really know anything about God? Your starting point doesn't allow you to know a real and living God, what His will is, what He is like, etc. You can examine the pro and con arguments all day long, but you're still stuck on the launch pad of "not knowing".

You can't know God by any normal standard of "knowing", that is why He had to reveal Himself in the Scriptures. He is transcendent and not open to examination in a lab. How could God be God and be known by normal methods of knowledge? I believe that if God really didn't exist then the proposition of the existence of God wouldn't exist either, but that's just me. So you're right, I don't know anything absolutely by any normal standard of knowing. I know what I know absolutely in the Hebrew sense of knowing, that is, intimate knowledge--not abstract. In other words, I experience God with my heart and mind, in the soul, if I can express it that way. I agree with you that faith is a gift from God, that absolute knowledge is a fruit of God's gift of faith. I have no cause to boast in and of myself, for I have nothing that I haven't received from God. I think you and I are speaking a different language sometimes, but you have a familiarity with this stuff Paul. Why hear from me any longer?

--S&BLarry

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hey, if you took that last question in the wrong way, I didn't mean it that way. I was making a point. I sometimes make them :-)

paul said...

S&BL,
rats, I wrote you a long response on my lunch break and blogger com went down when I tried to post it.
no offense taken. from a biblical perspective i would guess you have the quandary of knowing when to shake the dust from your feet and move on to the next town.

the gist or what i said: Knowing God and knowing there is a God are two very different things.

You probably have already heard my objections to the bible being how God reveals Himself. There's Currently a new post that John promised that covers many of the problems. Add one more, most people didn't have access to the bible till the industrial revolution for reasons of illiteracy or rarity. they were out of luck when it came to knowing God in the relationship sense that you speak of.

I've understood every word you've said so far (so I guess I understand your language), I just cannot agree.
cheers

Shining and Burning Light said...

Paul,

I hate when that blogger com thing happens too...

To me, it makes no sense to know there is a God and to not know that God. So you're right, knowing there is a God and knowing God are two different things, but with very little distinction in my view.

You don't think the Jews had access to Scripture? or the church until the industrial age? As far as I know the Reformers and the Puritans had them, as well as those in their churches, so I don't know that your point holds water. After the printing press was invented Bibles were quite available. Most families, even if they were poor, had a family Bible. Even if they didn't there was the synagogue and the church where the Word was proclaimed, expounded, and applied. Remember, the apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to give attention to the public reading of the Word when the saints gathered together for worship. Moses and the Prophets were read in the public assembly when God's people gathered together in the OT too. God did not leave His people destitute of His Word.

As far as shaking the dust off my feet as you mentioned, please don't think that it's because I don't have a geniune concern for your eternal well-being. God knows that I do. But I don't think you're an evangelical seeker, nor would it be profitable for me to re-hash arguments that you're already familiar with, would it? I've enjoyed the discussion, if you feel I could be any help to you I would happily respond. I just want you to understand that...

Peace,

S&BL