Reasonable Doubt About the Holy Spirit

This article is an exploration of some stated and less disputed characteristics of the Holy Spirit. I purposely tried to avoid claims about the Holy Spirit that were disputed between denominations and Churches. I use these relatively undisputed claims as my core premises to construct the argument in favor of the Holy Spirit in order to express doubt about it. By using commonly accepted claims about the Holy Spirit, and my experience as a former Christian I hope to avoid the charge of misrepresentation or "straw man".

P1a. The Holy Spirit is God
P1b. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc.
P2. The Holy Spirit informs the Unbeliever as to the truth of Jesus when being told about it.
P3a. The Holy Spirit is in every Christian
P3b. Every Christian Accepts Christ
P3c. Every Christian should be favorable to Holy Spirit Influence.
P4. The Holy Spirit helped write the scripture
P5. The Holy Spirit helps interpret the scripture
P6. The Holy Spirit gives understanding (informs).

Conclusion: The Holy Spirit is effectively God, it wrote about itself, it lives in every Christian giving guidance about what it helped write about itself therefore there should be no disagreement on any characteristic of the Holy Spirit or interpretation of Scripture.

Many of the claims about the Holy Spirit are not falsifiable, but premises P5 and P6 are. For example, some early pre-Nicean Christian Church leaders rejected the Trinity. They were closest to the source, which infers that if the principles regarding the Holy Spirit were valid, then they of all people would know if it was a proper way to describe God or not. Yet the validity of the Trinity as a proper description of God seems to be in doubt by some denominations. Additionally some other characteristics of God aka The Holy Spirit seem to be in doubt. Some Christians say the Holy Spirit is a female entity, and some say it is male. Some say it is a person and some say it isn't.

Why can't all Christians agree on any of this if they are all getting guidance from the Holy Spirit? But quite counter-intuitively one Christian in one church has their point of view and another Christian in another church has a different point of view. They both believe they have the Holy Spirit inside and are getting guidance (informed). But what is the manifestation of this guidance? Is it a feeling, or verbal thoughts, or images or something else? Its obviously something personal and individual.

You who are Christian, how does the Holy Spirit manifests its guidance to you? The next time you are in a disagreement with another Christian over some aspect of scripture, do a little introspection and have some humility. First, recognize that you may be wrong. Second, if you don't come to agree with the other person, do some introspection. Look for its manifestation and see if you are getting any guidance from the Holy Spirit. See if you can distinguish what your thoughts are from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If you can distinguish, and you are certain you're expressing the point of view of the Holy Spirit, then the person you are having the discussion with should agree with you if they are a true Christian and have the Spirit indwelling. If you can't distinguish then, ask yourself, is this person getting guidance from the Holy Spirit and if so how do they distinguish? Maybe you should ask them, how the guidance of the Holy Spirit manifests itself to them because if they can distinguish their thoughts from the Holy Spirit, then you need to adopt their way of thinking right away. If they can't and you can't either, then maybe you should stop worrying about the initial disagreement and start worrying about why neither one of you are getting guidance from the Holy Spirit. If you are convinced you are getting guidance, and they are too, then you are at an impasse, and logically this should not be possible. One of you must be wrong about receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit. But why would you think you were getting guidance if you weren't? In any case you'll need to get another opinion, but how do you ultimately know who's interpretation of scripture is correct and who's isn't. Hopefully the Holy Spirit will let you know who you can trust. However that doesn't seem to be the case in some churches. Churches that have had Pastors such as Ted Haggard, or a community in Uganda, Africa are sorely missing that type of guidance.

If the Holy Spirit informs, and a true Christian has it living inside and it lives inside because the person should be favorable to its influence then how can there possibly be Christian on Christian crime? I Bet William Tyndale, who created the first English translation of the Bible and was subsequently charged with heresy was wondering something similar as he was praying "Oh Lord, open the King of England's eyes" shortly before being strangled and burned. If a person can't tell when the holy spirit is giving them guidance, what good is it? How is it supposed to work?

During my research for this article (hardly any of them scholarly or academic sources) I noticed that some web sites talked about the lack of good commentary on the Holy Spirit and one speculated that it was probably because people were afraid of Blasphemy against it. In my opinion, the lack of commentary is because they are afraid to take a position on it out of fear of criticism. Most of them just quoted scripture and never provided any mechanism for how it worked but did provide a lot of ambiguous Emotional Persuasion Dialogue aka Rhetoric with no way to validate it. This is an indication that it is not very well understood which is not what you'd expect if the principles written about it are true.

The following are some situations I created using the principles of the Holy Spirit to explore their implications. I purposely worded them redundantly so the impact of the argument would not get lost. In each case the presumption is that the Holy Spirit informs or gives guidance to facilitate a decision to accept or reject.

How it should happen.
1. If Tom has the potential to be influenced by the Holy Spirit when Evan tells him about Jesus, Tom should recognize the truth and accept Christ. He does and lives happily ever after.

How it should not happen.

Tom Believes the Gifts Were Only Valid For The Apostles:
2a. If Tom has the potential to be influenced by the Holy Spirit when Evan tells him about Jesus, Tom should recognize the truth and accept Christ. Along the way he adopts the belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were only valid for the Apostles. Stipulating for a moment that the Gifts of the Spirit are NOT only valid in the time of the apostles, he lives happily ever after. His Spirit evidently did not pick up on that discrepancy. Is it possible that he made a conscious decision to disregard what the Holy Spirit was telling him and didn't know it?

or the opposite situation happens

Tom Believes the Gifts Are Valid For Everyone Today:
2b. If Tom has the potential to be influenced by the Holy Spirit when Evan tells him about Jesus, Tom should recognize the truth and accept Christ. Along the way he adopts the belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are valid today for everyone. Stipulating for a moment that the Gifts of the Spirit were ONLY valid in the time of the apostles, he lives happily ever after. His Spirit evidently did not pick up on the discrepancy. Is it possible that he made a conscious decision to disregard what the Holy Spirit was telling him and didn't know it? This argument is discussed in detail here

Tom Becomes an Apostate:
3a. If Tom has the potential to be influenced by the Holy Spirit when Evan tells him about Jesus, Tom should recognize the truth and accept Christ. He does and learns more about the bible and Christianity. He has questions that are not resolved in his mind. He makes no conscious decision to disbelieve anything that he thought was rational. Everything that bothered him, bothered him exactly because he thought it didn't make sense. He becomes an apostate later in life, living happily ever after. Was the Holy Spirit giving him guidance to cause him to find fault in the Bible or Christianity? If not, then if the Holy Spirit was giving him guidance and it didn't make sense to him then is he culpable when he rejects Christianity on those grounds? On the other hand how do you love something you have doubts about? If he grudgingly keeps professing his faith, gods not going to be fooled and he's as good as an apostate.

or the opposite situation happens

Tom Hangs Onto His Belief Despite Doubts:
3b. If Tom has the potential to be influenced by the Holy Spirit when Evan tells him about Jesus, Tom should recognize the truth and accept Christ. He does and learns more about the bible and Christianity. He has questions that are not resolved in his mind and he makes no conscious decision to disbelieve anything that he thought made sense. Everything that bothered him, bothered him exactly because he thought it didn't make sense. He wrestles with these questions for the rest of his life professing his faith and NOT living happily ever after. Was the Holy Spirit giving him guidance to cause him to find fault in the Bible or Christianity? If not, how is it that the Holy Spirit didn't intervene on behalf of itself to the point that he would not have to make a choice to disregard conflicting information that he honestly believed was valid? Here is a link to a DC article called "Christians Who Struggle With Serious Doubts" that talks about this.

Tom Doesn't Accept Jesus At First Contact
4. If Tom has the potential to be influenced by the Holy Spirit when Evan tells him about Jesus, Tom should recognize the truth and accept Christ. But he doesn't because he is not convinced. What could be going on in inside Tom to cause that to happen? Doesn't Tom realize that the Holy Spirit is working on him to influence him to believe? How is Tom supposed to recognize the fact the he is being informed by the Holy Spirit? Is Tom consciously disregarding information that is informing him from the Holy Spirit? Can Tom distinguish between what are his thoughts and what is the guidance and understanding of the Holy Spirit?

Tom Accepts Jesus But Doesn't Become A True Christian:
5. If Tom has the potential to be influenced by the Holy Spirit when Evan tells him about Jesus, Tom should recognize the truth and accept Christ. Evan is in the Catholic Church, or Protestant, or Church of God, or Jehovah's Witness or Church of Latter Day Saints. Tom likes what he hears and accepts Christ. But the other Churches out there are saying that those churches aren't made up of real Christians, kind of like the Pope did on July 10, 2007. So if these are not real Christians, why didn't the Holy Spirit pick up on this and over time put Tom in a position to have to make a conscious decision to disregard information about itself that he new was valid and accept information that he did not know was valid? There was no informed decision possible.

Where are the real Christians? In what church?
* The Catholic Church? or any of the other versions of Catholicism?
* Protestant Evangelicals? or any of the many other protestant churches?
* Jehovah's Witnesses?
* Latter Day Saints?
* Church of God?

Since it seems apparent that the Holy Spirit does not help interpret scripture or give understanding, Reasonable Doubt about the Holy Spirit is justified.

For effect I listed the staggering number of Christian Denominations from Wikipedia and after that, the staggering number of theological disputes between them.

List of Christian Denominations from Wikipedia
1 Catholicism
1.1 The Catholic Church: Churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome
1.2 Other Churches that are Catholic, But Who Are Not In Communion With Rome

2 Eastern Churches
2.1 The (Eastern) Orthodox Church
2.2 Western-Rite Orthodox Churches
2.3 Other Eastern Orthodox Churches
2.3.1 Assyrian Church of the East
2.4 Oriental Orthodoxy
2.4.1 Oriental Orthodox Communion

3 Anglicanism
3.1 Anglican Communion (in communion with the Church of England)
3.2 Independent Anglican and Continuing Anglican Movement Churches

4 Protestant
4.1 Pre-Lutheran Protestants
4.2 Lutheranism
4.3.1 Presbyterianism
4.3.2 Congregationalist Churches
4.4 Anabaptists
4.5 Methodists
4.6 Pietists and Holiness Churches
4.7 Baptists
4.7.1 Spiritual Baptists
4.9 Apostolic Churches - Irvingites
4.10 Pentecostalism
4.11 Oneness Pentecostalism
4.12 Charismatics
4.12.1 Neo-Charismatic Churches
4.13 African Initiated Churches
4.14 United and uniting churches
4.15 Other Protestant Denominations
4.16 Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

5 Messianic Judaism

6 Restorationism
6.1 Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement
6.2 Southcottites
6.3 Millerites and Comparable groups
6.3.1 Sabbath Keeping Churches, Adventist
6.3.2 Sabbath-Keeping Churches, Non-Adventist in north Pennsylvania
6.3.3 Sunday Adventists
6.3.4 Sacred Name Groups
6.3.5 Other Adventists
6.3.6 Bible Student Groups
6.4 Anglo-Israelism

7 Nontrinitarian Groups
7.1 Unitarianism and Universalism

8 Religious movements related to Christianity
8.1 Manichaeism
8.2 The New Church also called Swedenborgianism
8.2.1 Episcopal
8.2.2 Congregational
8.3 New Thought
8.4 Christian mystery movements

9 Ethnic or syncretic religions incorporating elements of Christianity

10 Christianism

With help from John, Prup, and an Ed Babinski article, here are a list of some disputed topics. I wanted to list as many items as possible to give a graphic representation of how unreliable the principles of the Holy Spirit are.

- Trinity or no?
- Arianism
- The disputes that drove the creation of Protestants.
- Denominations of Protestants
- Denominations of Catholics
- War between Catholics and protestants
- Holy Spirit male or female?
- Holy Spirit is a person or not?
- Salvation, faith or works
- Baptism
- Infant Baptism
- Hell is real and fiery or not?
- Purgatory
- Snake handling
- Once saved always saved?
- Where do Suicides go?
- Speaking in tongues
- Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
- New covenant theology
- The 'two natures' in Christ.
- The Ordination of Women
- The attitude towards gays
- The various parts of the Bible that seem to be later additions, such as the 'story of the woman taken in adultery' and the 'Great Commission' that ends Matthew, etc.
- The Rapture
- Slavery
- Biblical inerrancy
- Christendom
- Papal Infallibility
- Double Predestination
- Just War Theory
- Penal Substitution
- God as a Male
- Sin
- Unforgivable Sin
- Second coming has already happened
- The point in time that the holy spirit indwells and fills you
- Gifts of the spirit given to everyone or different people at different times
- 'pre-Nicean' controversies



52 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Lee, I think this argument is very good and I use it myself. The Christian will have to once again explain away the evidence, like they do so often in so many areas. They will claim, despite the overwhelming evidence, that it's not God's fault Christians don't listen to the Holy Spirit. It's man's fault. Yeah, right.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi John,
Thanks for the compliment.

I hope somebody comes back with that. I almost typed my reply here but I'll wait till I get someone that wants to defend the 'mans fault' viewpoint.

Happy Friday the 13th! :-D

Tyro said...

Yeah, poor little Holy Spirit. It would help us out, it really would, but it's just too weak to overcome man's stubbornness :)

Thanks for this insight, I'd never realized that the HS was supposed to be acting like this. If so, I don't see the rebuttal.

Bloviator said...

Lee,

Excellent phrasing of the argument against the HS. I especially like the lack of venom and judgment in your delivery (gives 'em less ammo to avoid the true question).

Be prepared for my favorite, the "argument from SATAN". Since, in my experience, many evangelical/fundamentalist christians give near god-like powers to the old P of D (as Bertie Wooster might say), enlisting him in defense of the HS is inevitable. I once quipped to a friend that is wasn't god that made all things possible to christians, but rather satan. He is the ace in the hole, for with the S-man, all arguments are possible. HS can't get through? Must be satan getting in the way. Denominational differences between believers? Satan again. Can't get rid of that pesky ring-around-the-collar? Satan. Since leaving my brothers and sisters in christ, I am astonished at the amount of magical thinking that goes on in churches (at least evangelical churches and conservative catholic groups). Reminds me of being at a 4th grade slumber party when you start telling ghost stories. Sorry, I meant Holy Ghost stories.;}

richdurrant said...

Lee,
This was a very good well thought out post. Some great discussion material. First thing that came to my mind was about the various Christian creeds. I can't imagine why God would want to have His gospel/doctrine taught in so many different forms that it is impossible to tel who would be right and who would be wrong. I'm not going to plug one as being right I am just pointing out the blatantly obvious. The Holy Ghost should testify of truth, if he does and all follow, then there would be one single Christian church. Since existing churches have contradicting doctrines, not all could truth by the be verified as truth by the HG. I can see already you are not fond of some answers to this and have probably heard them over and over, but the only true logical answer is that not every church can be right.

Now I think to we move to the meat of the problem, How to tell when the Holy Ghost is speaking to you. First of all I believe, as stated in another thread with Lee, that all human beings can be influenced by the Holy Ghost. If this were not true, we could have no conversion. You speak of indwelling, which is similar to my own belief, which we call the gift of the Holy Ghost. What this means is that you receive the opportunity to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion as long as you remain worthy, as in if you are willfully sinning you have no companionship. Now it is up to me to keep working towards remaining worthy, not up to the HG to force me into doing whats right, I have my agency to choose, and yes even choose wrong. It is a feeling that you have internally that is the HG. It is likened to a burning in your heart, not heart burn which makes you feel like puking, but a warm fuzzy if you will.
Well its a start, it's been unusually busy at work and I have to leave again for a minute but I'll be back as soon as I can

lowendaction said...

lee,

Two things come to mind as I read your thorough and insightful post:

First, and this seems fairly universal here at DC, is this need for hardlined facts regarding Christianity. To me, it's like asking "What does a perfect marriage look like?" My understanding of Christianity is that it's a personal relationship with God. Therefore it will be "different" from one person to the next. Though I am fully aware of the bristling repsonse this will incur: "just another excuse" or "straw man", I think you might just be frustrated by the fact that maybe Christianity wasn't cooked up by some malicious group of loons 2000 years ago. But that it is instead a intimate relationship between man and God.

This is also why I personally am not bothered by the large amount of denominations you listed. I believe its less a question of right and wrong, and more of how close is their individual relationship with God. Who am I, or anyone for that matter, to judge the deapth, reality, and validity of someones personal relationship (including to the one they call God)?


Second, I was just going to offer my laymen understanding of the Holy Spirit. I would attempt to describe IT as be akin to the synapse in our brain. I believe its like a non-tangeble connection between us and God. In the Old Testament, God chose not to introduce the HS into the relationship between Him and man. This is why there were elaborate rules and rituals, because "direct" contact with God would cause instant death (re: Arc of the Covenant; the Temple). So with the birth of Christianity, God chose to bridge that gap via the Holy Spirit. IOW the direct contact with Him is still not possible, but through the "presence" of the HS, we are able to "interact" with Him.

As far as the streangth, presence, or power of the HS, I think it is in direct corelation to the streangth of ones personal relationship with God. IOW if you invest in the quality of the relationship, you "streangthen" the synapse to God.

And my last point it simply this. Whoever said that once you "become a Christian, everything would be great/happy...whatever" just doesn't have a clue and has not bothered to read the bible in this regard. God did not send Christ into this world so that all mankind might be happy!! He sent Him so we might be in closer and more intimate relation to God.

richdurrant said...

Why is it John that it can't be mans fault if we don't listen to the Holy Ghost? I'm just curious because it seems that you feel that one who listens to the Holy Ghost should always do exactly what they are told or they don't really have the Holy Ghost. Am I reading you wrong?

John W. Loftus said...

richdurrant, you placed your questions in the framework of "can't" and "always." Is that the standard you're looking for? That sounds like I must prove something. I'm merely talking about what seems most probable. Given what we see it's probable there is no Holy Spirit guidance. The fact that you seem to require that I prove my case means you must explain away the evidence. The evidence is not on your side here.

Bob Kowalski said...

I've had similar thoughts. You should take a look at this on my blog and some later posts. It's trying to make sense of the fact that Christians seem to be neither more nor less moral than non-Christians. And the problem of determining whether someone who claims to be a Christian is really a Christian or a wolf among lambs.

I intend to reread this post carefully and write something about it.

bob

Christian Beyer said...

Whew! What a toruous ride.

I think the problem, both inside the Church, as well as outside (including a lot of atheist rhetoric) boils down to a literal reading of the Bible. When both camps look for 'facts' that they can either use to support or refute a tenant of faith then they have missed what the real points are. Those points are found in a holistic and methaphorical reading of religious scriptures (Hebrew,Christian,Muslim,Hindu, Taoist etc).

The Holy spirit is a felt presence and cannot, but it's nature be defined, captured or explained. That is the wind is so often used as metaphor when discussing it. My thoughts are these:(remember; he who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak)

The spirit of God is the creative force that imbue us all, a force that is best described as that which results from the complementary and harmonious union of those parts of God that are in some respects oppositional.

The concept of the Yin Yang gives us a better picture of God that the ponderous concept of the Trinity. Two parts, the same yet differet, male and female, joined by a mutual attraction we call love, love is also the result of this union and the creatve force that proceeds from God that inspires, energizes and pacifies us what the Chinese call Chi and what the westerners call the Holy Spirit.

Even though Judaism and Islam have no Trinity, they recognize he power of this spirit, as well as the desirability to feel it's presence.

Is it another person of the one God? Who the hell knows.

Christian Beyer said...

I apologize for the previous post's typos,grammatical errors and run-on sentences.My screen froze and I never got a chance to preview and edit.

Anyway, I talk more about this on my website; SharpIron.org (if I haven't already bored you)in an article entitle "Christian Yin Yang"

Chris Beyer
www.sharpiron.org

Jennifer said...

I'm not going to try and defend the Holy Spirit of God...as if it can be done.

I am going to point out that by non-christian you most likely mean everyone raised in a culture that is based on an system of ethics which is strongly influenced by biblical teaching. I would be interested in reading what you have to say after reading some of the Mystics and then accounting for why they attributed their extreme devotion and lifestyle to the Holy Spirit, or at least to God in whole.

Here are some to look into if you are interested:

Mystics

Jason said...

Just to confirm, you're stating the Holy Spirit is God?

Jennifer said...

Jason,
Are you asking me?

If so; yes I am stating that the Holy Spirit is God but in reading what a person writes they don't always put it in those words even if they have confessed that knowledge in other writing or in their fellowship. One thing I've noticed in older writing is that there is so much that is assumed to be known by the reader that the time isn't always taken to reiterate every line of belief.
(I guess it's not so much different from today! I hear public speakers and authors lament that they always need to keep explaining what they mean.)

So; if a person writes using the word God but referring to an action of God that the Bible attributes to the Holy Spirit, that person is most likely talking about the Holy Spirit without stating it that specifically. That is especially true of the "mystics" because they were all identified with an order that held the Trinity to be true and they were writing for other Christians. As far as I know anyway.

Jennifer said...

Yeah, poor little Holy Spirit. It would help us out, it really would, but it's just too weak to overcome man's stubbornness :)

Or too polite.

Jennifer said...

Just one more comment :)

The book "The Way of the Cross" by Roy Hession is the story of how the community of Christians he was, and may still be?, a part of did live by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. People who observed them asked him to write a book about how they came to be such a unique group and this little book is the result.

Lee Randolph said...

I posted another article that generally answers some of the above comments.

Jennifer,
And a holy spirit that is too polite to attempt assertive influence? I think you are in danger of minimizing god to fit the data to the point that it becomes a myth. But thats alright with me I just wanted to point that out to you.

Lee Randolph said...

Richdurrant,
What this means is that you receive the opportunity to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion as long as you remain worthy, as in if you are willfully sinning you have no companionship.
this appears to be a contradiction. Isn't it a sin not to follow gods word? Isn't not following the guidance of the Holy spirit not following gods word? minimizing the relationship by not following gods word seems to be a contradiction since god should have known this was going to be the case and should have avoided the situation in the first place. Namely, the person would not be worthy vessel in the first place.
In my view, to say that god is going to stay there and wax and wane based on the capriciousness of the person is to minimize him to the point of insignificance and mythology.

Tim said...

lowendaction wrote:
This is also why I personally am not bothered by the large amount of denominations you listed.

I find this a curious comment coming from a Christian. If you are a Christian you should be bothered by the large number of denominations. Here is what Jesus prayed before his arrest and crucifixion:

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23


lowendaction wrote:
I believe its less a question of right and wrong, and more of how close is their individual relationship with God.

Certainly, St. Paul considered having the 'right' doctrine to be fundamental to being a Christian.

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer
1 Timothy 1:3


I am not a historian, but even a cursory glance at Christian history shows that people were often killed for having the wrong doctrine. Michael Servetus was burned at the stake for denying the Holy Trinity. William Tyndale was deemed a heretic and was strangled and burned by the Catholic Church for endeavoring to make scripture available to the common man.

And on and on it goes.

Also, this 'personal relationship with God' that you write about is mentioned nowhere in the Bible. Not one verse in the bible, and not a single teaching of Jesus or any of the Apostles emphasizes or indicates that an individual can have a 'personal relationship with God'. These men and women worshiped God together in communities, and of course that dictates that one be in the right community to begin with.

lowendaction wrote:
Who am I, or anyone for that matter, to judge the deapth, reality, and validity of someones personal relationship (including to the one they call God)?


This is what the vast majority of conservative Christian denominations do. Isn't Christianity the one true way to God? I grew up in a Presbyterian church. I was taught that Christianity was the only valid religion and followers of all other religions go to hell. In university, I joined briefly joined a group called the International Churches of Christ which claimed to be the "one true church". Later on I left that church and joined an Evangelical congregation. I discovered that many evangelicals have animosity towards Roman Catholics, and some consider the Roman Catholic Church to be a false church. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI asserted the primacy of the Cahtolic Church stating that it is the "one true church". So in my twenty odd years of growing up in a Christian home, and attending various churches, various denominations, I have always found that people are more than willing to call into question the validity of other denominations, different interpretations of scripture, other religions and yes, the validity of a person's relationship with God.

2000 years after Jesus Christ died, Christians still can't agree on what how exactly a person recieves salvation. Every church I attended gave a different answer, ranging from the importance of faith, to the importance of baptism, to performing good works, to having a 'personal relationship with God'....

And on and on it goes.

Tim

Jason said...

(Jennifer, sorry, I wasn't asking you but thanks for the answer anyhow! I don't agree with you but now's not really the time to get into it:) )

From a quick look at the opening post, it would seem the resulting conclusions are based on general errors and false assumptions.

First off, if we're using the Bible as the ultimate guide, on what grounds is it established that the Holy Spirit "inteprets Scripture" for people today? Isn't it just a matter of reading it and coming to conclusions? (Jesus died, the Jews are God's chosen people, etc.)

Secondly, let's just assume for a moment people today do have the Holy Spirit (personally, I'm far from convinced this is the case). The Holy Spirit in and of itself doesn't make people 'perfect'. Specific individuals have been given the Holy Spirit throughout Scipture but they still made mistakes. Samson was given incredible strength but he abused it. Peter had the Holy Spirit but he still had to be admonished by Paul. The disciples had the Holy Spirit but their powers of healing were limited based on their faith. So I'm not entirely sure why the assumption is that the Holy Spirit turns normal people into perfect spiritual machines who can do no wrong...?

Unless of course I'm misunderstanding the overall argument.

Jennifer said...

And a holy spirit that is too polite to attempt assertive influence? I think you are in danger of minimizing god to fit the data to the point that it becomes a myth. But thats alright with me I just wanted to point that out to you.

Oh no. I am not minimizing God. The role of the Holy Spirit in Scripture is to help (John 14:16-18), teacher of God's will and truth (1 Corinthians 2:11, John 14:26, John 16:13), and witness of Christ (John 15:26, 16:14).

Part of teaching is bringing to light the thoughts, motives and deeds that are sinful but not beating a person over the head. Good grief Lee, does the Holy Spirit need to grab people by the collar and threaten them to help them love God?

The evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life is the character of God; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

We're talking about the Holy Spirit's role, not the wrath of God.

I'm bowing out now because I do not think it is possible to convince anyone when it comes to the Holy Spirit. This is not because I am afraid of blaspheming the Holy Spirit; as some would claim, but because I don't want to misrepresent Him.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jennifer,
I never said 'beat over the head' I said assertive, like "speak up I can't hear you!". The way it stands now, I see people saying that it influences, or informs then turn around and say that he doesn't for one reason or another.
Which is it?
does he influence and inform, but doesn't force? Thats fine, but I want to know how it manifests itself, and I want to know how it can be differentiated between self and satan to the point that the person can say that they know they have made an informed decision using the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There's no danger in misrepresenting that is there?

Christian Beyer said...

I think Jennifer is correct to not be too concerned about the number of denominations, or sects, making up the Church as a whole. The original intent of organized religion is that of a mentor and then perhaps as system of tools to help the seeker on his or her journey to God. The goal is to seek enlightenment.

Once enlightenment has been attained, whatever attraction the seeker has felt towards that system should begin to minimize to the point where they see it merely as an aid to help others follow.

Those who reached the other side of this river of life and now stand upon the shore of enlightenment can now commune (as one) with each other and with God.

My mentoring system was Methodism. I now see myself merely as a follower of Jesus, as he is how I personally realize God. The 'holy spirit' of God that I am able to encounter on a daily basis I believe is that same "holy spirit' that the Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem and primal believer will encounter as well.

Sorry, but I think you guys who do not believe also encounter this spirit as well. I remember doing so when I was atheist but denial was more expediant

Lee Randolph said...

Hi christian,
first i'll say that your comments are some of that Rhetoric I was talking about.
Those who reached the other side of this river of life and now stand upon the shore of enlightenment can now commune (as one) with each other and with God.

second, I'll say that your comment about the buddha etc seems to violate principles
P3a. The Holy Spirit is in every Christian
P6. The Holy Spirit gives understanding (informs).
since in order for the holy spirit to inform, it must be residing in a christian.

or would you like to challenge those principles?

Jason said...

Anyone?

#1 If we're using the Bible as the ultimate guide, on what grounds is it established that the Holy Spirit "inteprets Scripture" for people today? Isn't it just a matter of reading it and coming to conclusions? (Jesus died, the Jews are God's chosen people, etc.)

#2 Secondly, let's assume for a moment people today do have the Holy Spirit (personally, I'm far from convinced this is the case). The Holy Spirit in and of itself doesn't make people 'perfect'. Specific individuals have been given the Holy Spirit throughout Scipture but they still made mistakes. Samson was given incredible strength but he abused it. Peter had the Holy Spirit but he still had to be admonished by Paul. The disciples had the Holy Spirit but their powers of healing were limited based on their faith. So I'm not entirely sure why the assumption is that the Holy Spirit turns normal people into perfect spiritual machines who can do no wrong...?

Christian Beyer said...

Lee, it boils down to semantics. What everyone is arguing over is how Church doctrine and dogma is read, or even if doctrine and dogma are relevant or correct. For instance, how does one define the word "Christian". I am a follower of Christ yet I am hesitant at times to identify myself as a Christian (in spite of my name) because(among other things)I believe that much if not most doctrine is flawed- man made systematic explanations to soothe people that either have not truly engaged the experiential elements of spirituality or believe that it is some type of other worldly (after life) event.

Your points P3a and P6 (I'll admit I did not read them all your points) are addressing church doctrine, rational explanations for non-rational experiences.

I can write a book, develop a chronology about or identify the outward signs of my love for my wife. In the end none of those things truly represent this love. Merely words.

I'd also like to address something I said earlier; at no time is their a concrete destination for faith - the journey is the thing. The quest never ends, for the infinite cannot be defined. We (Christians, myself included) act like little children when we try to identify, qualify and quantify something like the Holy Spirit. It cannot be sufficiently explained but it cannot be explained away,either.

Lee Randolph said...

Jason,
1. This link says the following.
"Scripture tells us that we are to rely on the Holy Spirit's illumination to gain insights into the meaning and application of Scripture (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:9-11).
It is the Holy Spirit's work to throw light upon the Word of God so that the believer can assent to the meaning intended and act on it."
this is pretty common theme among christians. I'm surprised you don't know about it.

2. no-one is saying the holy spirit make people perfect.

My article concluded with the following.
"Since it seems apparent that the Holy Spirit does not help interpret scripture or give understanding, Reasonable Doubt about the Holy Spirit is justified. " and it gave various evidences to support that. Did you read it?

Does this answer you questions?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Christian,
What everyone is arguing over is how Church doctrine and dogma is read, or even if doctrine and dogma are relevant or correct. For instance, how does one define the word "Christian".
so you challenge the whole premise of the holy spirit as it is laid out in scripture? Its all man made? The definition of "Christian" as I've seen it comes from the bible and it says anyone that accepts christ will get the spirit indwelling and be a christian. The spirit is supposed to give guidance about gods word.

Is this new to you? Or am I in one of the grey areas that is supposed to be made clear by the spirit but hasn't?

I can back all those premises up with scripture, but I chose not to since the article was so long and I thought they wouldn't be seriously challenged.

Christian Beyer said...

No,Lee, the premise is not all man made. But the elaborate 'concrete' definition of something that is fluid,dynamic and naturally imperceptible was set down by men, at times by very selective groups of men with very specific agendas.

Of course having the spirit of God within you (and that, again, is not a factual statement but a metaphorical one - one could just as easily say "in harmony" or "in tune with the spirit") would assist in biblical revelation. But having God's spirit in your heart would assist in ALL revelation.

God does not reveal himself solely, or even primarily through scriptures. It's just one way (albeit one of the best ways) to experience God.

By proof texting the Bible, you (as well as the specific Christians and their tenets that you hold in question)may be able to support this specific definition of the Holy Spirit. But the bible was never meant to be an owners manual, curriculum text book or legal document. It must be read contextually (meaning we must be better versed in the Jewish mores, traditions and customs of that era) as well as holistically, with every part complementing the whole, not standing alone.

A rigid, excessively literal and dogmatic reading of scriptures usually ends with this type of confusion.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Christian,
I feel like you're helping my argument. If what you say is true then I don't see how anyone can say they know anything about scripture, even the things that are explicitly stated. According to what I understand you to say is that
But the elaborate 'concrete' definition of something that is fluid,dynamic and naturally imperceptible was set down by men, at times by very selective groups of men with very specific agendas.....It must be read contextually (meaning we must be better versed in the Jewish mores, traditions and customs of that era) as well as holistically, with every part complementing the whole, not standing alone....A rigid, excessively literal and dogmatic reading of scriptures usually ends with this type of confusion.
If what you say is true, you can't even trust how much divine inspiration went into the Bible and you can't trust how much guidance you're getting (if any) from the Holy Spirit, since the premise of guindance from the Holy Spirit depends on the truth the divine inspiration in the bible.

So I guess in any case we wind up with a confused bunch of interpretations. Its like god has a bad connection and we are only getting bits and pieces and we don't have anyway to make sure we are putting it all together correctly.
Not what you'd expect from an 'awesome' god.
I say that are joining Jennifer and Richdurrant in minimizing your god into impotence.

Christian Beyer said...

"since the premise of guindance from the Holy Spirit depends on the truth the divine inspiration in the bible."

No, the premise depends upon experience that comes from faith. The apostles new little of the holy spirit until pentecost, even though Jesus told them about it.

Faith is not created by accepting testimony from either scriptures or other people. It must be experienced. As I said before, one may experience God's spirit even though he may not recognize it as such.

"So I guess in any case we wind up with a confused bunch of interpretations....Not what you'd expect from an 'awesome' god."


Exactly. I do not hold to the view that scripture, although inspired by those who have experienced the spiritual, is inerrent of infallible. Man is fallible and prone to excess so there can be mistakes made in translation as well as interpretation. God, on the other hand, uses man as a means of conveying his truths. It is not always successful because we are allowed to err. (I don't want to open up that can of worms right now, but suffice it to say that it is essential that we be permitted to make mistakes.)

lowendaction said...

tim,
sorry for the delayed response:

denominations: I think our understanding of the word "one" you referenced is different. I believe that oneness is referring to being apart of the church "body" and being saved in Christ, not everyone thinking/believing the exact same thing. Since most of these doctrines have minor variances of biblical interpretations and do not directly impact the base belief of "being saved through Christ", I choose not to be bothered by them. Of course I understand that there are those who's doctrine is wildly different...but you know what, I just can't be bothered by this. And the reason is my next point....

personal relationship: I believe that the bible is one of the most mysterious and thought provoiking books ever written. In that much of its message is not made to be immediatly obvious, so that the reader is challenged to "dig deeper" for the truth to be revealed. Now I understand that to some here that might sound like a convienient excuse, but I persoanally believe this to be a beautiful attribute of the bible, which I enjoy.
Having said that, I do believe there are numerous examples in the OT of men and women who enjoyed close "fellowship" with God. This is shown through dialouge and interaction with Him (Moses, Abraham, the prophets, David, etc). Jesus (being God Himself) displayed very intimate relationships here on earth, and through Him we have the Holy Spirit who enables ALL of us to enjoy a close intimacy with God.

tim, I find it interesting that many of your arguements are based on the actions of churches and/or individuals (both past and present) and their respresentation of the church. I won't argue for a second how shameful much of this behavior is/was, but it has never influenced my understanding/acceptance of the truth. Because for me, it comes from only one source: the bible. Why would I base my belief system on the actions of other people (and yes: I do believe that the people who wrote the bible were divinely influenced...[open interpretation])? However, I do study and respect all of these human examples (both good and bad), and apply whatever "lessons learned" gleaned.

thanks for your insightful response. I appreciate the open dialogue.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Christian,
It must be experienced. As I said before, one may experience God's spirit even though he may not recognize it as such.
How can you not know if you are experiencing Gods spirit? If you can't detect it, then you can't know if you are experiencing it.
This is just meaningless Rhetoric. And I'll add you to the list of Christians that are defending God by Diminishing him or it or whatever.

God, on the other hand, uses man as a means of conveying his truths. It is not always successful because we are allowed to err.
So he can't get it right in the bible, he can't get it right through people and you can't tell when you experience him, this sounds like NON-SENSE.
And Christians wonder why people like me become apostates?

Talking about a moving goalpost. Would you like to defend god as being so powerful he can be a contradiction or a paradox too? you might as well, you are most of the way there. If you do that you are safe. You can never be wrong because whatever you think up you can use. That would be a real conversation stopper.

richdurrant said...

Leave for a couple of days and look what happens!

first John,
"The fact that you seem to require that I prove my case means you must explain away the evidence. The evidence is not on your side here."

So then again I am still trying to clarify you position here. I thought the way you wrote that post, you were implying that not following the Holy Ghost could not be mans fault, whether that be never or not probable. I'm not asking you to prove any case.

Lee,
After catching up on the discussion here I still have to back track a day or two.
"What this means is that you receive the opportunity to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion as long as you remain worthy, as in if you are willfully sinning you have no companionship.
this appears to be a contradiction."
I missed the contradiction? God did know this would be the case, as in we would not always follow his word. That is what repentance is for. This doesn't diminish God, except maybe in you eyes, but rests the blame where it should be, on us. The Holy Ghost is not a being who asserts his will on us, but gives guidance to those who seek it. I think you misunderstand where Jennifer(I think she is saying the same thing) and I rest on this subject.

P3a. of yours is not really true. The Holy Spirit itself doesn't live inside you. But his influence can be felt by all. Much the same way the sun doesn't reside inside you but you feel it. Which then makes P6 at the not correct because the Holy Spirit doesn't need to reside in a Christian to inform of the truth.

"So I guess in any case we wind up with a confused bunch of interpretations. Its like god has a bad connection and we are only getting bits and pieces and we don't have anyway to make sure we are putting it all together correctly.
Not what you'd expect from an 'awesome' god.
I say that are joining Jennifer and Richdurrant in minimizing your god into impotence."
It's not what you might expect from god but it is exactly what I would expect from fallible Humans. It's not trying to minimize God but showing that we as humans don't step up to the task.

Christian Beyer said...

How can you not know if you are experiencing Gods spirit? If you can't detect it, then you can't know if you are experiencing it.

Oh, you can detect it, and unless you are severly depressed, psychotic or just chronically cynical, you will detect it just about every day. It is easy to deny these experiences or even arrogantly dismiss them as just the end result of a combination of diet, hormones and weather.

When you allow yourself to open up your mind to the possibilities (should be easy for all you 'free thinkers') then you find that you will be able to recognize the presence of God at almost any time and place. No matter how difficult the circumstances. And this presence is always joyful, comforting and inspiring. You may think this is delusional whereas you are being exceptionally rational. I'll take a second helping of delusional, then.

I am also an apostate even though my faith in God has never been stronger. Atheists haven't cornered the market on apostasy - it's not even a bad word to some of us. I am always curious as to how much some of you folks are actually rejectin God or are you really (usually justifiably) protesting the failures of religion and the religious.

Lee Randolph said...

hi rich,
I am not arguing that holy spirit should force you to do anything. I am arguing that if you were sure you were getting guidance from the holy spirit, you would follow it since I assume only a mentally challenged individual would not, there would be consistency across the board, and christainity would have a larger share than 30% of the worlds population since it would obviously be correct. Think about it.

I missed the contradiction?
The contradiction is that if you don't know if you are following gods will or not because you can't distinguish from satan or self, or if you think you know what the right thing to do is and convince yourself it is really just your self-talk, then you may be willfully disregarding the holy spirit or you may be disregarding the spirit an not know it. I probably took what you said too literally and should have given you the benefit of the doubt. Your statement as displayed above "...you receive the opportunity to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion as long as you remain worthy, as in if you are willfully sinning you have no companionship." does contain a contradiction where 'companionship' is concerned according to some 'traditions'.

P3a. of yours is not really true. The Holy Spirit itself doesn't live inside you. But his influence can be felt by all.
these people are just one 'tradition' in many that think it does. What tradition are you? I'll bet I know. ;-)
You are helping to illustrate my point.

Much the same way the sun doesn't reside inside you but you feel it. Which then makes P6 at the not correct because the Holy Spirit doesn't need to reside in a Christian to inform of the truth.
That's a bad analogy. The sun gives you an obvious feeling of warmth. A flame burns your hand, a fly tickles your skin, these are all unmistakable since you know where they come from and generally if you understand the context of your environment you can make a reasoned inference what they are.

It's not what you might expect from god but it is exactly what I would expect from fallible Humans. It's not trying to minimize God but showing that we as humans don't step up to the task.
here again you are minimizing your god into impotence. We as humans expect humans to communicate effectively, and a human pressed to do so and properly motivated will accomodate. The business world and school (for just two examples) depend on this for success. You don't expect god to communicate effectively? That is a case of special pleading that I find ridiculous since of all the entities in the universe, a god that wants a relationship with its creation should communicate effectively. Are you telling me you don't always follow Gods word? I bet you would if you really thought something was going to happen. I bet if really believed in it you really would do what jesus did, or you'd be willfully disobeying god and playing your chances as to how seriously you were going to be punished. And to play with a god like that seems to be a foolish thing to do.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Christian,
Oh, you can detect it, and unless you are severly depressed, psychotic or just chronically cynical, you will detect it just about every day.

Maybe you didn't know, but I used to be one of those model christians, been there done that, I couldn't tell the difference in the guidance of the Holy
Spirit and I was dubious of people that said they could. I had a friend that followed the guidance of the holy spirit right into russia and to his death. That was a shocker. I had a friend that had a wife that talked to herself all the time, mumbled gibberish, but she was 'speaking in tongues'. What she was, was mentally ill and needing qualified help. But because we all bought into this Holy Spirit crap, we had less than successful outcomes. Would you say that I was "severly depressed, psychotic or just chronically cynical" even though you didn't know me? That would be a trick!

When you allow yourself to open up your mind to the possibilities (should be easy for all you 'free thinkers') then you find that you will be able to recognize the presence of God at almost any time and place. No matter how difficult the circumstances. And this presence is always joyful, comforting and inspiring.
what you are describing here is not uniquely christian. I can say that about myself right now. I get inspired all the time. I write thoughtful articles all the time, I write songs, i think up funny things to say. I'm just as creative now as I was before, its just that now I don't do stuff that praises god. So what? I have friends of other religious persuasions that are just as convinced as you. Some god you got there.

I am also an apostate even though my faith in God has never been stronger.
I think you may be confused about the meaning of 'apostate'. what you wrote above is a contradiction if answers.com is right.
a·pos·tate (ə-pŏs'tāt', -tĭt) pronunciation
n.

One who has abandoned one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.

akakiwibear said...

Wow what an argument, I can’t imagine encountering a Christian who has read it and still believes. But wait some did and do, therefore the argument must be flawed. Perhaps your excellent semantic construct is no more than finely crafted cockamamie.

Atheists do not believe in God and so by your linkage in the HS either. Atheists do not have to prove there is no God and so by your linkage the HS either … so what are you trying to do? If not an atheist why try debunking Christianity, or do you adhere to another religion?
Perhaps there is a need to establish that there is a basis to atheism other than being unconvinced that there is a God?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi akikiwibear,
thanks for the compliment.

But by your principle you have showen the bible to be flawed. Let me explain.

"Wow what a Bible, I can’t imagine encountering an atheist who has read it and still doesn't believe. But wait some did and do, therefore the Bible must be flawed. Perhaps that excellent semantic construct is no more than finely crafted cockamamie."

As for the rest of your comment I don't understand it. Let me explain, I am an ex-born again baptist fundamentalist inerrentist aplogist evangelist etc.
I believed in the Trinity which is God, jesus and Holy Spirit. Sing along with me...
"God in three persons, blessed trinity!"
There are some claims about the holy spirit that I feel are falsifiable, so that is what I set out to do. Since the Holy Spirit is one in the trinity, If I can show some claims about it are falsifiable then that weakens the claims about the Holy Spirit and therefore god.

richdurrant said...

Hi Lee,
We are in agreement then with the forcing part it sounds like. I would only add that a stubborn person would also be one to have a hard time following guidance.

I see what your contradiction point is now and it makes more sense. while it make contradict with some traditions, maybe it is a more accurate depiction of the relationship between us and the Holy Spirit?

I don't think the sun is a bad analogy because it actually fits right into your "why it isn't" comment. Once you know what you are feeling it is unmistakable but we never loose our ability to choose between obedience and disobedience, as in we are not forced or compelled to follow the guidance we are given.

"What tradition are you? I'll bet I know. ;-)
You are helping to illustrate my point."
Hey I'm never afraid to help out a little when I can:) which point by the way?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rich,
This point.
That the Holy Spirit is unreliable at helping to give guidance on scripture.
Since you challenge the premise, it doesn't mean anything to you, but to others who don't it should be a problem.

You are also helping with the other point I'm making, generally, is that if god wants a relationship, he should communicate clearly and consistently in a way that is unmistakable. This would eliminate the uncertainty, ambiguity and denominations. We could all get on the same page and apostates like me might get a warm fuzzy again. This is sound principle that should extend to God, in fact I will argue that it should extend from god if he set the laws of the universe in place including logic and inference. I'm going to continue this line of thought in some more 'holy spirit' posts.

There is so much to challenge that it is a big subject. This post turned out longer than I wanted, but I couldn't figure how to make the argument coherent any other way. That is why I did a "part 2" the next day, continuing the argument but adding the persuasion part.

richdurrant said...

I see except the difference we have is that I believe the fault lies with humans and you believe it to be on the Holy Spirit. Which is again where we differ in your next paragraph, I put the fault in us. If we look for the communication between you and I to be similar to the communication between me and God we will not be understanding the relationship to look for with God. We are to do the work in finding out what God wants, the communication from Him is there, in scripture. This is where the HS comes into play in verifying to us when we are reading or hearing gospel truth.

"Are you telling me you don't always follow Gods word? I bet you would if you really thought something was going to happen. I bet if really believed in it you really would do what jesus did, or you'd be willfully disobeying god and playing your chances as to how seriously you were going to be punished. And to play with a god like that seems to be a foolish thing to do."
This response of yours is the big problem with people. We justify our actions instead of taking responsibility and changing our ways. And this is off topic so I hope this doesn't take off, but I wanted to mention that this is what I believe the anguish and suffering will be in the afterlife. People coming to a realization that they failed to do what they knew was right to do. We will beat ourselves up for a long time about not doing what should be easy, keeping the commandments.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rich,
We are to do the work in finding out what God wants, the communication from Him is there, in scripture. This is where the HS comes into play in verifying to us when we are reading or hearing gospel truth.
But the HS doesn't verify does it? If it does how do you account for all the wrong interpretations? Is there a right one? Are people ignoring it or missing it? Do they feel guilty about ignoring something theological that doesn't make a difference in daily life anyway? They still buy it, even if its wrong, but have not really put any thought into it. They evidently don't feel 'convicted' that they are missing the point. If people are mucking it up, then what a crappy system it is. There is no standard, you can't be sure of anything. And I refuse to believe, in principle, that a god that is supposed to be the most superior intellect in the universe would do that. Would you do that if you were god?

If I were god, I'd set up a method whereby people know in no uncertain terms what the right interpretation is, and that if they don't agree then they are wrong, and give them a little note on their pillow when they get up in the morning reminding them that I love them and do the right thing. It wouldn't be any sweat for me if I was omnipotent and spanned the ages.

And please don't tell me it would take away our free will because it wouldn't in the same way that it doesn't take away my free will to see someone that needs help getting a door open and i make the decision to do it because it is the right thing to do.

And since people aren't afraid of going to hell if they marginally following gods word, then the threat of punishment is of no consequence. As long as I say I have accepted jesus, which is really not hard to do, and go to church on easter and 'be a good person' and don't contemplate the bible too much I've got a seat in heaven.

"Hey, look at me! I'm a Christian! But those other people aren't true Christians because they don't believe the same way I do."

Now I know this is an exaggeration, but it does apply to most to at least a small degree.

In my past churches, they always said that hypocrites belong in church, and boy is that ironic.

The logic breaks down in so many ways once you start to analyze it its incredible. Its eye opening.

richdurrant said...

"But the HS doesn't verify does it?"

Actually yes he does.

"Is there a right one?"
Yes there is.

"If it does how do you account for all the wrong interpretations?"

You summed it up pretty well.

"If I were god, I'd set up a method whereby people know in no uncertain terms what the right interpretation is, and that if they don't agree then they are wrong, and give them a little note on their pillow when they get up in the morning reminding them that I love them and do the right thing. It wouldn't be any sweat for me if I was omnipotent and spanned the ages.

And please don't tell me it would take away our free will because it wouldn't in the same way that it doesn't take away my free will to see someone that needs help getting a door open and i make the decision to do it because it is the right thing to do."

I won't then, but I will tell you that a great many people act differently when the boss is around then when the boss isn't around. God wants to know who is willing to follow him by faith and not by us seeing that He is looking over our shoulder. he could leave a note under your pillow at night but the Easter bunny leaves candy, Santa leaves gifts, the Tooth fairy leaves money, and the flying spaghetti monster leaves basil leafs(hey, it could happen). Tell me who in our age of enlightenment would buy the note under the pillow any more than the other things that mysteriously appear in the night;)?

The biggest hurdle to clear IMO is the people in a church. If I could figure out how to get people in my church to all behave exactly as we preach, wouldn't that open some eyes? That is a big complaint here right? You don't see anything special from the people in any one religion. If you did I could have you all converted tomorrow;)

"Hey, look at me! I'm a Christian! But those other people aren't true Christians because they don't believe the same way I do."

I may actually hate this comment more than you. I think it is extremely arrogant.
I had a longer answer that went to the little blog in the sky apparently. That's OK though

richdurrant said...

Those dang HTML tags are kickin my ass!

Christian Beyer said...

Lee, you said;

what you are describing here is not uniquely christian.

Yep.

I have friends of other religious persuasions that are just as convinced as you. Some god you got there.

That's right, he is a god that is too big for just us Christians. We need to tear down some of these dogmatic walls that we build.

Because I believe this is why more than a few of my Christian friends believe that I am an:

a·pos·tate (ə-pŏs'tāt', -tĭt) pronunciation
n.One who has abandoned one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.


Because I have left their particular version of the faith behind, in the process changing some of my principles and letting go of a cause or two.

I get inspired all the time. I write thoughtful articles all the time, I write songs, i think up funny things to say...

Evidence of God's creative spirit in your life.

My remark about depression, psychosis or cynism was not meant to be in anyway insulting. My wife suffers from depression and before she received effective treatment it was almost impossible for her to experience any lasting joy, sense of creativity or hope. There was plenty of spiritual (as well as material reasons) for her to be happy, she just could not sense them.

I used to be a fundamentalist and I wasted a lot of time trying to listen for God, asking feverishly for his Holy Spirit to descend and fill me with ecstasy, those mountain top experiences that were so few and far between.

Thank God he led me out of that morass. There is a lot of bunk out there being tossed off as theology. Little of it has to do with the Gospel.

Now, I'm confused; are you guys atheists or more strictly anti-christian? Your website's name could mean that you might easily be comfortable with Buddhism, Judaism or Druidism. In any case, I think you might want to stop using the extreme examples to justify your arguments. Heck, we can all play that game, right? The it all boils down to nothing more than contest between competing tally sheets.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Christian,
Thank you for helping to illustrate my point.

akakiwibear said...

I apologise for presenting you with what I considered a satirical view of your argument without alerting you to the fact. Of course my simple argument was flawed, but no more so than your thesis on the HS. I hoped you would be able to draw the parallel without it being pointed out.
Clearly your argument is well crafted, you have certainly convinced yourself. But I am not sure of what. It is a delight to see atheists arguing about the true nature of God! However to see the same tricks being turned again and again is boring.
P1a – not a given as you point out yourself.
P1b – these terms are not defined by you and there is disagreement as to their precise place in modern theology. Surely you do not expect anyone to treat as serious argument akin to the “Argument of Evil”.
P2 – you assume an automatic response, that is interesting and contrary to a lot of Christian teaching and P3c itself uses the word ‘should’.
I am getting bored with this and I haven’t made it to the really dodgy part of your argument yet.
Why not get to the nub of the issue? Is there a spiritual realm, albeit one we do not yet fully understand? Your choice is simple,
Either to accept the significant volume of credible first hand accounts (yes we all know there are a lot charlatans out there, but be discerning for once) …
or to accept the finely crafted cockamamie that “proves” these people to be liars.
It is a matter of choice!

Christian Beyer said...

You're welcome. BTW, what exactly is your point?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Christian,
when you agree with me that you are not uniquely Christian, you prove my point about the Holy Spirit not giving guidance. You all should be "on the same page".

akikiwibear,
Is it fair to say that since you say haven't finished reading my article, you have jumped to a conclusion? If that were true would you say that it was guidance from the Holy Spirit or personal bias?
when you say that it is not a given that the holy spirit is god, and presumably you are getting your guidance from the holy spirit, then you should have not doubt. It can't tell you about itself with any certainty? Or maybe it is your self talk that is not certain, in any case, you are not certain, and that is my point. You should be certain if you are getting supernatural guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Christian Beyer said...

You all should be "on the same page".

Why? It's necessary, when describing something that is beyond our ken, to use metaphorical language. Using our imaginations, individuals come up with different ways of 'seeing' the invisible, while realizing the same essential truths.

Do you have a problem with metaphorical language? Even science uses metaphor; Light is described both as being like a wave and a particle. Certain particles are described as occupying two places simultaneously or covering vast distances instantaneously. Illogical, but probably 'true'.

There are differences among scientist as to how they envision atomic structures and molecular molecules - we all know that these models that we remember sitting on our teacher's desks are grossly innacurate, yet in some way still presenting the truth.

hesetmefree2010 said...

Hey. Just a couple of things I would like to comment on. You have obviously done a lot of thinking with your post. I can't claim to be an expert on the faith but I can give my experience. First of all it's important to know what is said about not all who claim to be believers truly are, so that could explain differences of opinion. I have met people from different denomionations, some of which I don't agree with myself, but their prayers have certainly helped me in tangible ways. With regards the Holy spirit helping us interpret the Bible. Before I came to Christ I couldn't make head nor tail of what it said - it was a jumble of non-sense. But from the very first time I read it after becoming a believer it very much became clear to me what it had to tell me. And don't forget that the Christian God is a personal God. We are all individuals and He knows each of us inside and out and knows what each of us need. Also important to point out is that those who turn away from the faith were never truly believers. For all I know in my "rational" mind I could very well turn from the faith one day. All I know is that I would never want to because it is the one thing that has ever been able to help me.