Thursday, December 27, 2007
The following is a guest post by BrianC, who has been posting comments on a previous post from an atheist perspective. I have invited him to tell us about his personal voyage of self-discovery:
Mark has very graciously suggested that a number of posts explaining how I got from bible believing Christian to my current state of apostasy, might by instructive, or at the very least serve as a terrible warning of what to avoid, for the true believer. It’s a longish story, but I hope sufficiently novel to keep most readers engaged. I grew up in the republic of Ireland in the 1960’s and 70’s, running the entire obligatory catholic obstacle course, of communion, confirmation and lectures on the specific and exquisite methods of torture, God had in mind for the non, or wayward roman catholic. This left me with a fairly clear idea of where I stood in relation to God. He was THE BOSS and I was in his absolute and total power. Disobedience was not merely a dangerous idea, but the very definition of insanity, given the potential downside. Even as a callow youth, I could see the logic of Pascal’s Wager:-), and I remain sympathetic to the compelling logic of the worldview, which embraces the idea of eternal rewards and punishments.As a twelve year old, I moved to South Africa. Quite a shocking change of climate, culture and religious milieu for a young Irish lad, and it gave me an opportunity afforded very few. I was suddenly forced to switch perspectives, from being the citizen of a small country suffering some low key oppression at the hands of an overbearing neighbour (the UK), to becoming part of a ruling minority (the whites) participating in the markedly more robust oppression of a powerless majority. I was also exposed to my first real brush with protestant Christian sects, and frankly, I rather liked it.The emphasis on salvation through the acceptance of Jesus, as opposed to the catholic obsession with penance, categories of sin and more than a hint of real world mortification of the flesh, struck me as a far more palatable and internally consistent message. Yes we were all sinners, but Jesus had taken that sin on our behalf. Plus, there were no priests, and I had always considered these grotesque elderly virgins rather creepy. Some kind of sixth sense I suppose.During the next 5 years or so, I went through, what for this audience is I expect, a fairly familiar evangelical cycle of salvation and backsliding. Often my returns to the fold were followed by speaking in tongues, periods of intensely emotional joy, laughing in the spirit and the like. Sometimes there was nothing, my re-dedications were followed by little more than an intellectual sense of having put things back in order, and that on totting up the balance sheet, I was once again, out of the red. Those catholic habits die hard:-) Other than an aggressive attempt by a Mormon friend to recruit me (I simply found the book of Mormon too silly, even then), and a bit of a close call with 7th day Adventists (I found their intense attention to detail rather compelling), things rolled along fairly smoothly. I was largely at peace with my faith, and seriously considering the ministry. At the age of 18 I finished school, worked for about a year as computer operator in Johannesburg, and then began my two year stint of national service in the South African Defence Force, sometime in 1984. After a fairly grueling 3 months of basic training, I was stationed in a grim, dusty little support battalion, 7th South African Infantry, in Palaborwa. Palaborwa was reputed to have two seasons, summer and hell. It was too close to the equator, much too close to Mozambique and in practical terms, as far from the real world (air conditioning, the opposite sex and beer) as the dark side of the moon. The career military in Palaborwa had little but contempt for conscripts like myself, thousands of flabby, wide eyed innocents, all harbouring in their lethal little breasts, a one in one thousand chance of loosing an eye, a hand or worse still, a whole staff sergeant to the statistical certainty of training accidents to come. To the further disgust of the professionals, almost all of whom were Afrikaners, most of us weren’t even South Africans, but force naturalized colonials. An imaginative government attempt to beef up the, even then, rapidly shrinking white demographic, had resulted in the conscription of thousands of pale English speaking foreigners. Plenty of whom could barely squeak out so much as a “Hoe gaan dit?” in Afrikaans. You get the picture;-)After school, in the run up to my 2 years in the SADF, and intermittently when I had leave from the army, I attended a mega church in Johannesburg called “Christian City”. You know the type. High energy speakers, tithes (expected but not obligatory), the prosperity gospel, lots of bible courses (for a fee), speaking in tongues, slaying in the spirit, a pretty good Christian bookshop where I recall buying and being so impressed by Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”, that I later splashed out on the rather unimaginatively named sequel “More Evidence that Demands a Verdict”. They also had really well organized home churches and study groups. This church and my experience with the narrow slice of protestant Christendom I had been exposed to, left me with a real sense of how chosen “we” were. At this time by “we” I meant people who explicitly had been born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit (with signs mind you) and who harboured a sympathetic contempt for anyone that hadn’t. Happily, my time in the SADF changed that rather bigoted view.I had the incredible good luck (I considered it divine intervention at the time) to be assigned as a chaplains clerk. This was a very cushy number which required no dangerous shooting, throwing of grenades or any of that very unpleasant, “running while being shot at”. Basically, my duties were to keep the office tidy, carry hymn books, furniture and religious accoutrement back and forth to services, in short to be the chaplains general dogs body in all things. The chaplain was a Dominee (the Afrikaans term for pastor) of the Dutch Reformed Church. A rather austere denomination, very heavy on the Calvin, light on the "Jesus Loves you" and lumbered with the weird, disquieting and quite logical doctrine of predestination. However the Dominee himself was a wonderful man, a great Christian and it showed. He may not have had the fireworks of the spirit that I had come to expect from all true believers, but he certainly had the fruits in abundance. This, I suspect, is where it all began to go off the rails. Ironic really, that the witness of such a humble Christian gentleman would sow the seeds of “destruction”. The thing was that I could see the fruits of the spirit, love, patience etc. the really good stuff, in all sorts of Christians. Even Christians that my pastor back in Christian City suggested were lost. I had been fed a fairly exclusive message for years, told that the embrace of that message should show in some tangible way, but reality was not stacking up like that. In fact, I began to see the simplistic “believe and receive” Christians of my old church as superficial and shallow, downright materialistic, when contrasted with the Lutherans, Anglicans and Catholics I had spent the last rather grueling two years with.My stint in the SADF had also left me searching for a lot of philosophical answers on the subject of justice. Apartheid was alive and well in the SA of 1984, and the ideological incompatibility with the words of Jesus simply became more starkly obvious during my military service. My religious convictions although still strong and integral to my person at the time, were struggling to understand how an overwhelmingly Christian nation could endorse, justify and actively champion the cruelties being visited upon the majority black population, who were also Christians.While chewing on these inconsistencies, I was drawn to the idea that true Christians appeared in all denominations, and that the specific dogma was secondary. Simply “accepting Jesus as your saviour” wasn’t producing noticeably better Christians, and I was bumping into a steady stream of people who had never “been born again” in any kind of ostentatious way, yet even with long term and intimate exposure to them (the army will do that!) they still seemed objectively “better” people. There had to be something else, something indefinable in the mix, not reducible to some cold scriptural formula. In the late 80’s I left South Africa and returned to Europe, specifically the UK. I still had in the back of my mind that ministry was what I wanted to do, and after about a year I made contact with a Christian group I had first seen in school in SA in the early 80’s. The group was Covenant Players (http://www.covenantplayers.org/), their explicitly stated mission was to communicate the Lord Jesus Christ through the medium of drama. This may well have been the best 4 years of my life. I was assigned to Germany where I quickly picked up the language, and within 2 years was running my own unit. People loved us, our message and the medium. I was good at the drama, as well as the business side of things and my unit became one of the first to use a computer. A ludicrous IBM 286 with an absurdly small amount of RAM, and a 10 MB hard “card”. I used to lug this beast around with me in a suitcase, but all of our correspondence was done on time, and we kept in such regular contact with our “customers”, that we had a steady stream of bookings generated by these mass mailing contacts alone. I met my wife in Covenant Players, and when my daughter was born, the unit in Ireland drove us home from the hospital in their van. Although both of us have now rejected theism generally, and Christianity in specific, we both look back very fondly on our time in ministry, and the many wonderful Christians we met.All through this period, my continued disappointment with simplistic evangelical Christianity, interaction with every Christian denomination under the sun, as well as positive interactions with Mormons, JW and even the occasional Muslim, deepened my conviction that God must accept all monotheists on whatever cultural terms the context of their upbringing provides. If “accepting Jesus” was the critical formula, did it really stand to reason, that someone born in Utah or Teheran had exactly the same chance at salvation as someone born into the family of a Baptist minister? This seemed absurd, the more so given the terrible penalty of making the wrong choice.It gradually seeped into my consciousness, that Pascal’s Wager was not a binary proposition at all, that given the thousands of confident religions, sects and cults worldwide, the choices were in fact functionally infinite. I wrestled with the idea that there had to be some way of giving everyone an equal shot at salvation, so to speak. Either that or the penalty couldn’t possibly be as severe as alleged. The concept, “accept Jesus as your saviour” had been (re-?) formulated during the reformation, with the very narrow horizon of European civilization in mind, and as a counterpoint to the Catholic Churches focus on sin. When I examined this dogma against the broader sweep of history and geography, it simply seemed vacuous, even cruel, and the attempts to explain this clear injustice were uniformly inadequate. I considered the thousands of years of Chinese history for example, utterly untouched by Christianity until perhaps two hundred years ago, or the South and North American civilizations that have risen and fallen in the last 2000 years, collectively, billions of people that lived and died without ever hearing a single solitary syllable about Jesus. That is assuming you don’t accept the book of Mormon.A particularly important fork in the road, was the thought that every theist on the planet makes very similar claims, appeals and arguments, just for a different set of speculations. They are frequently certain they have evidence, reason and of course God on their side. To me, they all began to look very, very similar, including my own Christian convictions. How could the different perspectives, dogmas and claims be objectively evaluated? Not by reason, all the faiths and sects have what they consider excellent reasons for what they believe, and consider everyone else’s reasons insufficient. If you think I’m exaggerating, try arguing with a Muslim (they are all over the internet) about the inerrancy of the Quran or with a 7th Day Adventist, Mormon of Jehovah’s Witness regarding some of their more curious doctrinal claims.Not by personal experience, people from all faiths and sects tell a steady stream of anecdotes about their interaction with the transcendent, miraculous and indefinable. I have a few such stories myself! To this day, the adherents of Hindu gurus will tell breathlessly of healings, resurrections and the occasional virgin birth. If I dismiss these claims without a thought today, what am I to make of similar claims of a far more illiterate, credulous and above all, distant age?Not by example, all faiths have a history of angels and demons in their ranks. How then? How could one be certain that a particular set of religious Dogma was the correct one? My changing world view, the recognition that people were people everywhere eventually overwhelmed the capacity of my religious convictions to adapt. No matter how you examined it, either religious dogma was overtly unjust, and frequently absurd, or so denuded as to be worthless. This thought process percolated in the background for a few years, and then along came the Iraq war. My sense of injustice was ignited by the in your face lies and the outrage that this war embodies, and that George Bush personifies. His cynical duping of the religious right in the US, made me think anew about the state of my own religious life. I began to aggressively investigate the details of my faith; I read books on comparative religion, church history, cosmology and evolution. I read Dawkins, Harris and Dennett, the unholy trinity of Atheism. I basically took a wrecking ball to the superstructure of ignorance that my faith depended on, and the whole thing came crashing down. Worse still, I realized I’d been duped as well, betrayed by people I expected to be honest with me. Especially that idiot Josh McDowell (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/newetdav.html) , I had genuinely thought that his books had informed me; when all they had done was to crudely inoculate me against actual knowledge.The deep dishonesty of some Christian apologists, for example the cynical, relentless, and decades long conflation of the scientific definition of “theory” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory), with that of it’s everyday common usage, simply reinforced my sense that religions were run and directed, for the most part, by charlatans and confidence tricksters. In defense, I developed a method for assessing the truth (with a lower case t) probability of any given assertion. In it’s simplest form, what proportion of relevant experts endorse assertion X? For example, scientific disciplines accept particular facts as given, only when a broad majority in the relevant discipline accepts them as such. Thus I weigh the position of astronomers vis a vis the ability of stars to predict future events, as of vastly greater value than the literally billions of people around the world that continue to give astrology credence. Ministers may be the relevant experts on theology or church history, but they are absolutely the wrong people to listen to on biology, cosmology and the like.I embraced the reality, that I can’t know everything, about everything, but I can, and have a responsibility to, inform myself about the consensus amongst the experts. In a world awash in information, opinion and bald faced lies, it is vital to have a methodology to make sense of it all. This works for me, but it has side effects that have proven lethal for my religious faith. In brief, the experts in all the scientific disciplines that have any bearing on the question “Where did we come from?”, uniformly dismiss the literalist interpretations of all the major religions as nonsense, grouping them under the dismissive heading of “not even wrong”. A small minority (some 10%) of the world’s most prestigious scientists (http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html ) do have a recognizable religious faith, but it’s generally a pretty ephemeral thing. For balance, http://www.findingdarwinsgod.com/excerpt/index.html, I include someone who seems to manage this feat, but they do appear to be a minority. That’s how I got here, through decades long contact with lots of good Christians, followed by a 5 year force feeding of GWB’s criminal policies. GWB is possibly to the Christian faith what cholesterol is to the heart, it won’t kill you overnight, but it’ll get you in the end:-)
Comments are most certainly welcome here.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
This morning, I read a blog entry which discussed false preachers. I won't go into my thoughts on that subject except to say that in my opinion, a false prophet is a false prophet regardless of whether he is misleading intentionally or just mistaken.
I believe Satan is behind both the intentional and the unintentional. Of course, I believe there is a real, living Devil, so that will brand me with that dreaded designation, "Fundamentalist", a word that has lately begun to take on negative connotations for some reason. I believe there is a real, physical Hell, too, but that's a post for another day.
But I digress. One statement caught my eye in ER's treatise, and that is this:
"Whether Peter wrote it or not it's an authentic apostolic view."
This started me thinking. Why would someone, anyone, suspect Peter didn't write the second epistle of Peter? Where is the source or reason for the doubt? Is there any evidence anywhere to suggest Peter didn't pen the letter that bears his name? If there is a statement from Peter himself somewhere that can be verified as certifiably authentic that states he didn't write it, where is it? I've never seen it, and I don't have any reason to question the authorship of 2 Peter. What would be the point? Is this merely one more attempt to cast doubt on the inerrancy of the Bible in general?
I asked these questions over at the other blog, and in return, I received a lengthy explanation which encompassed the scholarly opinions of several so-called scholars who referenced several "scholarly" studies and books to explain that Peter couldn't possibly have written Second Peter because it doesn't seem to match Peter's particular style of writing. The explanation offered is circumstantial at best and heretical at worst.
Why is it that some people blindly accept the theories and opinions of so-called experts about what God says is true, but feel they need to do volumes of research into books and studies by mortal men before they will accept that God is the final arbiter of His own truth? Could it be they simply can't believe that a poor fisherman could possibly be educated and intelligent enough to write such a powerful and insightful missive? Is it possible they are forgetting that God can do all things, including making an uneducated man articulate far beyond his potential?
Do you sense the same dichotomy here as I?
I have no doubt that the author of the aforementioned blog post believes himself a Christian. I have had my doubts in the past, but I have reached the conclusion that the only criteria to determine Christianity is "Do you reject or confirm the Deity of Christ"?
There has been, for some time now, an ongoing argument between me and some others on whether the Bible should be taken literally or merely seriously. Obviously, the Bible should be taken seriously, but should it be taken literally?
Certainly there are fables, known as parables, and object lessons present in the Bible that shouldn't necessarily be taken literally, but for the most part, I believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God.
I believe ER and many others tend to over think God and theology. By that I mean they tend to over-analyze the Bible and give too much credence to fallible Biblical "Scholars".
There are many who would say that I am too simplistic in my faith. I have been sneeringly accused of believing too much in that old adage, "God says it, I believe it, that settles it." So, let me clarify my thoughts on that point:
If God says it, I believe it. Is that clear?
Now, I suppose readers will expect me to explain why I am so adamant in my beliefs. OK. I'll explain it, thus:
Faith has been defined as "The evidence of things unseen." But that can be true of many things besides faith. For instance, I can't see air, but I know it exists. I can't see gravity, but I know it keeps my feet on the ground. When my feet are not on the ground, I know I will eventually end up on the ground, due to gravity.
I have faith in God. I believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omni-everything else. I believe God has the power to insure that everything He says will be included in the Bible, and that anything that He doesn't want us to know will not be included there. I believe He has the power to make sure His Word remains unchanged.
I believe that in addition to having faith in things unseen, we have to have faith that God says what He means and means what He says. I don't need a battalion of Biblical scholars to understand the truth.
So, in conclusion, I say, what difference does it make whether Peter wrote the 2nd epistle of Peter or not? It is not an essential tenet of the faith. If we die believing someone else besides Peter wrote the book, will we go to Hell? Of course not.
But think on this:
If any part of God's word can be proven to be in error, than we can have no faith in the remainder.
I fail to understand how people far more intelligent than me can't seem to grasp this simple concept. Perhaps I am just too simplistic, as they say, but if God is fallible, then who is infallible? When we start to question the truth of God and His word, we place ourselves in a dangerous position.
Remember that devil, Satan, whom I believe is real, is the author of lies and deceit, as well as confusion. If he can sow confusion through lies and deceit, and can convince us that merely some of what God says is not true, then he has discredited God.
Once God is discredited, Satan has successfully led us astray from God, and from there he can manipulate us into stretching the boundaries of what we call truth, up to and including the authoring of books that question the basic tenets of Christianity, among other things.
God's mission is to save us from everlasting separation from Him. Satan's mission is to eternally separate us from God.
Choose wisely whom you will serve. Your eternity depends on that choice.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I recently had a short but troubling conversation...er...argument with someone who smugly identified himself as "not a fundamentalist" as if being a fundamentalist is something to avoid. Well, I guess I am a fundamentalist if "fundamentalist" means you believe what God tells you is true, instead of what mankind tells you.
As I pointed out, there are really only two religious philosophies in the world. They are:
1. God is God
2. Man is God.
For the sake of literalists, the word "Man", in this case, refers to Mankind, which includes woman. Perhaps, for the sake of brevity, I should change that definition to read, "Man and/or Woman is God".
Those who believe that man is God are what I call moral relativists. My definition of a moral relativist is one who claims to believe that truth is relative. All truth. What I mean by "relative" is this:
According to the moral relativist, what I believe to be true, may not be true to someone else, and what's true to someone else may not necessarily be true for me. Got it?
For example, if I say up is down, and I truly believe up is down, then up truly is down, and if I am a good moral relativist, anyone has the right to dispute me, but I am nevertheless correct in my belief. By the same token, if you say up is up, and I don't happen to agree, we can at least agree that your truth is good for you, and my truth is good for me.
No one has the corner on truth to a moral relativist.
I am not a moral relativist, and for some reason, moral relativists usually won't admit to being a moral relativist. I would suggest that if being a moral relativist is such a good thing to be, why don't the majority of them admit to being one? Could there be some hypocrisy in moral relativism?
Some will go so far as to say they are Christians. I will not be so arrogant as to say they are not Christians.
But if they are Christians how does their belief that truth is relative square with God's pronouncement that He is truth?
It does not, and it cannot. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me." (John 14:6) If Jesus is the truth, wouldn't someone who implies that he (or she) knows God, but does not believe what God says, be lying?
"The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3-4)
In what ways does the moral relativists version of truth conflict with God's truth?
Let's use the ten commandments as an example. The sixth commandment says, "Do not murder." Yet the moral relativist says that a woman has the right to murder her unborn child if she thinks the birth of that child will cause an undue hardship, or if it will impair her quality of life in some way, either physically, or psychologically. This essentially, puts the decision to terminate life in a mortals hands, and does not take into account that God is in control and knows what is best for both the child and the mother.
Even if one can successfully make the argument that abortion is not murder, it nevertheless violates another commandment, the first one, which states "You shall not have any other Gods before me."
Taking the decision to terminate life out of God's hands and making that decision yourself is placing oneself on the same omnipotent level as the Creator of the Universe. Thus, the first commandment is violated. If you believe you are an equal to God, you are putting another God before Him. Namely, yourself. At this point, you are in conflict with God's truth.
I must be a fundamentalist, for I believe that God is God. I don't have to go through all the mental gymnastics that a moral relativist does, in justifying why God is wrong on whatever topic I happen to disagree with Him about.
If I am to choose between whether to believe something God says is true, and what mortal man says is true, I'll take my chances with God.
If I am wrong, and truth is relative, then I will insist that there is no Hell and everyone goes to Heaven, and I insure myself everlasting utopia.
If I am right, since I believe in God's truth, I will go to Heaven. It is a win/win situation for me.
But if the moral relativist is wrong, He will go to Hell. He may not believe in Hell, but nevertheless, that is where he will end up. For eternity. He will believe in it then, but of course, then it will be too late.
What is the safer bet?
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Note: I posted this in comment form over at my blogger buddy, EL's place. I am posting it with some minor changes here, in hopes that ER happens across it and begins to understand what I have been attempting, in my less than adequate way, that I love him as a brother in Christ. I hope and pray that indeed he is my brother in Christ, but often times I wonder. If I were to simply assume he is a Christian, and I said nothing because of it, I am failing my God. Although it isn't my place to judge, I reserve the right to surmise about his and anyone else's salvation.
For background, ER commented in a previous comment that he can't stand me. I posted (with minor changes, as I stated) the following response:
ER, I find it interesting that you state that you follow Jesus, who said, "love your neighbor, even as I have loved you", and then, in almost the same breath, say you can't stand me.
In spite of all of your heretical and apostate misinterpreted statements of tainted faith, I still think you would be a great friend to sit with at the bar, drinking beer, and watching football. If I drank.
I don't hate you, ER. Quite the contrary, I see it as part of my commission to point out the error of your ways. To save you from being one of those, who BOWING before God, hears the terrifying words, "Depart from me you cursed, I never knew you."
Those are indeed frightening words, ER, but more frightening than the words is the very real possibility that you may someday actually hear them with your own ears.
I'll let you in on a secret:
I don't want to hear them, and the thought of the possibility that I might scares the Hell out of me. Literally. It quite possibly is what most motivates me to try to live my life as Christ would have me live. An attempt at which, I have to admit, I fail miserably.
ER, wouldn't you at least make some effort to rescue another person, regardless of whether you personally like him or not, from a burning house?
Or would it be considered a loving, selfless act to warn someone in the path of a tidal wave that he may experience a little moisture?
By the same token, if you see a human being in danger of going to his Maker without Christ, are we supposed to ignore that fact, and justify his sin by twisting the Word of God to mean something completely opposite of what it is intended to mean, or try to do whatever you can to help him understand he is in danger?
What would be more loving? To tell sinners they are in danger of the judgement even when it angers and/or offends them to tell them or to pretend that they are resting safely in the bosom of Abraham in spite of their unrepentant sin?
Is giving fair warning to the sinner, in love, the same as scaring people into Heaven?
I don't think persuading an unbeliever that he is a Hell bound sinner is scaring him, although admittedly, sometimes it no doubt has that exact effect. It is simply informing him of Biblical truth, in hopes that he will understand and repent.
The truism, "Turn or burn" is a valid point. Even if it is overused, it is still very much accurate.
I'm quite sure those religious leaders in Christ's time didn't like being called a generation of vipers, either, but nevertheless, that is exactly what he called them. Do you think he called them that just to anger them or was it to make them think about how they were misinterpreting the teachings of the prophets?
That is all I am doing when I tell you what I think. It sounds as if I make you uncomfortable. Maybe that means I make more sense than what you care to admit.
Our mutual friend, Timothy, has given up on you, ER. I am not so ready to give you up to Satan. So curse me if you will. I am only trying to shepherd you back into the fold.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
The day I was born, the cradle roll at Bethany Baptist Church added my name. I have been Baptist ever since. I have been indoctrinated in Southern Baptist doctrine. So, I've never believed the Catholic concept of a "limbo", or purgatory. Are the two concepts the same thing? I don't know.
Yesterday, I read this article in AOL news. Here is an excerpt:
Pope Benedict XVI has reversed centuries of traditional Roman Catholic teaching on so-called limbo, approving a Vatican report that says there were "serious" grounds to hope that children who die without being baptized can go to heaven.
Theologians said the move was highly significant - both for what it says about Benedict's willingness to buck a long-standing tenet of Catholic belief and for what it means theologically about the Church's views on heaven, hell and original sin - the sin that the faithful believe all children are born with.
Although Catholics have long believed that children who die without being baptized are with original sin and thus excluded from heaven, the Church has no formal doctrine on the matter. Theologians, however, have long taught that such children enjoy an eternal state of perfect natural happiness, a state commonly called limbo, but without being in communion with God.
This is an issue about which I've long been undecided. We (and by "we", I mean Baptists) have been taught that man is born in depravity. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Isn't that what the Bible says? Babies come into this world sinners.
So, do babies who die before they are saved go to heaven?
God is a loving God, this is true, but we must not forget that God is a just God. He has pronounced that the unrepentent sinner has consigned himself to Hell. If a child does not accept Christ's offer of eternal life, does the child go to Hell?
On the other hand, if God is indeed just, does that mean He has compassion for lost children who aren't old enough to understand how to attain salvation? I would like to think He does. I would like to think that innocent children who die before they reach the so called age of accountability go to Heaven.
But I don't know. In my minimal human understanding of God and His infinite wisdom, I think it would be cruel for God to allow these innocent children to go to Hell. But He is the omniscient One, not me. I can only see things as a fallible human being can. I cannot presume to know the mind of God.
What does the Bible say about this?
In Psalm 51:5, David wrote, "I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me."
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" - 1 Cor 6.9a
"The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies." Ps 58.3
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Rom 3.23
This would appear to support the idea that babies are sinners and as sinners, would go to Hell.
On the other hand, perhaps the strongest passage in the Bible that would seem to support the idea that babies go to Heaven is this:
"And he (David) said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." - 2 Samuel 12:21-23
David is saying that he will go to where his child (now dead) is, which is Heaven.
Also, there are these verses:
"Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it (the Promised land)."- Deu 1.39
"For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings." - Isa 7.16.
In doing some research for this post, I came across a couple of websites that used scripture to support the idea that not only do babies go to heaven, anyone under the age of 20 do, also! This I cannot accept.
What about babies that are aborted before they are even born? Surely God would bring these poor unwanted souls into His bosom. Why wouldn't He? And, are unborn babies already sinners, as babies who die within minutes are, according to the Bible? Or, are they excused from judgment because they had no chance to sin?
Personally, I don't believe that preborn babies go to Hell. But then again, that may be because I think like mortal man, and not like God.
And so, I remain confused. What are your thoughts?
Sunday, April 08, 2007
I have no problem with colored eggs and the Easter bunny and special dinners and Easter sales and all the secular trappings associated with our celebrations of Easter.
Photo courtesy of Poison Pero
As long as we remember why we celebrate Easter:
Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus my Savior.
Waiting the coming day.
Jesus my Lord.
Up from the grave, He arose!
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes!
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign!
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah, Christ arose!
I serve a living Savior. He's in the world today.
I know that he is living, whatever men may say.
I feel his hand of mercy. I hear his voice of cheer.
And just the time I need him he's always near.
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know he lives.
He lives within my heart.
Have a blessed and wonderful Easter, and may the Glory of the Living Christ manifest itself in you and yours.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
In one week from today, Christians will celebrate Easter Sunday, a day historically commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. I believe His resurrection was bodily. That is, I believe he physically rose from a very real mortal death. I do not believe He ever died spiritually. He was, and is, immortal.
However, Easter has, in recent years, become a time when Atheists and Agnostics, and so-called Theologians begin to blast away at the foundations of Christianity. They seek to discredit everything the Bible presents as fact, with their wild leaps of logic and theologically unsound arguments.
The Bible tells us, in Romans 1:18-22: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools."
The Bible also clearly says: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" ~ Isaiah 5:20
Pay special attention to those words in bold red, "[W]hat may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them" And yet, "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools."
This means these atheists and Theologians have no excuse, other than they presumably see themselves as smarter than God, and if so, they have classified themselves.
I read a story on AOL news this morning (which I can no longer find) about a book someone wrote several years ago that claimed there was another gospel of Mark which claims that Jesus held possible homosexual rituals with partially clad young men.
The writer of the article nearly begged for CBS or one of the television networks to produce an Easter special on the subject.
I can just see God, the Creator of the Universe, The Alpha, and the Omega, the First and the Last, sitting up there in His heaven and looking down on these so called theological experts and laughing, as the Scripture plainly says, in Psalm 2, how God sits in His heaven and laughs at the vain practices of the heathen down here.
The wonderful thing is someday, they will all discover the truth. The really sorrowful thing is for most of them, when they finally discover the truth, it will be too late.
Monday, February 26, 2007
All of you people who keep insisting that homosexuals are born homosexuals (as in naturally, not created that way by environment)forget one very important thing.
No one can honestly say they really believe that. Not even homosexuals. They know they were abused by some one when they were children, or molested, or maybe there just wasn't a powerful enough father figure in the home. Who knows?
But they won't admit it and they won't tell you. And I suppose some have been denying the truth for so long they have begun to totally believe their own delusion. They are too busy defending their perversion instead of working on the issues that have influenced then to become that way.
It is so much easier to convince people who would rather let so-called experts tell them what to think whether it is logical or not, isn't it?
I don't hate homosexuals, nor do I fear them as some have insinuated. I hate the act of homosexuality. (It is possible.) My whole argument concerning the subject is that I categorically reject the notion that anyone has ever been born a homosexual. They choose to be that way for the reasons that I mentioned. And more. In the last couple of decades, I believe another reason for "turning gay" is that it has become fashionable.
I have had many homosexual friends, (I've mentioned this before) and I like all of them personally. But every one of them that I ever spoke with on the subject has suffered some kind of trauma in their formative years such as molestation, at the extreme end of the spectrum, to simply not having a strong enough father figure influence at the mild end. Every one.
Just the other day, I talked to a woman who got all defensive when I mentioned my belief that environment creates queers, not nature. Why defensive? Because her son admitted to her at 14 that he was gay.
She went on to explain that instead of trying to explain to him that homosexual behavior is unacceptable, she simply accepted it. Then she explained that he didn't have a father until she married when he was 7.
I am a stepfather, and it is my belief that stepfathers, while they may be very good fathers, simply cannot be as good a father to their stepchildren as they can to their own, because they do not have that blood bond.
Right there in that short exchange is two textbook examples of childhood experiences creating a homosexual. A mother who does not accept the responsibilty of guiding her son in the right direction, and no father figure. In that case, I believe the two elements combined to create a homosexual tendency, which in itself, is not necessarily deviant. It is when the individual gives in to the urge to explore deviant fantasies that it becomes unnatural.
I created a post about a scientific study back on June 3 last year. Scientists genetically altered a female fruit fly by placing a male gene in it. It did what male fruit flies do. It made sexual advances on another female fruit fly. A similar, more recent experiment was done with mice, if I remember correctly. Then, the article I was referencing (from who else? The New York Times) drew the conclusion that homosexuality was genetic. The more recent study drew the same conclusion.
My take on the subject at the time was flawed because I based it on a statement from one of the scientists that I misunderstood.
What I should have pointed out at the time, but didn't, is that the research didn't prove that homosexuality was genetic at all. It proved precisely the opposite. The fruit flies would have never behaved in that fashion if not altered. In their natural unaltered state, they would have behaved heterosexually.
An opposite sex gene never occurs in nature. It can only happen if it is artificially altered in some way.
So, if not genetic, what then?
Environment. As I said.
Furthermore, despite what many so-called experts have said, homosexuality is condemned in the Bible. Some Biblical scholars have made the attempt to change the intent behind the words in Leviticus, "A man shall not lie with a man as he does with a woman". They insists often that the words, in the original Greek, don't really mean what they say. Instead of trusting their own common sense, they twist God's words in an attempt to legitimize perversion.
Well, they can fool some of the people all of the time, but they can never fool God.
I've said this before. If you want to be gay, go ahead. Whatever floats your boat. I don't really care. But stop trying to convince others that it wasn't a choice, and that you were born that way. You weren't, and subconciously at least, you know it.
The only thing you are doing when you insist it's natural is encouraging more confused young people to deny the fact that they are suffering from childhood traumas instead of dealing with them and expunging those particular deviations.
Sometimes you just has to use the sense the good Lord gave you.