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  1. Stan says:

    Don’s point is well taken, but, in my view, he gets a bit mixed up at 2:40 and after, or at least doesn’t make very important truths clear.

    First, a reprobate is not being tested, he’s beyond that. He is being given over to his already set evil ways as Romans 1 says “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.” So, as with Pharaoh, God is hardening their hearts against him.

    Second, Jesus’ admonition to pray not to be led into temptation means that God is the one who has to OK it before it happens to us. Although God does not tempt us to do evil, He does lead his people into temptation to see whether we love him with all our heart and soul. This is what the Bible takes pains to illustrate. Deut 13:3 says “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” A false prophet becomes a test sent by God to see how loyal his people will keep to his truth or be carried away by the miracles or wonders they perform in the name of Christ but, as Peter says, are unprincipled men.

    God had Job tested. He brought him up to Satan, not the other way around. Satan, in response, made the accusation that Job was shallow and that he could prove it if he could get at him, but that God’s hedge was protecting him. God then authorized the test. Twice. Satan also sought permission to sift Simon Peter like wheat. It was granted as the gospels show. God tests everyone. Psalm 11:4b-5a says “His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.The LORD tests the righteous.” Ps 81:7 “I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”

    Therefore, Jesus tells us to pray that God would not lead us not into testing because He is in full charge of that aspect of our lives.

    Stan

  2. Stan says:

    Thanks David. By the way, you look just like Benjamin Franklin. Then, again, I look like a purple square. Seriously though, keep up the good articles.

    Stan

  3. Laura says:

    Wow, thanks to Stan for clarifying that!

  4. bob says:

    I was good friends with Don Currin many years ago, in the early 80’s. I was a Christian for 25 years. I have been an atheist now for the past 11 years. When I revealed this to Don several years ago he said I was in danger of apostasy.
    This posted sermon of his is a lie. My behavior is as good or better than most of the Christians I know. I am honest, I go out of my way not to even inconvenience others, I don’t steal, heck, I don’t even break the speed limit.
    So, I am not slipping farther and farther into “sin” as Don would have people believe us “apostates” will inevitably do. If I hurt someones feelings now, I feel just as guilty as I would have when I was a Christian.
    Don has a very, very narrow view based solely on his interpretation of the bible, not based on real world experience, which is exactly why the Salem witch trials occurred.
    Think about it.

  5. stan says:

    Hello Bob. It’s commendable to hear that you live circumspectly and endeavor not to violate your conscience and to be an asset to society; but I am curious as to the extent of your atheism. Since you say you were a Christian, might I assume you once believed in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God who became a man, who was crucified on behalf of man’s sins, then was raised back into his human body on the third day after death and is now serving in heaven as a mediator between God and man and who will one day return to judge the world and set up the eternal kingdom of God here? All of that you were once persuaded was true; and, that now, you do not believe in a God or Jesus or any of these things at all?

    Stan

  6. bob says:

    Hi Stan.

    “…might I assume you once believed in your heart that Jesus…”

    Actually, my “heart” is a blood-pumping organ located in my chest cavity and it is physically incapable of “believing” anything. But yes, I once believed all those things about the Jesus of the bible. I believed them with my mind (my brain).

    I was a bible believer for about 25 years (1/2) of my life. I attended church with Don in the early 1980’s and spent many hours in prayer and fellowship with him and his family.

    As to the “extent” of my atheism?, well, I no longer believe that any god exists. I guess that is the extent.

    I respect my fellow human beings and am a productive member of society, obeying the laws of the government, enjoying my loved ones and friendships, active in clubs and hobbies, and the vast majority of people I do business with are Christians.

    Don said – “No longer will you be restrained in your sin.”, in reference to us “apostates”. Do you agree with him?

    If lying, cheating, stealing, speaking hurtful to others, murdering, etc., are “sins”, why am I still “restrained” from committing those acts?
    Why is it that you would not be able to tell I was an “apostate” if you met me on the street and had a conversation with me?
    Why is it that a couple years ago, for over a year, I attended church every Sunday with my girlfriend (she is a Christian) and not a single member approached me and asked me how this whole apostasy thing was working out for me? Why couldn’t they recognize that I was a vile, unrestrained apostate?

  7. Stan says:

    Hello Bob. Thanks for the quick response.

    First, I’m confident that you know “heart” is a metonymy used by all sorts of people despite their spiritual beliefs; just as the term “gut feeling” is used, or how people often say “I love you with all my heart;” etc. And, yes, for us Christians, we do often use it to stand for the inner man or spirit of man just as I did in my reply to you. May I gather then from the fact that you took the time to correct the term for yourself that your atheism extends to not believing that humans have a spirit that outlives the body? And, therefore, that your present beliefs for existence, including human existence, is naturalistic?

    Second, to answer your question whether I believe that being an apostate would lead to lack of restraint in morality: Hmm. Since no one has ever asked me that particular question before, let me take some time on this. In my first comment to the video, I used the word “reprobate” instead of “apostate.” So I see that I viewed them as synonymous, but they do have different meanings. An “apostate” is someone who renounces a belief once held (not necessarily only about repudiating the Christian faith); whereas, a “reprobate” comes from a Greek word meaning “disqualifed” (referring to counterfeit coins) and by implication means depraved or morally worthless. Therefore, by definition, an apostate does not by itself directly mean a moral reprobate. I think Don Currin’s descriptions better match that of reprobates instead of apostates. At least, rigorous definitions of both words are lacking in Don’s statements, so he did what I did: use them interchangeably.

    However, I don’t think interchanging them is all that unwarranted; for, I do believe that people do set God aside for the private reason of indulging things they believe he would not allow. I feel confident you would agree that that would be a rather common thing. So, renunciation of God and his demands is a convenience rather than an purely intellectual objection in such people.In my comments, I used Romans 1 which teaches the doctrine of God giving someone over to a depraved mind. It is easy to see how this implied it was about apostates because the moral restraint being referred to came from retaining the knowledge of God, which, when abandoned, eventually led to them being given over to the depravity they sought. I take it that your testimony of high personal standards is meant to contradict the notion of apostates being reprobate, and you wish to prove your view by going from the particular (yourself) to the general (all, or at least, most apostates). Am I wrong?

    Since exceptions test a rule, it would depend on how representative you are of apostates. Do the majority of them live as you do – with high moral sensibilities? I personally know many unbelievers who are honest in their overall dealings. I know maybe only a few apostates. One example that currently comes to mind would be a Romans 1 depraved individual, quite unlike as you describe yourself. The others, I don’t know well enough to say because I’ve lost track of them.

    I work in a tax office with hundreds of clients, so I see quite a range of honesty and integrity, going from obvious cheaters to the highly scrupulous. Since the majority of clients are not believers (as far as I know, for I don’t personally interact with them that way), I am aware that all kinds of people can and do live according to commendable moral codes. I do know of Christians who are among the scrupulous. There are also those who profess Christianity who are among the obvious tax cheats. I don’t believe they are of God, because I believe what Jesus says of such people: You shall know them by their fruits. They assume the speech and mannerisms of the Christian but they are not really among them in sincerity. American churches are riddled with wolves and with false brethren whose presence is not easily discerned, if at all. There is no general persecution of Christians that would weed them out, as the churches have often (and still do in large parts of the world) experienced. I can think of quite a few people who use the church for their predatory activity (looking for cheap or even free help from the tradesmen members, looking for people to fornicate or have affairs with, or who seek people to draw away after them to their kooky pseudo-Christian beliefs, and so on.). I don’t know if I answered you to your satisfaction or not. Let me know.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what was it that led you to renounce all belief in a God?

    Thanks for listening.

    Stan

  8. bob says:

    First, I’m confident that you know “heart” is a metonymy used by all sorts of people despite their spiritual beliefs…
    Yes, I understand. But you do understand that before modern science, people used to actually think that the heart DID have cognitive abilities.
    Also, why didn’t you just ask, “…might I assume you once believed in Jesus…”, without the “heart” qualifier? When you add “heart” to the question, it gives the impression that you believe that simply “believing” is not sufficient. But that you have to “believe with your heart”, which also falls short, because you have to “believe with ALL of your heart”. Perhaps you can offer a clear and concise difference between believing (with your mind.brain) and believing (with your heart or “all” of your heart).
    My point is, adding “heart” is completely unnecessary and only muddies the waters without a definition.

    Anyway, I find it completely unnecessary to add “heart” to the whole belief thingy. If I believe, then I believe.

    May I gather then from the fact that you took the time to correct the term for yourself that your atheism extends to not believing that humans have a spirit that outlives the body? And, therefore, that your present beliefs for existence, including human existence, is naturalistic?

    Correct, but I am not beyond persuasion. In other words, I do not believe in a spirit that lives on after we die because I have not been presented any convincing scientific evidence for such an entity.
    Conversely, why do you (I assume you do) believe such a thing exists? Are you in possession of some scientific evidence that I have yet to discover?

    I do believe that people do set God aside for the private reason of indulging things they believe he would not allow. I feel confident you would agree that that would be a rather common thing.
    I honestly have no idea, since I know personally, very few atheists. What few I do know have never been believers, so I am guessing that for the purpose of this discussion, they don’t fit.
    As to people like me, who once believed, I am guessing that some fit your description, but of those I have had discussions with on the web in forums and blogs, I have never had one admit that they gave up their faith so they could do things that they couldn’t do as a believer. So, I can’t agree with you that that is a common thing.

    So, renunciation of God and his demands is a convenience rather than an purely intellectual objection in such people.
    Yes, in “such people”, of which I am not acquainted with any “such people” that I know of.

    I take it that your testimony of high personal standards is meant to contradict the notion of apostates being reprobate, and you wish to prove your view by going from the particular (yourself) to the general (all, or at least, most apostates). Am I wrong?
    I guess you are correct.

    Since the majority of clients are not believers (as far as I know, for I don’t personally interact with them that way)
    How could you claim that the majority are not believers without asking them, or them volunteering the information? Based on what you said, it seems you could just as easily claim that the majority are believers, but that you are just not sure.

    There are also those who profess Christianity who are among the obvious tax cheats. I don’t believe they are of God, because I believe what Jesus says of such people: You shall know them by their fruits.
    With that attitude, every “professing” Christian is just one sin away from being labeled as a false Christian BY YOU.

    There is no general persecution of Christians that would weed them out, as the churches have often (and still do in large parts of the world) experienced.
    Sounds like you view persecution a good thing?

    If you don’t mind me asking, what was it that led you to renounce all belief in a God?
    I started a haphazard blog a couple years ago in which I posted my equally haphazard journal. It is short, perhaps 5 minutes of reading, but it should answer your question.
    http://i-smell-smoke.blogspot.com/2007_07_22_archive.html

    Tell me what you think.

  9. Stan says:

    Hi Bob. Thanks again for your reply. It gave me food for thought and reflection.

    But you do understand that before modern science, people used to actually think that the heart DID have cognitive abilities.

    I have heard that. I maintain the word is synonymous with spirit.

    Also, why didn’t you just ask, “…might I assume you once believed in Jesus…”, without the “heart” qualifier? When you add “heart” to the question, it gives the impression that you believe that simply “believing” is not sufficient.

    It’s because as I have come to understand it, belief is not like a light bulb that’s either on or off – completely there or non-existent. It can be a permanent thing or a tentative thing because of the way people are about things they believe. Just a simple example: A doctor believes with far more intimate knowledge of the body and disease than his patient so he tells him that his smoking will cause cancer; but the doctor smokes and does so for the rest of his life; but his patient quits for the rest of his life. They both believe – with drastically different results. The doctor is hypocritical about his belief, the patient isn’t.

    Jesus experienced various levels of belief in people he encountered who believed in him. For examples, (Now, I know you are very familiar with these, but allow me to use them anyway): “Now while he was in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, a great number of people came to have faith in his name, after seeing the signs which he did. But Jesus did not have faith in them, because he had knowledge of them all.” Or another: As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” Then, in only a few moments in the same conversation, he says to them: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” Or, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” The Galatians’ faith was in mortal danger from believing a subtle doubt that came out of a misuse of Old Covenant doctrine, that they needed Mosaic law to be saved. So, there is belief and belief: different in different people.

    But that you have to “believe with your heart”, which also falls short, because you have to “believe with ALL of your heart”. Perhaps you can offer a clear and concise difference between believing (with your mind.brain) and believing (with your heart or “all” of your heart). My point is, adding “heart” is completely unnecessary and only muddies the waters without a definition. Anyway, I find it completely unnecessary to add “heart” to the whole belief thingy. If I believe, then I believe.

    I don’t think “heart” muddies it at all, in fact it clarifies it, given its more than physical meaning. Added to the above examples where belief was transitory or miscarried, I also know what that difference because of my own experience. It agrees with what God means when He says, “You shall seek me and you shall find me when you search for me with all your heart:” I was raised Catholic and believed what I was taught from a little kid and developed quite a bit of zealous interest in those things. I prayed quite earnestly in my childhood at times. For all the confusing stuff Catholicism teaches, at least I knew certain things about Jesus, that he was God in the flesh that died for my sins and rose from the dead. But teenage life began and the sins of youth took hold of me, and I began a long, blind walk down a dark road. Devotion to what I believed as a child went by the wayside. From the time I was 19 and beyond, I was hopelessly given to alcohol and occultism. I even remember the horror of driving a friend’s car while having blackouts. I was completely trapped by the things I couldn’t give up. I even seriously wanted to take my own life. Yet, I never renounced belief in Jesus at any time. I just was doing my thing, while he was doing his. I sure wasn’t ready to live a life without my favorite sins. Yet you could say that I still believed, by a strict definition of the word, but it was not enough to transmit the life belief was supposed to transfer to me. In 1975, (close to your time) I was encouraged by some people from an independent Charismatic home group church to give my life to God. Up to that time, I had been experiencing, every so often, little “nudges” from God deep inside, somewhere in my consciousness. I knew exactly what those nudges meant. He was telling me to give my life to him. Of all things I was living with by then, pretty bad things, giving up my life to God seemed distasteful beyond measure. I believed going to God meant a death I was unwilling to volunteer for. It seemed like being offered to drink a glass of dust when I looked for cold water. So, as bad as I had made my life by then, giving it to God seemed worse. Under the encouragement of these people though, whom I liked and respected instantly, I responded to God. It was not so much from what they told me that prompted the first real prayer of my adult life as it was I was finally obeying that long-standing call.

    So, I believed with all my heart. That is not such a tough thing to understand, for the phrase “all your heart” means to come to God sincerely, without inner reservation. I did that. It’s something a child can do. So can an adult. When I did that, I experienced life come into me, and I was filled with a joy that lasted for weeks. My mind cleared up. Every overwhelming question that I had was answered and the bible that had been a sometimes intriguing, but mostly an incomprehensible and boring book came alive. I could understand completely what I was reading. The terrible and confusing world I once was lost in I could see from above. I could see from beginning to end, with many pieces filled in the middle. On this kind of understanding, peace was more than a feeling, it was a result of a knowledge of the truth. I knew Jesus was real because you know when you know someone. His word let me learn about him since he is by nature transcendent.

    In other words, I do not believe in a spirit that lives on after we die because I have not been presented any convincing scientific evidence for such an entity. Conversely, why do you (I assume you do) believe such a thing exists? Are you in possession of some scientific evidence that I have yet to discover?

    If you mean by scientific evidence something that is detectable by physical tests, all I can say is that a spirit is not a material thing, but I can’t see a wind, but I can feel it, or I can see its effect on trees or telephone wires. Something beyond myself effected a positive change in my life that I cannot explain by natural or even psychological influences that has lasted for over 35 years. I prayed a 30 second prayer to the open air of my living room, so it would seem, and the next morning I was filled with joy and understanding. Some invisible thing blew across my soul and drove out the dust and crud of years of headlong selfish pursuits. What should I conclude from such things? That it’s an illusion or was induced by persistent madness? If it is madness where are the other telltale signs of madness? Why has my life improved over the decades (slowly for some things, admittedly). I am not alone in this testimony either, for it has been reported by many across the 20 centuries and is independent of local culture or even political climate. But, there is even more to its proof. What happened to me and others agrees with what the prophets and apostles teach. The apostles were eyewitnesses of a miraculous event – the resurrection of the Christ. They spoke with him, ate with him, walked with him and saw the wounds of his death. Eyewitness testimony counts for a great deal when it comes to scientific evidence, especially when those things that were witnessed were predicted long ago by men who are called prophets by the very people who put that man to death. We speak of quarks and leptons whose existence was predicted by the prophets called mathematicians and witnessed through esoteric quantam experiments. It is likely that you will never see one of those things, but I assume you trust they exist. You have never seen a thought either, but you use them to do everything in life. Your world is shaped by them too, showing their existence by indirect means.

    I trust the prophets and apostles 100% and I may not understand every single thing they teach, I have enough evidence to thrust the full weight of my life upon their word. They speak of spirits and God and Heaven and Hell and what constitutes salvation and what doesn’t. Their knowledge frees me.

    “I do believe that people do set God aside for the private reason of indulging things they believe he would not allow. I feel confident you would agree that that would be a rather common thing.”
    I honestly have no idea, since I know personally, very few atheists. What few I do know have never been believers, so I am guessing that for the purpose of this discussion, they don’t fit.
    As to people like me, who once believed, I am guessing that some fit your description, but of those I have had discussions with on the web in forums and blogs, I have never had one admit that they gave up their faith so they could do things that they couldn’t do as a believer. So, I can’t agree with you that that is a common thing.

    OK.
    “Since the majority of clients are not believers (as far as I know, for I don’t personally interact with them that way)” How could you claim that the majority are not believers without asking them, or them volunteering the information? Based on what you said, it seems you could just as easily claim that the majority are believers, but that you are just not sure.

    Two things make me think that: Demographics of the area and general impressions based on their overall behavior and speech at the office with the boss and other employees, plus my own conversations with them about other matters that I have seen over the 15 or more years.

    “There are also those who profess Christianity who are among the obvious tax cheats. I don’t believe they are of God, because I believe what Jesus says of such people: You shall know them by their fruits.”
    With that attitude, every “professing” Christian is just one sin away from being labeled as a false Christian BY YOU.

    It’s not just me. It is a biblical dictum taught by Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, Jude, James that the church will be beset and even inhabited by wolves. All they ever care about is satisfying their desires, for that is what defines them as wolves. Here is how Peter describes them: “having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin” Wolf. “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words” Wolf. “They who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed.” Wolf. The church makes a good target for them because they know God’s people are loving and giving. Alas, they detect that they are also too trusting – an attitude toward people which goes against the commands of Jesus, the one they claim to obey! Irony. Jesus told them: “Beware of men.” “Be wise as serpents, harmless as doves among wolves.” I know specifically of cheats who are high profile members who have ripped off people in the church in their business dealings. They have never returned a dime and they keep doing it. You should see them praise the Lord! They’re wolves all right. My naive eyes are open now (see later below).

    It’s also very true that believers sin, but they’re not one sin away from being wolves because what separates them from the wolves I referred to is that they can be led to genuine repentance; wolves could not care less about giving up their prizes. In my life, I have seen sins go quickly and others go slowly – with more to go as of today. When I look in the mirror of the Word, I see both spiritual progress and need for progress in the ways of righteousness. That’s just the way it is. However, I know it is by the enablements of God that these changes came into me. All I know is that I didn’t make these changes myself. It’s just that when they came, I went along with them.

    “There is no general persecution of Christians that would weed them out, as the churches have often (and still do in large parts of the world) experienced.” Sounds like you view persecution a good thing?

    Yes. It’s something I have experienced, but not to the extent of early Christians or those today who live under threat from Communists or Muslims, etc. It cleared out a lot of crud of both bad doctrine, practice and even sins that built up over many years. Afterward, I re-evaluated many things I embraced for many years. When things came to a head, I was open to applying a more rigorous examination of much of what I was taught and believed against Scripture. It was a happy and freeing experience to shed such scales from my eyes. The official rejection I went through strengthened my faith and understanding of the Gospel doctrines. It was the second major wind that blew out the bad from my life.

    Persecution is something Jesus promises to his own people, so do the apostles Peter and Paul. We are to expect it. It is a common, major signal of true faith. It, along with everything else, works to the good of God’s people.

    I started a haphazard blog a couple years ago in which I posted my equally haphazard journal. It is short, perhaps 5 minutes of reading, but it should answer your question.
    http://i-smell-smoke.blogspot.com/2007_07_22_archive.html

    Tell me what you think.

    What struck me from your blog is your honesty. I was also saddened by the way things were going in your life. I found an ironic contrast between you and Ingersoll’s praise of freedom and my own. You both found faith to be a trap from which you were set free by atheism, after which you exulted in the wonders and beauty of the natural world. For my part, I was a slave of my sins. I am no longer a drunk or suicidal. I found the experience of Jesus’ words: “He who sins is the slave of sin, he whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” I also have an appreciation of the natural world too, but for just the opposite reason as yours: I see it as the wonders of an eternal almighty God in action. For whatever reasons your life found such freedom in the repudiation of the thing in which I found my freedom is, if you will pardon the expression, the mystery of the human heart.

    Stan

  10. bob says:

    “I maintain the word [heart] is synonymous with spirit.”
    Do you think it early Christians believe as you do now, concerning the use of the word “heart”? The early Egyptians believe that the heart was where wisdom resided. The brain was discarded at death but the heart was preserved.
    Your use of “heart” is a custom that has it’s roots in a primitive misunderstanding of physiology. You use it as synonymous with “spirit”, but that becomes religious-speak that fails without a clear definition BEFORE you use the word.

    From a Christian blog: “God deals with the heart not the mind. When God speaks to you, don’t try to reason things out. Just believe! Believing is done with the heart not the mind.”
    So I could understand what the heck he is talking about, why didn’t he just use the word “spirit”? My guess is because he is just parroting what he has heard a thousand times before. He hasn’t really thought (reasoned) his use of the word, he just habitually uses it for effect.

    “I don’t think “heart” muddies it at all, in fact it clarifies it, given its more than physical meaning.”
    But that “more than physical meaning” has it’s roots in ancient superstition and misunderstanding. ( http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/heart.html )
    Do a thought experiment. Get a time machine, you, your minister, and a medical doctor all climb inside and go back 4,000 years and have a sit-down with a couple religious leaders to discuss the word “heart”.
    I guess the point is, you believe there are two hearts – one is a physical organ, the other is just another word (though a completely unnecessary synonym) for “spirit”, for which there is no proof that such a thing exists.

    “I also know what that difference because of my own experience.”
    Experiences can be, and are quite often, polluted with emotions. Agree?

    “Under the encouragement of these people though, whom I liked and respected instantly, I responded to God….I was finally obeying that long-standing call.”
    So, before this time, this moment in time that you obeyed “that long-standing call”, if you had of died, would you have gone to heaven or hell? At what point did you pass from destined to hell – to – heaven bound?

    “…for the phrase “all your heart” means to come to God sincerely, without inner reservation.”
    I have a feeling that, because of your religious beliefs, you can’t see what I see. But I’ll try to explain my point.
    You use the phrase – “…come to God sincerely…”. The word “sincerely” is unnecessary. I am guessing that you believe that in order to “come to God”, you have to be sincere. You can’t “come to God” other wise. Likewise, “all your heart (spirit)” is unnecessary because you can’t come partially. If there is “inner reservation” as you say, you haven’t come at all, as far as God is concerned.
    Am I correct, in describing what you believe?
    My point is, you, and many other Christians I encounter, use “heart” and “all your heart” to disqualify the sincere beliefs that us former Christians had, but no longer have. I think since some of you can’t fathom how a person who once believe just as you do, could possibly ever discard those beliefs, your only explanation can be that we obviously never “truly” believed because we couldn’t have “believed with all our heart” and then stopped believing. It’s the tired retort that “you were never a true Christian”.

    “When I did that, I experienced life come into me…”
    You are using the word “life” differently. You are adding your own religious meaning to it, for obviously you were already alive. This is how conversations fall apart.

    “My mind cleared up. Every overwhelming question that I had was answered and the bible that had been a sometimes intriguing, but mostly an incomprehensible and boring book came alive. I could understand completely what I was reading. The terrible and confusing world I once was lost in I could see from above. I could see from beginning to end, with many pieces filled in the middle.”
    WOW! Reread your claims. I know you are exaggerating. I just wonder if you can admit that you are exaggerating…? My impression is that your judgment was clouded by your emotions.
    “Every overwhelming question that I had was answered…”
    “I could understand completely what I was reading.”
    This is the kind of claims I hear from many Christians of different denominations, Baptist, Pentecostal. Problem is they both disagree the “answers” and “understanding”. Do you see how that makes your claims unbelievable?
    I challenge you to reread your claims and edit them to make them accurate, clean of the obvious embellishments…but I will understand if you don’t.

    “Something beyond myself effected a positive change in my life that I cannot explain by natural or even psychological influences that has lasted for over 35 years.”
    Actually, it can be explained psychologically. How do you explain my parents, who both smoked several packs of cigarettes a day from age 17, quit about 15 years later? No religion. No program. Nothing but plain old willpower. If that can be explained by psychology, then your change can also.

    “Some invisible thing blew across my soul and drove out the dust and crud of years of headlong selfish pursuits. What should I conclude from such things?”
    Well, I can tell you what I conclude – you had a positive religious/emotional experience that impacted your worldview and influenced your decisions from then on. I don’t think any “invisible thing blew across” your “soul”. People are influenced and people change. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad.

    “If it is madness where are the other telltale signs of madness?”
    I don’t think you are “mad”.

    “Why has my life improved over the decades…?”
    And why is my girlfriend, who is a Christian, about to lose her job of 34 years? Starting over at 50 is an improvement?
    Why did my best friend, who was an atheist his entire life and at his recent death at 77, lived a full and successful life as a educator and school administrator for more than 40 years. His life “improved” as time went on.
    Point is, life for some gets better, for others it gets worse, and for some, it just kind of stays the same. That’s life.

    “I am not alone in this testimony either…”
    But the “testimony” proves absolutely nothing unless it is blatantly obvious that Christians are so much happier, healthier, and wealthier than non Christians. They are not. There are just as many shattered lives among believers as there are among non believers.

    “The apostles were eyewitnesses of a miraculous event – the resurrection of the Christ. They spoke with him, ate with him, walked with him and saw the wounds of his death.”
    There is no actual evidence for this outside of the bible. No evidence that this “miraculous event – the resurrection of the Christ” actually happened. This is simply your (and others) belief.

    “Eyewitness testimony counts for a great deal when it comes to scientific evidence…”
    Your “eyewitnesses” have been dead for 2,000 years. How can I know that their testimony is factual?

    “…especially when those things that were witnessed were predicted long ago by men who are called prophets by the very people who put that man to death.”
    Please offer one single obvious, SPECIFIC AND OBVIOUS, prediction that can ONLY be applied to the Jesus of the new Testament.

    “We speak of quarks and leptons whose existence was predicted by the prophets called mathematicians and witnessed through esoteric quantam experiments. It is likely that you will never see one of those things, but I assume you trust they exist.”
    ????? What ?????

    Stan, can you offer a little as to your doctrinal beliefs? You were Catholic but were influenced by Charismatic believers.
    What are your beliefs now concerning: water baptism, healings, tongues?
    Do you believe “once saved always saved”, or can someone “lose their salvation”?
    Years ago, when I first wrote Don Currin and told him I no longer believed, and he told me his thoughts on apostasy, I asked him if he now considered that I was possibly never saved to begin with. I told him I knew the answer to the question but wanted to know what he thought first. He never answered my question.

    Here is what I think, based on observations and experiences during my life as a believer and non believer – I was never “saved”. You, Don, and every other Christian are not “saved”. There is no “salvation” from hell or sin. Hell doesn’t exist and “sin” or “sinner” are just a religious words used to denote people doing bad (and not so bad) things.

    Well, I wanted to keep this short but I failed 😦

  11. Stan says:

    Hello again, Bob.

    “I maintain the word [heart] is synonymous with spirit.” Do you think it early Christians believe as you do now, concerning the use of the word “heart”? The early Egyptians believe that the heart was where wisdom resided. The brain was discarded at death but the heart was preserved. Your use of “heart” is a custom that has it’s roots in a primitive misunderstanding of physiology. You use it as synonymous with “spirit”, but that becomes religious-speak that fails without a clear definition BEFORE you use the word. . . . Do a thought experiment. Get a time machine, you, your minister, and a medical doctor all climb inside and go back 4,000 years and have a sit-down with a couple religious leaders to discuss the word “heart”.

    We seem to be at an impasse on this word use, Bob. You insist it be limited to the organ that pumps blood, based only on current scientific/medical knowledge. I have no inclination to abandon its figurative use. We may have to agree to disagree about it. Be that is it may, I would say the early Christians did use the word to speak of the inner thought life based on the fact that the Scriptures which they quoted so often used the term that way and they did not “update” the term. The bible contains the word “heart” about 750 times in the original languages. Only a couple of times does it mean the organ itself; the rest is used to stand for the center of thought, consciousness or inner man. So, I am content with this ancient use.

    I guess the point is, you believe there are two hearts – one is a physical organ, the other is just another word (though a completely unnecessary synonym) for “spirit”

    Yes.

    for which there is no proof that such a thing exists. You mean no scientific proof. The proof I take for it is based on my confidence that the prophets and apostles speak truth. If they speak of such things, I accept it. . . . But that “more than physical meaning” has it’s roots in ancient superstition and misunderstanding. ( http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/heart.html )

    If you think me a primitive on this matter, so be it. 🙂

    “I also know what that difference because of my own experience.” Experiences can be, and are quite often, polluted with emotions. Agree?

    Yes, I agree.

    “Under the encouragement of these people though, whom I liked and respected instantly, I responded to God….I was finally obeying that long-standing call.” So, before this time, this moment in time that you obeyed “that long-standing call”, if you had of died, would you have gone to heaven or hell? At what point did you pass from destined to hell – to – heaven bound?

    Hmm. You ask me to answer a hypothetical scenario for my life. Short answer, yes. Long answer is that God is a person, not a mindless force of nature and he took care of me past the point when I could have died and gone to hell and came to me with his gospel.

    “…for the phrase “all your heart” means to come to God sincerely, without inner reservation.” I have a feeling that, because of your religious beliefs, you can’t see what I see. But I’ll try to explain my point. You use the phrase – “…come to God sincerely…”. The word “sincerely” is unnecessary. I am guessing that you believe that in order to “come to God”, you have to be sincere. You can’t “come to God” other wise. Likewise, “all your heart (spirit)” is unnecessary because you can’t come partially. If there is “inner reservation” as you say, you haven’t come at all, as far as God is concerned. Am I correct, in describing what you believe?

    Basically yes. Speaking from my own history with God, There were times that I prayed for help, what some call “Foxhole prayers” that I got answers to. At those times I came with sincerity and “all my heart” for some emergency. At other times, I went to church and made prayers as sincerely as I could at the moment. I certainly had enough religion in my life to do that. My reservation was about the “big thing” – giving up my life to God – whenever that came up, for I knew it meant the end of my life as I knew it. So, when that happened, I hid. I did what Francis Thompson said of his own run from God ” But if one little casement (of the heart) parted wide, The gust of His approach would clash it to.”

    My point is, you, and many other Christians I encounter, use “heart” and “all your heart” to disqualify the sincere beliefs that us former Christians had, but no longer have. I think since some of you can’t fathom how a person who once believe just as you do, could possibly ever discard those beliefs, your only explanation can be that we obviously never “truly” believed because we couldn’t have “believed with all our heart” and then stopped believing. It’s the tired retort that “you were never a true Christian”.

    I agree that that is a common view of believers to understand the process of former believers who go out from among us. However, I am not disposed to recharacterize your belief as insincere against your own testimony; so I accept you were sincere in your faith. As I tried to explain before, belief in people is a complex and even mysterious affair. I cannot fathom what goes on inside you. You are to me as I am to you, like a tree whose roots are hidden. I can accept that it is possible for people to repudiate a belief after holding sincerely to it.

    “When I did that, I experienced life come into me…” You are using the word “life” differently. You are adding your own religious meaning to it, for obviously you were already alive. This is how conversations fall apart.

    Yes, it is a struggle to communicate when common terms have a range of meaning. Yours is a literalistic view that life is only biological and ends at the grave. I did use life with a different connotation. I am alive physically and I agree that I did not have any change to it as a result of sincere prayer to Jesus. What I mean is that the quality of my inner life changed dramatically immediately after that prayer.

    “My mind cleared up. Every overwhelming question that I had was answered and the bible that had been a sometimes intriguing, but mostly an incomprehensible and boring book came alive. I could understand completely what I was reading. The terrible and confusing world I once was lost in I could see from above. I could see from beginning to end, with many pieces filled in the middle.” WOW! Reread your claims. I know you are exaggerating. I just wonder if you can admit that you are exaggerating…? My impression is that your judgment was clouded by your emotions.

    That’s what happened to me. Before I gave my life to God, I was beset with strong unanswered questions that only grew worse. You know that big red spot on Jupiter – a cyclone larger than the earth? That is how my insides felt in those young adult days. “What was the meaning of my life?” “Is there a God?” “What’s going on in the world?” “What’s going to happen to me?” “Why can’t I stop destroying or wanting to destroy myself?” That kind of thing. That’s all I mean. I just wanted peace. After coming to God in May of 1975, all of those things were settled. Considering that those disturbing questions never troubled me, and considering that I was once obsessed with them, something happened. That was the beginning of the proofs I needed. That prayer was answered in a way that has affected my life since then for the good.

    “Every overwhelming question that I had was answered…” “I could understand completely what I was reading.” This is the kind of claims I hear from many Christians of different denominations, Baptist, Pentecostal. Problem is they both disagree the “answers” and “understanding”. Do you see how that makes your claims unbelievable? I challenge you to reread your claims and edit them to make them accurate, clean of the obvious embellishments…but I will understand if you don’t.

    When I say that I understood everything I was reading, it was about those big things that were driving me crazy up until only a few days prior to conversion, that’s all. Perhaps I should have given that qualifier up front. I was new and I received those fundamental answers about life that comes with faith. Not enough time had gone by to begin to delve into the various differences that believers have split over that you refer to. As to them, I have my views, but those are not things that affect the large cosmic matters.

    “Something beyond myself effected a positive change in my life that I cannot explain by natural or even psychological influences that has lasted for over 35 years.” Actually, it can be explained psychologically. How do you explain my parents, who both smoked several packs of cigarettes a day from age 17, quit about 15 years later? No religion. No program. Nothing but plain old willpower. If that can be explained by psychology, then your change can also.

    I agree that some people can change for the better such as giving up smoking, drinking, drugs etc without any religion or prayer. I also believe it can happen with divine help. If I may, I will presume that since “You’ve been there, done that” and did not find a lasting answer, that you cannot accept that anyone can find real answers from faith in God. Based on your own experiences with it, and now with having the support of such articulate personalities as Ingersoll, you now believe atheism is in fact the truth. If it is true, those things that I or any Christian speak of cannot possibly be factually true. Therefore, God, Jesus, miracles, resurrection, Heaven, Hell, spirits, souls, angels and devils do not exist. If anyone claims they do, they cannot be experiencing truth. In this you feel confident that changes testified by those such as myself can be explained completely by psychological means and that we are deluded to credit a God that you are convinced doesn’t exist.

    “Some invisible thing blew across my soul and drove out the dust and crud of years of headlong selfish pursuits. What should I conclude from such things?” Well, I can tell you what I conclude – you had a positive religious/emotional experience that impacted your worldview and influenced your decisions from then on. I don’t think any “invisible thing blew across” your “soul”. People are influenced and people change. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad.

    Again, I say that it is true that people can be influenced for good or bad by natural means, but it does not prove that a God does not act upon people by his own will either. Nor does it prove that my own testimony had to be from psychological factors as you insist. I just know that I tried self-help methods to no avail. I found that I didn’t contain any such inner strengths to effect deep personal changes, let alone having them last for 35 years. The changes I have experienced are more than the stopping of bad habits. I didn’t save myself. Given that it’s possible for people to change habits is one thing, but trying to prove that the many answers to prayer I have seen for myself and others came from psychological resources is not possible.

    “Why has my life improved over the decades…?” And why is my girlfriend, who is a Christian, about to lose her job of 34 years? Starting over at 50 is an improvement? Why did my best friend, who was an atheist his entire life and at his recent death at 77, lived a full and successful life as a educator and school administrator for more than 40 years. His life “improved” as time went on. Point is, life for some gets better, for others it gets worse, and for some, it just kind of stays the same. That’s life. . . “I am not alone in this testimony either…” But the “testimony” proves absolutely nothing unless it is blatantly obvious that Christians are so much happier, healthier, and wealthier than non Christians. They are not. There are just as many shattered lives among believers as there are among non believers.

    Ok, clarification needed on “improved:” I am sorry for the confusion from using that expression without being specific. I didn’t mean a material or social improvement or any other kind that normally redound to personal happiness in this world. In fact, I live permanently with a major physical problem. It has not improved at all. The improvements I mean are mostly internal that affect the way I think and act that began at conversion (although I would have preferred a more linear progress than it was). I’m at peace and I learn every day; and the things I care about are not the selfish things they were in my former life. This is true despite the pressure of my outer problems. Five years ago, I lost many friends over taking an unpopular stand at my former church at which I served as an elder. From that, I also lost clients for my own home business. In fact, Christians have most often had the worse of this life, many having been persecuted for the 2000 years they’ve been around.

    “The apostles were eyewitnesses of a miraculous event – the resurrection of the Christ. They spoke with him, ate with him, walked with him and saw the wounds of his death.” There is no actual evidence for this outside of the bible. No evidence that this “miraculous event – the resurrection of the Christ” actually happened. This is simply your (and others) belief. “Eyewitness testimony counts for a great deal when it comes to scientific evidence…” Your “eyewitnesses” have been dead for 2,000 years. How can I know that their testimony is factual?

    If that event they all claim they were eyewitnesses of never happened – namely the resurrection of an executed man named Jesus of Nazareth – then what I and every other Christian have believed over the millennia is worthless.

    “…especially when those things that were witnessed were predicted long ago by men who are called prophets by the very people who put that man to death.” Please offer one single obvious, SPECIFIC AND OBVIOUS, prediction that can ONLY be applied to the Jesus of the new Testament.

    Why do you insist on only one single one? The prophecies are a body of work, each prophet supplying details of the Christ. Yet if I were to pick one as primary, Ps. 16 states that God would not abandon his holy one to the grave or let his body experience corruption. No one else is reported to have witnessed anyone immortally resurrected that they walked and talked and ate with after they were publicly executed by piercing (another prophecy). Also, Born in Bethlehem, garments gambled over, betrayed, son of David and Abraham, open blind eyes, would be despised and rejected, virgin would conceive and bring forth Immanuel, seed of the woman is what I can think of right now.

    “We speak of quarks and leptons whose existence was predicted by the prophets called mathematicians and witnessed through esoteric quantam experiments. It is likely that you will never see one of those things, but I assume you trust they exist.” ????? What ?????

    It’s just a modern example of sub-atomic things (for all practical purposes invisible) that exist that were predicted by science. (“Prophets” followed by eyewitnesses). That’s all.

    Stan, can you offer a little as to your doctrinal beliefs? You were Catholic but were influenced by Charismatic believers. What are your beliefs now concerning: water baptism, healings, tongues?

    Water Baptism – I believe it’s commanded for believers. I was – twice, once as a Catholic infant, then after conversion some time later. But there are examples such as the good thief who wasn’t baptized, yet saved.

    on Healing and tongues: I am not an absolute cessationist on those things, but I am highly suspicious of what I hear of them. Unlike your Pentecostal friend, I will listen to opposing views on the matter. I believe that such gifts are in the control of the Holy Spirit of God and are given at His discretion. I don’t believe I have the right to say what He will or won’t do about dispensing or withholding them.

    Do you believe “once saved always saved” no.

    “lose their salvation”? Yes, it’s possible due to the many warnings the apostles give on the matter.

    I don’t claim to have perfect knowledge of all these matters. I read both sides of them. People certainly take inflexible positions on them. I have always tried to live by some working assumptions, like, I will believe a doctrinal view as long as the light I have makes it clear. If later, I see something I have not considered before and that overturns my previous view and it answers more questions than it raises, I will accept it. Unlike the big questions, these are they which conscientious people have disagreements over. It is something we must accept and allow, given our human limitations – and our previous teachings which can prejudice us for a long time if not indefinitely come into play.

    Here is what I think, based on observations and experiences during my life as a believer and non believer – I was never “saved”. You, Don, and every other Christian are not “saved”. There is no “salvation” from hell or sin. Hell doesn’t exist and “sin” or “sinner” are just a religious words used to denote people doing bad (and not so bad) things.

    So much depends on the actual state of things. I admit that if God does not exist, then no amount of assertion can make God exist. Conversely, no amount of denial can make Him go away if he does exist.

    Neither of us have yet to experience death. You side with your experience and with such enthusiastic atheists as Robert Ingersoll. However, I definitely believe that Jesus did return from that “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” and that He is alive. I believe everything his prophets and apostles say of such matters. I believe the changes I have experienced and still do are the result of faith in God and Christ.

    Well, I wanted to keep this short but I failed 😦

    So did I 🙂

    Good to talk with you.

    Stan

  12. Stan says:

    To lurkers: I am sorry but I didn’t bold some of Bob’s paragraphs to me in my answer above, so if it gets confusing to read, that’s what happened. I hope it’s clear which ones are his and mine. If not let me know.
    Stan

  13. bob says:

    “In fact, Christians have most often had the worse of this life, many having been persecuted for the 2000 years they’ve been around.”
    Christians have proven for a good part of that 2,000 years, that they are just as capable of being the persecutors as they are the persecuted.

    Concerning the resurrection of Jesus – “If that event they all claim they were eyewitnesses of never happened – namely the resurrection of an executed man named Jesus of Nazareth – then what I and every other Christian have believed over the millennia is worthless.”
    So. I am guessing that you do not believe Muhammad was a prophet of God. I am also pretty confident that you do not believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, rendering, in your opinion, both Islam and Mormonism to be “worthless”? (I would not claim your belief is “worthless”, but perhaps unjustified and/or unnecessary)

    Concerning prophecy – “Why do you insist on only one single one?”
    I was being facetious, but my emphasis was on SPECIFIC AND OBVIOUS. None of them are specific or obvious. Why couldn’t God offer something to the affect of –
    “Mary, daughter of Frank and Patty, will give birth to Jesus the Christ at 936 Hallelujah Dr, Bethlehem Israel, on December 25th in the year 1.”
    “Attending will be a cow, several sheep, and a donkey.”
    “Jesus the Christ will be killed by the Romans, under the direction of Pilot, at the wishes of the Pharisees.”
    “His death will occur on Wednesday afternoon.”
    “Method will be a combination of floggings, crown of thorns, crucifixion, and a single stab wound by a Roman spear.”
    “Jesus’ body will be removed from the cross later that same day, prepared, and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea”
    “On the following Sunday morning, Jesus will arise from the dead and visit some of his followers before ascending to heaven.”
    “Mark your calenders because he will return to earth at noon on January 1st, 2011.”

    You cited – “Ps. 16 states that God would not abandon his holy one to the grave or let his body experience corruption.”
    Who is “his holy one”? In the entire of Psalm 16, the author is writing in the first person, then in vs 10 the 1st half is first person, the 2nd half is third. Who is the author referring to as “his holy one”? You obviously believe it means the Jesus of the New testament, but I doubt that you would have come to that conclusion on your own if you had of stumbled upon it while reading. You must have been taught that Ps 16:10 is referring to Jesus (even though the rest of Psalm 16 is referring to the author).
    My point is, in order for a person to believe the OT “prophecies” they have to want to believe that they mean what they have been taught to believe they mean, because none of them are specific. Even adding them all up, they are unspecific.
    Might I suggest – http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/prophecy.html

    Concerning “once saved always saved” you said – “Yes, it’s possible due to the many warnings the apostles give on the matter.”
    Then you said – “Unlike the big questions, these are they which conscientious people have disagreements over.”
    Wouldn’t you, or shouldn’t you consider this probably one of the biggest questions? I mean, Just as “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” should be one of, or the biggest question, “Sirs, what must I do to stay saved should be right up there…I would think.

    Anyway…

    Curious Stan, have you ever heard of or attempted the “Outsider Test for Faith”? If you haven’t, in a nutshell, it proposes that believers should test their beliefs as if they were an outsider to their own faith, applying the very same critical eye to their beliefs that they apply to other faiths that they consider unfounded. I imagine it would be very difficult, if not psychologically impossible for most believers to attempt – but – I think it is a display of integrity for a believer to attempt it. Pick any competing religion, especially a religion that has a holy book (Islam, Mormonism, etc) and think of a few reasons why you consider those faiths to be incorrect, unfounded, inconsistent, based on legends and/or myths, etc, then try applying the very same critical eye to the beliefs and claims of your faith.

    In the words of Stephen Roberts – “When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours”.

  14. stan says:

    It seems my most recent reply got a little away from me and I didn’t proof/edit it correctly. On the subject of where I think I would have gone to heaven or hell if I died before responding to the call, it should read, “Short answer, yes, to hell.”

    If I find others I’ll post them. Sorry.

  15. Stan says:

    Hi Bob.

    Christians have proven for a good part of that 2,000 years, that they are just as capable of being the persecutors as they are the persecuted.

    I would not call the visible/political churches who persecuted anyone with the sword Christians at all despite their claim. “By their fruit you will know them.” They are the wolves who were predicted by the apostles and they took over and true believers went “underground.”

    So. I am guessing that you do not believe Muhammad was a prophet of God. I am also pretty confident that you do not believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, rendering, in your opinion, both Islam and Mormonism to be “worthless”?

    Right. I do not believe they were prophets of God.

    (I would not claim your belief is “worthless”, but perhaps unjustified and/or unnecessary)

    That assertion is based on what Paul said in 1 Cor. 15:17. It makes sense to me. Our faith in him is based on his being raised. Therefore, if Jesus is still in the ground like anyone else or if he didn’t exist we have nothing.

    Why couldn’t God offer something to the affect of –
    “Mary, daughter of Frank and Patty, will give birth to Jesus the Christ at 936 Hallelujah Dr, Bethlehem Israel, on December 25th in the year 1.”
    “Attending will be a cow, several sheep, and a donkey.”
    “Jesus the Christ will be killed by the Romans, under the direction of Pilot, at the wishes of the Pharisees.”
    “His death will occur on Wednesday afternoon.”
    “Method will be a combination of floggings, crown of thorns, crucifixion, and a single stab wound by a Roman spear.”
    “Jesus’ body will be removed from the cross later that same day, prepared, and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea”
    “On the following Sunday morning, Jesus will arise from the dead and visit some of his followers before ascending to heaven.”
    “Mark your calenders because he will return to earth at noon on January 1st, 2011.”

    If it was written like that, do you suppose everyone would believe in this God since He also condemns the sinful ways they live?

    You obviously believe it means the Jesus of the New testament, but I doubt that you would have come to that conclusion on your own if you had of stumbled upon it while reading. You must have been taught that Ps 16:10 is referring to Jesus (even though the rest of Psalm 16 is referring to the author).

    It’s a verse both Peter and Paul use to speak of Jesus’ resurrection.

    My point is, in order for a person to believe the OT “prophecies” they have to want to believe that they mean what they have been taught to believe they mean, because none of them are specific. Even adding them all up, they are unspecific. . . . Might I suggest – http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/prophecy.html

    I suppose the way you and those at such places as infidels.org et.al. believe the prophecies were written proves it was all man-made and further, it means no one has anything to fear from the God of the Bible. Right?

    Concerning “once saved always saved” you said – “Yes, it’s possible due to the many warnings the apostles give on the matter.”

    I actually said, “no.” you may have missed it because I didn’t put it on a separate line like the other answers.

    It was to your next question, “lose their salvation”? that I said “Yes, it’s possible due to the many warnings the apostles give on the matter.”

    Then you said – “Unlike the big questions, these are they which conscientious people have disagreements over.” Wouldn’t you, or shouldn’t you consider this probably one of the biggest questions? I mean, Just as “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” should be one of, or the biggest question, “Sirs, what must I do to stay saved should be right up there…I would think.

    Faith must persevere in anyone to be of benefit. To those who side with once saved always saved, you’re still saved and will spend an eternity with the one whom you’ve denied. That’s one reason I said I didn’t believe OSAS.

    believers should test their beliefs as if they were an outsider to their own faith, applying the very same critical eye to their beliefs that they apply to other faiths that they consider unfounded. I imagine it would be very difficult, if not psychologically impossible for most believers to attempt – but – I think it is a display of integrity for a believer to attempt it. Pick any competing religion, especially a religion that has a holy book (Islam, Mormonism, etc) and think of a few reasons why you consider those faiths to be incorrect, unfounded, inconsistent, based on legends and/or myths, etc, then try applying the very same critical eye to the beliefs and claims of your faith. In the words of Stephen Roberts – “When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours”.

    I have already conceded that if Jesus did not exist or was not raised from the dead then Christianity is nothing. Further, it would be a monstrous deception as people like Paine, Ingersoll, Hitchens and the rest who have spent so much energy to declare. On the other hand if Jesus Christ exists and was raised then the words of the prophets and apostles of the Bible who speak for him are all true. That is what I have happily come to believe and have for 35 years now. I rejoice in what God did and still does for me. As Paul said, “I wish all men were like me, except for these chains.”

    Stan

  16. bob says:

    “I would not call the visible/political churches who persecuted anyone with the sword Christians at all despite their claim. “By their fruit you will know them.”
    Because you would not call them Christians, does that mean they are/were not Christians? I mean, does it really matter whether or not YOU would call them Christians? There are people, believers, who would probably not consider you to be a Christian, based on some of your beliefs, actions, and attitudes. You are aware of that aren’t you?

    This “fruit” you speak of, do you have a list of fruit that you know indicates that the fruit bearer (whether a church or individual) is in fact Christian? I mean, you are sure that “persecuting anyone with the sword” is an indication that they are not Christians. Can you think of any other activities or attitudes that are proof positive that they are not Christians? How about smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, watching “R” rated movies, driving 1 mph over the speed limit, eating two doughnuts instead of just one. What “sins” do you feel does not disqualify the church/individual from membership, and what “sins” most definitely do disqualify them from membership?

    If persecution by the sward is an indication that the persecutor is not a Christian, how about by fire? Was John Calvin a Christian, even though he had Michael Servetus burned alive?
    How about Martin Luther, was he a Christian? Are you familiar with his writings in “On the Jews and Their Lies”? He had an incredible contempt for the Jewish people, so much so that he wanted their synagogues, schools, and homes to be burnt and torn down.
    How about King James? There is some good evidence that indicates he was, if not homosexual, at least bisexual. If he was, was he a Christian?

    “That is what I have happily come to believe and have for 35 years now. I rejoice in what God did and still does for me”
    Ok then, I guess as long as what you believe in makes you happy…enjoy.

  17. Stan says:

    “I would not call the visible/political churches who persecuted anyone with the sword Christians at all despite their claim. “By their fruit you will know them.” Because you would not call them Christians, does that mean they are/were not Christians? I mean, does it really matter whether or not YOU would call them Christians?

    If I can’t substantiate my views by sound use of Scripture, they should be disregarded.

    “My kingdom is not of this world.” vs. The “church” who eventually head up the political system in Europe. No way that’s his church anymore. He said, “the rulers of this world lord it over their subjects and are called benefactors. Not so among you.” Also, the apostles – including Peter – never established a temporal power on earth. Therefore they are not of Jesus if they want to rule the world. Constantine did the church no favors by making Christianity the state religion. It became flooded with worldly sycophants and opportunists who rose to power even to become popes. They may be dressed with fancy regalia and act solemn and important; but really, did their first “pope” Peter, dress and act like that and hold temporal political power and start wars and crusades? Or was he, like His lord, executed by the reigning world power?

    “You will be persecuted by the world and they will kill you.” Vs. The Visible Church: They have done persecuting and killing. Jesus prophesied of his own, “They who kill you will think he does God service.” Bingo.

    Jesus: “Do not lay up treasures on earth” Vs. The Vatican’s treasures are practically beyond appraisal. Not only them, there are mega-churches that are monuments to inflated worldly egos and their pastors are just as greedy about money as any CEO on Wall Street today. It’s sickening.

    So, no, I don’t believe those who wield temporal, military power in God’s name belong to him at all. If that’s merely a baseless opinion of mine then anyone is welcome to dismiss it.

    There are people, believers, who would probably not consider you to be a Christian, based on some of your beliefs, actions, and attitudes. You are aware of that aren’t you?

    Yes.

    This “fruit” you speak of, do you have a list of fruit that you know indicates that the fruit bearer (whether a church or individual) is in fact Christian? I mean, you are sure that “persecuting anyone with the sword” is an indication that they are not Christians.

    Jesus told us to beware of ravenous wolves who could be known as such by their fruit. If I can’t tell the difference between a predator and someone merely overcome in a moral fault who seeks to get right, then I would be wrong in my evaluations of people’s “fruit.” Murder is certainly a fruit of a wolf. So is greed. They are whom Jesus describes this way “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.” That is what these persecutors were doing: Stealing the church’s leadership positions, killing their enemies using that position and destroying faith for everyone else. They “fouled the waters with their feet” as God says in Ezekiel 34 of false shepherds.

    Can you think of any other activities or attitudes that are proof positive that they are not Christians? How about smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, watching “R” rated movies, driving 1 mph over the speed limit, eating two doughnuts instead of just one. What “sins” do you feel does not disqualify the church/individual from membership, and what “sins” most definitely do disqualify them from membership?

    As I said in a previous post, Christians can sin. It can be from the trivial to the immoral. Their faith leads them to repentance though. Paul gives a list of those that cannot inherit the kingdom in 1 Cor 6. He even said, let no one deceive you about this. But, a man who was guilty of gross immorality was led to repentance and was to be received back into the church by Paul’s orders. Repentance is a sign of faith and is the difference that marks the righteous, not flawless perfection or else no one could be saved.

    But, wolves are wolves forever because “it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil,” proverbs 13 says. When they get into leadership, God help the ones they’re over. They’re the worst of them. Vipers and thieves — Jesus calls them who were over the flock of Israel and stealing from them and barring them from faith in himself.

    If persecution by the sward is an indication that the persecutor is not a Christian, how about by fire? Was John Calvin a Christian, even though he had Michael Servetus burned alive?

    ( I meant “sword” as a catch-all phrase for all manner of violent deaths perpetrated by the false shepherds). Anyway, Calvin’s writings are mostly great to read. But, the death of Servetus was shocking when I found out about that. It is the one thing about him that makes me think he’s not in the kingdom. I mean, which Christian is allowed to take life as he did?
    “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” And, “no murderer has eternal life,” John says. Did he repent of it? I don’t know. That would make a difference for me then.

    How about Martin Luther, was he a Christian? Are you familiar with his writings in “On the Jews and Their Lies”? He had an incredible contempt for the Jewish people, so much so that he wanted their synagogues, schools, and homes to be burnt and torn down.

    I know about his anti-Jewish writings, but have not read them. So, I will withhold.

    How about King James? There is some good evidence that indicates he was, if not homosexual, at least bisexual. If he was, was he a Christian?

    If so then no, he’s not. I Cor. 6 says such people cannot enter the kingdom of God.

    “That is what I have happily come to believe and have for 35 years now. I rejoice in what God did and still does for me” Ok then, I guess as long as what you believe in makes you happy…enjoy.

    That was nice to say. Thanks.

    Stan

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