We have lately (December 2010) received a series of objections by a man who is not happy about the existence of this blog. To prevent our having to answer these objections many times over, here is that email debate, systematically laid out exactly as it happened, followed by our conclusion of the matter. The objector will be identified by his initials alone.
First objection by Mr. M. S.:
Just a point of contention, but your blog cannot be truly nonpartisan (objective) nor can you say you are not a part of the special interest group known as Christianity. Therefore, your view can be nothing more than your own subjective view of scripture interpretation...just like the pastoral views you are "testing".
I suppose the only reason I am writing is to say: yes, start a blog stating your opinions, but please do not pretend you have some greater understanding of things that no one really understands and advertise that you have answers for people.
I suppose the only reason I am writing is to say: yes, start a blog stating your opinions, but please do not pretend you have some greater understanding of things that no one really understands and advertise that you have answers for people.
My reply to Mr. M. S. about his ‘nonpartisan’ concern:
I am in fact part of the special interest group known as Christianity. What I mean by non-partisan is that my interest is in Jesus Christ. I am not a ‘church member’ of any church in Red Deer, but a member of that body in Scripture of which Jesus is the head. In other words, I am a member of the Church. There is nothing wrong with being in a particular church. I am just not part of one.
My blog is indeed objective, by which I mean: There are what theologians call ‘main and plain things’ in Scripture whose interpretations ought to be obvious to all. By an easy and honest look they can only be interpreted one way. This interpretation is what I adhere to and put forward as the traditionally received Truth. I aim always to subject my subjective view to the received standard. There is, if you please, not a subjective opinion but an objective piece of data in Frankenstein that the monster referred to in there is a man-created creature. No one should question this if this is in fact what the honest interpretation of the text demands us to believe. No one does question it. The Bible gives it as an objective fact that Jesus was begotten, not created. It says also that he was no sinner. No one should come away with a subjective view that the Bible teaches otherwise, especially if the interpretive realities are so obvious. Some pastors do teach otherwise. Therefore there is a need for defending the obvious interpretation of Scripture.
Thank you for raising your points. I may put a clarification in my blog regarding what I mean by this word ‘non-partisan.’
Second objection by Mr. M. S.:
Well, you make the assumption that the Bible is objective instead of the subjective opinions of a desert tribe. Everything should be questioned and I believe this is what Jesus was really saying when you filter out all the "magic" and obvious additions his disciples made. I believe he would be horrified to see that we deified him.
Modern-day Christianity attempts to remove the mystery from life and spirituality by breaking everything down to absolutes that perhaps work for the few people that need absolutes. Unfortunately all those "life-formulas" end up practically killing most other people, but the religion and rules say that if the formula isn't working then it is the person's fault: No, the religion can't be wrong because it is "the truth"; Our interpretation of God can't be wrong because we have a book that tells us all about "Him".
Christianity is closed and inflexible. It is killing people and killing our society. It is a dishonest faith based on threats and the belief that there is something inherently wrong with mankind.
Of course, this is all my subjective opinion and I am totally willing to bet my eternal soul on it. If your version of God is unable to accept my honest doubt and questioning and instead demands dishonest, fear-based faith, then he really isn't worth serving.
Why am I bothering to write all this? Well, if you are going to advertise your blog, you had better be prepared for some adversity. I guarantee I'll be far nicer than 90% of other online users. Hell, the Christians that disagree with you are going to be the cruelest of all.
My reply to second objection by Mr. M. S.:
You are correct that everything needs to be questioned. The Bible says to ‘prove all things’; that is, to put all things to the test. Jesus exhorted doubters to believe who he claimed to be (God in the flesh) on the basis of his works (miracles.) The logic is that anyone claiming to be God would not be granted miracles by God (there is a trinity of persons) if his claim were false. You have not read the Bible, have you? Objectors rarely have.
If you have no absolutes, you have no reason for calling anything right or wrong except by the basis of the ever-changing opinions and laws of men, which is no sound basis, and hardly a smart one. When a law is changed, which way is right, the old reading or the new one? Who’s to say? It is left up to the whim of sinful men. I prefer to leave it up to God to decide. If you value your soul, you’ll look into why the Bible has been regarded as the word of God by so many people through the ages. Begin with Pascal’s Pensees. You’ll not be able to refute his arguments. What’s more dangerous to society, a people who have no stable standard for moral conduct, or a people who fear the wrath of God for conduct that’s immoral?
Do you really have honest doubts? If your doubts were honest, you would do your research before throwing around unfounded accusations like the modern atheists do.
But yes, atheistic rants are nothing near as cruel and ugly as what empty professors of Christianity are capable of, usually. I expect opposition from nearly every corner.
Third objection by Mr. M. S.:
The Bible definitely has some words of wisdom. Most works of literature do. However, there is no way that everything in the Bible is 100% literal truth. It is simply not possible. I have my doubts that even the most authentic biographies/autobiographies would even be 100% factual.
The men that wrote about Jesus stated that he did magic (miracles). With absolutely no visible source of power, he supposedly made sickness disappear and even made dead people rise. There is no evidence of these things happening. These things do not happen today. People may say they do, but it is all based on third/fourth-or-more-hand accounts. Jesus' disciples were just men that wanted Jesus’ teachings to spread. They exaggerated and probably outright lied. More likely, word spread like that grand old game of "telephone": the message changes as it is passed to more and more people. Some people embellish and some change it to suit their own needs.
The Buddha's disciples did the same thing after the Buddha died. The Buddha wanted people to find their own path to spirituality, but his disciples figured that his way was the only "true" way and built idols and a religion expressing that way.
It is common for people to seek the easy path instead of searching out answers for themselves. This is why religion is so popular. Most people want someone to tell them how to run their lives. They like to jump on bandwagons and fight for causes without actually knowing what the stakes are (this is true with or without religion involved - people are the same irregardless).
Right and wrong are man-made concepts. What is wrong for some people is right for others. For me, I see nothing wrong with pre-marital sex or gay marriage. You probably believe these things are not right. Who is right? I believe that I am since my beliefs do not disallow any persons to practice their own personal beliefs where-as yours do. Your beliefs disallow people to act as they wish to. I cannot live with that kind of pressure on my conscience.
As for Pascal's Pensees, I am only familiar with the wager and it is easily refuted since you cannot live your life in fear. Honest faith is belief without fear and without hope of personal gain. If you only believe out of fear for what you will lose, your faith is selfish. Most Christians believe because they are either afraid of hell or death or they are wanting the gain of eternal life or the riches of heaven. Fear is debilitating. The Bible states that God has not given Christians a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. However, Christians are always afraid of life and are always fear-mongering. Just look at all the end-times propaganda and the ever-pervading belief that the "world" is out to get them.
People who fear the wrath of a god for immoral conduct are the more dangerous of the two scenarios you have mentioned. Just read the Old Testament to see where religious fanaticism leads. When your god tells you to commit genocide on a regular basis you know something is seriously wrong. When your people are warmongers, something is seriously wrong. Do you think the USA's invasion of Iraq is moral? Most Evangelical Christians seem to - especially the US ones. What a frightening society if they ever build the theocracy they want!
For that matter, please define "immoral conduct".
Do I have honest doubts? Yes. Have I done my research? More than you know and I continue to search and research on a daily basis. I never said I was an atheist. I never said I was anything. I merely do not believe in your version of God nor do I agree with your world-view. You put your views out there and I decided to challenge. Part of my research as well, I suppose. I guess I'm in the mood for debate. I know that I will not change your mind. Perhaps I am hoping I will actually see some different words come from your keyboard instead of the same drivel that most Christians tend to spout.
My reply to third objection by Mr. M. S.:
The Bible is 100% truth, in its original parts. There are some readings that are open for debate. But these do not call into question any major teaching. The teachings of the Bible are all true; that is, they speak accurately the mind of God to man. This is what conservative scholars would agree to. Do you know what the most reliable form of literature is for relating facts? It’s exactly what the New Testament is made up of: letters. It being ‘simply not possible’ for the Bible to be 100% literal truth is not an argument, but an assumption based on vain hope.
You equate miracles with magic. You do not get this opinion from the men who wrote the letters. The evidence for miracles may be found in the letters themselves. For instance, the enemies of Christ did not deny that he did miracles, but suggested that he did them by the power of Satan. This is an argument that miracles must have occurred, for the confessions of Christ’s enemies are contained in, and therefore supported by, the most reliable genre of literature there is for the transmission of facts. Can you see that I use real arguments in support of what I say, while you resort to assumptions, misrepresentations, and accusations? Your letters are the typical fare that an apologist might receive from the uninformed and unenlightened masses. You really need to read Pascal, and never mind your other vain hope that the wager must be wrong just because ‘you cannot live your life in fear.’ This is not a refutation, but a desperate toss of a stone at something you don’t like. You need logic. Study John Blanchard’s Does God Believe in Atheists? And get R. C. Sproul’s Objections Answered. You say you’re researching. Then let’s go; get on with it. As for this fear that you say Christians live in, you need to read the biographies of martyrs, not just observe the lives of these empty professors of Christianity, by which you rashly judge that all who profess Christ are the same everywhere and for all time. Get Five English Reformers by J. C. Ryle and see what a real Christian is like. ‘End-times propaganda’ by the way, is not my thing. I take no part in it. Serious Christians never do.
A lot of unthinking, toe-the-line professors of Christianity supported the war in Iraq. Some still do. Others, like me, have been against it from the start. I’m not on the ‘bandwagon.’ It is no wonder that you paint all Christians with the brush of gullibility and blind fanaticism. A war is not righteous just because the USA wages it nor because it has the backing of Christian Fundamentalists. I am not part of this. And neither am I one of those who believe that miracles comparable to what Christ did are around every corner. Miracles like that seldom, if ever, occur anymore.
The execution of peoples by the command of God is one of the most disturbing aspects of history to accept, if we are to believe that the Old Testament record of ‘the ban’ is factual. Since you do not believe the Bible is 100% true, why not choose to disbelieve that part of the Old Testament? No, you’d like to believe that the biblical God did the order and that the order was executed by his obedient people. And then you’d like to take some other part of the Bible, like the part where Jesus claims to be God, and say that that part is not true. On what basis do you take as fact the part that you want to be true and reject as false the part that you do not like? You have no basis, only your biased desires. Me, I take the truth, whatever it is, even the parts of truth that I find repugnant. I believe the exterminations were carried out by persons acting on God’s command. I don’t expect to totally understand God, or even to find attractive every aspect of his revelation. True faith is not for faint-hearted followers. Thankfully, the new dispensation does not call for extermination of God’s enemies, but for the extension of mercy in private wrongs, for civil justice in crimes of a public nature, and for Church discipline from within its own ranks when sins of heresy and sinful behavior are present there. But in the future (I mean Future with a big F) Christians will judge, not only men, but angels too. This prophecy is not end-times propaganda.
Your ‘beliefs do not disallow any person to practice their own beliefs.’ You see ‘nothing wrong with premarital sex or gay marriage.’ It’s interesting that you stop there. You have no reason to. Look at your statement and take the full force of it. You must see nothing wrong with ‘any practice.’ That is what your statement reveals your position to be. And so you must be okay with allowing rape, murder, and child molestation too. You see why you need an immovable standard? Do you see why such a wide permissive belief as you have is called atheistic? It is practical atheism to allow man to judge what is right and wrong, and the result of so doing is godless anarchy, which Canada is fast approaching to, by the way. I’m not saying that you want to allow rape, murder, and child molestation. I only say that you have no reason to oppose these crimes if people are to be allowed to practice their beliefs, whatever they are, as they please. ‘Immoral conduct’ would be (since you would have me define it) that which your non-judgmental worldview would allow others to practice. Rape is already quite permissible, for the rapist gets off with almost no time for the crime. This is the result of having a country go in the direction of your permissible worldview. Child molestation is nearly legal, for the law does almost nothing to punish the perverts. The blame for this must lie at your door as well, for your philosophy says to let people practice their beliefs as they please, whatever they are. We are now operating according to your precept. Isn’t it fun? It’s not so much fun for the kids who are molested! Promiscuity leads to rape; homosexual behavior leads to other perversions; and abortion leads to infanticide. We have to put the brakes on somewhere. But your worldview does not have any brakes, and has no reason to put them on. I am not charging you with the promotion of these crimes I just mentioned. But do you not see that your worldview, in not judging these things, is giving the criminals the incentive they are looking for to commit them? If little to the negative will result in [ie. from] the perpetration of rape, then the rapist feels that raping, while it may be reprimanded, may never be judged as heinous, and so off he goes to find his next opportunity and victim.
Honest faith is that which rests on a logical foundation. Your faith, whatever it is, does not. You need to quit criticizing a Book you know nothing about, and get on with reading it.
My announcement to Mr. M. S. about posting the debate on the blog:
I am thinking of putting our correspondence on my blog as a side feature so I can direct people there instead of responding again to objections like the ones you shot at me. I need to know if you want your name mentioned.
Mr. M. S. closes the debate, gives his consent, provided that I honor his proviso:
Yes, go ahead and use my name as long as it is all put on there word for word, including THIS e-mail.
I wrote a long response to your last e-mail, but got too emotionally involved in it. I cannot believe your inferences towards the end of your e-mail. I cannot believe you would even suggest that I was suggesting the allowance of rape, murder and child molestation. I am pretty difficult to upset, but your arrogance in regards to that subject matter really hurt. You really believe I would promote the hurt of others? You said you weren't suggesting that I was promoting such acts, but you did exactly that.
I am choosing not to send my last response since there is no point in continuing this sparring. Your last e-mail was full of nothing but thinly veiled personal attacks.
Post-debate note by M. H. Gaboury, the blogger:
I did not so much as insinuate that Mr. M. S. was suggesting the allowance of rape, murder and child molestation. I was very careful to point out, instead, that he must be okay with allowing these things because that is exactly how his statement must be defined. He said that his ‘beliefs do not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs.’ This is the same as saying that he is okay with their allowance, which is at least a nuance less (a very important one) than what he accuses me of saying: that he suggested their allowance. If taken seriously and if allowed to continue on its course, his worldview does not disallow these crimes since his ‘beliefs do not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs.’ Allowing persons to practice their own beliefs without qualification (Mr. M. S. does not qualify) comes down to allowing ‘any practice,’ as we pointed out in the debate. This permissive, non-judgmental, tolerant society of ours is already neck deep in the outcome of practicing to allow persons to just ‘practice their own personal beliefs.’ There is no standard harkened to, and therefore we are subject to the whims of those who continually tweak our already weak laws to fit these decadent times. Abortions these days are practiced so near to term sometimes that the baby’s head, just before it emerges to breathe to continue its life, is punctured by the doctor in order to satisfy the whim of the woman who wants to carry on her indecent, irresponsible lifestyle! The belief is that so long as the baby is killed before it emerges into open air, it is an okay practice! Such belief and practice would not have been countenanced decades ago. The next thing is infanticide, of course, and this practice will gain acceptance too if God does not intervene in some fashion to prevent it. The crime of murder gets less and less punishment as the modern years tick by. We must rehabilitate instead of punish—this is the argument. But through lack of punishment the crime is not as feared by those who think to commit it, and thus it is more and more committed, which amounts to it being more and more allowed. Over in Spain sex with children is winked at. This is what it’s coming to over here too. The lessening of punishment for crimes of this nature is proof of it. But we must ‘not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs.’ This is Canada’s motto, not just that of Mr. M. S. Mr. M. S. would never suggest the allowance of these crimes—we believe him. But his worldview has no reason to disallow them—this is our point. This philosophical opinion to ‘not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs’ is that of our media and culture, and generally, of our judges. Mr. M. S. did not get his opinion from logical, moral thought. Our judges can find no reason to ‘disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs.’ This is why they hand down soft penalties for heinous crimes. And this injustice can only grow worse and worse until an immovable standard of justice is adverted to. Mr. M. S. does not see that that which we disallow less and less (like child molestation, murder, and rape through lack of justice), we allow more and more. That which we choose no longer to disallow (like later term abortions), we allow. A philosophy to ‘not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs’ inevitably leads to eventually allowing what, because of our present repugnance of, we now practically disallow. Full allowance does not happen all at once, but by progressive steps. Punishment for child molestation, for example, is becoming so curtailed that the crime is, not in the letter, necessarily, but in the spirit of practice (through our lawless judges), almost entirely allowed. The only thing holding molesters back from the commission of the crime is the bit of shame they might feel from being found out. We need more prevention than this. We need laws that are heavy-handed enough to be worthy of the word justice.
This position to ‘not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs’ just opens the door for associations like NAMBLA to lobby ‘out of the closet’ for the right to practice their own personal beliefs: their chief and favorite one being pedophilia. Mr. M. S. would never suggest legalized pedophilia, but his worldview, if taken word for word, must be entirely okay with it. We need a worldview, a standard, conversely, that disallows all persons from practicing certain beliefs. It’s the only way to protect the vulnerable. And we need hard justice to come down on those who make victims of vulnerable people. Only the Bible (carefully interpreted, to be sure) is ‘black and white’ enough to mark out the lines of what to allow and disallow. Common sense alone should be sufficient to inform us that to ‘not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs’ can only lead to gross, harmful liberties. The Bible, contrariwise, draws distinct lines in order to prevent anarchy and victimization. In the Bible, harsh crimes are met with penalties equally as harsh. A belief in the biblical, moral standard is better and safer than what society comes to by the permissive precept to ‘not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs.’
Freedom to practice immorality outside certain bounds comes to a relaxing of laws that we once counted on for our safety and dignity. And a society that busies itself with immoral amusements, because such a society is ignorant of things that matter, is soon taken unawares by greedy, upper echelon controllers. This is happening right now in our laissez-faire countries of the Western world. Freedom to practice evil comes with heavy taxes, bureaucratic fine points for every enterprise, no matter how small, and the abolition of whatever civil right might ‘offend’ the sensibilities of the most influential interest groups. To ‘not disallow any person to practice their own personal beliefs’ leads to otherwise needless clashes between individuals and groups, which in turn results in the termination of certain freedoms for one side or the other. In a culture like this a controlling government is only too glad to accommodate whatever side might be most apt to support the present aspects of democratic despotism that these ‘powers that be’ presently engage in. Instead of pointing each side to a received standard of conduct, in other words, a self interested government will side with whatever group is less threatening to its tyrannical tendencies. We’re facing characteristics of autocracy, not just in America under President Obama, but to some extent, even in Canada under Prime Minister Harper. What kind of government, for example, except one that oversteps the bounds of liberal democracy, gets away with spending a billion dollars for a weekend of security? a weekend of security, mind you, that was largely concerned with gagging verbal protest and banishing embarrassing placards? Dictatorial propensities may have backed off a bit since the scary times of Prime Ministers Chretien and Martin and their gangs of paper-toting hooligans. But we have seen that a switch to Conservatism (if you can call a Party that after it has sacrificed its duty to the pre-born on the altar of power) does not guarantee the absence of dictatorial manners. Without a standard of morality that all can assent and appeal to, selfish, pragmatic ends will result, and even life itself will be abandoned in order to arrive at these egotistical goals. Some leftists are almost beside themselves with worry that the Conservative government will one day suddenly live up to its name and cancel the citizens’ right to kill pre-born babies. This is an unfounded anxiety, a burden of stress on the ‘bleeding heart’ that there is absolutely no need for because a government that will abandon life for power is not about to risk power for life.
The influence of godly pulpits is what is needed most to turn things in the direction of a moral strictness that would actually protect the innocent by punishing the guilty. We need this even more than we need successful lobbying in the political arena. We need it more because pulpit-preaching is what God uses to transform souls. In a democracy, only by mass regeneration by God can a regressive and morally slack nation hope to get back to a sense of justice and decency. And then only by that moral reformation that is rooted in the regenerative act of God upon the soul can we hope to withstand the wearing down of moral goodness that always precedes the weakening of our laws and the erosion of our sentences. Should we not and shall we not, then, demand more holy doctrine from our pulpits than what we are presently getting? It is through sound, strong doctrine that the Holy Spirit moves in with power on the soul. And the only pastors who can hope to preach with understanding and might are those who are disconnected from the sins and worldviews they are called to denounce. Without this disconnection, pastors will not declare the judgment of God for the commission of sins and vain philosophies. They will not. The spirit of compromise comes with a cloud of confusion, and half-blind pastors cannot see clearly enough to know what to preach against. They see just clearly enough to know that they dare not preach against the sins they themselves participate in. And half-blind, worldly pastors have neither the time nor the devotion to be thorough students of the word and men of prayer, which are the positive aspects of religion that are necessary for blessings of grace to proceed from their pulpits.
Something like this blog, though it will be hated by so many, and as meager as it is, is yet necessary for bringing these matters up and for pointing local citizens to Truth. We must, before every other noble deed, be doing some good locally. We have locked on to what we believe to be a good thing, and we have seen no vision yet to convince us to let go. Unaware persons like Mr. M. S. are not the only ones who will oppose this blog. As unawakened as this man is, he is nevertheless correct that most of our trouble will come from what he calls ‘Christians that disagree.’ Professing Christians who have no more religion than an emotional attachment to the church they attend will put blind loyalty before the saving, fundamental teachings they need but that their pastors either mangle or ignore. We know this will happen. But we aim to show them that dismissing the person who points them to the saving doctrines their pastors water-down or disregard is not a wise move where getting to heaven is concerned. Regardless, we are not so much after unrepentant, stiff-necked socialites who go to church for fun and leisure. Such people do not belong in church; if churches were truly apostolic, they would be excommunicated with a view to repenting, perhaps for the first time. We are primarily for helping those poor souls who come to church to eat the bread of heaven and who are usually given a stone to eat instead. These teachable saints we can help. Critics who don’t care for believing, and having things done according to, Bible precepts should at least be content to allow the teachable ones through so they can find their way to the blessing of knowledge that they crave. But understanding is not only more precious than gems, but also harder than gems to come by. Many obstacles are in the way, and these usually come in the form of ‘nice’ people who don’t want to ‘rock the boat.’ God, however, is famous for making hungry souls from ‘slow bellies.’ When this happens, people who once wouldn’t rock the boat for anything will care nothing for turning the boat upside down in their breaking away, like Peter did, stark naked if they have to, just to get to Jesus on the peaceful shores of his teachings. Lackadaisical people can, in one moment of spiritual awakening, become so zealous for God and the eating of Christ’s body and blood that no one will be able to prevent them from the feast. In anticipation of this, we are in the process of uploading our very carefully thought-out book lists in order to direct, and thus accommodate, these famished souls. Although Francis Schaeffer does not make the cut on these particular lists of ten (for theology is a more urgent need than philosophy), there is no better place to turn than to all that he has written for getting up to speed on how Western society has arrived at where we now are morally. And so here, if not elsewhere, we recommend without reserve, the number one philosopher of the 20th century.