Jesus Teach Temple2
Meditation and Reflection

Holy Tuesday: questions, qualifications, hypocrisy

 

And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.
The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?
But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.
And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.
(Mt 21:23-27).

As Jesus continued to teach in the Temple about the Kingdom of God, He talked about fig trees and throwing mountains into the sea. All you have to do is believe, He said, and what you ask will be done.

He was interrogated by the chief priests and scribes about his authority to teach. He didn’t show his theology degree; instead, He responded to their questions with his own. Where did John’s baptism come from? They could not answer, so neither did He. There were parables about disgruntled labourers in the vineyard and harlots in heaven. The reaction to these must have been one of irritation and embarrassment: doubtless some of Israel’s spiritual leaders stormed off, as hypocrites tend to do when confronted with their own inadequacies and absurdities. The Pharisees then tried entrapment, asking whether it was lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor. Aware of their motives, Jesus’s response was unequivocal – taxes must be paid.

The Lord’s authority came from God, but He never used it to subvert the princely rulers of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven; we are merely passing through the temporal sphere. And while we journey, we must obey the political authorities and the precepts of our employers. Of course, we may agitate for change, but we must never do so without humility or love, which penetrates the souls of those who are being lost, for God is love.

Religious shows of ostentation and hypocritical piety are antithetical to the kingdom of heaven: by focusing on the letter of the law, we easily forget that the true substance is justice, mercy and love. By obsessing about outward adornments, we risk ignoring the spirit, the heart, the purpose of our faith. Indeed, the outward manifestation is hollow when it is more pharisaically obsessed with propriety than with loving one’s neighbour.

On this Holy Tuesday, let us reflect upon our blindness and deafness; our shortcomings, hypocrisies and inadequacies. Everything we do is dirty rags before the Lord. We construct our own whited sepulchres full of dead men’s bones, and are plagued by all manner of uncleanness, so let us take the Lord’s warnings about authority and hypocrisy very seriously indeed: we must not be outwardly what we are not inwardly, and our outward must be faithful to the inward. Many are called, but few are chosen.

  • IanCad

    Three excellent sermonettes from you over the past few days YG.
    Looking forward to continued uplifting in the days to come.
    Thank you.

  • Martin

    Jesus came for a purpose, to die for the sins of His people. His purpose was not to bring the rulers to account. We are not called act as He acted, hence the folly of WWJD.

    John the Baptist, on the other hand, did call Herod to account for his wickedness. And so all Christians are called to speak out when our rulers act in wicked ways. We are also called to test whether those who claim to preach the gospel do in fact do so. We are called to test all things.

    • alternative_perspective

      There was 3 years of ministry prior to his crucifixion. Surely this counted for something. Moreover Jesus’ first motivation was to come to the Jewish people, as he attested numerous times and visit his people as scripture said he would.
      His atoning death and resurrection are of fundamental importance but his other work was similarly important.

      • Martin

        AP

        But Jesus didn’t come to condemn the rulers directly, His ministry is captured in the parable of the great feast, to call those unworthy to the feast.

  • Linus

    The outward Christian is faithful to the inward one. Where there’s hypocrisy, fear, aggression and hatred inside, it always shows on the surface and most certainly comes through in whatever is posted here.

    One of my major obejctions to Christianity is its utter failure to do “what it says on the tin”. It doesn’t perfect its followers. They remain just as fractious and unpleasant as any Atheist or follower of any other religion. If Christians were calm, pleasant people who met aggression with love rather than anger and hatred then the concepts of “fruits of the spirit” and “the transformative power of Christ” would start to mean something. As it is, the gap between the enormous claims of Christianity and its lack of results can only lead an impartial observer to conclude that it just isn’t doing what it’s supposed to. It doesn’t work.

    The proof of the pudding is in its eating and the Christian dish tastes just as bitter and unpleasant as any other. So why order it?

    • sarky

      Spot on!!! Just waiting for all the “we are still imperfect sinful beings before god” answers.

      • Phil R

        We are still imperfect sinful beings before God

        • sarky

          Excuses, excuses 🙂

          • CliveM

            You should have seen what we were like before we became Christians. Some of us have come a long way…………..

          • sarky

            The problem is it works the other way. I have seen perfectly reasonable people become hateful zealots because of christianity.

      • CliveM

        Crawler :9)

      • The Explorer

        Hello again, Linus. and sarky

        An interesting range of issues, and I can’t let sarky down by not responding to them. (Mind you, if we Christians are as you say, I ought to.)

        1. At what stage does Christianity claim to perfect its followers? I think Wesley considered it possible in this life through prevenient grace, but most Christians would say we are perfected only after death. I myself think the Catholic concept of purgatory has much to commend it. Certainly, we would all agree that we are rescued from a fallen condition, and can still have lapses.
        2. Are Christians nicer people than they would be if they were not Christian? I would say yes, knowing some before and after conversion.
        3. Where I live one church runs a food bank, another provides accommodation for the homeless, the Salvation Army collects outside M & S, and there’s a Christian-based hospice that is over-subscribed.
        4. There are speakers at Hyde Park Corner who complain about how repressive Britain is. If it were as bad as they say, they wouldn’t be allowed to say it in the first place. You hear hypocrisy, fear aggression and hatred when it’s there, but you also hear it when it isn’t there.

        • sarky

          Hi explorer,

          In response to your points:

          1. Doesn’t christianity claim that you are reborn a new creation, in the world but not of the world?

          2. Some might be nicer, but I think the evidence shows that they remain pretty much the same.

          3. Charity work is not evidence of change. There are plenty of non christians doing good things.

          4. The problem with christianity is that
          Often fear, aggression and hatred are disguised as love I.e. love the sinner not the sin.

          • The Explorer

            1. You are born again, but a lot depends on your starting point.

            2. In my own case, I would say I was rescued from despair. A profound inner change, but I wasn’t raping or murdering before conversion, so some wouldn’t notice any difference.

            3. I wasn’t claiming charity work as evidence of change: just as evidence of doing good. Statistically, Christians are seven times more likely to give time/money to charity than non-Christians.

            4. True. Also true of Liberals, PC advocates, Marxists, Socialists etc.

          • Anton

            Sort of. We are reborn yet we are still being reborn. Your questions are welcome but please don’t be deterred if some answers are a bit mystical; the deepest issues of the human heart outrun human logic.

            Jesus of Nazareth certainly succeeded in loving the sinner, hating the sin. When he was asked a question he responded according to what was going on in the heart of the asker at least as much as to the words he faced.

          • CliveM

            2. What evidence? It will be interesting to read it.

          • sarky

            You do read the comments on this blog?

          • CliveM

            Indeed I do. Some of the comments make me cringe and angry (but let’s not talk about Linus!!). I don’t agree with all that’s said. Looking back I don’t agree with all I’ve said! But as I don’t know how they would have responded if the hadn’t become Christians I don’t think it’s the evidence you claim it to be.

          • sarky

            People don’t have a character transplant when they become christians. How they respond now is probably how they would have responded before, just from a christian perspective.

          • CliveM

            There is a town in wales where Gays were once well advised not to stand beside a puddle for to long. Now they can do so with impunity!!

          • Phil R

            Yes God can ask anything of you it seems

          • CliveM

            Actually a persons essential character doesn’t change. I don’t cease being who I am. I do hope however that I respond and behave differently.

            I do frequently fail, but occasionally, very occasionally I succeed and surprise the wife!

        • Anton

          I understand why the notion of purgatory came about and regard the usual protestant retort – we are forgiven our sins so no need to work them off – as inadequate. Our propensity to sin still needs dealing with. But I believe that the change is effected not as a process, as the Catholic hierarchy says (and has exploited), but in an instant – the instant we are resurrected with our new bodies. St Paul says to the Corinthians that at that instant we shall be changed. Why should we assume, exegetically, that this change is to body only but not to our character? Increasingly we are understanding today from neuroscience how deeply interconnected are mind and body.

    • Phil R

      As Clive said below, you cannot judge people’s improvement by only knowing and just looking at how they are now.

      I make no claim to be pleasanter than you Linus.

    • Athanasius

      Christians try and fail; atheists don’t try at all. There are far worse sins than hypocrisy and just avoiding that one doesn’t give you a free pass on the others.

      • sarky

        What rubbish! Of course atheists try. We look to improve and be better the same as you. The only difference is we try because it is the right thing to do, not out of fear of a judgemental god.

        • CliveM

          No we do it out of love.

          • sarky

            Love to whom?

          • CliveM

            Sarky I’m sure you can work it out. For the love of God and his son Jesus Christ.

          • sarky

            Thats why it doesn’t work. You need to change for yourselves. For example my kids are constantly at me to give up smoking, but I know that to do it, i need to want to make that change myself.

          • CliveM

            So the love you have for your children won’t act as an incentive in giving up smoking? I know people who say it did.

            Essentially it’s the same thing.

          • sarky

            Not if I don’t want to do it for myself.

          • Anton

            Sarky you are right, and the main reason that many Christians are not so different is that deep down they don’t really want to change. Orwell wrote that in a telling sentence a couple of generations ago. But the difference between Christianity and other faiths is that those of us who really do want to change find that we can’t yet get help to.

          • sarky

            Surely that help comes from the extended support group you get from being part of a church, not from god?
            Like most humans you are more worried about what others think than what god thinks. (Best quit that habit, than have the congregation chattering about you! )

          • Anton

            Sarky, you were the one saying (correctly) that real change has to come from within, no matter how many decent support groups you are part of. Try to make such a change at the deepest level and you will find it is impossible; but God works with believers within themselves. That is my testimony and that of many others.

          • CliveM

            Nothing like a bit of Judgementalism first thing in the morning to get the juices flowing.

          • Phil R

            You do not operate out of complete self interest in life and I am sure you know it.

          • sarky

            Of course, but that’s not we are talking about.

          • Athanasius

            The essential difference between atheists and Christians. Atheists are about themselves, Christians believe themselves part of something bigger. The self-image of the manful ubermensch is a seductive one to be sure, but narcissistic is still narcissistic.

          • sarky

            Again rubbish. Atheists also believe we are part of something bigger, it’s just that the something bigger is different.
            Think you need to do some research on atheism, because every point you make is prejudiced and just plain wrong.

          • Athanasius

            I’m sure it must seem that way to you.

          • sarky

            No, it is just plain wrong.

          • Anton

            Plenty of atheists have voluntarily given their lives in war for their countries.

          • Athanasius

            For an Earth Daddy instead of a Sky Daddy? Sorry if that sounds facetious, but that’s what you get when you don’t follow the logic of your own position, and atheists generally stop following theirs when it begins to become apparent that Hitler may have been mad, but he was, at least, consistent.

          • DanJ0

            That’s a curious statement because I’m forever donating time and money to multiple charities for no obvious return or external pats on the back.

      • Linus

        Are there really far worse sins than hypocrisy? The bible has Christ reserving his most cutting comments for the Pharisees. He’s certainly a lot harsher with them than, for example, with the woman taken in adultery.

        It seems to me that Christians talk a lot about virtue, but when it comes to practicing it, they barely make any effort at all. Except when someone they want to impress is watching them. Considering that their god is supposed to see everything they do, you’d think they’d make more of an effort. Or do they not really believe that their every move is being spied on and judged?

        • CliveM

          Are there sins worse the hypocrisy? I think you know the answer to that. Child rape springs to mind. Murder, abuse? All of these and a lot more as well.

          • Linus

            The wider question is whether there’s a hierarchy of sin at all. But whatever the answer to that, Christ certainly focused on particular sins as being more worthy of condemnation, and first and foremost among these was hypocrisy.

            You may wish to excuse it as a minor transgression that isn’t as bad as murder or child rape, but could that be because you’ve never committed the latter two sins, whereas the former is something you’re slightly more familiar with.

            Familiarity breeds contempt, eh? As an incarnated human Christ must have encountered hypocrisy on a daily basis. Yet he still chose to highlight it as a serious transgression. Why don’t you?

          • The Explorer

            Christ said that first among sins was the sin against the Holy Spirit, for which there could be no forgiveness.

          • Linus,
            You and your fellow atheists are the worst examples of hypocrisy that anyone could possibly find.
            You set yourself to be as unpleasant, sarcastic, bombastic and generally unpleasant as you can possibly be, and then when anyone answers you in your own kind you bleat like fury about Christians being ‘unloving.’
            It’s not big and it’s not clever. Quite apart from being rather transparent and very tedious.

          • William Lewis

            Twas ever thus

          • sarky

            One thinks a nerve may have been hit!

          • Dream on.

          • Linus

            Atheists have no obligation to love anyone. We can be as pleasant or unpleasant as we like and still be Atheists. But Christians are commanded to love others. To turn the other cheek and meet unpleasantness with love.

            The onus is on you to be perfect, not me. I can do what I like. You’re the one who claims there’s a god peering over our shoulders, watching our every move and judging us for it. So why are you incapable of behaving in a manner consistent with that belief?

          • Anton

            Ah, so you admit that atheists unlike theists have no basis for any morality. I and several others spent some time arguing that on this blog with you but you vehemently denied it.

          • Linus

            Oh no! He’s got me!

            Only he hasn’t. His rigid little mind steeped in rigid little dogmas sees any dissimilarity of belief among Atheists as evidence that we lack any moral basis for our beliefs. He maintains that without a central dispensor of morality, there can be no morality. But unfortunately for him, his own religion shows just how erroneous this notion is.

            Morality is a human reaction to the reality of the world around us, and as each individual’s experience of that world can both coincide with and differ from the experiences of other individuals , no two moral codes will ever be absolutely identical. There may be broad themes that are roughly similar between them, but a lot of the detail will differ.

            I know of few better examples of this than Christianity itself with its myriad divisions and denominations and currents of thought. Even the artificial imposition of a central dispensing moral authority hasn’t been able to restrain the natural tendency of humans to base their moral code on their own experience of the world around them.

            Atheists also broadly agree on moral principles, not because they’ve been imposed on us by a central moral authority, but rather because our experience of reality shows us that certain truths are self-evident. In this we are, I believe, significantly more honest than Christians, who want to have their cake and eat it too: a central moral authority who lets them decide great chunks of moral behaviour for themselves. Is divorce moral or not? What about the death penalty? Should priests marry? What about same-sex couples? Is corporal punishment admissible? For each of these questions and many, many more Christians have many different answers. So much for God as the fount of all morality, eh?

          • Anton

            The carpet isn’t going to go down at one of the corners Linus. You can assert that morality is invented by man if you wish but then you have accepted the notion of morality in which case you are not, in your own words, free to “be as pleasant or unpleasant as we like and still be Atheists.”

          • Linus

            More absolutist nonsense from the usual suspect, I see.

            If morality is dispensed from a central source by divine command then all moral laws are of equal significance and must be obeyed equally. But if morality is merely a human response to environmental factors then the same is not true.

            We can say that as pretty much all Atheists believe murder to be wrong and the consequences that flow from it to be very serious indeed, it is generally agreed that murder is immoral. But pleasantness and unpleasantness do not have the same moral imperative attached to them.

            Sure, society seems to work better and the members of society seem to be happier when they’re pleasant to each other. But there are situations where unpleasantness may be the most appropriate response.

            For example, when a bunch of superstitious and benighted religious obsessives are attempting to murder you for being gay, or deny you your human rights because you’re gay, or pass laws that discriminate against you because you’re gay. In those situations unpleasantness is the best response than because it signals your displeasure at their actions and warns both them and others that you will meet attempts to harm you with force and resistance.

            As a gay Atheist I feel no moral imperative to be pleasant to people whose fond wish is that I cease to exist as the person I am and either transform into the person they want me to be, or be punished for being different for the rest of my life. Being pleasant to them would signal to the world that their immoral beliefs and actions are OK, or at least not that serious. Being unpleasant to them shows my disapproval and my determination to expose them as the deluded hypocrites they really are.

            So unpleasantness is not necessarily an immoral act. When it’s gratuitous it might be. If there’s no good reason to disrupt social harmony then there’s no good excuse for unpleasantness. But when social harmony has already been blown to pieces by a group fighting to maintain and even extend the power of its arbitrary religion over society, pleasantness must give way to more robust forms of defence.

          • Anton

            You are confusing the personal and the political. I aim to get on well with people whose views about various subjects I deplore. It makes for a better world. Please try it.

          • Linus

            The political is personal. When religious zealots campaign for the right to discriminate against me, it’s very personal indeed.

            Straights who have no horse in the race can afford to take a detached view of their calls to stigmatise and discriminate against the LGBT community. Win or lose it doesn’t affect their lives. But it does affect ours.

            So the next time you glibly advocate repealing the equal marriage laws and are surprised when your gay opponents get angry and upset at the suggestion, try putting yourself in their shoes for five minutes.

            Of course I don’t imagine for a moment that you will. What do real people and their real lives count for when your precious dogma is at stake?

          • Anton

            Linus, we Christians know what it is to be discriminated against. We read our history of the early church. We hear the testimonies of Chinese Christians and Christians living under Islam today. We are aware of laws against “religious extremism” put through by secular legislators who haven’t the guts to mention Islam by name and which catch some of our brothers because the politically correct police leave the Muslims alone on grounds of “community cohesion”.

            And how do we respond? At the political level, by campaigning politically. At the personal level, by loving our enemy – who might very well be living next door. The point of forgiveness is not for the other person’s sake, to save him from being attacked by you, but to prevent yourself from becoming bitter. It does not disqualify one from vigorous rhetoric, as Jesus showed.

            It is an erroneous view of secular leftists that everything is political.

          • Linus

            You do have a bee in your bonnet about Chinese Christians, don’t you? Do they enable you to live vicarious dreams of persecution and Christian martyrdom without the inconvenience of having to experience these things yourself?

            As the head Anglican witchdoctor himself has said, Christians are not persecuted in Britain. They wail and gnash their teeth and tear their hair whenever anyone contradicts them and they cry persecution of course. But they’re just playing a part. Their holy book tells them they will be persecuted, so persecuted they are determined to be.
            No matter how ludicrous and melodramatic the claim. Who needs drama queens when there are Christians who’ll swoon and wail and beat their breasts whenever the tiniest little thing doesn’t go their way?

            That’s the Christian response to any sort of disagreement. Whenever anyone disputes their claims, the cries of persecution begin. On both a public and personal level. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re told you will be persecuted, so any negative reaction to your insults and attempts to impose your religion on the rest of us are treated as perscution. It would be rather comical if it weren’t for the fact that in your delusional state you take your own claims quite seriously. It is written therefore it must be and if there’s no evidence then you’re obliged to make it up as you go along. Everything must be sacrificed to your delusion. Truth, honour and every interest (except your own, of course).

            Religion is politics. It’s the politics of delusion, manipulation and control. You don’t love your neighbour, you just want to use him as coin to buy your salvation. “See Christ!” you’ll say on judgment day. “I was really nice to this miserable neighbour of mine and constantly harangued him with bible quotes so he would stop being the horrible person he is and start being perfect like me. And look what else I suffered for your sake. I had to experience the agony of seeing same sex couples get married without being able to stop them. What worse pain could there be? Not being allowed to dictate to others how they should live their lives was beyond endurable! After all, you made me in your image so you can hardly be surprised that I suffer when reminded of my lack of omnipotence. Now, what do I get for all my pain and suffering? Come on, pay up…”

            That’s the reality of Christian politics. What’s in it for me and how will my actions get me the reward I know I deserve?

            Is there anything more selfish – and more political – than a Christian?

          • Anton

            Sure I’m interested in the Chinese church. The largest nation in the world – 1/4 of the world’s population – has moved in one lengthy human lifetime from animism to total secularism (though with idolatry of Mao) and in that fertile soil of discontent the gospel has taken root. Only a small percentage – as the New Testament suggests the true church will always be (and therefore not political); but given the population of China that is the largest movement of Christianity in 1900 years. Of course I’m interested. As for persecution, it guarantees that every self-confessed believer is deeply committed, which is not the case here. As well as Chinese Christians I pray for my persecuted brethren in Islamic lands. You deny that there is persecution of Christians in Britain and compared to Islamic lands and North Korea it is negligible, but it is not zero. As for my own attitude, it probably runs parallel to a prayer of Augustine’s, something like “Lord, persecute me, but not yet”. (Augustine’s was “Lord make me chaste, but not yet.”) So by all means accuse me of hypocrisy about that. I admit it, because of my imperfections. Admitting your imperfections is a key part of Christianity.

            What about your hypocrisy? You are not a Christian so, as you correctly point out, I may not hold you to the same standards as you hold us; but if you believe in “do as you would be done by” then do your hot words towards Christians match up?

          • Linus

            You’re free to criticize me, and you avail yourself of every opportunity to do so. So let’s not pretend that your behaviour is any different than mine. Do as you would have others do unto you indeed! You’re free with your denunciation of Atheists. Why act all surprised when an Atheist denounces you?

            In general I refrain from offering opinions I haven’t been asked for. But not here. This site exists to attack and criticize the secular state to which I owe my freedom to live, love and marry as I choose. By doing so it advocates active discrimination against me. As a target of Christian hatred, I believe I have a right of reply.

            Of course like many Christians you probably don’t believe in giving those you attack any such right. It’s a pity for you this site doesn’t block dissident commenters. But as long as I’m able to comment here, I will. Well, at least until I lose interest in the daily diet of far right-wing nonsense mixed with religious mumbo-jumbo … and who can tell when that might be?

            Christians are a bit like McDonalds – they’re bland, indigestible and cause both obesity of the mind and atrophy of reason. If you have too much to do with them, one day an especially toxic one will just turn your stomach and you won’t be able to look at them for years afterwards without feeling a wave of nausea rush over you.

            I’m not there yet. But there are certainly rumblings. Good thing I have a cast iron stomach and regularly innoculate myself with doses of fromage au lait cru. Penicillin as an antidote for obscurantism … now there’s an opportunity the state is missing out on. Perhaps schoolchildren should receive a daily ration of unpasteurised cheese on the principle that a Munster a day keeps the priest away.

          • Anton

            No, Linus, I do not criticise your person. Whatever others here have done, I am careful to criticise your views, if vigorously. If you identify with your views so closely that you regard them as part of your identity, I can’t help that; you can always change your views, and to me the distinction is clear.

            Please answer my question put to you above: if you believe in “do as you would be done by” then do your hot words towards Christians match up?

            You and I are both here on the basis that the blog owner permits us, and that is fine by me.

          • Linus

            I have answered your question. I believe in doing until others as they do unto me, which explains my attitude towards Christians perfectly. You don’t hesitate to attack me. So why expect me to be all meek and mild in return. Do you not believe your own propaganda?

          • Anton

            I attack your views. You attack character.

          • Linus

            What have you just done if not attack my character.

            You are dishonest. You attack my character via my views and directly also. And you think that saying “I don’t attack character” hides this?

            Christian speak with forked tongue.

          • Anton

            Your views are not your character. If you think they are, you identify too closely with them. You cannot change your character – at least in the short term – but you can change your views very quickly.

            I am genuinely hoping that you understand the distinction between attacking someone’s views and attacking their character. But if you don’t then I believe the readers of this blog will.

          • Linus

            I understand the distinction very clearly, but I also understand when someone tries to engage in character assassination by accusing me of doing the very thing he is attempting to do under the cover (such as it is) of his own accusations.

            You can’t accuse me of attacking character without accusing yourself of the same crime. Undet the guise of criticizing a behaviour you’re actually suggesting that there’s something wrong with me, which is an attack on my character. So your accusations impugn you just as much as they do me.

            This is a common problem with Christians. They believe they’re arguing from a position of unassailable moral virtue, but if they took a step backwards and saw themselves how others see them, i.e. as partisan individuals with entrenched personal opinions rather than messengers of God and his “absolute truth”, they might understand why the rest of the world views them as rank hypocrites.

            I have no faith that the readers of this blog will understand this. Their intelligence, such as it is, is severely handicapped by religious bigotry and absolutist thinking, so they remain blind to anything they don’t want to see. But anyone who looks will see you and name you for what you are: another Christian hypocrite deluded by his far-fetched fairy stories into believing he can say what he likes about anyone, but if they say anything about him they’re evil and will burn in hell.

            This is what happens when superstition infests a weak mind and takes it over. It’s a sad thing to see, but then object lessons usually are.

          • Anton

            I still think you don’t understand the difference. If you want me to engage in character assassination rather than argument against your views, to show you the difference, I will. There is plenty wrong with you, just as there is with me and with every other human being on earth.

          • If I could behave in that way, the Bible would not be true.

          • Linus

            Christians are only forgiven if truly repentant. And true repentance involves at least an attempt to sin no more.

            Look at your comments here. Full of anger and pride and attacks against those who disagree with you. Where’s the repentance? Where’s the resolution to do better? Where are the fruits of the spirit that show you improving and becoming a better person, less angry, less argumentative, less apt to take a difference of opinion and use it as a weapon to cudgel your opponent around the head with?

            It’s Christians like you who show your religion to be nothing more than empty words. It doesn’t make you a better person. You talk endlessly about your faith but you behave no differently to anyone else. You might feel slightly guilty about your many and varied transgressions and from time to time ask for forgiveness and then feel relieved because you believe the slate has been wiped clean, but has it been? If you carry on exactly as you were before without any intention of modifying your behaviour, have you really been forgiven? How can you be forgiven when your repentance is false, as proved by its utter inability to modify your behaviour?

            Christianity cannot simply be accepted on faith by any intelligent being. Its fantastic claims need to be examined and verified. That they don’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny should be evident for anyone to see. Where are all these saintly Christians whose behaviour shows clear evidence of fruits of the spirit? Fractious, proud, aggressive, opinionated, intolerant and unloving Christians are 10 a penny. But if their religion has even a modicum of truth to it, this quite simply should not be so.

            Like I said before, Christianity quite simply does not do what it says on the tin. It should make me want to be like you. Believe me when I say it does not.

          • Linus,
            You think I’m angry with you but I’m not; I’m actually sad. You have been told by me an by several others the way of salvation, but you are not interested because you are dead in trespasses and sin. You have nothing to say that is constructive or even intelligent, but you are snarky, blasphemous, rude and offensive and not even a tiny bit clever. In such circumstances, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself tells us, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine” (Matt. 7:6).
            .
            Forgiveness is right in front of you, staring you in the face, but all you can do is mock. Therefore the Holy Spirit says to you the words of Proverbs 1:24-33. Go and look them up. My strong advice to you is to throw yourself on the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe, even now, it is not too late.

          • Linus

            Let’s examine this logically, shall we?

            If there really is a God and my presence here is an example of him drawing an unbeliever into a situation where believers can convert him, how should I react to you?

            What do I see? A man of incredible pride and self-belief who claims to have all the answers and who also claims not to angered by my rejection of his unproven certainties even when they don’t stand up to logical analysis. He then proceeds to back up his claim not to be angry with a litany of angry personal abuse that drips with disdain and hatred rather than the love and compassion for his fellow man that he claims to feel, but somehow can’t seem to manage to show.

            What does this man have to offer me? A prime example of how religious obsession addles the brain, inflates the ego and makes a stupid man even stupider and a man proud of himself despite having no discernable talents to be proud of. If there is a God, perhaps he’s drawn me here to witness the profound ignorance and stupidity of those who claim to follow him when what they really worship is themselves.

            YOU have something for me, do you? Perhaps you do. A salutary warning about the dangers of religious mania and how it prospers in the absence of intelligence to produce braindead zealots like yourself.

          • You can call it tough love if you like. Or anything else you want.
            You are not here to hear about Christ, you are not hear to learn, you only come here to scoff and mock, and then you come over all hurt when someone won’t play your games.
            When and if you want to hear about the Gospel, you will find any number of people, including myself, ready to take endless pains to help you, but that isn’t what you want. You just want to mock and bleat (in that order), and the Bible has a great deal to say about mockers, especially in the Book of Proverbs, none of it very nice.

          • Linus

            I’m here to provide another point of view, which is something that Christians can’t tolerate so they call it mocking or bleating and attempt to paint anyone who won’t kowtow to them and their myths as evil.

            You’re right when you say I’m not here to learn anything more about your imaginary god. What would the point be? He’s a figment of your imagination so there’s nothing to learn, except more than I care to about the dark and twisted meanderings of your limited and obsessive mind and the fictional characters that inhabit it.

            The details of your delusion won’t persuade me it’s true any more than some deranged Tolkien fan’s insistence that I read all of the short story fragments left behind by his hero and all of the analyses and reviews ever written about his work will persuade me that Gandalf the Grey walks among us. Fairy stories remain fairy stories no matter how much their devotees wish them to be true.

            Want me to believe in your god? Show me some evidence that he’s real instead of constantly harping on about how your book of myths somehow proves the truth of everything you say. “It is written in the bible” simply means it is written in the bible. It does not place the truth of what is written there beyond doubt. To do that you have to make the dogmatic decision to believe based not on reasoned analysis and examination of convincing evidence, of which there is none, but solely upon an emotional act of will.

            You believe in god because you want to believe. Just like a child who believes in Santa Claus because he wants to believe. And that’s just about how seriously I take you: as seriously as a stubborn, recalcitrant child whose only reponse to his elders’ revelation that Santa isn’t real is to stick his fingers in his ears and shout “he is! he is! and you’re just mean!”

            Honestly, between the tantrums of infants and the Christians who behave like them, it’s a wonder you haven’t all fallen out with each other and gone off to sulk in your corner.

            Ah, but I forgot – that’s essentially what the Church of England is, isn’t it? And all the other denominations sulking in their corners and scweaming and scweaming about how their version of the fairy story is the only true version and everyone else is wrong!

          • Thank you for that, Linus. It speaks volumes.
            ‘You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.’ No seek, no find.

          • Linus

            And there you have the lunacy of Christians explained in a nutshell.

            If you obsess as hard as you can about Christianity’s imaginary god, the delusion that he actually exists will eventually fill your mind.

            Humans can talk themselves into anything, no matter how fictional, as long as there’s something in it for them.

            Be nice and follow God’s rules and you’ll get your reward in heaven. Don’t and you’ll be sorry.

            It’s that kind of carrot, stick and whip philosophy that leads men far up the garden path into the wilds of bigotry and the abuse of power. Look at all the Christian homophobes, racists, sexists and xenophobes. Look at the systematic abuse and rape of children by the priesthood. All excused by repentance and empty promises never to do it again – until the next time, at least. That’s the great thing about an imaginary god. You can bend him to your will and get him to forgive your worst excesses. All you have to do is say sorry.

            When I look at the utter hypocrisy of the Church and the selfish and self-congratulatory attitude of most Christians, the pathological nature of Christianity becomes very clear. The true statement of Christian being should be: “O woe is me, poor sinner that I am, but God doesn’t mind as long as I say sorry, and really he loves me, so if I flatter and praise him in the most sycophantic way possible then I’ll get my reward in heaven, and the devil take everyone else…”

            Do I want to exist in this state of co-dependent lunacy? No, I do not. Even if Christianity offered me some kind of life rather than a prison sentence of eternal solitary confinement, why would I want to give myself over to an obsession with something that doesn’t exist? I have the salutary example of Christians like Martin Marprelate to show me what happens when delusion takes you over and starts to rule your life. Why would I want to be like him? Permanently angry at a world that just won’t fall at his feet and follow him like the messenger of God he knows himself to be.

            Oh well, at least he has the satisfaction of imagining us burning in hell. Oblivion awaits him just like it awaits us all, but dreams are free and if he can beguile his otherwise pointless little existence with visions of himself blown up to divine proportions and wreaking vengeance on anyone who ever annoyed or contradicted him, that’s probably better than the depression and alienation that so many of the weak-minded and mediocre
            otherwise fall prey to.

          • Phil R

            The problem with the Pharisees was that they added to God’s law.

            Jesus condemned them not because the followed God law well, they did, but because they thought that God owed them for doing so.

            To Jesus that was worse than not following the law at all and especially so in view of their leadership role.

          • CliveM

            Linus

            You keep pointing out our faults. Maybe that’s Gods purpose for you.

            Have a Happy Easter and may your eggs be of good Belgium chocolate.

          • Linus

            And a plague on your house too!

            Belgian chocolate? You’ve got to be kidding. I think there may even be a law against the vile stuff. Or if there isn’t, there should be.

            A confection in which the two main ingredients are sugar and vegetable fat with only a homeopathic amount of cocoa powder added just for the colour should not rightly be called chocolate. Call it sugarlate. Or greaselate. But whatever you call it, please don’t wish it on me.

            I will of course have a very happy Spring Break and my equinox eggs will all be made of real French chocolate, 80% minimum, black, bitter and just as your God would have intended chocolate to be had he been real rather than just a figment of your imagination.

          • CliveM

            So no Cadburys Cream Eggs then!

          • dannybhoy

            I got mine from Morrisons; two on special offer..
            Synthetic chocolate and evilly invert sugar with execrable e colourings.
            Mmmmmm-hm!
            Lovely!

          • CliveM

            Hotel Chocolat for us!

          • Linus

            Ouch! There’s low, and then there’s so low that you can’t go any lower. Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are situated somewhere below that. Below the deepest pit of your imaginary hell. You can’t prove that God exists, but Cadbury’s Creme Eggs may well be all the proof needed to confirm that Satan walks among us. Who else could have inspired their invention?

            I tried one once in the 1970s when visiting my mother’s family in England. One of my fat little piggy English cousins slipped it into my hand and told me I’d love it. I didn’t. I was promptly sick all over the drawing room carpet. The rage of my aunt was equalled only by my father’s indignation that one of her children had tried to poison me. In the ensuing mêlée the offending cousin, who was laughing so hard he couldn’t keep his balance, keeled over into the pool of brown sick and, recoiling in horror, knocked over an antique Sheraton trépied with something hideous but expensive from Wedgwood or some other second-rate English potter perched precariously on top of it. Both ended up on the floor in pieces. The cousin started to wail. Ma tante est tombée dans les pommes …

            Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are evil. They provoke tears and fainting fits and family feuds that last for years. They should be banned, and not just because they’re unfit for human consumption. Beelzebub clearly had a hand in their creation. Aren’t you Christians supposed to avoid eating food that has been sacrificed to idols?

          • dannybhoy

            . I was promptly sick all over the drawing room carpet
            Ha!
            You were so determined you weren’t going to like it you decided you would throw up in order to prove your point..
            I had a year in Switzerland and any number of holidays in France.
            Take it from me, French snails covered in the finest French chocolate still resemble semi set snot covered in French chocolate…

          • Linus

            No, I was sick because it was Christmas and I had eaten far too much revoltingly sweet English candy already, which included something quite horrifying called “Fry’s Turkish Delight”, a sort of a gloopy pinkish attempt at an Arab loucoum covered in greasy milk chocolate and so sweet that after a single bite I was already in the throes of a pre-diabetic sugar crisis. The Cabury’s Creme Egg was simply the last straw.

            And I hope you’re not telling me you had real escargots covered in chocolate. You can get chocolates in the shape of an escargot with a praline filling. They can be quite nice when made by a reputable chocolatier, although if you buy them in a supermarket they’re probably Belgian and therefore unfit for human consumption. But if you’re saying the filling was slimy, they were probably hand made by a dodgy chocolatier who didn’t know how to make a proper butter cream ganache. Unsurprising if you purchased them in Switzerland, where chocolate is almost (but not quite) as awful as the Belgian variety.

            If you did eat real escargots covered in chocolate then someone was pulling your leg. Playing a trick on ‘les pauvres Rosbifs incultes’ probably. Were they garlic flavoured? What a treat that would have been to watch!

          • dannybhoy

            And I hope you’re not telling me you had real escargots covered in chocolate. You can get chocolates in the shape of an escargot with a praline filling.

            No, that was a windup.
            I have had your miserable praline shellfish/snaily things, and frankly they aren’t that brill. You have to be prepared to pay rather more for a superior chocolate.which admittedly prove to be much better than our English ones.
            I love chocolate and real Italian ice cream!

            Cadburys has indeed gone downhill, but I am old enpugh to remember Frys chocolate and the original Black Magic boxes of chocolates..
            Fry’s turkish delight is admittedly awful now.
            Garlic (which I learned to enjoy in Israel) remanisns a culinary favourite but the wife and I prefer it with Italian dishes, and I really enjoy a cheese fondue a la Suisse..!

            Sorry to say it Frenchie, but I think French cuisine is tres overrated..

          • Anton

            “Belgian chocolate? You’ve got to be kidding. I think there may even be a law against the vile stuff. Or if there isn’t, there should be.”

            Probably there will be soon, in the land of Liberte. Protectionist economics after the euro breaks up and all that. It is soon going to be a crime to be too thin if you want to get paid to put clothes on:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32127681

          • dannybhoy

            Hear Hear Clive old pal.
            May I join you in wishing our ‘resident Frenchie critic’ a happy and meaningful Easter, and thank you Linus for persevering with your attempts to change us miserable wretches..

          • Linus

            I don’t want to change you. I’m quite happy to see you continue on as miserable wretches because that’s what you choose to be. I’m a great believer in personal sovereignty. Your choice, your life.

            My purpose here is merely to point out your hypocrisies, inconsistencies and delusions so that any gay people who stray onto this site will have access to another point of view about Christianity.

          • dannybhoy

            “My purpose here is merely to point out your hypocrisies, inconsistencies and delusions so that any gay people who stray onto this site will have access to another point of view about Christianity.”

            Ermm, I think we’ve finally got that Linus.
            Notice very few of us make as much of an issue of homosexuality as you do. I do respect your views but you are rather beginning to resemble the atheistic version of St Paul… 🙂

            Btw, did you see the Pick TV programme “Forbidden Love” broadcast Monday night 11pm.
            Although confusingly, it was titled ” My husband is Gay”
            Good programme.
            http://www.tvguide.co.uk/detail/2053136/106782722/forbidden-love

          • Linus

            I don’t live in the UK so I can’t watch British television.

            I can download things from the BBC onto my iPad. I try to watch the odd series or two or a film every now and again to keep my English up to scratch. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

            If the program you mentioned is available for download, I may take a look, although I don’t have much time for the bleatings of gays who marry women and then have “nervous breakdowns”, which can apparently only be treated by having lots of anonymous and unsafe sex with random men in seedy backrooms, and then passing on whatever STD they pick up to their unsuspecting spouses and possibly even the children they manage to sire on them.

            When these men start posing as victims, my blood starts to boil. I end up shouting “grow a pair!” at the TV and switching off in anger and frustration. They plough through the lives of innocent people using their “anguish” as an excuse for what amounts to no more than selfish, self-interested behaviour. You don’t marry a woman because you hope she’ll turn you straight. You marry her because you love her and want to spend the rest of your life with her.

            Let these men man up, drop the internalized homophobia and take responsibility for their lives and their actions! Putain de merde … !!!

          • dannybhoy

            ..although I don’t have much time for the
            bleatings of gays who marry women and then have “nervous breakdowns”,

            Rants! / Bleats! / Exhortations! / Blood boiling! / Shouting!!

            My goodness me Linus, you are a grump!
            And judgmental may I add.
            As well as overly quick to rush to condemn too.
            Strange that. I would have thought from your atheistic pov you would be all for people seeking personal happiness?

            The programme focusses on two couples; one in the wilds of Yorkshire, and the other in the US although I can’t remember where.
            The young English couple have three little children. The wife knew he was gay from the start. He was refreshingly honest and they both talked very openly about their feelings. They had children together in the way God intended, although he admitted to finding it ‘difficult.’

            The American couple were much older, been married over 20 years, have three teenage children, and he came out to his wife and them about three years ago.

            He was (I thought) somewhat dishonest as he knew he was gay but wanted an ordinary life, wanted to be heterosexual. So although I could understand his reasoning I felt he should have told have told his wife right from the start. I felt that the wife was struggling to come to terms with it really. That was pretty sad.

            Please note that neither couple were Christian, so it was a straightforward sociological study with no overtly religious message.
            The other thing is that although you may be scornful I would say everyone has a right to seek happiness, even gay men who want to try and make a relationship with a woman work.

            I hope you get the chance to see it.

          • Linus

            We all have a right to seek happiness, but not at the expense of others. If a man who knows he’s gay marries a woman hoping to conceal his sexual orientation from the world, or hoping that being married to a woman will somehow miraculously make him straight, he’s using her as a means to an end. If the woman knows he’s gay when she marries him, then she’s using him for whatever reasons she may have. Maybe she hopes she can change him. Maybe she just wants him on whatever terms she can have him. Who knows what motivates that kind of a decision? Who would want to know?

            Of course couples with differing sexual orientations have a right to enter into whatever legal arrangement suits them, and no matter how little it may be founded on love, I suppose it is a form of marriage. But it’s one that leaves me cold.

            I speak from experience. I once knew a married couple where the husband was gay and his wife knew but refused to acknowledge the situation. He made a move on me and seemed quite put out when I rejected his advances. It was all about him, you see. He thought it was quite reasonable to be married to a woman and have a male lover on the side. It wasn’t his fault. Society expected him to be married to a woman and have children.

            What a loser! If you can’t take responsibility for your own actions, you deserve everything you get.

          • dannybhoy

            “We all have a right to seek happiness, but not at the expense of others
            But what if both parties are aware? I found something for you a few months ago which drove you into a similar rant, wherein both parties (this time Christian) married and raised a family together.
            This young couple in Yorkshire respected each other enough as individuals to commit. He said that he really wanted to be a father. and he wanted the children to have a mother and father.
            I respect that. He was willing to give up his natural proclivities and commit to a woman and be a husband and a father.
            Now to my mind it is the honesty which is honourable. Although he had been very promiscuous, he saw in his wife someone who loved him regardless and with whom he could share his innermost self with.
            Whatever the reasons behind it Linus, I think men (generally) tend to be more selfish than (most) women.
            I think men and women want different things out of life, but in the main they are complementary ‘wants’ that with a little bit of honesty and empathy can be met by both partys for both partys.
            For instance I have no hestitation in admitting that my wife is more talented, more educated and more giving than I am. It’s just not a problem for me because I am proud of her and her accomplishments, and I guess somehow or other I contribute something that she values and loves me for.

            Now you know that I wouldn’t deliberately hurt or insult you, but it seems to me that a promiscuous gay man is acting just like a promiscuous heterosexual male but even more so.
            My guess is (and again I am not trying to insult) that for some gay people in their innermost being they are also searching for something (which they have convinced themselves) they will find in sex.
            I think that ‘something’ is only realised in a deep and loyal relationship with someone you truly love and who truly loves you.
            Do you remember that line in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge
            “The greatest thing in all the world is to love and be loved in return.”
            Thanks though, for staying on here and sharing something of yourself. Have a good and memorable Easter Linus.

          • dannybhoy

            Just another observation, I personally hate the term ‘loser’.
            To me no one is a loser; only that they have failed to find that which would make them truly happy.
            To label someone a loser is to rob them of their intrinsic value as a human being.

          • CliveM

            I agree, people need to take responsibility for their own actions and not whine about the outcome.

    • Anton

      Linus, you are looking at self-proclaimed Christians in one culture. It’s not like that in China where believers are persecuted and there is no history that involves abuses of power like the inquisition.

      • Linus

        So Chinese Christians are perfect, are they?

        I don’t know any so I can’t comment. But I’d be very surprised to learn that they’re any different from the rest of the Chinese. Some are probably lovely, others will be unpleasant and most will be somewhere in between.

        So again, how does that prove any kind of divine force at work in their lives? And why in the West do human actions like persecution and the inquisition render that force unnoticeable? Are you saying that humans are stronger – or at least just as strong as – god?

        That’s one strange deity you have there. He’s invisible, his actions have no measurable effect on anyone and even if they did, our actions would cancel them out anyway. It’s a very strange notion of omnipotence. Impotence would seem to be a much more apt way to describe it.

        • Anton

          I’m suggesting that persecution is a guarantee that everybody in a congregation will be serious about Jesus rather than careerists or people who attend for cultural reasons. As for proof, what would you accept?

          • preacher

            Anton. I wouldn’t bother to waste your time trying to explain or enlighten those that don’t really want to know the truth.
            Sorry brother but you are just wasting your time.
            Best to be like the Lord who was silent in front of Pilate & Herod.
            Seek those that really want the answers & provide them.

          • Anton

            Yes, but this is a public forum and I am interested not only in Linus’ faith but in that of His Grace’s readership.

          • preacher

            Fair enough brother, it’s your call.
            Blessings. P.

          • sarky

            If that’s the case your going to have to look bloody hard!

          • preacher

            Lol. well you wouldn’t know would you brother, because you’ve never tried. Have a nice life my friend, I’m going to take my own advice to Anton. You must choose to go your own way. GBWY.

    • Uncle Brian

      Not much has changed since Spinoza’s day, then. Here’s what he wrote in 1670:

      I have often wondered that persons who make boast of professing the Christian religion – namely love, joy, peace, temperance, and charity to all men – should quarrel with such rancorous animosity and display daily towards one another such bitter hatred, that this, rather than the virtues which they profess, is the readiest criterion of their faith.

      • Linus

        If nothing has changed since Spinoza’s day, where’s the evidence of all this improvement that the Holy Spirit is supposed to work on the lives of Christians? 300 years of accumulated fruits of the spirit should have resulted in better parents raising better children so that the Christian youth of today should be darned near perect. Or at least visibly improved. But they’re not.

        Why not? If the spirit is acting, where are the positive results?

        • CliveM

          Actually Linus it is unarguable that Christianity has improved life immeasurably. If you want to see the fruits of the spirit look around you.

          It was the Church who first started the job of addressing the violent,martial charector of society 1500 years ago. It was the Church who said stop this isn’t right, when towns were ransacked, the Children killed and the women raped. Prior to Christianity these were simply accepted spoils of war. It was Christianity that attacked the foundations of slavery. It was Christianity that established the foundations for society caring for the old, the infirm, the disabled. It was the Church that for many years alone cared, fed, clothed these people. It was Christianity that helped establish the rule of law, by establishing the principle that no one was exempt from Gods law and judgement.

          These are the fruits of the spirit, bequeathed to western society over 1500 years of Christianity. Have their been failures, yes? Has the Church always acted the way it should, no. But God has changed the character of these lands, so that we less brutal, violent, dismissive of human life and are now more caring, generous and peaceful then any society before. This is no heaven on earth. There is still lots to be done. But Christ’s spirit has made wonderful changes. And if you want to see what we would have been like without Gods spirit, look at the ME or other counties that haven’t been so blessed.

          • magnolia

            An excellent post that takes the longer view. We take for granted those things which have come through our Christian inheritance, and it is not until you encounter pre-Christian culture that you are brought up short to realise just what a difference it makes.

            For me one of these occasions was watching the Oedipus plays. You see such a miserable world view in action. As you do with some atheist and agnostic writers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Hardy.

            A

        • The Explorer

          Spinoza himself was hardly in a position to talk. He seems to have riled up his fellow Jews so much they tried to poison him. There was, arguably, also a contempt in Spinoza towards those who were not intellectuals: ie, most of the human race. Not a very pleasant specimen, even for a philosopher.

          The question of improvement is a very interesting one. It’s not the model of ‘Revelation’, where history is the ongoing contrast between the People of the Beast and the People of the Lamb, and both groups are present in every age until the Last Judgment. The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares is another example of the same idea: both will grow side by side, and the tares will be eliminated only at the end of time.

        • dannybhoy

          The Holy Spirit is at work wherever God’s people are open and obedient. It may be ‘high viz’, it may be humble and quiet.
          The Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of Christians changing them changing attitudes. You don’t know where people were at when they became Christians. Some might have been into drugs or drink, in prison, depressed, empty -all sorts of conditions.
          No Christian is perfected in this life, but many will be transformed. Think of the salve trader John Newton for example..
          http://abolition.e2bn.org/people_35.html

          General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army..
          http://www.gospeltruth.net/booth/boothbioshort.htm

          William Carey who spent many years in India translating the Bible
          http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/bcarey6.html

          There’s loads of them Linus.
          None of them perfect but all of them used by God.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Were John Newton’s salves as good as everything else he eventually did?

            Sorry, couldn’t resist…

          • dannybhoy

            You got me baffled there Dominic
            Did you mean ‘slaves’?
            In which case… I still don’t get it!

          • Dominic Stockford

            “Think of the salve trader John Newton…”

            salve1 salv/
            noun 1.
            an ointment used to promote healing of the skin or as protection.

            “the wound should be washed with water and then a salve applied”

            synonyms:ointment, cream, balm, unction, unguent, balsam, pomade, rub,embrocation, emollient, liniment

            “lip salve”

          • dannybhoy

            Ha ha! Very good Dominic..
            You have sharp eyes and I was slow to catch on. (Probably being a bit pompous)

    • Ivan M

      And if they are calm, collected and reasonable as the Ashers you would still find something to object, this time no doubt their zealotry in defence of their right not to pander to faggots . If you are going to play the Devil’s Advocate at least do it with a modicum of honesty.

      • Linus

        There are calm and loving Christian, but they’re the exception rather than the rule. And there are just as many calm and loving Atheists and people of other faiths.

        If Christianity did what it claims to do, you would expect calmness and love to be standard Christian behaviour. At the very least, you’d expect Christians to be better than everyone else.

        But they’re not. As your own comment illustrates, a Christian is just as likely as anyone else to hurl abusive and offensive epithets at his opponents. Christians don’t turn the other cheek any more than anyone else does.

        Believing in your god doesn’t make you better people. It just lets you off the hook for your bad behaviour. Nothing about Christians provides any evidence that a divine force for good is at work in their lives. They may well be “works in progress”, but if so, progress is so slow as to be entirely invisible. Is that the best this miracle worker of a god of yours can do?

        Not very impressive, is it?

        • magnolia

          Were your descriptions of female British teachers as peering through thick milky lenses and having bad breath and bad clothes an example of “calm and loving” atheism in action? Or any other of the many unflattering caricatures of various groups you dislike an example of this? Or your descriptions of the British generally or of Christians for that matter?

          I am just wondering as you seem so keen on not being hypocritical and on being kind and gentle to the whole world.
          Or is consistency only to be sought from Christians?

          But then if you did say that you would be making a distinction of expecting higher standards, when you have just claimed that those standards are held by all? Makes no sense, does it?

          • Linus

            I never claimed that Atheism was calm or loving. But you claim that Christianity is both of those things.

            If I act in ways that are neither calm nor loving I’m not acting against any basic Atheist belief. But if you act in these ways, you defy your God and fail to live up what you claim to believe in. You become a hypocrite who preaches peace and love and practices war and hatred.

            It’s your religion, you live up to it. There’s no obligation laid on me to be a better Christian than you. I’m not a Christian. You are. So why can’t you act like one?

          • magnolia

            But a hypocrite is a person who lives in a glass house and throws stones. In other words if you use cruel words against another, to the extent that your own words are cruel and harsh, you lose the moral right to criticise those who are more moderate. All beliefs you happen to hold or not hold aside.

        • William Lewis

          On the contrary. I know many people, myself included, who have come to follow Christ having initially been drawn by the character and behaviour of Christians.

        • Ivan M

          They are not the exceptions, they are the rule. When it comes to loving the neighbour, the Christian has less to answer for than any other type on the personal level, which is what should count rather than some cheap verbiage. You are free to dislike them, but don’t sweat it when you are called to account for your hypocrisy. Unless I am mistaken – in which case I apologise – didn’t you on another thread hope that the Ashers are taken to the cleaners or rolled over by the government machinery or both altogether? Is this your idea of what should happen to ordinary people going about their business?

          • Ivan M

            Turn to Jesus and make Him your friend Linus. It is all right if you keep up your snarky tone here. But when alone in your bed with no one around, it is only Almighty God who can comfort you.

            And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

          • Linus

            Ordinary people going about their business should honour the contracts they enter into with their customers and not renege on their obligations using religion as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

          • Ivan M

            Still going on like ELIZA, the computer program? Find something better to do with you time, son.

  • preacher

    In my experience, There’s a lot of difference between a man born blind & a guy walking about with a blindfold, a white stick, dark glasses & a guide dog.

    One can’t see, the other doesn’t want to see. For reasons best known to himself, the fake wants to pose as blind, for sympathy or to appear stoic or maybe to be able to turn a ‘blind eye’ to things he secretly approves of or openly enjoys.
    With his ‘infirmity’ he has an excuse for falling & can criticise others who can see for their perceived failings.
    He wanders about being a nuisance to all that he meets, initially they feel sorry for him, with his harsh & bitter attitude. But eventually they tire of him & avoid him Some have kindly offered to remove his blindfold so he can see, but are met with blunt rebuffs & excuses “What if I let you take the blindfold off & I really can’t see?” or something other excuse.
    There are two main types of blindness – Physical & Spiritual. Some unfortunates are born Physically blind, all people are born spiritually blind, but as they grow their sight can be restored. It’s rather like puppies or kittens, born blind but with the potential to open their eyes.
    There are instances of physical sight being restored to some & for those people we rejoice.
    But what of the others, the spiritually blind who refuse to be helped, who can help them when they will not accept sight?.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Authority! That’s the key issue here and today. Where does the authority emanate from that emboldens Christians to preach Christ Crucified. For many, there was an inward witness of the Holy Spirit that confirms it in the heart of the hearer. For others, the working of miracles, signs and wonders confirms that Christ is the Lord and has the authority of God and the Holy Spirit. The word of of God is followed by signs and wonders.

  • Inspector General

    Cranmer says “Religious shows of ostentation and hypocritical piety are antithetical to the kingdom of heaven:”

    Is that a fact? You know this to be true, do you?

    The RCC puts on some magnificent street shows this time of year in the more devout of countries. Used to happen in England too, still does in places like Wolsingham. You see, the people love a show, always did, and it keeps them in touch with their Christian faith. So, we find that Catholics have it right and po faced misery killjoy protestants (Hello chaps!) don’t. No surprise there then.

    Perhaps if the custom had survived here, there might be a few less people who’s only occasional visit to a church is seeing a dead body off…

    • dannybhoy

      Walsingham Grotto is most definitely grotty. I don’t think it’s because I’m a po faced Protestant O ye of mixed race heritage…

      I truly dislike these places. I have been to churches across France and northern Spain (none of them wanted me) and I just don’t get the holy places bit.

      • Inspector General

        Never mind, old seed. Those of us who still have a spark of life about them love to participate in the melee. It so very human, in one’s not so humble opinion…

        • dannybhoy

          To develop that further, We visited the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Rocamadour, and absolutely stunning little place built on the side of a cliff near a river, with prehistoric settlements along the banks.
          Incredibly beautiful. The Shrine is like half way up the cliff face and pilgrims would make their way up on their knees..as an act of penitence!
          Interesting.
          Then I’ve done the holy sites in Jerusalem -which mostly left me cold.
          I think the climax of that great film with ‘The Way’ with Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez sums it up for me. They’re in the great church with the swinging incence pot etc.
          All very dramatic but somehow claustrophobic..
          So there. 🙂

          • Inspector General

            Good for you Danny. Now, time to put a chain around your neck. The Inspector is taking you out for your late evening piss, and he doesn’t want you biting anyone…

          • dannybhoy

            You’ve been blessed with a good sense of humour..
            (That’ll be the Welsh influence).
            Thanks Inspector, you’ve given me a few good laughs recently.

          • Inspector General

            God bless and keep your dicky bladder, old pal…

          • alternative_perspective

            I was at a shrine to the Black Madonna in Poland. I like Walsingham not Czestachowa. In my opinion veneration takes on a far more worshipful nature than ought there.

          • dannybhoy

            At Rocamadour, those steps worn into hollows by the pious knees of countless pilgrims causes one to reflect on what they were like, what they believed etc.
            There is no doubt that a building can take on an ‘aura’ of those who have used it and for what purpose. Almost like an emotional imprint, whether for good or ill that lingers on into the future. So all Christian places of prayer and worship deserve respect.

            http://www.rocamadour.biz/rocamadour-place-of-history.htm

        • I quite agree. Walsingham, with all its folderol and gewgaw, is definitely of human origin.

    • dannybhoy

      I do agree with you on this point Inspector. Crowds of Christians from all denominations and none coming together in an act of lively public worship is a great thing.
      The problem with ‘holy places’ is that it (seems to) encourage a false sense of religious piety, and dare I say it ..
      heck yeah, sanctimony in those who serve them.
      I have no time for that kind of religiosity. The truly pious are truly human, often humorous and truly inspirational.
      Pope John Paul for example.

  • Inspector General

    As this is a rather quiet thread tonight, the Inspector begs for Cranmer’s indulgence
    in notifying you all of a somewhat pleasing development after Mr Farage and family
    were harassed in a public house. The crowd that did it were tracked down by some
    Christianity supporting gentlemen who paid them a visit. The report can be found
    on Pink News. It’s rather good, and the Inspector rates it 10 out of 10.

    (Warning. Contains footage of people in an advanced state of degeneration)

  • len

    ‘questions, qualifications, hypocrisy’

    We perhaps should all question where our faith is placed and the validity of that faith unless like a small child we are scared to look into that dark recess and fear what might be revealed?.
    The Pharisees(and others) rejected Jesus because He did not conform into their notion of what the Messiah should be…..

    • alternative_perspective

      This scares me a little. I believe and hope that Jesus will return soon – but what if he returns in a way different to my expectations and he fullfills scripture on his terms, no mine. That does concern me.