nurse-sacked-persecution
Freedom of Religion

Nurse sacked for offering to pray with patients? Draconian, but not persecution

To read that Sister Sarah Kuteh has been sacked by Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, for the crime of offering to pray with her patients, is a cause of great sorrow – especially after the Prime Minister said Christians ought to be free to speak about their faith in the workplace. “I am sure we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith,” she told the House of Commons. “And also feel able to speak quite freely about Christmas.”

Perhaps speaking about one’s faith shouldn’t extend to an offer to pray? Perhaps that’s considered unprofessional in health care? She had been given previous warnings, and had apparently heeded the advice of her superiors. She is a sister, after all; not a junior nurse. She obviously didn’t get there by being ignorant of standards or incompetent or unethical. Had they instructed her never to speak about her faith? Not even if a patient broaches the subject? Why shouldn’t an offer a prayer be made? Can’t it simply be politely declined, like a course of NHS counselling for depression?

One can only imagine the upset and distress felt by Sister Sarah Kuteh after 15 years of loyal and dedicated service to the health and care of the sick and suffering. She had sought nothing but to bring comfort to others, and sensitivity to patients’ spirituality can have undoubted benefits on their mental, emotional and physical lives. “It is my especial request that the influence of religion shall be felt in and impressed upon the whole management of the Hospital,” wrote Johns Hopkins, hospital founder and benefactor, in 1873. The John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore USA has a whole department dedicated to spiritual care, as chaplaincy services offer throughout the NHS. Isn’t it the vocational task of senior staff to reify ethos? Don’t all hospital chaplaincies share the same mission?

The purpose of spiritual care and chaplain support is to enable you to utilize the spiritual resources of your faith and traditions as you seek healing.  Your faith may give you a foundation from which you can find order in the midst of chaos, hope in the midst of despair.

The provision of spiritual care services is ecumenical and interfaith and respectful of your religious and spiritual preferences as well as your right to accept or decline services. 

You see, patients are free to accept or decline. Isn’t that just a grown-up way of dealing with offers of spiritual support? Why should anyone lose their job over an offer of prayer? Isn’t that a bit heavy-handed, not to say draconian?

But let’s not call it persecution.

This is persecution:

ISIS murder Copts2

 

And THIS, and THIS, and THIS, and (..warning..) THIS.

A nurse sacked for offering to pray with her patients is a consequence of the rise of aggressive secularism and hard humanism. It is restrictive and inconvenient; dogmatic and intolerant. But, no, out of respect for those who are literally carrying their crosses unto death, and mindful of the ecumenism of blood, let’s not call it persecution.

  • Dreadnaught

    I thought hospitals had Chapalins to cater nor the devotional needs of patients. Nurses openly praying at bedsides would do little for inspiring my confidence in the work of doctors and surgeons. What if dozens of patients wanted bedisde prayers from this nurse whom we are lead to believe are under so much perssure that they can barely fulfill their allotted medical tasks.
    A question of ward discipline surely, that should not have resulted in her dismissal; unless there is more to this issue.

    • big bwana

      Arguments based on ‘What Iffery’ are often not very compelling. Yours is a good example.

      • Inspector General

        Sublime, sir!

      • Dreadnaught

        Your understanding of what I wrote completely avoids the main point I made regarding the role of hospital chaplains . Instead you make a cheap shot contributing … nothing.

        • Albert

          The problem would be that there aren’t enough chaplains. If you’re arguing for more chaplains, then your argument has more force.

          • Dreadnaught

            I have no idea of the numbers – I commented on simply the principle that I woulld expect each to tend to their own responsibilities.

          • Albert

            Well, as I understand it, there aren’t enough chaplains, especially if you are a Catholic. But the idea of saying a nurse’s responsibility does not include even elementary spiritual care would only be accepted by someone with a secularist mindset. So a position that starts off by sounding inclusive, ends up being intolerant: you must accept my secular world-view and live by it in the public sphere. No, I don’t accept your secular world-view. I think it’s bogus.

          • Dreadnaught

            No problem.

    • Albert

      What if dozens of patients wanted bedisde prayers from this nurse whom we are lead to believe are under so much perssure that they can barely fulfill their allotted medical tasks.

      She’s not going to be able to do anything for anyone, now that she’s been sacked!

      • Little Black Censored

        Yes, compassion and prayer safely out of the way.

    • Little Black Censored

      O for a chapilan at my bediside!

  • Inspector General

    One has previously mentioned the phenomenon of low level Christian persecution in the UK, which just like the same which is background radiation from the sun, we are apparently expected to endure.

    This is a direct consequence of the general failure to support the Asher’s Bakery couple by those of position in the church that make a fairly comfortable living off the back of Jesus Christ.

    You should be damn well ashamed of yourselves!

    • Will Jones

      Indeed. Where are the messages of support for these people from the Anglican hierarchy? Why is the church not standing up in the public square for religious freedom and for those who fall foul of draconian political correctness? From the public utterances of our bishops you would think that raising the minimum wage a bit was a more crucial Gospel matter than the consciences of Christians and their freedom to bring their faith into their workplace.

  • magnolia

    As a Christian I consider medical care that is NOT bathed in prayer deficient. Do similar Christians not have the right, having paid their taxes on the NHS, to have their beliefs that health is more than the mere mechanistic honoured? Is our tax money inferior? If so can someone explain how? After all hospitals are doing this at the same time as charging local Christian congregations car parking charges for ministers to visit. They should not be restricting prayer both ways.

    Besides which without prayer more sickness, and less healing and more strain on the NHS till it crumbles.

    • David

      Good point !

  • Malcolm Smith

    Of course you should call it persecution. Persecution comes in many forms: some severe and some mild. We should certainly distinguish them according to severity, but the best way to keep the worst at bay is to stand up against the mild forms as soon as they appear – because you may rest assured that once they get away with a small thing, the forces of evil will raise their ante.
    The same principal applies to all other forms of political correctness. When we had a session at work about inappropriate behaviour, I got up and told the convenor in front of the others that some of things she was saying were unacceptable, and that we do not lose our freedom of speech as soon as we enter the office.
    Too much evil has been allowed into the domain because we haven’t followed the rule: nip it in the bud!

    • Albert

      I’ve got some sympathy with having a word reserved for the kind of violence Dr C refers to, but as a matter of fact, what the nurse has experienced is within the definition of persecution. This is what comes up on Google:

      subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of their race or political or religious beliefs. harass or annoy (someone) persistently

      Now it is difficult to see why the treatment Sr Sarah has experienced is not persecution by that standard. Perhaps these things wouldn’t happen if we called these secular fundamentalists out a bit more – and calling them persecutors seems like a good way to proceed.

  • David

    Cranmer is right to distinguish between this minor, irritating intolerance and the appalling violent intolerance seen elsewhere. However many things that our society values as contributing to a civilised life, including health care, assistance for the needy and of course eduction have their origins in the Christian Church. In the nineteenth century as the state grew, it took over these functions. As recently as the 1950s ward shifts started with prayers led by the matron. Yet now an overbearing state has squeezed out such symbols of hope, care and love; indeed the public sector generally has become a vehicle for imposing an intolerant political correctness upon all that it can reach. We see mere materialism attempting to smother our natural human sense of the spiritual, leaving a dark hole in its place.

  • john in cheshire

    This report is depressing but not surprising. If someone offers to pray for you all you have to do is say no thank you. Whoever made a formal complaint and those who treated it as a sacking offence, which is on a par with physically harming patients, are an utter disgrace.

    Below is something else that is not surprising but it’s more than disgraceful, it is evidence of the evil in this world. The link reports on two incidents in France; one where the French government has banned pro-life advertising on the internet and the other where the French government has prohibited pictures showing smiling people who have Downs Syndrome. These are examples of the logical conclusion of secular, godless rule.

    Facebook
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    http://www.familywatchinternational.org
    12.10.2016
    Family Watch Newswire
    The Family Watch Newswire is a weekly service of Family Watch International that highlights important news items and useful analysis on the family and family related issues from around the world.
    LIFE

    Ohio State Legislature Passes Abortion “Heartbeat Bill.” The bill would prohibit most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy after the first detectable heartbeat and would be one of the most stringent in the U.S. The legislation awaits the signature of Governor John Kasich who is strongly pro-life but has expressed concerns about the constitutionality of the bill. Read more here.

    French Senate Passes Pro-Life Website Ban. The bill adopted by the Senate by a vote of 173 – 126 will make it a crime to post pro-life information on the Internet. Violators will face up to two years in prison and $30,000 in fines. Read more here.

    Malawians Demonstrate Against Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage. Thousands of protesters gathered in marches that were organized by Catholic and Evangelical churches in Malawi. Read more here.

    French Court Rules that Down Syndrome Children are Not Allowed to Smile on Television. The court ruled that it was “inappropriate” to show happy children with Down syndrome on TV, as that sight could “trouble” women who chose not to give birth to their disabled children. Read more here.

  • carl jacobs

    Many years ago, I read a transcript of a Commencement speech given by Salman Rushdie. That speech may be summarized as “Don’t believe in gods. Believe in yourself.” It stayed in my mind because it was such a clear example of the double standard of the modern west. Rushdie was free to preach the metaphysics of atheism. Could another person have spoken about God in the particular? Commencement speeches are often screened for just such excursions.

    The nurse was free to offer any conversation or support or encouragement to the vulnerable patient so long as it stayed within the boundaries of immanent experience. A useless expression of “You’ll be home soon!” would have been just fine. But a discussion of religion would violate a patient’s right to define his own metaphysical space. The modern presumption is “My truths are true to me and you may only interact with me on the assumption that my truths are true.”

    Prayer after all is not primarily about asking and getting. It is about establishing the proper relationship between God and man, between Creator and creature. To offer to pray with someone is to assert the necessary existence of a dependent supplicant relationship. It is this implication that offends. And the response comes back “Quit shoving your god on me! Who is he to tell me what to do!” By which is meant “I AM master of my own reality! Quit telling me I’m not.”

    The dogma of Secularism asserts that man is his own god. It is heresy to suggest otherwise. And so Secularism seeks to hermetically isolate religion lest it be heard, or seen, or believed. It reminds one of nothing so much as fingers being stuck in the ears. You see, if a man doesn’t hear it, then it can’t be true.

    • Inspector General

      A very good paragraph about what is really prayer. Very good indeed. And you kept it to yourself over these many years!!

      • carl jacobs

        God ordains both means and ends, Inspector. God is not contingent, and He does not change. Do you understand what I mean when I say these things? I fear you do not.

        • Prayer doesn’t mean God is contingent or changeable.

    • David

      Well put Carl.

    • Fine philosophising (for your version of English spelling, philosophizing), Carl, but this is not limited to a religion vs secularism battle, especially in Britain, where since the Renaissance, robust inter-Christian sectarianism, not battles between theism and atheism, have provided most of the excitement.

      • Albert

        The word “Renaissance” implies the previous period was the Dark Ages, but the evidence is that period was anything but dark.

        • I know, Albert. The High Middle Ages were far more liberal, rational, wealthy and “enlightened.” The “Renaissance” was, in fact the true dark period of warfare, poverty, ignorance and obscurantism. A few writings and splendid works of art didn’t do much change the overall situation. The thing is, we’re sort of stuck with standard period classifications the Romantic historiographers concocted for us.

          • Albert

            I never said the “Renaissance” was dark. I merely said the Dark Ages weren’t dark. Here’s a case in point: slavery – exists prior to the “Dark Ages”, reappears afterwards, but largely dies out during.

          • The “Dark Ages” are a nebulous concept, usually referring to the period after the fall of Rome and the collapse of Roman institutions and for historians, the disappearance of documents and durable monuments which left them, information-wise, “in the dark.” Another 19th century notion by academics obsessed with centralized authority and the notion that lack of writing denotes barbarism.

          • Anton

            Petrarch invented the notion.

          • Yes, but it appeared in French and English only in the mid 1800s.

          • Albert

            This is the period that invents the university, produces Chaucer, Dante, van Eyke, Thomas Aquinas, abolishes slavery (for all practical purposes), invent windmills, lays the foundations of science, builds Chartres Cathedral, invents musical notation, builds dams, including the 1300 foot dam at Toulouse, creates the first spectacles, and (and this is really important, in the light of your comment), produces the translations which the “Renaissance” reads. “The Dark Ages” is a rhetorical tool to knock religion. Like most knockings of religion, it has little to do with the evidence, and much to do with the fascinating psychosis of secularism.

          • You are partially right; the “Dark Ages” were coined by Petrarch…as duly noted by Anton, who never sleeps, it would seem…and denoted the entire “Middle Ages,” whereas in modern historiography it is used mean only the period after the fall of Rome and around the 12th or 13th centuries, when things really got going.

          • Albert

            Is your implication that things weren’t “going” prior to the 12th or 13th Centuries?

          • IrishNeanderthal

            It seems Petrarch was the fellow who started the process which got Europe (and transatlantic transplants) into the habit of despising previous ages, for example regarding previous architecture as “Gothic” (meaning barbaric.)

            And their worship of Classical times entrenched Aristotelian physics, and almost sidelined the mathematics of the Scholastic era, which however survived with Domingo de Soto, and have been a great help to Galileo.

      • Little Black Censored

        “Philosophizing” is NOT American spelling. Both S and Z forms are in use in England. OUP actually specifies Z in its style book.

        • True, but only “z” is acceptable in American dictionaries. Where the heck have you been, LBC? I’m flattered that my grammar pedantry got you out.

        • IrishNeanderthal

          As I told Avi yesterday.

          The suffix “ize” came in from Greek via Latin, and means to transform in a particular way, for example “pulverize” means to turn into powder, Latin pulvis, pulveris.

          Words like surprise do not come into this category, since they hark back to a Latin root, in this case a derivative of prendere … prisum, to take.

      • carl jacobs

        What happened to that nurse had nothing to do with inter-Christian sectarianism.

        • We don’t know the details and won’t until it hits the courts. If we are going to have a debate over this issue, let’s concede that the headline alone is a good enough catalyst for a jolly gabfest here, but that it has nothing to do with the case itself.

          • carl jacobs

            Even if the complaints were sectarian in origin (highly unlikely) the underlying assumption that religious speech is uniquely offensive is Secular in origin. It is that underlying assumption that drives the punishment. If I was in the hospital, and some two-bit hospital psychologist came around to see me to “help” and I told him to pound sand, would he have been so punished?

          • Whatever the underlying assumptions, all hospitals, even ones under religious admins, control who gets to interact religiously with patients. For example, Catholic and Jewish hospitals, frequented by people of all religions or none, nowadays arrange for clergy of any religion to provide services, but under fairly strict protocols. There is nothing wrong in protecting the privacy of patients there, as in a way, they are confined and in a disadvantage.

            And the “wandering psychologist” example is not helpful. Hospitals offer a variety of therapies outside of psychiatric services which may be recommended by physicians. You are expanding the definition of religion a tad too far; you might as well throw modern medicine into the lot, since it’s based on secular theories.

          • carl jacobs

            But that’s my point, Avi. Modern Psychology, with its very metaphysical assumptions about the nature of man, is considered a therapy principally because it is resonant with the worldview of the age. Yes, I push the definition of religion outward. Secularists try to hide their metaphysical content by saying “It isn’t religion.” And yet it shares all the characteristics of religious belief. They seek to privilege their own presuppositions and they evangelize just as surely as any street preacher.

            There is all manner of religion hidden as non-religion in the secular world. Man is by nature a religious creature, and he cannot deny his nature.

          • As you well know, I agree with that assessment in part, except that for the purpose of being able to distinguish between types of belief systems, we separate between ontology and epistemology. Psychology is largely an epistemological system, concerned with methodology and the empirical realm, whereas religion depends on ontological knowledge, dealing with the ultimate nature of things.

            There may not be a clear line, but the distinction is there. So, for example, Freud’s Id, Ego and Super Ego, whether real or not, may be explained epistemologically as manifestations of our triune brain…reptilian, limbic and neocortex…from a secular, evolutionary perspective or ontologically, as God-imbued characteristics and drives, independent of any physical origins or properties, as in Kabbalah, Christian or Hindu theology. Does it matter? I’d say it does, because with an epistemological system, such as psychology, one can limit one’s knowledge system to universally shared empirical information (we can all agree on the various parts and functions of the breain regardless of beliefs) and is not required to adopt an entire metaphysical and ethical system in the form of a specific religion.

          • carl jacobs

            Methodology and empiricism cannot be divorced from world view. The latter drives the conclusions of the former. The Evolutionist for example is locked in a system that is shot through with the presupposition of continuity. There is no way for him to escape it. None of us can escape our presuppositions. They condition how we see the world. That is why I said that man cannot escape his nature. He always begins with those assertions of faith by which he renders all other things intelligible.

            Look at Psychology and tell me its opinions about homosexuality are formed by methodology and empiricism. They were in fact formed by an ideological presumption of man’s autonomy. There were no studies that justified normalizing homosexuality. It was an act of ideology. Will such empiricism lead to proper understanding of man’s nature? If you begin with man’s autonomy can you truly achieve understanding the nature of created man by applying methodology and empiricism?

          • Methodologies based on empiricism are uniquely different ways of knowing, or research strategies, to be more precise. Specifically, they are modern Western innovations and there has been nothing comparable in history. They are not a religion, no matter what their creators hold by.

            And, I’m not defending the current state of the discipline or subject of psychology as a science. I have known a few psychologists and a few have impressed me, such as a former prof, the author of the best biography on Freud, his times and his students. I’m not sure how to answer your question, though, because while some psychologists strive to apply scientific principles, not all do so. In fact, I liken its disciples to shamans or medicine men, who while unscientific, could be very effective in treating their patients’ emotional problems through the power of suggestion and affirmation. It’s a therapeutic approach, a treatment-oriented discipline which, at best, can help a patient function better in his society, provided that the therapist and patient are on the same cultural page and share similar values. So, yes, if you’re to find yourself in a hospital…God forbid…and a psychologist (or a shaman) has the bad luck of picking on you, you would justified in dismissing him if you find his worldview incompatible with yours.

  • IanCad

    In my book it is persecution. The wretches who sacked her are taking away her livelihood; that in turn may deprive she and her family of food, shelter and clothing. No, they haven’t cast her into a dungeon, much less asked the state to execute her yet, but, believe me, the nature of the militant secularists can accommodate itself to the most brutal of sanctions if necessity requires.

  • Surely it is persecution but not to the point wher life is threatened. Of cours we are quibbling over words meanwhile Christian liberties in the West are fast heading west.

    Hebrews 12

    3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

  • Martin

    Yes it is persecution.

  • PessimisticPurple

    No, it’s not persecution. It’s just harassment. The men in the picture DID suffer persecution. The fact that what happened to them almost certainly is quietly supported by the kind of people responsible for harassing this nurse is, we need hardly say, purely coincidental and in no way forms part of a continuum.

  • chefofsinners

    Sorry to break ranks on this one.
    IF, as is reported, Sarah Kuteh made patients feel uncomfortable and ‘preached at’ and IF as reported she had received warnings previously, then she should have been more sensitive.
    Preach by all means, make people feel uncomfortable by all means, but not at work. Do it in your own time. There are all sorts of other ways you can witness at work.

    • Anton

      Her job involved asking people about their religion, for heaven’s sake…

      • No nurse has ever asked Jack about his religion.

        • Maybe it wasn’t about policy…maybe it was you? 🙂

          • Jack gets on very well with nurses.

          • Martin

            Hmm

          • Cressida de Nova

            Tsk!

        • carl jacobs

          It was probably your saintly halo, Jack. They just knew you were Catholic.

          • Hmm … that or the Miraculous Medal Jack wears.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I used to have one of those. It miraculously disappeared years ago:)

      • chefofsinners

        Yes, whenever you are admitted to hospital you are asked what your religion is. – For a whole host of obvious reasons.

    • Albert

      Part of the problem appears to be lack of due process, so she wasn’t able to defend herself. Says the Telegraph:

      Mrs Kuteh is arguing the disciplinary process was flawed as she was not initially shown the complaints. She said she was only presented with very brief handwritten notes from colleagues who had recorded the patients’ comments, a few lines each, which suggest several patients casually voiced some discontent.

      If that’s true then this is pretty serious.

      • PessimisticPurple

        There’s a very well established scenario – the ACAS code – set out for dealing with disciplinary matters in the workplace. It isn’t compulsory, but employers who deviate from it do so at their peril, since ignoring it opens them to enhanced compensation at a tribunal. Where they DO deviate, it tends to be taken as evidence that they went into the process with a predetermined outcome in mind. If that’s what they did here, she should gut them like a fish.

      • Sounds like she was stitched up by her nursing colleagues.

  • Coniston

    I have heard of a clergyman who, on his visit to the local hospital, came to a Jewish patient. “Do you want me to pray for you?” he asked. He received a nervous nod. “May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless and preserve you,” he said, and received tears of gratitude.

    • Anton

      One can very much see both sides of this. I take the point you are making. On the other hand, if a Jew sees a clergyman (presumably dressed recognisably as such) and asks for prayer than he might reasonably be expecting the prayer to involve Jesus… who has a particular heart for Jews and might have healed the man’s ailment if asked, for example.

      • That really depends on whether you believe God only acts positively in the lives of Christians and that a person is damned if they don’t profess a belief in Jesus Christ.

        • Anton

          I don’t see that your rhetorical question is relevant to the point I am making.

          • The person might be a Muslim, Hindu or atheist. God has a heart of love for all men, regardless of their culture and faith.

          • Anton

            Nonsense; read Psalms 5:4-6 and 11:5-6. It is Jesus who has a heart of love for all men, and Jesus who is the only God-endorsed way to heaven.

          • Pubcrawler

            Jack: “God has a heart of love for all men”

            Anton: “It is Jesus who has a heart of love for all men”

            There’s a difference?

          • Anton

            My understanding of the Trinity is three persons with identical personality (and power). I think that’s compatible with the differing attitudes mentioned. Or perhaps it’s a mystery to do with time, as so far the world has seen only the wrath of God and the love of Jesus. At and after the Second Coming we shall see the converses of those, and so realise that the two have identical personality. But even if you think I’m waffling, you have to resolve on your own behalf Psalms 5:4-6 and 11:5-6 with the love of Jesus; how would you do that?

          • From God’s perspective, nothing has any goodness that can be loved unless He endows it with that goodness. God’s love consists in granting us creature the good qualities He approves of. Here’s the paradox: One could say that God loves one creature more than another by giving it more good qualities than another. One could also say that God does not love one creature more than another in that he recognizes that all creatures are equal before him – they have nothing unless he gives them something.

            God loves everyone and gives everyone sufficient grace to be saved. Those who freely choose to do good with the gifts and graces bestowed by God may be judged the objects of God’s esteem. Those who freely choose to do evil may be judged the objects of God’s disesteem.

            Jesus is God and God is perfectly free to act in anyway He chooses that is consistent with His nature. Whilst all men are indeed saved through Christ, this doesn’t mean God can’t work outside of the visible Church. God may not condemn those who are innocently ignorant of the truth about his offer of salvation.

            “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.”
            (CCC 847)

            “All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.”
            (Gaudium Et Spes)

            Jesus taught this about those who innocently reject him: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (Jn 15:22). Once a person comes to know the truth, he must embrace it or he will be culpable of rejecting it. As Jesus said to the Pharisees: “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (Jn 9:41).

            Paul taught likewise concerning the Gentiles:

            “When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their “conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
            (Rom 2:14-16)

          • Cressida de Nova

            It is alarming to think that any Christian would not agree with this comment..How on earth could a just and merciful God deny salvation to anyone whom through no fault of their own, had not come into contact with the teachings of Jesus.
            What is even more alarming is to think that anyone of average intelligence,calling themselves a Christian could even belong to one of these cults that do not recognise this.

          • Anton

            I certainly agree that there’s a paradox involved.

          • Pubcrawler

            nonne nulla salus extra ecclesiam?

          • Been greatly misunderstood and misrepresented down the years. One cannot take a Church doctrine out of its context i.e. the historical context within which it was written, why it was written, what was going on at the time and who the intended audience was. One should also discover how the teaching office of the Church understands its own teaching. If someone chooses to simply treat a particular formulation as a stand-alone teaching, he runs the risk of seriously misunderstanding it.

  • What if it were a muslim nurse asking to pray to Allah for patients? Would she receive the same treatment I wonder? I think it is a form of persecution and she must stand up to it.

  • Anton

    I must with all courtesy dissent, Your Grace: it IS persecution – just persecution that is less severe than mortal persecution.

    The lesson is this: do not believe the honeyed lying tongues of people who say that their intention when framing laws is not to catch Christians praying for people, or catch peaceable street evangelists, or whatever. If that is not their intention then the laws should be phrased accordingly. We should insist on it vociferously to our MPs.

  • Samuel

    Would the comments below discussing how this is persecution of Christians , still take the same view if a Burqa wearing Muslim nurse – who was just being kindly to patients via doing her duty as one of the faithful by spreading her religion whether people wanted it or not , i.e. captive preaching to someone who is in an already vulnerable state , of the wonder of the Islamic religion and quite clearly just offering to pray with them in Allah’s name- had been dismissed?

    • Anton

      A Christian patient should see it as an opportunity for evangelism!

    • Albert

      As a Christian, if a Muslim asks if they can pray for me, why should I be bothered?

      • Samuel

        My question was asking : would being dismissed as Muslim, as in the case of this Christian, be persecution or is this just because it was a Christian involved that people here are upset?

        • Albert

          If this is persecution, then clearly that would be persecution. You seem to be assuming posters he would apply different standards. Why would you make that assumption (if you are)?

          • Samuel

            I’m not suggesting , I’m asking. Hence the ? After the sentence.

          • Albert

            I was trying to judge if it was a rhetorical question. Hence the “(if you are)” after the sentence.

      • Little Black Censored

        “Bothered” is not a kind word. Anyway, the prayer can’t do you any harm; it may even do some good.

        • Albert

          How about if I change “bothered” to “worried”?

        • Bonkim

          As an Atheist I would consider it an assault on my person if someone in a hospital brings their religion to me or prays in front of me – Muslim, Christian or any other.

    • If a Hindu, Muslim, JW or Mormon nurse asked me if they might pray for me, I would say, “No, thank you. Would you like me to pray for you instead?”

  • Albert

    What about those of us who would like the nurse to pray for us? Our freedom is apparently less important than those who have no faith.

    • Samuel

      Actually dude, it seems to my mind that if you as a patient are inviting a nurse to pray , that’s quite different thing to being asked if you want prayer. It’s also different if you both share the same religious perspective. In other words you are opening the door , not having it prized open. From reading the mail article , the complaints were from people who wanted the door shut and for whatever reason that didn’t get respected .

      Incidentally , I think sacking someone for offering to others to pray is ridiculous, however, in my own head I think it depends upon the praying and how far this was pushed: not everyone wants religious questioning to become a theological or evangelical debating society, especially when one of those people is actually ill and therefore not best placed to have such a discussion.

      If I were in hospital , I’d be happy to accept a prayer from a non Jew along the lines of “dear God help Samuel during this time, amen”, but I wouldn’t be happy with someone trying to get me to say the sinners prayer. Incidentally if this happened to me I’d gladly share a prayer with a Christian, but because I’m a traditionalist it would have to come out of my prayer book or some other authentic Jewish source and therefore be said in Hebrew. Maybe a Psalm, as it’s tradition to recite Tehillim…

      • Albert

        I’m in large agreement with you actually. But I take issue with this:

        it seems to my mind that if you as a patient are inviting a nurse to pray , that’s quite different thing to being asked if you want prayer.

        Obviously, that’s true, but it’s irrelevant. Some time ago, when I was receiving care from the NHS I was asked if I would like them to pray for me. I was over-joyed, and would not have been able to have them do that, had they not asked. In the UK at least, if you ask a secularist if they can pray for you, they assume you’re some kind of nutcase – so you can’t do it. But if they ask you, then it can happen.

        If you say no, and the nurse persists then, I agree, that is a problem.

        • Anton

          Nowadays I’d ask the nurse “pray to which god?” first!

          • (fix-up edit)

            Let’s make an app for this and make a bundle. Client fills in a form, gets a designation with a cute emoticon and people touch smart-phones, which beep pleasantly if people match and set off sirens if not.

          • Royinsouthwest

            There is only one God. If the nurse prays to Him, then well and good. If she doesn’t pray to Him what difference does it make?

          • Little Black Censored

            “…what difference does it make?”
            That depends on what prayer does.

          • Anton

            You and I know that there is only one god. But what if your nurse is a Hindu?

          • Martin

            Anton

            Pray for her that she might be enlightened.

          • Royinsouthwest

            If she offered to pray for me I would think that it was a friendly gesture. Would God be displeased with her for caring enough about me enough to pray, or with me for being touched by her kindness?

          • Anton

            Of course not. But I asked the question because I’m genuinely interested in your answer. I would politely decline, as I prefer not to have prayer offered on my behalf to pagan deities.

        • Samuel

          I can almost up vote this , but you see in the back of my mind you see there’s something that asks why even have such things at work? In addition and where I’m coming from is that it’s on a trowel that Jews are told from an early age 1). don’t force your own religious beliefs onto the goy. 2). Be weary of diving into debating faith matters with non Jews.

          I guess it’s cultural as I just can’t get the evangelism of Christianity or Islam and to my mind this is what it’s all about, not a simple prayer, but the desire to use a hospital as a pulpit. That’s what is niggling at the back of my mind.

          • Albert

            I think we are largely agreed. If I worked in a hospital, I would be very cautious about expressing my faith (although I think that is a loss to society). But I wouldn’t expect to be sacked for it either.

        • Samuel

          Having written that it is true that in our offices there’s a massive Christmas( or maybe Hanukkah ) tree fully decorated, secret Santa’s / Hanukkah’s under the tree and yes I and my siblings all pay for a free -including drinks till midnight- party next Thursday (with Friday off) . And thanks to a new Portuguese employee , we’ve got Slade blaring away and if I hear WHAM’s last Christmas again I swear I’ll go stark raving liberal democrat.

          The only ones who don’t have anything to do with this are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is entirely their choice. Although they do take our gift of £250 Hanukkah cash …. albeit someone moaned that they couldn’t use the £20 and £50 notes. Maybe just for them I will ask the bank for £250 in 1 and 2 p coins?

          • Albert

            if I hear WHAM’s last Christmas again I swear I’ll go stark raving liberal democrat.

            As bad as that? Do you mind if I pray for you?!

  • len

    Nurse’ offered’ to pray for people. Offered to, didn`t just pray at them regardless of their response.
    What possible harm could this do?.If you didn`t want prayer just say no, or yes if you did.
    This sacking of the nurse is an example of aggressive atheism getting totally out of control.

    • dannybhoy

      It’s taking advantage of your position as a professional care giver Len, and ‘muddying’ the patient carer relationship..

    • petej

      In the report I read she said that she had shared her faith with the patients. This is with people waiting for surgery. After the trust received complaints they outlined that she could share her faith if the patients wanted her to. But they still received further complaints saying that she had gone beyond this.

      You might not like it, but we have some form of religious freedom in this country. I think even aggressive atheists should be left in peace before dangerous operations. There is a time and a place for (unwanted) evangelism

      • More pertinently, it’s unlikely to be successful in turning a person to Christ.

  • len

    If people are threatened by a nurse offering prayer wait until militant Islam offers them something far worse.

    • Conversely, the hospital administration’s strict policies on religious activity by the nursing staff might be the very thing to prevent such a possibility. The bottom line is that we know very little about what was actually happening.

  • Alas, the problem with such cases is that we rarely get the full picture, especially once the parties lawyer-up and clam-down. We can imagine all sorts of scenarios, from a gentle, good-hearted nurse slaking the spiritual thirst of her patients, to a persistent and annoying pest pissing off uninterested people waiting for their operation. A read of the linked article suggests that the issue will be over professional conduct and so, the key will not be religious freedom, but the right of the employer to define and demand professional conduct, versus the right of the employee to express and promote religious belief.

    • You’re right. We need to know more about the specific encounters that triggered this complaint and disciplinary action. People nowadays are too ready to take offence but some will be genuinely offended and upset by what they consider to be unwarranted intrusions into their spiritual life. Jack always followed the policy in his professional life of trying to behave as a Christian and not hiding his faith,indicating in general conversion he is a Catholic, but never pushing it. He then left the initiative to others to ask questions if they chose to.

      We can pray for people without their permission.

      • You’re a saint, Jack. And you are free to pray for me too, but you can’t beat an acquaintance of mine who, in his excitement over his short-lasting conversion to Mormonism, registered me and my family in their list of saved souls, or something to that effect.

        • No, can’t compete with that. The best a Catholic can offer is indulgences on your behalf which will reduce your time in purgatory.

  • The Explorer

    Prayer has always been contentious.

    Time of Crusades. Treaty negotiations. Templars allowed a visiting Muslim dignitary to pray in a chapel. Later used against them as evidence of heresy.

    Time of English Reformation. Hospital and chantry, each with bequest to pray for soul of founder. Chantry: closed down. Hospital: allowed to continue, but without prayer for founder.

    Time of Apartheid.
    “What are you doing in this church?”
    “I’m cleaning it, baas.”
    “Well, all right. But God help you if I catch you praying!”

    • Martin

      TE

      The founder was clearly beyond the scope of prayer.

      • Little Black Censored

        Not clearly, but somebody clearly thought so.

      • Dishonest not to honour the bequest, wouldn’t you say?

        • Martin

          HJ

          Impossible to comply with it.

          • Then give over the property to someone who can.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Nobody can. Anyone who claims to be able is lying.

          • The founder who made the bequest thought it was possible and the property was accepted on these terms. As Jack said, this is an act of fraud.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Rome has carried out many frauds over the centuries. It was this particular one that caused Luther to write his thesis.

  • dannybhoy

    Excellent post.
    Essentially I disagree with offering to pray with people in a workplace situation especially with vulnerable people. This lady has not experienced persecution, she has just overstepped the boundary between private belief and workplace professionalism.
    As you say, the bottom photo ample demonstrates persecution, and I think a petition should go out for signing that our UK overseas aid should be conditional/proportional to how the recipient nation treats its minorities. Pakistan being a case in point..
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/october/asia-bibi-pakistan-supreme-court-blasphemy-death-sentence.html

    • David

      Hear, hear !

      • Anton

        No, our UK overseas aid should be zero. It is not a legitimate task of the British government to take taxes and give them away to foreigners. This is the nationalisation of charity.

        • Zero, in spite of its cuddly rounded appearance is a harsh number.

          • Anton

            It’s a round number!

          • Fine; a harsh round number. Can’t we ever agree on anything?

          • Anton

            Harsh; a fine round number!

            We agree that the Tanakh is the word of God, of course.

          • Yes…unless we get into translation issues, of course.

        • David

          I understand your viewpoint, and sympathise greatly. However I see it slightly differently. I would reduce it very considerably and audit it for effectiveness. Above all I would ensure that none is misused especially by the rich and powerful.

          • Anton

            That’s not possible.

  • Jack has always had a picture of the Holy Face of Jesus in his office. It’s a Catholic has devotion Jack has practised for many years without adverse comment. A few years back his then new manager, a progressive, “right on” woman, advised him to remove “it” as it might cause offence to others. Jack politely refused and the matter was referred to the Director of Personnel. Eventually, it was confirmed he could keep the picture on display. Not because it was religious, but because the “face” was of uncertain origin and no one knew its actual origin. Jack then inserted a caption in the frame reading: “The Holy Face of Jesus”. It was in my confrontational, unreasonable days. No more was said about the matter.

    • Having gotten to know you over the years, Jack, I’d have expected nothing less from you 😉

      • Jack is usually a shy and retiring type who avoids confrontation.

        • Yeah.

        • Inspector General

          Splutter!

        • carl jacobs

          I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.

          • With respect, you can p^ss orft then.
            Jack refuses to take lessons in English from a Yank.

          • carl jacobs

            Ah, that’s better. That’s the shy and retiring Jack we have all come to know and respect.

          • That’s appropriate self assertion. You see, Jack has been on a self-assertion course to help him overcome his shyness.

          • carl jacobs

            Ah. One of those “Scientology” things, huh. Well, that might help.

          • chefofsinners

            You had your money’s worth.

        • Samuel

          Dude,

          I know :you wouldn’t say boo to a goose!

          • What does “boo” mean? And a goose?

          • Samuel

            Dude

            From an online Oxford dictionary :

            “phrase. Used to emphasize that someone is very timid: ‘he seemed the kind of chap who wouldn’t say boo to a goose’ ”He was quite a quiet guy who kept himself to himself – you always got the impression he wouldn’t say boo to a goose,’ said Mr Hemmings.’ ‘A gentle soul of a man who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.'”

        • Cressida de Nova

          Erhem !:)

    • David

      Splendid !
      Well done Jack.

      • Jack was very tempted to suggest we start all our future management meetings with a prayer.

        At the time, Jack was the “Agency Decision Maker” in respect of adoption and fostering matters. It was his job to approve adoptive parents, foster parents and all plans and placements for children. It was Jack’s practice to refer on all situations where, in good conscience, he believed his religious convictions would be an issue. (You can guess what these were). This manager had objections to this too and insisted Jack attend a whole series of courses on inclusive, non-discriminatory, practices. Jack attended and had great fun. They didn’t change his views, they confirmed them. But he likes to think he changed the views of some of his co-attendees.

        Life is full of adventure.

        • David

          You demonstrated the right spirit.
          But I suspect Jack, and I may be wrong, that compared to even a few years ago, the intolerant secularist PC stranglehold on the workplace, especially in the public sector, would now make it even more difficult than it was for you.

          • Malcolm Smith

            This is the point I tried to make. We have to nip it in the bud.

          • Indeed. Jack was fortunate to be in a senior position with an awareness of how public services work. It’s new staff who have a tough time coming from Universities with their minds deluded by all sorts of nonsense and encountering the new, secular managerial paradigms.

          • David

            Yes I agree. I had a similar experience during my last stint in government, when “Diversity Training” was first introduced. Because of my seniority, experience and faith I saw through it easily but the young are not so well equipped or placed. So many now have been thoroughly brainwashed by secularist PC nonsense. But on the positive side, because of the internet more and more are seeing the false narratives for what they are. The mainstream media are slowly losing their grip on the public’s mind.

        • Oisín mac Fionn

          Jack “likes to think” many things.

          Perhaps the main reason Christianity is in such a parlous state in the West is because far too many Christians spend their lives “liking to think”. Believing their own propaganda makes them oblivious to the lack of effect it has on others.

          To read Jack’s self-congratulatory panegyric one might think that he single-handedly realigned UK adoption practice to Catholic standards. But the reality is that increasing numbers of children are being adopted by gay couples.

          But there he is, like a blinder, prouder and more stubborn version of King Canute, resolutely commanding the rising tide to retreat. His feet aren’t wet, oh no! That’s not water rising around his calves! How could it be when he tells us he’s beaten back the tide?

    • Martin

      HJ

      I would comment that I’d find that idolatrous.

      • dannybhoy

        But Martin, this time it doesn’t matter what you think. You didn’t work there.

        • Martin

          Danny

          Did I say it mattered?

          • dannybhoy

            The real issue is that Jack was making a stand for his faith in a country where he should have every right to express his love for his Lord.

          • Ahem …. “Whether you judge his picture was idolatrous or not is besides the point.”

          • dannybhoy

            Correction accepted.. :0)

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Wasn’t there something following the Macpherson report to the effect that a whether or not a racist remark had been made was to be determined by how the recipient took it?

            I think it used to be on Wikipedia, but appears to have been edited out.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Clearly idolatry is not showing love for any of the three persons.

      • Well, yes, you would.

      • carl jacobs

        Why would a picture of the face of Christ be idolatrous? A scapula? Yes. The Monstrance? Yes. Pretty much anything to do with Mary in the RCC? Yes. By why a picture?

        • “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them.” (Ex. 20:4–5)

          It’s an old Puritan accusation calling Catholics idolaters because they have images of Christ and saints and is based on misunderstanding or ignorance. It’s if people begin to adore a statue or image, or the sacramentals you’ve mentioned, as “god” that is prohibited.

          • carl jacobs

            But Christ was man as well as God and there is no idolatry in showing the image of a man.

        • Martin

          Carl

          Aside from the fact that we do not know what Jesus looked like, any attempt to picture God is idolatry, and Christ is God.

          • carl jacobs

            He is both God & man. As I said below, it is not idolatry to represent the man.

          • Anton

            I agree. But if I were a painter even with great technique then I would not dare try a portrait of Christ’s face even if I knew what he looked like, for it would be impossible to catch the lack of sin – even if that is seen only by eyes of faith.

          • carl jacobs

            But the Scripture says there was nothing about Him that would make him stand out from His brothers. He was in every way very man. So how we look is how He would look. I’m not sure the lack of sin could be physically represented.

          • Anton

            I’m not sure either. Just chatting it over. A deeper issue than it seems.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, and if you were talking about film I would probably agree. The depiction of the life of Christ lived is fraught with problems.

          • Anton

            Radio drama?

          • Martin

            Carl

            I’d disagree.

          • Anton

            In our better understanding since the Incarnation, surely that command refers to God the Father? Are you against actors playing Christ in films of the gospel story?

          • Martin

            Anton

            I don’t see any difference in that sense between the persons of the Trinity, and yes, I would be opposed to such presentations.

          • Anton

            I take Carl’s point of view, but please see my comment about painting of a sinless faced below.

            There is also the question of how to interpret the relevant Command in the Decalogue. Does “Do not make and bow down to any image of God” mean “Do not make any image and do not bow down to any image” or does it mean “Do not bow down to any image of God you might have made”?

            Are dramatised radio plays of the gospels OK?

          • Martin

            Anton

            Anything other than a reading of the words of the Bible adds one’s own interpretation and any creation of an image of Jesus adds interpretation.

          • Anton

            When you evangelise, you must summarise parts of the gospel in your own words. Yet your logic seems to forbid that?

          • Martin

            Anton

            Entirely different subject.

          • Anton

            Not that simple! You must remain faithful to God while evangelising, and you said that Anything other than a reading of the words of the Bible adds one’s own interpretation. If you think the difference is motivation, I take Dorothy L Sayers’ dramatised radio plays about the life of Christ, nearly 80 years ago, to be partly evangelistic.

          • Martin

            Anton

            It is entirely that simple.

          • Pubcrawler

            Do you read the words of the Bible in translation?

          • Martin

            PC

            Different subject.

          • Pubcrawler

            How so? Is a translation not someone else’s interpretation, on which you must rely?

      • So would you seek to impose your opinion on Jack by insisting he remove the image?

        • Martin

          HJ

          No, but I would feel free to make comments.

    • dannybhoy

      Hoorah!
      Well done Jack.
      Personally I think we Christians need to be confrontational. Sometimes giving offence is not only Biblical, it’s positively healthy.

    • Oisín mac Fionn

      You could get away with anything in the 1960s. The more sexist, racist and homophobic the better. Adding some religious propaganda into the abuse just made it more acceptable to the Neanderthals who were running things.

      Things have changed since then. Religious obsessives are no longer allowed to manipulate the sick and vulnerable when they’re at their weakest.

      If this woman was dismissed it won’t be because she “offered to pray” with someone, but rather because she was targeting a vulnerable person with religious propaganda.

      • It was 2009, numpty.

      • Albert

        I’d have more sympathy with this comment if you remove the word “with religious propaganda.” Surely the issue is not the religion, but the targeting (if that’s what’s happened)? And that’s the problem here. It appears to be about religion, it should just be about relationships, professionalism and respect.

        • Oisín mac Fionn

          Relationships, professionalism and respect are what this is about.

          Nurses who use proximity to vulnerable people in order to proselytise are not acting in a professional or a respectful manner. Whether they’re pushing their religion or their political views, or any other belief that has nothing to do with the job of nursing, they are overstepping the boundaries of medical care and trying to take advantage of people at their weakest and most vulnerable.

          Any Christian (or Muslim, or socialist, or alt-right) nurse who tried to foist her views on me if I were a patient in her care would find herself regretting her choices very quickly. If I want spiritual or political advice, I’m free to seek it out. It is not part of a nurse’s remit to submit her patients to her privately held views and beliefs.

          • Albert

            Yes, I agree. Although I do not think a nurse should be prohibited from asking someone if they can pray for them, or offering them some spiritual comfort. But it should stop the moment the patient asks it to. I don’t think either of those things is taking advantage of someone (unless non-religious people are psychologically much weaker than religious people).

            A problem here is consistency. Take this scenario: a woman has just been told that her unborn child will probably have Down’s Syndrome. What’s the first thing that the medical practitioner will do? Ask if she wants an abortion – or may even start talking about arranging it. There is evidence that if the mother then says she does not want an abortion, that the medical practitioner may continue the conversation regardless. The woman is vulnerable and the medical practitioner is pushing his/her own (un)ethical views on her, which have nothing to do with medical expertise. In our society, this sort of thing is acceptable, but apparently, asking a patient if they want prayer and offering some religious comfort is not.

            Lesson: secularists are incapable of looking above the parapet of their own world-view, and critique in others what they defend in themselves. They are also psychologically much more vulnerable, since they cannot take what they mete out to others.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Your religious persecution complex is showing.

            If the fœtus carried by a woman tests positive for Down’s, her medical practitioner will state the choices she has, one of which – whether you like it or not – is to terminate.

            No ethical medical practitioner will disregard a woman’s stated wish to continue with her pregnancy.

            If a woman is unsure and asks for advice, the practitioner may describe the consequences of giving birth to a Down’s baby, but at no point should he influence her decision or try to make up her mind for her.

            There may be isolated cases of undue influence being exercised, but most of the time such claims are just a cover for a woman’s guilty conscience, generally as a result of religious indoctrination. As such they can be dismissed as fabrication.

            What’s truly unethical is the attitude of people like you and the way you bear false witness against the medical profession and accuse it of unethical acts in an attempt to manipulate public opinion against the right of women to decide for themselves.

            To listen to you, anyone would think that hospitals are occupied by bloodthirsty Dr Mengeles plotting to exterminate the human race. The reality is that physicians owe a duty of care to their patients, which includes informing them of ALL their options in the case of an unwanted pregnancy. In this they show much more real charity than a Church concerned only with obedience to its dictates.

          • Albert

            Your religious persecution complex is showing.

            Actually, I was teasing!

            There may be isolated cases of undue influence being exercised,

            Are these isolated? The evidence is that women do not seem to be given accurate information about the experience of having a Down’s child.

            generally as a result of religious indoctrination. As such they can be dismissed as fabrication.

            So just to be clear: the only arguments against abortion are religious and these arguments are made up. Is that your position?

            What’s truly unethical is the attitude of people like you and the way you bear false witness against the medical profession and accuse it of unethical acts

            That’s a bit awkward for you to say given that you had just said:

            There may be isolated cases of undue influence being exercised

            You then say:

            in an attempt to manipulate public opinion against the right of women to decide for themselves.

            There’s nothing manipulative about it. Women shouldn’t be allowed to kill babies, born or not. We’re quite open about that. We would point out that the decision to have an abortion or not is an ethical, not a medical decision.

            To listen to you, anyone would think that hospitals are occupied by bloodthirsty Dr Mengeles plotting to exterminate the human race.

            I wouldn’t go that far, but the numbers involved are quite staggering:more than 500 abortions per day. If that isn’t bloodthirsty, it is at least staggering indifference.

            The reality is that physicians owe a duty of care to their patients, which includes informing them of ALL their options in the case of an unwanted pregnancy.

            Letting a desperate patient kill someone else is not an exercise of care.

            In this they show much more real charity than a Church concerned only with obedience to its dictates.

            It’s a peculiar use of the term “charity” to say that entails killing innocent human life, wouldn’t you say?

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Teasing? Sounds more like back-pedalling to me.

            If you have solid evidence that women are routinely pressured to undergo abortions, please present it.

            Unless you can back it up with solid evidence, all the phrase “the evidence is” means is that you have no evidence and are presenting your personal opinion as if it were … hmmm, what shall I compare it to? … Gospel truth?

            Without evidence what you’re claiming is mere assertion. That should be a familiar concept to you. Your entire faith is built on it.

            And as for the rest of your inelegantly fetched up regurgitation of the Roman Catechism, are you seriously telling me that, according to the tenets of your faith, humans are innocent?

            If so, then it’s nice to hear the Church has finally ditched the doctrine of Original Sin. Maybe next to bite the dust will be its Stone Age position on human sexuality.

            And as for calling abortion “killing”, how can you kill something that is not independently alive? If you chopped off someone’s hand, you wouldn’t say you’d killed it. It would certainly die, but as it would never have had an independent existence, it couldn’t be killed, but rather eliminated. Or removed, like a non-vital organ. This is the vocabulary we use to describe surgical interventions that do not kill a person.

            A fœtus however is not a person. The prerequisite of personhood is independent life. Once a fœtus has acquired this, personhood becomes possible. From birth onwards, other aspects of personhood develop, such as sentience and personality. So even if a person becomes incapable of independent life because of illness or disability, his status as a person is maintained by the other aspects of personhood he exhibits.

            Catholic dogma does not recognise this self-evident description of personhood and claims that an undeveloped fœtus is a person and can therefore be killed. The Church offers no evidence to support this position. It doesn’t tell us why an undeveloped fœtus is a person. It just throws some mumbo-jumbo about putative invisible and intangible beings called “spirits” at us and then claims that life begins when it says so and if we don’t obey its every dictate then evil “spirits” will torture us for all eternity.

            No proof required. Mere assertion is enough.

            No. It is not.

          • Albert

            Teasing? Sounds more like back-pedalling to me.

            Obviously it was hyperbole.

            If you have solid evidence that women are routinely pressured to undergo abortions, please present it

            A good place to start would be the BBC TV programme and radio programme on Down’s Syndrome, a few weeks ago.

            And as for the rest of your inelegantly fetched up regurgitation of the Roman Catechism, are you seriously telling me that, according to the tenets of your faith, humans are innocent?

            I asked if you thought there were no non-religious arguments against abortion. I’ll take that as an ignorant “Yes”. Did you know, even Christopher Hitchens was opposed to abortion? My guess is that it wasn’t because he placed himself under the authority of the Catholic Church. So to be clear: you are proceeding without evidence on the basis of ignorance, which flies in the face of evidence.

            In themselves, human beings are innocent of anything that would entitle another human being to put them to death.

            Maybe next to bite the dust will be its Stone Age position on human sexuality.

            Of course, sex. It would have to be about sex. Why does it all come back to sex for those virulently opposed to Christianity? Tell me, what was Stone Age teaching on sex? Or abortion or exposure of newborns?

            And as for calling abortion “killing”, how can you kill something that is not independently alive?

            Are you really going to argue that? That being alive requires you to be independent? I take it that you have never held a new born baby in your arms. Anything less independent would be hard to imagine. So perhaps you do support Stone Age practices on exposure of infants after all.

            If you chopped off someone’s hand, you wouldn’t say you’d killed it. It would certainly die

            So I can cause something to die, but it wasn’t alive and I didn’t kill it. Did you give any thought at all to this argument? Do we not use treatments to kill a cancer?

            A fœtus however is not a person.

            That’s just an assertion with which I disagree.

            The prerequisite of personhood is independent life.

            That’s another assertion with which I disagree.

            Catholic dogma does not recognise this self-evident description of personhood

            That would explain why you have given an assertion without evidence or reasoning. It doesn’t need it, it is self-evident, apparently. You mean that The prerequisite of personhood is independent life is self-evidently true, so that anyone who denies it contradicts himself, as if he had said “It is not a prerequisite of a triangle that it has three sides”? Is that what you mean? Where’s the contradiction? And if there is no contradiction, in what way is it self-evident?

            Catholic dogma…claims that an undeveloped fœtus is a person and can therefore be killed.

            What? Of course we don’t support such killing on those grounds.

            The Church offers no evidence to support this position.

            Yes it does – at least the position we take, rather than the position you have attributed to us. You just haven’t bothered to check all the positions properly before drawing your conclusion, which is to say that your position is rationally unjustified, even if it is true (which it isn’t).

            It doesn’t tell us why an undeveloped fœtus is a person.

            Yes it does.

            It just throws some mumbo-jumbo about putative invisible and intangible beings called “spirits”

            No the Church doesn’t. If the Church speaks of the soul, it speaks of the soul because the personhood has already been argued for, not the other way around.

            then claims that life begins when it says so and if we don’t obey its every dictate then evil “spirits” will torture us for all eternity.

            There’s nothing irrational about the belief that justice will be done in the end. Have you never read Kant?

            No proof required. Mere assertion is enough.

            Which is actually a fair description of your entire post.

            No. It is not.

            Quite!

          • Bonkim

            It would be better for the baby not to live a life time of dependency.

          • Albert

            Better to what than for the baby not to live a life -time of dependency?

          • Bonkim

            the post was about babies born with serious defects that will make life miserable for the one afflicted.

          • Albert

            So it’s better to kill the disabled than to let them live?

          • Bonkim

            Depends on the quality of life/extent of the disability and whether the person is salvageable or hooked on to pipes and wires for ever simply to keep the heart beating.

            Existence is not life.

          • Albert

            Existence is not life.

            Is that meant to be some kind of wise, self- evidently true statement? Because, assuming you mean by “existence” the state of a person being alive, then existence precisely is life, and the denial of that is just self-contradictory. If that’s not what you mean, what do you mean?

            As for the rest of your post, it seems to me that your view of the value of the person is not intrinsic to them, but purely in terms of the quality of their life. Is that correct?

          • Bonkim

            You have understood my view correctly. Nature is harsh. Biologic definition of life does not equate to quality.

            If a human being is alive in a vegetative state and will need lifelong intervention and dependency on others – that is not a life I would choose for myself.

            The discussion was about babies born with serious defects not conducive to sustained life without life long intervention. Those afflicted will be suffering even if they are aware of their existence and have rudimentary brain functions. Parents of such babies will also suffer and serious defects if detected early would allow the Mother to make considered decision on continuing or terminating the pregnancy.

            So yes quality of life is a consideration in life.

          • Albert

            to be kept ticking at great cost for no useful purpose

            So because you cannot find a purpose for someone, therefore it has no purpose, therefore you can kill them? Just at the the level of logic there are problems there (let alone morality).

            that is not a life I would choose for myself

            So because you would not choose it for yourself, you are entitled to choose to end it for someone else? Again, can you set out the logical moves by which you proceed from premise to conclusion, because at the moment, the rational elements seem missing.

            The discussion was about babies born with serious defects not conducive to sustained life without life long intervention. Those afflicted will be suffering even if they are aware of their existence and have rudimentary brain functions. Parents of such babies will also suffer and serious defects if detected early would allow the Mother to make considered decision on continuing or terminating the pregnancy.

            I just want to identify how seriously you take this position. Would you permit the killing of child post-birth in these circumstances?

            Here’s what seems to me to be the underlying problem of your position. I asked:

            it seems to me that your view of the value of the person is not intrinsic to them, but purely in terms of the quality of their life. Is that correct?

            And you replied:

            You have understood my view correctly.

            Now the problem here is that if you think that the value of the person is not intrinsic to them, but is purely a consequence of their quality of life, then it follows that if you judge them to have no quality of life, then you judge them to have no value. In which case, why do you care?

          • Bonkim

            I don’t care – the earth is grossly overpopulated as it is and resources running out. Nature will sort that out.

            You are free to look after your disabled and unproductive if you have the resources. Ultimately society will value life based on their affordability to bear the burden.

            Just a thought – the Spartans left all newborns out in the wild for a few days – only those that survived were taken in.

          • Albert

            That’s a beautifully honest response, thank you. In the end the position you take is motivated by a belief in a Nietzschean social Darwinism, in which the strong triumph over the weak. We’ve heard it before of course, and we know where it goes, which is why it is so refreshing to have someone state with such honesty that that is their position.

          • Bonkim

            Like it or not, nature is harsh and eliminates the weak.

            We are discussing this because over the past few decades (after WW2) society has become affluent, and technologically and organizationally managing to prolong the life of the damaged and unfit and also social and political philosophies defined as liberal, tolerant, equal, diverse, etc making the fitter amongst them guilty of those that are not as fit.

            Christian charity did help the weak – then again terms such as those who don’t work don’t eat, etc, also were prevalent. In the past and until the advent of modern technologies and medical intervention, etc, weaker of the species did not survive long.

            Man is now intervening – not just medically but also in terms of helping weaker societies to multiply and become aid-dependent. Overseas aid for example destroys local economies and increases population at locations previously hostile to life.

            Regardless of what we do to buckle nature, nature will eventually win. Given the population explosion, not much time left for mankind to become extinct.

          • Albert

            Like it or not, nature is harsh and eliminates the weak.

            There’s a fallacy here. It does not follow that because nature does something that therefore you can. For example, one day, nature will kill you, but it doesn’t follow that therefore I can kill you (even if I wanted to!).

            and unfit

            Unfit by what measure?

            also social and political philosophies defined as liberal, tolerant, equal, diverse, etc making the fitter amongst them guilty of those that are not as fit.

            That’s Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity. It is only a critique of liberalism because liberalism borrows a lot of Christianity’s ideas (while rejecting, rather incoherently, the Christian metaphysical world-view that such ideas require).

            then again terms such as those who don’t work don’t eat,

            Those are not the terms. The expression is:

            “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

            The idea being that if a man refuses to work, he is not to be given food by others. That is quite different from what you said, which rather suggested a man who cannot work wouldn’t have food given to him, or that someone who would not work, but had food enough should have the food taken away.

            Regardless of what we do to buckle nature, nature will eventually win. Given the population explosion, not much time left for mankind to become extinct.

            So because we are growing as a population, therefore we are becoming extinct? Anyway, the issue here is not what actually happens, but what bearing it should have on our behaviour: does the fact that nature does X give us the right to do X? If there is an argument for that, you haven’t given it.

          • Bonkim

            Our discussing semantics or what could/will happen does not effect nature.

            You are free to act based on your vision and reasons. That is your right. Equally don’t expect all others to agree.

          • Albert

            Our discussing semantics or what could/will happen does not effect nature.

            Clearly it can if it results in action. But in a sense, that’s not the point, the issue is how we should behave.

            You are free to act based on your vision and reasons. That is your right. Equally don’t expect all others to agree. I don’t.

            The trouble is that the position you take enables you to kill others. I.e. it enables you to deny the freedoms for others you are defending for yourself. I think that’s inconsistent, if you present it a moral position. If it’s just a power grab, then it is perfectly consistent – for as long as you are able to defend it.

          • Bonkim

            Everyone is expected to abide by the Laws of the land – so I can’t kill anyone without facing the full weight of the Law. Individual rights are balanced with obligations so that we don’t go about harming others exercising their similar rights.

          • Albert

            Yes, but you appear to think those laws are wrong: it is a moral discussion we are having.

          • Bonkim

            I didn’t say the Laws are wrong. Laws are needed to regulate human behavior. Don’t bring morality in the discussion. The Laws of the land allow termination of pregnancy, even withdrawal of life support under certain conditions such as birth defects that make life difficult for the individual concerned.

            The point is individuals should have the rights they consider important to them in relation to choices available to them. I am all for individual rights – choices as long as they are within Law.

          • Albert

            Don’t bring morality in the discussion.

            I’m not bringing it is. It’s what the discussion is about.

            The Laws of the land allow termination of pregnancy, even withdrawal of life support under certain conditions such as birth defects that make life difficult for the individual concerned.

            There is a difference between withholding a treatment which is burdensome and will be unsuccessful, and actually killing someone. In the first, the illness kills, in the second we do. I am yet to hear an argument which permits moving from the first to the second.

            The point is individuals should have the rights they consider important to them in relation to choices available to them

            So the individual gets to just choose which rights they want?! What about when someone’s choice of right undermines someone else’s?

            I am all for individual rights – choices as long as they are within Law.

            And what is the law based on?

          • Bonkim

            The story is about the Nurse using working time to indulge in her religion. She is paid to do a job not to waste time praying to her God.

            As far as I am concerned the medical fraternity will be faced with the question you are posing – our agreeing or not will make no difference.If I was the patient would if I have my faculties intact request for a full assessment of my situation and prospect for recovery/cure. If it looks dodgy will not have any qualms to request that no artificial means should be used to keep my heart ticking for any length of time. I would be happy to go if nature wills so.

          • Albert

            The story is about the Nurse using working time to indulge in her religion. She is paid to do a job not to waste time praying to her God.

            But our discussion began when you said: It would be better for the baby not to live a life time of dependency.

            You then say

            If it looks dodgy will not have any qualms to request that no artificial means should be used to keep my heart ticking for any length of time. I would be happy to go if nature wills so.

            And that is entirely your right to do so. But where you are provided no rational content is in how you move from

            (i) I would refuse treatment

            to (ii) Therefore, there is a moral right to kill someone in a similar situation.

            In the absence of any rational content to take us from (i) to (ii) your position is irrational, and given the seriousness of (ii), wicked. Are you not able to given some reasoning here?

          • Bonkim

            You will have to ask the baby and its mother if it wants to live a miserable dependent life. The medical fraternity has certain limits within their professional ethics beyond which they will advise life is unsustainable. Your and my reasons do not apply.

          • Albert

            You will have to ask the baby and its mother if it wants to live a miserable dependent life.

            And in the absence of a response from the baby, you assume you have the right to kill the baby. But that’s obviously bogus.

            The medical fraternity has certain limits within their professional ethics beyond which they will advise life is unsustainable. Your and my reasons do not apply.

            It does not follow that because life is unsustainable that therefore you have the right to kill that life – it might just mean that you have to accept that medical treatment will be unsuccessful, and that therefore, such treatment should not be given. But none of these points gets you to the point of actually killing the child. Are you really unable to see the difference between letting the illness take its’ course and killing?

          • Bonkim

            It would then be the mother’s choice if she can afford to look after a disabled child life. You and I have no say in the matter.

          • Albert

            No, that’s the same problem again – one person choosing to take the life of another. Once you do that, you undermine all rights and therefore the right to take the life of another. Moreover, it is never just the mother’s responsibility to look after a child. So you are right to say that you have no say in the matter (since you have no rational basis for your claims) but my claims remain relevant.

          • Bonkim

            I don’t want to be paying for your misguided beliefs. It is the responsibility of the parents that brought the child to earth specially the mother to decide. Not anyone else’s. Screening for serious defects well before birth is eminently sensible.

          • Albert

            So my belief that children should not be killed is misguided? Does it ever occur to you, when you are scraping out the child from the womb, that you might be mistaken?

            Secondly, no child is ever only the responsibility of the parents. For example, we all pay taxes to educate other children. Do you disagree with that? If a child is neglected by the parents or abused by them, the state rightly steps in. Do you disagree with that? In other words, if you know a child is being abused by the child’s parents, do you think you have a duty to do something about it?

          • Bonkim

            Our beliefs may differ.

            Happy New Year.

          • Albert

            Happy New Year to you too!

          • Bonkim

            Spot on!

      • Martin

        OmF

        The Atheists seem to be allowed to manipulate anyone into their religion.

        • Oisín mac Fionn

          Atheists have no religion.

          But in any case, atheist nurses aren’t noted for turning up at the bedsides of gravely ill patients and trying to convince them that god doesn’t exist.

          If this woman had merely done her job without bringing her religious beliefs into it, she’d still have that job. She’s clearly unfit to practice if she can’t understand where the dividing line between private belief and professional duty falls.

          • Martin

            OmF

            Of course Atheists have a religion, it’s called self worship and they press their religion on us all the time, even in hospitals. If it hadn’t been for Atheists we wouldn’t have had the idiocy of vestigial organs and other ‘medical’ nonsense based on a belief in Evolution. If Atheists only left their beliefs at home we’d all be better off.

      • Like others here, you are projecting your personal hobgoblins onto a case we have very little info on.

        • Inspector General

          Upon his demise, Linus’ coffin was walked through the streets, borne by ten naked under-age schoolboys. His final wish granted…

          • O, dear. The first shot from the foc’sle carronade has been fired.

          • Inspector General

            Afterwards, the boys were taken for health inspection. Three areas of the body. A shiny new mandarin for whomever is first to name these areas…

          • Martin

            IG

            I don’t think we need any more, there are plenty in government.

          • …followed by a lower gun deck barrage. Boom-crash, just below the water line, sponge the barrel and get ready to reload!

            A mandarin? To keep away the dreaded Barlow’s disease, no doubt. I’ll pass and let the more needy buck for the award.

      • chefofsinners

        Vulnerable to what exactly? How would it harm someone to become a Christian?

        • Oisín mac Fionn
          • chefofsinners

            Save yourself the embarrassment and admit I’m right.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            If you were a nurse, I’d complain to your manager about that last question. Religious harassment. It’s a firing offence, didn’t you know?

            But you’re just some random bible thumper on a random blog who risks nothing for his faith. As such, who takes you seriously?

          • Albert

            If I were a patient, I would be only too pleased if the nurse asked if she could pray for me. If I were non religious, I would happily say “No thanks” and leave it at that. It seems therefore that this complaint is really about controlling religious people, not about charity and freedom.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            If I were a patient, I would not want to be importuned by a nurse whose job it is to care for those in her charge. Her religious beliefs would be her business and hers alone. If she tried to foist them on me when I was in a weakened state, it would be a form of aggression. It would be she who was trying to control me, not me her.

            You forget (somewhat conveniently) that Christians are exhorted to evangelise. What better way to brainwash people when they’re in a vulnerable state?

            I would also complain about any nurse who campaigned for a political party at work.Hospital is quite simply not the right place to tout controversial views.

          • Albert

            If I were a patient, I would not want to be importuned by a nurse whose job it is to care for those in her charge.

            But it is a particular view of the human person to reduce care to purely physical care. There are few people that would accept that as being her duty. She’s not a machine and neither are we. Now if you have such a reductionist view of the human person then you have every right to decline her offer, and if she persists to complain. But I cannot see how you have the right to impose your reductionist view on her or the rest of us.

            Her religious beliefs would be her business and hers alone.

            I don’t accept that. No religious person accepts that. Here again we see your philosophical/ethical view being foisted on another person.

            If she tried to foist them on me when I was in a weakened state, it would be a form of aggression.

            She asks if you want her to pray for you, and you call it aggression? When did secularists become so psychologically fragile?

            It would be she who was trying to control me, not me her.

            How? If you can refuse, how is that control?

            You forget (somewhat conveniently) that Christians are exhorted to evangelise.

            If you think I forget that, you’re a fool.

            What better way to brainwash people when they’re in a vulnerable state?

            Yes I see the reasoning here: someone asking if you want them to pray for you is an aggressive act, an attempt brainwash. Well that reasoning didn’t follow at any point, and seems to have been determined by your own hysteria.

            I would also complain about any nurse who campaigned for a political party at work.

            Not an analogy. No one could argue that campaigning for a political party is anything to do with the patient’s care.

            Hospital is quite simply not the right place to tout controversial views.

            But your views are controversial. Can’t you see that? This is why people like you are so intolerant. Your position is not some kind of rational neutral position, it is a particular metaphysical and metaethical stance. It is one metaphysical position amongst many. There’s no reason to let you impose it in the public space to the detriment of other people’s views.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            My philosophical position is my business and has nothing to do with anyone else. If I were a nurse, I would not foist it on any patient. It would not be my job to do so.

            Nurses are not trained counselors. If patients want counsel, they can ask for it. A nurse’s job is to attend to her patients’ need for physical care. This does not make her a robot. She can converse with her patients and express sympathy. But if she starts to dispense advice, or tries to persuade her patients that her religious beliefs can help them, she oversteps the boundaries of professional behaviour and strays into potentially dangerous amateurism.

            If patients express a wish for psychological or spiritual support, appropriate support can be offered by trained professionals. Nurses may alert doctors to a patient’s distress and express an opinion that support is needed. But they should not offer that support themselves unless they are qualified to do so.

            So yes, I would report a nurse who offered to pray for me. Why? Because in the course of any conversation about “spirituality”, my contempt for the concept would be so evident that only a dangerously fanatical Christian could fail to understand me. I can look after myself, so even if she insisted, she wouldn’t get very far in her attempt to convert me. But if I were being treated with some form of consciousness-altering drug, or had been traumatised by a severe injury or shock, even I might succumb to her blandishments. When you’re not in your right mind, you can fall victim to the most transparent of strategems.

            To stop this happening to someone else, I would indeed report such a nurse and follow through on my report to ensure that she was never again given the opportunity to abuse her patients’ confidence.

            I realise how inconvenient my attitude is to religionists because it thwarts you in your attempts to subvert the weak and vulnerable and gain converts in pretty much the only way that’s still open to you. You can’t convert people to your cause via logical argument because you have no evidence to back up what you say. You can’t impose your faith by decree because you no longer possess any authority. All you can do is act like any predator and try to pick off the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us. My attitude hinders you in your ability to stalk your prey, so you do your best to discredit me and others like me because otherwise your faith will fade away as the current generation of believers dies out.

            Hence the increasingly desperate attempts to fight against rules that prevent you from recruiting among the weak and vulnerable. It’s understandable from a survivalist point of view. But it’s also utterly pathetic.

            I mean, if this God of yours really does exist, your religion can’t disappear, right? He’ll arrive in his rainbow pixie carriage drawn by a gaggle of winged airheads and zap all us blue meanies into oblivion, or hell, or wherever it is you dream of seeing us suffer for eternity in.

            So why all the panic and the underhanded attempts to convert by stealth and/or subterfuge?

            If you can’t fail, why do you act as if failure is what you’re expecting?

          • Albert

            What an interesting few posts. Earlier you were making comments about abortion. But it quickly became apparent that your opinions are held with strength inversely proportional to your knowledge of the subject. So you’ve backed off from that. Now you says this:

            My philosophical position is my business and has nothing to do with anyone else.

            In which case, your philosophy won’t be requiring you to complain about nurses offering to pray with patients. But you are complaining about nurses offering to pray with patients. Therefore, it is not true that My philosophical position is my business and has nothing to do with anyone else.

            Nurses are not trained counselors.

            I hope that that isn’t true. I would have thought every medical professional, should have at least basic training in counselling skills.

            A nurse’s job is to attend to her patients’ need for physical care.

            I don’t agree with this – it seems to me to stem from your philosophy which you say has nothing to do with anyone else.

            But if she starts to dispense advice, or tries to persuade her patients that her religious beliefs can help them, she oversteps the boundaries of professional behaviour

            No, I don’t agree. You do know why nurses are addressed as “Sister” I assume?

            So yes, I would report a nurse who offered to pray for me. Why? Because in the course of any conversation about “spirituality”, my contempt for the concept would be so evident that only a dangerously fanatical Christian could fail to understand me.

            If you are that pathologically anti-religious, then I hope it would evident so that you can be offered the mental health treatment you would need.

            I can look after myself

            In which case, you won’t need a nurse, for you said, A nurse’s job is to attend to her patients’ need for physical care.

            so even if she insisted, she wouldn’t get very far in her attempt to convert me.

            So you think that a nurse who offers to pray for you must be trying to convert you?

            To stop this happening to someone else,

            To stop someone else being asked if they want the nurse to pray for them. What if they would be only too glad for the nurse to pray for them. For myself, I wouldn’t want to be in a secular environment if I were in hospital. I don’t mean I need all the nurses to be nuns, but I do not want to be looked after exclusively by godless people. Of course, if that is there religious position then I have to accept that, but I don’t see why you get to determine my environment simply because you are offended at a kindly nurse offering to pray for you. Get over yourself man.

            I realise how inconvenient my attitude is to religionists because it thwarts you in your attempts to subvert the weak and vulnerable and gain converts in pretty much the only way that’s still open to you.

            We;re not talking about evangelism, we are talking about an offer of prayer. You keep having to exaggerate because even you realise that sacking a nurse or even reporting her for offering to pray for someone sounds small-minded.

            You can’t convert people to your cause via logical argument because you have no evidence to back up what you say.

            Three things here (i) This is not about converting people (ii) you confuse logic with rational argument – when you use the word logic you imply every argument would have to deductive, which is surely not what you mean (iii) we have lots reason and evidence to back up what we say. It’s just that, like the abortion debate, you’ve taken your position in advance of a proper study of the subject, which is to say, your extremely aggressive views are rationally unjustified.

            My attitude hinders you in your ability to stalk your prey

            I don’t want to stalk anyone. What your attitude does is hinder my opportunity to be prayed for by a nurse who is looking after me, and all because your philosophy (which is nothing to do with anyone else) is that religion has not place in the public sphere.

            so you do your best to discredit me

            You discredit yourself by making unsupported and demonstrably false assertions.

            because otherwise your faith will fade away as the current generation of believers dies out.

            You really believe that? That if only people like me didn’t point out the errors in the positions of people like you, Christianity would stop growing? Seriously? You think that?

            Hence the increasingly desperate attempts to fight against rules that prevent you from recruiting among the weak and vulnerable.

            Which is of course not what I have defended. On the contrary, my earlier posts largely agreed with you. Isn’t both the tone and the content of your position, actually a sign of desperation?

            I mean, if this God of yours really does exist, your religion can’t disappear, right?

            Yes, true.

            He’ll arrive in his rainbow pixie carriage drawn by a gaggle of winged airheads

            That’s another thing you’ve never studied then – how religious language works. But don’t let your ignorance get in the way of an enjoyable prejudice.

            zap all us blue meanies into oblivion, or hell, or wherever it is you dream of seeing us suffer for eternity in.

            I don’t dream of that. I hope that all will be saved.

            So why all the panic and the underhanded attempts to convert by stealth and/or subterfuge?

            We’re talking about a nurse offering to pray for someone, not underhanded attempts to convert by stealth and/or subterfuge?

            If you can’t fail, why do you act as if failure is what you’re expecting?

            If your so rational, why do you write as if you are paranoid and constantly have to misrepresent what is being said to you. Your entire post has been an attack on a position I have not expressed and do not hold.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Christians are exhorted to evangelise unbelievers. It’s the “Great Commission”, is it not?

            Therefore if you tell me that you have no desire to evangelise, I must either conclude that you are not a Christian because you are directly disobeying your god’s command, or you’re a liar.

            So which is it?

          • Albert

            Christians are exhorted to evangelise unbelievers. It’s the “Great Commission”, is it not?

            So because we are to evangelise, therefore, we must evangelise at all times and in all places? By what logic do you draw these conclusions?

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            It’s what your deity commands.

            “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

            Notice it doesn’t say “except when you’re in hospital” or “whenever you feel like it, but if you can’t be bothered then don’t worry about it”.

            So, evangeliser or liar? Which is it?

          • Albert

            It’s what your deity commands.

            It’s pretty obvious that you have, again, chosen a pretty foolish battlefield. Clearly, Christians do not need to be evangelising in all times and places. The passage you cite does not say that we should and no amount of special pleading on your part will make it say that or entail that. Moreover, it is easy to find passages of scripture that say there are occasions when we should evangelise:

            Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.

            Paul was a tent maker – so he wasn’t always evangelising. When we look at the Acts of the Apostles, we find lots of other things going on. Again in Ephesians we read:

            And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

            Notice that not all are called to be evangelists.

            The point is made here:

            For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

            So far in this thread, you’ve just done what secularists normally do. You’ve made a series of claims about the importance of evidence. You’ve then given a load of assertion without evidence, all of which can be answered with evidence. In this post you’ve given a scripture to prove a point it does not prove, and shown yourself ignorant of the abundant evidence that contradicts your argument.

            Now if evidence is as important as you claim it is, you need to revise many of your opinions.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            I see, so non-Christians are dogs and pigs, are we?

            Is this evidence of Christian charity and respect for all people made – as you claim – in the image of your god? Is your god a dog? Is he a pig? Or do you really believe that those who do not share your faith are not made in his image and are in fact subhuman? Where’s your evidence for that? Does the genome of non-believers contain canine and/or porcine DNA?

            That would be real evidence and yes, evidence is important. As usual you have produced no evidence to support any idea except the contradictory nature of your holy book.

            On the one hand it exhorts Christians to evangelise. On the other it tells them not to bother if they don’t feel like it. On the one hand you’re supposed to be converting all the nations. On the other, if your attempts meet the slightest resistance, you’re supposed to spit at those who refuse your blandishments and treat them as no better than animals.

            Lets you justify anything, this flexible friend of yours called the bible, doesn’t it? Anything except the things you don’t want to justify.

            I’ll revise my opinion of the bible when a god called Jesus appears, gives reasonable proofs of his divinity and confirms that this book you’ve all been arguing over for the past few thousand years really is his word. Until then your claims are mere assertions and your “evidence” continues to be non-existent.

            I’ll also continue to regard Christians with the deepest suspicion as being people who want to harm others in the name of this fictitious “love” they claim to feel. If I can thwart them in any way and hinder their ability to spread their message of intolerance, hatred and exclusion around them, I’ll continue to do so.

            Call me a dog or a pig if you like. I know exactly what to call you.

          • Albert

            I see, so non-Christians are dogs and pigs, are we?

            You really don’t understand language do you. On the one hand, you point out that Jesus says we must evangelise, on the other hand you assume that non-Christians are dogs because of Jesus’ comment about not giving what is holy to the dogs. Can you not see the contradiction? If being a non-Christian makes you a dog, then it is not possible to evangelise you, but Jesus says we should evangelise you. Therefore, non-Christians are not dogs.

            I assume that what Jesus means is that we shouldn’t evangelise among those who have closed their hearts to hearing. Those who regard the gospel with malice etc. I know a few atheists who might fall into that category, and Jesus says we should not evangelise them, but it is clearly not the case that all atheists or non-Christians are like that. So therefore your claim is simply wrong: non-Christians are not dogs and pigs. I would have thought this was obvious.

            On the one hand it exhorts Christians to evangelise. On the other it tells them not to bother if they don’t feel like it.

            No it doesn’t. It says don’t if the listener is not willing to listen.

            On the one hand you’re supposed to be converting all the nations. On the other, if your attempts meet the slightest resistance

            No, not the slightest resistance – that’s just a silly attempt to force the text to make it mean what you want it to mean, as opposed to what it actually says.

            you’re supposed to spit at those who refuse your blandishments and treat them as no better than animals.

            To spit at people? Where does it say that? To treat them as no better than animals? It never says that. As a matter of interest, did you ever pass an English exam? You do realise that not all language is literal?

            Until then your claims are mere assertions and your “evidence” continues to be non-existent.

            You are so determined to reach your conclusions that you go well beyond the evidence. As is clear to any fair minded person, I have not attempted to give any evidence for Jesus or God in this thread. I was simply responding to your claim that we are somehow required to evangelise at all times and in all places. You provided no “reasonable evidence” for that, and it was easy to refute it. But your response is just more of the same – massive misunderstanding of what a text says and then massive exaggeration of inference from what you think the text says.

            Ironically, you have simply begun with the conclusion you wanted about Christianity and then distorted what little evidence you have to support that conclusion. I wonder why you do that when it is so transparent and transparently unsuccessful. Has this tactic actually worked for you in the past?

            I’ll also continue to regard Christians with the deepest suspicion as being people who want to harm others in the name of this fictitious “love” they claim to feel.

            This is coming from someone who has left a manifest and visible trail which anyone can read of exaggeration and distortion of the beliefs of others, with a view to being able to put them down, attack them and undermine their freedoms. Do you even convince yourself when you attempt to virtue signal in this way?

            If I can thwart them in any way and hinder their ability to spread their message of intolerance, hatred and exclusion around them, I’ll continue to do so.

            Exactly – that was the conclusion you began with and wanted to justify from the first. But as any reader can see, the only person manifesting intolerance, hatred and exclusion is you.

            Call me a dog or a pig if you like.

            I have never called you a dog or a pig and have no desire to.

          • Anton

            The entire human race is not in its right mind; that is the point.

          • chefofsinners

            If you were a nurse, we’d all be dead.

    • chefofsinners

      Did you ever feel you were the victim of an anti-popeulist cabal?

      • Do such people still exist in 2016?

        • chefofsinners

          Then the deception is complete. Evil laugh.

          • Surely everyone loves and respects Papists in our enlightened times.

          • chefofsinners

            Currently it is unclear whether the Pope loves Catholics.

          • We’re all “Promethean neo-Pelagians”.

          • chefofsinners

            You shouldn’t be promethane. It causes global warming.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Mmmmmm

          • chefofsinners

            The termites are also living in fear of the anty populist cabal.

    • Bonkim

      Christians are supposed to abstain from idolatry.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Whether I steal a million pounds from a bank or a chocolate bar from the corner shop the law still considers it to be theft. There’s a lot we don’t know about this case but I think it is presumptuous to say it’s not persecution. Persecution doesn’t always result in bloody barbarism. There are many ways to destroy a person without necessarily taking their physical life. I see nothing wrong in offering to pray or discuss Christian faith with a patient provided one is prepared to take “no” for an answer. I wonder if she would have been treated this way if she were Muslim and handed out copies of the Koran?

    • “I see nothing wrong in offering to pray or discuss Christian faith with a patient provided one is prepared to take “no” for an answer.”

      That’s what’s in dispute.

    • petej

      Yes. I’m certain that she would have been treated the same regardless of which faith she was from. The dismissal resulted from complaints from patients. I’m pretty sure she’d have had even more complaints if she were Muslim.

    • michaelkx

      No the boss would not in case that 1/ the get a bomb delivered to them, 2/ the fanatical equality lot would be screaming about human right. 3/ the GOD haters would be on it to.

  • Should a public employee be permitted to evangelise or proselytise members of the public whilst undertaking work duties? Not a straightforward issue.

    • carl jacobs

      They are certainly allowed to proselytize non-religious world views. [Cough] Psychology [Cough]

      • True.

        • carl jacobs

          Let me rephrase a little. Psychology must be informed by Revelation.

          • Consistent with it, Jack would say. There is certainly great psychological insight in scripture.

          • Anton

            Decent of you to say so.

          • True ” psychotherapy” is surrender to God through prayer and fasting combined with a sincere study of one’s faith. If we did what Christ told us to do – turn away from the satisfactions of the world, pray, and live chaste and humble lives filled with loving sacrifices for others – we would be spiritually and mentally healthy.

            Unfortunately, not everyone responds to grace. Counselling can be used to understand and help overcome the obstacles to the spiritual growth necessary for living a holy and healthy lifestyle.

          • Anton

            Secular means can aid a person, but they are change from the outside in rather than from the inside out. And Christ can change us in ways that we cannot.

          • Agreed. Jack soon came to appreciate that no person can change another person but we can only offer opportunities to them to reflect on life, their values and how and why they make choices. Some people are “prisoners” of their past.

          • Anton

            Yes indeed.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Ahem…I think my Lord the bishop would disagree, but only when I am not there…

          • Martin

            Carl

            Psychology without the Bible is like trying to do maths while using only addition.

    • Samuel

      parumpapumpum!

      • dannybhoy

        “Parumpapumpum”?

        • Martin

          Me and my drum.

          • You guys have rolled and lit up something wicked without passing it to your good friend, Avi. What’s this about?

          • Samuel

            Dude ,

            Well I don’t know the origins, but David Bowie and Bing Crosby did a cover of it in 1977 , gets played in every pub, coffee bar, shopping centre etc during the Christmas / festive / wintervile period….

            Especially reminiscent as both my French Company Secretary and Mrs Samuel , keep playing all these songs to “get to know English more”.

          • I don’t get out enough, apparently.

            Shavua tov, Yid, how goes it?

          • Samuel

            Oy, well dude , I’m getting by. Helped Hannah out with her refurbishment of her kitchen, appreciated a rousing rendition of El Nora Alila at Yom Kippur and survived France for two weeks . Not necessary in that order. No bun in the oven for Mrs S , yet. My Israeli cousin ,Shani, wants to visit us, although we’re thinking of moving to Israel. Looking forward to Hanukkah . Pretty boring and bourgeois to be honest , but Si los anios calleron, los dedos quedaron [If the rings fell off, at least the fingers stayed] .

            Yourself?

          • Our very Ashkenazic shul does the El Nora Alila piyut too. You’re a good brother to our Miss Hannah, and please relay my greetings to her. Well, if you are going to make aliya, consider doing so before baby or shortly after; too many friends with older kids who’re finding the transition difficult.

            Boring and bourgeois is not a bad option; most of the world strives for that. Me ok; older kids in the Medinat, where they’ll remain; our youngest just started high school and plans to stay in Canada. She is our “English” child, who keeps in touch with my wife’s family in England, Wales and Scotland. So do I and the wife; I can’t handle another immigratio and she has parents and siblings here. Done with trucking around, mostly, and reviving my graphic design business. Looking at US and UK for future custom and ventures, as I have a feeling Trump and Brexit will get things cracking. Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the creeping socialism malaise and that the adults are in charge again!

          • Mike Stallard

            “Dude”
            is not rude.
            But
            I can honestly say
            It’s sooooo yesterday!

          • The Explorer

            American Christmas carol based on an imaginary event. (LInus would say that’s also true of the Christmas story itself.) Composed in 1941 by Katherine Kennicott Davis, and a classic ever since.

          • Thanks!

          • Martin

            TE

            Classic in that it’s dragged out every Christmas to annoy, just like Cliff Richard.

          • carl jacobs

          • Ah, thanks. Of course I know this one, I do go to stores and malls; just never knew its name.

          • carl jacobs

            See, now. If you want to watch something really cool on Youtube, you should watch this guy.

            My absolutely most favorite of all Youtube channel. OK, he’s a Brit so you have might have to do some translation of the dialect. He’s a musician by profession, and it makes sense. What he does is as much art as it is Engineering.

          • Oh, it’s art for sure and the compound engine is a sheer treat! Saw a full-scale restored one on a tractor thresher, in action, at an Ontario farmers’ market! That was before I had a smart phone and I don’t have pics of it, unfortunately. For insomnia been listening with ear buds to a C-Span clip of the scary Jason Chaffetz-Trey Gowdy tag team tucking into the Iran “deal.” Had to stop it after an hour because it’s certainly not something to lull one to sleep. Hopefully I won’t dream about being in a cross-fire between those two. And now you got me wired with the steam launch model!

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, I am excited about the compound engine. Every restoration I’ve watched him do so far has been a simple engine – either one or two cylinders.

          • Martin

            Avi

            Sorry about that.

          • Martin

            Cruel.

          • IanCad

            Rolf Harris did a version titled “The Little Bummer Boy”

        • Pubcrawler

          Sprouts.

          • Martin

            PC

            Christmas lunch?

          • Anton

            You can get battered sprouts nowadays which are deep-friable, in oil or animal fat. That should make them suitably un-PC.

          • Martin

            Anton

            Now you’ve offended him.

          • Pubcrawler

            Fatwa on its way…

          • Pubcrawler

            But still in their essence unwelcome on my plate.

        • Samuel

          Dude

          It twas my thoughts on such a complex issue. Handy word is parumpapumpum.

          • dannybhoy

            You’ve changed your littlewhateverit’scalled -picture. Are you re-inventing yourself?

          • Samuel

            I’ve changed the avatar many months ago: you must keep up dude!

          • dannybhoy

            Noone can keep up with Mr. Toad..
            Poop Poop!

        • IrishNeanderthal

          It’s something designed to bring out one’s inner Scrooge: http://hurryuphannah.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/parumpapumpum-and-other-bar-humbugs.html

          • dannybhoy

            Ah, The Little Drummer Boy. I like it.
            But I always thought it was “pahpahpahmpham…”

    • SimonToo

      Evangelising or proselytising is one thing, offering to pray with someone is another.

    • petej

      I think the answer is a resounding “yes”. The nurse was told by her trust that she could discuss her faith with her patients if they were happy for her to do so.

      I think the issue is more the ethics of proselytising to people who are in a vulnerable state when you are in a powerful state, especially if they ask you to stop.

      I think the merits of the case will depend on exactly what she said and did. There was a similar case a year or so ago where a Christian NHS line manager was disciplined for doing something similar to a member of her staff. The manager didn’t feel she had done anything wrong, but the staff member felt so harassed that she quit her job. I don’t think it is right that anyone should feel harassed when facing dangerous surgery.

      • But it would seem the patients who complained were not happy with the nurse’s behaviour. So, a registrar of births can teach Christian virtues to an unmarried couple and tell them to repent? Or admonish a divorced couple who are marrying? Even warn same sex couples of the abomination they are committing? Perhaps a Muslim checkout assistant can debate the immorality of drink or eating pork with customers?

        • petej

          I think the two key issues here are consent and well being. I’m not a doctor but I’d imagine that being in an angry or distressed state is not an ideal state before having a general anaesthetic. The nurse had been told she could share her faith if the patients consented.

    • Bonkim

      Quite straight forward – Not in work time at the work place..

  • Our views on predestination are actually not that far apart. Even so, the small distance between them has a massive effect on our respective theologies.

  • Albert

    Why do you think it is your influence?

  • Albert

    *Rites*

    • Yeah, but “last rights” would work too, come to think of it. After that final event-horizon, all we get to do is to hope, beg and mewl.

      • Albert

        Mmmm…but the complaint was that the priest was imposing something on the atheist – so no rights there. And anyway, error hath no rights.

        • Anton

          But who decides what is error?

          • Albert

            Error is not decided. It is manifested.

          • Anton

            What if two persons disagree on whether something is a manifestation of error?

          • Albert

            ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam et tibi dabo claves regni caelorum et quodcumque ligaveris super terram erit ligatum in caelis et quodcumque solveris super terram erit solutum in caelis

          • Anton

            Not an answer. And why quote Matthew 16 in a language that is neither ours nor Christ’s nor Matthew’s?

          • Albert

            It was more fun that way. And yes, you know exactly what my answer is.

          • Anton

            Yes, I do. What I’m not sure of is how you’d treat those who are wrong, given a free hand.

          • Albert

            If that’s a serious question, I’m pretty offended by it. Let’s just say, rather better than Protestants treated Catholics, when Protestants had a free hand.

          • Anton

            It was a serious question but a generic rather than a personal use of “you”. And you (Albert!) know exactly who I mean by generic…

            What happens when two people, adhering to incompatible belief systems that both say “error has no rights”, meet? The answer to that depends on what their traditions say about treating people rather than what they believe. That is a distinction which “error has no rights” does not make clear.

          • Albert

            What happens when two people, adhering to incompatible belief systems that both say “error has no rights”, meet?

            Has anyone ever suggested to you that your literalism means you don’t get irony? We have very clear and agreed teaching on this question. Does the Protestant reformed tradition? What happens if, for example, the kind of people who have power as Protestants turn out to be the Dutch Reformed Church, or the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster?

            How exactly do you Protestants resolve these issues amongst yourselves, let alone should we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of being under your rule? I would have every confidence in the CofE treating people well, and most Protestants being similar, but there is no agreed authority to make people treat others with respect, if their understanding of scripture gets in the way.

          • Anton

            Again you lump all protestants together even though protestants do not belong to a single hierarchy! I’ll gladly give you my view, which is that one must treat people well regardless of what they believe, but let the law discriminate between them on the basis of what they do (and by “what they do” I don’t mean go to a Catholic or protestant church or a mosque).

            You say that Catholic teaching on how to treat people you consider in error is “clear and agreed”. Has it changed since the time of the Inquisition?

            rather better than Protestants treated Catholics, when Protestants had a free hand.

            It is futile to engage in the opposite of a beauty contest between politicised protestantism and intrinsically political Roman Catholicism in the wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. Real Christianity is about changing the individual for the better in ways that he cannot change himself, not about politics. I will add, though, that those politicised protestants got the bad idea of politicised Christianity from their opponents, not vice-versa.

            I agree that I am liable to mistake irony when it comes from you!

          • “I will add, though, that those politicised protestants got the bad idea of politicised Christianity from their opponents, not vice-versa.”

            Yeah, sure. Calvin and Cromwell took their lead from Rome.

          • Anton

            Tell me where in Western Europe the idea of politicised Christianity originated and then dominated for the thousand years before Calvin?

          • Albert

            Again you lump all protestants together even though protestants do not belong to a single hierarchy!

            Anything can form a set if the set is relevant. Here the issue is whether there is a shared teaching that can resolve the problem you thought you could push on the Catholics. And it is clear that you do not have that shared teaching. Thus, it is entirely reasonable to conclude that you are a set. Here you are set with two things in common:

            (i) Sola scriptura
            (ii) Inability to have an authoritative response to the question.

            It will be evident that (ii) follows from (i). Given the seriousness of the question, that’s quite a serious problem.

            I’ll gladly give you my view, which is that one must treat people well regardless of what they believe, but let the law discriminate between them on the basis of what they do (and by “what they do” I don’t mean go to a Catholic or protestant church or a mosque).

            Nice. And those who disagree with you?

            Has it changed since the time of the Inquisition?

            Yes, of course.

            It is futile to engage in the opposite of a beauty contest between politicised protestantism and intrinsically political Roman Catholicism in the wars of the 16th and 17th centuries.

            But that was surely what was implicit in your earlier comment: What I’m not sure of is how you’d treat those who are wrong, given a free hand.

            The comment assumes that Catholics are less trustworthy in this than Protestants. But for the reasons already given and in the light of recent history (your references to the 16th and 17th Centuries flatters your side), it is the opposite that is true. Instead, I agree with you, we shouldn’t engage in a inverted beauty contest. I would also point out that given the foundation of the CofE and certain other Protestant groups, it is plainly special pleading to say that Protestantism is only politicised, and not intrinsically political. And it is a spectacular failure of historical and theological reasoning to assume Catholicism is intrinsically political.

            Real Christianity is about changing the individual for the better in ways that he cannot change himself, not about politics.

            You think that real Christianity has nothing to do with politics? Extraordinary, given many of your comments in the past.

            I will add, though, that those politicised protestants got the bad idea of politicised Christianity from their opponents, not vice-versa.

            Erastianism is plainly a Protestant invention.

            I agree that I am liable to mistake irony when it comes from you!

            That’s because your prejudice means you assume that, as a Catholic, I must be in favour of religious persecution and it is only political weakness that prevents this. You need to grow out of assuming your ignorance is fact.

          • Anton

            You need to cease basing your words on what you think I think, and stick to what I write. I recognise irony when it comes from your fellow-Catholic Jack.

            Tell me where in Western Europe the idea of politicised Christianity originated and then dominated for the thousand years before the Reformation?

            I am happy to see Christians in politics, but not the church as a corporate body. In view of your comment “Extraordinary, given many of your comments in the past” I am left wondering how many times I must say this before you heed that it is my view.

            I asked: Has it [Catholic teaching on the subject] changed since the time of the Inquisition? You replied: Yes, of course. So I ask: Was Catholic teaching wrong before or after?

            Can’t be bothered with the rest. Feel free to award yourself a victory inside your own head.

          • Albert

            You need to cease basing your words on what you think I think, and stick to what I write.

            So what precisely was your meaning in the words What I’m not sure of is how you’d treat those who are wrong, given a free hand. Did you mean merely to ask whether we would have first past the post or proportional representation?

            Tell me where in Western Europe the idea of politicised Christianity originated and then dominated for the thousand years before the Reformation?

            I never said Cathoicism could not be, and has not been politicised. In fact, a later comment of mine indicates that I think it should be some times. But that is not what you said. This is what you said: intrinsically political Roman Catholicism, hence, my objection was: And it is a spectacular failure of historical and theological reasoning to assume Catholicism is intrinsically political.

            You go on:

            I am left wondering how many times I must say this before you heed that it is my view.

            So you withdraw all your comments about Pope Pius XII not standing up to Hitler?

            So I ask: Was Catholic teaching wrong before or after?

            I would say it was wrong before. But not completely. Error does have no rights, but that is not the same as saying that those who are in error have no rights, or that the state is capable of sufficient discernment to be able to take punitive action. So we need a little more precision about what is meant here, and I can see that you are not bothered to continue the discussion you have started. Doubtless you will either continue anyway taking on what you want from this, or you will change to talking about the form of the argument, rather than content.

          • Anton

            So you withdraw all your comments about Pope Pius XII not standing up to Hitler?

            I cannot unravel the convoluted logic in this comparison, but my answer is No, and I am willing to expand on the subject. But I asked: Was Catholic teaching wrong before or after? And you replied: “I would say it was wrong before. But not completely.” Its teaching was therefore partly wrong. You therefore believe that Rome can be wrong in its teaching, contrary to its own assertions. That’s a good start!

          • Albert

            You therefore believe that Rome can be wrong in its teaching, contrary to its own assertions.

            Even as a very anti-Catholic Anglican teenager, I would have seen the flaw in that argument. Why don’t you do some research before stating your misconceptions as facts?

          • Anton

            First, research (despite the etymology) consists of thinking thoughts that haven’t been thought before. That’s what I do in physics. Second, if my argument is so easy to knock down, go ahead!

          • Albert

            First, research (despite the etymology) consists of thinking thoughts that haven’t been thought before.

            No, that’s just one type of research. If you had done research on the word “research”, you would know there are others. Here’s a dictionary definition:

            Investigate systematically:
            ‘she has spent the last five years researching her people’s history’

            You then say:

            Second, if my argument is so easy to knock down, go ahead!

            You’re very sure of yourself aren’t you? Here’s your claim:

            You therefore believe that Rome can be wrong in its teaching, contrary to its own assertions.

            Rome does not teach that all of its teaching is incapable of being wrong, rather:

            we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.

            And

            Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held.

            Now the point is that most teaching is not done in this way. The last time a pope gave an infallible teaching on these grounds was in 1950. The last time a Council did was in 1870. In case you are inclined to argue this point about non-infallible teaching, here is what Canon Law says:

            No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

            To put the matter another way, the Church teaches that a Catholic position may be erroneous, unless it is on matters of faith and morals (i.e. not on practical matters, policies, or even the application of infallible teaching), defined by the Magisterium and intended as infallible. Thus your statement You therefore believe that Rome can be wrong in its teaching, contrary to its own assertions is simply wrong. And even if it weren’t, the infallible teaching only applies to the teaching, not to the inferences Protestants think they find there and it does not prevent developments of doctrine which may shed light on the definition (so long as they don’t contradict it on its own terms).

            Now this was obvious to me as an anti-Catholic teenaged Anglican. Why don’t you do the research as well (or else, stop misrepresenting us, by representing your ignorance)?

          • Anton

            If Rome thinks that it can get out of such binds by saying “we defined it, but not infallibly” then it is going to be in for a shock. Christianity is about grace set in contrast to such legalism.

            Of course I know that there are bastardised definitions of “research”!

          • Albert

            If Rome thinks that it can get out of such binds by saying “we defined it, but not infallibly” then it is going to be in for a shock.

            Ah yes, the familiar Anton admission of having been wrong. You made a claim, I showed the claim was false. Rather than admit that, you then change the subject. But your point here is profoundly foolish. The fact that the Church can speak infallibly on, say, the Trinity, does not mean that everything she says must be infallible. Conversely, the fact that the Church can think and reason and give guidance and mature her thinking prior to defining, does not mean that she cannot define infallibly.

            As for grace verses legalism, what is sola scriptura, but exactly legalism verses grace?

            Of course I know that there are bastardised definitions of “research”!

            Why is your scientific definition of research the only valid one? And why do you keep changing your mind all the time? Sometimes you complain about me being too precise, then you become so precise with the word “research” you arbitrarily permit only your own definition.

          • Anton

            There is not in English any analogue of the Academie Francaise that has the arrogance to try to define the language (and gets what it deserves). Language really does belong to the people. I accept, as my words always made clear, that people use the word “research” in the way you describe today, but I am unrepentantly call it a bastardised definition because it has mushroomed in my lifetime. I hardly ever heard half-educated assistants at the BBC talk of their “research” for programmes a generation ago, when I interacted with the media. It is typical of modern inflation in use of English.

            As for the other matter, I do not believe I am wrong and I accuse the Roman Catholic Church of shocking legalism in its shifting categories of how authoritative its teaching is, and of abusing those categories when obvious errors and changes are pointed out. This is Rome’s way of trying to maintain consistency while making it up as it goes along.

          • Albert

            I am unrepentantly call it a bastardised definition because it has mushroomed in my lifetime.

            What evidence have you got that the word has become bastardised?

            As for the other matter, I do not believe I am wrong and I accuse the Roman Catholic Church of shocking legalism in its shifting categories of how authoritative its teaching is, and of abusing those categories when obvious errors and changes are pointed out. This is Rome’s way of trying to maintain consistency while making it up as it goes along.

            You made a claim about what Rome claims and the claim was simply and demonstrably false. Now, rather ironically, you are resorting to a kind of legalism in order to maintain consistency. But the problem is that you need to do some research to show that your position is somehow the original position (i.e. that it was ever the teaching that everything Rome said was infallible), a position Rome has changed. But it’s obvious that that is not the case – an elementary reading of Church history would show you that.

            Furthermore, the position is demonstrably irrational. For it is entirely reasonable to say that although the Pope can speak infallibly, nevertheless he cannot speak infallibly on just anything – e.g. on whether Argentina will win the next world cup. Making that distinction is not legalism. Again, just because we say that the Pope can speak infallibly on faith and morals, it doesn’t follow that everything he says on faith and morals is infallible. Are we legalists to say that when the Pope gives an interview on a plane, he isn’t infallible? Or that when he writes a book – as Pope Benedict did – not everything in the book is infallible. Or when he gives a homily? And so forth.

            So your position is ironic again, for it entails a legalist black and white approach which says “If the Pope can speak infallibly, then everything he says must be infallible – it’s all or nothing.” And that’s just silly. It might suit your purposes, but it does not meet with reason and evidence.

          • Anton

            That’s not what I said and it’s not my position. I’ve better things to do with my time than get into legalism. I’ll give an example, though (which we’ve discussed before), namely the Bull Unam Sanctam promulgated in 1302, in which the undisputed Pope of the day, Boniface VIII, stated (in translation): “we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff”.

            How Rome has rowed back from that position while denying that it has changed is a remarkable exercise in rhetoric and dissembling. The context of the disagreement between Pope Boniface VIII and the king of France which elicited Unam Sanctam is irrelevant: the Pope has declared these words as a general principle and asserted the strongest authority he has for them. Today, however, Rome is willing to countenance that some protestants and even non-Christians are among the saved. This position cannot be squared with Unam Sanctam. It is possible, of course, to take any statement apart and put it back together again so as to wreck its meaning. You can see clever atheists do that any day with Jesus’ words in the gospels. I’m sure that you have put time and effort into rebutting them. The word for such discussions – on both sides, in fact – is legalism. Christ spoke words of invitation and warning rather than as a lawyer negotiating a contract with a hostile counterparty. Yet Catholics have to subject the words of your own leadership, the papacy, to such destructive analysis in order to uphold its supposed inerrancy. That is an exercise in futility.

          • Albert

            That’s not what I said and it’s not my position.

            What’s not what you said? If you don’t quote my words, it is hard for me to know what you are talking about.

            The context of the disagreement between Pope Boniface VIII and the king of France which elicited Unam Sanctam is irrelevant: the Pope has declared these words as a general principle and asserted the strongest authority he has for them…The word for such discussions – on both sides, in fact – is legalism.

            This is where I think you just need to do some more philosophy of language. It’s not legalism to demand that the words, even universal claims, still need to be taken in their context, in order to be understood. That’s just a basic element of how language works, in even the more ordinary of situations.

            Christ spoke words of invitation and warning rather than as a lawyer negotiating a contract with a hostile counterparty.

            The problem is that, if Jesus today, uttered these words:

            “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

            you would call him a legalist. But as I keep saying, your own doctrine of sola scriptura is inherently legalistic, and your determination to keep the broadest possible interpretation of Boniface’s words, deliberately ignoring the context, is itself a kind of legalism. You would have sided with Eutyches against Pope Leo at Chalcedon on the basis of the words of Ephesus. This is not how historical theology works.

          • Anton

            How unconscionable of Christ, a carpenter, and a bunch of fishermen, to start the church without the assistance of a trained army of philosophers of language! Surely they had no chance of success.

            (NB The first sentence of my previous post was a direct response to the last sentence of your post which preceded it; apologies if that was not clear.)

          • Albert

            I would have thought that the author of John 1 was pretty good at philosophy of language.

            You’ve claimed a contradiction in our faith (or the teaching of it), but you haven’t shown what the contradiction is. In fact, at the moment, you haven’t even attempted to give a source for the second horn of the contradiction. I have simply said that the words need to be understood in their own context, not in the context you wish to impose on them.

            The problem of your response is that it fails to understand that we do all use philosophy of language all the time. You are using philosophy of language when you apply your unhistorical approach. Thus, if there was not philosophy of language in the apostles’ prior training, then to the degree it was needed, it would have been given by the Holy Spirit. They were given the gift of other languages, so why not the gift to understand language?

          • Anton

            And what about their unsaved audiences – did they too have the Holy Spirit in order to understand what was said (regardless of whether they agreed with it)?

            Everybody uses language all the time. They do not use philosophy of language all the time.

            The contradiction is between “it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff” and Rome’s current view that some protestants and even non-Christians are among the saved. Perhaps you would like to deploy your expertise in the philosophy of language and explain why you consider there is no contradiction?

          • Albert

            And what about their unsaved audiences – did they too have the Holy Spirit in order to understand what was said (regardless of whether they agreed with it)?

            The key part of my sentence was to the degree it was needed. Do you deny that?

            They do not use philosophy of language all the time.

            But they assume it.

            The contradiction is between “it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff” and Rome’s current view that some protestants and even non-Christians are among the saved.

            There’s no a contradiction there as it stands, but in any case, this is what I said:

            In fact, at the moment, you haven’t even attempted to give a source for the second horn of the contradiction.

            Now your own opinion on what Catholicism teaches is not a Catholic source. I’d like an authority text, please.

          • Anton

            It is not my own opinion but a summary. Tell me, is it wrong?

            Implicit in your continuing appeal to what you call philosophy of language is the assumption that a fully rigorous edifice has been constructed capable of extracting with total reliability the meaning from any sentence. I do not believe that is the case. Nor is it necessary when dealing with religious texts. The Bible was not written for philosophers of language and they are not needed to make sense of it.

          • Albert

            Is it wrong?

            and Rome’s current view that some protestants and even non-Christians are among the saved.

            I’d like to know the source for the use of the present tense there. Remember, we don’t have this over simplistic, unscriptural view of salvation in which one is simply said to be saved and that’s the end of it. Now if you said that these can be saved, then the sentence would clearly be correct, but I would say that in being saved, the must somehow be part of the Catholic Church.

            So again, I ask for sources.

            Implicit in your continuing appeal to what you call philosophy of language is the assumption that a fully rigorous edifice has been constructed capable of extracting with total reliability the meaning from any sentence.

            No that’s not implicit at all. And not at all what I meant. Communication is always somewhat mysterious, but philosophy of language can at least help us not to make certain errors. So this sentence of yours is a case in point: always seem to draw far more from what is said than what is said. It’s a kind inference problem and I suspect it comes from being in a discipline where much is done by induction. But induction is not deduction.

            Nor is it necessary when dealing with religious texts. The Bible was not written for philosophers of language and they are not needed to make sense of it.

            This is all true enough. But if you want to say something is contradictory, then if you misuse the language in one or other part of the dilemma, then don’t be surprised if it gets pointed out.

          • Anton

            It isn’t so complicated. The operational question about salvation is: if you died suddenly in the state you are now in, would your ultimate destination be the Lake of Fire or in the New Jerusalem?

            So again I ask you to confirm that Rome’s present view is that some protestants and even non-Christians will find themselves in the latter. You are the Catholic, after all.

          • Albert

            Well, here’s what the Church teaches at Vatican II:

            it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one body of Christ into which all those must be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God.

            those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.

            In any community of the altar, under the sacred ministry of the bishop,(52*) there is exhibited a symbol of that charity and “unity of the mystical Body, without which there can be no salvation.”

            Elsewhere, Vatican II says this:

            Christ Himself ‘by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door. Therefore those men cannot be saved, who though aware that God, through Jesus Christ founded the Church as something necessary, still do not wish to enter into it, or to persevere in it.’ Therefore though God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him, yet a necessity lies upon the Church, and at the same time a sacred duty, to preach the Gospel.

            Now the bits that address your question are these:

            1. There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

            2. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.

            And the paragraph continues by speaking of a lack of explicit knowledge of God.

            3. Those who understand that the Catholic Church is necessary cannot be saved.

            Articles 1 and 3 would seem to indicate a negative response to your question. Article 2 is ambiguous. In the light of the other two articles it could mean at least two things:

            a. Those outside the Catholic Church who seek God etc. and do not know the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation, will have the truth of the Catholic Church revealed to them by some interior enlightenment, so that they can make the explicit act of faith and so fulfil requirements 1 and 3. I.e. their salvation remains in the future.

            b. Those outside the Catholic Church who seek God etc. and do not know the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation, make a sufficient act of implicit faith, by responding faithfully to what they do know.

            That means that I cannot answer your question, because I do not know which of a or b is true (or if there is some other interpretation). What I do know is that non-Christian religions, and non-Catholic Christian traditions do not save people, but that does not mean that God cannot save their adherents either because of a future revelation on his part, or in the present if their ignorance is inculpable, and their response to the truth they do know is sufficient. Either way, they will be saved as Catholics, or not at all.

          • Anton

            The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – from Acts 16

          • Albert

            Quite. At that point, there was only one Church, and it was Catholic and Petrine. What to do when individuals start to usurp the prerogative of Christ and set up their own “churches”, is not addressed in scripture – although those who set themselves up as their own apostles are clearly to be avoided.

          • Anton

            There is still only one church, the church of Jesus Christ, which includes many Catholics and protestants as members. It ceased to be Petrine upon Peter’s death.

          • Albert

            Protestants are clearly not full members of Christ’s Church, precisely for the reason you state here: there is only one Church.

          • Anton

            Protestants satisfy the biblical criteria and are therefore full members of Christ’s church.

          • Albert

            According to your interpretation, but then, the authority of your interpretation, according to scripture, is precisely zero.

            Looking back over this discussion, your comments are a fascinating assortment of attempts to hit Catholicism – every time a shot misses, you just change the subject and move on to something else.

          • Anton

            The authority of my interpretation? You mean “correctness”, of course, but the difference is revealing, and sinister. You could always tell me why you consider it wrong, of course.

            I move on to something else once I consider that I’ve hit the target, but I doubt that you’d ever concede and am happy to let readers decide at that point.

          • Albert

            The authority of my interpretation? You mean “correctness”, of course, but the difference is revealing, and sinister.

            Absolutely. Confusing your interpretation of scripture with scripture, so that you apply the correctness of scripture to your own musings is indeed revealing and sinister.

            You could always tell me why you consider it wrong, of course.

            You haven’t given it yet.

            I move on to something else once I consider that I’ve hit the target, but I doubt that you’d ever concede and am happy to let readers decide at that point.

            Well that’s fascinating. Here’s a claim you made:

            You therefore believe that Rome can be wrong in its teaching, contrary to its own assertions. That’s a good start!

            But any half-wit can go and find out for himself that Rome does not say that Rome’s teachings cannot be wrong.

            Again, you’ve tried to say that Rome’s position is contradictory even at the level of definition. But amazingly, you have only quoted one source and therefore only given on horn of the contradiction. You cannot have a contradiction with only one horn, or are you some kind of Zen Buddhist believing in the sound of one hand clapping.

            You can’t seriously believe you’ve hit the target in all this, can you? The truth is, you change your argument because you keep misunderstanding Catholicism or don’t know enough to make your arguments stick. Like a scurrilous gossip, you hope readers won’t notice the lack of foundation to your accusations, and perhaps some readers really are that naive, but I bet most are not (if anyone ever does read all this, of course).

          • Anton

            Bet what you like! I thank God that I am free to dispute the “authority” of your understanding with you. That freedom was expensively bought from those who would deny it, saying that “error has no rights” even as they address prayers to Mary asking her by name for things that are God’s exclusive prerogative.

            Have you forgotten that I quoted Paul to his jailer?

          • Albert

            That freedom was expensively bought from those who would deny it, saying that “error has no rights” even as they address prayers to Mary asking her by name for things that are God’s exclusive prerogative.

            In this country it was bought against the Protestant Established Church of England, which denied such rights.

            Have you forgotten that I quoted Paul to his jailer?

            The request was for an interpretation of scripture. A quotation from scripture is not an interpretation. I see no reason to think that Acts 16 supports your ecclesiology. It is your assumption that your interpretation of scripture is the same as what scripture means that is precisely my point. Thank you for demonstrating it for me.

          • Anton

            Yes, despite creating man and being infinitely intelligent God clearly does a poor job of communication to man in his scriptures… how fortunate of Him, then, to have the Church of Rome to explain His words to the people, including such matters as where believers are commanded to pray to Mary, and where the leader of the church should live in a huge palace in his own country and jet around the world hobnobbing with leaders.

            The first step in winning the freedom I refer to was getting the Bible to the people, for which Tyndale paid with his life.

          • Albert

            Yes, despite creating man and being infinitely intelligent God clearly does a poor job of communication to man in his scriptures…

            A statement which assumes your position. I do not accept that God has done a poor job of communication in the scriptures. For although, it is evident that the Protestants, who have scripture alone are so mutually confused as to indicate that the scripture is not, by itself, always clear communication, I do not agree that the scriptures are intended by God to be taken by themselves.

            how fortunate of Him, then, to have the Church of Rome to explain His words to the people

            That’s not fortunate for him. He set it up that way, precisely because he did not intend scripture to be taken alone – as your own divisions demonstrate.

            where believers are commanded to pray to Mary, and where the leader of the church should live in a huge palace in his own country and jet around the world hobnobbing with leaders.

            There’s nothing wrong with asking saints to pray for us, or to do things for us on account of the grace they have received. Indeed, this is clearly taught by God and recognized as such by anyone who does not follow the self-referentially incoherent and manifestly false doctrine that God has clearly said everything he has to say in the Bible. There’s also nothing wrong with the pope reaching out to the world and its leaders. Sure, we would not build the palace now, but then the present pope does not live in one as it happens.

            The first step in winning the freedom I refer to was getting the Bible to the people, for which Tyndale paid with his life.

            You seem to be labouring under the unhistorical opinion that there were not Bibles in English prior to Tyndale. Tyndale was executed after Thomas More – i.e. after the break with Rome, and he was therefore executed by the Church of England, such as it was at the time. Which was of course, the point I made more generally before.

          • Anton

            I am aware of the history of the English Bible. I might cite the translation by (the school of) Wycliffe, who was held in such high regard by Rome that his corpse was dug up and burnt and the ashes thrown in the local river. As for Tyndale, he was hunted down by Henry VIII’s agents in revenge for Tyndale’s comments on Henry’s unscrupulous change of wife. Because that business caused Henry’s break from Rome, Tyndale’s detention was indeed a little time after the birth of the Church of England, but what you don’t say is that Tyndale was imprisoned and tried for heresy and then burnt in a Catholic land.

            As for disunity, get united with the Eastern Orthodox before lecturing others.

          • Albert

            Obviously I wasn’t referring to Wycliffe. Your point about Tyndale is irrelevant to any claim that Rome was somehow the power from whom freedom was won.

            As for disunity, get united with the Eastern Orthodox before lecturing others.

            You do know that the Eastern Orthodox Church is not part of the Catholic Church, don’t you? Their’s is not a schism within Catholicism, but from it. Nevertheless, the differences between them and us are small compared with the bewildering range of opinion of those who believe in sola scriptura.

          • Anton

            You do know that the Eastern Orthodox Church is not part of the Catholic Church, don’t you?

            Why else do you think I said Get united with the Eastern Orthodox before…? The schism of 1054 split the Catholic church into the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox, although the former still has the arrogance to call itself the Catholic church. You may pontificate as much as you like but do not pretend to lecture protestants from the position that they split from a monolith.

            Your point about Tyndale is irrelevant to any claim that Rome was somehow the power from whom freedom was won.

            I don’t need your permission to widen the subject. Suffice it to say that Christians who rejected Rome’s authority were mortally persecuted wherever it was politically possible in Western Europe prior to Luther, a state of affairs which had ceased to be the case within a few lifetimes.

          • Albert

            Why else do you think I said Get united with the Eastern Orthodox before…? The schism of 1054 split the Catholic church into the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox,

            Not so. Look, here’s where you analogy is a miserable failure: there are clearly splits within Protestantism which have no analogue in Catholicism.

            You may pontificate as much as you like but do not pretend to lecture protestants from the position that they split from a monolith.

            I don’t know whether I would describe Catholicism as a monolith (or want to), but I think it is plainly foolish to pretend that the divisions amongst Protestants find any analogue within Catholicism. The issue, which you are trying to obscure, is that your divisions are a consequence of scripture not being clear enough to be taken by itself. But then it never says we should do that, and the fruits of Protestant division remind us of that truth.

            I don’t need your permission to widen the subject.

            Now come on Anton, it wasn’t really widening the subject, it was changing it wasn’t it. This was your claim: That freedom was expensively bought from those who would deny it, saying that “error has no rights” even as they address prayers to Mary asking her by name for things that are God’s exclusive prerogative. Now that comment was clearly directed at Catholicism. But no one who studies English historian will think religious freedom was bought as soon as England became Protestant. Look at the Catholic dead of that time. And your own example speaks of this – Tyndale was arrested on the continent because he couldn’t live in England.

            Suffice it to say that Christians who rejected Rome’s authority were mortally persecuted wherever it was politically possible in Western Europe prior to Luther, a state of affairs which had ceased to be the case within a few lifetimes.

            A situation which persisted after the Protestant Reformation. When that situation ceased, it was not because Protestants suddenly became all enlightened. The last burning at the stake took place in 1789, children could be hanged for certain crimes or, even in the 19th Century, exiled simply for stealing bread. Protestantism did not make society more generous.

          • Anton

            I agree. The “bloody code” (of law) brought into 18th century England was deeply shocking. It was due to a lapsing of the fervour of 17th century English protestantism and was a gross abuse of the freedom won at the Reformation. Still I do not regret that freedom (which has influenced Catholicism more than Rome is prepared to admit). And even the Puritans in the 17th century, once they gained power, bumped into the perennial problem that gospel Christianity cannot be enacted by law. That is because the gospel is about grace set in contrast to law. Rome has never come to grips with, because of its own entrenched legalism; it hankers after “Catholic nations” again. Yet Christ’s church is called out of all nations.

            here’s where you analogy is a miserable failure: there are clearly splits within Protestantism which have no analogue in Catholicism.

            It wasn’t an analogy. I’m simply calling you out on your platform that protestants wrecked church unity. That went in 1054. Why should I listen to Rome about that split, rather than Orthodoxy? The schisms within protestantism are an inevitable consequence of multi-level church hierarchy, which is unscriptural.

            Tyndale fled Catholic England (and its tyrannical king). Check your history!

          • Albert

            It was due to a lapsing of the fervour of 17th century English protestantism

            That sounds like romanticism and wishful thinking, especially in the light of this: Alice Glaston, aged 11, who was one of three prisoners hanged on 13 April 1546 is almost certainly the youngest girl to have been executed. There you find the abuse, right in the heart of the Protestant Reformation, and well before the 17th century. The abuse went on into the 20th Century: The Children’s Act of 1908 stipulated for the first time a minimum age for execution of 16 years and indeed a child was executed in 1887 aged 17 years. So throughout the period when Protestantism was culturally dominant, terrible punishments were imposed. Consequently I do not think it is reasonable to see lessening of punishments for heresy as a fruit of Protestantism. On the contrary, one need only mention witchhunts, which were far worse in Protestant, rather than Catholic countries, to see that the Protestant Reformation did not enlighten people in the way you would like to imagine.

            That is because the gospel is about grace set in contrast to law. Rome has never come to grips with, because of its own entrenched legalism; it hankers after “Catholic nations” again. Yet Christ’s church is called out of all nations.

            Where we disagree is simply in whether or not one can have a Christian society. Catholics, being incarnational say we can (although how is another matter). Many Protestants agree with us. You disagree because you have an overly dualistic view of the world.

            I’m simply calling you out on your platform that protestants wrecked church unity.

            Which is not of course what I said, nor can it be inferred from what I said. My point about Protestant disunity is that it shows that sola scriptura doesn’t work, because scripture alone isn’t clear.

            That went in 1054.

            You’re ignoring the earlier splits of the 5th century.

            Why should I listen to Rome about that split, rather than Orthodoxy?

            Because Rome provides the teaching authority that Christianity needs. Without it, you get extraordinary division, liberalism, stupid fundamentalism, nationalism and an inability to respond to the world as it stands, rather than as it was.

            The schisms within protestantism are an inevitable consequence of multi-level church hierarchy, which is unscriptural.

            No it is an inevitable consequence of the fact that scripture isn’t as clear as it would be if God intended the Protestant model of revelation.

            Tyndale fled Catholic England (and its tyrannical king). Check your history!

            Check what I said: Tyndale was arrested on the continent because he couldn’t live in England. I made no claim about when and why he left, I merely pointed out that he couldn’t live in England – that was true after the break with Rome.

          • Anton

            Scripture nowhere mentions any multilevel church hierarchy, does it?

            Sorry you think God did a poor job of making himself clear. Take it up with him.

            I know about the Donatists, but 1054 sufficed to make the point I wished. Regarding the Donatist schism, it was a big mistake to admit back into church leadership those who had betrayed their congregations to the authorities. If they had any shame at all then they would not have sought their positions back but begged forgiveness and been content to be re-admitted to the congregation. I’m stuffed if I’d have accepted their leadership in those circumstances.

            Tyndale couldn’t live in England because of vengeful King Henry. He upheld church teaching about divorce and remarriage (which is more than Rome itself did regarding Henry’s sister Margaret, or the King of France in 1498). But he was tried for heresy, not for his views on divorce, and tried in the court of a Catholic country, and executed after being found guilty. By all means blame his persecution on the Church of England, for by doing so you make yourself look absurd. As you do by talking about Alice Glaston, because the English church’s theology remained entirely Catholic regarding all matters but its head until Henry died. There is also no evidence that the poor girl was executed for heresy. On top of which, I have explained repeatedly that the church is called out of all nations and their court systems: even if you disagree about that, you cannot consistently tar my position with her execution.

            Where we disagree is simply in whether or not one can have a Christian society. Catholics, being incarnational say we can (although how is another matter). Many Protestants agree with us. You disagree because you have an overly dualistic view of the world.

            I disagree because I have a scriptural view of the world. The world is given over to Satan in this present evil age and we Christians are invaders breaking into Satan’s realm and must expect backlash for it. That is no more than a summary of Christ’s words. Please explain what you mean by dualist (good/evil? material/spiritual?) and incarnational (I certainly believe in the Incarnation) and how these things are relevant. I’ll add that Rome undoubtedly constructed a Catholic society in Western Europe in the High Middle Ages. The serfs were taxed to subsistence level and there were frequent wars between Catholic monarchs even though Christ is the Prince of Peace. If Rome is the one true church and that was a Catholic society then it should have been, literally (incarnationally?) heaven on earth. I look to something better than that.

          • Albert

            Scripture nowhere mentions any multilevel church hierarchy, does it?

            We’ve been through this, and yes it does. You have to collapse all the offices of scripture into one.

            Sorry you think God did a poor job of making himself clear.

            No, I said this is entailed by the doctrine of sola scriptura, a doctrine I refute on numerous grounds, not least the fact that scripture says:

            So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
            speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

            So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless some one guides me?”

            Scripture says itself that, by itself it is hard to understand, so you really are caught on a rather uncomfortable paradox.

            I know about the Donatists

            The Donatists were the least of the worries of the 5th Century, and they don’t have any effect now. The real divisions were Christological, and they do still affect us now.

            but 1054 sufficed to make the point I wished.

            That’s not what you said. You said that 1054 wrecked Church unity. No it didn’t, Christian unity was wrecked already.

            I’m stuffed if I’d have accepted their leadership in those circumstances.

            Of course. Your superiority is manifest.

            He upheld church teaching about divorce and remarriage (which is more than Rome itself did regarding Henry’s sister Margaret, or the King of France in 1498)

            Good for him and bad for Rome.

            By all means blame his persecution on the Church of England, for by doing so you make yourself look absurd.

            Your position is absurd. You bizarrely claimed that religious freedom was won against the Catholic Church. You thereby ignore centuries of Protestant religious persecution, and your own example is of a man who was put to death in the time of Church of England Henry – so it’s not a good example. I need to say nothing more than that, although let’s face it, the evidence of lack of religious freedom after the Protestant Reformation is abundant. Moreover, it is also possible to show that punishments became far worse after the Protestant Reformation, not more humane. Therefore, your claims are risible. None of this in any way affects the fact that Rome’s record on religious freedom has, at times, been disgraceful. The issue is the naivety of your claims – and the slippery way in which you try to change the subject from what you claim to something else which you hope will stick.

            As you do by talking about Alice Glaston, because the English church’s theology remained entirely Catholic regarding all matters but its head until Henry died.

            I think it’s a little more complicated than that, and in any case, the Headship is not a minor issue.

            There is also no evidence that the poor girl was executed for heresy.

            I never said that she was. I was demonstrating that the Protestant Reformation did not usher in a period of generous punitive measures, but that matters became more vicious. Thus it is not plausible that Protestantism is the reason for religious freedom.

            On top of which, I have explained repeatedly that the church is called out of all nations and their court systems: even if you disagree about that, you cannot consistently tar my position with her execution.

            You constantly forget what claims you have made. I am not arguing with you over whether or not the church should be called out of nations and their court systems. I am responding to your claim that religious freedom in England was won from Rome, and that Protestantism was the cause of it. Neither claim is true since Protestantism persecuted all sorts of Christians and under Protestant culture punishments became more severe, not less.

            I disagree because I have a scriptural view of the world. The world is given over to Satan in this present evil age and we Christians are invaders breaking into Satan’s realm and must expect backlash for it.

            Your views are so one sided. Does not scripture also say:

            Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

            Now if all of this can be said of the Roman Empire, which was a nasty, violent pagan outfit, then what can be said when those in charge become Christians?

            Please explain what you mean by dualist (good/evil? material/spiritual?)

            Your view that certain created things are irredeemable – such as civil society.

            and incarnational (I certainly believe in the Incarnation) and how these things are relevant.

            The view that by becoming human God has reaffirmed the goodness of created nature and shown how human life can be drawn up into the life of God. From these two points, we learn that it is possible to have a Christian society.

            I’ll add that Rome undoubtedly constructed a Catholic society in Western Europe in the High Middle Ages. The serfs were taxed to subsistence level and there were frequent wars between Catholic monarchs even though Christ is the Prince of Peace. If Rome is the one true church and that was a Catholic society then it should have been, literally (incarnationally?) heaven on earth. I look to something better than that.

            The kingdom is not yet. But that does not mean that you get to cast out whole elements of human life as irredeemable.

          • Anton

            You have to collapse all the offices of scripture into one.

            Elders (presbyteroi) and Overseers (episkopoi) are the same men in a congregation, one word denoting their position and the other their role. They are assisted by deacons (diakonoi). Every Christian is a priest (hiereus). Above a congregation is its founding apostolos, until he passes on, by which time the congregation can normally be expected to be spiritually mature. There is one congregation ordered like this in each location which people can reasonably reach.

            Scripture says itself that, by itself it is hard to understand

            It says nothing of the sort. The question “Do you understand what you are reading?” means in the context of Acts 8, “Do you know that the man to whom this prophecy refers has come, and has changed everything?”

            Yes sorry, the Donatist issue was 4th century not 5th. (Like most people who work with mathematics, I can’t count.) The Christological schisms were over how Christ was both fully divine and fully human. As scripture simply says that he is both and does not explain how, those schisms were due to a rejection of sola scriptura. Afterwards, the Catholic church denied that those who disagreed with its Christology were Christians even though they affirmed that Christ was both fully divine and fully human. So you, a Catholic, must think that they were not Christians, and must believe that ther was church unity before 1054!

            Returning to the Donatists, please tell me: If you had seen people in your congregation martyred as a result of being betrayed by its leaders, then the congregation goes underground, then the next emperor permits Christianity and tries to foist those leaders back on your congregation, would you accept their leadership, or would you form an underground congregation with leadership that had not played Judas? Do you not consider that any Christian who did that and is truly repentant would not wish to assume leadership over the surviving betrayed? You apparently consider it a character defect of mine that I would not accept their leadership. So what would you do?

            You bizarrely claimed that religious freedom was won against the Catholic Church

            Before 1517 Rome enforced an ecclesiastical monopoly in Western Europe using whatever means it took, including genocide (against the Cathars three centuries earlier, heretics to be sure, but peaceable folk) and immolation (Waldenses, Lollards). That monopoly had prevailed for a thousand years. Within a few lifetimes of Luther it was gone, yet you deny that religious freedom was won against the Catholic church. *That* is bizarre. And Tyndale’s name entered this dialogue because he translated the Bible into English, not because he is my preferred example of a protestant martyr.

            None of this in any way affects the fact that Rome’s record on religious freedom has, at times, been disgraceful.

            As has that of politicised protestantism. It is more than time that we all recognised that Christianity is about the individual, his fate and his being changed for the better in ways that he cannot do for himself. If he is in a position of political power than let him act in that position according to his sanctified conscience; but the church as a corporate body should not be in politics.

            The kingdom is not yet. But that does not mean that you get to cast out whole elements of human life as irredeemable.

            No human is irredeemable while they breathe. Nor is society in principle, but we are warned that it will not happen in practice (before Christ’s return), for the church will always be a small minority in the world (Matt 22:14) and will be persecuted by the world (2 Tim 3:12, John 15:18-20). On that basis it is very clear who was the church and who was the world of the Lollards and Waldenses on one hand, and Roman Catholicism on the other.

          • Albert

            Your original claim was:

            Scripture nowhere mentions any multilevel church hierarchy, does it?

            Now you admit: They are assisted by deacons (diakonoi). Every Christian is a priest (hiereus). Above a congregation is its founding apostolos

            That sounds like at least three levels to me.

            until he passes on, by which time the congregation can normally be expected to be spiritually mature. There is one congregation ordered like this in each location which people can reasonably reach.

            This is just question begging, as we have seen before.

            It says nothing of the sort. The question “Do you understand what you are reading?” means in the context of Acts 8, “Do you know that the man to whom this prophecy refers has come, and has changed everything?”

            I note with interest that you ignore the more relevant passage:

            There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures I note also that this says the opposite of what you claim.

            The Christological schisms were over how Christ was both fully divine and fully human. As scripture simply says that he is both and does not explain how, those schisms were due to a rejection of sola scriptura

            Sola scriptura was not rejected. It was never embraced. And what is the Church supposed to do when someone says God did not die on the cross as man? Or (to broaden our question) when someone says that scripture says Jesus is the first-born of all creation and Jesus said The Father is greater than I and concludes in an Arian fashion? It’s no good saying that to do is to move beyond sola scriptura. They are only appealing to scripture. And if you try to foist sola scriptura on them, they will say “Where is sola scriptura found in scripture? But as for our belief that the Son of God is a creature and is inferior to the Father, we find that right there in Col.1.15 and Jn. 14.28.”

            Afterwards, the Catholic church denied that those who disagreed with its Christology were Christians even though they affirmed that Christ was both fully divine and fully human.

            Which heretics are you referring to here?

            So you, a Catholic, must think that they were not Christians, and must believe that ther was church unity before 1054!

            I’m interested in this idea that the Church said they weren’t Christians. What’s your source? The term heretic only applies to someone who is a Christian. As for Church unity before 1054, of course I believe that, I believe it is true now. It is the height of arrogance to go your own way, break from Christ’s Church and then say that since you are not part of it, Christ’s Church is rent asunder.

            Regarding the donatists, the issue is the validity of their sacraments not the issue of discipline. I would expect someone who had done such a thing to be properly punished – probably deprived of any public ministry. But that’s not a matter of church teaching, but of discipline. In some circumstances, if someone was truly penitent, then I think it would be reasonable and good for them to return. It would show the mercy of God, and they would have learnt lessons that might be useful for the Church. Some of these were later martyred, so a life-time ban is clearly not the right thing.

            Within a few lifetimes of Luther it was gone, yet you deny that religious freedom was won against the Catholic church.

            I am denying two claims: 1. That religious freedom in England was won from Rome. This is plainly and historically false, since Protestants maintained the intolerance after the break with Rome. 2. That Protestantism was the reason for the enlightenment. This too is plainly false. The fact that religious freedom appeared generations (centuries really, not a few lifetimes – as always, you overlook the treatment of Catholics by Protestants) after Luther, is a pleasing fruit of something that is otherwise regrettable: the weakness of Protestantism. A weakness that enable the Bloody Code etc., not moral enlightenment.

            You’ve partly conceded this point:

            It was due to a lapsing of the fervour of 17th century English protestantism and was a gross abuse of the freedom won at the Reformation.

            You admit the lapsing of fervour, but then, bizarrely, you claim the freedom had already been won at the Protestant Reformation. You really believe religious freedom was won before this period?

            And Tyndale’s name entered this dialogue because he translated the Bible into English, not because he is my preferred example of a protestant martyr.

            Translating the Bible into English was not in itself an offence. Mistranslating it, as Tyndale was accused of doing, was an offence. Besides, you’ve admitted Henry’s hatred for him was because of his opposition to Henry’s divorce – something he shared with the Catholics. All I’m saying is that Tyndale is hardly a good example of the point you are making, when he is killed in the time of a Protestant king for Church of England reasons, which he says with More and Fisher.

            It is more than time that we all recognised that Christianity is about the individual, his fate and his being changed for the better in ways that he cannot do for himself.

            But not just the individual – the Church is not simply a collection of individuals.

            the church as a corporate body should not be in politics.

            I think that depends on the politics and what you mean by corporate. The Catholic Church in 1930s Germany was right to tell Catholics not to vote for Hitler, and to ban them from belonging to the Nazi party. Had Protestant Churchmen been so robust, then Hitler would probably have not been elected, since, had Protestants voted for him in the numbers Catholics did, Hitler would not have got into power. Similarly, Pius XII was right to tell Catholics in Italy not to vote communist. Catholic bishops are surely within their rights to tell Catholics not to vote for anyone who would use their office to promote abortion.

            No human is irredeemable while they breathe. Nor is society in principle, but we are warned that it will not happen in practice (before Christ’s return), for the church will always be a small minority in the world (Matt 22:14)

            Matt.22.14 does not say that. Moreover, being a minority in the world does not mean we will always be a minority in any particular location. Nor am I convinced that your references to 2 Tim. 3.12 and John 15.18-20 are describing a permanent and enduring state.

            On that basis it is very clear who was the church and who was the world of the Lollards and Waldenses on one hand, and Roman Catholicism on the other.

            Not in the slightest. We’re back to Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, if that is true of the pagan Romans, how much more true will it be when the governing authorities are themselves Christians?

          • Anton

            Within a mature congregation, once its founding apostolos has passed on and indefinitely thereafter, there exists the main body of believers, and their overseer/elders. As there is no hierarchy in a system in which everybody is equal, that means there is ONE level of hierarchy in this system. The overseer/elders are assisted by deacons they choose, but that is not an intermediate level of authority (diakonos means ‘servant’).

            Your quote from 2 Peter actually says that Paul’s letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist, as they do other scriptures. It does not say that the other scriptures are hard to understand, and it does not say that most of Paul is hard to understand. The difficult stuff is the exception to the rule. Of course it is good to talk over the difficult stuff with other Christians. It is good to talk over the easy stuff with them too. The fact that a few scriptures are hard to understand, or appear to contradict other scriptures (as with the ones the Arians quote), is no reason to have a vast overarching hierarchy saying “Believe this or else”.

            Where is sola scriptura found in scripture?

            Not again?! It is rather obvious that the word of God exceeds infinitely in authority the word of man.

            Nestorians are who I had in mind. The large Church of the East, to the east of the borders of the Roman Empire, was written out of European church histories as being non-Christian after the clash between Nestorius and Cyril.

            If you look into this, you would do well to be careful, because the three propositions “Christ is god; Christ is man; man is not god” are involved and from a contradiction you can prove anything. That, in my opinion, is what Cyril did in bad faith.

            The issue of the sacraments was but an aspect of the issue of whether men who had betrayed their flock into mortal persecution were fit to resume church leadership.

            The Enlightenment was an abuse of the freedom that began to be won beginning at the Reformation. God values freedom to choose him, including its downside of freedom to reject him, more highly than he values any Christian system’s Thought Police. That is why Jesus said Shake the dust off your feet and move on if they don’t freely accept the message. The idea that this freedom has nothing to do with the Reformation is absurd, given that it followed within a few lifetimes after many centuries of Catholic spiritual absolutism. My condemnation of atrocities against peaceable Catholics, which you say I never give, is part of my condemnation of all politicised Christianity whether Catholic or protestant, which I have said often enough.

            Translating the Bible into English was not in itself an offence. Mistranslating it, as Tyndale was accused of doing, was an offence. Besides, you’ve admitted Henry’s hatred for him was because of his opposition to Henry’s divorce

            Hold on. “Admitted”? The fact was not wrung out of me by you in order to negate another point of my own making. Henry was a monster, as I have often said. Some 80% of the King James New Testament is Tyndale, and what was taken exception to in his day was “congregation” in place of “church” (when the faithful in a specific place were meant), “elder” for “priest”, “repent” for “do penance” and “acknowledge” for “confess”. Check the Greek and you will see that he was right, and that Catholic translations were loaded. For which the Catholic church burnt him.

            The Catholic Church in 1930s Germany was right to tell Catholics not to vote for Hitler, and to ban them from belonging to the Nazi party. Had Protestant Churchmen been so robust, then Hitler would probably have not been elected, since, had Protestants voted for him in the numbers Catholics did, Hitler would not have got into power. Similarly, Pius XII was right to tell Catholics in Italy not to vote communist. Catholic bishops are surely within their rights to tell Catholics not to vote for anyone who would use their office to promote abortion.

            Given the existence of the Catholic church as it was then, I agree with all of those calls but one, about which I admit ignorance. (When did Pius XII instruct Italian Catholics not to vote communist, please?) And yes, the German Lutheran performance in the 1930s was a disgrace.

            We’re back to Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities

            Yet Romans 13 from which you quote has to be taken with “We must obey God rather than man” from Acts 5. Otherwise it would have been right for the early Christians to worship the Emperor rather than refuse and be bravely martyred.

          • Albert

            Within a mature congregation, once its founding apostolos has passed on and indefinitely thereafter, there exists the main body of believers, and their overseer/elders.

            This is just an assertion. Please provide evidence for it. Please also supply evidence for what constitutes a mature congregation and who decides.

            As there is no hierarchy in a system in which everybody is equal, that means there is ONE level of hierarchy in this system.

            Everybody is equally what?

            Your quote from 2 Peter actually says that Paul’s letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist, as they do other scriptures. It does not say that the other scriptures are hard to understand, and it does not say that most of Paul is hard to understand.

            2 Peter clearly lumps the whole lot together as hard to understand and being open to being twisted. Paul is clearly hard to understand. You believe for example, that it teaches sola fide. In common with most readers, I do not.

            The fact that a few scriptures are hard to understand, or appear to contradict other scriptures (as with the ones the Arians quote)

            Things that relate to the Trinity, to the divinity of Christ are not marginal, and yet here you admit the scripture may appear contradictory.

            Not again?! It is rather obvious that the word of God exceeds infinitely in authority the word of man.

            Absolutely, but the question is not about that – no one disputes that. What is dipsuted is the scope of the word of God. Is it restricted to scripture as Protestants usually claim, or is it also passed on in tradition as scripture and the Catholic Church teach: So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

            The large Church of the East, to the east of the borders of the Roman Empire, was written out of European church histories as being non-Christian after the clash between Nestorius and Cyril.

            What is the evidence that they were called non-Christians? Perhaps you have some, but normally, the term heretic is applied only to Christians. It is true that the Nestorians claimed to believe Jesus is God and man, but by denying the unity, they in practice denied what they claimed to believe.

            If you look into this, you would do well to be careful

            Thank you for the advice. I did most of my Masters on the Nestorian controversy, so I don’t feel much need to look into it. For the record, I suspect Nestorius was not positively a heretic believing in two sons, I think he simply had an impotency of uniting them in one person.

            because the three propositions “Christ is god; Christ is man; man is not god” are involved and from a contradiction you can prove anything.

            The latter statement, as applied to the humanity of Christ is false, since it denies the incarnation. It is true that the human nature is not divine nature, but the man Jesus is most certainly God, by virtue of being one divine person. If one cannot say the man is God, then one cannot say God died on the cross (as man), and if God did not die on the cross (as man), then we are still in our sins.

            The issue of the sacraments was but an aspect of the issue of whether men who had betrayed their flock into mortal persecution were fit to resume church leadership.

            The theological issue was to do with sacraments. The disciplinary issue is a matter of judgement.

            The Enlightenment was an abuse of the freedom that began to be won beginning at the Reformation.

            The Protestant Reformation simply kept the power of state to punish heresy, but changed the authority that got to decide what was heresy. From the English monarchs, to Luther, to Calvin, to Zwingli, we do not see religious freedom there.

            God values freedom to choose him, including its downside of freedom to reject him, more highly than he values any Christian system’s Thought Police.

            Funnily enough, you find that in Medieval thought. The reason (or at least the rationale!) heretics got punished was to prevent them harming others – this was why the state did it.

            The idea that this freedom has nothing to do with the Reformation is absurd, given that freedom followed within a few lifetimes after many centuries of Catholic spiritual absolutism.

            But a better explanation is surely the weakness of Protestantism. It’s not that the Protestants were paragons of moral virtue – clearly they weren’t – it is that their doctrine made them so weak that they lost power to secular thought. But they fought it tooth and nail.

            Hold on. “Admitted”? The fact was not wrung out of me by you in order to negate another point of my own making.

            I wasn’t making a moral point. Scrub the word “admitted” and put “agreed” if you like. The point is that we are agreed that the reason Henry wanted him dead is the same reason he wanted Catholics dead.

            “congregation” in place of “church” (when the faithful in a specific place were meant), “elder” for “priest”, “repent” for “do penance” (a crucial difference) and “acknowledge” for “confess”. Check the Greek and you will see that he was right, and that Catholic translations were loaded. For which the Catholic church condemned him to be burnt.

            He may have been right from a translation point of view (although surely not the “congregation” instead of “church”).

            When did Pius XII instruct Italian Catholics not to vote communist, please?

            In the post war period – 1949 was a key moment.

            Yet Romans 13 from which you quote has to be taken with “We must obey God rather than man” from Acts 5. Otherwise it would have been right for the early Christians to worship the Emperor rather than bravely refuse and be martyred.

            No, that doesn’t follow. Being subject to does not entail worship. The issue is simply whether a society can be Christian. Since we are subject to pagans if they have power, then power cannot be irredeemable, particularly in a state in which everyone convert, including the leaders.

          • Anton

            Following on from your last comment, please define a Christian society, and please say where you get your definition from. The NT says plenty about Christian individuals but does not give any way to characterise a Christian society.

            Did Henry “want Catholics dead”? He wanted anybody dead who opposed him. Many Catholics didn’t oppose him.

            Protestant doctrine made them so weak that they lost power to secular thought. But they fought it tooth and nail.

            Protestants understood that it was a *spiritual* battle, and eventually that people cannot be burnt for dissenting. Burning people was something that they had learnt from Rome; and not burning people was something which Rome later learnt from them.

            It is true that the Nestorians claimed to believe Jesus is God and man, but by denying the unity, they in practice denied what they claimed to believe.

            Tosh. To settle how Christ is both fully divine and fully human we would first need to know what man is and what God is, and we learn about both from Jesus himself; so any attempt involves circular logic.

            I’ve given the scriptures establishing the structure of the apostolic church in previous exchanges and don’t intend to repeat them here. As for the things I’ve passed over in your reply, let readers look at what we have both written and decide.

          • Albert

            A Christian society is a society that is Christian. That is to say it is a society, a group of people with some level of commonality, where the people are Christians.

            The NT says plenty about Christian individuals but does not give any way to characterise a Christian society.

            It talks about the Church and the Church is a society. It’s true it doesn’t speak about a wider Christian society, but that’s because there was no wider Christian society. It also doesn’t speak of using the internet.

            Did Henry “want Catholics dead”? He wanted anybody dead who opposed him.

            Sure. Therefore, he wanted Catholics dead.

            Many Catholics didn’t oppose him.

            If they submitted to his pretend authority over the Church, they weren’t good Catholics.

            Protestants understood that it was a *spiritual* battle, and eventually that people cannot be burnt for dissenting.

            Gosh, what great chaps. Obviously, by the word “Protestants” you don’t include Luther, Zwingli or Calvin.

            Burning people was something that they had learnt from Rome;

            The punishment came from the Germans. So that’s us off the hook, if this logic is followed.

            To settle how Christ is both fully divine and fully human we would first need to know what man is and what God is

            No we don’t. We need to know that they are two different things – something that any theist already knows.

            I’ve given the scriptures establishing the structure of the apostolic church in previous exchanges and don’t intend to repeat them here.

            No, you’ve given the scriptures that you think establish the Antonic church. They didn’t establish anything about the early church and it was easy to show how they are contradicted scripture.

            As for the things I’ve passed over in your reply, let readers look at what we have both written and decide.

            The irony of your ad populum is that what I said was this (for example):

            Paul is clearly hard to understand. You believe for example, that it teaches sola fide. In common with most readers, I do not.

            So if “the reader decides” makes any sense, you have to give up sola fide.

          • Anton

            Can’t be bothered. Crown yourself the victor in your own mirror again.

          • Albert

            If you don’t want the discussion, why do you pick the fight in the first place?

          • Anton

            I’m not interested in *further* discussion, because I consider that I’ve made my points to readers of our dialogue. I don’t mind if you disagree.

          • Albert

            I completely agree. I just think your points are weak and have been largely answered. Obviously, you will disagree with that!

          • What did the Mosaic Law demand?

          • Anton

            Apparently you are under the impression that we are living in ancient Israel?

            The church is a people called out of every nation.

          • And you appear to think we’re living in the 16th century.

          • Anton

            I took your question about Mosaic Law to be suggesting that the Mosaic Laws against heresy be applied in gentile nations post-crucifixion, and I explained why not. Not by Catholics, not by protestants, not by Eastern Orthodox. Not in any century.

          • If one is a faithful Catholic, they are right and the other is wrong. If they are both faithful Catholics, then the disagreement is permitted.

          • Anton

            Who decides which is the more faithful Catholic? And what is to be done with the one in error, (a) if Catholic and (b) if not Catholic?

          • You need to acquire a sense of humour, Anton.

          • Anton

            You are playing at plausible deniability, Jack…

  • Inspector General

    Well done Albert for picking up on your appalling spelling. “The Last Rights” is what gay men receive. Urgghhh

  • preacher

    IMO the simple & effective answer is for Christians who are in hospitals as Patients to take the opportunity to sensitively share their faith with others, either members of staff or other patients who show an interest or express a desire to know more.
    Whether prayer is offered or asked for, would have to be considered in light of the person’s physical or mental condition, & of course one can always request one of the hospital Chaplaincy department to assist if in doubt.
    Blessings. P.

  • len

    Not all patients in hospital recover and go home.
    For that patient to be prayed for or given the chance to hear the Gospel might be the only chance that person gets to be saved.
    Now, does the person praying for the patient resist offering prayer for the patient because to do so might involve being rebuffed or even losing their job?.For a Christian knowing they could have prayed for a person but missed that opportunity(and the patient died) would place a burden on the Christians heart.
    One imagines that we all have ‘free will’ down here but the Bible clearly states that all under the power of sin and have been taken captive by this dark force and need to be released from it to be able to see our true condition clearly.

    • Bonkim

      You cannot force your faith on those that don’t want your prayer.

  • MenAreLikeWine

    The issue I have here is the hypocrisy of the NHS.

    I have a friend who has had several children. Some of the births have had complications. She has been asked repeatedly about whether she would consider terminations or sterilisation. As a Catholic both of these are contrary to her beliefs. Despite this, and in full knowledge, the same doctors and nurses have continued to push these things on her.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Quite so. I was chaplain in Plymouth NHS for a while, and ladies who had suffered miscarriages had to share a ward with ladies choosing to have their babies ripped from their wombs.

      • IanCad

        That is dreadful. I had never thought of it. Those poor grieving mothers.

    • Bonkim

      The earth is grossly overpopulated and there needs to be a limit on people having children. Some racial and religious groups appear to have more than their fair share.

  • len

    One of the [apparently] worst crimes one can commit in modern liberal society is that of ‘causing offence.’
    ‘Don`t be judgemental’ is a saying often quoted.
    Language has also been manipulated to enforce the Politically Correct code.
    The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS an offence to many.
    All of the disciples (except John) met violent deaths because the had given ‘offence’ to people.The disciples knew this would probably happen to them.
    Jesus offended the Pharisees.
    All the Christian martyrs had given offence to someone for whatever reason.
    So perhaps the time has come for western Christians to break out of the straitjacket that secularism is imposing on them and to start speaking out.

    • Old Nick

      “The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS an offence to many”:
      As Jesus’s response to John the Baptist’s messengers pointed out in yesterday’s gospel passage.

      • Bonkim

        No offence to anyone – as long as you keep your religion to yourself.

        • Old Nick

          I assume you include the Religion of Secularism. Oh yes it is.
          Just so you know, Christians are under an obligation to preach the Gospel, by whatever means are effective.

          • Bonkim

            Except during time you are paid to do your job. It will be stealing if you preach at work.

            In your own time – O.K but don’t be surprised if not every one is polite.

          • Old Nick

            And that would include practising the Religion of Secularism. You cannot get away from the fact that Man is animal religiosum and you cannot simply syphon off during working hours the force which makes us live and breathe and turn us into automata.

          • Bonkim

            O.K – workers have been sacked for carrying out their personal tasks during work-time.

    • dannybhoy

      You’re right on one level Len, but the way humans interact that lady may have felt obligated to agree..

    • Merchantman

      Euro-wide repression is taking on a totally sinister turn which some of us have expected for many years. Its just now revealing itself in the form of diminishing Jesus and elevating Mohammad above criticism. Crowd manipulation at the trial of Jesus was one thing except the only crowd organising this are ‘the euro-elite’ and their independance lacking courts.
      The Lights are going out all over Europe and being replaced by Courts of the Star Chamber.
      It’s Brexit or Bust.

    • Bonkim

      True Christians don’t waste time preaching religion during work-time.

      • len

        Praying is never ‘wasting time’ a life might be saved.

        • Bonkim

          Don’t mix God’s work with earthly affairs.

  • Shadrach Fire

    How do we know that the patient wasn’t racist and resented being treated by a black woman and used the prayer issue as grounds for complaint?

    • Dreadnaught

      How do we know the nurse wasn’t a tambourine bashing, happy-clapper pentacostalist on the night shift. (for Anton – I am joking)

      • Anton

        Have you missed my grumblings here about modern worship songs, Dredders?

        • Dreadnaught

          They brighten my days.

          • Old Nick

            They refuse to leave my mind – because they are repetitive and banal, whereas Purcell, Howells and Stanford are complex and subline

          • Anton

            Hum Mozart. That’ll wash them out.

          • Old Nick

            Good thought….

          • chefofsinners

            You must dwell in deep darkness.
            Would you like me to pray with you?

          • Anton

            The songs or my grumblings?

        • Dominic Stockford

          Please carry on grumbling – they’re awful.

    • dannybhoy

      Dunno, how do we?

  • wisestreligion

    Should we not define persecution by the effect achieved, whatever the intensity? In the Middle East Christians have to be beheaded to be silenced. In England the threat of being called a homophobe, racist or bigot will normally ensure compliance to correct progressive thought. Both are effective forms of persecution, even if ours is incomparably mild. In this case Sister Sarah was faithful, even after verbal shaming, so her persecution escalated to loss of livelihood.

    • Bonkim

      This lady should not have brought her religion to her job of looking after patients.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Persecution begins somewhere. And this is an example of where it begins.

  • Dominic Stockford

    And…

    As a patient in hospital for five days back in May I did enjoy reading my Bible openly each day. Also, as a visitor of Christian patients I have enjoyed praying openly with them. I have even been delighted to welcome nurses to join in the prayer. Some have, and those who clearly don’t like the public faith expression find they cannot say anything to me to ‘shut me up’, as they are so filled with PCness that they just can’t.

    • Bonkim

      Did you consider for a moment that you were causing a public nuisance for those not interested in your religion?

  • not a machine

    This is truly appalling news ,if a mans ox falls down a well on the Sabbath ,does he not go and rescue it ?seems to capture the outlook of her persecutors.

  • Bonkim

    Depends if the patient had asked or agreed for the nurse to pray for or near him. As an Atheist I would consider it a physical assault if someone supposed to provide a service foists his/her religion on me. Religion is a private affair and should not be brought to the work place particularly in front of customers.