Thy Kingdom Come
Church of England

Pentecost evangelism? What is the gospel in an age of religious relativism?

 

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written to every clergyman and woman in England (all 11,300 of them, which is a lot of stamps), urging them to pray this Pentecost for the evangelisation of the nation. And not only to pray, but to share the gospel with those who are being lost, in order to win more souls for Christ. Yes, the Church of England is seeking converts: it is actively proselytising. Justin Welby and John Sentamu are trying to make new followers and disciples for Jesus. There will be round-the-clock prayer marathons, evangelistic meetings and other events, all dedicated to the evangelism effort. ‘Thy Kingdom Come‘ is the initiative (stemming from the Synod Report from the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group). Winning souls is serious stuff: it is spiritual warfare.

But it all rather depends on what gospel is preached. “Sharing the news of the beautiful shepherd is itself beautiful, a delicate, gentle and rich privilege,” writes the Bishop of Liverpool in that Synod Report. And, of course, it is. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York expound:

The moment of evangelism is the specific proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ to another person or people. It is undertake for God and with God, with news from God about God. There is no greater honour than bearing this Good News to another, no greater privilege than seeing others respond to the Good News, and no greater challenge than to be captivated by the urgency of this vocation.

..Evangelism is the proclamation of God’s transforming love made known to us in Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. It can only be undertaken because God is alive and actively working by the Holy Spirit in families, parishes, places of work and everyday lives. The first movement is never from us to God, but always from God to us. In the strength of the One who has already called us, we seek to hold forth Christ to all, so that they will turn around and believe the good news.

This must be done in ways that are authentic to Jesus Christ and also ring true for those we are called to meet..

Evangelism in “ways that are authentic” demands the repudiation of the gospel of religious relativism. It necessitates the proclamation that all ways do not lead to salvation, and that unless you convert and give your life to Jesus, you are surely on your way to.. er.. hell.

Gosh. Is that a bit too authentic? Too harsh a truth? Too unloving and offensive a reality?

In a postmodern, pluralist world, there is a plurality of ways of understanding reality and truth, and in the pervasive diversity of religious expression are found numerous claims to truth. This challenges the nature and status of revelation. If we believe that God manifests Himself in different cultures at different times, then the words of the Bible can constitute neither an immutable ‘truth’ nor the definitive ‘word of God’. Scripture must be consciously relativised in order to liberate the text, the belief being that present and future generations must not be held hostage by dogmas and dogmatists who were themselves captives of their own parochial world. Thus are the prophets of other lands and cultures regarded as equal to the prophets of Israel, and so we get Moses juxtaposed with Mohammed; Gautama Buddha with St Paul, and so on. This approach is pervasive in our schools: RE is the epitome of salvific universalism. The revelation of God must be sought in all religious shrines and traditions in order that this rich heritage may broaden our understanding of God’s activity in human history. It is a kind of ‘Third Testament’ revelation.

The Church of England is the Established Church: it exists for all of its parishioners – of all faiths and none. How can it seek converts without repudiating false prophets and offending the sensibilities of those who are going to hell? Of course, Christ must be at the centre of things, and it may be observed that postmodernity is more open to religious accounts than was doctrinaire modernity. But the price of such openness is to demand that all accounts relinquish their claim to transcendent, unique truth. If a religion results in a life of love and concern for others, the claims of the Buddhist, the Muslim, the Christian, and the atheist must be accepted as equally true. Lesslie Newbigin observes:

If religious belief is a matter of personal inward experience rather than an account of what is objectively the case, then there are no grounds for thinking that Christians have any right – much less any duty – to seek the conversion of these neighbours to the Christian faith. To try to do so is arrogance (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, p25)

He also notes that the inter-religious is usually compounded by the inter-racial issue, and in order to avoid accusations of racism, the tendency is to accept religious pluralism: “The Christian faith may be true for us; it is not necessarily true for everyone,” he writes. But the Incarnation, when taken literally, leads to the uncomfortable assertion that Christ is the ‘norm’ for all other religions. Belief in the Incarnation cannot be done away with: it is not myth, but serious and literal.

How postmodernist Christians reconcile seriously the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism with the Five Pillars of Islam, or release from Samsara in Theravada Buddhism with justification by faith alone in Protestant Evangelicalism, is fraught with difficulty. The belief that all religions are expressions of the same transcendent reality is illusory (at best). As Newbigin cogently attests:

(T)here is an appearance of humility in the protestation that the truth is much greater than any one of us can grasp, but if this is used to invalidate all claims to discern the truth it is in fact an arrogant claim to a kind of knowledge which is superior to the knowledge which is available to fallible human beings (ibid., p170).

The dispute boils down to competing truth claims on salvation: my gospel is mine; yours is yours. With ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are shifting the Church of England away from a fuzzy relativist gospel of ‘anything goes’ to one of salvific fact: the person and work of Jesus Christ. There will be objections from those who repudiate the self-interested claims of the dominant voices, but this, too, must be sensitively challenged in the mission of the Church. We either engage with this, or we die. The greatest irony would be for Christians uncritically to join the assault on a dying modernity only to find ourselves as but one story among many, unintentionally reinforcing the irrationalism of postmodernity.

  • Ian G

    If the Gospel is absolute truth, and not relative, maybe it’s post-modernism that should be dying?

    • cacheton

      And how would you go about demonstrating that your Gospel is absolute truth?

      • Findaráto

        His Gospel is absolute truth because he says so, dummy! Didn’t you know he’s infallible?

        • Ian G

          First of all I wrote “If”. Secondly, It’s not my Gospel. I don’t own it. There are several lines of argument that one might develop if one had time and space.

          Firstly, relativism must lead to existential angst and the death of reason and logic. If everything is relative how do you know that your argument is true?

          Secondly, demonstrable evidence of the historicity of Christ and the fulfilment of prophcies. There are books about this.

          Thirdly, the testimony of the saints and believers even unto death. Amongst other things, the Gospel offers a personal encounter with God – the seal of the Holy Spirit. Changed lives, generation after generation.

          Fourthly, changed societies where the Gospel informs governance.

          Just some to be going on with. Why do sceptics always think that we won’t have an answer for our faith? Why Findrato, do you resort to sarcasm?

          • Findaráto

            Firstly, my argument is true if it is demonstrable. Fire burns and I can demonstrate this quite easily. You can’t demonstrate anything about God. Not a thing. No demonstration = no truth.

            Secondly, there is no demonstrable evidence of the historicity of Christ. None. Nothing. The only piece of physical evidence we have that any of the main Gospel characters actually existed is a stone inscription bearing Pilate’s name. Otherwise everything rests on four dubious accounts backed up with no evidence at all. Even if evidence were to appear confirming the physical existence of a man named Jesus, there would still be no reason to believe that the tall stories and legends about his magical exploits were true. Look at King Arthur. He may have existed, or at least been based on an historical figure, but if you think that proves that a watery bint lurks in a lake hurling magical swords at passers by, you’ve got a screw loose, mate…

            Thirdly, the hallucinations of religious obsessives prove nothing except their own fragile psychological state and tenuous grip on reality.

            Fourthly, name such a society where the fruits of the Spirit are evident in all and everyone exists in perfect peace and harmony. You can’t? I thought not…

          • Anton

            There will be no such society until Christ gets back, because the church is a set of people called out from every nation, not a nation or society in itself.

            Other religions started when one man had a private dream about God, a private angelic encounter about God, or a private idea about god, and that man then went and told others. Whereas after a public ministry Christ was killed publicly, rose from a public tomb publicly, and was seen again in public. Then the public told others.

          • sarky

            Allegedly.

          • Anton

            Do some work to knock that over, rather than making a one-word comment that takes no effort or knowledge.

          • sarky

            Have done and posted on it many times. Can’t really be bothered to go over old ground.

          • William Lewis

            Then probably best to just zip it.

          • Findaráto

            Christianity started when one woman had a “private angelic encounter” (i.e. either a visitation from the Lord, or from a mere mortal who may or not have been a Roman soldier called Pantera…) and then concocted a story to explain and justify the son that appeared 9 (one assumes) months later.

            The son, as well he might considering the only alternative was the stain of illegitimacy, bought into the story and lo and behold, suddenly God walked on earth!

            That’s what happened if you believe there really was a Jesus and that the outline of his story is more or less true.

            The two bones of contention remain the origin of his conception (divine or dismally mortal?) and the sincerity of the two people telling the tale.

            If Jesus really existed, I’m willing enough to believe that he thought he was the son of God. If you grow up being told you’re divine, especially in a backwards and superstitious culture like Roman Judaea, you probably end up believing it. Besides, if the alternative is the stigma of illegitimacy, what alternative is there?

            No the real key to all of this is the mother. The entire religion stands or falls by the accuracy of her claim that her son was conceived by God.

            Given that the alternative would have been to be cast out of her family to wander the streets and fend for herself as best she could, I’m not surprised Mary’s story was a whopper. She had nothing to lose, so if she was going to lie to cover her tracks, she might as well lie big.

            On the other hand, perhaps she was telling the truth. We cannot know as there is no evidence to back up – or undermine – her claim. It all has to be taken on faith, which I am unwilling to do given the enormity of the tall tale I’m being asked to swallow and the total, utter and complete lack of corroborating evidence for it.

            So your claim that Christianity is different from other faiths because it played out in public has no bearing on its authenticity. The key event on which the truth of the faith rests was a private affair between Mary and a man (or God) of indeterminate identity.

          • Anton

            No, the virgin birth is important but the key point, as St Paul freely states, is the resurrection from the dead of Jesus. As I said, and, in contrast to other religions, after a public ministry Christ was killed publicly, rose from a public tomb publicly, and was seen again in public. Then the public told others, initially orally then, before the eye-witnesses died out, in written form so as to prevent Chinese whispers. From those sources the news has reached you and me.

          • Findaráto

            The resurrection was not a public event. It was witnessed by nobody. The closest they came to it was being told about it by an individual who was supposedly an angel. They didn’t actually see it happen.

            The Bible claims that the man identified as Christ supposedly resurrected was seen by hundreds of people after his purported resurrection. But who were these people? Where are their accounts? If you saw someone you knew had been killed walking around town the next day, wouldn’t you want to record the fact? How come all we have are four accounts when we should have hundreds? How come no trace of such a miraculous event was reported back to the surrounding cultures?

            The simplest explanation is that it’s a literary invention. It’s easy to make up miraculous stories. It’s rather more difficult to prove that they’re true.

          • Anton

            “How come all we have are four accounts when we should have hundreds?”

            There WERE surely hundreds, but in those days you did not routinely write things down but spread them by word of mouth. They were written down during the lifetime of the witnesses in order to prevent Chinese whispers from distorting the tale. How many scraps might have existed in regular households? But people take the trouble to preserve only fuller accounts.

          • Pubcrawler

            As can be seen from Luke 1.1ff.

          • The Explorer

            “Secondly, there is no demonstrable evidence of the historicity of Christ.”

            A while back, we discussed the historicity of Boudicaa. Tacitus, not an eye witness, is the only real source. Cassius Dio copied Tacitus. By your required criteria, Boudicaa may not have existed.

            Historians, however, think she did exist. Though Tacitus himself was not an eye witness, he had an eye witness in his father-in-law. That is such a reliable source that historians are content to accept Boudicaa’s existence. SInce there are no indigenous sources, potential bias is a problem for historians, but the existence issue itself is not.

            That’s not quite the same issue as Christ, but it does illustrate that your stipulation of two eye-witness sources from different perspectives (I’m quoting from memory, so please forgive if that’s not exactly what you said) is not always available and need not be necessary.

          • Findaráto

            We’ve already covered this ground. Boudica MAY have existed, but as everything depends on the word of one man who was not an eyewitness to her existence, we can’t be entirely sure she did.

            The trouble with the Gospels is that not only are they not eyewitness accounts, we also don’t know through how many hands the story passed before it was written down. There’s too much scope for massive distortion, embroidery and even downright fabrication.

            There is no physical evidence that verifies the Gospel accounts. There is physical evidence verifying a revolt in Roman Britain at the dates given for Boudica. Of the two stories, that of Boudica therefore seems more likely, and the lack of a messianic theme with attendant miracles reinforces the possibility that what is recounted did indeed happen, at least in part.

            On balance I think the Boudica story is probably, although not certainly true in at least its outline. But I don’t believe a word of the Gospels, although it’s not impossible there was a prophet who may even have been called Jesus. But as for the rest of it: pure fantasy and uncorroborated legend is all it is.

          • The Explorer

            You’re making eyewitness testimony carry an awful lot of weight. Does the reliability of the eyewitness come into it?

            Some ancient Icelander was witness to activity from Mount Hekla, and thought Surt the fire giant was waving his sword in a tantrum. Eye witness, all right? But reliable? If he was illiterate and got someone who hadn’t seen the incident to record the details, is it still eyewitness evidence, or isn’t it?

            Suppose someone from the Battle of the Somme (which was a big battle) heard a detail from someone killed later in the battle.without having seen it himself. Is it eyewitness testimony, or isn’t it?

            Historians, as I say, consider that Tacitus had eyewitness testimony. Not his own, but that of Gnaaeus Julius Agricola. He did three tours of duty and understood the situation in Britain extremely well. His account carried more weight, given his first-hand military knowledge, than if Tacitus had seen the incident for himself.

          • Findaráto

            Yes, Agricola’s testimony does carry a certain amount of weight and it is therefore likely that there was a Boudica. But in terms of historicity it isn’t definitive. We need multiple independent eyewitness sources to know beyond reasonable doubt that an event happened or a person lived. We do not have this for Boudica. We certainly don’t have it for Christ.

            As usual, the Christian is having problems with the idea that something we think we know might not actually be an established fact. Oh my (your) God, the world will clearly collapse around us if we can’t say with 100% certainty that Boudica existed!!!

            Ummm … no it won’t.

            Whether Boudica existed or not, the sun will still rise tomorrow and the world will go on just as it always has. Same thing for Christ. Whether he existed or not makes no difference to the rhythm of the seasons or the level of oxygen in the air we breathe. You claim to know he did exist, but you can offer no convincing evidence to back your claim up with. In which case his existence stays firmly in the realm of the putative. End of story.

          • The Explorer

            You seem to be the one requiring 100% certainty. For myself, I’m happy to say, with C S Lewis, “What we believe always remains intellectually possible; it never becomes intellectually compulsive. I have an idea that when this ceases to be so, the world will be ending.” No conclusive evidence on either side until then.

            If we need multiple independent eyewitnesses to past events, then great swathes of ancient history must be consigned to the scrapheap for want of this requirement. Historians, unwilling to see their discipline disappear, might say alternatives are possible.

            You make the interesting point that evidence exists for the British revolt, independent of eyewitnesses. That has significant implications. Consider the case of Jonestown. There were, I think, a few survivors: three who’d been sent off to the embassy and missed the event, a couple of elderly women in the sick bay who’d been forgotten about; a deaf old man who didn’t hear the instruction to kill himself. But even if the thing had succeeded in entirety and all of them were dead leaving not a single eyewitness, reasonable reconstruction of what had happened would have been possible by medical examination of the 900 bodies.

            In happier circumstances, inference can be applied to the exponential growth of Christianity. But more of that another time.

          • Findaráto

            Great swathes of history need not be consigned to the scrapheap, but merely identified as what they really are: conjecture based on incomplete or inadequate historical evidence.

          • Anton

            I say, Findarato, did a man called Linus exist last year? There was some written evidence to that effect but I can’t see it just now.

          • “Firstly, my argument is true if it is demonstrable. Fire burns and I can demonstrate this quite easily. You can’t demonstrate anything about God. Not a thing. No demonstration = no truth.”

            But how do you demonstrate colours to someone born blind? Or teach someone born deaf to understand music? Can’t be done. The problem is not that God does not exist; it lies in your inability to perceive Him.

            God can be found by those who seek Him with all their hearts. To start with you need to come humbly and be willing to receive.

            The Almighty has no time for know-it-all, not that you are one.

          • Findaráto

            A blind man surrounded by those who can see has good reason to believe in their story that he lacks a sense they possess. It can be proven by a simple experiment.

            Take two sets of three jars, one red, one blue and one green, turn them upside down and place a nourishing meal under the red jar. Sit a blind man and a sighted man (with colour vision) in front of each set of jars and tell them that there’s food under the red jar, but that they can only lift up one jar to try and find it.

            Lock the men in the room and repeat the experiment every day for a month, varying the colour order of the jars each time. The sighted man will eat every day. The blind man will eat only on some days. He will lose weight while the sighted man does not. So he will have compelling evidence that the sighted man possesses not only a sense that he does not, but that this sense is nuanced in a way that allows him to distinguish between identically shaped, sized and textured objects by some other means.

            While this will not let the blind man experience the sensation of seeing colour, it will persuade him that colour exists. Because the ability to see colour gives the sighted man a quantifiable and consistent advantage that the blind man can detect.

            So if Christians have this extra sense that lets them detect God, where’s the evidence for it? What are the quantifiable advantages that detecting God confers on them? Fruits of the Spirit? One look at this site, or indeed any church with its squabbling and imperfect members, will give lie to that myth.

            So go on then, tell me what advantage your “God sense” confers on you and how I can detect that advantage. So far I’ve noted no difference between Christians and anyone else. But I stand ready to be enlightened by those who have cogent arguments to offer backed up by convincing evidence, of course.

          • But the blind man still can’t see those colours? He has to go by faith. How can he be sure that someone isn’t playing a trick on him? So till he sees those colours for himself, surely he shouldn’t believe!

            Coming to your last point – personally, I happen to know lots of people whose lives have been changed by their coming to Christ – and some very dramatically. I have known people from the most difficult backgrounds – live very worthwhile lives and raise wonderful families since their conversions. With many others, including myself, it has been more of a slow growth. But the overall quality of life has improved for people like me. There is also scientific evidence that Christians have better mental health outcomes:

            Since I cannot produce these changed people before your eyes this minute, for obvious reasons, we will have to look to history.

            And history is full of examples of Christians who have served humanity magnificently – Mother Theresa, Wilberforce, Gladys Aylward and countless others who have set up schools, hospitals and orphanages in the remotest parts of the world, as well as people whose lives were dramatically changed following conversion, and who went on to become ‘profitable servants’ to society – St Augustine, St Francis of Assisi, John Newton, Chuck Colson, Nicky Cruz – to name a few.

            Now it your turn to give me similar examples of atheists whose service to humanity has been exceptional.

          • Findaráto

            I’m not going to play a game of one-upmanship in the public service stakes. There are plenty of atheist and agnostic philanthropists out there. Look them up for yourself.

            But I wonder, does the fact that Bill Gates (agnostic) is giving away his vast fortune to fund humanitarian projects around the world outweigh St. Augustine’s moralizing or Francis of Assisi’s vows of poverty? How about if we add Warren Buffet’s (another agnostic) billions into the mix? Which individual Christian saint ever made a difference to the lives of so many people? Mother Teresa probably helped several thousand, maybe even several tens of thousands. But did several hundred thousand benefit from clean drinking water as a result of her actions? Did she fund treatment programs for the sick and hungry across the globe? Hmmmm…

            And of course you know lots of people whose lives have been changed by Christ. Only you don’t know exactly how many, or what their names are, or how he changed their lives, or what really happened to them as opposed to what they claim happened to them. Anecdotal and highly subjective “witness” like that, based as it is largely on self-reporting in a milieu where people are pressured to praise Christ and claim all sorts of unverifiable miracles, is worth precisely nothing in any objective analysis of the transformative nature of Christianity. Show me facts and figures. Long range studies demonstrating the concrete improving effects of Christian faith rather than vague and anecdotal stories about marriages saved (until the next affair or episode of wife-beating) and lives turned around (until the next relapse into drug or alcohol-fueled crime or abuse).

            Christians see what they want to see. They don’t look at or make any attempt to analyze actual data. It’s all about saying the right things, playing up the good and minimizing or totally ignoring the bad and talking themselves into believing in this transformative power their God wields but no concrete facts and figures ever seem to be able to pinpoint or measure.

            The blind man in my example would indeed be a fool if he accepted as unquestioned fact the existence of a sense he did not possess based on the one experience. It might indeed be a trick. But in reality blind men don’t live their lives in closed rooms with only one sighted person to compare themselves against. Blind men spend their lives surrounded by the sighted and must confront uncountable situations during which sight confers a measurable advantage on others. It’s the sum of these experiences that will convince the blind man that colour really does exist, even though he cannot sense it.

            Again, I ask you: where is the advantage conferred by this ability you claim to be able to sense God? What demonstrable benefit does it confer upon you that can be detected and understood by others? What’s the point of a “God sense” if it’s of no practical value?

          • “I’m not going to play a game of one-upmanship in the public service stakes…”

            Well, thank you for the 2 examples that you did manage to find from the annals of history. However, I am sure you will agree that Mother Theresa made a disproportionately greater difference with the little that she had than the 2 billionaires you cited – with no advertisement or publicity in the early decades, but dependant on supernatural provision. You might want to ‘google’ Dr Ida Scudder and Philip Mohabir -who were examples of people led by God; and achieved so much good with so little.

            “And of course you know lots of people whose lives have been changed by Christ. Only you don’t know exactly how many, or what their names are…”

            These are people I happen to know personally in the churches I have been part of (in the few countries that I have lived in), but as you don’t know them, it makes no sense to give your their names.

            “Show me facts and figures…”

            I gave you some examples… you chose to dismiss them. So what would convince you?

            “Long range studies…”

            The evidence from mental health in the youtube link – of a talk by a respected psychiatrist (who is not a Christian, but a Jewish agnostic)?

            “Where is the advantage conferred by this ability you claim to be able to sense God? What demonstrable benefit does it confer upon you that can be detected and understood by others? What’s the point of a “God sense” if it’s of no practical value?”

            A few benefits of serving God: 1. the ability to recognise when I have done something wrong; 2. repentance and the joy of being forgiven; 3. peace in my every day life, and 4. the desire to do my work as a service to others, and not merely for personal gain.

            I would suggest a fascinating book: “The Country of the Blind” by HG Wells. For a short summary of its application to the question under discussion:

            https://gingerteasympathy.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/living-in-country-of-the-blind/

          • Findaráto

            Hmmm. The problem with your response is a common one with Christian justifications.

            As you’ve persuaded yourself that the only path to joy and satisfaction lies in your devotion to an invisible and undetectable (by dull and brutish mortals like me who lack your God sense, at least) God, you refuse to acknowledge that others can find joy and satisfaction elsewhere.

            Let’s take the example of Bill Gates, shall we?

            Mr Gates has a sense of right and wrong that’s every bit as real and pertinent to him as yours, so your first example fails as a description of an advantage conferred only by a God sense, because Gates is an agnostic.

            Gates also experiences the need to repent and takes joy in forgiveness. I know this because I’ve heard him speak on the subject. So again, no unique advantage for the Christian in that one.

            Gates has also talked about the inner peace that his philanthropic activities, among other things, confer. He feels good about giving, so yet another of your unique advantages granted by this mystical God sense turns out to be not quite so unique after all.

            And lastly, refocusing his life on philanthropic activities and giving away the bulk of his vast fortune surely demonstrates Gates’ desire to serve his fellow man. So the last of your unique God sense powers is revealed as no more unique than the rest of them. In fact nothing about this putative ability to sense God makes you any better or more able than an agnostic.

            How can that be? It only makes sense if there are some other magical sensory abilities conferred on you by your God sense that you haven’t yet described to me. Or if you’re deluding yourself into believing in a phantom or a fantasy.

            So which is it? By all means feel free to describe to me the strange and unusual powers that believing in God gives you access to. I’m looking for the same sort of scale of advantage a sighted man has over a blind one. A clear and demonstrable show of superior force or ability.

            And something tells me I’ll be looking for some time yet…

          • First of all, in talking about the benefits that come with a faith in Christ, I was not comparing myself to Bill Gates or anybody else; but why do you have just one example? Again, for each of us, at a personal level, I think it is more important to reflect on whether we enjoy peace or have a desire to serve, than talk about Bill Gates’ state of mind. So the question for you is: do you?

            “By all means feel free to describe to me the strange and unusual powers that believing in God gives you…”

            To your question about extra-sensory powers, the answer is simple – I have none. I have seen a few miracles in my time, especially in the Caribbean – people healed and demons cast out. I also believe the church is a body – someone has a particular gift and someone else has another – and the gifts are present in the body for the benefit of all.

            An experience of God as I mentioned in my first comment is hard enough to explain to anyone who has not had a similar experience; but if you have made up your mind to reject it, then it becomes impossible.

            And as someone else commented, you do keep moving the goalposts.

          • Findaráto

            The Christian response to clear and cogent objections to their wild claims is always the same. Accusations of having a closed mind come thick and fast, even in the face of my statement that convincing evidence of God’s existence would force me to believe in him.

            Your problem is that you can’t show any such evidence, so you claim the fault lies with me and my closed mind, when really the issue is with you and your inability to provide even a basic level of evidence to back up what you say.

            In effect you’re arguing like a child. You want me to accept what you say based on your word and your word alone, and if I won’t, then angry and offended accusations of the fault being mine follow (because how could you possibly be wrong – you’re you, after all!)

            What you cannot and will not understand is that the poor standard of proof accepted by you in all of your mystic and credulous wonder will not suffice for more analytical minds.

            I mean, I know your messiah guy is supposed to have said “have faith like a child”, but do you really think that’s what he meant? Perhaps he did, knowing that only credulous and gullible children would fall for his fantastical yarn.

            Got to hand it to him though, if he really existed and isn’t just a fictional composite or archetype, for one man to singlehandedly spin illegitimacy and narcissism into sovereign divinity while providing no evidence and without making absolutely everyone fall about laughing is a pretty remarkable feat of PR. If he were alive today, he’d probably be a big noise on Madison Avenue, which is where those who might have been prophets in an earlier time now go to exercise their talent for manipulating people and pulling the wool over their eyes.

            And therein lies the ultimate truth, I suspect. CS Lewis was right after all. One of his three alternatives does indeed explain the so-called Son of God. Christ really was a MadMan. The very first…

          • William Lewis

            “Your problem is that you can’t show any such evidence, so you claim the fault lies with me and my closed mind, when really the issue is with you and your inability to provide even a basic level of evidence to back up what you say.”

            But Linus, there is plenty of evidence, it’s just that you have chosen to reject it, ‘is all.

          • “Clear and cogent objections…”

            From who?

          • Findaráto

            Grammar, dear lady. “Whom” not “who”.

            Someone lacking a basic command of the English language should perhaps think twice before accusing others of failures of clarity and cogency.

            In any case, my arguments stand unrefuted for the time being. Please feel free to address them, or continue to ignore them and try to make the problem all about me rather than the questions I pose.

            If you do the latter, you’ll be acting like a true Christian. An obfuscating, blame-shifting, subject-changing, manipulative Christian who’ll try any tactic, no matter how underhanded or dishonest, to take down a persistent doubter.

          • Thank you for the English lesson. Of course I don’t remember any of your mistakes… some others might.

            Really, I wonder how you find all the time and energy for these meaningless rants.

            I think it is best to stop.

          • The Explorer

            “As it is unlikely that we will agree.” More than unlikely. As Thomas Andrews said about the sinking of the ‘Titanic’, “It’s a mathematical certainty.”

          • I wonder where Lienus is? Surprisingly he has made no comments on this thread.

          • “… devotion to an invisible and undetectable (by dull and brutish mortals like me who lack your God sense, at least) God…”

            Further to my comment below, I would never suggest that someone is incapable of knowing God, but generally you do need to be a seeker – and be willing to (humbly) receive.

            Of course, God may choose to give you a Damascene experience.

          • Findaráto

            Hallucinations on a dusty road somewhere in the Levant?

            I doubt it. If I were planning a rambling holiday in Syria, I’d take sandwiches rather than relying on road kill cooked up with a handful of psilocybin-laced mushrooms found by the side of the road.

            And my bread would be bakery fresh and not heaving with hallucinogenic ergotamine moulds.

            No wonder the Ancients invented so many weird and wonderful gods and had so many beatific visions. They were high most of the time…

          • chiefofsinners

            The blind man cannot see either the food which the seeing man eats, nor the signs of the health which it imparts. Neither can he see the food which sustains him, nor the hands which provide it.
            Good example.

          • Cressida de Nova

            You cannot speak for the Almighty ! God does not give the gift of perceiving the Divine to everyone. It is encumbent on those with the gift to enlighten atheists.

          • The born again experience makes it possible for anyone to have a relationship with God. That experience is available to all who repent and believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            Jesus said, “My sheep will hear My voice”, so anyone who is a true Christian will experience that close walk with God.

            “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16

            We cannot enlighten anyone – that is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit. God uses us as witnesses.

          • Cressida de Nova

            The Holy Spirit works through people with special talents who inspire unbelievers to the Divine. e.g. a number of atheists have been inspired by the magnificent works of J S Bach to acknowledge that there must be a God and from there to Christianity! The Holy Spirit works through chosen ones. Some are agents rather than witnesses.

          • “The Holy Spirit works through people with special talents who inspire unbelievers to the Divine…”

            Can you give a scriptural reference, please?

            It is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. I am sure God’s resources are unlimited and He may use anyone He pleases, but it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and God’s righteousness (John16:8).

            But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth… John 16:13 NIV

            “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 NIV

          • Cressida de Nova

            To answer your scriptural reference question. Catholics unlike Protestants do not base their belief entirely on scripture “Sola Scriptura” There are sacred traditions as well which are all compatible with scripture.

            I have no argument with you about the power of the Holy Spirit.

          • “Catholics unlike Protestants do not base their belief entirely on scripture… sacred traditions as well which are all compatible with scripture.”

            So, if the Catholic Church teaches something that contradicts the scripture, would you readily accept it above the teaching of the bible?

            Although I have never made a serious effort to study Catholic doctrine, I have had long discussions with some Catholic nuns – mostly Charismatics – about their beliefs. Much as I admired their sincerity, I found some of their beliefs incompatible with the scriptures – the veneration of saints; belief in Mary as co-redeemer, advocate and mediator; the use of images; the infallibility of the Pope, among others.

            It never occurred to these nuns to question such unbiblical teaching because they were also told that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church

          • Cressida de Nova

            If what you say is true these charismatic nuns are some sort of breakaway cult and have never received a valid Catholic education.I suspect they must be American.

            1.Catholics only worship God
            2.It is heresy to worship the saints or Mary
            3, The Pope is only infallible when speaking ex cathedra on faith and morals which only happens very infrequently ,every few hundred years or so.
            4.The Catholic Church does not contradict scripture.
            5. The gospels were written by Catholic saints.The Catholic Church existed before and during the writing of the gospels.
            6. There can never be a change to Catholic doctrine. It is set in stone so I will never need to challenge the Church on doctrine.

          • I would be glad if 1. and 2. were true. So, then you must agree that the following is unscriptural teaching:

            Second Vatican Council: “Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix and Mediatrix…” (Lumen Gentium, n. 62). Pope Leo XIII called her a co-redemptress.

            These are titles that belong to Christ, and to Him only.

            3. Has no scriptural basis whatsoever. St. Peter never had a throne in the Vatican, only a fisherman’s boat and net. He was openly rebuked by Jesus and Paul for being eager to please people rather than God – which at least proves that he was fallible. With some of the later popes, I wonder how they would even stand before Christ, after ascribing to themselves titles and honours which He never bestowed.

            4. I have nothing against Catholics, but if they believe such things about Mary (see above), they are contradicting scripture.

            5. About the gospels being written by Catholic saints, I can only imagine their – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s – horror at being described as ‘Roman’ Catholics. All except one were Hebrews, and never acknowledged the supremacy of a Roman pope, only Christ.

            6 The “Catholic doctrine is set in stone.” I wish you had similar confidence in the scripture and the apostle’s doctrine.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Since you are steeped in such bigotry and prejudice further discussion with you is a waste of time.

          • It should be possible for two people to disagree on any topic – even vigorously. A difference of opinion between two does not mean that either is bigoted or prejudiced.

            One final point – it was rather unfair on your part to have judged those nuns whom you don’t even know. I hope you didn’t mean to. They belonged to a Carmelite order, I think and they were mostly nurses (and 1 doctor) at one of the hospitals I worked in nearly 20 years ago. Not a breakaway cult.

          • Findaráto

            Oh good (imaginary) Lord! Not another Bach cantata! Serried ranks of upstanding Lutheran ladies warbling on about how great is God, how great is God, how great is God, how great is God, how great, how great, how great great great is God God God, while trumpets tootle and cymbals clash and you sink lower and lower and lower in your seat…

            A Bach concert generally starts at around 8pm and goes on for about three hours while you sit there listening to the same themes being repeated over and over and over and over and over again, endlessly varied, and always the same. Then you look at your watch and realize to your horror that it’s only 20 past 8!

            Is that the secret to knowing God? The stretching of time via perpetual motion?

          • Cressida de Nova

            If you have received the sacrament of Baptism you do not need to be reborn. I do not believe that only people who believe in the Resurrection of Jesus will be saved. Catholics believe in invincible ignorance.

          • Cressida de Nova

            The concept of ‘invincible ignorance’ means that non Christians depending on certain circumstances will receive salvationl

          • I agree it is possible. But we were talking specifically about how someone might ‘perceive’ God – one does need to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. The Bible makes this very clear.

          • The words of Jesus:
            “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 ESV

            I do not know enough about the Catholic church to comment on their teaching on salvation.

            As a general principle, if a church teaches something contrary to what Christ Himself has said, then that interpretation or teaching is wrong and should not be received. Paul had strong words about such teachers:

            “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8 ESV.

          • Findaráto

            So how do those with the gift convert unbelievers when the arguments they advance are so facile and unconvincing?

            It’s like your God, if he exists, has equipped his army with blades made of cotton wool that make little impression on the armour of their opponents. In fact the unbelievers come out of the scuffle with their armour all polished up and looking bright, shiny and more convincing than ever.

            Is this God’s way of making Christians humble?

          • Ian G

            Your assertion about the historicity of Christ is derived from 19th Century liberal “Scholarship” . I suggest a visit to the British Museum or your local library to order some books on the subject.You can easily Google them. Your assertion that miracles and fulfilled prophecy are tall stories and legends includes an assumption that God does not exist therefore they can’t be true. The same argument applies to your third point. As for the fourth point, I wrote changed societies, not perfect ones. Don’t put your words into my argument. You havben ‘t answered the logical philosophical point that I,and others on this thread, have made about relativism.
            All evidence that God exists is excluded on the grounds that God doesn’t exist. We can’t argue with a closed mind.

          • Anton

            Has anyone here read the recent book Who designed the designer? by Michael Augros? He claims to present a non-technical but rigorous version of Aquinas’ proof of the existence of God. Christians accept that the Bible gives more detail than any such argument can and Augros regards science as merely doing the same, though in a different direction. I haven’t bought it to read because of my innate scepticism about philosophy, specifically my suspicion that other axioms get smuggled in without the propounder realising it. By claiming watertightness Augros says that to question his conclusion is to question his axioms; he doesn’t defend those axioms but the point is that they are shared by theists and atheists alike. I’d welcome comment from Albert or others.

          • Findaráto

            It’s true that you can’t argue with a closed mind. And a mind that sees proof of God in anything and everything without firmly analyzing the evidence and drawing logical conclusions from it is completely closed to anything except the existence of God.

            You reject my rejection of God because your mind is closed to any possibility that he might not exist. So what you accuse me of, you’re completely guilty of yourself.

            If you’re going to criticise my position, at least be smart enough to reflect on the implications of your own position. If you attack me for doing exactly what you do yourself, you’re on shaky ground.

          • Ian G

            I haven’t claimed to see proof of God in anything and everything. Yet again you make claims on my behalf. This is smoke and mirrors for the benefit, or otherwise, of other readers.

            You haven’t answered the philosophical objection to relativism, which objection opens up the possibility that God exists.

            Actually, you haven’t answered any of my points properly. You move the goal-posts; you make assertions about what I and others believe which are not true or accurate. You use sarcasm and personal attack when no-one has done that with you.

            In the gospels, the blind ask to see because then, as now, most blind people lose their sight. The man born blind (John 9) did not ask to see. Like you, why should he? Sight was given to him, almost thrust upon him.

          • Findaráto

            I once met a very interesting woman who was born blind. Ground breaking brain surgery gave her an optic function in her late twenties. She could see! It was a miracle!

            The problem was that her brain could make no sense of the jumble of images that assailed it, and so although she could see, she couldn’t use any of the visual information because her brain couldn’t make a connection between the image of an object and an object itself. This ability develops along with the brain in early childhood. Suddenly gaining sight for the first time as an adult does not mean that you’ll ever be able to “see” as we understand it.

            If we transpose that case to my situation, if Christians have a God sense that non-believers lack, then perhaps it just is not possible for us to sense God. I’ve certainly never experienced even the vaguest inkling that he might exist, and that from my earliest childhood.

            If that’s the case, then like someone born blind, my only way of knowing that this sense I don’t have exists is to observe the behaviour of those who claim to possess it and try to detect some sort of advantage or superior power or ability that the sense confers on them.

            A blind man can do this quite easily. But a “God blind” man cannot. What observable Christian behaviour makes them stand apart from everyone else as more capable or more powerful than the rest of us? If there’s something to detect, I can’t detect it.

            The only conclusion I can draw is that Christians don’t have an extra sense and that they’re just fooling themselves because they want to believe in their God and are willing to tell any fib, no matter how outrageous it may be, to me but also to themselves in pursuit of that goal.

            But I could be wrong. Nothing would be easier to prove if as a Christian you really do have super powers. Can you not teleport (or “jaunt” as a cheesy 70s children’s science fiction program called it) from one side of the room to the other to prove that knowing God gives you access to a higher power? How about telepathy? Can you read my mind? What am I thinking right now?

          • Ian G

            Seeing isn’t a super-power although it might seem that way to someone born blind. You are claiming that all Christians are deluded and are liars. Talk about ignoring the evidence! Yet again you resort to abuse – and to sarcasm in the last paragraph. I had a friend who was an atheist and had no sense of God. She noticed that the Christians around her really seemed to have something she liked and wanted. The Pastor of the local church prayed with her and her spiritual sight was restored. She is now a committed Christian.

            Please note, saying the words in your current state of mocking disbelief will get you nowhere. She was open to the possibility that she might be wrong. She was blind but now she sees.

          • Findaráto

            She was blind and now she sees, or she was sighted and willingly blinded herself?

            Her’s wouldn’t be the first case of someone fleeing from a reality they find too difficult to handle into an escapist’s fantasy filled with imaginary spirits and miracles. That’s one of the weaknesses of the human mind: an overactive imagination that sees what it wants to see and justifies it with all sorts of invented and invisible (and conveniently unrefutable) “evidence”.

            Do you and your friend really commune with God? Who can tell? As the only evidence you offer takes the form of unverifiable stories and tales of dubious miracles, there’s no way of knowing for sure.

            When an unsupported claim is reasonable and plausible, if the person making it seems to be lucid and sensible, he’ll generally be believed. But when his claim is fantastical and exaggerated and he can offer no demonstrable evidence to support it, but instead advances nebulous and quite frankly unbelievable justifications that all depend on disregarding the knowledge of a lifetime in favour of his unsupported word, then you know something smells fishy.

            I’ve met enough shysters and confidence tricksters in my time to know when someone’s trying to pull the wool over my eyes. And yet many Christians clearly do not fall into this category and genuinely believe – or have convinced themselves to believe – that their tall stories are true. So although I make no claim that all Christians are deliberate liars, until they can prove their stories by showing concrete and verifiable evidence to support them, they have to be treated as delusional.

            This explains my sly and humorous – or gently mocking if you prefer – reference to the Tomorrow People. Christians are so thin-skinned, they can’t handle any kind of criticism without exploding in offended outrage, which further undermines their credibility because that’s exactly how you’d expect a deluded person to behave when you make fun of his delusion.

            In any case, asking you if you can perform wonders like the Tomorrow People isn’t nearly as outrageous and mocking as your claim that if you appease your God in the correct manner (but only in that manner and no other), you’ll get to live forever in drugged-up bliss in some kind of pleasure junkie’s paradise. That’s the real offence against good manners and credibility.

          • William Lewis

            “So although I make no claim that all Christians are deliberate liars, until they can prove their stories by showing concrete and verifiable evidence to support them, they have to be treated as delusional.”

            No they don’t, because:

            A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.

            So it would seem that either you are deluded over the meaning of the word “delusional” or else that you are blinded, by the necessity of your atheism, to logic and reason.

            How’s that for an explosion of offended outrage? 🙂

          • Findaráto

            Christians claim Christ came back to life after having died. But I can prove via exhaustive clinical records that not one single case of a medically verified resurrection has ever been recorded. My evidence that death is always irreversible is superior to your claim that it is because of the sheer weight and consistency of it. I have literally millions of case studies I can show you, all showing the same outcome: death is irreversible. You have one uncorroborated story backed up by no eyewitness accounts or any physical evidence.

            Yes, Christians are delusional. My evidence is unquestionably superior to yours, and still you maintain you’re right.

          • William Lewis

            “My evidence that death is always irreversible”

            You have no evidence that death is always irreversible. None.

          • Findaráto

            And you have no evidence that death is reversible.
            So why ask me to believe that it is when you can’t offer any proof to back up your claim?

            Those who say that death is irreversible can offer proof. They can point to everyone who ever died and underline the fact that not a single one of them has ever come back from the dead. It’s weighty evidence. After the 10 billionth case study and its outcome identical to the other 9.999.999.999, we might start to see a pattern emerge.

            Against this you want to set one uncorroborated story for which, despite 2000 years of searching, no physical evidence or supporting eyewitness accounts have ever been found. And you want to be taken seriously?

            Not by me, I’m afraid.

          • William Lewis

            “And you have no evidence that death is reversible.”

            Yes, I do! The fact that you reject the evidence does not, try as you might, make it go away. No matter how many times you assert it.

            “Those who say that death is irreversible can offer proof. They can point to everyone who ever died and underline the fact that not a single one of them has ever come back from the dead. “

            That is not proof! The fact that a death is not reversed is NOT proof of an irreversible death. And we are not even talking about spontaneous reversible deaths, or even human induced reversible death. Are we?

          • Findaráto

            Your “evidence” dismisses itself because of its complete inadequacy.

            I’ve said it so many times that it’s hardly worth repeating, but the complete lack of physical evidence for Christ coupled with the complete lack of contemporaneous eyewitness accounts of the circumstances of his birth, life, death and purported resurrection make him a literary rather than an historical figure.

          • William Lewis

            “Your “evidence” dismisses itself because of its complete inadequacy.”

            Evidence cannot dismiss itself. It can be accepted, rejected or ignored. You have chosen to reject.

            “I’ve said it so many times that it’s hardly worth repeating, but the complete lack of physical evidence for Christ coupled with the complete lack of contemporaneous eyewitness accounts of the circumstances of his birth, life, death and purported resurrection make him a literary rather than an historical figure.”

            As I have said before; it doesn’t matter how many times you say it …

          • Findaráto

            Evidence can dismiss itself when it does not meet evidentiary requirements. You may choose to loosen those requirements in order to claim that you have evidence, but anyone who examines it will realize its inadequacy and understand that it is not real evidence but is merely masquerading as such.

            That’s where Christianity stands. All your evidence boils down on thorough examination to hearsay and rumour, neither of which have evidentiary status. The nature of your “evidence” renders it non-evidentiary, therefore it dismisses itself.

          • William Lewis

            “Evidence can dismiss itself when it does not meet evidentiary requirements.”

            There are no evidentiary requirements here. You made that up. It’s just your usual flimsy assertions as to what is required (by you), dressed up in your usual pseudo scientific/legal jargon to make out that something has been proven (by you). Yet you repeatedly demonstrate that you have no idea what proof actually is. It’s a bit pathetic really.

            “You may choose to loosen those requirements in order to claim that you have evidence,”

            There is nothing to loosen (except in your imagination). I do not accept your requirements for, or your description of, this matter. There is just the evidence, take it or leave it.

            “All your evidence boils down on thorough examination to hearsay and rumour, neither of which have evidentiary status. The nature of your “evidence” renders it non-evidentiary, therefore it dismisses itself.”

            Even if your description of the evidence was true, your notion of “evidentiary status” is just more flimflam made up by you to justify your position. And lo and behold the evidence (that you deliberately misrepresent) “rejects itself” in your kangaroo court. Quelle suprise! What a pitiful lack of self awareness you have.

          • Findaráto

            So a random pattern on a grilled cheese sandwich is “evidence” of a sign from the Virgin Mary, is it?

            What a joke you people are. There’s nothing more to say really. Except maybe that fluffy bunny rabbits and puppy dogs’ noses clearly “prove” there is a God … in your jumbled and confused minds, at least.

          • CliveM

            Literally thousands are brought back to life daily worldwide. Your analysis is flawed.

            “While 45 minutes is absolutely remarkable and a lot of people would have written her off, we now know there are people who have been brought back, three, four, five hours after they’ve died and have led remarkably good quality lives,” says Dr Sam Parnia, the director of resuscitation research at Stony Brook University in New York.

          • Findaráto

            It depends on what you consider to be the moment of death.

            Officially it’s the cessation of heart or brain function. But the official definition doesn’t necessarily indicate the real moment of death.

            What I’m talking about is the onset of system-wide necrosis, which can take several hours to begin after clinical death occurs.

            A necrotic body has never been raised from the dead. This clear and compelling evidence has to be weighed against the claim that Christ rose on the third day after his execution, which means his body must have well and truly begun to decompose.

            Show me a documented and verifiable incidence (outside of The Walking Dead) where a rotting corpse comes back to life and I’ll concede the point that resurrection is possible. Until then, as all the evidence shows that it is not, I’ll continue to believe that the story of the Resurrection is a literary invention.

          • CliveM

            Ok so to defend your point, death is not enough, it has to be death with putrification.

            So at least we agree that dead people come back to life with relative frequency.

            Truth is even if I could find an example you would either redefine your proof requirements or decide that this example wasn’t equivalent to the resurrection. Which I agree it wouldn’t be. But your not looking for proof, because you would find a reason to deny it was proof, you are looking for reasons to continue disbelief.

          • Findaráto

            Let me be clear: death as certified by a doctor is not necessarily death because doctors are not infallible and can make mistakes. They can declare someone dead when he’s really still alive. It’s relatively rare – or at least I’m sure everyone hopes it is – but it does happen.

            Somebody who revives from an incorrectly declared death has not been resurrected. Perhaps in a legal sense, but in reality they were always alive even if their vital signs were too faint to detect.

            The death I am talking about and always have been talking about is the irreversible onset of necrosis.

            I have mentioned this in other posts, so I took it for granted that I would be understood. Big mistake taking anything for granted here. Christians backed into a corner by logical debate will seize at any opportunity, no matter how flimsy and insubstantial, to try and score a point.

            In any case, when it comes to the Resurrection of Christ, if he’d been dead for three days before his body was supposed to have been reanimated, necrosis must have set in. So he can’t have come back to life. Rotting bodies never do because their cell structures have broken down, so their life cannot be sustained. And this despite what you might see on The Walking Dead – I mean those corpses would lose all muscle tone within days and wouldn’t be able to move, let alone shuffle up to you and bite your ear off.

            But why spoil a good story with inconvenient facts, eh? The writers of that gory TV series clearly took their inspiration from biblical sources…

          • CliveM

            “I have mentioned this in other posts, so I took it for granted that I would be understood.”

            Apologies for not hanging onto your every word.

            “Christians backed into a corner by logical debate will seize at any opportunity, no matter how flimsy and insubstantial, to try and score a point.”

            Or another way of putting this, Linus shown the gaping flaw in his sweeping statement reverts to type and indulges himself in ad hominem attack and rudeness.

            The straw men can’t be far behind, oh look…………

          • Findaráto

            And more ad hominem attacks from you too, which is understandable considering that you can’t deny any of the points I’ve made, so in order to say something, you can only complain about me.

            Go ahead and admit defeat. Nobody will think any the less of you. Deluded Christians all bump along the bottom of the general esteem stakes anyway. Once you’ve hit bottom, you can’t go any lower.

          • CliveM

            Ah Linus you just can’t help yourself can you. You have nothing to offer and nothing interesting to say. so bored now.

          • Findaráto

            And you continue to say nothing of any pertinence to the debate.

            I didn’t think you’d cave so comprehensively and so quickly. I’m clearly wearing you down.

            I can pass on contact details for the British Humanist Association if you like. I’m not a member because they’re the most insufferable bores I’ve ever seen outside of a church, but I have a feeling you’ll fit right in…

          • CliveM

            You don’t even have the whit, originality (or personality) to come up with your own insults! Second hand insults from a third rate troll. Desperate stuff.

            I won’t lie and say I expected better. You’ve been on this blog to long for that to be credible.

          • Findaráto

            And the personal abuse keeps on coming. Par for the course from a Christian who’s been argued into a corner and doesn’t know how to respond except by lashing out in impotent anger.

            It isn’t a very manly way to behave, is it? Nasty little girls in the playground show more honour and dignity than you do. Fruits of the Spirit? A bubbling, fermenting, malodorous heap of rotten bananas, more like. Did Christ lash out like an angry little bitch when his opponents landed a punch on him? Did he throw a tantrum and start hurling insults? You really are beneath contempt.

          • CliveM

            Blah, blag, blah, yes you’ve said all this before.

            On numerous occasions. Usually at great length and with the same minimal levels of imagination and maximum levels of invective.

            Interesting isn’t it, how all this started when I blew your argument out of the water?

            “Manly”? Snort. This from the person who gets his jollies by on line bullying of the sick, is mysoginistic and has a complete inability to tell the truth about his multiple personalities!

            Irony, thy name is Linus.

          • The Explorer

            ” not one single case of a medically verified resurrection has ever been recorded.”

            Setting aside the resurrection issue, that statement seems to presuppose that all records have survived and we have access to them. But think of all the records that have been inadvertently destroyed in fires and wars, as well as those that have been deliberately destroyed to conceal evidence.

            Or events that happened and were never recorded, or recorded but never happened because fact has been confused with fiction by either writer or reader.

            Then there are texts as yet undiscovered. Think Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hamadi.

            Then there’s the defective text. C S Lewis’ example:
            The surviving page says, “Erimian was the noblest of the brothers ten.” But the missing next page might have continued, “As men believed; so false are the beliefs of men.”

            You can legitimately say “No known surviving record”, but that’s not the same thing.

          • Findaráto

            Which boils down to no records.

            No records mean no proof.

            There is no proof that anyone has ever been resurrected, therefore you cannot claim that resurrection is possible when there’s no precedent for it, ever.

            I could say that it was possible to fly by flapping my arms like a bird. If you believed me and jumped off a cliff flapping your arms and expecting to fly, you’d be sorely (very sorely) disappointed. Nobody has ever flown just by flapping their arms. It isn’t possible. And nobody has ever risen from an irreversible state of cellular necrosis. That isn’t possible either.

            If you believe in Christ’s resurrection, you have to also believe in men flying by flapping their arms. Maybe Christ could do both. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Christ flying south for the winter!

            Quick, take shelter! Don’t want to be caught out in the open when that little birdy, flying high, drops a message from the sky…

          • Ian G

            The term “Jaunte” with the ‘e” was used by Alfred Bester in his novel “Tiger!Tiger!”. 1955. It pre-dates the Tomorrow People.

            I have not claimed that God must be appeased. No Christian would make that claim as the Atonement has alrerady been accomplished. You have no idea, have you?

            You dismiss all evidence about God as inadmissable on the pre-supposition that God does not exist.

            I have not exploded in offended outrage. I merely pointed out that that you avoid questions and deploy sarcasm. You also put words into other people’s mouths. You define our beliefs for us e.g. “you’ll get to live forever in drugged-up bliss in some kind of pleasure junkie’s paradise” . I don’t see that in the Scriptures.

            You clearly believe that what you are saying is true, but you live in a relativistic universe where absolute truth does not exist. The most you can claim is that to the limits of your knowledge God probably does not exist assuming that your arguments are valid in a relativistic sense.

            I don’t think there is much to be gained continuing this discussion.

          • Findaráto

            I dismiss all evidence for God because none of it stands up to even the most basic scrutiny. If it did, there would be reason to believe God existed. As it doesn’t, there isn’t.

            By all means let’s end the conversation here. As you have nothing that can address my basic objection, we’re at an impasse anyway.

          • Ian G

            A friend of mine, also an atheist – married to the woman I mentioned, was an ambulanceman when he fell on ice and physically injured his spine. He suffered for years from back pain. After his wife became a Christian, he went with her to a convention as he would take the opportunity to tour the area on his motorcycle. One evening he attended a meeting out of curiosity, Prayer was offered for healing and, partly in desperation through pain, and partly because he now knew a lot of Christians and was no longer so close-minded, he went up for prayer. He was healed. There used to be video, but I don’t know if it still exists or what condition it would be in. He has not suffered from a bad back since. Another ambulanceman who was present when the injury occurred was also an atheist, but like you rather more militant. After the healing he never spoke to any of us again. He could not deny the healing so he chose to lose his friend.

          • Findaráto

            A failing battery prevents me from debunking this old chestnut right now. Stand by for an alternative explanation.

          • The Explorer

            Yours, or your computer’s?

          • The Explorer

            Linus (Findarato) reminds me of crab I met once on a beach in Cornwall. Irascible when prodded, and with rapid diversionary sideways movement.

          • Ian G

            I am inclined to agree, which is why I have terminated the discussion. Thanks for the observation.

          • Merchantman

            If you believe your negative opposition to the gospels; that is your choice. It is no more than a negative choice. The ‘essence’ of the gospel goes far beyond you.

          • Anna055

            Not any sort of proof, but an interesting lecture (I think) showing evidence that the gospels were at least contemporary documents.

      • Anton

        That’s called apologetics and you can find the basics easily enough, regardless of whether you agree with them. But postmodernism is still nonsense, because it states as an absolute truth that there is no such thing as absolute truth.

  • cacheton

    ‘..the irrationalism of postmodernity.’

    Please could someone explain what is irrational about postmodernity.

    • The Explorer

      “Don’t trust anybody in this room.” If that is true, we must mistrust the person making the statement, and the statement is therefore unreliable. If we trust the person making the statement, then the statement is untrue.

      • cacheton

        So – postmodernity is the movement towards trusting oneself. Great. I like it. And now I can see why religious people do not like it. Thank you.

        • The Explorer

          Not really. I could have used the example of If a Cretan says “All Cretans are liars” should we believe him? It doesn’t follow from that that all postmodernists are Cretans

          • cacheton

            No.
            Explorer has failed to take into account the fact that he is not the only person who will read what Pmdst wrote, therefore there cannot be ‘one fixed meaning’. And it is the Explorers who accuse the pmdsts of being self-centred!!

          • The Explorer

            I understand you to be saying that nobody but me will read what the postmodernist has said.

          • cacheton

            HA! And you are free to understand what you like. Though I do not think you are being honest when you say that. But that’s just me, of course, based on my experience of how you have responded to other posts!

          • The Explorer

            Of course I’m free to understand what I like. You’re only the writer and I’m the reader; so what I say goes.
            What the postmodernist says in practice is, “Meaning lies with the reader, except when I am the one writing: in which instance, meaning lies with me.” But if he/she can say that, so can everybody else. That is why postmodernism is essentially irrational: it demands an escape clause for iitself that it denies to others: and without justification.

          • cacheton

            ‘Of course I’m free to understand what I like. You’re only the writer and I’m the reader; so what I say goes.’
            Only for you.

            ‘What the postmodernist says in practice is, “Meaning lies with the reader, except when I am the one writing: in which instance, meaning lies with me.”‘
            No, because you are free to understand what you like. And if you persist in perversely ‘understanding’ the opposite of what has been written, you will find yourself with few friends rather quickly. I, for example, would stop answering your posts.

            If pmdst finds that everyone else is consistently understanding the opposite of what he (thinks he) has written or said, pmdst would ideally indulge in some introspection and self-criticism to find out why. That is why postmodernism is essentially progressive, unlike the christian’s ‘I’ll repent and be saved anyway so so what’.

            ‘That is why postmodernism is essentially irrational: it demands an escape clause for iitself that it denies to others: and without justification.’
            I don’t see that it does, but I am well aware of being in a minority round here, and remain open to debate….

          • The Explorer

            You’ve taken it all in very good spirit.
            You’ve set up a contrast between Christians and postmodernists, and you’re quite right to do so; but postmodernism’s most implacable enemy has probably been Richard Dawkins. ‘Postmodernism Disrobed’ in ‘A Devil’s Chaplain’ is worth a read if you don’t know it.

    • William Lewis

      There is no objective truth is a statement of objective truth.

      • cacheton

        No, it is a statement of subjective truth. Which is what you would expect, as truth is subjective.

        • Anton

          Aren’t you asserting “truth is subjective” as an objective truth?

          • CliveM

            Noooooooo not this debate again :0)!

          • cacheton

            No. It is my subjective truth. Yours is apparently ‘truth is objective’. Which is fine if that is what you need it to be for whatever reason, but as you cannot objectively show or reason that truth is, in fact, objective, that renders it a belief rather than a truth.

          • The Explorer

            Does your ‘No’ mean the same as my ‘No’? If so, why?

          • cacheton

            No is a convenient word, isn’t it. We have a convention in our society that certain words mean certain things, and we have dictionaries to explain what those are, but dictionaries use —– words. Circular. But useful, and the best we’ve got for internet blogs.

          • The Explorer

            Do you know societies where ‘no’ means ‘yes’? Cancel that. Too many campus date rape trials hinge on that vey question.

          • cacheton

            I do not know any societies where no means yes by dictionary definition, but I do know some where (campus date rape context here) it is ok for men to take ‘no’ as ‘yes’ as playing hard to get is part of the game where the woman will inevitably end up wanting to have sex with the man anyway won’t she…. truth is subjective remember…

          • Anton

            I suppose that to go farther constructively we have to define subjective and objective.

          • cacheton

            Sigh. Oh Anton I don’t think this is the first time you have started questioning what words actually mean before we can continue is it. Oh well..

          • Pubcrawler

            Socrates thought it an important question. Don’t you?

        • William Lewis

          How do you know that all truth is subjective?

          What is subjective about 2 + 2 = 4 ?

          • cacheton

            You and I are both subjects and we agree that 2 + 2 = 4

          • The Explorer

            That’s where Ebonics Maths comes in.

          • William Lewis

            Was it true that 2 + 2 = 4 before there were subjects to agree on this?

          • cacheton

            Relevance?

          • William Lewis

            The relevance will hopefully be revealed by your answer.

          • cacheton

            It is not relevant. In a scenario where there were no subjects, such as the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were still consciously part of god as they had not yet eaten of the tree of subjectiveness, it would not have been relevant if 2 + 2 = 4 or not as there would have been no use for it in any case.

          • William Lewis

            I didn’t ask if it was relevant. I asked if it was true. Do you have an answer?

          • cacheton

            How would I know? How would you know? We are both subjects, therefore cannot know or conceive of what this ‘before’ is. The question is therefore irrelevant.

          • William Lewis

            ” We are both subjects, therefore cannot know or conceive of what this ‘before’ is.”

            It seems strange that you would say that when there are physicists who are describing the nature of reality, before there were subjects to experience it, using maths. Their mathematical descriptions are often borne out later by experiment. So it would seem that mathematical truths did exist before there were subjects to establish their truthfulness. They must therefore be objective truths.

            In any case, the fact that you admit that you do not know if there were mathematical truths before there were subjects means that you cannot assert that all truth is subjective. You also seem to believe in a pre-existing reality (God) which must have been (pre Adam and Eve) an objective truth.

          • cacheton

            Physicists work with the physical, and in the physical world there are certain truths which are common to all subjects who find themselves in the physical world. Maths is also capable of exploring the grey area at the edge of the physical, like there is a difference between infinity and infinity + 1, mathematically, but not physically or experimentally. All fascinating. I do not see how mathematical truths about the nature of reality before subjectivity can be experimented by subjective beings.

            Yes I can still assert that all truth is subjective because by definition I am a subject, therefore whatever existed before subjects is irrelevant to this particular aspect of myself. Unless I am in denial about the fact that I exist as a subject.
            Yes I believe in what you term a pre-existing reality (God) but that does not mean It/He is/was objective, separate from me. If, in the beginning, God was all there is, then there was no objectivity. Everything created from God must therefore relate back to subjectivity, even if it is useful to have the concept of objectivity in the physical world for doing science, making bridges etc, ultimately (in the pure god dimension) nothing is objective. It just appears to be in other dimensions. It is a common illusion associated with the human incarnation that, as things appear to be objective in the physical world, things that are REAL are objective, therefore god (truth) must be too. I would even go so far as to say that it is this separation test which is the main general issue with incarnation.

          • William Lewis

            “I do not see how mathematical truths about the nature of reality before subjectivity can be experimented by subjective beings.”

            Not quite. Mathematical truths have been used to describe the nature of reality “before subjectivity” and many of these descriptions have provided correct predictions of the results of certain experiments “by subjective beings”. Therefore it can be said that mathematical truths existed and can describe the nature of reality before there were subjects.

            “Yes I can still assert that all truth is subjective because by definition I am a subject, therefore whatever existed before subjects is irrelevant to this particular aspect of myself.”

            You are saying that all truth is subject to you because any truth that is not subject to you is irrelevant (to you). That is a, rather typical, self-referential bootstrap that ends up going round in circles and saying nothing. Truths prior to your existence may be irrelevant to you but they are not irrelevant to e.g. whether objective truth exists or not. Indeed they are rather key, as I have shown.

            “If, in the beginning, God was all there is, then there was no objectivity.”

            Not true. There was the objective truth that “God was all there is”. This objective truth is true, by definition, and objective, because there were no subjects or subjectivity.

          • cacheton

            If they provided correct predictions of experiments ‘by subjective beings’, then how can they simultaneously provide correct predictions of experiments ‘not by subjective beings’, from a time before subjectivity existed? If subjects are appreciating the results, how could they know if the results would exist if they (the subjects) did not exist? You seem to be saying that the observer effect (or I suppose in this case calculator effect) is not valid in maths. Do you have some kind of link to explain that?

            Before commenting on your second paragraph could we clear up the third, as I can see this is the basic sticking point. If in the beginning god was all there is, then there was nothing else for god to be object to, therefore only subjectivity can have existed. From our human standpoint it APPEARS that god must be objective, because we recognise, as self conscious beings, that we are not god. Appears.

            ‘This objective truth is true, by definition, and objective, because there were no subjects or subjectivity.’
            Is god a subject or an object?

          • William Lewis

            “If subjects are appreciating the results, how could they know if the results would exist if they (the subjects) did not exist?

            Because the results match the mathematical descriptions of reality when the subjects did not exist.

            You seem to be saying that the observer effect (or I suppose in this case calculator effect) is not valid in maths.”

            I am saying that the effects observed match the mathematical descriptions. Which suggests that there were mathematical truths before there were subjects.

            “Is god a subject or an object?” When God was all there is, in the beginning, he was neither subject nor object.

          • cacheton

            ‘Because the results match the mathematical descriptions of reality when the subjects did not exist.’
            How do they know the results match? Because THEY are looking at them. Therefore they could not know if they would exist if they (the subjects) did not exist. We are going round in circles. I’m not sure how to move on from this.

            ‘effects observed’
            OBSERVED. Yes. By subjects.

            If god was neither subject nor object in the beginning, then he cannot have been life. He cannot have been. Full stop. Except that he was, and we know that, unless we believe that life appeared out of nothing, which neither of us do I think.

          • William Lewis

            “How do they know the results match? Because THEY are looking at them. Therefore they could not know if they would exist if they (the subjects) did not exist.”

            On that basis nothing exists unless YOU observe that it exists, which makes you god.

            “We are going round in circles. I’m not sure how to move on from this.”

            There is only one way you can break this circle. You have to admit to some objective truth.

            “If god was neither subject nor object in the beginning, then he cannot have been life. He cannot have been. Full stop.”

            But this is just your subjective opinion.

          • cacheton

            ‘On that basis nothing exists unless YOU observe that it exists, which makes you god.’
            I believe scientists who do experiments to show things exist, though not always their interpretations of those experiments, for what I hope are obvious reasons in this case!

            ‘There is only one way you can break this circle. You have to admit to some objective truth.’
            Just to satisfy your belief? Certainly not. You, however, could concede that subjectivity trumps objectivity, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you are not going to do that. And another sneaking suspicion that you will not explain why you are not going to do it.

            If god was neither subject nor object in the beginning, then what was he? That was logic I used, not opinion.

          • William Lewis

            ” That was logic I used, not opinion.”

            You mean, in your subjective opinion it was logic! Actually there was no logic there at all, just assertion. Full stop!

            Unfortunately, your criteria as to what is admissible (or “relevant” as you put it) is so arbitrary, or perhaps I should say subjective, that there is no basis on which to hold an objective discussion.

          • cacheton

            Of course there is no basis on which to hold an objective discussion, as discussions are necessarily between subjects, and therefore subjective. As I said, subjectivity trumps (overrides, if you prefer) objectivity because objects are only seen/understood from the point of view of subjects. We (subjects) can agree on what we are going to call objective/objects and have enriching discussions. But that is not a valid reason for maintaining that objective truth exists.

            Please could you explain what is so undesirable about subjectivity. I am getting the impression that objective=good, subjective=bad in your opinion, and this is what is overriding any point in any possible discussion.

          • William Lewis

            “Of course there is no basis on which to hold an objective discussion, as discussions are necessarily between subjects, and therefore subjective… We (subjects) can agree on what we are going to call objective/objects and have enriching discussions. But that is not a valid reason for maintaining that objective truth exists.”

            Then you deny that the scientific method is a valid framework for discovery, based, as it is, on the presupposition of an objective reality. Science would not work without an objective reality.

            “Please could you explain what is so undesirable about subjectivity. I am getting the impression that objective=good, subjective=bad in your opinion, and this is what is overriding any point in any possible discussion.”

            Desirable? What has desire got to do with this? We were discussing whether there are objective truths which you deny using circular reasoning that can only define anything in relation to your self. This self referencing reasoning does not demonstrate that there is no objective reality because that assumption is already axiomatic in the framework that you have constructed. Anything that cannot be referenced to you is “irrelevant”.

          • cacheton

            ‘Then you deny that the scientific method is a valid framework for discovery, based, as it is, on the presupposition of an objective reality. Science would not work without an objective reality.’
            No I do not deny this. I recognise that we have a shared subjective reality in this physical dimension, and the concept of objective reality is very useful for doing science. However in non-physical dimensions physical laws do not apply. Science is also feeling the limits of its axioms, that everything that has a physical effect can be studied by science. Take for example the placebo effect, well documented, but whose ’cause’ is not understood by science; experiments even show that the mind (subjectivity) can reverse the effect of drugs on the body, which should be ‘objective’. Or the practice of mindfulness which has found its way into NICE guidelines; there is evidence it works, but no understanding why, or theories of how it possibly could according to physical laws.

            Please give one example of a thing that YOU can define without relation to yourself. Objective truth does exist by construction, as in science. Subjective truth also exists by construction, ultimately constructed by god. You say self referencing reasoning does not demonstrate that there is no objective reality. How do YOU demonstrate that there IS an objective reality?

    • The Explorer

      Postmodernists get angry if they feel their statements have been misinterpreted.

    • Anton

      It states as an absolute truth that there is no such thing as absolute truth.

  • The Explorer

    “My gospel is mine; yours is yours.”
    Can a gospel be binding on everybody? ‘The Dictatorship of Virtue’, an old book now, explored Ebonics in secondary education in the US, a breakaway from the mainstream.
    “We don’t like your white history.” Well, yes, interpretations are possible.
    “We don’t like your white math.” That’s more difficult. What would 2+2 be equal to in ebonic mathematics?
    If America had never existed, neither would white American history. But 2+2 would still equal 4.
    So what is the Gospel like? White history, or white math?

    • Anton

      The gospel was not born in a white culture!

      • Ian G

        Neither was maths.

        • Anton

          Anybody interested in taking this further would need to define “white culture”. I’m not interested in doing that but I am interested in the history of mathematics, and there is no serious doubt that it began in ancient Greece. The Greeks were first to abstract from six sheep in a field, six ships in a harbour, six men in a room to the notion of “six”. While the Babylonians were able to solve quadratic equations, this Greek abstraction was a crucial step in the development of the subject. The Greeks were first to the notion of rigorous proof of a mathematical theorem from axioms (a notion which deeply impressed Chinese logicians when Jesuit missionaries expounded it to the Imperial court a few centuries ago). And they came out with a remarkable number of great results. Aristotle proved that the square root of 2 could not be expressed as the ratio of two whole numbers. The Greek proof that there is an infinite number of prime numbers remains a stunner, far beyond what any other community of thinkers attained in the ancient world.

          • The Hindu Arabic numerical system which we now use and the concept of zero as a digit, was first invented by mathematicians in India:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_mathematics

            Einstein is believed to have said, “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.”

          • Anton

            This is true too. The history of maths is at least partly the history of getting the right notation, for long division is far easier in the number system we adopted than in the Roman one, for instance. We have progressively generalised from positive whole numbers to negative ones to fractions to irrationals (such as the square root of 2 as mentioned above) to imaginaries (such as the square root of a negative number) to Clifford-Grassmann multivectors. In each case we could solve harder problems more easily.

      • The Explorer

        Quite, and that wasn’t my point.
        Whether Blucher or Wellington won Waterloo is matter of interpretation. 2 +2=4. is not a matter of interpretation in the same way: it will be true for both the Germans and the British.
        White history makes sense. Other cultures haven’t had it. White mathematics doesn’t since maths is universal.

        • Anton

          It’s not interpretation that Napoleon lost it!

        • CliveM

          Neither and both. They each had a job and both succeeded.

          • The Explorer

            Fine. Now what does 2+2 add up to for you, and would you be happy with some one who came up with an answer different from your own?

          • CliveM

            Well for any practical purpose 2 plus 2 equals 4, I’m not arguing that (or arguing at all come to that. My point is that sometimes the wrong question is asked. So the wrong question is “who won the battle of Waterloo, Blucher or Wellington” when the correct question would be “how was the battle won by the allies?”

          • The Explorer

            Would Ebonics mathematics agree with you about 2+2? Or other, more complicated examples? Could white maths and ebonics maths validly come up with different answers?

          • Anton

            Only if they start from different axioms.

          • The Explorer

            So does Ebonics math have validity if it argues that it is not the same as white math? Or is there just mathematics, to which many cultures and minds have contributed? (Don’t have the book any more, but I remember that Ebonic math objected to the use of logic and wanted kids to be able to think intuitively.)

          • Anton

            That’s too general a question. Let’s discuss a simple one like the 2+2 example you gave, according to ebionic and Greek mathematics. I’m not familiar with ebionic maths so perhaps you could tee off?

          • The Explorer

            Let’s go back. ‘The Dictatorship of Virtue’ Richard Bernstein. My edition was dated 1994. He first discussed universities and then schools.

            Ebonics was a breakaway educational movement in US cities where black-only kids and black-only teachers had a black-only curriculum. Their choice.

            They wanted their own history syllabus. (About black people).

            They wanted their own literature syllabus. (By and about black people.)

            They wanted their own geography syllabus. (About black people.)

            That’s all straightforward. But they also wanted their own maths syllabus. That’s the issue. How do you do black maths? As I recall, it involved the rejection of western logic, and for kids to think in an African way. There may be something in it, but Bernstein saw problems if kids were going to take their place in society as, say, engineers.

          • IanCad

            Twenty years is a long time Explorer and we should mark that Richard Bernstein based his study mostly on materials from the 1980’s. It is heartening to see how much more opposition the PC brigades face today.
            Blessings and curses to the internet.

          • The Explorer

            The modern equivalent of that book is probably Bruce Bawer’s ‘The Victims’ Revolution’. Before I read that I knew there were American university courses in Black Studies, Women’s Studies and Queer Studies. Now I know there are also Chicano Studies, Chicana Studies (feminist chicanos), Fat Studies and Queers on Wheels Studies. (Not any old queers, but specifically disabled queers. If they’re black as well, they can chalk up triple victimhood points.) Academic study has become self analysis.

          • CliveM

            The Piraha tribe count up, “one, two, many”. So for them they would have no answer to that question. Or at least the answer four would not be meaningful.

          • The Explorer

            I’d hate to be their accountant. I wonder how they’d fare with the Inland Revenue?

          • CliveM

            I suspect they care (or understand) little of each.

            As I know NOTHING of Ebonics maths, I thought I’d try distraction :0)

            Never say I’m incapable of learning from Linus!

          • The Explorer

            As Anton had demonstrated, Ebonic maths is an impossibility. You can have Black History week, but not Black Maths week in the same way. Pointing out specific contributions by black mathematicians would be part of black history, rather than maths..

            It’s all got rather convoluted, and I’ve rather lost track of my own argument. As I remember, I was criticising the concept of “my gospel and your gospel”. You can’t have “my maths and your maths”. Maths, like the Gospel, is for everybody.

          • CliveM

            There are too many real scientists and mathematicians on this blog for me to risk saying to much on this and making an idiot of myself!

            However whilst the Gospel is an ultimate truth and is the same for all, the bible that reveals this, needs to be understood through an understanding of the culture it was written in and interpreted.

            The two things are not the same necessarily. Some people assume it is.

  • Sigfridiii

    When the hierarchy (sorry, Your Grace) start to live in gospel simplicity rather than in Palaces and the House of Lords, I might start to take them seriously.

    • Anton

      When the CoE became Established it was never foreseen that society might become secular. Which of the following does this situation show up as inadequate: the gospel; an Established church; secularism?

      I support evangelism but not political Christianity, for the gospel is about grace and politics is about law. Politicised churches contain many true believers but the contradictions grow ever starker.

    • Ian G

      Don’t be fooled by the word palace. The Palace of the Bishop of Durham is, in fact, a small country house in Bishop Auckland, most of which is given over to Diocesan offices. The same goes for most other palaces, even the monarchy’s.

      • Sigfridiii

        The fact that they continue to cling on to such premises indicates where their hearts really lie.

        • Ian G

          What should they do? Sell them and rent much more expensive offices?

          • Anton

            Given that the House of Bishops is the hotbed of liberalism aka apostasy in the CoE, they could start by repenting.

          • Sigfridiii

            They don’t own them – they are owned by Church Commissioners. If the Bishops were willing to live in evangelical simplicity like their clergy they could live in a vicarage and share an office with the diocese. But they prefer to have enormous bureaucracies around them, signifying their status, and to live like medieval barons in enormous and expensive properties.

          • Ian G

            I repeat, Palace is rather a loose term. Try going to see some. I know who owns most Church properties, but that does not invalidate my argument. These properties are bought and paid for. They usually are the diocesan offices and are usually close to the the Cathedral. They are likely to be listed buildings and cannot just be sold off on a whim. You objections are ill-informed and the stuff of fantasy. Medieval barons, indeed.

          • Sigfridiii

            Nonsense. I have seen most of these houses. Some dioceses have offices in the Palace buildings but most already have modern offices elsewhere. Simply because a Palace is a listed building does not mean that the Bishop has to live there. Nor does it mean that the Church has to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds every year to maintain such properties. And listed buildings can indeed be sold, have been sold and are being sold every week around the country. The Church has sold literally thousands of listed parsonage houses since the war.

  • len

    it is impossible to understand ‘the Gospel of Jesus Christ’ without understanding what God`s Original intention was in Creating man.
    God intention in creating man was to give man the potential of reflecting the image of God and His attributes which are ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ (Galatians 5.22-23) Jesus Christ perfectly displayed these attributes as He was God in the Flesh.
    But when man (exercising God given free will) turned away from God man then became self centred and self orientated and became like a little’ god ‘deciding what was ‘right’ and what was wrong’ in regard to his own concerns.
    Jesus came to restore the ability of man to regain what was lost when mankind rejected God and went his own way. Man has sought to regain his position with God by his own efforts(this is ‘the broad way’ the false path that world religions follow.)

    God has put all thing in Christ and unto Christ and He is the Head of all things the World has yet to come into line with what God has ordained since the beginning of Time. All that happens in the world is in relation to the response of mankind to the Gospel of Jesus Christ…

  • preacher

    I believe the Gospel is unique, it stands like a lighthouse above all other forms of philosophy, religious teaching, religious rites, traditions, customs & observances. Which are concerned with humanity finding God’s will through ones own efforts, good works or deeds.
    Its wonderful simplicity coupled with the breathtaking love & suffering of the Creator to redeem & save His creation is totally different to any other form of teaching or faith.
    Amazing & awesome treasures await the believers who dare to venture out into the spiritual deeps, regrettably most people are content to roll up their trousers & paddle in the shallows whilst licking an ice cream, & why not ? – Well we all enjoy that on a warm summer’s day.
    But if it’s treasure, or just fish you want you have to go out into the ocean, cast your nets & Christ will make you ” Fishers of men “. Dive into the depths of the gospel & we will find treasure – salvation, redemption, freedom & even God Himself.
    May the Lord send the Holy Spirit & revival power as we obey Him & follow His first followers, to go into all the World to make disciples of all Nations.

  • len

    So much of the Christian Foundation has been destroyed that to today to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ one must re-lay the Biblical Foundation and then start from there.

    In the past the Biblical Foundation was already there and one could build on it.But now in the West we live in what has become virtually a pagan society in respect to spiritual matters and basic Gospel facts in many cases fall on deaf ears.

    The West has become a society of ‘Greek thinkers’ much as the Apostle Paul met on ‘Mars Hill’ and Paul had to present the Gospel in a way acceptable to their mindset.

    (Acts 17:22-31)

    • IanCad

      You know Len! That’s a very good point. Our Christian capital – the deposit of the faith – has all been spent. There is nothing left. We are spiritually bankrupt as a nation. Where once there remained a modicum of biblical knowledge; even a slight familiarity with scriptural allusion, that is all gone now. We are as missionaries in a dark land.

      • len

        The only consolation is where gross darkness abounds(which it certainly does in the West ) the Light of the Gospel will be even brighter and draw those who want to know the Truth about Jesus Christ.

  • Findaráto

    The Gospel is one of a myriad of competing religious philosophies that has nothing special about it that I can see.

    In an impartial political system it would be treated like any other religion. Neither promoted nor prohibited. People should be free to make up their own minds about religion rather than having the state thrust one particular faith down their throats.

    And as for the CofE’s latest evangelical drive … who are they kidding? By all means let them try. But I rather hope they’re prepared for massive failure, because otherwise they’re going to be desperately disappointed. Anglicans are among the least convincing of Christians and the least likely to win converts to their faith. A blade made of blancmange just isn’t a precision cutting instrument.

    • Anton

      It’s not a philosophy! But I agree that it should be treated like any other nonpolitical religion.

    • len

      Anyone who has made even a brief study of Biblical Prophecy would see that Biblical Prophecy was evidence of a Creator who stood outside of time and was presenting indisputable facts.

      But if you do not want to know the truth about the Creator (for whatever reason)then God will allow you to continue in your disbelief(your loss)

      so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever
      hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be
      forgiven!'(Mark 4:12)

    • The Explorer

      Freud, like Lucretius and Gibbon before him, thought religion untrue, but useful for controlling the mob.

      For such minds, one load of nonsense will do as well as another. Privileging one of them over the others is dodgy. Secularism, if it wants efficiency and tidiness, must push for disestablishment. (Actually, it’ll probably give Islam a privileged position instead, because it’s scared of it.)

      • Findaráto

        Not to put too fine a point on it, but the word that comes to mind re your final comment about Islam is “bollocks”.

        Religion belongs in the private sphere and should benefit from no state support. Islam is no exception. Neither is Christianity.

        • Anton

          You would do well to distinguish between religions whose decrees and scriptures call for action in the political sphere and those whose scriptures don’t. The former might in some circumstances legitimately be banned as seditious. Otherwise they do end up with political privileges.

          • Findaráto

            Why the Islamophobia? It has nothing to do with extremist Muslim terrorism, does it? That’s just a smokescreen hiding fear of Islam’s power to proselytise and convert.

            Are Christians afraid their faith will be eclipsed by Islam? That’s the key to all these calls to ban the religion, isn’t it? You know it does a much better job than Christianity of controlling and directing its membership, and you’re scared of the competition.

          • The Explorer

            “You know it does a much better job than Christianity of controlling and directing its membership,” Not sure about that. The one’s doing the massacres in Paris last year weren’t anything to do with Islam. Only they thought they were. Who’s right? Are ISIS part of Islam or aren’t they?

          • Anton

            Please define “Islamophobia”. (Not that I mentioned Islam – you did.)

          • Damaris Tighe

            I for one am ‘scared of the competition’. I’d much rather live in a society of Christians than an Islamic society.

          • carl jacobs

            I recognize you from Spectator but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you post here. Welcome to Cranmer’s.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Thank you carl! I occasionally come here to see if there’s a response to the ‘refugees welcome’ hijacking of Christian ethics. Not because I know the answer … but because I’m looking for answers. The whole thing confuses me.

        • The Explorer

          Let’s hope the secular state has the bollocks to enforce that. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m not optimistic; although France does seem to be growing a pair.

        • chiefofsinners

          And atheism is one such religion.

    • chiefofsinners

      Which sort of Christians do you find more convincing?

      • Cressida de Nova

        Catholics of course ! Catholicism is the original Christian religion founded by Jesus Christ who gave the “keys” to St Peter the Apostle making him the first Pope.Protestantism represents man’s attempt to break away from the true Church of Jesus Christ.

        • len

          Catholicism is paganism with a Christian veneer.

        • Anton

          “We’ve got the Apostolic Succession so we are the true church even if we dance naked round a fire and howl at the full moon”?

          I don’t accuse Catholics of doing that, but that’s your attitude and I think it shows itself wanting.

          • Except we believe the Catholic Church cannot err in matters of faith and morals. Therefore, it is impossible for it to lead men astray.

          • Anton

            As a matter of logic you should have written:

            Except we believe the Catholic Church cannot err in matters of faith and morals. Therefore, we believe it is impossible for it to lead men astray.

            And you are entitled to your opinion, whether it is right or wrong.

          • Actually, Jack should have written:

            “Except the Catholic Church cannot err in matters of faith and morals. Therefore, it is impossible for her to lead men astray.”

          • Anton

            Actually, you should have written

            Except I assert that the Catholic Church cannot err in matters of faith and morals…

            And you are entitled to assert, right or wrong.

          • The Catholic Church states the truth. It is protestants who make assertions.

          • Anton

            Asserts Jack.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Your response is ludicrous and indicates your anti Catholic bigotry.

          • Anton

            My point was, of course, that Rome’s assertion that the Apostolic Succession matters and it alone has it provides a great temptation to misbehave and then say, well, we are still the one true church so if you don’t like it then lump it. Ultimately it is God to whom Rome says that – not the protestant or Orthodox churches or even the rest of humanity. It won’t wash with him.

        • chiefofsinners

          I was talking about Christians, not Catholics.

  • Best explanation of the problem of the “many paths to God” I heard was (sorry, HJ) from a Jesuit.

    He said that we believe that the Roman Catholic Church has been endowed by the grace of the Holy Spirit and through the authority given to Peter with a safe path through the turmoils of this world. And we would never presume against the infinite wisdom and mercy of God to say that He cannot lead others to himself by whatever means is available.

    But – if you had a map of a perilous jungle, and you had a safe path marked on the map, would you really advise anyone to ignore the path and go via the snake pits and the crocodile infested river? 🙂

    • carl jacobs

      That God could lead by many paths is of course theoretically possible in the abstract. Be He specifically denies that He will do so. We cannot appeal to possibilities that God has deliberately precluded.

      • Then perhaps, Carl, you can reconcile this to your own beliefs by presuming that the many paths all include a point-of-death conversion?

        • carl jacobs

          This is just a disguised assertion of universalism, Sister T. For why should I then not assume that every man makes a deathbed conversion? Why should I evangelize at all when Eternal Life is anchored by this unknowable and invisible event?

          • Then perhaps the beliefs and actions of the person in life, coupled to the exposure to evangelisation, might be the means by which the deathbed conversion is brought about?

          • “Betwixt the stirrup and the ground, mercy I asked and mercy I found.” ~ William Camden

          • carl jacobs

            But he didn’t for he was alive to write the couplet.

          • carl jacobs

            The beliefs of the hypothetical dying man are what he would be abandoning at that moment. And his actions constitute nothing but filthy rags on their own. This formulation seems a tacit assertion of Justication by works – the “good” man warrants this conversion by his “good” works and his “good” if non-Christian beliefs. But there are no good men.

            We would bootstrap hope out of thin air by this formulation. We would tell people to “be good” and hope in tomorrow instead of telling them that now is the time to confront the reality of God. The Evangelist scatters the seed and sometimes it falls among the rocks. Rocks do not become fertile ground merely by means of the onset of death.

            The God of all the Earth will do right. But I have no Scriptural warrant to preach this. I have warrant to preach “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

          • Matthew 25:34-40New International Version (NIV)

            34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

            37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

            40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

          • carl jacobs

            And you think that gives you warrant to say an Atheist or a Buddhist can stand justified before God?

      • Christ is the only way to the Father but He is not constrained in how He redeems.

        • carl jacobs

          God does not save through the good offices of Baal or Buddha, Jack.

    • He’s Jack’s kind of Jesuit – unlike some.

  • sarky

    Evangelical drive??? So, lots of praying, lots of talking and not a lot of action.
    I’ll give you a recent example. My youngest daughter went to a church holiday club at half term (about the third she has been to). At the end of the week on the Friday there was a parents evening. By virtue of being first home from work, I took her. I think I was probably the only none church parent there (all the others seemed to know eachother) and in the two hours I was there, not one person spoke to me. Maybe it’s my appearance (over 6ft and covered in tattoo’s) or more likely I’d intruded on a clique.
    To me it seems Christians are too afraid or just not bothered about reaching out. They have got too comfortable amongst their own behind their church doors.

    • Anton

      Let me tell you what we’re planning in the congregation I’m in. I want to see more blokes in our congregation – normal, straightforward blokes. So we’re going to cut a deal with a Sky pub or working men’s club having a large room on a Saturday when there is a key premier league match on, followed by another a couple of hours later. We’re going to bribe people to come in by offering, between the games, a free meal (from a cut-down menu, for which we’ll pay the pub) and a free pint (or drink of equivalent value, also paying for it). In that gap between the matches we’re going to have an evangelistic talk presenting the challenge of Christ followed by a discussion at each table led by an experienced Christian there. Too many men’s events that are meant as outreach, no matter how gripping, end up preaching to the converted. Football is THE sport followed by blokes in this country and I’m hopeful that this strategy will achieve its ends, especially after we’ve done it two or three times and with plenty of prayer. It is a fact that male converts are more likely to bring their families into church with them, so ultimately we’ll not be neglecting the women and children.

      It hasn’t happened yet so I can’t say how well it does, but I commend the suggestion to other congregations.

      • sarky

        I’ll give you your dues, it takes some balls to do that. Think you’ll find a lot of the blokes will be young and single (the married ones can’t afford to go and drink and tend to watch at home with cheap supermarket booze), so you may not get your target audience. Anyway, good luck, think you might need it! !!!

      • dannybhoy

        Excellent initiative Anton. Where we lived before we moved, there was an excellent (non Christian) discussion society (mainly old retired).
        They met in a pub and the guy in charge chose a topic for each meeting with plenty of time to think about it. Anything could be discussed. topical stuff, war, law and order, philosophy and religion.
        It was well attended too.
        I think a lot of blokes would enjoy something low key where they could listen and learn and meet others.

    • I’m saddened to hear of your experience. I have been to several churches in different places – and while most of them are friendly, some tend to be like the one you described. Except at work, I find it a bit difficult to introduce myself to total strangers, so it takes me long time to feel part of it all. So I have to agree – lots of churches tend to be very inward looking and people are not taught to go outside and share their faith. We Christians do need to change.

      Anyway your daughter feels welcomed there, so that is a good thing.

      • sarky

        My daughter could make friends in an empty room, so I wasn’t worried about that.

        • Well, it is certainly an advantage to be able to make friends so easily. Your daughter is very fortunate.

        • dannybhoy

          Despite having a walking billboard for a father…
          ;0)

    • dannybhoy

      ” Maybe it’s my appearance (over 6ft and covered in tattoo’s) ”

      Ugly git!

      But you have a point.
      I remember in my preChristian ‘searching for something’ days going to a church at Christmas and being totally ignored.
      And even now we find people who profess to love the Lord, yet won’t reach out to strangers. To be fair, it’s often shyness of some sort, or they are very busy with their own families etc., but it can’t be excused because we Christians are born again and spiritually new men and women in Christ.
      “I can do all things through Christ who loved me and gave Himself for me”
      So whilst I don’t often agree with you, and I dislike tattoos (wait ’til you’re an old man..) on this occasion I find myself agreeing with you Sarkers..

      • sarky

        Showing your age their Danny, didn’t you know tattoo’s are the new aftershave?

        • CliveM

          As least you can wash off aftershave!

          • dannybhoy

            Quite right Clive.

          • CliveM

            Tatoos look blue, blurred and bad on old folks, can’t see half of it for the wrinkles.

          • dannybhoy

            Look closer Clive.
            Might be varicose veins..

          • CliveM

            I’d rather not, shudder!

        • dannybhoy

          I am getting on (70 in May), and never had a tattoo. My Dad was in the Royal Navy for 20 years, and he had an oriental dragon tattooed on his right upper arm..
          I loved that tattoo. It was distinctive yet understated, and that’s how a decent tattoo should be.

    • IanCad

      That’s shameful Sarky. Even if you’re as ugly as you make yourself out there is no excuse for being ignored.
      If you stuck it out for two hours that congregation can learn a lot from your patience.

    • len

      I have non Christian friends (and even some with tattoos)I haven`t got a beard and hate sandals 😉
      I have had similar experiences as yours as a Christian…..

      • sarky

        Funny, if someone came to my house they would always be made welcome (even Christians)

    • chiefofsinners

      Didn’t you try to convert anyone to atheism?

      I went to a similar gathering, probably in a rougher area. You would have looked normal compared to most of the ‘congregation’ which included a Muslim family, hijab and all. Or compared to Mr and Mrs satanist who were converted at my friend’s church a couple of months ago.
      Try getting a few more tattoos and some piercings.

      • sarky

        ??????

        • Anton

          !!!!!!

        • chiefofsinners

          That’s it. Make your earlobes look like your last comment and your nipples like Anton’s (below). That’s the way to get noticed on church.

          • ( . )( . )

          • chiefofsinners

            Ouch! No wonder you were hospitalised.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack!

          • Irrestistible …..

          • carl jacobs

            You are like a recovering alcoholic, Jack. You aren’t allowed even one drink.

          • O, my poor ears and whiskers! Online porn at Cranmer’s!

          • Bunny ears …

          • DanJ0

            Difficult in ASCII art but those bunny ears needs to be longer really.

          • (.) (.)

          • William Lewis

            Jack’s ever vigilant goggle eyes?

          • Anton

            !!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • sarky

            Didn’t want to get noticed, just thought it was a bit rude.

          • chiefofsinners

            They do sound like a miserable bunch of sinners. Why didn’t you talk to them?

          • sarky

            I wasnt given the opportunity.

            I just sat watching my daughter.

    • Dude, if you’re 6 ft plus and then cover yourself with tats, you just wanna be scary and unapproachable. Clip on a set of costume bunny ears to take off the edge and break the ice and let us know hiw it went.

    • preacher

      Reminds me of a Christian mate I had, the minister stood at the front of the Church one day & loudly prayed ” Lord send them in ! ” my friend sat & responded ” Lord, Send us out ! “.
      Even if we find it daunting, we muse overcome our fears & communicate with others. Why ? because if we really care for them, their destiny depends on us. Often I find that we might talk about sport or family or many other things. I break the ice & enjoy the chat anyway. I let them take the lead, but many times they will start to ask about my faith, what & why I believe as I do & I answer honestly but without pressure. Whether or not they respond in a positive way, is in one respect irrelevant, they have heard the gospel & the rest is up to them. One to one is a good way for many of us to start overcoming our reluctance to communicate.

  • Dreadnaught

    The CoE, if not European Christianity, is the Titanic and Islam is the Iceberg (nine tenths of the menace below the waterline) and the Bishops are breaking up the lifeboats to make rafts. They know they will not evangelise in the rapidly expanding Islamic areas in the UK for fear of their lives and/or of being accused of offending Muslim sensitivities by the Old Bill.

    • len

      Islam is as much a political system as religious. I suppose when people wake up and realise that they might do something about it?. The EU is being flooded(can I say that?) with Muslims so this will not just be a ‘Christian thing’.

      • Anton

        It wasn’t Christians who let them into Europe!

        • The Explorer

          We can’t say that too often. Johnny Rottenborough is convinced that the Church is primarily to blame.

          • Anton

            He’s entitled to his opinion even if it is wrong.

      • Dreadnaught

        Exactly so and why I don’t understand why Christians are the first to welcome and defend it presence on this land. Islam it’s history and culture has been anathema and resisted by the West until now.

        • len

          I think Christians are caught between two different responses to the whole problem with migrants flooding into Europe. It is ‘Christian’ to care for those who are suffering from the result of the wars in the middle East and rightly so.
          But Muslims have a tendency (also taught in the Koran I believe) to claim land that they stand on as ‘theirs’ and to Impose Islamic rule.Christians seem unsure as how to react to the more aggressive forms of Islam and Christian leaders are giving no direction at all in this respect.

  • Ivan M

    There is no need to relativise the message of Christianity. Christianity is from the Son, not s matter of prophets and wise men. All religions must contain some truth. Otherwise wny bother with them. Christianity is from God Himself. The others have some fragment of the Truth. Christianity is built on the Rock of Truth itself.

  • Christianity, unlike other faiths, has clear-cut and simple answers to these questions:

    What is the purpose of our being?
    If God exists, why can we not see Him?
    Why is there so much evil in the world?
    How can we find God?
    How should we live?

    Most religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism are examples – give you some rules to live by, and some very complicated ways of finding the ‘Divine’. The rules are considered out-dated even by those who propound these faiths (they speak of it as being the ‘ideal’) and the paths to God so complicated that most people never attempt it.

    Islam, in contrast to other non-Christian religions, is essentially a political ideology with religious overtones.

    • cacheton

      ‘What is the purpose of our existence?’

      I am assuming your (and therefore your religion’s) answer to this question is, ‘to serve god’. How does this involve finding god in the first place? This is the reason why eastern religions have so much appeal in the west, because they include some kind of method. Whether it is complicated is a matter of debate; it can appear so as the geography of the inner world one has to navigate is more or less complicated, yes, but in essence the method is simple. By contrast the method of christianity is ‘believe’, ie: there is no method. The physical body, supposedly ‘created by god’ and in god’s image etc, is excluded and even denigrated and a source of shame and disgust. Most westerners have now understood that denigration, shame and disgust do not enhance wellbeing, and if wellbeing is what they are searching for they would therefore not find christianity attractive.

      • How does this involve finding god in the first place?

        In response to your question, I would ask: “Why do we need to find God?” Why should the God who created us all want to hide Himself from us? Christianity has the answer: sin. The Bible also makes it clear that sin results in death, which is separation from God in this life (an outcome that we all have experienced), and eternal separation from God unless there is way for reconciliation. God made the way of reconciliation available to us through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as atonement of sin. Nothing could be simpler or more logical.

        “This is the reason why eastern religions have so much appeal in the west…”

        Could you please specify which eastern religion you mean? There are so many – Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Taoism and others – and they are all different in their methods. I would even argue that Christianity is an eastern religion.

        Interestingly, people who have practiced traditional (non-Christian) eastern religions for generations are coming to Christ in droves despite opposition and persecution in their societies. Why would they if these religions were so wonderful?

        I suspect that what you believe in is not an eastern religion at all – but a new age philosophy that may include some elements of Hinduism. The more unpalatable aspects of this religion have been artfully dressed up in order to deceive gullible westerners.

        Sadly, too many western people lack the objectivity and discernment to appreciate the benefits that Christianity has brought to their societies. They have thrown away the water of eternal life for broken cisterns.

        • cacheton

          I meant eastern religions in general. My point was that they have methods, practices to enhance spirituality, whereas christianity does not. As you say in your first paragraph, god wants (how you know this I have no idea) to hide himself from us because we are inherently BAD.
          I am not saying other religions are in any way wonderful. They are what they are. Religion is either useful to get you where you want to be, or not useful. Eastern religions – I am thinking of Buddhism here particularly – recognise that you would not even know if your practice was useful or not without some kind of introspective practice, so it teaches how to do that and how to tackle the inner obstacles you may encounter. It is practical. And it doesn’t use an emotionally manipulative carrot and stick doctrine like christianity. On the contrary it recognises that you have to get beyond emotion to experience higher states of consciousness, rather than keeping one stuck in emotion.
          I do not know why people from non Western societies are converting to christianity. I would think the predominance of media images of the western lifestyle probably have a lot to do with it.
          I don’t think westerners do not appreciate the benefits christianity has historically brought, but they consider that common sense would have probably brought them anyway.

          • I felt a detailed response was necessary to some of the interesting points you raised, but I have been busy until now.

            1. “I don’t think westerners do not appreciate the benefits Christianity… they consider that common sense would have probably brought them anyway.”

            This is an overly optimistic view.

            If it were true, what about all those nations that did not make similar progress – are they lacking in common sense?

            Christianity brought the first glimmers of civilization to Europe, which in 1 AD was probably the most backward continent in the world. Except Rome and Greece – countries that were culturally very different from Britain in the 1st Century AD – no European country had a civilization comparable to the Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Chinese or Indian civilizations. That the ‘scientific’ component of the Renaissance occurred around the same time as the Reformation – when people in Europe were able to read the Bible in their own languages – was no coincidence.

            2. “…god wants (how you know this I have no idea) to hide himself from us because we are inherently BAD.”

            I know this because of Isaiah 59:2 (NIV) –

            “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”

            To this ‘sin’ problem, no other religion has a solution – what they offer are about as effective as Band-Aids over a cancerous growth. It is not enough to provide symptomatic relief for the cancer of sin, you need to find a treatment for the root cause of the problem, which Christianity alone does.

            3. You talk of ‘methods’ within eastern religions and ‘higher states of consciousness’ to achieve closeness to God.

            Within most ‘eastern’ religions – an emptying of oneself (or opening of oneself) is necessary to receive these transcendental experiences or achieve communication with spiritual beings.

            Now I have read accounts of several persons who came to Christ after being led along such paths. The accounts are uniform in describing these experiences as exhilarating and addictive – one yogi actually compared them to drug taking – but also failing to produce lasting peace or change in character. In the long term, many persons who opened themselves up in this way – felt miserable as their minds were being tampered with.

            There are ‘methods’ within Christianity (and I hesitate to use that word) to grow very close to God – not exotic, but very effective. They are clearly given in the Bible, but not sufficiently taught from the pulpit. As a young Christian, there was much emphasis on laying down your life, looking to the cross, the need for obedience, regular times for prayer and devotions – specifically, a morning ‘Quiet Time’ to meditate on the scripture and learning to hear from God. Doing these things gives you peace of mind and a lasting change in character, but they seem to have fallen out of fashion in the west.

            4. “…it doesn’t use an emotionally manipulative carrot and stick doctrine like christianity.”

            Now there are 2 ways of looking at this.

            If I were speeding down a road that took me to the edge of a cliff, a signpost warning me of the danger ahead or a barrier forcing me to turn around – would be life saving. However, if I choose to believe that no real danger exists and the signpost was put there merely to restrict my enjoyment, then I would regard that as manipulative, and be resentful.

            Now you could dismiss the warnings within the Bible as “emotionally manipulative carrot and stick doctrine”, but you need to be absolutely certain that no real danger exists.

          • cacheton

            Re 4: nice analogy. But there is a third solution, which is the one generally sought by those who say they are ‘spiritual but not religious’, which is that you stop speeding down the road, get out of the car, walk carefully to the edge of the cliff and contemplate it for yourself and discover that it is really not dangerous, it is – a cliff. A nice walk actually, and you can return to it whenever you feel in need of a beautiful uplifting walk.
            To those who have a basic knowledge or understanding of psychology, and that is an increasing number of people in the west, the signpost is indeed seen as manipulative, the barrier as a hindrance to spiritual experience. Because the way to be certain that no real danger exists is to go there and see for yourself.
            Rather than ‘believing’ signposts and barriers which claim they have been put there by ‘god’.
            Christianity does not provide a treatment for the root cause of sin, it provides a get out of jail free card. Repent and you will be saved, so you can even sin knowingly (see the OP a few weeks ago about George Bell) and be forgiven – no self searching necessary to discover why you have this propensity to sin. Just say you are sorry. That is neither treatment nor method. One could argue that your mind must have been tampered with if you really do go along with that.

  • carl jacobs

    This is a good post, Archbishop.

  • IanCad

    “RE is the epitome of salvific universalism.”
    Makes teaching it all so much easier. All religions are equal now. Christianity was unfairly privileged in the past so let’s give all those others a fair shake.

    • Rhoda

      The more I have seen of modern RE textbooks the more it seems to me that RE shouldn’t be a compulsory school subject.
      Makes teaching it all so much easier- Have you tried recently?

      • IanCad

        I tend to agree with you. Problem is though, that this dark land will continue to dim.

        “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
        Hosea 4:6

        • Rhoda

          RE lessons deal with the main religions of the world not just Christianity; it’s the role of families and churches to teach ” knowledge” of God and the basis of the faith not the secular education system.

          • Anton

            I wonder if Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists think that RE lessons as as misleading as Christians do.

      • Darter Noster

        That rather depends on what you are trying to achieve. The job of religious education in schools is to teach pupils about religion: different strands, philosophies, practices and the historical, anthropological and philosophical roots of religion itself. I would definitely agree (as would most RE teachers) that the RE curriculum is vapid and academically watered-down, but religious education is not meant to be, and nor should it be, about evangelism.

        Children and adults need to learn academically and objectively what different faith groups actually teach, what religious texts actually say, and particularly in the case of religious extremism that there are other and better ways of interpreting such texts. Much of what Islamic extremists preach just doesn’t hold water historically or theologically, but since young people aren’t taught to critically examine faith claims for themselves they are abandoned to the firebrands and radicals.

        • IanCad

          An interesting and informative post Darter. What an impossible task is the lot of an RE teacher in a state school.
          Tell me though; is it permitted to teach that in Islam, wife beating, stoning of apostates, lying in the cause of Allah, child marriage and other unsavoury practices are just perfectly fine?

          • Darter Noster

            The problem here is Saudi Salafism. Since the 1960s Saudi Arabia has pumped its petro-dollars into exporting hard-core, puritanical Wahhabist teaching around the world, displacing the patchwork of local, generally much more moderate, Sunni Islamic traditions, and Sufism. Saudi Salafism is the inspiration behind ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, Hamas, Hizb ut Tahrir, Jamaat e Islami in Indonesia (which unlike Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries has generally been much better at maintaining its more moderate local traditions), and any other Sunni jihadist group or extremist group you’d care to name.

            Here in the West we’ve bought into the idea that what comes out of Saudi Arabia is authentic, mainstream Islam, and so we’ve been far too afraid to challenge poisonous Wahhabi extremism for fear of offending “Muslims”. But that kind of puritanism accounted for only a tiny minority of global Islam prior to the mid-20th century; al-Wahhab would have remained a lunatic crank, but for the fact that the then-insignificant desert nomad Ibn Saud agreed to protect his followers back in the 18th century. When the House of Saud struck it rich 200 years later, it worked to spread al-Wahhab’s puritanical ideas in a campaign of evangelism so breathtakingly successful (and astonishingly well-funded) that even in many traditionally more moderate Islamic countries Wahhabist ideas now predominate. You look at photos from many Muslim countries in the mid-19th century, and you’ll see that hardly any woman at all, anywhere, is even wearing a hijab, let alone the ludicrous burka, but today we’re told that all this veiling is an absolutely crucial and indispensable part of being a Muslim woman.

            In western classrooms we’re too afraid, or too ignorant, to challenge this presentation of Islam. one of the most dangerous academic jobs is a scholar of 7th century Islam; when documents are discovered from the earliest periods of Islamic history (which al-Wahhab did not possess) they often contradict the Salafi narrative, but scholars who try to examine early Islamic history and sources critically frequently end up dead or silenced.

            “Tell me though; is it permitted to teach that in Islam, wife beating,
            stoning of apostates, lying in the cause of Allah, child marriage and
            other unsavoury practices are just perfectly fine?”

            That would be wrong. To teach that would be doing exactly what the Wahhabists want us to do – teaching that to be a Muslim means holding to a literal and hard-line interpretation of both the Koran and the earliest Hadiths, without making any allowance whatsoever for context. Even then, in order to justify their sickening behaviour, the extremists have to be very selective about which parts of the scriptures they use, ignoring any which don’t suit their own agenda. Saudi-funded translations of the Koran are written to suit this fanatical interpretation; other translations cast a different light on things.

          • Anton

            Here you can read four or five parallel English translations of the Quran:

            http://prophetofdoom.net/Qurans.Islam

            It is true that many of today’s stricter Islamic traditions are not remotely as old as Islam itself, but the bellicose verses in the Quran (mainly in suras 8 and 9) are clear in all translations and regarded as the unfiltered word of God by Muslims, whether heeded or not.

          • Ivan M

            There is a liveleak video that reinforces what you wrote

            Search with:
            liveleak Nasser laughing at the idea of hijab

          • CliveM

            R4 ‘In our time’ had an interesting conversation about this yesterday.

          • IanCad

            Darter,
            Thanks for the very informative reply. Just about the most detailed post I’ve seen within the constraints of a blog format. I’ve cut and saved it for whenever needed.

            It is a pity that Cameron and Hague chose to ingnore the history of Saudi duplicity. We came so close to invading Syria. We are ruled by the most inept wretches.

            I take to heart your last paragraph and will remind myself that, even though relations were strained, Christians lived in reasonable harmony with their fellow citizens in most of the Arab and Persian worlds. Perhaps they may do so again.

          • Anton

            I should add that that school textbook I looked at (see immediately above) failed to explain Christianity properly, basically seeing it as Judaism but with a better ethical code – there was no mention that the Christian claim (agree with it or not) is that God remakes you better.

          • Pubcrawler

            Any mention of the Cross and Resurrection? Incarnation? Trinity?

          • Anton

            I don’t own a copy, but the book I inspected was “AQA Religious Studies B: Religion and Life Issues” by M. Fleming et al. (Oxford Univ. Press). I think those things were mentioned, but I’d need to get hold of a copy again. What I remember most was its utter failure to explain that Christians believe we can’t make ourselves better. Justification by works again.

          • The Explorer

            Western secularism likes Islam as a religion. Wealth and health are an indication of Allah’s approval. Makes much more sense to the tidy Western mind than the Book of Job does.

            You can get to Paradise by dying in battle. Alternatively, by following the five pillars, and hoping that you’ve done enough and that Allah’s in a good mood on Judgement Day.

            Death in battle apart, that also makes complete sense to Western secularism (the sort of mind that writes school RE textbooks), which applies the same criteria to Christianity. You should lead a good life because a) scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours is a sound principle for harmonious social existence, and b) because it’ll keep God happy if secularism has by any chance got it wrong and God should happen to exist. There’s a pass and fail for good deeds. Fortunately, the pass mark is quite low; and you’ll be okay if you haven’t done anything awful like rape or murder, or been racist, homophobic or Islamophobic.

          • Anton

            Western secularism likes Islam because it hates Christianity (in fact it hates most things good about its past) and, if people must have a religion, then Islam isn’t Christianity. But secularists are going to get more than they bargained for. I say Islam is the impending judgement of God – whom I take to be described by the Bible rather than the Quran – on secularism.

          • The Explorer

            Quite. I was, of course, adopting the viewpoint of the Western secular mind rather than my own.

          • Anton

            Don’t worry, I know; I did the same in one clause (if people must have a religion, then Islam isn’t Christianity).

          • Anton

            The Saudi royal family richly deserves to fall. But if they do then they will likely be replaced by…

          • Pubcrawler

            A vibrant, lively, open society that will be a beacon of democracy and human rights in the region to outshine even Israel, of course, like all those other ‘Arab Spring’ countries have become.

            Oh, hang on…

          • IanCad

            Various tribes and little kingdoms squabbling among themselves; under the overall control of western oil companies.
            Back to what it once was.

          • IanCad

            Praises again on your post. Even though, you yourself, seem to think not enough of the other readers applauded sufficiently – to the extent that you felt impressed to uptick your own comment.☺

          • Darter Noster

            Arrrrgh!!!!!!

            I didn’t mean to uptick my own comment! I was trying to see who else had, but if you do that on an iPad when logged in it adds one from you as well. I can’t seem to get rid of it either! Grrrr!

          • IanCad

            An idle few minutes and I couldn’t resist.
            I did it quite often after HG changed to Disqus.

        • Anton

          You say: “Children and adults need to learn… objectively what different faith groups actually teach, what religious texts actually say, ” But your use of “objectively” has the effect of covering over the problem. Different faiths differ over what is objective; there is no spectator’s gallery. Today we get the take on other faiths of the secular humanist faith. (It has its own axioms and is therefore a faith, albeit nontheistic.) And unless you are going to teach all parts of the scriptures of all faiths then you are going to have to make editorial choices, and after that guide the class about what is good or bad. Those choices too are governed by secular humanist values today. The only honest way is to have a member of each religion present his view of his own religion and of others. But if there are 5 religions to consider that means 5*5 = 25 lessons, and so on.

          In particular, one popular textbook I have inspected completely ignores the bellicose verses in the Quran.

  • Anton

    If you want to attack Einstein, look to his personal life rather than his magnificent physics.

    • Ivan M

      ? Neither.

      • Anton

        You were dissing his work on the Dan Walker thread here.

        • Ivan M

          What has that got to do with this?

          • Anton

            You started dissing him again.

          • Ivan M

            It was in response to the alleged inability of others to do much worthwhile without the Hindu number system. If the quote is true then your hero was wrong.

          • Anton

            It’s patent that you have it in for him. I said above that Anna’s comment about Indian maths was true while making my own summary of the Greek achievement in the subject. Einstein was talking about the former; it’s not as if only one of the Indians and the Greeks can be right.

  • sarky

    Yep, that’s why they don’t go out drinking (can only go by myself and my mates)

  • IanCad

    Sometimes I don’t use enough deodorant.
    Wasn’t that was it?

    • sarky

      Nope. I always smell good (so the ladies I work with tell me)

      • IanCad

        I don’t have any ladies to work with so have to wait until I smell myself.
        Problem is, I have asthma and can’t breath through my nose. If I start to taste it, I know it’s bad.

  • len

    All religions promise’ a way’, a path, a solution, even atheists promise’ a way'(of sorts) but only Jesus Christ can give Life to the spiritually dead.
    Religion fails because it cannot give life only false promises and dead’ prophets.We see the outplay of death, the glorification of death in every false religion. Some Churches some cults have an air of death about them.
    What the dead need is not religion but LIFE`, and only Jesus Christ can give it.
    So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam,(Christ) a life-giving spirit.(1 Corinthians 15:45)

  • MiddleBrow

    “If
    my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and
    seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from
    heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

    • Anton

      But that was to a covenant people. The analogue today is “…and heal their church”.

      • chiefofsinners

        Good point. With the caveat that God may lead the church on a pathway of suffering anyway, for His higher purposes.

        • Anton

          Indeed; not Christ abandoning his church but Christ purifying his bride.

      • MiddleBrow

        Yes, but also Land. Britain has been particularly blessed by the Lord in the past and the 18th Century revivals changed the face of our country. A previous reformation brought the Bible into many homes, so that the historian J R Green wrote: “England became a country of a book and that book was the Bible.” Most of the missionary endeavours to other countries came from these shores. Now, of course, our country has departed from that heritage. But I do believe that if the Church repented it would have a profound effect upon our nation. It is not accidental that our National Anthem is “God save the Queen” and the Queen at her Coronation promised to uphold God’s laws.

        • Anton

          Yes, Britain has been greatly blessed by God. But I do not agree that it is or ever was a “Christian country” and I believe that there can be no such thing until Christ’s return in power and glory. My brief way of making the point is to ask for any one year in which this was a Christian country. (I guarantee that for any choice there will be institutionalised injustices and corruption.) When the Puritans tried to enact the moral components of Mosaic Law in the 1650s the attempt was a failure; yet Christ died precisely so that Christians would be capable of keeping those laws.

    • scottspeig

      You know that is a highly mis-used piece of scripture don’t you? And cannot be used in the way you have just used it. One suggests you read that verse in context with the rest of the narrative – That it is actually a response to Solomon’s prayer where God is withholding rain and is inflicting the pain on the land etc. Not to mention the years in captivity that happened just after the promise!

  • DanJ0

    I’d like to see how effective all of this is in reality. Hard numbers, ideally.

    • sarky

      Got a feeling they won’t be forthcoming.

    • carl jacobs

      It hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding in terms you would express. The CoE is a compromised church. Just like TEC, it trots out an Evangelism plan. And a few years later leadership will decide it didn’t work. So they’ll formulate another Evangelism plan.

      But having said that, remember this. The Gospel is proclaimed – whether to life or death. It succeeds by definition. This isn’t about numbers. The Church declines as the End comes.

      • The Explorer

        “The Church declines as the End comes.” Although it’s so clearly biblical,. a surprising number of people seem to struggle with the concept.

        • jsampson45

          I think you will find that worldwide the Church is growing.

          • The Explorer

            So we aren’t yet at the end.

        • sarky

          As I’m reminded constantly, its only really declining here. Africa, China etc. Perhaps the end isn’t nigh just yet.

          • sarky

            Oops, should have read down a bit.

          • The Explorer

            Very difficult to keep track of who’s said what

          • chiefofsinners

            What? Who said that?

          • Anton

            The end is nigh when every distinct people group has heard the gospel.

      • DanJ0

        Well, if even one sinner repents then there will be rejoicing in heaven etc.

        • Darter Noster

          In light of previous Church of England evangelism campaigns, there’ll probably be much passing out from shock in heaven too.

      • cacheton

        What are your criteria for ‘success’?

        • carl jacobs

          It does what God intends it to do.

          • cacheton

            So whatever happens, that’s what god intended. That sounds like a postmodern thing to say. Seriously!

          • carl jacobs

            You don’t understand God’s sovereignty.

          • cacheton

            You don’t understand that god can be subjective and sovereign. Too frightening?? Making him objective BECAUSE you need sovereignty to come from outside of yourself is unjustified. He is subjective and sovereign.
            This is sounding rather like the discussion we had on truth.

    • Martin

      DanJ0

      As usual, you don’t understand. Numbers are irrelevant. God will save His people whoever may try to prevent it. If God intends to save you, you will be saved.

      • sarky

        Doesn’t that kind of nullify the free will argument?

        • Martin

          Sarky

          What free will argument? You gave your free will long ago to your sin.

          • sarky

            You do know that you make absolutely no sense don’t you?

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Only to those who are spiritually dead.

          • sarky

            And those humanly alive.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            So you see you don’t understand spiritual things. You have no free will.

          • DanJ0

            But you’re spiritually dead too, and your faith is dead by the look of it.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            So how would you, the one who is spiritually dead know that? Remember, I understand things you don’t.

          • DanJ0

            I look at your words and behaviour as a self-identifying Christian, and compare them to what the Bible says ought to be happening. I also look at what the Bible says about people who speak and act in the name of Jesus but don’t seem to have any internal spirituality. I have given you the verses many times but you studiously ignore them every single time. You know you merely have religiosity but no spirituality. You know you indulge your malice and spite on a daily basis here. I can see that clearly, and you know I can too. You’re a blatant fraud bringing Christianity into disrepute and I shall continue to hang you out to dry over it.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            You don’t need to worry about me, you need to worry about yourself.

            Unless, of course, your attacks on me are designed to distract from your position.

          • DanJ0

            Martin, you don’t need to bother about me as I’m quite capable of looking after myself. You’re unnecessarily extending your world view into mine where it doesn’t belong.

            You need to worry about yourself. You claim to be a Christian but you seem to missing an important aspect. In your own world view, you should be worried by that I think.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            But we do need to worry about you, you’re a slave of sin and will receive the wages your master gives, death. Your world view is entirely false because you pretend that God does not exist. Yet God offers you mercy.

          • DanJ0

            One would think that is either entirely my issue, or an issue between me and your god … if it exists. So why are you getting involved? That’s especially pertinent given that your sect has a Calvinist theme. I think I know why you like to get involved. Your evident pleasure at pointing out the sins of others, calling people perverts, and claiming a saved state for yourself tells the story very well. You’re a blatant fraud and you revel in your own sins, just like your brethren in the Westboro Baptist Church.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            The point is that we are commanded to warn you. That you are offended by what I say of your sin simply indicates that you do not understand the seriousness of your situation and the abhorrence God has for sin.

          • DanJ0

            I’m not offended by what you say at all. You’re too ridiculous for your attempts at causing offence to be effective. You are not commanded to do what you are doing here at all. That is why I know you have a dead faith and revel in your sins. You bring Christianity into disrepute, and you don’t give a shit.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Your replies to me reveal the truth of what you feel.

      • DanJ0

        Well, perhaps there’s hope for you at some point then! Though heaven only knows why anyone would want a miserable wretch like you up there casting your malice around.

        • Martin

          DanJ0

          You should really be worrying about yourself.

          • DanJ0

            I’m not worried at all because I’m an a-theist. I don’t believe the Christian god actually exists, or that any of the existing theistic god hypotheses are true. That I am not worried ought to be indicative of my lack of belief to any rational person. Obviously you don’t fall into that category given your oft-repeated assertion that I personally know the Christian god exists.

            However, you ought to be the one worrying about its existence. Quite possibly you’re simply a troll targeting a-theists with your silly nonsense. If not then your behaviour is highly indicative of a dead faith and that is why I keep asking what you will do when Jesus says “I never knew you” if Christianity turns out to be true. You’re actively and knowingly pushing people away from that religion. How will that be judged?

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            No, you’re not an a-theist, you’re a fool who pretends God does not exist. Given that you know God exists your position is irrational as evidenced by your latter paragraph..

          • DanJ0

            No-one would behave as I do if they knew the Christian god exists. Hence, I clearly do not know it exists. Similarly, no-one would behave like you do if they had a living Christian faith.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Well it’s good to see you admit you behave badly, trouble is, you know God exists and you still behave badly.

          • DanJ0

            I don’t behave especially badly but I am a homosexual and mainstream Christian sexual morality considers homosexual behaviour a sin. If I knew the Christian god existed then I would be deliberately going against that morality with no intention of stopping, knowing that every thought and action is known to that god. I do not consider homosexual behaviour is wrong at all and I have no intention of stopping what I am doing. My words and behaviour therefore clearly demonstrate that I do not know that the Christian god exists at all. Even a weird religious nutter like you who seems to have no problem swearing black is white, up is down, and left is right, ought to feel reality slapping his face repeatedly regarding that. That you don’t suggests very strongly to me that you’re simply trolling a-theists to indulge your own malice and spite.

            Now, getting back to you. I understand that you’re held in the grip of a weird religious sect of Christianity and that to some extent you should be considered a victim of that religious hegemony but ultimately you’re responsible for your actions. We know from the Bible that people who are saved should be displaying fruits of the spirit, assuming that Christianity is true of course. Even if it is not then a Christian ought to be aspiring to that list of attributes and working towards bettering his character. He should not be reveling in his sin and indulging his malice and spite on a daily basis. Yet here you are doing exactly that. We also know from the Bible that Jesus will say “I never knew you” to people who use and act in his name without being one of his saved. You give every indication that you’re one of those people. Instead of judging and condemning me, you really ought to look to your own welfare.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Your problem is, like the rest of us, you are wicked. You like to pretend God doesn’t exist, an act which condemns you. You live in an invented world where you escape the consequences of your action, where God doesn’t exist. Thus your a-theism is just an affectation and I have no need to judge you for you make your wickedness plain.

          • DanJ0

            I’m lovely!

            I have no subjective knowledge of any god, and I have no belief in your particular god. As such, I don’t worry about judgements from either Allah or your god. If one of those god hypotheses turns out against all expectations to be true then so be it. In the meantime, I’m going to carry on living life as best I can.

            The trouble is, you claim you believe in one of those gods but your faith seems to be a dead faith and we both know what your Bible says about that. You should really be asking yourself why you aren’t demonstrating fruits of the spirits. I reckon I know the answer to that: you’re both wicked and dead in your sins.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Where did I say you have subjective knowledge of God? Your knowledge of God is objective, part of your very nature. Added to that the world around you gives objective evidence of its Creator.

            I don’t claim to believe in one of those god, I believe what the God that created all things has declared. That He will come to judge the actions of all, but until that time offers mercy.Now is the time of mercy, tomorrow may be too late.

          • DanJ0

            The world around me is evidence of something but it’s not even remotely clear that it’s a theistic god, let alone what particular human variant it might be. It could be Allah for all we know as he was designed to be a creator, just like the god of your religion. As for my nature, people throughout the ages have created all sorts of gods and other supernatural things, and all sorts of explanations for why things behave and turn out as they do. Most of it seems to boil down to either a fear of the unknown, or a fear of death given we’re a self-aware species.

            I note you’ve pretended away all the stuff about your cold, dead faith again. It’s a tricky one for you, that. Your religion says that you ought be displaying fruits of the spirit, and that you should be a light in the world in your words and behaviour. See Matthew 5:14-16. However, you don’t display those things and your behaviour is anything but a testament to a life-changing religion. Rather than a Christian light shining out, you bring Christianity into disrepute. You should be shunned by theists and a-theists alike.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Of course it’s clear, you just don’t want to admit there is evidence for God. You’re just like those people who created idols, trying to pretend you are in control and God must follow your rules.

          • DanJ0

            Of course it’s not clear. One could construct a god hypothesis and treat our reality as evidence for it, as Christianity and Islam have done. But the existence of our reality does not prove the Christian god exists, or indeed that any theistic god exists. You’re too thick to understand it but that doesn’t change the truth of it.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Of course it’s clear, it’s just that your god will not allow you to understand.

          • DanJ0

            Like you, I have no god.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            Of course you have a god, you just don’t like admitting it.

            Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:19 [ESV])

          • DanJ0

            Neither of us has a god. You just pretend you have.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            We all know God exists, you try to replace Him with your little god of self.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            We all know God exists, you try to replace Him with your little god of self.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            We all know God exists, you try to replace Him with your little god of self.

  • In the synod report, the word ‘cross’ does not appear. The word ‘sin’ appears once, but only in a quotation from Martin Luther, and so does not seem to be part of the authors’ own salvific vocabulary. ‘transform’, on the other hand, appears 16 times, either as a word in itself or as ‘transforming’, ‘transformative’ etc. I question whether this is actually the biblical gospel of the remission of sins, and free gift of eternal life, through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Andrew

    • Anton

      It’s a report to other Christians, not an evangelical document itself.

      • Thanks, Anton, but I don’t yet see why that should make such a difference. After all, the epistles were written to Christians, and still the gospel is presented in terms of the cross, and the forgiveness of sins, and redemption through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

        Andrew

        • Anton

          The epistles were mostly written because something had gone wrong and people needed to be reminded of repentance and sin and the price paid at the cross. When Christians get together to propose an evangelism drive, those things are understood, although they should of course be central in any drive.

          • I am glad that we agree on how the gospel should be presented. It seems to me that the sheep will naturally follow their pastors. If they define evangelism as ‘the proclamation of God’s transforming love made known to us in Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit’, then this is likely to be the kind of thing that appears in the proclamation of the churches. Paul declared the gospel that he preached: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried and rose again the third day.

            Andrew

          • Anton

            I too worry that evangelism will be presented in that way. But I worry about that more because of the CoE’s recent track record than because of the phrasing of this document, and I don’t want to be too negative given its good intention.

          • Agreed, I hope that there is fruit from this initiative, and that sinners are brought to repentance and salvation through faith in our loving and kind and merciful Saviour.

            Andrew

  • James60498 .

    It’s about the cost of a couple of pints a week, and without the cost of taxis etc.

    And BT is cheaper still.

  • chiefofsinners

    It’s not about what they can afford, it’s about what their wives allow.

    • sarky

      Lol

  • chiefofsinners

    Is humanity becoming more stupid? The Greeks are incapable of running their economy these days.
    2 bailouts+ 2 bailouts = er…

    • Anton

      1453 and all that.

  • That God will save all those He foreknows as responding to saving grace whether they have heard the Gospel or not.

  • len

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is unique amongst world religions. Only God would reveal Himself to mankind as a humble servant and go the Way of the Cross as a means of salvation for humanity. Religions devised by man have shows of power and dominance to impress or to intimidate others into following their leaders.Some religions appeal to intellectual pride(part of the reason for’ the fall of man’ in the first instance) It is the love of God as revealed in Christ that draws men to Him. Jesus did not come to give us the ‘Christian religion’ but came to give Himself that we might respond to Him and be reconciled to God.When this happens to each individual a small part of the Divine plan falls into place. Perhaps part of the problem with the church is that it offers ‘religion’ instead of Christ and reconciliation with God?.

    • cacheton

      Whilst I largely agree with your post, especially the last sentence, much christian doctrine is also designed to impress or intimidate, such as ‘unless you repent you will go to hell; if you believe you will have eternal life. The god of the bible makes many shows of power and dominance.
      What would an organisation/institution that offered Christ and reconciliation with god instead of ‘religion’ look like do you think?

      • len

        I think love would be the overriding factor in a church where Christ had the headship.

        Those within the early Church were known for their love for each other, pooling their resources etc.Indeed Jesus commanded His followers to love each other.
        IF the church had stood on the Word of God then errors would not have crept into the church and splits and divisions would not have occurred and the church would have been united and much stronger.

        The Church has been weakened and in parts all but destroyed by compromising with’ world systems’ which are corrupt .

  • Mike Stallard

    I am getting tremendous help on this question from a Rabbi – the excellent Jonathan Sacks.
    Tolle, Lege!

    • David

      Yes he is a great faith leader. His books are very understandable and useful.

  • Anton

    Says the man who criticised Einstein’s science without knowing what a gauge theory was.

  • Anton

    People resort to insults when they run out of arguments.

    • Pubcrawler

      I think he was endorsing your comment, not blaming you for Greece’s fiscal difficulties.

      • Anton

        As he had just called me an idiot below, I took it to be more of the same – though I’d be glad if it were not.

        • Ivan M

          I meant it. You cid not parse my response at all. You took it as an attack on your hero. Anyone who reads my comment can judge that it was making the point that Greeks without the benefit of the Hindu number system had made “worthwhile” scientific contributions, contradicting the claimed opinion of Einstein. In case you didn’t know, the Hindu system was introduced into Europe in the 12th century. The work of the Greeks predate this by more than a millenia.

          • Anton

            Your attacks on Einstein are a matter of record which I’m content to leave readers to inspect. As for your attack on me, blessings in return and please read Matthew 5:22.

          • Ivan M

            You wrote at a complete tangent to my post, and now you have the temerity to offer me your blessings?

          • Anton

            Greek mathematicians thought in pictures, which is the correct way to think mathematically; but they were limited by the notation they had in which to express their insights. The best notation is the one that came west to Europe. When the two got together in late mediaeval Europe, maths began to exceed the Greek achievement.

  • The Explorer

    Yes there is. Feminist maths, Thelma & Louise style.
    2 men + 2 men = 4 bastards.

    • Cressida de Nova

      LOL….absolutely correct !

    • Pubcrawler

      They probably have something about how irrational numbers can be rational when applied to shoes.

      • Anton

        That’s the difference between “countable infinities” and “uncountable infinities”.

  • scottspeig

    Why do the “leaders” of the church always over-complicate it?? Preach the word, pray often, and live a worshipful life.

    Concentrate on making disciples (not converts) and God will do the rest.

  • William Lewis

    It has been rejected, by you.

  • The Explorer

    Derrida, certainly, is stating that there is no such thing as an absolute truth because he says there is no transcendental signified that would give ultimate meaning. (He is, of course, stating this as an absolute truth). His argument is that truth is what a community agrees it will be. True for my community was the original concept. True for me (regardless of my community) is a corruption of this.

    It works fine for rules of the road. We”ll all drive on the left/right and stop at a red light. It works less well for general ethics. Murder is wrong because we agree it is. But if we change our minds, and decide that murder is right…

    • cacheton

      Yes but why would we decide that murder is right? I cannot imagine a scenario in which that might happen (starting to ressemble an argument for scrapping Trident but anyway…). With our knowledge of history we can see that wellbeing is (and has been), in general, increasing for most people. That is I think because consciousness is, in general, evolving. People care more about more issues, we can communicate better and faster, we are in general tolerating less discrimination etc etc etc. Deciding that murder is ok would be rightly seen by an overwhelming majority as a step backwards, and therefore would never happen. Of course there are different societies at different stages of consciousness around the planet, and different stages of consciousness among the individuals which make up those societies..

      You say we could change our minds. In theory we could of course yes, but WHY would we choose to go backwards? Which is why REASON is important, to be able to explain your choices, and why you believe what you believe etc (wink wink)

      And there are still many places left on the planet where the death penalty exists where the state reckons murder IS right, and honour murders are ok etc.

      • The Explorer

        “Yes but why would we decide that murder is right? I cannot imagine a scenario in which that might happen” How about the Nazis: Aktion T4 programme and Holocaust? How about Stalin and the deliberate famines?

        • cacheton

          OK, I meant now, and in our society. Plus there is a ‘been there done that’ element which means that we know the warning signs and can change course more easily. I admit, progress is slow. It takes time and courage to advance consciousness. In our society we still see it as ok to support behaviours carried out by other societies that we would not tolerate here, such as Ukraine, Syria, Saudi Arabia etc etc., where murder is ok.

          • Anton

            At least one of those still has the death penalty for murder, which is better than here.

          • cacheton

            Two wrongs make a right, I see.

          • Anton

            I’m content to let God do my thinking for me on difficult moral issues. He commanded death for murder to all mankind after the Flood and repeated it in ancient Israel’s law, while in the New Testament St Paul said that it was not for nothing that the authorities wielded the sword.

          • cacheton

            Anton you really are frightening me now. The abdication of responsibility that religious thinking can encourage really is BAFFLING.

          • Anton

            We all believe things we can’t prove. What’s yours?

          • cacheton

            No Anton that doesn’t work. You really are speaking only for yourself. Take some responsibility.

          • Anton

            I don’t understand what you mean by “that doesn’t work”.

          • cacheton

            What doesn’t work is your excuse – ‘we all believe things we can’t prove’. You are projecting your wish to abdicate responsibility for what you believe onto other people aswell, so as to try and make it acceptable. It does not work because it does not make it acceptable.

            This tactic is frequently used by evangelical christians who accuse non-believers of being sinners. They say yes you are sinners but we are ALL sinners, to justify their showing contempt for others, or their need to evangelise.

          • Anton

            I take full responsibility for what I believe. That is a different point from whether I can prove my core beliefs. If I manage to do that from more primitive axioms, where do those axioms come from? The only way to prevent an infinite regress is to accept that you believe some things by faith. That is true for everybody: Christians, pagans, secular humanists, the lot. Those who are prepared to acknowledge this fact, and state openly what their core axioms are, are in fact being more honest.

            I didn’t mention human sinfulness in this context; you did!

          • cacheton

            My core axiom is therefore – I believe I exist. Do you think I believe that by faith?

          • Anton

            No but you can’t build anything upon it, so it is an effectively useless axiom. There will be others.

          • cacheton

            Not useless. I can then explore ‘Who am I’.

          • Anton

            You can only explore that within the space you inhabit – I mean both inwardly and physically – and that space contains a great deal of structure which you interpret via other axioms.

  • Anton

    What observation exactly, please?

    • cacheton

      Truth is subjective. An observation and a logical deduction.

  • The Explorer

    As I said, the resurrection was not the point of my post. My point was to query your apparent blind faith in records, akin to your blind faith in eye witnesses. To return to the Jonestown example for a moment, the surviving eye witnesses were a very dodgy lot.

    “No records mean no proof.” Are you applying that purely to the resurrection? Consider the tiles made in Iznik , Turkey since the Middle Ages. Those of a particular shade of turquoise cannot be duplicated. We know the tiles exist: we can see them. The formula for their colour apparently existed once, but it has been lost, and attempts to recreate it have failed.

    No records mean no proof. Not true, in this instance. The records aren’t necessary: the proof lies in the ancient tiles themselves, and their unrecreatable colour.

    Now, obviously, something intangible like an historical event is not comparable to something tangible like a tile. But how much of the evidence for an event lies in the records, and how much in the consequences? The Nazis destroyed as many records as they could, but the evidence of the concentration camps was still there. You could destroy all the records for 9/11, but the consequences of the event would still be manifest. Fortunately, for 9/11 and the Resurrection, we have both the records and the consequences. But more of that another time.

    • Findaráto

      The colour of the tiles is a record, is it not? Who said that evidence had to be written? What about the fossil record?

      Physical consequences form part of the record of events and provide convincing evidence that what is claimed actually happened.

      The physical structure of Nazi concentration camps as well as the starving people interned in them were a record of what had been done there. Documents could reveal the scale of the Holocaust, but confirmation that it actually happened was to be found in the physical evidence and multiple, corroborated eyewitness accounts.

      As this debate progresses, the desperation of Christians casting about for some way, any way out of the logical trap closing around them is becoming almost comical. If all you can do is split hairs over words like “records” and the exact definition of death, you’ve basically admitted defeat.

      • The Explorer

        The consequence of an event is part of the record. Thank you. That is the point I wished to establish. I’m glad we’re agreed.
        My discussion has been how to try and establish principles for the evaluation of historical events. My examples – Boudicaa, Iznik tiles, the concentration camps, Jonestown and 9/11 have all been secular. I am fascinated that you keep dragging Christianity in when I don’t.
        PS. I agree that there were a lot of eyewitness account as to the concentration camps. Reliable ones, too. Doesn’t stop holocaust denial, though, unfortunately.

        • Findaráto

          The physical consequences of an event are part of the record. What you take to be literary consequences may not in fact be so. They may actually be accounts of a fictional event, which therefore can have no direct consequences at all. Certainly no physical consequences.

          That’s about where we stand with the Bible. Christianity may be a consequence of the Bible, but there is no proof that the Bible is the consequence of Christ’s life, as we have no evidence that Christ ever existed.

          • The Explorer

            That last sentence is way too big to follow up at the end of a thread. Let’s save it for another time. Thanks you for the discussion.

          • The Explorer

            That last sentence is way to big to explore at the tail end of a thread. Let’s save it for another time.

            Thank you for the discussion. Arguing with five opponents simultaneously has been an impressive performance on your part.

    • Anton

      That’s interesting. It would be easy enough nowadays to determine the compound(s) in that blue; presumably the hard part is determining the quarry or (if organic in origin) lifeform from which they originated.

      • The Explorer

        I remember reading it in Colin Thubron’s book about Istanbul when he was discussing the Iznik tiles used in the Topkapi Palace. It’s a long time since I read it, and it may – now I focus on it – have been coral rather than turquoise, but I remember the phrase “the secret of the colour seems to have died with its discoverer”.

        • Anton

          Thank you. In the museum in the Topkapi I remember seeing items that had supposedly belonged to Abraham and Moses, and Muhammad’s sword. I disbelieved the former two.

  • Martin

    The whole truth is much greater than we can know, yet Jesus came to reveal the truth that we need to know and it is there for us in the Bible, God’s word to mankind.

    The second chapter of Ephesians gives us the gospel in a simple, clear way.

    And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

    The sinner is dead in his sin, he can do nothing to help himself. He serves his master, sin and through sin, the one who rebelled against God and caused our forefather to fall.

    That being so:

    But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

    It was necessary for God to step in, to raise us from the dead, to put life into us once more. You will note that there is no mention of us giving anything to God there, not our life, nor our will, not even our consent. Even the faith we have is the gift of God.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    There is nothing of ourselves in our salvation, for all is done to the glory of God.

    Somehow I doubt the two archbishops will preach that.

  • Perhaps they should ask themselves why Islam manages to get converts and attracts non-believers. Is it that they are misfits and like the concept of violence preached by Islam; its it the belief in male domination that they like? But in business terms, there is nothing wrong in looking at why your competitor is attracting customers and considering whether you can compete.
    Personally, I believe that I were I not already a church goer, I would feel less inclined to be part of the rather wish-washy Christianity of today than the more robust Christianity of my youth. I get the impression that locally our churches are trying to be all things to all people but end up being nothing to most.

    • James60498 .

      Excellent comment.

    • DanJ0

      Perhaps people like the structure of an orthopraxic religion. Roman Catholicism seems to do reasonably well with all its bells and smells malarkey.

      • I seek stability from my religion in an ever changing world. I am happy to accept change, but in the case of religion it has to be very slow change. So far the Roman Catholic church has managed this reasonably well whilst the CofE seems to be keen to adopt every new idea as it comes along. I also expect a certain amount of dignity in my religion and correct dress and ritual are part of this.
        I certainly never go the monthly family service where “to encourage youth” there is a screen and a Power Point presentation and the curate usually wears a sweater and jeans! I don’t think that it does encourage youth and believe it loses the respect that clergy once had. Much the same happened with teachers once they stopped wearing their academic gowns and dressed like their pupils.

    • Anton

      That is the problem of an Established church, certainly. And feminisation of the culture spills over into all congregations, since they recruit from the culture. (The worship is often the worst.) But you will find congregations that are exceptions to this rule.

      • I’ve nothing against females in the church, my problem is the way that it has been done. When they decided to have female clergy, there was a whole crowd of females cheering and demanding some were appointed immediately. The same with Bishops, when it was agreed they should be allowed, one was appointed almost the next day!
        I’ve listened to some very good female clergy and the very opposite. We had one female curate who took over an hour for a wedding, I know this as a bellringer sitting, waiting for her to finish, yet at another local church where I was due to ring, I commented to one of the other ringers that I hoped she wouldn’t go on for ever like our curate and she heard my comment. Her view was ‘anything that couldn’t be said in five minutes wasn’t worth saying’. She’s good, and has an increasing congregation

        • Anton

          The last thread but one on this blog was largely about this subject. I am glad of everybody who comes to church, male or female, but I think the Bible is clear that leadership of congregations shall be male. That means female clergy are more likely to be rebellious types.

          • The Bible is clear on quite a lot of matters which are ignored, homosexuality being just one of them. I’m aware of the need to move with the times, but believe that it should be a slow drift rather than a mad rush!

          • Anton

            They’re not ignored in all congregations.

  • David

    “What is the gospel in an age of religious relativism” ?

    The gospel is unchanging. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,
    Man’s nature doesn’t change. We will always need rescuing, repentance, forgiveness, rebirth and new growth.

    Why is it made so overly complicated, usually by so called religious leaders ? Often I fear that it is about academic competition and an obsession with making their mark on theology, when we are in fact required to spread the Word, as it was given to us, baptising all nations in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Ignore the relativism, just feed a spiritually hungry world.

  • CliveM

    Sigh………….. Not even an attempt at originality. Still at least you’re plagiarising from multiple sources.

  • Ray Bannister

    Advertising is predicated on the assumption that you can make the consumer believe that if he buys Product X, his life will be better. If you are “broken,” buying the right product will fix you. We’re surrounded by so many material products to buy (24/7, thanks to the internet) that the material crowds out the spiritual. It never occurs to most people that they could get “fixed” by a divine gift that is absolutely free. On the one hand, most modern people don’t regard themselves as sinners in need of saving – but on the other hand, as advertisers well know, most people are sure that buying a certain product will make their lives better. How do you convince people that the spiritual fix might be more real and more enduring than the material fix – I have no clue how to do that. The apostles were carrying the spiritual fix to a populace that includes lots of slaves and working-class people who were clearly ready for the spiritual fix.

    • Dreadnaught

      Stay a slave and get a spiritual fix for the afterlife or be free for the rest of your real life – tough question. The apostles should have been setting about abolishing slavery I would have thought.

      • Anton

        How?

        • Dreadnaught

          Like you are Chief Sitting Bull? … well How to you too.

          • Anton

            That’s How with an exclamation mark! Mine had a question mark and was meant as a serious question. A political campaign and probably a war would be needed, which is exactly what Jesus refused to do when his followers wanted him to throw the Romans out of Judea. His reasons why not show his priorities, and these should be the priorities of his followers too. Reform begins with the individual.

            Of course slavery was never compatible with Jesus’ “Do as you would be done by” spoken on the Mount of Olives, but that’s a separate point.

          • Dreadnaught

            Look, if he could raise the dead I;m sure he could manage a simple trick like abolishing slavery.

          • Anton

            Get to know him and ask him.

          • Dreadnaught

            Sounds like you don’t have the answer yourself so I’ve go no chance.

          • Anton

            I gave you the answer but you rejected it. Try applying to the One from whom I got it.

      • IanCad

        Dred,
        This “Slave” status should be looked at from the perspective of those early days, not the current age.
        The equivalent of a Roman slave today is the low paid worker with little prospect of advancement owing to the influx of other foreign slaves.
        Slaves ate, wore clothes, had a sufficiency of the stuff of life. Maybe a little booze now and then. Had they provision of low-life entertainment in the form of TV, heir lot would be much the same as the mass of men today.

        • Dreadnaught

          Slavery not such a big deal then: and the way they go on about it being the cause of the American Civil War and the Whiteman’s burden to this day – well I never!

          • IanCad

            It was one of the causes of the Civil War but not the primary, which was the question of States’ Rights.
            Of interest, is the fact that so very few ex-slaves went back to Liberia when offered the prospect of a new start in their native continent.
            Rural blacks in the southern states live but marginally better than before emancipation. Race relations are far better in those old slaver states than in the progressive industrial North.

          • Dreadnaught

            The cause for war was over scesession, power and control of the economy under Union rules. Slavery as a practice was a cause for civil war only in as far as the Union did not want the remaining territories to be developed with the advantage of cheap labour Confederate style and undercutting the going rates in the North. The Confederates also had God on their side so it would appear.

            Leviticus 25:44-46

            “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”

            The Bible approvingly gives slaves the permanent status of property just like any pot or pan, but worth perhaps the equivalent of an ox or a donkey. Slaves and their children could be inherited and passed down to newer generations, they could never gain their freedom as a right and clearly the Bible of the God of Creation condoned the practice. The Bible says little or nothing about freedom of the individual.

            Why I wonder does the Bible and/or Jesus and his buddies not believe in liberating human beings from biblically endorsed slavery?

          • IanCad

            Dred,
            First paragraph; Pretty much spot on.
            Going back to slavery; It was the only means of survival for many in those days. The economy and means of production were totally different from today. Food sufficiency was the number one priority. Agriculture employed at least 80% of the workforce. You’ll probably cringe at this, but slavery was an early form of the welfare state.
            Don’t get me wrong; It was a vile and repulsive institution, particularly when prosperity had progressed.
            There is also the psychological dimension. Some folk are born to be slaves, as I suggested in my earlier post.
            We are created by God as unique individuals. We are responsible for our actions, therefore freedom of the individual is part of God’s plan.

          • Dreadnaught

            Some folk are born to be slaves…
            Are you being serious?… Really?

          • IanCad

            I’m not talking of predestination Dred; but of character influenced by environment. You know; they’re with us today. Sports addicts, the incurious, readers of the National Enquirer, the risk averse, rock and rap zombies, student unions, a good number of MP’s. Those who glare instead of engaging. Snitches. Bicyclists with cameras. Sorry men whose feelings get hurt way too easily.
            I’d better stop now while I can.

          • Ivan M

            I’ll have a stab at it. Leviticus was from 1400 years before Jesus. In the Gospels there is no mention of slaves. Perhaps in the mileau that Jesus moved around in He didn’t come across any oppressed slave. Such slaves as there were were employed by the Romans as secretaries and scribes. There would have been chain gangs consisting of prisoners but that would be considered a penal regime. The only mention of slaves in the rest of the NT that I am aware of is that of St Paul to one of his confreres urging him to free his slave Onesimus and embrace him as a brother.

          • Dreadnaught

            The Bible clearly ignores the fact that God created men as equals and no one for millennia does

          • Anton

            In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said “do as you would be done by” which is inconsistent with making a free man into a slave. Buying people who were already slaves is different. They’d have got a better deal as slaves in ancient Israel than elsewhere, eg a day off each week.

          • Anton

            Slavery as a practice was a cause for civil war only in as far as the Union did not want the remaining territories to be developed with the advantage of cheap labour Confederate style and undercutting the going rates in the North.

            I find that hard to believe. The north had a far stronger economy than the south because of mechanised industry, and you can’t run mechanised industry with slaves – only rural industries based on crops that are labour-intensive to work, such as cotton, tobacco and sugar. Those would not grow in the northern climate.

          • Anton

            The immediate cause of the American civil war was the north fighting to prevent the southern states seceding. But why did they want to secede? Because they knew that the north would eventually refuse to tolerate slavery. The north was already refusing to countenance slavery in the new territories opened up westward. Of course the south wanted to retain it. So the clash was indeed ultimately about slavery.

          • carl jacobs

            The border states were also beginning to discuss manumission because they saw slavery hindering their economic development. Former slave States had a reputation for becoming virulently abolitionist. So not only would there be no new slave States, but there was a real possibility of a net loss.

            Manumission meant slaves would be sold into the deep south to recover their value, and Lincoln’s policy meant the white population would be walled in with slaves and a dying slave economy. The specter of slave rebellion and race war was never far below the surface. But that is what happens when you ride the tiger.

          • Uncle Brian

            Carl, I’ve never known as much as I ought to about the institution of slavery in the United States, and I don’t understand what you’re saying about manumission here. Could you please make it clearer to me. It was my understanding that manumission was never allowed in the slave states, where, by law, all blacks were necessarily slaves, all the time.

            Unless I’ve got it badly wrong, the U.S. rules were quite different from the situation in Brazil in the same period, where from the outset owners were permitted to give their slaves their freedom. As a result there was always a large population of free blacks, and of course a free black, like any other free citizen, was legally entitled to own slaves. But I don’t think that was ever the case in the U.S., was it?

          • carl jacobs

            The border states – Kentucky for example – were beginning to consider manumission of slaves. The idea was to legally emancipate all slaves on (say) Jan 1, 1880. That would give slave owners time to realize the value of their slaves by selling them “down the river.” This would have the effect of increasing the concentration of the slaves in the deep South. The onset of war rendered all of this moot.

            Free Soil settlers would not settle in slave States. Slavery was holding back economic development. So the border states – not being so heavily invested in Big Cotton – were looking for a way out. You can imagine the fear this created in the Deep South when Lincoln was elected. The South needed to expand to keep slavery viable. But all it could see within the Union was contraction.

          • Anton

            I think I know why you are confused so I’m taking the liberty of responding. I had to read that post of Carl’s several times and I think he assumed we knew more than we did when he wrote that. Here is my rewrite of what he put, intended to convey exactly the same meaning. Doubtless he will correct me if not.

            The slave states that bordered non-slave states were also beginning to discuss manumission [setting slaves free] because they recognised that slavery was hindering their economic development. [They were able to peek over the border and compare.] States that had individually abolished slavery had a reputation for becoming virulently abolitionist. So not only would there be no new slave States, but there was a real possibility of a net fall in their number. Once manumission looked politically inevitable in such states, many slaveowners living there would sell their slaves to hardline slave states in the deep south to recover their value, and Lincoln’s policy…

          • Uncle Brian

            Anton and Carl, thank you both. I now realise that my difficulty was my unfamiliarity with the word manumission in the sense you are using it here. In nineteenth century Brazil, as in ancient Rome, every owner had the legal right to manumit a slave at any time, which in Brazil, at least, commonly happened in one of two ways: an owner could bequeath his slaves their freedom in his will, or sometimes, depending on what kind of work they did, some slaves might have the chance to save up enough money, over a period of years, to buy their freedom. But here, if I’ve understood you correctly, you are talking about a state government ordering all slaves to be freed, which I would have called abolition rather than manumission. It’s really only a question of language.

          • carl jacobs

            I had to read that post of Carl’s several times

            Sorry. 🙂 <— Guilty smile. A good synopsis.

            The border states were slave states that didn't secede for one reason or another. They sat on the border between the Union and the Confederacy and could have gone one way or the other. Missouri stayed in by virtue of what amounted to a military coup. Maryland stayed in because the Union Army sat on top of it. Kentucky stayed in because the South was first to violate its borders. They all had deep divisions of loyalty.

          • Uncle Brian

            One last question, Carl, if I may, before this becomes a dead thread. Is it correct to say that in the slave states (the Confederate States or the border states or both) there was no manumission in the Roman sense, i.e, a slave owner did not legally have the option of giving an individual slave his or her freedom? And that there were no black people living in those states who were free citizens? Or am I oversimplifying what was, in reality, a more complex legal situation than that?

            Thanks
            Brian

          • carl jacobs

            I don’t believe that’s true. IIRC Jefferson freed all his slaves in his will, for example. But I don’t know a great deal about the laws governing slavery.

            One of the causes of aggravation between North and South was the Fugitive Slave Act. It intended to force Northern officers to arrest and return escaped slaves to the South. Slaves that reached the North were generally considered to have achieved freedom. Obviously slave owners didn’t think so, and wanted the Gov’t to enforce their property rights. Didn’t go over well.

            Also remember that the North hated slavery, and especially the political/cultural “Slave Power” behind it. However, Northern attitudes toward black people weren’t too different from those in the South.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thanks, Carl.

          • CliveM

            It’s only the already rich that benefit from slavery, the majority of the population are impoverished by it. One of the most effective arguments against it have been the economic ones.

          • Anton

            Always glad to learn more history; thank you.

          • carl jacobs

            The proximate cause of secession was Lincoln’s election. Why? Because Lincoln was going to refuse to allow slaves in the territories. In practice that meant “No new slave States” and the end of Southern blocking power in the Senate. Lincoln intended to wall slavery inside the South and let it die. That is why the South broke the Union. It understood exactly what Lincoln was intending to do.

            The Civil War was fought over Union. The Civil War was caused by slavery.

          • IanCad

            I’ll go along with that.

          • carl jacobs

            So you agree that the primary cause of the Civil War was slavery?

          • IanCad

            Carl Torquemanda needs an answer. IanCad is on the rack, he has already conceded that slavery was – after discounting States’ Rights the and imperfections of the Constitutional Convention – the prime cause of the War of Northern Aggression. But that is not enough the ropes must be tensioned another notch. OK! OK! OK! I’ll say anything, sign anything, but please , please, please Mr. T; release me. I swear I will never raise the issue again.

          • carl jacobs

            No, I would only do that to Jack. With you I was just confused about what you were sayIng.

        • Rhoda

          A Roman slave was the property of his master and regarded as a commodity, Slaves were the lowest class of society and acquired through war, slave trade, piracy, being abandoned as a baby or being born to a slave woman. Freed criminals had more rights. Slaves had no rights and no legal status. They were the property of their particular owner and a status symbol for many rich Romans.
          The only time there was anywhere near equality for all in Roman society was during the Saturnalia festival when, for a few days , slaves were given some freedoms usually denied them.
          Rules regarding a slave’s food and clothing were set out by Cato the Elder, Agriculture, chs. 56-59. This clothing allowance doesn’t sound like the life of a low paid worker
          “As for clothes, give out a tunic of three feet and a half, and a cloak once in two years. When you give a tunic or cloak take back the old ones, to make cassocks out of. Once in two years, good shoes should be given.”

          • IanCad

            Rhoda,
            Just about the same clothing allowance my wife grants me.

      • len

        ‘The spiritual fix’ (so whimsically described) is for now not ‘an insurance policy’ for future use…
        Jesus and the apostles set about releasing slaves…slaves to the law of sin and death…The slave master (then as is now) is the master deceiver who holds all those in his power who have rejected (or not yet received) Jesus Christ….

    • cacheton

      ‘most people are sure that…’
      I don’t think they are. They simply do not think.

      ‘How do you convince people that the spiritual fix might be more real and more enduring than the material fix’
      But you have it the wrong way round. ‘Real’ means tangible, physical, for most people. Therefore a material fix will always be more ‘real’. If religions marketed themselves as changers of the way people think, which has measurable benefits on the material physical life, they may have more chance of succeeding. At least they would be operating in the appropriate sphere, rather than trying to convince that ‘Jesus is REAL, god is REAL etc.

  • Dreadnaught

    You did not answer; you just said try the man next door.

    • Anton

      I summarised the answer he gave 2000 years ago. A political campaign and probably a war would be needed, which is exactly what Jesus refused to do when his followers wanted him to throw the Romans out of Judea. Reform begins with the individual.

      • sarky

        …but ends with war and politics.

        • Anton

          Have you seen how Christians got slavery abolished throughout the British Empire?

          • sarky

            I should hope so, having being responsible for a lot of it.

          • Anton

            That’s a subject change, but I’ll go with it; can you back that up?

          • sarky
          • Anton

            You said that Christians were responsible for a lot of slavery. But what you have found is an article saying that many people who called themselves Christians condoned it. Even if they were committed Christians, condoning it is a long way from being active in furthering it. Furthermore the article doesn’t mention Christ’s statement to do as you would be done by (from the Sermon on the Mount). That is the Christian argument I would always use against slavery, and against any Christian who came out with nonsense about Noah’s sons being a justification for it. (That’s a prophecy, not a justification!) There is also Christ’s quote from a little later in Matthew’s gospel, “Not everybody who says, “Lord, Lord” [ie, self-proclaimed Christians] will enter heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father” (7:21).

            And a word to those in institutional churches who disparage the nonconformist sects as a disunited rabble: you would do well to note that, as the article states, those sects led the way in preaching to the slaves (even as the occasional Bishop owned some).

          • sarky

            “Even if they were committed Christians, condoning it is a long way from being active in furthering it”

            Surely by condoning it you create the conditions in which it could thrive. Surely you are, therefore, complicit in it thriving.

            Apply what you said to the holocaust and tell me it’s still OK.

          • Anton

            If you are referring to people of political influence high up in church hierarchies in history, I frankly doubt that many were genuinely Christian. You might have seen me arguing against politicised churches and church hierarchies elsewhere on this blog.

          • sarky

            No. I was arguing against the fact that you seem to think that condoning something is somehow less than being actively involved.

          • Anton

            It is.

            Taking part in a bad activity is worse than condoning it, which is worse than keeping silence, which is worse than verbally opposing it, which is less good than acting against it.

          • sarky

            But by condoning you give others free reign to carry out said activity (to me that makes you complicit )

          • Anton

            I’m not disagreeing but I think that’s too simplistic. No man is an island and everybody is complicit in everything to some extent; it is the extent that we are haggling about.

          • sarky

            I think Christians we pretty heavily involved, don’t you?

          • Anton

            This started when I asked you that! Full circle.

  • len

    Could it be that the meaning and intention of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been lost or buried under piles of religiosity, compromise, and false information?.
    Do too many preachers present a social Gospel, or a Politically correct Gospel or not bother to preach the gospel at all ?. Is God presented as a Politically Correct God who will not be judgemental and go along with human laws which He is directly opposed to and has said so?.

    Secularists have tried to’ reinterpret’ the nature of man and the fallen nature of man has been described as ‘his natural state’. Man is not really so bad as God suggests man has been created’ as he is’ so his nature is not so bad.Man needs to feel good about himself as he expresses his natural impulses and feelings. Don`t be judgemental when man follows ‘his nature’. Man has his human rights and feelings which were once repressed need to be expressed openly and without reservation..
    Right?
    Wrong!.
    There has only ever been One man who walked this Earth who perfectly represented what God intended when God Created man.The man Jesus Christ.
    So what we call ‘natural God calls un -natural because man as he is today is not God`s Creation but a distortion of what God intended.

    We need only look at mankind today to see what evil fallen man is capable of and this alone should be enough to validate the Gospel of Jesus Christ for those who seek an end to the madness which is running riot in our world today.

  • sarky

    Keep taking the meds

    • Martin

      Sarky

      Ever wondered why you don’t understand, why the Bible seems meaningless to you?

      • DanJ0

        The Bible isn’t meaningless to a-theists. It’s interesting in itself as a religious text. It’s also interesting as an artefact of human history. However, it’s just a man-made book describing a man-made religion, as far as we’re concerned. As such, it has no universal meaning. From an a-theist’s point of view the Bible has as much meaning as the Qur’an or the Vedas has to both a-theists and Christians. Hope this helps.

        p.s. Keep taking the meds anyway.

        • Martin

          DanJ0

          Seeing you don’t understand the Bible. that you don’t understand the salvation is all of grace, then the Bible is meaningless to you. That’s the reason you think it has as much meaning as the Qur’an.

          And remember, you’re not an ‘a-theist’, that’s just affectation, since you know God exists.

          • DanJ0

            I know enough to recognise you’re a blatant fraud. I’ve backed that up with Bible verse too, which you studiously ignore every single ime. You’re ridiculous.

          • Martin

            DanJ0

            I’ve replied to your attacks on me, I fail to see why I should do so more than once. The real problem is with you and the condemnation you are under. God offers you mercy and you refuse it.

          • DanJ0

            You’ve ignored the Biblical verses I’ve presented every single time. You have no defence for your behaviour. You simply play your broken record for something to say in reply. You’re no Christian. You’ll burn in hell for pretending to be one and for using Christianity as a weapon, in the unlikely event that it turns out to be true.

      • sarky

        No

        • Martin

          Sarky

          Then perhaps you should.

          • sarky

            No thanks

          • Martin

            Sarky

            So you want to continue in your ignorance, pretending God does not exist. I’m afraid the penalty remains.

  • sarky

    In your head.

  • Martin

    DanJ0

    I want you to see your own nature and your need of a Saviour. The gospel always offends, is always rejected by those who think themselves good.

    • DanJ0

      The Bible doesn’t offend me, and neither do you. The Bible is an interesting man-made artefact, and you are just pretending to be a Christian.

      • Martin

        DanJ0

        Well done, you’ve just demonstrated the truth of my post.

      • Martin

        DanJ0

        Well done, you’ve just demonstrated the truth of my post.

      • Martin

        DanJ0

        Well done, you’ve just demonstrated the truth of my post.

  • DanJ0

    Clearly you have no god. You’re an internet troll, pretending to be a Christian.

  • DanJ0

    Clearly you have no god. You’re an internet troll, pretending to be a Christian.

  • DanJ0

    Clearly you have no god. You’re an internet troll, pretending to be a Christian.

  • DanJ0

    Clearly you have no god. You’re an internet troll, pretending to be a Christian.

    • Martin

      DanJ0

      So you are desperate to avoid what you know to be true.

      • DanJ0

        The game’s up, troll-boy. Pretend to be a Christian with someone else.

        • Martin

          DanJ0

          Remember, God can save even you.

          • DanJ0

            Every day you show how far from being a Christian you are, troll-boy.

  • DanJ0

    You’ve demonstrated the truth of mine for months. You clearly have no god. You’ve been busted so find someone else to troll.

  • DanJ0

    You’ve demonstrated the truth of mine for months. You clearly have no god. You’ve been busted so find someone else to troll.

  • DanJ0

    You’ve demonstrated the truth of mine for months. You clearly have no god. You’ve been busted so find someone else to troll.

  • DanJ0

    You’ve demonstrated the truth of mine for months. You clearly have no god. You’ve been busted so find someone else to troll.

    • Martin

      DanJ0

      Then why have you been attacking me, could it be you know I’m right?

      • DanJ0

        I know that you’re just a troll, using religion to play your games. Go find a bridge to hide under, troll-boy.

        • Martin

          DanJ0

          You know that God exists and can save even you.

          • DanJ0

            Troll, troll, troll away, troll-boy.