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November 28, 2006

Comments

T.J.

It's not a fundie invasion . It's people who are shocked andamazedwhat goes on inthe name of Christ. If you choose not to walk the narrow road...fine...just stop calling yourself a christian....sort of...you don't need to be sorry. Just say "hey I'm a carnal christian and I'm gonna do whatever is right in my own eyes...."...then we at least know where you stand.

What is really amazing to me is that the "jesus" many are worshipping does not even seem to be the Jesus out of scripture.

Zossima

Uh, TJ, you read the gospels lately?

Patrick

C'mon T. J.,
If you're really going to shame Greg then you need to use more adjectives than that. Look at Jane's comment to the Lunesta post for inspiration. Simply calling Greg a "carnal Christian" won't properly convey the true spirit of love and fellowship you wish to give as you correct this wayward brother. How will that shame him into becoming a better follower of Jesus Christ? Maybe you should call him a lecherous, lascivious, libidinous, concupiscent carnal Christian. That way he could really feel the weight of his sinful ways and return to worshipping Jesus, the one who never drank or hung out with people that partied...oh...wait...hmmm

Rich Schmidt

Any reason why there are two different posts on this topic? It might be a good idea to close the comments on this one, just to avoid confusion...

Joe

Wowzers! They're back.

Greg,

Why are these folks so down on emergent or better why is anyone down on emergent?

greg

TJ,

Since you've read the Bible, I guess you know the mother of the "sons of thunder" is not portrayed positively. Right? Anyway, I try not to have ongoing conversations with fundies anymore, as we seem to be operating in different language games. I will get to the point where I say, "The Bible is not the word of God; it testifies to Jesus, the Word of God," and then you will hemorrhage and question my ability to be saved since I don't "believe the Bible." So, if it's all the same to you, I'll spare myself the time it would take to explain to you why I think the way I do and why I'm okay with being a Christian, even though that word includes the sort of people who frequent the Slice of Laodicea.

T.J.

I use sons of thunder mom as my address because I have twin sons. They are active and full of life and energy. We've tried to teach them the love of Christ and show it. But we do not appease their rebellious nature coz we all have one. I call it tough love. And that is what Jesus did, too. He hung out with all types. But He was ALWAYS pointing them to the way out of their mess....the higher standard...the narrow road....the road less traveled...the masses are drowing in their drunken broad road to destruction. If I told you my story you'd think I was lying. The old me has passed away. And it feels really really good. And it is great comfort to feel God's presence and His touch and it does not come by smoking a hookah. It comes by face down on the carpet. tears....worship.adoration....thankfulness....
I just think that most follower's of Jesus are following "an idea". an "image" of Jesus...not HIM......when you KNOW HIM...you look around at this world and say...Come Lord....I want to be with you...this world has nothing for me....

jvpastor

With all the truly bad problems with Christians and the church why do all the fundies focus on such trivial matters? I guess it is just easier to harp on alcohol than poverty or abuse of power.

You know using alcohol and the hookah lead to other "sins" like homosexuality;)

If this comment is in poor taste please delete it greg!

Jay Barnett

Well, nothing has reaffirmed my decision to leave the Church of the Nazarene like reading this blog. The authority of the Word of God was under attack then, and now appears to be the position of choice for pseudo-intellectuals within the church. I don't care about hookah's and an occasional drink. I further would agree that Jesus clearly spent his time with sinners and shunned the religious "authorities" of his day. However, I would argue that the new "Whitewashed sepulchres", are those who profess themselves wise while attempting to ignore or discredit those portions of the Bible that are inconvenient to the way they want to practice their "faith". Sin, judgement, hell, are just unpleasant. Can't we talk about peace and community instead?

I love addicts, homosexuals, agnostics, and any other kind of sinner you can name. I will have them in my home, and claim them as my friend (and I do), but when the Spirit opens the door, I will tell them that what they are doing is sin, and that they are going to hell without Jesus as their Saviour.

I will also tell anyone that asks that the Bible is true from cover to cover whether I understand all of it or not. Only a completely illogical, but utterly prideful, thought process would conclude that a finite intellect could, or must, comprehend the missives of an infinite intellect (I guess they don't teach math at Southern Nazarene). Simply, once the authority of scripture is gone, it's left to man to define God, which is what "non-fundies" really want anyway - Post-modern idolatry - or, as I like to call it, the "Mr. Potato Head" approach to God. Life is so much more simple when God just becomes what we want Him to be, isn't it?

Regardless, I thank God my family will not reap the fruit of being under the godless leadership that seems to have taken over the church of my youth. I mourn for my friends who are paying the price for leaving their families under that spritual authority.

By the way, Spurgeon and I share a rather enjoyable vice.

greg

Preaching?

Jay Barnett

"Preaching" - I've noted that you, and those of your ilk, think that word is some sort of punchline. The NASB uses "preach" to translate Jesus teachings on multiple occassions. A few for consideraton are "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:15, and "as you go, preach saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 10:7. One of my favorites is Paul's exhortation to Timothy, "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."

There's really nothing "emerging" or intellectually impressive about your movement. It's just a continuation of Satan's first attack on God's relationship with man. From Genesis 3:1, "Hath God really said?" KJV.

greg

My problem isn't preaching per se; it's more the inability of people like you to do anything but preach when talking to people with whom they disagree. The KJV? Really?

Jay Barnett

You are mistaken. I associate with many people with whom I disagree, and they will affirm that I don't preach at them, though I do tell the truth when asked.

It's very predictable of you to engage in making derogatory and dishonest comments about "people like me" rather than attacking my commentary on your misguided and illogical beliefs. Is it possible that you're the one that's narrow minded and intolerant?

My friend, all beliefs are not equal, and there is only one truth. Voltaire drew correctly drew this conclusion absent the consideration of scripture. I firmly believe in the free exchange of ideas, but it's silly to for anyone to try or claim to give them all the same weight.

greg

Jay,

In light of this "It's very predictable of you to engage in making derogatory and dishonest comments..." you might want to review your initial post wherein you refer to me and others as pseudo-intellectuals (and what does that mean exactly? how do we know someone has left the pseudo behind to become a full-fledged intellectual?) and white-washed sepulchres. Not exactly a friendly first volley.

I'd be happy to have a conversation with you, but if you seriously read the KJV and think it's a good translation, we're not going to get very far.

As for me being intolerant, this blog is frequented by liberals, conservatives, fundies, evangelicals, atheists, witches, lions and tigers and bears, o my...and all are welcome. It just depends on what sort of conversation they want to have. As it's my blog, I reserve the right to be pompous, hyperbolic, judgmental, emotive, rational, or whatever other emotional approach I choose that day. If people don't like it, they should read something else.

Jay Barnett

I'll take these one at a time.

My first volley wasn't necessarily intended to be unfriendly, but it was intended to speak the truth in opposition to much of what appears on your blog. If I said something untrue or derogatory please point it out (I'll address the "pseudo-intellectual" comment in a moment since that appears to have gotten your attention). The truth is that your position towards the Word of God is poison to both believers and un-believers, and it's also an irrationally achieved conclusion. That's what I pointed out in my first post, and it holds true.

"The inability of people like you to do anything but preach when talking to people with whom they disagree." is untrue, and doesn't even relate to the subject. It's just a personal attack. I'm not wounded, but it is what it is, and it's tragically typical.

Now for the can of worms I'm really glad you opened. What is the difference between a "pseudo-intellectual" and a true intellecutal? There's certainly a thesis in this, but I'll be brief. A pseudo-intellectual does not arrive at a conclusion through critical thought and logical processes. Rather, they tend to regurgitate the commonly held beliefs of their contemporaries and other pseudo-intellectuals to whom their contemporaries have assigned credibilty. An example would be your comment on the King James version of the Bible. Many pop-theologians and their pupils think it sounds smart to disparage the translation, and anyone who uses it, as you did me. I'll certainly grant that it's far from the best available translation of scripture, but it's far from useless. I have barely picked that translation up for over 20 years, but in some cases it still offers a better translation of the thought than the NASB (ok, rarely, but still). You also scorn all of the lives that were changed, and all of the hearts that were transformed for over 300 years by God's use of the KJV. Ultimately, we are all reliant on the teaching of the Holy Spirit to understand any translation of scripture (a fact that most neo-Nazarenes don't get that results in serious spiritual retardation). Regardless, you attacked my one reference to the KJV because you've been socialized to believe it makes you sound learned, not because you've really thought the matter through. Just because your crowd seems smallish, and semi counter cultural, doesn't make it enlightened.

An intellectual is, first, intellectually honest. "I don't know", is a phase he's not afraid to utter. He is further unafraid of words, thoughts, or beliefs that challenge his own. An intellectual is consumed by the pursuit of truth. A Christian intellectual finds that truth in God because he knows that it resides nowhere else.

I could not agree more that it is your blog, and you may do with it as you wish. I applaud and am impressed that you leave it open to dissenting views, but wonder that you find value in providing a forum for witches. I am commanded to love a witch. Jesus said as much when He told us what the two greatest commandments were. His listeners wanted law, an escape from having to love everyone. Jesus slammed that door shut. However, I'm not commanded to provide a forum for everyone. Regardless, as you say, your house, your rules... Of course, I don't remember suggesting that you shouldn't or couldn't express yourself as you wish. I just pointed out your manner and tactics so as to provide some context. If you don't like it, well, it's your blog.

I actually admire your dissatisfaction with contemporary religion. Our churches are filled with functional atheists whose lives demonstrate no real belief or knowledge of either God or scripture. They keep showing up because they don't know what else to do, but deep down they really doubt the existence of God and the authority of the Bible. Some of those people fill pulpits, and the fruit of their unbelief is everywhere. Non-believers come looking for answers, and find churches brimming with people who are just as lost and hurting as they are.

The good news is that Jesus is stilldrawing sinners to salvation where He is lifted up, and He always will. Jesus isn't like anyone else, and Christianity isn't like anything else. We become irrelevant when we try to be and look like the world.

Eternal and temporal views cannot, and do not, reside peacefully within the same host. The linear mind is doomed to fall pitfully short of understanding a God who is alpha and omega. A dying flesh will always be at emnity with a redeemed spirit.

Your frustration is right, but your response is wrong.

Good night.


Zossima

New rule: Anyone who believes in biblical inerrancy has no business calling anyone else "pseudo" anything.

greg

Jay,

As for preaching, reread your last three paragraphs. That is a sermonette.

Pop theologians disparage the KJV? No. Biblical scholars disparage the KJV. Real ones, like Metzger, who passed recently. They disparage it because it's not a good translation. It relies too heavily on the majority text. This is old, old stuff and doesn't even require I be an intellectual of any sort. I've read people that I respect and who are respected in their field. No one has the time to be an expert in every field, so we read to inform ourselves. It has little to do with critical thought and logical processes. Those things do matter when trying to think through a position, but I don't need to apply them with any degree of exertion to learn about the KJV.

As soon as you mention critical thinking and logic, you blow it by saying we're all dependent on the Spirit to teach us Scripture's meaning. At that point you've abandoned both logic and critical thinking. You can be a mystic if you want, but please let's not pretend that the Spirit has some pedagogical relationship with us. Like S/He is teaching us and we're takin' notes. If you take that position, you'll also need to argue that most people don't hear the Spirit well, since no one seems to agree on what the Bible actually means, or that the Spirit has lost her version of the class notes she was supposed to be teaching and now she's just making stuff up.

So, can someone be an intellectual and not be a Christian? Just trying to figure out the parameters of your definition. Seems like an atheist couldn't be an intellectual, according to your definition. Nor could an agnostic or a Hindu or a Buddhist. All pseudo-intellectuals. This definition that you've concocted is a convenient one; it allows fundamentalists to be smart and everyone else a perishing dumb-ass.

And my response is wrong. Oh to be so sure of my positions as I once was. Aren't you the one that said something about "I don't know" being the sign of an intellectual?

Jay Barnett

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.'"

Fortunately for all of us, neither Zossima nor I make the rules. Rather, it is our sovereign and just God who alone has that authority. You see, neither of you can assail the perfect logic of my first post. If God is God, than His Word is perfect as He is perfect. If God is God, than His intellect, power, and presence are infinite. We are clearly finite, thus it is foolish and prideful - simply numb - to believe that we can grasp who God is without His help. Man has designed a battery of tests that are designed to assign a value to an individual's intellect. Regardless of what that number is, it can be multiplied an infinite number of times into God's infinite intellect. If that statement is not true, then God is not God. You can refuse to accept that, it's perfectly human to do so, but the results of the equation do not change. The folly, as I said in my original post, is in man's foolish pride. We are driven by our dying flesh to remake God in an image we can better comprehend and are comfortable with. Frequently, as is the case with the emergent types, that image looks more like us every day.

My problem with you, Greg, is not that you're an agnostic humanist, it's that you are an agnostic humanist that lives under the title "Christian". Your reference to the Holy Spirit as "she" is a weak attempt to raise my ire, but what it demonstrates is that you don't recognize the existence, much less the authority, of God. If you did, you would have to fear Him, and you clearly don't. Don't hear condemnation though. Everytime I sin, I do the same thing. I thumb my nose at the Glory and Majesty of God, and dare Him to do anything about it. That's what makes God's grace and mercy so incomprehensible to the human mind, and, by the way, is what so thoroughly seperates Christianity from every other belief system in the world. Of course if I was Armenian rather than Calvinist, the chasm would not be so great.

It's also worth noting that in referring to God in the feminine you've aligned yourself with Wiccans, and other forms of "white witchcraft". This type of fruit is the inevitable result of undermining the authority of scripture, as I pointed out in my first post. Such open alliances with evil are surfacing in the Methodist Church as well. Once we usurp the authority of scripture, the door is open for every kind of evil to take root and bear fruit in every area over which we are steward.

Can someone be an intellectual, and not be a Christian? Yes, to a point, but the best intellectuals are Christians. Suggest you try John Piper's "Desiring God - Meditations of a Christian Hedonist". Non-Christians search for truth will ultimately lead them to Christ, or arbitrary denial of the truth.

"I don't know" is absolutely one of the signs of a true intellectual, but so is "I do know." Truth is absolute, and can be known, because God can be known, and God is truth - the only truth.

Setting the matter of God aside for a moment, absolute truth does exist. Voltaire concluded that though he did not like religion much, God must exist because absolute truth exists, but it does not exist in man. Your perception and my perception of truth will always be clouded by our own bias and perspective. Only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit can we know truth. Our flesh alone will simply not permit it.

You can't be sure of your positions, and I can't be sure of mine. I can only be certain of God's positions, whether I always understand them or not. The ability to humbly approach the Father with "I don't understand", is another mark of the Christian intellectual.

Have a great day!

Jay Barnett

On review, please forgive my use of "than" rather then "then", and other typos. Not sure where them there errors done sprang from, dang it all...

Joe

Doesn't your last paragraph contridict your previous statement that all "but the best intellectuals are Christians"? and then you say a true intellect is someone who states "I don't know"

If that's the case then isn't half or if not all of what you have preached therefore not intellectual because you have claimed certain truths?

I got more than fustrated reading your posts because you get mad at others for attacking you but you continously attack others because their beliefs. It just doens't make sense.

Jay Barnett

Joe,

Mad? Where can you justify attributing that emotion or condition to my statements or responses? Attacking me? I don't feel attacked. I feel that truth is under attack, and truth is synonymous with God. In order to get angry about that, I would have to put myself in God's place and feel that I've been sinned against. Even David, after doing wrong to a friend, his friend's wife, his son, and countless others that reaped the consequences of his sin, said that he had sinned against God alone.

As for attacking the beliefs of others, I simply hold them up against truth and logic to expose them for the falsehood they are. Your frustration is caused by process that exposes the fact that all beliefs are not equal. Follow what I'm saying, people are intrinsically extremely valuable before God. Their beliefs are not.

Christian intellectuals accept God's Word as accurate, infinitly valuable, and capable of withstanding all trial and testing because it is logical and intellectualy honest to do so. Any real and intense pursuit of truth begins and ends there.

An example that ties the two thoughts together. I feel neither angry nor threatened by the content of this blog. Why? Because the falsehood proclaimed here will ultimately shatter on the immovable object which is the irresistable force that is God and His Word. This movement will pass into non-existence because it is without substance. Another will surely take it's place, but the Word of God will continue to stand unscathed. God doesn't need me as a defender, I'm simply attributing glory and honor to the one place that it is rightfully due.

It's not mysticism, it's strictly logical. If God is God, then everything else is subject to Him and the truth that He is. That's very quantifiable.

Zossima
Any real and intense pursuit of truth begins and ends there.

As Voltaire indeed knew. (Cough.)

At this point, Jay, you've contradicted yourself seriously enough and repeated tired fundie cliches to such an extent that not only is your standing as an "intellectual" (which Piper and you of his "ilk" enthrone, but near as I can tell, Jesus didn't) been vacated, I can only conclude you're merely writing to scratch some ministry itch. You'll soon go on to the next "emergent" blog (this actually isn't) and lecture them. Thanks in advance for stopping by. And leaving.

Jay Barnett

Zossima,

Please point out where I've contradicted myself, and elaborate on which cliche's I've used. Otherwise, while I've not claimed to be a Christian intellectual, you will have cemented your standing as a pseudo-intellectual.

As for Piper, I didn't enthrone him any more than enthrone the Apostle Paul. In fact, I believe I've been exceptionally clear that I believe God is the only one worthy of that honor.

As for leaving, I don't see where you have any standing to show me the door, but your response is typical for a non-Christian non-thinker when they are confronted with arguments they cannot refute. That said, it's Greg's blog, and he has been very gracious in allowing me to quite overtly attack whatever it is he actually believes. It would be rude to continue to prevail upon his bandwidth. However, since he allows witches, lions, tigers, bears, and the occassional flying monkey to express their opinions, I may swing back by and do the same at some point in the future.

Besides, what I've said to this point will stand quite nicely on it's own.

Have a great day Zoss!

Andrew

This guy (Jay)is ridiculous.

"It's also worth noting that in referring to God in the feminine you've aligned yourself with Wiccans, and other forms of "white witchcraft". This type of fruit is the inevitable result of undermining the authority of scripture..."

Greg, you have a lot of patience. I would have turned Jay into a frog by now.

It also sounds like he is one of those folks who uses the terms "Bible" and "God" interchangeably. That's frightening.

Zossima

Jay, again, if you'd take the time to read blog posts and comments instead of bloviate, you'd see that I, among many others, have routinely exposed the utter ridiculousness of maintaining biblical inerrancy. At the end of the day, you live in the fear of 'what if the Bible literally isn't true?'. I don't need that to follow Jesus.

The fundamentalist cliches are self-evident to anyone who has ever been around a fundie: Inerrancy (not Christ) as the foundational doctrine of your faith, proof-texting, statements like "I'm just telling it the way the Bible says it", which imply that you are merely god's messenger and not the least bit judgmental or condescending and conveniently absolves you of any responsibility for the content or tone of the message (sorta like Pilate, doncha think?)

Your contradictions are self-evident and have been pointed out by many, including greg. Since you will no doubt deny and maintain that are critique of your poor logic relegates us to "pseudo" realm, I'll just point out two: You have acknowledged that you cannot prove your Calvinist message, yet insist on its indisputable authority. You have said that truth resides in god alone but argued the existence of god based on the observance of absolute truth by men (who was anything but a christian). (Not sure how one observes "truth", particularly if truth is a set of intellectual propositions, as you no doubt hold---but which Jesus didn't.)

I obviously wasn't "showing you the door". I was predicting what will inevitably happen. People here will deservedly give you the finger, then ignore you. You will go be an ass on someone else's blog. I was merely welcoming that day based on my (Spirit-inspired?) foresight.

Seriously, dude, your a puppy, and numerous people on this blog could (and have with others before) simply destroy your clearly very limited understanding of theology and the Bible if they weren't already tired of fundies like you trotting out the same arguments with each new post by greg week after week.

greg

Jay,

If you'd approached me with Wolterstorff or Platinga as a Christian intellectual from the Reformed realm I could take you seriously. But Piper? Now I suspect that you have no idea what an intellectual or pseudo-intellectual is since you offered a pseudo in place of two excellent scholars from your theological perspective.

And as Z pointed out, this is not an emergent blog. If you have a hard-on for those folks, go find the "friend of emergent" logo. You'll notice its absence on this blog.

You've abadoned the Nazarenes as too liberal; I find them too fundamentalist. Where, oh where will we EVER find common ground? Seriously.

Zossima

Andrew, I think Jay was directly quoting from this. My god scratches himself.

cheek

I'm interested in the "if god is god then..." argument. I'm fairly certain that god is god, being pretty well committed to the law of non-contradiction, but I can't really see how that gets me anything. It's kind of like saying, if blue cheese is blue cheese, then everything else is subject to it. Of course, my logic professor would have demanded I be a bit more charitable in my evaluation of his argument. So in that way, I'll say that it's possible he's equivocating on the word god, in which case his argument may be sound, but would be wholly dependant on granting the premise that god is the particular conception of God that he espouses. Of course I'll not need to go into the even more fun string of logic that makes his God the most evil being imaginable (in our finite minds of course, though someone's really going to have to explain to me some time what other kind I'm supposed to have access to).

bobstevens

That "recent posts" sidebar is truly a handy thing.

Jay, I agree when the Bible says that the gospel is foolishness to the world. A kingdom based on love rather than coercion? A community built on selflessness rather than greed? These things make no sense to us.

I don't, on the other hand, think that Paul's words are an excuse to throw up our hands and appeal to infinity when it comes to things like the authority of Scripture. Despite the ultimate correctness or incorrectness of your position on that subject, your backing is far from what I'd call intellectual.

In fact Christianity all boils down to faith at some level. And faith in the supernatural is pretty much anti-intellectual, no?

Jay, you're more polite than a lot of people I've seen on this blog, but you should seriously re-read what you've written here a bit. You've used a lot of ad-hominem... and another obvious slip is that you made a sweeping generalization or two about greg and his "ilk", then complained when the same thing was done to you.

You also called someone a wiccan because they used a pronoun for God designed to push buttons and point out that God has no gender as we know it. That's a little strong, don't you think?

I'd enjoy a good discussion; there's a lot I can learn from all of you guys. But the ad-hominem and such isn't really conducive to that, wouldn't you agree?

Leighton

Never mind that according to logic (I mean the academic discipline, not the term as it's colloquially understood) you can't legitimately use "infinite" as a synonym for "without restriction". The counting numbers are an infinite set, but nobody past eighth grade thinks they're all the numbers you'll ever want to deal with.

"Transfinite" might be a better approximation, but as there are transfinite classes properly contained within other classes, it's still not quite up to snuff.

Incidentally, the notion of finite minds not being able to grasp notions of infinity is rather puzzling to those trained in mathematics. Through the miracle of language we're able to take notions bound in finitude and goose them to handle not quite finite objects with just as much clarity and precision as we ever had with our more bounded friends. The argument runs that you can't do this with God (and I tend to agree that such a thing is unhelpful), but "infinite" is a pretty weak adjective to describe this claim.

Dallas Tim

I think, for me anyway, the bottom line is that there are scholars who accept the Bible as what it claims to be (a historical record with eternal consequences of specific events that happened to real people) AND there are scholars who deny some/most/all of the Bible as such.

There are people who were atheistic who became Christian and people who claimed Christianity but then abandoned those tenets for some other belief system.

I can't "prove" God exists anymore than anyone else can "prove" He doesn't.

Our universe screams "Someone made me" and it is intellectual dishonesty to claim otherwise. I'm not saying you have to agree with me on the Biblical account of creation, but if you honestly think that there's no reason to believe someone was behind it all (even if you can't prove they were using the scientific method) then you are in denial.

Some tout academinc discipline as the standard when that standard has continued to change and be re-developed on a frequent basis. About the only thing you can get two scientists to agree on is that fact that we're not sure what to agree on.

Faith, as Bob mentioned, comes into play for all of us at some point. My faith says God was/is big enough to pass His truth down through the Bible and the God-Man, Jesus. God did not force every human writer to spell every word correctly, or use perfect punctuation in every sentence. He DID however correctly preserve the Truth about who He is, What He does, and How things are going to play out depending on His will.

Worthy scholars (not all, but many) claim that we have ample reason to believe that the Gospel writers constructed the early account(s) of Jesus' life in historical, tediously correct fashion. They surmise that we can believe that the Gospel accounts are true and believable.

In short, you can find people of any educational level to agree with you. There are atheists in Church and Christians on death row. It does come down to faith, but my faith is supported by overwhelming documentaion that been shown to be trustworthy. Maybe it's not always simple and easily understood, but the truth is there and it will stand forever.

Peace.


Jay Barnett

Ok, one at a time, and I'll endeavor to be brief.

Cheek, I'm glad your logic professor taught you to be nice, so you didn't totally waste your time and money. Clearly the issue is that if God is less than omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, if he is less than holy and righteous, He is not God. If however He is all of those things (add the other known values of God), then the only logical response to Him is one of worship, adoration, and glorification. If He is not, then He is not.

If you can't follow that, please feel free to find some blue cheese to place your hope in, but I can't really recommend that.

Bob,

Please see my previous comment regarding the logic of worship. I think we could have a long and interesting discussion, and I agree that faith, as the Bible says, is what saves us. My point is that faith in God is the only reasonable response to the holiness of God. This needs to be flushed out more with scripture, but this post is going to be longer than I want it to be anyway.

As for the ad-hominem accuasation, I believe the inverse is true. I've attacked positions and beliefs, not people. I am passionate about the damage teachings such as are some of those espoused by Greg are doing to young believers in the church (think the universal body of Christ). I've not taken offense or reacted in anger, but many who have responded to me cannot make that claim. Even you said that I called someone a Wiccan. That's not true. Go back and read what I said. It was, and is, true.

As for God being gender neutral, He is not. Jesus said that anyone who saw Him had seen the Father. Is the Father physically male? I don't believe so. Was Jesus physically male? We know he was. Does God favor men over women? No way. Does God intend for men and women to be different, and thus to fill, sometimes, different roles in the Body of Christ. Yes. Regardless, your assertion that God is gender neutral is unequivocally wrong. To refer to Him in a manner that directly contradicts the manner in which He refers to Himself is blasphemous. Again, I'm not "stirred up", angry, or anything else of that type. It just it what it is.

Leighton,

I didn't use infinite to describe God as "without restriction". There are many things that we know about God that tell us there are boundaries He either cannot or will not exceed. He cannot do anything unjust, and He cannot do anything unholy. He cannot lie, and He cannot be defeated. That's a start. However, I believe that one of the terrible errors we make is to try to assign linear values to a God of infinite dimension. For instance, I firmly believe that God exists outside, as well as inside, the time space continuum. There are theoretical physicists that have, they believe, proven that such a dimension exists, but cannot really describe it. Again, I feel this to be a worthy endeavor, but I also feel we expose our foolishness and pride when we say that we can really define who God is and what He does beyond what He tells us.

Again for brevity's sake, I considered "transfinite" as opposed to "infinite", but settled on the latter. I agree that it is lacking, so if you would like to make another suggestion, or expound on your case for the former, I'll read it with interest.
However, arguing about semantics is really secondary, in my mind, to the more significant issues I've raised. God is beyond us, that has to be true.

Dallas Tim,

Great, great, post.

One day, hopefully later then sooner for all of us, we will face the death of our flesh. When that occurs, you may be content believing, as a beloved agnostic friend of mine is, that you will simply slip into that black velvet of eternal darkness and silence. If you do not accept that, then I hope that you will now consider what it might be like to have spent your life worshipping a god of your own design, only to find that God was not willing to be crafted by human hands.

Jay

P.S. If anyone wants to engage me further, feel free to e-mail me and I'll happily respond as soon as I get a minute. I don't plan on burdening Greg's bandwidth for awhile.

greg

Not burdening my bandwidth? You mean you have the fundangelical propensity to get the last word and then move on? Especially after this little bit of sophistry: "Clearly the issue is that if God is less than omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, if he is less than holy and righteous, He is not God." Clearly you don't realize this statement is simply not true. God can be less than all those things and still have far greater power and wisdom and insight than we do. God could even be evil. There are a myriad of possibilities. You're readiing entirely too much Piper. Clearly you're leaving the Nazarene church because you've found Calvinism and complementarianism more appealing. Good for you.

Zossima

Hey Tim, Jay's thumbs-up aside, I'd like to make an observation:

Our universe screams "Someone made me" and it is intellectual dishonesty to claim otherwise.

That's a pretty broad claim. But if God's existence is unprovable, as you claim, then it's actually quite intellectually honest to claim "otherwise". Again, this is all part of the silliness of Jay throwing around the "pseudo-intellectual" moniker when your (and his) very position about the proof of origins is the height of pseudo-intellectualism.

(Jay engaged in this type of proof several times in his posts, too: Infer God from something in the world, then equate that inferred God with the God of the fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. Doesn't work.)

Further, I would argue that your (and my) claiming that the universe is intelligently designed is quite a culturally conditioned argument. I personally have spent years moving from a literal interpretation of Genesis to where I now buy evolution and I truly can't say that my thinking is intellectually honest about the matter. I still have an emotional attachment to what I was raised to believe.

But the fact of the matter is that America and Europe are post-christian, much of the Eastern world has never been christian, and it is quite intellectually honest for people who didn't have those religious influences to explore origins without any belief in any divine source.

Jay Barnett

Greg, that's just silly. If I don't park here, then I'm fulfilling some ridiculous characteristic that you have ascribed to evangelicals. Please. You've pointed out that's it's your blog, not mine, and I'm just trying to be a good guest. I'm also trying not to spend time that I don't have posting here. I promise to come back by and take my hits.

I assure you (as I sit here laughing) that I'm not afraid of anything you and your pseudo-intellectual friends can dish out. It's just that you say so much that can be so easily shredded, that's it's hard to know where to begin and end.

You, again, make your own god who doesn't have to exist within the parameters I offered. Shoot, your god can be anything you want him/her to be, except that then it is no longer god. It might as well be a block of wood with some straw hair and lipstick. Fine, you can serve whatever you wish and call it whatever you wish, but I'm telling you that your god, is not God. It logically cannot be. If your god, then I am as much deserving of being called god as it is - WHICH IS THE INEVITABLE CONCLUSION TO YOUR BELIEF SYSTEM - MAN IS ULTIMATELY GOD. But he's not.

NOW - I've got to take a break. I've got a life, a family, a career, and other things more worthy of my time. I promise to come back by, and if there's a particular issue you would like to see me take on, then e-mail me, and I'll come back by when I have time.

Greg, I actually like you. I'll be praying for you. You might be surprised that I got to a place in my life where I told God to screw off. I told Him that if He existed, I thought He was a creep. For whatever reason, God came and got me, and loved me into submission. There's no other way to describe or explain it. I despise the "Christian Religion", but I love the Christian Jesus and faith. I didn't get here through years of programming, I got here through years of examining what can stand in the face of all tests, and what fails.

Again, I'll be praying to a God that is real and that hears me that you find the narrow road.

Zossima

If you reject the fundagelical version of institutionalized christianity, then you're rejecting god altogether. Couldn't possibly be that you're just rejecting fundagelicalism. Couldn't be that you're actually sincerely seeking truth and seeking a life more consistent with the example of Jesus. Silly pseudo-intellectual me.

Greg, I'll be praying, too, that god "loves you into submission". And remember, Greg, until the very-manly-man god does that, resulting in your assent to inerrancy and pasting a shit-eating grin on your face as you attend the local mega, you're praying to a god of your own imagination.

greg

Dear all,

someone please tell me how fundangelicals can make absurd claims about who God must be and not see the fallacy inherent in importing Greek categories to describe a Hebrew God.

God can be just a little more powerful than us and be perceived as god-like. God could know everything but the future and still be God. To say that God must be the way fundangelicals perceive him to be is simply to say, "We want God the way we want God." Yet, I'm accused of doing that. And people wonder that I describe fundangelicals as one step above insane. Eek.

Jay Barnett

This is the reason I call you a pseudo. You can't refute what I say, so you make something up that you can refute. Which Greek god could have rightly been called "Holy" and "Righteous"? None of them. If you want to accuse someone of copying Athenians, talk to the Roman progenitors.

As for insane, you're the one who claims to be tired of living, not me. I love life... Disclaimer: I'm only kidding, the legal definition of insanity probably isn't the most appropriate for the purposes of this discussion. I think Greg is quite sane, he's just spiritually frustrated.

I'm really taking a break now, but don't lie about what I've said, please.

Jay Barnett

Another "By the way".

The last guy that told erroneously told me I was serving a Greek god, later abandoned Christianity all together, and decided he was Jewish. He later abandoned Judaism, and decided he was pagan. He ended up abandoning all pursuit of God, left his wife and kids, and became a homosexual atheist.

There's nothing new here, Greg. Barring God's intervention you're on a path that leads to destruction - but weren't we all?

Jay Barnett

O, and....

The Greeks were actually renowned for assigning human limitation, frailty, and other characteristics to their gods. Now, let's see, does that sound more like your god or mine?

greg

Gotta get that last word in, eh? I can easily refute what you say. That's not the point. Here's the easiest way: God must be x to be God. Since God is not provable and not testable and not available for interviews, anything you say for the value of x is simply a groundless assertion. You are so wrapped up in your assumptions you don't recognize how poor the argument is. Everything you believe about God comes from the Bible, yet the Scriptures themselves are what are contestable. We needn't even discuss how contestable the notion of God is. I can easily say "God is spam," and that is as true as any assertion you can make absent evidence. Now, let's assume that an argument for God can be made that is somewhat justifiable: God is more likely than an invisible pink unicorn. I'd affirm that. But that in now way implies what characteristics God must possess to be God. Welcome to the world of Calvinist circular reasoning and internally verifiable logic. Seriously, you should take a break. Maybe try reading McClendon and Smith's Convictions or anything besides Piper.

Zossima

There you have it everyone, proof positive by a true intellectual that denying John Piper's narrow, unhistorical, Western-biased interpretation of the Bible is not only denying god and christianity altogether but is also the road to ruin. The billions of nonbelievers in the world who are faithful to their wives have been warned. You're perhaps only one denial away from becoming a gay, atheist, liberal, abortionist. Silly pseudo-intellectual me.

Jay, we have no need to "lie" about what you've said. You're seriously fucked up.

Dallas Tim

Saying that beliving something because you were conditioned to is not always a reason to suspect that your belief is wrong.

I've been conditioned that rape is wrong... is that incorrect? How about child molestation? Is that OK or is the negative conotation associated with it just my "conditioned" response?

Almost every culture has had some idea of a "higher power." The Greeks had their mythological deities, the Hindus have Vishnu, etc... You would have a much more difficlut time listing the cultures who DIDN'T have some idea of "god" than you would trying to list the ones who did.

Why? How about because it's pretty obvious that the chances of the universe as we know it just popping out of nowhere, with zero direction from any outside force is just plain ridiculous and even the most primitive cultures have figured that out?

I'm not saying that God couldn't have use the evolutionary process (not that I believe that, but it makes a hell of alot more sense than evolution just "happening" on it's own) but the idea that some random, completely "chance" series of events just happened to occur in just the right sequence which led to our world as we know it is a desperate a cry for a serious reality check.

The mathmetical odds of that happening are so astronomically high that it takes people years of education to even come up with and try and explain a number of that magnitude.

We would laugh at anyone who told us that a building could just build itself over time, yet "scientists" are willing to look us in the eye and say that's what happened with our Earth. They typically add the disclaimer "We're not saying God doesn't exist, we're just saying that we can't prove it and evolution is something verifiable that we can test and that's really all Science can do - we'll leave the God talk to the Theologians."

OK fine - but understand that since these "Scientists" change what they believe every few years, they really haven't proven anything except that they really are alot like toddlers stumbling around a crib picking up toys and thinking they've just unlocked the secrets of the Universe... until they find the next toy.

I find it sad/odd that Stephen Hawking has such a brilliant mind, but had to have some "created" a machine just to allow him to even communicate at the most basic verbal level while he sits in a man-made device that allows him to get around and is planning to take a man-made craft into space. That alone should make you stop and think.

Paul said it best, "They choose to worship the creation more than the Creator."

Zossima
Saying that beliving something because you were conditioned to is not always a reason to suspect that your belief is wrong.

Agreed. My point was that those who haven't been conditioned to believe in Genesis or even God (and even probably most who have) are quite intellectually honest in their pursuit of other explanations for the universe.

OK fine - but understand that since these "Scientists" change what they believe every few years, they really haven't proven anything except that they really are a lot like toddlers stumbling around a crib picking up toys and thinking they've just unlocked the secrets of the Universe... until they find the next toy.

That's why scientists call them "theories". Biblical creationism is not a theory because it is not testable. And we could both agree that plenty of theologians are similarly guilty of intellectual masturbation.

Paul said it best, "They choose to worship the creation more than the Creator."

Possibly. But if you use that judgment as a reason to dismiss them and their science, you're just as wrong as they are.

Making Genesis the testing ground of Jesus' validity and relevance is just a complete waste of time for christians. They cannot win and increasingly lose credibility by trying to turn the biblical creation account into science. It is an impossible endeavor for many reasons, not the least of which is that it relies on wholly untestable metaphysical assumptions. Acting like Jesus is the far better approach.

Dallas Tim

I personally believe Genesis although I don't claim (and hopefully never will) to have it figured out down to the last detail.

Did "day" mean a 24 hour period? Possibly/Probably/Maybe???

I think the main thing is that God got the ball rolling.

My point of contention is that those who say it makes sense to say that we can include into the realm of legitimate probability the theory that it all started by random chance with absolutely zero outside force/design/creation/effect/whatever are simply grasping at straws. You may as well say that there is also a strong possibility that Mt. Rushmore was done by years and years of wind and dust erosion. It just goes beyond any logical limits.

Of course the fact that some people believe that our government arranged 9/11 just goes to prove that there ARE people who want to believe anything, even if the evidence is obvious.

Dallas Tim

Zoss,

I should have also added that I agree wholeheartedly with your last comment.

Following Jesus is the supreme plateau of intellectual achievement.

Peace.

Jay Barnett

Greg,

“Easily refute” is what I did to your assertion that my God was Greek, and of my own making.

Your attempt fails because of this fact: Jesus rose from the dead. You admit it yourself, and all the evidence says you’re right. Quickly, if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead the Romans and/or Sanhedrin would have simply produced the body of Christ and demolished the cornerstone of the Christian faith. His disciples would not have all been willing to endure brutal persecution, and terrible deaths to perpetuate a lie – someone would have confessed, and it would have been well documented by the Romans and possibly the ruling class Jews. Jesus defeated death, hell, and the grave – end of logical discussion.

So, if Jesus rose from the dead, what does that mean? You propose that Jesus was just some sort of very nice, highly evolved alien, that came, suffered, and died…. for some unknown purpose. Essentially, you worship E.T. Your Jesus was, to us, even less than I am to an ant. He claimed to forgive sin, but how can He forgive sin that He was in no way a victim of? What right does He have to forgive anyone? Why is He a better sacrifice then me? Your Jesus is makes man worthy of worship with God, or no one worthy of worship.

I say that if Jesus rose from the dead, then it makes everything he had to say about Himself, His life, His death, and His resurrection, credible. It means that He is righteous, holy, and worthy of all (not divided) glory, honor, and praise. It means that because He is righteous and holy, He was a worthy sacrifice for my sins. It means that He is perfect, and all scripture testifies about Him. It means that He is full of grace and truth (you can’t be full of grace and truth with a touch of evil and inaccuracy – the two are mutually exclusive). It means His grace is truly sufficient for me, and that I cannot come to Him in my own strength.

Greg, the grace principle separates Christianity from every other world religion by an unnavigable chasm. Your god makes arbitrary judgments about right and wrong, because that’s the only option to being the embodiment of absolute truth. My God is the embodiment of absolute truth, so He rightly says that He is all that is right and all that is holy, and everything else falls short. There is no work, on our part, that can overcome that gap. We are sinful and corrupt, He is not. My God became man to bridge that gap. Rather than setting some arbitrary line where some are good enough, and others just missed the cut, my God says no one is good enough. My God says we can’t come to Him, so (and this is what amazing love is all about) He came to us. We didn’t have a sacrifice good enough, so He became the sacrifice.

The grace principle is one of the largest rocks that shatter all comparisons between Christianity and other world religions. It just doesn't exist anywhere else.

Theologians are, mostly, fools. You continue to look to men who look to their own flesh and that of others to explain God, and you will continue to be frustrated in your failure. Begin looking to men who look to God to explain God, and you’re giving yourself a fighting chance.

greg

Jay,

Your reductio ad absurdum (funny, a Greek rhetorical tactic...) misses the mark completely. Jesus as proof that God is who you say he is? Even if the resurrection were proof that Jesus is God, and it's not unless you already believe that's what it proves, it wouldn't begin to fill in all the questions about God's character, God's activity, and the insurmountable difficulties caused by the schizophrenic depiction of YHWH.

But let's stick with your argument for a second. Let's say that the resurrection proves Jesus is God. What kind of God is he? He gets tired. He gets thirsty. He gets hungry. He doesn't know when the Father is going to restore the kingdom. I believe you're the one that said God had to be omnipotent and omniscient to be God. Now, here's the point where you toss out your kenotic arguments or Chalcedonian definitions of who and what Jesus was. The problem is that your view of God is incongruent with the God revealed in many different ways in Scripture. You choose to emphasize the points that buttress your position and ignore all the problems that go along with a religion based on revelation--special revelation, that is.

The only reason Christianity is separated by some sort of chasm is that most faiths don't talk about salvation as an existential event. You repeat the tired canard that grace is the difference between Christianity and other faiths without realizing that it's only a problem if you accept the core assumptions of fundangelicalism. Hindus don't worry about salvation from sin in the way Christians do. Buddhists don't fear hell. A large percentage of Jews didn't believe in resurrection. Even Muslims would say salvation is not possible without the mercy and grace of Allah. Allow a Christian to frame the debate, and of course they have the best solution; they created the damn problem. It's like being amazed that the architect who designed the building knows where the toilets go and accusing all other architects of being ignorant of how to design a building properly.

Jay

"You continue to look to men who look to their own flesh and that of others to explain God, and you will continue to be frustrated in your failure. Begin looking to men who look to God to explain God, and you’re giving yourself a fighting chance."

I don't know about this. "Men who look to God to explain God" are still flesh. Unfortunately, I trust my own experience against those of others. Also unfortunately for all of us in the 21st century, there is nothing of flesh to look to that explains God. Seeking something that is supposed to exist beyond what we see and experience is naturally going to lead to frustration and failure.

Jay Barnett

Are there any standards of reason you will not defy in these bizarre attempts to justify your humanist beliefs? You're saying Jesus could have risen from the dead, but that doesn't mean He's not a liar? He could have risen from the dead, but all that stuff about attesting miricles and fulfilling prophecies was bunk? No other religiona claims anything like a God who became man to become a sacrifice for man, out of nothing but love for man, but you say we're really not that different. Jesus' rose from the dead, but His warnings about Hell should go unheaded because Buddhist's don't fear hell?

I could go on, but the lines are now clearly drawn. You call God schizophrenic, and evangelicals one step above insane, but dear Greg, your own statements betray the real imbalance and loss of contact with reality. You want so badly for God to be something you can manipulate, that you project your warped sense of the real onto those who say He's not.

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