AU Under Attack!

Despite the serious-sounding title, I’m laughing as I write this post. Yes, Americans United for Separation of Church and State is under attack. Yes, the perpetrators are a group of radical Christian dominionists who want to turn this country into their own vision of theocracy. Yes, their aim is to cause great harm and possibly even death to members of Americans United. So why am I so unconcerned?

Because the attack is being waged through prayer.

In light of the recent attack from the enemies of God I ask the children of God to go into action with Imprecatory Prayer. Especially against Americans United for Separation of Church and State…. Specifically target Joe Conn or Jeremy Learing. They are those who lead the attack.

It seems that Wiley Drake, pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California, recently issued a press release on church letterhead endorsing former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in the Republican presidential primary. Drake also promoted Huckabee on a church radio show, and made it clear that he was endorsing Huckabee not just as an individual but in his official church capacity:

“I believe Mike Huckabee is, indeed, a man that I can endorse. As Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I put out a press release to that effect.”

Naturally, Americans United took note, asking the IRS to investigate this blatant violation of U.S. tax law. Churches are tax-exempt organizations, and one of the restrictions that comes with that status is that they cannot endorse or attack specific candidates for office. If a church wants to endorse a specific candidate, there is no law preventing them from doing so, but they must rescind their tax-free status.

Furious at being caught out, Drake hastily issued a press release asking Christians to pray “imprecatory prayers” – in other words, prayers asking that God use his supernatural power to injure or kill someone – targeted at AU. Drake specifically suggests following the prayers modeled in “Psalm 109… [a]lso chapters 55, 58, 68, 69, and 83″. Here are some of the prayers he presumably means:

“Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

—Psalms 109:9

“Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell.”

—Psalms 55:15

“Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth… let them be as cut in pieces.”

—Psalms 58:6-7

“Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.”

—Psalms 83:9-10

Apparently alarmed by these threats, Bruce Prescott of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists announced that he would be praying counter-prayers, and was enlisting others to join him. (Perhaps he envisions his prayers as a sort of supernatural antiaircraft fire, shooting down the hostile prayers as they fly in to attack their target.)

While I appreciate Dr. Prescott’s concern, I can assure him that his efforts are unnecessary. AU and its employees are not in danger. Prayer is a useless superstitious ritual that cannot directly affect anything outside the believer’s own mind. No matter how many people Drake gets to pray along with him, the greatest effect their prayers will have is to slightly stir some air molecules around them. We ought to greet this ridiculous threat with the same amused disdain with which we would regard a witch doctor who announced that he was going to cast a hex on AU by dancing in circles and sticking pins into wax dolls. Both these rituals are powerless relics of a credulous age.

Mainstream believers will doubtless dismiss Drake as a fringe kook. But he is not the first Christian conservative to fantasize that his prayers have magical power to strike down his enemies. Recall this incident from the 700 Club in August 2005, in which Pat Robertson asked God to kill some sitting Supreme Court justices so that George W. Bush could appoint replacements:

“Take control, Lord! We ask for additional vacancies on the court.”

…Lynn noted that Robertson has a history of controversial activity, whether it’s commanding hurricanes to go out to sea or smiting communities that incur his wrath. He once speculated that Orlando might be hit by a meteor for allowing gay flags to be flown on city streets.

(And let’s not forget when Robertson, like a none-too-subtle mafiosi, suggested that God would smite the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania with natural disasters to punish them for voting out several pro-creationist school board members: “I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God. You just rejected him from your city.”)

All levity aside, there is something to be concerned about here. It’s not the prayers themselves that should concern us, for it’s been amply documented that prayer does not work. The real issue of concern is the hateful, aggressive attitude that lies behind them, the one which holds that believers are always entitled to have their own way and that anyone who opposes them is an evil infidel who deserves suffering and punishment. This attitude fosters militarism and intolerance and encourages religious groups to think that they never have to compromise or cooperate. At its worst, it may even tip the mentally unhinged over the edge into actual violence.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • andrea

    I do just love when some Christians try to use their God as a hit-man. And they always scuttle back to the OT for their instructions, completely ignoring the exhortation from the NT that they aren’t supposed to judge anyone. They are quite the hypocrites. I’ve said this before, if there weren’t any atheists, agnostics or believers in other gods, the Christians would be drowning in blood from their own holy wars against each other.

  • andrea

    I do just love when some Christians try to use their God as a hit-man. And they always scuttle back to the OT for their instructions, completely ignoring the exhortation from the NT that they aren’t supposed to judge anyone. They are quite the hypocrites. I’ve said this before, if there weren’t any atheists, agnostics or believers in other gods, the Christians would be drowning in blood from their own holy wars against each other.

  • terrence

    Pastor should be ashamed of himself. If everything that happens, including the activities of AU, is God’s will, isn’t he being A) blasphemous in daring to ask God to change His mind, and B) cowardly in asking others to do the dirty work?

    They would be much better off adressing their prayers to Joe Pesci, who as George Carlin has noted, answers your prayers at about the same rate as God.

  • terrence

    Pastor should be ashamed of himself. If everything that happens, including the activities of AU, is God’s will, isn’t he being A) blasphemous in daring to ask God to change His mind, and B) cowardly in asking others to do the dirty work?

    They would be much better off adressing their prayers to Joe Pesci, who as George Carlin has noted, answers your prayers at about the same rate as God.

  • http://corsair.blogspot.com corsair the rational pirate

    At its worst, it may even tip the mentally unhinged over the edge into actual violence.

    And as they are all more or less mentally unhinged (thinking that their prayers, mumbled incoherently under their breath whilst they are on their knees) that is quite a real possibility.

  • http://corsair.blogspot.com corsair the rational pirate

    At its worst, it may even tip the mentally unhinged over the edge into actual violence.

    And as they are all more or less mentally unhinged (thinking that their prayers, mumbled incoherently under their breath whilst they are on their knees) that is quite a real possibility.

  • http://corsair.blogspot.com corsair the rational pirate

    oops, update:

    (thinking that their prayers, mumbled incoherently under their breath whilst they are on their knees, actually accomplish anything)

    There, fixed it for myself.

  • Mrnaglfar

    I’ll bet if all the people at the AU made themselves tin-foil helmets it would protect them from hostile prayers. I know it probably won’t make any difference, but when the praying doesn’t work anyway, it would make me feel psychic.

  • http://evilpoet-lostinthought.blogspot.com flutterbychaos

    What happens when the same number of people pray for something as pray against it? How does God decide whose prayer to answer? Does the total number of people praying for or against something matter? How about the righteousness of the supplicants? Are positive prayers answered more frequently than negative ones? Does God take the positive ones and Satan the negative? Does the intensity of the praying have any effect on the outcome? Does the length of time one devotes to praying have any effect on the frequency with which one’s prayers are answered? Do the words and phrases used in the prayer — either positive or negative — have any bearing on the success rate? Does the nature of the thing or things prayed for have any bearing on the prayer’s success rate — either positive or negative prayers? Why or why not?? -Robert A. Baker, Prayer Wars (Full article here…)

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I guess “turn the other cheek” just doesn’t cut it when the almighty dollar is involved.

  • SteveC

    I found this page about imprecatory prayer.

    Funny stuff.

    http://www.moseshand.com/buildup/prayer.htm

  • boomslang

    Religion has always been a joke…

    If the gods listened to the prayers of men, all humankind would quickly perish since they constantly pray for many evils to befall one another.

    — Epicurus, philosopher (c. 341-270 BCE)

  • Javaman

    Well, it may work, seeing how much killing God commits, historically wiping out humans who displease him in countless passages of the Bible. We could think of this as God’s drive-by hit.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Just please tell me that you didn’t use the “It’s all right to be gay, just don’t act on it” line.

    Never came up. Don’t worry, I would not use that line. You are right that it is sad that such things must be discussed, however such is the human condition.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Jerryd

    Here’s a problem regarding prayer in the Bible that appears to scientifically disprove the Bible and the existence of God that I’ve not seen before. I must be overlooking something, so I’ll throw it out there for critique. The Bible states: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, WHATSOEVER WE ASK (my caps), we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. ” 1 John 5:14-15. “And all things, WHATSOEVER YE SHALL ASK IN PRAYER (my caps), believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22). When you ask in prayer, I ask only that you insert the word “immediate” or “immediately” to put a little pressure on the All-powerful one. For instance, I (we), believing in You, pray that You immediately heal all the sick people in the world. Or, we pray that You will immediately end all wars. Or, you may put in whatever words you want such that they require God to do something only a god could do and do it immediately. Of course, it won’t and can’t happen.

  • Jerryd

    Here’s a problem regarding prayer in the Bible that appears to scientifically disprove the Bible and the existence of God that I’ve not seen before. I must be overlooking something, so I’ll throw it out there for critique. The Bible states: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, WHATSOEVER WE ASK (my caps), we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. ” 1 John 5:14-15. “And all things, WHATSOEVER YE SHALL ASK IN PRAYER (my caps), believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22). When you ask in prayer, I ask only that you insert the word “immediate” or “immediately” to put a little pressure on the All-powerful one. For instance, I (we), believing in You, pray that You immediately heal all the sick people in the world. Or, we pray that You will immediately end all wars. Or, you may put in whatever words you want such that they require God to do something only a god could do and do it immediately. Of course, it won’t and can’t happen.

  • KShep

    This story gets even funnier:

    http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/12551.html

    Seems the distinguished reverend spelled the name of one of his potential victim’s wrong. Be sure to read the comments—great stuff there.

  • KShep

    This story gets even funnier:

    http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/12551.html

    Seems the distinguished reverend spelled the name of one of his potential victim’s wrong. Be sure to read the comments—great stuff there.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Ah, now, Jerryd, the problem is that nobody believes enough…. Believe! Believe! Believe! Eventually it will work! :P

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Ah, now, Jerryd, the problem is that nobody believes enough…. Believe! Believe! Believe! Eventually it will work! :P

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “And they always scuttle back to the OT for their instructions, completely ignoring the exhortation from the NT that they aren’t supposed to judge anyone.”

    Hear, hear, Andrea.

    I always get a giggle with the way that Christians fall back on “NT supersedes OT… except when it doesn’t.” They’ll happily cite the OT to support whatever claim they’re making; but when asked to explain the glaring inaccuracies in the OT, or asked why they’re still wearing blended fabrics and consorting with banks when the OT specifically commands them not to, they say, “Well, the NT replaces the OT.” If that’s true, then why have the freakin’ OT at all?

    And speaking of giggles:

    “Perhaps he envisions his prayers as a sort of supernatural antiaircraft fire, shooting down the hostile prayers as they fly in to attack their target.”

    I’m going to be laughing at that one all day. Thanks.

  • MJJP

    Someone should ask them if they put a timeline on this plea to the supernatural. After all the three possible answers to prayer are yes no and not now. It’s this “not now” part that gives them a pass on failure of their pleading.

  • OMGF

    Matt R,
    Thanks for the reply, but wrong thread.

    To the OP:

    “Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.”

    Never underestimate the Ewoks?

  • Jeff T.

    The scary thing about this is that it will start with imprecatory prayer and possibly end up with a suicide bomb strapped to a brainwashed fool acting as directed by the ‘religious’ authority. What a sad state of affairs. Religions are cancer and this is just one more example.

  • Josh

    “Perhaps he envisions his prayers as a sort of supernatural antiaircraft fire, shooting down the hostile prayers as they fly in to attack their target.”

    Priceless :D

  • terrence

    Jerryd, check out whywontgodhealamputees.com- much of the site addresses your issue.

    I once saw Notre Dame whip Southern Methodist by four touchdowns. Both teams had exactly the same number of players, and they both had a pre-game prayer for victory -seems pretty obvious to me Who answered whose prayer on that day.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “What happens when the same number of people pray for something as pray against it? How does God decide whose prayer to answer? Does the total number of people praying for or against something matter? How about the righteousness of the supplicants? Are positive prayers answered more frequently than negative ones? Does God take the positive ones and Satan the negative? Does the intensity of the praying have any effect on the outcome? Does the length of time one devotes to praying have any effect on the frequency with which one’s prayers are answered? Do the words and phrases used in the prayer — either positive or negative — have any bearing on the success rate? Does the nature of the thing or things prayed for have any bearing on the prayer’s success rate — either positive or negative prayers? Why or why not??”

    “if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” it is that simple. God is doing what He wants. We can align with the plan or we can oppose it. We can make fun of it or we can embrace it. Either way our actions {or inaction} will be a blessing or a curse, in other words, will have consequences. People can set up their idols {personal versions of God – what he is and what he means} and sacrifice and pray to them, try to convert others to their idol, etc. But the Creator of the Universe owns the Universe and can and will do whatever He determines is best.

    It is sad that the actions of well meaning but ignorant believers cause grief to the infidels.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    To messianicdruid –

    It is not clear if you find the example of imprecatory prayers cited in this discussion to be regrettable or warranted? Please?

    Thanks,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    And your feelings on imprecatory prayers in general are not entirely clear either. Please?

    Thanks,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    Dear Riggs, It is what it is, my feelings will change nothing. Most are indignant because one group hope that the actions of another will be limited without any concern as to whether the activity they hope to limit is lawful or unlawful. People pray or think, “look at those bad people. I wish they wouldn’t do that” all along using their own pardigm to determine what is “bad”. This is the cause of all the confusion {chaos = babel} in the world. If some one was praying to limit the actions of Idi Amin back when he was slaughtering people, would you approve of imprecatory prayer in that case? It is all perspective.

  • terrence

    I for one would most definitely NOT approve of imprecatory prayer to stop Idi Amin, on the grounds that it would be WORTHLESS. A couple of M-1 rounds in his fat gut would have been MUCH more effective. Or as my hero once said, “Pray for rain, but consult the weather report.”

  • http://thescienceethicist.blogspot.com/ Aerik

    I’ve said this before, if there weren’t any atheists, agnostics or believers in other gods, the Christians would be drowning in blood from their own holy wars against each other.

    Hey, they’re still drawing each other’s blood. Always have been. Heard of the crusades? Spanish Inquisition? A good percentage of child and spousal abuse?

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    My point there, terrence, is that we are not all within M-1 range. In the mentioned case you may be the answer to the prayers of Amin’s next victim. God works all things together according to His will. There are people out there praying against His will believing they know what He is doing, or will do. There are others that wish to do evil because they enjoy it. Others believe there will be no accounting and it’s a dog eat dog, each asshole for himself. Some believe they can do evil and good will come of it. Only God is able to do this.

    The weather guy is talking right now about Hurricane Dean moving south of Cuba, across Jamacia and he says it will go “south of Texas which would be great”. Butthead must think there are nothing living living south of Texas. His “prayer” might be answered but who will suffer for it, and who willbe blessed. I hope it turns north, we could use the rain. Again, it’s all perspective.

  • OMGF

    Actually messianicdruid, the best thing to do in the Idi Amin situation is not pray for harm to another (assuming that prayers work.) I would not do that. I would instead pray that god change his heart and make him see the error of his ways so that he would spend the rest of his life trying to put right what he has made wrong. Imprecatory prayers only lead to violence and death if they work, and can even if they don’t work.

    I also don’t think that god is able to do evil and have good come of it. That is impossible in that it is completely contradictory. It’s like making a square circle.

  • Alex Weaver

    In the mentioned case you may be the answer to the prayers of Amin’s next victim. God works all things together according to His will.

    What evidence would you offer that god’s will was at work in such a situation, rather than, or above and beyond, the natural, human causes that would seem completely sufficient to explain what happened?

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “I would instead pray that god change his heart and make him see the error of his ways so that he would spend the rest of his life trying to put right what he has made wrong.”

    BINGO! Thanks, OMGF, that needed to be said.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • KShep

    Hmmmmmm—”whose prayer does god answer?”

    Isn’t the answer “whoever is a better xtian?” I mean, the loser no doubt needs to get his priorities on track, and soon, too. God isn’t listening to him, and it’s his own fault for not being a good little obedient xtian.

  • OMGF

    G Riggs,

    BINGO! Thanks, OMGF, that needed to be said.

    It seems we’ve finally found something to agree on ;)

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Isn’t that alarming? I guess I’ll have to see a doctor in the morning!;-)

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “I also don’t think that god is able to do evil and have good come of it. That is impossible in that it is completely contradictory. It’s like making a square circle.”

    “I am YHVH, and there is none else, the is no God {rulemaker} beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me…I form the light, and create darkness:I make peace, and create evil: I YHVH do all these things.” Considering the rest of Is.45 would be beneficial. Don’t get balled up confusing “evil” with sin. God does not sin {miss the mark}. He accomplishes all tasks He sets for Himself. It is our limited understanding of what He is doing that causes us to question Him. Members of God’s creation do evil, but He takes responsibility for it since He created them. And He has promised to make it all right, and to make us better for it. “All things work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose.”

    Now, concerning Idi: If God answers someone’s imprecatory prayer and he is removed from among the living, it’s not the end. Mr. Amin will stand before the judgement seat, just as all of us will. He has only been taken out of circulation, temporarily, because in some way, which we may not be privy to, God is working out some good {limiting evil} upon someone, who probably doesn’t yet appreciate it.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “I would instead pray that god change his heart and make him see the error of his ways so that he would spend the rest of his life trying to put right what he has made wrong.”

    This is probably what happened to the Apostle Paul. I know it’s what happened to me.

  • OMGF

    “I am YHVH, and there is none else, the is no God {rulemaker} beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me…I form the light, and create darkness:I make peace, and create evil: I YHVH do all these things.” Considering the rest of Is.45 would be beneficial.

    Yes, god creates evil. He specifically states so in the Bible. This does not mean that he is capable of committing evil and having it turn to good. That is still contradictory. If he is committing evil, then evil is being done. It might be good for someone else (as can happen with human actions), but evil is still done.

    Now, concerning Idi: If God answers someone’s imprecatory prayer and he is removed from among the living, it’s not the end. Mr. Amin will stand before the judgement seat, just as all of us will. He has only been taken out of circulation, temporarily, because in some way, which we may not be privy to, God is working out some good {limiting evil} upon someone, who probably doesn’t yet appreciate it.

    And when god sends Idi Amin to hell, god commits more evil. Yes, I think hell is too much of a punishment for even the worst criminals that have ever walked the Earth. But, that’s off topic. Really, what you are saying is that violence, killing, and death solve problems because god then sorts them out. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind – Ghandi. Does god not understand this?

    This is probably what happened to the Apostle Paul. I know it’s what happened to me.

    Aside from your delusions of grandeur, what evidence do you have that someone prayed for god to change your heart and that god did just that? Why were you not worth of god granting someone’s imprecatory prayer against you instead?

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “Aside from your delusions of grandeur, what evidence do you have that someone prayed for god to change your heart and that god did just that? Why were you not worth of god granting someone’s imprecatory prayer against you instead?”

    It is true I was not hauling christians off to jail or killing political rivals. I am properly chastised. I did say “probably” concerning Paul. I know my aunts and uncles were praying for me and it is the habit of christians to pray for one another.

    “And when god sends Idi Amin to hell, god commits more evil. Yes, I think hell is too much of a punishment for even the worst criminals that have ever walked the Earth. But, that’s off topic. Really, what you are saying is that violence, killing, and death solve problems because god then sorts them out. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind – Ghandi. Does god not understand this?”

    You are deluded by the doctrine of Augustine. http://www.goldismoney.info/forums/showthread.php?t=21276

    Hell is the grave. Eternal Punishment is agianst the Law. It is the misguided religionists and those that believe their doctrines, and attribute them to the Creator, and then waste time bickering among themselves who “do not understand”.

    “This does not mean that he is capable of committing evil and having it turn to good.” You may have misunderstood what I said. Some people adhere to the “end justifies the means” method of doing good. Repeating >>> “Some believe they can do evil and good will come of it. Only God is able to do this.” I don’t mean to say that God is committing the evil, but that God uses the evil committed by others to do good. Evil is perspective. A hurricane coming to a certain area could be perceived as evil by some who lost their homes, and be beneficial to a company that makes glass in another state. Even the people that lost a home could get a new better home in a another area.

  • OMGF

    I know my aunts and uncles were praying for me and it is the habit of christians to pray for one another.

    Because they told you before or afterwards? And, this is evidence that their prayer worked how? And if Xians “pray for one another” can I assume that you were aleady a Xian? Why would they not make this same prayer for Idi Amin?

    You are deluded by the doctrine of Augustine. http://www.goldismoney.info/forums/showthread.php?t=21276

    Hell is the grave. Eternal Punishment is agianst the Law. It is the misguided religionists and those that believe their doctrines, and attribute them to the Creator, and then waste time bickering among themselves who “do not understand”.

    It would be much more just for hell to simply be the grave and nothingness than eternal torture. Unfortunately, this is not supported by the Bible.

    I don’t mean to say that God is committing the evil, but that God uses the evil committed by others to do good. Evil is perspective. A hurricane coming to a certain area could be perceived as evil by some who lost their homes, and be beneficial to a company that makes glass in another state. Even the people that lost a home could get a new better home in a another area.

    Why did you use an example where god is the one committing the evil? Humans certainly don’t cause hurricanes, god does.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “It would be much more just for hell to simply be the grave and nothingness than eternal torture. Unfortunately, this is not supported by the Bible.”

    Go read the link {above}, study the Bible for 40 years, and then come back and try to convince me that the Bible teaches what Augustine and Jerome drug into the church from paganism in 400 AD. None of the early church fathers believed in eternal damnation. This is a doctrine of men. God is just.

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/CreationsJub/CJch03.html

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    I suppose the closest (IMO) to a direct source text on hell in the Bible would be Jesus’s remarks in Mark:9:43; 9:45; 9:47-48. In these verses, Jesus says:

    Mark:9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.

    9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.

    9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

    48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

    Specifically, how does Messianicdruid interpret “Where their worm dieth not”?

    Thanks,

    G Riggs

  • Thumpalumpacus

    “God is just.”

    This doesn’t square with the evidence.

  • OMGF

    Go read the link {above}, study the Bible for 40 years, and then come back and try to convince me that the Bible teaches what Augustine and Jerome drug into the church from paganism in 400 AD.

    I guess we are at an impasse then, because I’m not about to devote 40 years of my life to a book about superstitions, and you think this logical fallacy about my inability to speak on it unless I have is some sort of good argument.

    None of the early church fathers believed in eternal damnation. This is a doctrine of men.

    None of the early church fathers? And they weren’t men? How weird. I never knew that there was unanimous agreement among all early church fathers and that they were non-human.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    You are not going to get a complete picture of any biblical subject by basing your understanding of it on one short passage. Translators often confused the terms “gehenna” and “Hades” which too often became interchangable as Hell.

    Jesus spoke more of Gehenna than of Hades. In Mark 9 He was quoting and commenting upon Isaiah 66:24, which says, “Then they shall go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched [Greek: “is not quenched”]; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind.”

    Isaiah was writing specifically about the old and new Jerusalem (66:10) and the new heavens and the new earth (66:22). That is why Jesus used the term Gehenna, rather than Hades. It was a symbol of judgment upon the wicked. By the time Jesus walked the earth, Gehenna was no longer used for human sacrifice, but was the city dump. It was also the place where they cast the unclaimed bodies of criminals that had been executed or crucified. Like many dumps today, Gehenna was always smoldering, because it was fueled by the trash that people threw into it. But because it also contained organic matter, dead animals and men, it also was continuously infested with maggots (“worms”).

    It is often claimed that this is a picture of a burning “hell” torturing conscious sinners in an afterlife, but that is an extended and unwarranted interpretation of this passage. First of all, neither Isaiah nor Jesus meant to imply that the worms were immortal, but rather that there were always worms there. Maggots live for a while and die after breeding more maggots.

    The fire is not perpetual. The point is that no man can quench it. Only God can quench this fire. The NASB shows the bias of the translators when it renders the phrase too strongly, “shall not be quenched.” The literal rendering of the phrase is simply “is not quenched,” that is, not by any man. The fire of judgment will surely come, and no man can prevent it.

    Gehenna, prophetically refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the slaughter occurring at this city’s final judgment, because its citizens have made themselves God’s enemies.

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/JudgmentofDivineLaw/chapter_6htm

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/CreationsJub/CJAppendixes/Appendix06.htm

    Thumpalumpacus: Do you believe you have considered all the evidence?

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    A well-thought-out answer. Thank you. If I may =========>

    “It is often claimed that this is a picture of a burning “hell” torturing conscious sinners in an afterlife, but that is an extended and unwarranted interpretation of this passage. First of all, neither Isaiah nor Jesus meant to imply that the worms were immortal, but rather that there were always worms there. Maggots live for a while and die after breeding more maggots.”

    ===============> It’s obvious you’ve thought about this interpretation quite a bit. I’d be curious if any translation says something like “Where there’s always a worm” rather than “Where their worm dieth not”, and does anyone know if the former would accord just as well with the original Greek? Does anyone here know? Thanks.

    “The fire is not perpetual. The point is that no man can quench it. Only God can quench this fire. The NASB shows the bias of the translators when it renders the phrase too strongly, “shall not be quenched.” The literal rendering of the phrase is simply “is not quenched,” that is, not by any man. The fire of judgment will surely come, and no man can prevent it.”

    While I can see that that this reading need not entail eternal torment for the punished, I’m still not convinced that “is not quenched” means anything other than a fire that does last forever. Maybe the punished don’t stay around there forever — I think you’ve made your point there, pending another translation of the “worm” clause — but “is not quenched” still suggests to me an actual fire that never dies. Again, I’d be curious as to other translations here too. Thanks.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    I’m always struck by how many ways the Bible can be interpreted. Why, it seems that you can interpret it to mean anything you want. You simply take the parts that don’t agree with you and you either claim they mean what you want them to mean or claim that they apply to some specific instance that doesn’t apply to your argument.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “I guess we are at an impasse then, because I’m not about to devote 40 years of my life to a book about superstitions, and you think this logical fallacy about my inability to speak on it unless I have is some sort of good argument.”

    Could you trouble yourself to go read the links? You asked for “evidence” and I provide you with what I have. It’s probably not good enough for you since you have already decided what ever you have decided. I’d prefer an impasse to being hit in the eye with a turd.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “Again, I’d be curious as to other translations here too.”

    It seems that one of the links does not work. Try this, I think it covers all the original words in question, but perhaps not all the translations derived from them.

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/JudgmentofDivineLaw/default.htm

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “Again, I’d be curious as to other translations here too.”

    It seems that one of the links does not work. Try this, I think it covers all the original words in question, but perhaps not all the translations derived from them.

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/JudgmentofDivineLaw/default.htm

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Looked it over. Thanks. So far, I don’t see any discussion of vocabulary/specific original Greek words, but I went straight to the chapter on Gehenna at

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/JudgmentofDivineLaw/chapter_2.htm

    and I’ve concentrated mostly on that so far.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Looked it over. Thanks. So far, I don’t see any discussion of vocabulary/specific original Greek words, but I went straight to the chapter on Gehenna at

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/JudgmentofDivineLaw/chapter_2.htm

    and I’ve concentrated mostly on that so far.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    Could you trouble yourself to go read the links?

    I glanced through.

    The trouble is that this is all interpretation based. You have no proof that your interpretation is the correct interpretation. It’s all well and good that you want your god to not be the monster that sends people to hell that just about everyone else thinks he is. In fact, I salute you for recognizing the fact that a god that would send people to hell is a monster. Most theists don’t even recognize that. You are still relying on interpretation, however, and there are many interpretations of the same passages that do end in hell. How do we resolve which interpretation is the correct one? By which one gives the best warm and fuzzies? Your god is not a pleasant god, and the interpretation of a god burning people in hell meshes well with what we know about Yahweh. Sorry to have to point that out to you (actually I’m not sorry.)

    So, why is your interpretation better than anyone else’s? How can we tell?

  • OMGF

    Could you trouble yourself to go read the links?

    I glanced through.

    The trouble is that this is all interpretation based. You have no proof that your interpretation is the correct interpretation. It’s all well and good that you want your god to not be the monster that sends people to hell that just about everyone else thinks he is. In fact, I salute you for recognizing the fact that a god that would send people to hell is a monster. Most theists don’t even recognize that. You are still relying on interpretation, however, and there are many interpretations of the same passages that do end in hell. How do we resolve which interpretation is the correct one? By which one gives the best warm and fuzzies? Your god is not a pleasant god, and the interpretation of a god burning people in hell meshes well with what we know about Yahweh. Sorry to have to point that out to you (actually I’m not sorry.)

    So, why is your interpretation better than anyone else’s? How can we tell?

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “How do we resolve which interpretation is the correct one? By which one gives the best warm and fuzzies? Your god is not a pleasant god, and the interpretation of a god burning people in hell meshes well with what we know about Yahweh. Sorry to have to point that out to you (actually I’m not sorry.) So, why is your interpretation better than anyone else’s? How can we tell?”

    I’m not asking you to take my word for anything. I’m not trying to make converts. I just think if you are going to make ridiculous remarks about a person, you should take the time to find out a little more about Him, so you won’t look like such a pathological liar. The Bible is a revelation, not a novel. If you have questions about it’s veracity, ask Him yourself. He is the God who speaks. It’s really simple, unless of course you don’t really want an answer.

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/Hearing/Default.htm

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “How do we resolve which interpretation is the correct one? By which one gives the best warm and fuzzies? Your god is not a pleasant god, and the interpretation of a god burning people in hell meshes well with what we know about Yahweh. Sorry to have to point that out to you (actually I’m not sorry.) So, why is your interpretation better than anyone else’s? How can we tell?”

    I’m not asking you to take my word for anything. I’m not trying to make converts. I just think if you are going to make ridiculous remarks about a person, you should take the time to find out a little more about Him, so you won’t look like such a pathological liar. The Bible is a revelation, not a novel. If you have questions about it’s veracity, ask Him yourself. He is the God who speaks. It’s really simple, unless of course you don’t really want an answer.

    http://www.gods-kingdom.org/Hearing/Default.htm

  • Mrnaglfar

    What’s God’s email address? I would give him a call but his line is down at the moment. The quicker I get it the better, because I’m really getting tired of consulting my magic 8-ball

  • Mrnaglfar

    What’s God’s email address? I would give him a call but his line is down at the moment. The quicker I get it the better, because I’m really getting tired of consulting my magic 8-ball

  • OMGF

    I’m not asking you to take my word for anything. I’m not trying to make converts. I just think if you are going to make ridiculous remarks about a person, you should take the time to find out a little more about Him, so you won’t look like such a pathological liar.

    Wait, so you can’t back up your interpretations, but I’m the liar?

    And, what vicious remarks have I made against any person that are unsubstantiated? Or do you mean that god is a person now? Well, god does commit genocide and many other attrocities, at least as recorded in the Bible. If the Bible is true, then god is a monster. The Bible also talks about hell and a lake of fire. You can try and explain it away, but many others come to different interpretations of those passages. Which one of you is right? You can’t answer that. Will you admit that you may be wrong?

    The Bible is a revelation, not a novel.

    A revelation of what exactly? Who is this revelation open to?

    If you have questions about it’s veracity, ask Him yourself.

    You assume too much. You assume that I was not a Xian before I became atheist. Bad assumption. You assume that I never asked god anything, never tried to engage god. Bad assumption.

    He is the God who speaks. It’s really simple, unless of course you don’t really want an answer.

    False dichotomy. You’re really racking up the logical fallacies, aren’t you?

  • Damis

    Christian hostility and violence is not the exception to the rule! As Hector Avalos end is final chapter in,Fighting Words, The Origins of Religious Violence:

    “We become complicit in violence when we attempt to maintain a book whose main truths can never be verified. We become complicit when we maintain the value of violent scripture by focusing on “aesthetics” that exist no more than the ‘aesthetics” of Mein Kampf. We need to ask ourselves, as academics, why the Bible and the Qur’an, among other scriptures, are worth priveleging at all. Our final mission, as scholars of these scriptures, must be to help humanity close the book on a long chapter of human misery.”

    Damis

  • Damis

    Christian hostility and violence is not the exception to the rule! As Hector Avalos end is final chapter in,Fighting Words, The Origins of Religious Violence:

    “We become complicit in violence when we attempt to maintain a book whose main truths can never be verified. We become complicit when we maintain the value of violent scripture by focusing on “aesthetics” that exist no more than the ‘aesthetics” of Mein Kampf. We need to ask ourselves, as academics, why the Bible and the Qur’an, among other scriptures, are worth priveleging at all. Our final mission, as scholars of these scriptures, must be to help humanity close the book on a long chapter of human misery.”

    Damis

  • Damis

    I’m always struck by how many ways the Bible can be interpreted.
    At least as many “believers” as non-believers have died due to believing a slightly different version than the group with the most power. Hairsplitting between factions can become downright dangerous.

    Why, it seems that you can interpret it to mean anything you want. You simply take the parts that don’t agree with you and you either claim they mean what you want them to mean or claim that they apply to some specific instance that doesn’t apply to your argument.
    Convenient, isn’t it? I’ve witnessed essentialists(those who want to believe that Jesus and the bible represent love and peace) get into verbal fights with fundamentalists who take the bible literally in all it’s gory violence and swear that their God is a jealous, angry God who would cast many of his children in a lake of fire to be tortured for all eternity, just for not believing in him. Incidentally, these same fundies are the ones who, by and large, are responsible for trying to bring back corporal punishment in the schools and torture by our government…yeah.

  • Damis

    I’m always struck by how many ways the Bible can be interpreted.
    At least as many “believers” as non-believers have died due to believing a slightly different version than the group with the most power. Hairsplitting between factions can become downright dangerous.

    Why, it seems that you can interpret it to mean anything you want. You simply take the parts that don’t agree with you and you either claim they mean what you want them to mean or claim that they apply to some specific instance that doesn’t apply to your argument.
    Convenient, isn’t it? I’ve witnessed essentialists(those who want to believe that Jesus and the bible represent love and peace) get into verbal fights with fundamentalists who take the bible literally in all it’s gory violence and swear that their God is a jealous, angry God who would cast many of his children in a lake of fire to be tortured for all eternity, just for not believing in him. Incidentally, these same fundies are the ones who, by and large, are responsible for trying to bring back corporal punishment in the schools and torture by our government…yeah.