If a Pastor Had to Confess…

If pastors knew they were going to be called out every time they told a demonstrable lie in the pulpit, would their sermons change?

What if a buzzer went off every time they asserted something even they didn’t fully accept?

How many pastors says things just because it’s what the people want to hear?

(via nakedpastor)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Altruistic Heathen

    So true, but there are also pastors who no longer believe and can’t escape the life they’ve chosen; those who are afraid to admit their non-belief to their own wives, much less the congregation. 

  • http://onefuriousllama.com/ One Furious Llama

    Oh good one. I think it’s spot on. Many pastors (priests included) don’t believe in what they are saying but carry on for purposes other than what they are preaching.

    Love it.

  • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa E

    I don’t think a single pastor who has a legitimate university-level education in religion believes half of what he says. After all, we all know the easiest way to make an atheist out of a Christian: reading the whole book. 

  • Fredericka

    If a buzzer went off every time this web-site misrepresents Christian doctrine, could anyone endure the racket?

    • http://jthughes.blogspot.com Jason Hughes

      When has he “misrepresented” Christian doctrine? And exactly *which* branch of Christianity did he offend with “misrepresentation”? There are so many denominations and branches of Christianity, it’s kinda hard to keep track of who subscribes to what anymore… I mean, really…

      • Anonymous

        Fredericka’s observation is not wrong. Worse: it’s trivial.

        Pick any flavor of Christianity you like. They all “misrepresent” the doctrine of another.

        One thing we can be confident in: Fredericka’s doctrine involves kissing Pastor ass.

        • Fredericka

          Typical atheist with his head down the toilet bowl. Do you ever come up for air?

      • Fredericka

        Hi Jason, go back to the prior post where Mr. Friendly is trying to sell that notorious Darwinian, Breivik, as a fundamentalist Christian. You will find there this representation of “Protestant” belief: that “Protestants” believe all who assent to the proposition that Jesus is divine are saved. Do you understand this summary of “Protestant” doctrine is laughable? It’s not even the right definition of ‘faith:’ Protestants, as a rule, do not understand ‘faith’ in this context to mean ‘assent to a proposition.’ If you are willing to concede that “Protestants” do not so believe, as was asserted, but wish to scale down the assertion to the claim that some smaller sect does so believe, please deliver the goods; who are they?: _________________.

        • Anonymous

          Take your pick: http://tinyurl.com/43o67l4

          You obviously have little to no understanding of the world you live in, so lets make this simple for you: Fill in your blank above with the name “Martin Luther.”

          Is it suprising that not all sects follow the same doctrines? (Breaking news: they do not) Nonetheless, when a principle was integral in selling Jesus during its early growing phase, it is safe to use that principle in generalizations. Kind of like saying Christians believe in “forgiveness” and “charity” because those principles were central to the Jesus-figure in the beginning. (Though you demonstrate differently today)

          • Fredericka

            Statue of Mike, No, Martin Luther does not define “faith” in the Christian context as ‘verbal or mental assent to a proposition.’ If I may reprise my quote from Luther given in the prior discussion, “”Faith is a living, unshakeable confidence in God’s grace; it is so certain, that someone would die a thousand times for it. This kind of trust in and knowledge of God’s grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all creatures. This is what the Holy Spirit does by faith. Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace. It is as impossible to separate works from faith as burning and shining from fire.” (Martin Luther, Preface to Romans). You will find Roman Catholics who define “faith” in just the desired way. But Roman Catholics, of course, are not “Protestants.”

            • Anonymous

              No one defines faith that way but you. Stop relying on that straw-man.

              Faith is a justification for “assent to a proposition,” as you convolutingly refer to the concept of “agreement.” Faith is not agreement in itself.

              When someone (like Hemant) refers to “assent to a belief” saving someone they are referring to the result of the faith thought to bring salvation. There is no implication that the result is in any sense more important than the steps leading to you.

              Faith is also no concrete interpretation of Christian poetry, be it Roman, Protestant, or otherwise.

              • Fredericka

                Statue of Mike, when you say, “No one defines faith that way but you, ” what do you mean? That no one but me agrees with Martin Luther, or that no one actually defines faith to mean ‘recitation of a creed,’ which is Mr. Friendly’s functional definition? Actually, some people do. Some Catholics, when offered the Protestant definition of faith, object to the emotionalism of the concept and correct it to something like this: “To have faith is the mind’s affirmation of those ideas, which is called a ‘sacred deposit.’” (Deal W. Hudson, Onward Christian Soldiers, p. 201).

                It’s nice to see that you’re trying to come up with your own definitions of “faith,” it’s too bad they don’t make any sense.

                • Anonymous

                  I see now what the problem is here.

                  The conventional definition of faith is simple: “belief without evidence.”

                  “recitation of a creed” is not Hemant’s definition. I already explained this to you.

                  Saying “faith is a justification for …” something is not a definition of faith. It is a qualitative statement about a noun, not a definition.

                  You somehow don’t understand the words “faith” or even how I used the word “is.”

                  I’m sorry, but I cannot help you. No one can.

            • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

              Fredericka, sweetheart, you are operating under a particular delusion.

              You see, as children, many of us were taken to church.  We were raised to be religious.  We got the teachings, heard it from the pulpit, got shown the scripture, did the bible studies.  I even spent a couple years at a private, religious oriented school.

              You have your particular interpretation of the bible.  We’ve seen others.  You’ve assumed your particular interpretation is the one and only truth and the only way to interpret.  The other versions we’ve been exposed to say the same thing: theirs is the only correct interpretation and the one Truth.

              Therein lies one of the many problems with the Christian faith.

              You assert one belief.  The pastor I grew up with asserted another.  The one my husband grew up with asserted another.  The one at the church down the street asserts another.  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

              Breivik was a Christian.  He’s the product of right wing hatred.  He spouts a lot of the same bullshit we’ve heard directly from various pulpits, including from such ‘worthies’ as Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps, etc….

              Condemn him.  He deserves it.  But don’t delude yourselves.  He’s your teachings, taken to extremes.  He is, in essence, your cross to bear.

              • Fredericka

                Within This Mind, No, he’s not a Christian and he’s got nothing to do with me.  BTW, have you ever studied how many atheist mass-murderers there are?  Ted Kaczynski, the Columbine killers, Jared Lee Loughner, that pot-smoking atheist Timothy McVeigh, Leopold and Loeb. Given how few atheists there are in the population, why do you think there are so many of them?

                • http://jthughes.blogspot.com Jason Hughes

                  Ah, the old “He wasn’t *really* a Christian” argument–that didn’t take too long, did it?

                  Regardless, there are killers of all stripes, nationalities, religious and non-religious dogmas… And, for the record, Timothy McVeigh identified as Christian (http://www.ethicsdaily.com/news.php?viewStory=15532), and I’m not sure what sources *you* are using to claim these others were atheists, but honestly, that is beside the point. Anybody can claim who has killed who and in what name, but as long as YOU can claim who is and isn’t a real Christian, I’ll just go ahead and say, “Well, even if they said they were atheists, they obviously weren’t REAL atheists, as shown by their actions. Duh.” (See? We can BOTH play Holy Spirit! Woo-hoo!)

                • Fredericka

                  Hi Jason, When asked about his religion, McVeigh used to say, “Science is my religion.” We are not talking here about professed Christians who do not live up to their calling, but about people who never said they were Christians.

                  “In his letter, McVeigh said he was an agnostic but that he would “improvise, adapt and overcome”, if it turned out there was an afterlife. “If I’m going to hell,” he wrote, “I’m gonna have a lot of company.”"

                  (UK Guardian, McVeigh faces day of reckoning, Julian Borger, June 11, 2001,  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/jun/11/mcveigh.usa4)

                • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

                  Ah.  I see the problem here. 

                  You are, in fact, dishonest.  If you actually examine the ‘manifestos’ of most of those you listed, you’ll find they match closely right wing arguments, or had zip to do with politics and religion in the first place (Columbine and Leopold/Loeb to be specific)

                  Note:  Brevik himself claimed to be religious and cited it as part of his motivation.   McVeigh was a Catholic. 

                  Jared Loughner was another right-winger. 

                  In fact, everyone you mentioned that had a religious/political motivation was on the right wing / Christian side.

                  And let’s not forget, Hitler was an altar boy.

                  The most recent terrorist attack on US soil?

                  Well, that would be an attack on a Planned Parenthood. 

                  So essentially, Fredericka, sweetie, you are standing there as proof that not even Christians believe in their god.  After all, if you did believe in god, genuinely believe, why would you be proudly defying him on the subject of lying by bearing this false witness? 

                  ” Thou shalt not raise a false
                  report: put not thine hand with the wicked to
                  be an unrighteous witness.”

                  You don’t believe.  You obviously don’t have faith.  So why are you coming here to criticize us on the subject of faith?

                • Fredericka

                  Within This Mind, Kindly substantiate your claim that I am lying. All of the killers cited were in fact atheists, as were such genocidal monsters as Pol Pot, Josef Stalin, and Mao Zedong. Do you have any evidence that these mass murderers were secretly theists? If not, what is the harm in pointing out the simple fact that they were atheists? Sometimes the truth hurts. That doesn’t give you the license to claim that those who are telling the truth are liars.

                • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

                  Yes.  I do have evidence.  Their own words.  It wasn’t any kind of ‘secret’.   Several of them identified as Christians.  Check their bios.  Read their own words.  Brevik, as an example, went out of his way to point out he was a Christian.  Seriously, did you do no research at all before coming in here to spout off and attack?

                  The story of the Columbine killers deliberately targeting Christians is also a confirmed falsehood.

                  Yes, the truth hurts.  And the truth is – there are Christian terrorists.

                • Fredericka

                  I see you folks are still trying to pitch Mr. Breivik as a “Fundamentalist Christian.” Is it surprising that lambs bleat, fish swim or that atheists lie?

                • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

                  Thank you again for proving that not even religion’s most ardent supporters actually believe in god.

        • http://jthughes.blogspot.com Jason Hughes

          Even saying “Protestants” comprises a lot–A
          LOT–of differing faiths and doctrines: Protestantism includes: Lutherans,
          Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Methodists,
          and many Evangelicals. Then there are the Anabaptists which includes Baptists,
          Pentecostals, Adventists, Brethren, Mennonites,
          and the Amish.
          Then there are the Protestant Nontrinitarians, who reject the doctrine of the trinity.
          This includes Christian Scientists, Unitarians, Universalists, and many Quakers.
          And finally, there is the branch of Protestatism called the Restorationists,
          who emphasize the concept of a direct renewal of God’s church rather than a
          reformation of an existing tradition, which includes the Churches of Christ,
          the Disciples of Christ, as controversial denominations such as the Latter-day Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.So, as you can see, not even all Protestants believe in Jesus as Messiah, let alone believe in him are automatically saved. But it DOES boil down to, even YOUR personal label for your faith  is used by many other “Christian denominations” who are, by actual definition, Protestant. To demand that every article on a website get down to the actual, precise, miniscule label which you demand for your precious faith so as not to “defame” or “misrepresent” your actual congregation and whatever YOU happen to believe is ludicrous in the least. You could probably visit 10 different churches of the Protestant persuasion in ONE town and have such varying doctrines on once saved, always saved versus trinity/no trinity, saved through baptism/baptism is only symbolic arguments.

          But then again, welcome to America, where you can ALWAYS find a church that will agree with YOU, rather than the other way round.

          It may be a “laughable” doctrine to you, but ask your fellow Protestants before claiming to say that “your faith” has been misrepresented–odds are, simply saying “doctrine” goes against someone’s doctrine somewhere…

          • Fredericka

            Hi Jason. Oops, you forgot to provide the name of the tiny little sect which teaches ‘salvation by recitation of creed’! I’m sure it was an oversight, and you will supply the name of that tiny little sect any minute now: ________________.

            • http://jthughes.blogspot.com Jason Hughes

              You entirely missed the point–being as how the above DID answer your question, but you refuse to see the answer unless I point it out point blank just further proves the blindness of the faith you hold so dear…

              It’s amazing to me that you don’t see the answer in your own bible; but then again, your faith is truly blind:

              Rom 10:9

               

              That if thou shalt confess with
              thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God
              hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

              Sounds like you’re being told to recite a creed to me, but the again, I may be taking the bible more literally than those who truly believe they read it as the literal word of god…

              As pointed out above (and which you seem to have skimmed, not read or comprehended), your original assertion was the ALL Protestants adhere to the same “doctrine of faith” as yourself–which I utterly proved false by pointing out just how wide and deep the diversity of Protestants share this world with you.

              Baptists, for one, believe that if one simply “asks Jesus into their hearts,” they shall be saved. They are called the Born-Agains. I myself was raised in this barbaric and ancient of Protestant offshoots, and my mother still believes to this day that, because when I was four years old, I recited this creed “in prayer” at the dinner table, I will be with her in her mythical heaven. This happens *countless* times all over the country, whether you like to believe it or not. It may not “jive” with an official doctrine in any church bulletin, but it is nonetheless the standard practice by which young people’s minds are enslaved into the “you are awful” mentality, the “you need to give god props or you will burn in hell” mentality.

              While I am thrilled with the new-age Christian movement in which some try to respect others beliefs and preach the “take care of those less fortunate than you” message of Jesus the man, those who are in the camp of fundamentalism and conservatism in the plethora of Christian denominations will continue to use the creed of needing actual confession, of verbally asking for Jesus to save you, under the eternal punishment guise, as the very creed you seem so hard pressed to ignore…

              Good luck with that.

              • Fredericka

                Jason, you did not answer the question. So I’ll ask it again: what tiny little sect teaches the combination of antinomianism and the common Roman Catholic usage of the word ‘faith’ as expressed in Mr. Friendly’s original garbled version of “Protestant doctrine?” You gave a long list of sects, none of so teach. You gave none who do.

                Did your Baptist mother read to you the verse, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9). How did she explain this verse to you? Your mother might want to ask her pastor whether he thinks you will join her in heaven; his answer might surprise her.

                Thank you for your quote of Romans 10, a beautiful passage of which I was aware. When you say, ‘Protestants believe x,’ or ‘Christians believe x,’ and you are challenged by your interlocutor: ‘Who believes x? A quote, please,’ it is not enough to duck down the escape hatch of ‘there is some tiny little sect which believes x.’  You must also, when challenged, supply the name of that tiny little sect. Of course, the original claim was not ‘a tiny little sect believes x,’ but ‘Christians’ or ‘Protestants’ or whomever; you have already abandoned the original claim. Since you’ve fled down the ‘tiny little sect’ escape route, now you must also provide the name of that tiny little sect or admit the claim was fiction. Baptists are not it; I’m still waiting for the name of the tiny little sect: ______________________.

      • Anonymous

        Jason, I take inspiration from Bill Nye’s recent video describing lunar
        volcanoes to T.V. news.  http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201107280007

        He was amazing at making science accessible and understandable to
        children. It turns out those same skills allow him to teach moronic
        adults.

        Bill has an admirable amount of patience.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719095026 Zach Johnson

      Back up your assertion with links or admit to being a troll.

      • Fredericka

        Hi Zach. I got the link for you:

        (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/07/26/a-simple-question-about-that-norwegian-mass-murderer/)

        Notice Mr. Friendly’s definition of “Protestant doctrine.” Some commentators have tried to pretend that there actually is some small sect somewhere in existence which believes what Mr. Friendly claims “Protestants” believe. What you’re looking for is a small sect which combines antinomianism with the distinctive Roman Catholic definition of “faith.” Good luck!

        • Emma Pease

          The link doesn’t work for me but I believe you are referring to

          Either Breivik is going to Heaven, or believing that Jesus was a divine
          and resurrected prophet isn’t enough (which goes against my
          understanding of Protestant doctrine).

          Which I agree is an error (I suspect Hemant would do much better on Jain doctrine while most Christians wouldn’t know one thing about that religion).  However Protestants don’t agree on the what does get you saved.  Is it only the elect and nothing you do will change things.  Does God offer but you have to accept?  Can you lose your salvation or were you never a true Christian if you fall away (see Charles Templeton)?  Will everyone eventually be saved (I know that is generally considered a heresy)?  Do have to be physically baptized to be saved?  Remember Protestantism is very diverse from the Anglicans to Lutherans, Calvinists, Pentecostal, Baptists, Quakers, Christian Unitarians/Universalists.  One might even include the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

          Admittedly Breivik himself thought he was going to heaven as a martyr if he got killed in the cause (since he wasn’t killed, I’m not sure what he thinks now). 

          BTW do notorious Darwinians include the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and everyone who has signed the Clergy Letter
          http://theclergyletterproject.org/

          • Fredericka

            Hi Emma, I agree with you when you say,

            “Which I agree is an error (I suspect Hemant would do much better on Jain doctrine while most Christians wouldn’t know one thing about that religion). ”

            I agree with you that there are many different proposals about how to fit the pieces of the Bible puzzle together, but what they all have in common is that none says, ‘Recite a creed and you will go to heaven.’ It is also true that most Christians do not set up blogs attacking Jainism, without taking the trouble first to find out whatever it is that Jains believe.

            Mr. Breivik did not say, “if I die I am going to heaven,” but “If there is a God I will be allowed to enter heaven as all other martyrs for the Church in the past.” How many Fundamentalist Christians do you know who preface their remarks with “If there is a God”? How Darwin fits into it I have no idea since Mr. Breivik brings him up and then immediately drops him. Horrific crimes of this kind are followed by a wave of public revulsion, and some people, it would seem, are eager to channel that wave in the direction they would like it to go. My own little proposal for a sluice-gate is to send it all Darwin’s way, after all, he does mention him.

            • Erp

              I’m fairly certainly in 1500 pages he mentioned a lot of names so why do you pick Darwin?

              I wonder how the ‘sinner’s prayer‘ fits into all this?  

              Note that recitation is not sufficient nor the actual order of the words but having full belief in what one is saying is considered sufficient by some Christian groups.   

              Not that Breivik seems to have been in these groups; he instead seems to have been a Christian nationalist perhaps one who saw religion as a group not individual matter harking back to when everyone in the state had one religion. 

              • Fredericka

                Hi Erp. Mr. Breivik desires for Darwinism to be the “fundament” [sic] of European society:

                “Q: What should be our civilisational objectives, how do you envision a perfectEurope?A: “Logic” and rationalist thought (a certain degree of national Darwinism) should be the fundament of our societies.”

                What this means I don’t know. There is obviously a language barrier here. It is plain that Darwinism is important to Mr. Breivik, however.

                • Erp

                  Well it certain doesn’t seem to fit with any of Charles Darwin’s ideas.  Seems more political perhaps he meant ‘social darwinism’ which is a misnomer since Darwin had nothing to do with it (other than his name and a misreading of his ideas being used).  

                • Fredericka

                  Hi Erp. I think he probably did mean “social Darwinism” but was not sufficiently familiar with English idiom to know it’s supposed to be “social Darwinism” not “national Darwinism.” He mentions somewhere he had to do the English translation himself, and sometimes the results are unfortunate. It seems to me that Charles Darwin was the original social Darwinist, which is the school of thought that dislikes giving money to the poor lest these unfit persons breed and produce more poor. In the ‘Descent of Man,’ he says, “Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: ‘The careless, squalid, unaspiring Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting, ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him.’” (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, Part One, Chapter V).  He is not quoting this author to disagree with him;  he really does not want to see the wrong kind of people multiplying “like rabbits.”

                  (These boxes are getting so tiny, you’ll have to do the Limbo to reply…)

              • Fredericka

                Hi Erp. Mr. Breivik desires for Darwinism to be the “fundament” [sic] of European society:

                “Q: What should be our civilisational objectives, how do you envision a perfectEurope?A: “Logic” and rationalist thought (a certain degree of national Darwinism) should be the fundament of our societies.”

                What this means I don’t know. There is obviously a language barrier here. It is plain that Darwinism is important to Mr. Breivik, however.

              • Fredericka

                Hi again Erp. As to your second point, I agree that vocal confession is important, as is expressed for instance in Romans 10:9-10: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). In order to understand what is meant by ‘salvation by faith,’ however, one cannot neglect the second element (“believe in thine heart”). What this actually means, to “believe in thine heart,” is something greater than recitation or mental affirmation of a proposition.

    • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa E

      Good luck making a statement which mischaracterizes all Christian doctrines everywhere. I think you can even find some who don’t hold the existence of the tri-omni God as a given. 

      Speaking as an ex-religious-fanatic, I find it’s quite rare for the prominent atheist bloggers to mischaracterize Christianity as a whole, although conflating or confusing the different major branches is common among the religious and non-religious alike. A few times I have thought someone said something about Christians that *simply wasn’t true*, but it turned out to be completely true of the Catholics. I was programmed as a child to hate Catholicism, but from a neutral point of view, there’s no reason that the hundreds of millions of Catholics are less “Christian” than the hundreds of millions of Protestants or those oft-ignored Orthodoxies. Heck, even those whackjob Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians, although I draw the line at the Mormons, who make it into henotheism against a backdrop of innumerable gods rather than monotheism or something very close to it.

      • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

        —I think you can even find some who don’t hold the existence of the tri-omni God as a given. —

        Jehovah’s Witnesses, for starters.

    • http://happycat.pip.verisignlabs.com/ Chris aka Happy Cat

      Because we all know Christian doctrine is a monolith of rational thought and consistency instead of  a multitude of hotly contested, made-from-whole-cloth theologies that are heavenly authority to the believers. 

       Emo Phillips gets this point across in a striking way with many more lulz.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBKIyCbppfs

      (Sorry for the crappy video quality, but it’s still a classic.)

      • Anonymous

        Wow he’s funny.

      • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

        I’ve heard that religious joke about the subdenominations before but it is better with the great lead-up.

      • Annie

        That was awesome.  Thanks for the link!

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      Fredericka, I’m willing to let you define your faith the way you want to since its your faith.  Seen from a 3rd party perspective, though, it always seems like evangelicals are trying to play God in formulating beliefs about who goes to heaven and who doesn’t… and then trying so hard to get more people in the “going to heaven” category through evangelism.  My own “misrepresentation” of Christian doctrine is that if you “do X” and “believe Y” you will go to heaven, otherwise you will not go to heaven (and possible burn).  The evangelicals try to get people to believe “Y” and do “X”.  And, as you say, many claim that if you believe “Y” you will then tend to do “X”.  I’ll let you fill in the blanks for “X” and “Y”. It seems, though, that it is hard to get a good definition of “X” and “Y” that applies to all Christians.  The Baptists I know simplify the problem by saying that all those other people that claim to be Christian really are not Christian and are not going to heaven.  Basically, just the Baptists are true Christians.  Of course I’m sure that not all Baptists have that view.

  • Scott L

    It takes alot of courage and humility to admit the message you preach is phony…… Not to mention, it’s a profitable profession and $$ is addicting

    • Marella

      It’s impossible not to misrepresent christian doctrine since no two christians believe the same things! There is nothing every person who calls themselves a christian could agree on.

      • Marella

        Sorry, wrong post, meant to reply to Fredericka

        • Fredericka

          Hi Marella. To give an example, go back to the post where Mr. Friendly attempts to package the Norwegian child-murderer as a fundamentalist Christian. You will see there  this howler presented as what “Protestants” believe: that if you assent to the proposition that Jesus is divine, you are saved, regardless of what crimes you thenceforth commit. Do you mean to suggest that, even though it is not defensible to claim that “Protestants” so believe, there actually is some sect which believes just exactly that? Please reveal who they are, I’m all ears: ________________________.

          • Kenneth Dunlap

            Baptists are the most visible, but there are dozens of sects that believe this.

            • Fredericka

              Hi Kenneth. No, Baptists do not believe in salvation by recitation of a creed. I’m a Baptist, I should know! The only religious teacher who ever presented Mr. Friendly’s salvation program, to my knowledge, is Mohammed ibn Abdallah, who some of the time seems to suggest that anyone who recites the Shahada will be saved: 
              “Narrated Abu Dharr: ‘I came to the Prophet while he was wearing white
              clothes and sleeping. Then I went back to him again after he had got up
              from his sleep. He said, “Nobody says: ‘None has the right to be worshipped
              but Allah’ and then later on he dies while believing in that, except that
              he will enter Paradise.” I said, “Even if he had committed illegal
              sexual intercourse and theft?” He said. “Even if he had committed
              illegal sexual intercourse and theft.”‘” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume
              7, Book 72, Number 717.)

              Islam is, of course, a foreign religion, and anyone trying to understand Christianity through this filter is not going to ‘get’ it.  Incidentally, most Muslim exegetes do not themselves believe ‘Recite the Shahada and you’re in,’ in spite of this passage.

              The difference is, what is “faith”? You, and Mr. Friendly, say ‘Faith is reciting a creed.’ Baptists, and those within the Protestant orbit generally, do not say ‘Faith is reciting a creed.’ Rather, they say faith is a commitment. They say you must place your hopes in Jesus alone,  with no other plea, and your cast your life and your cares upon Him, with no backup plan. This is what they think the word “faith” means. To quote the old song, “Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to They cross I cling.” (Rock of Ages). They say this, even realizing that “recitation of a creed” is a legitimate dictionary definition of ‘faith;’ however, it is not the proper definition to employ in defending ‘salvation by faith.’

              When you combine the definition of faith “recitation of a creed” (which is a definition used often, though not exclusively, by Roman Catholics), with the Bible rubric ‘salvation by faith,’ you come up with a completely new thing in the world, Christians who believe you are saved if you recite a set profession of faith. There are no such Christians (and no, there is no tiny little sect that so thinks), although some Muslims believe something in the ball-park.

              • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

                “Thou shalt not hate
                thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour,
                and not suffer sin upon him.”

                If you believe in god, Fredericka, as you so claim, why do you openly defy god like this?

                • Fredericka

                  Within This Mind, you are making a very serious accusation when you allege, apparently, that I hate someone. Who is it that you are claiming I hate? And if you think that it is wrong to hate others, then why do you follow a cheesy little slander-site like this one?

                • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

                  Hatred is the basis for your spread of deliberate falsehoods and intentional misinterpretations.

                  The fact that you resort to name-calling is proof of your hate.

                  And I didn’t say it was wrong to hate.  The god you profess to believe in said it is wrong to hate. 

          • Kenneth Dunlap

            Baptists are the most visible, but there are dozens of sects that believe this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

    Given the very structured organisation of most religions, I could imagine some pastors / priests ‘passing down’ what their bosses / boss one step up the line has said, or expects them to say. And right up the top of God Inc. there’s the ideal CEO – all powerful and controlling, yet never seen. The corporate comparison I make somewhat tongue in cheek, however – people generally don’t like stepping outside the bounds of the power structure they’ve been climbing or are involved in. Even without the religious aspect, I don’t see that pastors / priests would behave any differently; the acceptance and approval of their peers, and their chance for promotion, depends a lot on how much of a good ‘company man’ (or woman for a few organisations) they are.

  • Dupes

    I can’t speak for all Christians, but when I was a Catholic I was as such:

    I said many things with sincerity and conviction in my voice despite knowing that I had my doubts about it (but only doubts as at that time I did not know all this theism to be absolutely false as I now do). I said ugly and awful things, especially anti-gay remarks (which I’m still ashamed of), and though I knew I had no concrete evidence for my hate, I believed that I was right.

    I suppose I didn’t completely believe in what I was saying and I believed that I was right. It seems somewhat paradoxical but I don’t believe I made sense in those days anyway.

  • http://twitter.com/gordongoblin Gordon

    I remember as a catholic droning the “profession of faith” on autopilot. It starts “we believe in….” but it is just the noise you make at that point in the mass. I doubt that most of the congregation really believe in all that it claims they do.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    I know anecdotally from talking to one Baptist pastor in confidence that he believes only a subset of the stuff he preaches but since his church is organized in a “bottom-up” fashion, he serves at the pleasure of the congregation and the congregation’s needs must be met and they need (or at least want) to hear ALL the stuff.  So he preaches all the baloney to keep his job and has few qualms about it.  I don’t think he ever wakes up with a start.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    I’d say this applies to any religious leader of any religion. There’s strong motivation to continue spewing the bullshit, however. It’s called money.
    Look at the stranglehold the mullahs have on Iran. An entire subculture of religious  leeches has been subsidized by the government since the Islamic Revolution. Do you think they’d give it up easily, even if called out on their bullshit? I think not. Why else do you think there is so much violence whenever there is the slightest amount of dissent?
    So, in answer to the question:
    “If pastors knew they were going to be called out every time they told a
    demonstrable lie in the pulpit, would their sermons change?”

    No.
    They already are being called out, day in and day out, although not by their congregations. They know what they are doing is indefensible, but as long as their sheep keep giving them sustenance, they’ll  continue feeding off of them. This begs the question: Who is the more responsible party, the vampire or the all-too-willing victims?

  • PamBG

    As an ordained pastor working as a hospital chaplain, I think the problem is less that I feel compelled to say things I don’t believe than that it can be difficult to say things I do believe (e.g. No to capital punishment, no to elective abortion and no to war – everyone wants these subjects to divide along neat Republican / Democratic party lines.)

    As to Melissa’s first comment, I would hope that “friendly” athesists would stop treating all believers as fundamentalists. Most mainstreamers have no problem saying that the bible is not historically or scientifically accurate and our denominations don’t require us to believe 613 impossible propositions before breakfast.

    The main issue with feeling silenced is group dynamics. Especially in churches where the congregation hires the pastor, one powerful lay person with a bee in his or her bonnet can make the pastor’s life hell so it’s often easier to deliver what is expected than to go against the grain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Trachtenberg/563721001 Sarah Trachtenberg

    I read a Darwin award in which a pastor claimed *anyone* with faith could walk on water. The congregation called his bluff, he reluctantly tried to walk on water,  and he drowned (he couldn’t swim).  Don’t write a check with your mouth that your ass can’t cash (is that the right expression?).

  • Charles Black

    I suspect that many if not the majority of priests/pastors know that what they preach to their congregations is bulls**t, but they keep up the pretense for a variety of reasons such as: money for their family, deliberate deception of their congregations.
    Can anyone please help me offer more possible reasons, if possible?
    Here is a deconversion story as an example.
    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2011/07/shedding-the-burden-of-suffering.html#comments