Atheists seeking market share

Get ready for a bunch of ads promoting atheism, funded by at least four different sects of atheists, each seeking market share.  From the New York Times:

Just in time for the holiday season, Americans are about to be hit with a spate of advertisements promoting the joy and wisdom of atheism.

Four separate and competing national organizations representing various streams of atheists, humanists and freethinkers will soon be spreading their gospel through advertisements on billboards, buses and trains, and in newspapers and magazines.

The latest, announced on Tuesday in Washington, is the first to include spots on television and cable. This campaign juxtaposes particularly primitive — even barbaric — passages from the Bible and the Koran with quotations from nonbelievers and humanists like Albert Einstein and Katharine Hepburn.

The godless groups say they are mounting this surge because they are aware that they have a large, untapped army of potential troops. The percentage of American adults who say they have no religion has doubled in the last two decades, to 15 percent, according to the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by researchers at Trinity College in Hartford and released in 2008. But the ranks of the various atheist organizations number only in the tens of thousands.

That is one reason for the multiple campaigns: the groups are competing with one another to gain market share, said Mark Silk, founding director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, which is also at Trinity College.

“There’s a competitive environment for ‘no religion,’ and they’re grabbing for all the constituents they can get,” Mr. Silk said. . . .

Several of the campaigns are pitched not just to nonbelievers, but also to liberal believers who might be alarmed about breaches in the wall of separation between church and state. The atheist groups believe that people who are religious and politically liberal have more in common with atheists and seculars than they do with religious conservatives.

“We must denounce politicians that contend U.S. law should be based on the Bible and the Ten Commandments,” said Todd Stiefel, a retired pharmaceutical company executive who is underwriting most of the ad campaign that cites alarming Scripture passages. “It has not been based on these and should never be. Our founding fathers created a secular democracy.”

The most expensive campaign is staged by the American Humanist Association. Mr. Stiefel’s foundation donated $150,000 — three-quarters of the cost, part of which goes for television and cable advertisements. That campaign plucks out bracing Scripture passages about women, homosexuality or the wrath of God, like this one from the Old Testament:

“The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” (from Hosea 13:16, New International Version).

This is contrasted with a quote from Albert Einstein saying that he “cannot imagine” such a God.

The campaigns range from friendly to confrontational. On the confrontational end of the spectrum, American Atheists, which was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, will just before Thanksgiving put a billboard on the busy approach to the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey heading into New York.

It features a Nativity scene, and the words: “You Know it’s a Myth. This Season Celebrate Reason.”

David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said that the idea of the campaign is to reach people who might go to church but are just going through the motions. “We’re going after that market share,” he said.

The United Coalition of Reason, a group in Washington, is sponsoring billboards and ads on bus shelters in about 15 cities that say, “Don’t Believe In God? Join the Club.”

The ads by the Freedom From Religion Foundation take a more inviting approach, with big portraits of some famous and some workaday people, listing their hobbies and professions and giving a punchy, personal declaration of independence from religion. The group, which has been running advertisements on and off since 2007, has spent about $55,000 this year to put up 150 billboards in about a dozen cities.

via Atheists’ Holiday Message – Join Us – NYTimes.com.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    I protest:
    Why do they imagine that reason is on the side of atheism?
    Quite the contrary!

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    I protest:
    Why do they imagine that reason is on the side of atheism?
    Quite the contrary!

  • Tom Hering

    “David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said that the idea of the campaign is to reach people who might go to church but are just going through the motions. ‘We’re going after that market share,’ he said.” (NYTimes article.)

    Here’s how they’re doing it (from the American Atheist website):

    “Chances are, if you’re reading this, you don’t believe in the fable of Adam and Eve and the talking snake. You probably think it’s a story, created out of ignorance, to explain the origin of life. You probably don’t believe that Adam literally ate a fruit, resulting in God expelling him and Eve out of the idyllic Garden of Eden.”

    “In other words, you know that’s a myth.”

    “Right so far? So if Adam and Eve and the Talking Snake are myths, then Original Sin is also a myth, right? Well, think about it …”

    “• Jesus’ major purpose was to save mankind from Original Sin.”

    “• Original Sin makes believers unworthy of salvation, but you get it anyway, so you should be grateful for being saved (from that which does not exist).”

    “• Without Original Sin, the marketing that all people are sinners and therefore need to accept Jesus falls moot.”

    “All we are asking is that you take what you know into serious consideration, even if it means taking a hard look at all you’ve been taught for your whole life. No Adam and Eve means no need for a savior. It also means that the Bible cannot be trusted as a source of unambiguous, literal truth. It is completely unreliable, because it all begins with a myth, and builds on that as a basis. No Fall of Man means no need for atonement and no need for a redeemer. You know it.”

    Hmm. Parts of the AA argument sound awfully familiar – like I’ve heard them somewhere (here) before. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    “David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said that the idea of the campaign is to reach people who might go to church but are just going through the motions. ‘We’re going after that market share,’ he said.” (NYTimes article.)

    Here’s how they’re doing it (from the American Atheist website):

    “Chances are, if you’re reading this, you don’t believe in the fable of Adam and Eve and the talking snake. You probably think it’s a story, created out of ignorance, to explain the origin of life. You probably don’t believe that Adam literally ate a fruit, resulting in God expelling him and Eve out of the idyllic Garden of Eden.”

    “In other words, you know that’s a myth.”

    “Right so far? So if Adam and Eve and the Talking Snake are myths, then Original Sin is also a myth, right? Well, think about it …”

    “• Jesus’ major purpose was to save mankind from Original Sin.”

    “• Original Sin makes believers unworthy of salvation, but you get it anyway, so you should be grateful for being saved (from that which does not exist).”

    “• Without Original Sin, the marketing that all people are sinners and therefore need to accept Jesus falls moot.”

    “All we are asking is that you take what you know into serious consideration, even if it means taking a hard look at all you’ve been taught for your whole life. No Adam and Eve means no need for a savior. It also means that the Bible cannot be trusted as a source of unambiguous, literal truth. It is completely unreliable, because it all begins with a myth, and builds on that as a basis. No Fall of Man means no need for atonement and no need for a redeemer. You know it.”

    Hmm. Parts of the AA argument sound awfully familiar – like I’ve heard them somewhere (here) before. ;-)

  • Dennis Peskey

    Why should an true atheist waste one second or penny on what anyone else believes? Since they have no “creator”, their world is limited to just themselves. They already get all the good tee times on Sunday morning, they reap the benefits of an ordered society framed on Judeo-Christian ethics yet they are permitted to engage in whatever conduct they prefer within established legal boundries.

    Is their argument for anarchy? This I doubt for darwinian natural selection would render only one survivor – a king – and all the rest subjects. What I choose to do on the eve of December 24 and the morn of December 25 will not affect their pocketbook nor their household. So, I ask, why do they spend precious monetary resources against what they believe to be a myth. I don’t spend time nor money to continue the struggle against dragons (although this society must be successful – haven’t seen any dragons lately.) Perhaps they should consider forming a religion of “non” composed of nins and nags – they could file for non-profit status, rake in obscence profits and worship their reason and logic at whatever interval they choose. They could truely have “their best life now” as a well-known “christian” preacher in Texas proclaims.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Why should an true atheist waste one second or penny on what anyone else believes? Since they have no “creator”, their world is limited to just themselves. They already get all the good tee times on Sunday morning, they reap the benefits of an ordered society framed on Judeo-Christian ethics yet they are permitted to engage in whatever conduct they prefer within established legal boundries.

    Is their argument for anarchy? This I doubt for darwinian natural selection would render only one survivor – a king – and all the rest subjects. What I choose to do on the eve of December 24 and the morn of December 25 will not affect their pocketbook nor their household. So, I ask, why do they spend precious monetary resources against what they believe to be a myth. I don’t spend time nor money to continue the struggle against dragons (although this society must be successful – haven’t seen any dragons lately.) Perhaps they should consider forming a religion of “non” composed of nins and nags – they could file for non-profit status, rake in obscence profits and worship their reason and logic at whatever interval they choose. They could truely have “their best life now” as a well-known “christian” preacher in Texas proclaims.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • CRB

    Dennis,
    Great post! That says it all.
    A question I have for them is: ‘What don’t you understand about
    what the Scriptures say about. “A fool says in his heart there is no
    God.”?! Hmmm?

  • CRB

    Dennis,
    Great post! That says it all.
    A question I have for them is: ‘What don’t you understand about
    what the Scriptures say about. “A fool says in his heart there is no
    God.”?! Hmmm?

  • Tom Hering

    “Why should an true atheist waste one second or penny on what anyone else believes?” – @ 3.

    Because they feel oppressed by religion – especially insofar as religion is approved and supported by government. More converts to atheism equals more cultural influence and political power, which equals less oppression.

  • Tom Hering

    “Why should an true atheist waste one second or penny on what anyone else believes?” – @ 3.

    Because they feel oppressed by religion – especially insofar as religion is approved and supported by government. More converts to atheism equals more cultural influence and political power, which equals less oppression.

  • Tom Hering

    CRB @ 4,

    “There is an apostolic injunction to suffer fools gladly. We always lay the stress on the word ‘suffer,’ and interpret the passage as one urging resignation. It might be better, perhaps, to lay the stress upon the word ‘gladly,’ and make our familiarity with fools a delight, and almost a dissipation. Nor is it necessary that our pleasure in fools (or at least in great and godlike fools) should be merely satiric or cruel. The great fool is he in whom we cannot tell which is the conscious and which the unconscious humour; we laugh with him and laugh at him at the same time.” (G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens.)

  • Tom Hering

    CRB @ 4,

    “There is an apostolic injunction to suffer fools gladly. We always lay the stress on the word ‘suffer,’ and interpret the passage as one urging resignation. It might be better, perhaps, to lay the stress upon the word ‘gladly,’ and make our familiarity with fools a delight, and almost a dissipation. Nor is it necessary that our pleasure in fools (or at least in great and godlike fools) should be merely satiric or cruel. The great fool is he in whom we cannot tell which is the conscious and which the unconscious humour; we laugh with him and laugh at him at the same time.” (G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens.)

  • Dennis Peskey

    Tom Hering #5 I realize I don’t get out much beyond Church and the golf course (winter snows have come – so I’m left with God alone – oh blessed me), so I beg of you to be so kind as to cite one example of the current oppression which atheist in our current society must endure.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Tom Hering #5 I realize I don’t get out much beyond Church and the golf course (winter snows have come – so I’m left with God alone – oh blessed me), so I beg of you to be so kind as to cite one example of the current oppression which atheist in our current society must endure.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • JonSLC

    “But the ranks of the various atheist organizations number only in the tens of thousands.”

    Don’t some people leave organized religion because they get sick of the “organized” part? Because they feel bound by the group? If so, such people probably aren’t looking to join any atheist organization. Not because they’re opposed to atheism, but because they’re opposed to organizations.

  • JonSLC

    “But the ranks of the various atheist organizations number only in the tens of thousands.”

    Don’t some people leave organized religion because they get sick of the “organized” part? Because they feel bound by the group? If so, such people probably aren’t looking to join any atheist organization. Not because they’re opposed to atheism, but because they’re opposed to organizations.

  • CRB

    Tom @ 5,
    Another great post! But then, Mr. Chesterton has many of these
    gems!

  • CRB

    Tom @ 5,
    Another great post! But then, Mr. Chesterton has many of these
    gems!

  • Tom Hering

    Dennis @ 7, I was only saying that’s their perspective.

  • Tom Hering

    Dennis @ 7, I was only saying that’s their perspective.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    As the saying goes, and I’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating:

    The modern atheist has 2 principles:

    1. There is no God.
    2. I hate Him.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    As the saying goes, and I’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating:

    The modern atheist has 2 principles:

    1. There is no God.
    2. I hate Him.

  • Booklover

    After reading Tom #2′s post, I realize that a-theists understand the connection between the Old and New Testaments far better than most church people. I will have to applaud them for their logic and sense of connections. (reasoning)

  • Booklover

    After reading Tom #2′s post, I realize that a-theists understand the connection between the Old and New Testaments far better than most church people. I will have to applaud them for their logic and sense of connections. (reasoning)

  • Dennis Peskey

    Tom #10 – I did not intend to ascribe the persecution perspective to you. This claim of persecution I have heard repeated numerous times yet no current examples are proferred.

    I assert our current society (in our country) allows the greatest freedoms to atheists ever permitted. Yet the perception (from their point of view) is how repressed they are. I must ask – Are you now?

    The current political system sanctions homosexuality to such an extent as to make a Corinthian blush. More children have been sacrificed in our current society than any follower of Molech ever accomplished. No political system on record has ever granted more freedom for its citizens than ours of which I’m aware. So, I must conclude this claim of persecution is simply the biggest strawman ever conceived.

    I do wish to note a long-time golfing friend who company I have enjoyed is an avowed atheist. It is not I who brings up religion nor God in our conversations – he does consistently. His last concern was a revelation of the existance of evil in our society. I quietly asked him to define evil – and then, define good. His evil definition was simply biblical – the concept of good was what truely excaped him. Humanism did not speak to goodness – only to self-gratification. He struggled mightily to define good outside the parameters of God. I await our next exchange for an update on his reflections.

    We simply proclaim the wonders of God; we do not enforce his goodness. He was most discomforted when I conveyed Romans 1:28; this was too much freedom for his comfort. God’s grace is a most precious gift and if they don’t like Christmas – as Nancy said, “Just say no!” Salvation is offered to all; not all receive.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Tom #10 – I did not intend to ascribe the persecution perspective to you. This claim of persecution I have heard repeated numerous times yet no current examples are proferred.

    I assert our current society (in our country) allows the greatest freedoms to atheists ever permitted. Yet the perception (from their point of view) is how repressed they are. I must ask – Are you now?

    The current political system sanctions homosexuality to such an extent as to make a Corinthian blush. More children have been sacrificed in our current society than any follower of Molech ever accomplished. No political system on record has ever granted more freedom for its citizens than ours of which I’m aware. So, I must conclude this claim of persecution is simply the biggest strawman ever conceived.

    I do wish to note a long-time golfing friend who company I have enjoyed is an avowed atheist. It is not I who brings up religion nor God in our conversations – he does consistently. His last concern was a revelation of the existance of evil in our society. I quietly asked him to define evil – and then, define good. His evil definition was simply biblical – the concept of good was what truely excaped him. Humanism did not speak to goodness – only to self-gratification. He struggled mightily to define good outside the parameters of God. I await our next exchange for an update on his reflections.

    We simply proclaim the wonders of God; we do not enforce his goodness. He was most discomforted when I conveyed Romans 1:28; this was too much freedom for his comfort. God’s grace is a most precious gift and if they don’t like Christmas – as Nancy said, “Just say no!” Salvation is offered to all; not all receive.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • Tom Hering

    Booklover @ 12, agreed.

  • Tom Hering

    Booklover @ 12, agreed.

  • Pete

    One can’t help but wonder whether Einstein’s inability to imagine such a God isn’t a ringing endorsement of the God he can’t imagine. Confirming God’s contention that, “seeing they do not see, hearing they do not hear.” Even an Einstein, with an “off the charts” imagination, in human terms. Sorta supports the old “blinded by sin” teaching.

  • Pete

    One can’t help but wonder whether Einstein’s inability to imagine such a God isn’t a ringing endorsement of the God he can’t imagine. Confirming God’s contention that, “seeing they do not see, hearing they do not hear.” Even an Einstein, with an “off the charts” imagination, in human terms. Sorta supports the old “blinded by sin” teaching.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Because they feel oppressed by religion – especially insofar as religion is approved and supported by government. More converts to atheism equals more cultural influence and political power, which equals less oppression.”

    Ah, yes the “microscopes that magnified the tears”. Too funny. What oppression? How about China and the Soviet Union? That is oppression. Besides these sorts of folks who are so concerned with converting folks to unbelief would be more than happy to oppress the religious folks.

    Why don’t they spend their money on the homeless and poor rather than these expensive billboards mocking the faithful?

    There is a reason the nice atheists don’t join these groups.
    That’s right I said, “reason”.
    Reason.

    Anyway, lots of nice, interesting, fun non-believers love Christmas and Christians and do not relish a predominantly atheist world without the holidays and parties and Christmas break from school, and presents etc. Seriously, the folks who want Festivus are an odd lot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festivus

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Because they feel oppressed by religion – especially insofar as religion is approved and supported by government. More converts to atheism equals more cultural influence and political power, which equals less oppression.”

    Ah, yes the “microscopes that magnified the tears”. Too funny. What oppression? How about China and the Soviet Union? That is oppression. Besides these sorts of folks who are so concerned with converting folks to unbelief would be more than happy to oppress the religious folks.

    Why don’t they spend their money on the homeless and poor rather than these expensive billboards mocking the faithful?

    There is a reason the nice atheists don’t join these groups.
    That’s right I said, “reason”.
    Reason.

    Anyway, lots of nice, interesting, fun non-believers love Christmas and Christians and do not relish a predominantly atheist world without the holidays and parties and Christmas break from school, and presents etc. Seriously, the folks who want Festivus are an odd lot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festivus

  • Joe

    from the retired phrama exec in the article: “Our founding fathers created a secular democracy”

    I am not sure which part of this sentence displays the most ignorance. They idea that the founders created a democracy or the idea that the founders created am expressly secular gov’t.
    The founders created a republic that employed limited democratic tools for the selection one house of one branch of the federal gov’t. For a taste of how they felt about democracy read Federalist No. 10. As to the secular part, the founders presumably refers those who formed the federal gov’t. At best, it can be said that this group of men were explicit only in their desire to leave the issue of religion to the states. As the history of the religion clause(s) of the first amendment bears out, its original purpose was to ensure that the federal gov’t did not violate a state’s right to establish the religion of its choice. Of course, the founders (properly understood) would also include those men who served in the state legislatures at the time and were in the business of expressly establishing and enjoining certain religions/denominations.

  • Joe

    from the retired phrama exec in the article: “Our founding fathers created a secular democracy”

    I am not sure which part of this sentence displays the most ignorance. They idea that the founders created a democracy or the idea that the founders created am expressly secular gov’t.
    The founders created a republic that employed limited democratic tools for the selection one house of one branch of the federal gov’t. For a taste of how they felt about democracy read Federalist No. 10. As to the secular part, the founders presumably refers those who formed the federal gov’t. At best, it can be said that this group of men were explicit only in their desire to leave the issue of religion to the states. As the history of the religion clause(s) of the first amendment bears out, its original purpose was to ensure that the federal gov’t did not violate a state’s right to establish the religion of its choice. Of course, the founders (properly understood) would also include those men who served in the state legislatures at the time and were in the business of expressly establishing and enjoining certain religions/denominations.

  • DonS

    As usual, it’s not about the paid ads, which have a tiny budget. I see two figures: $150,000, which includes TV and cable ads, and $55,000 for billboards. Not much of an impact there. But, look at the free media attention with this long article in the NYT! That’s the ticket for this tiny group numbering in the tens of thousands.

    Hundreds of thousands gather every year on January 23 in Washington, D.C. to protest Roe v. Wade and support pro-life causes. These rallies barely draw a drop of ink in the media. But every time an “atheist” coughs, we get a long article in the paper.

    They claim some 15% of Americans don’t believe in God, and wonder why their combined memberships are only in the “tens of thousands”. I can tell them why. Because most of that 15% simply don’t hate G0d, but rather simply don’t care about God or about what other people think about Him. They don’t feel the need to tear down faith institutions for everyone else because of their blind hatred of the concept that it’s not just about them. And I’m sure many of them, despite their professed unbelief, aren’t about to act on that unbelief by shaking their fists in His face. There’s at least a smidgeon of doubt.

  • DonS

    As usual, it’s not about the paid ads, which have a tiny budget. I see two figures: $150,000, which includes TV and cable ads, and $55,000 for billboards. Not much of an impact there. But, look at the free media attention with this long article in the NYT! That’s the ticket for this tiny group numbering in the tens of thousands.

    Hundreds of thousands gather every year on January 23 in Washington, D.C. to protest Roe v. Wade and support pro-life causes. These rallies barely draw a drop of ink in the media. But every time an “atheist” coughs, we get a long article in the paper.

    They claim some 15% of Americans don’t believe in God, and wonder why their combined memberships are only in the “tens of thousands”. I can tell them why. Because most of that 15% simply don’t hate G0d, but rather simply don’t care about God or about what other people think about Him. They don’t feel the need to tear down faith institutions for everyone else because of their blind hatred of the concept that it’s not just about them. And I’m sure many of them, despite their professed unbelief, aren’t about to act on that unbelief by shaking their fists in His face. There’s at least a smidgeon of doubt.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@18), I believe you’ve misunderstood the nature of news. I think we can all agree that atheists buying commercial time to spread their views is something new, something different. “Hundreds of thousands gather every year” (my emphasis)? Not as much.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@18), I believe you’ve misunderstood the nature of news. I think we can all agree that atheists buying commercial time to spread their views is something new, something different. “Hundreds of thousands gather every year” (my emphasis)? Not as much.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 19: I get your point, but, really, atheists have been whining since 1963 that because they don’t believe no one else should either. It’s offensive to them, you know. So the only thing that’s new is the billboards. But if shocking is the ticket, as it is for the gay pride parades that occur annually and always make the news, then what about the radical pro-life groups that go to college campuses and post shocking photos of aborted babies? Not newsworthy?

    And how about school budget cuts? They occur all the time, at least here in California, and each time the teachers unions march against them. Always make the news. Just a bunch of teachers milling around with signs, not teaching, and saying “it’s for the kids!”. Every time — big stories on the news. Same thing when state university tuitions increase, and all of the students go out and whine about how they deserve a free education. Always on the news.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 19: I get your point, but, really, atheists have been whining since 1963 that because they don’t believe no one else should either. It’s offensive to them, you know. So the only thing that’s new is the billboards. But if shocking is the ticket, as it is for the gay pride parades that occur annually and always make the news, then what about the radical pro-life groups that go to college campuses and post shocking photos of aborted babies? Not newsworthy?

    And how about school budget cuts? They occur all the time, at least here in California, and each time the teachers unions march against them. Always make the news. Just a bunch of teachers milling around with signs, not teaching, and saying “it’s for the kids!”. Every time — big stories on the news. Same thing when state university tuitions increase, and all of the students go out and whine about how they deserve a free education. Always on the news.

  • John C

    As Christianity becomes more political, athiests will become more assertive. It is not a coincidence Dawkins and Hitchens published their books during the Bush administration.
    Christianity will be diminished if it becomes too closely associated with the Republican Party.

  • John C

    As Christianity becomes more political, athiests will become more assertive. It is not a coincidence Dawkins and Hitchens published their books during the Bush administration.
    Christianity will be diminished if it becomes too closely associated with the Republican Party.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    John C, you forget that Hitchens was a vocal supporter of Bush’ actions in the Iraq War.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    John C, you forget that Hitchens was a vocal supporter of Bush’ actions in the Iraq War.

  • Grace

    John C – 21

    “As Christianity becomes more political, athiests will become more assertive.”

    John you’re spot on. I doubt athiests would bother with ads of any stripe, if Christian Believers were not pro-active in politics. Today the Church is fighting back against a ‘no tolerance’ for any type of Christmas message, such as the Nativity, or anything else that speaks of Christ and His birth.

    650 singers at Macy’s – “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. – the short video lifts the spirit at this time, when so many have turned their back on the real meaning of Christmas.

    Turn your SOUND UP and ENJOY!

    Opera Company of Philadelphia “Hallelujah!” Random Act of Culture

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp_RHnQ-jgU&feature=player_embedded

  • Grace

    John C – 21

    “As Christianity becomes more political, athiests will become more assertive.”

    John you’re spot on. I doubt athiests would bother with ads of any stripe, if Christian Believers were not pro-active in politics. Today the Church is fighting back against a ‘no tolerance’ for any type of Christmas message, such as the Nativity, or anything else that speaks of Christ and His birth.

    650 singers at Macy’s – “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. – the short video lifts the spirit at this time, when so many have turned their back on the real meaning of Christmas.

    Turn your SOUND UP and ENJOY!

    Opera Company of Philadelphia “Hallelujah!” Random Act of Culture

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp_RHnQ-jgU&feature=player_embedded

  • Grace

    Below a poster wrote, after listening to the Opera Company of Philadelphia sing “Hallelujah!” at Macy’s wrote this:

    musiksurfin

    ” Why can an atheist (you know to whom I’m referring) can say anything he wants in a vicious attack against believers and an obvious effort to silence them, without a backlash of hatred coming at him, but just let a Christian begin to defend the faith and the rights of other believers to express what this did for them, in reply to this hater of Christians, and they’re pounced upon by everyone who doesn’t expressly believe. (I know why it is; I just want someone out there to tell me if they know.”

    Praise God!

  • Grace

    Below a poster wrote, after listening to the Opera Company of Philadelphia sing “Hallelujah!” at Macy’s wrote this:

    musiksurfin

    ” Why can an atheist (you know to whom I’m referring) can say anything he wants in a vicious attack against believers and an obvious effort to silence them, without a backlash of hatred coming at him, but just let a Christian begin to defend the faith and the rights of other believers to express what this did for them, in reply to this hater of Christians, and they’re pounced upon by everyone who doesn’t expressly believe. (I know why it is; I just want someone out there to tell me if they know.”

    Praise God!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    An atheist (?) friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook of one of the “Consider Humanism” ads we’d talked about a few days ago on this blog, which he’d seen on a bus in Houston (saying they were “everywhere”, outnumbered only by “abortion alternative” ads). The one he saw didn’t have the Einstein quote, but rather was about the need for “international authorities” to prevent genocide (see a PDF here).

    In contrast to my suggestions on that earlier thread, since the Facebook conversation wasn’t really about morality, I talked about the efficacy of the humanist ads. In short, I think they’re fairly lousy.

    I mean, they direct you to a Web site, the overwhelming message of which is “We’ve got an ad campaign! Contribute to it!” Which is a bit of a marketing error. They should have one site to preach to atheists to raise money for their campaign, and another site to preach to those interested in their ads. But they don’t. There isn’t much of a “call to action” in their message at all. You really have to hunt to find a local group you can join and talk with.

    In short, these masters of “reason” and “logic” kinda look like marketing newbies to me. Sure, they’ve got a decent PR person working the media, but it’s really not clear what their point is. Do they want you to join their group? Any atheist group in general? Or just give them money?

    All of which reminds me of some of the most suspicious of Christian advertising I’ve seen, by the way. But most advertising by Christian churches or groups is better than this, at least in terms of “calls to action”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    An atheist (?) friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook of one of the “Consider Humanism” ads we’d talked about a few days ago on this blog, which he’d seen on a bus in Houston (saying they were “everywhere”, outnumbered only by “abortion alternative” ads). The one he saw didn’t have the Einstein quote, but rather was about the need for “international authorities” to prevent genocide (see a PDF here).

    In contrast to my suggestions on that earlier thread, since the Facebook conversation wasn’t really about morality, I talked about the efficacy of the humanist ads. In short, I think they’re fairly lousy.

    I mean, they direct you to a Web site, the overwhelming message of which is “We’ve got an ad campaign! Contribute to it!” Which is a bit of a marketing error. They should have one site to preach to atheists to raise money for their campaign, and another site to preach to those interested in their ads. But they don’t. There isn’t much of a “call to action” in their message at all. You really have to hunt to find a local group you can join and talk with.

    In short, these masters of “reason” and “logic” kinda look like marketing newbies to me. Sure, they’ve got a decent PR person working the media, but it’s really not clear what their point is. Do they want you to join their group? Any atheist group in general? Or just give them money?

    All of which reminds me of some of the most suspicious of Christian advertising I’ve seen, by the way. But most advertising by Christian churches or groups is better than this, at least in terms of “calls to action”.

  • http://www.confessionalsbytes.com/ Jim Pierce

    As a former atheist and member of the American Humanist Association and the Freedom From Religion foundation I understand to great extent some of the motives for what these groups are trying to accomplish with their ads.

    First and foremost, they believe that “religionists” do not hold to their beliefs on rational grounds, and so their ads are designed to shock people into thinking about their faith and to ask logical questions. For the most part these atheists are correct. Many people don’t really give much thought to why they are Christian, since many are simply born into the faith. Others might point to an experience they had of taking a “leap of faith” for Jesus and so they really don’t talk about faith in reasonable terms as much as they focus on experiential talk.

    Secondly, some of these atheist truly believe that “religionists” are their mission field. These evangelical atheists are compelled to act in efforts to liberate theists from irrationalism. When I was an atheist, and in the circles I associated with, we talked openly about “deconversions.” In fact, an atheist paper I subscribed to would regularly carry “deconversion stories” or testimonies of “religionists” who had finally seen the light of reason and walked away from their god myths.

    Thirdly, and finally, as mentioned above, these ads are a response to what these atheists believe is a heavily “religionist” influenced market place. They are pushing against all the “God talk” that regularly happens around this time of the year. They simply hate the Christ in “Christmas” and want nothing to do with the “mas,” in Christmas, too. So, this is really their means at getting out a “godless” yuletide alternative and is a reminder to us “religionists” that we aren’t the only world view kicking around in the world.

    I thank the Lord everyday that He rescued me from atheism. It is a horribly dark “world” to live in.

  • http://www.confessionalsbytes.com/ Jim Pierce

    As a former atheist and member of the American Humanist Association and the Freedom From Religion foundation I understand to great extent some of the motives for what these groups are trying to accomplish with their ads.

    First and foremost, they believe that “religionists” do not hold to their beliefs on rational grounds, and so their ads are designed to shock people into thinking about their faith and to ask logical questions. For the most part these atheists are correct. Many people don’t really give much thought to why they are Christian, since many are simply born into the faith. Others might point to an experience they had of taking a “leap of faith” for Jesus and so they really don’t talk about faith in reasonable terms as much as they focus on experiential talk.

    Secondly, some of these atheist truly believe that “religionists” are their mission field. These evangelical atheists are compelled to act in efforts to liberate theists from irrationalism. When I was an atheist, and in the circles I associated with, we talked openly about “deconversions.” In fact, an atheist paper I subscribed to would regularly carry “deconversion stories” or testimonies of “religionists” who had finally seen the light of reason and walked away from their god myths.

    Thirdly, and finally, as mentioned above, these ads are a response to what these atheists believe is a heavily “religionist” influenced market place. They are pushing against all the “God talk” that regularly happens around this time of the year. They simply hate the Christ in “Christmas” and want nothing to do with the “mas,” in Christmas, too. So, this is really their means at getting out a “godless” yuletide alternative and is a reminder to us “religionists” that we aren’t the only world view kicking around in the world.

    I thank the Lord everyday that He rescued me from atheism. It is a horribly dark “world” to live in.

  • http://www.confessionalsbytes.com/ Jim Pierce

    As to my posting above, I am a FORMER member of those associations I listed. I thought I should make that clear.

  • http://www.confessionalsbytes.com/ Jim Pierce

    As to my posting above, I am a FORMER member of those associations I listed. I thought I should make that clear.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    That said, I agree with what some people have had to say here about the atheists’ motivation. Frankly, I see this as pretty much a direct response to (and, in many ways, a poor imitation of) the “Christian” Culture War in America.

    I mean, both groups pretty much have the “We’re being oppressed! Send $$money$$ now to save our society!” message down pat.

    And, of course, the revisionist patriotic history. Of course, it’s sad to see Grandpa Reason spouting off nonsense like “Our founding fathers created a secular democracy.” But then, it’s just as sad to see their opposing Culture Warriors apparently claiming that the Founding Fathers were all Evangelical Christians and wanted everyone else in the country to be that way, too.

    The more I think about it, the more similar the two groups seem. Myself, I find them both pretty annoying, and pretty wrong. Though if I had to pick, I’d actually agree more with Stiefel when he says, “We must denounce politicians that contend U.S. law should be based on the Bible and the Ten Commandments.” At the very least, Lutherans should be able to agree with that. Better to have a group attacking the church than misleading it, I say.

    Anyhow, I suppose these people just want more political sway. Like the Culture Warriors. And they’re probably tired of being made to be the bad guy and the butt of jokes in pop culture. Like the Culture Warriors.

    Come to think of it, I may have to start being more specific as to which side I’m referring to when I talk about “Culture Warriors”.

    Warriors … Come out and play!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    That said, I agree with what some people have had to say here about the atheists’ motivation. Frankly, I see this as pretty much a direct response to (and, in many ways, a poor imitation of) the “Christian” Culture War in America.

    I mean, both groups pretty much have the “We’re being oppressed! Send $$money$$ now to save our society!” message down pat.

    And, of course, the revisionist patriotic history. Of course, it’s sad to see Grandpa Reason spouting off nonsense like “Our founding fathers created a secular democracy.” But then, it’s just as sad to see their opposing Culture Warriors apparently claiming that the Founding Fathers were all Evangelical Christians and wanted everyone else in the country to be that way, too.

    The more I think about it, the more similar the two groups seem. Myself, I find them both pretty annoying, and pretty wrong. Though if I had to pick, I’d actually agree more with Stiefel when he says, “We must denounce politicians that contend U.S. law should be based on the Bible and the Ten Commandments.” At the very least, Lutherans should be able to agree with that. Better to have a group attacking the church than misleading it, I say.

    Anyhow, I suppose these people just want more political sway. Like the Culture Warriors. And they’re probably tired of being made to be the bad guy and the butt of jokes in pop culture. Like the Culture Warriors.

    Come to think of it, I may have to start being more specific as to which side I’m referring to when I talk about “Culture Warriors”.

    Warriors … Come out and play!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    By the way Tom (@2), well played! It’s fascinating to see atheists’ take on the meaning of Christianity, and how they can be more fundamentalist (in the loose sense) than many Christians!

    And Dennis asked (@7) for “one example of the current oppression which atheist in our current society must endure.” Of course, the oppression/victim card gets played a lot these days, and it’s usually pretty subjective stuff. But atheists overall get pretty negative portrayals in pop culture. I’m not the most voracious pop-culture consumer, but I seem to recall as many bad guys spouting off atheist ideas as I have Christian ones. There was also a poll awhile back about which attributes people would be likely to vote for, divorced from any individual. “Christian” ranked way up there as a positive, but the generic atheist candidate came in dead last, after a homosexual, a Mormon, a 72-year-old person, or a thrice-married person. And I’m pretty certain there are many places and situations in America where admitting you’re an atheist, or embracing humanist ideas, would at the very least get you some glares and boos. Small-town, America comes to mind.

    So I guess I neither think their oppression is everything they might believe it is, but nor do I believe that it’s totally non-existant.

    Louis (@11), I posted that quip once on Twitter, thinking it clever. Let me tell you, it’s not really a good way to start a conversation with atheists. I’ll just leave it at that.

    Finally, I think DonS is right (@18) that organized, card-carrying atheists will always be fairly few because most honest people are agnostics. Of course, the number of true Christians will always be fairly small, because most people are lukewarm on Christianity, as well.

    Jim (@26), thanks for chiming in!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    By the way Tom (@2), well played! It’s fascinating to see atheists’ take on the meaning of Christianity, and how they can be more fundamentalist (in the loose sense) than many Christians!

    And Dennis asked (@7) for “one example of the current oppression which atheist in our current society must endure.” Of course, the oppression/victim card gets played a lot these days, and it’s usually pretty subjective stuff. But atheists overall get pretty negative portrayals in pop culture. I’m not the most voracious pop-culture consumer, but I seem to recall as many bad guys spouting off atheist ideas as I have Christian ones. There was also a poll awhile back about which attributes people would be likely to vote for, divorced from any individual. “Christian” ranked way up there as a positive, but the generic atheist candidate came in dead last, after a homosexual, a Mormon, a 72-year-old person, or a thrice-married person. And I’m pretty certain there are many places and situations in America where admitting you’re an atheist, or embracing humanist ideas, would at the very least get you some glares and boos. Small-town, America comes to mind.

    So I guess I neither think their oppression is everything they might believe it is, but nor do I believe that it’s totally non-existant.

    Louis (@11), I posted that quip once on Twitter, thinking it clever. Let me tell you, it’s not really a good way to start a conversation with atheists. I’ll just leave it at that.

    Finally, I think DonS is right (@18) that organized, card-carrying atheists will always be fairly few because most honest people are agnostics. Of course, the number of true Christians will always be fairly small, because most people are lukewarm on Christianity, as well.

    Jim (@26), thanks for chiming in!

  • Dennis Peskey

    tODD #29 – So what your saying Todd is if I were a 72 year old Mormon, thrice divorced and now a practicing homosexual I would be able to play the Pharisee Card and pronounce “Thank God I’m Not Like That Atheist!” I wonder where Lutherans came in the aforementioned survey.

    Jim #26 did help clarify the season for the reason (forgive my trespass.) His first point about “shocking people into thinking about their faith” I see as a great benefit to christianity. We are encouraged in 1 Peter 3:15 to be prepared to offer defense for the hope that we confess. If your joy is no deeper than a warm, fuzzy Sunday experience, you’ll not appreciate being confronted on Monday about your faith. If you do take the Word of God devotely, the prospect of a confrontation with an atheist will be a blessing to proclaim the Good News. I don’t think I would go so far as to contribute to the AHA’s campaign, but I will thank God for these opportunities.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    tODD #29 – So what your saying Todd is if I were a 72 year old Mormon, thrice divorced and now a practicing homosexual I would be able to play the Pharisee Card and pronounce “Thank God I’m Not Like That Atheist!” I wonder where Lutherans came in the aforementioned survey.

    Jim #26 did help clarify the season for the reason (forgive my trespass.) His first point about “shocking people into thinking about their faith” I see as a great benefit to christianity. We are encouraged in 1 Peter 3:15 to be prepared to offer defense for the hope that we confess. If your joy is no deeper than a warm, fuzzy Sunday experience, you’ll not appreciate being confronted on Monday about your faith. If you do take the Word of God devotely, the prospect of a confrontation with an atheist will be a blessing to proclaim the Good News. I don’t think I would go so far as to contribute to the AHA’s campaign, but I will thank God for these opportunities.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • George A. Marquart

    I have two reactions: first, we should be thankful for this opportunity to testify to the Truth. The atheists are paying to loose an argument which God won through His Son on Golgotha. The words of their argument have no power, but the Gospel is the POWER of God for salvation. For, (Isaiah 55:11) “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

    Secondly, several centuries ago, when during the “Enlightenment” the Church succumbed to the Hegelian notion of people being good by nature, it abandoned the Gospel. It was embarrassed and did not want to appear to be ignorant. The result was the rise of “good” people like Lenin, Hitler, and Stalin. It was also the beginning of the argument about “faith” and “reason,” and the proper place for each. I came across some startling thoughts on this subject through the diary of the late Fr. Alekasndr Schmemann, one of the founders of the Orthodox Church in America. Here are excerpts from his entry on 13 October 1976 (italics, parentheses and quotation marks as in the original, unless noted):

    “Walking to Matins this morning, I thought about stupidity. I thought that it is without doubt the fruit of “original sin” and even before that, the fall of Lucifer. They always say, “the devil is clever.” No, it’s all about the fact that the devil is unbelievably stupid and that it is precisely in his stupidity that we find the source and content of his power. If he were smart, he would not be the devil because he would have been “in sackcloth and ashes” long ago, and he would have repented. Because to rebel against God is first of all terribly stupid.

    The essence of faith is not denial of “reason” (because, supposedly it is from the devil). The denial of reason is the greatest and last victory of the Devil, a triumph of pure stupidity, because the Devil Himself began with the “denial of reason”. The essence of faith lies in the healing of the mind, by freeing it from the stupidity that has enslaved it.

    With equal enthusiasm (modern, GAM) Religion agrees to the conflict between faith and reason, gorging itself on its own “irrationality”. It feels great anywhere but in “reason” (and takes pride in this and passionately repeats: “One cannot understand this, one can only believe…”). Thus “the ruler of this world” rules in and over this world, but translated into simpler language: an Idiot, a Liar, and a Swindler. Isn’t it time to say that to Him openly and to stop believing in that which He does not have: reason?”

    So, onward Christian soldier, for for us fights the Valiant One and His Sword, the Word.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    I have two reactions: first, we should be thankful for this opportunity to testify to the Truth. The atheists are paying to loose an argument which God won through His Son on Golgotha. The words of their argument have no power, but the Gospel is the POWER of God for salvation. For, (Isaiah 55:11) “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

    Secondly, several centuries ago, when during the “Enlightenment” the Church succumbed to the Hegelian notion of people being good by nature, it abandoned the Gospel. It was embarrassed and did not want to appear to be ignorant. The result was the rise of “good” people like Lenin, Hitler, and Stalin. It was also the beginning of the argument about “faith” and “reason,” and the proper place for each. I came across some startling thoughts on this subject through the diary of the late Fr. Alekasndr Schmemann, one of the founders of the Orthodox Church in America. Here are excerpts from his entry on 13 October 1976 (italics, parentheses and quotation marks as in the original, unless noted):

    “Walking to Matins this morning, I thought about stupidity. I thought that it is without doubt the fruit of “original sin” and even before that, the fall of Lucifer. They always say, “the devil is clever.” No, it’s all about the fact that the devil is unbelievably stupid and that it is precisely in his stupidity that we find the source and content of his power. If he were smart, he would not be the devil because he would have been “in sackcloth and ashes” long ago, and he would have repented. Because to rebel against God is first of all terribly stupid.

    The essence of faith is not denial of “reason” (because, supposedly it is from the devil). The denial of reason is the greatest and last victory of the Devil, a triumph of pure stupidity, because the Devil Himself began with the “denial of reason”. The essence of faith lies in the healing of the mind, by freeing it from the stupidity that has enslaved it.

    With equal enthusiasm (modern, GAM) Religion agrees to the conflict between faith and reason, gorging itself on its own “irrationality”. It feels great anywhere but in “reason” (and takes pride in this and passionately repeats: “One cannot understand this, one can only believe…”). Thus “the ruler of this world” rules in and over this world, but translated into simpler language: an Idiot, a Liar, and a Swindler. Isn’t it time to say that to Him openly and to stop believing in that which He does not have: reason?”

    So, onward Christian soldier, for for us fights the Valiant One and His Sword, the Word.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I mean, they direct you to a Web site, the overwhelming message of which is “We’ve got an ad campaign! Contribute to it!” Which is a bit of a marketing error. They should have one site to preach to atheists to raise money for their campaign, and another site to preach to those interested in their ads. But they don’t. There isn’t much of a “call to action” in their message at all. You really have to hunt to find a local group you can join and talk with.”

    He, he.

    I read almost the same observation by an atheist at a website frequented predominantly by atheists.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I mean, they direct you to a Web site, the overwhelming message of which is “We’ve got an ad campaign! Contribute to it!” Which is a bit of a marketing error. They should have one site to preach to atheists to raise money for their campaign, and another site to preach to those interested in their ads. But they don’t. There isn’t much of a “call to action” in their message at all. You really have to hunt to find a local group you can join and talk with.”

    He, he.

    I read almost the same observation by an atheist at a website frequented predominantly by atheists.

  • Tom Hering

    George A. Marquart @ 31. A distinction: the devil is clever in his schemes, but stupid when it comes to God. As is unbelieving man, even with his powers of reason. Another distinction: it’s the imaginative power of reason that gets God wrong, and not the logical power of reason. “… speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God …” (2nd Corinthians 10:5.) The non-existence of God is imagined, not logically deduced.

  • Tom Hering

    George A. Marquart @ 31. A distinction: the devil is clever in his schemes, but stupid when it comes to God. As is unbelieving man, even with his powers of reason. Another distinction: it’s the imaginative power of reason that gets God wrong, and not the logical power of reason. “… speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God …” (2nd Corinthians 10:5.) The non-existence of God is imagined, not logically deduced.

  • Abby

    Pardon this bit humor, but I couldnt resist!

    “In Florida , an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover Holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians and Jews and observances of their holy days.

    The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days. The case was brought before a judge.
    After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, “Case dismissed!”

    The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, “Your honor, How can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays.”

    The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, “But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant.”

    The lawyer said, “Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists.”

    The judge said, “The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1 states, ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that, if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned.”

    I won’t be logging in for long time. I broke my arm today!

  • Abby

    Pardon this bit humor, but I couldnt resist!

    “In Florida , an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover Holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians and Jews and observances of their holy days.

    The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days. The case was brought before a judge.
    After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, “Case dismissed!”

    The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, “Your honor, How can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays.”

    The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, “But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant.”

    The lawyer said, “Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists.”

    The judge said, “The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1 states, ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that, if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned.”

    I won’t be logging in for long time. I broke my arm today!

  • Grace

    Abby – 34

    You deserve a GOLD STAR for that one. :)

    Thanks!

  • Grace

    Abby – 34

    You deserve a GOLD STAR for that one. :)

    Thanks!

  • Grace

    Abby,

    Is your arm really broken? – or is this an early April 1st joke?

    If this is a joke, you should be confined to the “naughty chair” for an hour – but if your arm is really broken, then everyone should shower you with all the attention you desire. :)

    SO….. which is it?

  • Grace

    Abby,

    Is your arm really broken? – or is this an early April 1st joke?

    If this is a joke, you should be confined to the “naughty chair” for an hour – but if your arm is really broken, then everyone should shower you with all the attention you desire. :)

    SO….. which is it?

  • Abby

    It’s really broke! My right one of course!

  • Abby

    It’s really broke! My right one of course!

  • Abby

    Also, thank you!

  • Abby

    Also, thank you!

  • Grace

    Oh Abby that’s awful – I’m so sorry to hear this. :( How did you break it? Use a little shorthand to type, we an all figure it out – don’t worry about spelling as well.

  • Grace

    Oh Abby that’s awful – I’m so sorry to hear this. :( How did you break it? Use a little shorthand to type, we an all figure it out – don’t worry about spelling as well.

  • Grace

    Abby – I am praying that the LORD will heal your arm quickly. I feel so bad – I wish you were my neighbor, I could help you out with shopping, and all sorts of things. We would most likely never fight or argue, we would be to busy. :lol:

  • Grace

    Abby – I am praying that the LORD will heal your arm quickly. I feel so bad – I wish you were my neighbor, I could help you out with shopping, and all sorts of things. We would most likely never fight or argue, we would be to busy. :lol:

  • Abby

    Grace, you made me laugh! I could use you as a neighbor right now!
    I was standing up from my bed this morning, took a step and suddenly felt myself going down. I don’t know why or how it happened. My arm went under me. I wasn’t going to go in because I thought it was just a sprain. I haven’t been injured since I was 5 years old–broken shoulder falling from a horse. Well, enough of me. I’m not one that likes attention.

    Thank you for the prayer–I hope to heal well so there won’t be any complications. Thanks for your kind thoughts! God bless you!

    (This truly is too hard to type.)

  • Abby

    Grace, you made me laugh! I could use you as a neighbor right now!
    I was standing up from my bed this morning, took a step and suddenly felt myself going down. I don’t know why or how it happened. My arm went under me. I wasn’t going to go in because I thought it was just a sprain. I haven’t been injured since I was 5 years old–broken shoulder falling from a horse. Well, enough of me. I’m not one that likes attention.

    Thank you for the prayer–I hope to heal well so there won’t be any complications. Thanks for your kind thoughts! God bless you!

    (This truly is too hard to type.)

  • Grace

    Abby, this is a good time to catch up on reading, or maybe rent a few films you’ve wanted to watch. Dump the cleaning, it will be there again next week. :) no matter how many layers of dust, it can be cleaned in the same length of time. LOL

    If you are going to post at all, make short sentences. We will all understand. …… that is if you want to. I will continue to pray for you.

  • Grace

    Abby, this is a good time to catch up on reading, or maybe rent a few films you’ve wanted to watch. Dump the cleaning, it will be there again next week. :) no matter how many layers of dust, it can be cleaned in the same length of time. LOL

    If you are going to post at all, make short sentences. We will all understand. …… that is if you want to. I will continue to pray for you.

  • Abby

    Already on it!

  • Abby

    Already on it!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    DENIS @ 7

    How are atheist tormented? The Lutheran Confessions; ” The Law always accuses”.

    That is why the athiests are making a fuss. Their conscience is nagging at them.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    DENIS @ 7

    How are atheist tormented? The Lutheran Confessions; ” The Law always accuses”.

    That is why the athiests are making a fuss. Their conscience is nagging at them.

  • Booklover

    It is quite wonderful how today’s passages in “Treasure of Daily Prayer” fit perfectly with this post.

    From the Old Testament Reading: “Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!”

    From the New Testament Reading: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”

    The Writing, from the Epitome of the Formula of Concord, is a rather beautiful summation of the essence of Christianity.

    Blessings to all today in this Advent season.

  • Booklover

    It is quite wonderful how today’s passages in “Treasure of Daily Prayer” fit perfectly with this post.

    From the Old Testament Reading: “Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!”

    From the New Testament Reading: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”

    The Writing, from the Epitome of the Formula of Concord, is a rather beautiful summation of the essence of Christianity.

    Blessings to all today in this Advent season.

  • John C

    Louis at 22
    Speaking of Iraq Louis, I’ve just been listening to a debate on ‘religion is a force for good in the world’ between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens — it’s worth a listen

  • John C

    Louis at 22
    Speaking of Iraq Louis, I’ve just been listening to a debate on ‘religion is a force for good in the world’ between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens — it’s worth a listen

  • George A. Marquart

    Tom Hering @33. No power of reason gets God right, at least in any meaningful sense. To conclude that God exists, which is about all reason can do, does not solve the problem of our relationship with Him. Dr. Martin Luther put it so well: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.”

    As St. Paul writes (1 Cor 18-19): “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”

    This is the work of the Holy Spirit in people. He is not conveyed through even the cleverest of arguments, but visits people wherever the Gospel of the Kingdom is proclaimed.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Tom Hering @33. No power of reason gets God right, at least in any meaningful sense. To conclude that God exists, which is about all reason can do, does not solve the problem of our relationship with Him. Dr. Martin Luther put it so well: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.”

    As St. Paul writes (1 Cor 18-19): “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”

    This is the work of the Holy Spirit in people. He is not conveyed through even the cleverest of arguments, but visits people wherever the Gospel of the Kingdom is proclaimed.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • helen

    Abby, my sincere sympathy!
    I did the same thing in October and now (relieved of cast and subsequent brace) I am exercising my fingers to get my wrist functioning again. The immobility aggravated the carpal tunnel syndrome. I typed left handed quite a bit. Now I’m trying to do it normally and finding letters out of sequence!
    It’s getting better. Hope you will heal well, too!
    God bless!
    Helen

  • helen

    Abby, my sincere sympathy!
    I did the same thing in October and now (relieved of cast and subsequent brace) I am exercising my fingers to get my wrist functioning again. The immobility aggravated the carpal tunnel syndrome. I typed left handed quite a bit. Now I’m trying to do it normally and finding letters out of sequence!
    It’s getting better. Hope you will heal well, too!
    God bless!
    Helen

  • helen

    About the stated topic: I am enjoying the “random acts of culture” , i.e., the Hallelujah chorus sung here and there. I haven’t got a link to the subway one yet, but I’ve found two for Macy’s, Philadelphia. Tonight I was sent one sung in a food court with the description in French so I think someone is circulating it in Canada. :) Hallelujah!

    Do atheists ever have such fun!?

  • helen

    About the stated topic: I am enjoying the “random acts of culture” , i.e., the Hallelujah chorus sung here and there. I haven’t got a link to the subway one yet, but I’ve found two for Macy’s, Philadelphia. Tonight I was sent one sung in a food court with the description in French so I think someone is circulating it in Canada. :) Hallelujah!

    Do atheists ever have such fun!?

  • Grace

    Helen – 48

    I posted one in #23 –

    I visited this one today, hope you like it – it’s in English!

    Flash mob sings ‘Hallelujah’ in mall food court…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE

  • Grace

    Helen – 48

    I posted one in #23 –

    I visited this one today, hope you like it – it’s in English!

    Flash mob sings ‘Hallelujah’ in mall food court…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Helen asked (@49), regarding flash mobs singing the “Hallelujah chorus”: “Do atheists ever have such fun!?”

    Um, what makes you think (some of) the people singing in that video aren’t atheists? Atheists listen to Handel and join choirs, too.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Helen asked (@49), regarding flash mobs singing the “Hallelujah chorus”: “Do atheists ever have such fun!?”

    Um, what makes you think (some of) the people singing in that video aren’t atheists? Atheists listen to Handel and join choirs, too.

  • Grace

    tODD – 51

    “Um, what makes you think (some of) the people singing in that video aren’t atheists? Atheists listen to Handel and join choirs, too.”

    tODD………………….. God uses many ways to spread His Word.

    “Um, what makes you think (some of) the people singing in that video aren’t atheists? Atheists listen to Handel and join choirs, too.”

    tODD………………….. God uses many ways to spread His Word.

    I doubt anyone assumed that everyone singing was a Believer. Are you the judge of those singing? – if not, then find another seat, the bench for the judge wasn’t yours to begin with.

  • Grace

    tODD – 51

    “Um, what makes you think (some of) the people singing in that video aren’t atheists? Atheists listen to Handel and join choirs, too.”

    tODD………………….. God uses many ways to spread His Word.

    “Um, what makes you think (some of) the people singing in that video aren’t atheists? Atheists listen to Handel and join choirs, too.”

    tODD………………….. God uses many ways to spread His Word.

    I doubt anyone assumed that everyone singing was a Believer. Are you the judge of those singing? – if not, then find another seat, the bench for the judge wasn’t yours to begin with.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    M.M.O’Hair’s own son became a follower of Christ-
    A coup by our Creator for sure and an heart smile for all of us…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    M.M.O’Hair’s own son became a follower of Christ-
    A coup by our Creator for sure and an heart smile for all of us…
    C-CS

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@52), exactly whom am I being accused of “judging”?

    My entire point was that it was highly likely that not everyone singing in that flash mob was a believer. You concur with me on this. This claim of ours would appear to contradict the assumption underlying the question, “Do atheists ever have such fun!?” — that question necessarily assumes that atheists were not having “such fun” because they weren’t in the flash mob, doesn’t it?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@52), exactly whom am I being accused of “judging”?

    My entire point was that it was highly likely that not everyone singing in that flash mob was a believer. You concur with me on this. This claim of ours would appear to contradict the assumption underlying the question, “Do atheists ever have such fun!?” — that question necessarily assumes that atheists were not having “such fun” because they weren’t in the flash mob, doesn’t it?

  • Grace

    tODD, is it possible for you to enjoy what transpired at the “Food Court” without dissecting?

    I don’t know, nor does anyone else, but there just might have been people who were touched in a special way to seek the LORD.

  • Grace

    tODD, is it possible for you to enjoy what transpired at the “Food Court” without dissecting?

    I don’t know, nor does anyone else, but there just might have been people who were touched in a special way to seek the LORD.

  • Rob C.

    As the intermittent Catholic commenter here on the blog (who very much appreciates your Lutheran perspectives on matter), I was hoping you enlighten me on the Lutheran understanding of the relationship between Faith & Reason.

    From a Catholic perspective, I understand that reason, though darkened by sin, can still perceive the Divine. Faith & Reason complement one another, and theology is nothing less than reason, sustained by grace, trying to understand faith.

    As such, atheist’s argument that one must rely on reason – and not faith – are spurious. Indeed, it is like arguing with a 5th grader’s understanding of religion.

  • Rob C.

    As the intermittent Catholic commenter here on the blog (who very much appreciates your Lutheran perspectives on matter), I was hoping you enlighten me on the Lutheran understanding of the relationship between Faith & Reason.

    From a Catholic perspective, I understand that reason, though darkened by sin, can still perceive the Divine. Faith & Reason complement one another, and theology is nothing less than reason, sustained by grace, trying to understand faith.

    As such, atheist’s argument that one must rely on reason – and not faith – are spurious. Indeed, it is like arguing with a 5th grader’s understanding of religion.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C

    Welcome.

    “From a Catholic perspective, I understand that reason, though darkened by sin, can still perceive the Divine. Faith & Reason complement one another, and theology is nothing less than reason, sustained by grace, trying to understand faith.”

    This seems to be an excellent summary of what Catholics have always believed since the age of scholasticism and then after with Trent.

    This is an excellent point of departure for understanding the core differences between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism. Are you familiar with Aristotle´s Virtue ethics and what he and scholastics call the “habit” of virtue?

    Aristotle was the mind candy of the church and the philosophers universally till even today… Aquinas “baptized” his thinking into western christianity, and I am told that the deliberators of the Council of Trent had two books on the altar during their deliberations, the Bible and Aquinas´Summa.

    The early Lutherans very consciously and deliberately departed from the traditional scholastic categories. It is rather jarring actually to someone who is familiar with Aristotle and scholasticism by way of Aquinas. For example, Lutherans in the official statements that alone define Lutheranism ( http://www.bookofconcord.org ) categorically rejected the idea of Natural Law as having moral significance intrinsically or per se.

    If your answer is “yes”, please let me know and we can discuss the differences. And if your answer is yes, you can answer the question with your own readings by studying 3 documents at the site referenced: the augsburg confession, the roman “confutation” and then the “apology or defense” of the augsburg confessions in that order to provide context. I would home in on the sections on “original sin” and on “good works and love”.

    If you are not well grounded in aristotles ethical system , then it would be more productive for you to continue a dialog with me here first.

    blessings and again welcome Rob!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C

    Welcome.

    “From a Catholic perspective, I understand that reason, though darkened by sin, can still perceive the Divine. Faith & Reason complement one another, and theology is nothing less than reason, sustained by grace, trying to understand faith.”

    This seems to be an excellent summary of what Catholics have always believed since the age of scholasticism and then after with Trent.

    This is an excellent point of departure for understanding the core differences between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism. Are you familiar with Aristotle´s Virtue ethics and what he and scholastics call the “habit” of virtue?

    Aristotle was the mind candy of the church and the philosophers universally till even today… Aquinas “baptized” his thinking into western christianity, and I am told that the deliberators of the Council of Trent had two books on the altar during their deliberations, the Bible and Aquinas´Summa.

    The early Lutherans very consciously and deliberately departed from the traditional scholastic categories. It is rather jarring actually to someone who is familiar with Aristotle and scholasticism by way of Aquinas. For example, Lutherans in the official statements that alone define Lutheranism ( http://www.bookofconcord.org ) categorically rejected the idea of Natural Law as having moral significance intrinsically or per se.

    If your answer is “yes”, please let me know and we can discuss the differences. And if your answer is yes, you can answer the question with your own readings by studying 3 documents at the site referenced: the augsburg confession, the roman “confutation” and then the “apology or defense” of the augsburg confessions in that order to provide context. I would home in on the sections on “original sin” and on “good works and love”.

    If you are not well grounded in aristotles ethical system , then it would be more productive for you to continue a dialog with me here first.

    blessings and again welcome Rob!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@55), your reply addresses issues that no one has been discussing. My opinions on the flash mob have never been the issue. At the risk of belaboring the point, I have only ever been replying to the question Helen asked (@49): “Do atheists ever have such fun!?” Quite obviously, my answer (and almost certainly the truth of the matter) is: yes, atheists do have such fun.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace (@55), your reply addresses issues that no one has been discussing. My opinions on the flash mob have never been the issue. At the risk of belaboring the point, I have only ever been replying to the question Helen asked (@49): “Do atheists ever have such fun!?” Quite obviously, my answer (and almost certainly the truth of the matter) is: yes, atheists do have such fun.

  • Stephen

    Ron C.

    The quote cited below is from the Large Catechism explanation to the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed. Essentially, this is how much Lutherans esteem reason as it pertains to obtaining the divine:

    “For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc.”

    In Article II of our Confessions on Original Sin (as fws suggests reading) you will find that we believe, teach and confess that sin has so utterly corrupted our faculties that nothing escapes this distortion. So reason is useless as a vehicle for obtaining any kind of saving knowledge of God. Rather, this is imparted to us freely by the Holy Spirit as the gift of grace in our baptism and received through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).

    This view of original sin and “radical” grace (my term here, but this is what it means when we say “Christ ALONE”) is quite in opposition to the scholastics such as Aquinas who taught that aspects of our created being, such as our reason, were more or less spared the full corruption of sin after the fall as you suggest (“darkened” as you put it).

    Atheists, of course, think that Reason (capital “R”) actually is a thing – an end in itself. Setting aside the problem of evil and the corruption of our sinful nature, I think one could argue on purely epistemological grounds as to whether or not that is true. One can find “reasons” for all sorts of things, and indeed, as history shows, they have not always been things so highly esteemed have they? Do they mean Rationalism? Things that are logically coherent? What are they referring to? Does Reason somehow imply virtue? In what sense? I doubt they actually know.

    Sorry to butt in Frank (fws)

  • Stephen

    Ron C.

    The quote cited below is from the Large Catechism explanation to the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed. Essentially, this is how much Lutherans esteem reason as it pertains to obtaining the divine:

    “For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc.”

    In Article II of our Confessions on Original Sin (as fws suggests reading) you will find that we believe, teach and confess that sin has so utterly corrupted our faculties that nothing escapes this distortion. So reason is useless as a vehicle for obtaining any kind of saving knowledge of God. Rather, this is imparted to us freely by the Holy Spirit as the gift of grace in our baptism and received through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).

    This view of original sin and “radical” grace (my term here, but this is what it means when we say “Christ ALONE”) is quite in opposition to the scholastics such as Aquinas who taught that aspects of our created being, such as our reason, were more or less spared the full corruption of sin after the fall as you suggest (“darkened” as you put it).

    Atheists, of course, think that Reason (capital “R”) actually is a thing – an end in itself. Setting aside the problem of evil and the corruption of our sinful nature, I think one could argue on purely epistemological grounds as to whether or not that is true. One can find “reasons” for all sorts of things, and indeed, as history shows, they have not always been things so highly esteemed have they? Do they mean Rationalism? Things that are logically coherent? What are they referring to? Does Reason somehow imply virtue? In what sense? I doubt they actually know.

    Sorry to butt in Frank (fws)

  • Stephen

    Ron C

    Rather than theology being about reason trying to understand faith, I would turn it the other way around. Theology (and the theologian) begins with faith and then seeks to understand itself and/or make statements so that it can be better understood. The way you have stated it sounds more like the study of religion or anthropology, a kind of academic discipline where the observer stands outside the subject examining it as a field of research.

    Theology is not an investigation of something outside or apart from the investigator per se, but it implies, I think, a commitment of the theologian to the truth of the reality within which they exist and partake in. Theology does use many of the same criteria for truth and veracity as other academic disciplines, but the stakes are much higher and the field much broader I’d say.

    By the way, I’m glad you are a Roman Catholic interested in Lutheranism. I found out about this site through spending many nights at First Things.com. For what it’s worth, I find this one more intimate and less snarky and much more fun. But then, I’m Lutheran, so it was like coming home.

  • Stephen

    Ron C

    Rather than theology being about reason trying to understand faith, I would turn it the other way around. Theology (and the theologian) begins with faith and then seeks to understand itself and/or make statements so that it can be better understood. The way you have stated it sounds more like the study of religion or anthropology, a kind of academic discipline where the observer stands outside the subject examining it as a field of research.

    Theology is not an investigation of something outside or apart from the investigator per se, but it implies, I think, a commitment of the theologian to the truth of the reality within which they exist and partake in. Theology does use many of the same criteria for truth and veracity as other academic disciplines, but the stakes are much higher and the field much broader I’d say.

    By the way, I’m glad you are a Roman Catholic interested in Lutheranism. I found out about this site through spending many nights at First Things.com. For what it’s worth, I find this one more intimate and less snarky and much more fun. But then, I’m Lutheran, so it was like coming home.

  • Rob C.

    Thank you for the thoughtful replies. Allow me to frame out a few issues to help make the discussion productive:

    1) I have a MA in philosophy & theology and enduring love & respect for Aristotle, Augustine & Aquinas. These are familiar subjects.

    2) I do not wish to debate the relative merits of the Catholic & Lutheran understanding of faith, grace & reason. Rather, as a Christian apologist, I am trying to comprehend the Lutheran understanding of the relationship between faith & reason.

    I agree with Stephen than I could have cited Augustine’s description of theology better – it is “faith seeking understanding”. We know Jesus Christ through God’s grace, and God’s grace, which is always mediated through Jesus Christ, allows believers to understand faith through reason.

    My questions are:

    1) In Lutheranism, what is the role of reason in the life of faith?

    2) Would Lutherans acknowledge any sort of Natural Law that can be known by reason?

    3) Can God be known through reason without an explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ (though this grace is still mediated through Christ alone?) – I am thinking of St. Paul in Acts 17: 23, “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”

  • Rob C.

    Thank you for the thoughtful replies. Allow me to frame out a few issues to help make the discussion productive:

    1) I have a MA in philosophy & theology and enduring love & respect for Aristotle, Augustine & Aquinas. These are familiar subjects.

    2) I do not wish to debate the relative merits of the Catholic & Lutheran understanding of faith, grace & reason. Rather, as a Christian apologist, I am trying to comprehend the Lutheran understanding of the relationship between faith & reason.

    I agree with Stephen than I could have cited Augustine’s description of theology better – it is “faith seeking understanding”. We know Jesus Christ through God’s grace, and God’s grace, which is always mediated through Jesus Christ, allows believers to understand faith through reason.

    My questions are:

    1) In Lutheranism, what is the role of reason in the life of faith?

    2) Would Lutherans acknowledge any sort of Natural Law that can be known by reason?

    3) Can God be known through reason without an explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ (though this grace is still mediated through Christ alone?) – I am thinking of St. Paul in Acts 17: 23, “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C @ 18

    ” I do not wish to debate … [Roman vs Lutheran].. as a Christian apologist, I am trying to comprehend the Lutheran understanding of the relationship between faith & reason.”

    That is great! Can you please consider cross-polinating? I would like to be corrected on what the Roman Catholic view (or views?) are.

    Let me frame a context dear brother to begin.

    You are asking what the “Lutheran” position is. So I need to define “Lutheran”. That is pretty easy to do.

    “Lutheran ” = whatever agrees with the “Book of Concord”. Period.
    http://www.bookofconcord.com So that is where I would go to give you a “Lutheran” answer to your (excellent!) questions.

    Consider the other possibilities briefly:

    Lutherans are not Luther-ans. We think he is (mostly) brilliant, but we are not followers of his teachings.
    Shared liturgy, eclesiology, ethnicity, musicology are also not in any way definition of what “Lutheran” is.
    We insist in fact , rather adamantly , that unity as Lutherans does not hinge or depend upon any of these things.

    What identifies me as a Lutheran Rob C is that I believe that the Book of Concord is a correct exposition of Holy Scripture. Note that we don´t claim they are THE correct exposition.

    When someone then asks me (as most roman catholics do in fact) “Ok, but what is it that you, personally (!), believe?” They can´t quite grasp the concept that what I personally believe agrees, completely, and with no reservations at all, with what is in a rather thick 500 year old book. But that is what makes one a Lutheran.

    At this point, you might be thinking “ah, this is the Lutheran replacement for the magisterium that those Lutherans no longer possess.” Not exactly. But that is not a question in your list….

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C @ 18

    ” I do not wish to debate … [Roman vs Lutheran].. as a Christian apologist, I am trying to comprehend the Lutheran understanding of the relationship between faith & reason.”

    That is great! Can you please consider cross-polinating? I would like to be corrected on what the Roman Catholic view (or views?) are.

    Let me frame a context dear brother to begin.

    You are asking what the “Lutheran” position is. So I need to define “Lutheran”. That is pretty easy to do.

    “Lutheran ” = whatever agrees with the “Book of Concord”. Period.
    http://www.bookofconcord.com So that is where I would go to give you a “Lutheran” answer to your (excellent!) questions.

    Consider the other possibilities briefly:

    Lutherans are not Luther-ans. We think he is (mostly) brilliant, but we are not followers of his teachings.
    Shared liturgy, eclesiology, ethnicity, musicology are also not in any way definition of what “Lutheran” is.
    We insist in fact , rather adamantly , that unity as Lutherans does not hinge or depend upon any of these things.

    What identifies me as a Lutheran Rob C is that I believe that the Book of Concord is a correct exposition of Holy Scripture. Note that we don´t claim they are THE correct exposition.

    When someone then asks me (as most roman catholics do in fact) “Ok, but what is it that you, personally (!), believe?” They can´t quite grasp the concept that what I personally believe agrees, completely, and with no reservations at all, with what is in a rather thick 500 year old book. But that is what makes one a Lutheran.

    At this point, you might be thinking “ah, this is the Lutheran replacement for the magisterium that those Lutherans no longer possess.” Not exactly. But that is not a question in your list….

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C @ 61

    My questions are:

    1) In Lutheranism, what is the role of reason in the life of faith?

    Let me rephrase (with kind permission), because the question is sort of leading. It pre-assumes alot of things. a) “life” implies how we deal with practical moral issues that arise, and b) “faith” inplies that how we deal with those issues as a christian changes intrinsically by the fact of being a christian. Lutherans would reject b).

    I am aiming for clarity here, so if I am mischaractarizing what you said or reading too much into it, then feel free to redirect. My aim is to serve you , not to argue a point. :)

    Q : “What is the role of reason in the life of any human being (fully including the christian ones)?”

    A: “For Aristotle wrote concerning civil morals so learnedly that nothing further concerning this need be demanded.” (footnote) So we would turn someone to Aristotle. He nails how a human acquires Virtue or becomes an Ethical Being. One acts as if one is virtuous and that becomes a habit. Excuse my over simplification. And he is mind candy because he says this can´t happen without love. So he connects the emotions to that.

    Lutherans assert that pagans can do this as well or often better than any christian can do it. No Christian faith in a christian God or even in a god is required for this living of an ethical life. Only clear reason.

    In fact, we are more radical actually. We would say that this exercise, to be done properly, excludes faith. This exercise of virtue and ethics is exclusively about providing love and “daily bread” to our neighbor (footnote 2) and not at all aimed at rendering obedience to God other than that he demands that we do love our neighbor. The vector is purely horizontal and not at all vertical. It is about mercy and not sacrifice is a way to say this.

    (footnote 1) Apology to the Augsburg Confessions art IV (II) : “Of Justification. ” http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_4_justification.php paragraph 14] ff.

    (footnote 2) The small catechism, creed, first article http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php#creed
    The large catechism, Lords Prayer (The Our Father) 4th petition. 71}ff http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-5-ourfather.php

    As I said Rob C. Feel free to redirect or burrow deeper if this is not on target or helpful.

    2) Would Lutherans acknowledge any sort of Natural Law that can be known by reason?

    3) Can God be known through reason without an explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ (though this grace is still mediated through Christ alone?) – I am thinking of St. Paul in Acts 17: 23, “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C @ 61

    My questions are:

    1) In Lutheranism, what is the role of reason in the life of faith?

    Let me rephrase (with kind permission), because the question is sort of leading. It pre-assumes alot of things. a) “life” implies how we deal with practical moral issues that arise, and b) “faith” inplies that how we deal with those issues as a christian changes intrinsically by the fact of being a christian. Lutherans would reject b).

    I am aiming for clarity here, so if I am mischaractarizing what you said or reading too much into it, then feel free to redirect. My aim is to serve you , not to argue a point. :)

    Q : “What is the role of reason in the life of any human being (fully including the christian ones)?”

    A: “For Aristotle wrote concerning civil morals so learnedly that nothing further concerning this need be demanded.” (footnote) So we would turn someone to Aristotle. He nails how a human acquires Virtue or becomes an Ethical Being. One acts as if one is virtuous and that becomes a habit. Excuse my over simplification. And he is mind candy because he says this can´t happen without love. So he connects the emotions to that.

    Lutherans assert that pagans can do this as well or often better than any christian can do it. No Christian faith in a christian God or even in a god is required for this living of an ethical life. Only clear reason.

    In fact, we are more radical actually. We would say that this exercise, to be done properly, excludes faith. This exercise of virtue and ethics is exclusively about providing love and “daily bread” to our neighbor (footnote 2) and not at all aimed at rendering obedience to God other than that he demands that we do love our neighbor. The vector is purely horizontal and not at all vertical. It is about mercy and not sacrifice is a way to say this.

    (footnote 1) Apology to the Augsburg Confessions art IV (II) : “Of Justification. ” http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_4_justification.php paragraph 14] ff.

    (footnote 2) The small catechism, creed, first article http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php#creed
    The large catechism, Lords Prayer (The Our Father) 4th petition. 71}ff http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-5-ourfather.php

    As I said Rob C. Feel free to redirect or burrow deeper if this is not on target or helpful.

    2) Would Lutherans acknowledge any sort of Natural Law that can be known by reason?

    3) Can God be known through reason without an explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ (though this grace is still mediated through Christ alone?) – I am thinking of St. Paul in Acts 17: 23, “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C @ 61

    “2) Would Lutherans acknowledge any sort of Natural Law that can be known by reason?”

    In the Aquinan or Roman Catholic or Tridentine sense, short answer: I think the answer must be a fairly resounding no. Let me know if you agree:

    Lutherans re-define “natural law” from the aquinan or scholastic understanding to be very narrowly and only conscience. let me break that down:

    1) We say the first source of law is revealed law found in the word of God.
    2) Then there is what Lutheran´s call “natural law”. We call this the “law written in man´s heart” following St Paul.
    3) And we are very carefully separate out from this “Divine ordinance ” or ordering , as a separate category that is moraly neutral, but of course has moral possibilities nontheless. This would be the category of things such as gravity, the sex drive, and other physical laws or forces that can be known scientifically or experientially.

    Here is where you would find the context where what I describe is worked out in the practical topic of priestly celebacy:

    Excerpts:

    “Divine Ordinance”

    7] First, Gen. 1:28 teaches …that one sex… should desire the other. [this is not] concupiscence, ..but..[which would have existed in nature even if it had remained uncorrupted], which they call physical love. And this love of one sex for the other is truly a divine ordinance. …[which rules short of a miracle happening]… [this is true] … just as the earth becomes fruitful by the word Gen. 1:11: Let the earth bring forth grass, yielding seed. …the fields are clothed every year as long as this natural order will exist. …by human laws the nature of the earth cannot be changed…19] If continence were possible to all, it would not require a peculiar gift. But Christ shows that it has need of a peculiar gift; therefore it does not belong to all. God wishes the rest to use the common law of nature which He has instituted. …12] Moreover, a natural right is truly a divine right, because it is an ordinance divinely impressed upon nature. ….

    Apology to the Augsburg Confessions: The Marriage of Priests, Art XXIII (XI) http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_22_marriage.php

    “Natural Law” = Conscience.

    “6] We cannot approve this law concerning celibacy which the adversaries defend, because it conflicts
    with divine [read here revealed law in scriptures] and natural law [read here conscience]” (Apology to the augsburg confessions ibid)

    “7] Of these two parts the adversaries select the Law, because human reason naturally understands, in some way, the Law (for it has the same judgment divinely written in the mind); [the natural law agrees with the law of Moses, or the Ten Commandments] and by the Law they seek the remission of sins and justification. 8] Now, the Decalog requires not only outward civil works,

    which reason can in some way produce,

    but it also requires other things placed far above reason,

    namely, truly to fear God, truly to love God, truly to call upon God, truly to be convinced that God hears us, and to expect the aid of God in death and in all afflictions; finally, it requires obedience to God, in death and all afflictions, so that we may not flee from these or refuse them when God imposes them.

    9] Here the scholastics, having followed the philosophers, teach only a righteousness of reason, namely, civil works, and fabricate besides that without the Holy Ghost reason can love God above all things.” (ibid Apology on justification )

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C @ 61

    “2) Would Lutherans acknowledge any sort of Natural Law that can be known by reason?”

    In the Aquinan or Roman Catholic or Tridentine sense, short answer: I think the answer must be a fairly resounding no. Let me know if you agree:

    Lutherans re-define “natural law” from the aquinan or scholastic understanding to be very narrowly and only conscience. let me break that down:

    1) We say the first source of law is revealed law found in the word of God.
    2) Then there is what Lutheran´s call “natural law”. We call this the “law written in man´s heart” following St Paul.
    3) And we are very carefully separate out from this “Divine ordinance ” or ordering , as a separate category that is moraly neutral, but of course has moral possibilities nontheless. This would be the category of things such as gravity, the sex drive, and other physical laws or forces that can be known scientifically or experientially.

    Here is where you would find the context where what I describe is worked out in the practical topic of priestly celebacy:

    Excerpts:

    “Divine Ordinance”

    7] First, Gen. 1:28 teaches …that one sex… should desire the other. [this is not] concupiscence, ..but..[which would have existed in nature even if it had remained uncorrupted], which they call physical love. And this love of one sex for the other is truly a divine ordinance. …[which rules short of a miracle happening]… [this is true] … just as the earth becomes fruitful by the word Gen. 1:11: Let the earth bring forth grass, yielding seed. …the fields are clothed every year as long as this natural order will exist. …by human laws the nature of the earth cannot be changed…19] If continence were possible to all, it would not require a peculiar gift. But Christ shows that it has need of a peculiar gift; therefore it does not belong to all. God wishes the rest to use the common law of nature which He has instituted. …12] Moreover, a natural right is truly a divine right, because it is an ordinance divinely impressed upon nature. ….

    Apology to the Augsburg Confessions: The Marriage of Priests, Art XXIII (XI) http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_22_marriage.php

    “Natural Law” = Conscience.

    “6] We cannot approve this law concerning celibacy which the adversaries defend, because it conflicts
    with divine [read here revealed law in scriptures] and natural law [read here conscience]” (Apology to the augsburg confessions ibid)

    “7] Of these two parts the adversaries select the Law, because human reason naturally understands, in some way, the Law (for it has the same judgment divinely written in the mind); [the natural law agrees with the law of Moses, or the Ten Commandments] and by the Law they seek the remission of sins and justification. 8] Now, the Decalog requires not only outward civil works,

    which reason can in some way produce,

    but it also requires other things placed far above reason,

    namely, truly to fear God, truly to love God, truly to call upon God, truly to be convinced that God hears us, and to expect the aid of God in death and in all afflictions; finally, it requires obedience to God, in death and all afflictions, so that we may not flee from these or refuse them when God imposes them.

    9] Here the scholastics, having followed the philosophers, teach only a righteousness of reason, namely, civil works, and fabricate besides that without the Holy Ghost reason can love God above all things.” (ibid Apology on justification )

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C @ 61

    “3) Can God be known through reason without an explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ (though this grace is still mediated through Christ alone?) – I am thinking of St. Paul in Acts 17: 23, “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.””

    Q “can God be known through reason?”

    A Yes. “The fool has said ‘there is no god’. So the existence of “a god” is reason-able. But now the specifically “Lutheran ” answer:

    The Lutheran Confessions talk about historical faith. The devils have historical faith. The devils believe that the facts presented in the bible are true. Men can believe that Christ died on the Holy Cross and still not be christian is what this means Ron C. Reason can know this all to be true.

    but the confessions also say that reason´s ability to know historically or factually that there is a God will always lead to idolatry or despair . It will lead to being a pharisee or to being judas.

    Reason cannot grasp Christ.

    readings on this…

    good works apology art V

    “23] Men are also admonished that here the term “faith” does not signify merely the knowledge of the history, such as is in the ungodly and in the devil, but signifies a faith which believes, not merely the history, but also the effect of the history—namely, this article: the forgiveness of sins, to wit, that we have grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ. 24] Now he that knows that he has a Father gracious to him through Christ, truly knows God; he knows also that God cares for him, and calls upon God; in a word, he is not 25] without God, as the heathen. For
    devils and the ungodly are not able to believe this article: the forgiveness of sins. Hence, they hate God as an enemy, call not upon Him, 26] and expect no good from Him. Augustine also admonishes his readers concerning the word “faith,” and teaches that the term “faith” is accepted in the Scriptures not for
    knowledge such as is in the ungodly but for confidence which consoles and encourages the terrified mind.”

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_19_goodworks.php

    and here…

    “Ok. So far I have explained what earthly god pleasing righteousness is, and what Christian righteousness is and what they each consist of.
    If you ask further, where this forgiveness comes from, and how it has been brought about or gained, I answer simply: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come from heaven and has been made man, and has suffered and died for our sins.
    Christians alone know this and also more importantly believe it, and are in this respect alone different from those of every other faith and worship on earth. The Jews , the Muslims, the false Christians, and those who would try to be righteous by what they do also boast that god is merciful. There is no man on earth who does not know something of the grace and goodness of God. What all these have in common is that they all fail to find the grace of God. In other words they do not have the treasure in which forgiveness lies and from which it flows. They continue in their blindness and imagine that they can acquire it with their efforts and works, rigid life, and their own holiness, This only makes the wrath and displeasure of God more serious.”

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=10

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Rob C @ 61

    “3) Can God be known through reason without an explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ (though this grace is still mediated through Christ alone?) – I am thinking of St. Paul in Acts 17: 23, “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.””

    Q “can God be known through reason?”

    A Yes. “The fool has said ‘there is no god’. So the existence of “a god” is reason-able. But now the specifically “Lutheran ” answer:

    The Lutheran Confessions talk about historical faith. The devils have historical faith. The devils believe that the facts presented in the bible are true. Men can believe that Christ died on the Holy Cross and still not be christian is what this means Ron C. Reason can know this all to be true.

    but the confessions also say that reason´s ability to know historically or factually that there is a God will always lead to idolatry or despair . It will lead to being a pharisee or to being judas.

    Reason cannot grasp Christ.

    readings on this…

    good works apology art V

    “23] Men are also admonished that here the term “faith” does not signify merely the knowledge of the history, such as is in the ungodly and in the devil, but signifies a faith which believes, not merely the history, but also the effect of the history—namely, this article: the forgiveness of sins, to wit, that we have grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ. 24] Now he that knows that he has a Father gracious to him through Christ, truly knows God; he knows also that God cares for him, and calls upon God; in a word, he is not 25] without God, as the heathen. For
    devils and the ungodly are not able to believe this article: the forgiveness of sins. Hence, they hate God as an enemy, call not upon Him, 26] and expect no good from Him. Augustine also admonishes his readers concerning the word “faith,” and teaches that the term “faith” is accepted in the Scriptures not for
    knowledge such as is in the ungodly but for confidence which consoles and encourages the terrified mind.”

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_19_goodworks.php

    and here…

    “Ok. So far I have explained what earthly god pleasing righteousness is, and what Christian righteousness is and what they each consist of.
    If you ask further, where this forgiveness comes from, and how it has been brought about or gained, I answer simply: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come from heaven and has been made man, and has suffered and died for our sins.
    Christians alone know this and also more importantly believe it, and are in this respect alone different from those of every other faith and worship on earth. The Jews , the Muslims, the false Christians, and those who would try to be righteous by what they do also boast that god is merciful. There is no man on earth who does not know something of the grace and goodness of God. What all these have in common is that they all fail to find the grace of God. In other words they do not have the treasure in which forgiveness lies and from which it flows. They continue in their blindness and imagine that they can acquire it with their efforts and works, rigid life, and their own holiness, This only makes the wrath and displeasure of God more serious.”

    http://www.thirduse.com/?p=10

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    rob c @61

    Please let me know or redirect if my answers were not what you were seeking.

    I am sure you noted that Lutheran doctrine was formed in direct contrast to scholasticism. I guess this is sort of polemic, but then it also means that one cannot be a Lutheran without an understanding of Roman Catholic theology as it was around 500 years ago. So it does force us Lutherans to need to be consciously connected as small c catholics to that other branch of christianity called Roman Catholicism that was created with the Council of Trent.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    rob c @61

    Please let me know or redirect if my answers were not what you were seeking.

    I am sure you noted that Lutheran doctrine was formed in direct contrast to scholasticism. I guess this is sort of polemic, but then it also means that one cannot be a Lutheran without an understanding of Roman Catholic theology as it was around 500 years ago. So it does force us Lutherans to need to be consciously connected as small c catholics to that other branch of christianity called Roman Catholicism that was created with the Council of Trent.


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